Categories
1_Harrismith 2_Free State / Vrystaat 8_Nostalgia 9_KwaZuluNatal Family travel

Mom & Annie’s Durban Sanity Trips

Off they’d go in Mary’s pale blue VW Beetle OHS 155. Off to Durbs-by-the-Sea, the Lonsdale Hotel or the Four Seasons for a whole week!

Lonsdale Hotel Durban

Might that be Mary’s VW outside the Lonsdale in this picture? Three cars behind the Borgward?

Lonsdale Hotel Durban_2.jpg
Durban Four Seasons Flats

The cost of their stay: R2.95 each per day including meals. Mom thinks Randolph Stiller may have owned the Four Seasons. He and Bebe certainly owned the Central Hotel in Harrismith where Annie stayed, one block away from her Caltex garage in Warden Street. Only the Deborah Retief gardens between her hotel room and her office, but she drove there in her great big old beige Chev Fleetline, OHS 974; one block up to the garage. Mom – ever kind – says her legs were too sore to walk.

In Durban Mom and Annie would visit Annie’s sister Jessie (Bain Bell) and her daughter Lesley (Malcolm-Smith ) in their flat in Finsbury Court in West Street. Lesley worked at Daytons – a supermarket, Mom thinks.

They would all hop into Mom’s car and head off on a drive – to the beach, to the Japanese Gardens; and – always – to visit Annie’s bridesmaid Maggie McPherson who lived in a ‘posh flat up on the Berea. Looked like a bit of Olde England’.

Maggie_McPherson
1922 wedding

~~~oo0oo~~~

Many years later – 1980’s – we would go and listen to Joe Parker in the Lonsdale. Beer-soaked, we hosed ourselves, but I don’t think Mom and Annie would have approved!

While we’re getting nostalgic, some names to remember: Gillespie Street; The Italian restaurant Villa d’Este; The Four Seasons Hotel, with its Pink Panther steakhouse; Palm Beach Hotel; Millionaires’ Club; Lonsdale Hotel (Joe Parker being rude); The El Castilian nightclub (remember The Bats?); The Killarney Hotel, where the Monks Inn used to be (“Steak, Egg and Strips” said the sign); Thatcher’s Bar at the former Parkview Hotel.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Categories
1_Harrismith 2_Free State / Vrystaat 7_Confessions 8_Nostalgia 9_KwaZuluNatal school sport

Uh, Correction, Mrs Bedford!

In 1969 a bunch of us were taken to Durban to watch a rugby test match – Springboks against the Australian Wallabies. “Our” Tommy Bedford was captain of the ‘Boks. We didn’t know it, but it was to be one of his last games.

Schoolboy “seats” were flat on your bum on the grass in front of the main stand at Kings Park. Looking around we spotted old Ella Bedford – “Mis Betfit” as her pupils called her – Harrismith’s English-as-second-language teacher. Also: Springbok captain’s Mom! Hence our feeling like special guests! She was up in the stands directly behind us. Sitting next to her was a really spunky blonde so we whistled and hooted and waved until she returned the wave.

Tommy Bedford Springbok
jane-bedford-portrait

Back at school the next week ‘Mis Betfit’ told us how her daughter-in-law had turned to her and said: “Ooh look, those boys are waving at me!” And she replied (and some of you will hear her tone of voice in your mind’s ear): “No they’re not! They’re my boys. They’re waving at me!”

We just smiled, thinking ‘So, Mis Betfit isn’t always right’. Here’s Jane. We did NOT mistake her for Mis Betfit.

.

“corrections of corrections of corrections”

Mrs Bedford taught English to people not exactly enamoured of the language. Apparently anything you got wrong had to be fixed below your work under the heading “corrections”. Anything you got wrong in your corrections had to be fixed under the heading “corrections of corrections”. Mistakes in those would be “corrections of corrections of corrections”. And so on, ad infinitum! She never gave up. You WOULD get it all right eventually!

Stop Press! Today I saw an actual bona-fide example of this! Schoolmate Gerda has kept this for nigh-on fifty years! (this is in 2020)

– genuine rare Harrismith Africana ! – or is it Engels-cana? –

~~~oo0oo~~~

Tommy’s last game for the Boks came in 1971 against the French – again in Durban.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Two or three years later:

In matric the 1972 rugby season started and I suddenly thought: ‘Why’m I playing rugby? I’m playing because people think I have to play rugby! I don’t.’

So I didn’t.

