Where is Hong Kong’s Li Lai Ha Today?


In the Spring of 1969, Li Lai Ha came aboard the U.S.S. Ranger (CVA-61) compliments of the ship’s Marine Detachment (MARDET). I was there from the Public Affairs Office to take pictures.

Li Lai Ha and her Marine escorts. - Malcolm R. Campbell photo

Li Lai Ha and her grandmother with their Marine escorts. – Malcolm R. Campbell photo

A brief story of her visit appeared in the March issue of the “Shield,” Ranger’s shipboard magazine with a black and white photograph. Headlined “Girl With 61 Papas,” the story read as follows:

Li Lai Ha, a 13-year-old from Hong Kong, was adopted by Ranger’s Marine Detachment eight years ago after her escape from Red China. When Ranger visited Hong Kong last month, Lai Ha got a deluxe tour of the ship and was presented gifts of a stuffed dog, a jewelry box and a flash camera from her papas.

The photo that ran with the story shows her on the flight deck with her maternal grandmother, interpreter,  and an imposing group of marines.

Since I left the ship for shore duty that fall, I heard nothing more about her or any subsequent visits. I have often wondered whether her association with the shipboard detachment enhanced her life or was more of a brief interlude.

The Ranger is gone and the Marines no longer station detachments onboard capital ships. So, if an historical archive exists that follows up on Li Lai Ha’s 1969 visit, I have no idea where it might be.

She would be about 59  or 60 right now. I wonder if what she remembers about that day and if she still lives in Kong Hong.

How to cut a cake

How to cut a cake

At the time, I thought she was a bit overwhelmed by all the attention as well as the ride from the pier out to the carrier’s anchorage in the harbor. I was older than her and a bit overwhelmed by my visit to Hong Kong.

This is one of those memories that stayed with me and was a bit haunting.


Mail Call – Are you sending mail?


“Carrier onboard delivery (COD) is the use of aircraft to ferry personnel, mail, supplies, and high-priority cargo, such as replacement parts, from shore bases to an aircraft carrier at sea. Several types of aircraft, including helicopters, have been used by navies in the COD role. The Grumman C-2 Greyhound has been the United States Navy’s primary COD aircraft since the mid-1960s.” – Wikipedia

On board ship, we heard an endless chatter of messages over the 1-MC “public address” system. We disliked “General Quarters” because it meant something bad was happening or we were going into another endless drill. We liked “Mail Call” because that meant messages from home, something perfume scented from a lover or spouse, something to eat from mom or grandmother such as pre-crushed cookies or flattened fruitcake.

C-1A Trader - USN Photo

C-1A Trader – USN Photo

While carrier onboard delivery refers to a service, we tended to refer to the mail plane itself as “the COD.” Launch and recovery operations were available on closed-circuit TV throughout the ship, so we often saw the COD land. We knew then it was a matter of time before we’d hear “Mail Call” announced.

I served onboard the USS Ranger during the Vietnam War and mail arrived via a C-2 Greyhound or the carrier’s smaller C-1 Trader. Both were made by Grumman. I liked the Trader best because we saw it the most. Plus, I flew off the ship in a Trader when I transferred to shore duty.

1-MC speaker

1-MC speaker

I have no idea what it was like to be “in-country” in a hostile environment and receive a letter. A treasure, it was, I imagine.

Those of us onboard ship outside the direct line of fire welcomed mail because it was a positive interruption in the daily grind during cruises that often took us away from home for nine months at a time. Word from home: nothing was more important.

Like many factory settings, a carrier was in many ways a dangerous place when you think of large equipment, stores of aviation gasoline and jet fuel, bombs and missiles, aircraft launch and recovery, and all the things that could possible go wrong. Mail Call was an oasis in this madness afloat. In fact, it reminded us of why we were putting up with the madness.

