Please send information on rope tows.

October 31st, 1958

This is Post #32 in the SeriesGoing to Afghanistan.

________________________________________________________________________

AIR LETTER

Addressed to:
Mrs. Fred W. Clayton
405 N. Roop St.
Carson City,
Nevada U.S.A.

Senders name and address:
F. W. Clayton
USOM / A
Kabul, Afghanistan

________________________________________________________________________

Kabul, Afghanistan
31 October 1958
Friday 10:00 P.M.

My Darlings,

This should be a well organized letter as I have many things to cover.

This evening I had dinner at the Ray Johnsons of The Asia Foundation.  Mrs. Johnson is the most avid ski enthusiast and is seeking my aid and knowledge of ski lifts.  But first things first.

1. Money – I’ve ordered my check sent directly to the bank thus saving a day or two loss in forwarding which would have been the case this week.  The week of October 14th I sent you a check for $900.00 plus and this check netted $400.00 plus after taking out the $70.00 for the loan.  This makes over $1,300.00 I sent home since I arrived here a month ago tomorrow.  Of this I have committed $433.00 thru five checks.  $250.00 of this is the first installment on the $700.00 commissary deposit.  This should leave you some $900.00 to work with for awhile.  The checks I’ve written are as follows:

Kabul #1 – $100.00 cash for living converted to Afghanis.  Still have some left after a month.
Kabul #2 – $50.00 United Givers – Pressured into this so gave $25.00 less than last year.
Kabul #3 – $250.00 first installment on Commissary Deposit.
Kabul #4 – Reserved for Board bill @ Staff House.
Kabul #5 – American Embassy for board at Kandahar.
Kabul #6 – MK (Morrison and Knudsen) for Board at Kandahar.
These last two items are reimbursable on travel claims.  Probably in Afghanis.

2. Films – I’ve sent five (5) rolls counting the one I’m sending now.

3. Ballot – I have not received my ballot yet.  I hope I get it tomorrow.

4.  Skiing – Please send information on rope tows.  a.) Sketch layout.  b.) Range of lengths.  c.) Maximum slope operable  d.) Size and kind of rope used.  E.) Power required – Will Jeep do? – Ken can you get all this pronto?

5.  Brick Plant – Can Al Canton furnish information on the simplest type of brick plant layout and operation?  If brick manufacturer association can furnish this information best get it from Bob Harrington in San Francisco and have it sent post haste, please.  Look in SEOMC roster for Harrington address.

6.  Drug Store – Please ask John McDonald in the new drug store if he wants to set up the first drug store in Afghanistan?  His rotary approach makes him an excellent choice.  Building here is built and space is being saved for American type drug store.  R.G.A. urgently wants this done.  Development Loan Funds available for stock.  Import license will be cleared by R.G.A.  City 200,000 to 300,000 people without like service.  Also three local hospitals plus over 600 Americans.  Homer Angelo and Ralph Krause could advise.  Could be a wonderful opportunity.  New law just confirmed guaranteeing foreign investments.

Last Monday I went to Kandahar to meet Mr. & Mrs. C.W. (Pete) Allen of S/Ind. (Science and Industry) I.C.A. / W. (International Cooperation Administration / Washington) and to look over the jobs in Kandahar.  The Allens arrived from Teheran at noon on Tuesday and the three of us returned to Kabul on the 10:00 A.M. flight Thursday.  This noon the Allens left for Karachi.  The Allens are our kind of folks and are going to be a fine addition to the Washington scene.

While in Kandahar I saw Burris and Bennett who are there working on the Industrial District.  I inspected power projects and generator sites, three of them.  There are many problems in their activity that need immediate attention.

I also inspected the Kandahar International Airport (KIA) job.  The C.A.A. (Civil Aviation Authority) inspector is about to make as much a mess of this job as my predecessor made out of Mingaladon.  The two cases are almost identically parallel.  This one is headed toward an international crisis if I can‘t get get some people back in on the track.  Damn the hot headed, short-sighted selfish impractical people in responsible jobs!!  I hope I got it back on the track temporarily!  The C.A.A. inspector is guilty of rank interference in the contractors management and is a “bull in a china closet”.  More of this later.

Kandahar is very picturesque.  We saw over twenty camels in one herd right on a main street of the town.  The bazaars are loaded with fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and vegetables.

Here I‘ll comment on the people of Afghanistan.  In my opinion the Afghans are some of the finest people of this earth.  They are justly proud of their history and of the fact that they have held off both the British and the Russians for centuries.

They are willing able workers.  If they appear lazy and uncooperative one must remember that they have illness, inadequate diets, not sufficient warm clothing or housing and that they have been out working and earning a living since age (8).

Only a highly skilled, industrious and intelligent people could bring under irrigation the amount of land they have in an arid region.

The y have squeezed almost every drop of water out of this land and put it to use.  They terrace the hills and run ditches around them.  They dig krais (in Iran – ghnats) or underground tunnels into water bearing alluvial fans to collect the water and lead it to rich soil.

They make excellent use of their indigenous materials in their construction especially considering the shortages they face such as fuel and lumber.

These people are generally happy and helpful.  I like them.

Going to Kandahar and back I rode in the cockpit of the plane about 50% of the time.  Thus I saw the road and analyzed most all the critical spots.

I visited the Arghadab Dam about thirty miles from Kandahar.  On the way back I saw my first hyena in the wild.  This was a real thrill.  Had I had a rifle I might have had a fine trophy. – stripes and all.  This animal was huge and fierce looking.  More than a match for any dog or wolf.

Snow leopards are here to be hunted in the high mountains.  Also Marco Polo sheep.

Guns and ammunition are not available.  I may want a “308” (often referred to as a “thirty-ought-eight“) sent out both for hunting and protection from animals in remote regions.  Embassy people have import privileges.  Such guns are sold at discount in Washington D.C.  I’ll investigate all the angles from here.

Ken I hope you get to go hunting at least once and that you get a deer.

It is now mid-night so I must close as tomorrow is a busy work day.

Lloydine my Beloved if you want why don’t you go to Phoenix.  It would be a lot of fun for you and you would be more than welcome.  I must write your Mother.  I’ll try soon.

Ralph Krause left for India yesterday.  I got your letter too late to give him Homer’s message.  I surely miss him.

Seven years ago I lost 31 Oct. and woke up on 1 Nov. to have breakfast on Wake Island.

Good night.
All my love
Your Fred.

________________________________________________________________________

Notes:

This one letter is probably worth a book.  So much for security, Fred can get mad – or maybe he was hoping that someone in Washington would open his mail and get an idea of what was really happening in Afghanistan.  Was Fred the first American to go to Kandahar and come back wanting to buy guns?  His interest was hunting, protection from the animals, not from the Afghans; but we’re still talking guns here – rifles – rifles from Washington; and it takes the American Embassy to get them in.  Life gets more interesting all the time.

Fred W. Clayton was the father of skiing in Afghanistan.  He was the first to build and provide the expertise for the first ski area in Afghanistan.  It is a fabulous place to ski and the potential is vast; probably more dollars in it than growing poppies or building pipelines to Pakistan.  He could have figured out everything himself about the rope tow; but Ken loved to ski, so why not let his son get involved and whet his appetite for a future in engineering?  Anyway, Fred was busy with so many things; airports take more time than ski resorts even if the two at some point become connected.

But the mother of skiing in Afghanistan, the person who really deserves most of the credit was a woman – Mrs. Johnson (common name) so I’ll have to look up her full name so she can go down in history in her proper place.  Yes, a WOMAN brought skiing to Afghanistan – take that you Taliban, take that you macho male U.S. fighters; a woman’s place is not at home or in the mall, but on the slopes and in the backrooms contemplating snowflakes and how to take the high country and use water the first time that it falls for one more thing that’s useful – fun not fashion on the slopes.  The first Kabul ski club was “The Moguls”, fun and a pun in Afghanistan.  You’ll see how this story will progress.

Hunting has always been a Nevada sport.  Big horned sheep, deer, antelope at play.  The biggest horned sheep of all is the Orvis Poli (Marco Polo Sheep) that Kermit Roosevelt went after in the Himalayas; the Hindu Kush is the western Himalayas; higher than even the mountains of Nevada; better skiing, bigger sheep.  Fred did not hunt for sport.  The family ate what he killed; venison in the food locker (rented freezer space) in Carson City.  Eating off the land is what Davy Crockett did, and Daniel Boone, and maybe even George and Martha Washington (or was it slaves that George and Martha lived off of).  The Pilgrims ate off the Indians, the native Americans ate off the land.  The choice is irrigation.

Fred explains to us that there are two types of “irrigation”; one is modern and mechanical – the other is “green” and old.  The Afghans did not build dams.  The Afghans harvested water from the sky, captured it on the mountainsides, in the deserts channeled it for sometimes a hundred miles all underground.  They have done this for far longer than the US has been the U.S.  Terracing is something almost never seen in the U.S.A.  When people run out of valleys they start advancing up the hills.  The higher up the hills the agriculture goes the higher the civilization.  In China and Japan they know this, in India, in South America at times.  In Afghanistan the hills are even higher and the Afghans can go even far higher in the future.  Just wait and see.

The American approach to irrigation is far different.  Americans build dams and divert the water for power and irrigation.  Things are mostly above ground, no ten thousand miles of hand dug tunnels criss-crossing the entire earth.  I’ll show you the pictures from the air if you don’t believe me about southern Afghanistan.  Dams silt up in time.  Dams block the fish.  In time the turbines fail and the world moves to black and the river goes over the top and that’s the advantage of small-scale green irrigation; family farms, terraces not great open culverts and channels.  There’s a lot more about water than this; but this is enough for today.