It caused a mild little stir, especially for ou Vis, mnr Alberts in the primary school. He came up from the laerskool specially to politely voice his dismay. Nee man, jy moet ons tweede Tommy Bedford wees! he protested. That was optimistic. I had played some good rugby when I shot up and became the tallest in the team, not because of any real talent for the game – as I went on to prove.

~~~oo0oo~~~

ou Vis – nickname meaning old fish – dunno why

Nee man, jy moet ons tweede Tommy Bedford wees! – Don’t give up rugby. You should become our ‘second Tommy Bedford’ – Not.

~~oo0oo~~~

Meantime Jane Bedford has become famous in her own right in the African art world, and in Durban colonial circles. Sister Sheila and Jane have become good friends.

Categories
8_Nostalgia 9_KwaZuluNatal Family travel

Durbs in 1962

We went to Durban around this time and stayed in the Impala Holiday Flats, self-catering. Free Staters on the loose in Durbs-by-the-Sea!

We probably drove down in OHS 154, a beige Morris Isis – or in OHS 155, a pale blue VW 1200 Beetle, along the narrow national road between Joburg and Durban.
I remember talk of dreading the infamous “Colenso Heights” – apparently the most challenging section of the route.

The high-rise we stayed in was in Gillespie Street one street back from the Golden Mile, or Esplanade. If you took all Harrismith’s houses and stacked them, you’d have a building like this. I remember the lifts and I remember getting back tired and full of sand from the beach. I don’t seem to recall the beach – weird.

Impala Holiday Flats_2
Categories
1_Harrismith 2_Free State / Vrystaat 5_Army days 8_Nostalgia 9_KwaZuluNatal

My Famous Friends – #1

Tuffy has hit the bright lights. School friend and class mate Mariette van Wyk edits a lovely magazine Atlantic Gull down in the Dryest Fairest Cape.

Mariette vWyk's Atlantic Gull

She got the fascinating life story (well actually, snippets of it!) of Irené John Joubert out of him recently.

Tuffy Famous

Fascinating thing is, Tuffy DID this stuff, Chuck Norris acts it out. Here’s an eyewitness account of his famous plummet from a chopper.

Here he is in those far-off days when you could see more chin and not so much forehead:

Tuffy’s older brother Etienne remembers him getting his nickname like this: In the very English environment of the Harrismith Methodist church some soutie made the mistake of calling the French masculine name Irené the English feminine name Irene in Sunday school and promptly got dondered right then and there by said Irené. And hence the nickname Tuffy was born.

I see Tuffy says he has no trouble in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Congo as “with my honest face, people just love me”. What I want to know is: How do they see his face?

Well, now that his cover is bust, his anonymity lost, learn more about Tuffy being a domkrag and then tackling an unsuspecting ox here.

and head-on colliding with a hill here.

and streaking and under-age drinking here.

and how he practiced going on long journeys before he went to Afghanistan here.

and purloining illicit swag here.

and he played rugby for a little dorp and beat Grey College here.

and leading me astray – what he would call ‘slegte invloed’here.

.

Chuck’s going to have to lift his game. Also, and anyway, America can forget toughness, Harrismith also had another Chuck Norris.

========ooo000ooo=======

Thanks Mariette for the article!

.

Added: And how Tuffy tricked me here.

~~~~~ooo000ooo~~~~~

More fame – he’s in a book!

