Editor's (Karen's) preface, December 27, 2005: One of my sharp-eyed former KLS students, Marilyn Maggie Tuff, noticed that I have often changed tenses in the body of the text. This, therefore, leads me to add this explanation. I have transcribed my diaries and letters ver batim, and that is what you will see here for the most part. I was writing in my diary each night after the day's events; consequently, some of the text may be in the past tense (as, Today we hiked up the mountain), and in the very same entry, I may switch to present tense (as, Rita is not cooking tomorrow). When I include editorial notes and memoir stories, I use brackets and date the passage with a 2005 (soon to be 2006) date. I hope this will not cause too much confusion. My hope is that you all can enjoy reading about yourselves without the mechanics causing distractions. In any case, I welcome your comments. Thank you, Marilyn, for pointing out this situation to me.
Last, if you haven't already read the Foreword, please do so in order to get in on the secret of who I was and why I decided to share these journals and photos with you in this public venue. KPMH
JOURNALS, LETTERS, AND MEMOIRS OF KAREN McCANN
Thursday, August 17, 1961 [journal entries]
This continues from Chapter III, training at Lae. I spent the final night at the Ampo guest house with the other female short-termers.
I was rudely awakened at 6:20 by Korinneís alarm clock. The birds were all chirping loudly in the dusk of predawn.
I dressed as quickly as possible, packing the last things into my baggage. I then went over to the dining room, where Mavis had left some cereal and bread out for me. I breakfasted on cold cereal and milk--a whole two glasses. [I think the significance of that last statement lies in the fact that there was no milk available for drinking on the British ship on which we had spent several weeks, and I was a milk lover. -Karen, July 2005]
As I finished and walked out, Ray drove up with Mike and Milt. They were fifteen minutes early, but I was ready for them. We loaded my things into the car and took off for the airport. In New Guinea, passengers must be weighed in an hour early so that the airline knows how much freight can be shipped.
They left soon after I was weighed in, and I was left to my own devices. I sat outside facing the airstrip, on one of the chairs which are provided.
Lae Airport Runway
The chair was situated under sort of a breezeway, a slab with a roof supported by poles. It was interesting to watch the people come and go. There are many young men, mostly Australians, working here in New Guinea, and they are forever traipsing about the airport in their crisp, white uniforms. To a man, they wear white or khaki shorts, as do almost all the men in New Guinea. [Shorts were worn even by businessmen and bankers, who wore them with shirt and tie. -ed.]
We were airborne by 7:35, and a most interesting spectacle was laid before me. I had a panoramic view out my window, and I wished that I had had a dictaphone to describe it. The mist of morning still covered everything and gave a soft effect to the scene below. As soon as we left the ground we were over the sparkling aqua bay, headed in the general direction, I believe, of Bula Girlsí School. We were soon across the bay and flying above the mountains and rivers of the coastal area. It was fascinating to discover that the tops of many of the peaks had been leveled and a small village built. There were roads circling the mountains, and occasionally a lone hut could be seen.
Aerial view of Mountains
The mountains were covered with lush, green vegetation, mostly deciduous, with only an occasional scraggly palm tree reaching up for the light.
We were aloft only a short half hour, and I was surprised and quite disappointed when we began to lose altitude so soon after leaving Lae. As we were approaching Wau, a lovely valley adjacent to the one in which Wau is situated, appeared to the right of the plane. The many small, white fluffy clouds hanging low over the valley were a most lovely sight. Then the Wau Valley was before us.
We soon landed in Wau, and the other passenger and I stepped out into the dewy grass of the airstrip.
The Beautiful Wau Valley from the Air
Katharine Lehmann School from the Air
School at Left Rear, Dorms on Right, Teachers' House Front Center
The ďairportĒ was only one small, lonely building, and we walked up a flight of stairs to a porch-like affair, open on three sides.
As I was wondering what to do next, a small gray truck came bouncing down the road, and two dark-haired young women and a blond man soon bounded up the steps to greet me, and to welcome me to Wau.
[I wish I had better photos of Lissie and Karin.]
