A small flame

A small flame

Down Memory Lane - Second Grade

This is the fourth post in a series of 12 posts scheduled by Mommy's Piggy Tales, which encourages women to record stories from their childhood for future generations to enjoy.

Of Moving and Mangoes

In second grade we moved twice.

The first move was to a different duplex where we rented for 6 months. My memories about that house involve movies and mangoes. The duplex was was right across from the town's one movie theater {which, humorously, was named with the same word as the native word for 'bedbug' - not sure why}. I remember that when the movie finished late at night the crowd that spilled out of the theater was very rowdy and noisy.

The yard of this duplex had a large mango tree in it. During mango season, so many mangoes fell from the tree during the night that, in the morning, the ground under the tree would be covered with them! As soon as we were awake - sometimes before we'd even dressed, my brother James and I would race outside and collect armfuls of mangoes. Mango sap is extremely caustic, and James actually got burns on his chest from gathering them clad only in his pj shorts, holding them against his little bare chest. As soon as Mom realized that, she made us get dressed before running outside. Of course we had as many mangoes as we wanted to eat, and we gave the rest to our New Guinean housekeeper to sell in the open market.

picking up mangoes - can you see a few scattered on the ground?

The second time we moved was to a home that my parents purchased. Buying a home made living arrangements a bit more stable for our family. Most of the houses in our area were owned by various companies who used them as accommodations for their expat workers. When these homes were not needed by the companies, they would rent them out, but our family had to be ready to move with just a 2-week notice when the company needed the house again. I think we moved every year or so during my early years.

the house my parents bought

several years later my parents had
this beautiful porch
built on the front of the house

My parents bought the house from an Australian family who was 'going finish' to Australia. It was a great size for our family to grow up in (in spite of having only 1 bathroom), and the huge yard full of trees was great for us to play in. My parents still own that house and it has served them and many others comfortably.

Road Trip

Having visitors from the U.S. was always an exciting experience!

My most vivid memory from second grade was a visit from the {B} family. The {B}s have been friends with my family since before I can remember. Although, at the time, they were raising a family on a very slender Christian college teachers' salary, Dr & Mrs. B made it a priority to take their son and daughter on regular mission trips. Since the {B}'s daughter was close to my age, their visit was especially exciting for me.

As was usually the case when we had American visitors, Dad scheduled special meetings in a number of the churches he worked with. The {B} family were all very musical and their brass instrumental music was a huge hit in the small churches whose members typically used no instruments except their voices. For this particular visit, meetings had been scheduled in the churches along the coast, as well as in several places in Chuave.

a church service in a village church

This meant a trip into the mountains over unpaved roads - a dusty, bumpy 8+ hour trip. My family owned a double-cabin Toyota pickup truck which was a great vehicle for making trips over such rough terrain. For this trip, though, there was not room inside the truck's cab for all of us - 4 adults and 5 children - to ride. So it was decided that our 2 visiting kiddos and I would make the trip in the open back of the truck. At some point, Dad had had a 'cage' made of metal bars welded onto the back of the truck and fitted with a canvas cover which he used to protect his gear on such trips. So now, the three of us piled in along with the suitcases, sleeping bags, food, and instruments.

this picture was taken when my grandparents
visited us the next year,
but you can see our truck with 'cage' in the background

I'm not sure what was going through the minds of the others, but I was super excited to be going on this adventure!

I can remember singing songs at the top of our lungs . . . and I remember being a bit miffed when the visiting boy told me that my voice was jumpy and off-key. {What did he expect when the road was like a wash-board, I wonder?}

I was young enough that I didn't mind the jolting ride or all the dust that seeped into the cracks around the tarp-cover and coated us from head to toe. And I was naive enough not to worry too much about the possible dangers of such a journey . . . though to this day, those now-grown kiddos laugh about how I yelled '
We'll all be killed!' at some point in the trip. I'm sure they're not making it up, but I have no memory of yelling that.

We made it to Chuave without serious incident and spent several days in a village there. My other clear memory of that trip involves a village woman who made 'donuts' to sell in the open market by dropping blobs of dough into hot oil and then draining them on clean paper. Each day she brought us some as a gift. These donuts tasted so awful that we could not eat them. I can remember all of us discussing why they tasted so bad. Finally, one of the adults realized that this kind lady used kerosene as an excelerant to get the fire going under her pot and then, without washing her hands, mixed the dough with her hands {of course} and dropped handfuls of it into the pot of hot oil. Kerosene-flavored donuts? We didn't want to hurt her feelings, so we accepted her daily love-gift and then discretely threw them away.

a village meal . . .
and, yep, they really are standing around watching us eat.
Just one of many joys of growing up a minority / curiosity



Ronnica said...

Great to read about your childhood...I had no idea you had a blog!

Rachel said...

Really? I thought I'd told you. Well, now you know my secret ;O) Glad you enjoyed my tales!

Gretchen said...

Rachel, I look forward to your post every week! What interesting memories! I would have loved riding in the back of that truck, too. I bet you guys had more fun than if you had been crammed inside. :)

Mom2three said...

I love reading about your childhood journeys. I'm thinking you didn't miss the Cassowaries with this new move. I have enjoyed learning about PNG through your eyes. I can just see your travels in the truck through your description. I'm looking forward to reading more next week.

scrapbookeasy said...

Rachel, you have the most amazing memories and interesting childhood. You must be filled with stories for your children!

Beth (Elizabeth) LaMie said...

How great to have a mango tree right in your own yard, but how sad that your brother's skin got burned from them. I had no idea that would happen, but obviously we don't have mangoes growing naturally in the Midwest! Thanks for the great descriptions.

Beth from Group3

coolestfamilyontheblock said...

More great stories, as usual. They're always so different than the rest of ours...and the pictures are my favorite!

Now I have the strangest craving for kerosene donuts...