Annie Watson Bain

By the time we knew her she was Annie Bland. Never ‘granny’. Only Annie.

In fact ‘Annie Watson Bain’ to me was the lady who died (WW1?) whose name was on one of the monuments outside the Town Hall (a cousin of our Annie?).

They’d already lost the farms and the racehorses, and our gran Annie now owned the Caltex filling station in town. It was on Caskie Corner, opposite our posh Town Hall which Annie’s father Stewart Bain had been instrumental in building. It was called Bain’s Folly as it was such an imposing structure for our modest dorp.

HS Town Hall

Harrismith Town Hall Bain's Folly

Town Hall3

Annie always spoke with great admiration of her late husband Frank – the granpa we never knew – and told me proudly how she’d never seen his fingernails dirty (as she looked disapprovingly – probably more disappointedly, she never had a harsh word for me –  at mine). She called me Koosie (and the way she pronounced it, it rhymed with ‘wussie’ but don’t say that out loud).

Annie

And the car she drove was like this one, except faded beige:

Chev Fleetline 1948

I think a 1948 Chevrolet Fleetline.It had a cushion on the seat for her to see over the dash.

She was born in 1893, the fifth of seven Bain kids of the ‘Royal Bains’ – meaning the Royal Hotel Bains. There were also ‘Central Bains’.

She went to St Andrews Collegiate School in Harrismith:

StAndrews School_Boarding House

and then at St Anne’s in PMB where she played good hockey ‘if she would learn to keep her place on the field’. She’s the little one on a chair second from left:

Annie St Annes

Looks like St Anne’s in Pietermartizburg was a riot of fun and a laugh-a-minute.

HS Caltex

She ran the Caltex and rented out the Flamingo Cafe and Platberg Bottle Store premises. At that time she lived in the Central Hotel a short block away across the Deborah Retief Gardens and I do believe she drove to work every day. Maybe drove back for lunch even?

Sundays were special with Annie as your gran. She’d roll up at our house in the big beige Chev, we’d pile in and off we’d go on a drive. The back seat was like a large lounge sofa. Sometimes she’d drive to nowhere, sometimes to the park, sometimes cruising the suburbs. OK, the one suburb. I’m sure she told us the whole history of Harrismith and who lived where and who was who. All of which we ignored, so I can’t tell you nothing!

Later she got a green Opel and for some reason (she could no longer drive?) it was parked on our lawn. I sat in it and changed gears on its column shift about seventy thousand times. Probably why I (like all males) am such a good driver today. Like this but green and white:

Annie's Opel Rekord

The pic of the Town Hall with the green Chev is thanks to De Oude Huize Yard – do go and see their blog. They’re doing great things in the old dorp, keeping us from destroying everything old and replacing it with corrugated iron and plastic (excuse little rant there!).

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DeOudeHuizeYard also had this about the school Annie attended:

Interesting facts regarding the Church and its Rev A.A. van der Lingen. The Rev began his years of service in the church on the 6th May 1875 and remained there until the 12th July 1893.  The Rev A.A. van der Lingen along with the church Elders built a second church on the site of the first church. The cornerstone of this building was laid on the 25th August 1892 and coincided with another celebration at the time.  Five weeks prior to the unveiling of the stone, the town had enjoyed a four-day celebration due to the completion of the railroad from Natal to Harrismith on the 14th July 1892. The government of the day donated £5 500 to the town to host these celebrations.
It was during this same time that the Rev van der Linge also ran for President of the Orange Free State. In the hope of impressing the townsfolk and swaying their vote in his favour, the Rev built the first double-story building in Harrismith.
Needless to say his election to this position never materialized.
With the British occupation of Harrismith, the military authorities made the double-story building their headquarters.
After the cessation of hostilities, Vrede House (Peace House) as it was then known, became St Andrews Collegiate School (1903-1918), then Oakland’s School and finally a boarding house in the 1930’s.

Author: bewilderbeast

It's about life, marriage, raising kids and travel in Africa . . . re-posting thoughts written over decades - at random, I'm afraid.

6 thoughts on “Annie Watson Bain”

  1. Thanks for the mention. Much appreciated. Would like to re-blog some of your posts. Waiting for your approval.
    Enjoy reading your stories. It’s filled with lots of goodness and memories.

    1. Sure thing. I’ve used some of your stuff without (oops! sorry!) your express approval!
      Some of mine are a bit no-holds-barred but what the hell – OHS has broad shoulders!
      Love your blog and love what you’re doing in the ole home town!

  2. Reblogged this on De Oude Huize Yard and commented:
    Sharing this wonderful post of Annie Watson Bain.

    She made memories for the her family for years to come.

    She was born in 1893, the fifth of seven Bain kids of the ‘Royal Bains’ – meaning the Royal Hotel Bains. There were also ‘Central Bains’.

    She ran the Caltex and rented out the Flamingo Cafe and Platberg Bottle Store premises. At that time she lived in the Central Hotel a short block away across the Deborah Retief Gardens and I do believe she drove to work every day. Maybe drove back for lunch even?

    A big thank you!

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