Fred loved to fly.  He loved to fly ever since that first flight to Burma to build the airport there in Rangoon (Yongun) Burma.  Actually the airport was near Mingaladon, a small village outside of Rangoon.  When the Flying Tigers flew out of there the village was still there.  When Fred arrived the village wasn’t.  The airport killed the village, two or three thousand years of history gone just to accommodate a plane.  There are two sides of every story.  The question is “for who” is western progress so hot?  Now Fred is up (almost) in the pilots seat, reconnoitering the roads – actually it is just the one road that links Kandahar to Kabul or Kabul to Kandahar – mostly just a sheep trail then, very few trucks or buses, more camels than anything else like it was in the days of Marco Polo as he wandered his way to Kabul and crossed the Marco Polo bridge (the one in Kabul) long before he ever found or described the Marco Polo sheep.

The C.A.A. was the predecessor agency to the F.A.A. (Federal Aviation Authority).  It is and was a U.S. organization.  It was created to help planes fly, fly more safely, benefit from federal funds.  The C.A.A. was instrumental in the growth of airports.  The C.A.A. thought that “landing fields” just were not safe.  Not everyone with a cow pasture or a farm should have their own “field” the CAA/FAA thought.  “This flying thing has to be organized, sites must be chosen to make some people rich and make other people poor.”  “We need to organize to be able to take the land (for flying) and take away peoples peace by flying planes overhead all the time” – like when they live under runways – like when there are helicopters or jets always overhead.

So Fred got mad, very mad.  Every governmental and military organization has people like the one Fred describes.  They are ill-informed and arrogant.  They hold positions of authority and power.  They often “gum up the works” or destroy a decade, a hundred years, a thousand years of progress – not western necessarily, but sometimes real progress.  These people take actions that often lead to war.  They are the blind that lead and advise the blinder still.  No one can fathom the damage that these guys do.  Did Fred successfully fix the situation in Kandahar; I ask you today; did he really fix it or did he just really try, knowing that the damage had already been done?

KIA – Killed In Action, KIA – Kandahar International Airport; is there really a difference?  You choose the K-I-A that you feel.

________________________________________________________________________

Note:  Fred’s trip to Kandahar was from October 27, 1958 through October 30, 1958.

Kandahar, Afghanistan – Kandahar International Airport construction – October 28, 1958.

Photograph taken by Fred W. Clayton – This photographic image is copyrighted by Donald Clayton, all rights reserved – first published 2010 on QalaBist.com.

Kandahar, Afghanistan – Kandahar International Airport – Sign – October 28, 1958.

Photograph taken by Fred W. Clayton – This photographic image is copyrighted by Donald Clayton, all rights reserved – first published 2010 on QalaBist.com.

Arghandab Dam, Afghanistan – Dedication stone in English and Pharsee – October 29, 1958.

Photograph taken by Fred W. Clayton – This photographic image is copyrighted by Donald Clayton, all rights reserved – first published 2010 on QalaBist.com.

Arghandab Dam, Afghanistan – dam outtake, electrical generators have not yet been installed – October 29, 1958.

Photograph taken by Fred W. Clayton – This photographic image is copyrighted by Donald Clayton, all rights reserved – first published 2010 on QalaBist.com.

[First posted: 2010.04.08 / Please send information on rope tows]
“Afghanistan Central” at Qala Bist.com is linked HERE:

October 31, 1958

October 31st, 1958

Letters from Afghanistan: October 31, 1958

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
AIR LETTER

Addressed to:
Mrs. Fred W. Clayton
405 N. Roop St.
Carson City,
Nevada U.S.A.

Senders name and address:
F. W. Clayton
USOM / A
Kabul, Afghanistan

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________Kabul, Afghanistan
31 Oct. 1958
Friday 10:00 P.M.

My Darlings,

This should be a well organized letter as I have many things to cover.

This evening I had dinner at the ray Johnsons of Asia Foundation.  Mrs. Johnson is the most avid ski enthusiast and is seeking my aid and knowledge of ski lifts.  But first things first.

1. Money – I’ve ordered my check sent directly to the bank thus saving a day or two loss in forwarding which would have been the case this week.  The week of October 14th I sent you a check for $900.00 plus and this check netted $400.00 plus after taking out the $70.00 for the loan.  This makes over $1,300.00 I sent home since I arrived here a month ago tomorrow.  Of this I have committed $433.00 thru five checks.  $250.00 of this is the first installment on the $700.00 commissary deposit.  This should leave you some $900.00 to work with for awhile.  The checks I’ve written are as follows:

Kabul #1 – $100.00 cash for living converted to Afghanis.  Still have some left after a month.
Kabul #2 – $50.00 United Givers – Pressured into this so gave $25.00 less than last year.
Kabul #3 – $250.00 first installment on Commissary Deposit.
Kabul #4 – Reserved for Board bill @ Staff House.
Kabul #5 – American Embassy for board at Kandahar.
Kabul #6 – MK (Morrison and Knudsen) for Board at Kandahar.
These last two items are reimbursable on travel claims.  Probably in Afghanis.

2. Films – I’ve sent five (5) rolls counting the one I’m sending now.

3. Ballot – I have not received my ballot yet.  I hope I get it tomorrow.

4.  Skiing – Please send information on rope tows.  a.) Sketch layout.  b.) Range of lengths.  c.) Maximum slope operable  d.) Size and kind of rope used.  E.) Power required – Will Jeep do? – Ken can you get all this pronto?

5.  Brick Plant – Can Al Canton furnish information on the simplest type of brick plant layout and operation?  If brick manufacturer association can furnish this information best get it from Bob Harrington in San Francisco and have it sent post haste, please.  Look in SEOMC roster for Harrington address.

6.  Drug Store – Please ask John McDonald in the new drug store if he wants to set up the first drug store in Afghanistan?  His rotary approach makes him an excellent choice.  Building here is built and space is being saved for American type drug store.  R.G.A. urgently wants this done.  Development Loan Funds available for stock.  Import license will be cleared by R.G.A.  City 200,000 to 300,000 people without like service.  Also three local hospitals plus over 600 Americans.  Homer Angelo and Ralph Krause could advise.  Could be a wonderful opportunity.  New law just confirmed guaranteeing foreign investments.

Last Monday I went to Kandahar to meet Mr. & Mrs. C.W. (Pete) Allen of S/Ind. (Science and Industry) I.C.A. / W. (International Cooperation Administration / Washington) and to look over the jobs in Kandahar.  The Allens arrived from Teheran at noon on Tuesday and the three of us returned to Kabul on the 10:00 A.M. flight Thursday.  This noon the Allens left for Karachi.  The Allens are our kind of folks and are going to be a fine addition to the Washington scene.

While in Kandahar I saw Burris and Bennett who are there working on the Industrial District.  I inspected power projects and generator sites, three of them.  There are many problems in their activity that need immediate attention.

I also inspected the Kandahar International Airport (KIA) job.  The C.A.A. (Civil Aviation Authority) inspector is about to make as much a mess of this job as my predecessor made out of Mingaladon.  The two cases are almost identically parallel.  This one is headed toward an international crisis if I can‘t get get some people back in on the track.  Damn the hot headed, short-sighted selfish impractical people in responsible jobs!!  I hope I got it back on the track temporarily!  The C.A.A. inspector is guilty of rank interference in the contractors management and is a “bull in a china closet”.  More of this later.

Kandahar is very picturesque.  We saw over twenty camels in one herd right on a main street of the town.  The bazaars are loaded with fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and vegetables.

Here I‘ll comment on the people of Afghanistan.  In my opinion the Afghans are some of the finest people of this earth.  They are justly proud of their history and of the fact that they have held off both the British and the Russians for centuries.

They are willing able workers.  If they appear lazy and uncooperative one must remember that they have illness, inadequate diets, not sufficient warm clothing or housing and that they have been out working and earning a living since age (8).

Only a highly skilled, industrious and intelligent people could bring under irrigation the amount of land they have in an arid region.

The y have squeezed almost every drop of water out of this land and put it to use.  They terrace the hills and run ditches around them.  They dig krais (in Iran – ghnats) or underground tunnels into water bearing alluvial fans to collect the water and lead it to rich soil.

They make excellent use of their indigenous materials in their construction especially considering the shortages they face such as fuel and lumber.

These people are generally happy and helpful.  I like them.

Going to Kandahar and back I rode in the cockpit of the plane about 50% of the time.  Thus I saw the road and analyzed most all the critical spots.

I visited the Arghadab Dam about thirty miles from Kandahar.  On the way back I saw my first hyena in the wild.  This was a real thrill.  Had I had a rifle I might have had a fine trophy. – stripes and all.  This animal was huge and fierce looking.  More than a match for any dog or wolf.

Snow leopards are here to be hunted in the high mountains.  Also Marco Polo sheep.

Guns and ammunition are not available.  I may want a “308” (often referred to as a “thirty-ought-eight“) sent out both for hunting and protection from animals in remote regions.  Embassy people have import privileges.  Such guns are sold at discount in Washington D.C.  I’ll investigate all the angles from here.

Ken I hope you get to go hunting at least once and that you get a deer.

It is now mid-night so I must close as tomorrow is a busy work day.

Lloydine my Beloved if you want why don’t you go to Phoenix.  It would be a lot of fun for you and you would be more than welcome.  I must write your Mother.  I’ll try soon.

Ralph Krause left for India yesterday.  I got your letter too late to give him Homer’s message.  I surely miss him.

Seven years ago I lost 31 Oct. and woke up on 1 Nov. to have breakfast on Wake Island.

Good night.
All my love
Your Fred.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________Notes:  This one letter is probably worth a book.  So much for security, Fred can get mad – or maybe he was hoping that someone in Washington would open his mail and get an idea of what was really happening in Afghanistan.  Was Fred the first American to go to Kandahar and come back wanting to buy guns?  His interest was hunting, protection from the animals, not from the Afghans; but we’re still talking guns here – rifles – rifles from Washington; and it takes the American Embassy to get them in.  Life gets more interesting all the time.

