Tag Archives: 1966

Yarinacocha Snoopy Crashes Steve’s Red Baron

red-heinkelIn 1966, while I [Steve] was in Yarinacocha, Peru, and the Kindberg parents were out in the tribal area, I utilized their high-class motor-scooter (with permission) to get back and forth from the Summer Institute of Linguistics base-camp to the nearby town. I was aware that dogs did not like the motorized vehicles passing on the road and would nip at the heels or legs of foreign cyclists. Plus, at the medical clinic, we’d been warned about an increasingly rabid population among the fauna.

On a pleasant afternoon, as I passed the Albert Schweitzer Clinic on this same road, yours truly was approached by what seemed to be an insulted mongrel; he started at my left leg. Kicking him away only enraged the beast, but kicking seemed to be my best defense against the supposed bearer of rabies. He started to win the battle and so I veered right, just as a small bridge loomed to the left, traversing a creek in the jungle.

With great aplomb and no bridge under its wheels, the man/machine unit flew over this waterway. The prized Heinkel-two-wheel-wonder landed just below the brink of the distant shoreline. The bad news was that its front axle and fork bent, squashing the wheels into the rest of the body. The pinky of the driver’s right hand got “broke.” The good news: the canine stood smiling on the proximal side, wagging his tail as he put another victory scratch in the mud beside the takeoff point.

No more rolling or even limping for the German red metal mass until an airplane mechanic at the JAARS hanger worked to give it a new, though dented, life. As Lee and Will got off the float plane coming in from their tribal stay, each Kindberg kid was sworn not to mention the flight of the Red Baron and the resulting modification of its function and appearance.

But . . . wouldn’t you guess, even before Will stepped from the Piper Cub’s pontoon onto the dock, little Dougie proudly broadcast that “Uncle Steve wrecked Daddy’s Heinkel.” Surprised, but gracious, Will received the news flash and waited a week or two until the vehicle resumed its function.

As for the victorious dog, he still walks with his head high, but no foaming at the mouth. Check one for the animal world.

story told by Steve via email on October 11, 2016; transcribed by Dawn Duncan Harrell (Steve’s daughter)

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  • What other Uncle Steve stories can you generate: Virginia? Kathy? Eric? Bruce?
  • Or how about stories from France: Sandy? Debby?
  • DD? Jimmy? Gordy?

Polly Prays Hard

Taylor Sr, Marcia, Steve, Virginia, 12.10.1966

Taylor, Marcia, Steve, and Virginia at Steve and Marcia’s Wedding, 12.10.1966

[Marcia]: Steve was a little bit conflicted about whether he should ask me to marry him and then go off to Peru because he had the plan to go down to Peru for a few months. He went and consulted with Dr. Ockenga [pastor, Park Street Church] on the matter and Dr. Ockenga told him to “Give her a ring. Give her a ring!” So he did, actually.

[Steve]: I went out from his office and went down and bought the ring. From then.

[Stephanie?]: Really?

[Marcia]: From the office.

[Kimberly?]: Oh, I was expecting a telephone call. He said “give her a ring.”

[Marcia]: So on Easter Sunday morning, he said, “Let’s go to a sunrise service.” So, OK, I got up and got ready to go to a sunrise service. It turns out we never got to a sunrise service. We did go to a beach.

[Virginia]: Sneaky guy.

[Marcia]: We did go to a beach and he proposed to me and I came home with a ring.

[Kimberly]: Tell about your love-letters over the radio.

[Marcia]: Oh, OK. So previously though—this is probably why Aunt Polly was praying hard—previously we communicated by letters when he was in Peru. Oh, OK, that’s after the engagement. I’m getting confused.

So then he went off to Peru and we would write to each other. When he went out to the tribe with Bob Tripp, then my letters to him would come as far as the base where Lee and your dad were. So then they would have a radio hookup on a regular basis and she would read my letters to him over the radio.

[Kathy]: Where everybody who was on ham radio could hear it.

[Marcia]: Absolutely. Everybody would listen in. “Oh, we used to listen to those. We used to tune in at the appointed time and listen to those love letters.”

[Gail?]: Like a soap opera.

[Marcia]: No, I didn’t know. He may have, he may have written to me and said, you know, just something about that.

[Heidi]: It’s doubtful.

[Stephanie]: Knowing my dad.

[Steve]: Cool it, Sweetheart.

[Marcia]: Anyway, so what did happen to me was—because we had only dated for four months and he was gone longer than that, I started to wonder: do I really know this man I’m going to get married to? That started to be reflected in the letters and he did decide to not stay as long. I think he was going to stay to the end of November and pop home and we were going to get married in December.

