After a brief stint with an engineering company, I was able to qualify for our group’s baseball team. For the uninformed: sports in the service is a big and important thing. Since in those days we were mostly a draftee (civilian) army, the teams were equal to what you might find in a professional league. We figured out that our baseball team would have been the equivalent of athletes in a Class B minor league. Today, most of that was replaced by college baseball.
I immediately began experiencing the finer things that the army had to offer. We were housed in dormitory-style quarters at the University of Seoul. In those days there weren’t very many students. The school’s curriculum was just in the process of being reestablished. Because of the war, the university lowered its requirements. It boiled down to a student body of very rich Korean kids. Very rich Koreans and one American soldier— that would be me. (Yes, you read right.)
While it only lasted for four short months, I enjoyed every minute of it. Sleeping in an actual building, instead of a ten-man squad tent doesn’t take a lot of getting accustomed to. There was another big plus, athletes were treated to a special diet. The army took great care of us. We slept in each morning, worked out twice a day, and played a league game twice a week.
Though the baseball season ended all too quickly, what followed was even more good fortune. As a reward for playing on a winning team, I was put in charge of a massive engineer supply point. And though my rank was only that of corporal, the job came with the automatic provision that the man in charge (that would be me) was assumed to hold one rank higher than anyone who entered the supply point in order to conduct business. The army’s theory was in actuality a sound maneuver. The reason for it insured against anyone holding a higher rank than I did, ordering me to give them whatever supplies they asked for.
Along with the some fifteen American soldiers assigned to my supply point, a contingent of forty Korean men were there daily to provide help with a number of back-breaking jobs.
(Some would wonder what any of this could possibly have to do with voice over. Stay tuned.)
While Korean laborers aren’t exactly a made-in-heaven theatrical starting point, they did provide a once-in-a-lifetime learning experience. These forty men were just that: men. For whatever reason, I was instantly able to identify with them. It did create some degree of animosity with a few of my colleagues, but it didn’t last long. Some of the guys thought the Koreans were being assigned to us as slaves. As quickly as they learned that while the Korean laborers dressed in these horrible quilted style outfits, it had nothing to do with their intelligence or life’s experience.
…And another thing.
Though my given name is Harvey, I am usually referred to as da harv. That moniker was coined by a couple of my wife Cathy’s relatives during one of our many trips to Chicago. They, her relatives, reasoned that since they already had “da Bears”, “da Bulls”, and “da Cubs”, it was most appropriate for them to have “da harv”.
Appropriate or not… the name stuck. Today, even our clients refer to me as “da harv”. Not excluded are my wife, my children, and my colleagues at work. In a way it’s nice. Often I too refer to “da harv” as if he is a separate entity. Somehow, I’m more comfortable being able to put blame on da harv as opposed to Harvey. So with that in mind, if you have a problem with my book… blame it on da harv. The idea for writing this book was suggested to me on more than a few occasions by a variety of actors who counseled: “da harv should write a book”.