Fred W. Clayton was the father of skiing in Afghanistan.  He was the first to build and provide the expertise for the first ski area in Afghanistan.  It is a fabulous place to ski and the potential is vast; probably more dollars in it than growing poppies or building pipelines to Pakistan.  He could have figured out everything himself about the rope tow; but Ken loved to ski, so why not let his son get involved and whet his appetite for a future in engineering?  Anyway, Fred was busy with so many things; airports take more time than ski resorts even if the two at some point become connected.

But the mother of skiing in Afghanistan, the person who really deserves most of the credit was a woman – Mrs. Johnson (common name) so I’ll have to look up her full name so she can go down in history in her proper place.  Yes, a WOMAN brought skiing to Afghanistan – take that you Taliban, take that you macho male U.S. fighters; a woman’s place is not at home or in the mall, but on the slopes and in the backrooms contemplating snowflakes and how to take the high country and use water the first time that it falls for one more thing that’s useful – fun not fashion on the slopes.  The first Kabul ski club was “The Moguls”, fun and a pun in Afghanistan.  You’ll see how this story will progress.

Hunting has always been a Nevada sport.  Big horned sheep, deer, antelope at play.  The biggest horned sheep of all is the Orvis Poli (Marco Polo Sheep) that Kermit Roosevelt went after in the Himalayas; the Hindu Kush is the western Himalayas; higher than even the mountains of Nevada; better skiing, bigger sheep.  Fred did not hunt for sport.  The family ate what he killed; venison in the food locker (rented freezer space) in Carson City.  Eating off the land is what Davy Crockett did, and Daniel Boone, and maybe even George and Martha Washington (or was it slaves that George and Martha lived off of).  The Pilgrims ate off the Indians, the native Americans ate off the land.  The choice is irrigation.

Fred explains to us that there are two types of “irrigation”; one is modern and mechanical – the other is “green” and old.  The Afghans did not build dams.  The Afghans harvested water from the sky, captured it on the mountainsides, in the deserts channeled it for sometimes a hundred miles all underground.  They have done this for far longer than the US has been the U.S.  Terracing is something almost never seen in the U.S.A.  When people run out of valleys they start advancing up the hills.  The higher up the hills the agriculture goes the higher the civilization.  In China and Japan they know this, in India, in South America at times.  In Afghanistan the hills are even higher and the Afghans can go even far higher in the future.  Just wait and see.

The American approach to irrigation is far different.  Americans build dams and divert the water for power and irrigation.  Things are mostly above ground, no ten thousand miles of hand dug tunnels criss-crossing the entire earth.  I’ll show you the pictures from the air if you don’t believe me about southern Afghanistan.  Dams silt up in time.  Dams block the fish.  In time the turbines fail and the world moves to black and the river goes over the top and that’s the advantage of small-scale green irrigation; family farms, terraces not great open culverts and channels.  There’s a lot more about water than this; but this is enough for today.

Fred loved to fly.  He loved to fly ever since that first flight to Burma to build the airport there in Rangoon (Yongun) Burma.  Actually the airport was near Mingaladon, a small village outside of Rangoon.  When the Flying Tigers flew out of there the village was still there.  When Fred arrived the village wasn’t.  The airport killed the village, two or three thousand years of history gone just to accommodate a plane.  There are two sides of every story.  The question is “for who” is western progress so hot?  Now Fred is up (almost) in the pilots seat, reconnoitering the roads – actually it is just the one road that links Kandahar to Kabul or Kabul to Kandahar – mostly just a sheep trail then, very few trucks or buses, more camels than anything else like it was in the days of Marco Polo as he wandered his way to Kabul and crossed the Marco Polo bridge (the one in Kabul) long before he ever found or described the Marco Polo sheep.

The C.A.A. was the predecessor agency to the F.A.A. (Federal Aviation Authority).  It is and was a U.S. organization.  It was created to help planes fly, fly more safely, benefit from federal funds.  The C.A.A. was instrumental in the growth of airports.  The C.A.A. thought that “landing fields” just were not safe.  Not everyone with a cow pasture or a farm should have their own “field” the CAA/FAA thought.  “This flying thing has to be organized, sites must be chosen to make some people rich and make other people poor.”  “We need to organize to be able to take the land (for flying) and take away peoples peace by flying planes overhead all the time” – like when they live under runways – like when there are helicopters or jets always overhead.

So Fred got mad, very mad.  Every governmental and military organization has people like the one Fred describes.  They are ill-informed and arrogant.  They hold positions of authority and power.  They often “gum up the works” or destroy a decade, a hundred years, a thousand years of progress – not western necessarily, but sometimes real progress.  These people take actions that often lead to war.  They are the blind that lead and advise the blinder still.  No one can fathom the damage that these guys do.  Did Fred successfully fix the situation in Kandahar; I ask you today; did he really fix it or did he just really try, knowing that the damage had already been done?

KIA – Killed In Action, KIA – Kandahar International Airport; is there really a difference?  You choose the K-I-A that you feel.

Kandahar, Afghanistan – Kandahar International Airport construction – 1958.

Photograph taken by Fred W. Clayton – This photographic image is copyrighted by Donald Clayton, all rights reserved – first published 2010 on QalaBist.com.

Kandahar, Afghanistan – Kandahar International Airport – Sign – 1958.

Photograph taken by Fred W. Clayton – This photographic image is copyrighted by Donald Clayton, all rights reserved – first published 2010 on QalaBist.com.

Arghandab Dam, Afghanistan – Dedication stone in English and Pharsee – 1958.

Photograph taken by Fred W. Clayton – This photographic image is copyrighted by Donald Clayton, all rights reserved – first published 2010 on QalaBist.com.

Arghandab Dam, Afghanistan – dam outtake, electrical generators have not yet been installed – 1958.

Photograph taken by Fred W. Clayton – This photographic image is copyrighted by Donald Clayton, all rights reserved – first published 2010 on QalaBist.com.

[First posted: 2010.04.08 / Please send information on rope tows]

Going to Kandahar

October 27th, 1958

This is Post #31 in the new Series “Going to Afghanistan”.

AIR LETTER
If anything is enclosed this letter will be sent by ordinary mail
Red, green, and black aviation letter outline – 5 Af stamp of DC-3 over Kabul (blue)

DC-3 over Kabul, Afghanistan - Afghanistan stamp circa 1958, printed in Great Britain

Addressed to:
Mrs. Fred W. Clayton
405 N. Roop St.
Carson City,
Nevada U.S.A.

Senders name and address:
F. W. Clayton
USOM / A
Kabul, Afghanistan

Kabul
Monday 27 Oct. ‘58

Beloved,

Just a note to let you know I’m busy and very active.

Today I’m going to Kandahar.  I plan to be back Thursday.

I worked Friday and Sunday so I haven’t had a whole day off since a week ago last Friday.

Must close now and park my bag.

I love all of you all so much.

All my love,
Your Fred.

Notes:  This letter sets a new record, 56 words.  It is almost like Fred invented text messaging without anticipating the need for constant abbreviations.  He could of just texted “KIA” for Kandahar because that is where the blue plane would land, dirt strip, dusty runway in the desert.  That’s why he was going there – to see KIA and see what is or was or will be going on.  More tomorrow.

[Post originally written:  2010.04.07 / Going to Kandahar]

On the home front

October 25th, 1958

This is Post #30 in the new Series “Going to Afghanistan”.

AIR LETTER – AEROGRAMME
VIA AIR MAIL – PAR AVION
Pre-stamped U.S. Postage 10c Air Mail letter and envelope.

Addressed to:
Mr. Fred W. Clayton
American Embassy – USOM Kabul
Department of State Mail Room
Washington 25, D.C.

Message must appear on inner side only  No tape or sticker may be attached
If anything is enclosed, this letter will be sent by ordinary mail
First Fold  Second fold

Return Address:
Lloydine Clayton
405 N. Roop St.
Carson City, Nevada
U.S.A.

(Note:  The letter begins with the following hand-written notes.)

Hong Kong is good
Puffy clouds over river show nicely
Rainbows show well in a couple of pictures
Panels -?- well exposed and focused
Chained bullocks excellent
Gold topped minarets nice (lots of them)
Arch framed temple lovely
Garden in Amritsar rose bush ? A bit dark
Shrine under tree – clear and cute

October 25, 1958
Saturday evening.

My Darling,

Above are some notes made as I looked through your second box of slides.  We surely enjoyed them.
I notice that a church and garden in the third box is also very dark.  Apparently you are not getting enough light on the gardens you are trying for.  Read your meter closer to the ground, ignoring the sky, or something like that.  Your Kabul River canyon pictures are very nice.  The Bushkizi pictures are nice too.  We surely enjoy these pictures.  However, we are waiting for some of the ordinary town pictures of Kabul.  We are also waiting to find out what kind of “must” parties you went to in the first place.  We also want to know a little about the work you are busy with.  We know nothing about how many Afghans came to any other party so don’t know how much is “more”.  All in all we feel your information is very sketchy, except for the things you have done with Ralph Krause.  We do read it all avidly.

I love you so much and sometimes miss you most poignantly., but I must not sit around for those moods.  Especially do I miss you when driving to Reno, through the lovely valleys.

I guess I’ll do best working backwards with my news as I can remember best that way.  Today I went into Reno, well-heeled with cash and checks for a change.  I had just been about to be desperate when the money arrived.  I went to get Kenneth a battery so he can get the Black Chevrolet  going; which he has decided is fastest for the moment, and will be helpful.  He is out now putting some of the finishing touches on it, tires and brake fluid, etc.  I think we will have a trial tomorrow as to whether it will go at all or not, after its hibernation.  We just finished two games of bridge at Donald’s request – our first here.

