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Tiki Central Forums » » General Tiki » » WWII - the New Guinea Campaign and images from the island
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WWII - the New Guinea Campaign and images from the island
Babalu
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 19, 2006
Posts: 2505
From: Lemon Grove
Posted: 2010-02-14 09:43 am   Permalink

Ok, one more thread if you all don't mind....this one has been picking at my brain for some time now...

It's been well established that the presence of our troops in the South Pacific had a huge impact on "Tiki" here in the United States. Of course we had a presence in Hawaii prior to WWII, but I can't help but think that the battles with the Japanese in New Guinea that began in 1941 must have been one of the first huge influences on the way we began to think about "Tiki" here in the States...

Imagine: Thousands and thousands of troops putting to shore in NG to fight...most of our boys (fresh off the farms) had never been anywhere in their lives...They are met with Paradise, yes, but also Hell....Thick jungle that can hardly be cut through...grasses that cut skin, heavy machinery at a virtual stand still - unable to move, unknown jungle diseases killing friends right and left, heavy daily down pours, trekking through knee deep mud 'everyday' carrying a 60lb pack on your back, guys huddling around fires at night, not to keep warm, but to try and keep their socks dry...all this before they even went into the extreme hell of battle. It must have just been something else!...oh, and the drums...the drums, penatrating through the thick steamy haze of the night...that same sound, that same beat, over and over again...damn the drums!






[ This Message was edited by: Babalu 2010-02-16 06:49 ]


 
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MadDogMike
Grand Member (6 years)  

Joined: Mar 30, 2008
Posts: 7318
From: The Anvil of the Sun
Posted: 2010-02-14 11:21 am   Permalink

Our political views of the world during WWII must have influenced our tiki tastes. Japan was known as an aggressor in the South Pacific, attacking the small island nations and committing real or alleged atrocities. Since we were there to defend these people (as well as to protect our interests), that made us sympathetic to their cultures and receptive to their artifacts. A beautiful japanese kimono, on the other hand, would have been badly out of place in a tiki bar unless it could be considered a war trophy.

 
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Babalu
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 19, 2006
Posts: 2505
From: Lemon Grove
Posted: 2010-02-15 12:24 pm   Permalink










 
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Babalu
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 19, 2006
Posts: 2505
From: Lemon Grove
Posted: 2010-02-15 2:04 pm   Permalink

Ya'know Joe, If we ever get outta this place, we should open a bar....












 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11159
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2010-02-15 3:39 pm   Permalink

I believe the fact that Americans were seen as the rescuers from the evil Axis powers, and thus treated as heroes and friends, created a very positive memory in the G.I.s' minds of their wartime experience with other cultures. Also, war time experiences are often the strongest ever made by men, with their intensity remaining unmatched in civil life.

But although I have featured two Tiki artists in my books who were stationed outside of paradisaical Polynesia, Barney West in the Marianas and William Westenhaver in the Admiralties, I think they were not necessarily typical, and I would like to caution your enthusiasm (which I am very fond of, Rick !) in assuming that Americans' war time experiences in MELA-nesia had that much influence on shaping Tiki style. Here are my two reasons:

A.) The average G.I. did not have the artistic interest and eye to appreciate the artifacts. The influence of PNG art on Tiki style hails mostly from the primitive art appreciation by museums and art dealers that I describe in Tiki Modern. If the G.I.s had had the time (and mind) to experience the native culture at all, it was more in meeting the people themselves, and maybe dances and customs, I believe. Don't forget that your interest comes from an artistic sensibility not shared by the the average Joe.

B.) Melanesia is not, and never was, the "Paradise on Earth" that Polynesia has been since it discovery. Hawaii with its Wahines was a very different ball game. The attractiveness jump from the exotic Eurasian look to the much less Caucasian Melanesians could not be expected of American mid-century men, as that telling B&W photo card I published in Tiki Modern so brutally relates:



And as you so aptly describe above, the ENVIRONMENT itself was not that "Beachcomber-in-a-hammock" island paradise one imagines of Hawaii and Tahiti, I quote this section from Anthony P. Meyer's "Oceanic Art" (which is in NO WAY to be taken as a negative comment on your stellar Asmat ART post, which I love !!!):



The story of the REAL Bali Hai perhaps best relates the impressions that many island locales actually made on G.I.s, and how they became romanticized by the media after the war. (The section below also speaks of what MATTERED to the fighting men back then, and I don't think native art was it):



Which is not to say that some guys might not have had the luck of finding little pockets of tropical bliss. But I believe the above description of "Hellhole" was generally more accurate for most of the places encountered by the men. AFTER the war, with the all-pervading influence of South Pacific the musical and movie, it was more remembered thru rose-colored glasses. But I don't think folks entered A-frame supper clubs with Asmat shields as decor on their walls because of what they experienced in the Melanesian war theater.


 
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Babalu
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 19, 2006
Posts: 2505
From: Lemon Grove
Posted: 2010-02-16 06:45 am   Permalink

Thank you for the time and detail you put into your post Big Bro...It really is very appreciated.

