National Geographic : 1955 Jan
storage tanks. Since the annual rainfall averages only about 20 inches, the stills work much of the time. For drinking, cook ing, bathing, and laundry the island consumes some 335,000 gallons a month. Northside and South side each has an open-air theater. Natives like moving pictures so much they will see a feature on Southside one night, then journey to Northside the next night to see the same film. The Gilbertese espe cially enjoy cartoons and westerns. With signs that warn "15 Miles Per Hour" and "Slow School Zone," and a local radio station of "The Hermit Crab Net work," Northside tries earnestly to be a small town. It lacks, however, a bank and a church. Cashing of checks has its 125 problems. Mullet A Still, one rarely handles Fast transport make money on Canton. I sel- w dom carried any except to buy stamps, razor blades, or cigarettes. There's no tipping, no purchasing of bus, boat, or theater tickets, no charge for local tele phone calls. In short, cash is strange stuff. Pennies Unknown to Island Child On one unusual occasion a resident was counting a few dollar bills and some small change. Her young daughter looked on, fas cinated. "Mummy, can I have one of the brown kind?" the child asked, pointing to a penny. Absence of a church on Canton once almost prevented a happy marriage. The groom-to be arranged for his fiancee and a minister to fly from Honolulu to Canton on the same CAA plane. The wedding day had been fixed, and friends planned prenuptial parties. She arrived all right, but the minister had lost his place on the plane. Frantically, Canton began to search for a local person authorized to perform the cere mony. The Pan American station manager, who is also designated by the Department of Justice as Canton's U. S. Commissioner, could National Geographic Photographer B. Anthony Stewart Arrive in Honolulu Via the "Fish Fly" s possible Canton Island's fishing industry. These mullet ere flown from Canton in 7/ hours. not legally officiate. Not even Bill Evans as deputy marshal had enough power. Someone suggested the British Resident Ad ministrator. Yes, he could marry them, but only after the banns had been published for three weeks; and they would have to send to New Zealand for the proper papers. That seemed the sole solution. Then Providence sailed in. A ship appeared on the horizon. She arrived at Canton with a work party to salvage scrap iron from the wrecked transport on the beach. Her captain married the couple on board. But what about that beached transport? Early in 1942 the 10,500-ton President Taylor was ferrying hundreds of United States troops to Pacific battlefronts. Japanese submarines surprised her off Canton. Attempting to bring the Taylor into safer waters, crewmen ran her aground. Heavy swells forced her farther ashore, where she was finally abandoned. Servicemen stationed on the island found the ship's furniture handy for their crude liv ing quarters among the coral. Blue porcelain bathroom fixtures graced hastily built shacks.