I also went to get myself a coat.  Somehow mine has completely disappeared since Monday.  I’ve checked everywhere and am concluding it may have been removed from the car, if not taken at the Nugget last Monday.  I mean the cloth one of course.  So I got myself a coat, another with a zip-in lining, which I consider very desirable.  The boys like it.  The tone is about the same as the previous one, but material and styling differ, but still basic.  I got Kenneth several shirts and Donald several trousers, all needed.  What I did not need dazzled the boys; Kenneth wants to take a colored picture and send it to you.  It is an evening wrap of black velvet lined in white furry stuff, a full swinging type coat with a big hood that makes a bulky high-standing collar.  It is water repellant and covers a dress very completely.  I am sure it will be necessary for my night life someplace in the future and I did not resist it very hard, even at $39.98.

Today was very lovely, seeming nice and warm at 68.  I checked in at Headquarters this morning but did not do so much as I was busy at home, what with two or three blocks of gutter full of bitumuls from a big spill up at the water place.  Rabes had the worst of it.  L. Furlong finally flushed it away quite satisfactorily, but was surely ready to swear out a warrant for the guy who let it drip to such an abundance.

Last night I went to Yerington with T. (Tom) Houston and Walt (Walt Wilson) and Dorcas Wilson and Donald.  We finally won 32-7.  It was a pleasant change.

I’ll continue on another one.

AIR LETTER – AEROGRAMME
VIA AIR MAIL – PAR AVION
Pre-stamped U.S. Postage 10c Air Mail letter and envelope.

Addressed to:
Mr. Fred W. Clayton
American Embassy – USOM Kabul
Department of State Mail Room
Washington 25, D.C.

Message must appear on inner side only  No tape or sticker may be attached
If anything is enclosed, this letter will be sent by ordinary mail
First Fold  Second fold

Return Address:
Lloydine Clayton
405 N. Roop St.
Carson City, Nevada

2

Friday during the day I did some helping with getting campaign material addressed by delivering it to others and watered grass and rested a little.  I was just dopey.  However, I had a good visit with Col. Elston who asked about you.  Had a fine visit with Mrs. E. Branson who asked about you in detail.  Earl sends regards too.  Daughter Betty had just received a tape from hubby in Tokyo telling all about his arrival there.  Mrs. B. gave me dishes, kettles and some discarded linen, all of which will be very handy.

Thursday evening we had our Republican Rally, which finally went off very nicely, much to my relief.  There was some earlier trouble with too many people out-ranking me who were being awfully lackadaisical and could not be pushed or organized.  At one stage I got very discouraged.  Judget Guild did a very nice job as M.C., in spite of my apprehension.  He and the Gov. and everyone was glad he did it.  His folks the Wheatleys were very close friends of the Bucklands so I have fixed you up fine – your grandparents and Marge R’s grandparents were bosom buddies in Genoa.  Sam Francovich sends regards.  Graunke was cordial.  Loads of people keep telling me how they regret they could not make the open house.  Noel came to the rally.  Calif. Convention will be in S.F. at the Fairmont (Hotel).

The big stink here is a report on the Elko School, released without proper circulation ahead of time citing bad sex deviation and everything else – much of it grossly twisted – then Sawyer decides the Children’s home is the same.  People are very incensed.  I think it is helping the Republicans.  Ballots are out.  Lester Smith died and had a big funeral Friday.  Politics are getting hot and heavy.  Smith‘s death probably means Bob Ingersoll has it as Assessor.  We’ll have open house at Headquarters the night of the 4th.  I am to arrange it.

Monday I am going to get these carpets at home cleaned.  Did a note I found mean you already bought “Woolite”, or was it just a suggestion?  I was thinking about it.

Monday and Tuesday I worked on parking strip lawn as well as on the Rally plans.

Wednesday evening I went to a big UN (United Nations) 13th anniversary celebration at high school with Homer Angelo as master of ceremonies.  It was a nice well-attended program.  Again I saw people I had not yet seen and they send greetings to you as well as saying it is nice to see me back in town.  I wore my fur coat that night, and I think I saw a few eyes pop out.

On your slip with your pay check things are not exactly clear.  I gather the thing says from 8/18 to 10/4, which would be seven weeks.  However, pay is given only for five weeks.  Did they mean to hold back two weeks or did someone make an error?  Also, no allowance is made for the Credit Union payment.  This should be taken care of.  Your base pay figures to $500 per pay period, and we got only $1,250 of that.  Please look into it.  I made all bank payments quickly, and will get at handling other delinquent items.  Then I count that in two weeks we will have some more.  I have loads of food in the freezer, so expenses are not running high yet – until heatings begins in real earnest.  Copenhaver’s bill is big.

Donald went to a show birthday  party today.  He has another one for tomorrow.  Not bad.

It is getting closer to Admission Day.  I will work tomorrow and the next few days at cleaning house.  I have actually done nothing since we got in, except yard.  It really is very filthy by now in spots.

We haven’t had any rain since the day I arrived in Carson City.  I do hope it does not hold off for Admission Day.  I think I said the Bowers ladies might have a float, and I invited them here to dress or what they needed to do for preparations.

Did you get a tire pump for the car?  What kind is your camera?  I have to answer when they ask and I have forgotten.  Even your camels were not too dusty to see.

Who should check about your travel money?  I have heard nothing.  Keep up your vitamins.  That is what keeps me going.  “Bazaar”  “Scissors”

The garage is leaning eastward, no doubt started by the weight of the shelf as I anticipated.  It is now several inches out of plumb and the side door is getting almost impossible to latch.  What steps should we take?  Should we attempt to straighten it before diagonal bracing?  Heavy winds don’t help either.

Time to stop and say I love you and miss you as I always do.  Oodles of love.
Lloydine

Notes:  Yesterday I began the posting of the slides.  The first picture up is a sacred cow in Amritsar, beautiful photograph and fitting.  Lloydine refers to it as a “bullock”, which of course it is.  My mother was almost always right, which meant that at times the rest of us were wrong; like later in the post about the storage loft Fred added in the back (east end) of the garage in 1953.  The loft was fine.  It was “loading” it that caused the problem – loading it with stuff.  An engineer should have anticipated the long term results, not just the immediate usage and design.  Lloydine was right (in 1953) and five years later she had to live with the result of the maybe minor miscalculation.  There is a lesson here.  She goes back to the maker of the problem to fix it.

More pictures (slides) will follow.  Fred’s camera was a Nikon, an expensive one, second or third model sold in the US.  The Kodak that he took to Burma stayed with Lloydine in Carson City.  She used it to sometimes take better slides than Fred, a friendly competition where Lloydine had the advantage of being right-handed in a world where cameras were made for right-handed persons, not like “Fred the southpaw”, but keep your attention to the ground and not the sky, “light-meter talk” or is it more about Afghanistan from Lloydine?

Your first look at the Carson house (and me) is from 1955 via my Davy Crockett post.  Click here, read or just scroll down.  This is the way the posts will work; text then pictures.  This way you can “get a better picture” of the way things were, re-read or revisit the posts of the past – each day things will get a little clearer, more information, zeroing in on what needs to be zeroed in on, like revisiting Afghanistan or at least the recent pages.  Be patient, things take time, and like with the letters there’s a time-lag between the news from Afghanistan and here.

So at the same time and without knowing it both Fred and Lloydine start writing double-barreled letters.  Today’s letter from Lloydine is sent by air in two parts, Fred’s was the stationery at hand stuffed into a larger envelope with the many stamps necessary to make it fly.  Fred has parties, Lloydine buys the coat; points are made by paying attention to each nuance regarding what is going on.

The Rabes lived in the new house across the street from our house in Carson City.  They had a television while we didn’t.  Fred designed the KOLO tower on top of Slide Mountain that brought the signal in, but not to us.  It was on the Rabes set that I watched “Walt Disney Presents” on Sunday night, my one night per week, one program, of television.

The point here and in my mother’s letter is that life is so much fuller in a life without TV.  We played Bridge, Lloydine talked to people live (not on cell phones at work), she visited in visits with the nuances of “face to face” and not chat rooms centered in Denver or Dubai.  There was a UN presentation, live, with speakers that talked for free and did not have to compete with TV – two channels of communication are not real competition.  Everyone could meet the candidates, talk to them, ask them questions, visit their houses maybe and see how they lived.  Open houses were everywhere – and open cars – which is why the coat was maybe stolen from the almost always unlocked car.  Or maybe the coat disappeared (to a tourist) at the Nugget (Carson City Nugget) where we ate Awful – Awfuls in the restaurant and where I would have a “Shrimp Boat” sometimes and that is where Fred’s hard-earned money from Afghanistan would go when Washington in their good graces would see fit to send it.

It is a complex picture, Lloydine’s fur coat was not mink.  It was not raccoon either, not a Davy Crockett cape, not cat fur or caracal; maybe it was Otter – they killed otters then just for the fur; the social demands created by great expectations.  The otter coat (if it were otter) did not go to Afghanistan.  The Afghans had coats of sheepskin to wear, much warmer coats, bought for the winter’s cold and not for the style.

But all this talk of coats does bring up Pat Nixon.  She too was from Nevada once.  “Dick” (Dick, Richard Nixon) made much to do about poor Pat’s (poor Richard) good cloth coat; Kennedy (meaning Jacqueline and Jack) wore fur coats, mink coats (not otter), plural not singular.  It was a Republican that cast the first bone (or stone) about class warfare – the “feed the poor and eat the rich” mantra of the sixties – Donner Party revisited or is it more about the animals and keeping them alive to do with them and for them what is best?

