National Geographic : 1955 Jun
865 Peter Schmid, Pix, Inc. Big Hands, Even Kind Ones, Frighten a Little Boy with Terror Too Fresh in Memory Enraged by the southward exodus, the Communists used propaganda, threats, and violence to stem the tide. Their efforts succeeded in many cases and left a marked imprint on those who did escape. Babies born aboard refugee ships, an average of one to a voyage, went ashore showered with gifts. Some mothers named infants after ships' officers, who happily accepted the honor. Saigon has long been known as the "Paris of the Orient" because of its cosmopolitan ism, fashionable shops, sidewalk cafes, spa cious boulevards, French buildings, and Parisian gaiety.* After my visit, in late April, 1955, civil strife broke out in Saigon, bringing death to scores and laying waste a large section of the once-gay city. But when I was there, a torrent of traffic swirled on Rue Catinat, Saigon's Fifth Ave nue, past police in tropic whites, hotels, cafes, and stately tamarind trees. In the harbor near by, almost ignored by the city, 2,000 refugees poured down gangplanks of the U. S. S. Mountrail, which had evacuated them from Haiphong in the north. Wearing conical hats, dark tunics, and peas ant trousers, barefooted and weary, mothers handed down their babies first; sympathetic young sailors helped old people at the gang * See "Indochina Faces the Dragon," by George W. Long, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, September, 1952.