The women introduced themselves as Lissie Schuster and Karin Keuler, the German matrons [dorm mothers.]
The man was Gil Kirchhoff. He is a short, slender towheaded young man, who maintains the Katharine Lehmann School complex. He is married to an Australian girl, Myra Jericho, who was previously the cook here, and they have a five-month old baby boy.
Myra and Gil Kirchhoff with Baby Anthony
Myraís sister, Rita Jericho, came for the wedding and remained as the cook.
Approaching Katharine Lehmann School
We soon made our way down the road and up the hill to the school, which has an ideal location on a hill between two valleys. One valley is rather small, and the other one is immense with the town of Wau snuggled in one corner.
The Lane to KLS From the Main Road
Photo from Gil and Myra Kirchhoff
[Excerpt from letter to parents dated Thursday, August 17, 1961]
Wau is a lovely place. The mission is situated on a hill overlooking the city, which is nestled in a beautiful valley.
The Wau Valley
It is very cool here, and my hose felt good when I arrived. In fact, I may have to have you send me some more! The sky is blue with white, fluffy clouds, and it is sunny out. The brisk mountain air and surrounding green hills remind me very much of Colorado.
[From my first missionary letter six weeks later, which was sent by my home congregation to interested parties]
Wau is located in a beautiful valley surrounded by gigantic mountains, and KLS is situated on a hill about two miles from town. Our altitude here is 4,000 feet, and the nights are quite chilly, usually in the 40ís or 50ís.
We arrived just before school started--at not quite 8:30--and there I was, subjected to introductions of everyone on the station, including staff, children, and parents who are here on ďholidayĒ (vacation).
Doris Prenzler, the other teacher, is a tall, thirty-ish young woman with very fair hair and blue eyes. Being from Brisbane, she is quite Australian and has a lovely broad (rather British) accent.
After introductions, I was shown to my room. My room is a small one on the cool corner of the teacherís house, which is built in typical fashion, one room wide but with an enclosed porch running the full length of the front. I have two windows, one of which has a lovely view of the small valley and surrounding mountains. I have a bookshelf, a chest-of-drawers, two chairs, and a bed table. There were fresh flowers in a vase on my chest. I think I need some pictures on my walls. Otherwise, it is very comfortable.
The Teachers' House
After putting my luggage in my room, I walked back to the school to do some observing. On my desk were beautiful flower chains to welcome me. They were made of a large yellow flower.
The School Building at KLS
The school building is a nice-sized one, with three large rooms and a library/supply room. Doris has one room and one is empty. My room is a brand-new addition; it is painted a light gray and has louvered windows the length of both sides. It is light and airy. There is a built-in wall cabinet, the teacherís desk, a table with a chair, and fifteen small tables with small chairs for the children.
The View from the Window of My School Room
[From the first missionary letter that I wrote]
New Guinea is certainly a land of great beauty. As I look out the windows near my school desk, I see a panoramic view of the valley and surrounding blue-green mountains. The village of Wau is nestled in one corner of the valley, and a tree-lined road curves out toward the school, with the native compound to the right. I can see fir trees, mimosas, banana trees and flowering shrubs. We are truly in a land of never-ending spring.
Doris has been taking care of all the grades for the last three weeks, ever since Charlotte Kempfer left for Texas to marry a Rev. Pecht of Comfort, Texas. Doris has done an excellent job of running back and forth. Iíll never know how she does it!
I sat in there all morning, observing her, and when she had time, she talked to me to help as much as possible. She had all the teachers' guides laid out on the table, and I glanced through some of these and studied the daily schedule. I had the sinking thoughts that it would be a long, hard, uphill pull for the first many weeks. To be stepping cold into a three-grade classroom, in the middle of the term, in a strange country,working with strange people, and in a foreign (New South Wales) system with children of three different nationalities as students, is no small order for ANY teacher, let alone a twenty-one-year-old one with NO experience and no knowledge of what to do with first and third graders!
