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[Aslakson, Carl I. [1980] Earth Measurer. Excerpt from unpublished manuscript.]

4 of 9

The Philippines

San Francisco

I finally received the Philippine orders which I had requested and used in proposing to Marian. I was detached from the GUIDE and after a few days preparing for the trip in Aberdeen we bought a small car, a Ford Model T Coupe second hand for $100. We had a month before sailing time and decided to take a leisurely trip to San Francisco from where we were to leave for the Philippines on the Dollar Liner, the PRESIDENT HARRISON. And that trip was surely leisurely. One day we traveled only forty miles. Shortly after we left that morning we found a delightful spot in the shade near a brook in a scenic valley and we spent several hours there reading and having a picnic lunch we had brought with us that morning. Enroute we passed through Sacramento and looked up Aunt Marie who was the administrative accountant for a hospital and Marian enjoyed meeting her.

After some searching we found a room in San Francisco which we could rent for a month and we moved in. We used our little car for some sightseeing while we were waiting to sail.

Jack Bond was in charge of the San Francisco Field Office and we saw a lot of him. He gave us a despidido (farewell) party shortly before we left. We first went to a night club which had a good floor show with a chorus line of ten girls. We arrived shortly before the show. In that number the chorus girls danced onto the stage with little clothing and with their dress hung over their arms and sang a song about their being rushed on the stage so fast they did not have time to dress. Then they sang the chorus, the theme of which was, "Will you button up my dress please?" While singing that chorus each girl backed up to someone at a table, continuing to sing the chorus until the man to whom they had backed up finished the job of hooking her up. I had a seat on the floor and a cute blond backed up to me. I was somewhat flustered and when I was through I had a hook left over. I said, "What will I do? I have a hook left over." The young lady said, "Unhook it and do it over." That started the entire audience laughing and I laboriously unhooked all the hooks and started over. All of the chorus continued to sing "Will you button up my dress please?" while this was going on.

With that embarrassing job completed we began to enjoy ourselves more and we stayed late. The same show came on again. I saw the chorus standing in the wings with their dresses on their arms and turning to Jack Bond I said, "I don't want to go through that again! Change places with me." Jack moved to my place and I took his which was on the inside. However that same girl squeezed between the tables and came back to me instead of to Jack. I had to go through the hooking up once more much to Jack's embarrassment.

We ended the evening at a famous all night place called Coffee Dan's. It was a basement eating place where, at that time of the morning you entered by sliding down a chute. It was quite a sight to see ladies in evening dresses sliding down that chute, sometimes with their dresses sliding up to their waist. At Coffee Dan's it was customary to rap on the table with a dish for service, especially breakable dishes were provided for that purpose and the tables were a litter of broken dishes by the time the patrons left.


We went to the Philippines via Hawaii, Kobe in Japan, Shanghai in China, Hongkong, leaving San Francisco in December, 1927. Before long we disliked the SS President Harrison intensely. We learned that the Captain was making his last trip before retiring and probably he and the steward were cleaning up. No effort was made to accommodate the passengers. The food was poor. Had it not been for a plentiful supply of artichokes we would often have gone hungry. For lunch and dinner Marian and I often ate several orders of artichokes. They seemed to have an unlimited supply.

At the mid-morning serving of bouillon on deck, the crackers were so stale that soon the passengers were taking large handfuls and immediately going to the rail and throwing them over the side.

Our first port of call was Honolulu to be followed by a stop in Japan. In Honolulu we did the usual sightseeing that the time permitted.


About half way to Japan we encountered bad weather for two days as we ran through the edge of a typhoon. The waves were enormous but on the first day of the storm we did not realize how lucky we were not to have been closer to the center of the storm. On the second day Marian and I were walking on B Deck which seemed high enough to avoid green water when suddenly as we were halfway down the deck heading toward the bow I glanced astern and saw an enormous wave which I felt sure would break on the deck. Seeing that there was no time to run forward to shelter, I grabbed Marian around the waist and at the same time thrust my arm through the hand rail that ran along the cabins. I had no more than done this than the wave broke overboard, sweeping both of us off our feet and soaking us to above our waists. Had I not had a firm grip on the rail and around Marian's waist we would have been swept down the deck or even overboard. We had more respect for the violence of the sea after that.

Later the same day another event occurred that confirmed my new respect for the violence of the sea. I had gone into the men's lavatory and was seated very comfortably, when suddenly through the porthole above me at least a barrel of water poured through the porthole above me. Someone had not fastened the lugs of the glass port and a wave sent a stream of water one foot in diameter through the port. The toilet had a sill one foot high and water was level with the top of the sill. For the second time that day I had to change my wet clothes.

The same wave carried away twenty feet of heavy oak rail on B deck and smashed several glass ports of one inch glass below B deck. From then on until the storm abated the steel porthole covers were kept fastened.


We were in port Kobe, Japan long enough for Marian and me to take the train to Kyoto, a fascinating Japanese town where Marian and I spent the night in a lovely Japanese Hotel. They served Japanese food which was most delicious and made no attempt to copy American dishes. We still remember their delicious green tea ice cream.


From Kobe we went to Shanghai where we spent two interesting days. The water of the Yellow River was so thick with yellow mud that it looked like soup. Yet Chinese sampans clustered around the sewage discharge outlets of the ship with nets on poles like a dip net, eagerly fishing up any edible tidbit that came out of the outlet. A half eaten apple or orange, a cabbage or lettuce leaf, a chunk of pineapple and similar edibles would be scooped up and dumped on a dish on the deck of the sampan. Occasionally some particularly good piece of garbage would be rinsed off in the muddy water at once and popped into their mouths. Even human waste coming out the same outlet did not deter them from fishing out the goodies.


Hongkong was our next stop. We saw the old year of 1927 out and the new year of 1928 coming in at Hongkong. Many of the passengers went to the Shanghai-Hongkong Hotel to celebrate. They did not follow the United States pattern of celebration. As midnight approached the celebrants, the ship's passengers, the British, the Japanese and Chinese in their native costumes joined hands in a large ring on the ballroom floor and all joined in singing Auld Land Syne. As soon as the song was finished everyone left and went home.

