Dear Mother and Beth,
As this will be the longest letter I have ever written, I
shall make it do for the both of you.
First I know, you will want to know if I like Africa, at least
Firestone Plantations--all I can say is that I am more than pleased
with everything thus far. The whole place, the surrounding country,
the Natives, all have my wholehearted interest. Of course, all is
so new now, but it doesn't seem possible that there wouldn't be some-
thing every day to interest one. I am really delighted with the op-
portunity and experience. I have some difficulty, even now, making
myself realize I am really in Africa, several thousand miles from
There will be much left untold in this letter, you can't expect
me to comprehend it all at once, so the rest will have to come later.
There are two whole years to tell it in and I am sure this will keep
you occupied for some time, so get out your reading glasses, settle
down in a comfortable chair and I shall do my best to tell you of the
trip over and some of the Plantation. Before I start, I must say I
was somewhat overwhelmed the other day with mail. Seventeen letters
and Christmas cards, all with messages written on, and the papers.
I had such a good time going through all of these and catching up on
local news from the papers.
It is Sunday morning that I am starting this. I shall write un-
til I am exhausted and then continue again. It is most delightful
and comfortable here in the bungalow, a cool breeze is blowing and
the climate here is wonderful. I thought I would come down here and
swelter; not once have I suffered from the heat. The temperature,
at least here in the bungalow, hasn't been over eighty, and early in
the morning it is often way below seventy, down right cold
Day by Day Account of my Boat Trip
NeW York City to Monrovia, Liberia, Africa
December 2, 1939
We were all to be on board the S. S. Cathlamet at 10:00 A.M.,
ready to sail, however, from the looks of things the afternoon before
it was dubious that we would get underway on schedule. Neverthe-
less, after three days of.waiting all passengers were eager and
ready at ten o'clock. The hour came and went, and still the stev-
adores were loading cargo. Then one o'clock was set for sailing.
Since we had time to waste, Miller, Kolke and I went back to Brooklyn
to do some last minute shopping. We arrived back at the boat before
one, just in time for lunch. Our first meal on shipboard, and if
it is any indication, we are to have wonderful meals and a good time
at table--the food is par-excellance: Finally at two o'clock the
last of the hatches were closed and two tugs started us on our way,
leaving Pier 17 at the foot of Pioneer Street in Brooklyn, headed
for points East; down the river and out into the sound we started,
but were soon stopped. Just a few miles out we ran intb a terrific
fog. There was much shouting and blowing of whistles; one which
got stuck and nearly ruined our ear drums. Finally the fog horn
was brought to the bow of the boat and pumped frantically, the bell
likewise was rung with much vigor. The fog was too thick for safety
so the captain had the anchor dropped, and there we were to wait un-
til old mother nature cleared away the fog. Many ships and ferries
came all too close for comfort, one boat came between us and the
San Jaun which was anchored very close off the port side. A little
later the fog lifted; it was amazing the number of boats that had
dropped anchor around us, just like flies in sugar syrup. The fog
closed in again, so there we were. It was not until some time dur-
ing the night that we left the soUtnd for the open sea. We missed
bidding farewell to the Statue of Liberty, so now must wait two years
to greet it!
December 3, 1939
Seven-thirty and a good night's sleep came to an end with the
Captain turning on his radio. I got up, felt a little dizzy but not
bad, went into the bathroom for my morning checkup and was just fin-
ishing my molars when I was caught! I started in and having nothing
save a glass of water on my stomach to regurgitate--I let it go--or
rather it came in spite of any control I could exercise over it, the
action continued and I had my first taste of bile--1 guess that is
what it was. 1 was then none too happy. went to my room and the
Captain came in and recognizing my symptoms took me up on the bridge
to walk in the wind. 1 tramped back and forth, back and forth and
began to feel better, a little later the Captain broughtrup an apple,
it tasted tery good, but then a half hour later it didn't taste the
same. The sea was quite rough and we were doing a l6t of pitching
and rolling, it was a quartering sea, and that is not too good. Later
I tried another apple which brought the same results and sent me run-%
ning to the windward side of the boat and there after 1 knew enough
to head fot the leaward side. The lun.h bell rang--1 went down, tried
it, and made a hasty retreat, I walked up and down and around and
around, by this' time I was getting a little weak. In the afternoon
I took a nap and slept very well. 1 came down for dinner and got it
down without any trouble but no sooner did 1 get up from the table
than my dinner got up from me. Later in the evening 1 went down to
the Saloon and chatted with the others, at least I wasn't alone in
my plight. I tried a banana and much to my surprise it stayed with
. me. I was so pleased and right away began to feel better. I really
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wasn't too terribly sick, just nauseated and hungry. I went up to
bed and slept like a log, I was really exhausted after this day.
December 4, 1939
This morning I went down to breakfast, ate half an orange and
had a sudden call to ship rail. This time I headed for the leaward
side. I went back again, I simply wasn't going to give up. I ate
the rest of my orange, some more breakfast and lo and behold it
seemed to become a part of me. Lunch came and went, and I kept it,
and then dinner too stayed with me. I decided that my seasickness
was a thing of the past and this was a most joyous realization.
Perry Jester said it was all due to the banana; thus another sea
sick remedy to chalk up. In the afternoon some of us went up on
the bow and watched eight porpoises play. They would dash forward
from the foam as the ship's nose went down, all of them in perfect
unison, cutting close to the surface so that their fins were out of
the water. They would disappear and then come up into view again.
It is a most graceful animal despite its size. They are mammals
and not true fish. We arrived in the gulf stream in the late after-
noon and it warmed up considerably. The water of the gulf stream
is actually much bluer than that we came out of, Several gulls have
been following us, collecting the refuse thrown overboard. How easy
it is to dispose of waste at seal
This is the first time I have experience ;the :-ensation of look-
ing out in all directions and seeing a perfectly flat horizon, it
actually seems, when we get there we will surely drop off. The sea
has c&lmed down and we are now forging ahead quietly and peacefully.
December 5, 1939
Two and a half days out and all is well. It is about time I
listed my fellow companions on this voyage.
Mr. and Mrs. Jester--Perry and Olive, he is the American Consul
bound for Lagos, Nigeria.
Mr. and Mrs. Diefenback--Fran and John, a young couple with the
Texas Oil Company in Accra, Gold Coast.
Mr. and Mrs. Miller--Dewey and Mary, Newlyweds of November.
Dewey is factory manager for Firestone at the Cape Palmas Plantation
in southern Liberia, about three hundred miles south0of the Duside
Plantation where I am headed.
M1r. and Mrs. Kloke--Eddie and Helen, a diesel man also withb
Firestone and going to the Duside Plantation.
Dr. and Mrs. Graves--Gravey and Kit, Medical missionaries from
Pennsylvania. United Brethren is sending them out. They will go
to a small native village where there is one other white person,
but a quite modern hospital. The village is Rotefunk, Sierra Leon,
and is about fifty miles inland from Freetown.
