The African Pilgrim sailed on, the seas were reasonably calm and none of the group suffered with seasickness. We crossed the equator and the crew had a ceremony for a new member of the Shellbacks, the mythical society of those humans who had crossed the invisible line called the equator. Our passengers were exempt, although I did carry the card I got during the war. While Bob and I were busy typing the Lily stories, Weldon and Errol were getting familiar with the camera equipment Gatti had purchased in New York for the journey. Gatti was a Graphlex fan, and he let everyone on the expedition know it. The 4x5 Graphlex camera is a single lens reflex camera with a focal plane shutter only. The Graplex Speed Graphic camera. It has a bellows that extends out a long way so telephoto lenses can be used on it. It has a hood that the cameraman looks into and sees a ground glass image of the picture he is about to take. The image is formed by the rays of light coming into the camera through the lens and then being reflected up 90 degrees by a mirror that keep light from hitting the film until it is swiveled up at the moment of film exposure. The operator sees an exact ground glass image, without parallax, of what he was photographing. The focal plane shutter is mounted directly in front of the film holder which are slipped in from the side. It was once a favorite of newspaper photographers, but the more portable Speed Graphic had taken its place in favor. The setting for exposure on a Graphlex is a complex operation. There are tension and slit openings to choose in order to get precise exposure determination. The focal plane shutter at slow speeds will distort pictures of fast moving things like race cars. The race car could be stretched out by the shutter speed choice. It was not a speedy camera to use, but it was great for portraits of people with long lenses. One problem with portrait use is the fact that the necessity of looking down through the hood to the ground glass made all shots come from waist level and this tends to shoot people “up the nose,” so to speak. When the operator pushes the shutter button there was a slight delay while the mirror flips up prior to the shutter operating. The large mirror flips up with a bang and the operator becomes blind because his finder picture disappears. This noise can scare subjects and they can blink the instant the shutter opens to take the picture. But Gatti loved the Graphlex and so we used a number of them in our kit of tools. The Pilgrim was nearing Capetown when Gatti came into our cabin with a sheaf of papers in his hand. “Snyder,” he said, “would you please type Mrs. Gatti’s Lily story again, she’s made some changes. And Leo, would you please do these letters as we want to get them in the post from Capetown.” Gatti was always smiling when he asked for something, and his continental up-bringing flavored his speech. I took Ellen Gatti’s Lily story from him and looked it over; Mrs. Gatti had changed a lot of little things in the manuscript, one which I had previously typed on the Underwood portable. When Gatti left our cabin, Bob said, “The top letter’s for Bill Halligan; Gatti’s complaining. He wants to know the whereabouts of the QSL cards which he okayed for publication. Did he say anything to you about them?” I couldn’t remember any conversation about cards, although I had wondered about them. “Listen to this,” Bob said as he read from the hand-written copy: “I had suggested (and repeatedly requested) a special QSL card to commemorate the first short-wave radio broadcast from the top of Africa’s top, the 19,400 foot Kilimanjaro. This is the card that every ham will want to have and display prominently in his shack —but I never got a word on it.” “I wish he’d consulted us.” I said, “I don’t think he knows what he’s talking about. It would seem from that we’re supposed to work thousands.” Bob had a twinkle in his eye when he said, “How many guys are we going to work from the top of that mountain?” “I don’t know... be lucky if it’s one!” We laughed. Bob loaded paper into the Underwood and said, “I wish Gatti’d tell us how we’re going to get a thousand- pound generator in a two-wheeled trailer, a 25 foot house trailer shack, and the rhombic antenna up on top of that 20,000 foot peak and then work the world.” “Gatti did the planning,” I lamented, and I think he’s got an idea of one of us sitting up there working one after another for a couple days.” “Nice to find out what we’re supposed to do,” Bob said quietly and began typing the letter. “Read this bit,” said Bob as he handed me Gatti’s hand-written copy. I looked at the commander’s scrawl and read aloud: “Another matter quite embarrassing to me is that of ‘Short Wave radio.... experiments as may be suggested by the Expedition Corporation’ and approved by me—to quote our contract’s words, ‘such approval not to be unreasonable withheld.’” I stopped reading. “Bob, got any idea ... scientific experiments?” “Beats me,” answered Bob. I turned the page and read more of the letter: “As you must realize, many times as I have begged let alone requested—to be informed of the nature of these ‘experiments’, I do not know a single thing about them, as yet. Which made it very difficult indeed for me to answer the insistent questions of general newspaper reporters and—even more, those of editors of radio publications.” “I like this part,” I said as I continued to read aloud: “In conclusion, Bill, I must say that, although Hallicrafters has met its financial responsibilities, it has also managed to make me overtired, disheartened and very much discouraged.” “Of course regardless of everything you can count upon my keeping my contractual obligations down to the last small detail—as I have ALWAYS done—toward you as well as toward everybody else.” “In your