Ranger's COD - Malcolm R. Campbell photo

Ranger’s COD – Malcolm R. Campbell photo

Today, of course, sailors on board ship get e-mail and, as far as I know, Skype. So there’s a faster way to connect if folks will just remember to do it. Mail in 1968 took a long time to go to and from an aircraft carrier at sea. If we went for a while without letters, it took a long time to find out why. Today, one can send an e-mail with a header like “where are you?” or “everything okay?”

However your service man or woman gets to hear from you, I hope you’re sending snail mail and/or e-mail. I assume cookies are still in demand. Things you can hold in your hand are a change of pace from words and JPGs on the screen: a locket, a lock of hair, a color-crayon card from one of the kids, a pressed flower, a program from a play or recital, something you touched and took the time to put in an envelope with an APO or FPO address on the front.

COD is still important even in a world of e-mail and Skype. Keep in touch.

You May Also Like: Where is Hong Kong’s Li Lai Ha Today? – Kong Kong girl visits Ranger’s Marine Detachment


Flight Deck - Malcolm R. Campbell photo

Flight Deck – Malcolm R. Campbell photo

P.S. Most of you who served onboard the USS Ranger (CVA-61) know by now that the Navy dishonored all of us by selling the ship to a scrapper for a penny rather that turning it into a museum. It sits at the scrap yard now where cutting torches will do what time, storms, accidents and the enemy couldn’t accomplish.



Okay, who in my zip code is an Ashley Madison User?


When I saw the news story These Are the Only Three Zip Codes With No Ashley Madison Users, I would have bet money (a few dollars or so) that our little slice of NE Georgia was on the list.

Over 39,645,000 anonymous members!

Over 39,645,000 anonymous members!

After all, according the 2010 demographics, the population of this zip code is only 2,432.

But no, the cheat-free zip codes are Nikolai, Alaska (99691), Perryville, Alaska (99648) and Polvadera, New Mexico (87828).

Okay, I’ll stipulate that the population of all three of those zip codes combined is less than our “neighborhood.”

My theory is that the people in those zip codes are signing up under fake e-mail addresses that purport to come from our zip code.

It’s much easier to assume that than to think, hmm, I wonder if the guy who drove by in that old Ford pickup truck is “out on a date” while his wife cans okra at home.

gritspackagePlus, I always thought that those of us who like grits were ever faithful due to the influence of minerals from the granite millstones in the grits that activate the conscience. This is true whether you’re throwing a packet of Quaker grits in the microwave with 1/2 cup of water for 90 seconds or using more exotic recipes out of books like “Good Old Grits Cookbook” or “The Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Cookbook.”

Maybe one clown in our zip code is allergic to grits and/or his/her spouse and ruined the reputation of the whole place when Santa looks at the naughty list. We need to find that person and lure them up to Perryville, Alaska where s/he will either ruin the place or jump on the hooker wagon and off the hookers.

Perhaps a brave soul will put up a fake call girl business card at the seed & feed and the tractor supply company and see if they get any hit-ons. If that fails, maybe our suspect works at a nearby college in, say, the drama department.

If that doesn’t work, we’re going to have to bribe somebody at the cheaters’ record-keeping department to say we’re not doing nothin’ we shouldn’t be doing. Or, make grits mandatory.


New Jock front CVR full sizeMalcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire,” a comedy/satire with a few characters who might be part of the Ashley Madison family.


Got Cops on Your Tail? Try oregano.


If you like Italian-American food, grilled chicken and vegetables, or ramping up the dressing for your tossed salad, you probably have oregano on your spice rack.

oreganoI like growing it because fresh is better than dried for most things and it gives a nice scent to the garden. Or, perhaps you use it as a dietary supplement to reduce LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol.

However, unless you’re a fan of folk magic or frequent your neighborhood conjurer, you probably think of this tasty herb primarily as food rather than as protection.

Conjure Uses

Unfortunately, these require a bit of work; that is to say, you won’t keep the cops and annoying lawyers away by putting oregano in your spaghetti sauce.

That would be too easy, right?

hoodooherbAccording to catherine yronwode at herb-magic.com, oregano “is widely believed to be a protective herb with the power to ward off troublesome and meddling individuals, especially those who may wish to interfere with one’s personal financial dealings. Furthermore, oregano is said to have significant power to keep the law away.” She is the author of a handy book for conjurers called Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic.

