Vacation Interlude

In keeping with the Arabian Mission’s policy of giving missionaries an extended vacation every other year, Dad had two months leave in the summer of 1924. Most of the other missionaries went to India to the southern hill station of Kodaikanal, where many of them had children in school. Dad did not want to travel that far and then, as he said, “just loaf around” for a month, especially when he thought he would have plenty of time to visit Kodaikanal later after he returned to the field with Crissy. His plans to spend the time with Roger Cumberland touring in the Kurdish mountains fell through when Cumberland was transferred from Mosul to Meshed. He contemplated going with the Van Ess family to Hamadan in Persia, but eventually decided to go with James Moerdyk to Lebanon, to a summer resort run by the Presbyterian missionaries there. They traveled overland by train to Baghdad and then across the desert by car to Syria and Lebanon. There, too, he worried that he would just be loafing around, but he hoped that he could get away for an extended visit to Palestine.

The Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem

Though he liked and respected Moerdyk, he found him to be a disappointing travel companion. Moerdyk was content to stay at the resort at Suq-el-Gharb, reading, resting and enjoying the cool climate. Dad gave up his plans for an extended trek in Palestine when he couldn’t find anyone to go with him. Eventually he did go to Palestine, but for a shorter visit.

Dad was given a travel diary shortly before he left home, in which recorded the highlights of his journey out to Basrah, some shorter trips within Iraq, and his visit to Syria, Lebanon and Palestine on this summer vacation. Much of what he wrote in the diary he also included in his letters home, but the tone of his writing was entirely different – much more direct, factual and descriptive, much less didactic and opinionated. Some of the entries provide additional names and interesting details, which I have included within the text of the letters which follow.

Lebanon at that time was considered to be part of larger Syria and was governed by the French under a mandate from the League of Nations. Under the previous Ottoman government, Lebanon had been a separate province, and even the French recognized its unique situation. A majority of the population then was still Christian, though divided into a number of different confessions. Sunni and Shi’i Muslims were only slightly less in numbers, and there were other smaller, but important, religious groups, such as the Druze and the Alalwites. Arabic Speaking but Mediterranean in culture, the Lebanese tended to be more Westernized and “sophisticated” than the people of Iraq. Dad enjoyed his contact with Lebanese farmers, who were more open and friendly, like the Arabs he had come to know in Basrah.

Letters   July 27 – October 26, 1924

Baghdad, July 27, 1924

Dear Folks at home,

Mr. Moerdyk and I arrived here last Thursday morning. We had a pretty good trip on the train coming up. It was a very “Limited” train indeed – the trip of 350 miles from Basrah to Baghdad took up 34 hours, ten miles an hour! Whew!! It was two nights and one day and that day wasn’t so terribly hot. There was no dust storm, as there often is, and so we could keep the window open and there was a pretty good breeze.

We are staying with Major Yates. The weather is surely nice here, the mornings are actually cold and not any part of the day is as hot as in Basrah. Last year I didn’t like Baghdad much, but I have had a change of mind. Almost the whole of one side of the river belongs to the Railways; the city proper is on the other side. On this side, the Railway people – that is, the British employees – have made parks and gardens. These Britishers all live in neat little bungalows, also built for them by the Railways, and each bungalow has a small lawn and flower garden (note 56). Major Yates has a very nice garden, and it is wonderful to sit out there in the evenings after the sun goes down. We have dinner out there, too. It surely is great when you have just come from Basrah. Basrah has been almost like a furnace the last couple weeks.

We have been chasing around here in Baghdad, getting our passports fixed up, visas, police permits, etc. Major Yates has been driving us around and showing us interesting things. Last night we had dinner with the Staudts, new missionaries of the German Reformed Church for this new United Mesopotamian Mission. They are American citizens, but he still has a strong German accent.

We start from here Monday noon and the first night we stop at Hit, where there is a ferry across the Euphrates River. The next day will be a long stretch across the desert to Palmyra or Tadmor as it is called now – about a hundred miles from Damascus. It is said to be the capital city of the powerful Queen Zenobia. It is nothing but a city of ruins now. When the Romans ruled Palestine and this part of the world, they built great temples everywhere for Jupiter, Venus and the other gods. We will see some of those ruins.