But wearing a fur coat to a UN Day observance; what was my mother thinking?  Maybe she was telling us something that we need to know, something about the UN, something about Homer Angelo and that first meeting in San Francisco and the Rockefeller (center) that funded everything in New York and why it is so often UN troops that are first to the fight and sometimes disturbing stuff that does not always make sense, but then one is left with only intuition.  You decide.  The Wheat shafts on each side of the globe, like on the crest of the Soviet Union, things one noticed in Afghanistan when each day one passed the Russian embassy – C.C.C.P.; do you have any other questions?

2010.04.06 – 22:30.

Entero vioform

October 24th, 1958

This is Post #29 in the new Series “Going to Afghanistan”.

LETTER

Addressed to:
Mrs. Fred W. Clayton
405 N. Roop St.
Carson City, Nevada
U.S.A.

Senders name and address:
Fred W. Clayton
c/o USOM / Afghanistan
Kabul, Afghanistan

Stationery from:
Hotel Claridge – 820 Connecticut Avenue N.W. – Washington 6, D.C.
Harold B. Morris, Manager – MEtropilitan 8-3935

Kabul, Afghanistan
24 Oct. 1958 (Friday)

My Beloved,

I love you and miss you so very much.  Wish you were here to enjoy the day to day activities, the trips, the parties, the scenery and the work.

I have just reread your four letters (4) the last of which you wrote 13 Oct. ’58 at 6:50 A.M.  I hope to get more mail tomorrow.

I picked up some diarrhea in Amritsar and took entero vioform but have found the “Mucilose” prepared from psyllism to be the most effective thing for “sticking one together again”.  In as much as the “sea baggage” may not be here for another month I’m rationing myself on these items.  More of each of these items should be brought by you.

I’ll try to write the rest of this letter so you can use it for any distribution you may care to make.  Some of it may be duplication.

Page #3 of this letter continues on Stationery from:
Glenbrook – Lake Tahoe – Nevada
(This is stationery from the Glenbrook Golf Course which WAS Glenbrook, Nevada in 1958)

Kabul, Afghanistan

It is fitting that I should write about Kabul and Afghanistan on paper from Glenbrook Nevada for Nevada and Afghanistan are similar in terrain and climate.  In fact Kabul and Glenbrook are almost at the same elevation above sea level.

As I sit here writing in my room at the I.C.A. Staff House on this Friday night in late October I could well imagine the clock to be turned back thirty years to a ranch house in Nevada.  My room is very comfortable for winter living as it is on the second floor over the kitchen and is on the southwest corner of the building.  The south and west walls each have four casement windows five (5) ft. high by three feet wide.  With 12 ft. of window on each of two sides the room is well lighted and well ventilated.  The windows are presently draped with white sheeting.  The walls are plastered and painted green.  The ceiling, about 9 ft. above the floor is also plastered and painted white.  The floor is concrete partially covered with a red and black Afghan rug.

The door is on the east wall near the northeast corner.  Along the east wall is a chest of drawers made of teak with a new mirror above it.  South of the chest of drawers is a sheet iron stove (locally called a bukhari) with a low fire burning for protection against the chill of the clear night air.

Along the north wall toward the door is a wardrobe 7 ft. high by 4’ 6” with double doors.  West of the wardrobe is the bed with a night stand on each side.  The bed is a single one with a Hollywood foot.

On the night stand in the northwest corner is the tape recorder.  In the southwest corner is my air freight packing box.

I’m sitting at a modern design white oak desk facing the stove.  A bare electric bulb with a small glass shade above it hangs from the center of the room.  A new table lamp of German manufacture sits on the right corner of the desk.  At night this table lamp sits on the other night stand by the bed.

The major noise outside is the barking of dogs with the occasional crunch of shoes on a gravel walk.  A door slams and a voice calls out in the sharp staccato of Pharsee.  Only then is the Nevada ranch spell broken.

The Staff House is large having some seven rooms and two bathrooms on each floor.  It is built of adobe bricks having walls about 20” thick.  The second floor and ceiling is supported on poplar poles laid edge to edge to make the floor, concrete is poured over the poles.  The ceiling plaster is applied to the underside of the same poles and has a minimum thickness of ½ inch.

The roof of the house is sheet metal and is pitched with hips at the four corners.

There are four of these houses in a row on the western side of the compound.  Two of the houses are used for Staff House quarters, one for the dispensary and the fourth to house the motor pool offices, the property offices, and the visual aid dept.

The entire compound is about 1/8 mile square and is completely enclosed by a mud wall two feet thick and about nine feet high.

The compound is entered by a single gateway in front of the most southerly house; the one I am in.  This gate way is guarded day and night by one or more turbaned Afghans.  After midnight the gate is barred and braced from within.

The office is about ½ mile away in a similar compound in similar houses.  My office is on the ground floor and has a large bay window to the south.

The compounds contain trees and some lawn.  Most have ditches running through them for irrigation.

Kabul is a cosmopolitan city in the same sense that San Francisco and Istanbul are.  Here the races and the tribes of Europe and Asia have met and mixed for centuries.  They were transported here, not by ships of the sea as in the other two cities, but by the ships of the desert. The camels; also by horses and donkeys and by foot.  Today the streets of Kabul contain mixed traffic of cars, trucks, camels, horses, donkeys, cows, sheep, and chickens.

Night before last on my way to a diplomatic reception at the Embassy Residence my car was stopped by a band of sheep being driven across the street under the light of the new German street lamps.

Every morning I am awakened by the braying of the donkeys followed by muffled noises of fire building in the kitchen and the bath rooms.  The wood fired water heaters serve the dual purpose of providing a nice warm bathroom morning ablutions.

Kabul is well policed and unlike most cities outside the U.S.A. the lower floors are not protected by heavy iron bars and iron doors.  Siemans store has show windows of glass which are not covered and are kept lighted at night.  This is unusual in Europe, let alone Asia.

The greatest hazard one encounters walking the streets at night are the huge fierce dogs owned by the nomads who may be spending the night on any open ground in the city.  Some of these dogs look almost like hyenas being markedly larger at the shoulders than at the hips.  They respond only to their masters and evidently don’t understand English.

Monday 20 Oct. ’58 I accompanied the Continental Allied study team (Bennett, Burris etc.) to Gulbahar to see the huge textile mill being built there.  Gulbahar is about 50 miles north of Kabul.  The valley between here and there looks much like the Owens Valley in California except that it has much more water and is much more productive.  Grapes are raised in abundance.  Some are marketed fresh and others are dried for raisins.

Most all fruits, vegetables and grains are grown in this valley as was some cotton.  Sheep and cattle are also raised.  Maximum farm size is about seven acres so living is somewhat meager.

At Jabal us Siraj is a small textile plant (53 looms) and a hydro-electric power plant.  This power plant was the first one in Afghanistan and was built before World War I by an American engineer named Jewitt.  If I am not mistaken this man was the husband of Mrs. Jewitt who was Clyde Huston’s secretary and the father of Don Jewitt who used to work for Elmo Di Ricco in the State Engineer’s Office (Please check this when convenient).

Ralph Krause is leaving next Wednesday.  He is taking a tape recording of Afghan music which we made here at the Staff House on our recorder.  He will duplicate it in Palo Alto and will give you a copy and the original.  He will make a second copy which he will take to Sid and Cleo in Washington for us.

Ralph and family will be up to Carson this winter to ski.  His girls are in their early teens and love the snow.  His next door neighbor Tom Morrin – my old school mate at Bowles Hall – has a cabin at Bijou, Lake Tahoe.

I must close now and get to bed.  It is mid-night and the frost is on the pumpkin.

All success to your politicking.  Hope you have a good Nevada Day.  Wish I was there.

All my love,
Your Fred

Notes:
Going from last to first:  Fred was proud to be a Nevadan, he was a second generation native born Nevadan.  His grandfather first passed through what is now Elko in 1852, went to California and returned about 1859 to settle in the state permanently.  Nevada Day was important to Fred.

Both Morrin and Jewitt (the name may be misspelled) represent Fred’s ongoing preoccupation with “Small world stories”.  The world to him was one big continuous Facebook long before facebook was ever invented.  He did not need the computer or the web, he had an irontrap memory and correlated names and name information constantly.  Of course Tom Morrin lived right next door to Ralph Krause, of course Ralph knew Homer Angelo – Fred’s world was almost always like that, everyone was connected and connected to each other and connected to Fred.  But he had another advantage – Fred and Lloydine really did know a lot of people.

Bowles Hall is in Berkeley, California.  It is on the UC campus and like the Staff House is a residence hall.  Fred’s second love after Small World stories is “interesting places to live”, which includes hotels (The Claridge), Bowles Hall, the ICA Staff House, and a very long list of unique places to temporarily “hang your hat”.

The Owens Valley look alike is where the Bagram Air Base build by the Russians is; now occupied by the American (Nato coalition) Command.   The airfield did not exist in 1958.  Owens Valley was once very fruitful before the water was stolen by the City of Los Angeles (a story partly told in the movie Chinatown).  Some of Fred’s near relatives were well situated in the Owens Valley before LA made its move and were “wiped out” along with many others by the water wars that LA unscrupulously won.

The dogs Fred describes are the “Coochie dogs”, probably the meanest and most powerful attack dogs on earth.  They are very fast and agile and have virtually no neck (a dogs most vulnerable spot).  German Shepherds and Pit Bulls would not stand a chance against a Coochie dog; and Coochie dogs are skilled in teamwork and competition so there is always a race between the “always two” to see who can be the first to take an intruder completely down.

Much of Europe, even Paris, had a tradition of shuttered night windows on shops and businesses.  Virginia City (Nevada) had iron shutters one almost all buildings (you can still see some of them this day).  The practice was widespread in Gold Country and dominated the older buildings in San Francisco.  Istanbul and Cairo and Jerusalem were shuttered cities; Kabul was not.