I will have fifteen students: two first graders, nine third graders, and four fourth graders. For the record, they are:
Elinor Radke, Danny Diemer, Markie Brandt, and Eric Theile (fourth grade); Gertraud Schuster and Ann Theile (first grade), and Ted Schulz, Christine Sievert, Heidi Baer, Heidi Strauss, Jonathan Nagel, Adelheid Hertle, Margaret Tscharke, David Goldhardt, and Drew Sansness (third grade).
Drew Sansness Standing in Our Classroom
Lunch is at twelve o'clock (here it is called dinner.) I am sitting at the guest table for the time being, seated near Myra and Gil (who is at the head of the table and rings all the bells and begins the prayers) and across from the captain of the Simbang (the mission supply ship) and his wife, who are here on holiday (vacation). Next to me is Sister Martin, an Anglican missionary nurse who is here on sick leave.
The KLS Driveway, Rec Hall and Dining Hall on Left, Guest Houses on Right Overlooking the Beautiful Wau Valley
After the afternoon classes, I bathed and dressed for supper, or, as it is called, six oíclock tea. New Guinea is famous for its bucket showers. There is no hot water heater in our house, as it is a terrible luxury. The water is heated in an electric pitcher, poured into a bucket along with cold water, and raised by means of ropes and pulleys. Then, after all that work, you NEED a shower! And we girls at TLC thought that West Hall Dorm was inconvenient!
[The following is from a story I wrote in a memoir writing class in 2004]
BEDS AND BUCKET SHOWERS IN NEW GUINEA
When I arrived at Katherine Lehmann School, the teaching assignment I had received in New Guinea, I was shown to my room. I was to live in a building with the other teacher, Doris; the school nurse, Karin; and the kitchen supervisor, Rita. There were four rooms lined up side by side, and we each had our own room. The reason for the rooms being side by side was to facilitate breezes blowing through, since the days could be quite warm even though we were in the mountains. There were louvered windows, jalousies, along the wall which overlooked the beautiful blue mountains. We needed the breeze by day, but at night it could be very chilly.
The bed in my room was nothing more than a cot with a thin sagging mattress on a wire mesh base, which was held to the bed frame by short metal springs. That was the end of my sleeping on my stomach! Iím sure my permanent backache is mostly due to those two years of sleeping on a hammock style mattress.
More surprising was the shower in the bathroom, which was connected to my room but was to be shared by the German nurse next door.
It was known as a bucket shower. There was a large bucket on a rope with a pulley. We had an immersion heater in the bathroom, a large crockery pitcher which we plugged into the electricity. Soon the water boiled, and we poured the hot water into the bucket. Then we added cold water until the temperature was right, and we pulled the bucket up until it was in position above our head. At that point, we stepped under the bucket and unscrewed the shower head that was on the bottom of the bucket so that water would flow from it. When we got ourselves and our hair wet, we screwed the shower head back so that it was turned off. Then we quickly soaped ourselves and lathered our hair; following that, we unscrewed the shower head again to release water. We hoped we could get our hair and body all washed off before the bucket ran dry.
It took talent.
Devotions are at 6:50 every night in the dining hall. In one end is a sort of lounge with a small pump organ and a piano. Every one comes for devotions, which are read by one of the adults. As I walked in the door, several of the little girls called to me, having saved a seat for me among them. I find that I was famous even before I arrived--the children were SO excited to be getting a new teacher.
After we sang the last song, all the children got up and came around to shake hands with the adults and say goodnight. This is a quaint custom, and I find it intriguing to say the least. Even at this young age, there is quite a difference in the way individual children shake hands. Some are very firm, and some seem afraid even to entrust you with their small hands.
Doris and I did more work up in the school room--mostly she just answered my questions. We went home about ten oíclock (her room is on the other end of the teachersí house), and I went to bed immediately in hopes that I would have a long nightís sleep. Unfortunately, my feet were so cold that I couldnít sleep. I just barely dozed off several times, but Iím sure it was two hours before I slept soundly.
Friday, August 18, 1961
Today was spent in exploring the materials available and in lesson planning. I sat at the table again during most of the day, working on a schedule for Monday and trying to figure out how to keep them all busy at the same time, and yet TEACH them something.