  • Got Cops, Do This: Dig up the footprint of the police officer and stir it up with oregano, redbrick dust and black mustard seed and place the mixture outside at the corners of your house.  A large “X” at your doorsteps will help.
  • Got Nosy Lawyers, Do This:  A mixture of cascara sagrada bark and oregano burnt on charcoal in an ashtray or grill prior to your deposition or court date is said to turn destiny in your favor.

A good conjure woman or curio shop may also recommend burning special incense, using oils and lighting candles in addition to offering you packets of court case and keep-the-law-away powders.

I’m by no means a conjurer. As I research my next book, I am fascinated by the folk magic uses of culinary herbs, plants with purported medical uses and common household materials.

Needless to say, I make no warrants or promises for oregano in your life.

For additional conjure and herb information, see Kitchen Hoodoo -Using Oregano in Hoodoo, Conjure and Candle Spells and Cooking With Magical Herbs.


KIndle cover 200x300(1)Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of the Jim Crow era novella “Conjure Woman’s Cat” set in a KKK-infested north Florida town in the 1950s.

Visit my web site.





Briefly Noted: ‘People Before The Park’


People Before The Park, by Sally Thompson, Kootenai Culture Committee & Pikunni Traditional Association (MHS Press, July 2015), 256 pages with photographs.

peoplebeforeparkThe Great Northern Railway, one of the predecessor roads of today’s Burlington Northern Santa Fe, developed Glacier National Park’s roads, telephone system, power lines and famous hotels as a tourist destination for passengers on its Empire Builder and Western Star trains. The railroad’s influence on the park was immense.

The railroad called the Blackfeet, the Glacier Park Tribe, and often took representatives to faraway cities to advertise the park. The project was much more of an expedient promotion than a true cultural exchange. The soul of the park, however, will always be Kootenai and Blackfeet (Pikunni/Piegan).

When I worked as a bellman at Many Glacier Hotel in 1963 and 1964, I was fascinated by the Blackfeet and Kootenai names for many of the mountains, rivers and creeks. Some years later, while working as an editorial assistant for the first edition of Jack Holterman’s now-classic Place Names of Glacier and Waterton National Parks, I learned that these landmarks were given Indian names by early explorers such as James Willard Schultz and George Bird Grinnell. We’ve long needed the park’s story from its original people.

Slowly, some of the official place names are being changed. Some years ago, Trick Falls (named for its odd water flow) was changed to its Blackfeet name, Running Eagle (Pitawmáhkan) Falls. Mt. Wilbur, the distinctive peak across the lake from Many Glacier Hotel, is also hearing its Blackfeet used by bellmen, tour bus drivers, boat crew personnel and others. Now people are beginning to know it as Heavy Shield. One day, perhaps the mountain will hear its name in Blackfeet: Isokwi-awótan

Montana Historical Society

Blackfeet at the July 15, 1933 dedication of Going to the Sun Road, photo by George A. Grant, NPS photo archives.

Blackfeet at the July 15, 1933 dedication of Going to the Sun Road, photo by George A. Grant, NPS photo archives.

Now, with the publication by the Montana Historical Society Press of People Before The Park, information that has up to now been mostly confined to books intended for scholars and students of history is now accessible to a wider audience. I hope that the park’s concessionaires are selling this book in the hotel gift shops at Many Glacier Hotel, Lake McDonald Lodge, and Glacier Park Lodge.

From the Publisher

Step out of a world governed by clocks and calendars and into the world of the Kootenai and Blackfeet peoples, whose traditional territories included the area that is now Glacier National Park. In this book, the Kootenai and Blackfeet tribes share their traditions—stories and legends, foodways and hunting techniques, games and spiritual beliefs. Readers will discover a new respect for the people who were at home in the Crown of the Continent, all around the seasons. Sally Thompson has spent over thirty years working with the tribes of the Rocky Mountain West to tell history from their points of view. Her most recent work focused on repatriating human remains and sacred objects to tribes.