Last night over a game of 50O Rummy it waA decided there would
be no more Mr. and Mrs.. This is an excellent drowd, it is almost
surprising that eleven people, all strangers, would become so friendly
and congenial and have such a ggod time in so short a time. It is
very evident that we shall have a most delightful crossing. The
Captain is a wonderful person, a real story-book Captain in appear-
ance, but much more human than his appearance would indicate. Hee
is just like one bf the passengers. He sees to our comfort at every
turn. We have already heard endless tales of the coast. Everyone
knows or has heard of him, that is whites and Americans all up and
down the coast.
December 6, 1939
I read out on the deck in the morning. We still wear our coats,
The deck chairs are so comfortable when padded with blankets and pil-
lows. When I settle down, all my lawn chairs and going to be deck
chairs 1 slept in the afternoon; the Ahip is such a restful place.
Meals seem to come too close together, the bell rings and before it
has stopped it seems to be ringing again. We have wonderful food
and such an abundance and variety. We can have everything on the
menu if we want it, but I haven't had room for such a meal as yet.
We are free to raid the galley at night and the steward always leaves
out plenty for us. We always have tea before we go to bed.
I'm writing this out on the deck and the captainn is telling one,
of his stories, I only wish I could take it down in shorthand, plus
the accent the Captain has. He is from Virginia and has been at sea
ever since he was fifteen, has been on this West African run for the
last fifteen years. He was fifty-two the second day out, but didn't
tell us until today. There really isn't much chance to continue this
with the Captain sitting next to me and going on with this amusing
and interesting tale, so I shall try again when 1 am less pleasantly
December 7, 1939
A lazy day yesterday, even today it is difficult to remember
what happened. Life goes on so peacefully without a care or.worry.
After an early breakfast (7:30 to 8:30), I read a while then the
Captain started and shortly the lunch bell took precedent over the
Captain's story. At one o'clock, justafter leaving the lunch table
the whistle blew for a fire drill. We all rushed to our cabins, don-
ned our life belts, and strolled leisurely to the life boats. It
was all very calm and unhurried. We decided the boat could go down
a dozen times before the crew all arrived, however, we weren't much
concerned. Read some more, but dropped off to sleep and slept for
The Jesters have the cutest little West Highland terrior. I
thought he was a white scottie until i was correctly informed this
morning. Mac is his name, and he is usually a most well behaved and
mannerly dog, but this noon after lunch as we were still sitting
around the table hearing' how Dakar and Freetown were fortified, Mac
forgot his 'manners and relieved his distended bladderI He was really
very much ashamed when he was scolded. Olive blamed it on the ham
bone the captain had given him the night before. She said poor Mac
had been drinking water all night and all morning. The Chief Engineer
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has a little blAck pup only two months old and a very cunning bit
of canninity. He and Mac are great pals and play together by the
The passenger quarters on the cathlamet are by no means ele-
gant. There are five cabins each occupied by one of the married
couples. I have the captain's Office for my quarters. It is a
very nice room but not much of any place to put my clothes so I'm
content to live out or a suitcase. There is a nice big easy chair
and a good radio but little privacy. The captain's bunk is in the
adjoining room. We are on the top deck, just under the bridge,
The office, Captain's room, one cabin in which the Millers hold
forth and a bath and shower are all the living quarters on this
deck, but the outside deck is lived in more than any other part of
the boat. The deck chairs are up here and always someone is up
here just sitting or reading. It is a most wonderful pl ce to rest
and take life as it comes. There are only forty-eight on board.
Thirty-seven crew members including the captain and eleven passengers.
We have the run of the snip out as yet haven't seen a great deal of
it. There is little room for exercise so we all go marching around
and around the upper deck. The boat burns fuel oil which is terribly
dirty at present and we are going with the wind. We haven't seen
much sun yet but some. We run into occasional squalls, in fact it
looks like one might move in on us any minute. The steward is a
West Indian Negro as is George the cabin boy and waiter. George
takes excellent care of us and our things. We see some animal life
on board--cockroaches, but no one minds these, they are an inevitable
part of a freighter. This morning the Captain brought a flying fish
up on deck where we were sitting. It had landed on the sea deck,
attracted by the lights during the night. It was a beautiful blue
metallic color. The fins, the lateral ones, were enormous, just like
wings. The Captain says we will run into lotb.more as we go further
south. We loose twenty minutes a day. We are now a thousand miles
from New York and about a third of the way to Dakar. Our cargo is
mostly oil and gasoline, cement, flour and road equipment and tractors.
There are of course endless other items. Since the first day out the
sea has not been rough, we still roll come but no longer mind it.
December 8, 1939
After dinner last evening we played Blackjack. I came out
winner with eighty matches to my credit.
This morning arrived, the day we have been waiting for--a
glorious sun shiny morning. After breakfast I did a bit of reading,
Perry appeared with shorts on. It was so warm and he looked so cool
and comfortable that I could no longer resist the temptation those
shorts folded away in my baggage were giving me, so I too put on
Last night Olive gave me some good advice on the servant problems
and Perry on calls on governmental officials. The Captain still a-
wakens me by turning on his radio. An excellent program of Western
Hill-billy songs comes over a Philadelphia station.
Tomorrow we will have been at sea a week.
The Jesters are such grand people. They have held posts in
Hong Kong, San Salvadore, Barbadoes, and South Hampton, England,
their last. Now they are headed for Lagos, Nigeria, where he will
be counsul for four British colonies on the coast. Both are from
Virginia and have that charming and gracious southern manner.
The sea looks so calm it doesn't seem possible that we could
be rolling even as much as we are. I was asking today about getting
on land. It will be such a queer feeling to set foot on something
that isn't moving. I just hope that i won't get land sick!
Already I'm sold on freighter travel, provided one is In .to
hurry, and is desirous of a good rest and above all if there is a
congenial group aboard such as we are fortunate enough -to have.
December 9, 1939
This morning it was cool, in fact it has been too cool all day
to be without a sweater. I thought Perry kery brave to again appear
in shorts. After a good breakfast with delicious sausages and grid-
dle cakes I read on deck, then lunched and read some more. A nap
and then a cleansing under the drizzling and dripping shower, it is
really an effort to get water on one. I think this is the first
mention of the shower. I want it understood whoever takes the time
to read this, that 1 have used it before and really have kept myself
clean as difficult as it has been on this good old steamer. Perry
and Olive entertained most delightfully at cocktails from five to
six, martini, and hors d' oeuvres. All were present except the
Captain and Chief, and not too hungry we found ourselves eating as
heartily as ever at dinner.
I went up on deck and chatted with, Montgomery, the third mate.
All the Officers are friendly and seem to be swell fellows.
The Italian super-liner Rex passed us a few miles to the port
side. We could see her lights but could not clearly make out the
flags on her side. The radio operator was in touch with the one on
the Rex. This is only the second.ship we have seen, the other being
an English freighter, all grey. It passed very close to us but due
to its color we soon lost sight of it. We are now more than four-
teen hundred miles out, in the same latitude as Bermuda but much to
the East. We are almost halfway to Dakar.
December 16, 1939
Looking at the last date I see that one whole week has elapsed
since 1 last put down the goings on on the S. S. Cathlamet. This
week has gone so rapidly, and yet at-times it seems an eternity. I
sometimes feel that I have never been any place but on this ship.
