The following very interesting newspaper story was published in the UK in 1923. I would love to know more about the Chinese shop opened on the island about that time!
Western Daily Press, Bristol, Wednesday August 22, 1923
NO SMOKING OR SHOPPING
VISITORS FROM PITCAIRN TELL STORY OF LIFE ON ISLAND
Two of the natives of lonely Pitcairn, in the middle of the Pacific, have just arrived in London on board the s.s. Remuera on what is proving the greatest adventure of their lives. They are Elliott Christian and Skelly Warren, who have taken advantage of an invitation given by Captain Cameron of the Remuera, to go on a voyage into the outside world.
Christian, who is a big man standing over 6ft., is a great-great-grandson of Fletcher Christian, who founded the community.
“You must not think that Pitcairn Island is an undesirable place,” an interviewer was told by the two travellers yesterday. “It is not true that because there is no drink and no tobacco smoking that the island is a dreary place in which to live.
“Just listen to this: Breakfast consists of porridge, which in Pitcairn slang is a ‘mush,’ yams and pancakes made of yams and grated bananas.
“The second and most important meal of the day can only be described as a glorious repast. A typical menu is chicken, boiled or roasted, vegetables, and three varieties of native beans, salad fruit and baked sweet potatoes, fish and bread. There is nothing dull in that, is there?
“The population of Pitcairn at the last census taken by the ‘king’ of the island, who is nominated annually by popular vote and holds office for one year as resident magistrate, showed a total of 172 people, all of whom are admitted members of the Seventh Day Adventists, a creed which they adopted in 1888.
“Housing arrangements are very complete. There are 25 houses, all built of wood, but very commodious. Each house consists of a living room and a number of bedrooms. The dining room and kitchen are separate, and stand a little way apart from the main dwelling.
“There is also a school and a church. Education is on broad lines. English is taught, and all the islanders read and write well, and, indeed, take such a keen interest in the doings of the world as recorded in the newspapers they obtain from passing ships that not long ago they started a clothing fund on behalf of ‘starving Russia,’ but difficulties of transportation caused that project to be reluctantly abandoned.
TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT
“Trading with passing ships is an occasion of surpassing interest, but the verb ‘to profiteer’ is not in the vocabulary of the islander. About 200 oranges, 80 bananas, 20 lemons, and 10 limes can be obtained for 18s, but at the same time the Pitcairn Islander will not bargain. He sets his price, and you may take it or leave it.
“An enterprising Chinese who opened a shop on the island was given such a hostile reception that he very soon cleared out, and the Pitcairn people are not likely to permit of a repetition of the experiment.
“Our wives are spending all their money on finery and other trash,” they declared.
“Since the opening of the Panama Canal the island has been brought into closer touch with the world, and so up-to-date is it that a wireless receiving set has been installed. Unfortunately, however, at present no one knows how to work it and it will be necessary to impart some technical knowledge before broadcasting concerts will help to enliven the glorious evenings of the Pacific Sea.
“Everything in the way of food is grown on the island, the only things that it is necessary to import are cloth, soap, and kerosene, and in exchange for these things dried bananas, arrowroot, and a species of fungi beloved by the Chinese is exported.
“The only ‘foreigner’ on the island is an American, who, after being shipwrecked, settled down and lived such a happy life among the people that he is now determined to stay there until he dies.”