The Word of the Day

Post 85— Today’s word is tofa. Which means good-bye. It took me longer to write The Samoan Letters in real time than we were actually on the island, and I think the reason for that is because I didn’t want to say goodbye this time, either. Thanks for reading along.

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Post 84— Today’s words are toilet seat. Which did indeed travel to each of Larry’s offices after he left the island. It was quite a conversation starter.

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Post 83— Today’s word is music. Sometimes a song can instantly transport you back to a place and time. We played Tofa mai feleni at my mom’s funeral and it just about flattened us.

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Post 82— Today’s word is appropriation.  The swamping of the pao pao is one Carolyn’s most vivid memories and she allowed me to take it out of her brain and use it for internet content. It took a long time for us to learn how to share but we finally got it right! And if you haven’t been to George Hastings’ site to see his photos, go immediately. It’s such a vivid walk in the past that you may come out with a tan!

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Post 81— Today’s words are Christmas Letter. Even though my mom sent out over forty letters (the postage must have been astronomical), apparently some relatives did not get them and took it as an insult. There was much discussion about who was mad at her in the next few letters from home.

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Post 79 and 80— Today’s word is fudging The Johnson Presidential visit actually took place on October 18, 1966. In the chronological order of The Samoan Letters, we are in 1968. I apologize for changing history, but I really wanted to cover the LBJ visit and it got skipped over in the second year because there is a three-month gap in the actual letters during 1966. I always wondered why there was nothing written about the visit to the folks back home; going back and checking the dates, I finally realized that those letters are actually missing. (Who knows why? Maybe my hoarder Grandma decided to stop saving them for awhile but then changed her mind.)

My eternal thanks to Dave Gilmore for sending the links to all the LBJ info, because I have no actual memory of the visit and the Presidential diary fit perfectly in the format. I also borrowed liberally from Dave’s memory, which is just as sharp as ever. And thanks to Farida Sweezey for the photographs and her recollections as well.

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Post 78— Today’s word is salary Larry was making $11,000 a year, and that was with a raise. I realize things were a lot cheaper in 1967, but how do you feed a family of six on that? No wonder they were constantly complaining about how much toilet paper cost!

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Post 77— Today’s word is panic We were probably only trapped in the elevator for about three minutes, but the thought of the ship sailing while we were still on it was enough to give me grave doubts about elevators for a very long time. I am also phobic about tidal waves and cable cars. Thanks, Samoa.

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Post 76— Today’s word is cursive.  Problems with the typewriter ribbon often drove my mother to put pen to paper, and some of the letters in the collection are hand-written on lined notebook paper. My mother had perfect, Catholic schoolgirl penmanship and is a prime example of why they should continue to teach it in the schools today, because it’s all we’re going to have when the robots take out the electromagnetic grid and all of our MacBooks die.

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Post 75— Today’s words are The Beatles.  Beatlemania was a world-wide phenomenom, and their music was coveted because it was often hard to get the latest releases on the island. Carolyn and I and a few other fools once convinced a girl that they were making an actual appearance in Samoa and told her to go to a certain location. When she showed up (as excited as a ten-year old can possibly be), she found the four of us wearing mops on our heads and lip-syncing to “She Loves You.” It was a dumb joke, but she thought it was really going to happen and was devastated. Gwen Yazel, wherever you are, I’m sorry.

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Post 74 — Today’s word is motorcycle.  Bikes were very popular on the island, and my oldest sister Kathy remembers that a true sign of coolness was the Honda badge of honor: that round burn on your inner calf where, as a passenger, your skin touched the blazing hot tailpipe.

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Post 73— Today’s word is recipe. My mother did all the cooking in the family and much of it was dictated by Larry’s limited palate. I don’t think we had ever had a fresh vegetable before we got to Samoa, because he was raised on a steady diet of canned green beans and other sodium-drenched delicacies. But every time there was a dinner party, someone would bring a beef stroganoff or paella and it would astonish her at how many wonderful dishes could be made that did not involve mashed potatoes. We have a Broquet Family Cookbook that even today proudly features a recipe called “Patty Barr Curried Chicken”, in honor of the lady who introduced her to the dish! Hi, Patty!

