Through Jade's Eyes

This blog is about the fictional character, Jade del Cameron (www.suzannearruda.com), and the historical time period in which she lives.

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Location: www.suzannearruda.com, United States

I'm the author of the Jade del Cameron historical mystery series set in 1920's Africa. Lots of action, intrigue, mystery and a dash of romance. Follow me at www.twitter.com/SuzanneArruda *The audio link (view complete profile) is an interview by Baron Ron Herron (9/17/2009, Santa Barbara {CA} News-Press Radio, KZSB, AM 1290

Monday, June 29, 2009

NAIROBI NEWS: 1920 “SHOP NAIROBI”

Most businesses do their best to keep the townsfolk from shopping away from home. Convenience is definitely a factor, and that especially held true in 1920 Nairobi. If you didn’t want to shop in town, you needed to take the train down to Mombassa which involved traveling overnight. But still, Mombassa’s shops often claimed to have the latest imported fashions, something the Nairobi stores did their best to counter at the counter.

And so Whiteaway, Laidlaw & Company, Ltd, did their best to attract the local buyers by featuring large ads on the front of each issue of The East African Standard newspaper. In the June 19, 1920 issue, the store was appealing to the women of Nairobi with a display of delicate underclothing in fine silk, cambric, and cotton.


But corsets, camisoles, sleeveless vests, and nightdresses were only a few of the items listed.
Whiteaways also advertised (without pictures) a satin lined fur coat in “coney seal” for only 975 rupees. If one didn’t want a full coat, they also had a “handsome fur wrap in natural skunk” with a broad pillow muff to match for a mere 750 rupees. Perfect for an evening at the Theatre Royal. Of course, if you were of a more practical nature and just needed a good lady’s sport coat, one was available in assorted colors for 95 rupees.

The ads were taken from The East African Standard, June 19, 1920

NEXT WEEK: More Nairobi Shopping – for cars.

NOTE: These blogs are meant to give some insight into the life and times of my fictional character, Jade del Cameron. Jade’s mystery adventures take place in post WWI Africa. To date they are: Mark of the Lion, Stalking Ivory, and The Serpent’s Daughter, all available in trade paperback.. The fourth book The Leopard’s Prey, is available in hardcover. TREASURE OF THE GOLDEN CHEETAH will be released Sept. 1, 2009. An excerpt and information on pre-ordering signed copies is available at the website: www.suzannearruda.com. Follow short updates on http://twitter.com/SuzanneArruda

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Monday, June 22, 2009

NAIROBI NEWS: 1920 “DEAD BY SHAVING BRUSH”

If someone reported a death by shaving, one’s first thought would be a straight razor slip to the jugular. In this case, they would be only partly correct. The death of a Goan man in Nairobi, April, 1920 was actually due to a deadly shaving brush.

Mr. Pereira lived on River Road in Nairobi, In the Indian District. He took ill and, after a day or two, sought medical attention. He became worse. Dr. Mackinnon came in as a consultant on the case and, to his horror, found that the man was “suffering from anthrax in an acute form.” Mr. Pereira perished the next day in a case that was considered hopeless from the onset.

In an investigation, it was determined that the man had used a new shaving brush, just recently purchased and used only once before his death. The brush was contaminated with Anthrax bacillus. That alone wouldn’t have hurt him, but he did, in fact, cut himself shaving and an infection set in.

The brushes, sold by Mr. Jethamal on Sixth street, Nairobi, were Japanese in origin. All the stock was confiscated by the Medical Officer for inspection. It was assumed that the bristles of the brush were made from an animal infected with the disease. Anyone with a recently purchased shaving brush as well as all other dealers who recently imported shaving brushes were encouraged to turn over their stock for examination and sterilization. However, previous attempts at disinfecting brushes, especially those where the bristles and hairs are fixed with glue or cement, without destroying the usefulness of the brush had proven impossible.

Since the tainted brush was made two years before in 1918, and any number could have been imported, it was recommended that everyone with a new brush should soak it for at least two days in a strong disinfectant (one part disinfectant to 10 of water).