case, however, up to now I have also done PLENTY, BUT PLENTY, MORE THAN I HAD TO DO, and I deeply wish that I would have been allowed to continue to act in this really friendly, ultra-productive manner.” “But this ‘miracle-producing’ state of mind cannot be artificially created or sustained. It is possible only when the flame of enthusiasm is burning, in one’s heart and spirit, unhampered and spontaneously high.” “Anything you might feel like doing, personally to help rebuild this flame again will be deeply appreciated. And—believe me—it will be highly beneficial essentially to your interest and to those of the Hallicrafters.” “Boy,” I said, “Gatti ain’t the writer his wife is, but he does sign off with a cheery note: ‘With all best wishes, Cordially yours, Attilio Gatti.” Bob smiled at the finish of the letter. “I’m glad we’re doing his typing,” he said, “we might learn what we’re going to do!” I handed the paper back to Bob and we both turned to our “Underwoods” and the typing chores. After 18 days at sea and 18 jugs of evening Hallicrafters’ happiness, the African Pilgrim reached Capetown, South Africa. We sailed into the harbor very early in the morning. The sun was just coming up and we were all out on our deck watching the arrival. “What a sight,” said Bob pointing to the mesa above the city. “That must be the Table Mountain I read about. Look at the cloud over it, it’s draped just like a “table cloth.” No wonder they call it that.” We all agreed with Bob; it was spectacular. Radio operator “Sparks” stood on the rail with us watching the arrival procedure. He was dressed in a suit and tie, and had a small suitcase with him. “Going somewhere?” asked Jim. Sparks had a big smile on his face when he said, “Got a girl in Johannesburg. Captain says we’re gonna be here for three days or more, so I’m off to Jo’burg on the train.” When we docked, the South African customs and immigration people came aboard and checked our passports and immunization registers. I had both my civilian and military registers for the inspector to view. “You don’t have a yellow fever shot,” he said. “I couldn’t get one in North Dakota, too far north for that disease,” I said. “Roll up your sleeve,” he ordered and proceeded to jab me with the needle. “You have it now,” he laughed and filled out a South African immunization register to add to my US Army and civilian booklets. The other passengers, Baron Theo Roth and the other man, said their good byes to everyone and departed the ship; from there on the Gatti-Hallicrafters people were the only passengers left on board. How Bob and I got acquainted with South African amateur radio operators escapes me, but we did. Luckily we had arrived on the day of their monthly radio club dinner meeting, and we were instantly invited. They were great hosts. Bob kept score of the callsigns we met: ZS1A, ZS1B, ZS1BF, ZS1FN, ZS1DU, ZS1FT, ZS1BC, ZS1R, ZS1BD, ZS1CZ, ZSL1BZ, and ZSL1AE. I’d hoped to meet someone I had contacted from North Dakota, but no such luck. At the meeting a couple of the ZS boys wanted to schedule me when I returned to my home state. “North Dakota is pretty rare from here,” they both said. On our second day in Capetown, Gatti gave us our first photographic assignment: Table Mountain, the geographic phenomena that looms over the city of Capetown. As we stood on the deck of the Pilgrim, Gatti pointed up at the mountain and explained: “Get pictures of the table cloth; it’s caused by the wind and the dewpoint-temperature spread.” I was surprised at Gatti’s knowledge of the temperature and dewpoint relationship. Particularly after the seasick remedy explanation. “I want you to take the aerial tramway up to the top and get some pictures from up there,” Gatti instructed. “Get some movies of the tramway in action, too,” he added as he counted out expense money for taxi cab and tramway fares. Gatti was like a mother hen dishing out instructions and money. So, lugging tripods, movie cameras, the Graflex cameras, extra film and Gatti’s financial handout, we headed for Table Mountain and our first real shoot. It’s a little hard to be a creative photographer while operating out of taxi cabs, but we tried. Errol and I collaborated on footage of the tramway, the mountain and the trip to the top. Weldon, and Errol snapped 4x5 pictures with the Graflex cameras. From the mountain top we were lucky to get a bit of time without the “table cloth” obscuring the view of the city and the harbor. It was a dramatic panorama and I’m glad I had a chance to see it. TWeldon’s contacts with the IH company caused us to be invited to a delightful dinner party given by the local International Harvester branch manager. He and his wife were Americans. It was there that I discovered the four layers of humanity in South Africa. They were classed as 1. Europeans, 2. Asians, 3. Cape Colored, and 4. Colored or natives. The Cape Colored are mulattoes. The wife of the Harvester official was a gracious hostess, and her black servants did a great job on the Beef Stroganoff we feasted on. Our hosts had been stationed by IH in the Philippines when the war broke out, and they were held prisoners by the Japanese throughout the war. Weldon, because of his father’s position, had known the family while he was serving in the U.S. Army on Corregidor. The dinner talk was fascinating for me, because I’d been with the force that liberated the island of Luzon in the Philippines. Weldon and his friends did a great deal of reminiscing about being prisoners during the evening. Weldon’s father also became a topic of conversation; both of our hosts knew him well. It was interesting to hear more talk about Clyde King being the first person to drive a vehicle across Africa. He had achieved that remarkable feat sometime in the 1920s when most of the roads were only trails. Weldon’s