A most pleasant and delightful little world in itself. Our world is
very small, but there has been no urgent desire to seek anything out-
side it, it has all been most satisfying arid sufficient in itself.
I can't with any degree of accuracy account for ;each day past, one
has been so like the other but not once have 1 minded this. it has
not in the least been monotonous. Early in the week we had such fun,
all eleven passengers sat aroung the tables in the saloon and sang
at least some of them really sang, while others of us thought we did.
We had Firestone beer, it was sent on board for us at New York we
were all grateful to Firestone as it contributed to the evening.
We sang all the old songs we knew and some of the late ones, the
Christmas carols had their place in the program.
Most every evening we gather in the Saloon after dinner and
play cards. Along comes ten-thirty or eleven and out come the tea
pots and left overs from dinner for our evening snack.
Yesterday I saw my first school of flying fish. Montgomery
showed them to me from the bridge, then I saw more again this morn-
ing. They are amazing creatures, skimming out over the waves, some
going for great distances.
There has been much activity this morning as the crew has been
getting the derricks and winches in readiness to discharge that part
of the cargo bound for Dakar, We are nearing the African coast. I
cah't comprehend that we will really see Africa, it has always seemed
so remote and unreal. We are to arrive in Dakar Monday morning.
Last evening we were shown by the Captain how a great circle is shorter
than a straight line in navigation.
We are all anticipating Dakar. As it is in a state of war we
will probably have to have a complete black out while we are there,
so the captain tells us. Much interest has arisen over the downfall
of the Graf Spee to the three British ships off the coast of South
America when the German ship slipped into the harbor at Montevideo,
We have heard the American commentators tell us that thirty-six of
the German crew were buried in iviontevideo and seventy were injured.
If we are to believe the German announcer, no damage was done nor
was there any loss of life. The captain is rabid on the German ques-
tion, he practically goes wild when he hears this news from Germany,
which has been coming on during the lunch hour. Hearing all this
propaganda from both sides it is difficult to know just what to be-
lieve. The German commentator yesterday challenged the Captains of
the Queen Mary and Normandie to sail out from New York for home ports.
The Bremen did it without any trouble against the ineffective British
blockade so he said, so why couldn't these two ships try the same
and excape the German subs, it seems all so ridiculous.
I wandered down into the machine shop and then down a long ladder-
like series of steps and into the engine room. The heat was terrific,
the size of the crankshaft is amazing but not so much so as is the
two-hundred foot shaft leading aft to the propeller. This shaft is
15" in diameter, it is cooled by water, I didn't get into the boiler
room, so shall do that before I disembark.
The Captain warned us yesterday not to sit in the sun unless we
wore a head-covering; this tropical sun is almost devoid of ultra-
violet and on some individuals has a very injurious effect causing
sun stroke and severe headaches after a comparatively short time of
exposure without protection to the head and back of the neck. Just
hope we can go ashore in Dakar and acquire our helmets. I started
taking my typhoid pills yesterday so have one more to take tomorrow.
I have had no noticeable reaction from these.
December 17, 1939
Yesterday afternoon the Jesters entertained again at cocktails
in celebration of the third Saturday on board ship. Martinis up on
the Captain's deck. The evening was a usual round of cards with
casino and dominos, while Perry and Eddie battled over the checkers.
Sunday as usual has been a lazy day. After a big dinner I
settled down for a mid-afternoon nap but was suddenly awakened by
Gravey as he pulled me by the feet practically the whole length of
the cot. It was to inform me that a ship was in sight. Sleepily
I found my glasses and wandered to the bridge and with the rest of
the crowd we spied on the passing vessel. We could not make out
its nation. From the super-structure we concluded it was an ore
boat. About three thirty the Chief Engineer brought up a big pit-
cher full of the most wonderful egg nog. While we were enjoying
these egg nogs land was sighted. Africa was at last before us.
Africa at first was like a small cloud on the horizon, then we
saw two clouds--this was Cape Verde. On the highest point was a
lighthouse glistening brilliantly in the afternoon sun. As we neared
the point more and more objects to attract our attention came into
view. Now there were three lighthouses. As it grew darker we came
close enough to the reefs to see the snips that had been blown up
on them, There were about five that could be seen clearly, a very
large ship was completely high and dry. The West Coast of Africa
is very dangerous as there are so many reefs and small islands.
Geologically this coast is supposed to be a submerged mountain range.
After such a delightful party as the Chief gave us and the ex-
citement of seeing land after sixteen days of water we reluctantly
went down to dinner but none of us really did justice to the delic-
ious steaks we ordered. After dark we could see the lights of Dakar
and the lighthouse signaled us and we signaled back. Quite a con-
versation was carried on between us and the lighthouse. We were not
to enter the harbor until morning. With excitement running high and
with the anticipation of going ashore in Dakar there was little to
do besides amuse ourselves with light and simple card games.
December 18, 1939
There was not much sleep for those on the Captain's deck last
night. There was too much activity above us on the bridge while we
drifted outside the harbor all night. Before seven I heard voices
outside so I jumped up and joined the others as we steamed into Dakar.
To the port side was a.high point surmounted by a small lighthouse
and one very large gun and other smaller guns. On the starboard was
toae- !Uin3&iu-tith large gun also on its highest point. The Island,
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on the end nearest Dakar was completely covered with buildings,
right down to the waters edge. It looked very lovely with its
red tile roofs,light brick and yellow stucco buildings. There
were green trees here and there and several palms gracefully
silouhetted against the early morning sky. The aspect was quite
different when closer examination was made through the glasses.
It was old and in ruins. It actually looked as though it had been
the brunt of an air raid, however, it was probably time, and the
natives that had caused its decadence. It is said that long ago
all the people died of yellow fever and since then the island has
never been inhabited, It certainly looked deserted, we saw no
signs of life. Gorree Island was one of the oldest slave trading
stations on the coast, It no doubt has a very interesting and color-
ful history. Soon the city of Dakar was on our left. A most pic-
turesque tropical city spread out over the gently sloping hills,
overlooking a very interesting harbor. The pilot boat with its
French Officers came out to meet'us. Then we went in through the
first boom. This was a heavy net held up by buoys, a row of them
strung from one side of the harbor to the other--it seemed to stretch
for miles. There was only one small entrance through the blockade
intended to keep submarines out. This entrance was made by swinging
back one of the buoys like a gate opens. A small naval craft was
stationed there all the time. We slowly sailed through and soon
entered the break water and were in the harbor proper. On the star-
board side, just inside the breakwater were two naval vessels, a
French cruiser and the British airplane carrier, the Hercules. There
were many small native sailing canoes going past us out to sea to
fish for the day. On the port side on whibh was the city and the
main docks were many more men of war including a French boat X92
and two French battle ships, one the Foch and the others name we
couldn't learn. As the day went on we saw more and more of those
naval boats and then two sea planes, A British submarine made its
appearance from the bottom of the harbor, not far from the quay to
which we were tied up. It was most interesting to watch this craft
slowly emerge, as though it were a vision coming from the bottom of
the sea, soon the hatch opened and men came out on deck. Then it
moved up into the harbor, as it passed a British destroyer, all men
stood at attention until past her. Coming into the harbor, knowing
that he was taking a chance, Perry took some moving pictures of the
harbor, but in particular of the ships of war. No sooner had we tied
up than a searching party came aboard and demanded the films, it was
apparent that we had been watched from every angle as we came in and
the movie camera was at once cited. Perry took the films out as re-
quested but in so doing managed to drop it so as to expose the film.
