This is a complete and accurate transcript of the tape of the oral history interview of Margaret L. Clapper (CN 480, T1) in the Archives of the Billy Graham Center. No spoken words have been omitted, except for any non-English phrases which could not be understood by the transcribers. Foreign terms which are not commonly understood appear in italics. In very few cases words were too unclear to be distinguished. If the transcriber was not completely sure of having gotten what the speaker said, "[?]" was inserted after the word or phrase in question. If the speech was inaudible or indistinguishable, "[unclear]" was inserted. Grunts and verbal hesitations such as "ah" or "um" were usually omitted. The transcribers have not attempted to phonetically replicate English dialects but have instead entered the standard English word the speaker was expressing. Throughout the recording the interviewer acknowledged Ms. Barr’s comments with variations of “uh-huh” – because of the frequency of these, most have not been reproduced in the interview.
Readers should remember that this is a transcript of spoken English, which follows a different rhythm and rule than written English.
... Three dots indicate an interruption or break in the train of thought within the sentence on the part of the speaker.
.... Four dots indicate what the transcriber believes to be the end of an incomplete sentence.
( ) Words in parentheses are asides made by the speaker.
[ ] Words in brackets are comments by the transcriber.
This transcript was made by Timothy Gulsvig and Paul Ericksen, and was completed in April 2009.
Collection 480, tape T1. Interview of Margaret L. Clapper by Paul Ericksen, January 19, 1993.
ERICKSEN: ...Clapper, by Paul Ericksen, for the Archives of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College. This interview took place at 1:40 p.m. on January 19, 1993, at the Media Retirement Center of African Inland Mission in Clermont, Florida. [recording stops and starts]
Well, Margaret, how about if we...start back with your childhood and youth. First of all, when and where were you born?
CLAPPER: Well, I was born February 13, 1912, in East Canton, Ohio.
ERICKSEN: Okay. And your parents?
CLAPPER: My parents were farmers, of course, and we were brought up on the farm, and I have nine brothers and sisters. There were ten of us in all.
ERICKSEN: Wow. Big family.
CLAPPER: [laughs] Uh-huh.
ERICKSEN: Where did you fit into the ten?
CLAPPER: I was fourth along the line, one brother and two sisters older.
ERICKSEN: And when we talked on the phone before our interview, you had said that you were raised in the German Reformed Church.
CLAPPER: That’s right.
CLAPPER: I...I suppose.... In our area of the country, we had more Reformed churches. We had Reformed and Lutheran and Methodist, and those were the three main churches in our area, and this is what we would call the German Reformed.
CLAPPER: We had different first names, but the last name was all Reformed. Like, we’d say [unclear] Reformed, Christ Reformed, or Grace Reformed, Trinity Reformed. And, in our church, of course, they baptized by sprinkling, and we had to go through catechism class to become a member of the church.
ERICKSEN: Now, was the German Reformed Church sort of a family tradition, your grandparents perhaps?
CLAPPER: No, my grandparents on Dad’s side were Lutherans. And Mother, of course, she...her...her mother came from Switzerland and her father came from Germany. And I don’t know how she started going to the Reformed Church, but she did. But they didn’t go when we were children, when we were growing up. They sent us, but they didn’t go. Dad and Mother didn’t go, but then later on Dad and Mother both joined the church and were quite regular in going, but not when we were growing up.
ERICKSEN: What do you remember about going to church alone on a...on Sundays?
CLAPPER: Well, we would start out walking, and often times, the neighbors would pick us up. And that was the nearest church too in our neighborhood to go to. It was three miles away. And we had very good Sunday school teachers, I remember, as a child. We...our teachers taught us the Scriptures. And we didn’t...we didn’t have...times when we did hand work [drawing, coloring, cutting paper], or anything like that. We just had a Bible story, and then she taught us verses of Scripture. We memorized them, and if we memorized a verse of Scripture, why, we got a card with a Bible picture on it. And this was the way we were brought up. And it was...and through the church and through the teachers, that I really came to know more about the Lord and through memorizing verses of Scripture. [clears throat]
ERICKSEN: Now, what age did you start going to church?
CLAPPER: Oh, I think I went...started when I was at least six. And everyone of my brothers and sisters as they came along, they went along too.
ERICKSEN: Uh-huh. Now, what did you make of your folks staying at home and sending you?
CLAPPER: Well, I don’t suppose I thought too much about it. The others, the parents went. But Mother, of course, was always busy with the family. There was always someone. We were, most of us, two years apart, so there was always a baby in the family. And it would have been a little bit hard because we...they had horses and buggies [carriages] in those days. We didn’t have.... [laughs] And we would sometimes go in a wagon or...I don’t recall our ever having a surrey [four-wheeled, covered carriage], just a horse and buggy. And then, sometimes my brother would be allowed to [unclear] a horse, and we’d ride in the buggy to church. And it was in the church, too, that one of my teachers that later on became a missionary to China. And [pauses] so, she went to China, but under a different church board entirely, because when she was in training as a nurse, she started in the...Presbyterian Church, so she went there. And then, later on, after I had joined the church, I didn’t know that you had to be saved. No one ever said anything about it, being saved. You...you would...took the catechism, and you became a member of the church, and that took care of everything. But then, we had a Moody student that came to pastor...not a student, a pastor that came who was a former Moody student. And he’s the one that led us...told us we had to be saved.
ERICKSEN: Remember his name?
CLAPPER: Yeah. David Sellers. He was our pastor for, I think, seventeen years. Many in the church at that time were saved. In fact, a pastor that followed him, [laughs] he made the remark...he said, “At such and such a time in the history of the church, they went through a change and the church had never gotten back to normal after that.” [laughs] It simply was the fact that we had gotten saved, some of us.
ERICKSEN: Now, how old were you when that happened?
CLAPPER: I was sixteen when I joined the church.
ERICKSEN: And how...was that the...the...the same time that you were converted?
CLAPPER: No, I was converted...no, it was afterwards that I was converted....
ERICKSEN: And when did that happen?
CLAPPER: About the following year, because right after that the pastor we had went to another church, and David Sellers came to be with us. No, I think I was fifteen because it was...I was sixteen when I really knew I had to be saved. And we had Reverend Sellers at that time and not Elicker [?].
ERICKSEN: Now, did you...did you struggle long and hard over [pauses] turning your life over to Christ or was it something that happened rather easily, and...? How’d that work?
CLAPPER: Well, that didn’t seem to be a problem, accepting the Lord. But I was teaching a Sunday school class, and we...we would have...he started giving us Bible lessons. He would take a book, and teach...teach from that book, and that helped us understand a lot more. And then I realized how...how unprepared I was really to teach a Sunday school class, because I think I was seventeen when I tried teaching. And so [pauses] we were sending students then at that time. Our church was...a country church really, but we took what we called the Rally Day offering, and we would give a hundred and fifty dollars a year to whoever wanted to go into training to be either a pastor or go into some Christian work. So, two of our young men had already gone, and I felt I’d like to go. But I knew I didn’t have the money, because the job I was doing didn’t bring in very much money, and I wouldn’t have been able to afford to go to school. So, the who one was finishing his three year period when he...they would not continue giving him any more money. Now, it’s just a hundred and fifty dollars a year, so I asked the pastor if...if they would be willing to help for three years, and he said yes, so.... And he was the one who suggested that I go to Moody, and that’s how I went to Moody. And it was at Moody really then I was called to go out to the mission field.
