Post 33 — Crate Expectations

Random palm tree that has nothing to do with post.

Random palm tree that has nothing to do with post.

Back in Detroit, a lifetime and a few time zones ago, the family had packed up their belongings and waved goodbye to the big wooden crate with a childlike belief that the government would deliver it to their new home in a few months. Maybe it would even be waiting for them when they got to the island! That was a bit unrealistic, but as the days, weeks and then months went by, they realized grimly that they were winning a contest that no one wanted to even participate in: Most Time Elapsed While Waiting for Your Stuff.

Some people had gotten lucky and had their household goods delivered within 60 days; the longest wait recorded so far had been just under six months, which was actually one-fourth of the contract to live on the island. It was a long time to depend upon the kindness of strangers, especially if you were washing your kid’s ant-filled underwear in their washing machine.

For the children, the passing of time made the memory of precious belongings a little less precious. Chrissie found one of her troll travel companions shoved in between the screen and canvas shade in the den. Apparently it had gone up and down many times because its’ fushia hair was wrapped around a grommet and mold spots speckled the round belly and legs. She felt slightly guilty because she hadn’t realised it was lost, then remembered she had an entire colony of them coming with the rest of their things. She would make it up to the neglected ogre by reuniting it with its troll family, if they ever got there. In the meantime, there were some buried shells she had to go dig up to see if the ants had done their work.

October 8, 1964
We are looking forward to the phonograph, piano, washing machine and the fans, but we are surviving quite well. Waiting for the household supplies seems to be part of the initiation around here. Two months are standard, a few others had to wait three and one poor couple waited five months only to find out that their things were still sitting on the dock in Norfolk. I’m surprised they didn’t jump into the ocean at that news. A boat from the U.S. is arriving on October 20th and we estimate  that’s the one that left on the 3rd. Our stuff might have gotten to San Francisco by then but there is always a chance there wasn’t enough time to crate it or not enough room for it.


October 16, 1964
Still no news on our household goodies. The Ventura was supposed to dock here this week, but for some reason was delayed until next week. My wife keeps hoping the delay was because they were holding the ship until our stuff got there, but I’m a little dubious about that. The guy at the shipping office said our goods weren’t listed on the manifest, but at times people’s things have come in without being listed. If our stuff isn’t on the Ventura, the next ship won’t be in until Nov. 25 so it looks like a long spring. I can hide the razor blades for a while but I suppose Jean could use our all-purpose bush knife if she wants to slash her wrists.


October 24, 1964
We got a letter from Grandma B. relating her adventures with our household things. I think she was afraid I might have a breakdown when I learned news. I have not sunk into the depths of spirit that I had sunk to during the upheaval just before we left and my disposition has been generally sweet, bright and complacent. Also most of the people here have a record of two and three months waiting so I figured if is doesn’t come by November, then I will cry, scream, kick and yell.


November 5, 1965

Despite the trouble you went through and the letters written, our stuff did NOT make the Oct. 5th boat. We haunted the docks last week when the Ventura came in, but to no avail. This week we received an official looking letter from GSA in San Francisco informing us that our goods are being shipped from Wilmington, California, wherever the hell that is, on the SS Sonoma on the 16th of November, arriving in Samoa about Nov. 28. Come to think of it, they didn’t say Nov. 28 of a specific year. I hope they mean 1964.


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