He picked it up and let it roll again. The French officers entered
into his game most affably and helped him unwind the film. They then
took his camera and held it in custody until we sailed, where it want
into the Captains charge until we had cleared the harbor.
As we came up to the quay the natives began to move about in
their long flowing robes, groups led by their headmen moved toward
the ship. Their Miohamaden robes were of many different colors or
rather had been at one time. They were the most nondescript group
1 have ever experienced. They were the stevadores of Dakar. The
robes are long, straight,. loose fitting gowns split up the back,
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front and sides, much in the Chinese fashion--this is the typical
Mohamaden dress. Underneath the robes was to be seen yards and yards
of cloth, filthy dirty, draped into droopy drawers. We were told
that there is a certain number of yards of cloth in a proper Moham-
adens pants. Some wore the fez, others had cloths draped and wrap-
ped around their heads. The American stocking cap was quite conspic-
uous among these men, with its dirt encrusted tassel or ball on top.
A few wore old dirty sun helmets and some were bareheaded. There was
one boy that stood out among all the others. He wore a new and clean,
sky blue robe. The underneath drapery was snowy white, his shoes
were light tan slippers, his costume was topped with a bright red fez;
it was most striking. He had evidently spent his recent earnings on
a complete new ensemble. Most of the natives were barefoot, some had
sandals, some old tennis shoes, and some one kind of shoe on one foot
and another kind on the other. Their arms and legs were coated with
dirt and scaly, no doubt from both the dirt and the skin diseases.
1it was apparent that water was of little concern to them save perhaps
for drinking. When the outer robes were removed in readiness for work
the revelation of under clothes was unbelievable. One fellow stripped
completely on deck and picked up an old piece of burlap and wore it as
a loin cloth, then all slowly removed their shoes and started to un-
load charge. There were light tractors and one huge piece of road ma-
chinery taken off at Dakar. It was quite an engineering feat to re-
move these heavy pieces. A large barge came along side of us and re-
moved most of the tractors. They were all crated and as they were
pulled out of the hole and off the ship there was much creaking and
snapping of wood. When they were suspended out over the water I ex-
pected to see them go splash any minute, but they were all safely
put ashore here. The unloading of this was most primitive and very
unorganized. The barrels were taken off four at a time by a derrick
on ship and then dropped overboard on the quay where the natives rol-
led them away and onto trucks. The boxes of gasoline, two five gallon
tins to a case, were taken off in canvas slings, then two men would
lift a box up and a third would get under it and wqlk away with it on
his head. Many of the natives had black leather bracelets, with large
pendants, on their arms or legs and black charms around their necks,
in these charms were writings of Mohatmmaden, They were for giddy-
giddy, that is to keep certain evils and ills away. The agent for the
Barber Steamship Line came on board and took our passports to take
them to the officials in hopes of getting us passes to go shore. The
French Naval Officers and customs officials who came on earlier said
we would not be allowed any shore leave. Later the agent returned
with the sad news that we would not be allowed any shore leave. Later
the agent returned with the sad news that he did not get the passes
but would try again after two o'clock. All business and activity in
Dakar is at a stand still from twelve until two, nothing is open.
Dewey says the change is so sudden it is like a magicians trick. You
look down the street one moment and it is alive and bustling, then a
second later it is completely deserted, not a sign of activity. The
only life in sight is a few natives sleeping on the curb or in a door-
way with a dog licking their faces and feet. When two o'clock neared
we began to watch for the agent. Our impatient watch closed at about
three-thirty when he returned with our passports and nothing else.
We were all disappointed even though we had really given up any hope.
Thus we resigned ourselves to being entertained by the unloading of
cargo. Perry and Olive were allowed to go on land as he was an Amer-
ioan Counsul, that's what comes being in the diplomatic service.
They went ashore about ten in the morning and returned a few min-
utes before five. They said they were very pleasantly pleased with
Dakar. It was unusually clean for a tropical city, was very pic-
turesque and reminded him in many ways of Central American cities,
About four-thirty we did get off the ship and stroll around on the
quay. Off to our left was a huge cool pile of very fine coal, it
was being pressed into briquettes. It would have been disastrous
to us if the wind had been from land instead of from the sea. We
were not allowed to stay in the harbor at night so about half past
five the pilot came and took us out of the breakwater but still in-
side the boom. My only hope is that when I return, if I go that
way, that I will have this disappointment appeased. It seemed a
pity to travel over three-thousand miles and then not be permitted
to go ashore and see the sights. The harbor has been built up so
that on the south this long break water has been built out for over
a mile. The harbor is shallow, one of the shallowest on the coast
but dredging was started in 1936 and is still going on. We were
tied up to a quay about half way down the breakwater. On board
that night we could only look longingly at the city lights, the
lights of the other ships and then go down to the saloon and play
casino which has become the ships most popular game. There was no
blackout as we had anticipated.
Olive and Perry mailed our letters for us and brought back
stamps, five franc notes and francs as change for the money we had
given them, they also brought a stack of post cards which they sold
te us at no profit. At nine o'clock we were all called to assemble
in the saloon--John and Fran were entertaining at a champagne party
in celebration of their second wedding anniversary. e had a grand
evening. The champagne was wonderful. The chief opened the bottles
and came near making some good shots, his targets were flies on the
ceiling. Olive, when leaving, was sliding out from behind the table
on the long bench on the front side of the saloon. In so doing she
slid too far and went on the floor almost on top of L'ac, fortunately
she wasn't hurt so she joined in the laughter. We decided a couple
of glasses of champagne was too much for her.
December 19, 1939
Knowing we could not go ashore there&was no hurry to get up,
however everyone was down for breakfast around eight. After eating
we went out and helped to finish the unloading, We came back to the
harbor about 7:30. It was so cold I wore my top coat and really en-
joyed its warmth. Both days we have been here have been extremely
cold. This is the coldest time of the year for Dakar. A little
after noon the last of the cargo went ashore. We waited around un-
til about two before all details concerning ship and customs were
completed and finally the pilot came on baord for the fourth time
to see us out of the breakwater, past the boom, alongside of Gorree
Island and out to open sea--onward to Freetown.
- 11 -
December 20, 1939
It was much warmer today and the sea as calm as a mirror as
we glided along. We were well out to sea with no coast in sight.
There was much talk of making connections at Freetown, on the
Swedru, an English ship which would carry passengers on down the
coast. Olive and Perry and Fran and John were most anxious to
get on it, otherwise they might have to stay in Freetown till an
indefinite date. There is little or no information given out on
arrival and departureof ships, thus we must be on hand at the
right moment if passage is to be assured. After lunch I went down
to arrange for my cocktail party. The Captain went down to the
steward with me to see that I got everything I wanted. I arranged
all the chairs and a small table out on deck just outside my room.
