William 'Ma' Baker, who was of medium height and a tad on
the chunky side, was from Kentucky where he used to work for
the railroad.  He was nicknamed Ma because he acted like
your mom.  He lectured you on Supply Economy every time you
requested anything, but if you patiently endured his
lecture, repented, and promised to mend your wasteful ways,
he eventually relented and gave you whatever you needed.

One day Ma served pizza for supper.  Two pieces per person.
The topping was from a box that he bought at the commissary
in Vientiane.  About an hour after supper, I started itching
all over.  Large welts appeared all over my body, I could
barely breathe and nearly died.  Doc Thomas thought it was
nerves, but I didn’t because I’ve never been what you would
call a nervous person.

The next night we had pizza again.  Same reaction.  Same
diagnosis.  Doc was afraid that I wouldn’t survive and I was
afraid that I would.  When I recovered that time, I decided
that I didn’t need anymore of that damn pizza.  That was the
only connection that I could make between the two attacks.
When I asked Ma for a box of that damn pizza mix, he didn’t
have anymore and the garbage had already been burned.  But I
decided that there must have been some kind of preservative
in that pizza topping that I was allergic to.  So, because I
never knew for sure what was in that pizza mix that I was
allergic to, I stopped eating pizza of any kind for the next
twenty years.

This was never put into my medical records because our
records were not with us and I never requested that it be
included after I returned to Oki because SF had to be able
to eat any kind of food and I was afraid that they would
kick me out of SF.  At that point, I preferred to risk death
rather than risking leaving SF.  I had found a home in SF —
they were family.

One night a bunch of us went to Mimi’s Restaurant in
downtown Luang Prabang, Laos [LP].  For a Lao, Mimi was as
cute as they come and she owned and ran a very tiny
restaurant on the far side of LP.  You have to understand,
by this time the south end of a northbound water buffalo
looked cute.  We sat next to a table of Lao Officers.  She
served them a large steaming platter of something and
shortly afterwards the place was filled with an awful
sulphur-like smell.  We couldn’t figure out where that awful
smell was coming from until I glanced over my shoulder and
saw a huge plate of boiled eggs sitting in the middle of the
table behind me.  I saw one of the officers crack an egg and
eat it; it was “rotten” with the boiled chick or duck still
inside.  Come to find out they consider that crap a
delicacy.  They lay the eggs out in the sun for several days
until they are rotten and then they boil them.  Ugh!  That
called for more booze.

Mimi ran out of the local beer so we drank local whiskey.
That proved to be even worse than the local beer.  The next
morning, I awoke in a GI canvas cot in the back room of Mimi
’s with Mimi lying atop me.  We were both buck naked so I
guess something had happened.  What ever it was, I figured
it was better than eating those damned eggs.

A couple of days later while I was taking a shower, I
noticed a lot of small particles of dirt in my pubic hair
and dutifully began scrubbing away at the dirt.  Much to my
surprise, those damn dirt particles began to race around my
crotch like crazy.  “Oh shit, mechanized dandruff [crabs],
ala Mimi.”  I ran to Doc Thomas for some Crab Powder.  He
did not have any crab powder and could not get any until the
next milk run —  maybe a week.  “Shit, the whole team will
be infested with crabs in a week.  I can’t have that.”

Next, I went to Ma Baker for help.  Nothing, all he had was
a couple of army-issued DDT Bombs.  Being desperate, I took
one.  Hell, anything was worth trying so I stripped and
sprayed it all over my crotch and ass — balls and all.  You
could see those damned crabs doing swan dives off of my
body.  About two seconds later, the pain hit me and I wished
that I could do a swan dive off of me.  I started running
and as I ran by a table, I grabbed a magazine and started
hopping all over the place fanning my crotch and cursing at
the top of my lungs.  My teammates found my antics very
entertaining.  The treatment worked and according to Doc
Thomas, it worked a lot faster than GI Crab Powder, but I
can’t say that I really recommend it.  [Ma Baker retired
from the army and returned to Ravena, Kentucky where he went
back to work for the railroad and later retired from it

Don "Val"  Valentine
Still Walk Bowlegged