Hitting the Road
On The Road
When I think back and wonder where my wanderlust came from I have feeling that it started with the books my mother gave us at Christmas. Those books almost always dealt with people in other countries. A major jumping-off project that got me involved in “hitting the road”, though, was the trip to the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. This was a guided tour led by scout leaders from our community. That gave me a taste of the wild west and generated an interest in seeing more.
While with the Boy Scouts in New Mexico I decided that the next year I would tour the whole country, hitch-hiking from the East Coast to the West Coast, from the southern border with Mexico to Canada. As soon as I got home from New Mexico I began planning my route for next year. I wrote to every state tourism board for their newest material, I got maps of the regions I was to cross, I read everything on touring the west, families in their ‘caravan’, kids in their old car, adventure stories and serious ones by serious travelers. Came June of 1947 I was ready to ‘hit the road.’
In June of 1948, I graduated from High School, with no prospects of going to college as there was no money in the family for that. Rather than spend my life as a ‘soda jerk’ in the village store I purchased a bicycle and headed for South America. This was preceded by an immense amount of research and planning. I had decided that I would travel as a Scout and got the necessary International Letter of Introduction. I made contact with every Boy Scout national office in Central America and had the addresses of their national offices.
On arrival in Panama, I got a job with the InterAmerican Geodetic Survey which was contracted to map Central and South America. That job took me into the mountains and jungles of Panama and Guatemala and had an impact on my life that went way beyond the brief time on the job. I have since found out that there are no stories or notes on the internet dealing with the on-the-ground experiences of me and my companions who were chopping our way through the jungles or sitting on mountain tops waiting to see lights on other stations. Posting this story will be of historical value.
In June of 1950, I returned to the US just in time to find the Korean War had begun. Rather than wait for the draft I took off on a hitch-hiking trip around Europe. This was not a well-planned trip. Rather it was based on whims of the road. I had no goal other than to see Europe and see it. I traveled through the British Isles, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and then down to Paris. From there through Germany, Austria, Italy, and back to Paris. Again I visited Boy Scout offices wherever I went. It was a most interesting trip but I finally decided to go home and enlist in the Army.
It was in the army in Korea that I got involved with the orphans of the war. I spent a lot of my time working with “our” orphanage, Manassas Manor, and with the Seventh Day Adventist Orphanage. This later became the basis of research on the orphans of the Korean War.
Reflections on my experiences with the Inter-American Geodetic Survey in 1949-1950
- I learned a lot about other cultures and developed the skills to adapt to them and enjoy them.
- I was witness to the life styles of the very poor peasant and the rich land owners.
- I became aware of the hacienda culture and the power of the ladinos over the indigenous populations.
- I learned some Spanish.
- I learned to make independent decisions in very primitive and difficult situations.
- I learned a lot about map making on the international scale as well as on the local scale. Through on-the-job experience I increased my skills as a surveyor.
- I gained a lot of experience living in rural and isolated areas.
- The time I spent with the IAGS increased my love for Latin America, its peoples and cultures.
Travels in Mexico and Central America 1949
Journal maintained by George F. Drake
Saturday, January 1, 1949
Arrived in Tampa 8am. Cleaned up in “Y.” Was touched for 25 cents. H*H to Clear Water. Got ride from New Jersey man. Lost business, 8,000 dollars dumped in lap, got mad. Got ride with fisherman, ride to Clear Water from causeway. Ride from sheriff to Tarpon Springs. Bought souvenirs. Saw sponge fishing. Got ride along back highway in dilapidated car. Got ride in good car to Newport Ricky. Took pictures of water lily in lake. Got ride in new Pontiac to Monticello. Fellow went to Oklahoma. Got ride to Tallahasee in new Studebaker with four women. Two about 28 two about 50 and 80 yrs. Old. Got overcoat from rear of P.O. Closed on holiday. Had dinner. Bought film. Got room in boarding house $2.00. Bath, shave.
Sunday, January 2, 1949
Left boardinghouse at 9am. Got ride in Jeep wagon to Mariana. From Mariana to Crestview in new ford. Fellow and girl drinking. From Crestview to Milton in Hudson. In old jalopy to Joe’s home. Called home.
Monday, January 3, 1949
Visited Gulf Stream Council office. Got 2 badges. Got traffic ticket for parking overtime. $1.00 fine. Mailed packages at Navy Point. Went to movies in evening with Peg and neighbor.
Tuesday, January 4, 1949
H-H to Mobile in 2 rides, both in 46 chevy. Mobile to Biloxi in Pontiac. Biloxi to Gulf Port in lumber truck. Gulf Port to N. Orleans on Greyhound. $12.50. Got hotel in N.O. for 1.50. Y full. Had to get out of bus and walk over bridge.
Wednesday, January 5, 1949
Called on Scout Hqds. Took bus to Heman Arostegui’s home. Went with him around New Orleans. Had to take bus Desire from his home downtown. Had supper at his house. Went to movie. Bought bus ticket to Laredo, Texas. Got room at YMCA for $1.50.
Thursday, January 6, 1949
Got bus at 6am to Beaumont, Texas. Called up Bob Owen at 4:30 pm. Was in Houston from 7:30 to 12:30. Saw film “Wake of Red Witch.”
Friday, January 7, 1949
Arrived in Laredo at 11:30 am. Met Larry Englehart on bus. He was all over Mexico on bike. Was leader of AYH group in Europe last summer. Got hotel room for 1.00. Got tourist permit. Went with Larry through customs. For one pack of cigarettes they failed to see several rolls of movie film. Bought lock chain, tire repair kit, atabrine. Picked up package at PO.
Saturday, January 8, 1949
Got bike, sent package home, went through customs, put bike on bus. Had to register it. Cost 10 cents to register. Asked for seat one on bus to Mexico City but got seat 11 instead. Bought bread, meat and cheese for food on bus. Left N. Laredo at 2:30pm. Stopped at small town. Men and boys came around with fruit, candy and various native foods. Three men, 2 playing violins and 1 playing guitar played by bus. Had to sit next to a filthy character. Lost book, left it on bus.
Sunday, January 9, 1949
I changed seat with a fellow in the rear of the bus so as to be next to a fellow named Ruben who spoke English. We started going through the mountains. It was beautiful. We stopped at small village. Went to the market. Man put daughter on bus for nothing. 3 peons didn’t want to pay. Went through mountains. Arrived in Mexico City at 9pm. Ruben went with me to hotel. Hotel Emporio. 18 pesos a day. Rate of exchange 6.85 to one.
Monday, January 10, 1949
Slept late, waited for Ruben, had breakfast on hotel roof. Ruben didn’t show up, got bike and sleeping bag from station. Went to Boy Scout Headquarters. They didn’t know English. Was taken down stairs, waited 45 min. was introduced to Juan Liane President of the Boy Scouts of Mexico. Was told to return following day at 12:30pm. Went to restaurant, had lunch, went to hotel at 3:45. Told them I wanted room again. Wandered around till 6. Went to bed and read. Weird Tales. Was very despondent. Though of going back to the states. Finally fell asleep.
Tuesday, January 11, 1949
Had breakfast on hotel roof. Went to National Art Gallery. Got to Scout Hqd. At 12 noon. Had to wait 45 min. was told to go upstairs to other office. Met International Sect. Had letter of Introduction signed. Was taken to see Mr. Robinson, Nat. Dir. Of Cub Scouting. Saw beginning of patrol meeting. Went with scout to scoutmaster’s training course. Met scouters. Sat through meeting all in Spanish. Was walked home to Y by two scouters. Arranged to meet next day at 11am to go to pyramids. Slept badly, was very cold.
Wednesday, January 12, 1949
Went to Robinson’s shop. Asked for laundry, went to Y. Got clothes and took to chinese laundry. Was ready at Y for fellow. When they came. Three came. We decided the pyramids were too far away to go then so went first to Chapultapec Castle. Then went to floating gardens. Got boat. Put bike aboard. Went for ride through the gardens. Had lunch aboard. Stopped at small pyramid on way home. Stopped for ice cream. Saw troop room. Went to Y. Met scoutmaster of Y troop. Visited patrol meeting. Had boys to room afterward. Used semaphore with them. Slept badly again. Was cold. Hard bed, noise from streets.
Thursday, January 13, 1949
Got up. Had breakfast in Y restaurant. Asked Robinson where street Rubin lived on was. Went to Rubin’s house. Went with him to see part of city. Went to polo fields. Saw modern Mexico City. Had dinner on Emporio roof. Got scout badges. Went to see Rubin play tennis. Got equipment from Y and went to Hotel Rey. 10 pesos per nite. Had supper with Ruben and brother. They drew caricatures of me and themselves. Went to bed.
Friday, January 14, 11949
Got up. Went downtown. Walked around city. Went to Ruben’s house at 2. Went downtown with him and his mother and brother. I talked to Robinson. Went to movie, saw Sitting Pretty. Walked back to hotel. Had a chicken sandwich and wine. Wine was bitter. Had terrific headache. Went to sleep. (Had arranged to have lunch tomorrow at German’s house at 12:30)
Saturday, January 15, 1949
Got equipment together in hotel and then went riding on bike downtown. Checked to see if book had come in yet. It hadn’t . At 12:30 I was at German’s home. He wasn’t at home so I went to Chapultapec park and filled in my diary. I returned to German’s house at 2. He still was out. His mother took me in their car to look for him. We met him at the corner with a bunch of cubs. We had dinner then visited several troop meeting rooms. I brought my equipment from hotel to German’s home. We left for scout camp by bus at 6:30pm. We got there about 8:30. A man on bus tried to steal the other’s wallet. A drunk refused to pay. We got to the camp. There were three campsites, made up of two patrols and the leaders camp. After supper there was a campfire. After the campfire we went on a hike to the top of a mountain where four scouts were given the investiture ceremony into the Rover Scouts. The ceremony was typically British. After the ceremony there was a feast on tortillas, meat and bread. Finally at 3am wee went back to camp. To sleep at 4am.
Sunday, January 16, 1949
Was up at 10 “washed and shaved.” Took many pictures (color). Had breakfast. Traded badges. Visited all patrol sites. Cubs came. Four inches of ice on stream in morning . Was back on bus at 6pm. Were singing all the way (cubs and scouts). Had supper at German’s home. He went and asked his mother if I could stay at his home. I was given his room.
Monday, January 17, 1949
Got up at 10. Had breakfast. Went downtown to meet Ramon Ulacia. Manuel Mendoza came too. German couldn’t remain for lunch. Ramon is leaving for the states on Wednesday. Went to US Embassy so Ramon could get visa. Had to wait for long time. Had to break open car. Dropped Manuel off and then went to ex-convent of Carmen. Here we saw mummies, room full of skull and bones. Went to newly opened part of convent ruins. Found ax head and spine bone of human. Had dinner at Ulacia’s house. Went to Scoutmaster’s training course in troop room. Went to dinner at German restaurant. Had swell time. 11 fellows went in car to see me home.
Tuesday, January 18, 1948
Awoke and looked at watch. 7:30. Went back to sleep. 2 minutes later Ramon was at the door. It was 8:30. Watch was broken. Jumped up. Alicia had breakfast ready. Went with Ramon. Manuel and youngest Olagari to pyramids. Found obsidian. Bought 2 obsidian arrowheads went home. Had dinner at Olagaries home. Went to preliminary Woods Badge Training course.
Friday, January 21, 1949
Went to Cortez’s tree where he cried when loosing battle.
Saturday, January 22, 1949
Went to Teponastly with German.
Sunday, January 23, 1949
Was at Teponastly.
Monday, January 24, 1949
Went to pyramids with scout from neighborhood.
Tuesday, January 25, 1949
Went to Embassy for Guatemala visa. Went to Rover Scout meeting. Met editor of Mexican Scouting magazine. He is also rover leader. Went to his meeting (his name is Prieto). Had dinner at Flour de Louis.
Wednesday, January 26, 1949
Went from Mexico to mountain top by foot.
Thursday, January 27, 1949
Went from overnight camp to Cuernavaca. Went through two Indian villages. We followed the old Cortez cobbled road over the mountain. It took two days of hiking. We carried pinole in a bag as food. When we wanted a drink we would stop at a large cactus plant that was cut to produce a juice in its heart called agua miel. This is collected by the owner and used for making pulque or tequila. We would drink the agua miel and the push a couple of centavo coins into the flesh of the cactus to pay for our drink.
The old Cortez road went straight up and down the mountain and crossed the old highway many times. At one point there was a gas station near the trail and an American called to our group of scouts “Do any of you speak English?” I responded “Si, senior, I speek a leetle.” “Is this the road to Cuernavaca?” “Si, Senior.” I replied. On noticing that his license plate was from New Jersey and showed that he was from Essix County I commented that he was from Essix County. He was astonished and asked how I knew. I replied “In Mexico we study good the geography, Senior.” With that I ran to join the others who were descending the old Cortez road and hear him yell “Mabel, you’ll never believe this…”
Friday, January 28, 1949
Spent last nite of Archbisop of Cuernavaca. Went from town to lake. Hitch-hiked there.
Saturday, January 29, 1949
Hitch-hiked back to Mexico City from Lake. Was invited to go on hike through caves with scouts. Bought food to go.
Sunday, January 30, 1949
Went to National Assembly of Boy Scouts of Mexico. Attended party at house. Went to bed at midnight.
Monday, January 31, 1949
Got up by self at 0630. Finished packing equipment. Had breakfast. Went with scouts to other scout’s house. Got taxi to Xochomilco. Hitch-hiked from there to caves. Distance of about 200 miles. Took bus last distance (30km). Entered caves at 1530.
Tuesday, February 1, 1949
Slept on beach. Saw large spiders. Went till couldn’t go further. Went back. Got out of cave about 2130. Ate on beach. No one spoke English.
Wednesday, February 2, 1949
Swam in river. Took bus back to Mexico City. Cost 4.50 pesos. Trip took 5 hours. Chickens back of me. Got home at 2230.
Thursday, February 3, 1949
Took laundry to Chinese laundry, went to American Society, went to ballet.
Friday, February 4, 1949
Went to Guatemalan Embassy. Went to Chinese Palace with Carlos and Mateos. Mr. Olagary was the architect. Was thrown out of theater because Carlos and Mateos threw lit matches off the balcony. Went to American Boy Scout meeting. Talked on Senior Scouting.
Saturday, February 5, 1949
Wrote letter, walked to Tacubya market. Wrote more letters.
Sunday, February 6, 1949
Went on hike with Cocoliso and caught up with scouts.
Monday, February 7, 1949
Went to American Boy Scout meeting, Troop 1, at American Society Bldg., Lucerna 71. Started painting on Robinson’s wall.
Tuesday, February 8, 1949
Went to meet Larry Englehart. He didn’t show up. Went to scout Hqd. with German. Got copies of Escultismo. Worked on wall of troop room in Zarco.
Wednesday, February 9, 1949
Applied for job at Aftosa Comm. Was turned down. Finished painting on wall. Went to marionette show with gang.
Thursday, February 10, 1949
Went to Ballet.
Friday, February 11, 1949
Open house at B.S. of Am. In Mexico. Went to Rover meeting. Planned to go to Popo.
Saturday, February 12, 1949
Left for Popo at 11:30pm. Played badminton in AM.
Sunday, February 13, 1949
Climbed Popo at 3:45 with Mateos. German and Cocoliso also got to the top. 13 tried to make it.
Monday, February 14, 1949
Went to Am. Boy Scout troop 2 meeting at Union Church on Humbolt St.
Tuesday, February 15, 1949
Went with German and Roberto to Puebla. Saw textile looms, silver shop, tile factory. Slept at home of Enrique Reig.
Wednesday, February 16, 1949
Went to ex-convent of Santa Monica. Picked up tablecloth. Mailed it. Had dinner at Enrique’s house. Heard pianist, sang Nat. Anthem, exchanged badges. Went on bus. Met Nellie Zakin on bus.
Thursday, February 17, 1949
Looked for Fernando Garcia. Was his guest at hotel. Met Raphael Escobar. Visited churches, went to mt. top on bicycle.
Friday, February 18, 1949
Went horse back riding with Fernando Garcia and General Amaro and the girls.
Saturday, February 19, 1949
Went to market with Mr. and Mrs. O’Neil and Nellie Zakin. In PM went to Monte Alban.
Sunday, February 20, 1949
Went to Tule Tree, Toluoacan , to Mitla. Was taken on tour by Zapotec Indian. Hated Spaniards and Catholics.
Monday, February 21, 1949
Wasn’t Called for. Bus left at 0630. Night watchman has to pay next night’s bill. Hitch hiked Mitla. Met Larry and Mitch Torgerson. Arranged to go with them to Ixtepec next day. Bought jade beads.
Tuesday, February 22, 1949
Left hotel at 0930 for Ixtepec with Larry and Mitch. Tied bike on hood of jeep. Drove part of day. Slept in hotel in Zanatapec.
Wednesday, February 23, 1949
Went to Comitan with jeep. Highway was of dirt. Passed Indians with shorts, shirt, scarf with tassels, flat hats, high backed shoes. Saw one carrying spear.
Thursday, February 24, 1949
Mitch drove from Comitan to end of construction area. Picked up scorpion. It fell off. Indian woman saw it. Larry drove back to Comitan. I drove to San Cristobal. We went to Km. 1360. 501mi. from Oaxaca. Slept in hotel.
Friday, February 25, 1949
Left San Cristobal after visiting market. Mitch drove. I drove to Arriaga. Terrific downhill road. Coblestone. Kept jeep in 1st. Passed four trucks. Larry drove to Tonala by oxcart trail through undergrowth. Forded four rivers. Slept in small hotel next to R.R. Talked to French Canadian who never got home from war to 1948.
Saturday, February 26, 1949
Got ticket to Tapachula, 8.10 pesos second class. Bike shipped on ticket. Had breakfast. Said good-by to Larry and Mitch. Sold film for 10 pesos. Got on train but in first class coach. Didn’t have the money to pay the difference. Paid what I had. Met a French Rover Scout. Went to his compartment and talked. Went to Hotel International in Tapachula. 25 pesos a day with meals.