About four thirty the assemblage arrived, plus the Captain and
Chief Engineer. The Captain gave me a box of cigars to pass to
the men, the ladies only smoked cigarettes. We had a very delight-
ful time even if I do say so and then the bell called us down to
dinner. In the evening we sat on deck and talked. It was too nice
to go down to the saloon as it was getting rather warm in there.
The moon is heading toward fullness and the evenings are so warm
December 21, 1939
2oday has been a big day. We had our farewell Christmas din-
ner at noon and what a gastronomical feast it was. The Chldf or-'
dered for the whole table and that meant everything on the menu.
Relishes, cold meats, cheese, soup, fish, turkey, dressing, sweet
potatoes, mashed potatoes, asparagus, cauliflower, salad, mince pie,
coffee, beer and champaigne, fresh fruits, nuts and raisins. I
wish I had saved a menu. Perry was toastmaster and thanked the
Captain and Chief for all of us for our memorable voyage.
Around three o'clock we again sighted land, Sierra Leon, We
stood around the railing and used the glasses to watch a number of
British ships head out to form a convoy. About four o'clock we
started up the Sierra Leon river for Freetown. It is a very treach-
erous channel. Here we passed through a double boom. On the south
as we went in were several small bays, beautiful, sandy beaches
edged by patP and banana trees. Just before we started up the
river, stretching out to the South, was a wonderful harbor. Freetown
is built on a hillside reaching down to the waters edge and extend-
ing back up on the hill, gradually giving way to the lush green
forest which covers the high hill. A mountain looms up several
thousand feet and towers above this very colorful city with its red
roofs and white buildings amid the ever present greenery. We drop-
ped anchor about five o'clock not more than three quarters of a
mile from shore. There are no docks.. for the ships to tie up to so
all cargomust be taken off the ships, aut on lighters and carried
ashore. We were not long in when several canoes, hollowed out of
logs, paddled by native boys, came out to. the boat. They were sel-
ling baskets and bananas., -They would toss a line up to us, tie.
'their wares on and we then hauled them up for inspection and dick-
ering over the price. I didn't buy anything as I had no English
- 12 *
qgMey. Up the river above us hundreds of small native sailing
canoes were plying back and forth from Freetown to the opposite
shore carrying natives. Each boat had about ten or twelve pas-
sengers. It was a very beautiful sight as all these sails glided
over the water about sundown. There were 21 merchant and passenger
vessels including the Cathlamet and eleven naval ships in the
Late in the afternoon a man came on board. A doctor with
the United Brethren to take Doc and Kit ashore. It was really
almost a sad event as we told them goodbye. We all so hated to
see any of the party break up, they had been such grand friends
and we knew it was doubtful if any of us would ever see them again.
They were to take the small railroad inland a distance of fifty
miles which would take them five hours, After dinner we received
orders for a complete black-out. We all got our flashlights out
and then settled down for an evening of small talk on the deck.
There was not a light on our ship nor any of the others. A few
lights reached out from window on shore but there was no indica-
tion of a city of several thousand inhabitants just a short dis-
tance from us. The Captain served some drinks and John brought
up peanuts and cigars. We went to bed not knowing for sure whether
we would be allowed ashore or not but at least there was a chance
so there was some hope and expectancy to waken to in the morning.
December 22, 1939
We were up early. There was no chance to sleep as the Kroo
boys were coming on board to unload cargo. They were a motley
gang. Not tall like the Senegolese, They were somewhat better
dressed and many were the proud possessors of shoes. The Captain
had heretofore picked up these Kroo boys here at Freetown and car-
ried them down the coast with him. He has had many of the same
boys for the last fifteen years. He was very put out because he
could not take them from Freetown but must pick the boys up at
Monrovia. He hoped some of his old boys had gone to Monrovia so
he wouldn't have to break in an entirely new crew. There was much
confusion as the boys unloaded and put things in the lighters,
everyone of them was trying to tell the others what to do and con-
sequently it seemed as nothing would be accomplished. One lighter
which was unloading flour was right under the outlet for one of the
bathrooms. Someone flushed the toilet and water went all over the
flour. John and Fran and Olive and Perry were getting ready to go
ashore and much to our delight the rest of us were granted shore
leave for the morning. John, Perry, Dewey, Mary and I joined the
Captain in his launch and splashed our way to Freetown. John and
Perry came in to see what arrangements they could make about pas-
sage on the Swedru which had come in this morning and dropped
anchor not far from us. Dewey, Lary and I left them at the steam-
ship office and walked into- town.
Our first objective was wiest African money in exchange for
our American. After we made our exchange we started in search of
post cards and helmets. Dewey had previously spent a week in
Freetown so was well acquainted. The buildings were mostly of
stucco, some of cement block and brick, most were typical tropical
- 13 -
houses high off the ground. I was disappointed not to be able to
take a camera ashore but it would not have been allowed and I
wouldn't think of trying to get by with it and then be caught and
put in a concentration camp with the Germans held there. We found
the post cards and then went to the Indian store for helmets.
From there to about ten other places before we finally found any
that would fit us--I bought two, a white one for 21-6 and a kakai
one for 14-6 that is shillings and pence. There are twenty shil-
lings in a pound at the present rate of exchange. It was a little
Difficult to get on to this monetary system and forget dollars and
cents but necessity soon brings this about. After we found the
helmets we headed for the public market. The streets were
bustling with natives, ~te women in cloths carrying loaded baskets
and something on their heads. Seldom did we see anyone carrying
anything In his hands, these people have such a smooth gliding walk
they really carry themselves very gracefully. Most of the women
were naked above the waist, the men were much more completely dres-
sed4 A woman would be walking along, perhaps her cloth was not
just right, she would undo it and adjust it as unconcerned as a
woman in the states would pull her coat together, Many carried
their pickins low on their backs tied by a cloth. The young ones
head hanging back and bobbing up and down as it slept and the mother
went along on her way. The little black pickins, big enough to walk
and those perhaps under ten were mostly naked save for a string of
beads around their wrist, neck or ankle, a few of them wore small
beaded leather flaps and that was all. Finally we came near the
market and passed a lot of barbed wire entanglements around some
of the government buildings and railroad station. When we came to
the market we wandered through stacks fo fish, baskets, fanning
trays, medicines, bananas, roots and herbs, grass mats and a hun-
dred and one other things. I bought a large basket for 3-6, it
is about twenty inches in diameter and about a foot high. It is
shaped like a large flat pumpkin and has a cover on it. The back-
ground is tan with a red and black design. I also bought some
calabash. This is native gourd out of which they make bowls. The
one I got is globular about a foot in diameter with a lid on it.