Suq-el-Gharb, Lebanon, Syria, August 3, 1924

Well, a whole lot has happened since I wrote you a week ago. We left Baghdad on Monday. There were only two other passengers in the car besides Mr. Moerdyk and myself, but a convoy of less than three is not allowed, so we had another passenger car and a light truck for the luggage. First we drove west forty miles to Falluja, where we crossed the Euphrates on a bridge of boats. At Ramadi we stopped for passport inspection. At sundown we reached Hit on the Euphrates, about 120 miles from Baghdad. Hit is supposed to be Noah’s city. It might well be, because they have bitumen and tar pits nearby, so old Noah would have had lots of pitch to seal his ark with. The next day, after spending the night in a native khan, we started out at four-thirty and drove all day until seven o’clock at night, when we reached Palmyra. That distance is about 320 miles. There is no road but only a track in the desert. Some stretches are covered for mile after mile with hard packed gravel, like a gravel road, and is as flat as the top of a table. The driver just opened the car up and drove as fast as it would go. A couple times we went for nearly an hour with the speedometer never falling below forty miles an hour. Most of the way was not as nice as that and parts were very rocky. The three drivers were all British and tended strictly to business and were very careful. Once we met a couple Arabs on camels and a couple times we saw gazelles in the distance. We had lunch by the side of a water hole, the only water we saw all day. They carried a big tank of drinking water and they also provided food for us. They had long flat tanks on the running boards of the cars for gasoline connected right to the carburetor, so that when one tank was empty, they could simply switch to the other.

In the evening about sundown we reached Palmyra. As there is hardly any twilight, I didn’t have much chance to take pictures. The site is an old caravan station, known to Solomon (I Kings 9:18). The ruins are interesting, some built by Queen Zenobia in the 3rd century A.D. and some by the Romans. The biggest thing is the temple of Jupiter, which must cover almost a square block, parts of it sixty to a hundred feet high, with monstrous stone pillars six feet in diameter and walls built of stone some of which are eight and ten feet square. The inside of the temple is all full of native houses and streets so a large part of the temple cannot be seen. Then there is a long street lined with beautifully carved stone columns and pillars and some smaller temples. But everything is in ruins.

We stayed the night with the village shaikh. The next morning we started for Damascus. Soon we were passing thru extensive gardens and vineyards. We got to Damascus a little after noon. We stopped long enough to get some lunch. From Damascus to Beirut the road is beautiful, winding in and out and over the mountains, most of it hard surfaced, and there are little streams of clear spring water running along the side of the road. Quite soon after leaving Damascus, the road starts climbing, going round and round and zigzagging up quite steep so that the cars had to go in second most of the time. We crossed over the Anti-Lebanon Mountains and then drove across the great plain of the Bekaa valley, watered by the Orontes River. Mount Hermon is visible at the far end of the valley. Then we began the long climb over the Lebanon Mountains. The road, with many twists and turns, goes up to about 6000 feet and then we had to come down again, coasting for miles and miles. Beautiful trees, pines and poplars, line the road, not the everlasting palms of Basrah. Another thing that made it seem like home is that they drive on the right. Syria is under the French. In Basrah we drive on the left, as they do in England.

We didn’t go all the way to Beirut, as the convoy passed thru the village of Aleih, only two miles from here, so we got off and came here to Suq-el-Gharb by taxi. It surely is great here. It is about halfway up the first range of mountains, about 2500 feet above sea level, about twenty miles from Beirut, but we can look down on Beirut and the Mediterranean as if it were only a few miles away. You can see separate houses and buildings and the ships in the harbor. The climate is nice. It is actually cold after one’s blood gets thinned by the Basrah heat. They have tennis here. Yesterday I hiked to the top of the ridge, about 6000 feet and got a wonderful view. You can see half a dozen villages nestling on the mountain slopes and the hill sides are all terraced and gardened. There are about thirty people here, both American and English, of the American missions of Egypt, Syria and Palestine, and also Scottish and Church of England missions.

Suq-el-Gharb, August 10, 1924

I can’t complain about the mail this week. I got three letters from you this week, one from Nick and three from Crissy, some forwarded from Basrah. You surely must have had some storm over there. I should think you must have been scared to wake up in the middle of the night to find buildings and trees and everything flying around. It’s terrible the way the work of many months can be destroyed in a few minutes. You will be pretty busy there for a while, to get all the wreckage cleaned up and continue with field work at the same time.

We are enjoying ourselves here at Suq. I guess I am taking a rest cure. I usually sleep from ten at night to seven in the morning and usually an hour in the afternoon. Then they’ve got good American food here, so if I don’t look out I will break the scales before the summer is over. When I am not sleeping, I do a lot of reading, play tennis, walk and visit neighboring villages. I also attended a few classes this week at the language school. They have a language school here all year round for missionaries in this part of the world. During the summer they give special courses, lectures in Islam, history, etc.

