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02 March 2011

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Colin - I had a stint at Finschhafen in the 70's with PNGVR and thought it was Heaven on Earth. Mind you it rained for the first couple of days and even the coronous ground flooded throughout our camp.

We were meant to build a barge landing ramp and put in a "digester" system of fish and algae ponds plus a methane gas collector for the local school, but because of poor administration major components did not eventuate and extremely high tides left our ramp short of ideal.

Quite a shame, as the platoon was boiling over with energy.
My article was in response to another writer asking for comments on life in Boroko.

Henry - You should have come up earlier and enjoyed the water skiing at Finschhafen and the fun and games of "serious" tennis at the Finschhafen Club. They even chartered planes for the weekend to fly out from Lae!

Where they all slept, if they did, God would only know.
Then in 1969, you may have enjoyed the "Wimbledon a la Pindiu" lawn tennis championships! Very, very serious competition - and we upheld the tradition - we wore white attire.

Cards were a big thing also, but we were breaking the law - so all very hush, hush! Strange that the upholders of the law, seemed to enjoy playing also.

Of course, if we were very, very early we could have enjoyed the soirees for the weekends of Scott Fitzgerald bliss at wonderful Salamaua.

Henry I liked your reminiscences.

When my wife and I were reunited after she and our two young girls had to cool their heels in a flat at Mosman while I did my Kwikila thing, we couldn’t get a quick trip to Kavieng.

So were shunted to the Mapang Guest House - our first taste of territory lifestyle with its ageing furniture, fittings, fans.

Then on to New Ireland; offloaded at Rabaul for an enforced but enjoyable overnight at the Kaivuna, before next day to Kavieng and few nights there before setting out on Captain Busch’s 'Theresa May'.

Mind, the same mattress is in the cheaper rooms at the Kavieng Hotel in 2008 as it was in 1970. When asked, the current manager suggested my observation was correct.

Later, after I left the Kiap life, I was the Catholic Mission’s manager at Metekavil Plantations. Occasionally I would make a seven-hour trip, on our seven-tonner MV 'Dolphin', to town to place orders etc. Quite often US Bishop Stemper would provide me with a room at his large house overlooking the Kavieng harbour.

One day after our evening meal, he turned to me and asked, “Do want a game of cards Willy (my Catholic name whereas United Church people called me Arthur)?”

I quickly replied, “Yes!” as I have always enjoyed its various games ever since my paternal grandfather taught me crib too many years ago. Mind I cannot stand the PNG favourite of ‘Las Kad’ which drives me bonkers.

I wondered if I should have said yes because perhaps the Big Man didn’t know of the then ban on the playing of cards. He didn’t wear a mitre for nothing. “Don’t worry Willy, I’ve got a licence!”

I thus found out that it was still possible to import and play cards as long as you obtained a licence. Anyway he picked up the domestic phone and rang across to the nunnery.

“Sister - send over a couple of your ladies to play Rummy!” he ordered. Soon four of us were sitting down for a few enjoyable hours.

Mmmmm memories…..

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