Oh, and don’t cut yourself shaving.

The headline taken from The Leader of British East Africa April 24, 1920

NEXT WEEK: More Nairobi Fun.

NOTE: These blogs are meant to give some insight into the life and times of my fictional character, Jade del Cameron. Jade’s mystery adventures take place in post WWI Africa. To date they are: Mark of the Lion, Stalking Ivory, and The Serpent’s Daughter, all available in trade paperback.. The fourth book The Leopard’s Prey, is available in hardcover. TREASURE OF THE GOLDEN CHEETAH will be released Sept. 1, 2009. An excerpt and information on pre-ordering signed copies is available at the website: www.suzannearruda.com. Follow short updates on http://twitter.com/SuzanneArruda

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Monday, June 15, 2009

NAIROBI NEWS: 1920 “THE AMERICAN INVASION”

The Kenya Colony is in danger of being invaded. No, not hordes of locusts or rampaging wildlife, but by rich Americans. The correspondent to The East African Standard had already written about the large number of wealthy Americans who have come to the British Isles with the aim to purchase works of art and literature. He gave as evidence, a recent book sale “monopolized by Yanks” whose vast economic resources allowed them to purchase “everything of value.”

And now, the word is out that parties of those Americans are now forming in London with an eye to Kenya Colony. The goal? To hunt. A Captain L. Handley, himself a well-known hunter, has been giving the Americans advice.

American hunters in East Africa is nothing new. Former president Teddy Roosevelt and his son, Kermit, went through East Africa on a major hunting expedition in 1909. Sir William Northrup MacMillan, owner of Juja farms near Nairobi, was himself an American. This giant millionaire from St. Louis had long made his home in East Africa and was given a knighthood in recognition of his support to the British during WWI. And Carl Akely, of the Museum of Natural History in New York had frequently been in the area, collecting for the museum. But these intruders were either adopted sons or celebrity naturalists. This newer invasion looked to be larger and unstoppable.

The columnist wrote: “One thing is certain – the sportsmen are well equipped with the ‘Almighty Dollar.’” He advises the colonists to see to it that “their hefty wads of this particular commodity are not so ‘Almighty’ when they return.”

The headline taken from The East African Standard, July 10, 1920

NEXT WEEK: More Nairobi Fun.

NOTE: These blogs are meant to give some insight into the life and times of my fictional character, Jade del Cameron. Jade’s mystery adventures take place in post WWI Africa. To date they are: Mark of the Lion, Stalking Ivory, and The Serpent’s Daughter, all available in trade paperback.. The fourth book The Leopard’s Prey, is available in hardcover. TREASURE OF THE GOLDEN CHEETAH will be released Sept. 1, 2009. An excerpt and information on pre-ordering signed copies is available at the website: www.suzannearruda.com. Follow short updates on http://twitter.com/SuzanneArruda

Jade del Cameron, 1920, Nairobi, Kenya Colony, The East African Standard, Americans, hunters, William Northrup MacMillan, Teddy Roosevelt, Carl Akely, Yanks.

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Monday, June 08, 2009

NAIROBI NEWS: 1920 “A FASHIONABLE BATHING COSTUME”

The East African Standard frequently featured patterns for women’s and children’s clothing as a service to the working lady or the settler-farmer’s wife under the headline: “Simple Work For Women At Home.” The May 22, 1920 issue offered a bathing costume, proclaiming: “At this time of the year, you will be needing a bathing suit for your holiday at the coast, or week end at The Forest Hotel.” Bathing suit pattern 1149 promised to be “smart and distinctive.”

The pattern consisted of the “knickers” (cut in one piece) a bodice, and an “overdress” styled to resemble a frock coat. The pattern required 4 and ½ yards of double wide fabric to produce an “ordinary full size” costume. Instructions for how to sew the garment were described in the article with hints for the best manner of finishing it so as to prolong the outfit’s life. Of course, it was hardly to be expected that someone could just look at the pattern and make the outfit. But for only 1 rupee, sent to “Molly” at the pattern department of the newspaper, you could receive your own copy of the pattern.