ERICKSEN: Had...so you...had you though at all about being a missionary before that?
CLAPPER: Well, I sort of thought about it, but I always felt that I didn’t have enough education to be a missionary. And it wasn’t really until I went to Moody and saw what was going on and...and what it...they needed to...how they needed missionaries and needed people, that I realized, you know, that.... It was after really a...a missionary who was on furlough talked at our prayer band at school. At Moody we always had prayer bands meeting, and we covered the world really. It wasn’t for just one field. We went to prayer bands for every field, and I went to all the different ones. But this one on Africa was especially the one that seemed to interest me, and the speaker was telling us about the need, and...so it was there that I felt definitely the Lord was leading me that way. But the problem I faced then when I brought this up to the church.... [clears throat] I was at that time just taking the general Bible course, and they suggested that I...well, they...at this school, they said while if I wanted to be a missionary, I should go into the missionary course, which would...would take me another year. And [pauses] so, I wrote home to the church and asked if they would continue on for the third year instead of just two years, and so they said they would. But of course, I don’t they ever believed that I’d go out to the field, and when I told her I was called after that....
ERICKSEN: Your church, that is?
CLAPPER: Yes. [coughs] Pardon. [clears throat] But I don’t think they believed that I would go, so....
ERICKSEN: How come?
CLAPPER: I went and finished. Well, my dad, of course, was not in favor, never was in favor of my being in school in the first place. Mother was, but Dad wasn’t, and.... Dad felt I should stay home and get married. His object was to get his daughters married off, [laughs] regardless. But [clears throat] I just felt that this was what the Lord wanted me to do, so.... In writing home then to the church and telling them about, why, they went along with it, and I finished the course there in 1938. I went there in ‘35, finished in ‘38. But the problem was still what mission to go under, and so...the one mission that I felt I was always most interested in was the Africa Inland Mission. And so, I began to ask, and they...they had a board at that time in Chicago. And so I went with them.
ERICKSEN: Now, what was it that appea...about AIM that appealed to you?
CLAPPER: Well, because they had work in...in Africa, and I felt that.... Oh, there was a girl [who] came home from Africa who had been a former student at Moody. And I knew her, and she had cancer and couldn’t go back, and [cries while speaking] I offered to go in her place. [pauses] So it was the AIM that was working in that area [pauses] where she had been working.
ERICKSEN: Now, what country had she been in?
CLAPPER: Zaire, which was formerly the Belgian Congo.
ERICKSEN: Huh. And...and what was her name?
CLAPPER: I can’t think of what it was right now, but she fi...she...she actually did go back to the field for...for two years and passed away then with cancer, but....
ERICKSEN: On the field?
CLAPPER: On the field. Yeah. She thought that she was...was cured when she went back, but she passed away withi.... I didn’t think to look up her name before I came. [laughs]
ERICKSEN: No. We’ll let some researcher in the Reading Room track that down. [Clapper murmurs some of these words along with Ericksen] When did you make application to the mission?
CLAPPER: While I was in Chicago, while I was still in school, because some of the other students there too were going. The Buyses [Mr. & Mrs. John G.?] were planning on going out and they were in school same time. Eddie Schuit was going out, and he was in the same class. Normally, Naomi and I were all in school at the same time. And they were going out under the AIM, and that seemed to be the one that met the need and was to the place or the area where I thought of going. But the problem I faced with that then, when I brought this up to the church that I was going under a faith mission, well, they said, “You can’t go out under our denomination to Africa. They only have work in China, and Japan, and India. Now, if you want to go to one of those places, why, we’ll help support you.” (The denomination would.) “But if you’re going to Africa, then we can’t.” And so that was a problem I faced. But then finally, different individuals in the church said, “Alright, if we can’t take it out of the church budget, then we’ll help.” So that’s how we got a nice start out with forty dollars a month. [laughs]
ERICKSEN: That was your support...
ERICKSEN: ...that you had to go out with. Boy, it’s a little different now, isn’t it?
CLAPPER: [laughs] It sure is.
ERICKSEN: It has to be at least fifty now. [laughs]
CLAPPER: [laughs] Yeah. Fifty.
ERICKSEN: An hour.
CLAPPER: Nearly a thousand now, yeah, a year. And we would go out with our...a month. Some of them are getting eight hundred to a thousand for a single worker.
CLAPPER: But in those days, why...but many of them went out with fifty dollars. But then my problem was getting money to go out, because I didn’t know where I’d get the money to go. And, of course, people in the area knew me, and then they.... And we had to get our own support, which was another problem, but the churches were very nice. And knowing me and knowing my father, my...my parents and all, I got opportunities to speak in different churches. And so that made it easier for me. But when I was supposed to [clears throat]...(to go back a little bit), I thought since I didn’t have high school or college, then I...I figured that.... What would I do? I couldn’t do any sp...specific job, even though while I was in grade school, I often helped the teacher, because we had a...the school I went to, we had all that [unclear], all eight grades. And when he was teaching some of the bigger ones, I was teaching the little kids. So, when I said this to one of the men on the board, I said, “But, I don’t have any special training, so I’m planning on going to Booth Memorial [Hospital in Queens, New York City] to get some medical training,” and well, he said, “I don’t think you should.” He said, “I think you should go out to the field.” Now, this was in January of ‘39, and I was supposed to go into nurses training in March, and he said, “Well, I think you should go out.” He said, “To wait now, and maybe you won’t get a chance to go later on...and I think you should go now.” I said, “Well, I really don’t have the money to go.” Well, he said, “The Lord’s called you, hasn’t he?” I said, “Yeah.” And he said, “Well, don’t you think He can supply?” I said, “Yes.” But I said, “What about my training?” He said, “Don’t you think he knows how much training you had?” And so [laughs] I had no excuse. [chokes up]
CLAPPER: And in January, I had two hundred dollars towards going to the field. I was supposed to have ano...hu...a thousand. So, he said, “There’s a group going out on the 7th of April. Can you be ready?” I said, “Well, I don’t have the money, but book me.” [chokes up] So he did! [laughs]
ERICKSEN: Hmm. Now, what was his name?
CLAPPER: That was...well, he didn’t book me, but he did...did get it through the mission. Norman Camp. He was the one that was in our board at...in Chicago. But then I wrote to the home office, and when they said I had to have the thousand, then (Ralph Davis was in home office at that time)...and so he...he’s the one...well, Ruth Johnson, I think, was the one that was in...doing the booking. And so they went ahead and booked beyond faith too.
CLAPPER: But by the time I was ready to go, the money had come in.
ERICKSEN: Huh. Now do you remember meeting with the committee of the mission?
CLAPPER: I didn’t meet with the committee in New York. It was just the committee in Chicago that I met with.
CLAPPER: See, they had a committee there. And that’s where all of us, the Schuits, the Weisses, and those, we all went out from there.