A design is cut out in the colubosh. They are very decorative and
Dewey said they would make attractive lamp shades. After we left
the market we went to Madam Taylor's taxi stand and rented a taxi
to take us to Kissy, five miles from Freetown. There to see a chap
Dewey knew at Cargnegie Tech in Pittsburgh. He is a native Sierra
Leonian. For the taxi, round trip, it cost us 10 shillings. We
drove out through the city, on the wrong side of the road of course,
as all the cars were right hand drives, down one long street. There
was nothing but Syrian shops displaying bolt after bolt of cloth
for the native trade. Out in front of several of these were to be
seen the inevitable Singer Sewing Machine. They say that in any
small village in the interior will be found a Singer. A native
tailor sat at the machine peddling away making shorts and gowns for
We left the city and @ane to a deep ravine with a large creek,
It was crowded with native women in their gee strings doing their
wash. Pounding the clothes with big sticks on the rocks, The bush-
es along the banks were covered with brilliant pieces of cloth out
to dry. It was a most interesting and colorful sight. One doesn't
give a thought to the nakedness of these natives. It is simply as
much a part of the country as are the palms, bananas and grass
huts. A little beyond the creek we passed a cemetery, a most a-
mazing sight with huge grave markers and vault like structures.
Most of them seemed very old and weathered. The bigger a marker
a native can give his brother or father, the bigger a man for his
country he is.
Next we arrived in Kissy. First, past the mud and thatch
huts and then into a street with some very attractive and some
Very large tropical houses. All with lovely gardens inside the
high fences. We soon found the home of Tubakor Metzger whom we
were to call on. He came out to the gate to meet us. It had been
five years since Dewey had seen him. He seemed very pleased to
see Dewey again. He teaches at the college at Freetown but his
was vacation time so we caught him at home. He speaks a very
correct and carefully thought out English. The garden was very
interesting. Most of the plants were potted in Kerosene tine
(5 gal. size). The tops cut out and the sides rolled down making
a rather attractive container. There were many beautiful native
plants and some blue hydrangeas and pink roses. In the back yard
were several large banana trees. We went into this attractive
house and found it quite americanized. There were two wonderfully
well carved elephant tables of light mahogany, these have a carved
elephant as the base, There was also a player piano and radio in
Tubokar, Metzgero's wife was a nice looking native woman and
spoke fairly good English. Two little girls came out, walked up to
each of us and extended their hands for us to shake. They kept
their heads down and said not a word. We chatted awhile and then
the grandmother was called in. She was an old gray haired woman.
We were bing introduced to her and when it came my turn she im-
mediately asked if I were the Millers son, and here Mary can't be
over thirty. Our time was limited so we took our leave. We were
to be at the small wharf to leave for the boat at twelve. As we
left, the grandmother took our hands and blessed us and wished us
happiness for our stay in Africa. It was a very delightful and
interesting experience. We hurried back to the taxi station. We
walked from the gate of the water front to the wharf and found
Perry, John and the Captain about ready to leave. Perry and John
were successful in obtaining passages on the Swedru. Back at the
boat we had lunch and then the Jesters' and Diefenbooks-' made ready
to take their luggage ashore. We reluctantly bid them farewell
and the five of us left, spent the afternoon watching the cargo
go ashore. Some boys came on the boat selling native work. I
bought a bottle covered in leopard skin and red leather for four
packs of cigarettes. I also got two horns decorated in red leather
and raffia. They are very decorative and can be hung up by a long
red leather strap. About five we sailed out of the harbor and bid
farewell to Freetown, The five of us hardly seemed to be able to
at first fill the space occupied by eleven of us a day before.
December 23, 1939
It was really warm today, the first time I have felt the heat.
We have been traveling only five knots an hour so as to get into
Monrovia in the morning so as the Captain will only have to pay
one days harbor charges. Dewey and I argued about chickens until
Mary had to stop us. Before lunch we all did some washing. I
washed allthe underwear I had used and a couple of sport shirts.
We strung a line on deck and it really looked like a big wash!
The clothes dried very rapidly in the sun. Helen ironed my linen
shirt for me and I struggled with another, That evening George
decorated the saloon with red and green paper ani balloons, ready
for Christmas celebration for the officers.
December 24, 1939
When I awakened Liberia was in sight. Green hills, brilliantly
green--stretching out before us. Soon we came into the harbor and
dropped anchor about a mile out Monrovia was like Freetown in many
respects, that is from the boat. Very picturesque but quite differ-
ent when we landed and drove through. The customs came on baord
and somewhat later, two Firestone people arrived to meet us. Before
we went ashore the Kroo boys, the captain had been dreading, moved
on the boat bringing their boxes containing their worldly possessions
for the journey down the coast. Each also had a tin or enamel pot
or bed chamber that they probably used for more than one purpose.
We finally went ashore in one of the Liberian navy boats just a
large skiff with about twenty glistening blacks shouting and sing-
ing as they pulled on the oars. There is a high sandbar between
the place where the boats anchor and the warehouses and customs
offices. Beyond this a long lagoon leads into Monrovia and their
warehouses. They boys got too far out away from the small channel
that goes through the sand bar and thus we landed up on the sand.
After much straining and pulling we finally caught a breaker that
gwe could go back away from the sand bar on. wie soon pulled up at
ithe Barber Steamship warehouse and had our luggage placed in the
customs inspection cage, a screened in affair like a chicken yard.
There was a bench and a few chairs to sit on. The customs inspec-
tor finally appeared and we made a dicker with him. The only ques-
tion asked was whether we had fire arms or not. A few shillings
go a long way with these conscientious Liberian officials. My
luggage was loaded into Mortons car, a pick up, and we headed for
the Firestone Guest house or Mamba point overlooking the sea, about
a mile north and west of Monrovia. We also had a load of frozen
turkeys in the car. On the way out we passed through part of Mon-
rovia a very sorry looking place. The streets are not much more
than cow trails and as rough as fourth street used to be. It was
almost like getting into Hamilton a few years ago if one closed
his eyes and only felt the bumps.
The guest house is a beautiful large tropical house and fur-
nished in maple furniture in excellent taste. The hillside and
grounds around are landscaped with all varieties of tropical plants.
It is really an elegant place. The Millers were already there when
we arrived. 'Je sat down and talked a short while but couldn't stay
as we had the turkeys for the Christmas dinner at the Firestone
Oversear Club, for the whole plantation.
We came back through Monrovia, there was a traffic cop at
every intersection, one must do everything according to hoyle or
alse---. The government hasn't much source of revenue other than
Paft so it takes advantage of every opportunity. On the way out
we passed the German legation. A beautiful place with a huge
swastika flying. We were now on a very good road, Firestone
built it and the Liberian Government is supposed to maintain it.
The road followed the coast for a few miles before turning in-
land. There were palms on all sides of us, tall straight trunks
with huge leaf cluster on top. We passed a number of natives
on the road. At the toot of the horn they are like frightened
deer for they all run to the side of the road and stand ani watch
the car go by, yelling--"Boss, carry me.'" After a drive of about
forty miles inland we arrived at the plantation. A vast expanse
of rolling hills with many higher prominent hills, all entirely
covered with rubber. There is an endless maze of roads through
the rubber. We followed one, turned off on to a new one and so
on and finally reached Godleys. Morton was invited for dinner so
I got in on it too. We had a grand meal but somewhat hurried as
Morten was late and the Godleys were going into lonrovia for the
laying of the corner stone of the new American legation, Many
of the people from the plantation went in. The !Linister to Liberia,
is one of three colored in the diplomatic service. We left the
Glleys and went out to Harbel hills to put the turkeys in cold
storage at the U. S. Trading Company. We also had two bags of mail
with us. At Godleys we dumped this on the floor and picked out
their mail. We did this about a half-dozen times at different
places. Everyone was so eager for mail. I never before realized
how much mail meant to people away from home. Some of the fellows
were really down hearted when they didn't get any letters. The
bungalows we stopped at were all very nice. I was really impressed
by the general lay out and plan of this enormous undertaking. I
don't see how I can help but like the place. Late in the afternoon
we brought my luggage inside the bungalow on division #1 where I
4ft ,t; live with Pat Littell.