Sunday, February 27, 1949
Had breakfast, typed letters, had dinner, eight courses, two kinds of meat. Did nothing all day.
Monday, February 28, 1949
Went to station, got bike, cost 4 pesos. Was originally told it would cost nothing. Didn’t have the money. Man insisted on paying till I cashed check. Followed me to hotel and waited for my money. Bank wasn’t open yet. Had to cash $20 for pesos at 6.60 to one. Paid man, paid hotel bill. Got air put in bike tires. Tied sleeping bag on top of saddle bags. Rode to Talsmain bridge. Distance of 9 miles. Was terrifically hot. Went past Mexican officials OK. Had to have equipment fumigated for four hours on Guatemalan side. Changed pesos for quetzals at a rate of 7 to 1. Lost 40 centavos on each Am. Dollar. Lost 1 dollar on the 20 changed in the morning. Waited for bus. Was only a station wagon. It started to rain, hard, had bags inspected at checking station. Passed OK. Got back on bus for Malacatan. Guatemalan roads are of dirt or cobblestones. Could go no further than Malacatan today. Bus leaves at 6am tomorrow. The bus ticket cost Q1.75. Room and 2 meals in “American Hotel” (name only) cost Q2.00.
Tuesday March 1, 1949 (Beginning of hand written longer diary accounts)
Instructions were left with the management to awake us at 5am so we could have something to eat and catch the bus at 6. At 5:45 I awoke and looked at my watch. At once got up and went to the entomologist’s room and called him. The noise of the tow of us getting up awoke the rest of the passengers for the bus. The management showed up in time to serve hot coffee before we left. The trip was a beautiful one. It took us up higher and higher with each mile. Eventually we were above the clouds. We stopped for lunch in a small town where we also had to wait for 2 hours for another bus.
The other bus left a 2 am and took us over mountain roads that were steep and winding. The roads were mostly dirt roads (this the Pan American Highway). When a vehicle passed us from the other direction we had to stop and shuffle back and forth till there was room for the other vehicle to pass.
We arrived in (blank) at 4pm. I went to see the market with the Venezuelan and then he treated me to a soda. He helped me find a pension where I could stay for the night. Then I went to see the leader of the Boy Scouts in (blank). He understood no English. We had a hard time understanding each other. Finally we made arrangements to meet at the pension at 8 and go to a troop meeting.
At 8 he came, dressed very warmly with a French cap helping to make him look like a very sick man. We went to the troop meeting. No one showed up. The rooms were almost barren of decorations. I was very disappointed in what I saw and what I didn’t see.
Wednesday, March 2, 1949
I did not feel very good today. I had a slight case of dysentery. I went all around the town looking it over. I decided to go to Guatemala City tonight. I got the ticket and brought my goods to the station. The ticket cost $2. They later charged me $2 more for the bike. The bus was to start at 7 but finally left at 8pm. The seats were hard and it was impossible for anybody to sleep. The fellow next to me and I couldn’t put our knees straight in front of us as we were both too tall. The second fellow over from me (I was next to the window on the right hand side) had a canteen of hot tea, also some sandwiches. It turned out that he was a former Boy Scout of Guatemala.
Thursday, March 3, 1949
We got into Guatemala City at 6am. I went with the scout to the Pan American Hotel where I was led up and had breakfast. The rooms in this hotel cost from $6 a day up for a single. About $4 too much for me. I found a pension where I stayed at the rate of $2.25 a day with meals. I bought a shirt ($4) and went to see Mr. Deutchman whose address I had. I assumed that he was connected with the American Boy Scouts in Guatemala so when I introduced myself I did it in English assuming, of course, that he knew English. He answered in English but told me that there were no American scouts in Guatemala and that he was connected with the Guatemalan Scouts ( I found out later that he was President of the Scouts of Guatemala).
I went to Scout Headquarters where I met the International Sect. I was shown all the troop rooms and the Rover and Cub rooms. They also had an excellent library here with periodicals from many countries (scouting magazines). Boy’s life and Scouting from the US and The Scout, The Scouter and Jamboree from England.
I picked up my mail from the US Embassy. I certainly had plenty of it. The meals at the Pension Central were very good.
Friday, March 4,1949
Went to scout office, read in library, met Amado, chief scout of Guatemala. Walked around town, was invited to go camping on Saturday and Sunday with patrol leader’s training course.
Saturday, March 5, 1949
Went to Scout office in AM to do some reading. After lunch had bike ready and packed waiting for Riki to come. Riki came at 2:30pm and we rode our bikes to the campsight- about 4km from town. We set up camp for the night and prepared supper. The campfire was very good. Amanda made me lead the boys in “Old McDonald”.
Sunday, March 6, 1949
Mass was said. Most of the boys went. At instruction periods the Scout Oath and Jan were discussed. The boys were interested in many things- a game period in the pm finished up the camp.
On the way home from the camp the right-handed rear nut from my bicycle came off rendering the cycle useless for the time being. Riki and I walked our cycles and the scout office where I left mine to be repaired on the next day.
Monday, March 7, 1949
I did some writing and at 4:30 Riki and I started to fix the bike. We went to numerous bike stores to see if they had a nut that we could use. No one had a nut the kind we wanted. We couldn’t eve use a substitute since no one had a ½ inch nut!
Back at the scout office a cub said that he’d get a nut for me tomorrow.
Tuesday, March 8, 1949
I fixed up the rest of the bike today and when the nut came I was able to take the cycle to the gas station and put air in the tires. A scout came to headquarters and arranged for me to show the bike to his brother on the following day to see if he wants to purchase it.
Wednesday, March 9, 1949
I had the bike at the house if the fellow who was to purchase it. He took it for $40. He was a lawyer. The bill of sale was made out and we went immediately to the police station for the license plates.
Thursday, March 10, 1949
Sold the bike carrier to Riki for $3. Sold the bike saddle bags to Rewee for $2. A drink was put in the same room for the night.
Friday, March 11, 1949
Played chess with Riki in evening. I won.
Saturday, March 12, 1949
Made arrangements to go with Lobatos on Sunday. Read Dracula.
Sunday, March 13, 1949
Got up at 6:30, had breakfast, had management prepare lunch for me. Left pension at 7:20- went to scout office, met rest of fellows went on foot to Zapote. Only 1 hour walk from city. Good swimming pools, good campsite, lots of people, many cubs and Rovers. Rovers were here overnight. Lunch was prepared, I shared lunch with a Rover. He was a Spaniard, knew no English but we made good friends. On way back I taught cubs several games. We got back late.
Monday, March 14, 1949
Went to embassy. Left a forwarding address for manager, Nicaragua and 20 cents for air mail letters. I later left 25 cents more for package. I exchange woolen shirt for lighter one and sold saddle bags for $2. Amado beat me at two games of chess in less than 30 minutes. I beat Riki but lost to the other fellow. I said so long to the chief Scout Executive, Amado, and said that I’d say hello for him to Ralph Mozo at National.
The hotel bill came to $29.35 which was for room and board for 12 days and laundry and dry cleaning. The girl from Venezuela said good by to me although I didn’t understand till another fellow in the dining room, translated for me. It turned out that he was from Maplewood, NJ. Marie Cristina is playing with her charge for the time being, both of them bothering me- calling me gringo.
Tuesday, March 15, 1949
I heard the alarm ring and jumped up to shut it off. I then proceeded to get dressed in the dark so as not to awaken my roommate. When I came back to the room from washing I found that the alarm had gone off early and had gotten me up at 4:50 instead of 5:20am at any rate I was up so I stayed up. I finished packing my stuff and brought it to the hall.
The driver’s assistant came tot eh pensions at 5:20 to awaken me. At 6am as I was waiting for the bus a brass band started playing nearby. I looked around to see where it was and saw that they were at the police station on the corner and were playing as the flag was being raised as soon as the flag was left to fly free it was caught by the wind and spread out flat. All in all it was a very impressive ceremony.
The bus, a large station you came for me at 6:15 just as I finished my breakfast of orange juice and raw eggs. I handed my gear to the assistant and got on the bus next to Mexican Scout that was going to college in Montevideo, Uruguay. Off we went.
The air was quite cool in the early morning and I was glad that I had my suit coat on. I wished that I had put on my dirty shirt instead of the newly cleaned uniform. The road was terrible. It was of dirt and very narrow. It was so dry that it caused dust to fly in back of a vehicle obscuring it from vision.
When a car got in front of the bus the driver did on of two things, either he raced on and passed him or else he stopped so the dust he beat up had a chance to settle. Even so we still had to eat the dust of oncoming cars. There were no windows in the bus, there were rolls of canvas above the frames which could be let down if the rain were coming in, but they’d do us good with the dust.
It was a simple matter to pass the customs officials in Guatemala. They didn’t even check the baggage. On the El Salvador ride the baggage was checked although very haphazardly. We then had to wait 35 minutes while the customs official had his diner. His food was spread on his desk and he couldn’t get to his pen to sign the release for the bus!
The road in El Salvador was paved. It seemed very relaxing to ride on pavement again. The rate of exchange here is 2.40 colones for one quetzal . Dinner cost 3 colones. The bus fare was 4 quetzals. When I looked in a mirror in Santa Ana where we had dinner I was startled to see that my face was so full of dust. I was totally brown. I couldn’t pass a comb through my hair.
We arrived in San Salvador an 3:45pm. The driver called to on of the passengers and asked where she wanted to get off. He drove to her house and let her off. We then started stopping at Pensions to see where Juaraz and I couldn’t stay. Everyone had to wait while Juaraz went into the pension to bargain for a room. Soon we found a place. One room, 2 beds, in Pension Granada for a cost of 5 colones each per day, that includes meals (2.08 American money)
As soon as we had both taken showers we went to look for the scout office. The only address we had was a box number in the Post Office so we went there and found that the box was owned by Padre Garcia Artala. We then went looking for Padre Garcia. It turned out that it was he that wrote to me. I had a greeting for him from Alfonso de La Parra in Mexico. The Padre was very nice. He speaks some English. He had a new (1949) ford station wagon and said if it wasn’t for the lack of a chaffuer he would show us around in it. Juaraz told him that I drive so I will have the job of chauffeuring us around the city later on.
We went back to the pension (had a hard time finding it) and met two scouts that had come to show us the city at night. We had dinner at the Pension and then went walking- One of the scouts knew English. His name was Ulf. We got back to the pension at 9pm and bid our hosts good night.
Now I’m writing this. Tomorrow am, a scout is going to meet us here at the pension and take us around the city.
Wednesday March 16, 1949
After an early breakfast Alberto and I started making the rounds of the city. We went to the Pan American Airlines office so he could finish the formalities concerning his passage to Panama. The US Embassy and the Honduras consulate were then visited.
We had a banana split. It cost 60 centavos. It was very poor example of a banana split. It had only one banana and one small dip of ice cream. It came to about 25 cents American money. Too expensive for the little ice cream you get.
We walked to the edge of the city and saw that the city is small compared to some cities in Latin America- I gave my dirty clothes to the laundry. It’ll cost 1.50 colones. Alberto bought some cards. They cost about 15 cents US money. Things are quite expensive here!
After dinner at the pension Alberto and I both fell asleep for an hour and a half. We then took a bus to the home of Padre Garcia Artola. After looking at photos we got into the Padre’s car (a 1949 Ford station wagon) and I drove around the city at the Padre’s discretion. We went to the top of a mountain from where we could see both the city of San Salvador and take Ilopango. When we came down from the mountain we picked up a scout and he drove us to the lake. He was the only one to go swimming. We came back to the pension at 6:30pm. Supper’s over and I’m writing this while sitting on my bed. I have an iron bed whereas Alberto has a wooden cot. The room and board costs 2 dollars and 8 cents per day with meals. Not too bad.
Thursday, March 17, 1949
I went with Alberto in a taxi to the airport at 7:30. The fare was 2 colones each. We waited for a while and soon the plane came to the loading station. It was a matter of minutes after our good-byes were said that alberto was winging his way to Panama. How I wish I was going with him!
I refused a ride in a taxi to the city (5 min away) and went out to the road intending to take a bus. I walked for a way and upon hearing a car I turned around and put out my thumb (just habit). The car stopped and gave me a ride. We had to cross two railroad tracks on the way to the city. Each time the track was obscured from view where it went beyond the road. The driver never stopped, he just blew his horn and kept going. I wonder what the train was supposed to do if the horn was blown as it was coming?
I wrote letters when I got back from the airport. I also wrote an article for Dick Carlido entitled “The Scout Handclasp.” Dinner is now coming.
Immediately after dinner I went to see Padre Garcia Artola. This time I remembered to bring the note Alfonso de la Parra gave me to give to the Padre. I took the magazine article and when I got to the Padre’s house I showed it to him. He said it was very good. The padre then showed me his collection of French scout badges. They were beautiful. He gave me quite a few scout badges from El Salvador. I will send him some from the states when I get home.
I stayed for a cub scout (lolato) meeting. It was interesting. At 3pm I went in the Padre’s ford to the Nicaraguan Embassy and obtained my visa. Upon returning to the Padre’s house we went together to San Thomas. I was let off at the Pension Granada at 6:15. A note was there for me from Ulf. He asked me for dinner tomorrow at 1:30 and said that he’d come at 4:30 for my (illegible). Since I wasn’t there at 4:3 either I decided to wait at the pension all evening in case he came. There was no address on the note. He didn’t come to the pension in the evening. I read several stories from Astounding Science Fiction which I bought in Guatemala. To sleep at 10pm.
Friday, March 18, 1949
I had the brainy idea of flying to Panama so off I went to the Pan American Airways office and asked about the cost. It would cost $65 to fly to David, Panama. I do not know whether I am doing right or not by going this way. I’ll never know, but I do feel more secure now that the passage is settled. At noon Ulf Kahl came to the pension and told me that I was invited to his house for dinner that evening at 7:30. I went to the Padre’s house in the afternoon and drove him to the American School where he gave religious instruction. Ulf was there and he and I talked in the car during his study period. When school was over I drove the Padre, Ulf and about a dozen kids back to the city. Ulf and I then went shopping together.
At 7:15 I was at Ulf’s home for dinner. His parents came in a few minutes later. After a delightful meal we went in the family car to see if the volcano was erupting. We drove for about 30 miles and finally returned to San Salvador disappointed because we came at a time when the volcano was not erupting.
Saturday, March 19, 1949
What a hectic morning this was! Last evening Ulf said that the Padre would pick us up at 9:30am. At 6:45am a scout was at the door of my room trying to get me up. Somehow it seems that he thought I was going with Group 2. I didn’t know what to do. I thought it was the same trip that the Padre had in mind. I was disconcerted therefore when I was told that I didn’t need my sleeping bah as we were to return at 4:30 the same afternoon. Meanwhile I had gone with them for about 10 blocks (not even having any breakfast) when I decided to call the Padre and see what it was all about. No answer. I then tried to call Ulf. He had no phone. The boys told me that the padre was going out to their camp at 10am. I decided that I’d go out with the Padre if he was going, so I left the boys and went back to the pension. Leaving my sleeping bag at the pension I went to Ulf’s home. I asked him what was going on. He got on his bicycle and went to the Padre’s home and asked him what trip he was going on. One for one day or two days. He said that he’d call for Ulf and I at 9:30 at Ulf’s house. Thereupon Ulf and I went to the pension and picked up my luggage and checked out.
At 9:30 the Padre was outside in his stationwagon with his protégé driving. We left my luggage at the Padre’s house and then picked up the family that had invited us out to their farm for the weekend. Altogether there was 8 of us in the station wagon (1949 Ford). Still all I knew of where we were going was that we were going to the family farm. It was 120 km from San Salvador, we stopped for dinner. Here I was under the impression that we were going to stay in this house all night. After dinner I was shown a bed where I could lie down and take a nap. I did so. In about 45 minutes Ulf came and said that we were going. So I jumped up and got in the jeep, leaving my notebook and toilet kit in the room. Luckily I took my camera with me. After an hour’s driving along dirt roads we arrived at the “Farm.” The farm was an immense coffee plantation. I thought we were entering a village, not a farm, for there were about a hundred natives to be seen around the buildings.
We were introduced to the owner. An old lady, the great grandmother of the little girl I’d met the day before. The name of the place was Tegucigalpia.
The old lady showed us around the farm. Actually it was almost a factory with many and various machines for cleaning and grading the coffee bean. Outside the factory were large concrete patios where the coffee bean is dread in the sun. From the end of the drying patios we could see a gorgeous sight. We could see a volcano in front of us. To our left we could see a large river and in the distance, beyond the lowlands we could make out the Pacific Ocean.
We were called in for supper. We washed and sat at the table in the dining room. There were 10 of us at the table. We were waited upon by a few native girls. We ate by kerosene lamps. At the close of the meal we started singing songs. We sang first of all “The Elephants” in Spanish with each one joining in as his verse was sung. When we had finished a group of native boys were at the door and sang a few native songs for us.
After dinner we went out the porch where we were further entertained by several natives playing guitars, a violin, and a banjo. Many other natives gathered on benches in the yard in front of the porch. It was very interesting. Beds were made up for us in nearby rooms and at 10:30 we were off to sleep.
Sunday, March 20, 1949
The bell on the large barn rung six o’clock at 6:30am it hanged extremely long just to make sure everyone was getting up. Who could sleep with all that racket? Padre Garcia said mass on the porch with about 60 natives in attendance. After mass we had breakfast. What a meal! The eggs, chicken, milk, bread, coffee, sugar, bananas, beans, and oranges were all made or raised on the farm.
After breakfast the Protegé, Ulf, a native from the farm and I went horseback riding. The stirrups on my saddle were too short causing my legs to be up too high and rub against a metal trim on the saddle. I stood it as long as I could and then called a halt and lengthened the stirrup straps. My horse was well spirited. All he needed was a little stack on the bridle and he’d go into a gallop. This was only the 3rd time I’d been on a horse and the first time I’d galloped. Once I got the hang of it it was ok. From then on I’d gallop whenever the horse and I both agreed to it.