CLAPPER: And they, of course, recommended us to the New York office.
ERICKSEN: Now, before we leave Moody, did you have any kind of both practical work that you were doing while a student there?
CLAPPER: Yeah. Well, the...the reason...I went on...because of that...that’s why I went to Moody, because I didn’t have to pay tuition. And I ran the elevator, and I...helped serve in the dining room. And then worked in the...in the...infirmary for a while, and that’s how I helped pay my board. And that’s where I learned a lot of my verses of Scripture, going up and down in the elevator. [laughs]
ERICKSEN: [both laugh] Now, what about Christian work? Did you have any kind of assignments as a student, going out...street meetings, or whatever?
CLAPPER: Yes, yeah, we had street meetings, and we also had to teach Sunday school classes. And [pauses] I went...went to a county hospital, too, for visitation. I think of all the things we had to do, that was the hardest: to...to go up to people and talk to ‘em. And I also had prison assignment too. And we went to the prison there, Cook County prison in Chicago. All of us as students were given assignments at Moody. It was...I don’t think anyone was ever exempt from that. And then we had to do so...a certain amount of work gratis. I don’t kno...it wasn’t to pay for anything particular, but I guess it was because you had tuition free and all. But...like, sometimes we would have cleaning to do, or we’d have dishes to wash, or something. It’s not quite like that way today because they have all this [laugh] up-to-date things to work with, so that we don’t...they don’t have those things today. And I don’t...and...they do have...did have, and I think they still have, someone that gets them practical work assignments and also gets them jobs in different places. They still have that to help supplement your income, because many of the students going there need help when they go to school, and they get jobs. But mine happened to be that I always worked at Moody, which made it a little easier. I had...didn’t have to go out. I know some of the girls had to go the YW [YWCA or Young Women’s Christian Association]...YM [YMCA] and YW, and places like that, and serve tables. Some of the men worked in other places.
ERICKSEN: Did you ever find yourself, once you were in Zaire, wishing you had taken that medical course?
CLAPPER: No, the funny part about it was, had I waited and taken the medical course, I may never have gotten to the field, because immediately after we went out, the war broke out. And we were the last party to go. Another party started out and were shipwrecked on the way, but ours was the last party to go for quite a number of years. And the war was on, they just couldn’t get out. And not only that, but I was placed in a station where the practical medical course wouldn’t have helped me much, because we had a doctor and we had nurses. And even the last station I was on before I came home, we still had a doctor, nurse, although I did help some in the pharmacy at the hospital, and did help do some maternity work. But I had had some training in maternity work, because part of my work was going in homes. And when I was going growing up, the mothers didn’t go to the hospital to have their babies. They had their babies at home, and they usually asked some young girl to come in, and they had to take care of not only the mother but the family.
CLAPPER: And a number of times I assisted the doctor in deliveries. So that was part of my work for part of the time before I went out. So actually, I would not have needed the medical work as far as my work was concerned, and I was immediately put in girls work when I went to the field.
ERICKSEN: Now, wondering if you...in looking back on both your career and your training at Moody, what do you...what would you say were the strengths and weaknesses of the program you went through in terms of preparing you to be a missionary?
CLAPPER: Well, I think their training was quite good in that they had a good foundation in the Bible, and Dr. [P.B.] Fitzwater was quite firm in making you memorize verses of Scripture. Then, we had the [pauses] medical course, which trained you in quite a bit, and the cooking class. Those things...all of that was a real help to us I think on the field. And I think my background as a farmer’s daughter, if you want to call it that, was helpful in that we didn’t have anythi... everything. When I was growing up, we didn’t have a refrigerator or electricity or anything like that. Later on, we got it, but not when I was small. And so, I’d learned to use oil lamps and this and that, which you have to use on the field. Where some of our girls came out that were raised in town. They didn’t even know how to use it...light an oil lamp. And when they had it lit, they didn’t know how to blow it out [laughs] or to put it out. So, all that training k...stood me in good stead, because many things that I had to do in roughing it and making a garden, all that, was familiar to me. And we didn’t have the store to go to. When I was growing up as a kid, my dad went to the store once a week, and he bought what we wanted, but most of our things we raised right on the farm and without refrigeration. Going out to the field, you didn’t miss it because you never had it, although we did ha...no, we didn’t have when I first went out. We didn’t have a refrigerator if I remember correctly. I have.... But I went out in 1939, so we didn’t have a lot of those things. But Moody, I think, it gives you the best all-around training that you can get, and they have good Bible courses. And we were given courses too in...in music and all those things. So, when I got into school, those things all came in quite handy for me.
ERICKSEN: Any weaknesses in the program? [pauses] No, that’s the wrong question to ask. What were the weaknesses?
CLAPPER: Well, you mean as far as Moody is concerned.
ERICKSEN: Uh-huh. Are there things you wished you had gotten when you were on the field?
CLAPPER: I don’t...now, I don’t...no, I...I still wish that I could have had more training. I think it would have been easier, especially in learning a language, because...I believe there it would have helped if I could have had another language or been taught how to learn a language. You...you do get it on the field and all that, but I think there are short-cuts and ways that it would be easier for you if you had some training in it. When I look at the training they give them at Wycliffe [Bible Translators], then I realize how much I lacked in going out. And you...you learn the hard way, whereas a lot of things would have been much easier. At least, that’s my feeling in the matter.
CLAPPER: But as far as the other training, I think it...it’s quite well-rounded. And you are...you do learn to get along with others as you go out on assignments and things like that. And I...I can’t think of anything special that I would say was....
ERICKSEN: Okay. Where...where did you go to church when you were at Moody?
CLAPPER: I went to Moody Church.
ERICKSEN: Hmm. And who was the pastor then?
CLAPPER: Ironside. Dr. [Harry A.] Ironside.
ERICKSEN: What do you...what can you tell me about him?
CLAPPER: Well, he was quite an outstanding person actually. I...I liked him very much, and his teachings were wonderful. Of course, see, a lot of that...when Docto...Reverend [David] Sellers [pastor in her hometown when she was growing up] came to us, he gave us a lot more deeper teaching in the Word than we had had with our pastors before that. I don’t know,I can’t say that it’s anyone’s fault, but because everybody is different. But maybe I was just more ready to accept it after I was saved than I was before.
ERICKSEN: Yeah. Do you remember of...any of...any of Ironside’s sermons?
CLAPPER: I can’t point out any special, individual one now.
ERICKSEN: Uh-huh. Was he an energetic preacher, or...?
CLAPPER: Yes, and...and his messages seemed to stick with you. You could remember.... I don’t remember as much now, because after all, it’s been...
ERICKSEN: A long time.
CLAPPER: A long time and all. [laughs]
ERICKSEN: Yeah. [laughs]
CLAPPER: I know some people can, but I...I just can’t point out any particular thing. I did read some of his books and all, and got to know him. I think of all my teachers, probably Doctor Fitzwater was one of the most outstanding ones. I liked him a lot.
ERICKSEN: What was his first name? [pauses] Doesn’t matter.
CLAPPER: Can’t think of it now.
ERICKSEN: Okay. You sailed over to...did you sail to Europe first or...
ERICKSEN: ...what did...?
