My Life in the Service

The diary of Levi Chapiewsky

July 4, 1944

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4th Tues.
Up early and at the ringing of the bell, we went to A.M. services. I was brief. After chow we went hunting, going up in groups of 2 to 4 fellows. Each group took a native and one or two boys, or just a couple of boys. Their stamina is remarkable. They would walk you to death. These little kids 6 to 8 yrs. old and some looked younger than that, were perfectly at home in the jungle. They knew the trails and where to find water. They would hear and point out birds like a “pointer.” [? illegible] Most of the time I had a hard time to see them even when they pointed.

James and I went with a native and 3 boys. One boy had a bad cut on his skin.  I fixed him up with Iodine and handy tape. He stuck by me all day. We we came to the creek he said, “Water no hurt” and pointed to his bandages. I said “No get wet. Hurt much plenty,” and he didn’t get it wet either. We really saw the jungle on this trip and even without packs your legs and legs ached.

Finally at the top of a ridge we came to a native cemetery of 3 graves. The native said, “Jap come, we go bush. Boy he die, bury here.” It was about 16ft. sq. marked off with rocks. This is the marker similar to all of them [see drawing]. It was nice [? illegible] bit of work. We went on but hunting was poor. We came to another camp of 3 huts. There were 4 Marys and 7,8 kids. There were 4,5 pigs and some chickens running around. We went for a little way to a new hut. It was not quite finished. The native said, “Rest, sleep. Am up, no pigeon. Sure [? illegible] stop by hill good hunting.” In other words from 4 am it would be better. He started to carve a cowl [? illegible] out of bamboo and we went to sleep. They woke up and the Mary brought Kaikai [ie. food]. Roasted sweet corn, roasted bananas, beetle nut and coconut mile. It was really good. The corn is placed in hot coals with the green husks on. When they are all black it is done. The same holds true with the bananas.

About 4 o’clock we went on toward the village. We shot a number of birds but could not find them in that thick jungle. Had special services for us, gave us a change to pray as we do. After this was over they asked us to sing songs which we did. They got quite a kick out of it. Then the Mission man said they would have special happy singing for thank[? illegible] Pray. I have seen similar scene in movies but this was the real thing. We formed a circle and watched the natives painted themselves with white paint of some sort and wore the most beautiful feather hats [see drawing]. They beat tom-toms for rhythm and all the people joined in the various chants and songs. It was an unbelievable sight. We clapped after each danced and they laughed and laughed. [see drawing here] – dried bird skin. When it got soft from beating they would hold a hot amber to it and it tightened up. I believe  few white people have been allowed to witness such a ceremony.

This kept on for a couple of hrs. I wish I had words to describe it all. One dance which was especially good was the house building. A sq. timber [? illegible] was places in the center of the dancers. 2 men danced around cage beating on it with sticks. This was building of the house. The boss man came dancing down the wood suterec [? illegible] charging. He pushed the men around and then pounded himself. He smoked a pipe. This meant he didn’t like the house and showed them how he wanted it. The men then went to work again and when it was finished the danced with joy. One was hunting pigeons, cutting coconut tree and building bridge across a stream.

After saying happy goodnites we went to bed and shall never forget this. This village was Kumawa. What a memorable 4th of July, so different from what I would have had at home. I thought of those at home and prayed for their health and safety.

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Written by mylifeintheservice

March 26, 2011 at 11:54 am

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