A Reviewer’s Perspective

“Thompson decided to take a different approach to the book. Rather than write it all herself, she asked the Kootenai Cultural Committee and the Blackfeet’s Pikunni Traditional Association to each author their own chapter.

“The result is a book that tells a descriptive story that comes alive for the reader. Historical photos are featured throughout the book. Thompson provides introductory geographical and cultural information and provides evidence of early trails through the park.” – Erin Madison in the Great Falls Tribune

Every hiker needs several things in his/her backpack: map, matches, flashlight, water, food, bear spray and a copy of this book. As always, the place tells us about the people who live there and the people who live there enhance our knowledge of the place.


SunSinger4coverMalcolm R. Campbell is the author of two novels set partially in Glacier National Park, “The Sun Singer” and “Sarabande.”



No, doc, I don’t want Bette Davis eyes


A year ago, my optometrist said, “you’re going to need to do something about the cataract in your right eye.”

Thinking he meant, a waterfall, I said I hadn’t been dripping water, tears-wise or otherwise.

eyeHe informed me that I was going to have trouble seeing within the year.

Noticing that I was driving blind more often than not, I went to an eye doctor a week ago and he said, “Holy crap, man, you’re still looking at the world with eyes made during World War II when factories slapped out millions of eyes per second without a lot of paperwork for the war effort.”

He surfed out to Wikipedia where he gets most of his medical information and showed me an eye diagram. “When you were born, we didn’t know about half this stuff, so your eyes not only aren’t compatible with Windows 10, you’re missing a lot of the world’s important developments such as texting and more nudity.”

He got out a catalogue published by the American Academy of Ophthalmology called “Fabulous Eyes.” It contained a list of the replacement eyes available for those of us about to undergo cataract surgery.

bettedavis“There’s been a run on Bernie Sanders eyes lately, and that means a waiting list. Since you’re a writer, maybe you’ll want something exotic like Bette Davis eyes.”

“I remember the song,” I said.

“According to the song, with these eyes you’ll either know how to make a ‘crow blush’ or a ‘pro blush’ depending on which recorded version of the song you like.”

I informed him that Bette Davis’ eyes were older than the ones I was currently using and probably had fewer working parts.

As it turns out, there are more eyes out there than you can poke out while running with scissors. Since they (the eyes) are purportedly windows of the soul, I didn’t want to make a flippant choice. Truth be told, I’ve gotten used to the way I’ve always seen things even though I’m seeing less other them.

In “My Ancestor Was an Ancient Astronaut,” Toba Beta wrote,  “Eyes shows lies.” That ruled out a lot of eye models, especially those from celebrities, political candidates and serial killers.

Muir-Einstein-Newman Eyes, Model

Muir-Einstein-Newman Eyes, Model “MENJ38-25774.”

Finally, it appeared that I was best suited for a combination eye, one with the attributes of John Muir, Albert Einstein and a dash of Paul Newman. “Eyes don’t make you smart,” the doc cautioned, saying that I shouldn’t expect to be rich and famous with rich and famous eyes looking out at the world.

“With the MENJ38-25774 eyes, you might go into the salad dressing business or be able to shoot a good game of pool.”

“More likely,” I said, seeing through my glasses darkly, “I’ll turn into Brick Pollitt and say, ‘I’m ashamed, Big Daddy. That’s why I’m a drunk. When I’m drunk, I can stand myself.'”

“That can happen,” he said. “My assistant here thinks she’s Helen of Troy and wants go go into the ship launching business.”

Frankly, I thought his assistant looked more like Bette Davis.


New Jock front CVR full sizeMalcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire,” a satire similar to this post in that it has characters who are likely to say anything (and often do).

