Where Have You Been!?

The Kleinspan schooltime ended around twelve noon or one o’ clock I guess and we lived less than a mile east along Stuart Street and so one bleak and chilly winter day Donald Coleman and I set off for home in our grey shirts, grey shorts and grey socks – and grey jerseys.

We had lots to talk about and so we walked along on the pavement under the big old plain trees, mostly bereft of leaves, many of which were lying in the deep sandstone gutters.

Harrismith sandstone gutter

It was really cold and Donald had a box of matches in his pocket and a plan. We raked together a pile of the dry leaves with our chilly hands and started a nice fire and sat down to warm our hands and shins as the fire crackled away.

It soon burnt out and we meandered on and a block or two later made another blazing but short-lived fire to sit and chat and warm up by.

Then we reached Hector Street and Donald turned down toward his home and I turned up to mine. Mine on the corner and his a block or two closer to the mountain.

“WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN!?” greeted me. The tone of the question surprised me and ruined the quiet, gentle ambience of our leisurely journey home. At his home Donald was being asked the same unreasonable question. We’d been to school. Everyone knew that, why were they asking?

“IT’S FIVE O’ CLOCK! SCHOOL ENDED OVER FOUR HOURS AGO!” We weren’t arguing. We didn’t say it didn’t. What was their point? “WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG?” Uh, we were talking . . .

We were told off and left to ponder the mysteries of the adult world. They obviously marched to a different drum. We sauntered to ours.

They didn’t know that Donald was an archeologist, paleontologist, cosmologist, naturalist and we had LOTS to think about and consider. They just assumed we were buggering around.

And anyway, whose stress levels were highest? I arse you that.

Plane tree have itchy balls


Huge thanks to Sandra of Harrismith’s best blog DeDoudeHuizeYard for the pictures – exactly right! That is the SAME gutter we sat in. You can even see a few of the plane leaves, great-great-great descendants of the ones we burned, um, (surely it can’t be!) fifty six years ago.

7 thoughts on “Where Have You Been!?

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  3. This is so interesting! Thank you. My name is Lincoln Michell. My father, Justin Michell was the Methodist minister in Harrismith from about 1958 to 1962. We lived in the old manse – now demolished and replaced – in Warden Street.

    I remember John and Una Elphic and George (whom they called Twinkle) in Stuart Street. John had an old “Ponton” Mercedes Benz – I thik a blueish-grey colour.

    I was in a Koosie (or Pieter, or was he the father?) Swanepoel’s class at the Kleinspan (of which a Mr Erasmus was principal), where I started school. My first teacher was a Mrs Wessels. Two other names I remember from that class are Driesie Dreyer and Leon Crawley. I think the latter had cordroy trousers which I envied. Driesie had a bicycle. Koos’ mother, Mary worked in a bottlestore and was in our church and a good friend of my parents. I take it she could have been a Miss Methodist.

    I remember the Euthemiums (Euthemious?) – (striking) Parthy, Stella (whom we all adored) and, vaguely, Christos.

    “Uncle William” (vd Bosch) was our hero as children. We really loved him. What personality he had and what warmth! I remember his Rotary watch with the old flat silver chain band. My dad used to preach occasionally at Maweni Heights, where his parents, Tommy and Faith graciously received us.William’s siblings had interesting names: Teecka (spelling?), Zieta and Elco. Was Lol Splilsbury there too? (Dad also went to Witsis Hoek. Names I remember there are Stantern and Jock Liddle (whose father attended church, I think).

    I could go on. Other names of people i the church were Dorcas Lennon, Raymond Brian (who played tennis), Natalie Arbuckle (of Abafeldy), the Puttrels (Len and Cathy whose special nursery school we went to on Fridays), Coli and Anne Sparks of Swinburn, where services were also held. The Summerfields also lived there. Laurie and Helen’s sons were Alan and Ralph.

    The Rodgers owned the local cinema.

    Another important name to mention is Helen Scott (Scottie) whom my Mom (Dorianne, who died in 23/2/2014 at nearly 84) loved dearly. They were active in the WA. Scottie used to bake unique butterfly cream cup cakes to which we would be treated in her Stuart Street home on the way back from a gruelling (for a 6 year old) violin lesson from Prof Isaac Bloch, who also lived in Stuart Street. So did the Parrs, by the way, who had a daughter called Ethelwyn.)

    So our paths crossed – way back in the dimly remembered 50s and 60s.


    • Lincoln! Good to hear from you! I have just recently been telling Sheila about you (the beautiful plasticine Noddy car you made in Sub A) and your Dad (how he used to look after the old warthog at the zoo!). Your memory is excellent. Mother Mary Methodist was the organist. She took over from the Liddle you are thinking of – Uncle Wright we used to call him. Mom is still alive at 88. What a pity she and Dorianne couldn’t have met before 2014.
      I haven’t seen Driesie Dreyer since school, but I quite recently saw Leon Crawley. He is well and running cricket admin in Bloem.
      And boy, do I remember Scotty’s butterfly cupcakes!
      Keep in touch – Koos
      – and have a look here:


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