Perhaps I should have put a "?" at the end of the title words to this thread when I posted it, for this whole thread was meant to be more of a question rather than a point which I was trying to get across. I just plain didn't know if there was any kind of a Golden Age connection or not, and was looking for feedback. One can only get so much information from books, and web Sites that show case the art of New Guinea

When I first started looking into the war campaign archives of WWII - PNG for additional art imagery...my mind started ticking. There is some really wonderful imagery and documentation of accounts from back then online. I couldn't help but think that the media that must have been dominating the radio air waves in 1941 -43 with some amazing stories of the hardships, head hunters, and possibly the raw beauty of the area that our boys were fighting in...what type of impact did the media have on the USA population, again, I just wasn't sure.

And yes, very true, I have been looking at my recent research of New Guinea with an artist's sensibility, and also perhaps, with the same rose colored classes on that you mention in your post above on Rodgers and Hammerstein. For who can really know the hell of battle unless you have been in one...I have not.

At any rate, perhaps this thread could be one where people could come and post some of these old WWII island photos? There really is some cool old stuff out there in these old archives that might help folks such as I down the road.

Enjoy the day Big Bro!


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11159
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2010-02-16 11:54 am   Permalink

Thank you, Babalu! I too find those photos of and by WWII soldiers fascinating. Did these all come from the web? God thank the internet for flushing all this material (which otherwise might have never seen the light of day) out of dusty albums and attics!

To stay on topic with Babalu's intention to make this thread a repository for WWII photos and material, I started another one (which this one inspired me to): When and where did Melanesian art enter Polynesian pop?:

http://www.tikiroom.com/tikicentral/bb/viewtopic.php?topic=35535&forum=1&start=last&0

[ This Message was edited by: bigbrotiki 2010-02-16 16:40 ]


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Bay Park Buzzy
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 07, 2006
Posts: 2842
From: West Bay Park, San Diego, CA
Posted: 2010-02-16 5:18 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2010-02-15 15:39, bigbrotiki wrote:
... as that telling B&W photo card I published in Tiki Modern so brutally relates:





That image reminds me of something from the family archives...


I was looking through my Grandfather's old navy stuff and came across this photo:

Some striking similarities with the cartoon.


He went close to PNG on his escape route from the Phillipines to Australia in 1941. Here's a picture from The Saturday Evening Post article of the islands they went by:



A panel detail shows contact with the natives just northwest of PNG:


Another one of his original photos of a pig cookout:

the birth of the luau...?

There were a bunch of burning and sinking boat pictures, a bunch of fishing photos, and a bunch of palm tree filled islands. Here's one of a downed Jap plane:



BigBro: here are some scans from a Navy published book about the USS TJ's travels during the war. I only included the relavant pages. there were a lot of life on the boat pictures and equator crossing shananigans otherwise. It's a nice first hand document of the era that we're discussing here. Go Navy!

Cover


Title page


Ports of call:

My grandfather joined the Navy before the war to see the world. Looks like he saw a lot of it on this boat's adventures.

It has little yearbook like memory entries for he places they went. Here's Hawaii:

the Hawaii photos were all standard 40's era stick tourist photos so I left them out

here's a nice section of photos on Ulithi:


tattoo pictures in the middle:


This part on the South Pacific mentions going to the Soloman's

Decor influence grass shack theme, lower left?:


It seems my Grandparents, all WWII Pacifis theater Navy vets, seemed to gravitate towards the Asian influenced art stuff, rather than the Polynesian decor stuff after the war.

Buzzy Out!






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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11159
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2010-02-16 7:01 pm   Permalink

Great material, Buzzman! And I believe me that your grand pappy himself drew that cartoon!





What a list of ports of call! I think this might be a good thread to post Jerry Colona's Bob Hope USO Tour map from the BOT again:





...and zoom into it a little:
While Hawaii was geographically limited in size:




...it is amazing to see in how many places in Micronesia and Melanesia Americans were stationed at!:


Buzzy, you of all people should be able to tell us: Do you remember your grandparents telling any South Sea tales from their wartime, or did they or your parents have tropical home bars? Actually, you and your parents don't count, the second and third generations were already removed from the direct war experience, and subject to the romanticizing and mixing in of South Sea cliches.


[ This Message was edited by: bigbrotiki 2010-02-16 19:17 ]


 
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ThreeTikis
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Jun 24, 2006
Posts: 62
From: Las Vegas, Nv
Posted: 2010-02-16 7:10 pm   Permalink

This is really a great thread. Thanks to all that post (even BigBro). Would love to see more.