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Post 72— Today’s words are silver ring. This kept us entertained for days at a time.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Make-a-silver-ring-for-25-cents/

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Post 71 — Today’s word is narcissism.  We had no idea Larry and all the other TV personnel worked so hard to keep the program running. We were just a tad absorbed with ourselves.

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Post 70 — Today’s word is humiliation. I remember the moments surrounding that first kiss as if it happened yesterday. They say that a memory can be seared into your brain if the event is traumatic enough!

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Post 69 — Today’s word is clueless. I just noticed that this is Post 69; that number has always been a euphemism for a certain act that you can look up on the internet. I remember starting a letter to a friend where I wrote the date and that year (1969) at the top and then wrote in parentheses (This is a dirty year!). My father was walking by and happened to look over my shoulder and see it. He paused and asked me, “Why is it a dirty year?” I acted insulted and yelled at him for looking at something private, but the truth was I had no idea why it was a dirty year. I was a late bloomer.

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Post 68 — Today’s word is chicken. Karen’s daughter Roxane now has chickens of her own. Coincidence? I think not.

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Post 67 — Today’s word is memory. It’s a funny thing. I am frequently amazed at how crystal clear many of these events are to me, even though they happened over fifty years ago. But then I get to the point where I want to write about something like the two and a half months we spent in Detroit on vacation after being on the island for two years, and I can’t remember a damn thing. I know my mother made us wear shoes, which was horrible, but there must have been many more instances of culture shock that I have simply blanked out. No offense to my relatives in Detroit—I’m sure we had a wonderful time!

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Larson's Bay pastel, by Jean Broquet

Larson’s Bay pastel, by Jean Broquet

Post 66 — Today’s word is artist. As she got older, Jean grew as an artist both in ability and confidence. This is a pastel drawing she did of Larson’s Bay years after we had left the island. It hangs in Carolyn’s house and is beautifully framed with four pictures of the four daughters below the drawing.

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Post 65 — Today’s word is pisupo. According to a 1983 article in the Wall Street Journal, European explorers arrived in Samoa in the 1800s with tins of pea soup among their rations. The Samoans started calling everything in cans pisupo. And that is now the word for imported corned beef, a mainstay of the Samoan diet. I have no idea if that is true or not, but hey, it’s the Wall Street Journal.

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Post 64 — Today’s words are Mary Pritchard. Of the many tapas brought back to the states by my parents, the most beautiful ones are by the most well-known siapo artist, Mary Pritchard. There have been  conversations in the past few years about what to do with the Polynesian souvenirs we all brought home, because interest in them doesn’t seem to be that high among people who weren’t there. The Mary Pritchard tapa was beautifully framed and hung in Jean and Larry’s living room for years. After Larry’s death, it will become part of the Polynesian collection at the Field Museum in Chicago. They did not seem to be interested in the woven fans with the molting chicken feathers, but at least something of the Samoan cultural arts will live on.

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Post 62 — Today’s words are stained glass. The ceilings in the new house were quite tall and many of the walls dividing up the space did not go all the way up or had holes cut in them for circulation. While privacy was pretty much non-existent with that many kids running around, Jean solved the problem in the parental bedroom by creating a piece of art that functioned as an opaque shade but still let in light. It was an underwater scene made out of resin and layers of colored tissue paper cut out to resemble fish. This was the start of her lifelong fascination with creating stained glass, and her projects got more complicated and beautiful as she became more experienced. Each of the four daughters have gorgeous windows in our homes that were designed by Jean. When she died in 2008, Larry arranged to have many of her pieces put on display at the funeral home, and it was remarkable to see so much of her work in one place. She was never particularly confident in her work as an artist, but she should have been.

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Post 61 — Today’s word is home visit. The news that we had signed on for another year was met with resignation but not surprise by the grandparents. The visit home in the summer placated everyone for awhile and even sparked a flurry of conversations about the relatives coming to visit Samoa since we would still be there. There were many paragraphs exchanged about possible ways to travel from Detroit, but I don’t think anyone really believed that either of the grandmothers would get on a plane for 15 hours and fly over the ocean. Which turned out to be true.

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Post 60 — Today’s word is hotel. The Intercontinental was at its peak throughout the 60s and 70s. The name was later changed to The Rainmaker Hotel but tragedy struck in 1980 when a US Navy plane hit the cables of the Mt. Alava aerial tramway and crashed into the hotel, killing the six servicemen aboard and two tourists who were staying at the hotel.  The business never really recovered from that, and today only half of the hotel is functional and operating as Sadie’s By the Sea. The other half was abandoned for years and finally knocked down, the demolition complicated by the discovery of asbestos.

The original Rainmaker Hotel, also known as the Sadie Thompson Building, has significance from 1916, when author W. Somerset Maugham stayed there for six weeks. He described it as “a dilapidated lodging house with a corrugated tin roof’” and complained that “he contracted ‘a stubborn rash, no doubt fungus, while in the hotel in Pago Pago, and it took weeks to cure it.’” Baby. Like we all didn’t get that.

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Post 58 — Today’s word is Spam. This is embarrassing to admit, but I love Spam. Grilled on the hibachi until the outside was charred but the interior was still a mysterious combination of pink meat by-products, the smell alone is enough to transport me back to the island and that long night. Served next to scrambled eggs and a little pool of ketchup for dipping, it was comfort food that told you everything was going to be okay.

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Post 56 — Today’s word is cyclone. Hurricanes, cyclones, and typhoons are all the same weather phenomenon; we just use different names for these storms in different places. In the Atlantic and Northeast Pacific, the term “hurricane” is used. The same type of disturbance in the Northwest Pacific is called a “typhoon” and “cyclones” occur in the South Pacific and Indian Ocean. The latest storm which recently devastated the islands of Vanuatu was known as “Cyclone Pam”, an oddly flirtatious name for such a destructive force of nature. But we have always referred to the Samoan storm in 1966 as a hurricane, wrong though that term may be.

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Post 55 — Today’s word is kava.   From Wikipedia – “The roots of the plant are used to produce a drink with sedative and anesthetic properties. Kava is sedating and is primarily consumed to relax without disrupting mental clarity. Its active ingredients are called kavalactones.” Which is quite possibly the Most Awesome Band Name ever – Ladies and Gentlemen, The Kavalac-tones!

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Post 54 — Today’s word is Tusitala.  This was the native name author Robert Louis Stevenson took for himself as he lived his final years in Samoa. It means “teller of tales” and his grave on Mount Vaea contains one of the most famous epigraphs ever written:

Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.
This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.

We didn’t visit the grave site while we were in Western Samoa, which is a shame. We did, however, get to see the movie “Daktari” in a real theatre and have rocket shaped popsicles with some kind of weird gell on top. We may have missed the great literary shrines, but we remember every single thing we ate.

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Post 53 — Today’s words are the cheese tray incident. This story has become legend in our family but not necessarily because it was such a notable event. We used to argue about it a lot because no one can actually remember where it happened. Some of us (me, mostly) swear it took place on the Tofua on the way to Western Samoa, exactly as recounted in Post 53. Others think it may have happened on a later trip we took to Fiji that involved just my mom and the four girls. But whatever post-British colony we happened to be in, we still managed to embarrass ourselves by hogging the brie. I chalk this up to the fact that up until that point, our experience with cheese had been limited to pre-sliced yellow squares made out of petroleum products.

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Post 52 — Today’s word is a song: The Battle Hymn of the RepublicThis was Larry’s go-to tune for parodies. For years after we left the island, he continued to write songs based on this melody. It showed up on cruise ship tours, trips to Africa and China and tributes to staffs everywhere from the Illinois Board of Education to Brenden Gardens Assisted Living Facility. It always brought the crowd to its feet!

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Post 51 — Today’s word is hungry. While the mere mention of palolo was enough to send us screaming from the room, we did snack on a many of the foods indigenous to the island. Taro and breadfruit were staples of the Samoan diet, and could be sliced thinly and fried into pretty decent potato chip substitutes. Sugar cane that had just been hacked from the fields was a delicious sweet tweet that could be sucked on for hours if you didn’t mind getting long fibrous leaves in your mouth. But the very best food one could find in the native setting was from the versatile coconut. After drinking the milk (which is actually more like water), the inside of the shell contains a half-inch coating of the most delicious snack imaginable. Copra is the firm, white fruit from which dried coconut and coconut oil are made, but nothing compares to eating it fresh off the palm tree. Once consumed, you can then use the empty shells to make drinking cups or bras.

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Post 50 — Today’s word is confirmation. When Catholic children are confirmed, they are allowed to select a new name (to follow their middle name) that reflects who they are as a person and what their future goals might be. This choice is supposed to be a saint’s name or a virtue. When Karen was confirmed a few years after we had left Samoa, the priest announced during the ceremony, “Karen has chosen the name Leona.” Very clearly heard throughout the congregation was the voice of my mother, who gasped “Leona?! There’s a Saint Leona?”

Karen later insisted there was a Saint Leona, but the real reason she had chosen that name was because it was the lead character in a lesser-known Sondheim musical called “Do I Hear a Waltz?” We loved that record and it was played until the grooves melted together. One really can’t get any closer to God than listening to a Stephen Sondheim show.

According to the internet, there is no St. Leona.

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Post 49 — Today’s word is discredited. This post in no way seeks to prove that Margaret Mead’s research in Manu’a was false. I’m simply reporting memories of conversations that happened over fifty years ago and might have involved beer or a little kava.

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Post 48 — Today’s word is origin. This story is still relevant in Polynesia today.
http://pacificguardians.org/blog/2015/01/17/polynesians-are-all-samoans-says-captain-of-voyaging-canoe-hokulea/.html

Special thanks to Pat Layne and Dave Gilmore for their stories about the Hokey Pokey and the girl barfing in the borrowed lava lava! I love when everybody shares!

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Post 47 — Today’s word is famous. Margaret Mead’s book Coming of Age in Samoa put the islands on the map, but she wasn’t the only famous person to visit the islands. Garry Moore, Lyndon Baines Johnson and the astronauts from Apollo 10, 13, 14 and 17 all passed through after splashdown. (Garry Moore and LBJ did not splashdown – they flew Pan Am.)

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Post 46 — Today’s word is lyrics. Although there were only four of us instead of seven, we often fancied ourselves as the Polynesian Von Trapps and we sang constantly. The liner notes of record albums usually did not include the lyrics, so in order to make sure we had all of them correct, we would hunch over the record player and write down the words a line at a time. This meant lifting the arm with the needle off about every five seconds, usually with an ear-splitting screech that could be heard throughout the house. I can still sing every song we learned from that method, although my interpretation often includes the frequent skips in the chorus from the places we scratched the records.

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Post 45 — Today’s word is sad. The Samoan aiga (family) lost two members in the last week; Jerry Imes, who was a delightful lady and a great friend of my family, and Teri Smith, who was also lovely and went to school with my older sisters. Tofa, ladies; you will be missed.

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Post 44 — Today’s word is euphemism.In the original letter detailing the stomach upsets of the TV staff, Larry also referred to the teacher’s problem as the Michigan Stomp, the Polynesian Prance and the Samoan Shuffle. Special shout out to George Hastings for the video linked to demonstrate the techniques of Oral Language. “This bread is fresh!”

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Post 43 — Today’s word is miscellaneous. It has nothing to do with the Turtle and the Shark but involves a current story in the news featuring Samoa. Samoan Air has recently adopted a policy where your fare is based on not just the weight of your baggage but also your own heft. Because the planes are small with ten seats or less, distribution of weight is important for the safety of the aircraft, and this allows them to figure out the maximum amount that will be taking off. The Samoans have large physiques in general so this makes perfect sense, although I have to wonder if people are removing their flip flops and lavalavas at the scale in order to pay less!

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The main downtown area in Fagatogo was underwater in 2009.

The main downtown area in Fagatogo was underwater in 2009.

Post 42 — Today’s word is tsunami. I worried about tidal waves a lot after the scare in 1965, but moving to the midwest calmed me down considerably. But what I had always feared came true in 2009 when waves hit the island and went as far inland as a mile. Over 100 people were killed and many homes and businesses were destroyed.

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Post 41 — Today’s word is musicals. My mother was a huge fan of musical comedies and much of our childhood was spent listening to soundtracks. The first live show we girls ever saw was a production of Annie Get Your Gun starring Ethel Merman (at the old Fisher Theatre in Detroit) and she forever influenced my performance style. For some reason, all my memories of the shows we used to perform in the basement involve songs from Flower Drum Song, a somewhat obscure musical that not many people are familiar with today. I still know every word to the song “Grant Avenue.”

