Categories
1_Harrismith 2_Free State / Vrystaat school

le frog

So we were drinking beer on Tabbo’s farm when a younger chap arrived and was introduced to us as the young Frenchman whose parents wanted him to experience agriculture before he started to study it at university. Tabbo had gladly agreed to host a frog for a weekend so he could learn agriculture on a farm in Africa before going back to learn it in France in French at a university. Ours not to reason why . .

– the agriculture oke with the greenest fingers I know

I’m Tabbo; I’m Koos we said. Hervé, he said. Ah, hello Hervé! Non non! Hervé.

Ah! Hervé, we said, copying his pronunciation carefully. Non! Hervé. OK, Hervé. Non! Non! Hervé! Hervé!

Um, yes, hello Hervé, welcome to the Vrystaat. Hervé! he muttered.

And that set the tone for the visit of eighteen year old Hervé, le frog, to the Vrystaat vlaktes.

We piled into Tabs’ pickup and drove around the farm, Tabbo pointing out a cow, a sheep and a mielie growing. He showed little interest. The only animation was whenever we mentioned his name. He would immediately say Non. Hervé! So we stopped using his name.

Back to the lovely sandstone homestead at Gailian and lunch, where he refused a beer, muttering something that sounded like muffy arse. We were to hear muffy arse A LOT.

Lunch arrived, a delicious roast something produced by Julia and __ in the large and splendid Gailian kitchen, origin of many a magnificent meal. Non. Muffy arse, came the response after he’d peered at the meat on his plate intently, nose 20mm from it. He ate the potatoes.

I’ve never met such such an impossible eighteen year old! Obnoxious, opinionated, impossible to please.

In the afternoon Tabbo drove him around some more. We – yes, even I was lecturing agriculture! – helpfully pointed out the grass, and the clouds, which would hopefully bring rain and grow that same grass; which animals would eat and convert into delicious roasts so he could mutter muffy arse. We generally gave him a thorough education in agriculture which we were sure would put him ahead of his fellow amphibious classmates when he went back across the pond to study utilisées pour l’agriculture at l’école agricole. And I’m sure le frog would have had a lot to correct there.

That evening we were back into the beer and offered him one. Non. Muffy arse, the response we’d grown used to. We went through all the grog in the Fyvie’s very well stocked pub and at last we got a oui – I forget if it was Ricard or Benedictine or Cointreau, but it was definitely Made In France and I think that was all le frog was interested in. By the look on his face as he took his first sip, he hadn’t actually tasted it before, but we were beyond caring any more. He was impossible to please and we were now just keeping him quiet, happy that a sixpack of beer divided as easily into two as three.

– Gailian’s well-stocked pub on a less surreal evening – just drunkards –

After a while the silly little frog whipped out a tiny little French-English dictionary out of his pocket and pointed to the word méfiance and muttered urgently muffy arse. So THAT was muffy arse! méfiance!

The translation: MISTRUST!

We hosed ourselves, which miffed le frog. He got all miffy arsed.