back left with the facial feature

~~~~~ooo000ooo~~~~~
soutie – engelsman, pom, english ou; the story was English-speaking South Africans had one foot in England and one foot in SA; this left their willies hanging in the brine, giving them salty cocks, therefore ‘soutpiel’

Categories
6_Canoe & Kayak Rivers 7_Confessions 8_Nostalgia 9_KwaZuluNatal sport

Desperately Seeking Miss Estcourt

We were camping in the Estcourt caravan park on the banks of the Bushman’s River when we heard there had recently been a beauty pageant in the dorp. The crown had been awarded. A Miss Estcourt had been chosen, and she was in town.

But where!? Our source of this local knowledge was Doug the Thief, who had heard it from a local.

This was her lucky weekend! She could choose from four handsome, willing and able bachelor paddlers. Well, willing, anyway:

She could choose from Bernie & The Jets’ yellow helmet, Swanie’s white helmet or Lang Dawid’s blue helmet. A quick shower in the communal ablution block and we were ready to hit the dorp.

Doug the Thief had disappeared, nowhere to be found. Oh, well. His helmet’s loss.

Bernie Ford Escort
Like this, just white

We focused on preparation for the search, gaining bottled IQ points and suave wit before setting out in the Jet’s white Ford Escort which we thought the best vehicle with which to impress Miss Estcourt Sausages. Look! Miss Estcourt Sausages, we’d say. We came courting you in an Escort! HaHaHa! She’d collapse laughing.

We eventually tracked down her flat on the top floor of Estcourt’s only highrise building. It was also the third floor. And knocked on her door, calling out seductively and probably irresistibly for Miss Estcourt Sausages – expecting at any moment for her to open the door in a negligee and say Hello Boys!

Instead the door opened to reveal a horrible sight: Doug the Thief, who hissed FUCK OFF! at us and closed the door! The Swine.

Doug Eskort sausage

Disconsolately we had to schlep back to the caravan park and more beer. We consoled ourselves by braaing a few of these till they were overdone.

Categories
5_Army days 8_Nostalgia 9_KwaZuluNatal

Reassuring Words – and Famous Patients

In 1980 the army relieved me of my post as adjutant for the Natal Medical Corps and sent me to work for the provincial ophthalmology department in Durban run by the Nelson R Mandela school of medicine based at King Edward Hospital. This meant I worked at the three racially-segregated hospitals.

King Edward VIII in Umbilo (for the healthily pigmented):

RK Khan Hospital  in Chatsworth (medium pigmentally blessed):

Addington on the beachfront (pale, pigmentally deficient):

At KE VIII we had our own building, at RK Khan and Addington we shared. Addington OPDB (Out Patients Department B) was for legs and eyes. My mate Bob Ilsley in orthopaedics would say “I’ll get them to walk straight, you get them to see straight”.

Resident ophthalmologist Pat Bean was a character. Surfer dude at heart. And heart of gold. “You got cat tracks, mummy”, he’d say at RK Khan. “Cat tracks. Terrible things those cat tracks. Must give you ‘PRATION. Not sore ‘pration. Over one time, you go home next day no pain see nicely” he would reassure.

(‘cataracts’ – ‘operation’)

=========ooo000ooo=========

The nurse in charge of the clinic most days at KE VIII was Staff Nurse Anita Lekalakala, another character of note. One day she picked up a card for me, glanced at the name, grinned and called out loudly to the packed waiting room:

Miss Grace Kelly! Calling Princess Grace Kelly!

And in shuffled old Mrs Grace Cele, leaning on her walking stick.

=========ooo000ooo=========

(36yrs later Anita still comes to me for her glasses)

Categories
7_Confessions 8_Nostalgia 9_KwaZuluNatal

My Years as a Temporary Farm Manager’s Part-time Assistant

Actually it was hours, not years, but that would have made a kak-lame heading and you might not have rushed over to read about it.

Kai Reitz once made the mistake – no, bold decision – to put the Lloyd cousin in charge of The Bend while he went off to murder sundry buffaloes and bambis in the Zimbabwean bushveld near Mana Pools.

I joined Lloyd on The Bend one weekend. As an adviser.

Things did not go exactly according to a Reitz-like plan. Nor did things run like a well-oiled machine. It was more like a military operation.

Lloyd had managed to get the Chev pickup stuck between two gears. So when I got there it was parked in the lands. Immobile.

Some parts of the farm did run flawlessly, it must be said: Ross-Merr did sterling work in the kitchen, making great big piles of delicious veggies. Lloyd had run out of meat and I had not brought any, and as we were now stranded for transport it was a healthy vegetarian diet for us.

Then Lloyd found a rifle and we went hunting for the pot, bravely. If Kai could do it, so could we. We strode out boldly, fearlessly, onto the lawn. The Zunckel walking with that action he got from Mad magazine’s Don Martin, taking exaggerated stalking strides with his toes hanging downwards. Great sense of the ridiculous had Lloyd. He was playing great white hunter in Africa. I was his gun-bearer, just not bearing his gun.

Don Martin

Ten metres from the house, high up in a pine tree a poor little dove was romantically asking “How’s father? How’s father?” and Lloyd drilled him. SHPLORT! If you weren’t a Mad Magazine fan, that was a Don Martin-type sound of a Cape Turtle Dove hitting the ground, morsdood.

The next meal Ross-Merr cooked had all the veggies, PLUS – a big meat dish covered with a lid. We opened the lid with a flourish, then peered closely before we spotted it – it looked like a plucked mossie had crash-landed in the middle of an empty swimming pool.