Pat wasn't home, so we just put the luggage inside the house
and went to Mortons house for chop. It was then quite late.
Mr. Polli, Mike, who at the time was living out at Number 1 had
not yet moved to his new place at six so Morton took me to the
hospital to spend my first night on African soil--which incidentally
around here is all red. I had a nice room with an air-conditioning
unit in it. Everyone at the hospital was most kind to me, thus I
spent a quiet Christmas Eve talking with a couple of the boys who
were in the hospital and the technician who also acts as manager.
It seemed no more like Christmas than the Fourth of July would be
in the dead of winter. It was impossible to realize it *as actually
the holiday season. It was warm, almost hot. We had the radio on
listening to the states. I went to bed and had a good nights sleep
as it had been a rather strenuous day,
December 25, 1939
Merry Ghristmas' I got up, had a bath and some breakfast,
A colored nurse brought flowers into my room before I was finished
with my breakfast. Eddie Wiess whom I knew at Michigan came round
to get me. Pat Littell also came down to see me. I went with
Eddie to his bungalow and had some more chop, then Mike Polli
and Russ Harkins came in, After a chat I went with Mike and Russ
and we came out to the bungalow and I got a clean shirt so as I
- 17 -
would look presentable when I made my appearance at the Club for
the big Christmas dinner. We went back to Harkin's bungalow and
waited around until about one-thirty. The club is a very nice
building, furnished like the guest house. It has a large lounge,
a bar room, and a hug veranda for dancing, ping-pong and they also
have talkies out there. There is also a kitchen. The club is on
a high hill overlooking the research division and also a native
labor camp with mud and thatch houses. After meeting many new
people, whose names I couldn't remember, we sat down to a grand
turkey dinner with all the trimmings and finished off with mince
pie and coffee. The crew of the Cathlamet were guests for the
day and over night. The Captain and Chief did not come. I was
sorry they weren't there as I would liked to have seen them again.
There was a piano at the club, a specially built one for the tropics.
It belonged to Dr. MacIndoe, one of the fellows played a while
and a lot of us sang then Mrs. i'acIndoe took over and played some
more. All the old songs, the new and Christmas carols had their
airings. There is also a large electric phonograph which provides
music for dancing. After dinner Santa Claus with a cotton beard
that kept getting in his mouth passed out mail and toys to every-
one present. They had made a large Christmas tree of a native
conifer that was a very good imitation. It was decorated with
tinsil and balls and had lights on it. At least that helped
a little to convey the holiday spirit. Everyone stayed around
so I chatted here and there and then about twelve the ILacKomise
took me to the hospital. He is the sanitation man. In as large.
a group as was at the dinner there were of course a great variety
of types of people. Some I like immediately, others I am sure I-.
won't care to know personally. But that is to be expected of this.
staff of about a hundred and thirty.
December 26, 1939
Pat Littell and like came for me at the hospital about eight
to take me out to the bungalow. I unpacked what I could as Mike
packed up. ie had chop and then Like and I went over to the M.
and S. and got my trunk and household equipment. 'Je stopped at
the garage and Mike transferred the car he had to me. It isn't
much of a car but I hope to get another before long. le rethnned
to the bungalow and unpacked the rest of my worldly possessions
and I was about ready to settle down to the life of a planter in
Africa, still not convinced that I was really there.
Pat Littell with whom I am living is a grand fellow. He is
quiet unassuming, has a very keen and subtle sense of humor. I
know we shall get along. Pat went to school in Ilissouri, taught
three years and then gave it up for a job iwht the United Fruit
Company in Panama for two years. He returned to the states bought
a farm in Eastern Oregon and then came out here. He likes tropical
life. His brother-in-law is on the farm. Pat has been here a
year axRi three months. I feel most fortunate in having drawn lot
to live with him. It might have been very different. The bungalow
is quite isolated. We do have neighbors about a mile and a half
but they arethe only ones lose to us. They are Mr. & Mrs, Wilson
and very fine people. She is from Jordon, Montana, near Miles City
--we see a lot of them. The bungalow is of red brick with a sheet
- 18 -
metal roof. It is built up on pillars about seven feet high.
There are three rooms and a bath in our quarters. The living
room is very large, about thirty feet long and twenty feet wide,
One end is separated by two small built in cupboards extending
out from the wall about two feet. The smaller end behind these
cupboards is the chop end. The other the living room. This
room has five double french windows all the way to the floor.
These are never closed, but they are of course, all screened.
The walls are cream and the woodwork ivory. This room faces
the West. Je are on a high hill as most all bungalows are so
as to get the breeze. On the other side are two large bedrooms
with a bath and shower between them. The bedrooms have four
large casement windows. :There is a small screened porch on the
front. At the rear connected by a large hall is the kitchen,
ehep room and trunk room on the same level as the rest of the
house. Below the back rooms are three rooms for servants--
toilet and a bathing room. The house is comfortably furnished
with heavy oak and native mahogany furniture in the living room.
We have a big side board and dining table that can be extended
and six dining chairs. A large library table, a big sofa, oak
with leather seat, and four leather seated rockers and some small
tables. The bedrooms have metal furniture. A nice bed with a
very comfortable beauty rest mattress. Above this is suspended
from the ceiling the mosquito netting, a very fine mesh net.
It is tied up during the day but at night is let down and tucked
under the mattress all around. They leave a small opening to
crawl in through and then when inside you tuck this part under
so you are almost sealed in. There is a big chest of drawers,
a large dresser with mirror. We have no electric lights and
here we use gas lights and candles, but don't mind it a bit as
we go to bed early. It gets dark about six thirty. There is no
twilight to speak of. It is light then suddenly gets dark.
Now something about our servants--. First and most important
is our cook Zaza. A cute short boy, black as the ace of spades.
These boys never know how old they are and we can't tell their age.
2Aza has been on the plantation for a long time so is not too young.
He hears (one doesn't understand but hears) English quite well and
I understand him fairly well. He is good at cooking and fixes good
things (I am chop master for the present this month, it is January
when I am writing this) without telling him what to get but I tell
him most of the time. Just show him once how to fix a thing and
he has it. He has a woman here. I really like Zaza and have a
lot of fun kidding him, He has a most hearty laugh, is easily
tickled over things I do and say to him. At present Zaza is also
acting as steward boy as the regular one Pat has is up country.
