The Backword View:
A Slanted Autobiography
Karl J Franklin
Copyright © 2019 Karl J Franklin
All rights reserved
Before copying or photocopying any part
of this publication, please consult the
author (if still alive, otherwise don’t bother)
Requests for the book—if one should be so lucky, can be mailed to
Dedicated to Pretzel IV, a wonderful Dachshund friend, who had nothing
to do with the book, but seemed interested
Printed in Dallas, Texas
How Far Back?……………………………………………….11
Keego Harbor and Pontiac………………………………..24
Baseball and Sports………………………………………….27
The King’s College…………………………………………….29
Friends in Australia……………………………………………40
Some Christmas Memories…………………………………42
Friends and Neighbors………………………………………..47
A Highland Pilgrimage…………………………………………55
Muli Village Area………………………………………………69
Usa Village Area……………………………………………….75
An Early Kewa Friend…………………………………………76
A Trade Store in Usa………………………………………….80
Kirk, then Karol…………………………………………………92
Becoming a Linguist……………………………………………94
Teaching and Consulting…………………………………….115
Duncanville and ILC…………………………………………..117
Letters to Wernsings…………………………………………125
A Final Glance…………………………………….. ……….171
Addendum: My House and Environs…………………..171
The Garage and Barn………………………………………..173
The Main House………………………………………………175
The Dining Room and Kitchen…………………………….178
Electricity and Running Water…………………………….179
The Cellar and Upstairs……………………………………..181
Hunting and Trapping………………………………………..188
Trees and Insects………………………………………………195
Wiping the Mirror…………………………………………….196
In writing an autobiography one is always in danger of being either egotistical or narcissistic. The author can either elevate his or her accomplishments to heights of imagination and speculation or denigrate them to depths of humiliation.
Of course, there is always the rare possibility that the author will do neither and the story will be regarded as essentially factual and true. It depends, to some extent, on the personality of the author, his or her competency in writing and what the diet was during the exercise. It also depends on the reception of the story by the audience.
My story is also somewhat “slanted,” in the sense that I have often had to rely on my memory and it is indeed one-sided.
I am hopeful that my offspring will read this account and know a little more about me—at least as much as I reveal to them. Perhaps they will be challenged to write about their own lives—if people are still able to “write” in the succeeding generations.
Looking back on one’s life is often sketchy and depends a great deal on the pictures we have taken, the diaries we have kept, talking with friends, as well as our memories on how those events can be interpreted. I have sometimes read a description of some event—one at which I was present—and thought or said “That is not how I remember it.” Lawyers know that two people who see the same accident may report it differently, so they may pit one story against the other and the advantage will depend upon whether the lawyer is representing the plaintiff or the defendant.
Hence, I can’t claim absolute “truth” or accuracy in what I remember and write. However, I have no desire or attempt to deceive my audience and I have not “made anything up.” It follows that if you find something you “just can’t believe,” try to give me a bit of slack.
I am not familiar with crystal balls, so I can’t see into the future. Like most people, sometimes I would like to, but it doesn’t happen. Nevertheless, I can still have faith that certain events, most of them that I hope will be beneficial, will happen. For example, I would like to see our grandchildren here in Texas graduate from High School. Of course, I can also have fear and dread about what might happen in our lives—the inevitable sicknesses, deaths and (sometimes) disappointments.
I can also look into my rearview mirror and adjust it if necessary, because looking backward is sometimes awkward. I realize the mirror is not reality—it is but a picture of cars behind or beside me and there are blind spots where I cannot see the cars at all.
In real life, I have to focus on what is happening around me at present, but I still want to be aware of what has taken place. When driving, I may fail to see clearly what has happened because I find it awkward to twist my neck and try to look behind me—it is easier to stare straight ahead.
Nevertheless, I sometimes want to look back at what has happened in my life, so I have to trust my memory to guide me to some historical foundation for my recollection. Again, however, I can be selective in my reminiscences and choose only what I want or like. In such cases, I confess that I may not be reporting an ethnographic chronology of what is “factual,” but only handpicked instances. However, that is the way memory most often works.
Given these caveats, I will begin to look backward, somewhat selectively, and sometimes with only a glance. I will also at times reflect a bit on what I believe is to come. In looking back, I hope that there are no blind spots, so that cars won’t sneak up on me from the side—which seems to happen more frequently these days when I’m driving.
I will start relying on my memory to recount some events and people from my youth—the time when I was “growing up” and before I met Joice. And later, to complement my memories, I include her and have gone through our diaries, some of them that stretch back to when we first began our work with the Kewa people, supplementing them by recalling events in 1958, when we first arrived in Australia and Papua New Guinea.
This account can be read in conjunction with another manuscript that I prepared for Joice for her birthday in 2014, called “Joice, as in Rejoice.” It is mainly an account from her notes and letters regarding our time in PNG. For the really interested and brave (and especially, family), we have boxes and notebooks containing diaries and notes.
I am hopeful that my children, their spouses, and our grandchildren and, perhaps, great grandchildren, may someday read these pages and be reminded of their heritage.
I enjoy writing, so this will be (mostly) fun as I reconstruct life from my rearview mirror. Of course, as with a car, “objects may be closer than they appear” or, in my case, “events may be less clear than reported.”
Mostly, however, this is an opportunity for me to reflect on how life has turned out so far and reveal what I have liked or, occasionally, disliked, about it. If I stop suddenly and get rear-ended, it won’t change what has happened. I can get out of the car, look at the back end and reconstruct that incident as well.
Because I am a Christian, I believe strongly in “purpose”—that God has in some sense “ordained” the major events (and many minor, which I see less clearly) that have happened to me. I also believe that I can choose to walk in the Way or out of the Way. I do get to steer my car—it is not on auto-pilot—and, hopefully, as you ride along with me, you will understand and appreciate the view in this drawn-out story. Tesla may be developing a car that moves independently of a driver, but I don’t believe I can move independently of God.
I mentioned that a hope that my children, grandchildren and, perhaps their children, will have an interest in this story. That will, of course, be their choice—but, if they do, it will be like looking at a photo album. They won’t have to look at every picture—they can pick out what interests them.
So, hop in and ride along with me. I’ll try not to go much over the speed limit.
Well, I started writing this at the beginning of 2017 when I was already 84, so my story was already old. And like parts on an old car, my body and memory need maintenance and care. I can’t drive on forever, at least on streets or roads I am unfamiliar with. I can look forward to a new body, one with a new GPS as well, but that is in the future and this story will mostly concentrate on the past.
Another reason to record my story is, since I am throwing out books, clothes and other things, I may throw out some memories with them that I should have kept. However, like with most my stuff, I can hold on to it too long and not remember why I kept it in the first place. Better to slash and burn before the rainy season than try to do it when the ground is soaked.
We don’t know for sure when our memories will completely fail us, or if they will, but we know that when we start forgetting where we put the car keys more often than we remember, the process has begun. At that point we are more likely to see things in the rearview mirror that aren’t really there.
To help, we can clean the mirror more often, replace it with a bigger and more elaborate one or not bother looking in it at all. Like many Texas pickup drivers who have never discovered their turn signals, we can simply drive on, head up and locked, crossing lanes without regard for others and create our own exit ramps.
I haven’t entered that spaced-out-mirror complex yet, so now is the time to write my autobiography. Someone else looking into the mirror will see different events, like cars, coming and going, but this is my view. It will doubtless contain some errors, but they won’t be intentional. Like the painter Bob Ross said, “It’s your world,” and “There are no mistakes, just happy accidents.” I hope my story is not looking in the rear view mirror and wondering “Where did he come from?” or “I didn’t see that coming,”
How Far Back?
I wear glasses and have had radial keratotomy in both eyes, as well as cataract surgery. I can’t read the bottom line in the eye chart, so it is obvious that my vision is not perfect. By turning on the bright lights I can see better, so I will let the lamp of my imagination shine on my memory to help it.
My earliest recollection—I must have been three or four—is in the back seat of our car at our farm in Pennsylvania when I learned how to turn the dome (roof) light off and on. That is an odd thing to remember, but I have it clearly stamped in mind and can still switch that light on and off.
More vivid, but at about the same age, is the blood and wailing I remember when my two year old sister was accidentally killed in our back driveway. I can see—or at least picture in my imagination—someone trying to wash the blood off the back stone steps of our house. Memories like that can be haunting, and I suppose I deliberately avoid them.
It isn’t so much how far back I can see or imagine, but how well I can see when I look. There has to be a certain “reliability factor,” so I am telling a story that is not simply fiction or “based on truth.” Fortunately, after I married, we have news-letters, personal letters, diaries and journals to help. In addition, we have boxes of photos in the garage and dozens of folders in the computers. There is no shortage of information—the problem is sorting through it. It is like being in a traffic jam on the Central Expressway and trying to decide which lane is best to take.
|View East from Franklin Farm|
I grew up in Bloomingdale, Pennsylvania, which lies along a country stretch of road that runs from Sweet Valley in the north to Muhlenberg in the east. Well, not quite, for the road to Muhlenberg goes roughly east-west from, as one might expect, Muhlenberg, but then on to, as one might not appreciate, Harveyville (or Sweet Valley, if you made the wrong turn). However, the Muhlenberg road also branches off from itself near the old silo–so it is now called Silo Road–and continues through Bloomindale Corners to Broadway. Again, driving carefully, at Broadway Corners one can head either back towards Sweet Valley, to the left towards Harveyville, or onward and downward to Patterson Grove, where I was born. It may sound confusing, but if you have driven on the back roads of Pennsylvania, you will know that I am not joking.
Bloomingdale, in Luzerne Count where I grew up, is not much of a village. Rather it is, or at least was, when I lived there, a series of small farms scattered along a road that went, as I described, from Harveyville to Sweet Valley, traveling south to north, and from Muhlenburg to Broadway Corners, traveling east to west. The Bloomingdale crossroads included a hazardous corner near the country store.
The only buildings that were of note were the Grange Hall, Chan Sickler’s country store, Dana Sutliff’s furniture store, and two churches. There were side roads (unpaved) that only the natives knew of, and hills and corners that speeding drivers quickly learned about, especially the hard turn that one had to negotiate to miss hitting the house opposite Chan’s store.
Leaving Broadway Corners, if you went straight ahead, you continue down Tauket’s Hill and on across a small bridge. Turning right, you will go towards, eventually, Ricket’s Glen. However you should turn left because Patterson Grove is where the action lies, if there is to be any action found in the area. For at the Camp Meeting Ground in Patterson Grove there is a boarding hall, numerous cottages, a tabernacle and a pond. I know, because I was born there—not in the pond, but in a cottage owned by my paternal grandfather. It was during the Great Depression and my dad and mom had nowhere else to go, so four of us siblings were born in that cottage. Half of it is still there, now greatly improved, bought by people we know, and used for their summer vacations.
The tabernacle is the main gathering point; at least it is for those Methodists who want to gather. It once had a sawdust “floor,” so you can envisage the “sawdust trail” that sinners were called to tread upon after every major service.
There was also a board walk that led from the outer circle of cottages across a depression that sometimes flooded, to the Boarding Hall. Here people could board or be bored, buy a meal, or some ice cream. The board walk was the favorite meeting area of the young people. The adolescent males would sit along the top of the fence and whistle at the girls as they went by. And the girls would keep going by so the boys could whistle at them.
Houses in Bloomingdale and the area were modest, some even less so, and a few of the farms were profitable. Ours was not, in the sense that we could farm it, so Jasper (known as “Jap”) Harrison, who owned the farm next door, farmed it and gave my folks enough money to pay their annual property taxes. Jap lived on one side of us with Edith, his wife, and Dougie, their son. On the other side of our farm lived Joel Sutliff, chicken and vegetable farmer, and his two sisters, Elizabeth and Edith. They were all hard working people and, except Joel who claimed to be an atheist, attended the local Bible Protestant church.
|The Grange Hall|
The Grange Hall was a two story stucco building used for community events, such as showing movies or having “barn” dances. I was a member of the “Juvenile Grange” that met there, but my folks never had much to do with the Grange, spending their time at the Odd Fellows Lodge and Sisters of Something or other meetings. The Odd Fellows met at a church hall in Harveyville and mom’s lodge met in Shickshinny.
Bloomingdale also had a one room school that I attended for my eight years of primary school. The same teacher taught all eight grades, i.e., all subjects, played with the kids at recess and, on winter mornings, got the fire going to heat the room. The coal was kept in the small basement of the school and there were two outdoor toilets, one for each gender—which, in those days, no one had trouble defining—on each side of the school. A student could raise either one finger or two, depending upon the severity of the occasion, to let the teacher know that he or she wished permission to attend the outhouse.
|The Renovated One Room School
That I Attended
The inside of the school was like most one-room country schools in Pennsylvania: small desks, the top with a hole for an ink bottle, a horizontal slot for a pencil, and an opening below the top for some books and a lunch box. At the front of the room was the teacher’s desk on an elevated platform and below it was a large bench on which the selected class members would sit. Behind the teacher were three large blackboards and above them and around the room were examples of how one should write the letters of the alphabet in both cursive and print form.
School began with the teacher reading from the Bible, followed by some songs, then the reciting of the pledge of allegiance to the flag. It was in the old days when patriotism was not something to be ashamed of and the Bible could be read without the teacher ending up in jail.
Recess took place outside, regardless of weather. In the spring we played ball, in the winter we sledded, in the fall we wished we were hunting, and during the summer we were at our homes. Life was uncomplicated, for the most part.
Occasionally a fight would break out at recess and the teacher would punish us by thrashing us on our bottom and legs with a hickory switch. No one called the police or sued the teacher. We learned to behave and get along. There was some fighting, but also peace making.
However, one fight I will always remember happened like this: My brother, Charles, beat up another boy from his class—we will call him Joe, who was much bigger than Charles. Joe ran home and told his dad, who arrived at the school, came barging in and was directed by Joe to my brother (after first, mistakenly, grabbing another boy by the shoulders and shaking him). “No, not that one, this one,” said Joe Junior, so his dad went for my brother. However, at this stage the teacher, a somewhat fiery lady, stopped Joe’s dad in his tracks with, reportedly, a poker in her hand. Joe and his dad (with their lawyer) later took the case to the county court on a charge of “discrimination against the Poles” (they were Polish). The judge was somewhat surprised. “You mean to tell me (he said to my brother) that you beat up that big boy? “ Do you want me to show you?” my brother brashly answered. The upshot was that the charge was upheld, but without any penalties. After the incident, we were scared to walk by Joe’s farm and on one occasion, when we tried to, his dad got out his shotgun and fired it into the air, thoroughly frightening my brother and me from using that dirt road for years to come.
The two churches in Bloomingdale were the Bible Protestant and the Methodist. The former was deemed more “fundamental” and the latter more “liberal.” Both were part of an extended network of churches of their denomination and each had congregations of about 40, except on Christmas and Easter when the ranks might “swell” to 75 or so. My Bloomingdale church had stained glass windows and uncomfortable pews. The pastor lived in Koonsville at a parsonage and had a church in that village and Reyburn, as well as ours in Bloomingdale. Several of us young guys went to Sunday school, mainly so we could learn who won the ball games the day
|Bloomingdale Bible Church|
before, and then left before church started.
The first pastor I remember was very old and talked with a lisp. I could hardly understand him, even when I tried. After he retired a young minister just out of Philadelphia Bible College named Rev. Gamewell came. He and his wife had a large family and they must have found it difficult to exist without the generosity of the community. It was he who introduced Christ to me in a way that I could comprehend on January 8, 1950.
I had heard of Jesus through “Youth for Christ” meetings and, in a long drawn-out invitation, one of their speakers had persuaded me to accept a Gospel of John, a small red colored book that I put on the window sill in our bedroom. It gradually turned pink and then lost all its color—just as my little faith did. It was a few years later when I became convinced of the Christian message through the encouragement of Rev. Gamewell and John 1:12.
The pastor after Rev. Gamewell was Rev. David, a kind and loud man who had milked cows, but who could not carry a tune, yet insisted on leading the congregation in singing. It sounded much like a herd of hungry cows. I owe a debt of gratitude to him, however, because I crashed his car when with a girlfriend and he worked with the insurance company to get another car without punishing me or suspending my driving license.
Following Rev. David came Rev. Howie, a short man with a high pitched voice. I was away at college during most of his tenure. All of these pastors had wives who participated in the life of the church by supervising Christmas plays, teaching Sunday school and engaging in other “appropriate” women’s tasks.
Sometime after I had left the community a third church was built, an “independent” one, not associated with any denomination but rather built on the vision and property of one man and several families. It was eventually considerably larger than the other two and, in my opinion, had cult-like characteristics. We visited it a couple of times because a former supporter attended there. She was extremely loyal to the pastor and his wife and willed her house to the church, supposedly for missionaries on furlough to live in. We had stayed with her on several occasions and knew of her love for missions. She suffered from cancer and had boxes of supplements in her basement. When we were there and I went out for my jog I would go past the pastor’s house, but he never invited me inside. I might have been considered “liberal.”
The first two churches had church halls, originally (in the late 1890s and early 1900s) with a lower garage-like part underneath the main hall, once used to park carriages and buggies. Instead junk collected and we would use part of the area to churn ice cream for special occasions. The upstairs hall area had an elevated platform at one end for performances, such as Christmas plays or quilting “parties,” and a kitchen. Sometimes a community “suppers” would take place—I remember one such function when members of the community honored all the young men drafted into WWII.
Who can forget the name Shickshinny? This small town is located on the west side of the Susquehanna River, opposite of Mocanaqua, which we called “Mock” and lies on the east side of the river. Shickshinny is downriver from Nanticoke and upriver from Wapwallopen; these are just a few examples of the Native American (Indian) names that are in the area.
The region along (and under) the Susquehanna River was once heavily mined for anthracite coal, evidenced by the slag piles from Scranton to Hazelton. My dad and brother both worked in the mines for periods of time. The mine shafts were a mile deep in some places and were underneath the nearby towns and the river. One shaft caught on fire and burned and smoldered for years afterward.
But back to Shickshinny—It is about 7 or 8 miles from Bloomingdale and one can get there by going to Muhlenberg Corners, turning right, continuing on through Reyburn and Koonsville, then out on to the main road, once called a turnpike, which ran from Shickshinny, through Huntington Mills, a place that I will mention later, and on to Benton. At Koonsville, you turned left and about a mile later you were in Shickshinny.
According to the 2010 census, about 838 people then lived in Shickshinny, down considerably from the peak years of 2,451 in 1930, 2,254 in 1940 and 2,156 in 1950. There is a traffic light in ‘Shinny,’ as we natives called it, so we kids liked to stand near it and watch the traffic “flow” by. We could also shop for hardware and clothes, take a side street to deposit our trapped skunk, weasels and muskrats for skinning and payments. We could also go to the bank, movie theatre, Police Station or Post Office. In the last 10 or so years of my mom’s life before her retirement she taught primary school in Shinny.
A railroad track also ran through Shinny so we kids were delighted when a train went through while we were there.
My brother and I were in the same grade, but he went to High School in Shinny for two years before joining me at Huntington Mills High School. I mentioned that the road from Harveyville turns to Huntington Mills and so does the road from Shinny, although it actually wants to get to Benton. But I will stop at Huntington Mills (which we called ‘Huniton’) briefly and to have a look at my old High School.
The last time I saw it, some 15 years ago, it was a furniture “factory,” meaning that some chairs and tables were put together in some parts of the building, but in its hey-day, Huntington had three stores, an auto shop, a meat packing and storage facility, as well as a beer garden nearby. At one time there was also a Mill of some sort, hence the name for the village.
The school bus that carried me to Huntington went on to Shinny, so for the first two years I got off at the former and my brother went to the latter. My dad and mom thought we fought too much to be together but, happily, that changed during our last two years. I learned to play chess at my high school because the bus took us to the school very early and we had plenty of time. We would play chess or basketball and generally stay out of trouble, although one time I decided to play “hooky” with a couple of other guys. The Principle happened to be driving by and asked me if I wanted a ride to the school. What could I say?
My brother and I both graduated from Huntington in 1950. I went off to college and my brother joined the navy and went to the shores of Korea and served on an aircraft carrier for five years.
Shickshinny, the historians say, is so named because in the Indian language it means “five mountains.” For many years inhabitants could only count four until they realized they should also count the one they were standing on.
Over the years there have been major floods up and down the Susquehanna and Shickshinny has had its share. A high water mark some 6 feet or so on the side of the bank bears clear evidence to the height of the 1972 flood, although the 2010 flood is said to have been greater. When the river was in flood we couldn’t drive through Shinny but, wanting to see the flood, we would go out the Muhlenberg road to Hunlock’s Creek and turn left on what was left of the main road. Looking towards Nanticoke we could see a wide flooded plain, with trash floating down it at considerable speeds.
The trash floated south, through Berwick, Bloomsburg, and on to the capital city of Harrisburg. There it was collected by politicians and sold to garbage collectors from New Jersey—in this way the two States have had a symbiotic relationship.
But if you are in Shinny, you won’t want to go to Berwick, especially now that a nuclear power plant is halfway between the two. There could be a meltdown any day and the population in Shinny could be diminished even more.
There was also a doctor in Shinny, one that I needed to see after doctors had removed my ruptured appendix at the Nanticoke hospital. He would burn off all the flesh that piled up around the holes where the drainage tubes had been. There was also a doctor at Town Hill, which is off the Huntington-Benton road, but his waiting room was always full and, according to my dad, he did nothing but dispense pills, which would not have helped me.
There were at least two churches in the Shickshinny, probably three if you counted the Catholics, which none of us did because they were Polish, who, in our stereotype, played bingo every weekend and polka music all day.
I mentioned the State Police station and the movie theater, which were opposite each other on Main Street, on Route 11. The police sometimes came out to the country, especially if there was not much going on in Shinny. We were always impressed and scared when we saw their white police cars on our country roads.
The movie theater wasn’t much and it was not uncommon to go in halfway through a movie, watch it end, then start over until someone said “That’s where we came in,” and we would get up and leave.
In the off-chance that you would like to know more about Shinny, go to its website at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shickshinny,_Pennsylvania. There are even a lot of pictures to examine.
Keego Harbor and Pontiac
Life couldn’t have been more different for Joice, who grew up in Keego Harbor, Michigan, a small town with a traffic light, a movie theater, some stores, a High School and with numerous lakes around it. The three summers I worked in Detroit I would go to Keego Harbor on weekends to see Joice. Her parents would take me back to Detroit on Sunday night’s, to where I boarded.
The population of Keego (as the natives call it) was 2,970 in 2010, so it is over three times that of Shinny. The name is said to mean “big fish” in an Indian language.
There was even a bus that could take Joice to Pontiac, where she was born and where her dad worked as a foreman at Pontiac Motors. Pontiac was also the site of the First Baptist Church that Joice’s family attended and the church where we were married on May 26, 1956. I also boarded in Pontiac one year (on State Street) before we were married.
All of our parents died while we were overseas and we could not get back for their funerals. Joice’s dad went first—it was just after we arrived in Australia. During the First World War, he had been gassed and his heart had been weakened. He was only 59.
My mother died in an automobile accident in 1972 and my father of a stroke four years later. Soon after my mom died and when Cornell Capa visited the village of Usa to do a story about us, he bought a photograph from me for $500. I used the money to go home to see my father and he, my brother, and my sister buried my mom’s ashes in the cemetery at Bloomindale—the very one on which my brother and I once cut the grass.
Joice’s mom died of congestive heart failure in 1983. She was living in a retirement village with assisted care and was ably looked after by Joice’s brother Dwight. When she died we lost a fervent prayer “warrior” and financial supporter. Her funds had helped us extend our Ukarumpa house with additional bedrooms for Karol and Kirk.
Like Dwight’s assistance to his mom, my sister Claire looked after my dad in practical ways during the last years of his life, a time when his letters indicated that he had returned to a faith in Christ that he had abandoned many years earlier.
I should say a bit about the city of Detroit, now destitute and one of the poorest large cities in America. My dad had worked there briefly during the depression, so I had heard a bit about it.
I was invited to stay and work there one summer by Jim Webster, a senior at King’s (I was a sophomore) and whom I knew somewhat from sports activities. Jim lived with his mother and uncle in the real downtown area, near Jefferson Street. It turned out to be a near disaster for me—Jim would arrive home drunk many nights and I would end up sleeping on the floor. His mother was divorced, so had no stable income other than welfare. His uncle was an alcoholic who spent every day taking a bus to a beer garden and staying all day. He seldom ate with us or had anything to say. He would keep left-over beer in the refrigerator.
In the middle of one night, a telephone call awakened me and a voice asked, “Is this the home of James Webster?” “Yes,” I replied. “Well, he was in an accident and is in the hospital and someone should get down here right away.” I called a friend, Lynn Wheaton, also a college mate, and we went to the hospital. Jim had busted his nose in the process of crashing into a light pole on Harper Avenue, where he put out all the lights. He was, of course, drunk.
I thought the accident would cure his craving to drink, but it didn’t and he certainly did not have much of a home to give him guidance.
I worked at Borden’s dairy factory and would get a ride there with Jim or his friends on their way to work. After I finished work, I would jog or walk the 4 or 5 miles home and by the end of the summer I was in good shape physically and ready to begin my junior year. Being around heavy drinkers was not new to me—my dad had the same problem as Jim, but later in life.
During the next summer and leading into my senior year of college I boarded with Paul Miscerlian and his widowed mother, a wonderful lady. I also attended Beaconsfield Baptist church and played on their softball team. I recall it as a pleasant summer, mainly because I left Detroit each weekend to visit Joice.
My third summer in Detroit was after I had completed my year in California at the School of Missionary Medicine. This time I (and another King’s lad) boarded at the Wheatons. Mrs. Wheaton was extremely crippled with arthritis and, consequently, of a mournful spirit. Mr. Wheaton seemed to me to be a model of patience and graciousness. My three summers in Detroit are but a distant memory, with good and bad parts.
Baseball and Sports
For any young man growing up in rural Pennsylvania, baseball was almost a given. We had no TV, so radio and the newspaper were our only source of sports information. I recall, for example, sitting on the floor in front of the radio in our living room and listening to a Joe Louis fight. “A left to the body and an uppercut to the jaw” and so forth—we were fascinated and could picture it in our minds.
But baseball was my favorite and the Philadelphia Phillies and the St Louis Cardinals were my chosen teams. And, of course, I hated the Yankees, although Joe DiMaggio and later Mickey Mantle were favorite players.
Baseball was concomitant with spring—the snow in the meadows was melting and there was the smell of baseball in the air. Soon my brother and I would be playing catch and throwing “grounders” to each other. We would get sore arms and rub liniment on them.
I got my first baseball uniform with the name “Juvenile Grange” sewn on the back and then, later, a uniform for our H.S. team. Before college, and a bit during vacation times, I also played for a local team on Wednesday evenings and Saturdays.
I learned to throw hard by throwing rocks—at most anything that moved. I made some poor judgments: I once tried to stone a butterfly but the rock went through our kitchen window. Another time I wanted to see if I could hit the window of an abandoned house. The stone hit the middle pane and broke two for the price of one. Unfortunately, the teacher was watching (she kept her eye on us for some reason) and called the police—or so she told us. However, the closest police station was in Shickshinny and they were not about to come out to the country to find someone who had thrown a stone at a window. Another time another boy and I stoned a robin and killed it. The mother of the boy saw us do our deed (she was watching for some reason) and retrieved the bird, crying as she did so. It made a lasting impression on me and after that I never stoned any bird smaller than a crow. Still another time, I threw a rock at my brother—never, of course, intending to hit him—and opened a wound in his scalp.
Other times, to strengthen my arm., I would line up some bales of hay with a drum or barrel between them and throw an old taped up ball at the target for hours at a time. I would gradually increase the distance and became quite good at hitting the drum. Sometimes my brother and I would pitch in front of the shed but we battered the door so badly my dad made us quit.
When we young people would go for our annual vacation to World’s End State Park, we would immediately go down to the small river and find stones. We would then throw stones up towards the cliff to see who could throw the highest and furthest. We would do this for hours at a time.
One of my dreams was to be a professional baseball player and I once went to a baseball clinic held by the Wilkes-Barre Barons , as well as to a “tryout” camp of the St Louis Cardinals. I had a good throwing arm but was still small for my age. One of the “scouts” told me, “Go home and drink lots of milk,” implying that I needed to put on some weight and muscle.
I went to a small college and played varsity baseball for four years. I recall that one year we won 10 games in a row and that I pitched and won one game of a doubleheader. I was a decent player with a strong arm—I generally played the outfield—but by the time college was over I had decided on a career as a missionary.
It turned out that I did play a little more baseball in PNG. For two sessions of about 2 months each we lived in Goroka and taught linguistics at a government course. There was a local baseball team and I played on it. It must not have been very good league because I recall hitting several homeruns.
That, however, was the end of baseball for me. I took up golf when about 40 years of age and enjoyed it, even lowering my handicap at one stage (at our local Kainantu course) to 12. And, during my golfing times, I have had two holes in one!
I did not grow up playing tennis, but we had courts at Ukarumpa and I learned to play and enjoy it. Other sports I have played or tried were soccer (H.S. and college), and, while in Australia, squash. I played intramural basketball in college, but never on a college team. I worked during the basketball season
Over the years, sports have become less important to me for a number of reasons: I no longer can play most of them; the professional players move around from team to team, motivated exclusively, it seems, by money, so I don’t follow them; the “stars” habitually fall from the sky and are poor examples of good living. I encourage my grandsons to look carefully at the athlete’s life before becoming too admiring of any of them
The King’s College
I spent four years at The King’s College and graduated in 1954 with a B.A. in Psychology. I went to King’s somewhat by “accident.” I had graduated from Huntington Mills High School in May of that year and accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior in January, four months before my 17th birthday. Up until that time I had thought I would go to some teacher’s college and study to be a coach, but after becoming a Christian I wanted to be a missionary. I looked around for a Christian college and found catalogues for King’s and Wheaton. A neighbor girl was transferring from Penn State to King’s and I decided to go there as well. I had a girlfriend, so did not go there because of the neighbor, although I was her designated boyfriend if no one else was around. King’s was about 4 hours away by vehicle, which I never had while in college.
