An Outpost of Progress – The Narrative – Getting Situated

Continuing Bill Leach’s narrative of his time in Venezuela in the late 1930’s we pick up where we left off last week. If you are a city boy and move someplace where the drugstore, the diner and the cinema are not just around the corner it is more than a small shock and requires some acclimatization. Fortunately most of us find ourselves in places where we are too busy to notice what isn’t there and too interested in what is there to worry about it anyway. As usual Bill’s original text is italicized and everything else isn’t.


There are relatively high mountains to the west and the north and there may he a possibility of getting up there sometime. No doubt there will be plenty to see around any of these mountains in this vicinity for they seem to he full of vegetation; This no doubt is due to the fact that we have so much rain and when I say rain I mean that there is always plenty of it.
Early in the morning and during most of the days one is able to hear the screaming and squawking of the various birds and parrots which incidentally are always flying around in pairs.  Some of the brightly plumaged parrots have their long tails trailing behind them like the tail of a comet. These parrots certainly beautifully colored.


There are countless numbers of gayly colored lizards which are harmless. They devour any and all insects that are within reach and they are a great help in the riddance of these pests. The butterflies in this area certainly do have plenty of color.  One of the fellows in the camp is making a hobby of collecting them and he really does have a fine collection; he must have in the neighborhood of five hundred.

Juan, the Venezuelan boy who is under my wing with the possibility of making a draftsman out of him has told me of what to expect to see in the inland waters that contain numerous water boas. He related an account wherein a water boa had a hard fight with an alligator. At first I sort of took it  with a grain of salt but after hearing practically the same stories from other sources that were more authentic why I believed the remainder of the stories that Juan related to me.  To a total stranger some of these stories seem rather far-fetched but are an actual reality. I have seen pictures of a snake cut open and inside were the remains of an alligator. I have also seen a picture of a boa (a real live one) that was tethered   to a pole – the rope was fully one inch in diameter.


Friday, February 26th, I attended a birthday party held for Howard Voss at the Peterson home. The party consisted of Byron Judah, George Johnson, Mr. and Mrs. Peterson, Mr. and Mrs. Gluckert and myself. Had a very fine time and appreciated being invited to the affair.

Sunday, February 28th, Judah, Johnsen and I went for a horseback ride through the jungle trails in the vicinity of the pumper station. Through the jungle the riding was very close for the underbrush was heavy and thick. I will admit that I kept my eyes on the alert for any and all possibilities, for being a stranger in a strange country and in an area wherein there are constant lurking dangers I must admit that I felt creepy at times. Most of the time I was too far back of Johnsen and Judah to feel comfortable. At almost any time I expected to see almost any form of animal life creep across the path.
I surely did see new plants and flower life and they are certainly inter­esting to gaze at. I imagine that it would be interesting to make a study of the various forms of plant life)  that one comes across. A machete would come in handy and useful in the dense undergrowth.

At night I joined a supper held at D-27 the following were present at the supper; Mr. and Mrs. Gluckert, Emerick, Judah, Brown, Krasse,Voss and myself. After the party the whole gang went to the show to see the “Gorgeous Hussy”

The Gorgeous Hussy 1

THE PLOT – It’s the early nineteenth century Washington. Young adult Margaret O’Neal – Peggy to most that know her – is the daughter of Major William O’Neal, who is the innkeeper of the establishment where most out-of-town politicians and military men stay when they’re in Washington. Peggy is pretty and politically aware. She is courted by several of those politicians and military men who all want to marry her, except for the one with who she is truly in love. Because of her personal situation at the time, she, in 1828, becomes the unofficial first lady to help her old friend – “old” both in terms of age and length of time – Andrew Jackson, who has just been elected President of the United States. Jackson and Peggy have the same political outlook, where the union of the states is paramount, especially when many states see their rights as being more important than the union. Jackson had a rough ride during the election in large part because his wife, Rachel Jackson, was seen as a pipe smoking hayseed, unfit to live in the White House. On her deathbed, Rachel asked Peggy to take care of Jackson. Peggy, as unofficial first lady, gets as rough a ride as Rachel did, because of her own marital status and the undue influence she may assert over Jackson. Because of her relationship with Jackson, Peggy has to decide which of the conflicting issues of her political convictions, being with the man she truly loves or respectability is of greatest priority in her life.

Apparently Hollywood has been turning out drivel since the first reel was spooled into a camera and this movie was certainly no exception. The important thing is that the camps were being supplied with relatively new films in order to keep the workers happy. Unlike today when everything is available by satellite as recently as 10 or 15 years ago if you worked on board a ship you might get 10 or 15 year old movies to watch – if any – the oil companies have always paid better, fed better and taken better care of their employees than any other organization.


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