We were not sad to see him go. Still being polite, we asked him if he thought he’d learnt enough to help him when he went back to study his agriculture? Non, Non. he said indignantly. He was going to l’université to study mathematique!

~~~oo0oo~~~

Categories
1_Harrismith 2_Free State / Vrystaat 6_Canoe & Kayak Rivers 7_Confessions 8_Nostalgia sport

Up the Creek

I was born up Shit Creek without a paddle. Quite literally. OK, my actual birth, per se, was in Duggie Dugmore’s maternity home, less than half a kilometer away on Kings Hill, but mere days after I was born – as soon as I could be wrapped in swaddling clothes – I was taken home to my manger on a plot on the banks of Shit Creek. And it was twelve years or so before I owned my first paddle. So this is a true story.

– ruins of our house on the plot – trees in in the middle ground are on the banks of shit creek – – me thinking ‘where’s me paddle? –

I paddled my own canoe about twelve years later after we lost the plot. OK, sold the plot, moved into town and bought a red and blue canoe with paddle. The first place we paddled it was in a little inlet off the Wilge river above the Sunnymede weir, some distance upstream of town. Right here:

– younger sis Sheila operates the paddle I was born without –
Sunnymede on the Wilge River upstream from Harrismith FS ca1965
– same little inlet off the Wilge – Mother Mary and Sheila on land, me airborne, Barbara on water –

Before this, I had paddled a home-made canoe made of a folded corrugated zinc roofing sheet, the ends nailed onto a four-by-four and sealed with pitch. Made by good school friend Gerie Hansen and his younger boet Nikolai – or maybe his older boet Hein; or by their carpenter father Jes? We paddled it, wobbling unsteadily, on their tiny little pond in the deep shade of wattle trees above their house up against the northern cliff of Kings Hill.

Then Charlie Ryder came to town, and one thing led to another . . .

~~~oo0oo~~~

Good school friend Piet Steyl wrote of the wonderful days he also spent in the company of Gerie Hansen – who died tragically early. He told of fun days spent paddling that zinc canoe, gooi’ing kleilat, shooting the windbuks and smoking tea leaves next to that same little pond. We both remembered Gerie winning a caption contest in Scope magazine and getting reprimanded for suggesting Japanese quality wasn’t good. Irony was, the Hansens actually owned one of the first Japanese bakkies seen in town – a little HINO.

Gerie used to say ‘He No Go So Good’, and Piet says when it finally gave up the ghost he said ‘He No Go No More’!!

~~~oo0oo~~~

Shit Creek – actually the Kak Spruit; a tributary of the Wilge River which originates on Platberg mountain, flows down, past our old plot and westward through the golf course on the northern edge of town, then turns south and flows into the Wilge below the old park weir; Sensitive Harrismith people refer to it as ‘die spruit met die naam;’

die spruit met die naam – ‘the creek with the name’ – too coy! It’s Die Kakspruit; always will be. Shit Creek.

gooi’ing kleilat – lethal weapon; a lump of clay on the end of a whippy stick or lath; spoken about way more than practiced, in my experience; Here’s a kid loading one:

windbuks – airgun, pellet gun.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Categories
1_Harrismith 2_Free State / Vrystaat 8_Nostalgia Family

Drunken Revelry

OK, not really; more a reverie on drink – a nostalgic lookback on a bottle store. Platberg Bottle Store / Drankwinkel in Harrismith, the Vrystaat. The Swanepoel family business. We all worked here at times.

We were talking about the trinkets, decor and marketing stuff. Like those big blow-up bottles hanging from the ceiling. Turns out big sister Barbara kept some of them from way back when:

Younger sister Sheila has some whisky jugs; and I had found an old familiar brandy-making figure online:

..

This is where they were displayed, along with the statues of Johnny Walker whisky, Dewars White Label whisky’s Scottish soldier ‘drum major’, Black & White whisky with their two Scotty dogs, Beefeater Gin’s ‘beefeater’, etc. Spot them below:

~~~oo0oo~~~

Categories
8_Nostalgia

Lunch for Two

Have lunch with anyone of your choice.

A famous thought experiment. Who would you choose? Besides the world-famous people – of whom I’d definitely choose Charles Darwin, maybe Rachel Carson, maybe Noam Chomsky, maybe some of the early Southern African explorers like Francois Levaillant or Adulphe Delegorgue, certainly Aloysius Smith and maybe his wonderful biographer Tim Couzens – I’ve not given this any time yet – I’d really like to have lunch with these three luminaries from my little home town Harrismith, Free State, South Africa:

Stewart Bain; my wonderful gran Annie’s Dad, Scottish immigrant, fisherman, railroad bridge-builder, hotelier, who became mayor of Harrismith and the prime mover behind the building of a town hall fit for a city in a Free State dorp; ‘Oupa’ Bain he was called by family, and The Grand Old Man of Harrismith by some towards the end of his life, maybe only at his (lavish) funeral?