10, 11 (or maybe 12) things you don’t know about me


Every 25-30 seconds, I see a new article about a celebrity (that I usually haven’t heard of) called something like 25 things you don’t know about ___________ (whoever)

meetauthorI don’t know why I click on those stories because most of the things on the list are boring and/or fall into the TMI (to much information) category. No doubt, some massive computer somewhere records my click, gives the site a higher rating, and insures that I’ll probably be bothered by a lot more of these kinds of stories the next time I show up on the Yahoo home page.

You never click on those do you? If not, how did you show up on this post? Okay, since you’re here (and the NSA already knows you’re here), you might as well read the list.

  1. Barbra Streisand and I share a fear. We both get stage fright every time we walk in front of a large audience. I solved that by not doing it (walking in front of a large audience) while she solved it by singing.
  2. millieThe first actress I had a crush on was Millie Perkins. Since you probably don’t know who that is, this proves I’m a lot older than you. She never wrote back so nothing came of it.
  3. I was raised by alligators in a Florida swamp. Sure, I had regular parents and they were nice people, but they weren’t as exciting as the gators. I learned more from gators than I did from my school teachers. I’ve kept this secret all the years because, well, who the hell knows why, maybe because I didn’t figure anyone would believe it. I’m not even sure I believe it, even though I remember Papa Gator telling me that tourists love gators.
  4. sentencediagramAlthough my first language was (and still is) English, my grade school and junior high school English teachers didn’t think so because I made lousy grades. I knew how to speak and write my native tongue, but couldn’t force myself to study grammar, learn parts of speech and do other silly things. (Hell is an afternoon spent diagramming sentences on the chalkboard.)
  5. If I'd spent ten years learning how to cook, I'd be better off than a failed piano player

    Tempura – If I’d spent ten years learning how to cook, I’d be better off than a failed piano player

    I took piano lessons (against my will) for some ten years and now I can proudly say that I can play chopsticks with fewer errors than people who think chopsticks are only used for eating tempura and other cool foods. I happen to like tempura, but most people don’t. As an experiment, ask some random guy on the street what he thinks of tempura and he’ll probably tell you it’s a kind of paint.

  6. One reason I didn’t go “the Barbra Streisand route” to conquer my stage fright was simply that I can’t sing. I learned this on the job when I delivered signing telegrams to people’s houses and didn’t get any tips. I did better with regular telegrams and candygrams. Yes, I know, I sound like some guy who grew up on the frontier when I mention delivering telegrams. No, I didn’t ride a horse.
  7. I kept this ancient radio until we moved last year. I found a guy who actually knew what it was and had been looking for one to restore.

    I kept this ancient radio until we moved last year. I found a guy who actually knew what it was and had been looking for one to restore.

    I was a ham radio operator when I was in high school and once had my receiver on radio Moscow because our high school band was playing some Russian music. A visitor to our house thought I should tell the Feds that I was picking up “the commies” on my radio. Goodness knows what he told his folks when he got home. I still know Morris Code but there’s not a lot of call for it.

  8. Magician card in old Tarot deck.

    Magician card in old Tarot deck.

    I believe in magic. As a writer, this has caused problems with some magazines and publishers who wanted me to place my work in the fantasy or paranormal genres while I was complaining, “but this stuff actually happened.” I lost all those arguments. My parents (not the alligators) weren’t comfortable with my all my magic books, telling me that later in life, people would just assume I was crazy. They were right about that.

  9. I’m a Leo. Okay, I guess you probably already figured that out.
  10. madonna2Madonna and I used to sit in one of those Rocking Chairs on the front porch of a Cracker Barrel restaurant and talk about the Kabbalah until too many people started taking selfies with us in the background. Frankly, I think they cropped me out of them, the bastards.
  11. Contrary to popular belief, I was not born on a table top in Tennessee and did not kill my first bear when I was only three.
  12. Mercifully, this list is coming to and end with the news that I tend to put hexes on people who don’t read my books or who give them bad reviews (or no reviews). Since you don’t believe this, there’s nothing to worry about. :-)


KIndle cover 200x300(1)Malcolm R. Campbell looked up how to put hexes on people while working on his novella “Conjure a Woman’s Cat.”