Tomorrow we expect to go to Beirut and look around there a bit, and soon we want to see some sights a little farther afield. Mr. Moerdyk doesn’t care to do much roaming around, and that handicaps me, because I can’t simply desert him and go off by myself.

It is interesting to study the different kinds of people here. They are altogether different from the people in Mespot, although they share some characteristics. A much larger percent of the people are Christian, and the place is full of priests. It is said that in Syria and Palestine there are two big curses and they both come in black, one is the goats, that eat everything green that they can reach, and the other is the priests in their black robes. The people here are generally much fairer skinned than those in Mespot. The women are much freer here – even the Moslem women here are freer than Jewish and Christian women in Mespot, and some of these Syrian women go to extremes in dress and in painting their faces.

Suq-el-Gharb, August 17, 1924

Tuesday we went to Beirut. We went by motor bus in the morning and came back in the evening. We spent most of the time at the American press, where Mr. Moerdyk had some business – that is where we get all our school books – and at the American University. It is a fine school. They have the best location, right on the sea front, and fine buildings, as good as anything at home. We met the president, and his secretary showed us around. The university does not belong to the mission anymore but is independent, with an independent endowment and board in America. The professors and teachers are not really missionaries although most of them have the real mission spirit. The university is a Christian institution but makes no attempt to convert any of the students to Christianity, although it operates on Christian principles and teaches Christian values. The rest of the day we walked around the city a little, but it was hot and unpleasant, so we didn’t go very far.

Thursday I went to Baalbek. Mr. Moerdyk doesn’t care a snap about history or old ruins, so he didn’t care to go. I went with a group of six people staying here, and we hired a seven passenger Buick to take us there and back, about forty miles one way. The drive over the mountains and then across the wide fertile plain of the Orontes River was wonderful. Then we were in and about the ruins from ten to four o’clock. A person could easily spend a couple days there. We had a guide book and as we went from one part to another we read the book and tried to figure it out ourselves. The whole place must cover five or six square blocks. The temple of Bacchus is the best preserved – it has most of the pillars and a greater part of the wall still standing. We had lunch under the pillars in the shade of the temple of Bacchus. There is nothing left of the temple of Jupiter except the outline of the foundations and six of the huge pillars which used to surround the temple. They are sixty feet high and about seven and a half feet in diameter. These temples were started by the Greeks before the time of Christ and later added to by the Romans and Arabs. Originally it was probably the place where Baal was worshipped – therefore called Baalbek, the house of Baal. Later the Greeks changed the temple for their worship of Jupiter and other gods.

Suq-el-Gharb, August 24, 1924

I was glad to get your letter again and the pictures of the wrecked barns. You surely made quick work of it if, as Bob said, the horse barn was all rebuilt again.

Today Mr. Moerdyk and I were invited to lunch with Mrs. Hoskins, who is a good friend of the Staudts in Baghdad. She is in charge of a sanitarium not far from here. We met some Near East Relief people there. The Near East Relief has orphanages all over this country for Armenians. Refugees are still coming down from Turkey all the time. I don’t see why the Near East Relief doesn’t do something for the refugees in Mespot. Here in Syria they have many small camps but none of them are over two or three hundred. Not far from Basrah there is a refugee camp of over twenty thousand and they have no way of supporting themselves. In the orphanages here the women and children are taught to do very nice work, embroidery, etc.

After lunch, Mrs. Hoskins invited me to go along with her to the sanatorium about fifteen miles away. I found one of the boys there that was in school in Basrah part of the first year that I was there. He left there to go to Beirut but in about a year came down with T.B. He has been up at this sanatorium for some months now and is recovering quite nicely.

Suq-el-Gharb, September 7, 1924

They are holding a conference here this week for all missionary workers in the Near East. I am afraid I won’t get much out of it because most of it will be in Arabic, but I will attend some sessions. There are already 135 delegates enrolled, the larger part of them being native helpers and teachers. I can’t make out what the policy of this mission really is. Their work seems to be mostly educational and they have good schools, too – right up to standard. Still, they don’t have the education to fit the country. They teach U.S. history and geography and such things – the students learn more about America than they do about their own country, and I don’t know what good that is ever going to do. What a school should do is prepare students to be better citizens of their own country.