CLAPPER: We...we took the Queen Mary from New York to England, and in England we got the Dunluce Castle at...with the Castle Line. There were a...a group of eleven of us, actually, that went, but only nine sailed from here and one child, and then we met up in France with Olive Love and Gertrude Weber, and they went on from there. So we were eleven, and with David Weiss, the son of Norman and Naomi, we were twelve in all.
CLAPPER: And a....
ERICKSEN: Now, you....
ERICKSEN: You mentioned something about...some problem when you were sailing. I don’t think you said you were shipwrecked, but....
CLAPPER: That was another group going out who were caught in the war, and their...their boat was torpedoed.
ERICKSEN: Oh, I see.
CLAPPER: And that was a group after us. Not on ours. We had no trouble. The war hadn’t started. See, we went out in...in April of ‘39, and the war broke out in four...1940.
CLAPPER: And this one la...one lady that I was...I went out to do her...or took herm work while she was on furlough, she was on that ship when they were coming back. See, when I first went to the field then, I was sent to Kasengu, and she was working there. And that’s where Paul and...Paul’s dad and mother were on that same ship...
CLAPPER: ...that was torpedoed.
ERICKSEN: Yeah. The ZamZam.
CLAPPER: The ZamZam. Yeah.
ERICKSEN: Yeah. Huh. Do you...?
CLAPPER: But ours was alright but then our.... It was quite a comedown from the Queen Mary to go on the Dunluce Castle [both laugh], but nevertheless we did. But it was interesting, when we got to Alexandria [Egypt], why, little boats were all around as we stopped there for just a little while, and some of the people in the boats called out, “We’ll see you in the war.” Little did we realize how soon it was gonna to be.
ERICKSEN: So then you sailed through the Suez Canal...
ERICKSEN: ...Red Sea?
CLAPPER: Red Sea. Uh-huh.
ERICKSEN: And then came...you landed in Mombasa?
CLAPPER: Landed in Mombasa.
ERICKSEN: What do you...?
CLAPPER: And so, when we got there, it was towards evening, so we couldn’t get any of our things off, so we had to...stay at.... They had a place there. They called it a...The Fort at Mombasa. And we went there and stayed the night, but it [laughs]...it was...it really was a fort because we slept upstairs and everything was open. And you could stand up there and look out. I supposed they used it as a look-out place or something, but....
ERICKSEN: Was this a mission facility?
CLAPPER: Yeah. It belonged to the mission. Someone had given it to them. But it wasn’t very well equipped, but it was alright for overnight like that [laughs]. But it was a bit dirty; (it hadn’t been used for while). So we were in the midst of cleaning up the dishes, so we could use them. We had a li...enough food...we were able to get food enough to take care of us through the night until we could get our things the next morning. And I remember, I was in the midst of washing dishes, when all at once something ker-plop went down into my basin, and it kept moving around, and I thought it was a snake. [laughs] And I yelled and everybody came running. And it was a lizard that had fallen down. But I’d never seen a lizard before [laughs]. Being on a farm, I...farm, I did see a lot of things, but I hadn’t seen a lizard yet.
ERICKSEN: [laughs] Was it just one of these little lizards, like you see...?
CLAPPER: [still laughing] No, pretty long one, about foot long at least. [Ericksen laughs] And he was trying to get out [laughs] as much as I was trying to get rid of him. So we got him out of the dishpan, got another pan of water, and went on with the job. Then the next morning, which was quite interesting...it was...for me, we...it was raining hard out actually, it’s coming down torrents, like we often say, “raining cats and dogs” [laughs]. And looking out through this upper part of the...of this fort, (because there was an upstairs and a downstairs), here was a...a man coming down the road, and he had an umbrella up, and it looked like all he had around his neck was a necktie, and I couldn’t ima...and other than that he was stark naked. [both laugh] We laughed and we said, “Why did he use an umbrella,” [laughs] since he had no clothes to get wet. So there was my initiation to Mombasa. [laughs]
ERICKSEN: Too bad you didn’t have a camera. That would have made a...
CLAPPER: [laughs] Yeah.
ERICKSEN: ...great picture.
CLAPPER: It would of.
ERICKSEN: What do you remember about the trip...
CLAPPER: Well, we all off...
ERICKSEN: ...the Congo?
CLAPPER: Well, then we got the things off. We had...Eddie Schuit had a van and Olive Love had a car, and those were the only two vehicles we had then. Of course, the Propsts were going to stay in Kenya, and Dick Dilworth, he was going on to Tanzania. And the Weisses, Eddie Shuit, Laura Willis, and Burnetta Wambold and myself, we were all going into Zaire, along with Gertrude Weber and Olive Love. So, between Eddie’s van (I think it was a Chevy)...Eddy’s van and Olive Love’s car, we were able to put all of us in them. Then we were at Nai...Kijabe for a little while and then went on. And Olive wanted to take a bathtub in, so she...they had to fasten the bathtub on top of her car, because we didn’t have a bathtubs out there in those days. Usually you had to take a water...a bath in a bucket or something. But she got one of these oblong bathtubs, so they tied it on the top of the car. So we laughed...we said, “Following a bathtub through Africa, to get into Zaire.” [laughs] So [clears throat], part of them went with her, and part of us was went with Eddie Schuit. And, of course, I knew Eddie Schuit, and I knew the Weisses. The Weisses went with Olive, and he drove her car. [coughs] That was Norman Weiss. And they had David and they had one other. And then the rest of us ladies went with Eddie, so they used to kid Eddie about his harem of la...single ladies, because it was Burnetta, and Laura, and myself, and Gertrude Weber. We arrived at a Oicha, and there we were nearly eaten to death...eaten up with gnats. And Dr. [Carl] Becker was there and the Bells, Jim and Agnes Bell. They...Ralph Davis used to kid me. He said, “Well...well, I have a place all picked out for you in Africa,” he said. “You’ll have to work with the Bells so you can get the Clapper and the Bells together.” [both laugh] But it wasn’t until about twelve years later before we actually were together on a station, so they got us together.
ERICKSEN: So that...it sounds like the trip wasn’t terribly eventful, other than...
CLAPPER: No, and then...
ERICKSEN: ...people leaving.
CLAPPER: ...all the animals we saw. That was the interesting thing was to see all the animals along the way, because they were all new to us. And when we were going in through Uganda...of course, they had signs up along the road, “Elephants have the Right of Way.” [laughs] And you gave to them. ‘Cause if an elephant got in the road, you waited till he got away. And if it was at night, it worse yet because they couldn’t seem to see. And you’d just turn off the lights and be quiet so that they’d gradually go away, because they could easily pick up a car without any difficulty, and.... So, you...you gave them the right of way. But we...it was uneventful except that the country was quite different from what we were used to, in seeing the banana trees and different kinds of fruits that we hadn’t seen at home, like the mangos and the avocados. And in certain areas there were pineapples and sugar cane gardens. Those things were quite new as far as I was concerned and I think some of the others as well. Beautiful country, actually, and Africa...Africa’s really very, very pretty. [pauses] Then we got to Oicha. And while we...we were there, I think, two days, we went out to a pygmy camp. And that’s...was my first time of seeing pygmies. And after we left the...Oicha, we went on to Aba. And I was originally assigned to this station where this girl had worked, but then when one...oh, Laura Willis was telling about her life history to the field council, she mentioned the problem of a heart pro...the problem she had...the health problem she had was a heart problem. And so the field council felt then that they couldn’t send her to the higher altitude, which is Rethy and Kasengu. They’d have to put her on the lower altitude, which was Napopo. So she was sent to Napopo, and I was sent to Kasengu and then to Rethy to do the girls work.