One afternoon some of us drove out to Repulse Bay north of Hongkong where there was a club for the British and the high class Chinese. We were struck by the beauty of the Chinese women. They wore highnecked form fitting gowns and had classic features and beautiful complexions.


We arrived in Manila on January 5, 1928, our trip aboard the PRESIDENT HARRISON having lasted thirty-two days.

The ship to which I was to report was the MARINDUQUE which was in port for her annual overhaul. We remained in Manila until March.

Marian and I were able to get a room in the Army Navy Annex, a building not far from the Army and Navy Club, where we took all our meals. It was a very beautiful club. An Englishman who was returning to India, was so struck by it that he kept repeating, "My word! Finest Army and Navy Club in the world!" That was the ultimate compliment, for the English take great pride in their clubs. The meals at the Army and Navy Club were excellent and reasonable. One of the waiters at the table we occupied was kind to Marian. Whether or not they were on the menu, he would sometimes whisper to her, "Missy I got chickie livers for you," he knew she was fond of chicken livers.

The other officers on the MARINDUQUE were McCormick who was Executive Officer, and Riley Sipe. McCormick was a bachelor but Wilder and Sipe had their wives in Manila. Chief Ely also had a Mrs. Ely with him but our doctor, Dr. Soule was single.

The Army and Navy Club had a large veranda on the second floor on one side which had a long line of bunks side by side the length of the veranda. This was known as "drunks row". We still had prohibition in the United States and when a transport came in there was sure to be many of the new arrivals who would imbibe too freely. fellow officers would haul them up to "drunks row" and let them sleep it off. In the morning fifteen to twenty officers would wake up on those bunks.

The Club had a beautiful swimming pool between the club and the sea wall which on festive occasions such as New Years Eve would at times be the recipient of officers and their wives in evening clothes.

New Years Eve was always the occasion for a big celebration at the Army and Navy Club. First after many drinks, everyone went over to the Manila Hotel for dinner. This was followed by going out to the Santa Ana Night Club. The Santa Ana was actually a huge house of prostitution with what was advertised as the largest dance floor in the world. At one end of the floor there was a fencelike partition. The ladies of the night and their partners for the evening who were usually soldiers or sailors, were on one side of the partition and the curiosity seeking guests such as ourselves remained dancing on the other side. Drinks could be ordered on either side. Also there was dancing on either side.

Following a few hours at the Santa Ana it was customary for all to go to Tom's Dixie Kitchen for breakfast. Tom was a huge American Negro who originally came from South Carolina. He had been in the United States Army and when his tour of duty was over he had remained in Manila and started this restaurant which was noted for good food.

Many ended up in the swimming pool in front of the club. If the ladies went in as many often did, they did not bother to remove their evening clothes.


Our working grounds were to be in the vicinity of the island of Tawi Tawi which was a six hour run from Jolo where our wives stayed. Jolo was the capital of Sulu and the home of the Sultan of Sulu. It was a town of 10,000 natives mostly Filipino as the Moros lived away from the town. Arriving at Jolo in March, 1928, the ladies from our ship, the MARINDUQUE, looked for places to stay. They were few, but Mrs. Sipe, the wife of one of our officers, and Mrs. Ely, the wife of the Chief Engineer, each found small houses. Mrs. Wilder, the Captain's wife, and Marian succeeded in finding a large, conveniently located, and comfortable house and took it jointly. There was plenty of room for the Wilder's and us.

Those three women were the only white women in Jolo except for the wife of a German whom we seldom saw and a white girl from Baltimore who had married Hadjii Guluum Rasuul. He was the son of a respected Moro, Hadju Butu, a member of the Philippine legislature and the prime minister of the sultan, but the son turned out to be a ne'er do well who drank to excess and was a general nuisance. He had met the girl when he had attended college in the United States and had proposed to her posing as a Moro prince. She had been impressed with the title Hadji which he told her meant "prince". Actually, it is simply an honorary title that signifies that the person with that title has made a pilgrimage to Mecca. When he returned to the islands with his bride she learned that he already had several Moro wives. Before marrying him she had gone to our State Department and enquired about Guluum Rasuul and she had received a warning as to what to expect but failed to heed it.


The largest island on our working grounds was Tawi Tawi. It was a lovely island about fifteen miles long and six miles wide with a 1500 foot mountain in the center. Beautiful coral reefs surrounded much of the island. On the south side there was a barrier reef and a coral lagoon several miles wide inside the reef. There were two dangerous channels through the reef which the ship could negotiate only with a man at the masthead to spot the coral heads and with leadsmen continually sounding. Inside the reef were many spectacular islets fifty to eighty feet in diameter. They were coral heads which now arose well above the water and were undercut by waves so that they looked like giant mushrooms with trees growing on the top. On the north side of Tawi Tawi there was a good bay which could be used as an anchorage. It had been named Port Dos Amigos (port two friends) by the Spanish but we later changed the name.

We were given the task of finding the true Moro names of all islands and assigning the proper names. We were required to see datus, village chiefs and other respected Moros, and ask them the name. We would have them repeat the name many times to me and a recorder who had some education. We had rules for transliteration of the Moro pronunciation to our spelling so it would sound as nearly alike the Moro word as possible. In our report we were required to give the names and rank of our authority. To illustrate how we changed the names some of them are listed below:

Name on Spanish Chart New Name
Tambagen Id. Tumbagaan Id.
Port Dos Amigos Port Languyan
Large Similac Id. Kangtipyan Dacula Id.
Middle Similac Id. Kangtipyan Sibi Id.
Small Similac Id. Kangtipyan Sibi Sibi Id.

Words were modified to illustrate comparative size by using the word dacula (large), sibi (small), and sibi sibi (smallest) or (very small). Often diki and diki diki were used instead of sibi. It is interesting that the tiny antelope in Africa that is the size of a small dog is named dik dik.