They seem to have very little evangelistic work. They do have organized churches but they have native pastors in charge of them and one missionary seems to have supervision over a number of these at the same time. They do very little work with Moslems. I haven’t met many natives here except the Syrian Christians. They are more capable and more advanced than the people in Iraq, but still they seem to have some of the same characteristics. As soon as they know a little about something, they think they know it all, and know it better than anyone else, even their teachers. They seem to hold the missionaries in contempt and don’t treat them with respect. Even some of the school boys who act as waiters here are actually impudent with the principal of the school as well as with some of the teachers. Our boys in Basrah are much better mannered.

On the other hand, there are some very nice people here, too. One day this week a group of us went on a picnic to a place we didn’t know exactly where to find. But there were farmers and boys and even women along the way, who were eager to show us the way and help us. One even offered us his donkey because he wouldn’t need it until evening. And all day long, whenever we’d meet anybody with a basket of fruit, he’d stop and say “tfadhal” – take some please. We were loaded down with grapes and pomegranates and figs, and when we offered to pay, they wouldn’t take a thing. Many of these people were Moslems or Druze – they seem to be more hospitable than the Christians. It is interesting the way people of different religions and sects live in different villages here. One village may be nearly all Moslem, and other Druze – a strange sect nobody knows very much about – and another may be Greek Orthodox or Maronite or Protestant.

We were hiking to a place someone has imaginatively named Tom Sawyer’s Pools, about two hours’ walk from here. There are a good many rivers in this country, but most of them are dry in the summer. Even this one we hiked to had just a trickle of water, but there are several pools along its course, some of them ten to fifteen feet deep. The bed of the stream is all rock and the water is sparkling clear blue. These pools are between two high ridges of mountains, and the mountain sides are covered with trees, and where it isn’t too steep they have vineyards, olive groves and all kinds of fruit trees. We had to hike almost two thousand feet straight down, which took us about an hour. The first thing we did was take a swim, then had our lunch and then loafed around a bit and explored other pools. We took another swim and then had to start for home, straight back up the mountain.

Suq-el-Gharb, September 14, 1924

I have been attending the missionary conference this week. It is a good program and the whole day is full with addresses and lectures, Bible study and small group discussion. School conditions and every other kind of community service are so far advanced here over anything we have in Mespot that very few of the things they have been studying and discussing can be applied there, but they are at least things we can try for in the future – such as Sunday Schools, Christian Endeavor, Y.M. and Y.W.C.A. They have all these things organized here, while we are not in a position to start any of them.

It surprises me that the missionaries here don’t know Arabic better. Some who have been here for years don’t know as much Arabic as one of our new missionaries who has had just one year of language study. They have a regular language school right here in Suq-el-Gharb, but they seem to be slack in their requirements. A missionary here is not required to get language training as soon as he comes out, and it seems that if he doesn’t get the language right away, he never learns the Arabic as well as he should. On the whole I am pretty satisfied with our Arabian Mission. We may not be as advanced, but I believe we do things much more thoroughly.

Tomorrow I expect to go down to Beirut again to get some business taken care of – for our trip back to Baghdad and also for going down to Jerusalem. We are starting for Jerusalem next Wednesday.

Jerusalem, September 23, 1924

I’ve been leading such a fast life this week that I hardly know where to begin. We are in Jerusalem now, staying at St. George’s Hospice, an English school. We have had good traveling companions – Mr. and Mrs. Witherspoon of the Presbyterian Mission in Aleppo, who have also been spending the summer in Lebanon – and we came all the way together from Suq-el-Gharb in one car. We left early on Wednesday morning. We passed Sidon and Tyre and reached Haifa a little after noon. The road all the way is right along the sea coast and the last part of it was on the sand, actually on the water’s edge. Haifa is right at the foot of Mt. Carmel, and we stopped there for lunch. Then we went on to Nazareth, where Dr. Bathgate of the Scottish Mission, who was also at Suq, had invited us to stay. Nazareth surely looks nice as you look down on it from the road when you first come in. Mount Tabor, the Mount of Transfiguration, is also seen in the distance. The next morning we saw what was supposed to be Joseph’s workshop and Mary’s fountain, where Mary is supposed to have drawn water and where the whole town still does. In the afternoon we went to see the Sea of Galilee, passed thru Cana, where Jesus turned the water into wine, and just beyond that saw the field where Jesus and the disciples passed thru and plucked grain as they went along. The sea is six hundred feet below the Mediterranean and it is beautiful when you first catch sight of it when you are still a couple thousand feet above it – a wonderful deep blue. We visited Tiberias, the site of old Capernaum, and saw the ruins of an old Jewish temple. Here we had a short swim in the sea and then started back to Nazareth.

