National Geographic : 1945 Jul
Yank Meets Native International News "We Are Not Supposed to Touch Sacred Cows, but You Know How It Is!" Leaning from their ricksha two sight-seeing Yanks give "bossy" a friendly pat. Hindus consider the cow sacred. The animals wander at will through the streets of Indian cities. "We can't see much difference between the cows here and the ones back home," one Yank commented. "They're hungrier-looking, that's about all" (page 118). "One thing I learned and learned quick," said a Guadalcanal veteran, "and that was to trust a native's nose wherever he was." I asked him just what he meant by this. "At first we didn't believe 'em when they told us they could smell Japs. We just laughed. But we soon learned that their noses were a darn sight better than ours. And after one of 'em on Guadalcanal told us not to go over a certain hill because there were Japs on the other side, and we went anyway and a lot of us got shot up, well, we sure followed their noses after that. We let 'em sniff every trail before we used it, too." A sergeant who had been with the Engineers in New Guinea around the Milne Bay area was all praise for the natives there. He thought some of their customs were a little crazy. He couldn't figure out why they wor shiped trees and wouldn't let anyone go near them. And he couldn't understand why they always walked single file, never side by side. The mention of tree worship brought an other veteran into the discussion. He had been in the same area and had his own version of native tree worship. "I don't think it's because they actually think of the tree as being something sacred," he said, thoughtfully. "But every time a baby is born they plant a tree for it, and as long as that baby lives that tree is his." This may have been a strictly one-village custom, or it may have been a little misinfor mation picked up by this soldier.