At 10:35am we came to a small water hole. Ulf and his friend went in swimming although it was possible to go from one side of the hole to the other without a stroke only a push at the start. There were over 25 natives gathered around the water basin, both gathering water and walking the boys in the water.
All this time my horse was kicking up a terrible fuss. He was kicking the horse next to him so we had to separate them. I noticed that all the natives carried machetes and any man of position carried a pistol. Later at dinner 5 men came to the table and placed their guns on the table before sitting down.
I took a few pictures of the farm before we left. As usual the protegé did the driving. He agreed to let me drive the Ford when we got to Berlin. The Padre thought different so I sat in the back seat again. I got very mad at myself for getting jealous of the fellow but I certainly would have appreciated if I could have driven at least part of the way home.
Ulf’s parents had invited me to spend the night at their home so Ulf and I went there upon returning to the city. I said goodbye to the Padre. I wish I had gotten to know him better. As it is I do not like him very much. Maybe because he is a Priest. (If you want me to elaborate on that I’ll do it for you)
After a cold shower and a good supper I settled down to write this bit of junk for my future enjoyment. Good Nite.
Monday, March 21, 1949
Having awakened without the alarm which I forgot to set, I got up and shoved at 6:10am. I then went to the dinning room where breakfast was served to me by one of the servants. I ate alone since no one else was up yet. At 7:15 sharp the taxi was out front honking for me. Ulf and his little brother came down to say good-bye and off I went. The cab picked up a few other passengers and then left for the airport.
When we got to the airport I jumped out of the taxi and gave the driver 2 cones which I knew to be the fare. I beat it inside so as to gen in line before the other passengers. I passed customs easily and when 2 bells was rung I was the first one to the plane! I got a good seat, near the back and on the left. I figured that the sun would be on the other side so this would be better for taking
The plane ride was very uneventful. In a little more than an hour after leaving San Salvador we landed in Tiguacigalpia, Honduras. It was an extremely small town. I was on the far side of the airport building from the plane. By the time I got to the plane they had taken away the ramp and closed the door. The door opened again and the steward called to me to jump aboard. With a little difficulty and a push on the underside from a porter I got into the plane. Soon after it was winging its way to Managua, Nicaragua. This part of the trip was very rough and I got a little weazy in the stomach. A sandwich and a cup of grapeaid was given to each of the 4 passengers. We landed in the Managua airport at 10::35am.
The tourist card cost $1.00. Customs made no complaints. I was taken to a waiting taxi and with the other passengers I was driven 11km to the city of Managua. I was let off at the U.S. Embassy. The taxi fare was $1.
There was no mail at the embassy for me. When I asked the girl at the information desk if she knew how I could get in touch with the scouts of Nicaragua I was overheard by a fellow standing nearby. He was about 28 years old and said that he’d take me to one of the troop leaders. From there on I was with scouts. Mas Tardes.
The first fellow I met was a negro from Bluefieelds who spoke perfect English. He then took me to meet a Hungarian scouter who ran a printing shop. Together they took me to Hotel Europa where they had arranged for a room for me. They refused to tell me the cost and said that they owned the place. When they left me the Hungarian said that he’d be back for me at 1:30-2pm.
I went again to the Embassy to check mail and got back to hotel at 1:30. I waited till 3 for the Hungarian. When he didn’t show up I went to his shop where I found him. He then took me to meet the members of their Executive board. I met the Rover Commissioner, Int. Secretary, Chief Scout and also the President of the Association. The President was a M.D. (I’ll get all the names later).
The President took a group of us in his car to see the human footprints in rock on a farm nearby. They are believed to be between 3,000 and 8,000 years old.
Back to the hotel again I had supper and wrote till 9pm then to sleep.
Tuesday, March 22, 1949
The Hungarian was to meet me at the hotel this morning but when he failed to show up again I went to his shop. He took me to Wilson’s shop were we waited for Mr. Wilson. The Hungarian left as he had work to do. I went to the Post Office and mailed my letters. When I got back to the gun shop of Wilson’s we talked for about 3 hours about scouting and religion. He is a Moravian. He teaches in the Baptist College. I went to the market with him. I stopped at the embassy again. No mail! Back at the hotel I had dinner then slept for an hour.
After dinner, I went to Wilson’s to shop and he took me to Mr. Arostegeni’s place of business. Mr. Arostegui invited me to go to the hills with him in his car on Saturday. I’ll see him on Friday afternoon to arrange the time. Back at the Pension again I wrote eight letters.
Wednesday, March 23, 1949
After breakfast I tried to mail my letters. The air mail ones I got off ok but couldn’t find the window for the regular mail. Finally after trying several times I left. The P.O. is in worse condition that the P.O. in Mexico City.
Managua is quite a town. The buildings are all very low. Very few of them go over one or two stories. The city is quite small when compared to cities in the US. There are many horse drawn surreys. Ox carts are used for heavy loads. The streets near the market are full of filthy and all the streets in the city smell of horse manure. The city is on the edge of the lake (Lake Managua). I talked with Wilson about education. He is fighting for reform such as they had in Cuba. I thought al afternoon. I forget about what. José Arechavala came and talked in evening.
Thursday, March 24, 1949
After breakfast of bread beans and warm coffee I went to Pablo Heiner’s shop. When I arrived there he let me use his typewriter to type a letter to Mrs. Robinson. I then went to Wilson’s gun shop. Mr. Wilson took me to see the city. We went first of all to the National Palace. Then to the Embassy of the U.S. where he wanted to obtain information on the 4-H clubs. We then went to the beach front. When we headed back to the shop we met Pablo Steiner. He went with us for refreshment.
Pablo told me that I was wanted at the U.S. Embassy. That he had a call from there that one of the officials was a scout leader or something or other. (An article was in all of the morning papers about my visit). When we got to the Embassy the man was too busy to see us. I got two books from the library on Pablo’s card. (Pablo is a long haired Hungarian. He is in a printer and author. ) The books were One World and The Cold Journey.
At 5:30pm Mr. Wilson came for me to take me to the campfire on the lake shore. There I was given the task of building the campfire. Never did I want a fire to light more than I wanted that one to. The reputation of the B.S.H. was at stake. (No paper used)
After the campfire I was taken to a party at the Baptist College. It was given by and for the scouts of group 8. A scout from San José was there also. He is going to walk back to Costa Rica. I was given many badges by the scouts. I even have a neckerchief slides for Mr. Shyal.
Some fellow must have a girlfriend on the block past the hotel because for 2 nights now he has been serenading her. First he had a few saxophones and a guitar. Last night (at 1:30am) he just used the guitar and sang.
Friday, March, 25, 1949
At 6:30 a scout was at the Hotel to take me to walk around a lagoon beyond the city. I first went with him to visit a cousin who was an American Citizen. This cousin came with us for the walk. The lagoon was behind the Presidents home and Samoya’s house. Many women were ashing their clothes along its edges. Many were half naked. Some men and boys bathed a little further up the edge. It is surprising that many of the streets of the city are of dirt.
Mr. Wildson, Pablo and I again tried the Embassy. Again the man was too busy or else out. I don’t know which. I finally got a letter from home with others included. I then got my visa for Costa Rica and two permits from the local government to leave the country. I checked with P.A.A. and will have a taxi call for one on Monday. The heat now is getting terrific. After supper I wrote 10 letters then went to sleep.
Saturday, March 26, 1949
In the am I checked for mail. None. At 12 I was at the Phileo store where Mr. Arostegui worked. I went with him to his home where I met his wife and daughters. I also met his brother, the father of Norman, who I met in New Orleans. After dinner everyone except Mr. Arostegui got in a taxi and we went visiting in the mountain for a day. I had supper with the Arostegui’s upon reaching the hotel I wrote a few letters.
Sunday, March 27, 1949
Getting up at 6:30 I was soon ready for Pablo Steiner to come back with his cubs to go on a hike with him. While waiting I read “The Cold Journey” by Ethle Vance. He never showed up. Some ice cream and then I visited Arostegui’s in time for supper. I left them, thanking them all, at 7:45 at the hotel I went to sleep soon.
Monday March 28, 1949
Again no mail. I waited for Wilson, went with him to Pablo’s they decided on a formal farewell in uniform. So they went to change. The taxi was canceled. A taxi of their own came for us at 10am. We got to the airport in plenty of time. We met the scouter there who had taken a course at Schiff. Finally I was on the plan (flight 5701) and to Costa Rica. The flight was a rough. It took 1 ½ hrs. In San José I left my luggage at the airport and went to the center of town. There I visited the U.S. Embassy. No mail. I asked but I couldn’t get in contact with the scouts. She called him and he gave me the address of Mr. ? I went to see Mr. Roig. We had a good talk. I then went to meet Robert at the high school. I went with him to meet many members of the national committee and those who helped to run the organization.
I spent the night at Hotel Ritz I had met Mr. Suargideo? Was a former Scout Ex. of Pensacola, Florida, a good friend of A. Sleuck? The room costs 17 colones. Exchange is 5.60-1. I had Cordabas which I exchanged for 7-1. I therefore got the room for about $2.50 instead of the ? Sed and scout master of troop 4 took me about in the evening.
Tuesday, March 29, 1949
The scout master of troop 4 came for me at 9 and together we went to see the Episcopal minister who was going to start a scout troop. We had a very good discussion on scouting. We arranged to have dinner together. Thursday at 1 at his house.
I changed my quarters to the scout headquarters where I am going to sleep on a cot in their meeting room. Solice gave me several scout badges. I had dinner at a restaurant. At the meeting at National Headquarters I was invited to the homes of 2 scouts. A coin was flipped. I went to the house of Eduardo Janenez.
Wednesday, March 30, 1949
At 8am Solice was at the house for me. We went by bus to see several towns nearby. We saw the eye of water? I met the scout leader of each of these towns. In San Jose after dinner I went with Solice to see the Chief Scout. We had quite a talk. I then went to a troop meeting. It rained for the first time this year. I went to a troop meeting in the evening.
Thursday, March 31, 1949
In am I went with Fernando Janenez to check my P.A.A. ticket for Monday. I had to go to the Panama Embassy and the Costa Rica Passport officer. I bough some pottery and a leopard skin purse. The purse cost 50 colones ($7.00).
I had dinner with the Episcopal minister and his wift. Flight in afternoon. Letters of to ?
Friday, April 1, 1949
In the AM I wrote letters. At 11 I met Mr. Kohkemper in his office and together we went to his house for dinner. He sure is proud of himself. He wants me to talk to people in National about printing the handbook in Spanish. I said that I would discuss it with whoever I could.
After dinner I went to the post office and then read at the house. I figured out the cost of a complete set of cub badges of the B.S.A. it came to $51.00.
Saturday, April 2, 1949
At 9am I was at the Episcopal Church to see the American B.S. troop in action. I was asked to say a few words. I took care of the 2nd class prospective during the instructor period. After the meeting I walked to the Panama Embassy on the top of the hill. I could not get a visa until I had a boat ticket out of the country of Panama to the U.S. the Panama Embassy was to close in a few minutes so I’d have to return on Monday in the morning.
I then tried to find the United Fruit Co. office. By the time I found it, it was closed so I returned to the house for lunch.
At 2:30 a scout was at the door to take me to a scout meeting at which 2 cubs were taken into the troop. Just after the meeting (about 5pm) I became aware of shooting. I walked with the scout down Central Ave and saw many soldiers in the streets with rifles. A truck with men carrying rifles came tearing down the on way street the wrong way. People were filling the streets rapidly.
I went to the soda store to see if I could sell the camera. The owner said that he’d help me on Monday. A friend off his owns the KODAK store on the corner.
Back at the house I found out what was goining on in regards to the shooting. It seems that the Minister of War doesn’t like the way the president is running the country so he is trying to take over. The M. of War has taken over the Airport and a fort on the West side of the city. The President has the fortress on the East of the city.
P.A.A. has discontinued service to San Jose. How am I going to get out of the country? It might be allover by Monday but you never can tell.
Sunday, April 3, 1949
I thought that because of the revolution the scouts would not go to visit the Volcano. Because of that I did not get up at 7 when Eduardo came into the room to tell me the revolt was over. Even so, when I was washing some scouts were outside in a jeep and ready to go to the top of the Volcano. They blew the horn so impatiently that I went with them without having breakfast.
I grabbed my camera and a roll of film and hurried off with them. To my extreme disappointment the film would not fit into the camera. Therefore I took no pictures of the group of scouts nor of the volcano. When coming back from the volcano the jeep ran into a fallen tree which took the top right off of it.
Monday, April 4, 1949
First to the P.A.A. to see at what time I would still place my reservation for a seat on flight 105 at 1:15pm. When I found out that it would be at 11am I went right to the United Fruit Co. for transportation to the states. They only had first class passage for $135 to New York. I checked other steamship companies and finally decided to buy a plane ticket from David to San José. I then got too the consulate of Panama and obtained the visa for entrance. I just had time to go to PAA and fix passage to David then pack, eat lunch and beat it to the airport. Fernando Jermanez went with me to the airport. Finally the plane took off for David. We arrived at David at 3:15, Panama time, which was 1 hour later than San José time. For 75 cents from the airport to David I went by taxi. I found that no bus left for Panama titll 9am the following day.
I obtained a room in a hotel for $1.50 with supper and breakfast. ‘Twasn’t too bad.
Tuesday, April 5, 1949
While waiting for the bus to start in the morning I saw a fellow pass the bus station and look at me. I said good-morning. He stopped and introduced himself as an American who was farming in the hills. He left and brought a Hungarian friend with him. We were standing on the curb talking when a jeep pulled up alongside us and a major, a lieutenant, and a civilian stepped out. I asked them if they were going to go to the Canal Zone and if they were if they’d give me a lift. They were not going to the Canal Zone but in the ensuing conversation the Major (Major Coti) asked me if I wanted a job with the Inter. American Geological Survey. When I expressed an interest he told me more of the details and then wrote a letter for me to present to the headquarters in Balboa.
I got on the bus at 9am but we didn’t leave David till 10:45 because we chased all over town foro passengers and so they could check for mail at P.O. then take the mail home again.
At 11pm we stopped for the last time for refreshments.
Wednesday, April 6, 1949
At 2:30 am the bus let me off at the Santa Ana hotel. I rang the bell and with the use of Spanish I got a room for $2.50 without meals. I tried to sleep but didn’t succeed very well because of a brawl in the tavern downstairs. After a shower I went to the Boy Scout office where I met John Barr, the scout executive. He offered to take me to the C.S. Embassy in the afternoon and then visit the office of the Boy Scouts of Panama. The embassy was closed so we went to the Scouts of Panama office. I met the Int. Sect. who endorsed my letter from Nat. Hqd. in the U.S. then John? Took me to meet some of the leaders of C.Z. scouting. I asked John if he knew of a place where I could stay for less than $2.50 per day. He called up Mr. Fells who was the Council Scout Commissioner. Mr. Fells had a son who is a scout and is now in college. The Fells agreed to take me in for awhile as we went to the hotel where I picked up any luggage then went to the hotel where I picked up my luggage then went to the Fell’s house. I found them a swell couple. I had Ralph Fells’ room.
Thursday, April 7, 1949
Early in the A.M. I went to the Inter American Geodetic Survey Heqd. I presented the letter Major Cox wrote for me. I then started filling out papers. This was to keep up all day. During a half hour break in the morning while waiting for Major Britt, John Barr took me to the U.S. Embassy where I got a letter from home.
In the evening I went to a scout meeting with Mr. Fells. It turned out that only 3 boys showed up for the meeting.
Friday, April 8, 1949
At 7:30am I showed up at the Civilian Personnel office where I was given the task of filling out the “Pink sheet” with 4 carbon copies. The “pink” sheet was 3 11” lengths long with both sides to be filled out. Finally at 2:45 the secretary that was helping me gave up when I started getting confused at where I had lived. (11 different addresses). She told me to go home and figure out the addresses. So I had time to go to the Explorer Scout Meeting at the High School. Again there were only a few boys here.
Back at the house (1452 Las Cuevas, Balboas) I met Terry Melancon and brother. Terry asked me if I wanted to go to a dance that evening: so after dinner I got dressed up (in one of Ralph’s shirts) and went to a square dance. The dance was lots of fun. I was introduced to a girl by the name of Shirley who taught me how to dance. More fun. Home by 11:30pm
Saturday, April 9, 1949
Got up late. Did nothing in the AM. Went to see some of the locks of the Canal in the PM.
Sunday, April 10, 1949
After breakfast the Fells took me to see Old Panama. It was very interesting. A chicken dinner then to write this. I had to catch up from the Revolt in San José.
Monday, 11 April 1949
Today was spent finishing up the paperwork for employment with the Inter-American Geodetic Survey. I was hired as an Engineering Aid SP-810-3 at an annual salary of $2,284 dollars but added to that was a 25% differential for work outside the continental USA which made my annual salary $2,855.
During this week I reported to the IAGS headquarters and was assigned to the Panama Project. I was sent to the quartermaster warehouse where I was given a sleeping bag, jungle hammock, a 22 inch machete with sheath, a wooden cot, flashlight, jungle helmet, mosquito netting for the head, water proof matches, gun belt (I will be assigned the gun later), poncho, field jacket, army combat boots, wool socks, canteen and lots of other items. I was given a traditional army foot-locker to put all this stuff in.
Since I was now an official employee of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Department of the Army, Pacific Sector, Fort Clayton, Canal Zone I was eligible to obtain a room in the Bachelor Officer Quarters at Quarry Heights in Balboa, CZ. I moved from the Fells’ house to my room at the BOQ during the week. I stayed at the BOQ at Quarry Heights whenever on duty in the Canal Zone. As an added benefit I could eat (and drink) at the Officer’s Club.