It was chilly all day, and my nose is still running lickety split. I certainly hope my head eventually clears up. Iíve had this for about two weeks, now. I find I always have to carry my Kleenix around--I donít care to stuff a handkerchief down the front of my dress as do the Australians.
[Excerpt from letter to parents dated August 17, 1961]
My cold has turned into a sinus condition, and I have nothing to doctor with. Guess Iíll live, if my nose doesnít deteriorate from constant blowing.
Our baggage is leaving Australia on the 22nd, and we should get it soon afterwards. I only have about three skirts and five blouses with me, and two dresses. Hope I can manage!
[Journal entry, August 18, cont'd.]
One of the nicest people Iíve met so far is Mrs. Frerichs, the wife of the mission vice-president.
She is a tall, sweet woman--an American. Perhaps thatís part of the reason I like her so much. She has SEVEN children. Two are at St. Peterís in Brisbane, two are in school here, and three are still preschoolers. They are all handsome children. She is here on holiday in order to be with her children who attend KLS. Her station is Heldsbach at Finschhafen, the one where the Virgil Brandts were sent. She is the New Guinea correspondent for The Missionary, the TALC (The American Lutheran Church) mission magazine, and has asked me to write an article for it concerning my impressions here.
One of the bright spots of the mornings and afternoons is morning and afternoon tea, a snack break that is an Australian tradition. In the mornings, we have bread, jam, and cheese or cold meat. In the afternoons there are cookies (which the Australians call ďbiscuitsĒ) or cakes, and fruit. Iím afraid Iíll end up FAT! It wouldnít really be very hard!
After the school day, I went back to the room to wash up for six oíclock tea, or supper. Just as I was walking out, Rita came out of her room to tell me that there was to be a picnic in my honor, and that I could put slacks on if I wished. So, I trudged back to the room and pressed my black slacks.
Welcoming Campfire for Miss McCann Rita is to Left of Center with Blue and White Blouse
The campfire was on the very edge of the ridge upon which our teachersí house is built. To get there, we pass a guest house and walk beneath several evergreen trees. The view from the spot is terrific, and itís a lovely spot for a campfire.
Guest House Beyond Teacher House
We really had a feast: roasted corn-on-the-cob, hot chocolate (which is known here by its brand name, Milo, ) fresh pineapple, boiled eggs on sliced bread, and sausage (a type of fat wiener) which the native boys roasted for us over the fire.
Afterwards, there were films for the children in the dining hall--ancient Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck comedies with no sound, only subtitles. There was even one Our Gang or The Little Rascals, and one Three Stooges. After they were over, I walked back to my room and plopped in bed--and went to sleep! It wasnít as cold as the night before, and I was quite comfortable.
[Excerpt from letter to parents dated Saturday August 19, 1961]
I just FELL into bed. Went to sleep a little after nine and didnít wake up until 6:30. I needed it, because I feel great today. I just feel sorry about not working more in the school last night.
Saturday, August 19, 1961 [Journal entries] I arose to a lovely morning. Although it was overcast, the wispy clouds on the mountain outside my window gave an inviting look to the out-of-doors. These mountains are never-ending in their varieties of subtle color changes.
The View of the Mountains from the Window of the Teachers' House
Wispy Clouds Gave an Inviting Appearance
The mountains can be deep shades of blues or bright greens, and they appear different almost every time you see them.
Breakfast each day consists of papaya (called pawpaw ), hot cereal, and toast.
One of Our Kitchen Boys Holding a Papaya, Ready to Eat...MMMMmmmm
Milk Delivery at KLS
After breakfast, I went up to the school on my own to do some work, but of course, I took off for morning tea and for lunch (dinner), etc. I just about completed my lesson planning and scheduling. I pretty well know what Iím going to do Monday. Letís hope that the other days fall into place as I go along. I think Iím going to have to feel my way very carefully, and I know Iíll be making lots of errors at first in my judgment of time and activities. Iím sure Iíll have to change many of my teaching methods, or at least adapt them carefully. Talk about experience! Iíll have HAD it!