Much has been made more recently of the “tribalism” of Afghanistan and the “melting pot” of America.  In fact Afghanistan is far more of a melting pot than America is.  The complex genetic mixing of eastern and western peoples inherent to virtually every Afghan is the result of thousands of years of trade, invasions, and conquests beginning long before Alexander the Great’s Greek armies and Roman Empire trade routes that reached to China.  The British armies and those of the Russian Tsars made their mark in mingling with the seeds of Genghis Khan, the Persians, people from the tribes of India.  The racial diversity of what looked almost like the whole world could be found on the streets of Kabul, melded into a soft patina of color that might only be best described as “Afghan”.

I have posted before on the tremendous loss of “quality of life” when one lives there lives without the daily presence of a diversity of animals; animals on the street, not just “dogs or cats” at home.  Animals bring out the best in humanity unless the humans are warped to cruelty.  The Afghans were generally not cruel.  There were no trained snakes like in India, no bears on chains.  There were no bull fights or bear baiting contests like in the Spanish world.  Afghans did not flog their horses like the British; not a “Black Beauty” culture.  Camels were loaded and led, not raced like in Nevada (now) or in Saudi Arabia (then and now).  There was no breeding or stadiums for “Horse racing, “dog racing”, “harness racing”, the mounting of Ostriches – you get my point.  Most Afghan animals helped with the work; but were part of the team that kept the whole society going.  Some animals were of course eaten (Afghans don’t eat pig), but the killing was always done in a religious manner, forms and customs to reduce the waste and pain.  There was of course the problem of the “caracal”, so let’s not assume everything was perfect.

New Mexico even today has many houses built of adobe.  Fort Churchill in Nevada was built of adobe.  Much of Spain and North Africa and India is of adobe.  The Jerusalem of the Arabs and the Jews was mostly adobe; the list goes on and on.  There are different sizes of brick, different mixes, different procedures – some bricks are dried, some fired.  There are important differences in floor and roof design, in the use of corbels, in the way poles are placed, in the way walls all fit together.

The Afghans had adobe architecture pretty much down to a science; arguably they even had earthquake resistant adobe design; not made by engineers, but pieced together by the collective experience of a thousand years of earthquakes so seasonal you know when to expect them.  Adobe compound walls surrounded almost everything, certainly every house and home.  The wall around the Staff House was a full one half mile of adobe construction, as Fred said, “nine feet tall and two feet thick” – tall enough to keep the Coochie dogs out at night.

Kenneth (Ken Clayton) worked as a golf caddy and lived at Glenbrook in the caddy shack during the summer of 1957.  The Glenbrook Golf Course was (and I believe still is) one of the most exhilarating courses to play in the world.  Many expert golfers in California preferred Glenbrook to Carmel (Pebble Beach).  The stationery Fred used for this letter was collected by Ken and a few sheets taken to Afghanistan by Fred.

In India they call intestinal distress “Delhi Belly”, some call it “The Trots”.  In Mexico it is “Montezuma’s Revenge”.  There are a hundred different colloquialisms for this essentially same disease.  What Fred really had was “Kabul Tummy (the KT‘s)”; but then if he got it in Amritsar, maybe Delhi Belly would be “closer” to the truth; check the mileage or test the water.  The point is that one can not necessarily drink the water without boiling it at high boil for a full twenty minutes – those were the rules then; we have bottled water now.

So Fred finally wrote a real letter, the kind that Lloydine had asked for, the kind of letter Fred could write when he had time, the motivation, and was not sick.  It’s the kind of letter everyone wants to receive or read from overseas; descriptions, color, narrations about how good life can be when life is really different; not the same stores, gas stations, streets and lawns – the joy of having new and different neighbors.  And Fred wrote the letter to be shared and read, his own words, so now I share this letter with you.  It makes you want to go there (to Afghanistan) doesn’t it?  It made me want to go.  The irony of course is that what Fred loved so much about Afghanistan as stated in this letter is what he was there to forever change.

It’s like a sand mandala of the Hopi or of Tibet; first you create the beauty, then you see it, then ones hand moves and takes it all away.

So now we can not go there.  Not really see it like it was.  We can only “go back” in our minds; see pictures, read letters, imagine the way it was.  And maybe we can imagine too the way it could be; if things were different; if the Afghans and if Afghanistan had been just left alone.

The Post Office is nearby where one might buy some stamps – Kabul street scene in October of 1958.

ICA Staff House – one of four buildings – and the ICA Staff House lawn – Kabul – October 1958.

This was the day the Afghan musicians would play.  It was a course in Afghan music, probably never recorded before, but maybe.  Just in case Fred had the Norelco ready.  The tape recorder can be seen on the table to the right.  Ralph Krause will take the tape to Washington D.C. and Stanford.

The USOM Staff House lawn was a lovely place, the acordian is not native to Afghanistan, the other instruments are.

Everyone wore a karakul hat then; it was more western than the turban, helped foreign trade, went well with western suits and western shoes.  The camel drivers were not invited to this event – they could not afford the clothes.

An Afghan meat market – Jabal us Siraj, Afghanistan – October 1958.

Photograph taken by Fred W. Clayton – This photographic image is copyrighted by Donald Clayton, all rights reserved – first published 2010 on QalaBist.com.

Afghanistan did not have “meat markets”.  It had meat vendors.  The vendor killed his own animals, chopped them up, sold one pieces the size and shape they wanted.  Each purchase was weighed with a scale – everything was fair.  If you don’t trust this man shop someplace else.  No pork was ever sold, just cow and sheep and some said the occasional goat.  What you cannot see in this picture are the ever present wasps (attracted to the raw meat).  This man will never get stung, but most others hurry along with their transactions.  These pants and shoes and turban are Afghan wear, not western.  The coat; well it is a coat that could go anyway – on or off like a simple beard.

Project Identity 720 ——————————————————————————————————————————————————————       [1] 35:069 – Asia – Afghanistan – Parwan Province –
Jabul us Siraj – 
 

This photograph was taken on (or about) October 20, 1958 by an American engineer in Afghanistan.  The identity of the person pictured is unknown.  If you have any information regarding this person or his family please E-Mail this website.

2010.04.02 – 22:31.

Just a note to make the pouch

October 21st, 1958

This is Post #28 in the new Series “Going to Afghanistan”.

AIR LETTER
If anything is enclosed this letter will be sent by ordinary mail
Red, green, and black aviation letter outline – Postes Afghanistan 2 Af. Stamp of the King – 3 Af, Stamp of the King (orange)

Addressed to:
Mrs. Fred W. Clayton
405 N. Roop St.
Carson City, Nevada
U.S.A.

Senders name and address:
Fred W. Clayton
c/o USOM / Afghanistan
Kabul, Afghanistan

To open cut here

Tuesday 21 Oct. ’58

My Darlings,

Just a note to make the pouch.

I hope all the pictures are not underexposed.  It was a dark day in Tokyo.

Yesterday I went to the huge spinning and weaving mill at Gublahar about 50 mi. north of here.  Very interesting.

Sunday was the first air negotiation meeting.

The weather here is just as you describe your weather.

Glad you got your lawn in,  Wish I could see it.

Mail from you, Elsa, Deanie & Mother today.

Sorry about the losses to Winnemucca.

Must close now
All my love
Fred

Notes:  The idea here is to write a letter and fill the page with long hand “lefty” script and keep the word count below 100.  Fred did this in today’s letter.  He sounds distracted, busy, or both.  Maybe it’s just a Tuesday.

Fred went to Gublahar Afghanistan, due north fifty miles, dirt roads all the way once one left the Parowan – Mina neighborhood of Kabul and got past the British Embassy on the right.  There were no route numbers then that Fred could refer to, “Afghanistan Route 66” or “US Route 1” with a twist on that old post road that wound from Boston south or Philadelphia north or something; horses prancing with riders side-saddle; rich carriages pulled by six-team horses.  Fred saw camels instead, donkeys loaded, ran into flocks of sheep and herds of goats and grown men loaded down with loads on their backs that only the most macho of men in America could conceive, walking towards Kabul or away – because that is the way it always was on the way north, to Gulbahar and Charikar, and the left turn to the road to Bamian, but don’t try to find it on the map.  No road signs really.  Just know where you are going or you WILL be lost and then only a kindly Afghan will ever help you home.

The weather in Kabul is very much like that in Carson City; the mountains look much the same; the air is just as crisp, the clouds as white – Kabul is about 3,000 feet higher though in elevation.  So if you live in New York, say “How high is that?”  Or just wonder about the weather, not like New York at all, not like Kansas, not like D.C. or L.A. or Seattle or Portland.  It’s like Carson City; two points on the planet with weather virtually just the same, same earthquakes too, same seasons – you get my drift (and Fred‘s drift too).

Elsa Marie Clayton / Gooch was Fred’s older “younger” sister; half-sister really – but more than a ½ sister if you know the facts.  Elsa’s mother died and Fred’s father remarried – remarried his wife’s younger sister.  So Elsa was like a 2/3 sister.  Deanie (Geraldine Maud Clayton / Dean / Rapp) was Fred’s older “older” 2/3 sister.  Deanie was older than Elsa.  Fred was the youngest of four; Fred’s older brother (full brother) Al (Albert Warren Clayton Jr.) did not write letters; not like “never”, but did not write much.

“Mother” to Fred was of course his Mother – Clara May Boomhower / Clayton, “Caddie” for short.  She was born in 1875, 83 years earlier (from 1958).  She wasn’t happy about Fred going to Burma, “so far away” and less happy about Afghanistan, “I’m older now and it’s so very far away”.  Actually Afghanistan is just about literally on the opposite side of the world from Nevada, so my grandmother was mostly right; it was one of those “far away places” that people kept singing about in the fifties; romantic, but not so romantic to a mother left behind, at home, her son going to Afghanistan for God knows what; to return or not; to live there or die there when he could be home here with me, or maybe not with me but near by, talk on the phone sometimes, not just write letters and wait weeks for the sight of foreign stamps.

