Pitkern Humor and Internal Mail
Sunday 22 July - by Julie Christian In between their hard work in the community working on the roads and in the gravel pit, tending to their vegetable garden, doing their carvings, watching DVD's, dreaming up visions for Pitcairn’s future and doing maintenance work down Bob's Valley, what else do the Bobs Valley Five do? They have all become letter writers. They had to.
The community is writing to them. Three times per week. I am told that Olive writes a letter to each of the five men, every mail delivery. That is 15 letters per week from Olive alone. One of the guys inside writes 28 letters a week. No wonder Pitcairn's internal mail statistics have increased from virtually zilch to the average 200 - 250 letters out and a similar amount in, per month.
We won’t even try to guess what is written between the five men and their supporters in the community. Only the Corrections Officers would know.
As is usual with any correctional facility all mail to and from the Remand Center is checked. Every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday mornings mail for the five guys is delivered to Dennis the Postmaster, and at 9am he walks or drives to Bob's Valley three minutes down the road with all the letters, some of them attached to huge hibiscus flowers, a message of love from their families. No wonder they call Dennis "the florist". He delivers the mail, and picks up their mail for the community, takes them back to the post office to put 10c stamps on and cancel them, before he gives them out to people who have been waiting patiently at The Square.
The Postmaster received recently a written complaint signed by all five of them. They claimed he was "slipping in his delivery duties", as their mail sometimes was one, two or three minutes late, and on Sunday 3 hours and 7 minutes late because the postmaster chose to do his own pleasure, crewing the longboat to visit a passing ship. They complained of squashed flowers, stamps stuck on the wrong way (not stuck on square) and "shoddy" cancellation. In our eyes this letter proves how high the morale still is in Bob's Valley, and that the legendary Pitkern humour is still alive and well.
Early in the year the co-op store ran out of writing paper and envelopes. In recent times some of the locals have become innovative and have weaved envelopes from the thatch used for weaving souvenir baskets and some are made from the leaves of banana trees and letters shoved into the hollow of bamboo trunks. The postmaster's hand is not dainty enough to stick the stamps squarely onto the round flowers. Pauline you need to weave some square flowers to fit on the square envelopes so that the stamps can be stuck on squarely so that the five men can stop giving the postmaster a hard time. A lot of love and fun goes into making the hand made envelopes.
One day Meralda wasn’t feeling her usual self so decided to take herself of to do some rock fishing. She thought catching fish would cheer her up. Well hooking a couple of Moi’s (similar fun to catching Trout) and then losing them, only deepened her ‘down’ feelings. She wrote this ‘tale’ to the Bob’s Valley guys. As they couldn’t go fishing for her they thought they would do the next best thing. They drew and cut out cardboard fishes and mailed them to her in the hope it would cheer her up. It did. The envelope is addressed TO: Daughters Warren, Up Nunks, Behind the courthouse, Pitcairn Island. From: Us in a presson.
Mail of a tail
(The above story was adapted from the Pitcairn News and used by permission. All photos from Pitcairn News and used by permission. Bob's Valley is the place name of HMG Prison and the "five" are the five prison inmates.)
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