King’s frightened me—although it was a small college and quite in keeping with my educational background, it was “far off” in Delaware, well to the south of Pennsylvania and I had not been out of my State before. The campus was set on sprawling acreage of what had once been a golf course—its main building was a large and stately colonial building, with small barracks for the classrooms and some of the girl’s dormitories. The boy’s dormitory was a mile away in a dilapidated three story structure that had probably once been noteworthy. Some of the boys had cars but mainly I walked back and forth to the main campus.
Soon I found out that I had to “major” in something, but initially I simply took what was required of the freshmen: English, math, psychology, biology, Bible and other courses that I can’t remember. I played varsity baseball and soccer and, as I mentioned, had to work in the months between the two sports.
My roommates were a weird and varied lot: the first year there were boys from New York and Massachusetts, but they all left before I had completed two years. We had been assigned roommates the first year but after that we could choose our own. The second year my roommates were not too pleased with me (at first), so I occupied a separate room and we (five of us) shared a bathroom.
During my junior year I roomed with Paul Wentling, from Ono, Pennsylvania, who became a close friend. He had six siblings and on some holidays I would go home with him and he would then take me to Harrisburg so that I could catch a bus to Shickshinny. His ancestry was German and the men could speak “Pennsylvania Dutch,” a dialect of High German that is still spoken in parts of Pennsylvania. Paul and I played baseball and soccer for King’s and my junior year we were co-captains of the baseball team.
As a senior I roomed with Harry Sink, a junior, and we were co-captains of the baseball team. Harry played basketball, could play the trumpet and piano well, and was training for the ministry. He married Ethel and they lived in New Jersey where Joice and I visited them before our leaving for PNG. Unfortunately, Harry died of complications of a sickness—they had a child Harry Jr., but I lost track of Ethel after Harry passed away.
After college I went to California to attend the Biola School of Missionary Medicine and roomed my first semester with Bert Fairweather, who became a good friend. While at Biola, I learned more about Wycliffe through some members who were living in Glendale: Bernie and Nancy May, Les and Marge Bancroff, and Bob and Louise Griffin.
I finished my school year in California and then went back to Pontiac, Michigan, where I lived alone for a year until Joice and I were married (on May 26, 1956). Paul Wentling was my best man, just as I had been his the year before. Joice and I were married at the First Baptist Church in Pontiac by her pastor, Rev. Henry Savage. We left immediately after the wedding on our “honeymoon” enroute to study linguistics at the University of Oklahoma.
Aside from rooming with various SIL men at conferences, some of whom snored madly, I am happy to say that my permanent roommate has been Joice—and if she snores, I can turn her over!
I spent the 1954-1955 school year in Los Angeles studying at the School of Missionary Medicine. It was an eventful time for me because it turned out that the college friend I mentioned and his wife (Bernie and Nancy May) were at a nearby suburb in Glendale. Bernie was getting his aircraft maintenance license and found out that I was at SMM, so he looked me up. I spent a number of weekends at their apartment and through that process met Les Bancroft and Bob Griffin—both were Wycliffe and SIL members, Les a mechanic and Bob a pilot.
The men encouraged me to see Ken Watters, the secretary for Wycliffe, who had an office in Glendale. I did so and Mr. Watters asked me what I wanted to do as a missionary. I told him I was interested in medicine. He replied “We need translators, not doctors” and, as I recall, that was the end of the interview. However, the men had sown the Bible translation seed, and it was their prodding that helped me decide to attend SIL in Oklahoma after we were married.
The SMM course was intense and involved three 6 week periods of assignment at different hospitals: a geriatric one, Shriner’s hospital for children and the Presbyterian General Hospital. Mainly, we were wannabe practical nurses who did a lot of the dirty work. At the geriatric hospital the work was really dirty because many of its patients were senile, while others had no family or visitors.
My interest in medicine peaked when an orthopedic surgeon took an interest in me and suggested that I apply to medical school. I wrote to Loma Linda and received a letter saying I would need to take a summer of physics and chemistry before they could consider me. That was my leading to go back to Michigan and forget about medical school.
However, the SMM was extremely practical and I put what I learned to good use later when we lived in villages in PNG.
All of the students at SMM were headed for the mission field. A certain woman, extremely competent, but dominant and bossy, headed the school. She would inspect our rooms and leave notes that told us of our malefactions. My first roommate, Bert Fairweather, and I posted her notes until we got one that said, “Do not post notes.” Bert, who had been in the army and seminary, became a good friend and he and his wife visited us when we lived in Duncanville, just a year or so before he died. They had been missionaries in Mexico and California.
|DC-3 at Kainantu airstrip|
While we were in PNG, most of our travels to and from the villages where we lived were by small single-engine aircraft. We first flew with MAF, who had planes in several areas of PNG, but also later with the Lutheran Mission until they turned their flight program over to MAF.
After sailing across the Pacific to Sydney in February 1958, we eventually flew on to Port Moresby in a DC-4, which was not pressurized and therefore cruised at about 8000 feet altitude. From Moresby we traveled in a war-time parachute version of a DC-3 to Lae, with the seats immobile along the sides of the fuselage. At the time, SIL did not have aircraft and there was no mission service out of Lae to the Highlands, so we took another DC-3 to Kainantu, about eight miles from the Aiyura airstrip. The latter was operated by a government agricultural station, but later leased to SIL. A couple of jeeps met us in Kainantu and transported us and our goods to Ukarumpa.
On our maiden flight from Lae, the DC-3 stopped somewhere to pick up a butchered cow and the body of the beast shimmered and shook the whole journey to Kainantu. I have no idea of who owned or ordered the carcass—perhaps a butcher shop somewhere in the Highlands.
Later, when we began work with the Kewa, it took about an hour and fifteen minutes to fly from Aiyura to either Ialibu, where we found carriers and proceeded to Muli, or a bit longer to Wabi, which was eight miles from the village of Usa where we lived.
There were often rainstorms and clouds to dodge and sometimes we did not make it to our destination. One of the most notable times was when we were flying on a government small plane to Ialibu. The pilot couldn’t land because of the rain and asked us where we wanted to spend the night. We opted for the MAF base at Banz, knowing that there was a Lutheran mission station and guest house nearby. What we didn’t know was that the pilot would forget about us for a week, despite our waiting dutifully near the airstrip each day. Finally, advised by the MAF pilot that we were still waiting, our pilot came. His foolish words were “Oh, you are still here. I thought you were gone.” He probably will never forget the look on Joice’s face!
Near the last year of our first term in PNG, SIL leased a Cessna 170 from the Lutheran mission. Gradually SIL built up its fleet until (when we were last there) it had four Cessna 206s, a twin-engine aircraft—first a Piper Aztec and later a Cessna 402—as well as a helicopter (several versions over the years and they now have two operating in the country). I flew in all of them because, as an administrator, I needed to get around and visit teams. Also, as a linguist, I was able to charter the small Hughes helicopter for ten days during a survey of the Gulf Province.
There was only one occasion—well, not quite, but more about that later—when one of the planes I was on had an engine failure. Fortunately it was on a DC-3, which flew without fault back to an airstrip on one engine— where we waited all day for another plane. (I was also once on a 747 leaving Honolulu that had to abort a takeoff due to a mechanical problem.)
Traveling on land in PNG was generally by means of a four wheel vehicle because the roads, including the Highlands Highway, were often notoriously bad. During our years living at Ukarumpa, we owned several vehicles, but we needed a Nissan Patrol Wagon to drive to the Kewa area some years later. Aside from a broken spring, being stuck, and a slipping clutch, most trips were without incident. Another of our cars was a small blue Toyota Corolla, which we used when I was Director and then we later bought from the Branch. Thieves once stole it from our back yard—under the unwatchful eyes of our guard dog. Police discovered it some days later in a village off the main highway near the town of Goroka. Jeff Bailey and I went out to retrieve it—we had been told that the brakes didn’t work but that did not deter Jeff. “I always wanted to drive a car without brakes” he said, then took off so fast that I could hardly keep up to him—in a car with brakes!
We had another car that would suddenly quit running, sometimes with a coughing fit, and at times quite brusquely, without notice. On one occasion we had gone to Lae and were climbing back the Highlands pass towards Kainantu when the car became violently ill. We tried various medications and got it going once again, but Karol, sitting in the back seat, complained how hot the seat was. “Well, we are going through the tropics,” I replied, somewhat nonchalantly. However, just before we arrived at Ukarumpa, smoke started coming from under the dashboard. I pulled into Jeff Bailey’s yard just as the car quit in disgust. Jeff quickly found the cause—a wire running from the ignition to the fuel pump, just under the backseat where Karol was sitting, was shorting out and ready to catch fire. Fortunately there was only a lot of smoke, but Karol had not been kidding about sitting on the “hot seat.”
When we returned from furlough to PNG in 1964 I had been out of the country so long that my driver’s license had expired. I had to take a “road test” in Kainantu, where, still in the colonial days, an Aussie policeman accompanied me on a jaunt around the backroads of the station. At one point we came to a crossroads and the policeman told me to stop. “Who has the right of way?” he asked. “The car on the right,” I replied. I was unprepared for his next question. “Why?” he said. I had no good answer and replied, “I don’t know, why?” He responded: “I don’t know either; I just thought you might have heard a good reason.” The test concluded and I passed. I wasn’t so lucky in Victoria, but that is another story.
The first time I flew in a small plane was in Pennsylvania while in college. It was with Bernie May, who was to become a rather famous SIL pilot in South America. Bernie and I were classmates and he was trying to build up hours, so he would get students to go for a ride and charge them enough to pay for the gas and sometimes I went with him. On one occasion the engine started to sputter and backfire and the two guys in the back thought Bernie was fooling around. “Come on, Bernie, we paid for our trip,” they said. But Bernie was busy trying to find a place to land because a cylinder had blown and we needed to get on the ground quickly. We did make it back safely to the airport after first considering a fairway at the adjacent golf course. Another time we got into military airspace and were buzzed by a jet—we could see the pilot’s face!
I also flew with Bernie in California in a Taylor craft that he, Les Bancroft and Bob Griffin put together. Just before it was inspected and Bernie was taxiing it for “fun” we did a ground loop, but Bernie admitted to the inspector what had happened and the plane passed scrutiny. I once flew with Bernie to Northern California to the small farm airstrip owned by one of Bernie’s Peru colleagues. We took our sleeping bags and slept under the wing with a clear star-studded sky—a wonderful memory. Later Bob Griffin gave me lessons and I soloed twice in the aircraft, which was the extent of my aviation “career.”
Joice and I have had a wide assortment of jobs. I’ll start with my own and then try to add some of hers later.
There were not many jobs that paid in the village of Bloomingdale but I did (with by brother) deliver the Saturday Grit newspaper, mow the local cemetery lawn (also with my brother), light the church wood and coal furnace during the winter, and help haul furniture for Sutliff’s Furniture Store, which was just up the road. Of course, I always also did some casual work for farmers during the harvest seasons.
When I went off to college it was necessary to find regular work to help pay my way, so I found employment at a factory, with a shift from 4 in the afternoon until 12:30 in the morning. For a time I also worked as night watchman at a motel and because of those two jobs it is no wonder I often slept in class, or was delinquent in chapel—and for which I paid dearly by having grade points deducted from my final GPA. I also sorted and packed books at a bookstore, and worked in the college kitchen, where I first really got to know Joice.
During the summers I worked for a tomato packing company in Elverson Pennsylvania, at a construction site in Williamsport, then in Detroit (which I have mentioned) at Borden’s Dairy Factory for three summers. These were good paying jobs where I could raise almost enough money, by doing some overtime, which would pay for most of the school year.
While in California I had some outdoor lawn jobs on weekends but was usually tied up with classes and hospital work—unpaid because in was part of the course.
In Pontiac, and before we were married, I worked for a year at General Motors Truck and Coach, at a hospital pharmacy, at Stark’s Pharmacy, and for a small construction owner.
On one furlough I worked as a substitute teacher at Morgantown, Pennsylvania in a Middle and High School. Then, while at Cornell, I was a graduate assistant for the linguistics department.
When Joice was in H.S. she worked for a local realtor and did some house and babysitting. In college, she worked in the kitchen—that is where we first got introduced to each other and it led to my working in Detroit for three summers. After college Joice worked for two years at the Cranbrook Foundation (as a bookkeeper!).
Joice also worked at Christian Literature Sales in Pontiac for a while after we were married. She loved that job because she was able to listen to Christian records and meet people.
All of these jobs contributed to our Social Security fund, which we have now drawn upon for many years.
Friends in Australia
We sailed from Oakland, California for Sydney, Australia in early 1958—some 21 days of travel and all but four on the ocean in a ship called the Orcades. Joice was sick the whole trip, except for stops in Vancouver, Hawaii, Fiji and New Zealand, so it was not a pleasant cruise for her. While in Sydney, we stayed at a missionary home and swatted blood-thirsty mosquitoes during the night hours. Because our stuff had to be transshipped to Lae, New Guinea, we were asked to remain in Australia until the goods arrived safely in Lae. Once in Lae, we would stay at the Lutheran Guest House and clear our goods from customs.
While waiting for the transshipment of our goods to PNG, we decided to visit the SIL School in Belgrave Heights, Victoria, taking a train to Albury, at the border of New South Wales and Victoria. As missionaries, we were always told to take the cheapest fare (we had travelled below the water line on the ship across the Pacific), so we went by train, third class. At the time the train track gauges were different between the two states, so we swapped trains in Albury—little did we know that later we would have Aussie friends who lived near there.
Once at the school, we met the Principal and his wife, Dr. Harland and Marie Kerr, who had worked in the Philippines for two years and were going to New Guinea once the school was over (it was a summer school).
We had not been in Melbourne for a day or two when a telegram arrived from the US telling us that Joice’s father had died suddenly. There was no going home for the funeral—we had discussed such events with our families.
Marie Kerr suggested, instead of rushing up to PNG, we spend a few days at her parent’s home in Sydney, who were away at the coast. We didn’t know they had advised the neighbors, Tom and Elsie Hibbard, who ran a small grocery store across the street, that we would be staying near them. We soon made their acquaintance and they, over the years, became our surrogate parents. The rest of our parents died while we were in PNG: my mother in an auto accident in 1972, my dad of a stroke in 1976, and Joice’s mother in 1982.
Becoming friends with the Kerrs and Hibberds enriched our lives. Tom and Elsie visited us (and their many other friends) in PNG and later in the US (when Joice was recovering from surgery). Tom and Elsie have died, but their daughter Diane and her husband David have stayed in touch with us. And, in these days of email and Skype, Harland and I interacted on a regular basis for a number of years before he died. Joice and I look back and marvel at the friends we have had in Australia (and New Zealand).
When we first went to PNG I was an American through and through, but now I’m not—Kirk married Christine, an Aussie, and we now have three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren in Australia. That is a view backward and sideways that has had rich rewards.
Some Christmas Memories
This past year, on Christmas day, I reflected on many of the holidays that we have experienced around the world. Without consulting our diaries and newsletters, however, there are few I would remember, so I turn to them now.
We spent many Christmases in PNG, some in Australia, at least three in New Zealand and others in Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York and Texas.
|Our 2nd Muli house-1961|
I think back on Christmas 1958 because we were in a small village, a hamlet, in the Southern Highlands of what was then called “The Territory of Papua.” The hamlet was called Muli—I have no idea why—and we were living in a very small grass-roofed house trying to learn to speak a language that was called Kewa. It was just my wife, Joice, and me, with no one to sing carols with and with Santa Claus away at the North Pole.
Joice composed a poem to celebrate the occasion. The first verse went like this:
Christmas in a primitive Papuan tribe this yearWill find us laboring to learn a language
Yearning to tell our new-found people
Whose hearts are black with sin,
Of our Lord who came to save all—regardless of
Color of skin
And the final verses were
But next Christmas time will be far different,
we trust and pray,
For we shall be able to point them to the Life,
Truth and Way;
Our Savior came for them, too, and our hearts
will rejoice to tell
Them the Good News of Salvation in the tongue
they know so well!
Well, it didn’t quite work out the way the poem suggested because the next Christmas we were at our “center” at Ukarumpa in the Eastern Highlands. Joice was pregnant with Kirk and we had no access to medical service in the Kewa area, so we had left the village. We had walked 5 hours to Ialibu where we caught a plane to Aiyura (adjacent to Ukarumpa). We had left Muli in mid-November of 1958 with two young Kewa men, Kakama and Wabu, intending to work intensively on Kewa while Joice awaited the birth of Kirk in April.
When at Ukarumpa for Christmases, we met with other families, such as the MacDonalds, Frantzes and Bancrofts, to name a few that I remember (without confirmation from our ancient diaries).
One summer while teaching at an SIL school in Brisbane we were invited to the home of friends of some friends. The place was Kingaroy, Queensland, the “peanut capitol of Australia,” with its rich red soil. It turned out that everything intended to be white had a tinge of red to it—the sheets, pillowcases and sidewalks. We were invited to share in a Christmas cake, covered with small Velcro-like flies and rich icing. I believe we were in more culture shock there than in the village of Muli in PNG.
Christmas in New Zealand was always a feast: baked lamb and potatoes, fruit and ice cream, and warm fellowship. We have loved New Zealand and stayed there on multiple occasions with our friends, Neville and Gwen James. They took us on tours of the north and south island and the wonderful kauri forests. Neville and Gwen were responsible for helping many folk on their way through NZ to PNG.
Wherever we were, we almost always went to a Christmas evening service—in Australia, where we lived in Kangaroo Ground, Victoria for three years—it was at the local, small Presbyterian Church. Tom Cannon, an American, was the pastor most of the time we were there and he acted as a chaplain for our school as well.
In America the Christmas services are often productions—live baby “Jesus,” camels, sheep, Joseph and Mary, shepherds and angels—the works, with choirs singing and bells and whistles ringing in our ears.
Christmas is “overworked” in America and it seems like consumerism and consumption have triumphed as the gods of the country, at least in many places. We are urged to “buy, buy, buy” and, if we don’t, we are insensitive to our grandchildren and the needs of our economy.
C.S. Lewis wrote an essay called “Xmas and Christmas,” in which he points out an ancient custom in another land called Exmas. There citizens were “obliged to send to each of his friends and relations a square piece of hard paper stamped with a picture, which in their speech is called an Exmas-card” (p. 115 in First and Second Things, Collins Fount Paperbacks). They receive similar cards, exchange gifts and have a large festival called Crissmas. But, of course, the cards and gifts have nothing to do with Christmas and the citizens have no ideal how they are associated with any sacred story.
An interesting and helpful story to ponder—do we celebrate Christmas or Xmas?
I have mentioned our center several times and would like to say a little more about it. When we arrived in early 1958 at Ukarumpa, there were three permanent houses and three “bush” houses, one occupied by the Director and his family, and a small office where he and his wife worked. There were 17 or 18 people already there—from the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand—but the ranks had swollen to almost 40 by the time of our first conference in the middle of the year.
Housing was needed so a number of bush houses were quickly constructed on a circle, officially called “Carey Circle” (after the famous missionary, William Carey), but known as “the slums” by the members who lived there.
People doubled up: we stayed with Walt and Vonnie Steinkraus for a month when we first arrived and until we could move into our own small house where we were joined a month or so later by Bruce and Joyce Hooley.
Walt Steinkraus was slight of stature and had been a long distance runner at Wheaton. Food, as I recall, consisted largely of pumpkin, squash, spinach and tinned mackerel. Vonnie did bake cookies and one night I was particularly hungry and thought I would sneak out and have a cookie or two. Walt had beaten me to it and between us we did great damage to the contents of the cookie jar. But the next morning Vonnie saw the depleted cookies and accused Walt of doing the harm. Walt never turned me in—I always admired him because his wife thought that he alone had eaten about ten cookies. I should have confessed!
We swapped houses with the Hooleys at Kangaroo Ground and Duncanville and we both had sons in the same year of High School, so we knew each other well. Bruce, like me, was Director of the Branch at one time and also head of the Kangaroo Ground SIL School, so we have had a lot in common.
Ukarumpa is located on a 500 acre site leased from the government for 100 years. The Gadsup and Tairora language groups, who had fought over the land that the government leased to SIL, surround it. Consequently, there has been continuous bickering and demands for additional compensation over the years. This is despite SIL helping the people with practical projects and assigning workers to their languages.
Ukarumpa is also the name for a native village across the Ba’e River to the north. To the east are a coffee plantation and (later) a large National High School. To the south are two more coffee plantations and a number of villages occupied by migrants who have purchased land from the local Gadsup and Tairora people.
As Ukarumpa grew, so did the supporting facilities: a sawmill, industrial area, print shop, post office, children’s homes, guest house, primary and secondary schools, sports oval, children’s homes, a linguistic center and other administrative buildings. More recently a large training center, with classrooms, dormitories and kitchen facilities has been opened.
The center has now grown so large (in the 60 years that SIL has been there) that the total population exceeds 1,000, including many employees, and a small (and inefficient) police station.
Cars and pedestrians can only enter the property from the east, on a bridge over the Ba’e, which connects SIL to the town of Kainantu (8 miles away) and Aiyura (one mile away). At Aiyura SIL maintains several airplanes, two helicopters, hangars and an airstrip that they leased from the Aiyura agricultural station.
We have not been there since 2004 and I understand that our original house has been demolished and a play area for a new national primary school is there instead. I wouldn’t want to go back again.
Friends and Neighbors
As we finished building our house at Ukarumpa and lived there, we got to know our neighbors. We have been fortunate in having some of what I would consider the best friends and neighbors in the world—and some of the most unusual ones. Let me tell you about a few of them.
The house next door and to our east was originally a temporary building that housed 5 single men: Ray Brown, John Abernethy, Dave Glasgow, Phil Staalsen and Don Phillips. They were all Aussies except Phil and, at times, they all cooked for themselves. Phil, I recall, had several large cast iron skillets that hung on his thatched cane wall. He never washed them and the grease simply oozed out and, snot-like, cascaded slowly down the wall. Dave, on the other hand, liked to “cook” outdoors over a five gallon drum that served as a “stove.” I don’t remember what the other guys did but occasionally, with special visitors, they would all eat together.
One such set of visitors was Mr and Mrs Alfred Coombe, Wycliffe council chairman from Australia and a successful retired sheep rancher, with his wife. From time to time, we sent food over to the men’s dorm, so here was an “opportunity.” The boys were not surprised to welcome Piku, a young Kewa man with us at Ukarumpa, bringing them a steaming hot bowl of something or other. They did not know that we had decided to play a joke and put all kinds of vegetable and other scraps into the bowl, then “cooked” (heated) it. Thinking it was miraculous to have the food show up at such an opportune time, the neighbor boys took off the lid of the bowl. Imagine their consternation and dismay on what they found. Mr. Coombe and his wife considered it amusing and mentioned it to us in later years. Piku found it alarming that he would be shamed by carrying such rubbish to the boys and their guests. We hadn’t considered all the repercussions! The boys realized their neighbors were not always rational.
Of those boys, John was surely our favorite. Through no little effort from Joice he eventually married Yvonne and they lived next to us, where once the boy’s dorm had stood. John was head of the Branch finances and Yvonne worked with him in the office. They were hard working and dependable. Further, if one of our kids was sick, John would often stop by with a treat for them. We visited them in Cairns, after they had left Wycliffe and stayed with them a couple of times.
One of the men at the boy’s dorm, Ray, was also a good friend and Kirk, as a young lad, enjoyed his company as well. Ray played the oboe and was skilled in printing and learning languages. As a government worker in Moresby, Ray became fluent in Hiri Motu and Tok Pisin before he joined SIL and Wycliffe.
On the opposite side of the road from us was a “bush” house, first occupied by Bill and Lynette Oates. Bill was the Associate Director when we arrived at Ukarumpa and had been a farmer in Victoria. He was later the first Director of the newly constituted Australian Aborigine Branch, but died in a tractor accident in the late 1960s, I believe. We visited their farm in 1963 during a long weekend when we were teaching at the Australian SIL. Bill, Bob Young and I went out and “knocked off a few bunnies” with Bill’s guns.
The Oates house was later “remodeled” and lived in by David and Daphne Lithgow and their four children. David was a medical doctor and they had served with the Methodist Overseas Mission before joining Wycliffe and SIL. He had a natural interest in languages but his medical calling was more of a “bush” doctor. We used to joke that his diagnosis was “Ninety percent of the diseases will go away if you give them time and the other 10% are fatal any way.”
As an administrator I had some problems with David. I visited his family when they lived and worked on Woodlark Island and then later at Dobu Island as well. David seemed sometimes to do things that were contrary to our organization’s policies and I had to meet with him to “discuss” difficulties. On one occasion I wrote a letter (not intending to use it) reprimanding him and saying that I would send him home. His wife was aghast: “I always knew you would do something that would get us dismissed,” she said to David. After waiting a suitable time for my message to sink in, I retrieved the letter and tore it up in front of them. “That is what I would like to do,” I said, “but I won’t.” We then straightened things out–David was always one step ahead of us in vision and work. There is even a book written about him.
To the south of us lived Robert and Rosemary Young and their four children, including the twin boys. They loved to ride their motorcycles around (and around) their house, with great gusto and noise. Bob had a natural interest in cars and owned an old jeep, which I borrowed a couple of times. He and Rosemary were competent linguists and translators among the Benabena people. Bob did an M.A. in linguistics at the University of Hawai’i.
Ernie and Marg Richert and their children occupied the next house up from Young’s. Marg married Ernie after his first wife died during Jungle Camp in Mexico and she raised the children. She and Ernie spent most of their time in the village among the Guhusamane people and we visited them in the mid-1960s. Ernie was an innovator and had a workshop that he used to teach men basic carpentry and other skills. Today the area has a Bible school that some of Ernie’s trainees run.
Just beyond the Richert’s house was that of Ray and Ruth Nicholson and their five children lived. Ray was an early administrator In the Branch and it was he and Ruth who first introduced us to the possibility of working in Papuan New Guinea, or The Territory of Papua and New Guinea, as in was called at the time. We first met them at the SIL summer school in Norman, Oklahoma. Their eldest son, Larry, used to come down to the ground floor of the dormitory (they were in a room directly above us) and want to see the “wheels,” the reels on our tape recorder. No wonder he became such a proficient aviation mechanic and pilot. When the Nicholsons were getting ready to leave for New Guinea, we visited them in Windsor, Ontario, as well as later (on furloughs) at other times.
We had friends all over the Ukarumpa center: Doyt and Irene Price, from Ohio, were in PNG as “support workers,” looking after a children’s home, while Doyt also operated the sawmill. They visited us when we worked in the village of Muli. Doyt made kitchen cabinets for Joice that we later took to our new location in Usa; Jim and Bev Entz were also good friends who visited us in the village of Usa. Jim was an aircraft mechanic; Chet and Marg Frantz worked with the Gadsup people and we had been together in Jungle Camp in Mexico; Alex and Lois Vincent worked with the Tairora people—Alex was from Australia and Lois had been a “dorm mother” for Joice one year at King’s College; and so it went—lots of colleagues who have remained steadfast friends for years. I have mentioned some of our immediate neighbors at Ukarumpa, although in such a compound almost everyone ends up being “neighborly,” that is, friendly and helpful.
I will mention more about Dan and Shelby Harrison, whom we first met in Ithaca, when Dan was a student at Cornell and Shelby was a primary school teacher. We helped recruit them to go to PNG and for many years Dan was the H.S. Principal. They visited us in Usa and we visited each other on a number of furloughs. They were especially kind and helpful to Kirk when he was staying at Ukarumpa and we were in the village. Dan later became a VP of Education for SIL and, still later, they worked with another mission for several years. Dan, like a number of our PNG colleagues (Skip Firchow, Phil Staalsen, Velma Foreman, John Murane, Shirley Litteral), died of a brain related disease. They were not all in one locality but all may have been in malaria areas, with the DDT spraying that often took place.
We did not know our Duncanville neighbors, who were friendly but not to the extent that we were invited for a meal: on one side was “uncle,” who spoke Spanish fluently and English less so, and on the other side was Gerry, a night security guard, who often came home in uniform and with his gun. Sometimes, late at night, he patrolled the area around our houses as well. Across the street lived Russ and his wife. Russ was a retired policeman who died at a relatively young age from pancreatic cancer. We did not really know anyone else on the street.
We now live in Waco and it is quite different: we are in a gated community of 25 townhouses and know our neighbors quite well. On the right is Cindy Smith, who moved there about a year ago after another neighbor died. She has a Lexus and two small dogs and is one of the younger members of the community—she is “only” about 70. On the other side of our house lives Joanne Zuch, who has been here since the units were built over 20 years ago. She is a Lutheran and it turns out that she knew (and dated) a Lutheran missionary we knew in PNG. One house beyond Joanne lived Rudy, a retired engineer and statistician. He is very hard of hearing and had a great library—he gave me a number of books when he moved to another town. Next to Rudy lived Dorothy, now deceased, but when alive she and Joice visited often.
Next door to us is also Myra, who has lived here many years and across the street from her is Nancy Watters, who worked in Nepal with Wycliffe and SIL. Two doors down from her is another Nancy, who is kind of the “mother” of the circle.
When we look after Pretzel, the Hardin’s dog, which we often do, I take him for a walk around the village circle.
There are about 7 other dogs in our Waco community and when I meet their owners they invariably want to meet and pet Pretzel. “He is not a friendly dog,” I tell them, but some persist, such as Zoe’s mama, who also has a dachshund. “Oh, I’m sure he would like to meet Zoe,” she said and although I had my misgivings she let Zoe near to Pretzel. Pretzel immediately thought of himself as a Pitbull and lunged at Zoe. I pulled him away—he was frothing at the mouth and imagined small bits of tasty Zoe on his tongue. Other dog owners here are now more careful, and so am I. Who wants to be sued in Village Circle—and by a neighbor at that?
|Friends Pretzel and Donna|
Dachshunds were our dog of choice and over the years—in PNG and in Texas—we have had four of them. Pretzel has been the name for several of them so our Waco family now own Pretzel IV, a suitable name for a doctor’s dog. We had other pets too, notably a cat named Joey that Karol had for many years and a duck named Donna, although at first named Donald—until we found that the duck could lay eggs! Donna and Pretzel were good friends and often rested in the sun together. Sometimes Joey would join them.