ERICKSEN: So you were first assigned to Kasengu?
CLAPPER: To Napopo and then to Kasengu.
ERICKSEN: Oh, I see.
CLAPPER: But actually, the assignment was never finished...completed, because when they found she had this problem, they just changed it without telling any of us, but I heard about that afterwards. And so I was assigned to Kasengu for a year, hoping that Jessie Blanchard would be back in a year, and then I’d go over and take over the girls at Rethy.
ERICKSEN: Okay. So, from ‘39 to ‘41 you were at Napopo.
CLAPPER: No, I wasn’t ever at Napopo.
ERICKSEN: I’m getting....
ERICKSEN: You were Kasengu.
ERICKSEN: From ‘39 to ‘41.
ERICKSEN: And then, in ‘41 you were moved down to Rethy?
CLAPPER: Well, actually, it was in ‘40 I went to Rethy, because it was only a year at Kasengu.
CLAPPER: I was at Rethy, then, from ‘41 to...to ‘52.
ERICKSEN: And did you have a furlough in there?
CLAPPER: Yes, I went home in ‘45. I was supposed to have gone home in...in the ‘44 actually, because we were to have five-year terms then. But because the war was on...and we had a lot of difficulty during the war years, because we couldn’t...our money didn’t come through and they had to finally take it through South Africa for us to get our funds. But it was an...surprising to see how...how the Lord supplied the need, and we were able to get supplies. Some of the things that I found difficult as we started in on the work was getting used to some of the things they did and some of the foods. We didn’t have much in the...we had some semsem [a seed] oil for fat, or else, a fat from flying ants, and that was a fat that you used for cooking. And also the butter. You had to buy butter that was tinned, and that was rancid. Later on, if you were on a place where they had cattle, then you could buy milk. But the problem with the milk was that sometimes the men who would bring the milk would water it down. And...and sometimes they’d even put the cows urine in. You could tell immediately if they had watered it down with that because of the smell when you cooked it. Well, that meant you had to throw that whole milk out. [laughs] So, they had [laughs] all these means of trying to fool the...the missionaries.
CLAPPER: But nearly always, you could tell when it had been watered down that way, but sometimes they’d just put plain water in it, and then it would be dirty and the sediment would be in the bottom. And often, when your milk would...you’d pour your milk out you’d see all this sediment in the bottom. Then...then you knew for sure they had put water in. But they couldn’t milk a cow like we could. One time, I said to them...I said, “Well, let me show you how to milk a cow,” because they would let the calf nurse the cow while they were milking on the other side. I said, “You don’t have to do that.” “Oh, but our cows here are different from your cows where you came from.” And so, one time I sat down and milked a cow and showed them that they weren’t. So they couldn’t get over that, that this white person knew how to milk a cow. [laughs] And the same way too in our...the way we did the houses and all, that was quite interesting to me. The plastering we used at Kasengu especially, they used with sand and ashes and...the cassava root flower, mix that all together, and that was their cement. And it really did get quite hard, actually, and was very good, especially if the rain hit against it. It wouldn’t wash off. And then we made our own bricks for our buildings, and some of our buildings were pretty crooked because the trees that we had to work with, some of them, in certain areas, [laughs] very crooked. I remember my first house I had. It was a mud house. But the roof sagged and just sort...was wavy. [laughs] When you’d lie down in bed at night, this looked like the waves of the ocean [laughs] above our head, and.... So I hit upon the idea, because I had been in one of the missionary homes of another mission, and this lady had come upon the fact of stippling the walls. So she took a sponge and cut it out the way she wanted. She’d dip into the...what we called pembi [?] at that time. You’d call it whitewash here. And then she’d stipple the walls with this sponge. Well, it made it almost looked like wallpaper. Well, that helped a lot in covering up these dips in there where the...where the trees that they had used were there...were so crooked. And it made the house look nice, and we’d do it over different walls different ways, because we could get a dye, and we had a white clay that came out of the ground. Sometimes, you’d have to walk quite a ways to get it and you’d mix that with water and then a paste, and that made it quite a nice ca [pauses]...paint for the walls, actually. And we used that for years, and then we’d use the dye that we had gotten for the girls to make their baskets with...
CLAPPER: ...and that would give us the different colors.
ERICKSEN: Now, did you do your own cooking, or did you have an African cooking for you?
CLAPPER: Well, that...when I was at Rethy and Kasengu, I had a girl who...cooking for me then. We’d...we’d have trained them, of course, and they’d do the cooking. But in the early years, of course, we didn’t have stoves and things like that. We made ‘em out of a drum. See, our gasoline would come in big drums, fifty gallon drums. And, we’d open one and flatten out the top and put that over the top for the top of the stove, which gave you a pretty big space to put your things on. And then the oven would be a half-drum, and then you’d use one of the ends to make a...a lid for it, and you had to prop the lid shut and put sand in to level it off. Well, the problem with the sand was that sometimes if you’d push your thing in, then you’d...it wouldn’t be level, and you’d have cake going up on one side and down on the other. [Ericksen laughs] But I worked all the time I was at Rethy with that open stove and entertained a lot, because when the parents would come with the children for the s...to the school, we had to entertain them, because they couldn’t come and go back the same day.
CLAPPER: They’d have to stay overnight, and sometimes they’d stay two, three days. Well, those of us who lived on the station, even though we weren’t connected with the school, we were connected with the African work. Why, we had to entertain them, give them their meals. And I had a girl that had gotten quite good at it. She was an orphan. And so she stayed with me all the time. There was no problem with her. There were three sisters that were given to the mission by the parents before they died, and so those girls s...stayed with us until they married, and one of them was my cook. And, they said, the different ones, when they’d come to my house, they’d often say, “She...she did things just like I did.” Well, of course, she was trained under me, and she got so that she was very quick at doing things. And she was a good cook and a good helper.
ERICKSEN: Now, would they cook...when you had a girl cooking for you, would she be cooking African dishes, or would...?
CLAPPER: No, they’d cook ours...
CLAPPER: ...what we ate. No, they...their food was quite different actually. Their’s...at Rethy especially was mostly com...composed of beans and corn and millet. Millet was their main thing. And then, of course, they would get different greens, and spinach, and those things.
