Tuesday, January 31, 2017


Chester Butler ran one of two movie theaters in Hagåtña before the war. His was called the Gaiety Theater.

Butler, who had married a Chamorro woman (Ignacia Pangelinan Bordallo), had two young Chamorro men run the projector. But all they could do, and wanted to do, was play the movie reels. Anything beyond that, especially if dealing with electricity, was not to their taste.

An American Navy man with the needed skills was hired by Butler to be the sound technician. He would lend a hand in other things when needed.

Gaiety in Hagåtña before the war

For example, one night there was a power overload which blew the main fuse, putting the entire auditorium, which was full of people, in complete darkness. The American man took out his flashlight, replaced the bad fuse and restored power. When the lights came on, not only was the theater empty but the two Chamorro projector boys were standing outside the theater in the middle of the street. They would have nothing to do with restoring power. They were deathly afraid of dealing with electricity.

The Navy man believed that the great fear of many Chamorros of electricity stemmed from the death of a young boy whose kite got stuck in the electrical lines in the early days of the city's power plant. Trying to retrieve his kite, the boy climbed the pole and touched the lines and got knocked down to the ground and died. Word quickly spread that electricity kills, and many Chamorros thereafter kept their distance from handling electrical issues.

The smoke stack of the Hagåtña power plant before the war

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