Our nearest white neighbors from Usa village were Norm and Bernie Imbrock of the Lutheran mission at Wabi, eight miles away. They were kind beyond measure and extremely helpful to us during our stay in Usa. Later, when they were gone their replacements, the Reickes (from Germany) were also great “neighbors.”
Our closest neighbors in Usa were Yandawae and his wife, who lived across the “road” just 30 yards from us. They had no children and Yandawae worked with and for me all the time we were there. A bit further away were Kirapeasi and his wife Aminyawa and, later, their children. Kira, as we called him, was the main translation assistant for the West Kewa project. I will mention him more later.
In Usa, the road, or track in some places, went by our house, across a small stream and then to the top of a small mountain, part of a ridge of mountains that extended to Kagua in the east and towards the Ankura River in the west. After a number of years of work by the Kewa men, a workforce coming from the Mendi direction joined the road and, eventually, there was a road all the way from Usa to the town of Mendi. Mendi had a paved and somewhat modern airstrip, a hospital, mission headquarters for several agencies, a number of stores and the government headquarters. There was even a guest house there, run by the Methodist mission that we stayed at years later on a trip into the area with Jeff and Val Bailey. We will discuss that trip now.
A Highland Pilgrimage (1982)
The following account is from my notes of our trip with our Aussie friends, Jeff and Val Bailey. We borrowed Dr Bill Bieber’s four wheel Toyota in exchange for a group vehicle and left Ukarumpa at 6:50am, on March 22nd, stopping briefly in Kainantu and then Goroka. We continued on the Highlands Highway, intending to stop at Minj, but we missed the turnoff. Instead we went on to Banz and from there took a detour to the Christian Leaders Training College, stopping first to eat our packed lunches.
At CLTC we met up with Haero, whom we knew as a student at our first National Training Course in Ukarumpa. He was working for Kristen Kaset and had been doing some translation work on the Aekom language for his mission. He had hoped to take an advanced course in translation but his superiors did not allow him. While at Kristen Kaset, we were given a supposedly Kewa tape to listen to and identify, but it turned out to be of the Sanberigi language, which I had studied.
We also met Joe Tauruna, whom Ellis Deibler knew at Goroka and also Joe’s wife and child, as well as a man named Sakipa from Faiwol, who writes to the Mecklenbergs. Finally we went to the library and I talked to the Principal, David Price, and others. We stayed at CLTC longer than we expected and therefore missed the open hours at the Yangpela Didman place (Young Agriculturalist), so instead went straight to MAPANG (the Missionary Guest House) in Hagen. We thought we would be late for supper but it wasn’t served on time so we were OK. The cost here is K8 per night, including meals.
Joice and I spent the evening talking to a young man who was touring PNG with his girlfriend. He claimed to be an atheist and Joice and I talked with him until 10pm—in the meantime his girlfriend and then the Baileys went to bed. We left him with the thought that sometime when he needed God and asked for help God would hear any earnest prayers.
On Tuesday, March 23, we spent the night in Mt Hagen, a miserable night because the couples in the adjacent room were up until 2 am slamming doors and wandering the halls.
After breakfast we went to town and looked up the Education Officer, whom we had previously met when he visited Ukarumpa. He was in a shabby office with one chair, but wanted to talk about school programs that were starting with Tok Pisin. We also tried to see the Provincial Minister for Education but he was out. That was unfortunate, because he is the one who “borrowed” (read took) my Woolrich shirt when visiting Ukarumpa. After tea and lunch at MAPANG we went to the Department of Primary Industries, responsible for the Agricultural Training Institute. We were given a tour around the site. We also met Undama and some Gadsups who had taken a body back to a Hagen village.
We then went to Ogelbang, the Tok Pisin Lutheran Seminary, and met Bernie Imbrock, our former neighbors in the Kewa area at Wabi. Norm, her husband, joined us later and we had a relaxing time talking and then a delightful supper with appetizers of fruit and a salad of pineapple. We spent a lot of time reminiscing about the “good old days” of the Wabi mission station and Usa village. Two of their children, Naomi and Tim, were there and we stayed until after devotions at 9pm, then returning to the Anglican compound before it closed at 9:30.
On Wednesday, March 24 we left early to buy some food in Hagen to take on the trip, then to see the Minister of Education again. He was in, but didn’t seem to recognize us immediately. He finally did and was then the consummate politician, which made us laugh (later). After our visit we went to get petrol but the electricity was off, so we had to wait 45 minutes. We finally left for Kaupena, the location of the PNG Bible Institute. The road was good all the way and we arrived about 10:30am and were given a tour by Witi, the Dean, an Imbongu speaker. We visited several class rooms, one with a Kewa teacher whom we had met at the Ukarumpa Easter Camp and given a NT. Some of the classrooms had Kewa students, who greeted us with their traditional exclamations. The school takes students who have “completed” standard 6, but apparently some of them can’t read or write and need help. The school takes them for four additional years, up to about a grade 8—the government wants the school registered but the mission is resisting so that it can have control.
We left PNGBI at 12:30 and had lunch along the road. Several Kewa speaking Imbongu people came along and we had fun talking briefly with them.
We then drove on to Beechwood (A.T.A. Timber Works), but first missed the turn and ended up at a small Haus Kai (eating place) and bought ice cream and chips. They had a little park and fountain, overlooking a spectacular view of the mountains. It seemed surreal to find this little place in the wilderness, the vision and work of an independent missionary who had several other enterprises as well.
Up the road a short distance we visited Vic and Claudia Chamberlain, once with the Bible mission but now independent. They have had a hard time with some of the local politicians who are intent on taking over and profiting from their work. Their mechanics shop has failed and they may leave PNG next year—they were quite discouraged. We tried to cheer them up.
Before we could leave their place, the rain came and it kept coming. Nevertheless, we drove back to Beechwood and found the guest house. Val and Joice walked to the nearest home for the key and were told there was no stove or fridge and the water tank had just been cleaned. The house was sparse but adequate—with an electric jug we made coffee and soon some of the mission women arrived to welcome us. They offered us utensils and food but we explained that we had brought our own, so we made a simple meal of soup, baked beans, some cheese, bread and hot drinks. Our suitcases that were on the top of the vehicle had gotten wet, so we had some damp clothes to dry out.
The next day we were up around 7am and it was dull and misty. Our breakfast was peanut butter, bread and hot drinks. We then took a tour of the Beechwood timber operations, courtesy of Mike Grace, son of an MAF pilot. We drove down the Mendi Road to the base of Mt. Giluwe and into the bush and visited two timber leases. We watched the cutting and pulling of the logs as the tractor went through a sea of mud. The leases are nationally owned and communication was back and forth by walkie-talkies, between the work parties, making us realize how much the country had changed in the years we have been there.
We went on to Ialibu, a turnoff from the Hagen to Mendi road and stopped at the High School to look up a former paramedic who trained at Kainantu with the Dr and Mrs. Bieber. He had expressed an interest in doing Bible translation to them, but we found no such interest. We then drove on to the Sodes, of the Gospel Tidings Mission, and were put up in their guest house. Sophie prepared an elaborate meal for us—Jacob and Sophie are longtime friends and have been a great encouragement to us. It was cold at Ialibu—not unexpected—and we could see many stars due to the clear, cold night during the “dry” season. (It is rarely very dry here.)
On the next day (Friday) we had breakfast in their sunroom amidst all the plants and canaries. As Joice said, “It was a perfect way to begin our journey.” We could see Mt. Giluwe clearly, a mountain we had once viewed many times from the village of Muli where we had lived between 1958 and 1962.
I went out jogging in the morning and Joice took an early walk to a nearby village, taking her binoculars to look for birds.
|Vine Bridge over Iaro River near Muli|
We later stopped at the Catholic Mission station in Ialibu and found Fr Roger. He had a grey beard but it was nice to see him again after so many years. We left Ialibu and the road wasn’t as bad as we expected because it was covered with crushed limestone from a nearby ridge. We stopped in the village of Muli, where we once lived and then continued on our way south, crossing the Iaro River, which I had done several times when it had only a vine bridge. We went on towards Erave (to the south). There was not much population as we traveled, and we finally crossed the bridge over the Erave River and arrived at the APCM (now Evangelical Church of Papua) mission station. We found the Hawke’s house and ate our lunch with them before Joice and I went to try to find the kiap (government officer)—who was gone, as were the leaders at the Catholic mission station. We bought some pawpaw and pineapples along the way.
Back with the Hawkes, we had a look at Gwen Priestley’s materials. Mr Hawke expressed concern over her orthography, which differs considerably from our own and the rest of Kewa. We then left Erave and traveled over a terrible road to Kaitloma, the station of the Evangelical Wesleyan mission, where we met George and Linda Kelley. They welcomed us, with Jeff and Val staying in the main house and Joice and I with Linda’s parents, who will be running the Bible school. We had a large meal with everyone—they are all refreshing people.
On Saturday, March 27 we left for Kagua after a large breakfast at Kaupena. Kelleys want to learn Kewa and seem to understand it, but do not speak it well.
In Kagua we went to the Catholic station at Karia and soon Kirapeasi, who had been waiting for us, appeared. We took him with us to Kware-Lombo (to the east of Kagua) over a terrible road and had a visit with Lyle and Beth Gorake of the Evangelical Bible Mission. They run a Pidgin Bible School and a mechanic’s workshop but do not work in Kewa, which is disappointing. They rely mostly on interpreters, which we found sad.
It was drizzling when we left, so we returned to Karia where the Sisters had prepared a delicious meal of stew and dumplings for us. Two of the Brothers—Albert and Marcus—joined us. Val worked on the treadle sewing machines at the Convent, which pleased sister Naome to no end. In fact, Jeff and Val worked on the sewing machines at the High School the next day. Joice stayed up talking with the Sisters, particularly Doris, and they had an interesting spiritual talk about the charismatic movement in the Catholic Church. She said there were a group of Sisters in Ialibu of that persuasion and they had a monthly prayer meeting. However they had moved to a station near Hagen.
In the evening Jeff and I stayed in the Friary and Val and Joice in the Convent—the nunnery.
After breakfast the next morning we left for Usa. It was a beautiful day as we picked up Kirapeasi and Maalu to go with us. We stopped at Wabi and saw Joseph, the station manager. Jeff and I looked at the remaining fruit trees and picked what we could find of mandarins. The station looked quite forlorn without the Imbrocks and the church was not in good repair, with a quite small attendance.
From Wabi to Usa it was very familiar territory and the road was quite good. We stopped at the Primary Usa School and saw a number of people, all hugging us and exclaiming their greetings. They told us most of the people were at church, so we went there and indeed were many present. It seemed like every one was hugging and re-hugging us. We met the pastor but it was hard for us to remember the names of people. Many kids have grown up and remarried. Ambali, Karol’s friend, helps in the church but he is still unmarried. An old man admonished everyone to sit down after they had hugged us because others wanted to hug us too!
Nothing seemed to have changed at the church—men on one side, women on the other. We were commended from the pulpit for having come back to see everyone. We were disappointed that the Scripture reading was in Pidgin, with interpretation into Kewa. The pastor announced that I would preach—quite a surprise but I persisted and when I came to a difficult expression the people in the congregation would help me out. The service was not as disorderly as we remembered.
We remember, for example, one occasion when we came back from furlough and Karol was with us. She noticed the women nursing their kids and said, rather loudly, “Mommy, they are going to be sick if they keep eating like that.” “You used to eat like that,” Joice replied. “Oh, when I was a native,” Karol countered. Such was the cultural integration of our kids.
The literacy house was gone, except for the office, a building that BIOLA alumni had supplied funds for and Aaron Hoffman had helped to build. The office was filled with pig jawbones that lay on top of the bookcases, payments apparently from court cases. It was somewhat sad.
We bought some bows and arrows, two bailor shells and a small mourning skirt, all for the ILC museum. We then drove on up the road that leads to Mendi and surveyed the area from the top of the mountain before having our lunch—Yandawae was with us. We went back down and found Yandawae’s wife and Ropasi’s widow and gave them garden seeds and some clothes.
We finally left about 3pm and drove to Uma to look up Victor and Dennis, the Catholic literacy instructors. We found only Victor and tried to encourage him. The people in Uma knew us by name.
Back at Wabi I had a long talk to Joseph about his son Yaatu, who had been fired by SIL for drinking and causing some damage. Joseph was sad and wrote a letter for us to take to Yaaatu advising him to come home. Joice went to the ELCONG office to see if there were literacy materials available and found the inventory low. We are not sure what happens to all the books that we have distributed over the years.
From Wabi we went back to Kagua and when we left Maalu off a teenage girl came running up to the car, excited and breathless. I opened the car door and she fell into my arms crying “You didn’t know me, did you?” It was Yapusi, who had been in our pre-school literacy class years ago and now she was in High School. She insisted on speaking English and it was very good. Joice felt gratified since she had taught her to read. She got it the car and wanted to talk and talk, worried that she had missed us.
At Karia the Sisters had prepared an extravagant Italian dinner for us. Jeff and Val again worked on all the sewing machines they had assembled. We joined the mission staff for prayers, Scripture and songs, including “How Great Thou Art.” We stayed up talking until lights out.
Joice remembered that night. She awoke in the night and had to go to the toilet. Her room was at the end of the chapel and the toilet was at the other end. She had no “torch” (flashlight), so inched her way down the very dark long hall. She managed to get down the hall but missed her door coming back and ended up in the chapel. She finally found her room.
Early in the morning we went to the government offices to find the Non-Formal Education Officer but he (and it seemed like everyone else) was out campaigning. There were trucks and bullhorns everywhere! I did run into Yano Belo, the Kewa Minister for Minerals and gave him the SIL Annual Report. I doubt that he could read it in English.
We went on to Muli, where we had lived, off and on, from 1958-1962, stopping first at the new Health Care Center. It is beautiful, but Kewa women do not use it for their deliveries because it seems cold and stark. Most of the women, we were told, were off working in their gardens. We promptly noticed many familiar faces, even though we hadn’t been to this area since 1965. Names didn’t come very easily, although Joice met her first house girl (Pene), now married with two children. Joice gave her one of her dresses. I gave a shirt to Roto and his brother Kama asked for one as well. I said I couldn’t do that because he already had on such a nice new shirt. We gave out candy and balloons to the kids.
A British volunteer was at the Health Center and explained again that no one liked to stay at the Health Centers because there was no heat in them (Muli is at about 6,500’ altitude). Additionally, other Centers had been built at Lombo and Sumi—at the Bible Mission and Catholic Mission stations.
We went on to the Sodes and had morning tea with them, really a lunch with cheese, crackers and other things. The women rested and chatted in the setting of their sunporch while Jeff and I went to Yama to visit the sawmill site east of Ialibu. Jacob had gone to teach an RI class at the High School. The sawmill was a large operation that was locally run, but supervised by an expat. The saw operator was a Kewa, in traditional dress except for yellow earmuffs!
We left Ialibu and continued west toward Mendi, stopping at Aisasa for our lunch. Some of the people had heard of me and we visited with them. The road was very good, most of it covered with crushed limestone. Before Mendi we came to the large police station and prison, then went on to Mendi where we bought some fuel and continued on to the United Church guest house. Joice had been there before with Georgetta MacDonald when they attended a literacy conference in Mendi. The guest house was in the care of local people and we were the only occupants. There was no hot water so we had cold showers, then a large meal, complete with ice cream and fruit. The cook understands Kewa and remembers us because she visited Usa during a large pig kill and feast in the 1970s.
After supper we visited the hospital to see if we could find Mone Mealo, a Kewa paramedic who had trained at Kainantu. When we got out of the car, he was standing there—he had brought his wife and child to the clinic. While we talked with him Jeff and Val went to the PO to find a phone and call Kathy at Ukarumpa. Mone was discouraged—he had been working for 5 months without pay and also knew of no Christians at the hospital. He lived with his uncle, Provincial Secretary Roger Egi, so we tried to encourage him and gave him some money, hoping he might make it to the Easter Camp at Ukarumpa later.
Jeff and Val said they talked to Kathy and Karol, who was with Kathy, but disappointed we were not there to talk to her. The house parents where the girls are staying acted like martyrs—according to the girls—because of all the work they had to do. We took Mone home and returned to the guest house.
The next morning (May 30) we paid our bill (K7 each) and went to see the United Church Bishop, a Fijian, then on to the Non-formal Education office, but the Provincial supervisor was away on holiday. We had also hoped to enquire about some Community Development projects that Jeff and Val were interested in, but no one seemed able to help us. We did meet a South Kewa man, the Provincial Cultural Officer, who was working with Uria, a Wiru artist now the Provincial artist, on a culture book. He had only been in the office two weeks but had received no orientation and was groping for help. We showed him our materials that happened to be on a bookshelf in the main room and especially something on silk screening and producing their own books. He seemed to appreciate the help.
We then visited the Roman Catholic mission station and met Father Dunstan, whom we knew from his time in Kagua (Karia). After our visit there we tried to see the Provincial Premier, but he was in a meeting. We were able to visit Radio Mendi and the manager, but he didn’t even seem to be sure of the radio frequencies they used. He did find a program list for us but explained that it was not up to date. A technician also gave us a brief tour. Joice then did a little shopping for some food. We went back to the guest house for lunch, the set off for Det, a Catholic station that had a hydro scheme we wanted to see. We somehow got on the wrong road and soon were on the worst trail of the trip so far. We met a Sister Dominick, then later a Swiss man, walking to the village to spend the night, with whom we chatted for a while. This is a very remote area and constitutes a sub-dialect area that is between the Kewa and Mendi. This was not surprising, to me, in that I had obtained and studied word lists from the area some years earlier.
We went on to the Catholic station and viewed the hydro scheme, which was not working because a small log had blocked it. The previous day Father Peter had made a dozen dives before he managed to free it. We also saw the poultry project, and then went back to the main road and on to the Christian Union Mission at Kar. The Jones’s hadn’t expected us until later in the day but had things ready for us to stay the night. We stayed with them after a tour of the Bible school (in English, with 12 students). The Principal is a Petat speaker from the North Solomon Province. We also had a tour of the mechanic’s shop.
We had planned to stop at Ruth Tipton’s place, just up the road, but met her going in the opposite direction. We turned around and followed her back to the Kar station and talked about the upcoming Provincial literacy workshop which she is organizing. There will be 30+ teacher trainees and it will be held at Nipa, rather than Mendi. Things were confused about who from SIL would be coming but Jeff and Val got things straightened out.
While we standing talking, Joice heard a bird call nearby, sounding like a crow. When she enquired, she was told it was the Raggiana Bird of Paradise so she walked a few yards to the trees and spotted 6 female and one male, easily seen by the naked eye. It was the thrill of a lifetime for her.
Leaving Kar, we headed back for Kaupena, a Lutheran station with a Bible school that Kirapeasi had once attended. When we got to Kaupena, the car was making quite a racket. Jeff thought it was a broken engine mount and later at Vic Chamberlain’s workshop we found some wire and wired it together, leaving a note of thanks for them. At Hagen we went to a garage to get a new mount but they found the old one wasn’t broken, only loose, so they repaired it. Joice and Val went to the shops and then we went to MAPANG to spend the night.
Jeff and Val called Kathy, so I talked briefly to Karol, telling her we would be home the next day. So on Thursday, April 1st, we left, stopping first at Minj and trying to find the Swiss Mission. It was some ways off the road so we went to the Swiss Mission station and left books for the Education officer.
On the Goroka side of the Daulo Pass we found SIL colleagues Denise Potts and Hanni Gasman selling books in a village. These were new Siane villages that the women had recently found and there was good interest in the books. We went on to Goroka and found some food and later stopped outside of Goroka and ate along the side of the road.
We arrived at Ukarumpa at 3:30 pm and found everyone looking well. Karol came home about 5:30 but Kirk was away on a trip with Craig Troop in New Britain.
And so ended our long and enjoyable trip with the Baileys—not meant to be a vacation, but different and highly educational!
Muli Village Area
As I have indicated, Muli and Usa were “our” Kewa villages, and they were similar in many ways: both had dance grounds, men’s houses, gardens in the surrounding area, along with other houses. The villages had populations of about 400 people present, who were divided into clans or sub-clans. Each clan also had “head men,” those who had accumulated pigs, pearl shells and (in some cases) multiple wives, and were therefore influential leaders.
We lived in Muli, off and on, from September, 1958 (although I had visited there in July on a survey with Harland Kerr) until the end of 1962, when we went on furlough. My sister, Claire, recorded notes from some of our letters, which I refer to now:
“1958: The first sustained contact with the Kewa area was in 1955. Much of the area is still ‘restricted,’ meaning that the colonial government will not allow outsiders, such as us, to live in certain areas. However, Muli is OK because a road is being built to it from Ialibu, the sub-district headquarters. Karl and Joice found the people friendly and they were able to participate in cultural activities. Each ‘tribe’ seems to wear their leaves and head dresses a little differently. They are learning to speak the language, finding some new sounds.
“Karl describes their house as “ranch style, bush fashion” and tells how the people lack protein and like grubs, caterpillars and spiders, but don’t eat much pig or other animals. He says they have a lot of advantages: no housekeeping (no house); no washing and ironing (no clothes); no bathing (no soap and it is a ways to the small stream).
“They have found that the language is tonal, for example anda means ‘to see’, ‘house’ or ‘big’, depending on contrasting tones and final vowel—there are countless other examples. The emotional center is the liver.
[The tonal features of the language bothered us for years—Joice wrote and published an article on it and I relied on her ears for assurance of the contrasts.] A letter to Claire continues:
“Unknown to Karl, there had been an argument over where they could build our house and the two head men (brothers) disagreed to the extent that one of them put up a cultural ‘keep out’ sign—a stake with certain leaves on it. But they finally worked it out and Mano, the younger brother, decided that the house should be built close to his.
|An Usa Literacy Class|
“They want to learn the language well because a lot of drastic mistakes can be made by translating too early. Their five year goal is to complete the Kewa grammar, six primers, conduct some adult literacy classes, tape record and analyze 20 hours of folk tales and translate the Gospel of Mark. [Needless to say, we didn’t get all of that done.]
“They report no rain for one and a half weeks, quite unusual. It is so dry they have to cart water from about a mile away.
“1960: They have a 1,250 word dictionary that uses the alphabet approved by the linguistics committee. Joice has tried her first primer in a trial literacy class. Each week they choose an anthropology topic and write it up for their files—such things as fire building, string making, house building and so on. Karl has been working on Matthew 7: 24-27 about building a house on sand or rocks and this week on blind Bartimaeus. One trouble was writing Jesus as the people pronounce it—Ndisasi or Yesusi—and the latter seem more like the Greek.
“It is sometimes very lonesome and tiring to work on language all the time. It is also cold and they wish for some heating in the house.
“Karol has gone to New Britain to help prepare some language lessons on the main language so that patrol officers can learn it. There will be 47 lessons, a dictionary and a grammar. In Rabaul the natives have cocoa plantations, trucks, some nice autos and many speak English. It is quite a contrast with Muli.
|Muli Long House: Circa 1959|
”In November there was a large sing-sing, with a once in a generation feast. There were long houses constructed, some the length of the village—some 150 yards long. There were around 800 pigs killed and all this took place within about 100 yards of their house.
“They mention a premature baby who died, or may have been killed. It it was ‘buried’ in the crotch of a tree on a platform, after wrapping it in bark. In another incident a girl threw hot coals on another girl’s leg and she was burned badly. The first girl’s family had to repay the second with pig, which was killed and its blood was put on the burns.
“1961: Kirk talks mostly Kewa and when the government patrol officers were coming he said, in Kewa “white men are coming.” The men’s house near them is a large low grass house and it has a large log at the entrance for sitting on. Women cannot go into the house but bring food for their men and hand it over the low wall at the entrance. When Joice takes a walk the natives invariable ask her if she is going to Ialibu—a four hour walk away.
“Joice is preparing a paper on the kinship system and has got the main relationships OK but finding the spouse’s relatives fuzzy. Even the people have trouble with some of them. Karl has recorded about 300 different clause types and wants to do 100 more. The girls give Joice a short text each day. She has primers ready to mimeograph.
“The head men in Muli were two brothers, Kama and Roto, the elder. Kama had (serially) at least 9 wives, but not many children. Roto had one wife, but was an accomplished trader and spoke Mbongu (Medlpa) fluently because he traveled widely in his trading. Both men were persuasive, although in different ways. It was Kama who invited the Catholic mission (Capuchin Order) to Muli and persuaded his clan to build a house for the catechist and a church. He attended Joice’s literacy class but never learned to read well. He would spend hours with the younger boys playing their top-spinning games.
“Roto stood out in his role as leader and could be quite disparaging of those he considered “inferior.” He did like, for example, that we invited what he called “ashes men” to eat with us. Such superior events were to be reserved for him and Kama. We once had Doyt and Irene Price visit us, so we invited Roto as well. Before he could eat he removed his nose bone and tucked It under his arm band. When finished, he retrieved it, carefully lubricated it with spit and stuck it in his nasal septum again. Irene was not impressed and had fortunately finished her meal or there might have been more than spit on the table.
“Government officers from Ialibu had a “rest house” built in Muli and they sometimes stayed there when on patrols. Occasionally medical patrols, census patrols, agricultural officers or ‘kiaps’ (Tok Pisin, from ‘cops’) would stay overnight in Muli. We would always invite whoever was there for a meal. One kiap took his wife along on patrols with him, so that was a treat for Joice.
“They mention that that people with leprosy are tied, while still alive, to a long pole, have a stone placed in their mouth (so the spirits couldn’t talk) and then have a spear driven into their body. They then get bush rope and pull the person to the river and place them in it. Suicide is common and the expression is ‘eating the rope’ when they hang themselves.
“In October of the year Karl and Joice went back to Ukarumpa where Karl was Acting Director for a period before they went to Goroka to teach 13 government Australian officers, two Dutch administration officers and five missionaries some principles of language learning and basic linguistics. While at Goroka, Karl took a trip to Chuave to give language examinations to the Swicks. On the way the vehicle had a flat that couldn’t be fixed so they walked the last two hours to the station.
[End of my quotes from Claire’s letters.]
A medical patrol once set up a tent in Muli and a “dentist” was present to extract teeth. People often had rotting teeth, so this was both necessary and a benefit. Mr Coates, an Australian “dentist” whom we knew, asked us to interpret for him. We explained to those waiting for assistance what he wanted to do. A man came with an aching tooth to extract but, Mr. Coates, unfortunately, pulled the wrong tooth, a “green” (new, unblemished) one and was appalled at this accident. He had used his pliers in the general direction pointed to by the man but had missed by one tooth. He had to compensate the man—a bush knife as I recall.
|Working on Usa to Mendi Road|
Another time we invited two native policemen to eat with us. They reluctantly accepted and were clearly unsure of how to use our utensils. We had a nice visit and meal—conversation in Tok Pisin because they did not know English or Kewa—and then they wanted to pay us for the meal. They could not imagine getting something so grand as Joice’s meal without some measure of compensation being required.
Muli was located at about 6,500 feet altitude, so we had plenty of rain (up to 150 inches a year), clouds and mud. At that elevation, it would also get unbearably cold at night. Often the clouds would arise from the valleys below us and by mid-morning come right through our bush house. It was difficult to get clothes dry!
Usa, although about the same population as Muli, was lower—5000 feet altitude and consequently much milder. We still had a lot of rain (around 125 inches a year), but the road from Wabi to Usa, covering 8 miles, was completed while we lived there. The men chopped down trees that they pulled to the Kagua River and built a “permanent” bridge to replace the old vine one. The road from Ialibu to Muli and beyond still took years to complete.
Usa Village Area
We had a much larger house in Usa, with separate studies for Joice and me, and an overhead loft where Kirk slept. Karol had her bedroom and we had a spare bedroom as well where a number of visitors stayed.
Cornell Capa, a well-known photographer who had stories in Life magazine, came on two weekends to take pictures and write a story about our work with the Kewa. It was later published in the Wycliffe book, Language and Faith. Our photos supplemented those of Capa. They included photos of Kewa men dancing (and me dancing with them), our deceased head man on a burial platform, with hundreds of mourners gathered, sharing pie with Usa Yandawae, and over a dozen other photos, including Karol as a three year old and Joice teaching her and literacy students.
We were able to purchase a small generator and had literacy classes in the evening. The literacy building was possible because of a gift from the Biola alumni association.
Capa bought one of my photos for $500, which allowed me to return to the US after my mother was killed in an auto accident. During that short stay in the States, Capa invited me to his studio in New York City to help edit captions for many of the photos that followed in his book.
On my way back to PNG Capa met me in Detroit where he was on assignment and gave me hundreds of slides to return—ones he had borrowed from SIL workers.
An Early Kewa Friend
We have had many Kewa friends, but I will comment on only one in detail. His full name was Yapua Kirapeasi. I first met Kira (his nickname, which means “to cook”) in 1966 when I went to the village of Usa to arrange to have a house built for our family. Joice, Kirk and Karol remained at our center while I and two colleagues flew to the Lutheran mission station at Wabi, walked 8 miles to Usa, and began to build a house. In the meantime, the government granted us permission to stay at their bush house that their officers used when they patrolled the area. We were there for two or three weeks while we joined with village men to get the house to a lockable stage. Another colleague finished the house later while we were in Australia studying.
Kira and a number of other young men offered to help us in various ways, but he seemed to be the most enthusiastic and industrious. I “hired” him to provide equivalents in his dialect (West Kewa) for the notebooks of data that I had in East Kewa. A young man from that dialect would work with Kira and I would record both dialects on tape.
Kira proved to be a very capable worker and although quite young (probably about 14 or 15 at the time), he was a quick learner. In addition, he promised to work for us when I returned with the family.
We returned to Usa in mid-1967 after three months in New Zealand and three in Canberra, Australia. Kira continued to work for us and Joice taught him to read and write his own language (West Kewa). Later she also taught him to touch type and, while we were in Usa during 1968, he attended a Lutheran Bible school—taught in Tok Pisin—at Alkena, in another language area. He was very unhappy there due to the cold, wet climate and lack of food and on several occasions wrote asking us if he could return to help us. We encouraged him to stay in school, but he left after one year. Later when he married Aminawa, we helped him build a house. They lived near us and Kira continued to work on literacy and translation.
