It’s impossible to not share this story again for Christmas/New Year’s 2021 and hoping for a much-improved 2022.
The last year of Caroline and Margaret’s great adventure was spent in the Fly River Territory. After all this time of gathering portraits and having to deal with hardships in the tropics, they made do with a palmetto tree turned upside-down and decorated with socks rolled up, flour to sprinkle like snow and a tin star nailed to the stub of the plant. Genius! What made it more special is that instead of having lights, the palmetto attracted fireflies that glowed during the night. What struck me most in her book, New Guinea Headhunt, are the last sentences.
“This Christmas our thoughts did not wander nostalgically the thousands of miles to home. We had been gone too long; we had learned what every good traveler must, to live our lives where we found ourselves.” – Caroline Mytinger
I continue to review photos of scrapbooks, letters from Caroline to Philip W. Pillsbury, Sr. and hear from others across the ocean with inquiries as to the journey she and Margaret took in the late 1920s. Caroline was complicated, determined that nothing was going to stop her; and her love interests that were SECRETS!
Margaret Warner was her high school and decades-long friend. A young doctor and Caroline married, but although she was the love of his life, he could not keep her and “released her to the world” in 1920. Caroline met Philip W. Pillsbury, Sr. sometime after and was 6 years his senior. Her beauty, brilliance and independence cast a spell over him.
On December 23, 1929, just after the “Girl Explorers” returned, Caroline wrote a letter to “Mr. Pillsbury”.
“ Please find herewith the best wishes of Mrs. Stober — this goes for all time —not just for 1930 and the day after tomorrow —- Oh Philip, Philip, how long must this go on—all your life? I’v e already had my fill. Philadelphia almost —(not quite) bored me. I feel as if I had wasted my time though it was sweet to have breakfast served, —— Phil, I do hate to seem premature but I love you too much to make you unhappy — and that’s that — I can’t give you more than that for a happy New Year —-that’s the most anybody can give you——-At any rate, here’s a cheerio —-live long and be happy and know that I shall love you always.”
Although Philip married in 1935, they remained close. Caroline painted portraits of Phil, his wife Eleanor and other family members. He also came to visit in Monterey in the 1940s on several occasions.
Who knows what this relationship was? My research and reading all the letters may never give a solid answer.
I continue to receive messages from around the world asking many questions of who Caroline and Margaret engaged with while in Melanesia. This is always exciting and it’s hoped that it will continue in the upcoming years.
To all of you who supported this effort for the last two decades, my hope is that it will continue. Wishing you all the best for a bright future and beautiful light.