The coral beds surrounding the islands are indescribably beautiful. There are large areas of many lovely pastel shades. The color is given by the live animal. Dead coral bleaches to a pure white. The fantastic shapes of the coral also were fascinating. Besides the staghorn coral there were other species teeming with fish of every color and size imaginable. In the two years I was out there I never tired of simply looking over the side at the bottom. The water was so clear that visibility was good down to ten fathoms (sixty feet).

Our work consists of plotting the shore line on a topographic sheet, locating and erecting signals for the hydrographer to locate the launch or ship from when sounding, and locating any other prominent object visible from the shoreline. Sometimes it was not necessary to build a signal. We often found a prominent tree or a nipa shack that could be located and used as a signal. Sometimes a prominent rock could be used. In such cases we often whitewashed the rock. We made our own lime by building a fire on the beach over a pile of dead coral. When the fire would finally burn down, the coral would be good lime which would slack when water was added.

We could not use the standard bronze disks that are used to mark stations in the United States. The metal was too valuable to the Moros. They would pry them out and use them in some way such as making spearheads. Therefore we mixed up cement or concrete, poured it into a hole, and put a round wooden plug in the center. Eventually the wooden plug would rot away and the center of the hole would be the mark.

One day after marking a station there was considerable concrete left over and we shoveled it off to one side. A moro had been watching us and as we pulled away he made a dash for the extra concrete we had left and was greatly surprised to find it hardened in a solid piece.

Once we tried to recover a triangulation station on a small island. The reference or witness mark for the station was a very large and tall tree that had had a triangle cut into the side. We could not find the tree but after we found the station we could see where the tree had been. Our crew told us that the Moros thought that by marking the tree we were establishing a claim to the land. Therefore, they had cut down a tree three feet in diameter with machetes.

We always carried a medical kit ashore for emergency use. To the Moros we were the great white doctors and they were always asking for quinine and disinfectant for sores, and asking us to bandage wounds. We always complied.

On one occasion a Moro landed a vinta (outrigger canoe) near my camp and led another man up to my tent. I was working and did not notice him until he said, "My brother is sick in the eyes." I looked up and saw the man he had led up had badly inflamed eyes that were swollen almost shut. I did not feel qualified to treat his eyes but had to save face by doing something. I told him to have his brother sit on the ground and lean his head back across a log. Meanwhile I looked in my medicine chest for some boric acid. That one time I had failed to have any boric acid. I couldn't find anything I dared put in his eyes. Suddenly I had an inspiration. I took some Listerine from my toilet kit diluted it, and tried some in the corner of my eye. It stung a little but not too badly so I poured some in one of the Moro's eyes. He jumped a foot in the air but then laid back on the log for me to treat the other eye. I did so and again he jumped.

A week later the two returned. This time the Moro with the bad eyes did not have to be led. The eyes were certainly better. The English speaking Moro said, "I have brought my brother for some more medicine in the eyes." I again put in some weakened Listerine and the Moros left.

One day a week later the same two Moros came up to my camp and said, "I have brought you fish." I replied that we had just bought some fish and did not need to buy any more. He drew himself proudly and said, "I did not bring these fish to sell to you. I brought them to give to you. You made my brother well in the eyes." So much for my career as an ophthalmologist. I accepted the fish with thanks and then gave him some quinine as he told me his wife was ill with malaria.

The costumes of the Moros were very striking on festive occasions. The higher class Moros, called Tausugs, wore tight fitting trousers with a slit at the bottom so they could get them on over their feet. The trousers were often black but sometimes were of other colors. They wore a tight fitting blouse like a vest gaped open in front leaving the chest bare. They had silver or gold buttons on either side of the jacket. Occasionally the buttons would be of twenty dollar gold pieces. They had a colorful sash around their waist and another flung over the right shoulder. The sash around the waist carried their betel nut box which was made of brass and was very heavy. The betel nut boxes were very elaborate and were often inlaid with designs in silver and copper. The box contained pieces of betel nut, and the lower part contained betel nut leaves. Preparing a betel nut chew was quite a ceremony. They would take a leaf, put in some lime paste, some tobacco paste, a piece of betel nut, carefully fold it all up and then put it in the front of their mouth. Moros often sat in a ring talking. The center of the ring would look like the floor of a slaughter house where they had spat the red juice on the bleached coral.

Inasmuch as Moros filed their teeth to half length they looked very strange for the betel nut made the teeth shiny black. It probably acted as a preservative. Some wealthy Moros would have a Chinese goldsmith put a gold cap on a front tooth for decorative purposes.

The high class Tausugs lived in nipa houses on shore. The second class Moros were called Samals. Instead of the tight trousers of the Tausugs they wore wide loose trousers like pajama trousers, usually of bright colors. They lived on the edge of the water in nipa shacks on stilts built out over the water, a great convenience from a sanitary point of view. Both the Tausugs and the Samals often had the edge of the blouse decorated with gold filigree tape of a sort. The Bajaos were the "sea gypsies" who spent their entire lives in their vintas seldom going ashore except to collect coconuts or wild vegetables or to be buried when they died.


A large percentage of those who have been in tropical areas become afflicted with the "shell bug". I was no exception. Thousands of sea shells are found in the Sulu sea where I was working for nearly two years. At first I only picked up some of the beachworn but still lovely shells found in the shore detritus and brought them back to Jolo to show Marian. One day Captain Link, a South Carolinian who had married a Moro and gone native, was on the ship and saw my "junk shells." He said, "Why do you bother with dead shells?" That same day he returned to the ship and made me a present of a few common but beautiful shells taken alive. I was struck by the great difference between the dead and the live shells and from then on I only collected live shells. However Marian insisted that I keep a few of my dead shells to show how I had started.

Around Tawi Tawi and nearby islands the collecting was excellent. On some of the tidal flats at low tide one would actually step on shells if he were not looking where he walked.

Cleaning the animal out of shells taken alive is a problem. There are many ways to do it but in camp there is really only one method possible. That consists of letting the mollusk rot and then rinsing it out. It is not the most pleasant way but is most efficient. Every night would find me sitting in the stern of the skiff and rinsing out shells in sea water.

