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Variations | Back in the day (4)

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MARIANAS Bulletin or MB was a mimeographed newsletter published weekly by the Trust Territory’s District Administration office on Saipan. Administered by the U.S. (specifically its Navy, and then the Interior Department), the TT consisted of six districts — the Northern Marianas, the Marshalls, Palau, Ponape (Pohnpei), Truk (Chuuk) and Yap. Its capital was Saipan.

According to MB’s Jan. 27, 1967 issue, Oleai village had been officially renamed San Jose by the Saipan Municipal Legislature. MB likewise reported that what used to be a community hall with an empty yard in Susupe “now has something else”: “a volleyball and tetherball court [was] installed in the yard by the Commissioner and the youth of the district [which] will now have something for its youth and adults to use as a form of recreation.”

More good news: “Elementary School Children Now Enjoy Cold Milk in the Morning.” The milk program for elementary schools “is now in operation,” and “milk is provided in the morning, except for the second grade at Chalan Kanoa School because they attend the afternoon session. The milk is provided by the [U.S Department of Agriculture]… The sugar and the flavoring are purchased locally. The utensils and the place where the milk is mixed and kept have been inspected and have passed the requirements of the District Public Health Department.” The milkman in charge of preparing and delivering the milk was Estanislao Limes, and “he is doing an excellent job,” MB added. “He mixes about 100 gallons of milk everyday…for 1,652 elementary students. All elementary children enjoy drinking milk on Saipan. The service will be extended to Tinian and Rota as soon as possible.”

MB’s Feb. 3, 1967 issue stated that a report to the TT high commissioner was submitted by Carleton Smith, a TT consultant who was also the chief of planning of the Department of Land Management on Guam. The report “is a study of the organizational responsibilities for a planning program in the Trust Territory.” Smith said the “distance and cultural differences between the scattered island communities in Micronesia…present…many challenges to the planners.” In many ways, he said, “the Trust Territory is one of the last frontiers. It is raw, it is under-developed.” There was no mention of the economic progress enjoyed by the islands under the Japanese administration — and how the American invasion obliterated it. But Smith said the islands’ “beauty, its wonderful people and [their] potential make [them] stand out in my mind as an unanswered challenge to development.” He believed that “the start of the answer lies in a well coordinated and realistic planning program.”

Asking a planner if something needs a plan is like asking your barber if you need a haircut.

In any case, MB stated that “Mr. Smith’s report will be one of the items considered by the recently established Special Joint Planning Advisory Committee which has members from the executive and legislative branches of the [TT] Government” and chaired by the deputy high commissioner, Martin P. Mangan.

MB also carried a news story about education in the NMI. “In the [Marianas] District, industrial arts is required of all students for a minimum of one year. At the present time industrial arts is provided to our students at the 7th, 8th and 9th grades….” The primary goal was “to provide students with the opportunity to gain skills in…woodworking, drafting, and electricity….” At Hopwood Senior High School, there were 10th, 11th and 12th grade elective courses with vocational education goals. These courses were carpentry, electricity, drafting and cabinet-making. “The carpentry class,” MB reported, “is presently learning skills in their trade by constructing a pre-fabricated basic electricity classroom [which] is to be erected by the class on the Hopwood…site during this school year. This classroom was designed by the drafting class and will be wired by the electrical class.”

On March 9, 1967, MB reported that “the regular Trust Territory flight left Saipan for Koror with six large cartons filled with locally made bread for the typhoon victims” in Palau. “Sally, the freak typhoon with the characteristics of a multiple tornado, clawed Palau like a giant hand…. Three persons perished in collapsing houses, 50 were injured and hundreds left homeless…. [T]he echo of hammers ring across Palau as workmen labor by lantern-light salvaging what they can of wrecked homes, repairing, rebuilding, erecting temporary shelters. Electrical power has been restored at the hospital, radio [station], hotel and heavy equipment repair yard while 75 percent of the district is in darkness…. Most Micronesian government employees are on leave from their jobs [and are] repairing private dwellings and caring for their families. U.S. high school teacher Victor Hobson organized 150 school boys into road clearing crews. Singing Palauan folksongs for strength, victory and humor, the youth chopped, sawed and lifted until all main roads in Koror are passable.” However, the “possibility of epidemic outbreaks resulting from contaminated water supplies and disturbed sanitation facilities is a major concern….”

On March 17, 1967, MB featured the eighth-grade agriculture students of Rota who were constructing a cement floor for their swine house. A photo showed their teacher, Joannes Taimanao, demonstrating “a procedure in side dressing plants with commercial fertilizers.” In another photo, Louis Thaxton, Marianas District coordinator of vocational education, was instructing Mr. Taimanao “on how to test soils.”

In the same issue, MB informed “the people of Saipan” that “in order to maintain the beauty of our island…arrangements...have been made to tow away scrap vehicles by the district Public Works at no cost to the owner.”

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