My passport was now stamped “This is to certify that the bearer of this passport is travelling in the countries of Central and South America on official business for the Department of the Army.” I was but age 18 and looking forward to one hell of an adventure.
Wednesday, 13 April 1949
Orders were cut today assigning me to work in David, Panama and “such other places as are deemed necessary in the accomplishment of this mission.” I would travel by military vehicle on or about 18 April 1949 for TDY (temporary duty) for a period of approximately ninety days. Every time I moved from one assigned duty station to another new orders had to be “cut.” Without the orders I would not be able to draw per-diem for being ‘off post.’ Per diem was $4.00 per day.
Wednesday, 20 April 1949 –
At 7:30 a.m. I was at IAGS Hq. where I had arranged to meet Lt. Mayberry. We were to go together to Corozal and obtain a truck to pick up my duds then return to the I.P. 8:00 a.m. and Lt. Maybery still hadn’t shown up. Major Cox came to hq. and asked what I was doing there. I explained to him. He had me pick up my equipment in a jeep station wagon and take it over to the I.P.
At Corozal I saw Lt. Mayberry. He explained the reason for not meeting me. We did not leave Corozal till 10 a.m. There were three vehicles in our immediate group: a jeep station wagon and a jeep, both pulling trailers and a ¾ ton ambulance. I was riding in the ambulance with “Tex”. A 2-1/2 ton truck was up ahead of us carrying equipment.
The jeep station wagon had a flat. The truck had water hose trouble. We got to David, Panama at 2 a.m. on the 21st. We slept in a house rented by light keepers.
Thursday, April 21, 1949
At 8 a.m. I got up and had a shower, shave, etc. Was writing in diary when Lynn Torbert came in to use the radio in the kitchen to call stations. I went with him to the parade grounds. Went with him to visit light station Cerro Jesus. [One of the stations Cerro Jesus was observing was Pechita Parada, which means a small upright breast. The radio call was to be in English so it went “This is Stiff Tit calling Jesus.” “Stiff Tit calling Jesus.” The call was intercepted by someone in the Canal Zone informing the radio operators that they were to use the Spanish names for the stations.] The hill had been set on fire by some natives and all the equipment was ruined a few weeks ago. Now two light keepers are up there.
They were filthy dirty. The soot from the hill was all over their clothes. It was impossible to move without getting black with the soot. At any rate they had a sloppy camp. The cans were strewed all over the mountain top. All the cooking gear was dirty inside and out. Papers and garbage lay where it was thrown from the gas stove. The tents were set up very sloppily adding to the general dirtyness of the camp. A Panamanian carries water for them every day for $2.00. We went down to the river in the jeep. The two light keepers went for a swim. We had dinner on the shore of the river. One of the fellows in from Philadelphia whereas the other is from Oklahoma. Lynn, who is in charge of the light keepers, is from Kalispell, Montana. Upon returning to David we had a coke. I wrote for awhile in this diary. At supper time I went to a Chinese place where I had Chow Mein and a beer for $1.15.
22 April 1949 – Friday
I went to Batepia with truck driver to make arrangements for light keepers to come in. It was a nice trip to the interior. The houses of the village were of bamboo walls and grass roofs.
23 April 1949 – Saturday
I went with a new driver to Batepia to pick up the light keepers and pay the native labor used in carrying equipment. The laborers got 19 dollars from the US Government.
24 April 1949 – Sunday
I packed my equipment and got ready to go to Pena Blanca on Monday. I bought a hat from Lynn for $3.00 (i.o.u.). All the equipment in the house was packed and put on trucks for shipment to Santiago, the next headquarters for the IAGS in the Republic of Panama.
25 April 1949 – Monday
At 8:45 the 4 car convoy left David for Santiago. I was in the vehicle that was going to Tole. When Major Cox finished giving me instructions concerning the trip to Pena Blanca he told me that I was in charge of the truck, driver and two light keepers! The two light keepers are going to Cerro Viejo.
We arrived at Tole at 2:30 p.m. It was too late for me to leave for Pena Blanca. The trip from here (Tole) will take 2 days by horseback. I am going with a guide and 9 horses to carry equipment up and to bring back an observing party and their equipment.
We are staying for the night in a frame building rented to us for the night. The other two light keepers are Panamanians. They will leave for Cerro Viejo tomorrow with four horses.
26 April 1949 – Tuesday
Breakfast is over and now we are waiting for the horses to show up. For breakfast I had a cup of chocolate and a can of soup. I have just seen the horses coming so I’ll help load.
I wonder if I can finish writing about today’s happenings the way I’d been planning all these past hours. I’m going to try.
I left Tole with four pack horses, a guide and two helpers. One of the guide’s helpers is about 21 years old and the other a boy of about 12 years. The guide seemed to be in his 50s at least. I lowered the stirrup straps (I always have to do it here) and then we started toward Pena Blanca. If I had any thoughts of this trip being a joy ride I was soon to be corrected. First of all I will tell the good parts though.
Here I am, an 18 year old Gringo, in the interior of Panama. I am in charge of a train of eight horses and three men. I am seeing some of the real wilderness areas of this country. Butterflies abound. Red ones, blue, green, black and white ones, scarlet birds, red and black birds are all to be seen near the trail.
There must be a fiesta in the offing somewhere nearby. We pass many Indians along the trail. They are all dressed up. The women have cotton dresses on. They are close necked and hang from the shoulders with no belt used. They reach to the ankles. The dresses have short sleeves. A design is usually banded around the dress near the bottom. Everyone has paint on their faces. Mostly it is red and black paint though at times you see a little blue. There seems to be no order in the makeup. Some of the fellows have blackened their eyes. Some have triangles on the cheeks and black bands below them. Others only have the bands.
I saw one Indian young man with a necklace of dogs teeth, at least they looked like incisor teeth of dogs. One woman I noticed in particular had at least 25 necklaces on. Most of them were blue. The rest were orange. When we stopped for lunch at an Indian hut I took a few pictures of an Indian family. They were very reluctant to have their pictures taken. It is only because my guide asked for me that they let me do it. The guide, by the way, spoke no English.
After lunch we started on again. About 3:30 we passed the two observers from Pena Blanca on their way out to civilization. I talked to them for awhile. They told me that the guide would stop for the night a short way up the trail at the home of another Indian. They told me of a river at the foot of the mountain upon which we were to camp. When we stopped I let the guide know that I was going to go to the river to wash. He sent a small boy with me to make sure that I didn’t get lost. The kid did not want to get wet. I walked the horse down the mountain as my butt ached. I only took him along to ride him back.
The water was wonderful! I never in my life have appreciated a stream more than that one. I hated to come out and get dressed again. The horse plodded slowly up the hill. I felt sorry for him but I didn’t feel like doing it myself.
I can see mountains to all sides of me at the present. Earlier in the day we could see the Pacific Ocean to the south. There were only two things wrong with the trip. The first was the lack of a good glass of water. The second was the sore buttocks that I received from the horse. My horse, by the way, was the slowest thing in creation. He’d mope uphill and down. I’d have to whack the day lights out of him for a trot or even to move faster to catch up to the rest of the gang.
The wind is blowing very strong here on this hill top. Dusk is falling so I think I’d better get supper ready.
27 April 1949 – Wednesday
I hardly slept at all last night my muscles were so sore from the horseback trip. After breakfast this morning I indicated to the guide that I was going to walk for awhile, at least down the hill. It is the going down a hill that hurts on horseback. We crossed the river in which I had bathed last night. After that it was mostly a steady climb up hill. At one especially steep place on the trail I got on horseback again. I stayed on the horse till I got to the campsite.
I introduced myself to Robert Larrimer and we shook hands. Larrimer decided to move the campsite while the horses were still around so the tents and equipment were all taken down to the foot of the hill upon which the light station was placed. We set up a five-man tent and by combining the two ponchos we made a shelter in front of the tent. We stacked our food in the boxes on one side of the shelter.
Larrimer is a former sailor. He was in the Navy during the war (WW II) and sailed on many vessels since the war. Since he had much more food than I, I suggested that we put our food together. I would pay the difference in the cost of his food. At first he agreed. Later on he retracted his promise and said that he did not like the agreement. He realized that with the food that I had I would run out, maybe, before three weeks were up. If we were to share the food then we would both run out sooner than he would if he ate his alone. So he took the sailor attitude of looking out for himself and let the other fellow do as he best could.
The light station is on the top of the hill to the south of us. The observing party had to build a tower on the top of the hill so as to make the light visible to the other stations. It is a 15’ log tower. The Pacific Ocean can be seen from the top of the hill.
After supper we went to the hill to look for lights. If we saw any we would show ours. We stayed up there until 9 o’clock then went back to the tent and into the sack.
28 April 1949 – Thursday
Oh what a night! I am going to fix the bed the first chance I get today. I walked to the stream after breakfast to get washed up. Coming back I took a different path than the one out and came to a hill in back of the camp. From that hill I watched the clouds come rolling over the mountains from the north. They were large clouds and thickly bedded. They came over the mountain tops just like a breaker washes over rocks at the sea shore.
Larrimer has a pot of corn boiling over the fire. The smoke blows in my eyes every once in a while making them smart. Too bad it doesn’t make me smart (intelligent). Larrimer is studying Spanish. For hours at a time he reads out loud from a grammar and review book. I don’t let it bother me.
I fixed up my sleeping position a little. I dug hip and shoulder holes in the soil. They are just very shallow depressions but it means a lot of comfort when you don’t have innersprings to sleep on.
Food taken to Pena Blanca with price paid.
1 corn .22
2 hamburger .44
1 crisco .36
1 ev. milk .xx
1 pk tea .60
1 apple sauce .17
1 log cabin .22
3 sausages .48
1 spinach .11
1 spaghetti .18
1 hash .32
1 beans .16
2 peaches .48
1 chile/carne .40
1 fruit cocktail .34
1 corn meal .19
1 peanut btr. .41
1 cocoa .22
1 tomato jelly .29
2 pancake mx .44
1 case C2 ration $8.52
Total cost for food carried to Pena Blanca for 3 week stay = $14.99
29 April 1949 – Friday
We looked for lights from the other light stations from 7 to 9 last night. When we received no signal by 9 we went below to the tent. I slept well for the first time in four nights. Pancakes for breakfast again and they were good! Log Cabin syrup on top. It started raining about 5:30 and rained till about 1 a.m. Larrimer went to look for lights when the rain ended but no lights were seen the rest of the night.
30 April 1949 – Saturday
Breakfast consisted of cornmeal, cocoa and B-1 unit of Army rations. I gave myself a severe cut on the right hand forefinger with a can lid. I put a band-aid on it. I went for water about 2 p.m. and the damn 5 gal. can weighed 200 lbs by the time I back packed it to the camp from the stream. Larrimer and I had flipped a coin to see who would go first to get the water. Of course, I lost.
Most of the afternoon we talked about literature. Now it is beginning to rain again, about 5:30 p.m. I just finished shaving. Larrimer doesn’t shave. He has quite a beard. Larrimer told me of several happenings that concerned him. I am putting them down because they show the way of thinking by people in Latin America.
Larimer went to the light station with a negro Panamanian (station Guassimo). It was Larrimer’s job to instruct the Panamanian in the methods of light keeping. Unfortunately they did not have enough food with them and had to supplement their supply with rice and beans from the Indians. Together Larrimer and the negro went to a cluster of Indian huts half a day’s walk from the light station. The Indians would shake hands with Larrimer and say “Hola” which was their greeting. When the Indian shook hands with the negro they rubbed his arm with their other hand.
Now the Indians of that part of Panama believe that the devil is black just as we picture him to be red. Since the Indians paint themselves on occasions (as I had seen several days ago) they thought that this fellow had painted himself. When the paint did not rub off they assumed him to be a devil. The Indians of the interior here (2 days by horseback to the nearest road) had never seen a negro before.
As Larrimer and the negro were leaving the village the Indians invited the negro back again alone to partake of a Chicha party. Chicha is their intoxicating drink. When the day came for the negro to return Larrimer asked him if he was going to go. NO! said the negro, shuddering with fright. “They plan to get me drunk and kill me.” he said, “They think I am a devil!”
Since the first meeting with the Indians the negro would never venture any where unless Larrimer was along. He was not taking any chances of being killed as a devil.
Larrimer told me of another incident which took place in Costa Rica. At the particular light station where he was stationed he was able to live with an Indian family. The daughter of the home who was recently married came to Larrimer and asked if he would pull several of her teeth out. The two upper rear molars were terribly decayed. At one time she had gone to a nearby village to have them pulled out. The Indian used a pair of gas pliers and only cracked the tooth, leaving the root in her mouth.
Larrimer said that he wouldn’t do anything about it. He felt sorry for the girl because she had just married a worthless fellow who had her do all the work. Besides having to work so hard and being racked with pain from the teeth she was pregnant.
Since you can’t help these Indians by a direct gift or they consider you crazy and take all the rest you have it was difficult to think of a way to give her the money to go to the dentist in the nearest town (two days travel by horseback). Now the Indians in that particular region of Central America as in most other parts of Central America are so extremely poor that they just exist. Their homes are bamboo huts with straw roofs. They live just as their forefathers lived before them. There is no possible way to pull themselves out of their condition.
While talking to the girl’s husband one afternoon Larrimer asked about her health. “It’s fine” said the Indian. Larrimer told him of the teeth and said that if she didn’t get them fixed very soon it might kill her. “But” the Indian explained, “it costs 2 dollars to have a tooth extracted in the town.” Larrimer said that he’d loan him the money if he would swear that it would be used only for that purpose. Yes, the Indian swore that it would only be used for his wife’s teeth, nothing else, only for his wife. So the Indian received 4 dollars from Larrimer
The following day Larrimer saw the young man with a new bull. Right away he knew where the dentist money had gone. The Indian had used the four dollars to purchase a twenty dollar bull, owing the rest. With the bull he hoped to carry grain from his neighbors to the nearby seaport and become a rich man (in his estimation.)
At 9 p.m. I went to the light station and put on the lights. Larrimer came up shortly and we arranged to split the night. I was to remain on watch till 11 p.m. and then he would watch ‘till 3 a.m. Twice I received signals from Manacuda. They just sent short dots with no morse message and no z. I kept the light on any way.
1 May 1949 – Sunday
For some strange reason today seems like a Sunday. I don’t know why because out here every day is the same. The usual routine was followed till 11 a.m., i.e. writing and reading. At 11 it started to rain. It must be at least 3 p.m. and still it is raining. We ditched the tent so the water runs around and not through the tent.
For lunch I had spaghetti with meat and yucca roots. The yucca roots were boiled in water like potatoes. I also had cocoa and fruit cocktail. I dig into the peanut butter jar from time to time and have peanut butter a la spoon. Larrimer is writing a story or stories. I am sitting on a box in the tent writing this while he is sitting on a box outside under the shelter writing. It is still raining.
Man the guns! We have been attacked! They’re coming in on all sides! We’re surrounded! Here they come!
In a fraction of a second we were covered by thousands of black, four-winged insects about the size of a mayfly. They got into the soup, in your clothes and virtually every place imaginable. There seems to be less now. I don’t know whether we killed them all or they are finished with us and are looking for moremeat elsewhere.
We received a light from Gavilan tonight for the first time. It was about 7:15 pm when we got it. They had us dim the light twice. The observer really likes his dim. We saw the lights from Manacuda but it was just the light keeper fussing around.
Larrimer and I decided to take turns keeping the light. I was to watch it from 8 to 10 p.m. and then come down to the tent. Larrimer had his alarm clock set for 11:30 so he could get to the light by 12 to see if there were any messages. If the light needed another battery he would put it on at that time. When he came down he’d set the alarm for 1:30 a.m. so I could be up top by 2 to receive any messages if necessary. No messages. Tomorrow night we will switch. He will keep the first watch and the 2 o’clock check while I will have the 12 o’clock check only.
2 May 1949 – Monday
It’s raining again, or should I say yet? I awoke at 6:30 a.m. and heard the rain against the top of the tent. It rained ‘till 8:15 a.m. The sun has now come out. I hope it dries up some fire wood. The supply is running low. In fact I had to use the gas stove this morning to cook the oatmeal.
I stop and think some time whether the salary isn’t right for the job. There are many things that you must put up with in the field that you would never put up with in civilization. Even so I do not doubt but that I’ll stick it out until next August. I hope that I’ll be able to. The draft board might have something to say about it.
I’ve just finished a letter to Bill Hillcourt. It is 10 pages long. Quite presumptuous of me to believe that he’d read all that chatter much less answer it. It is raining again. The rainy season has really started.
Even though it rained most of the day I was still able to get dry wood to build a fire to cook lunch and supper. My Parker “51” pen is wonderful, never the least bit of trouble. It always writes as soon as I touch it to the paper and never blots.
About 7 p.m. we received a message from Gavilan. It told us that there is to be an “O” party (observation party) on Manicuda tonight. We received a “Z” from Gavilan so zeroed in his light and left it. We saw flashings from the light on Manicuda but received no “Z” or any other recognizable message. We left the light on him anyway. Larrimer stayed up until about 10:30. I meanwhile went to sleep and went up the hill at 12 midnight to check the lights. They were OK but it was clouding up terribly. Soon it started raining. It rained most of the night.
3 May 1949 – Tuesday
Got up at 8 a.m. had cooked rice and a B-1 ration for breakfast. The B-1 ration consisted of cold cereal, cocoa, sugar, cookies and jam. It rained again today. In the evening we got a “Z” from Gavilan pretty early and a “THD” from Manicuda shortly afterward. Then for some reason Azucar started flashing us. We sent him a code message in Spanish and one in English, “What’s up?” but only received crazy flashing during and after the message. Larrimer gave him a “DG” and he put out his light. Later he put it on again, flashing us again. We ignored him. It was probably a Panamanian light keeper.
