Thursday, 1 October 2009

24 August 1942

However, with what was left, it was possible to purchase such necessaries as a dining table and chairs, sideboard, wash stand etc all second hand  of course.   I also bought half a set of the cheapest plain white crockery.  Fenton then brought ne to one of the hospitals, as I have omitted to mention Graham’s also doing in Batavia, to satisfy the authorities, that I betrayed no symptoms of cholera.  In accordance with regulations and because, I believe, an outbreak had occurred in Singapore while I was there, this examination had to take place on three successive days.  Between Bandung and Langen we had to break our journey the following day at a place called Tasikmalajaimage for the same purpose.  While awaiting the train in Tasikmalaja, we sat in the Club there which was quite deserted except for ourselves and an elderly fat Dutch planter, manager of an estate in the vicinity, who offered us drinks and was scornfully amused at the idea of a Scotsman preferring a sweet soft drink to his native whisky.  We reached Langen Estate in the early afternoon and repaired to Fenton’s house, where, according to custom, I would stay a month in order to become accustomed somewhat to things in general before being left to paddle my own canoe.  As a matter of fact, it was Fenton who left at the end of the month, I remaining in the house, he having been transferred to another part of the Estate.  After lunch, we went to the Estate office where I met Mr Fitz Verploegh, the manager, who after greeting me said, indicating the office, ‘Well, this is your place for the next 5 years.’  The prospect at first sight did not seem encouraging.  The office was a bare looking room about 20 feet square with whitewashed walls, with a battered looking desk in the centre with an equally decrepit chair behind it and one or two tables and chairs against the walls.  In the corner opposite the doorway was a small safe set in a projecting mass of concrete.  This safe, I learned later, had formerly stood against the wall on a strong wooden rest, but one day, the then bookkeeper had closed the door of the safe, which locked automatically, leaving the only key inside.  The only way to right matters was to burn a hole in the back of the safe with an oxyacetylene blow lamp and subsequently the only way to preserve the safe’s usefulness was to embed it in concrete.  It was a brilliant solution because in its present state it afforded a hundred times better security than it had done as a loose steel box.  To give a general idea of Langen Estate I would explain that practically the whole area was reclaimed marshland and as flat as a billiard table.  Drainage of ground water was the major problem and an elaborate system of drains and pumping installations was the result.  The Estate was divided into so called Divisions; an employee residing on and being responsible for each Division.  These Divisions were subdivided into Gardens marked out in square areas.  The rubber trees were planted in straight rows and equally distant from each other. image Between each third row of trees, in both directions, were ditches for leading off water.  These ditches communicated, by way of deeper ditches crossing the garden at intervals, with drains about 6 to 8 feet deep running round the borders.  These again were linked up to so called main drains, which were really miniature canals, and which flowed, albeit sluggishly, into the marshes to the south.  The oldest trees on Langen had been planted in 1905.  A rubber tree comes to maturity and can be safely tapped at 6 years old as a general rule.  There was no road on to or off the Estate as far as the outside world was concerned.  The only communication was by the railway which cut the plantation in two from East to West.  Langen had a miniature station, known as a Halte, at which only the local train stopped, and from the main line a siding ran to the Factory godown (warehouse), where the cases of rubber were stored against despatch.  Java is divided roughly into three parts, known as West Java, Middle Java and East Java.  There is a strong similarity in population to our own country, in that Java harbours two distinct races, the Javanese to the East and the Sudanese to the West.  These two people are as distinct in race on the Scot and the English, but even more so in language, dress and custom.  Roughly speaking, the Sudanese inhabit the West Java and the Javanese Middle and East Java.  Langen was situated where West merges into Middle Java with the result that the labour was a mixture of Sudanese and Javanese, thus occasioning a knowledge of both languages in addition, as was my case, to Dutch and colloquial Malay.  In due course, I spoke six languages every day.  English to the manager because he preferred to speak that language, Dutch to the other assistants, Sudanese to my native overseer, Javenese to the coolies, Malay to the office clerks and Scots to my dogs!  The Halte was situated about the centre of the Estate, the manager’s house and two assistants’ houses forming a triangle with the Big House at the apex, about two hundred yards to the East of the Halte on the North side of the railway and roughly a hundred yards from the track, and the Factory buildings immediately opposite on the other side of, and about 50 yards from the railway, my house was situated at the base of the triangle nearest the Halte.  When I arrived the staff consisted of the manager, Fitz Verploegh whop was Dutch; Fenton of Scottish parentage but brought up in England; Van Der Meulen (from whom my bed was purchased) a Dutchman; Drost, idem; Vacquier, Eurasian; Sator de Rotas (engineer) idem; and Raden Kusumbrata, Soendanese.  Fenton, whose place I was taking as book keeper, was now going on full time garden work with his own division.  Van Der Meulen, Drost, Vacquier and Kusumbrata were all divisional garden assistants.  The divisions were, from east to west, Langkap Lantjar (Drost); Hevea (idem); and Straits of Java (Fenton) south of the railway, and ‘A’ Block (Vacquier); Langen (v/d Meulen) and Tjigaron (Kusumabrata) north of the line.  Langen Estate, as it now is, was really an amalgamation of several small estates in previous years and which had bequeathed their names to the divisions which they had now become.  Seem on a chart, Langen Estate was an irregular rectangle about 5 miles long by 3 broad situated, in its length, between two natural boundaries the Rawah Lahbok marshes to the south and the River Tjitandoei to the north.

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Out from 2 to 3 pm only this afternoon.  Library books collected this morning.  New issue this afternoon.  Got ‘Woodstock’ by Sir Walter Scott.  Run round, jerks and only one ball game for veterans today.

1 comment:

Eyang said...

Hello,
Apa kabar? Perkenalkan nama saya ahmad, saya berasal dari Indonesia tepatnya di Langensari atau Langen Estate. Selama ini saya sedang mencari sejarah tentang langen pada masa silam, akan tetapi sulit sekali untuk menemukan sejarah tentang langen hingga akhirnya saya menemukan artikel anda. Saya sangat tertarik dengan artikel kisah perjalanan hidup anda ketika berada di indonesia, terutama di langensari. Yang membuat saya terkesan adalah dahulu anda pernah bertemu dengan kakek buyut saya Raden kusumbrata (Raden said kusumahbrata).
Ibu Pat O' Neil jika anda berkenan saya ingin mengetahui kisah perjalanan hidup anda selama berada di langen estate, karena saya ingin mengetahui sejarah yang sebenarnya dan mengetahui kisah tentang kakek buyut saya.
Terimakasih.