The People of Gibraltar

1928 - Hall Lippincott - Golf at the Cowpasture C.C

Rev. John Brown Smith and Mr. Sprague
Sir Sidney Nettleton ( Chief Justice ) and Lady Nettleton
Capt. Anderson (Attorney General ) and Dorothy Garrod
Mr and Mrs Yarde and Mrs Bailey
Miss Culvert ( a doctor ) and Miss Collier,

Hall Lippincott was born in St. Louis Missouri in the early 20th century. In 1928 he set off for Europe returning back home on Christmas day the next year after having cycled, sailed and generally walked his way around the world in 534 days. 

Luckily he kept a meticulously written diary of his experiences which included his reminiscences on his relatively lengthy stay in Gibraltar where - according to his daughter  -'he  was swept up into the frenetic social network for a month, a handsome and willing extra at dinners, picnics, dances.'

Hall in 1935 

From his writing one can deduce that Hall was a generous and likeable young man with a rather appealing American sense of humour. From the point of view of this article, however, it is worth pointing out that the resident population of Gibraltar at the time stood at 18 000 most of which seem to have more or less escaped his attention. As a golfing fan perhaps he himself would have appreciated that in so far as visitors to Gibraltar from the US - and elsewhere for that matter - were concerned, it was par for the course.

The following are a series of are heavily cut back quotes from his lengthy but heart-warming diary taken from a transcript lovingly compiled by some unnamed member of his family. 

Monday Dec 24, 1928 . . .  This region is but thinly settled. In Algeciras there was a wait of an hour for the boat. It is right across the bay from Gibraltar and you can get an excellent view of the big rock. To your right as you cross the bay looms a mountainous coast, Spanish Morocco. Landing, the herd of hotel agents descended. I had to take pension rates to get a hotel—$2.25 a day. It’s a good hotel, though, and as cheap as I can get here, so Cook’s says. We’ll call it an Xmas treat. They don’t miss feeding you. About 6 courses of everything under the sun. But they’ll sure lose money feeding me.

 Gibraltar isn’t a bad city and is certainly a lively one. The sailors and soldiers seem to be having the biggest time. Dancing with each other in the cafés, half tipsy, all singing and yelling. I can hear them singing and raising the roof of some joint right now.

Friday, December 28, 1928. Still here. Xmas morning I climbed into the parade dress and went to the Scottish Presbyterian Church where I sang all the hymns. After the service the Rev. Brown Smith and his wife invited me to coffee the following evening. Returning to the hotel, I opened my presents and mail. . . . 

'Brown Smith' was probably the Rev. John Brown Smith of the St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church which is shown above ( Unknown )

 For lunch the same 7-course endurance test and for dinner soup, eggs, fish, steak, French fries, peas, turkey, boiled spuds, coffee, and cake and cakes. In the afternoon I walked around a bit. The soldiers were having a good time and many were all dressed up in crazy costumes. I took a picture of a couple, talked a while, and went on, soon to meet a soldier and sailor who saw my Kodak and wanted their picture taken.

 Both had indulged too heavily in Xmas cheer and were so comical that I crashed through with a picture. The soldier was very talkative and was going to do lots for me. Wanted to show me through the hospital. Said I would be unexpected but welcome. I couldn’t let him be so kind to me, though.

In the evening and all through the night it was more like Halloween. Gangs parading up and down the street yelling and singing. Lots of street fights, etc. They have an affair here they use to make noise and accompany their singing that isn’t at all musical, but it is not unpleasant to hear. Sounds something like a primitive war drum. It is a clay urn, but instead of the regular bottom, one of a parchment membrane through which a slender bamboo stick is worked up and down like a piston. The day was nice and a little cloudy.

Zambomba - Traditionally used in Gibraltar for many years to accompany Christmas carol singing.

Wednesday most everything was closed so I spent most of the day on the other side of this big razor-back and on the beach. In the eve I went out for coffee. Had a very nice visit.
Thursday morning I went up to the Lower Galleries with a guide from the hotel. Guides are required. The lower galleries don’t take you far up, but that is all that is permitted. The walk is practically all through a big tunnel cut through the solid rock in 1789 and thereabouts. The tunnel leads up at a fairly steep angle. At intervals are holes through to the outside for the guns. 

