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31 August 2015

Remember the chain letters MONEY TREE and MONEY MACHINE ?

They were a variant of those letters encouraging people to forward one dollar in cash to a list of people provided in the text, and to add their own name and address to the bottom of the list after deleting the name and address at the top. Using the theory behind pyramid schemes, the resulting chain of money flowing back and forth would supposedly deliver a reward of thousands of dollars to the ones participating in the chain, as copies of their chain spread and more and more people sent one dollar to their address.

The Bougainville version of this chain letter, sometimes called MONEY TREE and at other times MONEY MACHINE, required the participant to buy his first chain letter from somebody who had previously been sucked into the scheme (and there were plenty of sellers around!).

He was then supposed to send $1 to the name and address appearing at the top of the list, add his own name and address to the bottom of the list, and send it to the promoters in Australia TOGETHER WITH A MONEY ORDER FOR $5. The promoters would in due course send him another five copies which had his name moved up by one spot. He could then sell these five copies for $5 a piece to the next five sucker.

Of course, most people 'forgot' to send $1 to the person at the top of the list and just hurried off their $5 money order to the southern promoters (who presumably drove to the post office in gold-plated Ferraris to collect their mail containing all those $5 money orders and soon afterwards retired to their mansions on the Gold Coast) to get their five copies to sell on so they could get at least their own money back ($5 for the initial purchase and $5 to the promoters) plus, if they were lucky enough to find five suckers, an extra $15.

Every so often there were rumours that somebody had received heaps of money through the mail, no doubt engineered by the promoters to keep the scheme alive, and things got so heated up at one point that the Post-Master General completely banned the sale of $5 postal orders.

If you remember those schemes and can add a few tales, perhaps even still have a copy of one of those name slips, I'd love to hear from you.

email riverbend[AT]


29 August 2015

Johannes van der Linden sent these photos:

I was there from 1970 and even was seconded to Bechtel working
in the Cinema centre in Melbourne.

My Department employed 120 people, the average age was 19, I was the old man at 32: 5 Expats average age 22, the rest Bougainvilleans and other Papua New Guineans hired straight out of mostly Mission Schools.

One of the lab techs became a Professor in Chemistry and Minister of Minerals and Energy, Samson Akoitai, unfortunately he died last month.

They were the best crew I ever had, smart kids.


13 August 2015

Mark Frankling emailed from France:

Mark L Frankling in Paris, France, but who now lives with his family in Burgundy. As he writes, "The above photo was taken in Paris (1998-2013). We got fed up with Paris and moved to our home in Burgundy in October 2013. Much better here in the countryside, good food, warm fireplace and lots of forests and lakes. We have a 4-month-old son named Ashley. He is very popular but geez - i have ringing ears and a sore back :-) You would be impressed with our huge dog (Anglo-Fran├žais); despite his big bark he usually hurts himself chasing butterflies & birds."

Hi Peter

I have good memories of the Kieta wharf on Bougainville. My father had me working and driving the forklifts, usually it was copra and cocoa from the plantations as well as general cargo. He also put me on a ship to Wakanai to pick up some logs for export. It was as hot as an oven working on those ships but I enjoyed every moment of it. I just want to say a big hello to my old friend Sean McNamara who lived in Arawa. We were swimming in the Bovo River when a sudden change in weather sent down a huge mud flow from the hills. (This was about 250 metres away and coming down fast!!) We were all very lucky to be alive today. Other good memories included a "decent cup of tea" with the legendary Bob Strong. He was the manager of Toboroi plantation and the transport manager at Rabaul Stevedores, Kieta.

Here is a picture of some "oldies" who lived on Bougainville in the 1980s. Peter Hallmann was a pioneer and a very good carpenter who lived in Kieta. He made my father some very nice Pacific maple wooden chests. (Made in Bougainville). He was one of the last expats to leave Bougainville when the conflict began in 1989. He is from Brisbane Australia. We last paid him a visit in 1994/95 in Brisbane. He was a bit ruffled because he was chased to Port Moresby by the Papua New Guinea secret service because he stayed on living in Bougainville until 1992/93. He saw some horrible things from both sides of the conflict, as you could imagine. We heard stories of the Police chief on bougainville trashing up the bar at the Kieta Hotel because he needed a drink after hours, and that was in peace time before 1989.

Panguna Copper Mine 1982

MV Ivybank Bougainville Island 1984

Earnie Hewitte & Peter Hallmann, Bougainville 1980s

Please checkout my website I have many pictures from Bougainville from those good old days!! :-)

kind regards
Mark L Frankling
email mlfrankling[AT]

P.S. see also here.