[Gail?]: Get married the next month?

[Marcia]: So anyway, he came home sooner and we got reconnected.

That’s probably why Aunt Polly was praying hard, see, because she and Bob had worked hard to get us together. She didn’t want us to break up.

[Dawn]: Well, and I there was that one letter that Dad wrote to Grandma [MacGregor], right? Or didn’t write to Grandma.

[Heidi]: Oh, yes. It showed up empty.

[Dawn]: It was empty. He just folded up a bunch of those air forms and he. . . .

[Marcia]: Oh, and he didn’t write anything.

[Kathy]: He had it all addressed and everything.

[Marcia]: Oh, to Grandma MacGregor?

[Dawn]: What is this about?

[Marcia]: So we did get married, December 10th, 1966, at Newton Presbyterian Church.

Some of the people in the tribe—because he used to keep my picture up, somewhere on the radio or somewhere—so they told him to come back and bring Marcia and “the baby.” I guess they presumed that, you know, there would be a child involved already.

[Steve]: One of the things they gave to me was a long strip of sacha bacha [sic], you know the miles cake [sic], a strap of that, and that was called a “wife-beater.”

[Victoria]: Really?

[Steve]: Yes. And I use it all the time.

[Stephanie?]: And on the girls.

[Victoria]: Oh, come on!

[Marcia]: So you know who the joker is in our family, right? You’ve got that figured out.

[Steve]: It wasn’t a joke.

[Dawn]: Spousal abuse is not a joke.

[Marcia]: That’s right.

[Dawn]: It’s not.

[Steve]: But that wasn’t spousal abuse. It was training.

[Bruce? groaning]: Oh.

story told by Marcia (Steve’s wife) to the family reunion gathering on January 10, 2014 with additions from Kathy Courtright, Gail Montez, Bruce Kindberg, Virginia Gorman (Lee’s children), Steve, and Steve’s daughters Heidi, Kimberly, Stephanie and Dawn; recorded and transcribed by Dawn Duncan Harrell (Steve’s daughter)

Can you add to the story? Please do. Write in the box below. (You may need to click “Leave a Reply” above to make the box, name, and address fields appear.)

  • We have Betty’s courtship and engagement story. Anybody want to relay what you recall of the others?
  • Kindberg kids or Lee: can you confirm the name and spelling (English and Amarakaeri) of the plant about which my dad is joking?
  • Marcia, Steve: Are we still in possession of these letters? Could I have them or copies, please? Remember, all of Peru has already heard them, so what’s a few more family members?

Steve’s Pocket Monkey

Amarakaeri PeruWhen I was in Peru [1966], I had a little monkey [pygmy marmoset] that stayed in my pocket. It was given to Bob Tripp by some of the Amarakaeri Indians, who lived way, way out in the jungle. We were so deep in the jungle [near the border with Brazil] that they had never been out of their isolated area.

Wycliffe had a rule that if a translator went out to an isolated tribe, he couldn’t go out alone without a partner. I was working as a lab technician in Yarinacocha, but I went with him for a month or almost a month.

The monkey would sit in my pocket at night. We had only one light, like a kerosene lantern, though we had to pump it and it was fueled by gasoline, a Coleman. Thousands and thousands of moths would circle that light and the monkey would pop out of my pocket and snatch a moth out of the air and gobble it up.

Steve with Pocket Monkey in Peru, 1966I’d be teaching numbers to the young people of that group and I had a leash on him, going around his waist. I’d put him along the side of the wall, the vertical slats, of the classroom, so he could take care of his business.

The Indians would come by and reach into my pocket and squeeze him, just to tantalize him. He was cute as a button, but smart, like primates are. He would come to a call, like a dog. He’d sit in my pocket as we ate and occasionally I’d give him a bite and he’d snatch it and eat it right up.

I fell in love with that little monkey. I don’t remember what I named him or if I named him. I was going to bring the monkey home [to the United States] with me—I was going to try anyway—but I never got it back to Yarinacocha. One day the monkey was running across the floor and Bob wanted to stop it and he put his foot down to block it, but missed and finished off the monkey.

I had another monkey on the base at Yarinacocha that I tried to train, but I never was able to get him to obey me.

story told by Steve to Dawn Harrell (Steve’s daughter), June 12, 2013

Can you add to the story? Please do. Write in the box below (You may need to click “Leave a Reply” above to make the box, name, and address fields appear.).

  • Have I spelled Bob’s name correctly?
  • Do Lee or any of her children remember any more stories of either monkey?
  • Do you remember what kind of monkey the second one was? Does anyone have pictures of the second monkey with Steve?
  • Steve, do you have any other stories of the pocket monkey?