Only a few old ancient guns are in this part now to appease the many tourists. But 400 soldiers are at Gibraltar now and somewhere in the rock is a supply of food sufficient to withstand a siege of ten years. . .  On my way back, I stopped to see the American Consul, Mr. Sprague. ( see LINK )  He is very nice and called up a passenger line to see if I could get a job, but n.g. . . . . At three I took a boat for Tangiers and arrived after dark at six-fifteen. Got in a good hotel . . 

. . . At 11 AM the boat weighed anchor under a cloudy sky. The wind from the Atlantic was pretty cold. From the bay the city is very picturesque. It is built on a sloping hill and you can see the white houses all over the town rising one above the other. Three hours later I again was in Gibraltar. . . 

The next thing was to cut my 9s per on hotel and meals. After talking to the manager, we cut it to 6s per, but with only lunch which is the biggest meal. I have a hunch the hotel will also furnish about enough for another meal a day but doesn’t know it. Now, with expenses at $1.50 a day, I can live here and save a little while I wait for a job or boat passage to Alexandria.

Saturday, December 29, 1928. Today has been cloudy with occasional drizzles and a steady drizzle late this afternoon and evening. With the change in rate, my room changed. Moved up to the 2nd floor or 2nd piso. The new room is many times better and more cheerful than the other. Now I’ll get some sun. . . .

After my lunch—the meal—I walked through No-Man’s-Land to the Spanish town of La Mineos (?). It is not much. Went to a dentist here later and had my hunch confirmed. Had the cavity filled and went to the post office, but n.g. 

'La Mineos' is La Linea, the Spanish frontier town with Gibraltar

The history of Gibraltar is a long succession of wars, sieges, naval battles, plagues, etc. beginning years ago when the ancients called it one of the Pillars of Hercules, the other being Apes Hill directly across the channel in Spanish Morocco. 

Two skulls have been recently found, one (of a woman) about 200,000 years old and the other of a young boy, 10 or 12 years old, and about 20,000 years old. Some 350 species of birds are found in neighboring Spain and Africa, and a large part of these are seen at Gibraltar.

Fragments of a Neanderthal child were discovered by the archaeologist Dorothy Garrod - shown above - at Devil's Tower. It was known as Gibraltar 2, to distinguish it from the original  Neanderthal skull  Gibraltar 1, the first find in history of a Neanderthal skull, although it was not recognized as such until the early twentieth century.

Lots of small, harmless snakes, lizards, toads; foxes, hares, and monkeys probably introduced from Northern Africa and around Apes Hill. The interesting thing about these latter is that their skins or skeletons are never found and are undoubtedly carried away and hid in inaccessible crevices by their companions.

The Rock shows clearly the different geological periods of its formation and of the vertical and angular upheavals. It is of a dark gray, late Jurassic limestone for the most part, with layers of red sandstone and debris deposited. At one time the Rock was higher than it now is, 1,400 feet. . . . 

Sunday, December 30, 1928 . . . I rode to the great football game with the hotel clerk and advance agent in a horse and buggy. A championship game between the Europas and Prince of Wales. It was a pretty good game and a 1–1 tie, the Europas winning the tie due to a 1 point lead before the game. Only 3 men carried off the field. Football here means what we call soccer or speedball. Tomorrow the last of 1928! Suppose I had better be gathering some leaves to turn and digging up the annual resolutions to fail in. What an easy life I lead here. Wish I could find a job. Maybe I can.

Monday, December 31, 1928. The last day of 1928 is or was not at all a cheerful one. Rainy, cold, and windy. I went out for a few minutes walk in the rain and a couple of times for mail, but n.g. There has been nothing else to do but read. 

Have been nibbling on bread, stuffed dates, fudge, and oranges for the last five hours. It has been a quiet day. A gang of coal-heavers with their noise-makers paraded all around in the rain this noon singing this Spanish song I’m going to learn. There is a gang parading about in Main St. now singing it—in the rain. Three minutes more of 1928.

A very rare mention in the literature of the coal-heavers of Gibraltar made up mostly of local non-British residents and Spaniards. They were considered the lowest of the low, badly paid, over-worked and often forced to go on strike in what were usually futile attempts to improve their conditions. 

Tuesday, January 1, 1929. The new year’s two minutes old. The old one passed out amid a few feeble peals from the church bell. The gang parading up and down Main St. is singing the Spanish song and making lots of noise—all in the cold windy rain. Here go lots of whistles and sirens. . . 