4 May 1949 – Wednesday
I slept well all night. I’ve been getting up at 8 a.m. lately. I went hiking today. Twice I tried to get to the top of Pina Blanca. I first time I ended up by a rock wall which I could have climbed but it would have taken too long so I went down half way and circled around the peak to the other side and started going up on a grassy slope. I got near the top when the clouds started coming so I decided I’d better wait rather than be caught in a cloud on that steep peak.
It rained again today. At night we received a “Z” from Gavilan early and repeated it, leaving the light on afterward. We received no signal from Manicuda but left their light on anyway. Azcuar was calling again. He wouldn’t answer any of our messages nor give any sensible actions himself so we assumed it to be an untrained Panamanian light keeper.
5 May 1949 – Thursday
Larrimer always gets up at 6 a.m. He can’t sleep too well. He wakes me up by his motion so I give a look at the clock and turn over again. The Indians are quite something at night. At night, while we are on top of the hill we can see their campfires. When we put a spotlight on their fire and start flashing it they put out the fire.
6 May 1949 – Friday
Rain as usual. Corn meal was good for breakfast. Larrimer just borrowed my comb. He says that he combs his hair once a week whether it needs it or not. It rained almost all day today.
7 May 1949 – Saturday
I had a weird dream last night. I could hardly sleep the rest of the night. I hope I don’t have those dreams often. It would worry me if I did.
I hope I don’t get sent out on a station with Lorrimer again. He is of the artist type and is very difficult to get along with. He sings out loud or recites poetry or writes all day long. He gets sore if I disturb him. All day long he ignores me. That’s O.K. I ignore him just to pacify him but it gets on your nerves. You could be out here all alone for all the companionship he gives. He is not a scout (a Boy Scout). His principles differ greatly from the scout principles. He is a good camper, alright but he is not at all helpful or brotherly as two scouts would be. Even though there are only two of us we each eat alone, have our own fire and our own wood pile. Since he was here before I got here he has priority on all the lumber for the firewood. I use brush wood, etc. He is very difficult to talk to.
I am not complaining. I could stand it for a year at the salary I’m getting. In fact I guess I could take almost anything for 110 dollars a week. The fire was extremely hard to start today because everything was wet. It is going to be something if we have to be here for another week or two and it continues to rain every day without giving any of the wood a chance to dry out.
Larrimer went to the lights at 6:30. He received a message at once from Gavilan. They said “DG. Horses on way in.” Larrimer replied “Good, for you and me.” meaning were the horses for them or us. Gavilan replied “Adios.” Larrimer sent “Is Mani –“ “Yes” Gavilan sent in. So the horses are coming tomorrow.
8 May 1949 – Sunday – Mothers’ Day
It was bright and sunny most of the morning. In fact it didn’t rain very much during the day at all. In the evening we were attacked by a swarm of immense flying ants. We killed 16 of them and the rest finally went off. If they had all landed at one time we would have been sunk. As it was they came in one at a time giving us ample chance to knock him off before the next came in. Since we had received no definite DG or word that Manicuda was finished we kept a light trained there again tonight.
9 May 1949 – Monday
At 9:30 a.m. Adolfo and eight horses had come to take us back to Tole. We had a bite to eat before leaving the former campsite then mounted and rode on without stopping for lunch. Our fears of the river having risen were unfounded since the water was hardly higher than when we had crossed going in.
We paused to have the load of one of the animals adjusted. Larrimer said (I had just dropped my coup stick and he had picked it up) “One of us had better go ahead of the horses.” So I took off and crossed the river. I waited there for the rest. I heard Larrimer call once and started back. I shouted to him but received no reply. Just as I was going to go back the young fellow came with Aldolfo and two horses. The kid motioned for me to go on. So I went. I stayed in front of the kid and the old man. We crossed the burnt off area together and continued on together from there. They stopped at a pole fence to adjust a load and I kept on going slowly. When I had gone on for a ways I stopped to wait for Aldolfo. I hadn’t seen Robert or the older boy all this time. Finally I saw Aldolfo coming over the hill. At that time an Indian came along on a horse and said “Vaminos.” I indicated that I was waiting for Aldolfo. He indicated that Aldolfo was staying at his house up the trail a ways so I went on with him.
I was waiting at the Panamanian’s house when Larrimer came up and said, “As a trail man you make a good soda jerk!” “Why” I asked? He told me that I had let the two white horses get away and he had spent an hour chasing them. I couldn’t figure out where he thought I had let them get away. “Down by the first stream” he said. I tried to tell him that I stayed in front of the horses as he had told me to but he said “Aw, forget it.” Why should I though, he won’t.
In Spanish he told Aldofo that he was going up the trail a ways to camp and started off without a word to me. As he was going off I asked him if he was going to camp up the road a ways. “Yeah” he replied and kept right on going. He didn’t ask me to come along and his actions indicated that he didn’t want me along so the hell with him. A person would be better off alone than with that guy. He certainly is no companion (at times).
10 May 1949 – Tuesday
With out too much “to do” we got on the trail this morning. Larrimer said very little to me in the morning. We got to Tole at 11:45 a.m. and had several beers at the canteen. He loaned me $10.00. When he said “let’s forget it” last night maybe he meant it! The Mayor had been taken by the police eight days ago to jail in Panama City on suspicion of instigating some sort of revolt lately. We had dinner at the home of the mayor. His wife told us of a natural waterfall about a half a mile down the path so after dinner we took off with soap and clean clothes in hand and went to the fall. In Spanish it is called “El Salto” (the jump). A young fellow showed us the way there and remained till we finished bathing and came back with us. The waterfall was perfect for bathing. It was a nice shower. We stripped and went under, soaking and scrubbing off the dirt and grime of three weeks. The mother of the young fellow is doing our laundry for us. Back for more beers and talk with the local folk. We found out such things as the rich Indian in the hills has 18 wives. Others have five, six or ten or more, depending on their wealth. A Panamanian went into the hills and sold a machine to an Indian for 500 dollars. The machine, when buried with money would double it in three months so the Indian buried another $500 with the machine and when he dug it up the money was gone! Que lastima!. We made arrangements to eat at the home of the mayor while waiting for the truck to come for us.
11 May 1949 – Wednesday
Breakfast and a Spanish lesson at the mayor’s house this morning. Had dinner. Paid for meals ($2 for four meals.) Truck came so left at 1:45 p.m. for Santiago. Received mail. Slept in the light keeper’s house.
12 May 1949 – Thursday
Breakfast $1.00. Cashed first check for $43.00. Made arrangements to leave tomorrow for Manicuda.
13 May 1949 – Friday
Left for Manicuda in weapons carrier at 0830. Arrived at designated town, made arrangements to get to Manicuda before night. Left with packs on back. Met Bender coming down. Took one of his horses and loaded packs on it. Went to hut on ridge near the top of the mountain. Had native back pack equipment to the top of the mountain. Trail was cut through the jungle with machete. Near top of the mountain met Bob Simms. Set up hammock and was shown how to record. Had supper, recorded three angles, 16 positions on each, between 0200 and 0500. Got snatches of sleep during the night. Pumped the generator for 0700 radio call.
14 May 1949 – Saturday
Had breakfast. Checked record book for errors. Split watch during the night for it to clear up. We were clouded in all night.
15 May 1949 – Sunday
Gave up trying to train the light keeper. He will be fired when we go in. He came up with me for training. Practiced meaning and subtracting figures for recording process.
16 May 1949 – Monday
Radio call is now at 0830 and 1600. For two days now we have been clouded in so we haven’t seen any land below or around us. I have the last watch tonight. First is by the light keeper, a Panamanian by the name of Max. He was on till 2400. Bob Simms was then on till 0300 and now I’m sitting here writing and keeping check till 0600. We are waiting for it to clear up so we can get a light to S-10 so Larrimer can sight his light on us.
17 May 1949 – Tuesday
Land sighted! It is still raining but there are a few breaks in the clouds so we can see the land below us. Rice and beef for supper, pineapple for desert. ‘Twas good.
We got an angle between Gavilan and S-10 tonight. In fact we got two of them. I made very few mistakes this time and kept up with the recording fairly well. I saw a rainbow around the moon. It was beautiful. There was a thin layer of clouds high in the sky and the moon was just past full. Both Bob Simms, the observer, and I were up till 0115. I then took the first watch until 0330 and he took it from then till six a.m. We were waiting for a light from Canasas. Bob chased a snake off the lights during his watch. He hit it with his machete but it got away.
18 May 1949 – Wednesday
We let the Panamanian go down this morning. He is going to be picked up by truck tomorrow and paid off. The fellow couldn’t sign his name on the receipt for the pack board we were loaning him to carry his gear down the mountain.
Tomorrow we will make ready to get off of here and on Friday morning we will take off. I have an air mattress waiting for me at Santiago. I believe that I will be sent to S-6 next with Robert Simms as a recorder.
19 May 1949 – Thursday
Got things squared away to leave tomorrow. I have only food for the remaining meals and sleeping gear besides the necessary instruments for working.
20 May 1949 – Friday
Came off of Manicuda in a terrific downpour. Most of our equipment had been sent down the day before but even so Robert and I had to backpack our equipment. We put all the equipment on the four horses that we possibly could pile on and still we had to back pack the second part of the trip down also. We arrive at the little town of Jarones at 12:30. It had taken us 4-1/2 hours to get to Jarones. There we had to wait for an hour for Larrimer to pick us up with the weapons carrier. We got soaked again as we rode in the truck to Santiago. We arrived in Santiago at 17:30 because of a breakdown. We checked in, asked for mail and went to the house to get cleaned up. We went to a movie in the evening. Slept in the light keepers house with Bob the observer, Larimer the instructor for light keepers and Ken Rinehart the chief of the “O” (Observation) party. There are about 16 men in “O” party #2.
21 May 1949 – Saturday
We got things squared away. We were told (Bob and I) that we were to go to station S-6 on Monday. The gang went out “sparking” tonight. I stayed in the house and wrote letters. It was cheaper.
22 May 1949 – Sunday
Warford and Sunny came in from Canazas today. All of us went to the college to a piano recital. Afterward we went to the hotel and had a party.
23 May 1949 – Monday
Left Santiago at 0900 for Station S-6. We got to S-6 by 1430 and were all set to work by evening. It cost 20 dollars to get all the equipment to the top of the hill and a place cleared to put up a tent. We killed several scorpions before night fell. We took two runs on the angle between S-8 and S-10. Then they started clouding out one at a time and only one was showing the rest of the night.
24 May 1949 – Tuesday
Larrimer came to the station in the morning to obtain extra light and get the angles from Bob to take to Santiago. We could not get the radio to work. We changed the aerial to another position and raised it higher. Still no go. At night we took 2 runs on three lights and 2 runs on 2 lights giving us 6 angles to turn in tomorrow.
25 May 1949 – Wednesday
Radio did not work again. Bob took list of angles and went to La Mesa to go to Santiago. He sent me a letter by a native telling me to be prepared to come off S-6 tomorrow. He was going to go to Bijao to observe.
26 May 1949 – Thursday
Got up at 0545 to start packing. It is now 0930 and the packers still are not here. 17 packers came to get me off the station at 1030. We went to Santiago.
27 May 1949 – Friday
Got ready to leave Santiago. First load of equipment was sent to Pennonome, Republic of Panama where we were to set up our base of operations.
28 May 1949 – Saturday
Moved to Pennonome.
29 May 1949 – Sunday
Went to the movies. Saw the film “The Queen of Virgins.”
30 May 1949 – Monday
Got ready to go to Cuchilla.
31 May 1949 – Tuesday
Left for Cuchilla. Spent the night in Calobre.
1 June 1949 – Wednesday
Arrived at Station Cuchilla at 1200.
2 June 1949 – Thursday
3 June 1949 – Friday
4 June 1949 – Saturday
Made arrangements to leave Cuchilla.
5 June 1949 – Sunday
Left Station Cuchilla at 0900 for Calobre.
6 June 1949 – Monday
Arrived at Penonome at 1300.
8 June 1949
Left Penonome at 1100 for Station Viga. Arrived at Viga at — same day.
13 June 1949
Left Station Viga for Aguadulce. Arrived at Aguadulce at 1300 same day.
18 June 1949
Lv. Aguadulce for Penonome at 1400, Ar. at 1600 same day.
21 June 1949
Lv. Penonome, Panama for Balboa, Canal Zone at 1200. Arrive in Balboa at 1600 the same day.
7 July 1949
Lv. Balboa for Penonome at 1300, Ar. Penonome at 1700.
13 July 1949
Lv. Penonome at 1045 and arrive in Balboa, Canal Zone at 1330.
14 July 1949
Lv. Balboa for Penonome at 1330, arrive at Penonome at 1600.
16 July 1949
Lv. Penonome at 0900 for David, Panama by military air. Arrived in David at 1030 same day. Returned to Penonome by military air the same day at 1400 arriving in Penonome at 1530.
8 August 1949
Lv. Penonome at 1430 for Station Harvey. Arrived at 1530.
9 August 1949
Lv. Station Harvey at 1430 and arrived in Penonome at 1530.
11 August 1949
Lv. Penonome for Balboa, CZ at 1200, arriving at 1430.
12 August 1949
Lv. Balboa for Penonome at 1200, arriving at 1430.
18 August 1949
Lv. Penonome at 1400 for Station Cruz arriving at1500.
19 August 1949
Lv. Station Cruz at 0900 for Penonome, arriving at 1000. Pvt. Guillermo Proskauer, office assistant for Major Cox went to the hospital to have his appendix removed leaving no office help for the Major. Cox asked who in the operation could type and he was told that I often typed my letters home when in town. Consequently he had me come in and help with office duties. For a while that ended my field adventures as I was now an office clerk.
2 September 1949
Lv. Penonome at 1400 for Balboa, arriving at 1630.
7 September 1949 – 19 September 1949. My mother, Anne E. Drake, flew to Panama on a plane ticket I sent to her. We spent time in the Canal Zone and then went to San Jose, Costa Rica for a week.
21 September 1949
Lv. Balboa, CZ at 1400 for Penonome, arriving at 1630. Back in Penonome to serve as office help.
26 September 1949
Lv. Penonome for Balboa, CZ at 1000, arriving at 1245.
29 September 1949
I sent a letter to the CO, Panama Project, IAGS requesting assignment to the field and not to continue as supply clerk for the project.
21 October 1949
Lv. Balboa for Penonome at 1400, arriving at 1700.
23 October 1949
Lv. Penonome at 1400 for CZ arriving at 1700. I was put in charge of handling supplies for all of the field parties in the nation of Panama. I literally had a warehouse full of supplies, ranging from pistols to tents to J-boats, back packs, etc, etc, etc. On one hand I felt proud that I was given such responsibility at age 19 but really wanted to be out in the field. That was not my idea of a jungle adventure so one night, late in November, at the Officer’s Club bar when the C.O. for the IAGS project saw me and asked how things were going I ‘dumped’ on him and told him that I was buying a ticket to Australia on the Kon Tiki and would continue my adventures elsewhere, that I did not want to remain in the warehouse any longer.
“Where do you want to go?” he asked. “Pick a country.” I thought for a few moments and responded “Guatemala.” “I’ll see what I can do” he responded and departed. Within a week I was assigned to the field again, but still in Panama.
1 December 1949
Lv. Balboa at 1000 for Cristobal, CZ arriving at 1200.
2 December 1949
Lv. Cristobal, CZ at 0800 by LCM for Donoso, arriving at 1200.
2 December 1949
Lv. Donoso on foot for Station Cope at 1300 arriving at Cope at 1630.
7 December 1949
Lv. Station Cope on foot for Donoso at 1200 arriving at 1500.
9 December 1949
Lv. Donoso at 1400 by cayuca for Guassimo, arriving at 1830.
10 December 1949
Lv. Guassimo on foot at 0730 for Station Cerro Miguel, arriving at 1830.
22 December 1949
Lv. Staton Cerro Miguel on foot at 0800 for Silencio, arriving at 1600.
23 December 1949
Lv. Silencio at 0330 by cayuca and foot for Salud, Rep. of Panama, arriving at Salud at 1230. Left Salud by military vehicle for Balboa, CZ at 1230, arriving in Balboa at 1430.
Thursday, 5 January 1950
Reported to office at Corozal at 0800. Went with Richardson to Balboa to purchase a few last minute supplies. Had lunch in Corozal. Went to LCM (Landing Craft Medium) at 1245. Complete “O” party was on boat ready to leave at 1310.
We had to wait for Beosajour while he went to pick up his orders. Trouble came up in the IAGS office and Willie didn’t get his orders nor was he allowed to sail without them.
Bill Prosquer came to the LCM in the station wagon and told us that we were not going to leave until Friday at 0700. We all arranged to go to the Central Theater in Panama City and see Battleground. After the show we went to various nightclubs and bars. The party broke up at 0130.
Friday, 6 January 1950
I slept on the LCM. Had breakfast in Balboa Clubhouse. Everybody was on the LCM at 0745. Lt. Groves was at dock 20 when we pulled out for Fort Amador at 0745. We took on fuel at Fort Amador and headed for Taboga Island. The ocean was too rough to land so Domingo had to be taken ashore in a cayuca. We then headed for Pacheka. Jones caught several fish on a plug. We put up for the night at Saboga.
Saturday, 7 January 1950
Set Embry, Hall and Shacklet on Pachuka. Headed for Rey Island and let off Rey Everett. Headed for Maja. Put up for the night in a small harbor (Cheman).
Sunday, 8 January 1950
Put Leisey and Jones on Maja. Started back through the channel between the two islands but the tide dropped too rapidly on us and left us high and dry. We sat around until 1600 when we finally had enough water to move again. We arrived at Plata at 1800 and bedded down for the night. The insects damn near drove us crazy!