At that time I was not aware that in collecting one species of shell I was often risking my life. Shells of the genus CONUS have a poison gland and a poisonous sting that can afflict a painful, and in the case of some species, a deadly sting. Tucker Abbot is one of many malachologists who has written and cited authentic cases of death caused by poisonous cone shells. One of his interesting papers on the subject is entitled, "Mollusks and Medicine in World War II."

On one occasion I may have been stung by a poisonous cone. I saw a certain species of cowry (CYPRAEA) far back in a hole in a rock. I reached my hand back to take the cowry and suddenly I felt a slight sting on the middle finger of my right hand. I quickly withdrew my hand and within one or two minutes pains began shooting up my arm all the way to the shoulder. My recorder of whom I have spoken said, "Never do that! It is dangerous!" Then he told me to urinate on the finger. He rapidly rowed out to the launch and returned with a bottle of vinegar. He told me to thrust my finger into the vinegar. Relief came so quickly that it was remarkable. I suffered no permanent injury to my finger or hand. Thereafter I was more careful in collecting shells.

The symptom of immediate excruciating pain is described in literature and is attributed to the poisonous Cone tulipa, L.; cases are given in which untreated stings caused death in a matter of hours. It is possible that my Filipino recorder saved my life with his native treatment. I wonder why that treatment is not mentioned in the literature.

My shell collection became very large and valuable and included shells from many parts of the world.

NOTE: In 1978, realizing that I would be unlikely to continue collecting I gave my entire collection to Corbin to donate to the Lake Jackson Junior College Museum which is sponsored by Dow Chemical Co.


Dr. Faustino of the Philippine Bureau of Science asked me to collect coral (madreporaria) for him in the Sulu Sea. He did not explain what type of data should be recorded with each specimen so I listed everything I could think of which might be of interest to the scientist and had a form I made typed and mimeographed. I listed the depth of water, both the surface and bottom temperatures, the salinity, the exact latitude and longitude, the configuration of the bottom and of course the date.

Dr. Faustino said it was the most thorough data he had ever received which accompanied samples collected. He asked me what service he could render in return and told me he would be glad to classify my shells. That was the beginning of my shell classification and I never used the so-called common names thereafter.


As I was working at my plane table on one occasion an elderly Moro approached leading a small boy by the hand. Seeing that his entire body was covered by ugly sores and lesions I asked my recorder what disease he had. The recorder replied "That is the disease for which they send them to Culion." Culion was the name of the leper colony. The recorder also told me that everyone on that island as well as the medical authorities knew of the case but every time the authorities came to take the leper away his relatives hid him in the jungle.


Two years previously Jack Bond had been assigned to the MARINDUQUE and she was working on triangulation in the same area. Jack was engaged in reconnaissance and took the launch which was the same one I was using to the head of Port Languyan. He was making an abrupt turn at the head of the bay when suddenly an enormous crocodile thrust its head out of the water and seized Jack's right leg. Fortunately his leg was against a stanchion of one inch iron pipe which was firmly bolted to the deck. In our work in Sulu we always had a Constabulary guard with loaded rifle with us at all times supposedly for protection against the Moros who were considered dangerous although I never had any evidence of that. In this case the Constabulary guard fired an entire clip of five shells into the water. The launch immediately left for the ship with Jack whose leg was horribly mangled. As luck would be, the MARINDUQUE at that time had a young doctor aboard who was a recent graduate but probably the best the C. & G. S. ever had. He made an emergency setting of Jack's leg in the field, sutured it and when they arrived with the ship in Manila, the surgeons at Sternberg Hospital did not have to reset the leg. Jack recovered so that he could walk without a limp but carried horrible scars the rest of his life.

That story has a sequel. One day I had my plane table set up in the water a short distance from shore near the mouth of Port Languyan when without warning my Constabulary guard fired his rifle. I turned to berate him for firing so close to my ear when I saw what he had shot at. An enormous crocodile was rolling over about fifty yards from us. My guard fired the rest of the clip and reloaded as we hurriedly climbed into the skiff. We then rowed out close to the crocodile and the guard fired a second clip at close range. The animal had stopped rolling over and lay quietly on the surface. It appeared to be dead and the Filipinos attempted to put a line on it to tow it ashore because the skin would have brought them a good deal of money. It slowly began to sink to the bottom and fell out of the loop of line around it. As it lay on the bottom clearly visible in twelve feet of water the crew engaged in a shouting match about who was brave enough to dive down and secure a line to it. At the end of a half hour of this jabbering I insisted on pulling out to get back to work.

This particular crocodile was twenty feet long. Our launch was twenty four feet long and it was only four feet short of the launch. That is such a large crock that we believed that it was the same one which attacked Jack Bond and that it had recovered from the wounds made at that time for they are very hard to kill.


On the south side of Tawi Tawi island the mangrove grew so far out into the water that the depth was too great to set up a plane table. I therefore designed a pair of targets at the ends of a fifteen foot rod which could be held horizontally and had a sighting arrangement so that the rodman could point it exactly at the instrument man. Instead of reading a subtended angle on a plane table rod to obtain distance, I measured the angle from a skiff with a navigating sextant. For small angles I read the angle both on and off the arc and averaged the readings to eliminate index error. I prepared a table giving the distance in meters for the various angles. It was necessary to apply a correction for certain small angles because the theoretical apex of the subtended angle was actually some distance behind the sextant reader. A table of these corrections was also prepared. For want of a name for my device I called it the "Sextometer". Sometime after I returned to the United States I wrote a report entitled, "Surveying Mangrove Rivers and Creeks". In the paper I described the use of my "sextometer".

When Captain K.T. Adams wrote the new Hydrographic Manuel he ran across my report and used much of the material I had written. He even used the name "Sextometer".


