An uneventful week. A game of bridge where we gave IOU’s instead of money, as cash on Central is most limited. People playing for “pink elephant” (“white elephant” in States) prizes. Most people have nice things which they themselves cannot use but someone else might like. Mrs. Brown had three guests, all slim, for mah-jongg and gave the winner a pair of pink satin embroidered panties given her (too small, she is a larger woman). Going to hostess’s house to play for a housecoat she does not want or need is all in fun. I have attractive smocks left from my last pregnancy but only one woman on Central could use them. What if another should win? Will have to find another elephant before I have guests.
Four o’clock in the afternoon and what a let-up of tension. Air raids in Iloilo and nearby towns have been between 12:00 noon and 3:00 pm. This gives planes time to return to base before dark—and each day after 4:00 we all feel free to wander from home and air raid shelter—saved for another day.
Letters to Mom and Aunts Susie and Fannie} giving names of insurance companies with which we have policies. It doesn’t hurt to have this in writing in as many places as possible. Of course, letters will not leave Bacolod post office, but then, if Central is destroyed with records here, the Bacolod post office may stand till conclusion of war and letters may eventually reach the States.
We are eating well. A friend with many turkeys sent a dressed one, saying she wanted to kill off surplus as she had no feed. Manager’s wife killing three pigs and distributing pork (we have cold storage at Central so meat will keep indefinitely) as there is no more corn for feed. We will have a lechon (whole roast pig) on Central some Sundays.
Manapla Hospital (Dr. Davis, staff of nurses, operating tables, and many surgical supplies) suddenly moved at night to establish army hospital, destination a military secret. Dr. Davis, hospital surgeon, now Major Davis, going with the supplies on large barges by night to Mindanao to treat wounded American and Philippine soldiers from heavy fighting at Davao.
On Central we gather at tennis court late in afternoon and exchange opinions. There is noticeable friction between British couple and some Americans. The English woman, at a recent Red Cross meeting on Central, said Singapore must be saved at any cost. This brought sharp retorts from American women to the effect that England could look after her own colonies, but to Americans here the P.I. seem far more important than any British possession. Surely we Americans can be pardoned for preferring that our country save our lives, and save us and our husbands in the army and our children from possible torture and mutilation, than sacrifice us to save British women and children and English soldiers at Singapore. A selfish viewpoint, but when one’s own life, the life of one’s husband, and two small babies’ lives are at stake, it is difficult to desire one’s own country pass the P.I. by to protect a colony of another country. Oh well! We’ll see! In a speech yesterday Sec. Knox said that the Atlantic must be cleaned out and protected before the Pacific, that Hitler is the real U.S. enemy and not Japan. Certainly we hear enough that is discouraging so we’re becoming a bit hardened—but this is good.
No more laundry starch. No more matches. The list of items no longer for sale on the island (Negros) now includes razor blades, cigarettes, potatoes, onions, butter, bacon, Carnation milk, starch, and matches. Soap supplies are being exhausted. As there are no inter-island boats now, when supplies here are exhausted there are no ways of replenishing them.
New bodega being built on Central to take care of surplus sugar. Sugar formerly sent to Iloilo (Panay) for storage. Barges loaded with sugar are now at pier in Iloilo but workers will not unload them because: (1) Central has no money with which to pay workers. (2) Pier area at Iloilo has been bombed so many times. (3) With heavy casualties, pier workers are hard to find. Ciné house at Central filled with sugar (no more films, and due to blackout also no more shows). Now Ciné is full and new bodega under construction.
Money (cash) on Negros Island has been hoarded because bank has no more, and companies that have been receiving payroll funds from Manila are now in a predicament. Bank in Bacolod to make new money from water bond letterheads of H-P Central, but the bank president is afraid to release such money. His head office is in Manila and he feels he does not have authority to manufacture and release local currency. Many company heads are in the same predicament. Having no communication with their head offices in Manila, they do not know how much or how little authority to assume, S© many of the offices have closed their doors. Of course, the local managers are receiving no funds from Manila for themselves, their salesmen, clerks, or other employees. Most household servants on the island are behind in salaries, though many are staying on because they at least have a free place to sleep and employers can still give them rice to eat.
STORY OF THE POTATO RICER
Jim, remember how you wanted a potato ricer for the kitchen, for every time we had mashed potatoes the cook, Consuela, left lumps in them? So I ordered a ricer from Sears-Roebuck to please you—and it would make Consuela happy too. The ricer arrived a few days before you left for Manila—in the rush of things I didn’t tell you. We didn’t have mashed potatoes while you were away, and then war came, Consuela rushed off without a word, the potatoes were exhausted, so here I am, with a shining new ricer all the way from the States to please a husband and a cook, and now there is no husband, no cook, and no potatoes.
The ricer was used for the first time yesterday to mash vegetables for soup. Instead of cutting off the tops of onions (these are only tiny native onions, almost flavorless) we put the tops in soup, also tomatoes with peelings on so as not to waste a drop of flavor. The ricer is ideal for mashing out pulp and leaving tops and skins behind. A come-down from making creamy mashed potatoes—but the ricer is serving a purpose.