Dr Anna Petronella ‘Nell’ van Heerden; pioneer general medical practitioner in Harrismith, Pioneer gynaecologist in Cape Town; then pioneer cattle farmer in Harrismith; lesbian cattle farmer in Harrismith, Vrystaat in the fifties and sixties – courage and self-confidence.

Dr Francis William ‘Frank’ Reitz; son of a state president; brother of the famous Deneys Reitz of Anglo-Boer War and WW1 fame; specialist surgeon who practiced as a general medical practitioner in Harrismith Vrystaat.

Be amazing if they all told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Be fascinating to know how much corruption there may have been in the building of the town hall – were there any rigged tenders? Who benefited? How long did the building take? How involved was he, onsite? What was the ribbon-cutting day like? Who opposed this lavish project? Did he acknowledge them and their concerns?

Be fascinating to know exactly what all Nell’s relationships were and how she treated her live-in companion Freddie Heseltine; about farming amongst toxic, confident, powerful masculinity; attending cattle auctions; her relationship with her staff; what protected her? Was it her National Party connections that made her immune from slander and attack? Was she immune?

Be fascinating to hear about 1920’s to 1960’s surgery and chloroform anaesthesia; about pioneering surgical techniques; about the successes and some failures on the operating table; and about sport in the early days – rugby, polo. Personally, I would wonder if Dr Reitz remembered – among his many patients – putting a wooden – bamboo? – hoop over my face, covered with a cloth, sprinkling chloroform on it and saying, “OK, Kosie, now count backwards from ten.” I loved mathematical challenges like that! I could do it! But I don’t think I got to six.

Of Charles Darwin I would ask way more about his wonderful voyage, and also lots about his amazing, stunning insight into how the fact of evolution happens; but all his other lunch guests would ask him that, so I’d be interested in his five years circumnavigating the globe aboard the Beagle; imagine living on board a small wooden ship for over 1700 days – two months short of five years – living cheek-by-jowl with a fervently religious captain with a hot temper whose quarrels ‘bordered on insanity.’ I’d also want to know about his inner struggle with ‘coming out’ with this powerful scientific insight in the face of self-righteous religious ‘knowledge.’ But only if he was comfortable to talk about it – he was a sensitive man.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Categories
1_Harrismith 2_Free State / Vrystaat 8_Nostalgia Family school sport

Ancient Movies

The old man bought an 8mm cine film Eumig camera and Eumig projector. Made in Austria. This was ca.1963, I’d guess. It once did a bit of – potentially – famous footage!

Later he bought a Canon SLR camera with a 50mm lens like this, and a 300mm telephoto lens. An FT QL like this one. He used Agfa slide film. Had to be Agfa, not Kodak! Agfa had ‘better greens and blues.’

We went on a trip down Normandien Pass to photograph Black Eagle chicks on their nest. I think Wally and Robbie Sharratt had told of them. Wonder where those pics are?

Once I heard Dad had been present when I won a 100m race at the town’s President Brand Park athletic track. I didn’t know he was there – found out later that he had been taking photos. At the finish, in my lunge for the tape, I fell and somersaulted, skidding on my back. I won or tied for first – not sure which, but one of the two. Never did see a photo of that finish – !?

