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Friday, January 16, 2015

Memories of Bougainville

Canadian Chris in his snowbound home


Many years ago - how many? is it ten years already? - , I received this email in response to my Bougainville website:


Hello, Just stumbled upon your site. Name is Chris Jefferies and I lived and worked at Loloho assembling the drying plant. Lived at Camp 1 for a short while, but for the most part Loloho. Worked there from 1969 to Jan. '72 when I got the hell out to save my neck! Canadian and worked for MKF and Johns and Waygood.
I don't have many more photos for the reason that the "Pella" who was running the mail truck from Kieta, at that time, thought it was really fun to toss the mail out the window and watch it flutter away like the little birds, so a lot of us lost a considerable amount of correspondence and, of course, my return photos. Nothing surprising about that behavior, but doesn't help old memory lane. When I left Bougainville, I went to then Burma to work for Toshiba on a hydro project and there I was most definitely not permitted to even have a camera, (Viet Nam time.), so only memories there too. I would not trade my time in those places for anything; especially Bougainville, the Islands and Papua. Don't know that I would go back, given the opportunity, hard to say, and the likelihood of having that opportunity is little to none, so no point in conjecture. I don't know if this info is of any use to you, but there it is. Contact me if you have anything that you think that may interest me.

P.S. As an aside, I see that they are talking of re-opening. Are they going to throw us a party to show us their appreciation for the good job we did of putting it together? I'm still wearing a damned hard hat and still busting my butt. What the hell have I done wrong?


Chris and I were on Bougainville at the same time and in the same camps. Maybe we even lived in adjoining dongas? His donga certainly looked very similar to mine, right down to the picture on the wall ☺

Even though we never met on Bougainville - and more's the pity - , ever since that first email we have had a regular (and regularly entertaining) email exchange during which we also tried to find an answer to his last question. "What the hell have I done wrong?" It may have been rhetorical to him but to me it's a daily thought.