“Molly” always finished her article with the latest “fashion gossip.” It seems that “printed nets with beautiful voile borders are the latest thing in evening-dress fabrics. They were also recommended for garden party frocks with the idea that a netted fabric would be overlain atop a contrasting fabric for a stunning effect. She cited a net of “old rose” set over a “peacock blue” fabric. And to top it off, the latest fashion in 1920 was to have a garment express a “mood in nature.” Molly offered two possibilities: stormy sunsets and sun on the sea. These moods are printed on the labels and sewn into the latest purchased garments by the dressmakers.

I just trust that “stormy sea” would not be the best mood to choose for that bathing costume lest it come true.

The pattern photo taken from The East African Standard, May 22, 1920

NEXT WEEK: More Nairobi Fun.

NOTE: These blogs are meant to give some insight into the life and times of my fictional character, Jade del Cameron. Jade’s mystery adventures take place in post WWI Africa. To date they are: Mark of the Lion, Stalking Ivory, and The Serpent’s Daughter, all available in trade paperback. The fourth book The Leopard’s Prey,is available in hardcover. TREASURE OF THE GOLDEN CHEETAH will be released Sept. 1, 2009. An excerpt and information on pre-ordering signed copies is available at the website: www.suzannearruda.com. Follow short updates on http://twitter.com/SuzanneArruda

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Monday, June 01, 2009

NAIROBI NEWS: 1920 “ISSUES CONCERNING THE WAR MEMORIAL”

Last week we looked at the unveiling of the War Memorial honoring the glorious dead of Africa who perished in The Great War. This memorial sat in the Muthaiga grounds outside of Nairobi. What we didn’t see was the controversy that preceded the unveiling. People did NOT want to contribute to the memorial. Why? Because it honored BOTH the whites and the blacks that served.

On March 6, 1920, a letter to the editor of the Leader of British East Africa lambasted the public for its stinginess. The writer, a Mr. John Delvin, called it a “striking insight into the meaness of the community.” He listed a few names of those who had “given decently” and said that they can say (here he paraphrased Shakespeare’s Hamlet): “Let the galled jade, wince my withers are untorn.”

Mr. Delvin particularly decries the “lordly firms, forever advertising the cheapness (sic) of their wares, and the excellence of their own virtues and altruism yet have given a paltry Rs 150 (rupees) towards the memory of the 6000 whites and 150,000 black fellow subjects, who perished in the war in East Africa.” He claims that the sale of 2 or 3 kettles would pay that amount. The author goes on to point out the shame that British East Africa has the “stigma of being the only appendage of the Empire where it was necessary to enforce conscription” and now is the only portion of the Empire with no decent memorial. He points to South Africa where, by passing the hat round, some companies gave 25,000 pounds sterling for a memorial and many of the donators were Dutch who had fought against the British 20 years ago.

Delvin argues “I am no negrophilist – the converse,” but that there needs to be a recognition and appreciation of the services of those 150,000 natives who died.

Whether or not Mr. Delvin’s letter carried any weight is uncertain. On June 6, 1920, an advertisement appeared for a Fancy Dress Ball with prizes and dancing where all proceeds without any deduction would go to the War Memorial. On June 12, 1920, the War Memorial Committee thanked the thirty couples who participated in the dance and announced that, as a result, another 310 rupees was added to the coffers. Sounds much like the value of 4 or 6 kettles.

Images taken from The Leader of British East Africa

NEXT WEEK: A pattern for a 1920 Ladies Bathing Costume.

NOTE: These blogs are meant to give some insight into the life and times of my fictional character, Jade del Cameron. Jade’s mystery adventures take place in post WWI Africa. To date they are: Mark of the Lion, Stalking Ivory, and The Serpent’s Daughter, all available in trade paperback.. The fourth book The Leopard’s Prey, IS available in hardcover. For more information, visit the website: www.suzannearruda.com and follow short updates on http://twitter.com/SuzanneArruda

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