Satchmo, Theunis and Mary

Schoolfriend Mariette (van Wyk) Greyling responded to my post on Mom’s 90th birthday:

Please wish your mom happy happy from me (if she still remembers me). The daughter of TP who taught them to sing “and the dogs say goodnight” – Louis Armstrong.

My dad was crazy about ol’ Satchmo. He would have loved seeing this. I got my love for music from him. Those last three weeks that he and my mom spent with me on a remote farm in the Cederberg in December 2006 I introduced him to U2 and Pink Floyd. He was smitten. So my last Xmas gift to him was U2’s Rattle and Hum and Pink Floyd’s Division Bell.


I said:

Oh, Mary will remember you alright! We only had a few families we’d hang out with, kuier with and sing with, and for a happy while that was Theunis and Martie van Wyk. They both still often talk about the factory and the characters who worked there. Stan Moseley was one. I learnt recently that Petra Bissett worked there a while. That factory your Dad ran was a HUGE part of Harrismith in its day. Luigi Bellato worked there. He, Luigina and sons Claudio and Ennio were great family friends of ours.

Tell me more about “goodnight” – I remember Satchmo singing Hello Dolly and What a Wonderful World . . .


I phoned Mom;

Mother Mary; Mary Methodist. She never ceases to amaze!
I said : Do you remember going to Theunis and Martie van Wyk’s home and listening to Louis Armstrong?

I didn’t have to say another word.

Mary said:

I heard it just yesterday! Someone played me Satchmo singing “What a Wonderful World” just yesterday! It was so good hearing it again after all these years.
Theunis had a record player and he used to play it loud and Satchmo said
“and the dogs say goodnight” instead of “and the dark sacred night”! Mariette was in your class and then there was Anita and Boeta.
And you know Martie’s really not well; She just cries and cries.

I asked: Where did you hear about Martie? She said:

Oh, Dossie Farquhar tells me everything. She’s in the same home in Bethlehem. She is Dossie de Villiers; She has two sons in Bethlehem, Neil and someone. Dossie is from Scotland, of course. She phoned me for my birthday and she’s also turning ninety this week so I’ll phone her on her cell. No-one sends cards anymore. I got four cards: Yours from Jessie and Tom; Sheila’s that you all signed that was originally a card to Sheila from Annie (in 1974). And two others. I got lots of phone calls instead.




(the dogs say goodnight about 45secs in)




Your mom is incredible! What a pin-sharp mind! Goodness. If only my mother could speak to her it would mean the world to her. None of her old friends have been in touch. I mentioned to you that I dread the twice weekly phone calls because she just cries and cries. One-way conversation.  But she is trapped  inside a body with no motor functions – only has hearing and a fairly sharp mind. Binswanger’s Syndrome.  



Mary on piano, Pieter, Martie, Theunis, Hugo and Linda Wessels in a semi-circle around her. All well-oiled, singing What a wonderful world, but my dad said the last line should be ‘and the dogs say good night’, instead of the usual ‘and the dark sacred night.’ Then they would hose themselves, singing it again and again. More raucous hilarity. Me in my room busy with world-important affairs trying to get to grips with Goethe’s Sturm und Drang works, plus they were upsetting my poor dog Nikki. I think I was at that very self-important teenage stage. Couldn’t believe adults were so mal.

They loved those evenings. Theunis was so enamoured with your mom’s piano playing. Wanted me to to emulate her. Afraid those were my Led Zeppelin years, so please, no wishy washy jazz for me.


Ah, I had just sent you the email above and then I saw yours.

One of the enduring warm memories I have of childhood is my Mom on the piano surrounded by dronk friends. Her maximum intake was one brandy and ginger ale. ONE!

They called themselves The Goor Koor. Other members were Albertus and Margie Badenhorst, Steve and Hester Schreiber; Jack and Isobel Kemp; And many others over the years.

We’d get sent to bed and I would wait a while and – unable to resist – crawl on my tummy hard against the wall all the way down that long passage and lie just out of sight outside the lounge door; listening; fascinated.


When not surrounded by alcohol fumes and cigarette smoke – remember how they used to smoke like chimneys indoors!? ashtrays all over the place! – Mary would play classics.

Then of course every week she would dutifully practice the hymns she’d be playing on Sunday.


I too, took piano lessons! Or ‘lesson’. I went to Miss Underwood in my rugby boots. When the next lesson time came I dodged it.

She phoned home – 260 – and Barbara answered, calling me to the phone. She heard the conversation thus:

“Yes Miss Underwood; Yes, Miss Underwood; Yes, Miss Underwood”




Nor did I ever attend another lesson.


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