Once – 1967 – he took a photo of the all-winning U/13 rugby team holding a trophy. We won all our games except one that year – a no-score draw against Bethlehem Voortrekker (we beat them later); and we beat a team from Virginia that had claimed in the Friend newspaper that they were Free State Champs – unbeaten, 140 points for and none against; we beat them 3-0, a De Wet dropkick; we also beat the representative Eastern Free State team 17-0 cos they only chose four of our guys for the team; and then we challenged and beat Bloemfontein’s Grey College U/13 8-3. Our fame had grown and grown throughout the season and the number of spectators grew with every win. Funny, some people will support a team; but many more will make an effort to witness winning! I know not what that trophy De Wet is holding was for? Still, there was one photo a father took of his son’s school sporting career!

~~~oo0oo~~~

We saw other ancient movies too – those were 16mm.

Categories
3_USA 6_Canoe & Kayak Rivers 8_Nostalgia sport travel Wildlife, Game Reserves

Road Trip Out West

First we went west from Oklahoma, to New Mexico. I went with the Manars in Tom’s luxury (I really should know what that car was) towing their blue Willys Jeep, quite a recent model. We drove to Red River, to Granma Merrill’s cottage in the valley south of town.

– Granma Merrill’s Cottage outside Red River –

After a wonderful stay with a huge gang of the very best people, Jim n Katie Patterson took me and Dottie Moffett to Las Vegas from Red River, New Mexico in their silver-grey Ford LTD.

The LTD, with Dottie Moffett, Katie and Jim Patterson

We drove via Colorado where we caught a steam train from Durango north to Silverton.

Then we drove through Utah, visiting Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park:

In Vegas we stayed at The Stardust on The Strip. It boasted (natch) the ‘biggest neon sign in the world’! I learnt to gamble. I learnt to win. I battled to lose. Dottie was a good luck charm! I kept on and on gambling, determined to lose. Finally as dawn approached we were $10 down. We’d paid our dues and could go to bed.

Jim n Katie took us to a show! We saw Joan Rivers being delightfully rude and Petula Clark warbling away – also Joan warbled a bit and Pet told a joke! I saw Jim slip the doorman a cri$p note to get us good seats! We got great seats.

StardustSign1973

After Vegas we stopped off at The Grand Canyon: We stared down at this awesome sight from the lookout on the south rim. We only had a few hours there, so we were just look-see tourists. Suddenly I couldn’t stand it! I just had to get down there. I started running down the Bright Angel trail. Dottie joined me; she was fit – Oklahoma’s number 2 tennis player! It’s about 10km to the river. I’d give us an hour to get down, I thought. The run was easy on a well-maintained track with the only real obstacle being the ‘mule trains’. Every now and then we’d have to step off the trail and let a bunch of mules pass, sometimes with a steep drop inches away. We made sure we were always on the upside!

Bright Angel trailhead
Bright Angel Trail seen from the South Rim. Grand Canyon NP, Arizona.

At first it was all open desert trail, but at Indian Gardens I was surprised by the amount of greenery in the Canyon. From the rim it looks like all desert, but in the protected gorges there was water, green shrubbery and even some tall trees.

Indian Gardens Grand Canyon.jpg

In about an hour we got to just above the river. I stared in awe at the swiftly-moving blue-green water. I had never seen such a large volume of clear water flowing like that. Our South African rivers mostly run small and muddy and I wasn’t expecting clear water. Right then I thought I MUST get onto this river! I’d been kayaking for a few years, but if I’d been asked I’d probably have said on a raft, little knowing that eleven years later I would kayak past that very spot, under that same bridge in 1984 on a flood-level brown river! *(see below)*

bridge grand canyon.jpg

The hike back out was steep, but hey, we were 18yrs old! Cross-country running had been my favourite obsession the year before, so no (or an acceptable amount of) sweat!

Then we headed home by and large followed the old historic Route 66 – the new I40. Flagstaff Arizona, Albuquerque New Mexico, Amarillo Texas, back to Oklahoma. To Apache, and then Katie and I drove the delightful Dottie on to Ardmore.

I learned later:

  • They tell you Do Not try to hike from the rim to the river and back in one day!
  • The 10km climb down Bright Angel is about 1000m vertically, and every metre down you’re going back about 100 000 years in geological time!
  • The name Colorado was for its muddy colour and its clarity is in fact an undesirable artifact because of Glen Canyon Dam upstream;
  • Jim Patterson has since hiked rim to rim through the canyon a number of times – he made it an annual pilgrimage. The last I heard was when he was 70!

