Chapter 1: Post 1 — The Terror of the Trolls

As the Pan Am jet banked and began its descent, the girl pushed her slightly crooked bangs out of her eyes and stared out the smeared window, straining for a glimpse of her new home. The visibility was zero and since she couldn’t see anything below, she wondered how the pilot could. There was supposed to be land down there somewhere, but the shrouds of clouds that enveloped the plane seemed to have swallowed up the island as well. She rubbed the nubby fabric on her armrest nervously and touched the metal pair of wings that was pinned to her thin shift. The stewardess had told her that it made her an honorary pilot. She hoped that wouldn’t be necessary.

Her older sisters seemed unconcerned, as if flying thousands of miles and landing on a tiny speck in the middle of the Pacific Ocean was a skill they had perfected in the past seven days. Her little sister was sprawled across her parent’s knees, her face pale under her curly hair as she contemplated throwing up in her mother’s lap. The strange combination of scrambled eggs and chicken livers that had been served for breakfast would eventually make the decision for her.

The mist parted like the cotton curtain between first class and coach yanked aside by an irate stew, and the previously missing mountain was suddenly right under the plane. For something that had been invisible just moments ago, it quickly got bigger and bigger as the plane roared over it. The jet seemed to clear the impossibly green peak by mere feet.

The landing gear made a thunderous bang as the wheels hit the runway, but the plane bounced back up into the air. The collective, depressurizing gasp of the passengers nearly caused the yellow air masks to drop from the ceiling. The girl grabbed her armrests and dug her heels into the carpet, as if that was going to somehow help. The 707 touched down again, but this time, with a screech of brakes, stayed down. As the speed began to decrease, the plane ate up the runway at an alarming pace. With the end of the tarmac nearly reached and the ocean on either side starting to seem like a distinct possibility, the girl grabbed her sister’s hand and squeezed her eyes shut. What had started as the greatest adventure of her young life was about to become a really good argument on why air travel was never going to catch on.

She thought tearfully of the extensive troll doll collection that had taken her years to amass. The plastic fold-out cave where the colorfully coiffed little ogres frolicked and had their merry adventures was the jewel in the collection, but it was shut up tight and stuffed in a packing crate with the rest of their household possessions sitting on a dock somewhere, waiting to be shipped to their new home. But since they were all about to be blown up in a fiery explosion, the tiny trolls would be forever trapped, locked away in a ten by ten foot coffin with a piano and a record player. Even more unfortunate would be the fate of the three little ones she had stashed in her travel bag. She imagined their faces melting as the plane exploded, their flared nostrils becoming even more grotesque, their beady plastic eyes popping out of the sockets from the extreme heat. How ironic, she thought, to have traveled for seven days and 7000 miles to have it all come down to this, smashing into a God forsaken island that was seven miles wide. Clearly, seven was not the troll’s lucky number. How in the world had she gotten them into this terrifying situation?

September 4, 1964
I liked the flying a lot, it’s a wonderful way to go. My mother, in her letter, said Grandma Broquet kept talking about whole families going down together; it’s better that way, instead of one at a time. Oy. We were scheduled to leave for Samoa from Hawaii at 1:00 but the baggage handlers were negotiating about a strike. We got a message that we could board at 3:00 but it was 8:00 before we finally hit the air. A small note here: the girls were the best, nicest, well-behaved, patient, good and cooperative creatures I have ever had the pleasure to have traveled 7000 miles with. Imagine, 7000 miles, my God. So we were on our way and I don’t mind telling you that I had a great big cold lump in my stomach.

Jean

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6 Comments to “Chapter 1: Post 1 — The Terror of the Trolls”

  1. Christine! This is a joyful treasure for any of us who had the opportunity to be with this program in AS & knew your family as well as working with your Dad & Mom. Enjoyed their friendship for many years. Their astute & often humorous observations & adventures mirror most of our own experiences. We all carry AS in our hearts forever. Can’t wait for the complete book & movie.
    Boogie on!!
    Mary Anne Black. aka. “Tuffy” Ware

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    • Hi Tuffy! I think we have a long way to go before it’s a movie, but I’m having a blast writing it. My dad isn’t on the Coconut Telegraph much these days because he’s too busy writing song parodies and performing for the assisted living complex he lives at. So he has changed much at all. I’m constantly amazed at how fresh these memories of the island are, even though it was so long ago. Great to hear from you – keep reading!

      Thanks, Chris

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  2. Chris…I doubt thaqt there was a single one of us who didn’t also dig our heels into the carpet on a Sunday morning landing on that runway that alsays seemed impossibly short! Thank you for the memory!

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  3. Chris, this is so much fun to read and jogs memories of my own as well. I remember all your family so well as we just lived across the compound from each other. Since I was Karen’s teacher at Fia Iloa, I am enjoying all mention of her, of course. And it was so wonderful to see Carolyn in Sep, 2011 in Chicago. Your memories touch me and all of us. As Tuffy said, we all carry AS in our hearts forever.

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    • Juneal, so glad you’re enjoying it! It was so much fun to go back and revisit everything. I welcome any suggestions that you might have as this continues, because I was pretty young and the letters don’t detail everything, so I’ve had to “create” a few things to move the story along. Next post we finally get to the island!

      Chris

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