CLAPPER: But they...they don’t cook like we do, and they don’t have the three meals a day like...like we do. So she would cook our way, actually. We were able to buy flour. There was a...a man who had a plantation nearby, and he had a little shop in this plantation as well. And he...we’d get our flour and different things, that we were finally able to get powdered milk, and that would help. But at Rethy, there was no problem with milk because there were a lot of cows. Being in the highlands, they had no trouble with the tsetse fly. Later on, when I went down to the forest, then of course we had to use powdered milk entirely. But at Rethy we had that, and we could raise any kind of vegetables you wanted at Rethy. So we always had a good supply of vegetables, which was good because, having the school for missionary’s children there, we...we needed plenty of food for them, and there were just no way to get them. We had very few cars. When I first arrived on the....out there, only the doctors had cars, and a few of the men had motorcycles, but the rest of them didn’t have any means of transportation.
ERICKSEN: Now, when...when we talked on the phone, you mentioned between ‘39 and ‘ 40, working in the forest. Did I get that wrong?
CLAPPER: I went down to forest in ‘51...
CLAPPER: ...’52, yeah.
ERICKSEN: And that’s when you were in Biaska...Biasiko.
CLAPPER: Yeah. Uh-huh.
ERICKSEN: Okay. And a.... Alright, tell me...tell me a little...little bit about what you were doing in...
CLAPPER: Well, at Kasengu I had the girls. We had a...a girls home. In the early days, the parents would not allow the girls to come to school. They didn’t want the girls to have any training. The boys could come and not the girls, so to get around that, we decided we’d have a home where the girls could stay there and get their training. Otherwise, their parents were always taking them out to do something, to work in the gardens. And so the girls would stay in the girls home. Now, first, we didn’t have schools for them until we could get some up, because in the early days, the only schools that they had out there in Zaire were carried on by the missionaries. And we had to learn the language. And that was a big problem, getting the language so you could talk to them, because otherwise you just had no way of communicating. And I had to...charge at this school almost immediately. Now...now, they’re doing a little different. They give the missionaries time to have a little bit of training in the language, six months to a year. But when I was there, you were put to work immediately. So you’d do the Haut pointing [?] system in asking questions and writing down words and trying to learn the language on the side.
[recording stopped and restarted]
ERICKSEN: How...how did you do with the language?
CLAPPER: I learned Ddu Alur, which is a tribal language. It’s a Nilotic [group of eastern Sudanic languages]. It’s a little different from the Bantu, and that was my first language that I learned. I learned that at Kasengu, because I was working entirely with Alurs. And the Alurs are very proud people, and very...I think probably of all of the tribes that I worked with, they were probably the most outstanding. In their bearing, everything...their chief was really...he...he was kingly. You could think of him as a real chief in...in many ways. And...and the people, too, were quite outstanding. [clears throat] And when they really came to know the Lord, they were very faithful and have been outstanding in their ministry. Then, too, in learning the language so many times, there’s different words that are spelled the same, but you have to say them different. You have to know the context to be able to say them. And I know one time, after I got to know the language a little bit better, why, one of the missionaries was preaching, you know, on everlasting life. And so he was asking...he was dealing with a young chap, and he wanted to kn...he said to him, “Don’t you want to have stealing forever?” And he kept saying, “No,” he didn’t want stealing forever. And he thought he was saying, “Would you like to have life forever?” And this fellow said that he didn’t want to steal forever. And the missionary couldn’t understand why he...he was...kept saying, “Why...why don’t you want stealing forever?” He thought he was saying everlasting life. [laughs] And so finally, one of the other missionaries called his attention to the fact. “You’re saying ‘stealing’ instead of ‘life,’ and that’s why he doesn’t want to steal forever. [laughs] He wants everlasting life.”
CLAPPER: So we had a lot of laughs over that one.
CLAPPER: And I know that the first time, right after I was there, and I was just learning some of it, and the people would give names to their children according to what happened at the time they were born. And there was one...one girl. When the grasshoppers came, then they...and their child was born at the time, she was given the name Usene, and that was a name for grasshoppers. And I hadn’t been there too long and was just beginning to learn, but I remember hearing them say that sometimes the grasshoppers fall during the night. And so I was awakened about four o’clock in the morning with the girls knocking on my door saying to me...they said, “Usene upotho wachitho.” And I thought they were saying this girl had fallen, and I should come. So, [laughs] I got up and dressed and ran to the door. And then, just as I was going out, they kept insisting that it wasn’t that she was hurt...it wasn’t that she hurt. And then, it dawned on me. It must be the grasshoppers have come. [laughs] And what they were saying...instead of saying that she has fallen, it says, “The grasshoppers have fallen. Can we go?” They wanted to go pick them. And of course, they...they’d go out. They’d take torches, they’d take any type of a light that they might be able to get a hold of and go out and gather these, because they just come thick and real droves of them. And this is food for them. And you never...even if you’re in the midst of school or anything when the grasshoppers come, you just let them all go, because you know it means food on their table. [laughs] So that was an...quite an experience too.
ERICKSEN: Did you ever eat grasshopper?
ERICKSEN: Is it good?
CLAPPER: Yeah. They taste a bit like bacon, [pauses] if you can get away from the eyes, you know. But one of our missionary kids, he used to always cut the eyes...the heads off and line them up around his plate and eat them like the [unclear] [both laugh] But I must say that I don’t often eat them, but I did eat them once and awhile. But they were still much better than the locusts. The locusts, to me, were...were not nearly as good, but the grasshoppers I...I could eat. And the ants, they weren’t too bad, except for the legs. And I didn’t care much for them. Then too, often times, you know, you would say things.... The...the nationals were very patient with you. And when they knew that you really wanted to learn, they...they would help you even though you made mistakes. One time, one of our preachers was giving a message, and he kept talking all the time about the snake over Bethlehem. And the people started to snicker a little a bit [laughs], and he did realize then that he must be saying something wrong. And it dawned on him that instead of saying the star, he kept saying the snake over Bethlehem. Because snake was nyoka and star was nyota, so you can understand how easily that could be mixed up. And so he kept talking about the nyoka [laughs] over Bethlehem instead of nyota over Bethlehem, so we had many a laugh over that. And another time too, when of one of them was preaching, all at once the people looked up (because we had the grass roofs and it was all open at the top), and here you...we saw this big snake coming down right over the top where the pastor was preaching. And he realized something was wrong by the expression on people’s faces, and so he looked up [laughs] and quickly moved back, and with that, that snake plopped right down on the floor. But they’re very good at things like that. And it wasn’t long until the men had gotten sticks and killed it. But those were some of the things that happened once in a while in life. And often you would have dogs come into church, and they’d get into a fight, and so this would disrupt [laughs] the service, but....
CLAPPER: I think one of the things that I was...felt was so outstanding was my first time of harvest that they had, when the people (I think it was on Christmas), they brought all their gifts to the...to the Lord. And they didn’t have money, many of them didn’t have money, and so they would bring what they had. They would bring their fo...some of their food: their millet, or their casava, or their beans or corn, whatever they had. Sometimes you’d see them bring chickens or goats, something like that, and this was their gift. And the table in the place would just be full of food and things that they...they brought. And this was a way of bringing their offering to the Lord. And that was quite impressive, I felt.
ERICKSEN: Going back to the language for just a second, was it hard for you to pick up the language or did you manage that easily?
