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1_Harrismith 2_Free State / Vrystaat 8_Nostalgia Family

An Inordinate Fondness for Beetles

Asked what could be inferred about the Creator from a study of His works, British scientist and naturalist JBS Haldane replied:

“The Creator, if he existed, had an inordinate fondness for beetles”

Now it’s true he meant the one on the left, not the one on the right, but still . .

My gran Annie’s Caltex garage in Harrismith had a filling station, a restaurant on the forecourt, a workshop behind – and the VW agency. My gran Annie sold VW Beetles!

– Platberg bottle store, Annie’s garage, Flamingo Cafe & OHS 155 – the little light-blue beetle – ca.1959 model –
– interior of a ca.1959 VW Beetle –

toy models

One of the perks of Annie having a VW dealership was Volkswagen’s toy models of their cars & kombis. They were fascinating! They had moving doors, flaps, engine covers, side loading locker in kombi pickups; some had a clear sunroof that clipped off. Something like these:

At one time – I don’t think I’m imagining this – the VW Beetle cost less than R1 per cc: The 1200cc engine model cost R1199. Let’s check: A VW Bug in the USA was around $1563; A US dollar cost us 72 SA cents – Yep, about right.

A long concrete ramp lead up into the workshop behind the Flamingo Cafe. At Truscott was the mechanic – I remember him as small, bald and kind. I remember the big jacks that lifted the cars; the lights they shone into the engine bay – an incandescent bulb in a cage to protect it, with a 220V cable dangling behind it; There was a high ‘shelf’ overhead – above the wall of the ‘office’ inside the big shed-like workshop on which lots of tyres were stacked; The wooden workbenches were full of interesting vices and spare parts and grease.

One of Annie’s forecourt attendants was Joseph Culling. He was a son of Sgt Culling, who was demobbed in 1913, when the British finally left Harrismith after the Anglo-Boer War. He had been stationed on Kings Hill and unlike most of his fellows, he stayed behind and married a local Harrismith lady. In the apartheid classification of the day that immediately – and magically!? – made his children ‘coloureds.’ I remember him with the leather coin dispenser satchel on his hip, the strap holding it slung around his neck and shoulder, wearing a Caltex cap.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Back in the sixties, many of us, of course, also had an inordinate fondness for the beatles . .

Lovely Venn Diagram from Michelle Rial

~~~oo0oo~~~

By bewilderbeast

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

1 reply on “An Inordinate Fondness for Beetles”

Yes! I paid R450 for my second-hand beetle in 1968 and 20 years later I sold it for R450. A tad worse for wear and tear, but still chugging along cheerfully!

Liked by 1 person

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