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Post 40 — Today’s word is piano. My parents debated whether or not to bring the piano, as there was a weight requirement for the total household goods and the thing weighed a ton. But we girls had started taking piano lessons and had not yet lost interest in them, so over the ocean it went. We continued to plod along with our scales, but there were far more accomplished pianists already on the island and the piano became an instant hit at parties. This was a group who liked to sing, so a gathering at our house almost always turned into a boisterous sing-a-long. The piano was also borrowed frequently –— once they figured out how to get it out of the house, it was simply put in the back of a pickup truck and driven wherever music was required. It was never in tune, but then neither were the singers, so everyone was happy.

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Post 39 — Today’s words are coconut oil. The one aromatherapy moment that everyone can remember about Christmas Eve Midnight Mass was the smell of coconut oil as it hung in the air and permeated all our senses. The Samoan men used it as a sort of pomade for their hair, and one whiff of it will immediately transport us back to that stifling night as we sat in the pews and listened to Christmas carols sung in Samoan and realized (possibly for the first time) that nothing felt strange about it at all.

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Post 38 — Today’s words are Christmas lights. Growing up in the midwest, our tree was always fresh and the brightly lit strings of lights that decorated it were the size of hardboiled eggs. Each bulb had to be unscrewed and a metallic reflector was fitted behind it, making it look like the tree was full of those cones you put around dog’s necks to keep them from licking themselves. It was gaudy and probably a fire-hazard, but those big lights had always symbolized Christmas to me. Our first Samoan Christmas introduced us to tiny bulbs of blinking lights, and my mother’s sheer delight over her improvised tree was enough to carry the holiday spirit with us across the sea.

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Post 37 — Today’s word is moisture. I don’t think my parents ever got over the way humidity affected food and trying to prevent the results. To this day, my father will use a Chip Clip on the inner bag of crackers, close up the box, put the box in another plastic bag and wrap rubber bands around the whole thing! He is one step away from the Anal Retentive Chef, but damn it, his crackers are as fresh as the day they were opened!

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Post 36 — Today’s word is jealous. I wish I had been old enough to attend these parties, for this group of people had more fun than is probably legal. It’s a wonder they ever got anything on the air since so much time went into playing. I think in someways Samoa spoiled things for my mom and dad, because they never again found a group of friends quite so creative and wacky. There was something about that island that seemed to attract free spirits that were game for just about anything.

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Post 35 — Today’s words are left uterus. This is my dad’s favorite story from our time on the island!

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Post 33 — Today’s word is Gus. I have flashbacks when I hear Glad All Over.

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Post 33 — Today’s words are packing crate. People looked forward to the delivery not only of their household goods but also the crate they came in, for it was like getting an extra tiny house.

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Post 32 — Today’s word is toad. The toads that became roadkill could have been donated to high school science classes for the study of the amphibian digestive system, for every bit of it came out when they were run over. It was awesome in a really gross way.

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Post 31 — Today’s word is roach. It wasn’t just the houses that had the bugs. Larry threw out his back and had to be taken to the hospital (in a pick-up truck that doubled as an ambulance). He was regularly awakened from his restless sleep when the nurses would turn on the lights and shoo the roaches off the pillows.

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Post 30 — Today’s word is iron. It took our family a while to adapt to the idea that we were living in a tropical climate. There are frequent mentions in the letters of ironing and cooking cuts of meats that took hours in the oven and must have raised the temperature of the house to unbearable levels. But we were raised on meat and potatoes, and by God, we just kept on eating’em.

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Post 29 — Today’s words are Goat Island Club. A big night out involved movies at the club. The adults would sit on folding chairs next to the bar and the children would lounge on the floor directly beneath the screen. I experienced James Bond for the first time by looking directly up his nose.

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Post 28 — Today’s word is balls. I am not particularly athletic, but give me a pole with a ball attached to it and I will smoke the competition. That sounded way dirtier than it really is.

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Post 27 — Today’s word is teacher. In my opinion, the best way to teach math to people is to hire teachers that the eight year olds can crush on. You work so much harder when trying to please your future spouse!

