More Chopin I grew up listening to. Beautiful music ingrained in my brain. These tunes brings back sweet memories.
No.6 of Mom’s Chopin repetoire – played at night on the Bentley upright while we lay in bed listening down the other end of the long passage. Sometimes she would practice her hymns for Sundays – she played the organ at the Harrismith Methodist church for a hundred-odd years – sister Sheila christened her ‘Mary Methodist’ cos o’ that. Other times were not as classical, nor as holy – that would be when friends gathered round the piano full of smoke and booze and belted out popular tunes with various degrees of talent.
Thanks again to the pianist standing in for Mary now that she’s 91 and can no longer read her sheet music. She still plays, but her favourite popular tunes ‘off by heart.’
In the comments Sheila informs me it was a Venning – Barbara or her daughter Lel who first christened her Mary Methodist. Well, it stuck!
Today fifty years ago was also a Sunday. I know cos sister Sheila kept a diary in high school and every now and then she pops out with an entry that brings back a flood of memories. Even everyday entries like ‘had lunch at (place) with (people)’ can trigger memories and start some lovely reminiscing.
On the 5th April 1970 she wrote:
Climbed Mt aux Sources, had lunch at the waterfall and climbed down again.
“My descriptive writing was still under development” she now says! She was thirteen at the time. I had just turned fifteen. Mother Mary was forty one.
Leading us were Mother Mary, Uncle Cappy and Auntie Joyce Joubert. Making up the party were two older boys, Etienne Joubert and Whitey Fourie; myself, Sheila and Deon Joubert, in descending age order.
Mom always knew all the peak names – from the Sentinel to Giants Castle.
The feature pic of the chain ladder is more recent – to show the surroundings – the second chain ladder on the right in that pic was added long after 1970. For wimps. Like airbags in cars, we didn’t have spare ladders back in our day (!!!).
Around April 1970:
Rhodesia under Ian Smith had just become a Republic, severing their last ties with Britain;
Jumbo jet 747’s had been flying for about a year;
Apollo 13 was in space, having gone to the moon but not landed, after an oxygen tank had malfunctioned; The first moon landing had been eight months earlier;
We were singing 1969 and 1970 hits like – All Kinds Of Everything; Mama Told Me Not To Come; Build Me Up Buttercup; Crimson and Clover; Proud Mary; Come Together; and many MANY more! In the Summertime; A Boy Named Sue; My Baby Loves Lovin’; Ma Belle Amie; Yellow River; Beatles hits; Elvis hits; Creedence hits – a long list, seared into our memories, never to be forgotten.
I’ve never forgotten “kickin’ and a-gougin’ in the mud and the blood and the beer . . “
No.4 in a series of Chopin pieces our Mother Mary would play. Our childhood was filled with sublime music emanating from down the passage. I have invited sundry pianists to play them here as I have very few recordings on Mom’s classical playing!
Thank you, guest artists and youtube for standing in for Mom!
Mom still plays at 91, but can’t read the music anymore, so she plays her huge repertoire of popular songs from the 30’s to the 60’s maybe – ‘off by heart.’ I’ll post some of those later – with the REAL person playing!
No.3 in a series of Chopin pieces our Mother Mary would play in our lounge in Harrismith back in the Sixties. Our childhood was filled with sublime music emanating from down the passage. I have invited sundry pianists to play them here as I have very few recordings on Mom’s classical playing! Thank you, guest artists and youtube!
No.2 in a series – Mother Mary would play the Bentley upright piano in our lounge. My childhood was filled with sublime music emanating from down the passage.
SO: I have invited some lesser pianists to play in her stead. Thanks to them and to youtube!
Mother Mary would play the Bentley upright piano in our lounge. My childhood was filled with sublime music emanating from down the passage. My memory bank is filled with wonderful sounds that bring back mostly happy memories! At 91 she now plays her popular pieces from memory. Her classical pieces she would read the music – she can’t see well enough to do that anymore. Sister Sheila has recorded many of her popular songs, but we have few of her classics. A great pity. SO: I have invited some lesser (! I am slightly biased) pianists to play in her stead. Thanks to them and to youtube we can hear the music again!
Here’s No.1 – enjoy!
After Maritzburg College, Dad joined the General Post Office as an apprentice electrician. Around 1st April 1938. Here’s a spirit level he was issued that day:
While he was still apprenticing, he tried to enlist to join the WW2 war effort, but was sent back. He was transferred to Harrismith, from where he again made his way to Durban and was sent home again, finally being allowed to join after Oupa gave his reluctant blessing. He left for ‘up north’ in 1941.
While in Harrismith ca.1940, he met old Mr Buckle the Blacksmith down in McKechnie street, near the railway station. He was from England.
He ended up with a few tools from old man Buckle: a back saw and a set square with a beautiful brass inlay and brass leading edge.
Dad stayed on a plot outside town – townlands – and bought horses, schooled them and sold them for a profit. I assumed he’d had them shod by Buckle but he corrected me. Buckle was a blacksmith, upholsterer and wagon-maker. He didn’t shoe horses. That was up to Charlie Rustov, Harrismith’s only farrier.
From his plot out west of town he would ride out to Boschetto Agricultural College for Ladies on the slopes of Platberg, the mountain that dominates the town. Boschetto was where the girls were. The first time he went he met the formidable Miss Norah Miller, the founder and principal. Luckily for him she needed something done, he was able to help and so became a firm favourite of hers from the outset.
While he was telling the story Mom remembered a story about Norah: She knocked on someone’s door. Whoever answered went back and was asked ‘Who was there?’
They said, I don’t know, but she’s got one eye, one leg and a hell of a cough! Norah had one lens of her glasses frosted out, she wore a leg brace (probably childhood polio?) and smoked like a chimney. When her leg brace buckled, Dr Frank Reitz made her a new one. A better one. He would have loved that challenge. He was a hands-on fixer.
Harrismith author Leon Strachan found some fascinating info on Norah Miller’s leg – it was not polio. His source, Isobel Kemp (Dr Frank Reitz’s receptionist for thirty years): It was probably osteoporosis resulting in a hip fracture in 1928, only six years after she established her college. Usually this would have resulted in incapacity and excruciating pain, but Norah was in luck: she was in the right place at the right time, and knew just the right man, bold innovator and pioneering surgeon Frank Reitz.
He operated and joined the femur using an ordinary screw to hold the femur ends together! This trick would only become common decades later, in the fifties. Thirty years later she was still walking – with difficulty, but still mobile, and in charge of her college. When Cedara took over Boschetto she moved there, where she died in 1959, aged 79.