One of my experiences in Sulu I would not care to repeat. My plane table was set up in water in a cove about thirty meters from the edge of the mangrove. We had just finished lunch on shore and I was wading back out to the plane table when I felt a sting or prick on my right ankle. Looking down I saw a small stingray swimming away from my foot. After continuing to work for a few minutes my leg began to pain me severely and I went out to the launch to examine it. There was a large blue area on the ankle and a row of what appeared to be blue blood blisters extending all the way to my toes. I had been wearing low canvas sneakers and the wounds were above the top of the sneakers. Within ten minutes the pain became excruciating and I had the launch take me to the ship. For forty eight hours the pain persisted and then gradually wore off but the blisters continued to grow and my leg began to swell badly. Some of the blisters broke and the area began to ulcerate.

Our doctor at that time knew little of medicine and his one remedy for all sores was antiphlogistine so he proceeded to apply bandages with that ointment on the foot.

The injury was obviously very severe, and as we were due to go to Manila shortly we sailed north, and I was hospitalized in Sternberg, the Army Hospital. My leg continued to swell all the way to my hip. It was an endemic swelling and I could thrust my finger into the leg to the second joint and unless the leg was elevated the dent would remain. Furthermore the abscess on my foot refused to heal. Many treatments were tried all to no avail. I simply had to remain in bed with my foot elevated above my head.

The ship was due to return south to do some work on Mindanao for a short time and I asked to go with her for hospitalization in the Army hospital there, because our families were in Zamboanga.

The hospital in Zamboanga was small but they had a very capable doctor, Captain Stammel, whom I liked very much. After a few days during which time the ulcers showed no improvement Captain Stammel said, "I don't know what to do. However things like this happen to the Moros all the time and they usually get well. Possibly it is because the wounds are exposed to sunlight." Whereupon a wheel chair was rigged so that my right leg could be elevated and I was wheeled out daily. Within a few weeks the swelling started to go down and the ulcers began to heal. However for several years I experienced some swelling when I was on my feet for an extended period of time.* Returning to ship duty I could stand watches as long as my foot was elevated.

[*NOTE: The above was written before 1977. In the spring of that year an ulcer appeared on the spot where the sting ray barb had entered forty-nine years before. A surgeon at the Naval Hospital in Bethesda hospitalized me for a few days, gave me intravenous penicillin and sent me home with material for treating the abscess and some penicillin tablets. The abscess would seem to heal but after some time a scab would begin to form and a new abscess would break out. There was considerable pain at times. In 1979 I still have the abscess which requires bandaging each day. My surgeon at the Naval hospital has advised me to make an appointment with a plastic surgeon. I have an appointment scheduled for October 1979.]


While in the Sulu area we coaled ship at Sandakan, Borneo. It was an overnight trip from our working grounds to Sandakan. One night I was standing a bridge watch and enjoying the full moon which was out which allowed some visibility. I was sure of my position because I had been taking bearings on a lighthouse on the Borneo coast. Suddenly a small island loomed up dead ahead which had a few palm trees on it. I was frightened and ordered full right and full astern. Then I stopped the ship and sent for the Captain, he took one look with his binoculars and said, "Oh that's one of those floating island that you find off the Borneo coast. It seems that near the mouth of a jungle river off the north coast of Borneo, driftwood and logs near shore often get bound together, vines and vegetation will rot and form a sort of soil, and finally new vegetation will start growing on the mass. Sometimes often years later, during the rainy season one of these masses will break away and float out to sea. It is a very solid mass and could damage a ship hitting it and I was right in avoiding it, but I would have appreciated it if the Captain had warned me about them in advance.


One day when we were coaling in Sandakan, I visited a souvenir shop run by Chinese and saw some small boxes three to four inches in length, about an inch wide and 3/4 of an inch high. They were well made of fine ebony and other tropical wood. Some were of ivory. All were beautifully carved. I asked the Chinese clerk what they were for. He replied, "They are coffins, sir." "Coffins for what?" I asked. "Coffins for a cockroach," was his reply. Well I finally elicited the purpose of the "Coffins". It seems that the Chinese in Sandakan were inveterate gamblers. One of the sports they gambled on was fighting between cockroaches.

In some way they trained the huge cockroaches of that area to fight. When a cockroach had won a great deal of money for his owner and was finally killed in battle, the owner buried it with honors, purchasing one of those coffins to bury it in.

Describing life in Jolo would not be complete without mention of Marian's acquaintance with the Princess Tahata Kiram. She was the niece of the once powerful Sultan Kiram who at one time ruled a large kingdom of islands in Sulu and Borneo. After Marian met her, she was appointed first deputy governor of the Turtle Ids., a group of islands lying between Zamboanga and Borneo by the Governor Herolas Tulawi. The princess was educated in the University of Illinois in 1922. She spoke good English but with the slang of 1922. In explaining to Marian why she had gone native and chewed betel nut she said, "When you are in Rome you do as the Romans do." She had married a distant relative, Datu Tahi, after returning to Sulu. However he was serving a seven year term of imprisonment for carving up a Moro in a fight.

The princess used to come to Jolo to have Marian and Mrs. Wilder help her cut patterns to make clothes for her little boy whom she dressed as an American boy even though she herself dressed as a native.

Inasmuch as Marian and Mrs. Wilder were usually the official hostesses whenever junketing trips of officials came to Jolo and one of the things to do was to call on the Sultan of Sulu, both of them became well acquainted with him. Both Marian and Mrs. Wilder attended the wedding of Imam Mali to his fourth wife which was a gala affair when judged by Moro standards.

Marian said that among other events there was a procession of litters which contained presents and the curtains on the outside of the litters was covered with dollar bills pinned to them. The main feature of the ceremony was the chase during which the bride, a very young Moro girl, compared to the Imam was supposed to run away and be chased by the groom. She was dutifully slow in her running and was caught and carried into the marriage tent.

Once in the afternoon Mrs. Wilder heard Imam Mali muttering, "Goddam Christians! Goddam Christians!" Turning to him she said, "Imam, I am a Christian." Whereupon the Imam replied, "No. You are no Christian. You American!" Most of the Filipinos who are the governing officials are Christian and are heartedly hated by the Moros. Therefore they associate Christianity only with the Filipinos and not the Americans, who have been liked and admired by the Moros ever since they signed a peace treaty with General Wood.


