1966 Yap and the Outer Islands… A Photo Journal (Part III)

Continuation from Part II:

"In this picture we have finished our island tour and waiting for Dad to finish clinic. Dad took the picture and asked Mike to stand in the background. Mike was usually left alone to explore the island and ignored because he was military age male." Su Tucker (© Damon Tucker)

The following is my mom’s take:

If I remember correctly, this picture was taken summer of 1966, when I was 19, my second summer in Micronesia, and this was taken on Ulithi Island, the first outer island on one of Dad’s medical tours.  Dad would usually travel one week a month on the tramp steamer, Yap Islander, to the outer islands to treat patients and train the local med-techs…

The Yap Islander (© Damon Tucker)

Local women greet the Yap Islander (© Damon Tucker)

On Board the Yap Islander (© Damon Tucker)

Local men greet The Yap Islander (© Damon Tucker)

…Mike had just flown in on a puddle jumper plane from Guam that touched down on one end of the island and stopped on the other end of the island after breaking really hard.  He didn’t know that Dad and I were on the island, so he was very surprised to see me in the midst of a bunch of topless women meeting the plane.  He also hadn’t figured out where to look at the women… except in the eyes.  Note his lack of tan…

Uncle Mike enjoying things (© Damon Tucker)

Locals fascinated with white people (©Damon Tucker)

… Mom had traveled to the outer islands many times with Dad and had made many friends.  She had let her friends know that I would be coming, and most of the islanders had never seen a teenage haole girl before.  The young girls were very eager to meet me.  On this island the young people were being taught English by a teacher named Jim Boyken at a small school…

Limited transportation options (© Damon Tucker)

"This is Father Walters who was a Catholic priest. At times when he did not wear his cassock, he wore white boxer shorts with the fly sewn up." Su Tucker (© Damon Tucker)

…Dad would have medical clinic and Father Walters would hold mass.  I would be taken by hand and showed the village and the island.  The houses were made of bamboo and coconut thatching, very clean with breezes flowing tru to make the houses very cool…

Grandfather checking for lung infections (© Damon Tucker)

"Picture of Med-Tech or “Togahdah” . He is not doing a breast exam…note, he is using the stethoscope to check lung function. Unfortunately many people got tuberculosis. In fact, after our medical tour, Dad had to go out the next week because there were reports of Whooping Cough. (Pertussis, which is now a part of all baby inoculations, so it isn’t a problem in the US.)" Su Tucker (© Damon Tucker)

Folks lined up to see my grandfather (© Damon Tucker)

…Cooking was done outside on a fire.  At each home families wanted to share something with me, either food or coconut water and beautifully made leis made in the Micronesian style.  I, in turn would start out my day with many bracelets (and cigarettes) which I shared…

Feast for a Chief (© Damon Tucker)

"The "girls by the table"... that was the school's boat. Instead of PE, the students would go out spear fishing for their daily food. One student would stay in the boat to bail out water. When the students caught a fish they would relay thrown them into the boat because the blood attracted reef sharks. According to Dad, if the sharks came too close, the kids would kick them in the nose." Su Tucker (@Damon Tucker)

Cooking outside (© Damon Tucker)

…The girls were very shy and giggled a lot as we tried to communicate with each other.  Pre-pubescent girls wore front and back grass skirts, older girls and women wore beautifully woven lava lavas, a type or sarong made from course white fibers dyed with local dyes.  I remember that the girls used turmeric, a yellow spice, in their hair for decoration.  One girl asked to borrow my brush and they all shared hair brushing.  As you can tell from the picture, their hair was very tightly curled or negroid.  They were interested in my hair because it was straight.  When they returned the brush, it was immaculately clean…

Local kids excited to see Westerners (© Damon Tucker)

Another respected elderly with my grandpa (© Damon Tucker)

      9 Responses

      1. I am very thankful for all the women and men who came to our islands to support us. Thank you all for your time and effort not to many people do this.

      2. This is fascinating! My dad was the medical doctor who must have come when your grandfather left. He was Dr. William Henderson and he brought his family: my mom (Sarah) sister (Jamie) and me (Sandie). Dad worked in the hospital and travelled to the outer islands. We lived there for 2 years (summer of 67 until summer of 69) and my sister and I attended only English-speaking class in local elementary school as we were in 2nd and 3rd grades. What an amazing 2 years!!!

      3. In Honor of Su’s Life…. Dec 21, 2012

        Su learned from experiences in Yap to be sensitive to all people of all creeds ages religions and races. She was a remarkable woman and the very best of friends. She traveled to many more Asia Pacific countries in her life with me and I am forever to remember the brightness she brought to others. Her words and way with people unlike others because she could tell a story to a villager and the villager could make sense and laugh with her. She, a simple, bright, exceptional woman loved by so many. I was blessed to have Su as my closest friend from Hawaii and will miss her terribly. In honor of her life, her beginnings in Yap and Hawaii, I write the day after she has left our world as we know it. Merry Christmas to the new star: Her star will always shine bright. Love you SU….

      4. I enjoyed reading all the comments. I love to read and find out what westerners think of us. I am from Yap (main island).

      5. Damon, these are great. Karen and I were Peace Corps in Truk from 74-76 and visited many outer islands in the area that were very similar to these. I’m following some PCVs in the Federated States of Micronesia now and things in Yap don’t appear to have changed that much. I was back to Truk (Chuuk) a few years ago, and Karen returned earlier this year. Not much has changed. Our experience there was life altering. Even today, I was behind a Chuukese woman while shopping and spoke a short phrase or two in Chuukese. She replied as if she didn’t even realize that I spoke to her in her native language. It’s fun to surprise the many Chuukese now living in Honolulu by speaking in their language. Thanx for sharing your family’s pics. Aloha…

        • Still more to come… Have lots to compile, and as this is coming together… lots of editing as I find out names and the correct information on things.

          Keep on the lookout for more in the coming days.

      6. Body tattooing was done by all the people before WWII. The tattooed men are not necessarily chiefs, but they are all honored elders. Dad also found that the elder women were tattooed from the waist to the knees. While it was the traditional way that the women were topless, they were very modest about showing their legs, even while swimming. I, in respect for their values, wore a sarong over my bikini while swimming, or I just went in with my dress.

        • Thanks for assisting with the corrections.

          I didn’t mean to mislead.

          I looked at the first picture and on the back of that it said “A Chief on Uliwithi”

          So I assumed it was like Samoa where all folks with lot’s of Tattoos were chiefs.

          I do have other pictures where grandma has wrote “Chief” and only the date of 1966 on the pictures that I will be releasing soon. It would be great to find out who these “Chiefs” are.

          Thanks mom for contributing to this… and most of all of course… thanks for giving me the pictures so that I can give them back to the world.

          I look forward to continuing these posts for awhile.

      7. Thanks for the photos! I would expect that pre-contact Hawai’i was much like what we see in these images… another time, another culture.

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