This accounting was one of many written by my dad, Manuel Menendez, of his time as Captain of the “Artic Queen” of the East Reconnaissance Group, part of “Project Nanook” of the U.S. Air Force, assigned to Thule, Greenland.
It was one of his favorite tales and I’m grateful he wrote it and many others down. Dad always wanted to put his stories together into a book. He would have liked e2. So after discussing this with my brothers, I’d like to share it, as is, with the readers here. Remember, this is from the perspective of a young man in 1947.
And so the story begins…
“After three weeks in Thule
we finally received a projector for showing moving pictures
on a large screen. We had a Quonset hut
located behind the barrack
s area that we used as our theatre
. We were looking forward to seeing the first show. Our theatre wasn’t very big but we could squeeze in 30 people. We had 20 chairs and a long board for the people to sit on.
Every day a group of Eskimos would come over to our military base to see what we were doing. They were primitive people with strange habits but they were friendly and we enjoyed seeing them.
When we showed our first movie featuring a cartoon and a main movie about six or seven Eskimos came into our theatre. They sat on the ground next to the canvas door. We closed the door and turned on the animated cartoons showing strange animals running around and fighting with each other. This frightened the Eskimos and they ran out of the theatre. We surmised that this would happen because the Eskimos had never seen anything like a moving picture.
There were two Danish radio operators in the theatre and one of them could speak to the Eskimos. He calmed them down and took them back into the theatre. From that day on there was always a dozen or more Eskimos at our weekly movies. They enjoyed the cartoons best. Can you imagine what they thought when they saw scenes from the outside world. They probably thought they were looking at scenes from the moon.
Every week a C54 airplane would bring us fresh food like eggs, milk, fruit and vegetables along with mail, movies and supplies for the two B17 airplanes. In July 1947 they brought us a moving picture called “Robin Hood” which featured Errol Flynn. When we showed the movie “Robin Hood” I noticed that the Eskimos were very quiet.
Throughout the movie, Robin Hood and his men were constantly shooting arrows from bows in order to kill the enemy. After each movie the Eskimos met outside and talked and laughed about the movies that had just seen. However, on this day I had a feeling that the Eskimos were disturbed about the Robin Hood movie. I went over to the Danish radio operator who could speak the Eskimo language. I asked him “What’s wrong with the Eskimos, they are acting strange”. He told me they were upset because they do not understand why a man would hunt another man and wanted to know if they ate him after he was killed. The Eskimos only hunted and killed what they could eat so it was hard for them to understand why people were hunted and killed.
Think about this…..We consider the polar Eskimos to be savages, but now I realize that with all the wars fought by civilized people in the world that the polar Eskimos were truly the civilized people.”
http://members.aol.com/r390a/lomholt/thule/page2.html shows a picture of the B17 "Arctic Queen" in Thule in 1947 with her crew. This is at the bottom of the page. At the top of page are some of the Danish personnel and in the middle is the crew of the C54.
All of Manuel Menendez’s writings and notes are copyrighted and owned by his estate, of which I am a member. Full permission has been received to publish them here on e2.
More about or by Manuel Menendez can be found in
Sequoia National Park
A long term project