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Letter from Oskar Speck to his friend Elli

Date: 14 June 1936
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Nancy Jean Steele Bequest
Object Copyright: © Australian National Maritime Museum
Classification:Ephemera
Object Name: Letter
Object No: ANMS0534[004]

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    Description
    Letter from Oskar Speck to his friend Elli handwritten in German over five pages, text on one side only, except for the last page. Dated 14.06.36, the letter is to congratulate Elli on her wedding, and talks of what his trip has been like recently, mentions the monsoons and the abundance of fruit, and suggests Elli and her new husband fly and join him, although he realises this will probably never happen.
    Translation
    • Victoria Point 14 June 1936 Dear Elli, I’m rushing to congratulate you most sincerely onfor your wedding. Many thanks for your letter to Rangoon. Unfortunately, I spent the period of your wedding (the various Sundays you mentioned) paddling somewhere along the Mergui Archipelago, not quite knowing which date it was. Accordingly, I celebrated accordingly but also mourned at various times because I knew Elli Ramscheck,xx but cannot yet say whato Kunauxx will be like. In any case, I drank several coconuts to your health. Please extend my sincerest congratulations to your husband and pass on my request to continue the existing friendship with his newly wedded wife. I hope that your wedding celebration was a success, that your husband didn’t drink too much beer and that you spent the wedding night just like you had imagined in your days asof being a chaste young girl. Ha haurray, I bet you think I’ve gone mad. Well, sometimes you can really go crazy, and if you’re not in a cold climate, such as yours, you get things off your chest by using pompous language. Will you be going on a honeymoon? If you are, please come and visit me. I promise each day I’ll climb up the coconut trees like a monkey to get you coconuts. Actually, your husband should be the one doing that, but he can fetch pineapples: they grow on trees that aren’t as tall. Then I’ll organise a wedding celebration for you with the [illegible]xxx on one of the Mergui islands. You’ll have various garlands wound around your neck and belly, have a big white dot painted on your forehead, have a ring through your nose and a coconut in each hand with red dots on them. Your husband will be decorated in a similar way and then we’ll pour half a bag of rice over you so that you may always have Kana [meaning unclear]. Later on we’ll have a Chinese dinner consisting of shark fin, bird’s nest soup, turtle eggs, curried crabs, rice and pickled eggs. After the meal you may smoke Burmese cigars and chew Bbetel nuts. Currently it’s the season for fruit season . Heavy pineapples weighing 4kg cost around 20 Pfennig, mangos cost 2 Pfennig each, coconuts 2 Pfennig, bananas 6 Pfennig a dozen, papaya 6 Pfennig each and there are about 2 dozen other sorts of fruit to be had. You will be able to afford an airmail [sic!] trip if both of you eat plenty of fruit. I think it costs around 2,500 Reichsmark per person. Well, it seems I must be very distant already, considering the huge amount of money required for the fare. Once again I was very close to becoming a millionaire. I found a piece of metal that looked like pure white gold and sparkled like a diamond in the sun. I could already see myself nailing my collapsible boat to any old rock here, and then came the flop: lead ore! All that glitters is not gold. I was in a tin mine where they wanted to employ me with an starting salary of 500 Reichsmark. They find stuff there that looks like black rock but which will fetch 3,000 Reichsmark per ton. Although I was so close to being a millionaire in my dreams, my reality is in fact is quite the opposite. On arrival at V.P. I set up a financial record with 5/4 annaxx [currency?] = 7 Pfennig. Thank God I received some money at the post office. Now, the trick will be to reach Penang without breaking the record. "And he lived on locusts and wild honey".; Letter from the Apostle No. who-knows-what. There are no locusts around here and it’s not the time seasontime for wild honey, because it’s the rainy season. I survive on fruit and whatever the Lord lets rain down from the skies; both in abundance. In the Mergui Archipelago it rains 7m in 5 months. The government does not allow anyone to enter the country without a waterproof coat. Thailand is 2 miles away and in the upcoming days I’ll be saying ”How do you do?” to the Thais. Please send me your new address to Penang; post restante – but by airmail, because this letter will take about 5 weeks to reach you. I’m keeping all my fingers crossed that I'll reach Penang safe and sound. Doing the trip during the monsoon is complete lunacy, but we’ll make it alright. There woan’t be any monsoon after Penang, because Sumatra lies off the coast. With the best wishes forto you, your husband and your parents Yours truly, Oskar
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