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Post 26 — Today’s word is friendship. Siamau was not only a valuable ally in my dad’s teaching, but also turned into one of his best Samoan friends. He later named one of his sons “Larry.”

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Post 25 — Today’s word is theft. The stealing of government equipment was a big problem, and the most puzzling theft of all was the disappearance of a huge wheelbarrow from the top of 1700 ft. Mt. Alava where the television transmitter was located. The only way up to it was either the cable car or a steep mountain path that required both hands and feet to navigate. Speculation was that the thieves must have thrown it down the mountain and then reassembled it at the bottom.

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Post 24 — Today’s word is toilet. For his stellar work in Hygiene and Sanitation, Larry was awarded an inscribed toilet seat with a hand-lettered message from his fellow teachers. It hung in his office for years.

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Post 23 — Today’s word is The Turtle. There were many shows held at this huge open space that I performed in, yet my strongest memory of it is a large, open concrete pit full of garbage that I accidentally fell into one night when it was pitch dark and I was trying to find the make-up tent. I don’t know why this thing was uncovered in the middle of the grass, but I went straight down and got a fish hook in my ankle. Show biz can be a bitch.

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Post 22 — Today’s word is driver’s ed. My father taught all four of us to drive after we left the island, and for years I thought one of the rules of the road was you must always turn the radio off as soon as you start the car. I later discovered this was simply a coping device of his.

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Post 21 — Today’s word is siva. When I turned fifty, my sister Carolyn (aka “Lynnie”) hired a group of Polynesian singers/dancers to perform at my surprise party. Although it’s been a long time since I put on my lavalava, my hips still remembered how to do this dance! Later in the evening, a member of the troupe with the very un-Samoan name of Phil (who looked fabulous in his lavalava – I swear he had an 18-inch waist. I used a picture of him on my Christmas cards that year) did a traditional fire dance for the guests. There were so many people that the backyard wasn’t big enough to hold everyone so he had to perform in the alley, and as we all watched him toss the flaming clubs in the air and oohed and ahhed, a very goth-looking, stoned couple stumbled past the dumpsters and stopped in the middle of group and watched with astonishment. They must have have thought the drugs had kicked in big-time.

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Post 20 — Today’s word is Boat Day. Such a simple phrase to describe a complex mix of products, negotiating techniques and people. Many of the native crafts my family purchased at these events are still beautiful even forty plus years later, the main exception being the woven fans decorated with dyed chicken feathers, which sadly molted a few decades ago.

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Post 19 — Today’s word is chicken. This is the writing technique known as “foreshadowing”. Hint: Karen’s vow come true.

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Post 18 — Today’s word is Samoan, as in language. According to that impeccable source known as Wikipedia: “Another polite form of speech in “polite” Samoan includes terms and phrases of self-abasement that are used by the speaker in order to show respect and flatter the listener. For example when praising the child of another woman, a mother might politely refer to her own children as “ui” (literally, “piglets”); in order to emphasize the beauty of a fine tapa cloth, the presenter might refer to it as a simple “vala” (plain cloth); the weaver of an especially fine mat might call it “launiu” (coconut leaf) or “lā” (sail cloth) in order to not appear boastful. Overshadowing the dignity or prestige of higher-ranking individuals is a grave offense in Samoan culture, so words are chosen very carefully in order to express individual feelings in a way that acknowledge relative statuses within social hierarchy.”

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Post 16 — Today’s word is banyan. The banyan tree was taller than the jungle canopy and right on the edge of Tafuna. A resourceful ham radio operator who lived right next to it used the tree as a support for his radio antenna and the height made it an ideal way to send and receive a signal. Jungle ingenuity!

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Post 15 — Today’s word is mountain. The “big, fat, green mountain at our backdoor” that Jean refers to is Mt. Alava, also known as The Sleeping Man. See if you can guess why.

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Post 14 — Today’s word is lavalava. This traditional Samoan garb was eagerly adopted by the visiting teachers, who found it to be delightfully cool in the tropical climate. To this day, Larry still has a wardrobe of printed lavalavas that he wears instead of pajamas. This is somewhat incongruous in the mid-west, but the man wears it well.