In the afternoon we started for Jerusalem, passed thru Nablus, ancient Shechem, by Sychar, Jacob’s Well, Bethel, etc. The next morning we went to Bethlehem, visited the Church of the Nativity, which contains the place where Jesus was born, and then we walked out to the edge of the city which overlooks the field of the Shepherds. In the afternoon we visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is supposed to be built on Golgotha and the tomb where Christ is buried. Then we have also visited the Pool of Bethsaida and the Pool of Siloam, Tomb of the Kings, Quarries of Solomon and dozens of other places since we have been here. Of course very few of these things are really authentic. But it isn’t so much the actual spot as the reminder of these things that counts.

Saturday morning we visited the Harm esh Sherif or the Dome of the Rock, which is held by Moslems now and is built on the site of Solomon’s temple. They have a very large Mosque built over the rock, which is supposed to be the site of the altar of Solomon’s temple. It is now a holy place for Moslems, but all visitors are allowed to go in. Jews are allowed in as well, but they never go in because they are afraid they might walk over the place where the Holy of Holies used to be. So a part of the outside of the wall of the Temple has been given to the Jews as a sacred place. There Jews come, especially on Friday night, to read their Torah and pray and weep over the ancient glories of the old temple which they have lost.

On Saturday afternoon we went to the Dead Sea, the Jordan and Jericho. We had a swim in the Dead Sea and it surely was funny – you float around like a cork and can not sink even if you wanted to. Well, this is all very short and sketchy, but it will have to do for now.

Damascus, September 29, 1924

Happy birthday to you, brother Nick, on your twenty-first birthday. You get to vote for president before I do! Now do your duty by your country and stuff an extra vote in the ballot box for me if you can get by with it.

I forgot to tell you in my last letter that on Sunday afternoon we went to the Mount of Olives. We took everything more quietly on Sunday and didn’t rush around as we had the days before. We took a carriage up to the top of the Mount of Olives, and then walked around and sat down a while in a spot among the olive trees overlooking the city below. Then we walked down to the Garden of Gethsemane, down to the Valley of Kidron, and then up to the city again. The next day the Witherspoons had to leave, so Mr. Moerdyk and I just took our time, revisited some of the places we had seen before and saw a few places we hadn’t seen. It surely has been great, this visit to the Holy Land. It has given me a whole new outlook on the Bible, a much clearer conception of how things told in the Bible may have taken place. One thing that is disappointing is that nearly all these places have been claimed by the Catholic and Orthodox churches and they have built shrines and chapels and cathedrals and filled them with pictures of Jesus and Mary and burning candles. For me, at least, all these things spoil it. I would rather try to preserve these places and things the way they were at the time, which would make them of more historical interest.

Friday morning we left Jerusalem by car. We took the same road we had come on as far as Tiberias, and then struck north toward Lake Huleh. There wasn’t much to see except a few Jewish colonies until we reached the Jordan River at Jisr Yacoub, Jacob’s Bridge. From there we struck straight for Damascus. The road is pretty barren and desolate. Large parts are paved with cobblestone, partly the remains of an old Roman road. Mount Hermon, on the left, is visible almost the whole way. We arrived in Damascus at about six o’clock and put up at the Palace Hotel.

Damascus is the largest city in Syria and is one of the oldest living cities in the world. It is the connecting link between the great Arabian desert and Syria and the western world. The Barada River runs thru the heart of the city and there are nice parks and restaurants along its banks. There are few places to see in Damascus, but the interesting part of the city is its people. Its extensive bazaars are interesting not only for the large variety of things for sale brought from every corner of the globe, but for the variety of life and vocations. Besides the shop keepers there are hundreds of different vendors on the street with as many kinds of wares for sale, from rubber bands cut from auto tires to bouquets of flowers to drinks of raisins and licorice water and donkey loads of cucumbers, all calling out at the top of their voices. And above the din come the prayer calls from the minarets of the over two hundred mosques of the city. The prayer call is done in a nicer, more musical way in Damascus than I have heard in any other place. A muezzin from a minaret just opposite my hotel window wakes me every morning at about four. The bazaars are all divided according to trades – for example a saddle market for all leather goods, a fruit market, cloth market, coppersmiths, gold smiths, etc. In one market enough wooden clogs are made to put the whole world on clogs.

One long straight street – the “street called straight” – runs across town and ends at the East Gate. Just inside the gate on a little off street is the traditional house of Ananias, now converted to a small church, and a short distance along the wall outside the city gate is a window which is said to be the place where Paul was let down in a basket.