CLAPPER: Well, I...I would say it was a good six months before I could use it fluently and...and understand it, maybe even a little longer. And you’re always picking up new words. And some languages are much harder than others. Now, Ddu Alur, you had the...the dental “T”, you had the dental “D”, and you had the NG sound like ngatu, [unclear phrase] and these different words. And you ge...have to get used to how th...how you say them, and some of them are nasal. Whereas, in Swahili, everything ends in a vowel, which makes it in many ways easier. I think Swahili was easier to get that Ddu Alur. But I learned them. Now, I don’t feel as if I...I have a natural bent for languages like some people have. I get...I have to get mine the hard way and work in using them, and.... So that’s why I really haven’t done much with Spanish since I’m here, because I just don’t have the time, and I must hear it. And sometimes you can hear it, but you’re not able to answer. You can...you can’t remember enough words to...to answer.
CLAPPER: So it is a little difficult. I really just learned the two languages. I have smatterings of Kibila and smatterings of French, but not enough to say that I know it.
ERICKSEN: Now, what was a typical day like at the school?
CLAPPER: Well, we would have, usually, school in the morning, and then the girls would work in the gardens in the afternoon. This was in the highlands, so of course it was...wasn’t so hot, because we were six, seven thousand feet up, and it wasn’t hot like it was down in the forest. And the girls would come to school in the morning. And at first, we didn’t have a school for them, so they had to...we had to have classes under the trees. This was very disrupting because the Africans are very friendly and everybody passing by greets you and everything else. Well, maybe you’d be in the midst of a class when someone passed by, and someone called out, Jambo,” and “How are you,” and...and they keep talking as they...they greet you as they come by, and they keep talking as they go on, and then you answered, and so you would be disrupted over and over again. So it was really a help when we were able to get a building up and have school for them. And a lot of times, we didn’t have paper and pencils and things. So we had to use sticks and write on the ground when you taught them arithmetic or writing. So this was a real problem. But by having the girls, too, in the home.... And the boys had...their school was different. Usually then, the...if there was a station superintendent and his wife, his wife then had the school for the boys, and I had the school for the girls. There was just one other couple there and me for awhile...quite awhile in that...Kasengu. Later on, several other ladies came, but at that time, we were just the three. So she had the boy’s school and I had the girls. And we did have some of the classes inside where they had their dormitory, where they’re sleeping. Now, a lot, most of them...we didn’t have beds for them, so what they did, they would build up a platform and have an aisle in between. And they would sleep up on this platform, and...and usually they would put grass down or banana leaves and sleep on that, because they didn’t have mattresses and those things. Some of them didn’t even have a blanket. They just had to use a cloth that they wrapped around themselves for sleeping.
ERICKSEN: Now, what was the age range of the students?
CLAPPER: Well, they would start usually about seven or eight years old and then go on up. At first, we had bigger girls coming in because they hadn’t had any training at all, and later on they were a little bit smaller, but...most of them, to begin with, were older...a little older.
ERICKSEN: Now, what would you...when you say older?
CLAPPER: Well, that...then they’d be maybe nine, ten years old.
ERICKSEN: I see. And what would the...what would the curriculum consist of?
CLAPPER: We had reading, writing, arithmetic, spelling, and we had some geography. And then we had another class we called observation [French pronuciation of word], which was...you would bring an object and they would observe it, and then they’d tell you what all they saw about it. And we always had Bible. Bible was our main subject. And a lot of times, we had to read from the Bible. We didn’t...because we didn’t have primers. After awhile, we were able to get primers going. And we had some missionaries that would be making the literature for us, and that was a big help. And when we got arithmetic books...because in the beginning, we only had one book...
CLAPPER: ...and the teacher had that. Then, when we got to the place where we got more of our nationals taught...the older ones, then, when they would learn, then we would use them as teachers to teach the others, and that was a real help. And many of the girls.... I had...I didn’t have as many at Kasengu. I only had about eighty girls at Kasengu. But at Rethy I had over two hundred girls in the school. At one time, I had three hundred. And I had over a hundred in the girls’ dormitory. And the problem we always had to be careful of, we had all these grass roofs. And if a fire would start, they...you just couldn’t save them, and....
ERICKSEN: Did you have a fire while you were there?
CLAPPER: Twice it caught, but we were able to get it out. And then, later on, we put tile on the roofs, and we were able to put metal roofing on. And that was a real help. When I too built a new school at Rethy because we didn’t have a school there and the girls were coming in. When the parents began to realize what a help it was to the girls and what the girls could do when they finished, then they got more interested in letting them come to school.
CLAPPER: So we really had a...had a good group. Many of the girls that I taught at Rethy are the leaders even today. And often...when I would go back to visit, after I’d left Rethy and gone back, these girls would bring their children and show them to me. They...they had been...an excellent help in...in the women’s work and in training the girls and all. And this has been a real help in the...in the work, because when our men would finish Bible school, and we trained infirmiers for the medical and teachers, they needed wives that could help them. If they had these what they call shenzi wives, as they call them...they’ll call...those who don’t have training at all, they call them shenzis, because they don’t know how to read or write or anything. And so it was a real help to these men. And they found out too that the men that had these jobs got more money, and it was more worthwhile to have their daughters trained so they could marry these men that...that had something to offer them.
CLAPPER: And this was a...a big help, and...even now. And then, of course, when you have some that have been trained, then they want their kids to go on, and so each generation finds them coming up more and more, and it’s been a...a tremendous help in...in the work. And the...the women have been taking more of a lead. In fact, our...the women in Africa, at least in our area, are really the backbone of the church. They’re...they’re excellent at giving and helping in every way. And as they go out too and minister, they’re...they’re the ones, too. If someone’s sick, someone in need, it’s the women that go and help and bring them wood, bring them food, and help them in their time of need, so....
ERICKSEN: Does that tend to be true of the culture...the larger culture as well?
CLAPPER: They...they do help one another quite a bit. But these women don’t expect anything back or anything like that. They just do it because they love the Lord. And we have an organization which we call the Women of the Good News, and they have done a tremendous work in Africa. And it’s been a tremendous help in...in lifting the lot of the women, that they...they’re not...no longer servants to their husbands and...and sort of nobodies, but they really are somebody. And most of the wen...men are real proud of them. And it’s helped too in having the hospital. This was a real open door too to get the people to come in to have their babies at the hospital, because in the early days, so many of them were fearful, lived under superstition, fear all the time. And all those things have...have changed throughout the years. I can....
ERICKSEN: What kind of responsibilities would women have in the church?
CLAPPER: Well, their job has been mostly to...to help those who...who are in need and comfort those who have loss of loved ones or someone is sick or something like that. And they’ll go, and they’ll help bring them water. They’ll gather wood for them, take food to them, and it’s more helping that way. And they teach. Quite a few women will teach. We’ve...we started the Sunday school, and that’s a tremendous help, and many women will teach in the Sunday school. And they go out in the villages, and they visit the people, and they’re the ones that really help get the people come in. And many of them come to know the Lord through the ministry of the women.
ERICKSEN: Now, are the men in the church as diligent in their responsibility?
CLAPPER: Pastors are okay, but many of the other men, no.
CLAPPER: If you had deacons and elders, they’ll help some, but not like the women. The women seem to take the lead all the time.
ERICKSEN: Why do you think that is?