It’s nice to get letters from ones wife, from sisters, from ones Mother if ones in Afghanistan alone; other Americans there maybe, but family is important just the same.  Fred makes the point.  Now 80,000 US troops there feel just about the same; but Fred was first and had a choice, the 80,000 just followed.

Which all this gets us back to “the pouch”.  The pouch was what they carried mail in in Boston, on the Old Post Road to Philadelphia and later to Washington (D.C.).  Fast riders then, sometimes curious, sometimes not; some favored the British, some did not.  Some read the mail on the way, some did not.  Things never really change much.  The word “pouch” was still the same; it still went to Washington, some people still liked to read other peoples mail (it is OK).

The Pouch in Fred’s case was the “diplomatic pouch”, the secret US mail that was mailed out of Afghanistan under official seal; sometimes literally under lock and key.  The treaties said this mail could not be intercepted, not be opened and read and resealed by foreign governments, spies, the Taliban if it were now.  Fred’s letters were completely safe, safe until they reached Washington where anyone could open them, read them, pass them on for others to deliver or to read.

So Fred was always very cautious and careful about what he wrote; no state secrets, no smoking gun, no nasty things or unkind words about what may  be going on.  In his letters everything is always “up”, even if some days were down.  Lloydine learned to not just read the words, but to also watch the spaces; that’s the way of codes, weather reports with meaning if you know your history.  Maybe this letter is much longer than one thinks.

2010.03.31 – 22:32.

Reception for Fraser Williams

October 21st, 1958

Reception for Fraser Williams

~ To meet Hon. Fraser Wilkins, Minister – Counselor.  American Embassy. Tehran.  The American Ambassador and Mrs. Mills request the honor of the company of Mr. and Mrs. Frederick W. Clayton at a Reception on Tuesday, October 21st 1958 at 6 to 8 PM o’clock  acknowledged

Note:  The staff of the American Ambassador apparently was unaware that “Mrs. Frederick W. Clayton” was not in Afghanistan at this time, but was still residing in Carson City, Nevada.

2012.03.20 – 19:25.

A close friend of Milton Eisenhower

October 20th, 1958

This is Post #27 in the new Series “Going to Afghanistan”.

AIR LETTER – AEROGRAMME
VIA AIR MAIL – PAR AVION
Pre-stamped U.S. Postage 10c Air Mail letter and envelope.

Addressed to:
Mr. Fred W. Clayton
American Embassy – USOM Kabul
Department of State Mail Room
Washington 25, D.C.

Message must appear on inner side only  No tape or sticker may be attached
If anything is enclosed, this letter will be sent by ordinary mail
First Fold  Second fold

Return Address:
Lloydine Clayton
405 N. Roop St.
Carson City, Nevada
U.S.A.

October 20, 1958

My Darling,

Yesterday was the 19th and you would think I would slow down enough to write you more often as I keep promising both of us.  However, if I slow down, I start to think and that makes me very lonesome, so I am much better dynamically busy.

We finally received a bit more news from you in your letter of the 8th – 10th .  We enjoyed all about the big celebration game of Bushkuzi.  The boys decided that must be rough.

However, we are still waiting for a first impression report of the country, the culture, the people, the work, etc. – some of the first things you wrote from Burma.

We will wait for the report on October 1st , how you could get there and still at one stage have written a letter that you were on your way back to Amritsar – there must have been a lot of shuttling that day.

Homer Angelo was delighted that you had met Ralph Krause, “a splendid man” and very high in his organization, and a close friend of Milton Eisenhower.  Homer has an appointment to talk with him when he comes back here, around the first part of December, on some other subjects.  Then Homer hopes to get it fixed so I can meet Ralph someplace here.  He sends his warmest greetings back, if Ralph is still there.

Weather here got down to the mid-twenties last night.  Saturday night, and especially Sunday morning it blew violently.  Sunday Kenneth and I were out trying to level the parking strip a bit after having it plowed up somewhat to ease the job.  We surely got the dust moving.

Sunday afternoon we took a trip I had been planning for a week, up to Tahoe to visit and eat chicken dinner for $1.00.  We saw the Belchers and they are fine, Dick (Dick Belcher) is still doing some surveying at 70 yrs.  He was fixing roof that wind had removed.  They now have nine grandchildren, and 1 great expected in the winter.

Bonnie (Bonnie Barnett) was fine and fixing her building.  She sold the lake front strip for $70,000.00 this year.  Our house is still owned by the same people, but rented year around.

The Callerys are trying staying one school semester – except Mr. Callery – who commutes.  They remember your trips to the lake and back and how hard it was.  Mary is not sure she can make it, but hopes.  She will teach nursery school; Dennis has a job at Crystal Bay Club as a bus boy.

Everyone was amazed how Donald had grown.  They all send greetings to you.  The new road was very nice.

Last week I got two mud and snow tires for the rear of the Ford and two new tires for Kenneth to put on the Chevrolet when he gets it running.  They were on a good sale.  All charged at Sears for now.  Got the wheels all balanced and the car handles very nicely as it passes 80,000 miles.

I am beginning to be very interested in when you get a pay day.  I am going to sell the level pretty soon, if I don’t get some money in.  I am seriously considering selling both the level and the transit.  I have a lead on a man on the new NIC Building (just west of Sade’s remodeled house).  Incidentally he has a friend who is an accountant for M&K (Morrison and Knudsen), who makes several trips a year to Afghanistan out of San Francisco, a man who formerly was with Christiani Nielson.

Grass is coming up and requires considerable watering, but weather is still sunny.  I have pretty well got Republican headquarters started running.  Must work to finish organizing the rally for the 23rd .  Have a big sign to work on – 20 ft. long.  Dr. Homer will do most of it.

Time to say I love you dearly and think of you often.  Sweet dreams.  Oodles of love from all of us.
Lloydine, Kenneth – Donald

Notes:  The Burma letters and the Burma slides became somewhat legendary.  The letters would be passed around to various friends and sometimes relatives; Lloydine would re-type them and make carbon copies so that business associates could keep up with Fred’s adventures and what he was doing in Burma.  The web is so much easier and more efficient.  The Burma Slides were shown for years to those interested in Burma; they went to Vancouver BC for a presentation, were shown in Berkeley (California), shown in Los Angeles, in Washington D.C., in Seoul, Korea, Carson City and Reno, Nevada.  Most of all they were shown at Tahoe, in presentations in Tahoe City and at Kings Beach (California) for the benefit of the few school children and  neighbors who “wintered over” at Tahoe at the time.

Homer Angelo was a judge on the World Court (International Court of Justice) in The Hague (the Netherlands).  The Hague Tribunal was established in 1899 for the peaceful settlement of international disputes.  He lived in Genoa (pronounced Jin – o – a not Jen -oh – wa in Nevada) Nevada when not in The Hague with sessions of the court.  He was a close family friend and on occasion legal adviser.

I have provided a link for Milton Eisenhower.  Most people know, but some might not know it – Dwight D. Eisenhower was the US President then (in 1958).  Kennedy (John F.) beat Nixon (Eisenhower’s V.P.) in 1960.  Martin Clayton, Fred and Lloydine’s first son, now in the Navy (in 1958) met both Eisenhower and Nixon at Boy’s Nation in 1956 in Washington D.C., and Eisenhower again in San Francisco at the Republican Convention in San Francisco.

Bonnie Barnet ran a small lodge and cabins in Kings Beach on the lake side of the highway just south of where the Kings Beach Bakery used to be.  She was a kind, shrewd, and firm woman with an excellent business sense.  Her Tahoe versions of the Adirondack chairs were copied often, but Bonnie always painted them better and brighter colors than anyone else – the same bright colors that she used on her cabins.

I rode most of the 80,000 miles shown on the Ford station wagon odometer.  The car was a 1952 Ford woody – later the perfect surfing car.  It went to Tahoe, from Tahoe all over California, up to Canada and back, out to Kansas, over the Sierras at least 60 times, down to Las Vegas, throughout northern California and northern Nevada, up to Yellowstone and on to Jackson Hole and back to Nevada.  Kenneth drove it to school his Junior year of High School when in Carson City (at age 16) and had it again in college at the University of Nevada in Reno for four years (but that was when the car had maybe 96,000 miles).  The car stayed in Reno and did not go to Afghanistan.

It is a real threat to tell a real engineer you might sell his transit.  Fred was a licensed surveyor in three states – Oregon, Nevada, California – nothing now, but a big deal then.  He used the transit in question to survey the original Badger Pass ski area in Yosemite, part of Heavenly Valley, a good portion of Slide Mountain (later Reno Ski Bowl) and a number of other early ski places, now resorts.  He surveyed dams and dam sites, water systems, ranches, roads, airports and countless other things; he had access to Morrison and Knudsen transits while in Afghanistan.

“Sade (Sadie) was Sadie Hawkins, real name, not the Lil’ Abner namesake day of the same era.  She was Carson City’s almost oldest and certainly most beloved character.  She was from an old Comstock Lode family and every year she “danced” her way down Carson Street in the Nevada Day parade on October 31st, wearing a gay ’90s dress with full bloomers lifted and showing.

Morrison Knudsen was the primary US contractor in Afghanistan.  The company was under the overall supervision of Fred in all that they did in Afghanistan while Fred was in Afghanistan.  M & K built the Kandahar International Airport, paved the road between Kandahar and Kabul, did extensive work in the Helmand Valley.  There were lesser jobs too.

Dr. Homer is not Homer Angelo; Dr. Homer was a Carson City doctor and a Republican.  Republican headquarters was then where part of the Carson City Nugget is now.  The site was a mortuary in 1958, the mortuary moved out and the Republicans moved in (temporarily).  People made their comments.  It was not Lloydine’s decision to take this space; good doctor making signs or not.  Anyway, as you will soon find out the Republicans in Nevada lost the election – the lesson here is probably obvious.