 
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Sabu The Coconut Boy
Tiki Central Poet Laureate

Joined: Aug 20, 2002
Posts: 2793
From: Carson, California
Posted: 2010-02-16 9:17 pm   Permalink

One of my favorite items is the small pocket guide that the Army and Navy gave to its troops going to New Guinea in WWII:





It tries to put a positive spin on the island adventure the soldier is about to partake in, but the chapters on hook worms, tropical ulcers, mosquitos and fungus are pretty grim:

"Most unpleasant of all, perhaps, are the leeches which grab at you, or drop on you from leaves in the jungle. They will probably get in through to your skin no matter what you wear. If allowed to bloat up on your blood they will drop off. Get rid of them as soon as you can. But never tear them off, as a bad sore may result. A lighted cigarette, a cigarette lighter, a spit of tobacco juice, soapy water, gasoline, or a pinch of salt are used to make leeches let go. Don't scratch the spot afterwards, or it may become a sore. 'Tis said old residents miss all such vermin when they leave the islands"

More advice:

WHAT MAKES TROUBLE WITH THE NATIVES
Interfering with native women;
Entering sacred places without permission, and touching sacred things;
Molesting gardens, orchards, and interfering with pigs;
Taking goods owned by natives without compensation--even perhaps cutting trees or shooting game in their territories;
Coercion in recruiting labor, or clearing roads;
Striking or swearing at natives;
Entering native houses out of curiosity;
Making a lavish display of articles valued by natives;


Best of all are the illustrations. Tiny drawings of PNG artifacts throughout:



and really nice watercolors (or are they pastels?):





The image above, which is also used in outline-form on the cover, was based on a picture from a 1934 book, "Südsee; ein Reisebuch", by German photographer Hugo Bernatzik, which I'm sure Bigbro will appreciate.







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[ This Message was edited by: Sabu The Coconut Boy 2010-02-17 00:36 ]


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11159
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2010-02-16 10:17 pm   Permalink

There are a lot of German ethnology books on the region from before WWII, from the time when Micronesia and part of Melanesia where German colonies.


Here's the areas that were "German" before the Krauts lost WWI and had to give them up:




Swanky just posted an interesting thread about a Florida restaurant:
http://www.tikiroom.com/tikicentral/bb/viewtopic.php?topic=35542&forum=2&1

The little menu story fits into this thread:


While it seemingly contradicts my opinion of doubting that war experiences in Melanesia directly inspired Tiki temples, I believe it's not as easy as related in the menu text above. What were those guys doing during the ten years between the end of war, and the blossoming of the Tiki craze? Nobody came home in 1945 and -BAM- opened a Tiki joint.

I believe the Tiki craze happened first, for a variety of reasons ("South Pacific" being one), and then the veterans fit well into the concept. Remember, Don The Beachcomber and Trader Vic were fictional characters, and they inhabited a South Sea storybook-land composed of movie, music and novel cliches. The scripts for these stories made use of whatever fit into their concept, and molded it in, to reflect the public need for the dream of the South Sea island paradise. It is that fantasy quality that makes Poly pop an art form. (Those Germans could have never done it, they would have been too "correct". )


[ This Message was edited by: bigbrotiki 2010-02-16 22:31 ]


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cheekytiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 09, 2004
Posts: 1091
From: The Haole Hut, London, UK
Posted: 2010-02-17 04:57 am   Permalink

It may be slightly off the topic as this was more Micronesia than Melanisia, but I'd love to one day revive somewhere the "Cross Spikes Club" which was the bar the Servicemen created on Bikini Atoll.
The concept of Atomic and Tropical bar work so well together as we all know.




From Wikipedia
"Cross Spikes Club

The Cross Spikes Club was an improvised bar and hangout created by servicemen on Bikini Island between June and September 1946 during the preparation for Operation Crossroads. The "club" was little more than a small open air building that served alcohol to servicemen, and outdoor entertainment including a ping pong table.[14] The Cross Spikes Club has been described as "the only bright spot" in the Operation Crossroads experience. The club, like all military facilities on the island, was abandoned or dismantled following the completion of Operation Crossroads."


 
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artsnyder
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Jan 20, 2009
Posts: 31
From: Los Angeles/Las Vegas
Posted: 2010-02-17 4:30 pm   Permalink

This entire discussion is of interest to me and to others involved in the Tiki culture, of course--if for only the fact that Don, when he invented Tiki, used the 1930s version of popular fantasizing about the people and life of the "South Seas" as the fabric on which he painted the fantasy world of Tiki.
We who enjoy the Tiki culture have truly little interest in the anthropology of Micronesia and Melanesia, except to know what was really going on there during the time of Donn's creation of our "world of fantasy and friendship" that influenced his creativity.
Or, perhaps, as the result of living in Don's world, we have become interested in the peoples and their homelands whose handicrafts (or fantasy copies thereof) we collect. The study of their history and traditions and indeed the story of their being brought into the Western world with or without their desire or permission, is a meritorious one that should be undertaken by more around the world. But it is truly not the story of Tiki.
Actually the study of WWII in the Pacific is likewise worthwhile as we learn from it the merit of bravery and heroism expressed by sacrifice in battle (eg: John Basilone). But once again, while of great interest to us as Americans and as human beings, it is not the story of Tiki.
So, with a tip of the hat to the amateur anthropologists and historians who have entertained us so much with their research and writing here, I believe that it is time to return to the world that Donn created for us, but that never existed except in our hearts and minds.


 
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Babalu
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 19, 2006
Posts: 2505
From: Lemon Grove
Posted: 2010-02-17 5:36 pm   Permalink

Like the cartoon above, this little online find has racial connotations, however unfortunate, that was pretty much the norm back then....

The rendering style on this is postcard (I think it's a postcard) are somewhat interesting though...




 
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