Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Wedding

A couple of staff members at my school were from the Central District; one was a Motuan from around Port Moresby and the other was from Hula some 90 miles from Moresby. They were both great blokes. We had lots of fun together.

The Motuan chap fell into a relationship with a nurse from the London Missionary Society hospital a few miles away. This wasn’t supposed to happen. The girls were supposed to serve faithfully after their training, not get married and leave the mission.
I was asked to be the go-between and talk to the Rev. Stan Dewdney about my man stealing his nurse away. It wasn’t too pleasant for a while but Stan eventually gave permission and the wedding was scheduled. My man asked if he could wear my suit in the ceremony and of course I agreed. My suit had been hanging in a cupboard for some eight months and tropical fungi attached to it made it look and smell like a mushroom farm. Never-the-less we cleaned it up and he wore it on the day. I was the best man.
Wearing a black suit in coastal Papua on a sunny, humid day is pressure cooker stuff, but he did it and looked pretty good.

In the weeks leading up to the wedding the father-in-law to be travelled to Arehava and shifted in with his son-in-law to be. Tradition had it that he could take anything he wanted, so the son-in-law to be, put all his valuables and his bicycle in my place. Even so, his sheets, pillow and blanket were ripped off by his new Dad.

I must mention Stan and his lovely wife. They had been in Papua since about 1925 and I don’t think they left during WW2? Once a month I would visit the Mission to give Stan a haircut. The ritual was the same every time. As I finished his hair he would say..’Kevin, would you please do my ears?’ Stan’s ears looked like a couple of anemones and it took a strong pair of scissors to cut all the hairs. The rub was, his next comment….’You know they have only started growing like that since I’ve been in the tropics!’
Pic: Rev. Stan Dewdney sans ear hair.

The Mission station was pretty well set up. They had a gun boi (boy) who was actually a man. He shot pigeons etc and their table was always good when I stayed there. There was a price to pay though. Before and after the meal there were prayers. After the meal there were individual prayers around the circle. When it came to my turn I opted out. They knew I was born a Protestant and desperately wanted me as part of the flock. It didn’t happen!

I also stayed over at the opposition, the Catholic Mission, a couple of miles further down the road. Some stories about that later.

1 comment:

Robert Petterson said...

I was looking for info on Stan Dewdney and found your story and photo. Thank you! (I work sometimes at Kapuna Hospital, not so far from Orokolo.)