2010.03.30 – 22:33.

October 20, 1958

October 20th, 1958

Spinning and Weaving Mill (near) Gulbahar, Afghanistan – October 20, 1958.

Photograph taken by Fred W. Clayton – This photographic image is copyrighted by Donald Clayton, all rights reserved – first published 2010 on QalaBist.com.

October 20, 1958:

Afghanistan has probably been self-sufficient in cotton for most of its history.  This mill represents a more “modern” approach, more industrial than in the past.  In 1958 there were no cotton combines in the country.  All cotton was picked by hand, no slaves or slavery was involved.  The truck body is built by Afghans.  The truck frame, front window, motor, transmission, and wheels (hood and grill) were built in the United States and then shipped to Afghanistan as a unit.  Most “Afghan” buses and trucks were of this composition; and most were far more creatively built and beautifully designed than this rather bland vehicle.

Bridge over the Panishir River (near) Gulbahar, Afghanistan – October 20, 1958.

Photograph taken by Fred W. Clayton – This photographic image is copyrighted by Donald Clayton, all rights reserved – first published 2010 on QalaBist.com.

October 20, 1958:

The Panjshir Bridge was built by the Americans to facilitate access to the new cotton mill and weaving facility, sturdy enough for the American made trucks like the one you saw in the previous picture.  The name Panishir Valley is now spelled Panjshir Valley in Afghanistan.

Bridge over the Panishir River (near) Gulbahar, Afghanistan – October 20, 1958.

Photograph taken by Fred W. Clayton – This photographic image is copyrighted by Donald Clayton, all rights reserved – first published 2010 on QalaBist.com.

October 20, 1958:

In this “bridge picture” (in Panjshir Valley) you can see the American imported crane used to lift the bridge trusses into place.  More important than the bridge however is the river, the water, the foreground and the background.

Koochie camp near Charikar, Afghanistan – October 20, 1958.

Photograph taken by Fred W. Clayton – This photographic image is copyrighted by Donald Clayton, all rights reserved – first published 2010 on QalaBist.com.

October 20, 1958:

The Koochies are one of several nomadic peoples that lived in and passed through Afghanistan.  They generally had absolutely zero respect for national borders; actually zero respect for any borders.  The people were almost absolutely free and absolutely self-sufficient.  They camped where they decided to camp, set up their tent or tents and stayed (or left) when they pleased.  Needless to say they never paid any taxes and nobody “messed with” the Koochies, and they generally never “messed with” anybody else.  Something worth remembering if they decide to be your neighbor.

And if you remember, their dogs “Koochie dogs” are the most effective and vicious dogs on earth.

This picture was taken near Charikar, Afghanistan.  Charikar is (was) located just north of where the Russians built the Bagram Air Force Base for the Afghan Air Force and their new Russian Migs.  Bagram did not exist when this photograph was taken in the Bagram Valley (Kohdaman Valley).  The valley itself was the center of Buddhist culture in Afghanistan.  The village (town) of Charikar was (in the 1950’s) most famous for its knives; the craftsman there made everything from cutlery to switchblades.

The Village of Istalif, Afghanistan radiant in the golden sun – October 20, 1958.

Photograph taken by Fred W. Clayton – This photographic image is copyrighted by Donald Clayton, all rights reserved – first published 2010 on QalaBist.com.

October 20, 1958:

The Village of Istalif by any measure was probably the most beautiful village in Afghanistan.  The town was famous for both its grapes and remarkable blue-glazed pottery.  The village wove rugs (not just the hand-tied ones).  The people were possibly the kindest, most peaceful, warmest people on earth; artistic, disciplined, and industrious.

The Village of Istalif is located south of Charikar and west of the Kohdaman Valley, not too far from the Bagram Air Base that the American forces now hold.  Needless to say the “sounds of freedom” (meaning the constant droning of jets) has greatly damaged the legendary tranquility of Istalif.  More, the Russians and the war with Russia greatly damaged Istalif.  Like the destruction of the Buddahs at Bamian this blow to the last clear remanents of the ancient Bagram culture was (and is) a heresy hard to forgive.  But today Istalif is said to be coming back.  I pray that it is so.  I pray too that the Americans (the military) will leave.

The Village of Istalif, Afghanistan with flowers – October 20, 1958.

Photograph taken by Fred W. Clayton – This photographic image is copyrighted by Donald Clayton, all rights reserved – first published 2010 on QalaBist.com.

October 20, 1958:

Click on each picture to enlarge.  Click again (sometimes) for an even better look.  The point is that you cannot click enough times to get deeply into the soul of a place.  You can only imagine, only feel the way it was; the way that maybe it could be again.

The Village of Istalif, Afghanistan looking toward Bagram Valley – October 20, 1958.

Photograph taken by Fred W. Clayton – This photographic image is copyrighted by Donald Clayton, all rights reserved – first published 2010 on QalaBist.com.

October 20, 1958:

The views of, in, and around the Village of Istalif defy description, especially in the fall.  Fred took these pictures too late in the day to do Istalif justice (but we have more, taken later – and earlier in the day so be patient dear friend).  Nobody in Istalif was ever impatient.  There was no where else in the whole world better to go (or to go to); except maybe in its own way Nikko, Japan.

The Village of Istalif, Afghanistan looking south toward Kabul – October 20, 1958.

Photograph taken by Fred W. Clayton – This photographic image is copyrighted by Donald Clayton, all rights reserved – first published 2010 on QalaBist.com.

October 20, 1958:

Perhaps the luckiest person in the world built and lived in this fairly modern house near Istalif in 1958.  I believe he was from Europe, saw Istalif, never looked back.  But maybe village life would have been even better; but then the Russians came and… and we do not know what happened then.  Tell me if YOU know.

[First posted:  2010.05.28 / Saturday  October 20, 1958]

Watched the cannon fired at noon

October 18th, 1958

This is Post #26 in the new Series “Going to Afghanistan”.

AIR LETTER
If anything is enclosed this letter will be sent by ordinary mail
Red, green, and black aviation letter outline – Postes Afghanistan 5 Af. Stamp – DC-3 over Kabul (blue)

Addressed to:
Mrs. Fred W. Clayton
405 N. Roop St.
Carson City, Nevada
U.S.A.

Senders name and address:
Fred W. Clayton
c/o USOM / Afghanistan
Kabul, Afghanistan

To open cut here

Kabul
18 Oct. ’58 Sat.

Dear Ones,

Your letter came Thursday (your 3rd letter according to your note) and I thoroughly enjoyed it.    The second one is enroute I guess.  Congratulations on your lawn project.

Congratulations to you Ken on your Merit Exam qualification.

Burris and Bennet arrived Thurs.  They tried to contact you in Wash. D.C. before leaving not remembering you were in Carson City.  They send their best regards.

Wed. night Snyders gave a reception for me.  More Afghans attended than ever before.  It was fun.  Wish you were here.

Walked almost up to the Wall yesterday.  Sat on the hill with Ralph Krause and watched the cannon fired at noon.  More later.

I love you so very much and miss you! – Every day am busy.

All my love,
Your Fred.

Notes:  The “Wall” refers to the Kabul Wall, the wall that went from “the fort” on the western side of Koh-I-Sher Darwaza to the much larger fort of Bara-Hi-Sar (Bara Hi Sar) on the eastern side of the mountain.  The wall itself dates to the 5th Century (500 AD).  The Bara Hi-Sar became quite famous during the Afghan Wars and is discussed in the book “The High Pavilions”.  The Kabul Wall remains were largely intact in 1958 and a portion of the wall, less frequently visited, went up the Koh-I-Azamai, the mountain opposite the Koh-I-Sher.  The Kabul River flows through the defile between these two mountains.  In the old days (whenever the old days were) there was a gate (the Western Gate of Kabul) at this point restricting and controlling access to the city.  In 1958 the lower sections of the Kabul wall and the entire gate were gone.  A Russian gas station, one of three gas stations serving all of Kabul, was built upon the site of the old gate.  The second gas station was at the base of the Bala Hissar (fort).

The old part of Kabul, the original city, was located along and mostly south of the Kabul River, east of the Western Gate, in the valley north of the Koh-I-Sher; the city extended east to the Bara Hi-sar from where the wall once ran north and eventually encircled the earlier city.  The Koh-I-Azamai was (is) the mountain that separates Kart-I-Chor (pronounced Cart-I-Char) and Shar-I-Nau (pronounced Sher-I-Now).  “Nau” means new, and Shar-I-Nau literally means “new city”.  The area comprising Kart-I-Chor lay outside of and to the further west of the Western Gate.

The USOM Staff House (International Cooperation Administration (ICA) – USOM /Afghanistan) where Fred is staying was located in a compound east of Duralaman Boulevard (which for its entire length was still dirt) about one mile (road distance) from the Western Gate.  The United States Embassy in Kabul was located in Shar-I-Nau about one mile due north of the Russian Embassy.  The Russian Embassy (CCCP) was strategically located just east of the Western Gate in the oldest part of Kabul.  Basically one could not go east or west in Kabul, by car or walking, without passing the Soviet Embassy.  All gas, even the gas used by the Americans, was from the Soviet Union and had to be purchased at one of the three “Russian” built stations.

The ruins of the wall started above the leveled remains of the western fort.  This flattened area overlooking many of the important parts of Kabul was where the noon-day gun was located; the advantage of this location being the fact that the gun could be heard throughout most all of Kabul, old and new, east and west as the blast from the two or three hundred year old cannon reverberated against the mountain walls and sailed through the crisp blue skies directly.  It was a sight and a sound not easy to forget; but all those new to Kabul always heard the sound first, many never ventured up the mountain to see the site.  Fred did, and he took pictures too.

2010.03.26 – 22:34.

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