After supper ( tea), I decided to spend time in writing in my log and in cleaning up the mess in my classroom in preparation for school on Monday. Gil had brought me a piece of white pine plywood and set it on a huge easel for me as a bulletin board, and I have tacked a multiplication facts table which I went to great pains to make yesterday.
I also made, yesterday, three sets of construction paper figures (ducks, rabbits, and cars) for use with the first grade in developing number concepts. The children helped me cut them, and I pasted sandpaper on the back so they may be used on the small flannel boards I found in my cabinet.
[Excerpt from letter to parents, August 19]
Iíve already made some educational aids for my arithmetic lessons, and Gil, the man who is in charge of the mission station, brought me a piece of plywood for a bulletin board. Iím afraid Iím not going to be really well prepared Monday, but I suppose weíll suffer through the day. I donít see how I can keep three classes busy all at the same time and TEACH them anything in the process. Well, we shall see what we shall see.
You might be interested to know some of the things Iíll be doing. Tuesday nights Iíll have choir. Iíll be helping teach swimming, and Iíll be giving piano lessons to the older children. In fact, Iíll be doing lots of things Iíve never done before! I donít know if the kids will learn much, but Iíll bet I will!
[Karenís notes, July 2005:]I have a distinct memory of being asked three questions the first night of my arrival.
One was: Can you drive? Of course, I could drive. I had received my driverís license at age fourteen and had never looked back. I was told, Good, you will take your turn driving the children to town to shop on Saturday mornings.
The KLS Bedford Pickup Truck With Four on the Floor If you look carefully, you can see some of the children preparing to get into the back of the truck.
Never mind that the vehicle in question was a Bedford pickup truck with steering column on the right, a stick shift on the floor, and and four forward gears!
A second question was: Do you play the piano? My answer was yes, as I had taken piano lessons from age five to sixteen and organ lessons in college. I was told, ďGood, you will have the advanced piano students.Ē
A third question was: Can you swim? Again, my answer was yes. I had learned swimming and simple diving in the summer youth recreation program in my home town of El Campo, Texas. I was told, ďFine, you will help teach swimming lessons.Ē
Vance Brandt Standing at the KLS PoolThis was my introduction to the idea that all mission staff were expected to do whatever was necessary, never mind the job description!
[Journal entry, August 19, cont'd]
Incidentally, I also found last yearís IQ tests in one of the drawers, and although I only have about three children who took them (the others having gone on to a higher grade), I discovered that the average IQ is quite high--most were between 110 and 120. This will really be a challenge.
About nine oíclock I went down to the dining room where most of the adults had gathered for cards and Scrabble. I sat with Doris and Sister Martin for about an hour, and wrote a bit more. Eventually, some of the women went to the kitchen to prepare a lunch (my sixth meal today), and we had cinnamon toast, toast with tomato slices, bananas, and tea and coffee. Naturally, I ate like a horse, as usual.
One of the Native Boys with a Bunch of Bananas; These Would be Stored Underneath our Kitchen Steps to Ripen
[Karenís note: Coffee was always served at these weekend evenings of card playing and chatting. It was mountain-grown New Guinea coffee, roasted and ground by our own kitchen staff. The method used for brewing was what we would call camp coffee. Water was boiled in a tea kettle and poured over the coffee grounds in a large pot. When the grounds settled to the bottom, the coffee was considered finished and was poured into cups. This produced a rich, flavorful, and potent coffee. I am sure the caffeine was the cause of many of my many sleepless weekend nights.]
Sunday, August 20, 1961: [Journal entry]
This morning at half-past eight, a brisk walk to church began. I had gotten up at 6:30 and washed my hair, because I knew it would dry as we walked. Breakfast is late on Sundays-- 7:45-- so I had plenty of time.
I wore my pink skirt and blouse and my canvas shoes for walking comfort, and we set out--Doris, Rita, and I.
It was cloudy at first, but as the time drew closer to nine, the sun came out, and we began to feel the heat a little. I believe we get more breeze up on the hill than they do down there. We had a lovely, but breathless walk--a good mile and a half, I think, or more.