~~~oo0oo~~~

Footnote – Eleven years later, in ’84, I arrived under that bridge in my kayak:

GrandCanyon'84 Greeff (27)
– our group’s accompanying rafts under the same bridge, eleven years later –

The level was high, and the Little Colorado poured brown floodwaters into the Colorado, so the water wasn’t running clear.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Categories
3_USA 7_Confessions 8_Nostalgia

Smitten, Forgotten

We went to a dance in Red River. Beer. Music. I danced with a tiny little girl. I was smitten, she was a gorgeous freestyle hippy, having fun and dancing with gay abandon. How old ARE you? she asked when I told her I was repeating matric for the third time. Well, she had asked what I was doing and I’d said Senior in High School. Again.

Eighteen, I said.

I don’t believe it, she said.

And you? I asked – I was suddenly getting good at this wooing stuff. Makin’ small talk, I was.

Twenty seven, she said. What? No way! I do not believe that, says me.

She whipped out her drivers licence: 1946. She was 27. I didn’t even know you got people that old.

I was still smitten.

Come round to our place in Arroyo Hondo tomorrow, she invited. It’s an adobe house right on the road to Taos, you can’t miss it, she invited.

We were there like a shot the next day! Me and Jeff in his blue Willys Jeep. Talk about me being young: Jeff was fourteen. We’d only got back to Granma’s cottage in the wee hours, so it was after midday that summer day when we found the house that looked about as my new focus of fascination had described it.

Sitting on the mud wall of the porch watching the daily non-stop broadcast of the Nixon Watergate hearings on a small black and white TV was a fella with long hair and a scraggly beard, with a fag hanging from his lips. He was filing away at a flywheel. We learnt a few minutes later that it was a Chevy flywheel and he needed it for his old Ford. Or a Ford flywheel and he needed it for his old Chevy. It was too big, so he was filing away one tooth at a time. When it fitted he was going to move on.

But first we said Hi! Is ___ (I really should remember her name for a love story like this, should I not!?) around?

Ah, she went thataway about eleven this mornin,’ he said, flicking his head over his shoulder indicating the road South to Taos. ‘Said she wanted to catch a concert in Cali.’

California!? Where . . ?

‘Some rock concert.’

How . . ?

‘She threw her thumb out and somebody gave her a ride.’

Heartbroken, we drifted back to Red River. Took me ages to recover. About as long as the romance had lasted. Hours.

But hey! it’s 47yrs later and I can still remember how she felt and smelt dancing, and what the top of her head looked like, so there was true love involved too.

~~~oo0oo~~~

– Granma Merrill’s Cottage outside Red River –
– Red River – Arroyo Hondo – Taos – New Mexico –

~~~oo0oo~~~

Categories
1_Harrismith 2_Free State / Vrystaat 8_Nostalgia sport

Harrismith Mountain Race

Mountain-Race site - Copy
Way back in 1922 a Pom army major sat in the gentleman’s club in Harrismith and spoke condescendingly about our mountain, Platberg, as “that little hill”. What was ‘e on about? It rises 7800 ft above sea level and he was from a tiny chilly island whose ‘ighest point is a mere 3209 ft above sea level! Being a Pom he was no doubt gin-fuelled at the time. Anyway, this ended up in a challenge to see if he could reach the top in under an hour, which led to me having to run up it years later. Because it’s there, see.

mountain race harrismith_crop
– at this point I wished I had done some training! –

I had often run the short cross-country course and twice the longer course, which followed the mountain race route except for the actual, y’know, ‘mountain’ part. I had also often climbed the mountain, but strolling and packing lunch. When I finally decided I really needed to cross the actual mountain race proper off my list of “should do’s” I was larger, slower and should have been wiser.