Marian had to leave for Manila in June as the baby was due in about a month. There was no C. & G.S. ship leaving at that time so she had to travel on one of the inter-island ships, the NUESTRA SENORA del PILAR. Her Captain boasted that he always went into port with one more passenger than he started out with and that he always officiated at the birth. In Marian's case she fooled him.

It was the typhoon season, but the ship reached Manila without mishap. Marian found a large house for rent until she entered the hospital. Captain and Mrs. Colbert arrived at Manila shortly afterward as he was to be the new Director. Since the house Marian had rented was too large for her, the Colberts asked to take over the house. Marian was glad to let them have it and she kept one room while the Colberts took the rest.

The baby was born on August 7, 1928. It was a difficult birth but Mabel and Ritt arrived on the same ship as the Colberts and were most helpful. The PATHFINDER was in port and Ritt was assigned to her. When Corbin was six weeks old the Pathfinder sailed south for Zamboanga, Mindanao, and Marian and the baby went as passengers. She had found an Amah (nurse) for the baby but she was of little use on the trip because she was always seasick. The Amah was named Patricina Cawagas and she remained with us to the end of my Philippine assignment. Marian was also seasick so it was a rough voyage for her. Mrs. Wilder met Marian at Zamboanga and persuaded the Captain of a cattle boat to take Marian, herself and the baby down to Jolo. The Captain let the two women and the baby occupy his primitive cabin. Had he not done so they would have had to sleep on deck with the Moros.

Some time after we had returned to the United States Marian received a letter from Patricina telling her how she missed her and the baby. She said, "You were the best master I ever had."

While Marian was in Manila, I stayed on the ship. We slept on the fantail as it was cooler than below decks. One night I heard McCormick, our Executive Officer come aboard. He staggered up the gangway, crossed the fantail and fell overboard on the port side. That sobered him enough so he could call for help. He couldn't swim but I threw him a life ring and he was able to climb back aboard slightly more sober than when he arrived .


We remained in Jolo until just before Christmas of 1928 when the MARINDUQUE returned to Manila to enter drydock for routine repairs. Corbin had thrived in Jolo. As pets we had five monkeys, a civet cat, a myna bird, and a little spotted English deer. We had had a large yard with a fence around it and Corbin was in the yard a great deal. Often the Moros would line the fence to look at him. His hair was bleached snow white and was a source of curiosity to the Moros accustomed as they were to black hair. They called him "Abacacito" or "Little Hempy" as his hair was the color of hemp. He was active and crawled very rapidly but one day in the yard he decided he could not get where he wanted to go fast enough so he simply stood up and ran across the yard. Then he sat down with a very surprised look on his face. His first walk was actually a run of forty feet and he never crawled thereafter.

We returned to Manila for a change of command. Patterson replaced Wilder as skipper. McCormick and Sipe were ordered to return to the States and were replaced by Sam Grenell and Bruce Gossett. As senior officer, I now became Executive Officer. Both Mrs. Gossett and Mrs. Grenell were pregnant and had babies born in Sternberg. All of the officers found apartments. Ours was a nice apartment on M.H. del Pilar. A Naval Captain and his wife lived in the apartment above us. One day his wife became ill and wanted our Amah, Patricina, to help her dress to go to the hospital. Marian was horrified to learn that the lady had been hospitalized with diphtheria.

Asking Patricina what she had done after helping the lady dress, Patricina replied, "I knew she was very sick so before I went near the baby I took a bath and used Lysol."

Corbin was obviously trying to use some words but we could not understand him. Patricina took him out on the waterfront each day where the other Amahs congregated with the babies. It seems that Corbin had learned some Tagalog words and Patricina interpreted. She said, "That is a word used in talking to older women. It is a mark of respect." So we can say that Corbin's first spoken words were spoken in Tagalog.

During this Manila stay, Stimpson, the Governor General was ordered back to the United States. He had been heartily disliked by most of the Americans because of his kowtowing to the Filipinos in all matters. A Despidido was given at the Governors Palace and Marian and Mrs. Wilder were invited. As she passed through the receiving line, Marian said to Mrs. Stimpson what she really thought instead of the appropriate farewell remarks. Inadvertently she said, "We are so glad you are going." Either it didn't register or Mrs. Stimpson ignored it for she replied, "Thank you very much for saying so."


Before returning to Jolo, the MARINDUQUE was ordered to make some small surveys in the vicinity of Zamboanga. We spent three months there and the wives lived in the Plaza Hotel which was well run by a Filipino gentleman named Bayot. Mr. Bayot and his wife were very kind to them and they enjoyed the stay. As a fact which might be published in "Believe It or Not" there were only forty Americans living in Zamboanga and five or them including Marian celebrated their birthday on July 13.

At the Club in Zamboanga there was often a large party. There was a retired Philippine Constabulary Colonel named Fletcher who was always the life of the parties. He would invariably perform the following stunt at the club parties. He would place three tables, each one slightly smaller than the previous one, one on top of the other. On the top table he would place four beer bottles. He would then climb up, place the four legs of a chair on the beer bottles and stand on the chair to lead the singing of, "There's Many a Man Been Murdered in Luzon" and "The Monkeys Have No Tails in Zamboanga". He was said never to have fallen during this stunt regardless of how much he had been drinking. It was a remarkable performance. On Good Friday we saw the procession of the penitentos walking barefoot in sack cloth and scattering ashes on their heads.

While in Zamboanga, I was sent on a three day trip by a local passenger boat to Cotabata to acquire some Coast Pilot data. A short time before an earthquake had occurred in that area and a man with whom I talked told me of his experience. At the first tremor he dashed out of a sheet metal building which also had a sheet metal roof. As he ran from the building a second shock knocked him on his back. As he lay on the ground the building fell toward him and the sharp edge of the metal roof cut into the ground at least six inches and not more than a foot below his feet. Had he been slightly closer to the building both feet would have been severed.