Monday, 9 January 1950
At 0630 we unloaded all our gear from the LCM onto the shore. The LCM took off at 0730. Richardson and I toted gear up to shelter nearby. After breakfast we each took packs and started around the island to the tower. I had the T-3 and tripod (about 50 lb.) while Richardson had a pack that must have weighed 65 lb. We followed the coast for 45 minutes until we came to a stream draining off the swamps in the center of the island. The mud was over 4 ft. deep so we couldn’t pass. We heard a motor launch heading for an island near our campsite so we left the equipment and ran back to the campsite. With a mirror we signaled to the boat till he came our direction. I spoke with the fellow in charge and he agreed to return at 1600 when the tide was in and transport us and all our gear to the tower.
Richardson and I went back to where we had left the gear and brought it back. The boat never showed up again. We set up the 694 (radio) but made no contact. No contacts with the SCR-300 either. Bugs were wicked. We had to sleep with head net on and in the sleeping bag closed tight around the neck. We had our choice to be eaten to death or sweated to death. We’d rather sweat. Picked up the news on the BBC.
Tuesday, 10 January 1950
Contacted Riggs with the SCR-300. Talked to Embry on Pecheka by 694 and told him our difficulties. He’ll try to get in touch with LCM. Heard LCM call us at 1000 but he never heard our reply and didn’t come in again. At 1100 G. Richardson and I left with only a canteen and some lunch to see if we could reach the tower. There was no trail; we just took the path of least resistance. Sometimes this took us across the mud flats, at times through the swamp, climbing over the arching roots. Once in awhile we could follow a ridge of seashells. We finally reached the tower at 1315. We had crackers and Vienna sausage and water for lunch. I checked the tower. Steps were missing. The platform was laid down in a lousy manner. It was worse than trying to walk on just the metal framework. The tower was a 110-ft. tall Bilby tower, a real one made of metal, not like the home-made wooden one we used up near David.
We started back to our camp at 1330 and arrived in camp at 1530. Made radio contact with Riggs. Slept on the cot and on the beach hoping the breeze would blow away some of the bugs. Slept terribly.
Wednesday, 11 January 1950
Made no contact with the 694. Talked with Riggs by SCR-300. Did nothing all day. Waited for boat to come. At 1700 the same motor launch came that stopped once before. On board were six men. They carted our stuff to their boat and we took off. First they picked up a few cayucas that they had anchored in a small cove. They picked up a keg of water and then made for the tower (tore).
One fellow was cooking in a cut-down drum. He was frying some shrimp about 7” long. He insisted that I eat one and tossed me one right out of the frying pan. Ouch! I bounced it in the air a few times until I could handle it. It was very good! We arrived opposite the tower but about half a mile off shore. The water was only 2 ft. deep here and was just as shallow the rest of the way to the shore by the tower. The equipment was transferred to one of the cayucas in the dark and four paddlers took us to shore. We carried the equipment to the base of the tower in several trips and after one more trip to the boat by the cayuca we were all set to start to work.
While George Richardson made some soup and coffee I fixed the floorboards somewhat and set up the rope and pulley by which to haul up the rest of the gear. After eating we worked steadily until 0300 getting the tower collimated and lights set up. We saw lights from Maje, Rey, Taboga and Chipillo during the course of the evening but by 0300 all but Maje were out. The sealed beam lamps are bastards to set up. They don’t fit firm against each other. The screw through the top of one does not fit into the bottom of the other. Therefore it is necessary to turn the next one upside down. To screw the third one on it is necessary to use the large bolt, which cannot be screwed in unless the globe is out. Complications!
We finally gave a light to Maje and I stayed up top to keep light while George Richardson went below. He sent up my air mattress and blanket and we both went to sleep. [Note: when sleeping on top of the tower we roped ourselves in so we would not roll off the tower in our sleep.]
Thursday, 12 January 1950
Woke up at 0800 with the sun beating down upon me. Got up and turned off the lights and came down the tower. That was the best bit of sleep I’d had in three nights. Set up the 694 radio but picked up no one except AEPP trying to call Fungus Baker. Heard no reply. Set up the 5-man tent and moved the gear into it. Heard the LCM on the other side of the island. Saw it later when it pulled away. At noon a native arrived from the other side of the island where the LCM had dropped him off with his cayuca. He was to help us move to this side of the island but we had already moved. He says that he will be here for a few weeks or at least as long as we are here. He is to help us in whatever tasks we might have for him.
About 1600 we went up to the top of the tower to complete preparations for observing in the evening. We came down at 1745 and had a fast supper and returned to the top. While George Richardson set up the instrument I called the other stations [by light]. Soon we had a light from Maje (which was on since dusk), Rey, Pecheca, Taboga and Chepillo.
We tried one set using all five lights but we were having so many interruptions that we finally gave it up after the third position and turned only two lights, Maje and Rey. Our light to Pecheca was the middle one of the three. It blew out. For rapidity I just aimed the top light to them. The time is noted in the horizontal angle book.
The Taboga light acted quite queerly. It would wave from side to side. We did not use it any more. We will wait until an “O” party gets there and gives us a good light.
Friday, 13 January 1950
Finally got to bed at 0450. Woke up at 0900 and called down to George so he could catch the radio call. Talked good with Doxey on Pecheca. Said we would give him our angles at 1200. At 1200 we did not have angles ready. Told Doxey we’d give ‘em to him at 1900 by SCR-300. We are now finding out our mistakes in recording. It is hell trying to record for an instrument that is 20 seconds out of colimation. Garcia went up with me in the morning. We put up the roof of the “O” tent. I showed him how to replace bulbs so he could do it tonight if any of them blew out on us. Lunch at 1215. Worked on angles all afternoon. Finished at 1730, supper and then to work. We collimated the instrument. Sent radio message to Doxy and Brandon on Pacheca, which was dropped, to us by Captain Sneed in an L-5 about 1530. “Mark is to be in the Zone with LCM on Sat 21 January.” Sent angles to Mark for computing.
I took the first run from Maje to Rey to Pacheca. George then took a run Pacheca to Chepillo and Maje, Rey Pacheca. We finished at 0530.
Saturday, 14 January 1950
Got up at 0900 to see if Pacheca was on 694. Did not find anyone on the air. Went back to sleep. Came down tower at 1100. Started working on abstracts. Lunch, more abstracts. Supper. Went up tower. Turned on light to Pacheca. Called Maje, Rey, Taboa and Chapillo by light. Received no replies from anyone but Maje. Rey and Chapillo did give us a light. They do not return “Z’s”. Talked to Pacheca by SCR-300. Gave him the angles of last night. Adjusted level bubble on instrument. Called Taboga. No reply. Used a 6v. lamp to call Taboga, Rey and Maje. No reply. Took a set of zenith distances on all stations except Taboga. Ran part of set Maje, Rey, Pacheca. Maje light went out and didn’t come on again. Rey dimmed almost completely out. Run not completed. Went to sleep at 0145.
Sunday, 15 January 1950
Radio call at 0900 by 694 with Pacheca. No traffic. Read 5 x 5. Breakfast. Garcia arrived with water tanks. Lunch. Recollimated the tower. Collimation was perfect, no change necessary. Called Maje by light. No reply. Maje light dim, too dim to work. Haze thick at times. Called Rey for a brighter light. No reply. Called Taboga. No answer. Used a 6v. lamp. No reply. Assumed no light keeper on Maje and none on Rye off station so gave Patella a THD. Kept on calling Rye and Maj. till 0130. No reply. Saw Pacheca calling. Noticed my light to him was out. Replaced it. Pacheca calling again. Went up top. Called Pacheca. Received a “Z”. Returned it and went below. Pacheca calling again. Went up top. Asked by light “What do you want? Try radio.” Went below. Called Pacheca on radio. Started to give ‘em hell for incessant calling. They claimed innocence. They called by light while I was on the radio. They denied it and turned on their light to prove it. Found out that it was someone in base camp fooling around. Wise guys! Went to sleep.
Monday, 16 January 1950
No radio contact at 0900. Contacted Maje by 300 at 1900. Turned two sets in back quad and one angle in front. LCM is to stop tomorrow with water for us.
Tuesday, 17 January 1950
LCM arrived at 0830 to far side of island. By the time it came around opposite the tower and the water and lamps put in the cayuca it was 1130. Sent signal to Pacheca at 1900 by radio. Asked Pacheca to leave a light keeper on duty if they finish before us. Negative reply. They have no light keeper.
Wednesday, 18 January 1950
No radio contact with AEPP. Slept in the afternoon. Sent angles to Pacheca by 300 at 1900. Ran a set in back quad. Signed off for the night.
Thursday, 19 January 1950
No 694 contact. Played checkers with Riggs on Maje. Got Taboga on SCR-300 at 1900. Set up two 6-8v. lamps one above the other and with one case of batteries for each. Tried to call Taboga by light. They saw us once in awhile but very faintly. We never saw them. Since they have only 3.7v. bulbs we’ll wait till they get brighter bulbs. Pacheca called while George and I were up on top of light stand working on batteries. I gave them a “Z” several times and then an “A” to wait awhile. They had kept up their blinking even after I gave the “Z” and the “A”, never returned the “Z”. By the time we got to the radio they were off the air. Riggs had told them we wanted a light tonight. They need a light keeper on that station. Gave Rey and Chepillo a “THD” – got no reply so I let them keep their lights on.
Friday, 20 January 1950
Radio contact with ARPP. Told to be on SCR-300 at 1100 today. Asked them to send 12 v. lights to us for Taboga-Plata line. I believe they received OK. Tried to call Taboga. No contact.
Contacted the LCM at 1900 by SCR-300. Transmitted complete list of angles. Was informed that I am to go to Honduras soon by way of Guatemala City. Suggested Doxey pick up a light keeper for Pacheca. Rey light never came on. Turned one angle, Maje to Pacheca.
Saturday, 21 January 1950
Looked for Taboga in daylight, couldn’t find it. Garcia needs food. Contacted Pacheca by SCR-300. Told that L-5 had dropped mail when it came over last Friday. The mail is lost now. No light from Rey again. Turned 2 sets of angles in back quad. LCM to come to Plata as soon as possible.
Sunday, 22 January 1950
Garcia looked for letters at high tide in cayuca. After breakfast George and I tried to go on foot to look. It was impossible to go far. Mud came up to your knees. We gave up the search. Garcia is sick. Contacted Pacheca by SCR-300. Back quad is closed. LCM to be at Plata on Thursday to pick me up and let off my replacement. Garcia went to Chemung and a native from Maje is to arrive at Plata tomorrow night. Gave Taboga a light (8v.- 40 batteries). Got a light from Taboga but too dim for use. Ran one angle from Pacheca to Chapillo. I had a terrific headache so we closed shop for the night.
Monday, 23 January 1950
Contacted zone by 694. Talked to Chepillo by 694. No traffic. Hunted fossils in the morning. Contacted Pacheca y SCR-300 at 1900. Turned two sets of Pacheca-Chepillo. Taboga light not on. Wasted one hour in middle of run while Chepillo tried to get Pacheca through us.
Tuesday, 24 January 1950
Contacted AEPP. Was told LCM had left without bulbs for Taboga. Contacted Fungus Baker. He was well on way to Pacheca by 0830. Tried rewireing batteries. Set up two SCR-300 batteries in series for 8v. lamp. It might work. Light to Chepillo is same one used for Pacheca (lowest one on the stand). The second light is the only one used for Taboga. Tower measured at 1200. Native from Maje not here yet. Contacted Pacheca at 1100 by SCR-300. Transmitted angles to him. Reception poor. Chepillo cut in. Could not get Pacheca again. Native from Maje arrived off shore. He sat out there in his boat until the tide came up. Turned no angles. Searched five hours for light from Taboga. Saw it once in awhile but always too dim to work.
Wednesday, 25 January 1950
Gaspar, George and I went to sea in Gaspar’s cayuca to meet the LCM. At 1000 we returned for fear of being held out till nightfall by the tide. At 1400 the LCM showed up on the horizon so I climbed the tower to use the SCR-300 for contact. I gabbed quite awhile with Riggs. Another native with a cayuca which the LCM was towing put the supplies for us in his cayuca and started for shore. He finally was able to get in at 1800. He brought 6 cans of beer for us. Turned one angle Pacheca-Chepillo. Searched for Taboga for hours. No luck. To bed.
Thursday, 26 January 1950
Had a good night’s sleep. Got up at 0700. Sent blanket roll down the tower. Came down tower for the last time (?) and had breakfast. Gaspar went with Bonifacio to see where the water hole is. Richardson and I went out to sea in the large cayuca and by using the sail we slowly progressed about two miles out where we waited till 1330 when the LCM came and picked me up. It left Shaklet in my place. We went on to Pacheca. I looked at the station and tower. Slept on the beach. Was afraid the high tide would carry me off.
Friday, 27 January 1950
Shaved. Had a cup of coffee. LCM arrived from Saboga at 0730. We got on board and headed for the Canal Zone. Picked up fuel at Amador. I hitched a ride to Corozal. Got bulbs ready for Taboga. Picked up foot locker from LCM and took it to the Officer’s Club at Quarry Heights where I had a room.
Had a steak dinner with Guillermo Proskauer. Met the steward of the plane Mom and I came back to Panama in from Costa Rica.
Saturday, 28 January 1950
Brunch at 1130. Wrote letters. Movie.
Sunday, 29 January 1950
Wrote letters. Buffet supper.
Monday, 30 January 1950
Cleared with Panama Project. Reported to Captain Phillips. Was told of assignment to Guanhallas Project (Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador Project). Was given a short assignment to gravinometric party. Checked out the equipment for them. Picked up bench mark descriptions of all benchmarks situated between the Zone and Chitre. Took laundry to the commissary, films to the YMCA, had supper at the Ancon clubhouse. Went to see Dean Ferris in Ancon. Talked for 2-1/2 hours. Went to officer’s club to write this and then went to bed.
Tuesday, 31 January 1950
Went with Dr. Crary and Bob ______ to Penonome. We took gravity readings along the highway from Arrijan to Penonome. On several of the stations we took two and three readings. We spent the night in Therell’s house in Penonome.
Wednesday, 1 February 1950
Left Penonome in ¾ ton truck (weapons carrier) and worked our way back to the Zone. We arrived in the Canal Zone after 4 p.m. so we left the equipment for IAGS in the main office and went about personal business. Went square dancing in the evening.
Thursday, 2 February 1950
Handed in report to Major Richards on the gravity work. He asked if I’d be able to get ready to leave for Guatemala City tomorrow. I, of course, said “Yes”. I hired a taxi for the day for $10 and really started chasing around. I got everything settled and am ready for the station wagon tomorrow.
Friday, 3 February 1950
At 0700 Miller came by with the station wagon to pick me up. He already had Mrs. Gager in the car with her three children. We went to the airport at Tucoman in Panama. We got the plane to Guatemala OK and arrived in Guatemala City at 1315 with no incidents.
Sgt. Kezella said when I met him at the airport that I was to have gotten off in El Salvador. I am to leave for there Monday morning.
Saturday, 4 February 1950
I was picked up at Betty Shaw’s boarding house by Bob Chaney and was taken out to the IAGS office at the air base. It was decided by Mr. McIlwaine to keep me in Guatemala to take Edward’s place and help Roche in Retahulehu in stead of going to El Salvador. In the afternoon I met Riki and several scouters I’d met the year before here in the city. I made arrangements to go to Antigua tomorrow with Riki.
Sunday, 5 February 1950
Got up late, ran to place where I was to meet Riki and he wasn’t there. I did little of anything all day.
Monday, 6 February 1950
Packed up and left Betty Shaw’s for good. I went to the office and then had to rush to catch a plane which was late (it always is). It was a 1-1/2 trip to Retalhuleu by Aviateca. I read “The Egyptian” while on the way. Mr. Kerwin B. Roche met me at the airport in a jeep. We went to the Hotel Astor and arranged for a room there. I was introduced to Meade who was checking some computations at the time. In the afternoon I helped test several 694 radios.
Tuesday, 7 February 1950
Mead and I picked up a 694 left at Las Pilas. We got stuck on the way in and waited for Roche to come to see what was taking us so long. He came along after awhile and we went on into Retalhuleu.
Wednesday, 8 February 1950
Roche left me at Hacienda La Chorrera while Meade went to Las Pilas. Roche meanwhile sent up a balloon on Tortuga to see if a tower would be OK there. I could not see the balloon at Tortuga.
Thursday, 9 February 1950
Could not see balloon today either. I slept in the main house on Hacienda La Chorrera.
Friday, 10 February 1950
Today I saw the balloon at Cabillo Blanco. The radio went dead. No further radio contact.
Saturday, 11 February 1950
Was picked up by Meade and Samayoa. I had seen the balloon in the morning. We went to Retalhuleu.
Sunday, 12 February 1950
Meade and I went to La Memoria and turned reference marks.
Monday, 13 February 1950
Today we started constructing the tower at Tortuga. We began digging the holes for the legs. It was slow digging.
Tuesday, 14 February 1950
Up at 0500 and got an early start on the tower.
Wednesday, 15 February 1950
Worked on the tower again.
Thursday, 16 February 1950
Completed the tower. Returned to Retalhuleu early to get the equipment ready for observing.
Friday, 17 February 1950
Put in main monument at Tortuga. Left Roque at Tortuga to keep light. Proceeded to La Chorrera with Rivas and Benigno, Rivas to record and Benigno to keep light. Found main monument intact. It was reported destroyed. Collimated the tower. It was about 8” off from center. Took 4 pos. on it to make sure. Ran set Santa Clara to Chaparro. Ran set Chaparro to Paraiso and Chaparro to Tortuga. Santa Clara light too dim to work on it efficiently.
Saturday, 18 February 1950
Radio call at 1000. No contact. Showed Rivas how to speed up recording. Checked tower collimation. OK. Roche at Hanover called by light. Turned DZD. Paraiso to nail in tree for RMs (reference marks). Measured RMs.
Sunday, 19 February 1950
Contacted Meade at Paraiso at 1020 by 694. Angles checked OK. No contact with Roche. Contacted Roche at 1630. He was in San Juan Horizonte. Was told to go to Tortuga tonight to observe. Packed up and ready to leave at 1800. Observed Tortuga. Returned to Retalhuleu at 0600.