Here’s some 8mm cine camera footage taken by Dad Pieter Swanepoel of Platberg Bottle Store of the start and finish in front of the Post Office – 1960’s I guess:

The race used to be from town to the top of the mountain, along the top for a mile or so and back down. Sensible. That’s how I ran it in 1979. The medal then had a handy bottle opener attached!

HS Mtn Race badges, medal
– mountain Race badges and medals – these are the legitimate four – where I actually finished in the allotted time! –

I recently found some old papers which told me I once ran the race in 79 mins and in 85 minutes another year.

We also walked the race for fun a couple times:

The 12km distance was enough. But no, some fools decided that wasn’t long enough! Apparently a cross-country route needed to be 15km to be “official”, so they added three kilometres of perfectly senseless meanderings around the streets of our dorp causing fatigue before I even started the climb when I ran with Jon and Dizzi Taylor one year.

The finish at the Groen Pawiljoen grounds
– run to A then to B and back (who added three km of tar road!?) –

Oh by the way, Major Belcher did get to the top in under an hour, winning the bet.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Some history from friend Ettienne Joubert, who has also trotted the course:

The Harrismith Mountain Race held annually since 1922, was described as the ‘toughest in the world’ by Wally Hayward, who won five Comrades marathons, the London to Brighton Marathon and the Bath to London 100-miler! (I once spent a wonderful day with Wally).

It originated when, in 1922, a British soldier, Maj A E Belcher, returned to Harrismith where he had been stationed near 42nd Hill during the war. He was referring to Platberg as ‘that small hill of yours’, one Friday evening [lots of silly things are done on Friday evenings] and one of the locals (a certain Van Reenen – or maybe the chemist Scruby) immediately bet him that he could not reach the top (591 metres – just under 2000ft – above the town) in less than an hour.

The major accepted the challenge and set off from the corner of Stuart & Bester streets outside the old Harrismith Club near where the Athertons ran The Harrismith Chronicle the very next day. He reached the summit with eight minutes to spare.

During a later visit to the town, Major Belcher (now a schoolteacher in Dundee, Natal) found out that his record still stood so he took it upon himself to donate a trophy to the Harrismith Club to be awarded to the first club member to break his record to the top.  In 1929 the Club management, as the organizers of the race, decided to open the race up to the residents of Harrismith and a Mr Swanepoel won the race to the top of the mountain in 32 minutes. (The last record time I have is 22 minutes and 9 seconds – from town to the top of the mountain! Amazingly quick).

The race route has changed over time – starting in Piet Retief Street outside the post office and police station for some years. Nowadays it starts at the town’s sports grounds, passing the jail, then through the terrain where the concentration camp (second site) once stood, up the steep slopes of Platberg to the top via One Man’s Pass, close to where a fort was built during the Anglo-Boer War. After traversing a short distance along the top, the descent is made via Zig-Zag Pass, and the race is completed back at the ‘Groen Pawiljoen’ sports grounds.

Our friends Steph and JP de Witt’s Mom, Alet de Witt became the first lady to complete the race. She ran in the year her husband, JN ‘Koos’ de Witt died tragically suddenly in January 1967. She then donated a trophy for the winner of the newly allowed (!) women’s category, which was awarded for the first time only in 1986.

Later the apartheid ‘whites-only’ ruling was dropped and as soon as McDermott* stopped winning, the race was won by black athletes, including Harrismith locals; starting with Michael Miya who holds the record for the newer, longer 15km course at 1hr 03mins 08secs.

*McDermott won sixteen times consecutively from 1982 to 1997 and in 1985 established the “short course 12.3km” record at 50mins 30secs.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Categories
1_Harrismith 2_Free State / Vrystaat 7_Confessions 8_Nostalgia Family

Knives are Out

The ole man gave me a knife quite recently. Well, in the last ten years or so. He told a story in a rare letter to his darling son, written on the back of a Maxprop invoice and folded into the special PUMA green and yellow case:

– PUMA knife – model 3585 – serial no. 29771 –

Let me tell you about this knife, he writes. I first saw it in Rosenthals, a big safari shop in Windhoek more than 30 years ago. This on one of his family holidays he took in the family car. Without the family.