Wau Compound Church; Some of Our Staff Attended Each Sunday Note the KLS Bedford Truck on the Left, with Some Children in the Back
We walked into the church yard at the native compound right at nine, and the truck drew up behind us. All the KLS guests and their many children came to church in the back. (The truck is a covered pickup-like affair with a long seat along each side.) The Radkes, the Maurers, the Hages, and the Vogts came with their youngest. Lissie stayed to teach Sunday School to the KLS children today--my turn will come, soon. Gil and Myra came, also; Gil drove the truck.
Sunday School Children Whom Doris Taught
Doris teaches the native childrenís Sunday School class in Pidgin, and she walked on to the school building as we entered the church.
The walls of the church are natural wood, and the seats are simply long, low benches very close together.
The Inside of the Compound Church, Native Pastor
Rita led the way right up front, and all of us Europeans took up the first three rows.
Rita had the Pidgin service book, and I tried to follow the liturgy and hymns as best I could.
Pidgin Language Service Book and Hymnal
I know only a few Pidgin words and expressions, but I hope to pick up more as the time passes. Itís such a comical language--I often want to laugh at the strange combinations. The word fella is added onto everything-- onefella, twofella, etc.; and bigfella; Kisim means bring, take, or carry. I really would like to know more.
The church was very nice, and the altar was lovely. There was a large crucifix on the wall above the altar, and on the altar were a small wooden cross and vases of red poinsettias. The altar was covered with wine colored cloth and had a white covering with yellow-orange rickrack. Over the center hung another white cloth with a yellow-orange cross stitched on, and to either side were long, wide, metallic gold richly-embroidered stoles hanging down. It was very nice. The men who had the liturgy and preached were native elders. We rode back in the truck after church, and I read until time for lunch. We had roast, peas, and mashed potatoes, and ice cream and chocolate syrup for dessert.
After dinner, I read for a while and then fell asleep. I think Iím going to sleep my life away here, because I seem to do nothing BUT! I slept from one oíclock until 4:45, even missed afternoon tea!
I dressed in my black and white plaid traveling dress and heels for supper (tea), because we have church Sunday night.
Karen in Black & White Plaid Traveling Dress
After supper, I worked for a while in the school, came down for church services (in the dining room) and then worked up there again, for a few minutes. We had tea, then, in the dining room, and chocolate cake--mmmm, good! I sat by Mrs. Frerichs and talked to her--in fact, we sat there long after everyone had left, and then I walked her home, as she had no ďtorch.Ē I like so much to talk to her, as I feel a real rapport with her and her American ways. Actually, Iím the only American on staff here, besides Gil, and heís assimilated much of the Aussie culture, himself.
Mrs. Frerichs and I talked about lots of things--sheís a wise woman and very attractive. Iím so glad sheís been here at this particular time--making my adjustment easier, I think.
Monday, August 21 [Journal entries]
If ever day is like thissun, iíll be ether hoam or in the horspitel in thre dayes flatt!
Well, I tell ya, this day has been one!
In the first place, I didnít sleep much having slept three-and-a-half hours yesterday afternoon. Also, I had set my alarm for 6:30, thinking breakfast was at 7:00. Naturally, after the restless night, I went immediately back to sleep and didnít wake up until 6:45. then I rushed like the twenty froggies (school down by the rushie pool, no?) and made it to breakfast by seven. Only breakfast ainít until 7:20! Glug. So, I came back to the room, made the bed, tidied up, and put some junk away in the shelves. Iím still not completely unpacked, and all I have is my train case and overnight bag. Just wait Ďtil my trunks get here--maybe Iíll have them unpacked by the time I get ready to go home. I hope.
After breakfast and teeth brushing, I flounced up to my school room to begin my firstest day as a full fledged teacher! Dum, de dum dum!
I was ready for the chilluns as they arrived. Had my little speech all prepared and gave it nicely. Managed well all morning, too, considering. Eric brought me a banana at morning tea time, and I worked at getting prepared to teach until the next recess time, at which I normally should teach sports. I let them have free play, however, and worked some more--preparing to teach until noon.