Kira’s father was named Yapua and he enters into the story as a very forceful man. He had several wives, pigs, gardens and shells, a number of children and a distinct body odor—if he walked within 30 feet of our house, we knew it. Kira was the eldest of a number of siblings and half-siblings and Yapua “used” Kira on a number of occasions to try to obtain clothing and other goods from us. Yapua was good natured about it, but had a beggar’s forthright disposition and it was obvious—to him—that we had more than he did, and felt we were obligated to share our “wealth.”
When we went on furlough in 1969 Kira continued to teach literacy to some of the village men, with varying degrees of success. He stayed in his village for the next several years, except for a brief stint in the Kagua jail for playing cards (gambling), and a period at the Wabi Lutheran station in 1975 where he was engaged in teaching literacy. However, he returned to his village in 1976 and, realizing that we were going to be gone for the next few years, he left in 1977 for Bougainville with a number of other village men to work on plantations. Trouble dogged Kira and in less than a year he was shipped back to his village. He next found a job as a butcher for several years in Kagua, a sub-district government station and, at the same time, he taught cultural studies at the local High School. However, in 1979 he was relieved of his job as a butcher and returned to his village of Usa.
Kira told me that he was “hooked” by Satan to gamble and drink heavily, so his life took a downward spiral as far as any contributions to literacy or translation were concerned. He did, however, contribute an “autobiography” of his own life, written with the pseudonym of Nomui. It chronicles his birth, family, lineage and some of his own work and worries. He described these in more detail in letters he wrote to me over a 15 year period.
The last time I saw Kira was in 2005 when he attended the dedication of the East Kewa NT, held in Kagua. For some years Kira had represented his village as a council member of the Kagua Local Government Council. His hair was grey and he looked older than the 55 or so years he would have been. About that time we asked Kira if he was interested in translating some OT books into West Kewa. He began with Proverbs and soon completed Ecclesiastes and Isaiah as well. His colleagues subsequently revised the work and in 2009 Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Ruth and portions of Genesis were published for the first time. When Kira was translating Proverbs he said, “Why didn’t someone tell me that this book existed?” He was clearly impressed with the practical wisdom of the book.
It is not hard to understand how a young man like Kira got involved in drinking and gambling. He was smart and he won a lot of money playing cards and he was likeable, so drinking with his mates was a natural outcome. But he was ill prepared for the physical and emotional problems that followed his habits.
My story about Kira, who was for a time “semi-retired” in his village as a “farmer” ends in 2014. It was the last time I heard about him, although I saw him briefly, as I mentioned, in 2005. Subsequently, he moved to Port Moresby, the capital of PNG, and had a job, but I have no recent information about him. Nevertheless, one of his brothers (Max) is an ordained Lutheran pastor in Usa village and has been part of a team working (intermittently) on the Old Testament translation. In this regard, he has followed the steps of Kira, who was the main co-translator of the entire New Testament. We are hoping that things work out better for Max than they have for Kira. However, I have also lost touch with Max—2016 was the last I heard indirectly from him, although we had supplied money for him to build an office in his village. Rumors in 2017 indicate tribal fighting in his village area and no more translation work.
A Trade Store in Usa
What is a trade store? In many parts of Papua New Guinea (PNG) there are such stores—some are in “towns” but others are commonly in “villages.” I put both in quotes because towns and villages are different than what we might conceptualize as Westerners. Among the Kewa, in the Southern Highlands, there are a few “towns,” basically regional centers of some kind with government and mission services such as schools, hospitals, administrative and church offices, and businesses. Somewhere in the mix are trade stores, with assortments of tinned fish, rice, sugar, kerosene, biscuits, soda pop, soap and so forth. The store is “owned” by a local businessman, often a politician, but it could be a local church as well. The structure is fairly small, perhaps 12’ by 20’, with a standard door or hinged board “window.” Goods are stacked on the shelves behind the counter. The building itself generally is made of planks, with an iron (tin) roof and probably elevated on posts a few feet above the ground. The town stores are generally open during the daylight hours, but rarely at night. Village trade stores are less elaborate and have flexible trade hours.
There were no trade stores in the village of Muli (in East Kewa) when we lived during 1958-1962 and there were also none in the village of Usa (in West Kewa) when we went there to live in 1967. However, in both locations people expected us to stock certain goods (mainly tinned fish, rice, matches and soap) for resale. Our house became the trade store.
It was a perplexing situation: we had no desire to operate any kind of store (we did freely dispense medicines) but the men who worked for us were insistent. They wanted fish and rice, in particular, and our airplane could bring the goods from the magical center at Ukarumpa, which some of them had visited and had seen the “big store” there.
We paid the men and women who worked for us and they immediately brought their money back to us to purchase trade goods from us. As they explained, “We are helping you and you are helping us.” It wasn’t the kind of help that I had come to PNG to do and I wondered what we could do about it.
It seemed to me that the “logical” thing was to train some men how to operate a trade store. We would order the goods, they would pay us, mark up the goods a bit to make a profit, and resell the items. We soon learned that Aristotelian linear logic is an artifact of the West, not the Kewa. We thought one trade store would be sufficient—soon there were three, one for each major clan in the village area.
To back up a bit, we should concede that there were no “villages”; instead there were “hamlets” with people scattered around in areas near their gardens. The village center was a clearing where dances and pig-killings were held. It only slowly morphed into anything like a village, with individual houses where the traditional “long houses” used for festivals had once stood.
Who “owned” the first trade store in Usa? Kenoa did. He was an industrious man who had started a cattle project for his clan after taking a month’s course in Mt. Hagen. And he wanted me to teach him how to run his trade store—convinced that he should have one. We had already tried to teach him to read, but we couldn’t. He was too smart to wait to learn individual sounds and symbols, and simply memorized words as fast as he could. And he could memorize quickly. I found that out when he came back from his course in Mt Hagen on cattle raising. He asked me to record what he recalled of the agricultural course and for over two hours he remembered and recited the basic contents of the whole course. I was impressed—surely here was a man who could run a trade store.
Although Kenoa was the de facto owner of the store, there were other clan members who contributed to buying the stock and therefore had some privileges and rights to the store. After a couple of “stock takes” with Keona, I wasn’t sure who owned the store, but I was sure that it was not simply him. Fellow clan members would come and demand services—day or night—and Kenoa would oblige them. Soon he had little stock and large outstanding debts. He appealed to me for help. I tried explaining that he needed to take in more money than he spent on his stock, which made perfect sense to him, but how could he refuse to allow a debt for a clan brother? The store was quickly out of stock and Kenoa was just as quickly broke. He decided to try to buy some cattle by borrowing collateral from the very clan brothers who had sunk his trade store operation.
I was always amazed at how the Kewa people could suddenly “find” money. They would assure me that they were destitute, had no money for their children’s school fees, salary for the village pastor, taxes for the government, and so on, and yet they could come up with cash for weddings, dances, and other events. Money wasn’t lacking, it was just well hidden.
A few times Kewa men came to me with large tins of coins, explaining that they buried the tin in the ground floor (literally) of their houses so that it would not be destroyed by fire. The money appeared magically if a Kewa man wanted me to make a special purchase when I went back to Ukarumpa or some coastal city.
So the “clan,” or at least some members of it, “owned” the store. They contributed money towards stocking the store and they could therefore entitled to buy from it on demand.
You might ask logically, “Why are there now so many trade stores?” Here is a roundabout answer: When the colonial government was building roads in the Kewa area they would assign sections to be built by respective clans from neighboring areas. The groups would be in competition with each other to see who could complete their section first—not best. The competition was intense (at least on Monday’s—the assigned day for government work) and the men seemed to enjoy it. Sometimes, in the case of larger projects like bridges, the neighboring clans would help each other, although some sort of payment was expected. Payment could be a piece of pork at the next pig feast, sweet potato when there was a shortage in their area, the loan of some Bird of Paradise plumes for a dance, even a bit of salt or decorative oil— all were acceptable items.
I learned that even in fairly small villages, with a population of 400 or so, there could be up to three or four trade stores. Some seemed never to be open, but they were there and prestige was associated with them. Every clan and even sub-clan wanted a trade store. The reason was simple—it kept the money circulating inside their “fence” and did not go to a rival clan.
Clans would help each other built their trade stores because everyone had the same set of values: keep the wealth within the group, but help out others upon occasion. Generosity was essential for a man to become a leader, a “big man,” so men contributed and formed trading partnerships with others they could call upon for help from time to time. Trade alliances, fighting alliances and other formal and informal relationships were necessary in times of difficulty.
Trade stores meant that goods had to be purchased in towns and transported to the village areas. When the road was “finished” the Kewa men from Usa needed to get Mt. Hagen, some four to five hours away by road, to buy goods for the trade store. Sometimes a vehicle could be “rented” but it was more beneficial and prestigious for the village to own a truck. Here again it was a cooperative and coercive strategy to find enough men with the money to buy a vehicle. There was then the problem of who had a license and could drive it. And, unfortunately for the owners, there was maintenance and fuel to purchase. Often basic vehicle care was overlooked and the tires were worn, the gear box was partially gone, and the windshield was cracked or missing. Inspections were rare, even in towns, so any penalty for no registration or inspection was unlikely.
The larger form of a “trade store” was the local market. We did not live in the Kewa area after early 1990, although we have had regular contact with some of the men since then. (We even had a call from a man with a cell phone from his village a few years ago.)
However, on several visits to the Wabi and Usa area, we noticed that local markets were becoming prevalent. There had always been markets in the towns but now the people were starting their own in areas near mission compounds or airstrips. Small temporary huts were built and women baked scones and sold them, along with chickens, vegetables, sugar cane, and so on.
Other things began to happen at the markets: gambling was the main attraction, with cards and darts the favored items. One or more bettors would get in a circle, cordoned off by a vine rope, and were held there until the cards were dealt or the darts were thrown and by virtue of bets, they were “freed. “ I did not explore the rules of the game but I was told that the men would bet anything—including the service of females that they had some authority over. I don’t know if this is true, but the influx of HIV/AIDS and other STDs suggests that it might be.
The local markets are also gathering places for thieves and politicians and it is sometimes difficult to tell the difference between them. Evangelists from some of the missions also made regular appearances. Everything and anything seemed to be tolerated.
One aspect of market sales is basket weaving, but sales depends upon tourists as buyers, so the items are generally sold only in town markets or in stalls along main roads.
People who work extra hours after their main job, by the light of the moon so to speak, are moonlighting. Such men need or want extra money, so they put in the extra hours. It is a common practice throughout the world, but in some areas of Papua New Guinea, moonlighting is done vigorously. This includes the police, who can be contracted to work out of hours and out of uniform for odd jobs—raiding villages, burning houses, shooting pigs, and robbing stores.
It works like this: let us suppose that the village in which you are living has something stolen. Of course, it happens in the dead of the night and no one knows who did it. No one heard anything or, if they did, they did not investigate. It turns out that the local school or mission property now has a number of items missing. Nothing much is said or done, people just listen, keeping their ear to the ground.
But after some time, an informant tells someone in the village, usually a person with access to the leaders, that he knows who took the goods. For a fee, and the promise of protection, he will reveal the whereabouts of the stolen goods. He is duly paid, perhaps the equivalent of $5 or $10, and disappears.
The leaders then contact moonlighting police and hire them, for say $20, which is really just a deposit for the work and will be repaid later. According to their own time clock, but definitely after hours, the police turn up in the village that has the goods. They turn up in force, and they have guns. To make their presence known, they usually shoot a pig or two and burn down a house or so. People quickly get the point and all valuables, such as money, shells, clothes, pots and pans, bedding, everything the people own, are placed outside the houses, because it is not certain which ones the police will burn. It is only certain that they will burn some. They will also rob the trade stores, if they want to, especially if food seems sparse, or if they need extra money. They will look around and decide what to destroy.
The police are, of course, mindful of their employer. They will return the $20 earnest money from the bounty and overall it will be a good night’s work for everyone. The thieves have been punished, the original victims repaid, and the police have supplemented their income by a bit of moonlighting.
Just for good measure, as they are leaving the village, they may destroy a bridge as well. They leave with an exclamation point. The villagers who have been manhandled now have a little more fear of the police. They also have more resentment by them and especially by the village people who were originally victimized—obviously someone from there has turned them in.
The moonlighting may help pay the police, but in the end it costs everyone dearly. The resulting hate, fear and subsequent payback will accentuate moonlighting, all because the police needed a bit of extra work. But the real cost was very high.
What might help to alleviate the situation? The churches have preached against sexual immorality and sins of other kinds, but the people are in a bind as far as any kind of wealth is concerned. Some coffee is grown locally, but the coffee buyers often take advantage of the growers because they are most often illiterates who cannot read scales and calculate sums. Literacy would seem to be one answer, but the adults responsible for development projects can’t read and the present generations, who have often had at least grade school, are not interested. Young people with ability migrate out to the cities and towns to find jobs. When (and if) they have jobs, they send money back to their families in the villages.
The urban migrants become street savvy and are sometimes involved in crime. Chased by the police, the criminals return to their villages where they are seldom found. They need money for beer and cigarettes, so they get involved in gambling and theft, even from their own trade stores.
This is not a positive note to end on, but there isn’t any at present, as far as I can tell. Most churches and missions do promote education and some forms of community development but, in general, the more remote areas have to somehow help themselves.
In our initial work in SIL in PNG we had few members who had assignments to non-language specific roles. Later, of course, we had carpenters, teachers, pilots, and may other specialists. Until they came, however, all of us who were in PNG at the time took on various duties.
Initially, the director asked me to work with some colleagues who knew something about carpentry and help finish a children’s home. It was the first time I had built anything more than a chicken coop—an accomplishment back on the farm in Pennsylvania.
Secondly, the director asked me to finish building a house that was originally intended as a guest house, but was obviously too small. He wanted us to buy it, so I took up the hammer and saw and, with some help, we moved into the house in late 1958. It was a very small house—two bedrooms, we ate in the ‘living room’ and we had to go outside along a porch to get to the kitchen. There was also a “shower” outside at the end of the porch, that is, there was a bucket with a shower “rose” and a hoist to pull it above one’s head. Primitive, but effective. The water was heated outside over an open fire (as in the village) or later with an old “chip” heater, one that fed on bursts of kerosene dripping into a funnel and then ignited. I found that completing the house was a good lesson on bush carpentry before starting work on a house in the village.
|Hauling Logs: 1958|
The director also asked me to help build some roads and to haul logs on Saturdays for the sawmill, borrowing a tractor and trailer from the agricultural station. Having grown up on a farm in Pennsylvania, I guess that the Director thought I knew how to drive a tractor and build roads. Yes, a bit to the former; but no, a lot to the latter. Nevertheless, Ray Nicholson and I rode around on horses (again, borrowed from the agricultural station) to supervise the road building. (The roads we worked on are still in use at Ukarumpa, but there is no sign to commemorate the part Ray and I played in their construction and no one has named a road after Ray or me!)
I learned to haul logs quickly—I remember that one Saturday I got five loads. On one stretch of the road, I had to negotiate a steep section (a dirt road of course) and the load was so heavy that the front end of the tractor would come off the ground. I solved the problem by having two of my employees sit on the front of the tractor until we got up the hill. There was no rear view mirror—running backwards would have taken us over a fair sized bank and ruined our day—to say nothing of the borrowed tractor and trailer.
In July the Director asked Joice and me to go to the lowlands of the Markham valley and supervise the clearing of an old airstrip, once used by gold prospectors. The area was to be home for the new SIL members coming from Australia, who would attend a “Jungle Camp” there. We spent about three weeks sleeping in jungle hammocks (like we had done in Mexico, when we attended our own “Jungle Camp”) until the airstrip was finished enough for the pilot to come in for an initial trial landing and declare the airstrip “open.”
|Staff at the first Gov’t Ling Course|
A year or so later, an Australian PNG government department asked SIL to be involved in three language projects: surveying certain areas to determine the number of languages present; preparing language courses for certain languages; and conduct language learning courses for government officers. Joice and I were instructors for the first language learning course (in Goroka of the Eastern Highlands) and head of the second one, during 6 weeks of 1960 and 1961. Later I traveled to some areas to test the government officers in their language learning progress.
One gifted student was Tom Dutton, an education officer, who was later to become a colleague and close friend when we both did our PhDs at the Australian National University in Canberra. Tom and Corinne also visited my folks at Lake Shickshinny in the U.S. on a vacation trip from MIT, where Tom was in residence. I don’t think anyone could have foreseen Tom and Corinne ending up at a camp only a mile or so from where my folks lived.
Kirk Then Karol
As the year 1959 came, we were continuing to help in various roles at Ukarumpa. Kirk was born on April 11th (a day before my birthday) at the Lutheran Mission bush hospital at Yagaum, not far from Madang. Joice and another lady, Lois Vincent, went to Madang two weeks before their delivery dates, and Alex Vincent and I followed a week later. Kirk’s birth was difficult: Joice was in labor for 48 hours and the doctor finally extracted him by forceps. It was a difficult pull and—remember this is in the jungle of PNG—the doctor remarked to me “It’s a wonder his head doesn’t come right off!” His head was misshapen a bit and he still bears some indents on his forehead. The hard birth may be the reason he had dyslexia, although we didn’t know it for a number of years.
The head doctor asked Alex and me to install new door locks throughout the hospital and in return he gave us free room and board. Kirk cost a total of about $50, including the plane fares, and he was worth every cent!
We returned to the village of Muli in July of 1959. The people were delighted to meet Kirk, although he had mud all over him when we arrived in Muli. He had fallen out of the “pram” that the men were carrying and landed face-down in the swamp and mud. We extracted him—the men didn’t seem to know what to do—and I carried him the rest of the way. He was a hit in the village, although the people were distressed at us for letting him cry for long periods of time without pampering him.
Joice taught Kirk to read and was his first teacher. Later he had stints of schooling in Australia, New Zealand, America as well as Papua New Guinea, so he speaks a blended dialect of English. He married Christine, from Tamworth, Queensland, in 1981 and they had three children at the Ukarumpa clinic.
Karol came along several years after Kirk. In between Joice had almost died from an ectopic pregnancy. Fortunately, it happened while we were at Ukarumpa, although the symptoms began while we were still teaching at the first language learning course for the government at Goroka. At Ukarumpa she began to go into shock—the doctor in Goroka had told us it was a threatened miscarriage and that she should go to bed—and the SIL nurses told me that I needed to get her to a hospital. I hopped on my motorcycle and raced off to Kainantu, seven miles away, where there was a doctor in residence at a small hospital. The doctor was not there—“He is playing golf up on the golf course” (a small 9 hole one a mile or so away). I found him and asked if he could immediately ask for a plane to come to Aiyura and get Joice and fly her to Goroka. “No, I haven’t seen the patient,” was the answer. At that point I heard a plane revving up down on the Kainantu airstrip. It was one of the old DC-3s of the wartime vintage. I rode right up under the wing and the Captain opened his window and yelled, “What is the matter?” I told him my wife was dying and that we needed a small plane into Aiyura from Goroka (the nearest “major” hospital). He said, “I’ll have one sent there immediately” and by the time I got back the plane was landing. We got Joice (and me) on board and went to Goroka, a 30 minute flight away. A war-time jeep with a red cross painted on it was waiting and took us straight to the hospital. The doctor decided to operate immediately, but the tube burst—we didn’t realize it had erupted and sealed itself twice before—and so surgery took place and her life was spared, thank God. We had a humorous event in that experience as well: When Joice saw the incision for the first time she was astonished at it size and remarked so to the doctor. The doctor, who was from Hungary, exclaimed: “I gotta big hands.”
Doctors told us we probably couldn’t have any more children but, much to our delight, Karol was born in October, 1965, over six years after Kirk. She came into the world in a small government hospital in the coastal city of Lae. Joice again made it dramatic by hemorrhaging and needing blood transfusions.
A month later we were on our way to teach in New Zealand. Joice transported Karol from class to class in a large woven basket and, in this manner, had her first exposure to linguistics. It was effective and she received her PhD in Hispanic linguistics from the University of Texas many years later.
Kirk’s story is more varied and his education was complex: primary schools in Australia, NZ and America; graduating from High School in PNG; dropping out of college at Moody in Chicago and Dallas Baptist University; taking up college again much later in Australia and finishing a B.A. there; finally completing an M.A. and PhD at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. By then he was 55 years old! What an example of determination and persistence.
Becoming a Linguist
Like most SIL language workers in PNG at the time, I was mainly interested in Bible translation. However, in mid-November we were asked (by letter—we had no radio until 1963)—to return to Ukarumpa so that I could join colleague Harland Kerr and travel to Rabaul in the eastern part of New Britain. We were to prepare a language learning course in Tolai for government officers to use. Joice and Marie (Harland’s wife) remained at Ukarumpa. With the help of the Methodist mission, we completed the task in a little over 6 weeks and a government department published it later. I remember Alan Healey checking the materials with me. He was meticulous and went through everything carefully. Both Alan and Harland had studied Austronesian languages in the Philippines, so many features of a language like Tolai were somewhat familiar to Harland.
I’ve always tried to learn languages, even if I knew that in a number of cases I would never live with the people or use their language—over the years I have worked at learning a bit of Tzeltal (southern Mexico), Kiowa (US Native American language), Tolai (New Britain), Atzera (the Markham Valley), Gahuku (near Goroka), Hiri Motu (Papuan trade language), Tok Pisin, and three dialects of Kewa. It is always fun to try to speak to someone in their own language, but in college and graduate school Spanish and German were book-learned and boring and I didn’t do well in either.
Looking back in the mirror, I see that I enjoyed language learning in its cultural context, but never in the classroom. Too bad I never lived in Germany or in a Spanish speaking village.
Before leaving for New Guinea, we had bought books on the cultures and languages of the country. The primary language source was Arthur Capell’s monograph on the Highland languages of New Guinea.
However, it was not until my later work on Tolai and interaction with Harland and Alan that I began to have more insights into language structure, which helped me become interested in linguistics as a subject. It wasn’t long after that we really immersed ourselves in linguistics. It happened this way:
First of all, in 1960 the Director asked me to accompany Alan Healey to the Enga area to observe and help (I was not much help) in consulting on Enga tone. Then in 1962 Professor Kenneth L. Pike came to PNG to spend several months running a linguistics workshop. He worked on over 20 languages, of which Kewa was one, and both Joice and I had assignments to work on—mine was on syntax and Joice’s was on tone. We got to know Dr Pike reasonably well because he often had lunch with us—outside, sitting on chairs on our lawn, and he inevitably told us stories. We were fascinated and we also made good progress on our projects. One day Pike asked me, “Franklin (he never called me by my first name), have you ever thought of going to graduate school?” “Dr Pike,” I replied, “I don’t think I could get into graduate school with my undergraduate grades.” Not to be outdone, he asked, “Where would you like to go?” Cornell University was only about 75 miles from our farm in Pennsylvania where I grew up, so I suggested Cornell. Pike contacted the linguistics professor there, whom he knew, and by the fall of 1963 I was pursuing an M.A. in linguistics at Cornell. My acceptance at Cornell was based, to a large extent, on our good fieldwork. And I ended up working for the Professor, but that is another story.
Needless to say, I was becoming a linguist, although I actually liked anthropology more. At Cornell an M.A. in linguistics included a minor in anthropology, so I was doubly blessed. It also helped that Joice and I had, by the time I entered Cornell, published four articles.
Academic Friends and Acquaintances
The professor of linguistics at Cornell was Charles Hockett, a world renowned linguist who at that time was also the president of the prestigious Linguistic Society of America. I was taking courses and Professor Hockett needed an assistant to teach phonetics. He hired me and I worked for him the whole year I was at Cornell. I had two anthropology professors and one was also the president of the American Anthropological Association. I was in heady company.
I did well at Cornell (except for the reading course in German, which I eventually passed) and was told I could pursue PhD studies there as I had qualified with my MA oral examination.
However, Joice and I wanted to get back to PNG and our work with the Kewa people. We had just one more hurdle—teaching at the SIL summer course at the University of Oklahoma, where we had already spent three summers as students (1956, 1957 and 1963).
Looking back, we can see how our friend Dr Harland Kerr was involved. I mentioned that we had gotten to know the Kerrs at the SIL course in Australia in 1958. Later that same year Harland and I conducted a survey of the language situation we had heard about in the Southern Highlands, so that was another two weeks together. Following that we worked on the Tolai Language Learning Course together—we became good friends.
Unbeknownst to me, SIL wanted to start a summer school in New Zealand and Harland suggested to Dr Pike that I head it up. So during the summer of 1964 Pike summoned me to his office and told me that Joice and I were to start the school. I was incredulous. “How do you start a school?” I asked. “Is there a manual or something?” A dumb question, now that I reflect back on it. “Oh, just go and talk to Turner Blount” Pike said. Turner was the business manager of the Oklahoma school and he gave me some clues, but no manual. We were on our own—or so we thought.
On a later furlough Dr Pike invited Joice and I to Ann Arbor to lecture in one of his classes, then to his home for more fellowship and stories.
In PNG on one occasion I took Dr Pike to the home of Les and Eli Gavara in Lae—Les was a lawyer and later a member of the PNG Supreme Court. Dr Pike sat on the floor and told stories to the students Les and Eli had invited to their home. It was a fascinating evening.
We did not do language work on our own: Ken Pike, his sister Eunice, Bob Longacre and Joe Grimes all held workshops in PNG. I have already mentioned the help that Harland Kerr and Alan Healey were to us.
|The First NZ SIL Student/Staff|
As I have said, SIL does not leave its fledging linguists helpless. Dr Richard Pittman, Pacific Area Director, gave us the names of linguists to visit at the University of Auckland and the Wycliffe NZ council gave us all kinds of aid. We ended up boarding at a Methodist College and holding classes at the University of Auckland. Dr Pittman also came to visit and encourage us. Two professors I met at the University later became examiners for my PhD dissertation.
One day I received an unexpected call. Professor Charles Fries, an eminent linguist from the University of Michigan and Pike’s mentor, was in NZ with his wife on holidays. “Is there something I can do to help you?” he asked. He came by to visit and we worked out a plan whereby he would give a public lecture (he was well-known) and the SIL School would sponsor it. His interest and aid helped make that first summer a success—we now had friends at the University who took an interest in the school and what we taught. We were in charge the next summer as well, but by then I had a scholarship to the Australian National University and we left the school in the hands of Dr Darlene Bee.
The professor who first advised me to apply for a scholarship was S.A. Wurm, Professor of Linguistics at the Australian National University and a world-renowned linguist who had been doing field work in PNG, where I first met him. He had already taken two SIL field workers under his care—Alan and Phyllis Healey—and was looking for additional students. Joice and I moved to Canberra in February of 1967 to begin studies.
Besides Professor Wurm, Dr Bert Voorhoeve, a Dutch linguist, was my advisor. Bert, as I came to call him, had done a lot of fieldwork in what was then Dutch New Guinea, as well as in PNG and was, initially, rather abrupt with me. I think he saw me as one of those brash Americans who seemed to know everything. I hadn’t been bashful telling him about my studies and fieldwork and he seemed at first to resent it. Gradually, however, we became good friends and even co-authored an article later on.
It turned out that Tom Dutton and his wife Corinne were our neighbors because Tom was also now a PhD student. We even shared an office until Tom’s incessant smoking drove me out (he later quit, thankfully). He went on to become a prominent linguist and has remained a friend since that first government course in 1960.
I was granted the PhD in linguistics in 1969 and later a post-doctorate fellowship to do a survey of the Gulf District (now Province). I worked with several linguists and anthropologists: Drs. Wurm, Voorhoeve, Dutton, Brown and Shaw, as well as competent SIL colleagues Dick Lloyd, Jim Parlier, and George MacDonald and the book I edited on the Gulf languages was published in 1973. I was becoming known as a linguist, whether I had yet thought of myself as one or not.
Over the next several years I attended and was invited to various linguistic conferences, in PNG, Australia, the Netherlands, Canada and other places, and published a number of articles. I always looked back at my SIL colleagues and teachers with fondness and awe: Dr Pike, Bob Longacre, Joe Grimes and Bill Merrifield were the ones that influenced me the most. Bill was finishing his PhD at Cornell when I started and helped show me the ropes and find work with Hockett
Of course, when you write and try to publish, not everything is accepted—at least the first time! I have had both discouraging and encouraging times. Some reviewers are nasty, others are kind. Working with our daughter and son as they finished their PhDs, has been one way of demonstrating my thanks for the kind help I have received.
My oral examiners for my MA at Cornell were Professors Hockett and John Roberts, an anthropologist and lawyer. For my PhD the examiners were Dr Andrew Pawley and Professors Ralph Bulmer and Howard McKaughan. I had met Pawley and Bulmer in NZ and McKaughan in PNG when he was doing fieldwork and then later at the University of Hawai’i. Bulmer died at a fairly young age and some years after I left ANU Pawley succeeded Professor Wurm as the main Professor of Linguistics. I maintained contact with him for a number of years. McKaughan, who died recently, had a Festschrift published in his honor and I contributed to it. The chapter I did (“The word in Kewa”) was the result of a paper I gave at a conference in Melbourne organized by R.M.W. Dixon, who did not want to publish my work—it did not “fit his criteria.” Dixon and his wife, Alexandra Y. Aikenvald have been prolific writers and editors on various languages and linguistic topics.
Opportunities also come along: over a period of years I was asked to consider teaching at four universities (in the US, Australia and PNG) but, thankfully, our main call was to the work with SIL and Bible translation, which I will turn to in more detail later.
I had actually filled out papers for a job at the University of Papua New Guinea, where a linguist was needed. Later, I thought better of it and did not send off the application.
Dr John Verhaar, an eminent linguist and Jesuit priest at the Divine Word Institute (now University) worked out of Madang, but often came to Ukarumpa to lecture. We became good friends and eventually he asked me to take over his job as editor for the PNG journal, Language and Linguistics in Melanesia. Professor Wurm also asked me to serve as an editorial advisor for Pacific Linguistics, published at the Australian National University. Father Verhaar was a gracious and learned man and I enjoyed interacting with him and other scholars who were writing about PNG languages and cultures. In later life he became quite blind and when Ger Reesink and I visited him in a Catholic retirement center in the Netherlands he was using a large magnifying glass to read with. But he was still a scholar (and priest) at heart.
Back in the US for our furlough in 1976 I became a member of the linguistics faculty, eventually an Adjunct Professor, at the University of Texas in Arlington. Professor Jerry Edmiston was the head of the linguistics department. This gave me an opportunity to serve on numerous student graduate committees.
Earlier, when I was in administration with SIL in PNG (more about that later), I encouraged a number of people to pursue MA and PhD degrees and at one time we had over two dozen members with advanced degrees—members who were publishing and consulting on a regular basis. However, there arose later a director who knew not linguistics in SIL and the encouragement of members pursuing graduate degrees largely dried up. Bible translation took on a new dimension—translation without learning to speak the vernacular languages well and without any deep linguistic analysis. It was not the way Pike and others had taught us. But it did involve the national speakers in a more comprehensive way.
In 1956, when we were accepted as members of Wycliffe Bible Translators, we were also recognized as members of the Summer Institute of Linguistics (now called SIL International). We knew little of SIL or Wycliffe. The Greek Professor at the King’s College, where Joice and I attended, had taken one of the SIL summer courses at Norman, Oklahoma, and highly recommended it to us. It was the first time we had heard of SIL, but it was the goal of both SIL and Wycliffe to translate the Bible for indigenous people. That course of action appealed to Joice and me.
However, when we first visited friends and churches to enlist their help in our work, we spoke only about Wycliffe. We had no idea how important SIL was to become in our lives.
Included in our training were two summers of intensive and graduate linguistics at the University of Oklahoma before we went to BPN. These were 10 week sessions run by SIL in cooperation with the University. We learned the basic principles of phonetics, phonemics and grammar, with some literacy, anthropology and translation thrown in. We had been dunked in the river but could not yet swim very well.
I have mentioned Harland Kerr and how he and I surveyed the Kewa (and Wiru) areas in the Southern Highlands. The areas were not yet “derestricted” and the government did not allow us to live in villages (hamlets), except on the fringe areas that were open nearest to the government patrol posts. Both we and the Kerrs benefitted from our studies at the SIL schools. When we visited the Southern Highlands, the Lutheran Mission supplied interpreters and helped us find carriers. We have always owed a debt of gratitude to the Evangelical Lutheran Mission of PNG.
We began our work among the Kewa people in mid-1958 at the village of Muli. Kewa is a fascinating language to study and the people were extremely helpful to us. One reason was Kirk, who spoke Kewa as his first language. We would talk to him in English and he would most often answer in Kewa. He played with the boys at every opportunity, begged food at the village houses and was thoroughly at home in Kewaland.
Our first term on the field was for 5 years—from 1958 until the beginning of 1963. We then spent the first three months of 1963 teaching at the SIL in Australia before we returned to the US and began studies at Cornell University.
However, during our 5 years in PNG we had translated only 5 chapters of the book of Mark, and it was rough and tentative. It was not a very auspicious beginning. We had, however, learned to speak the eastern dialect reasonably well, had done some literacy (Joice was the expert) and analyzed parts of the language and culture, based on our over four years of intermittent field work. We had published an article on Kewa Counting, Kewa Phonology and had articles in press on Kewa Ethnolinguistic Concepts of Body Parts and Kewa Verb Morphology. We had been diligent in linguistics, which was the forerunner to our eventual translation work.
After the successful completion of my M.A. in linguistics at Cornell we returned to PNG, fully expecting to live among the Kewa and translate the New Testament. God, we believe, had other plans: I was elected the Associate Director for Language Affairs (a new post) and worked with Ray Nicholson and Alan Pence for the next two years. I was also able to visit 35 different language sites where SIL workers were located, often giving them language exams (a requirement long since dropped by SIL administrators in PNG).
I remember a couple of the exams quite well. On one occasion I had hitched a ride from Goroka and was on my way to Chuave, about an hour or more west by road, to give a test to a couple who lived in a village near the patrol post at Chuave. However, halfway into the trip, we had a flat and the driver discovered that he did not have any wrenches (that fit) to change the tire. Cars seldom came along the stretch of the road at night so we decided to walk the rest of the way. However, with only a flashlight that soon gave out, a moon hidden in the clouds and a road covered with small boulders and rocks, we had to stumble along. It took us two hours to reach Chuave and for the next week my feet hurt so badly I could hardly walk.
On another occasion I went to an area to test a couple and, using the plan I generally had, asked the man to explain in the vernacular the workings of a submarine. The vernacular listener interacted intently and it seemed that a high degree of vernacular interaction was in progress (which I could test in Tok Pisin, the trade language). However, I learned later that the language listener had spent time on a submarine during the war. You can tell (reasonably well) if a person is fluent if both the speaker and listener are using vocabulary and phrases about concepts that are new. Sometimes, when testing government officers, I would use pictures and ask questions about them, having eliciting the questions and possible answers earlier from a fluent speaker. I could tell by how quickly and easily the person I was testing responded and if he or she could speak the language well. We actually tested every language and support person at that time, but SIL fieldworkers complained and the administrators dropped the requirement. It is not surprising that many fieldworkers now have only a basic level of fluency and would be hard pressed to discuss doctrinal or translation issues without resorting to Pidgin or English. Many support workers (and translators) do learn Pidgin well, but that—to a degree—is much easier.
By the time Joice and I took up translation seriously, we had moved to another dialect, some 45 miles west of the village of Muli. It happened this way: After my election to the Associate Director of Language Affairs role, it was probably assumed by some people, including the Director, that I would remain in administration. And, in the meantime another couple, Kevin and Margaret Newton, were assigned to take our place in the East Kewa project. They had gone to Muli, where I had introduced them to the people, and had been living in our house. It wasn’t long afterward that an opportunity to study at Australian National University provided us a way back into language study.
For my research we decided to move to the West Kewa area, a dialect quite different, and where the Lutheran missionary, Rev. Norman Imbrock, had invited us to work. Norm and his wife Bernie were more than neighbors—they were fast friends and helped us immensely. I will not forget the occasion when Norm rode out to Usa village on his motorcycle to deliver a chilling message: “A pilot just landed at our airstrip and they wanted me to get word to you to come up on the radio and talk to Ukarumpa.” When I reached Ukarumpa the Associate Director (and an Ukarumpa neighbor of ours), John Abernethy, was waiting to talk to me. “Why don’t you sit down?” he said and I realized at once that it was serious business. “We have just received word that your mother was killed in an automobile accident in Pennsylvania.” I was shocked, of course, and it was Norm who stayed and ministered to us. And so did our Kewa friends, who immediately prayed for us and our US family.
The Newtons, we believed, would finish the work in East Kewa. However, after two years or so they resigned from SIL and Wycliffe, citing difficulties of working in a Catholic village. They had done some trial translation and were moving ahead in learning the language, but they left. We never heard from them again.
We were already fully committed to working and living in the West Kewa area and had taken up residence in, as I mentioned, the village of Usa, about 8 miles from the Lutheran station at Wabi. We continued working and translating, off and on, until 1973, when the West Kewa New Testament was dedicated. We wrote many stories about our time in Usa and published them regularly as newsletters. And, on a more scholarly vein, we continued to publish many articles about the Kewa language and culture—including my PhD dissertation. These academic contributions can all be found on-line at the SIL website.
Our main translation assistant was Kirapeasi Yapua, whom I have mentioned. He worked closely with us, apart from the one year he spent at a Bible school. Consultants carefully checked The NT manuscripts and drafts over a period of years: Walt Steinkraus, David Strange, Glenda Giles and Jack Bass all played a part, with Jack playing the main role.
At one stretch we lived in the Usa village area for a year, with only short weekend visits a couple of times to mission stations. It was the most productive year of our lives. Joice prepared literacy materials and taught people to read; I continued with language analysis and translation; Kirk was home-schooled, spoke Kewa fluently and was at peace in the village; Karol liked to teach literacy to the children and was a joy to everyone.
Once the Scriptures had been translated into Kewa, we were required to do a “back translation,” so that a consultant could check the materials. The following from Romans 7:21-25 demonstrates what a back translation looks like (with an interlinear translation as well):
21Goa pua ne-me go pora ad-e: Ne-me And so I-AGN this road see-1sgPerf I-AGN
epe kogono pu-la-lo pe rabu ne-me
good work make-PUR-DES make time I-AGN
wae kogono agu pe.
bad work alone make.
“And so I see a road like this: when I want to do good things I just do bad things.”
22Ni-na robaa-para i kone-me-re Gote- 1sg-POS stomach-in having behavior-AGN-TOP God-
na rekena agaa madaa raana me om-ea.
POS taboo talk concerning happy-INST die-3sgPerf
“The ways that are in my stomach are happy about God’s law.”
Back translations take considerable time to prepare, so sometimes the translator tape recorded the materials for the consultant (and not do an interlinear translation). In our case, however, every verse in the NT was back-translated and checked.
I became an “administrator” in September of 1961 when our Director, Dr James Dean and his family returned to Canada for a brief furlough. My introduction to the job was about two hours or so with Jim before they left. I don’t remember anything about it. Our next duty in an administrative role was in October and November of 1962 to head up the second government linguistics course in Goroka. We stayed at a local hotel and held classes in government offices. Then in 1964 Branch members elected me the Associate Director of Language Affairs, a position I held until we went to New Zealand.
Our role in NZ was at the summer school, where for two consecutive summers we directed the school. By this time I had also served on the PNG SIL Executive Committee a couple of times. I was beginning to learn more about administrative duties in SIL and how difficult it can sometimes be dealing with missionaries and budgets. (I’m sure we were difficult to deal with at times as well.)
Administrative duties (aside from the Executive Committee) and roles were out of the question during my PhD studies. However, they returned with a vengeance when I was elected Branch Director in 1972 and again in 1974. My Associate Directors were Harry Weimer and Don Gates the first term and Barry Irwin and Don Gates the second term.
Harry was the ADLA and somewhat older than me and from Colorado. He was a steadying influence and during his time in PNG he lost his first and second wives. He married the third time and they had a child about the age of his grandson. Harry and his first wife had done a lot of translation and literacy work among the Yareba, in the Oro Province. Harry died in 20017.
Don, the ADSA, and his wife Julie, were from California and they consumed mainly vegetables and health foods long before it became a fad. Don was a loyal helper and had been an aircraft mechanic and flight coordinator before joining my team.
Barry Irwin, my second term ADLA, and his wife Ruth, were from Sydney, Australia. Barry was a translator and teacher, whose good sense of humor equipped him well for a difficult job—supervising almost 100 teams of language workers and their immediate supervisors. Barry later attended the University of Texas at Arlington and received his MA in linguistics.
In many ways, the most important person in our administrative team was the Finance Department Manager, a role capably filled by John Abernethy for many years. John was also the Treasurer and could be counted on for financial details. He was also our kid’s favorite neighbor, stopping by with a can of pop or some candy when they were sick. Joice had something to do with John and Yvonne getting together.
We returned to the US in the middle of 1976 for furlough and to acquaint Kirk with what we thought would be studies at Moody in Chicago. His connection there, as I have mentioned, lasted only a year. In the meantime, I was appointed as the International Linguistics Coordinator at Dallas and worked under the supervision of Dr Cal Rensch, a most capable supervisor. At the time, other International Coordinators were Bill Merrifield (anthropology), Sarah Gudschinsky (literacy) and John Beekman (translation). One of my roles was to supervise the SIL summer schools held around the world by. There were three in the US and one each in Canada, England, Australia, NZ, Germany and France under my “care.” Over time I visited all of them except the one in Canada—I don’t know why I never got there.
Joice and I later lived for three years at Kangaroo Ground, Victoria, Australia and headed up the year round SIL program. During that time we applied for accreditation through the appropriate government departments and it was later granted. I remember in particular our business managers, Jerry Beimers and John Burgin. John had been an agricultural officer in PNG and I had met him years earlier.
Jerry and I visited various government officials in the city of Melbourne to work through the accreditation process. One of the men had a question something like this: “Is your school related to the Summer Institute of Linguistics in America?” I replied that it was and it turned out that he had taken a course in linguistics at the University of Michigan under Professor Pike. We were immediately placed in a positive light.
|Kangaroo Ground Tip: 1990|
Kangaroo Ground was a pleasant place to live. The Wycliffe and SIL small compound is situated on a 27 acre site in semi-rural Victoria, several miles from downtown Melbourne. We lived in the Principal’s house, only a stone’s throw away from Kirk, Christine and their children. On Saturday mornings Wes and I would go for a walk down Donaldson’s Road, past the big oak tree (one hundred and fifty years old at the time—according to a sign) and we would see penned emus, as well as donkeys, alpacas, ducks and all kinds of birds. When we returned Joice would have pancakes ready and Sam and Alissa would often join us as well. Our delight was when the grandchildren stayed overnight with us. And yes, there were kangaroos there—lots of them, including an albino that we often saw. Many times when hiking or out driving we would see them and get fairly close to them before they hopped away— fast, and a sight I delight to remember to this day
The place was cold in the wintertime—never snow, but lots of wind and rain. The Aussies are a hardy lot and didn’t seem to mind (aside from the usual complaints anyone would have), but we froze in our house and had the heater on all winter. Despite the weather, I always took my early walks or jogged, sometimes to the top of the local hill where there was a lookout station, and at other times around the “tip” (Americans should read “dump”), which had a side road down into a small pond where cormorants nested in the gum trees.
Someone named the place well because kangaroos were evident, especially around the tip. We often saw the albino and I took hundreds of pictures. On one of my treks around a reservoir, I spotted almost 100 of them at once and when they took off across the valley it was a sight that I will never forget. They would also come up to the lawns for their early snacks. We always enjoyed spotting a “mob” of kangaroos!
We attended the local and small Presbyterian church near the main road in KG, about a half mile from our house. For several years the pastor was Tom Cannon and we even persuaded him to be the chaplain at our school. He also gave regular Bible studies that we attended.
KG had a country store that sold most everything one needed in the country and also housed a small post office and petrol (gas) pump. Across the road was a “museum” that told something of the early history of the area.
Besides Kangaroo Ground and adjacent areas, we also visited Brisbane, Sydney, Fingal Bay (for a couple of “holidays”), Adelaide, Tasmania and Canberra—where we had lived while I studied for my Ph.D. at the Australian National University. The people and places remain indelibly (we trust) in our memories.
On another furlough in Dallas I filled in as the International Anthropology Coordinator and later, on another furlough, as the International Training Coordinator. After the latest coordinating assignment the CEO of SIL asked me to consider an appointment as Vice President for Academic Affairs, a position I held for five years. I then went back to teaching and consulting.
It was during my time as VPAA that the Graduate Institute of Linguistics (now Dallas International University) was born. Formerly known as the Texas SIL, it had been in a close affiliation with UTA. each recognizing the other’s courses and UTA granting graduate degrees to SIL students who fulfilled their requirements. However, the relationship began to deteriorate when certain UTA professors objected to the SIL Christian commitment and perspective—although this was not the declared objection.
As VPAA I began to work with Dr David Ross, Director of the Texas SIL, outlining a proposal for the SIL Board of Directors to consider that would allow Texas SIL to become an independent school (called the Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics), and quite separate from SIL. It would have its own Board of Directors and faculty. The proposal was approved by the SIL Board in 1997and the school has functioned independently since then. David and his staff went on to gain accreditation for the school with full approval for granting MA degrees in a number of programs.
That was my last main act as an administrator. I left the position of VPAA in 2005 and became an Adjunct Professor of Linguistics for GIAL and a Senior International Anthropology Consultant for SIL. My duties as a teacher, however, continued and for four years as I gave lectures and classes on “storytelling,” something I had become interested in several years earlier.
Joice assisted at GIAL as the secretary corresponding with graduates. She initiated a newsletter that helped students keep track of each other and kept the faculty informed on the work of the alumni.
Teaching and Consulting
Joice and I have often taught at the same school, although different subjects. We trained people at two government linguistics courses in Goroka—I taught grammar and language learning and Joice taught phonology and literacy.
During that first 5 years in PNG we also took workshops and did some consulting and editing ourselves. Pike had trained me, along with a number of others, as a consultant. Joice often consulted in literacy and I sometime did the sames in anthropology.
Our first real teaching assignment was at the Melbourne SIL on our way home to the US on furlough in 1963. It was our first teaching assignment in Australia: later we taught at SIL summer schools in Brisbane, Sydney and, of course, Melbourne, when we lived at Kangaroo Ground. While there I was asked to teach a course at LaTrobe University at their summer linguistics session.
Once we returned to the US for extended periods, I taught courses for SIL and UTA on “Non-Indo European languages” and grammar (introductory and advanced). I also chaired the M.A. committees for a number of students working on their degrees at UTA, including a number of those who had worked in PNG.
In PNG we also began a linguistics and translation course for the Bible Translation Association of PNG (which I had helped initiate in 1973). David Gela, head of BTA at the time, and Dr Bob Litteral were co-instructors for the course. I was head of it for two years and we taught students about the structure of PNG languages and introduced them to principles of translation.
While we headed up the school at Kangaroo Ground I taught mainly anthropology and grammar and Joice taught literacy and language learning. Bruce Hooley, the previous director, had formed a good relationship with a Turkish community and they helped us in the language learning sessions.
The course on storytelling, which I taught for four years for GIAL, was later (2009, revised 2010) published by GIAL as “Loosen Your Tongue: An Introduction to Storytelling.” My interest in storytelling had originated while I was VPAA and I saw the needs of small languages, so I outlined what I thought a course on storytelling might contain. I held two pilot workshops in PNG (Amanab, Sandaun Province in 2002 and Hauna, East Sepik Province in 2003). The book is also available on-line as one of GIAL’s special publications.
I don’t formally teach any longer, having retired in 2014, but I still do some consulting for SIL and I was invited to teach a couple of linguistics sessions at Rice University in 2013. I also have occasionally given lectures at Baylor University, where Karol teaches. I have also worked with a Baylor student on his honors thesis, and another who was at Truet Seminary. We have hosted a number of Baylor students for meals at our house.
Duncanville and ILC
We bought a house in Duncanville in 1976 on Rolling Ridge Lane, which is not a lane, nor does it roll or have a ridge. It was our second furlough and we expected to stay in the US for two or three years while Kirk was settled in school at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My father had left the Pennsylvania farm to his three children and I sold my share to my brother so we could purchase the Duncanville house.
The house was an investment, since we would live in it only on furloughs and when we returned to the US “permanently” in 1994. We rented it out to Wycliffe personnel and, over the years, Dan Harrison and George MacDonald managed things for us while we were gone. We were gone many summers after 1994 and Wycliffe colleagues lived in our house.
I should mention a bit about both Dan and George because they helped us a great deal. We first met Dan, and his wife Shelby in 1963 in Ithaca at Bethel Bible church. Dan and I were both students at Cornell—Dan was studying Sociology as an undergraduate and Shelby was teaching. We interested them in Wycliffe and they eventually both joined as teachers and went to PNG. We had many social times together and they visited the Kewa area in Usa while we were on furlough in 1976. By that time Dan was Principal of the Ukarumpa H.S. and soon after that he became a part of the SIL International Administration and later they moved to the U.S. Dan and Shelby were very kind to Kirk and he stayed with them at times when he was at Ukarumpa and we were in the village. One year while we were on furlough their daughter Tonya stayed with us to complete her final year of H.S. in Duncanville. She played in the band and had her own car, so she drove to school. Dan was a leader and was always looking for new opportunities. Eventually they left Wycliffe and SIL and worked with another organization until Dan started his own, which included training Chinese. He had been born in Tibet, where his parents were missionaries, so he always had an interest in Asia. Dan died of a brain tumor a number of years ago.
George and Georgetta MacDonald went to PNG, but also served for two years in India. George was a meticulous worker and helped me on a large survey project. He also did his MA in linguistics at the University of Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby. When they were in the states, George helped to care for our house and I also stayed with them on a number of occasions. George is now (2017) suffering from Parkinson’s Disease.
Most Wycliffe renters looked after things well and we gave them a lower rent than what was available commercially. Some did not—one couple never cleaned the house, it appeared, and when we arrived back in 1983 things were a mess. Items were broken and we were disgusted with the renters. Wycliffe leaders told us to “always leave a place where you have lived in better condition than when you arrived” and, over the years we tried to uphold that condition. This couple must not have had such an orientation.
Our house was less than a block from the Duncanville High School which, after we lived there for several years, expanded to hold upwards of 3000 students. There were often fights on the streets near us and “druggies” in the lane near our back yard. Once the police came (three cars) and scattered young people from a party next door and as the party goers fled they left some of their evidence behind. That night I found a couple of young guys crouching beneath the eves next door and asked them what was happening. “Oh man, we just wanted to have a little fun and we got busted.” It worked too, and we had little commotion afterword from that house. The house on the north side was supposedly “vacant” for a while but there seemed to be a steady stream of cars stopping and people going in and out of the house. One time I found three young guys hanging out in the house and persuaded them to leave.
But, on the whole, Duncanville was a good place for us to live. It was only 2 miles from our linguistic center (ILC=International Linguistics Center) and I often jogged there and back. In 1976 there were still 10 large trailers on the campus used as offices and I worked out of one of them. I had been appointed as International Linguistics Coordinator and held that position for three years, with George Huttar taking over from me in 1979 when we returned to PNG.
I had taken up jogging seriously when we came home on furlough in 1976 and gradually increased my distances and time. I kept a journal and, over the years, had records of jogs in Pennsylvania, New York, California, Oklahoma, Texas, Great Britain (beautiful among the gum trees and forest), Germany (along the Rhine), France (in fields that had jackrabbits in them), and in several other countries. Vic Dickey and I used to jog every morning at Ukarumpa, going at least 3 miles on most days and up to 15 on a few occasions. In Duncanville, for many years, we could jog on the H.S. track, but that ceased once school officials upgraded the school and track.
Jogging in Texas can be dangerous: I have had beer cans thrown at me; pickups swerve dangerously close, and dogs that wanted to sample the meat on my legs. Like fighter pilots who painted small symbols of enemy planes on their fuselages to represent the ones they had shot down, I always wondered why Texas pickup drivers didn’t paint bicycle symbols on their truck doors. They could have!
There were no sidewalks on our street and the H.S. students tramped through our front yard and discarded their junk food wrappers and pop tins wherever they liked. Once a guy in a pickup truck wiped out our front fence and twice vandals destroyed our mail box. I also had a toolbox stolen from my garage by the son of married police officers just up the street. Someone had seen the boy take the box and reported it to me. When I confronted the parents they verbally abused the boy to the extent that I was sorry about mentioning it—although I did want my tools back!
We were only a few minutes’ walk from Lakeside Park and I had a jogging and walking route that took me through it most days. I also had a longer route that took me across a main road, Cedar Ridge, where I would sometimes have to wait for a traffic light. On one occasion as I was crossing the street—following the green light for pedestrians—a woman in a SUV smacked me on my backside with the rear end of her car and sent me sprawling on the street. I got up carefully (she and another car had stopped) and felt around for broken bones. Finding none, I encouraged the woman—who was of course most apologetic—to leave. A witness had offered to vouch for her failure to observe the light, but I decided against pursing the matter.
We were only 20 minutes from downtown Dallas, but we rarely went there. We did attend the Texas State Fair once and some other functions with the family. Dr Pike and his wife Evelyn once took us downtown to an “audience participatory” play. We were seated on the front row where one particular actor found it easy to embarrass me. The Pikes were delighted.
The Dallas Fort Worth airport was about 25 minutes from our house and the Texas Rangers baseball stadium about 20 minutes. We often made treks to both locations. I even was able to see the Texas Rangers play in the World Series, courtesy of Stan Neher, one of our supporters.
There are many churches in Duncanville and for a while we attended the Evangelical Methodist, where Kirk made some friends. Later, with Ken and Marilyn Gregerson and children, we attended a church founded by Gene Getz, but it was in the north of Dallas, not a local church. Eventually, when we returned to Duncanville after Karol graduated from H.S., we settled on Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship. We served on the mission committee and in the discipleship ministry.
We sold our Duncanville house in 2014 and moved to Waco, where Karol and Mike provided us with a townhouse to live in. We have driven by our old house a couple of times when we have been in Duncanville and it reminds us of a parking lot, with up to six pickup trucks in the driveway and lawn. We don’t miss Duncanville, although we do miss our friends who work at the linguistic center; but times change and so must we.
Just behind our street in Duncanville was a loop street, called Upland, and when I walked or jogged that way I would count the cars by the houses. There were about 15 houses on the street and the most cars I counted were 50, but the mean number was about 40. I don’t know how many of them were working.
The population at our end of the street changed over the years until it was almost entirely Hispanic by the time we left. They were hard working people who obviously kept their eyes open for good deals on vehicles.
To sum up, I’m grateful we lived in Duncanville and owned a house there, but, as I said, I wouldn’t want to live there again. But I can also say that about Bloomingdale and Keego Harbor as well. Some people move back to the area where they were born, but we have never wanted to. What would I do in Shickshinny?
We did have “vacations” while we lived at Ukarumpa—we would often go to Lae for our holiday, as the Aussies called it. Ukarumpa is a mile high in altitude, so it was a change to go to the coast, even where it was hot and humid. We would shop at the local merchants, eat at the Chinese restaurants and I would read, play golf and jog. Joice would read and shop and the kids would play with friends and swim at a local hotel pool, as I remember a very dirty one. (Various objects of interest floated in it.)
We also once took a vacation in Wewak, on the northern coast and played games and “hung out” with our friends, Doyt and Irene Price. We were somehow acquainted early at Ukarumpa, where Doyt did all sorts of maintenance and Irene (and he) looked after one of the children’s homes. We had even visited them in Ohio. In Wewak they purchased supplies for village teams and Doyt did building work at both the Wewak and Wayambange Centers (south of Wewak). We spent at least one vacation there as well when our friends Dan and Shelby headed up a small school for the children of village workers.
We also “vacationed” in Port Moresby, the capital city of PNG and had the house where we were staying robbed. The thieves took what they wanted; looking for money but finding none, then even ate some ice cream and pie from our refrigerator. They had entered the back door by removing a small glass window over the door and having someone very small squeeze through the opening and then open the door. We summoned the police, who took the glass window as evidence for fingerprinting, but we never heard anything more about it—nor did we get the glass back. Break-ins were common in Moresby and other cities and Ukarumpa was no exception. We had our car stolen and numerous other items from our outdoor building. Our PNG friends in Moresby gave us some money to show their distress, and that was not the only time such friends have helped us.
By combining administrative duties with vacation, our family toured the whole eastside of Bougainville Island, which lies east, southeast of New Britain. The large copper mine was still in operation at that time—it was later closed and largely destroyed during a ten year civil war—so we were fortunate to tour it before that problem. However, it was easy for us to see why the people objected to the mine, despite the company building permanent houses for the people and trying to accommodate them in other ways. The mine was polluting their fishing streams and destroying their mountains, all for the mining of copper (and gold).
While we were living at Kangaroo ground in Australia, we took vacations to Adelaide (South Australia) and stayed with John and Margaret Beaumont. John and I played golf, just as we often had in PNG. Adelaide is a beautiful coastal city, with many parks and forests.
We often took “breaks” to Sydney from Canberra, where I was studying at ANU, and we always stayed with Tom and Elsie Hibberd or their daughter Diane and son-in-law David Gold. That meant trips to restaurants and Fingle Bay, where the Gold’s had a resort house. In Sydney we visited the zoo, parks, and of course, the famous Opera House, where the Golds once took us for a concert. Our favorite time was sitting around the breakfast table with Tom (Elsie was usually busy doing chores), eating slices of toast and drinking coffee. Sometimes Tom would take me for fish and chips and we would find a park to sit and eat, while sharing our views of the world.
Tasmania is a large island lying to the south of mainland Australia and we once took a week’s holiday there. We stayed with former PNG friends and rented a car, which turned out to be a semi-disaster—the car was replete with problems. At one station where we stopped for aid the mechanic cheerfully told me, “I’ve got good news and bad. The good news is that the car has an engine.” I don’t remember the extent of the bad news, but it plagued us the rest of the vacation. However, it made a good story and I wrote about it later in one of my “Short Yarns and Tall Stories” books.
For six weeks in 1994 we toured Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands, staying at SIL guest houses and with friends Jim and Janet Stahl (on the island of Epi). We did a lot of walking at both locations and loved the sea and the scenery. Not many people get a vacation like we had—again I wrote a couple of stories about it in one of my “Yarns” books.
In the US our favorite vacation place was Beaver Point in Ontario, on Lake Opinicon, where Bill and Lucille Wernsing owned a cabin. It was on a small peninsula with a walking trail and benches to sit on at named locations. We would often take the canoe and paddle out into the lake just to enjoy the scenery and calmness. I can’t think of a more peaceful place where we have ever stayed. We would play games, do some work on the trail, take walks, and talk and talk. When Gary, the son, came, he and I would jog—one time a lengthy one from Jones’s Falls to the cabin—and a couple of times we played golf. At the small town was a canal with locks and we could watch the boats being raised and lowered into the canal. There we could also buy giant cones of ice cream. Later in his life Bill had Alzheimer’s and died, but we are still close friends with Lucille, Gary and his wife Dorothy. They have been special friends.
One of my favorite intervals was lying in the loft of the cabin in the dark with Joice, listening to the loons calling out on the lake, or hearing the patter of the rain on the roof. The rain reminded me of PNG when it would fall on our grass roof and put us to sleep.
After Bill died, his son Gary took over the cabin and property but he lived too far away to have easy access. He eventually sold it and gave Joice and me a generous financial gift as a result.
Twice, Mike and Karol provided us with “Bed and Breakfast” holidays here in Texas, one time to the area around Fredricksburg and another time out towards Crockett. We even found some retired missionaries we had known in PNG who lived near Fredricksburg.
After Karol graduated from Ukarumpa High School, we took a three week excursion trip through Europe with Ken and Marilyn Gregerson and their two children. We toured Germany, Switzerland, Austria, France, Holland, England and Wales. I have also written stories about that trip in my ”Yarns” book.
We have never worried too much about taking vacations, but have had opportunities to travel to many parts of the world on teaching assignments and administrative duties.
Letters to Wernsings
We probably wrote to the Wernsings more than anyone else except for family. It is not often that you get to see all the letters you have written over many years but, beginning in the year 1975 (we would have written much earlier as well); Lucille gave me the correspondence we had sent them. They give a fair overview of what when on in our lives over a stretch of time, so I am including some:
January 1975: (Joice) Boy, your son is some scholar—must take after his mother. We’re praying that this year he [Kirk] will really feel motivated to do his best. He is going to have to improve his grades in order to be accepted anywhere. Had a letter yesterday from my sister-in-law telling that my mother is in hospital. She went into a coma and now is on insulin. She wanted us to consider coming home early on furlough, but we don’t see how this is possible given Karl’s job and Kirk’s desire to finish H.S. here. Of course next year when we come home I will feel responsible for her.
May (Joice): Karl has been away a week. The time goes very quickly when he is gone mainly because I try to keep the days filled with new activities. And it is school holidays so the kids are home. Kirk’s new girlfriend is quite an interesting girl. She is small and vivacious, very talkative. Interestingly enough, when he is with her, he is talkative also. She told me that when she went on furlough last year, Kirk was dull but when she returned he was tall, slim and handsome. She said his eyes just melt her. My mother is off insulin and back on to oral medication and living home alone again. Just before Karl left, some of our friends here had a 50th birthday party for me for a joke. Some joke! I got such useful presents as corn plasters, hair coloring, bikini underwear and bikini nightie etc. So I don’t know if they want me to feel older or younger!
June (Joice): Karl arrived back last night feeling miserable. He had gotten tourista in Mexico and had dysentery all across the ocean [check that syntax–talk about pollution!].
September (Joice): This is a busy month as usual. Besides the Franklin Restaurant, we are busy preparing for the high school banquet for the upper grades. It will be held at the Kainantu hotel. Next week Karl goes to Goroka to attend a linguistic conference and deliver a paper.
(Added note by Karl) When we were on furlough we would also spend time in Michigan, at Joice’s mothers, or in Pennsylvania, with my parents. Neither was usually, however, a vacation. We were called upon to speak at a number of churches and functions.
October (Joice): Kirk is applying to both Moody and LeTourneau College. He wants to be a missionary pilot and these two schools offer the best courses with Moody being the best. [The] problem is we would like to be near Kirk at least for his first year wherever he goes. Kirk graduates the 11th of June so I booked a plane to Moresby on the 15th. I don’t know how we will come. Right now via Europe is the cheapest route. I have the pre-furlo jitters worse than usual.
February 1976 (Karl) On Monday, January 26, I received the following cable from my sister: DAD DIED JAN. 24 at 9 A.M. Scarcely a day before I had called Claire in Pennsylvania to hear more details about his stroke and hospitalization. He had written me in June 1972: ‘Since Viola [my mom] passed away, I’ve done a lot of thinking and a lot of searching and a lot of tears have been shed. At first perhaps in self-pity but then emerged a certain belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and my redeemer’. In many ways he was a violent and stubborn man with a temper and language to match. In other ways he was one of the most intelligent and profoundly philosophical men that I ever knew. Now of course his body is gone and only the memories and influences of my earlier life will linger on. However, if I were to ask God for the ‘proper environment and parents,’ I am sure that I would want my dad all over again.
April (Joice): I flew to Moresby to meet Karl upon his return from Bangkok where he had gone the previous week for Wycliffe Area meetings. I gave a lecture to the Administrative College librarians about village literacy. While we were away, Kirk batched here at home and did quite a commendable job of cooking and cleaning. A week before he had taken the difficult step of breaking up with his girlfriend. Can you believe we are still fussing over our route home? Karl is just sick of travelling and he doesn’t think going with 7 teenagers is going to be as much fun as I foresee.
November (Joice) [from Duncanville]: We visited a large S. Bapt. Church about 4 miles away and the music was tremendous. Best since coming home but such a watery message. No one wanted to go back but me—two young people visited us and called us by name. One thing you can say for them—they are zealous. Kirk’s photo business is going well. He has almost all he can handle and has paid off his debt to us. Passport photos, b/w developing and prints and family portraits bring in the money. He keeps an ad on the dining room bulletin board and has a really nice photo of Karol now with ‘Wanna look young’? with Franklin Fotos underneath. We feel like Kirk’s agents.
February 1978 (Joice): [from Duncanville]: I had 60 Occupational Investigation students from the local Jr. High this week and had a great time with them. The teacher said to me, ‘It doesn’t hurt the kids to get a little religion once in a while [and] I am always glad when I find I am getting another Wycliffe kid in my class; they are all so intelligent, purposeful and well-behaved.’ What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her.
June: [from Horsley’s Green, England, where we spent the summer teaching linguistics and literacy] On arrival in London we walked briefly with 6 bags and hand luggage to the train station and took a train to London. Then a taxi to the bus station where we waited two hours for a bus. Finally to High Wycombe, 1 ½ hours later.
March, 1979 (Karl): Today was a big day for Kirk because he was baptized. He has been thinking about it for a while and reading about it. He decided to do it—but not in a church and not by a pastor. So he asked his co-worker at Accent Printing and me to baptize him at Lake Hubbard, Dallas. His SS class, Harrisons (except Dan, who was sick), Todds, Clouds, and 3 teenagers from PNG were there. We traveled about 20-25 miles to the lake. Joice will have to have two operations (at the same time) according to the specialists. Besides the hysterectomy she needs some sort of bladder overhaul. Anyway, both doctors are Christians and will operate free, donating their services.
(Added note by Joice): My major problem, as told by the urologist, is a very prolapsed bladder, result of Kirk’s difficult and prolonged birth, he thinks.
June (Joice): Sitting in the hospital visiting room during my May 7th surgery, Karl utilized the time to write me a long letter. [at 9:40 a.m.] Dr. Murray came out all smiles, and shook my hand saying they were just real pleased with the operation and how things had gone. But my biggest encouragement came from my family: Kirk, Karol and Karl. I’ll long remember lying in my hospital bed that first day, and seeing them framed in the doorway, holding flowers and wearing such a deep look of love and concern.
November (Karol): As we were circling over Ukarumpa I kept thinking, ‘this can’t be for real, after all this time we’re finally back. I found out how real it was, though, when I started school.” Karl: “I am now outlining plans for a training course for National Bible translators for 1980-81, as well as making arrangements for a survey of some 25 languages north of the PNG mainland.
(Added note by Joice): My job is two-fold: assisting Karl in the training course for national translators and working in the Literacy Department.
February 1980 (Joice): David and Sineina have arrived. They were married two weeks ago and are a darling young couple (she is 20; he is 25) and very serious Christians.” (Karl): One of the projects I have begun is a survey of the Manus area with a population of only 35,000 people who speak, we believe, at least 20 languages [it turned out to be over 30]. The Manus people are generally well-educated, sensitive, helpful people.
August (Joice): Tomorrow night is graduation night [from the first national translator’s course] and they are doing demonstrations of what they have been learning. We have good classroom facilities and little houses and a good dining room there [at the old training center].
October (Joice): Karl, as newly elected director on the first ballot and therefore has been reading correspondence and attending meetings. One of our friends had been on the ballot as the Associate Director for Language Affairs but withdrew his name when Karl was elected. I can’t put on paper the impact this has had on us—Karl tried to find the man to talk to him but he had disappeared. The entertainment has stepped up considerably already. I’m trying to figure out ways to simplify meals and include more dessert evenings and Sunday afternoon teas, after church, Sun. evenings, etc. Tonight is the Science Fair and Cultural Arts performance. Karol has spent weeks collecting 50-word vocabulary lists from 20 languages. She compared them and has drawn some conclusions and has a map to show all the language areas.
February 1981 (Joice): Kirk arrived on Christmas morning [in Sydney, where we were heading up the summer linguistic course at the University of New South Wales]. Karol arrived on the 12th and returned to PNG on January 26th. Karl did not teach, but gave guest lectures and a staff seminar, and spent a great deal of time compiling a school Handbook and evaluation the curriculum. At the same time he kept abreast of the PNG Branch and made a trip there last month for a week of meetings with the Associate Directors who have been holding down the fort in our absence. We leave on the 13th to drive to Canberra for 2 days and then to Melbourne for 3 days. David and Sineina Gela are going with us.
March (Joice): Our phone rang at 2 a.m. this morning with news that my mother, Dale Barnett, went home to be with the Lord. As Karl and I prayed together by the phone this morning, we praised the Lord for mother’s life and light that blessed us for so many years. My older brother, Gene, reaffirmed his commitment to Christ at the funeral. He had been away from the Lord for 40 years.
May (Joice): This morning we fare-welled Karl—he is now in Sydney and tomorrow leaves for Los Angeles. By the end of the week he will be in Winnipeg, giving two papers at a linguistic conference, then to the Wycliffe Biennial Conference, finally back home in early June. Last week I began teaching a weekly volunteer religious instruction class at the nearby national high school.so I was delighted to have nearly 30 in the class from 19 languages. Kirk has had several photo assignments; his last one in the Gulf Province produced over 1000 photos. I’ve been writing this by candle light due to a power failure.
July (Joice): A dozen of my friends honored me with a birthday luncheon complete with corsage and fancy cake on which “50” was boldly written. One of my favorite [notes] was from by “daughter” Sineina. ’Mama Joice, from the first time we met until now, you have been such a blessing and encouragement to my life’. Sixty of our friends saved their anniversary congratulations until Karl returned, and then they had a gala celebration for us, complete with skits depicting our lives. Kirk has gone on his motorbike to Madang with 7 other “bikies” for the weekend. (He was born in Madang.) Karol has appointments for 6 haircuts this afternoon.
August (Joice): Two days ago Kirk and Christine Tourney, an Aussie primary school teacher, decided to get married November 21. We’re in our annual Spiritual Life Conference with Tony Evans from Dallas.
October (Karl): Life here in Moresby is interesting. For the last two days we have had food poisoning or something. Really sever cramps and diarrhea. We didn’t wander far from home.
November (Joice): The honeymooners are back and looking very devoted. Kirk amazes me with the helpfulness he is showing to her. We never saw that when he lived at home! Karol has her first serious boyfriend—parents work with the Nazarene Mission. She received several high honors at Achievement Night this week.
November (Joice): Karl really had an ordeal and will always remember his return trip from the U.S. when he was going to the dentist’s, 50 miles from Sydney, in a borrowed car and he was involved in a 3-car collision. He slammed into a van which then went into oncoming traffic and sideswiped a car. And no one was hurt. Karl did have cut on his nose and a big bruise on his arm from the shoulder strap, which may have saved his life. The insurance company has written the car off completely and Tom [Hibberd] will receive twice what he would have in selling it.
January 1982: We had a letter in the Office here from a mother of one of our translators complaining about Kirk’s calendar—pornography, shameful and disgusting, she said, because of the January and November naked boys portrayed. We were a bit incredulous! Tonight we are having our newest national employees over for dinner, a couple we have personally known for years. We had all the new Orientees for coffee on Sun. afternoon, 14 of them.
April (Joice): After years of dreaming and weeks of planning, we finally took our first motor trip to Kewaland [recorded elsewhere about our trip with Jeff and Val Bailey]. We had visited 16 mission stations and relate groups during our 800 mile trip. Our observations confirmed our belief that an East Kewa New Testament translation is necessary.
June (Joice): Last week we had a PNGuinean here for the weekend. Formerly very high in the public service, a committed Christian married to an Australian. They are seeking the Lord’s will concerning working here. Karl spoke at the Aiyura National High School yesterday morning. He thought there were about 300 there. He spoke on trapping and traps; ‘Don’t let the enemy ensnare you.’ Karol plans to get her learner’s driving permit this week. We have begun to think about our trip home next year.”
(Joice): Tomorrow begins the mini-SIL and I am director(ess) once again. It only lasts five days. Karl leaves for the U.S. on the 6th of October for Board meetings in Dallas. He won’t be home for Karol’s birthday but shortly thereafter.
July (Joice): Karl leaves for Madang for three days, tomorrow. He will be speaking to the new ‘jungle campers’—now called ‘South Pacific Field Training Course’ since ‘jungle’ might give connotations of CIA to people looking for such links. Kirk and Christine’s Pidgin Bible Study continues to go well; they have at least 20 every week. Karl tells me his dad’s book is being collated now. The covers aren’t printed yet but will be.
July (Karl): in May, I travelled around the world, this time accompanied by David Gela. First of all, we went to attend the funeral of Uncle Cam, founder of WBT/SIL. David and I went on to Africa to attend the Africa Area Conference of SIL in Cameroun and to meet national leaders in a special two-day seminar on their involvement in the work of Bible translation. In June I travelled to Brisbane, Australia where administrators from all of the WBT/SIL work in the Pacific met to define plans for training courses and the general need for cooperation on resources. Then to Port Moresby for a meeting with David Gela and the BTA council where we examined a five-year plan for BTA’s development and their 1983 budget.
August (Joice): We shared our dream trip with Wycliffe colleagues, Ken and Marilyn Gregerson and their children. How could seven people squeeze into such a small camper, the advertisement not withstanding? That is a story in itself! The camping facilities were adequate, inexpensive and often very beautiful, such as in Bavaria and Southern France. We had the luxury of real beds in Switzerland, England, the Netherlands and France. Joice’s purse was ‘picked’ in the Paris Metro. We were in a variety of vehicles: buses, trolley, canal boat, cable car, train and subway. We then flew across the Atlantic, spending three weeks visiting relatives and our faithful supporters in New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan and points south.
September (Karl): Our house was really dirty and needs many little repairs. It will take a while to get everything back to normal.
(Joice): As usual, Karl is too brief with his description ‘Our house was really dirty.’ —now there’s an understatement! We had to chisel the gung from the tabletop stove, under the fridge, under the dining room hutch, etc. The vinyl floor in the kitchen/dining room was polished over the dirt, so we have to strip the whole mess and the furniture (living room) is falling apart plus very soiled. Do I sound disappointed? When we got to Baylor all the girls were in shorts—2000 tanned legs in the freshman class! Except our PNG girls and a few others. Baylor outdoes itself in friendliness.
October (Karl) I had a lot of fun laying out the prayer letter using a friend’s Osborne and Wordstar. Then, of course, we typed it out on the Bytewritter [invented and developed by Bill Wernsing.] I bought a book on Wordstar and CPM and have been learning to use them.
(Joice): I wonder if we will ever feel ‘adjusted’ here. I still feel like an alien, half here. I am enjoying my one afternoon weekly volunteer job at the Anthropology Museum at the center. I take tours.
November (Karl): During the next 6 months we hope to finish a number of projects: training my successor, visiting the Kewa people, teaching a language course for missionaries and in general being available to help where needed. Both Joice and I will be learning a little about computers.
(Joice): Thank you for the dependability and love you share to us in so many ways—you are our dearest friends. Karol is going through a difficult time with her roommates, particularly Jeanne. We seem to have found a church that is ‘right’ for us. The messages are practical and dynamic, the music is fantastic and the people are friendly’ [Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship].
January 1984 (Joice) We started work this week and my first job is to learn WordStar for the Kaypro computer that the Literacy Dept. has. Karl doesn’t begin work until the 18th. I wrenched my hip in Jazzercise. Karl got up this morning and could hardly walk on his ankle. Our ages are beginning to show.
September (Joice): I have really been having strife with my neck. Karl and I continue jogging each morning and one of the students runs with me while Karl whizzes around. Karl started a Wed. eve class on Missions that he was asked to teach. Karol wants to go to Spain next summer. David and Sineina Gela are at the Fuller School of World Missions.
June (Joice): Just had the final check-up on my wrist [which was broken following a church meeting in N. Dallas several weeks earlier]. Kirk and Christine and Wesley are living with us right now. Karol says she is really enjoying Spain. Karol ‘fixed’ our old vacuum and now it doesn’t work at all.
April 1986 (Joice) Karol received an honor in March when she was chose ‘Spanish Student of the Year, 1985-86.’ We went to Baylor last week to speak at the Inter Varsity group. Our house is rented and we have begun with visa applications. Karol got news yesterday that she was awarded a full tuition scholarship for her Sr. year. She leaves on the 18th for InterVarsity leadership camp in Colorado Springs for a week.
May 1986 (Joice): I’ve spent part of 3 days going through 3 boxes of memorabilia, but can’t bear to part with any of it. I’m nearly hysterical thinking of doing most of the packing up of this house myself.
July 1986 (Karl): This weekend David and Sineina Gela, our PNG friends came up [to Quest] from Pasadena. We will be traveling together to PNG. Also on Saturday Joice’s brother from San Diego, his wife, and their daughter were here for a few hours. We were able to buy a smaller house (and furnishings) in PNG for $6500. We will both be working in what is called Technical Studies Dept., encouraging and helping others by consulting with them on language work. The Gelas were really a blessing to Questers. They tested all 41 individually on their Pidgin English skills, spoke in Chapel and sang a duet.
December (Joice): One of our ministries has been opening our home to the ANHS students from the Southern Highlands, where we worked for many years. Added novelty to our lives, a Syracuse (NY) Christian radio station interviewed Karl on the air via telephone.
January 1986 (Karl): We were surprised to learn a Catholic priest and a number of national translators were working on the N.T. [in East Kewa]. We hope to visit the West Kewa in April. Our national translator courses are about to begin.
January 1987 (Karl): I respond to a number of questions that Bill raised about SIL buying helicopters and the cost effectiveness of taking the Scriptures to small groups of people. He also asked about the emphasis on computers, rather than people. I concurred with many of his comments and questions and ended up with “Sometimes I wonder why we are here: some new couples view possessions as their ultimate right. These are the very people we try to consult with and help. But we come back to this: we are convinced God called us here and has given us the privilege and responsibility of sharing the Gospel. We work for Him—in the Wycliffe context.
February (Joice): We had a good trip to Wabi—the first day we traveled 4 ½ hours to Mt Hagen, where we spent the night. [On to Wabi where] we have one room for a table and chair for eating/study and the other room for sleeping. When we left Ukarumpa Wesley said, ‘How old will I be when you return?’ February is the time for courses and workshops offered in Language Program Planning (2 weeks), Anthropology (5 weeks), and so on. Karol is doing her student teaching in Spanish at China Spring High School, 30 minutes’ drive from Waco.
March (Joice): Recently we had two interesting guests: Sir Paulius Matane, former Ambassador to the U.S. and the U.N. and former Minister for Foreign Affairs, Naihuo Ahai, now head of the Linguistics and Language Dept. at the U. of PNG.
April (Joice): [In Kewaland] We were amazed to find many literates wherever we went. The denomination with the most Kewa churches (51) does not regularly use Kewa Scriptures in their services. Instead, Tok Pisin (the Lingua Franca) usually is read and the translated sentence-by sentence into Kewa—a tedious method which often produces unreliable oral translations. Karl will be in Australia for WBT/SIL’s South Pacific Regional Conference in June; Karol will meet him there and together fly to PNG on July 2nd. I just edited a script Kirk wrote about the Sepik to go with his slides. He just brought colored portraits he took recently of Karol and the seniors.
April (Karl): PNG has the highest road accident rate per driver, etc. in the world. So it is hard to get anywhere safely. Our motivation [to train nationals] should be because they should share in the vision and privilege of translating the Word of God. I have to go to Brisbane in June and the US in 1988—both as a result of being field chairman of the EC, something I pleaded with conference not to elect me to. Joice felt my speeches were too articulate—she too thought I wanted the job!
May (Joice): As we drove into our driveway on May 12 we thanked God audibly for a safe journey of about 1000km. [in the West Kewa there were] many hugs, handshakes and tears. We stayed at the Lutheran Mission in Wabi at their small guest house. On the way back to Ukarumpa we stayed at the Christian Leadership Training College in Banz.
May (Joice): I am keyboarding READ magazine using articles submitted by various SIL authors about their literacy and community development efforts. Karl will be at the UPNG language department in October where they are setting up a communications course.
May 1987 (Joice): It is raining [we are in the Southern Highlands again] and the people are attending a Lutheran District meeting in a nearby village. Fr. Don from the RC Mission in Kagua and 5 of his translators came yesterday. Out of the meeting with him it was agreed that the Lutheran, RC and Nazarenes meet on 31 May to try to come up with a consensus on the key NT terms in Kewa. We taught Religious Instruction classes yesterday at the Wabi Primary School. We had an interesting trip out when halfway to Mendi we broke a spring, so we limped there and needed a replacement, but none available. The United Church mechanic welded it but it broke so we gingerly drove all the way back to Hagen and the next day got it welded, reinforced and clamped. Our accommodations in Mendi were not so good, with roaches and rats to keep us awake. We eventually moved in with a Peace Corps worker we had met previously. We were invited to Kagua for a dinner to celebrate our 33rd anniversary.
July (Joice): As we are able, we will continue to go to the Kewa area to promote Kewa scripture and literacy. One recent highlight of our Kewa visit was a three-hour meeting of fifteen men from three denominations to discuss acceptability of key terms. While Karl was away in Australia at the end of last month, I enrolled in an M.A. program sponsored by Azusa Pacific University in California.
August (Joice): Describes a visit from Bob and Kathy Sausser (formerly from Joice’s church in Pontiac), to Ukarumpa and the places we accompanied them. Also mentions the possibility of a literacy team for the Kewa, but which never eventuated. Details a violent storm that hit Ukarumpa, downing many trees, particularly along the river and near our old house, where Kirk and Christine lived.
October (Joice): There have been two developments in the Kewa since we last wrote. One is Benjamin Pundiapa, a married man from Wabi, who has been here [in Wabi] for a month translating Psalms. He is a hard worker. A second encouragement is that Jack Tapa from our former village, Usa, has been accepted at the Swiss Evangelical Bible School in Lae.
December (Joice) [In Australia holding a workshop at the SPSIL] Karol called Christmas morning from Corpus Christie where she is staying at her roommate’s. Our ‘papa’ from Sydney [Tom Hibberd] arrives next Thursday. I’ve been editing Karl and Kirk’s 2nd booklet in their “Missionaries Bite the Bullet” series. The workshop has had its good and not-so-good lecturers. Our Kewa friend Apoi went home after only 2 weeks. Very disappointing!
January 1988 (Joice): Alissa is in the throes of potty training—so far not very successfully. Aren’t you glad you don’t have to be responsible for such things anymore?
May (Joice): Karol faces daily challenges as she teaches English and Geography to wealthy Guatemalan 8th and 9th graders. An unusual treat for Karol and Karl: they will be together in Guatemala from May 13-18 before Karl is a delegate at the WBT/SIL conference in Dallas, May 21-31.
February (Joice): Karl is chairman of the Executive Committee, our ruling body, which set for two weeks this month. There are 45 Southern Highlanders at the National High now. On the 14th, fifteen ate with us after wading the swollen river. There are students from the E. Kewa, the other dialect about which we are concerned. The recent issue of ‘Paradise’ magazine has another article by Kirk, making it two articles in a row.
March (Karl): I am a delegate.in Dallas in May [but now] I am giving lectures on dictionary preparation in vernacular languages to some of our language teams. Usu and Rundupu continue to come weekly to work on revising the Kewa New Testament. So what do we do for fun? Well, our work is fun, but on Saturday mornings I do try to play golf at the Kainantu small course. It is a par 67 and I have a handicap of about 18 [it got down to 12].
April (Karl): Joice handed me the pen and with a funny smile on her face, as if to say: ‘If Bill can write, so can you’. Joice has to go to Australia sometime for a mammogram. We just finished Easter Camp and about 200 national students came. Kirk was the coordinator. We had 8 here to eat lunch with us yesterday. One was an old Kewa friend who is now in his final year of studying law.
April (Joice) Our director asked Karl to consider applying for the position of Professor of Language and Literature at the University of Papuan New Guinea in the capital. Karl does not want the job.
May (Joice): Two possible decisions are now decided: Karol wants to explore teaching possibilities in Dallas and Karl has decided not to apply to head up the Languages and Literature Department at UPNG.
June (Joice): Karl was asked to give a 3-part study on Colossians in our Sunday morning English service. Normally we attend services at the Aiyura National High School which is led by the students. Karl has spoken there and in their weekly meetings several times.
August (Joice): [Planning on returning to the Kewa area a colleague said] “I hear you are interested in a 4-wheel drive vehicle. A Nissan was just brought in by a plantation owner. It has a damaged door, fender and back window, but otherwise is in good condition. It has 75,000 kilometers on it, a nice buy for only $3500. Another $1800 should cover costs to fix it up.” [We bought it and sold our car for $1800.]
October (Joice): Our vehicle is newly painted. Karl, Kirk and Wesley will give the vehicle a tryout when they go to Kewaland about November 8th. Karl’s brother Charles died on October 7th. He had quintuple bypass while on holiday in Florida and we had a letter last week from him. Naihuwo Ahai, Director of the Curriculum Development Unit stayed with us for a week.
January 1989 (Joice): I flew to Cairns with Karol and had a mammogram. We expect to spend much of the year encouraging national translators working on the Kewa NT revision. We hope we are realistic and we wish we were younger.
March (Joice): I wish that our goals had been met while we were there. We wish everyone was enthusiastic about the NT revision; that the Kewa churches were strong and active; that the Kewa Scriptures is a priority in the churches and homes. But we were able to infuse more interest for Kewa Scripture use, and had to be content with that.
February 1990 (Joice): Benjamin Pundiapa from Wabi came to Ukarumpa in September and translated all of the Psalms into Kewa. Copies of the first 50 Psalms are being circulated for checking and the rest are being recorded. Now Benjamin has finished Genesis. In October we were able to attend the 50th wedding anniversary of our “parents,” Tom and Elsie Hibberd in Sydney. We also included a trip to see Christine’s parents, Ron and Joan Tierney. We received a letter from the Pacific Area director asking us to reconsider being the Pacific SIL school director for the term after our furlough.
June (Karl): We have been getting rid of things—the hardest decisions for me have been about books and notes. I really can’t give them all away, can I? Last week I had an opportunity to ride out to the Southern Highlands and visit a Kewa area. I stopped to see Uni Remosi at Bible school. We have had many farewells: the Executive Committee, which I have headed for almost four years, our Bible study group, our national friends at the nearby high school, Southern Highlanders, friends, neighbors, all of them have been kind to us.
July (Joice): Karl comes back today. I’ve had a restful time while he has been gone. I need respite occasionally from the evening phone calls, guests, etc. We’ll go to Waco on the 25th to help Mike unpack.
December (Joice) Next Christmas will be really special with a grandbaby around.
January 1991 (Joice): Karl is heading the Field Methods course. I‘ve completed two of my 12 research papers for my degree.in order to finish by May.
February (Joice): Karl’s course is going well. I am plodding along with my research papers. Recently Kathy and John Harris from Australia were here for ten days.
May (Joice): I finished on April 22 ahead of schedule. My M.A. in Human Resource Development will be conferred by Azusa Pacific University in December. Thankfully we passed all our medical tests and completed our application for Australian Temporary Residential visas.
July (Joice) Four year visas awaited us when we returned to Dallas so we are ready to leave of July 15th for L.A., July 20th for Sydney, July 25th for Melbourne.
October (Karl) About 30 of us linguist types gathered at Leiden University to discuss problems in Papuan and Austronesian languages. While I was away Joice went with friends to the south coast, where only water lay between us and Antarctica. Joice’s ribs are healed.
January 1992 (Joice) Keith Foster from our Dallas church spent 2 ½ weeks here in December. Our new courses actually began on Dec. 30th and we had classes on New Year’s Day.
March (Joice): We are in the middle of our 2nd set of courses (5 for the year). Karl and I enjoy teaching ‘Training across cultures’ with our PNG friend, Steven Thomas. Karl wen to Canberra, his alma mater, Australian National University to lecture and participate in a dictionary making conference. Karol is booked to come here June 1st.
April (Joice): Karl is in Dallas attending a couple of conferences [and] also expecting to have eye surgery. Karol is to receive her M.A. in Hispanic Linguistics on May 23rd.
June (Karl): I had radial keratotomy on both eyes—a simple yet profound operation. Joice’s birthday was a riot thanks to our friendly students and staff. [who] surprised her with a bag over my head and drove her around [before] delivering her to the dining room where the gang awaited. Uni finished Bible school and is now a pastor back in the Kewa area.
September (Joice): Karl made a trip to PNG to deliver two papers at the Linguistic Society of PNG. He relates that it was a sad time because I sensed that this was the end of an era at least for me.
May 1993 (Joice): Karol expects to arrive on June 8th after visiting Cairns and Sydney. Karl returned on May 16th from his trip to Dallas and Waxhaw where he attended two conferences.
July (Joice): Next week we plan to take a train and a four hour ride to the nations’ capitol, Canberra, for a couple of days to see friends and be tourists. The paper work for the government approval of the school continues. Fourteen members of our little Kangaroo Ground Presbyterian church have been gathering at our home on Tuesday nights for Bible study.
September (Joice): The emphasis on our current course is upon learning and analyzing Turkish. Kalo, a Kewa [and] high school student in far northern Queensland visited us at Easter [and] wrote a thrilling letter after he went home to his village in June. Kirk sees his surgeon on Sept. 3rd for an appraisal of his arm and hopefully will be cleared for use of it in lifting. Karl will be in Papua New Guinea when you receive this letter. Karol wrote that she is dating a 2nd year resident that she has known. His name is Mike Hardin.
January 1994 (Joice): It was a great joy to speak to most of you during our two weeks in Dallas and Waco.it was indeed special to meet her friend, Dr. Mike Hardin, for the first time. Karl was asked to accept the Coordinator for Training position. From Dallas we arrived in Auckland on Nov. 30th and a few hours later we began driving south with friends, Neville and Gwen James. Finally back in Kangaroo Ground on Dec. 16th. Karl is teaching anthropology while I oversee student activities and assist in the office. Karl will teach field methods at La Trobe University at the Australian Linguistic Society’s annual conference.
March (Joice): It is a glorious day after the coldest March in written records. We haven’t been able to do anything to get ready to leave by April 24th when we leave for Vanuatu. Recently we spent a week in Adelaide, capitol of the state of South Australia, and Tasmania, the island just off the southern coast.
May (Joice): For this wedding [Mike and Karol] has found some changes in our plans! As you can see, we are on beautiful Epi Island, a 30 minutes flight from the capitol. We are staying with Jim and Janet Stahl and can see 3 active volcanoes from this house.
July (Joice): Our Solomon Islands and Vanuatu visits were very worthwhile. Our immediate focus is on Karol and Mike’s wedding on August 6th.Karl will give the wedding message. Mike has one more year of Residency in Waco. There is always stress associated with re-entering one’s own culture, especially since, in our 38 years together, we have lived in the U.S. for only limited periods.
August (Joice): Our time in D.C. was very busy. The dinners were times of good discussions and we visited 5 academics as well. The time with the PNG Ambassador and wife was a highpoint.
September-December (Karl): My main activities were working on a committee that established SIL training standards, meeting with the France SIL Director, lunch with colleagues, participating in forums and giving lectures. We also hosted Bob and Shirley Litteral for a week in September and Bob gave a forum at UTA.
October (Joice): Karol has made inquiries about PhD work at UT Austin.
December (Joice): As Training Coordinator Karl is involved in several projects, including curriculum development, advanced training on the field and linguistic courses at Christian schools (presently Biola, Moody, Houghton and soon Bryan). I am a member of the International Assignments Committee.
March 1995 (Joice and Karl): This semester Karl is teaching a course at the University of Arlington [Texas] on the intricacies of Papuan languages. We may have a change of assignment next year. The Executive Director of WBT and SIL has met with us, suggesting we be assigned as Vice President of Academic Affairs beginning in mid-1996.
Dr Peter Wang was appointed to take over Karl’s position on September 1 and before then they will travel to training schools in Canada, Singapore and Australia.
From 1996 to 2013 the letters give details about our work at the International Linguistics Center in Dallas, including our teaching, administration and frequent trips. I’ll skip most of those letters because most of the relevant details are included in Newsletters that are on file. I will look through them to include items that may be of interest. My main purpose with dates and detail up to now has been mainly to give some idea of how frequently we corresponded with long-time supporters, Bill and Lucille Wernsing. Joice also corresponded on a regular basis with many others who helped us, which leads to the next section.
On furloughs we did deputation, now somewhat euphemistically called “support discovery” or “partnership development.” The idea was to get people interested in what we were doing, hoping that they would at least pray for us and, if they wished, financially support us.
People and churches that decided to help us were part of the list of our “supporters.” We never asked for money but we told what we were doing, or hoped to do, and let the people decide if they wanted to be either prayer or financial partners (or both) with us.
|Joice at Jungle
The first church to help us was, appropriately, the First Baptist (Conservative) Church of Pontiac, Michigan. It was Joice’s home church and she had been active in it all her life, including marrying me there in May of 1956. We joined Wycliffe and SIL that same summer and by February we were on our way to Mexico to take part in “Jungle Camp,” a requirement for new recruits. The First Baptist church sent us money while we were in Mexico, partly because Uncle Cam, the founder of Wycliffe, came to Pontiac, met Dr Savage the pastor, and spoke at the church. The church continued regular support until it became a part of a mega-church (operating out of Troy, Michigan), which then significantly lowered our support because we were no longer “on the field” and they wanted their missionary fund to support younger people and evangelism. They have, however, put us on the retired “quota” and have been sending us $200 a month.
Another church that was an early supporter was Bloomfield Hills Baptist Church, which still sends us $250 quarterly for retirement. A former couple from First Baptist had started attending Bloomfield Hills and invited us to speak there. They began supporting us before we left for the field in 1958 and continued, although sporadically at times, for many years. Whereas First Baptist left its original setting in downtown Pontiac, Bloomfield Hills continues as a beautiful edifice along Telegraph Road, not far from where Joice once worked at the Cranbrook Foundation.
Another church in Michigan that began supporting us early was Gingelville Baptist, mainly because Joice once worked with the pastor’s wife and for his brother at Christian Literature Sales in downtown Pontiac. They, too, have continued to support us some in our retirement.
Finally, in Michigan, North Auburn Hills Baptist Church, on Squirrel Road, which Joice’s brother Dwight and his wife Lil attend, send us money each month. The money is a gift from Dwight and Lil, but given through the church.
It is obvious that we have had some outstanding churches in the Pontiac area supporting us and there have been many individuals as well. At one time a couple of members from our former Sunday school class (the Golden Circle) helped us and members of Joice’s mother’s Sunday school class also helped.
On one furlough in Michigan, as was the custom, Joice and I shared a service—Joice first. Later at the door, a woman said, “I told someone I wondered what he was getting up there for after she spoke.” And similarly, when we went to the door of a church to greet people as they left, another woman said to me “We enjoyed having you both here this morning, and I hope your wife can come back again sometime.” It was obvious that Joice was the better speaker!
We have many deputation stories. One of the best is Joice’s and it is about her losing her skirt, a PNG skirt, in a woman’s meeting. It is her story, so I won’t attempt to tell it here. But just in case you don’t get to ask her, here are a few details: She had her arms raised and was making an important point when she noticed that the women in the audience—about 70 of them—were not making eye contact. Instead, they were looking near her feet where her PNG skirt now lay in a heap. The knot was not tight and the skirt had fallen off. Not sure how to proceed, Joice said the first thing that came to her mind, which was “I’ll bet you have never had a missionary stripper here before.” She assured them that it had never happened before and that she would never forget Elmwood Methodist church. To which a lady in the back remarked loudly, “And we will never forget you either Joice.”
On another occasion after we had finished the meeting and were talking, Joice did not see the projector I had inadvertently put behind her. She tripped and fell and broke her wrist. There was immediate first aid help and we ended up at a sports doctor in Duncanville, who set the wrist by having Joice insert her arm in a cage-like contraption. “This will hurt” he said as he gave her a karate chop. It did, but he had set the bones correctly and then put her arm in a cast. I am glad that we no longer have to use projectors.
My small church in Bloomingdale, Pennsylvania also helped us for a number of years but stopped abruptly when a newly appointed, super-fundamentalist pastor chided us for not using (only) the King James Bible and for our organization producing the “liberal Wycliffe commentaries”—an error in “research” that the pastor never corrected.
The family of a high school buddy, Jack Metcalf, supported us for years, as did a school teacher friend of my mom’s. We even had other neighbors in the Bloomindale area who, upon occasion, supported us—quite amazing in that they knew me when I was young!
We made friends in Ithaca, New York, when I studied at Cornell, and chief among them were Bill and Lucille Wernsing (whom I have referred to earlier) and their two children, Gary and Jane. Lucille and son Gary and his wife still support us and Jane, the daughter and her husband help support Kirk and Christine. The relationships we formed in 1963 and 1964 have been a tremendous source of encouragement to us. We only wish we could see them occasionally.
An amusing (to us) incident took place when I was speaking at a church and the Wernsings were visiting. It was just before I spoke and the offering plate was passed. I had only a twenty dollar bill and, reasoning (not very spiritually) that the offering would be ours, put that in the plate. Bill saw me do this and, reasoning (much more spiritually) that he should at least match me, put another twenty dollars in the collection. When I told him why I had put my money in, he accused me of “seeding the offering.”
On our furlough in 1979 we lived near Pottstown, in a log cabin that Wycliffe friends made available for missionaries on furlough. Kirk attended the local primary school and I substitute taught at the Morgantown High School. Joice was active in the community and got us involved at a local Mennonite church in Elverson. That small church supported us until our retirement. While we lived there we took Karol to a hospital in Pottstown where she had an operation for a urinary tract problem that had plagued her for several months. We had treated her with an antibiotic that only exacerbated the problem. The surgery cleared up the difficulty.
The High School where I taught had some tough characters in it. One boy in particular gave me (and everyone else) a hard time. One day the principal stopped me and asked how things were going. I said “Fine, except for one boy.” “Oh, is that [name deleted]? “Yes,” I replied. “Well,” the principal replied, “if he comes at you, hit him first and hit him hard.” Not bad advice, but I never had to follow through on it. I had one “remedial reading” class of 12th graders who read at about a first grade level. But it was good to earn some extra money on furlough.
It turned out that the area we were living in near Elverson was where I had once boarded during a summer when I worked for a tomato packing company. We were driving around the area one day when I said to Joice: “There is something very familiar about this road. I wonder if there is a store just down the road.” There was, and across from it once stood the barn that the migrant workers lived in and where I used to play catch with some of the men and try to “witness” to them, although I did not know any Spanish. I had boarded with another man and his father who were from Bloomingdale, where I grew up. It was after my senior year in High School, I believe.
After we moved to Texas on our second furlough and bought a house, we were asked to speak at a number of Dallas-area churches. As a result, we have had genuine Texans who have supported us. Chief among them have been Eddie and Rita Smith, but also Elaine McBee, whom we don’t know well, but we were a friend of her father and mother. It is not possible to know just where a supporter may come from or why they supported us. But one story will give a glimpse of how a friendship may start.
We were looking for twin beds because we were going to rent our house while we were in PNG. We had purchased the house after our family died and left us some money. It was a small, three bedroom house and had cost us $27,500, although it was only 5 months old. The couple living there had divorced and they wanted to get rid of the place—we came along at the “right time” and we owned it until 2013 when we moved to Waco.
We saw an ad for beds and although it was further away than I wanted to go (near Love Field in Dallas), we decided to take a look at them. We liked the bed set and in the course of the conversation Joice found that the couple, Mr and Mrs Kirby Fair, were Christians. After further chatting and telling a bit about the work we did in PNG, we went home. We had hardly walked in the door when the phone rang. It was Kirby, who said “the Holy Spirit has been talking to me and He said for me to give you back the money you paid for the beds.” They became monthly supporters and after Mrs. Fair died we used to visit Kirby in a retirement home. He loved baseball so we reminisced about the great players we knew of and then, before we left, we would always pray. Kirby died several years ago but their daughter, Elaine McBee, has continued to support us. That is the way relationships often develop. It would be hard to plan something like that—the Holy Spirit did the work for us.
To give some idea of the range of supporters we have had over the years, I am going to give some names here, although I will surely and unintentionally leave some out.
Most individual supporters knew us through personal friendships or through our families. Some occurred because of other contacts, such as Neville and Gwen James by means of the New Zealand SIL, Peter Logan, from Sydney, Australia, whom we first met in PNG; Ron (we knew him and his first wife Joyce, who died of cancer, in PNG) and Francie Swick in California, as well as several other people in Texas who have helped us.
For example, among our Texas supporters were Leon and Helen Saulter (both deceased), Ned and Martha Chipley (now deceased as well), and, as I mentioned, Eddie and Rita Smith, whom we knew well at Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship and even before that.
Besides the Swicks, other Wycliffe members who have been (or are) supporters include Stan and Carolyn Neher, whom we recruited to go to PNG, and Scott and Polly Rempel—Joice worked closely with Scott at the Texas SIL. But Wycliffe members help each other often and I can’t possibly list all the friends and neighbors who have helped us over the years.
Our longest supporters (some for over 50 years) have been Bill and Rosemary Keys (Michigan), Lucille Wernsing (New York) , Gary and Dorothy Wernsing (Massachusetts) Bill Shearman (retired air force, Colorado), Dorothy and Dan (son) Ludvigson (Arkansas), Richard and Alice Stroshine (Indiana), Dwight and Lil Barnett (Michigan and brother of Joice), George and Gail Clark (and her mother Merle, Bloomingdale, Pennsylvania), Fern Stevens (also from Bloomingdale), Fern Muhler (Elverson, Pennsylvania), and Eddie and Rita Smith (Texas and OCBF).
There are other supporters that I have not mentioned: Roger and Polly Dodson (retired pilot, North Carolina), Len Humphrey (retired engineer, Pennsylvania), Ray and Barbara Davis (retired contractor, Pennsylvania), Lois Ehrenzeller (Florida) and Jim and Jean French (Texas).
Sadly, many supporters have died: Bill and Janet Casey, who left us a large endowment, Rosemary Humphrey, Bob and Kathy Sausser (who visited us in PNG), Bob and Letha Timblin, Herb (and Fern) Stevens, the Warners, DeWolfs, Stepeltons, Chittys, Killians, Prestels, Godsells, Comforts, Hoover and Bev Edwards, Tom and Donna Harrison, and (I am sure) others. Most of our current supporters are quite old—like us.
I want to mention the Caseys in particular—a year or so after Janet died (Bill had preceded her by a couple of years), their estate lawyer contacted us and informed us that we had been left a considerable financial gift. We were flabbergasted—Bill and Janet lived simply and gave graciously and liberally. Bill once painted and gave me books and materials that he no longer used. Such is the way of generous people.
The most important wedding—from my point of view—was when I married Joice in 1956 in Pontiac, Michigan. We went to college together and were in the same class, although I didn’t begin to have her as a close friend and date until my junior year. God has been gracious to us and our family and we are always in thanks to Him. Our children were born in PNG: Kirk in 1959 and Karol in 1965. In between Joice has an ectopic pregnancy and almost died (more about that later).
Kirk went back to PNG as a Short Term Assistant (STA) in early 1981 to train PNG men in the print shop. During his apprenticeship in photography and printing in Duncanville he had learned the basics of printing and in his own darkroom he had put into practice the essentials of photography development. His assignment was supposed to last only a year or two, but the outcome has lasted his life time.
That is because he met Christine Tierney, also at the time an STA, who taught primary school at Ukarumpa. A few months later they were engaged and then married. Christine’s folks had been living in Lae, on the coast, where her father Ron was helping for a short time with the Posts and Telegraph services of PNG. Christine, hearing about the need for school teachers at Ukarumpa, had been there for about a year before Kirk came along.
Christine’s parents had gone back to Australia by the time Kirk and Christine decided to marry, so Kirk had to call them and ask permission. When he did so, his future father-in-law replied, “We’ll call you back.” I think they were worried their daughter would be absconded to America.
A national Salvation Army officer using the trade language (Tok Pisin) married them and they had their wedding reception at a coffee plantation managed by John and Ruth Burgin. (We met John as an agricultural officer in the Southern Highlands and he was later my Business Manager at the Kangaroo Ground school.)
Kirk and Christine stayed in PNG long enough to have three children, all born at the local SIL clinic, before taking an assignment in the Media Department at KG. After several years of heading up that Department, he was appointed as the Wycliffe Australia Director.
Karol graduated from Baylor University in 1987 with a degree in Spanish education (with minors in math and English) and, after a short stint with us in PNG (where she taught at the Ukarumpa High School she had attended), went to Guatemala to teach for a year at an International School. She then began graduate studies at the University of Texas in Austin, where she finished her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Hispanic Linguistics.
Sometime later we received letters from Karol (then living in Waco and teaching at Baylor) about a certain Mike Hardin that we began to hear more and more about. One day Mike called and asked if he could marry Karol. Joice had answered the phone and her response was “What took you so long?”
They were married near Duncanville in an Episcopal church and had a wonderful wedding, with a number of PNG colleagues of Karol’s present. Prior to the wedding Mike’s folks, Don and Pat Hardin, provided a reception dinner at a high-class restaurant in Arlington. Joice and I decided to do something special, actually weird— something that Mike and Karol would not soon forget. It happened like this: We had observed “weddings” (actually, exchanges) in the Kewa culture and the prize items were pearl shells and pigs. Kirk was on hand so we got him in on the drama as well as Dan Litteral, a friend of Karol’s from Ukarumpa High School.
Remember that this was in a high class restaurant and a friend of Mike’s parents was filming it. There were perhaps 50 or so people, friends of the Hardins, in attendance. After the first course had been served, Joice suddenly stood up, banged the table and said “This wedding has got to stop.” Acting somewhat alarmed, I too stood up and asked Joice what was the matter. “Here we are, almost to the wedding day, and we have not yet gotten any bride price for Karol.” I acted flustered and said, “We need number one son in on this, so Kirk will you come up here and help us.” Kirk, playing it (probably) to the hilt, acted embarrassed at his parents and came and stood with us. “Look at her, Kirk, isn’t she worth 10 or 15 pigs?” I asked. “Ah, no dad, she is skinny and won’t be able to do much work in the gardens.” We went on bartering about her worth for a while and finally called Mike and Karol up with us, so that we could appropriately decorate them with shells and things. Then I said, “It so happens that one of the chiefs from Papua New Guinea is here and I would like him to help us decide what we should do.” Dan made his appearance and we welcomed him. I reminded the crowd that the chief spoke only Pidgin English and that I would have to interpret for him. Dan then gave a long dispatch in Tok Pisin and my translation was simply, “He said that he came by Qantas.”
We bantered back and forth—Dan talking long and me giving a short paraphrase translation. By now people were enjoying the drama. We ended by commending the couple to the audience as suitable now that the “bride price” had been determined.
We didn’t know Mike’s parents very well but we have since found that they have a great sense of humor. However, we would have felt more comfortable if we had known it at the time of our “performance.” But some things are worth taking the chance on, and that was one of them.
Mike and Karol now (2018) have three teenagers and Kirk and Christine have three children, two of whom are married, one with two children, so we are not only grandparents, but great-grandparents as well.
Everyone has times when they are sick and when you live as long as we have there are a number to comment on.
I remember my folks saying that I had pneumonia as a child, but I only remember measles and chicken pox. At about the age of ten I had a ruptured appendix, surgery, and spent about ten days in the hospital. I had two drainage tubes in my side that I went home with and then my dad took me on regular weekly trips to the doctor to remove the dead flesh around the tube locations. Joice teases that I have “three belly buttons.” Thanks honey—I won’t mention anything about your anatomy.
In PNG I was quite sick at one stage but did not realize it was hepatitis A until later when a medical team from the US doing research in PNG tested all of us at Ukarumpa. Thankfully, I never had malaria, although I often traveled to and stayed in infested areas.
Joice has gone through a number of surgeries during our marriage and two difficult pregnancies in PNG. The latest surgery was the scariest, with parotid carcinoma the cause, so we spent six and a half weeks in Houston for proton radiation and chemo treatment. Joice, too, has never had malaria, but did somehow, perhaps from blood transfusions, pick up hepatitis B.
Our children also have never had malaria, although Kirk later traveled throughout PNG and the Pacific in heavily infested areas.
In the Kewa language, the “siki anda” (sick house) usually referred to a hospital of some sort. Going to the siki anda was the last resort because of its reputation and, in the case of where we lived, the distance.
Associated with the siki anda was the “doktaboi” (doctor boy), a medical orderly stationed in villages some distance from the siki anda, which was always in a town and both featured prominently in some of our episodes.
As I have mentioned, for our first five years we lived in a rural area, in a village—actually a series of homesteads—called Muli in the Southern Highlands of PNG. At the time we settled there (1958) there were no roads to Muli, only a 4 to 5 hour trek (depending on the weather) from the nearest town—Ialibu—where there was a siki anda. Muli sometimes had a doktaboi present and Ialibu sometimes had a siki anda that was operational. But you could never be sure, so we had our own medical supplies. I had limited, but useful, medical training,
so we did not rely heavily on the doktaboi or the siki anda.
On one occasion, however, I became very ill with flu-like symptoms and decided that I needed a shot of penicillin, something that I often dispensed to others, but was not willing to try on myself. I couldn’t convince my wife to try either—these were the old days of penicillin in oil and the injection was not simple or quick and it always hurt. I decided to try the local doktaboi—I would give him the syringe and needles and even the penicillin. All he had to do was “shoot” me.
He did not seem interested. He told me “Mi no save sutim waitman” (I have never injected a European) and “Nogut nil i no sap na i pen tumas” (It is not good if the needle is not sharp and there is a lot of pain). I couldn’t argue with that, but I was desperate and convinced him that he alone could help me by “shooting” me.
Let me back up at this point and tell you why my wife would not shoot me (at least with a needle). We had trained in southern Mexico in the jungle for three months to learn basic outdoor living. Part of the training was to learn how to give injections and we were to first practice on oranges. I had completed a year of medical training so was given an exemption from having to shoot anyone, but my wife, was not excused. The camp nurse, a very thin person, said that Joice should shoot me. I declined, rather loudly, having looked at my wife’s orange. “Oh, don’t be such a wimp,” the nurse said, or something like that, “She can do it to me.” She had no idea what she was volunteering for. “Just hold it like a dart and let it go into the muscle quickly,” she instructed Joice. Joice was nervous and so was I. Only the camp nurse seemed, awkwardly, brave. Joice held the syringe like a dart and thrust the needle forward into the thin-armed nurse. It went into one side of her arm and came out the other, a minor wound as it turned out, but one that at the moment made us all feel faint. “Get it out! Get it out!” the nurse yelled. Joice got it out and never shot anyone again—not even an orange.
So it knew it was no use trying to conscript my wife as a paramedic. I was left to the skill of my doktaboi. He prepared the needles and syringe by boiling them for 15 minutes, then coming nervously to our house to shoot me. He obviously didn’t want to hurt me so he decided that if he shot me slowly it might be less painful. It wasn’t—for two days I could hardly lift my arm. He had done his duty and I would never ask him to do it again. I thought about giving him an orange for practice, or perhaps a sweet potato.
Upon another occasion our four year old son became very sick with what turned out to be the measles. We made arrangements to go to Ialibu to the siki anda. By that time there was a road halfway to Muli village, so we walked until we met the government Land Rover that we had arranged to meet us. We often helped the government by dispensing medicine and information, so we were not reluctant to ask them for help.
When we arrived at the government station in Ialibu, the officer told us that the local Gospel Tidings Mission had a competent nurse who would examine our son Kirk. The government vehicle took us there and the nurse (Mrs. Sode from Denmark) immediately diagnosed our son as having measles. We had been treating him with antibiotics, which had masked some of the symptoms. Kirk got better, the Sodes became our good friends and the government officer’s son got a terrible case of the measles.
In the second village where we lived there was no doktaboi for several years, so it would then be our duty to dispense medicine. Later, when we had a doktaboi, he was most often gone anyway, or had no medicine. I didn’t mind giving shots, we had lots of penicillin and it helped people, especially the babies, immensely. I had a system for the adults: I would line them up in a row, clean their buttocks with alcohol and use disposable needles. With a full syringe I could walk down the row and shoot several people quickly. It was almost like throwing darts.
I did not like to go to the siki anda, even to visit people, because it smelled of disease and chlorine. In addition, it was 15 miles from our house, so it was almost an hour’s ride each way on my small motorcycle. If there was something I could not take care of, I preferred to send the person to the Lutheran mission station, which was only 8 miles away.
Our neighbor Yandawae often helped me with work around the house. We also taught him to read.
One rainy evening he hobbled up to our house on a home-made crutch. He had been out chopping firewood in the bush, it was raining, the axe had slipped and it had nearly severed his big toe. He had packed moss around it to slow the bleeding, wrapped it in his old T-shirt, made himself a crutch and somehow made it to our house. I needed to take him to the mission station on my small motorcycle. While I quickly got ready he played with the kids and left some blood on the floor. We took off on my motorcycle and I fully expected him to faint along the way. Instead he merrily called out to friends and acquaintances along the road and arrived in good spirits. Five days later he was back in the village, almost healed—no siki anda or doktaboi.
Some years later we had a two-way radio in the village and could consult with our station doctor about medical problems. It was a relief and even the doktaboi could get advice when he needed it. But I never asked him to shoot me again.
I have been diagnosed with a slow-growing form of prostate cancer and also have had a pacemaker installed. The pacemaker was necessary after I discovered that my pulse would go down to about 45 on the treadmill and then be slow to recover. The doctors tried various tests and decided that a pacemaker would do the trick—that was about 5 years ago (it is 2017 as I write this). I monitor it by sending in a report by telephone every three months.
I first had cataract surgery for my left eye, which improved the vision, but worsened the astigmatism. This year (2018) I had cataract surgery on the right eye. I have bouts of “migraine without headache” occasionally, resulting in expanding and concentric circles of zig-zagging lines, lasting about 20 minutes.
Like an old car that needs maintenance, my body shows signs of wear in many parts. I am thankful for good medical help and advice, including that from our son-in-law, Dr. Mike Hardin.
When we joined Wycliffe and SIL we were told to be careful about how we used the word “missionary.” Many countries had negative feelings about missionaries and, reading history and observing my contemporaries, it is not hard to see why.
We were to call ourselves “missionary-linguists” or “linguist-translators,” but not simply “missionary,” which would mostly refer to someone who started churches, baptized new converts, and married and buried people (hopefully in that order).
Our goal was to translate the Word of God into a particular vernacular language and supply existing missions and missionaries with the work we did.
The history of missions is replete with wonderful people who have done outstanding things in difficult circumstances. Read about David Livingstone, Adoniram Judson, Hudson Taylor, William Carey, John Eliot, Mary Slessor, Mother Teresa, and multitudes of other luminaries and you will quickly see what I mean.
It is also true that missionaries can be intimidating: they have traveled everywhere, learned demanding languages, eaten exotic foods, battled dreadful diseases, and all with (usually) a smile on their faces.
Nevertheless, anthropologists, who see them destroying cultures (disrupting evolution?), have heavily criticized missionaries as duplicitous, heavenly minded, and so on. Because of this, those of us who are missionary-linguists or the like, come in for a double barreled assault: not only do we portray all the evil characteristics of missionaries, we are also charlatans when it comes to posing as scholars.
Of course, not all anthropologists are so blatantly critical: I studied linguistics and anthropology at Cornell University and I was never aware of any negative feelings. I can say the same, in general, for my time at the Australian National University.
Within the organization that I worked with for almost 60 years, there were many who were more comfortable in the traditional missionary role than as scholar-translators. Some of them, wisely, withdrew from SIL and started their own missionary organizations. Others stayed within the organization and somewhat covertly did their own thing. As an administrator, it was hard for me to monitor or control such activities.
Without missions and missionaries, there would be little interest in the vernacular languages of many countries. It is well documented that their efforts in translation and literacy contributed to education and language schools and records in countless countries of the world.
In addition, if it were not for religious opposition in some countries, Christianity would be the vehicle of choice and an opportunity for honest officials and citizens to contribute to their society.
Working as a linguist and Bible translator in PNG, I have had interaction with virtually every denomination or independent missionary organization. Historically, the major denominations each worked in government assigned regions of the country. Much later smaller groups came in to challenge and in some cases supersede the historical work and contributions of the larger denominations. In some areas, this competition and disregard for the past has resulted in chaos. In other areas there has been a revival of church interest.
For anyone interested, we have outlined the history and nature of missions in the Kewa area in our “Final Report on Kewa,” which is on my website at www.karlfranklin.com.
Since my conversion back in January, 1950, I have always had a love for the Word of God and I have always had a Bible reading schedule. When I was in college I followed the Navigators memory course and took notes daily.
When I was in PNG I often spoke in the Sunday English service, the Sunday Tok Pisin service, the Aiyura National High School service, or gave devotions at workshops and other events. These opportunities have always motivated me and I have kept some of the notes from my talks.
I also like to write and “humor” is one of my fascinations and trying to write humorous stories has resulted in over 250 of them so far. They are short and reflect something that struck me as unusual that I had viewed somewhere in the world, something that had an amusing, sometimes satirical, side to it.
Joice had surgery for parotid carcinoma in February of 2013 and subsequent proton radiation and chemo therapy at MD Anderson hospital in Houston. We lived in Houston for over six weeks at an apartment graciously provided by Mike and Karol. Each day, except weekends, we would go to the proton center for her radiation and on Mondays to the hospital for her chemo. Bob and Linda Black also provided lodging for us in Houston on a number of occasions.
When Joice was undergoing treatment for cancer, I compiled a book about Wopa Eka, a Kewa translator who died that same year. It was based on letters from him and was to honor him and I persuaded BTA to publish it. They did allow me to use their name as the publisher, but they have not publicized or distributed it in PNG (although I sent them money to do so), so his story remains largely untold.
Sometime later I also went through Joice’s diaries and letters and put together a “book” for her. She is an amazing woman and I want our children and their offspring to read about some of the things she has done. However, after I showed it to her, she immediately began to put her editing skills to work and it has not yet seen wider circulation and will probably never see publication. It doesn’t really matter, except that I would like our children and grandchildren to read it someday.
In 2016 I compiled a book of reviews that I have done over the years, aptly called “A Rack of Reviews.” It was published on 05-14-2016 at: http://leanpub.com/arackofreviews. I often write book reviews so that I can remember things from it that seems worthwhile, but also because I often end up giving the book away. I do keep a computer copy and a hard copy of my reviews for future reference. (I have also put a few short reviews on Amazon.)
Aside from this work, I often write a bit each day to reflect on what I am reading and learning from the Scriptures. Usually, I simply try to read through the Bible each year but, for 2017, each day I have reflected on one or two verses from the NT, noting translations of them, as well compiled thoughts on a verse or two on a daily chapter from Proverbs or the Psalms.
A Final Glance
The rear view mirror is fogging up, so this may be a good place to stop and wipe it off. This may seem like a long story, and I might better have taken the advice of someone who once asked: “Do you know how to make a long story a short one?” And the answer was, “Don’t tell it.” I have told it, but I’ll quit here (for the moment) and make sure the rear view mirror is clean. But wait—what is that I see dimly coming up behind me?
Addendum: My House and its Environs
We remember places because places have stories. I lived in the same farmhouse for almost twenty years, from the time I was three or four until I went off to college, so it reminds me of lots of stories. I considered the farmhouse as my home, even though for the last five years before I married I lived for the most part in Delaware, Michigan and California—places with other stories.
The house I lived in was built in 1908 by my great grandfather, Wilbur Franklin. It still stands on site in Bloomingdale, Pennsylvania and is a large two story wooden building, with an attic and a full basement. It has German lapped siding and intricately carved trimmings in the peaks of each of its four gables. Double doors, spaced about six feet apart lead into the house from a long front porch, which was raised some 18 inches from the ground and had two sets of steps leading up to the separate front doors. A large picture-type of window, before they were common, was positioned between the doors. To the back of the house (pictured) was another porch, this one enclosed and with steeper, wide stone-steps leading up onto the porch and then to two additional doors, one that went directly ahead into the dining room and the other, to the right, which went into the “out kitchen.” This was a room so named because it adjoined the kitchen, but to my knowledge no cooking had ever been done in it. It held the hand cranked washing machine, the milk separator, and the churn, as well as assorted piles of junk. At the end of the out-kitchen were two sets of stairs, one leading upstairs to the “spare bedroom” directly overhead and the other down to a small cellar.
Over the years the house changed, with additions and subtractions, so let me begin with what I remember when I was in grade school. I will start with the back entrance because the front entrance was only used to go to the mailbox, unless there were true visitors arriving who had never been to the house before. All other callers went to the back door. The description that I give here can vary, like the weather, so to begin with let us assume that it is winter, and winters in northeastern Pennsylvania can be very cold indeed.
Before describing the main house, let me remark that it was only one of 14 buildings that once graced the farm. First and foremost, was the “old house,” the original homestead house that was built before the present one, and, while I was growing up, was used mainly as a rabbit and chicken coop. It was a two storey structure but my brother and I rarely ascended to the second storey because the stairs were missing in places. I remember that the inside was paneled with wide, grooved and beautifully planed wood, probably maple.
The Garage and Barn
There was also a very large “garage,” on the farm, actually a workshop that included a place behind two large sliding doors where, with great effort, two cars could be parked—but that was only the half, or rather a third of the garage. On all sides of the car were workbenches and junk, tools and assorted gadgets that my dad used to “fix” things. The garage and the two rooms adjoining it also held some of my father’s “tricks,” for he was an amateur magician.
To the left of the parking area was my dad’s workshop, consisting of a workbench, a small lathe and other assorted tools, most of which he could never find and accused his sons of losing or misplacing them. Attached to the garage, but at a level below it, was the “middle shed,” which once held wagons and farm implements but in my childhood and youth held only timber and a hay mower. The middle shed also had a cellar beneath the western half of it where apples and cider were stored. An old cider press remained in one corner of the cellar, literally the ground floor. Attached to the middle shed, and therefore still continuing down the incline, was the “lower shed,” open at both ends and with more old implements and lumber. There were also stairs leading to the overhead part of the garage, again containing mainly lumber.
The largest building was the barn, which was almost parallel to the lower shed and some 20 or 30 yards to its right. At the end closest to the lower shed was the barnyard, where the cows deposited manure that we collected for the garden. Directly attached to the barnyard and accessible through a large door were several cow stalls, an indoor corn crib and other bins and stalls. On the front side of the barn were several doors, one that entered into the cow stalls, as well as two very large ones further along the front that formed an entrance large enough to unload hay into the main haymow. To the right of the haymow was another attached farm implement shed. A loft for storing extra hay was above the barnyard and stalls. It was a long and truly impressive building, weather beaten and black, with wide cracks here and there for the wind (and occasional snow) to blow in. Other buildings near the barn included a wagon shed and an old shingle mill, mostly fallen down. To the other side of the garage was a blacksmith shop, which was used by the WPA when they occupied part of our farm as their headquarters following the depression. Between the house and the garage was a coal shed, and near the old house was also an elaborate three-hole outhouse. There were also some chicken coops and pig pens on the farm, which comprised about 80 acres and was farmed by a neighbor who gave my parents a share of the profits, if there were any.
The Main House
But back to the main house. We are on the back porch now and the weather is blowing in from the north, very cold in the winter, so we will need to close the large back porch door with its many small window panes. Here we can sweep the snow off our feet and wipe our boots on the carpet. If we look in the kitchen window we will see the large coal stove where mom does all the cooking. As I mentioned, there are two internal doors to exit from the porch, one to the “out kitchen” and the other to the dining room. We can go in that door and see if anything is on the dining room table. Probably not, unless there will be company, because we generally ate in the small kitchen. Sometime during my high school days the small kitchen was tripled in size by knocking out the partition between it and the “guest” room. Only knocking out the partition was a job because the wall studs ran as one piece from the top of the upstairs to the ground floor level of the kitchen and other rooms.
Although we entered through the dining room, we can now either turn right and go into the kitchen, or proceed straight through to the “living room,” the largest room in the house and the one that has one of the “front” doors that I mentioned earlier. It was in the living room that we played games and listened to the radio, where dad napped, where he played the violin or trumpet and mom attempted to play the piano. Although dad loved music and composed some of his own pieces, we kids did not follow his example, perhaps because of the constant harassing for practice and perfection. We took our music lessons as long as we had to, but we promptly forgot them forever, much to our shame. It was in the living room that dad, when he was once “cleaning” his shotgun, blasted a hole through the floor. It was patched over with a license plate, with a carpet over the area as well. We kids were playing nearby at the time, so I have never forgotten it.
Adjacent to the living room, between the outside wall and the stairs that ran upstairs, was the “parlor room.” It also had a “front” door, which was kept locked. The “parlor room” was supposed to provide space for guests, but was also known as the “funeral parlor.” That may be why, aside from grandpa Quick—who later laid there dead for “viewing.” I never saw anyone stay there very long. Later after more renovations it became my dad’s “office.” Between the living room and the back room adjacent to the kitchen was a long and dark closet, with one directly over it upstairs as well. I knew both of them well because when I was naughty I was sent there to reflect and repent. Even if both were done insincerely, the exercise did allow me to overcome any fear of darkness.
In the middle of the front room was a coal-fed stove for heating the room, the stovepipe of which ran up through the main bedroom. Consequently, it was the only bedroom in the house that was much above freezing in the middle of the winter. In the front room were four windows, including the large one that faced the front porch. In a winter like the one we are imagining, the stove will be going full blast, with lots of glowing coal and it will radiate so much heat that you cannot touch it with comfort. On the top or back of the stove is a specially rigged pan of water, meant to supply moisture for the atmosphere to keep your skin from drying up. This is necessary so that you can spit the remnants of your winter cold out onto the snow (or into the stove if you are a male adult) with ease. Near the stove will be the coal bucket and it will be the duty of either my brother or me to keep it full.
To fill the coal buckets we must go outside, down the steps, take a left turn and enter the “small cellar,” directly below the out-kitchen. This room was once intended to be a bathroom of some sort—there is a concrete bathtub somewhere in the corner under the coal. We will use a large shovel to fill the coal bucket and return to the house as quickly as we can, for we never put on extra clothes for this chore. That would take far too much time and prove our lack of vigor and manliness.
We do put on our warm jackets, mittens, hats, whatever we can find, when we go to the outhouse. It is a solid construction, also of lapped German siding, and has three holes side-by-side, one with a step up to a hole that is obviously for the “little ones.” No one—in winter or summer—stays in the outhouse long. Why? To be brief, it stinks badly. Something went wrong in its construction and the air vent up the back wall of the toilet blows the fumes over the ceiling and down another internal vent that was also meant to relieve the house of smells. So why not close it off? Because there is only a very small “window” in the building and the odors soon engulf the visitor to such an extent that he or she would either expire or open the door. Neither option would do, especially in the winter, so the answer is to wait until the very last moment, run to the outhouse, do your business quickly and run to the house again. Running at top speed it was 33 paces between the house and out-house.
The Dining Room and Kitchen
I took you into dining room area of the house, where a table that could be extended to accommodate many relatives, was located. Here too was a large glass cabinet with good glasses and plates in it, the kind that only guests could use. During the winter, the dining room was closed off by means of folding doors from both the kitchen and the living room sides. You would find that it felt as cold as a refrigerator and indeed food was often kept there before we had a refrigerator. But the room is our second degree of entrance after the back porch, rather like a decompression chamber. The folding doors to the kitchen were located next to the kitchen cupboard, with two long doors above, two smaller ones below and two drawers in between, all accommodating lots of “stuff.”
The kitchen was the warmest place in the house because it was not only once the smallest room, aside from the closets, but it also had the cast iron stove. When really hot, the oven door was opened to let heat escape from there as well. It was a hungry stove and demanded our attention constantly to keep it hot, ready to cook meals or heat water in an instant. Why heat water? Because, as you may have guessed, we did not have indoor plumbing, although Grandfather Wilbur Franklin had once installed a system utilizing a ram pump that once worked from a spring some 150 feet down the slope from the house and near the “lower shed” and shingle mill. So my brother and I were also commissioned to keep two or three pails filled with water. When the weekly bath came along, we filled a tub located in the “out kitchen,” but not in the winter for there was danger that the water might freeze, to say nothing of us. Filling a tub with water the proper temperature to bathe, then taking our turns, sometimes the kids using the same water, is a life-changing story of its own and one that I will not attempt to describe.
I don’t remember much of what was originally in the room between the kitchen and the parlor, but it must have been fairly useless, because it was the first room to be torn out to allow expansion of the kitchen. But that was later after we had running water and electricity.
Electricity and Running Water
I didn’t mention electricity, did I? It is hard to imagine, but for the first eight years of my schooling, we had only kerosene wick lamps, the kind where the chimneys smoke up when the wicks are not trimmed evenly. We had lanterns or flashlights to go outside, but the inside was pretty dim. No wonder that once electricity came as far as our farm my dad put lights in every possible place. By that time he had been self-trained as an electrician and seemed intent on seeing how many lights and power outlets our house could hold. Wires ran from every direction to a fuse box in the cellar and our house eventually became an “all electric” house.
The Cellar and Upstairs
Yes, there was a cellar—every farmhouse in Pennsylvania had one. Ours was big, under the whole house and could be entered from a set of stairs off the kitchen or from the outside, but not during the winter because the outside cellar doors, which resembled two giant trap doors, would freeze shut. In the basement were shelves of canned goods that mom had worked on over the summer: beans of various sorts, corn, tomatoes, beets (unfortunately), carrots, jams, and more. Also in the cellar was two large wooden barrels of cider, one allowed to “turn” for vinegar, the other left to “harden” for taste. Sacks of potatoes and apples could also be found.
But now we will go upstairs. I have left that to describe last because it is winter and I don’t want to spend much time there. We will go up the stairs off the living room into an open space at the head of the stairs. Turn left and we will go to the bedroom of my brother and me, turn right and we will go to my parent’s bedroom, go straight ahead and we will come return quickly. Why? Because the room that is straight ahead, over the “out-kitchen,” is really full of junk. Every issue of Life magazine, Colliers, Life, The Saturday Evening Post, Popular Mechanics, old newspapers, wrapping paper, discarded utensils, more of dad’s magical tricks, so much stuff that you cannot find your way to the small steps that lead down to the out-kitchen. We didn’t spend time in that room, instead we used it like a thrift shop long before they became popular.
Sometime when I was about 12 or 13 years old my dad decided to enlarge the upstairs so that my sister could have her own room. This was accomplished when a local “carpenter” cut a hole in the roof on the side of the house that faced the barn and made a room. Because the roof of the house was steep it was not difficult to have adequate pitch for the adjoining roof.
Sometimes my brother and I would go through my parent’s bedroom, open a door and go up the stairs to the attic. There were small windows, but it was fairly dark, so we seldom did this. The chimney ran up through the attic, in fact there were two chimneys, one from the living room and one that served both the main and out kitchen. The one from the living room was at an angle.
Wood and coal provided so much soot that the chimneys could get clogged up and cause a fire, so a chimney cleaning apparatus was on hand on the roof. It consisted of a solid object on a long piece of rope. By letting this down the chimney to scrape against the sides the excess soot was knocked down into the stoves, somewhat of a mess, but better than a fire in the chimney.
I want to mention a couple of more things about the house. It had several lightning rods on the roof, pointed metal rods about a yard high and an inch thick, with a bulb in the middle. A thick ground wire was attached to each and ran along the ridge of the house and down the side of the house into a metal stake in the ground. I know the lightning rods were effective because lightning struck the house several times but never caused a fire. On the other hand, perhaps the rods attracted the lightning. There was also guttering and eves that ran around the house, with down pipes to carry away the water.
Now let’s go back inside the house and take a look at the furniture, as I remember it. The bedrooms of course had beds, singles for my brother and me and a double bed and a couple of dressers in my parent’s bedroom. My brother and I had one to share. During the winter when it was cold we would get our clothes the night before, keep them in bed with us and then dress in bed in the morning. We must have washed and brushed out teeth somewhere, sometime, because my mother was quite proper about such things, but I don’t remember where or how. I do recall that if my brother and I did not pick up our clothes my mother would simply throw them out the upstairs windows, even in the winter.
It was some years before we had an indoor toilet, or “commode,” as we called it. It was centrally located at the head of the stairs, near the kitchen chimney. A window about chair height provided an excellent view of the garage, blacksmith shop, meadows and the farms in the distance.
We had the kind of upright radio that was common for the time. It was a cabinet tube one and we would lie on the floor and listen to Joe Lewis fight, or Jack Armstrong, The All-American Boy, Tom Mix or the Lone Ranger. We had vivid imaginations about what was happening as we listened to the radio accounts. I, of course, grew up without TV, so we spent a lot of time reading, drawing pictures, watching my dad practice his “magic,” playing his musical instruments or the three of us kids playing games, inside and outside. When my cousins came we would have snowball, rotten apple and corncob fights. We all developed strong arms that served us well in baseball.
Our house had a lot of books: The Harvard Classics were there, lots of children’s books, cowboy novels, travel books, and so on, there was even a large family Bible (which I now own). Despite the lack of electricity, we read a great deal. Mother was a schoolteacher and we were required by her law to do our homework each evening. For many years my dad worked the “night shift,” so we did not see a lot of him except for weekends. I don’t recall that we had a desk on which to study, we used the table or the floor. The one desk in my dad’s office was reserved for dad to sit at or for mom to handle the checking and income tax. Dad was hopeless with finances.
It seems to me that we always had dogs, usually they lived outside but some were allowed to come in. There were cats too, but I don’t recall more than one at a time in the house. Their job was to catch rats in the barn.
There are some favorite memories that I have of the house. One, strangely enough, is painting it. The house always seemed to need paint, so one summer we (my brother and I and another friend) painted about half of it. That was where it was left until the next summer when we were able to paint a bit more. I think dad finally hired someone to finish it.
I also recall when we first got storm windows and doors for the whole house. Up until that time it was bitterly cold during the winters but once we had storm windows and screens we could even keep the flies and mosquitoes out during the summer and fall.
Once the kitchen was enlarged it was well lighted, with another outside door and a large number of cabinets that a local tradesman made and installed for my mom. It was a pleasant place to sit and talk to my mom, sometimes my dad, and a place where she invariably had a number of pies that she had baked ready for sampling. She knew that with a bite of pie in our stomachs we would open up and discuss the latest things on our minds.
When we had company, usually one or two couples that were friends of my folks, they would all sit in the living room and play cards—pinnacle, I believe was the most common. The men would drink beer and tell stories, the women generally just listened. My mom did not particularly like beer, so her glass was usually full. Before we had a refrigerator dad kept his beer cold by putting it in the cellar for a day or two, or tying a string to the bottles and lowering them to the bottom of the spring. My brother and I were warned to never touch the stuff and we, except for one foolish occasion, obeyed.
The one time we disobeyed and pulled a bottle of beer up to drink it we were convinced that dad would never notice. After all, there were another 6 or 8 bottles left. But then we had trouble opening the bottle by trying to knock the cap off against a rock and the top of the bottle broke. We were frightened of drinking bits of glass, so we didn’t get anything to drink anyway. Coupled with that loss was the wrath of my father, which was always hard to bear.
I should digress and tell you a bit about my dad, because he has obviously played an important part in my life. Even to this day, I seldom dream about my mom but I have often dreamed about him. Such dreams, I am sure that Freud would say, are intensely important.
My dad grew up in the big farmhouse house, raised by his grandparents because his mother died when he was born and his father eventually re-married, but also died when my dad was at a young age. So did his only brother, so he was virtually an only child, raised by old people. He did live somewhere else during his high school days, but I am not sure where or why. His diploma was from Benton, a school that is 10 miles or so from the farm, Of course there were no school buses then so it was natural that he had to live elsewhere.
Dad and mom married when they were both young, mom about 22 and dad some four years younger. Work was hard to find although mom taught school until she started having babies, four in all—two boys and two girls. I was the second born and the youngest girl died at about two years of age in a tragic accident when dad ran over her when she ran out in back of the car. He never fully recovered from that tragedy and many years later when mom was also killed in a car accident, the pain was indescribable.
After we kids were of school age my mom went back to teaching school. By then my dad had a regular job as a machinist in a factory, working the evening shift. He was an avid student and enjoyed translating German into English. He also practiced on his violin, trumpet, occasionally the piano and fife and did local magic shows as well. After suffering from two lung collapses in the early 1950’s he studied and received his electrician’s license. From that time on he had his own “business,” although it was never a success financially.
Dad was fond of his first son, Charles, and it must have been something of a shock when he joined the navy a day or two after graduating from high school. For the next 5 years the family saw little of Charles, except that he did send his new wife home to live with dad and mom. By then I was in college and working in Detroit during the summers. Dad and mom cared for Charles’ new bride, incorporating her into the household and helping to raise her firstborn.
Most of my contact with my parents after I went to college was sporadic, except for the first summer when I lived at home but worked some 60 miles away. I was going with a girl from a nearby community and I am sure that my parents were convinced that I would marry her. The girl had been instrumental in my early Christian life and I was a close friend of her brother, who was killed in Korea as a marine.
Soon after I went away to college I realized that the girl of their dreams was not of mine. It was devastating to my parents and to the girl as well, but there is no doubt in my mind that I made the right choice. I may not have gone about it correctly or with much kindness, but I was hardly a young man that had been trained in manners or etiquette.
So my visits to my house and home grew more and more infrequent. Before I graduated from college and went to Los Angeles to study for a year, I had taken Joice to my house only a couple of times. It is to her credit that she stuck with me after the visits.
We were married in 1956 and lived first in the Pontiac area before studying in Oklahoma and finally going to PNG in 1958. During 1963 and 1964 I studied at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, and during that time we sometimes went to my home on weekends. On one occasion we were “snowed in” for several days—along with my sister, her husband and their children. That was the last sustained contact I had with the old farm. My mom died in 1972 when we were in PNG and my dad died four years later while we were still there. They are buried in Bloomingdale cemetery, less than two miles from the house and farm.
The three of us living children inherited the house and farm. I sold my share to my brother in 1976 and he disposed of it several years later. The last time I saw it was in the year 2000. The beautiful stone chimney was leaning outward from the house, which needed re-painting again. Since then the farm has been split up and there are new houses on the old farmland. However, I won’t be sad if I don’t see my old house again. It is no longer the house or home that I want to visit. My recollections of the house and farm are good, but they are only memories and I have lived in many countries and places since then.
There are, however, a number of things that come to mind in my reflections on my house and farm that are vivid mental images. They include events such as these:
Hunting and Trapping
First of all guns: we always had guns in our house and we were allowed at a young age to use them. But the time we were teen agers we were hunting and could hardly wait for November, when “small game” season began. My dad had two shotguns and was generally working so my brother and I would often hunt together. We would start out on the meadows and cornfields of our farm and work our way gradually on to the neighbors as well. Our game was generally rabbits, squirrel and pheasant and it was our duty to clean them for mom to cook. I’m sure eating rabbit or squirrel seems almost primitive to some people (although we were served rabbit at a small country church in Texas a few years ago), but the meat was good as long as you didn’t bite into some buckshot.
Rabbits don’t run in a straight line so you have to be prepared that they will suddenly dart to the left or the right. When in Australia a farmer loaned me and a friend guns and challenged us with “Let’s go out and blow over some bunnies.” Rabbits are a nuisance in Australia—we have seen hundreds of them at a time in fields—and are frequently poisoned so it is wise not to eat any that are killed. Rabbits have caused devastation in Australia and have been there for over 150 years. There were estimated to be 10 billion of them in Australia by the 1920s and they procreate at a rate of 18 to 30 per single female rabbit per year. The estimated population of rabbits in Australia today is over 200 million. Rabbits destroy plants and are a problem for livestock and farmers. No wonder my friend wanted us to blow a few of them over—and we did! We didn’t have many rabbits in Pennsylvania, although the Game Commission stocked them on farms for hunting.
Hunting deer is more involved. A normal shotgun has to be loaded with “slugs” instead of buckshot, so hunters prefer a “deer rifle,” for example a bolt action Remington 30-06 or a Winchester Model 76, neither of which we owned. They were expensive guns and I once borrowed a 30-06 from a neighbor. However, when I saw a buck, I got what is known as “buck fever” and could not get the safety catch off in time to fire a shot. I did help get a deer one time with my single-shot shot gun, using slugs. But I was not much of a hunter, although I enjoyed the outdoors.
My brother and I also set traps to catch, we hoped, weasel and skunk. We would get a 50c “bounty” for any weasel and a few dollars for the hide of a skunk. Skunks don’t like traps and will chew off their leg to get out of one. As we know, they also emit a foul smelling spray that will ruin your clothes and your day. My brother once was sprayed when we tried to shoot one in a tray and we had to bury his clothes. We did not want skunks around our house, although our dad once captured a mother and its youngsters. The mother eventually ate all its young—a cannibalistic skunk.
Skunks will eat both plants and animal matter and they live in tree hollows, brush, and sometimes under houses or porches. Their smell betrays their presence and when one is hit by a car on the road the car will smell for weeks.
Weasels are fond of chickens, so we would set traps near the chicken coop and often would catch one. We took weasel and skunk to a man in Shickshinny who would skin them and pay us for the hides. No one needed to ask which part of the town he lived in—we could roll down your car window and follow the scent reaching our noses.
Surrounding our farm house was a series of “lawns,” expanses of grass that had to be mowed. It is hard for my grandsons to imagine (who have a power mower), but my brother and I (but mainly I) mowed our lawn with a push mower. Our lawns were not level, so it was hard work and we had to rake up all the grass. We always had a file handy to try to keep the blades sharp on the mower and we oiled the wheels regularly.
We also had a “contract” to mow the lawn of the local cemetery. The lawn in our cemetery was not like the greens at a golf course or the infield of a ball park. It was wild and sporadic, made up mostly of assorted weeds, some clover, dandelion and an occasional clump of grass. All were mixed with shale and stone waiting to sabotage our efforts with the mower.
The difficult part of the job was mowing between the headstones, all of varying shapes and sizes and with messages about the underground bodies, or what might be left of them. Some were marked “For Perpetual Care,” but the word “perpetual” was unknown to us, so we had no idea that they were special in any way. The stones and weeds seemed much the same there as elsewhere.
Many of the graves had flowers planted on top of them or in vases and pots and there were flags which marked the remains of veterans. We gave them special respect by not sitting on the headstones or by saluting as we mowed by. On Memorial Day graves would be distinguished, with new flags and flowers so that it resembled some reunion or party that the underground veterans had held during the night.
I mentioned the shale and rocks because the ground was hard and the gravediggers sometimes had to use dynamite to dislodge the big stones. That was fun to watch, with pieces of dirt and stone shooting into the air to lodge on the carcasses of Huey Moss or Gertie Taylor, so someone else. We would clean things up before the tortured skeletons underneath retaliated in some way, perhaps by sticking a bone up through the ground to break our mower blades.
We knew that the corpses didn’t always sleep quietly or behave themselves and that there was a lot going on down there that we could sometimes see the results of up on top. If someone rolled over in their grave a lot of the dirt on the top would collapse and if someone stood up during the night and didn’t notice its headstone, there would just be a toppled granite rock in the morning waiting for us.
Whenever there was a graveside service we could rest from our lawn mowing chores and watch. The caretakers did a good job making the site look appealing, often erecting a little tent and placing chairs for the immediate family mourners. Of course the tent and chairs were green and yellow and were marked with “Bronson’s Funeral Home Serves All Your Family Needs.” Inside the tent was the hole, with the dirt mounded on each side and with artificial grass covering it so that it resembled a local picnic site. For us bystanders the big attraction was the moment when the hearse arrived, followed by dozens of cars, all with headlights on and small black flags to mark them as the official funeral convoy.
When the hearse stopped, several men, generally in black suits, with gloves, and looks of perpetual grief, got out and went to the rear of the hearse where, with great ceremony, they opened the door to reveal the flower covered coffin. It was then carried to the gravesite.
Sometimes at such services it rained, as if the underground fellows were thirsty and wanted the hole filled with water. The graveside services were either short or long, depending on the preacher and undertakers and how much they charged, we thought. After it was over the smell of the flowers lingered for days and sometimes we would try to sneak some for our girlfriends. But we had to be careful because we knew how the underground did not tolerate a lot of foolishness.
When we bought a house in Texas, it had a lawn, although not nearly as large as the ones surrounding the house where I grew up. Nevertheless, the first thing I wanted to buy was a self-propelled lawn mower with an attachment that would harvest the grass. No more push lawn mowers for me.
Just outside my house to the north was our garden. It seemed to me at the time to be enormous, although I suspect it wasn’t more than a plot measuring 60 feet by 80 feet. Each spring our neighbor, Joel Sutliff, would plow up the remains of the old garden, run over it with his harrow and unearth stones for us to cart away.
My mom loved to plant and harvest: we would plant radish, lettuce, carrots, several kinds of beans, sweet corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, squash, strawberries, peas and many potatoes. We liked to pick the peas and string beans when they were not quite ready and eat them raw. One particular kind of bean was the “pole beans,” which required stakes in the ground for them to entangle their vines around. The tomato vines required stakes as well, so we found sticks for the purpose. It was always exciting to see the first vegetables pop out of the ground.
My mother canned all kinds of vegetables, but in particular tomatoes, beans and corn, as well as peaches, pears and other fruit. It was hard and hot work and sometimes some of my aunts would come to help her. The canning was done in the kitchen because all of the vegetables had to be first cooked on the stove. Then the jars were taken to the cellar and put on shelves for the winter.
My brother, sister and I were in the garden with my mother—no complaining or excuses—which seemed to me to be very often. We were also expected to help as directed with the canning. It paid off for during the winter we had all mom’s canned jars to draw from.
As I have mentioned, my youngest sister, Jolene, was tragically killed in an accident when she was almost two, so I remember virtually nothing about her. That left me as the true middle child: exactly a year and a half and a day younger than Charles and a year and a half and a day older than Claire. Charles and I did many things together: trapping, hunting, playing baseball, but we also fought regularly. He was bigger than me and I always got beat up. I would resort by throwing stones at him, once opening a gash in his head but generally missing. It was only later in High School that we because the kind of friends that brothers should be.
Charles and I had separate single beds on the second story of our house—I have mentioned that my mom would throw our clothes out the window if we did not pick them up. Our bedroom was a cold part of the house—I remember that during the coldest parts of the winter I would dress myself under the covers of my bed before emerging to face the elements. Charles and I graduated from High School together but he immediately joined the navy and I went off to college. We rarely saw each other for the next five years. On the other hand, Claire joined me in college for a year. She had been living with my folks and working at a nearby mental institution—a good preparation for college life in Delaware. She stayed a year, then returned to our house and later married Ray Honeywell. (Many years later and after four children, they divorced.)
Dad and mom had an additional bedroom built on the second floor of our house for Claire. After Claire married and moved out, Charles’ wife Joan came to the farm and lived there for a number of years. Later their daughter Wanda also lived there, although later Charles had built a separate dwelling on the farm, but some distance from the main house.
Trees and Insects
We had several very large and old oak trees near the house, barn and spring, as well as maple trees in the meadow. We would tap the trees with hollowed out spiles made from elderberry branches, bore holes the tree, insert the spiles, and place buckets underneath them. Of course this was in the spring when the sap began to flow. We would then carry the pails of sap to a large copper kettle and cook the sap until it because a syrup. Maple syrup on pancakes cannot be beaten!
The large oak trees were frequently hit by lightning, so some branches were missing from them. I have had dreams in which the oak trees suddenly begin to fall, perhaps a Freudian adjustment to the fall of mankind!
We also had many trees in our “woods,” including a number of large hemlock trees. My uncle Corey was hired to chop them down and prepare them for the sawmill. The timber allowed me at one point to trade some for a refrigerator for our house. We also had a number of ash trees in different parts of our woods.
There always seemed to be many bees around our house: bumble bees boring holes in the porch ceiling, wasps and mud wasps building nests wherever they could, but most often on the porches, hornets making their homes in the highest peaks of the roof, as well as honey bees and yellow jackets in bushes around the house. All of the bees, except the mud wasps, could sting and the yellow jackets and hornets were particularly vicious. My dad would try to smoke out the hornets from their cones, but only at night when they couldn’t see us.
Other common pests were flies, especially “horse flies,” an enormous sized fly that could bite like a snake. When outside, we would carry small maple braches with leaves so that we could keep them at bay. There were also varieties of ants and most of them could bite as well. Small, what we called “sugar ants” would invade the kitchen of the house from time to time. We would also find spiders hiding in corners of the cellar and closets. Mosquitoes were around but not in the abundance that we found in PNG or Texas. I don’t remember any cockroaches, such as we had in Mexico, PNG or Texas, as well as other states and countries.
When we lived in the cottage in Patterson Grove at the Camp Meeting Grounds I remember that we were plagued with bedbugs and my dad burned several mattresses to get rid of them. They were also common in the village houses in PNG.
There were no pest control agencies or businesses, so we learned to either live with or destroy them.
Wiping the Mirror
That is all that I will say about my life here, but there are other places for the curious or indigent to look: 1) I have a website at www.karlfranklin.com that my grandson Wesley, who is a graphic artist in Australia, constructed for me; 2). I have written several books: Short Yarns & Tall Tales, 239 pages, 2009; More Short Yarns & Tall Tales, 235 pages, 2010; Loosen Your Tongue: An Introduction to Storytelling, 167 pages, 2010; “Good Morning Jesus” The Story of Wopa Eka, Translator and Friend, 156 pages, 2013; Oh No! Not More Yarns, 240 pages, 2017; Oh Yes: More Stories, forthcoming, perhaps this year; and a book of some of the lessons I have learned in my long life called Perspectives on Life-Long Living and Learning, 253 pages, 2017. I have also written and co-authored some technical books and have published an on-line dictionary of the Kewa language.
Anyone who is crazy enough to read my technical writings can find out where they are by going to these sites:
You will find a lot more than you want to know!
 Abbreviations are: AGN=agent; sg=singular; Perf= Perfect; PUR=Purpose; DES=Desiderative; POS=Possessive; TOP=Topic; INST=Instrument; BEN=Benefactive; Q=Question; 1=1st person; 3=3rdperson.