The more things change, the more they stay the same

An excerpt – as timely as ever – from page 484 of David Stanley’s 1982 volume South Pacific Handbook, 2nd Edition:

Up to now, Guam has lived on federal government handouts, but Washington is urging the island government to be less dependent and to stand on its own feet. They are attempting to do this by limiting govt. deficits, while encouraging business, tourism, and trade. Financial instability has meant that much of the money obtained from the 6 cents-a-gallon gasoline tax and 10% hotel room tax, meant to bring in revenue to use to improve facilities for visitors, has instead found its way into the general fund and is used to pay for normal govt. operations.  Unrealistic U.S. regulations such as the Jones Act, which requires that all goods shipped through Guam be carried on U.S. ships, make the island vulnerable to labor disputes thousands of kms away and add about US$10 million to Guam’s annual fuel bill. Almost all of Guam’s food is imported. The rich volcanic soils lie fallow due to the large military reservations (35% of the surface area of the island); the local government holds a further fifth to a third of the land, also very poorly utilized.

George Tweed recounts how he spent the morning of December 8, 1941

From page 3 of Whittlesey House’s 1945 Robinson Crusoe, USN:

“Damn Leathernecks!” I swore, as rifle and machine gun fire penetrated my sleep. “You would come out here practicing and wake people up in the middle of the night!” It was three in the morning. I rolled over and went back to sleep.

Then I heard the field guns. First came the blast that sounded like a young cannon when the guns were first fired, then the report of the exploding shell. That woke me up and snapped me out of it. We Americans had no field guns on Guam.

“That’s not Marines! That’s Jap fire!”

I scrambled up, knowing exactly what I wanted to do…

I ran into the street, flung the groceries in the back of the car, and jumped in behind the wheel. As I stepped on the starter, Al shot down the steps and climbed in beside me. Gevarra jumped into the back seat. As I raced down the street, I realized that as soon as I turned into San Ramon, where the machine gun was set up, we had to climb a very steep hill. I didn’t want to stall on that hill. I was afraid to risk shifting gears. I thought that in the excitement I might get mixed up. So before we reached San Ramon, I put her in low gear and jammed that throttle down to the floor boards. The old jalopy sounded like a heavy ten-ton truck. It was a 1926 Reo, with a big six-cylinder engine, and it really let out a bellow. We roared around the corner and shot up the hill wide open. The machine gunner concentrated on us. He sent clip after clip stuttering our way. Bullets splattered all around us, hitting the street, the gravel and the rocks. Gevarra hugged the floor boards. It was only about two hundred yards up the hill, but scuttling along in low gear, and hearing the staccato of Jap machine gun bullets all around us, we thought it was a heluva long way.