Monday, 20 February 1950
Worked on abstracts and books with Rivas. Went back to Tortuga. Tied in RMs.
Tuesday, 21 February 1950
Went to Las Pilas with Roche and Rivas.
Wednesday, 22 February 1950
Went again to Las Pilas with Rivas. Roche came out later.
Thursday, 23 February 1950
Went to Chorrera with Rivas and then to Tortuga.
Friday, 24 February 1950
Started for Salvador but decided not to go.
Saturday, 25 February 1950
Worked on DZD computations.
Sunday, 26 February 1950
Left Retalhuleu at noon for Station Ayutla, arriving at 1830.
Monday, 27 February 1950
Returned to Retalhuleu.
Tuesday, 28 February 1950
Started for Salvador but got stuck, came back by foot. Went out again.
Wednesday, 1 March 1950
Loaded vehicles and took off in ambulance and weapons carrier to Guatemala City. Stopped in Esquintla for supper and arrived in Guatemala City about 10 p.m. Stopped at Gager’s house and had a drink. Went to Meade’s place and spent the night.
Thursday, 2 March 1950
Went to the office. Completed books and abstracts, filled out per diem form. Moved to Calle 15 #2 where Warford, Tankersley, Chaney and McIlwane are staying. Cost $2.50 per day with all meals.
Friday, 3 March 1950
Worked on DZD books. Checked all DZD abstracts.
Saturday, 4 March 1950
Took the morning off and went shopping. Bought a jacket, Guatemalan style.
Sunday, 5 March 1950
Wrote letters. Went to see a Russian with MacIlwane. We couldn’t find his place. Ended up in El Gallito (a house of ill repute with a good bar and band). Had Tequilas. Sgt. Kazella met us there.
Monday, 6 March 1950
Half-days of work all this week. That’s so we can go to the Olympics which are now in progress in the city.
Tuesday/Wednesday 7,8 March 1950
Went to the Olympics.
Thursday, 9 March 1950
Went to Station Campanero. Turned reference marks on that station.
Friday, 10 March 1950
Put Poncho on Campanero and went to Anacocho. It was clouded in. Went to Aurora. It started to rain. Went home.
Saturday, 11 March 1950
Picked up paper for album which I had cut for me in town. Cut all my badges off the cloth and mounted many of them on the paper.
Sunday, 12 March 1950
Went with Meade to fair to purchase textiles. Went together to the home of friends of his. Spent the afternoon there. Got home in time for supper. Fell asleep at 8:30 pm while reading. Went to bed at 1 a.m.
Monday, 13 March 1950
Went with Tores to Anacoche. Rivas took Poncho to Campanero. I finished the RMs on both Anacoche and Aurora.
Tuesday, 14 March 1950
Finished up books and abstracts. Got home from work at 5:30 p.m.
Wednesday, 15 March 1950
Made a box to put equipment in and lock it. Signed out for rest of the equipment necessary for the trip to the El Salvador border to complete necessary Reference Mark information. Got all ready to go. Put all equipment in the trailer and chained it all together. Poncho is to be ready at 0730 tomorrow. Rivas says he is ready to go. Went to Roche’s house in the evening for a game of canasta. Home to bed by 2400.
Thursday, 16 March 1950
Went to pick up Roche. He took his own car to work. Rivas had come to work and went home for his equipment. Returned two hours later. Went with group to observatory to see new seismograph. I left when Rivas came. We hooked up the trailer. Poncho rode in back seat of the jeep while Rivas and I rode in front. Finally we were on the road at 1030 a.m. Had lunch in Mataquescuintla. Let Poncho off in station Soledad and headed back to Cruz Alta. Gas was low so had to purchase some from a private individual in Matesquescuintla at 50 cents per gal. Finally got to the house of Don Antonio Solares where we had supper. We climbed to the top of the hill behind his house where the station is located. Arrived on station at about 7:15 p.m. The sky overhead was very clear but all around us and below us was fogged in. Rivas and I spent the night to watch if the clouds might drop far enough for us to shoot the light on Soledad. I brought up the sleeping bags and blankets from the house below and went to sleep.
Friday, 17 March 1950
Weather never broke during the night. Went below for breakfast at 0830. Rivas went on down to jeep for stamping set to mark RMs. Only one is marked. It is marked “Ref 1”. We stamped the others reference marks II and III. We used Roman numerals since we were missing the corresponding numbers in the number set. I finally was able to pick up the instrument stand on Tabacal. I turned the reference marks from this. We had dinner and finally left Cruz Alta at 1500. We got 10 gallons of gas in Matesquescuintla. We started toward Guacamayas but only went about ¾ mile and the road ended. We were on the wrong road. We got on the correct road and started off again. We made a turn off the main road which Rivas said went to El Jute. We followed it for about ten miles. It turned out to be a logging road. We had to turn around and go all the way back. We got to the correct road finally and continued on to Finca El Jute, stopping only for dinner. Rivas is going to sleep in the jeep and I will sleep in the hall of the Finca house. We’ve made arrangements to leave for the top of Guacamayas at 0730 tomorrow. The fellow here says it is a two hour trip.
Saturday, 18 March 1950
Had breakfast of French fried eggs served in a platter of grease, coffee with sugar (and I hate sugar in my coffee) and tortillas. At 0730 we left Finca El Jute on horseback and started for Cero Guacamayas. We arrived at the station with no incidents worth mentioning. We had a guide and altogether, including the horse of the guide, there were three horses. It took us 3-1/2 hours to reach the station. I immediately set up the instrument while Rivas looked for the reference marks. I was able to see the monument and light stand on Jumytepeque. I turned the angle of Jumytepeque to Ref. #2. I recorded for myself. We had difficulty locating RM#1. It was found by reeling the tape out the number of meters indicated in the station description and swinging an arc with it as a radius. It was lucky that I turned the angle to Jumytepeque when I did because soon the clouds came in and we never saw Jumytepeque again. We finished the station at 1300 and started down the mountain (2,300 ft). At the foot of the mountain at the finca we had to wait for the administrator in order to pay our bill. The cost of the trip was one dollar for each horse (x 3 horses) and one dollar for the guide. No one at the finca was able to write their name so the guide put an “X” on the receipt and Revis and I witnessed it.
We went back to Casillas and spoke with the Alcalde about the road to Jutiapa by way of Ayersa. He said it was passable. So off we went. It was four o’clock when we left Casillas. We got to Ayersa at 6:30 p.m. and spoke to the Alcalde regarding the road to Jutiapa from there. He said that the road is impassable. Those standing nearby backed him up in this statement. The Alcalde gave us supper at his house. We had hot tamales on a bannana leaf and beans, tortillas, cheese and coffee. Rivas and I were given use of the Alcalde’s office in the municipal building in which to sleep. Tomorrow we get up at 0530 and to 80 miles to Jutiapa.
Sunday, 19 March 1950
We had breakfast at 0630 and left Ayersa by 0700. We passed through Nueva Sta. Rosa and every once in a while checked with people along the road to see if we were on the road to Barberana. We asked even though there were no conspicuous forks in the road that would lead us to doubt that we were on the correct road. After yesterday and the day before I don’t trust these roads at all. They go where they want and often the beaten path is the one to a private finca and the main road shows little use at all.
At about 1100 Rivas said “There is station Tabacal.” I couldn’t believe him, but it was! Soon we came out on the Pan American Highway only about 100 yards south of Routa 18. Since we would have to lose a day in Jutiapa getting the brakes fixed I decided to go on into Guatemala City for the day and fix the brakes there and then leave for Jutiapa early Monday morning. The 12 miles to Guatemala City was covered rapidly. On the way to the office we met Kohlan. We gabbed with him for awhile and then parked the trailer in the yard of the office. I spent the afternoon finishing up the album of scout insignias.
Monday, 20 March 1950
I went to the office in the station wagon with all the others from Casa Alxit. We picked up Rivas on the way in. Repairs on the jeep were started immediately. I went to the Guatemalan office and collected my debts. I had $25 there. I also picked up $10 for Roche. Rivas and I left again for Jutiapa at 1100. We arrived in Jutiapa without incident at 1530. We went to see Sr. Alexandro Ramirez about horses and a guide for the following day. The distance to his place is 4.3 miles not 4 km as stated in the station description.
We will try to be out to his place by 0730 tomorrow. We came back to town and got a room in the Hotel Astor. The room costs 75 cents a day with meals. There are straw mattresses on the beds but you can’t expect any better in a little burg like this.
Tuesday, 21 March 1950
Up at 0600, breakfast at 0645. I was mistaken about the cost of the room and meals. It is 75 cents per day for the room and 50 cents for each meal. The meals were not too good. We finally got on the road to the home of Sr. Ramirez at 0730 and on the trail by horseback at 0845. The station description said the trip takes five hours. We made it in exactly three hours. The monument is set in concrete about 1.2m. above the ground. This is useable as an instrument stand. The station is called “XECON” on the description but the monument is stamped “SHECON”. I assume this is the same station since Shecon is the English spelling of Xecon. All the reference marks were located but reference mark #2 had been tampered with the square brass disk in the concrete had been dug out and broken off. The metal stem still remained. The concrete base for the mark was leaning over on its side. I straightened up the concrete and taped a center point in the metal stem protruding in the center of the concrete. I turned an angle to this point and measured the main monument. I taped “REF. 2” in the concrete.
Scratched in the side of the main monument is “4 de Junio de 1948. A.E.” The disk in the main monument is a standard IAGS small disk with Spanish inscription. The only thing stamped on it is “SHECON”.
Angles were turned to all RMs and the distances measured. We had hot tea, bread and a can of sardines in tomato sauce for lunch. Supper of fried spam, cocoa and bread. I took the first watch till 0100 calling Poncho on Soledad every 15 or 20 minutes. The clouds were between us all night.
Wednesday, 22 March 1950
Rivas had the watch from 0100 to dawn. He had no luck. The clouds stayed down low. It is now 1000 and still we can’t see a thing because of the haze. Alexandro came with the mules and we left. It took us 3 hours to reach the foot of the mountain.
We paid $1.50 per day per horse for 2 days. That was $9.00 and $1.00 per day for the guide. Altogether the bill was $11.00. Rivas and I went to Jutiapa to have something to eat. I was so disgusted with all the flies walking all over the food in the hotel that I walked out and didn’t eat. We then proceeded to Jalapa and went toward Mataquescuintla to Soledad to pick up Poncho. It was damn cold and raining a little. I had to loan Poncho $5.00. We returned to Jalapa. I ate in the Jumy hotel. It is a clean looking place. 75 cents per meal. They were full so I couldn’t get a room.
After dinner we got in the jeep again and headed out of the city toward Jutiapa looking for a campsite. We finally ended up in Jutiapa. We pulled outside the city for about a mile and slept near the jeep off the road a few hundred feet.
Thursday, 23 March 1950
Up at 0630 and into town for breakfast. We went to the market to purchase food. Poncho needed to buy food for his stay on Xecon. Rivas was approached for his cedula. Complications arose and he was taken to the Guardia Civil office. The matter was soon cleared up and we had breakfast. We left Poncho off at the house of Sr. Ramirez. Rivas and I continued on to Cameron where we took the road to Calares.
We hired a guide and a horse to take us and our equipment to the station. It was a 30 minute walk but we had our sleeping and eating gear besides the tools of the trade so it all made a good load for the horse. I carried the T-3 theodolite (35 lbs).
he station description says the monument is stamped “La Calera”. Actually it is stamped “Caleras.” (CALERAS). Reference mark #1 has been tampered with but not much. The concrete has been chipped off for about 2 inches on two sides of the RM. The other RMs are OK. There is an extremely strong wind blowing. I got a light from Poncho on Shecon at 1900 and turned an angle to RM #2.
Friday, 24 March 1950
Up at 0600. Wind still blowing strong. It never let up all night. I turned the angles between the RMs recorded for myself while Rivas made breakfast. After breakfast measured distances to RMs. Distances are horizontal distances and not slope distances.
Started for Comapa at 0930. Arrived at 1230. Road very poor. Had lunch, went to see the Alcalde about getting a horse to pack our gear to the station. Took a box of cement and 5 gal. of water to put in reference marks. Arrived at the station at 1600. Found RM #1. Station description said there were no RMs (by T. Warford). A young fellow said there were two more but we couldn’t find them. I set in two more Reference Marks. In case the other two are found I distinguished these by stamping “REF #III EST. 1950”. A point was put in the center of the marker and an arrow designating direction of the main station stamped on it.
(1950) RM #III = 4.84 m. distance from main station.
(1950) RM #II = 14.80 m. distance from the main station.
(1948) RM #1 = 12.65 m. distance from the main station.
Neither RM #1 nor the main station has a date stamped on it. There is no instrument stand. A 5m. light tower is above the station.
Saturday, 25 March 1950.
I turned an angle from Shecon to RM #1 last night about 9:30. That finished this station. Now we will go to Yupi. We had breakfast in the comedor in Comapa. Rice bread was served. It was very good. We left Comapa at 0815 and arrived in Caleras at 1015. Here we picked up the trailer and went to Jutiapa. We went out to see Sr. Alexandro Ramirez. He is to go to Sehcon before 1700 today to tell Poncho to show his light to Yupi. As soon as we give him a “Fin” he is to come down and we will head back to Guatemala City. Dinner in town of Jutiapa and on to Yupi. We got to the trail to the station at 1430. The equipment that we did not take with us we left in the care of the people in the house near the start of the trail. We arrived on station at 1545. All RMs were located OK. Angles were turned from 1 to 2 to 3. Clouds closed in by 1700. Soon we couldn’t see a thing. We went below to the house and had a cup of coffee. It started to rain about 2000. We took shelter in the house of the owner. We were given more coffee.
Sunday, 26 March 1950
We went up again at 0500. It had rained all night. It still was foggy and misting. At 0650 we went to the jeep and continued on to Jutiapa. Breakfast in Jutiapa and then on to Sr. Alexandro Ramirez’s to pick up Poncho at Chaperno. We took Poncho to Caleas and returned to Yupi. We arrived at Yupi at 1515. The mountain was soon clouded in. At 2330 we finally saw the light and in a few minutes we were finished. We picked up Poncho and returned to Guatemala City.
Monday, 27 March 1950
Arrived in Guatemala City at 0630. Got cleaned up. Had X-ray taken of teeth. Picked up album for scout insignias. Cost $10.00.
Tuesday, 28 March 1950
Went to Barberena about 2 p.m. We went prepared to set in reference marks and found them already established. Rivas and I went to Barillas in the evening but were not able to reach the station.
Wednesday, 29 March 1950
Went to the dentist in the a.m. Went to Barillas in the afternoon and finished early.
Thursday, 30 March 1950
Went to San Fernando. Left at 0900 and got to the station at 1500. Finished at 1900, started home at 2100, reached Guatemala City at 0300. Sleeping guard at entrance to the air base. Had to wait for him to wake up before we could get to the office. Finally he woke up and was startled to see a jeep parked right near his post. He quickly pointed his rifle at me and called “a donde vas?” (Where are you going?) “A dentro.” (inside) I responded. “Pase Ud.” He said (Pass). I wonder what he would have done had I just driven right past him when I got to the entrance to the air base?
Friday, 31 March 1950
Dental appointment at 1500. It will cost 27 dollars to have crowns put on two teeth.
Saturday, 1 April 1950
Worked in the office all day. Arranged with Riki to go to Antigua tomorrow. Paid the rent for the month of March.
1 April through 18 April 1950
On duty in Guatemala City. 18 April is Census day.
Wednesday, 19 April 1950
The census is not yet over in the city but we went to the office anyway. All the vehicles were ready before lunch so we started on our way toward Rabinal where our roads forked. At San Miguel Chicaj Bud Roche bedded down for the night. Rivas and I went on to Salama. We had sent a telegram two days ago to the Alcalde of Salama asking him to have 25 men ready to work for us tomorrow morning. We arrived in Salama at 2100. A policeman directed us to the Alcalde’s house. The Alcalde asked us if we had not received his reply to our telegram. “No,” we said, “We didn’t.”
He explained that he told us in the telegram that he could get no men until the 23rd which is a four day wait. We called up Roche and told him of the difficulty. We decided to go back to San Miguel and spend the night with Roche.
Thursday, 20 April 1950
The Alcalde of San Miguel was standing nearby when we awoke (we set our cots up on the porch of the municipal building). He had troubles. It seems as though he is accused by some local people of keeping some of the money Roche gave him to pay the men before Easter. Absurd as the charge was he was afraid of his job. So we took him in the ambulance and went back to Salama, this time to see the governor of the state. We saw the governor and got things all straightened up.
Rivas and I left in the weapons carrier for San Cristobal. We arrived in San Cristobal at 1330, having had a flat tire on the way.
A simple matter of going to the top of a mountain and clearing it can becme quite complicated. Chiyuc was supposed to be government property. We found out that it isn’t. So we looked for the owner. The owner gave us permission to cut trees on top but needed permission from the Dept. de Forestal before he could allow us to cut. He offered to go with us to the top of the hill to give an estimate of damages on Monday. The census prevents anything from being done any sooner.
We left for San Cristobal and went to Coban. In Coban we tried to radio to Mc. In Guatemala City but there was no electricity in town so that let that out. We then sent a telegram to Roche in San Miguel Chicaj asking him to advise us on what to do. I received no reply. I went to Pension Monja Blanca where I got a room with meals for $3 per day. I met a stranded Englishwoman and we played cards (Canasta) with a traveling salesman.
Friday, 21 April 1950
Up at 0700 and went to the radio office to talk with Mac. No current. Went back to the hotel and then to the market with the English woman. Bought some textiles. Joan left at 1000. After lunch went to foot of Chicoyohito. Stopped at finca Chicoyohito for information regarding ownership of the hill. Colonel in charge of the finca went to Coban with us to discuss the matter with his jeffe. We will go up tomorrow to look around.
