We would take our US money and exchange it for the MPC to spend when we went on liberty. The exchange rate changed quite often, allowing some creative GI’s to make a small profit. I forget how much we were allowed each pay period, but I think it was around twenty-five dollars.
By the time we bought the essentials: two fifths of whiskey, a carton of Winston’s, and a couple of nights in Da Nang to visit our girl friends, we were understandably broke. For those of us who weren’t Wall Street smart, we had to use other ingenious ideas -- like Bernie Madoff.
We noticed the MPC was often changed. This was done to keep the notes from being counterfeited by the Vietnam mobsters. When the military changed the face of the MPC, we only had a short time to spend or exchange the old notes for the new ones.
One night, during a poker game, we came across an idea that we thought just might work, and it did. What drew our attention to this criminal plan were the bars and shop owners on the back streets who would take the outdated MPC without knowing the MPC had changed. We decided we were going to give our plan a shot.
When the Monopoly game arrived, we split the cash and then headed to the back streets of Da Nang. We had to be smooth in our first attempt, but we knew the merchants were also shady.
Cotton Cranford was the first to try our new Wall Street Plan. After Cotton went through the expected haggling process, the store owner looked at the note with a surprised look. Cotton assured him it was the new MPC for that week. The store owner gladly took the “new note”. Most proprietors were happy we chose their bar to spend our wealth, especially when we were the only ones there, using the same Milton Bradley money.
We became very proficient with this new spending plan, although some would call it a scam, cheating, a swindle or even stealing. (Being one of the culprits, I will refrain from any admission of guilt). I do, however, remember the beer tasting great for some reason.
Soon, several men were writing home, requesting a new Monopoly game. All of us knew an end would come one day, which it did. We started seeing pinned up bills at different exchanges, around Da Nang, with phony written on the front.
One evening after our squadron CO made his necessary announcements, he ended by saying, “For those using the Monopoly money, it will stop today”. Later the Colonel was overheard telling someone, “Considering everything, it wasn’t a bad idea”.
I remember once, the bank told me I had a counterfeit hundred dollar bill. Believe me, it was a sick feeling. It took me over a week to pass that note...
C David Ramsey
“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale