Wednesday, January 1, 2014

July 27, 1928 - Aru, C.B.

We step back a few years (1) as Coralee describes the mail route, children and their nurse-boys, and the usefulness of waxed paper. 

Aru, C.B.
July 27th, 1928

Dear home folks,

It is ages since I've written so it's about time I got busy. The letters we have had from you people have been so interesting and fine. They mean much to us. When the mail comes it sure is fine to find several home letters falling to our lot. Sometimes there are no letters from any of you and then our mail days are very blank.

Perhaps you'd be interested to know that we only get mail once in every two weeks. The mail is carried from the ocean liner up the Nile by river boat and train. From Rejaf it is brought to Aba by truck and from Aba to Aru it is carried by native runners. It is a five day journey.(2)  It arrives here in a sealed canvas bag and there never ceases to be lots of excitement and confusion when that bag makes its appearance.  We're all so keen, it's most like Christmas every time.

[Personal portion redacted.]

There are several children on the Mission station here. Mr. and Mrs. Kemptner have three, two girls and a boy. Also Mr. and Mrs. Pontier have a little boy. They have fine times together. They play mostly just by themselves with their nurse boys.  Usually the white children have a so-called nurse boy who goes with them when they go out to play. His chief job is to see that they keep on their helmets and that they don't get into mischief.  For usually the mothers are busy with their departments of the work.

The children keep very well and here at Aru it seems to suit them very well. They of course have to take quinine every day just as we do and sleep under mosquito nets. They learn to speak the native languages very quickly and they use it a great deal, especially on their nurse-boys when the nurse boy keeps them from wading in mud puddles or some similar disastrous attraction.

We are having heavy tropical rains now and the gardens and roses are doing very well. I have been trying to get a rose garden growing near our house, also to get lawn in too.

The men are pounding the anthills into powder for the floors in our house now. I hope soon the veranda floor will be in so I can get some porch boxes started. They are going to be made of bamboo, it is very plentiful here, and then will be lined with banana leaves, then filled with dirt. We will try and get some pictures when the house is done so you all will have a clearer idea of this "grand" palace of ours.

We are so anxious to get moved into our new house for where we are living now it leaks like anything every time it rains. Our bedroom floor is wet nearly all the time it leaks so badly there. The grass roofs we use at present out here do not last very long especially if they are not carefully done.

The medical work still goes on and is very interesting to us. Lately we have been badly in need of supplies and medicines but even in spite of this we have enjoyed meeting those poor sick folks and doing what we can to help them.

I have been busy today sewing curtains for the guest room. They are very fancy, perhaps not stylish but they at least look fresh. They are made from blue chambray I got from Montgomery Wards for 10 cents a yard. They have a bias striped strip going down one side.

[Portion redacted including discussion of a list of items Coralee requests from the home folks.  I include this portion because of her comments.] I would like about six packages of wax paper, just roll it together like a magazine and wrap it so and mail it that way, just mark it paper. Some folks have it sent just in an old magazine a package at a time but perhaps it will be less trouble to send it all at one time. I want it to use for lunches.  I have to put up so many lunches and out here in this hot sun the sandwiches get very dry unless they are wrapped in wax paper.

The other things just mark as "notions" and don't put a high value on them - mark less than they cost because the duty is judged according to the way they are listed on the outside slip. You'll notice on the slip there is a "neck-tie". Ralph say he'd like a new one - his are all so old and faded I guess he thinks he'd like a change.

Now I must go along as it is getting near bedtime.  [Personal portion redacted.] Again many many thanks for all that you folks have done for us and we pray God will richly repay you all.

With love,
Ralph and Coralee


  1. This letter is out of order - it was previously marked as being in 1939, but internal evidence places it more likely in 1928.
  2. The entire journey from Rejaf to Aru is mapped by Google at 385 km, and should take 7.5 hours. The journey from Aba to Aru is (depending on the route) between 164 and 200 km, duration about 4 hours.   

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