Saturday, 22 April 1950
Up at 0530 and had breakfast. Went to finca Chicoyohito. Went with a guide to what appeared to be the highest point. Took 45 minutes to get there. Found point could not see to the east. Picked another point further east. It was no good because of poor visibility to the north and northeast. Finally accepted a point that saw good in all directions except for about 40 degrees toward the northwest. Returned to the finca. Left for dinner at 1200. Went to see the owner of the cerro. Not home. Went to see station Chichil. Had a nice ride but that is all. Clouds dropped so we couldn’t see anything. Returned to Coban. Received telegram from Roche that he would be in Coban tonight. He arrived at 2115.
Sunday, 23 April 1950
Roche and I went to Chicoyohito to look over the situation and made arrangements for tomorrow. We picked up a native who spoke both Spanish and Mayan and took him with us to Chiichil. We went to the top of Chiichil. From the natives we found out who the owner is. We went back to San Pedro and looked for the owner. He wants to go with Roche when he goes to the station. Lunch at the pension and a nap afterwards. Took a walk around the town before dinner and played two games of Canasta afterwards.
Monday, 24 April 1950
Up at 0600 and at finca at 0715. We started on trail at 0740. We arrived at top of Cerro Rishpeccaranish (what a name!) at about 1030. The hill was cleared and the station established by 4 p.m. We were on the trail down at 1615. Men were paid 25 cents per day.
Tuesday, 25 April 1950
Went with Roche to Chiichil. Cleared and monumented the station. Had a native drink called “chicha” on the way down the hill. Saw a dead man along the streets in morning.
Wednesday, 26 April 1950
Got a letter from the Governor of the province authorizing us to cut any trees we needed to.
Thursday, 27 April 1950
The governor of Alta Verapaz loaned us a guide and we took off in the weapons carrier for the road leading north from Coban. We went 4 miles out this road before coming out again. We looked for the ambulance but couldn’t find I so we went on to San Pedro Carcaj. There we picked up the police chief and started north toward Peten. We went to Campur before returning again to Coban. We had travelled 80 miles during the day.
Friday, 28 April 1950
Roche and I went to see Mr. Deiseldorf to make arrangements for horses for early Saturday morning to go to finca Cubilquitz. Torez and Poncho arrived in another WC with towers for us. They also had mail for us. In the afternoon I went to see the scout rooms of the Boy Scouts of Coban.
Saturday, 29 April 1950
Left Pension Monja Blanca at 4 a.m. on mules for Cubilquitz. Rode for eight solid hours. We arrived at the finca at 12 noon. After lunch I took a short nap and then wrote letters for awhile. I played cards for a while with a scout by the name of Oscar. Several of the fellows played a few pieces on the marimba for us. Supper, a few more letters written and then to bed.
Sunday, 30 April 1950
Up at 0700 and had breakfast. Went with Roche to check the base line site. We found it OK. Had lunch. Was entertained by tunes on the marimba. Finished up the wine. Lost at cards. Went to bed right after supper.
Monday, 1 May 1950
Up at 0330 and on the trail on mules for Coban. We travelled steady for eight hours without stopping. We arrived in Coban at 12 noon. After dinner Roche and I went to San Cristobal to make arrangements to go up Chiyuc tomorrow. Returned to Coban. Supper at 2030 and went to bed right afterwards.
Tuesday, 2 May 1950
Up at 0500. On the road to san Cristobal at 0700. Was able to get 18 men. Took 2 hours to get to top of the first hill. That one was no good. Arrived at highest part at 12 noon. Had lunch then went to the very top. Top is covered with jungle growth. We started cutting. Saw a family of six monkeys. Came down at 4 p.m. Natives wanted $1.00 rather than the 50 cents they had agreed upon. OK, so I gave them $1.00. Went to Coban, stayed at Pension Monja Blanca.
Wednesday, 3 May 1950
Did nothing, only slept and ate.
Thursday, 4 May 1950
Same as yesterday.
Friday, 5 May 1950
Went to station Chiyuc and paid off the workers. Cost of the station (labor only) was 52 dollars. Left Chiyuc and started for Salama at 12 noon. Arrived in Salama at 1500 and spoke to the alcalde. Asked him to get 10 or 15 men ready to work for us on Monday. Left the alcalde’s office. Was stopped by the Guardia Civil (police). Rivas was questioned about an accident in Quetzaltenango the week prior. We were detained till answer to telegram sent to Quetzaltenango is received. Was held by the police for 6 hours. Finally left at 2100. Rivas drove all the way in to Guatemala City.
Saturday, 6 May 1950
Drove Chaney to the airport. He is going to Penonome, Panama for more schooling. Had a letter for me at the office from the College Entrance Examination Board. They informed me that it would not be possible for me to take the aptitude tests on May 20th as planned (in Guatemala City). I will have to take the exam in Guatemala City on August 9. That really fouled me up. I just sent a cable to the EXAMBORD asking them to establish the center in Guatemala City for August 9. I caught up on some of my personal business. I stopped at Betty Shaw’s to see if Ray Ettinger was in. He is due in at 3 p.m. He called me when he arrived and we spent the rest of the afternoon together. I went to sleep early after supper.
Sunday, 7 May 1950
Up at 0900 and right after breakfast I started writing letters. I had a brainstorm. Why not go to Mexico City to take the CEEB tests on May 20th rather than wait for August 9? I thought it over and finally went to see Sgt. Kuezella for advice on it. I decided to go. Another cablegram was sent to EXAMBORD requesting a change of center to Mexico City. I then wrote a letter to the Exambord telling them my reasons for the sudden change. I also sent a letter to Mrs. Olagary telling her that I would be in the city soon and to hold any mail for me that might be sent there. The plane fare, round trip from Guatemala City to Mexico City is about $94. Rivas came to pick me up at 11 p.m. and we started for Salama. In San Pedro Sac. we met Roche. He is finished with his two stations. His tower didn’t work either so there is no tower on Chiyuc or San Mateo and Carnero is lacking one since we have none with us to put up.
Monday, 8 May 1950
It took six and a half hours to get to Salama from Guatemala City. Rivas and I slept for two hours then had breakfast. After breakfast we went with eight men to the foot of Cerro El Carnero. We started climbing at 0900 and arrived on top at 1300. We found remains of the old station which Yates and Fawcett established a number of years ago. The surface monument was completely destroyed. We dug it up to see if there was a sub-monument. There was none. We started cutting. Set up a tent and got ready for nightfall. The men went down the hill for the night. Rivas and I located all stations except Chiyuc. I find that a far ridge of this same mountain is in the way. Gad-dang-it. We will have to check that tomorrow. Had a spot of tea then wrote this while Rivas went to sleep. It is now only 7 p.m.
Tuesday, 9 May 1950
The men arrived at 0800 and we started cutting some more. Still I did not know whether or not I was doing the right thing since I could not see CHIYUC. Finally I decided to go down the mountain and on to Guatemala City for advice. I got to the foot of the hill at 1400 and into Guate. City at 2200. I stopped at Roche’s house to make sure that he would not leave the city before I could speak to him.
Wednesday, 10 May 1950
At the office I spoke with Roche about the line not seeing. Roche, Meade and I went up in a Cessner plane to look over the situation. From the plane it looked as though I was cutting in the right place any way. Arrangements were made for Rivas to go and finish the station. In the afternoon I met MacIlwaine and discussed the situation with him.
Thursday, 11 May 1950
Worked on station description cards. Went to the National Palace for permit to leave Guatemala.
Friday, 12 May 1950
Picked up clothes at the cleaner. Got tourist card from Mexican Consulate. Left the city at 1530 on the plane for Mexico City. Arrived in Mexico City at 1930. Went to theHotel Emporio. Went to Olagary’s. Met Ogenia and German.
Saturday, 13 May 1950
Went to Robinson’s shop. Went with him to American Boy Scout camp in the afternoon. Slept in tent with scouts of Group #2.
Sunday, 14 May 1950
Met Scout Commissioner of Pachuca. Made arrangements for his son to meet me in Mexico City on Thursday. Returned to Mexico City at 10 p.m.
Monday, 15 May 1950
Got up late. Went to Robinson’s. Went to Olagaray’s in the p.m. Went out with a French scout to visit the night life.
Tuesday, 16 May 1950
Got up late (had a hell of a cold). Bought scout insignias in the a.m. Went to a Rover Scout meeting in the p.m. Met Alfonso de la Parra.
Wednesday, 17 May 1950
Went to cub scout leader meeting in p.m. Traded insignias afterward.
Thursday, 18 May 1950
Met fellow from Pachuca in the p.m. and went to a movie.
Friday, 19 May 1950
Had dinner with Robinson. Talked with Salvador Fernandez. Went to Olagary’s house. Went to Rover Clan XX meeting.
Saturday, 20 May 1950
Took exam in American School. [College Entrance Board Exams]. Dinner with Robinson. Went to Olagary’s. Said good by. Met Mateos [with whom I had climbed Mt. Popocatepetel the year before.]
Sunday, 21 May 1950
Returned to Guatemala City.
Monday, 22 May 1950
On duty in the Guatemala office of IAGS.
Tuesday, 23 May 1950
Wrote letter of resignation. Met fellows from Washington in store. Went out with them.
Wednesday, 24 May 1950
Left for Comapa at 1000. Arrived at Estoraque at 1530. Made arrangements for horses. Slept in the ambulance.
Thursday, 25 May 1950
Went on horseback to Comapa. Left Estoraque at 0700, arrived in Comapa at 1330. Arrived on station at 1500. Set up tent. Rained rest of the afternoon and night.
Friday, 26 May 1950
Up at 0600. Went down to Comapa and had breakfast. Did some shopping and right after lunch went up top again. Takes ½ hour to climb hill from the center of town. We finished setting up instrument stand and light stand. We established a better campsite. Called on 694 at 1600. No reply.
Saturday, 27 May 1950
Read books, contacted Norman by 694. Rain at night, overcast.
Sunday, 28 May 1950
Same as yesterday.
Monday, 29 May 1950
Turned good sets.
Tuesday, 30 May 1950
Left Comapa at 1100. Mule bolted down the hill losing his cargo. Arrived in Estoraque at 1730. Went to Guatmala City arriving at 2120.
Wednesday, 31 May 1950
Went to the office. Got ready to go to the field. Found a broken axle on the vehicle.
Thursday, 1 June 1950
Left office at 0900 for Moyuta. We drove right to the town. Arrived at Moyuta at 1430. It was impossible to get our equipment up the mountain that night so we had supper below and I slept in the ambulance.
Friday, 2 June 1950
We made contact with Virgin at 1000 but only Justo Brooks was there. Packed our gear on mules and started for the station at 1100. Arrived at station at 1500. Set up tent. Rivas set up jungle hammoc in which to sleep. Rain and overcast all night. No work.
Saturday, 3 June 1950
Looked over the situation. I don’t know what to do. It looks as though two eccentrics are needed since Cerritos can not be seen from Moyuta or ecc. #1. I found no way to measure any of the distances between eccentrics since eccentric #1 is on top of a hill across a baranca from Moyuta and ecc. #2 is on the same ridge as Moyuta but about 150 meters from the station. Turned angles tonight.
Sunday, 4 June 1950
Contacted Meade on 694 at 1000 again. Told him of difficulties. Read in afternoon. In past week here have read several books. Worked at night.
Monday, 5 June 1950
Read, ate, slept. No work done.
Tuesday, 6 June 1950
Rivas went below to see the Alcalde about getting men to help on the station. Alcalde couldn’t get any men since they all wanted to work in their fields cleaning their corn. He did give us a fellow who worked for the municipality to bring us a can of water each morning. Rivas came up with a letter for me from the alcalde. He asked me if I would use the ambulance to help a government vehicle out of a mud hole down the road. Since he was cooperative with us I said OK and Rivas went below to assist those stuck. Arturo and I played stud poker till 12 p.m. and finally hit the hay. It had been overcast all the time. In the morning we had gotten word that Mac[Ilwaine] and Samayor will come to the station tomorrow.
Wednesday, 7 June 1950
Fellow from alcalde’s office brought water early. After radio call Arturo and I set up instrument stand over true station and cleared lines to Comapa and to ecc.#1. Rivas did not show up in the morning. Arturo went down the hill in the afternoon. I took a bath and finished up all the computations possible. We had our first real rain today. Rivas and Arturo returned in the worst part of the rain. Mac. didn’t show up in Moyuta.
Thursday, 8 June 1950
While I was talking to Norman on the radio Mac, Major Higgens and Samayoa arrived on the station. After the radio call was finished we got busy looking over the situation. We decided to measure a short base and work out a base expansion. The base was measured four times. We will have to erect several instrument stands to observe the base expansion. We finished measuring before the rain. Mac loaned me $50 Class B. Rivas and Arturo went below. I stayed on station and read “The Emperor’s Physician.”
Friday, 9 June 1950
The fellow arrived with two cans of water at 0900. Rivas tried to hire some men to clear lines of sight. No one would work. Rained all afternoon.
Saturday, 10 June 1950
We cleared on the line from Moyuta to south end of the base line. Turned angle from Comapa to Moyuta at the eccentric. Indelacio arrived in the town of Moyuta. He sent up a note.
Sunday, 11 June 1950
Indelacio arrive on station at 0800. Roche wanted to know where Miraflores is. He was in the weapons carrier stuck up the road. Rivas went to help him out but didn’t reach him. He returned. Clouded in all night.
Monday, 12 June 1950
Rain most of the day. Three fellows came to work. Did some clearing. 10 hours of rain.
Tuesday, 13 June 1950
Only two fellows came to work in the a.m. Rain started at 1245 and lasted all afternoon. Did some work in evening. Gave Comapa “Fin.”
Wednesday, 14 June 1950
Two fellows came to work. Started setting up instrument stands. L-4 7272 came over station, dropped a note. Talked on frequency 5600 on 4185. Tested reception. Heard 3 x 3 at 38 miles. Note told me to return to Guatemala City to go to Zone before 22 June 1950. Packed gear, went down the hill. Got haircut and shave for 25 cents. Waited for Roche in ambulance. Roche arrived in jeep with Tores at 1800. We slept in the ambulance.
Thursday, 15 June 1950
Up at 0515 and to the Pension for coffee. We walked up to the station. I turned over property to Roche. I went down mountain and left in the jeep with Torres. Arrived at Roosevelt hwy. at 1200. Picked up Begnino at Chaparron. Returned to Guatemala City.
Friday, 16 June 1950
To office in the morning and cleared all equipment. Arranged for exit visa from Guatemala and entry into Panama. Went to scout office and picked up badges. Had dinner with Riki. Mac showed us his colored slides. He gave me some.
Saturday, 17 June 1950
Up at 0530 and to the airport at 0630. Plane took off at 0730. Had to pay $13.80 overweight baggage. We left El Salvador and had to return a few minutes late because of bad weather over Tegucigalpa, Honduras. After a wait of two hours we took off for Managua without stopping at Tegucigalpa. At Managua I went across the street from the airport to the home and office of Captain Sneed, IAGS officer for Nicaragua. I was invited to stay there while in the city. I borrowed his jeep and went into town (12 km away). In town I met Gus Wilson. We went to the home of Porfilo Salarseno where I had my international letter [BSA letter] endorsed. I rushed back to the IAGS office and picked up my collection of scout badges and returned to Salarseno’s home. There he traded several insignias with me.
Sunday, 18 June 1950
Woke up with Captain Sneed standing by my bed with a glass of orange juice for me. How nice! I spent all day in the office fixing up the boy scout badge collection and writing letters. In the afternoon I went to the airport and spoke to Julio Pinell. He said that he would trade insignias with me. He has one of each of the Inter-American conference insignias. He might give them to me. He will bring them to the airport tomorrow.
Monday, 19 June 1950
Up at 0700 and went to town immediately after breakfast. I went to the philatelic office and bought 1,000 Boy Scout stamps of 2cent denomination. Later on I found out that there is also a 2 cordoba scout stamp. I gave Mr. Fred Ponce the rest of the $20 (110 cordobas) to purchase 2-cordoba stamps for me. He will send them air mail to the US for me. I got on the plane at 1100 and napped all the way to San Jose, Costa Rica. While in San Jose I called up Rev. Fish. After the 15 minute stop over in San Jose we headed straight to Rio Hato in Panama and then went down the Pacific coast to Tocumen. After clearing customs I got in a taxi and went to the YMCA in Balboa where I got a room for $1.00 per night.
Tuesday, 20 June 1950
I cleared this morning and afternoon. By 1500 I was off the pay roll. I met Herb Eggar and together we went to see Terry Warford at the hospital. We then saw a show in Balboa.
Wednesday, 21 June 1950
Slept late. Went shopping in army stores. Got footlocker out of storage in TSSS and brought it to the YMCA and sorted gear. I went down to Panama City and bought $60 worth of gifts. In the evening I went to see Rev. Ferris. I brought a small tablecloth of Guatemalan “shadow weave” for Mrs. Ferris. Dean Ferris and I went to the drive-in and had a hamburger. He took me back to the YMCA.
Thursday, 22 June 1950
Got up late. What luxury! Went to Panama Project office and met Ken Rinehart again. In the afternoon I packed all my gear and brought the old footlocker with the books, correspondence folders and albums (also a few clothes) to TSSS to be bound and stenciled. In p.m. I went to a movie in Balboa after visiting Terry Warford in the hospital again.
Friday, 23 June 1950
Up a 1000. I’ve been taking a shower every morning and evening since I got to Panama. It is HOT here. I got the footlocker shipped Army transport. It will be in New York City in late July. I went to a square dance in Ancon in the evening. A few beers in the Atlas, then back to the YMCA.
Tuesday, 27 June 1950
Flew by Army plane to Mobile, Alabama. Took bus back to New Jersey from there.
Looking back sixty years later
And so ended one hell of an adventure, the memory of which remains with me to this day, 7 November, 2010, over sixty years later. I will add more to this report but want to get this posted before it gets put aside and not on the autobiography web site.