Zaza passes chop, everything is passed from the side-board. The
table is always properly set with the silver, plates and bread and
butter plates and jam, pickles, etc. The steward boy has charge
of the front part of the house, cleans it and takes care of our
clothes. Everything in the bedroom is picked up no matter where
we leave it and put in its place. Our shoes are polished every day,
even our heavy work shoes. Bobo is the regular steward boy and
should return this month. Jimmy is at present the wash boy and
does odd jobs. He is a very good boy and I think I shall take him
as my own steward boy. Sammy is the yard and water boy. He keeps
the yard in order. We have a nice yard with lots of tropical plants
around. He also pumps the water--our well is down at the bottom
of the hill. Each of us has a car boy, mine is named Gaitai.
He hears English well and speaks it well. He has been a world of
help to me in telling me where to go and acting as interpreter.
Pat has a little rascal for a car boy. His name is Joe Lewis.
The cutest black kid and has big eyes that just sparkle devilish-
ness. The car boys watch our cars when we are away from them and
carry all things to and from the cars. The boys are all most wil-
ling and do everything they are told, but they must be told explic-
itly how to do things. When we want a drink of water we just call
a boy and he brings it. They are at our beck and call at all times
and expect to be. All our water is boiled, filtered through a
Berkfelt filter, bottled and kept in the ice chest. Je get ice
about twice a week at the trading company where we also buy our
chop. One doesn't eat down here, he chops. Our meals are excel-
lent. For dinner and lunch we have meat, mostly canned, generally
two vegetables, potatoes, salad and sweets or desert. The boys
call it sweet, Practically everything is canned. We get the best
brands,--Richelieu and Primer and of course others. Some from
Holland and formerly they had quite a bit from England. At present
the only boy we have to pay is Zaza and that is two pounds a month
but we will pay him more now that he is acting steward boy too.
The other boys are on the company payroll. Zaza never throws any-
thing away, if we don't eat it it shows up at the next meal and
continues to appear until we eat it or tell him to waste it. The
fresh pineapple here are far superior to those we get at home. We
have had several, and have quite a few in the yard that will soon
be ripe. Other fresh fruits are paw-paws, they are rather wweet
with a peculiar taste but with salt are very good. They also go
well in salads. They have a great deal of pepsin in them are are
very good for one. We get limes, oranges, which are very sweet
and are green on the outside and rood grapefruit, all green skin-
ned. Then butter pears or avocadoes and of course bananas. We can
sometimes get fresh meat at the trading company. Je, as everyone
else, have several chickens, but they lay very few and small eggs.
The natives bring eggs to us to sell or for a dash--a gift here--,
several of my boys have dashed me eggs but nothing better. We also,
in the way of food supply, get native sweet potatoes which are not
bad. The washing is done twice a week and there is always plenty
of it. You would be amused at the irons they use, they are large
ones filled with burning charcoal and all ironing is done on a
perfectly flat table. They do very well.
The hospital facilities here are very fine. There are two
doctors. Dr. Campbell had been out east for a number of years be-
fore coming here so is well acquainted with tropical medicine. A
young Dr. Murry ha% been here about three months. There are several
native doctors or I should say, colored one, to work with the natives.
Mrs, Campbell is a native of Butte but moved to Oregon when she was
about sixteen. Both are splendid people. I have taken the Rocker-
feller serum for yellow fever. We take atabrine three times weekly
for malaria proplylaxsis. One must be careful but it is soon becom-
ing an accepted part of the life. We use two sets of clean clothing
a day, never put our bare feet on the floor. Wde also take calcium
glycorate which is taken in tablet form and tastes like peppermint
candy. The calcium efficiency is one of the few out here that
oan't be supplied sufficiently without these tablets.
Now something about the plantation and what I have to do.
The plantation is divided into divisions with superintendents
in charge of one or more. Pat at present has number 1-2 and 5.
I am working number 2 and in a couple of months will take over
completely as division superintendent. There are over three-
thousand acres in two, 1,317 acres are in tapping, that is large
trees about a foot in diameter, and 447 acres of young rubber
about two years old. The young areas are known as maintainanae
areas and the older ones tapping areas. Number 5 is a maintain-
ance area, part of number 1 is in tapping and the rest is new
I have two overseers and under these are ten headmen. Each
headman has thirty tapping boys, each boy with a task of about
300 or moral treos to tap a day. There are four other headmen--
one on maintainance gang which keeps the young treds weeded, one
on disease gang and one for road maintenance, another for tapping
school wheTe new boys learn how to tap. Work starts at five in
the morning by going out to the native labor camps to see that
muster is completed by five fifteen. It is still dark at this
timer Seme of the boys have to go several miles to their tasks.
They get out and are to start tapping when it gets light which is
around'six. After muster we come back to the bungalow and sleep
for an hour, get up and have chop about six-thirty then ,o to
the offices or out to the rubber. There is an office on each
division and latex station on the tapping divisions. The offices
are nice brick buildings. Here there is a clerk, my clerk Lincoln
is a very good one, also a tool boy and messenger, a blacksmith,
factory headman and several factory boys. At ten the bong-bong
is rung and the tapping boys start to pick up the latex whibh
has run into the cups. They come in from eleven to twelve and
weigh in the latex they have collected. After all are in I fill
out slips to send to the central factory and our work is over for
the day. We chop about one and have the afternoon free, but there
always seems to be something to do. Go to the store for chop,
ice, or go to the central office for business. There are three
labor villages on this division. Each division has a sanatation
boy and a dresser who gives medicine and treats any wounds. A
hospital bus comes each morning to take natives to the hospital
for treatment. Every three months the doctor comes out and gives
the boys injections to clear up their blood, in fact this afternoon
they are due here.
Very few of the boys know English. I am most fortunate in
one of my overseers, Mr. Robinson an American born negro. He came
out to Liberia in 1922 with quite a little money but the Liberians
got it all away from him, he has no love for them. He came out
here and has been here ever since. He knows tapping so hadi been
a world of help. He is very nice and we get along well. He had
gone native to some extent, lives in a mud hut and has four or five
women. He has a radio and keeps up on world events. Incidently
Pat has a radio so we are not without outside contact.
There are many native tribes represented. All from up country
or from the bush around the 6lianfat6lon. The names of the most
commonly represented tribe are Gio, Bassa, Mono and Mendingo who
are mostly traders. These boys are a carefree bunch and must be
handle as children with a certain amount of force. The five to
be watched as they are full of rase41c pay Despite the fact they
have a low mentality they are cunning an@ tricky nevertheless.
I enjoy working wigh them, Most of the w'rk is handling.native
labor. There is always something new and'one player after another
must be settled by the white Boss or .1assa as we are called. No
matter what we' speak of out here it is a palaver., The names the
boys take are most amusing:--Money Sweet, Benzene, Rice boy,
Number One, No Pay, Low Pay, Firestone, Fire-Fire, Free boy,
Small boy, Old man, New boy, Pencil, Before, Yesterday, Paper,
Time Book, Lawyer, Saturday, Car, Smoke, Commande, Corporal and
then many use their native names, such as: Sealu, Zaza, Quayquay
Balloh, Flumbo, Massaquoi, Kakata, Gbamsi, Porkpa, and so on'. It
is now dry season and many of the boys leave and go up country to
their native villages to plant rice and other farms, there is al-
ways a labor shortage during this season.
As I have said there is much that I haven't told you in this
manuscript and you will no doubt be full of questions after read-
ing this. As I finish I have been here about three weeks.
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