At dinner, I was ravenous, having missed my usual gorging myself at tea time. I ate two helpings of everything (am heading up a table of children, now) and made a pig of myself. After we ate, I was terrifically drowsy, so I lay down for about twenty minutes. Didnít dare doze off, or I would have slept all afternoon!
I returned to my work much refreshed--didnít have any students until 2:00, as Doris is taking my older ones for Bible study at 1:30, and the younger ones have noon rest until 2:00.
Then we had class only a half hour, and everyone went to Dorisís room to hear a book she is reading. Tea time is at 3:00, and we both went.
At 3:15, the German children go to Lissie for German stories and songs, and the younger ones (on Monday) go to Doris in the dining hall for piano lessons. The others stay and catch up on work, correct papers, etc.
Well, here comes my disillusionment: I began checking notebooks. Let me tell you, 9/10 of these kids cannot spell, capitalize, punctuate, follow instructions, comprehend, or do arithmetic!
Believe me, we are going to start over with basics! I came back to the room and lay down, and I was ready to quit. A native class couldnít possibly be this discouraging--at least they have an excuse! These kids have IQs way above the norm, and thereís no reason they should not master the basics. You just wait---if I donít teach these kids another thing, weíre going to drill until everyone knows times tables, addition facts, and basic English! And thatís a promise!
I even got my first headache since before we left the ship. And thatís a record--more than two weeks. (Reminds me of my good ole student teaching days, a headache every day.)
I ate supper (after bath and aspirin), went to the school for corrections (kids have to be there from after supper until devotions), back up by myself after devotions for a little while. At least have my schedule figured out and some arithmetic on the board. Must get up and do more tomorrow morning. Am very sleepy! Nite!
Tuesday, August 22 [letter to parents]
Thought maybe youíd like another report now that Iíve completed my first two days of teaching. Arenít you proud? My very first two days! And Iím teaching three grades in one classroom, children of such varied experiences, that Iím surprised thereís a common meeting ground. Most of them get two years' tutoring from their mothers before coming to school; some have just returned from furlough; some have been to government schools. What a mess!
I was ready to quit, yesterday, after school. I was so dejected--these kids donít know basic English or arithmetic. How can I build when thereís nothing to build onto? well, Iím going to teach them something, or die in the attempt!
My three skirts and five blouses are wearing rather thin, and my stuff wonít get here for at least another month, so I think Iíll buy some material and make a couple more skirts.
If you send me a box full of stuff, please send me a couple more cardigans and maybe even a light jacket. Also, I might as well have my other good pairs of heels (black suede and red doe skin) and some hose, if you can find some cheap ones. Iíll have more chances to wear them than I thought. You have to make a declaration at the post office that the used clothing is mine, and Iíll have to pay duty on it. Make an honest estimate as to the value of whatever you send.
Tuesday, August 22 [Journal entries]
Two days down! Only sixty-seven more teaching days till vacation. Hooray! (Or something.)
Wonder of wonders, my luggage is leaving Sydney today. I will get it a month from Friday, as the mission truck comes from Lae to Wau only once a month. Will my three skirts and five blouses last that long? ($64,000 question.)
Well, maybe Iíll stay, after all. Today wasnít half bad, although I canít say thereís nothing to be desired. These kids make me so exasperated, I know Iím going to have a hard time being patient with them. If some of them donít straighten up, thereís going to be war!
The morning went rather smoothly. I was even so well organized that I went out with them for sports. We went to the game room and I taught them to play, The Ants Go Marching. After this, we had a short go round of ďSimon Says,Ē after which I herded them back again.
Taking a Break on the KLS Slide; Teacher House on Right, Dorms on Left
I didnít even have to lie down after dinner, and no headache at the end of the day. Will my fortune continue?
After supper, the kids did corrections until devotions, and some of the third graders were not through with their compositions.
Karen in Classroom
So, I got tough and told them that if they didnít finish, they were coming back after devotions. They had been piddling time away all during their afternoon and evening study periods. Sure enough, I had to have three back after devotions: Ted, Drew, and Margaret. The two boys are among the smartest in the class and are just darling.
