Thanks, Charlie Ryder!

I canoed the Vrystaat Vlaktes thanks to Charles Ryder, who arrived in Harrismith in about 1968 or ’69 I’d guess, to start his electrical business, a rooinek from Natal. He roared into town in a light green Volvo 122S with a long white fibreglass thing on top of it like this: I asked: What’s that?Continue reading “Thanks, Charlie Ryder!”

Coldest Nights

Some freezing nights I recall. Funny thing is, most hold such good memories! – At home some nights at 95 Stuart Street, getting in between cold sheets in a cold room; Harrismith Free State in winter! In the ’60’s – On the Wilge riverbank with Claudio – sharing a wet sleeping bag after one swimContinue reading “Coldest Nights”

River Trip Swinburne – Harrismith

Fluffy Crawley and I were dropped off in Swinburne on the banks of the Mighty Vulgar in the grounds of the Montrose Motel with our open red and blue fibreglass canoe. We were aiming to head off downstream, camp overnight and finish in Harrismith the next day. This was circa 1970. But we bumped intoContinue reading “River Trip Swinburne – Harrismith”

Harsh Rejection, Deep Scars

In high school we had an older mate who was in the Free State koor. He was famous in Harrismith for that. His nickname was Spreeu but we called him Sparrow. Everyone knew Sparrow was one of “Die Kanaries – Vrystaatse Jeugkoor“. Fame! Bright lights! Girls threw their broekies at him. OK, maybe not. OneContinue reading “Harsh Rejection, Deep Scars”

Just Call Me Wally

It was 1981 and we were new in Durban. We decided to watch the Comrades Marathon, an 89km exercise in insanity being run “up” from the coast at Durban to the heights of Sleepy Hollow that year. Those days it was easy to follow the race: You just got in the way, parked wherever andContinue reading “Just Call Me Wally”

Geronimo-Oh-No!!

When modern man decided to pinch water from the Tugela river and pump it uphill to satisfy the Vaalies’ thirst, our area around Harrismith and Bergville saw a flurry of activity and an influx of new people. A bus arrived at school and a flock of new kids tumbled out. They were cruelly christened DieContinue reading “Geronimo-Oh-No!!”

A Chrysler Maritzburger Deluxe

I wasn’t there. It really felt like I was there, and I wanted to be there so bad, but I wasn’t. All I know is the Arabs decided to reduce the availability of their oil, thus raising the price of petrol and reducing the speed limit to 80km/h. Petrol stations closed at night and weContinue reading “A Chrysler Maritzburger Deluxe”

Prohibition lifted, re-instated

The rumour on the Kestell bus was that in South West Africa the laws pertaining to grog did not actually, y’know, pertain. Specifically, the drinking age laws. You could order a beer in a pub in South West Africa even if you were only fourteen or fifteen, as we were. In fact, so the rumourContinue reading “Prohibition lifted, re-instated”

Playing in the Snow

1973, on my way back from the States, I fly to New York on a Monday in December and ask for a flight to Johannesburg via London. ‘Sorry you can’t. Your ticket is non-transferable, and the next SAA flight is via Rio on Friday’. The old man had paid for my ticket on his shinyContinue reading “Playing in the Snow”

Harrismith Xmas 1979

Mary and Manie Wessels Rietvlei joined the folks Mary and Pieter Swanepoel for Xmas 1979 at 37 Piet Uys street. Barbara and Jeff, Koos and Sheila and Annie were there, too. As was poor Selina! Hopefully she got time off for being on duty on Xmas day! Looks like colour film hadn’t been invented yetContinue reading “Harrismith Xmas 1979”