interest in Africa was inherited. The Harvester people lived on a large lot in a spectacular semi-country setting. The house and grounds were beautiful and well maintained by native help. The talk of the evening drifted around to the local crime scene when I asked about the iron bars on the windows. “We have lots of burglary break-ins in this area, but Johannesburg up north is the worst crime-ridden area in the world,” our hostess explained. “Everything is open game for thieves. And they take anything and everything they can lay their sticky hands on,” the lady said. It was an educational evening. The ham club members really turned on the hospitality. Eric, ZS1R, and his wife took Bob and me for an all- day sight-seeing motor trip around the Cape Peninsula. The weather was perfect, and our hosts showed all the beautiful sights of the area: Constancia Valley; old Dutch buildings with interiors much like that of George Washington’s Mount Vernon; Capetown University; and everything from bathing beaches to another view of the mountain table cloth. Capetown is a lovely city, but our hosts didn’t show us the ghettos where the natives lived in poor conditions. They just gave us a tour of areas occupied by the Europeans that had hogged everything beautiful and good. The good ship Pilgrim was busy unloading cargo. We watched as Jeeps, Caterpillar tractors, battery acid, bridge timbers, Post Toasties, camera film and a great assortment of other products from the USA came out of the holds of the ship. Because South Africa had metallic gold instead of paper money to pay the bills, they could buy material things, so US products were in great demand. I was not completely aware that the British East African countries where we were going did not have the so- called “hard” money and therefore had a difficult time purchasing products from the USA. So, any import from America was on a strict quota system regulated by the government. When the off-loading of goods was about complete, the captain posted the sailing notice on a little blackboard near the gangway. Sparks, the radio operator, had been calling every day from Johannesburg to find out the sailing date and time; he knew the ship could not lawfully sail without him. Bob and I invited the people that gave us the area tour to come aboard for cocktails prior to the 3 p.m. sailing time. We toasted each other; they bid us good bye and stayed on the quay to watch the ship depart. Sparks came bounding up the gangway just minutes before it was to be pulled up for departure. He was out of breath and smiling; he obviously had a good time. As the Pilgrim pulled away from the dock, we waved to our hosts and killed the last of a bottle of Old Forester. At this point in the voyage I had a new hobby: bottle paper. For as long as men have been sailing ships, masters of vessels that ply the high seas have been putting longitude and latitude notes in bottles and tossing them into the ocean. If and when a bottle arrives on shore and is found, the information contained in the bottle is passed to the chart makers and the date, time, starting position, discovery data, and name of ship are recorded on nautical charts showing the world’s ocean currents. Many of the currents, such as the Gulf Stream, have been discovered and documented by “bottle paper.” On that trip I was not aware that bottle paper was a useful scientific maneuver; I thought of it as “fun.” So, as the GH gang finished each fifth of the Hallicrafters’ 48, we would scratch out a note and put it in the empty jug, cork it up tightly, and ceremoniously toss the bottle into the sea. Some of the notes were bizarre, to say the least. We put in fake treasure maps, puzzles that had no solution, and a few latitude and longitudes attributed to non-existent ships. I thought it was fun, and the contemplation of someone finding a jug with a strange note became more fun. So, we kept it up. Exactly how many jugs went overboard with notes in them, is not recorded anywhere, but I’m sure it was well over 25. So, as the Pilgrim sailed out of the harbor in Capetown, I saw a bathing beach pass to the starboard. Not being able to occupy the “Gatti Private Deck”, I went up on the bridge where the 2nd mate was just coming on watch. The 2nd mate is the navigator and he stands the watch from 4 to 8. His watch covers sunrise and sunset, therefore he can use celestial star navigation to accurately fix the ship’s position on the map. “See that bathing beach over there?” I asked. “If I tossed a bottle into the sea right here, would it wash up on that beach?” The mate pulled out the chart showing ocean currents and said, “No problem, Bill. It’s an on-shore current, and the wind is out of the south. Should go right straight there.” With that information at hand, I went down to our cabin and prepared a note as follows: “This bottle was tossed into the Mississippi River at New Orleans, Louisiana on July 4th, 1941 by Kenneth Christiansen of Moorhead, Minnesota.” I then added Ken’s address and the words, “Please communicate.” I showed the note to Bob and the gang, went out on the weather deck, crossed over to the starboard side on the fantail of the ship and tossed the jug into the sea. I could see the bathing beach with a crowd of sun worshipers in the far distance. I chuckled at the thought of Ken, W0GHN, one of my ham radio buddies, getting the word that his bottle had been found. He was not the first of my ham radio pals who had “tossed a bottle” into some strange exotic sea. I went to dinner and promptly forgot the whole episode. It would be brought back to me later on the expedition.

CHAPTER 5, To Capetown

Copyright 2003,William D. Snyder
All Rights reserved
The QSL was never filled out from the Kilimanjaro Table Mountain looking down Table Mountain looking up Table Mountain (Tafelberg)