When friends of ours, the Maeders, went to Germany on holiday, he asked them to get the knife for him in Austria, where it is made, by one man, whose name appears in the brochure – a small 50-page brochure that comes with each knife.

– PUMA knife model 3585 – with skinning tips – can also sagen through knochens –

The letter continues: Anyway, the knife arrives by post in Harrismith. Uproar!! Urgent meeting: Me, the police and the postmaster – in his office. I had imported a dangerous weapon – the blade was more than 4″ long – illegal!

The postmaster unlocks his safe in the presence of all concerned, removes the knife, makes a tracing of the blade. This is to be sent to the SA Police in Pretoria. Meantime, the dangerous weapon goes back into the safe.

I told them not to be bloody silly; I could walk over to the OK Bazaars right now and buy a butchers knife with a 12″ blade!

After all the dust had settled and all charges paid, the knife cost me R64.00

The ‘over the counter’ price at Rosenthals in Windhoek – which he refused to pay, knowing he could save money by ‘getting it direct’ – had been R63.00!

And I’m always trying to get a better price, to save money! Love Dad

– PUMA knife – 50-page brochure – even a song! – ‘beating of the blade’ –
PUMA knife 3585 details – made by senior forester Frevert, I think –

~~~oo0oo~~~

As a kid way back in the sixties, I took over my Dad’s much bigger dagger; also with a bone handle. One day the duP’s came to visit and Pierre and I were playing with it, stabbing it into the hard Vrystaat ground on our side lawn on the aviary side of the house. I plunged it down with all my might, not seeing Pierre was still tamping down the ground and lawn from his attempt! I just about cut his finger off! Typically, stoic Pierre said Shh! and kept it quiet, going straight off to show his Ma Joan, who cleaned and bandaged it!

~~~oo0oo~~~

Categories
8_Nostalgia

Food Glorious Food

We used to buy our groceries from Freddies Cash Store, straight across the road from our bottle store, seen in the picture. Freddies was owned and run by Grace Schimper (round as a beachball, thick glasses) and her sister Edna Bisset. Grace unmarried, Edna divorced with two special kids a bit older than us – Petra and Ray. Rey?

Milk would be delivered in big tin cans on the back of a grey Morris Minor pickup by Joan and/or Vera Simpson; they were unmarried, lived on their dairy farm, Joan slept on the open veranda year-round. Later in glass bottles – who delivered that?

Our meat we would buy from Paul Raath, then from Louis Schoeman, ex-dashing, polo-playing bachelor – thought he was the Prince Imperial, says my Ma! Now he was the father of five wonderful kids, the older ones our age, and good friends of ours. Dad says Louis once snorted to him, speaking of his lovely wife Cathy, ‘Hmph! All that woman wants is babies, babies!’ I think he was probably just bragging!

Food was also available at the big Ross general dealer store – a forerunner of the supermarket? – where friendly Charlie Ronalds was the grocer. Later Harrismith got Sonop, our first supermarket.

~~~oo0oo~~~

I thought of this old-time food shopping while reading an article on supermarkets in The Atlantic. How supermarkets have changed the way we shop for food. I thought this passage was very good:

At the very least, you have to marvel: How did we take something built to satisfy the simplest human need and make it so utterly baroque? The supermarket does not “curate.” It is a defiantly encyclopedic catalog of our needs and desires, each and every one of which it attempts to satisfy. With nothing but a can opener, you can get a “turkey dinner in gravy,” “chicken shrimp and crab stew,” “saucy seafood bake,” “chicken and turkey casserole,” “prime filets with salmon and beef,” “bisque with tuna and chicken,” “ocean whitefish dinner with garden greens in sauce,” or a “natural flaked skipjack tuna entrée in a delicate broth.” And that’s just in the cat-food aisle.

~~~oo0oo~~~