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Post 13 — Today’s word is taro. Taro is the corm (or root) of a large tropical plant and the tuber is a staple of the Samoan diet. In the United States, the plant is ornamental and is known as an elephant ear. The people of Polynesia, who have relied on this versatile food source for centuries, might question Jean’s comment that it tastes like Play-Doh.

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Post 12 —Today’s word is shade. There were no windows in the houses – this was a tropical climate so it wasn’t really necessary. The canvas shades that could be raised or lowered to keep out rain were pretty effective, except when the wind was blowing. Then you got a bracing spray of cold downpour coming in through the inch wide opening on either side. Things were always a little damp, with a Pollock-esque smattering of mold.

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Post 11 —Today’s word is aiga (pronounced i-ing-a), which is Samoan for family. The aiga of ex-pats who lived on the island are scattered all over the globe now, but they are reading along and adding opinions in the Comments section. A special shout-out and thank you to John Flanigan for giving me permission to post his awesome pictures of the island.

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Post 10 —Today’s word is humidity. I don’t remember it being a problem when I was a child. Now that I am an adult who can barely tolerate a dew point above 60, all my sympathy goes out to my mother. I have no idea how she survived four years of this. The Broquet girls get very crabby when they are hot – except for Karen, whom we suspect is adopted because she is always cold.

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Post 9 —Today’s word is turbidity, as in “Disney controls the clarity of the water (known as “turbidity”) in order to obscure from guest’s view the boat’s guidance system and undesirable items like perches and mechanized platforms of the bathing elephants and hippos.” Well, she was only four.

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Post 8 —Today’s word is youtube, which allowed me load a video for the very first time! TY, YT!

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Post 7 —Today’s word is filariasis, a mosquito-born disease that can cause the limbs and genitals to toughen and swell. Do not google pictures of this if you want to sleep tonight.

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Post 6 —Today’s word is pagan baby. This incredibly racist phrasing was phased out in the mid sixties, but I like to believe that somewhere in a Third World country there is a Veronica walking around whom I helped name.

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Post 5 —Today’s word is fale. This is the thatched structure that is a traditional Samoan home. It is not pronounced fail, however, but folly. Therefore, when someone writes a variety show called The Samoan Fales, it’s really called … go ahead, fill it in. Get it? Rimshot!

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Post 4 —Today’s word is Facebook. I am starting to feel the same way about Mark Zuckerberg as the Winkelvoss twins. Writing the book was supposed to be the hard part!

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Post 3 —Today’s words are I’m Sorry (which in Samoan is Ia e malie). I have to apologize to my sister Carolyn for posting that picture of her sitting in a swimming pool with Kathy (from Post 2 – The Family Broquet) where she looks exactly like John Candy. I would write more but I can’t stop giggling uncontrollably.

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Post 2 —Today’s word is Talofa!

This is how you say Hello in Samoan. It’s not at all uncertain about itself like aloha, which can mean Hello, Goodbye or Do you want my poi? depending upon how you say it.

So Talofa everybody, and welcome to the The Samoan Letters.

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7 Comments to “The Word of the Day”

  1. that was John Candy! The Candy family lived next door to us on Ridgemont. I don’t know why Kathy was in the pool with him.

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  2. don ‘t forget to talk about the hot locker!

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  3. this is really a nice blog, i will be here often. thank you for your sharing. lista de email lista de email lista de email lista de email lista de email

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  4. We were at least spared the torture of pantyhose, which were just becoming widely popular in the mid-60s. Even though the cotton dresses needed ironing, foundation garments were just laughable in that climate. We moved right into miniskirts and bare legs and never got indoctrinated. Anyway, you can’t wear hose with flip-flops. And, thankfully, Spandex was invented right around then, so we could wear cute little stretch shorts and knit tops. Much cooler and easier to maintain! I remember waiting expectantly for the Sears catalog deliveries.

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  5. I still think your word of the day should be fa’a’fefine. Especially with Roniah Tuiasosopo in the news so much. I saw a montage of newscasters trying to pronounce his name!!

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  6. That dog bite incident was very “Clockwork Orange.” Glad it wasn’t a more iconic song. Kudos for finding the photo of the hospital; your entry brought back the atmosphere perfectly. I spent a lot of time there getting acne medication, the ingredients of which have probably been outlawed. As has the paregoric-based cough syrup. Damn, that stuff worked great.

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