Earthquakes were common in the islands and Marian experienced three in all. One occurred while we were staying in the Lunetta Hotel in Manila. I was playing golf on the course around the walled city and was not aware of it. I was much surprised to return to the hotel and find everybody talking about the quake which I did not know had occurred. A second quake occurred while Marian was in Sternberg Army Hospital in Manila awaiting the birth of our son. She first noticed the light bulbs swinging from their cords and pointed it out to the nurse who was newly arrived from the States. The nurse assured her in a superior tone that it was just her condition. Suddenly the beds and other furniture began to move and the nurse screamed, "What shall I do? What shall I do?" Marian was a veteran of the earlier quake and took it in stride.

During that stay in Zamboanga a third quake occurred. I was at sea and again was not aware of it. Marian was staying in the Plaza Hotel and first noticed the light bulbs swinging on their cords and then saw waves in the concrete floor in the dining room.

The stock market crash of 1929 occurred while the ship was based in Zambo. A sister of Mrs. Wooster, widow of Dean Wooster and the mother of Fritz Wooster, a prominent business woman was visiting from the United States and had to rush back to try to save her fortune.

Also during that period I was dropped off at Dumanquiles Bay about sixty miles east of Zambo to resurvey a former inadequate survey made by the U.S. Navy many years before. One day near the mouth of the bay I saw a troop of fifty or sixty monkeys scrambling over the rocks picking and eating mollusks. Those monkeys seemed almost human. One would gather a handful of shells and select a rock to sit on which had a flat rock in front of it. It would then pick up a small stone to use as a hammer and would crack the shell, pick out the mollusk, and eat it. It was a case of a monkey using a tool which is supposed to distinguish human beings from animals.

Occasionally a monkey would slyly sneak up behind one of the monkeys, seize a handful of its shells and dash away. The fluent chattering and gestures of the monkey from whom the shells had been stolen were the nearest thing to blasphemy that one might expect from an animal. One day I saw thousands of fruit bats return at dusk to some trees across the channel from our camp. They are enormous and when they hang upside down on a branch they are over a foot long. The trees were apparently the regular roosting place for those bats and the branches were badly scratched and most of the leaves torn off by the hooks on the edge of their wings as they flopped to a landing.

On my first night at Dumanquiles Bay the ship dropped me with my launch and camping gear at the mouth of the bay and then left for Zamboanga. As we prepared to set up camp a nice looking Filipino approached and offered to let us stay in his house nearby for the night. It was late and I was glad to accept. When we arrived at his house it proved to be a huge one, at least fifty feet long. I was in one room with a thatched nipa roof and thatched sides. I was amazed at seeing the floors. The floors were solid mahogany, about eighteen inches wide and three inches thick. It is strange that some millionaire has not bought his house lock stock and barrel just to get his floor.

My boys and I put up our cots at one end of the house. The Filipino and his family slept on the floor at the other end. The distance was so great that we had all the privacy we needed.

After we erected our camp the next day, we had a delegation of Moros at my tent every night seeking some form of medication. Often it was quinine for malaria, but there were also many infected sores which I had to bandage. Luckily I had plenty of iodine and bandage material. I was the great doctor with the ability to cure all ills.

The ship came to Dumanquiles Bay shortly before I finished the survey. Once the launch broke down near the entrance to the bay and I chartered a vinta (a Moro outrigger canoe) to get to the ship. I was amazed at the speed it could travel with their huge square sails. The body is very deep so that it acts like a centerboard and they can tack against the wind. It is hewn from a single tree. There are outriggers on each side of the struts at the end; the outriggers are made of four- to six-inch bamboo. The outriggers provide stability and make the vinta impossible to capsize.


In September the MARINDUQUE returned to Jolo to complete some surveys. This time our work was on the south side of Tumbagaan Island. While we were on the working grounds our wives stayed in Jolo in the native hotel. Marian had been in the hotel for a week when the ship came in from the field. We had scarcely turned off the lights in our room when I jumped up and said, "I smell bedbugs." Marian had stayed in that room for a week and didn't know. She is one of those rare persons whom the bedbugs do not bite. For the following week Marian had the bed, mattress, and springs taken out each day and scrubbed with boiling water. Kerosene was used in joints and in the cracks of the floor and walls. The next time I returned there were no bedbugs.


On that trip to Tawi Tawi a phenomenon occurred which I had never seen before or since. A rain cloud several miles in diameter stayed in one area without moving for about three hours. I was sounding and the edge of the rain cloud was delineated by the ends of my sounding lines. I would sound up to the edge of the rain and then run back on another line. I had to sound the area that was covered by the rain cloud on another day.


During the course of launch and ship hydrography it often became necessary to establish tide staffs or portable automatic tide gauges in order to correct the soundings to mean tide. Once I installed an automatic gauge in the water on a tripod. The day was overcast and the sun was never visible at any time. I was working out in the water and removed my shirt. That night, although I had not seen the sun all day, I had the worst case of sunburn that I ever had in my life.

We often also installed temporary tide staffs at some points to obtain a correlation in the tidal changes with the automatic tidal gauge. In those instances it was necessary to send a man ashore to read the staff every half hour. Once we were short handed and our Filipino bos'n was sent into a camp to read a staff. In examining his record of readings when I picked him up several days later I noticed some peculiar remarks in the remarks column. One of the remarks was ESTOP KALAK. I plotted his readings and saw there was a pronounced discontinuity at the point where that remark occurred. Then in pronouncing the words as he would have it became clear that he meant STOP CLOCK. I was able to salvage the record by noticing the time difference when he restarted the clock and by smoothing out the tidal curve.

Another remark which occurred frequently in his record was a notation "oe" "oe". That was more puzzling but when I plotted the tidal cure I noticed that the readings were more irregular when he had made that remark. Pronouncing the "oe" as he would I realized that he meant "wave". In other words the sea was rough and the staff difficult to read. Again the record could be salvaged by smoothing it out.


A few days before Christmas, 1929 we left the Sulu area for the last time and sailed for Manila. This time we stayed in the Lunetta Hotel but took our meals at the Army and Navy Club. Our orders stated that we were to await the arrival of a transport from the United States and return to San Francisco in that manner. This was most disappointing for we were hoping to pay the difference in cost between our per diem and the commercial cost of the fare and return commercially, taking one of the around the world ships so that we could complete our circumnavigation of the globe. However, as you shall see, we were able to accomplish that.

There was little for me to do on the ship while awaiting transportation and for the first time in my life I played golf every day. As a result my score gradually became lower and I was playing respectable golf.

One day I was playing a round alone when a stranger came up and asked if he could join me. I saw he was a fine golfer, probably a professional, and offered to let him through but he said he would prefer to play a twosome with me. I gave him the honors and his swing was beautiful. He landed on the green about six feet from the cup. Then I took my tee shot and could see the ball land short of the green and bound forward some. The hole was a 190 yard hole and the path of the ball was between two stone sections of the wall. In the past I had often sliced or hooked, hitting one or the other of the walls, usually losing my ball in the process. When we reached the green we searched for my ball and could not find it. Finally my caddy said, "Don't know where it is mistah les it's in the cup." We went to the cup and there it was, it was my first and only hole in one. My partner, a fine golfer, had never seen a hole in one and was as thrilled as I was. He was so excited that when we went to the bar in the nearby Manila hotel for drinks he insisted on paying for the drinks, something usually required of the lucky golfer. I was very lucky. Had I been playing with someone from one of the services I would have had to buy drinks for every officer in the Army and Navy Club. That would have been very rough on my Lieutenant (j.g.) pay. As a result I refrained from telling of my feat.

I collected many prizes from various businesses in Manila. Some of them were: a bottle of Johnny Walker Black Label Scotch, a trophy on which they mounted the winning ball, a certificate attesting to the event which reposes in one of my scrap books, a case of San Miguel Beer, and a No. 1 iron (driving iron in those days).


During our last days in Manila, the Submariners of the Navy threw a big party at the Army & Navy Club. It was called a tea dance. Red Metcalf who was Corbin's Godfather invited us. I dislike tea dances and decided to fortify myself for the ordeal by imbibing a few Singapore gin Slings in the bar in advance. It was hot during the dance and there was a delicious punch called Submarine Punch which seemed mild and was a good thirst quencher. I imbibed freely and as dinner time approached I decided I needed some air. I went first to the lavatory to cool my head and then went out and sat on the sea wall near the swimming pool to get the cool sea breezes on my head. Twice I tried to go back to the dining room where Red had invited us to dinner and both times I found myself too dizzy to attempt it. At last I faced the fact and found my way back to the Army Navy Annex to retire. Red searched for me at the club and found out that I had been seen in the lavatory and on the sea wall. He finally asked Marian if I "had the homing instinct". She said that she thought I had and they went ahead with the dinner. Red took Marian home and they not only found me safely in bed, but I even had the mosquito net tucked in.


We had always dreamed of going back to the States by continuing west on one of the Dollar Line President ships but Marian had sworn that she would rather swim than return on the PRESIDENT HARRISON. Furthermore our return via Europe seemed doomed because a transport was due to be in Manila at the time we were due to leave. Fortunately, Admiral Clobert ordered me to remain in Manila an extra month. I was glad to do so but then I learned that the PRESIDENT HARRISON would be the ship I would have to take back. When I broke the news to Marian she was philosophical about it.

The day of our departure was February 12, 1930. The Manila crowd was at the ship to see us off. Captain Colbert and another officer "poured Marian aboard" by carrying her up the gangway. It was several days before the passengers understood that it was a joke.

We received a pleasant surprise when we found that the PRESIDENT HARRISON had been completely overhauled and had a fine Captain and crew. The trip was delightful and lasted fifty pleasant days. We went sightseeing in Singapore with a young Rabbi and his wife who were on the ship. We visited a Chinese Hebrew temple in Singapore. We learned that Chinese Jews were descendants of the lost tribes of Israel. We went sightseeing in Kuala Lumpur and saw the Temple of Snakes with thousands of snakes hanging from all the beams. In Ceylon we took a pleasant drive to Kandy, the capital of Ceylon. Enroute we saw work elephants along the road handling logs with their trunks and in Kandy we saw the mahouts bathing their work elephants in the river. We also saw the "Temple of the Tooth" where there is a small box purporting to hold a tooth of the Buddha. In front of that temple were begging lepers.

We left the ship at Suez and drove across the desert to Cairo. There were four cars in all and believe it or not the day was very cold although it was bright and sunny. Half way across the desert many were getting worried about a rest stop although the drivers assured that there would be a rest stop. There wasn't a sign of a building. The passengers finally looked at each other with sheepish grins. We all got out of the cars and the ladies went to the right and the men went to the left. After a few hundred feet from the cars there was a slight drop in the sand dunes. By squatting down only the heads could be seen. When everyone had returned to the cars, the ladies were all carrying a sprig of desert vegetation to prove that they had been out picking wild flowers.

When we arrived at the Sheppard Hotel in Cairo where we had reservations, the desk clerks said, "There is not time to register now. You can do it after the parade." We asked "What parade?" The reply was, "Didn't you come to see the King and Queen of Belgium and King Faud and his Queen?" It was all a surprise to us but we rushed up to our room which was on the second floor. It had French windows in front and chairs had been set out for us on the balcony. We had no more than sat down when there was a blare of trumpets. The spectacular Egyptian Camel Corps passed in front of us. It was followed by a carriage with the king and queen of Belgium and behind them the carriage of King Faud and his Queen. We visited the museum and saw the treasure from King Tut's Tomb. There was no security whatsoever; there was more, but it slips my memory.

In Cairo we visited the sphinx and the pyramids. We rode camels from the pyramids to the sphinx. Camels have a horrible shaky walk but in trotting they give a smooth ride.

We returned by rail to Alexandria where we rejoined the ship after it had gone through the canal.

We visited Naples, Italy, and got a good view of Vesuvius. We also drove to Pompeii and saw the Roman Baths and the somewhat obscene statues and fountains.

We passed Gibralter in daylight and got a good view of the rock. Then we headed across the Atlantic to land at New York.

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