 Friday, January 4, 1929. Had lots of fun. They all tried singing. My cold made my singing flat in more ways than one. Then we had a ping pong tournament. . . . Another round at tea, etc. and then I took two of the women home. (Both married.) They were really jolly good fun. Guess I’ll have to buy a date book. Mrs. Yarde asked me for dinner tonight and Mrs. Bailey for luncheon Sunday. 

The mile-and-a-half walk home was great. All dark with the sky full of stars and the lights of the city and boats far below. (I was on the upper road) and far across the bay the lights of Algeciras. The park here is very pretty and has an amazing variety of flowers and plants, many of which are in bloom now. Oxalis, roses, geraniums, lilies, morning glories, palms, lemon trees, several varieties of the century plant, iris, several kinds of vines all in bloom, violet, yellow, red, white, and blue in colors, and many more kinds of flowers and bushes.

 . . . The wind died in its tracks today, for the most part, and the result was a splendid day. I spent the morning along the east coast of the Rock and in the afternoon played washerwoman for a while. Mail n.g. for 8 days. 

Had a very delightful time this evening at dinner with Mr. and Mrs. Yarde and another gentleman whose name I did not get. Mrs. Yarde is a very pleasant hostess. Mr. Yarde and the other man were very humorous. The former is quite a photographer and is going to send some pictures and an article to get Geographic magazine to try to get it in—about Southern Spain, the cork industry. He showed me the pictures and they are really good. The other gentleman is going to take me to the top of the Rock tomorrow, stopping for lunch at Mrs. Yarde’s on the way. The people here are surely kind and hospitable. 

Saturday, January 5, 1929. After lunch Mr. Merrick and I, and Mr. Yarde, a British subject, drove up the steep road well up the Rock. Leaving the car, we walked up a path to the Mediterranean side. Although the day was not absolutely clear by any means, the view was magnificent. By a winding path and some steps we reached the south end of the Rock. Although it was windy below, there was no wind at the summit. And such a view—with Gibraltar far beneath, and Algeciras across the craft-dotted bay. 

Way off in the distance was Morocco and directly across the channel, Spanish Morocco. Far in the distance I could barely make out the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. Had the day been a clear one, I might have seen snow on them. Along the Spanish east coast you could see to a point near or beyond Malaga, some 60 miles. There were many boats coming and going, but they were as toys. To the north ran the narrow back of the Rock, dipping down a ways and then rising to the peak which is always shown in pictures of Gibraltar. 

There were a number of large camouflaged guns in advantageous positions, three being along the top ridge. Everywhere was a great profusion of flowers, bushes, and [h]erbs, especially the white Rock Lilies which were in bloom. It is a shame that cameras are not allowed up there for the scenery is perfect. 

The people here don’t think much of Halliburton and he has made it very hard for Americans to gain entrance to these upper parts. In fact, they are not allowed here except by pass, and they can’t get the pass, so it’s too bad.

Richard Halliburton was an American adventurer, traveller and author who visited Gibraltar and commented on it in one of his books. The above picture of Signal Hill is taken from one of his books. 

Descending on the other side, we reached the car and returned to Mr. Merrick’s for tea. There I met Miss Culvert, a doctor I believe, and Miss Collier, both of whom have just returned from Marseilles and Nice. They and Mrs. Yarde have invited me on a picnic Monday into Spain. 

Sunday, January 6, 1929. What a church man I turned out to be. Hauled out in time to go to the Presbyterian Church this morning. There I met Dr. Bailey who took me home to dinner. A Miss Elliot was also there. We all felt like cracking wise and it was a jolly good time. 

. . . The dinner was a great success, after which we repaired to the  garage, mounted Maxwell, and away we went, top down and everybody happy. Rode through La Linea in Spain, San Roc, and through  the great Cork Woods to a picnic grounds by a small river. Here we had tea or a picnic, returning about five. 

Tuesday, January 8, 1929. Yesterday was a swell day, not a cloud in the sky. At ten the great band of picnickers, Mrs. Yarde, Miss Culvert, and Miss Wright (who is leaving Sunday for Alexandria) and lastly the chief cook and bottle washer that failed to function, set sail for Algeciras, and arriving there proceeded up the railroad track for a short distance, then took to the fields. 