The most important sight in the city is the Omayyid Mosque. It is on the site of a Roman temple, parts of which are still standing. Later it was converted into a Christian church. It was known as the Church of St. John because it contained a casket said to hold the remains of the head of John the Baptist. Even now in the mosque there is a small dome covering that casket. The mosque is a beautiful building, with a huge dome, with beautiful inscriptions and stained glass windows, and the floor is covered with rich Persian carpets. It has three tall slender minarets, one of them named for Jesus, because tradition says that Jesus will take his place at its summit at the beginning of the last judgment.

One afternoon we went to visit Mr. Nelson, a Danish missionary doing work among the Moslems, at his home in Salihiyeh, a suburb north of the city. It is a good deal higher than Damascus and from there we could see the city with the gardens all around it – truly a “pearl of the desert.” Wednesday morning we start for Baghdad, and I shall be glad to get back again. I don’t like this unsettled roaming around for very long.

Basrah, October 7, 1924

I must make this a very short letter if I am to get it down to the P.O. before the mail closes. We arrived in Basrah just this forenoon and I have been busy since then unpacking and getting things in shape. The Van Esses arrived here Saturday, so the whole family is present again. The Jackson girls (note 57) say they have had a pretty good summer here in Basrah, no extreme heat at all.

We had a pretty rotten trip across the desert this time. There must have been a Jonah in the party. Last Wednesday we joined the Eastern Transport convoy and started back for Iraq. There were six cars in the convoy, all heavily loaded, and trouble began almost immediately, mostly tire trouble. The last car did not get to Palmyra until nine o’clock that night. The next morning we started again at five. Our car was the leader and we drove a hundred miles without stopping. Then we waited over two hours before the last car came up. When we started up again, our car began to give trouble and from then until we reached Hit, we had eleven punctures, two broken springs, a broken wheel, and then we got lost. We got to Wadi Huran at about six, when we should have been there at one. Two other cars had their share of trouble, too. You see, in this dry climate the wooden wheel spokes get loose and the whole wheel simply collapses. From Wadi Huran, the three good cars, with all the ladies in the party, went on ahead and got to Hit at about eleven o’clock. The rest of us got to Kubeisi, twenty miles from Hit, at one in the morning. We stopped and had some tea. By this time we had run out of all spare tires and tubes and had nothing to patch with, so we drove on on a flat. Shortly after leaving Kubeisi we lost the trail and couldn’t find our way back to it until nearly dawn. We got to Hit at six in the morning, just twelve hours late. By that time our car was such a wreck that Moerdyk and I wangled seats in two of the other cars and went on with them to Baghdad, getting there at about two. We stayed with the Staudts until Sunday night when we took the train to Basrah, arriving this morning. We have been away two and a half months.

October 12, 1924

I have been busy as can be this week getting things around school in shape again, especially in the boarding department. I’m going to run the boarding school right this year, even if I have to revolutionize the whole kitchen force. I have been giving the kitchen and dining room such a cleaning as it has never had before, painting tables and woodwork, screening windows and doors, etc. Everything is going to be kept spick and span so that the boys will think they’ve got regular New York Central dining car service. School registration starts tomorrow and class work begins about Wednesday.

Besides that I have been helping Mr. Van Ess do the walls of his house with distemper – that’s something like alabastine but it goes on like paint and doesn’t rub off. I am going to do the walls of my room with it, too, this week. Mrs. Van Ess said that after I got the walls done, she would get some new curtains for me.

We’ve been having a host of parties, teas, etc. this week. The Jackson girls have two friends visiting with them who are making a round the world tour and stopping off here for a couple weeks.We’ve had one moonlight bellum picnic, one dinner for the whole station, and teas and luncheons. The Van Esses received a large order from Montgomery Ward – groceries, etc., and I had to help sample things, especially when I was working over there and stayed for lunch – sweet potatoes, dill pickles, plum butter and everything!

As ever, your loving son and brother,



[56]One of the major complaints Iraqis made about the British Mandate was that British officers and advisors were compensated – in salary and housing – at a rate many times higher than what Iraqis earned in similar positions, all at the expense of what was supposed to be an independent Iraqi government.

[57]Ruth and Rachel Jackson and Charlotte Kellien were invariably referred to as “the girls” even in later years, when they were certainly no longer girls. Ruth and Rachel were known individually by their own names, but Miss Kellien was always Miss Kellien.

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