CLAPPER: I don’t know. It seems to me all throughout history it’s been a lot that way. You notice even here in America, it’s the women’s missionary societies and things that lat...that...like that that take a large lead. And in a lot of churches, you find the women play a terrific role. And on the...on the mission field we have far more women, have had all the time than we’ve had men. It just seems they don’t take hold. And our women have been very, very faithful and outstanding. They’re...they’re good too in...in leading. And some of them have beautiful voices. They love to sing. And women now too are even learning to play wooden instruments. They have quite a few, and that’s been a real help to them, and they were really....
ERICKSEN: Now, who were the other missionaries that were in Kasengu with you?
CLAPPER: Just the Lasses, Mr. and Mrs. Lasse at first.
CLAPPER: Then later on, Beatrice King was there too for a long time, and she was there a while when I was there. But then later on, I...I was only there the year and then went to Rethy. But I got to know her and Jessie Blanchard, and of course Jessie’s Blancard’s passed on.
ERICKSEN: Going back to the...to the women. Can you think of an...the names of any of the really outstanding women that you...you worked with there?
CLAPPER: Well, now they’ve taken...many of them have taken [pauses] baptized names. Phoebe was one of my outstanding ones. Rokeli. Rhoda. Rhoda, to me, was one of the most outstanding women that I had because she...even after she got married, she was very, very active in the church. And had an...a marvelous testimony. In fact, she was the only woman that I ever knew of them taken to church when she had her funeral that the.... Because at that time, then the...she was working with her husband. He was a medical nurse, and she was going out visiting and had organized several churches. And it was a Brethren church, and you know, in the Brethren, the women are nothing. And so they actually...she was the only woman that they took into the church and had a funeral service in the church for her.
ERICKSEN: What was her last name?
CLAPPER: Well, her last...her husband...she really....
ERICKSEN: Do they have...?
CLAPPER: She had...Rashu [?] was her other name, but she never used that, she just used the word...name Rhoda.
ERICKSEN: Rhoda, okay.
CLAPPER: Her husband, they called him Tomasi [?], and they would say, “Rhoda, wife of Tomasi [?].” In Ddu Alur, they’d say, “Shi Tomasi, Rhoda shi Tomasi.” You see, they never called the women by another name. They’d just say the wife of so and so. And like with our pastor, his...his name was Samweli. Well, then it would be Naomi shi Samweli. And that’s the way they would...would recognize the women. And if they called on a woman to pray in church, she...they always called on her by...called her by name, then her husband’s name followed. It wasn’t just say it like Naomi or Rhoda or Phoebe or whatever it was.
ERICKSEN: 1940, you moved on to Rethy.
ERICKSEN: How was that arranged?
CLAPPER: Well, it wasn’t too far away. It was only about thirty miles away from the other station, and so they...some of the things were carried over. I didn’t have too much in that...in those days. And with the year I stayed in the house where the other lady lived. That was the house, too, where we had the ants. We often had ants come up in the floor. And you know...I don’t think you know anything. They...you might call them termites here, and that’s probably another name for them. But these ants would come and make mud houses, and you know, make mounds. And you may go to bed and have your shoes at the...by the side of the bed. In the morning, they’d be up on a mound that high, this mud that they’d thrown up on them. And they’d eat [unclear]....
[recording turned off and restarted]
CLAPPER: They also...the...if you had a mat on the floor, you wouldn’t know they were there, and the next thing you know, they’d eaten the whole mat away.
CLAPPER: We had a lot of trouble with them. And unless you got the queens, they would be constantly coming up. They’d eat the...all the...the string that you tied the roof on with, and they’d eat the grass and the roof and all, and the next thing you know, the whole thing would just cave in.
ERICKSEN: How quick a process was it for the ants to finish off a mat on the floor?
CLAPPER: Just overnight.
ERICKSEN: No kidding.
CLAPPER: And we had to watch and take it up, sometimes every day to be sure. [Ericksen laughs] Some of our Africans used to hide their money, if they’d get some money. One was saving for a bicycle, you know. He...he’d said he didn’t have any money to give to the Lord. He was saving for a bicycle. And he hid it up in the eaves of the house [claps hands], and the...and the ants got in and ate it all. When he went to get it, it was just little, tiny pieces. And he would just say...he said, well, the Lord was teaching him that he should give his money to the Lord and not hide it. [laughs] So that was a lesson to him. But many times our books and things like that would be destroyed. If you weren’t careful...if you put ‘em against the wall and maybe you didn’t check it every once in a while, when you checked them, they were in bad shape. And you...some of them you couldn’t use. We had a lot of trouble with them. And then, of course, we had other things too that...we had...jiggers. Now, these are not chiggers. Here in America we have chiggers. It’s like a little red thing. But this is a jigger that buries in usually around the nail or the toes or under the feet, and they form a sack. And this will get as big as a pea or larger. And unless you take it...take it out, they can become cripples because it will just eat away at the foot. And there is a system to that...the Africans are very good at taking ‘em out because they take a blunt safety pin and they pull the skin back, like if there’s a big...it looks like a big white blister. And they keep pulling the skin back so they can lift the whole thing out without it bursting. If it breaks, then that’s full of little jiggers, and then you have more problem. And if you go into a place that hasn’t been swept and kept clean, you’re...you’ll get them no matter how clean you are. You can take a bath every night, and that won’t keep you from getting them. And so the...that’s a real problem, especially in the churches, because we have nothing but dirt floors, and....
ERICKSEN: Did you have problems with them?
CLAPPER: Yeah, so the way we found out, and the natives taught us this, you mix cow manure with clay, mix that together and put water with it, and then you varnish the floor with it. And it...it may sm...it smells terrible to begin with, but it keeps the jiggers down. And about once a week or every other week, we would do that on our mud floors. Because even if you...you don’t have them, if someone comes into your house that has them and if they happened to have broken when they were in the house, it scatters them all over your house. I know we had one of our missionaries, Raymond Stauffacher, I said to him, “Do you want my girls to come down and varnish your floor?” He said, “No, I’ll never have them do it.” And he...he was in Zandeland [in Sudan?], where they didn’t have any cattle or pigs or anything, and he didn’t know what jiggers were. But one time he came to me. He said, “I’m sorry, but I got to break down.” He said, “I can’t stand these jiggers.” [laughs] So he had the girls come down, and I’d sent the girls down. We’d pay ‘em a little bit to do it. And they’d varnish the floor. So this was our African varnish. But it really did the work, and it...it kept them down. But they did that too in their baskets and everything. They...you know, when they weave the baskets, you put millet.... You know what millet is, don’t you? It’s this...
ERICKSEN: Uh-huh, Uh-huh. A grain.
CLAPPER: ...tiny grains. Well, it would all fall through the cracks in the basket. So they would take this varnish. It’s just nothing but plain cow manure and...and clay. The girls would go out early in the morning where the cattle were and get the manure, bring it in, and mix it with clay, and put it on the floor, with water. And they would varnish it. And really, after a while, the...the floor was real smooth. You didn’t have the dirt coming up all the time. It was sort of...formed like a bit of a cement in there. And that was a real help in keeping the jiggers down.
END OF TAPE