After a swim through the mud (it had rained the night before) for nearly an hour we arrived at Elcobre in a fair state of preservation but with a nice collection of real estate on our shoes. Elcobre is a club belonging to the Eastern Telegraph Co. for which both Mr. Yarde and Mr. Bailey work. It is rented from some marquis or duke. 

My father Pepe Chipulina. He worked for the Cable and Wireless at the time. Could he and Hall have met? I doubt it.

Situated at the entrance to a narrow, winding valley and by a dashing stream, it commands a fine view of the rolling fields and the high scrub and tree-covered hills to the north and east. The house or villa is large, roomy, open and comfortable. It is surrounded by a wow of a garden of flowers, vegetables, and fruits including orange and banana trees and date palms. There is also a shelter house and small swimming tank. 

After the great fatigue of the swim, it was necessary to immediately have tea. This over, the women tackled the lunch in the kitchen . . . After lunch it was necessary to have tea again. The we walked up the stream a ways to an old mill where the woman explained how it worked, croaking in Spanish. It was an old primitive one run by water power from the stream. 

. . . After finding a lucky penny on the path, we returned to Elcobre for the third round of tea. Met some younger folks there, three boys from Gibraltar and a couple girls from Tangiers. At five we hit the trail home, though by a road which was less muddy. The boat arrived at Gibraltar late and I didn’t get to the hotel to dress for dinner till ten of eight.

While at lunch the party from Elcobre came in and a couple of the boys invited me to drop around to the office about “gin time.” I asked what time that might be and it seems to be about six. But to get back—after the haircut I called on Mr. Sprague. He is certainly doing his best for me. Spoke of an American girl painter from Toledo by the name of Williams who has cycled down from Paris to Algeciras and all along. Lots of nerve for a girl to do that in these countries, Spain especially.

. . . Tomorrow eve it is dinner with Mrs. Yarde and then to a lecture by Rev. Brown on “Ants.” Sunday it will probably be an all-day picnic with the Baileys. There were a bunch of sailors in the café below tonight turning on. I think they must have been American from the way they sang. A Britisher never pronounced words like that. 

Wednesday, January 9, 1929. Played the radio tonight, getting Sweden, Germany, and France, and read the paper and magazines. I am fed [up] on my being fed so well for I’m sure I have gained several pounds since arriving here. Well, they will start to melt tomorrow and especially aboard the boat or I miss my guess. Cloudy and cool.

Thursday, January 10, 1929. Went to another place in the Cork Woods, had tea and a real good time. At noon Mrs. Yarde called up and said that Sir and Lady Nettleton had invited me to a party tomorrow afternoon. I am going with Mr. Merrick—dressed as a pirate—as near as knickers, loud socks, my skean dhu and les moustaches can make me look like one, and whatever Mrs. Yarde has to add. 

I know I’ll be a hot number. Sir Nettleton is the judge in Gibraltar. Have written four letters today with plenty more to go. No mail. It’s pretty cloudy and also cool and windy. Never saw so many black cats in my life as here.

Friday, January 11, 1929 . . . But to continue, I arose, donned my monkey suit and took a brisk walk to the other side of the Rock where I perched myself high on a rock overhanging the rocky surf-pounded shore, much to the argument of some workmen repairing a wall a short distance away. From here I watched the Augustus sister ship of Roma sail out, bound for Naples I believe. 

Returning to the Victoria, I wrote a letter to Vance before lunch. The 10th letter in the last few days. Then I washed my hair for the third time in four days and climbed into my knickers, loud socks, and white sweater. 

Note Hotel Victoria Sticker

Quite a pirate get-up, but my moustache and skean dhu carried the day. Mr. Merrick was waiting for me and we soon entered the pirate stronghold. Of course they insisted on our disguising some, so they tied bandannas about our heads, curtain rings on our ears, and a big red sash about our waists. We must have looked warm. Mr. Merrick claimed he was an organ grinder and I his monkey. One man did bring a monkey who took his milk and gin like a man.

The party was really lots of fun. About everybody was there, from grown-ups to kids, and all dressed in a many-colored array of outfits and a blood-thirsty-looking outfit it was. Sir Sidney and the Attorney General, Capt. Anderson, were the best-dressed and acted the part. There was a treasure hunt, a canvas chute all closed in to slide down, a pirates’ den, and a burning at the stake, etc. 

