Stowel Family

Suriname

Bauxite is what moved my family. It began, when my father, a freshly minted engineer from New York, went to Bauxite, Arkansas to work for ALCOA Aluminum. It was here, Robert Lewis Stowell met my mother, Julia, whose father was the plant manager. After the War, they married then drove cross country in a jeep to Portland, Oregon for my father’s first assignment with ALCOA. That’s where my sister Linda was born.

Soon they took an assignment in Suriname, traveling by freighter to the northern tip of South America. It must have been a romantic boat ride because along the way, my mother got pregnant again. They settled deep in the jungle where a community of mostly Dutch ex-pats and locals had carved out a life for themselves mining bauxite. When it was time to deliver the baby, my parents took a river boat back to Paramaribo, the capital and site of the country’s only hospital. A Chinese physician delivered my sister Joy without much fanfare, leaving the nurse to clean up when Surprise! I started to come out! Much to my parents chagrin, The doctor said “I’m busy now”. Fortunately the nurse brought me safely into the world. Now with 3 babies less than 13 months old, my mother was extremely busy. Fortunately, Yosha and other Japanese helpers cared for us and our rambling house. I have fond but vague memories of the jungle life —the indigenous Juka people, daily swims, and exotic animals.

When we reached school age my parents moved back to the US settling in Pittsburgh, the corporate headquarters for ALCOA, but I would always carry with me jungle memories and my love of all things exotic.

This story was told by Carol Stowel

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