I had everyone read for me this morning and found that the two boys and Christine are the only ones who can read well. The rest should be reading with the first grade. The three fourth grade boys are good readers, too.
This afternoon during project time we pantomimed nursery rhymes. It was fun for the kids, but whether educational or not, I donít know.
After devotions, the three kids came up, then left by 7:45. I stayed until about 8:30 and worked out my schedule. Only one more thing to go--must figure out something for a project.
Wednesday, August 23, 1961 [Journal entries]
I have time to do no more than record these two days (it is late Thursday night) for I really do need my rest. Iím having a tough time getting myself acclimated--I want to sleep all the time, it seems.
Wednesday morning I went into Wau with Gil in the truck so I could be examined by the doctor and get a paper signed (permit for teaching in New Guinea).
Main Street Wau
A bunch of the guests went in, too, and Doris looked after my kids while I was gone. I had to wait about 45 minutes for the doctor to come, and I had been rather concerned by the impressions people had given me of this man. They all seem to have a side grin and a laugh when one mentions his name. Evidently, he isnít such a hot doctor. He is quite friendly, though, and pleasant to talk with if you donít let yourself get frightened by his atrocious little wiry beard. He examined my chest for bronchitis and asthma, and that was all. I walked up to BP (a chain general store) to meet Gil then, and we left for home. Stopped at a small Chinese shop on the way. Golly, candy is expensive. Sixpence for a small bag of caramels. During the time we were in town, a rain had come up, so we wet the people down who were riding in the back. The day progressed quite normally after that. After dinner and devotions, I gathered up all my dirty clothes and washed, then came back to the room and ironed everything...had spun them as dry as possible. Ironed till 11:30 and was thrilled to see all those lovely clean clothes. Am having trouble sleeping well here. This is funny, because I almost never have trouble sleeping.
August 24, Thursday [journal entries]
Up early and over to school to do some work. Worked most of our subjects into the morning and this afternoon we sang, took a sociogram test, and listened to me read poetry. This was much fun! I read from Time for Poetry (thereís a copy here) about goblins and fairies. The kiddos loved Orphant Annie; and I got so tickled I almost spoiled the whole thing when, at the beginning of the last verse, I looked over to see little Ann Theileís black eyes completely surrounded by white and as large as saucers in that little pointed chocolate-colored face of hers. Sheís such a doll.
Markie Brandt, my best student, is leaving Monday for home, as his family is going to America on furlough; so, as Friday is his last day of school, the kids are planning a program for him for tomorrow. Should be a scream. Weíre going to sing, Iím Going to Leave Old Texas Now, and Drew is going to ride Eric and David and pantomime it.
I left school about 4:30, came home, bathed, washed my hair. And rolled it up! Itís getting longer, now, even though itís only been a week since Mary clipped it so short. Guess Iíll let it grow again for a while.
I had all my corrections to do tonight after devotions, and about nine, Doris, her friend who is visiting, and I went to Mrs. Frerichs' for coffee and biscuits (cookies.) We had a very nice visit. Until 11:00. And now it is VERY late! Maybe Iíll sleep for a change. Gínite.
August 25, Friday [Journal entries]
The end of my first week of teaching! All went quite normally today, except for a few odds and ends. Right before sports we had a twenty-minute going away program for Markie Brandt. It was cute, and we ended up by singing several songs. After lunch we had singing, and I taught them three parts of The Orchestra Song, which they just loved. They learn new songs so quickly that I just love to teach them. After supper we had no corrections, so we sang some more.
Exercise Book Used By KLS Students
Following devotions, Dorisís friend who is here visiting showed some slides from her travels in Europe. After she finished, and we had shaken all the hands, I ran over and got those that my parents had sent to me, so I could see them projected. Then we took the projector and screen over to the school so we wouldnít disturb the others, and Doris showed three boxes of New Guinea slides. These are really interesting to me, now that I know more people and stations.
We had ďsupperĒ (late snacks) afterwards, then. Rita and Myra bake the best cakes! Iím liable to be roly poly when I leave here!
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