Sir Sidney and Lady Nettleton are very nice and jolly. They invited me up Sunday, but I can’t do that. I’m going into Spain with the Baileys. About all the first people of the Rock, from the Admiral, Colonial Secretary, etc. on down were there and Mr. Merrick made sure I met about all of them. 

But he always had to go and tell them about how I had bought a bike in Liverpool and had ridden 5,000 miles through Europe, etc. etc. It seemed to be hard to understand how and why I would spend so much energy. 

Tomorrow Mr. Merrick and I are going to play some golf if it is OK including the weather. It was very cloudy today and drizzled a little on my way home. No mail today. These instruments that make a noise like a cello rummaging around in the basement are called zombombas and are used at Xmas time and at weddings where a widow marries a bachelor or a widower marries a maid.

I’ll hate to leave Gibraltar next week for I am having a real good time here. It’s after midnight now and nearly bedtime. Unless my ears deceive me, the person in the next room has a darned bad cough.

Saturday, January 12, 1929. The weather took a turn for the better today. The sun came out and it got warmer. The big Conte Grande arrived shortly after noon from New York. Old Gib shook itself and woke up. The main drag became lively with something besides loafers. 

The SS Conde Grande

American tourists were thick, some walking, some riding in carriages and taxis. After lunch Mr. Merrick called for me and we rode over to Spain for a game of golf on the Cowpasture C.C. I can’t decide whether the clubs or the course were worse. I don’t think I broke the course record, unless it was the dub’s record. I started out with a ten and two sevens. Then I began to keep my silly head down and wound up with two fours, two fives, a seven, and a five for fifty-four. The so-called caddy got his peseta and we drove back to the library where we played the tenth hole in the lounge over tea cups. I have a guest’s card there.

Difficult to tell which golf course belonged to the Cowpasture C.C. The first possibility is that of the Algeciras Hotel Reina Christina. The other perhaps more likely one is that of the the Gibraltar Golf Club once found somewhere in the Campamento area.

Wages here as in Spain are terribly low unless you hold a government position. The waiters at the hotel work 15 hours a day for 22¢. The rest must come from tips which, as a rule during winter, could not be over 50¢ or 75¢. Servants and cooks are so cheap that most everybody can afford to have one or two.

Sunday, January 13, 1929. The Baileys with Mrs. Yarde called for me at 10:45 in the chariot and we rode the bumps for some 8 or 10 miles to a nice beach along the shore some 13 kilometres this side of Estepona. A number of other people appeared from time to time and after lunch we played at cricket till time for tea. It was a dandy, warm, sunny day. Got back to Gib about 6. Beside the France with 4 stacks, another large boat from London was in the harbor today. They don’t stay long here.

Monday, January 14, 1929. I am still holding the Rock down. The morning I spent on the trail of cargo boats. My best bet won’t arrive till Friday. There is one tomorrow for Malta and Greece. I would go on to Greece if it were not for a $10 visa fee. I have a hunch the P&O Lines rates for deck will be much higher than the Ellerman’s.  However, I shall go talk to the Captain tomorrow morning. Don’t even know whether I want to leave here tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 15, 1929. Had tea at Mrs. Yarde’s and then let myself into a job of hanging curtains after which I took Kathy for a walk. Later, after a hurried trip to the hotel to get cleaned up, I had supper with Mr. and Mrs. Yarde. Mail n.g. encore.

Wednesday, January 16, 1929. The Baileys called to take me riding a bit this morning but I wasn’t in and so missed out. 

Thursday, January 17, 1929. The Resolute from New York on a world cruise stopped here today. The town came to life and the Americans swarmed the streets, very conspicuous, chasing in all directions buying all sorts of things mostly from oriental bazaars. I stood in front of the post office a long time and could not keep from smiling. I bought one lady 3¢ worth of stamps as she had no English bobbies. Also, was an information bureau. Didn’t see a person I knew. After lunch I went up to the levanter hanging over the city. 

The SS Resolute near Gibraltar

Sunday, January 20, 1929 . . .  We are due for lots of rain for the Mediterranean and Atlantic fleets are due here in a few days. Over 100 ships. Two large aeroplane carriers were in today, one the Furious. The Adriatic from New York was in too with American tourists. It was a very pretty sight as it sailed out just at dark.