Next mishap: The big truck was accidentally reversed over a stack of irrigation pipes. That was not good. I saw big $$ signs, but when Kai got back he set about fixing them himself, cutting off the flattened sections, hammering thin pipes through them, then thicker ones until he had restored them to size, then welding them together again! They looked like they had cellulite, but they worked.

I’m sure we didn’t run out of beer though, so we weren’t completely disorganised.

.

There was another time Carl (Kai) saved my butt.

================

Ross-Merr – Rosemary

morsdood – stone dead, but implying a messy death

mossie – sparrow, but maybe not even a mossie, maybe a tink-tinkie

tink-tinkie – makes a mossie look like a rainbow chicken

Categories
4_Optometry Johannesburg 7_Confessions 8_Nostalgia 9_KwaZuluNatal

Round The Bend

Mandy’s reply on the 21st post reminded me of The Bend – that sacred pilgrimage site we would repair to as part of growing up and learning wisdom and wonder. Also drinking, puking and dancing. Especially drinking. It was like Mecca.

We searched the whole of Joburg all term long for girls and women and couldn’t find any, but on The Bend there was always a goodly gang of inebriated bright young future leaders and fine examples to our youth, dancing, hosing themselves and matching us drink-for-drink.

Some of the drinking was very formal, with strict protocol, enforced by some kop-toe okes who had already been to the weermag and wanted to show us lightweight long-hairs what DUSSIPLIN was all about. Louis was very disciplined under General Field Marshall Reitz as was I under Brigadier Field Marshall Stanley-Clarke:

Late at night important stuff would happen. This time it was inventory control. It became vitally urgent that we help Kai clean out old Dr Reitz’s expired medicines. Mainly by swallowing them. The muscle relaxants caused great hilarity as we pondered what effect they might have on our sphincters. Yussis you’d think with a resident pharmacist we’d be told the possible side-effects, but all we were told – or all we listened to – was “Fire it, Mole!” and down they went, chased by alcohol to enhance the effects. Highly irre-me-sponsible, but all done for research purposes.

The Bend Old Drugs

  • Dr Prof Stephen Charles dispenses –

The research was inconclusive. We fell asleep before any fireworks happened.

In those days we all shared one cellphone, which you didn’t have to carry in your pocket. It was already there when you got there, nailed to the wall so it couldn’t get lost and so everyone could overhear what you were saying. There it is:

Bloody bottle shrunk!

  • I forget what this was, but it was important and Stephen Charles was giving it his rapt attention –

Sometimes farming interfered with the serious part of the weekend and then we would be of great help to Kai. We’re taking his mielies to market here. Don’t know what he would have done without us. Airbags and seatbelts were not highly essential in those daze, as we were usually well internally fortified, and as our driver had his foot flat we knew we’d get there quickly. So it was alright.

Taking mielies to the koperasie silo. No airbags.

  • Taking mielies to the koperasie silo. No airbags –

Back: Me; Kevin Stanley-Clarke (now a Kiwi); Glen Barker (now an Oz). Front: Pierre du Plessis; Steve Reed (a Kiwi in Oz); Lettuce Wood-Marshall (a Chinese or an Oz?); Dave Simpson;

glossary:

kop-toe okes – taking themselves seriously; which made them more hilarious

weermag – ‘again might’, as in ‘we might have to go there again’; involuntarily

mielies – maize, corn; sometimes schlongs

schlong – your mielie

koperasie – co-operative: socialist gathering of capitalist farmers

In JHB, a mate swears he heard me giving directions to the farm. I’m sure he’s mistaken, but Trevor John says: Swannie, I will never forget your directions to a farm in Harrysmith – 2 quarts of beer to the right turnoff; one pint to the next turnoff; and a small shot for the next left to the gate .

Categories
1_Harrismith 2_Free State / Vrystaat 8_Nostalgia 9_KwaZuluNatal Family

Home Sweet Home

95 Stuart Street was home from 1961 to 1973. To learn more about Stuart Street as a street, go to deoudehuizeyard! where Sandra has done a great job using old and new images of the long east-west street we grew up in.

Home
– the country mansion and stonehenge –

Some stiff poses in the garden in 1970 with Jock the Staffie:

Kids at home - fishpond, Jock's kennel, grapevine, tree-tables, big hedge

Inside, in the dining room and the lounge:

Twelve years at 95 Stuart Street. Funny how that felt like forever! Ah youth!

~~~oo0oo~~~

Married, we stayed in our first home for around fifteen years, 7 River Drive Westville. From early-1989 to Dec-2003. That time appeared to go much faster!

Home - River Drive

. . and have now been in our second home for about twelve years. 10 Elston Place Westville since late 2005:

Home 10 Elston Place
10 Elston Place

~~~oo0oo~~~

Categories
8_Nostalgia 9_KwaZuluNatal Family school

Barbara se Ouma woon in Boomstraat

She actually did. My sister Barbara’s granma lived at 131 Boom Street Pietermaritzburg.

Right across the road was this school. Going to the Afrikaans school would have meant a bus ride, and Oupa was frugal.

And so started the ver-engels-ing of Dad. The rooinek-erisation. Pieter Gerhardus became ‘Peter’.

131 Boom St PMB (1)

~~~oo0oo~~~

*ver-engels – Anglicisation

*rooinek – Boer word for Poms – anyone from ‘England’ – any of those islands left of France. Literally ‘red necks’ – but not American rednecks. NB: This excluded those Irishmen who fought for the Boers against the plundering, wicked, invading, looting Poms. Even though Irishmen can have very red necks.

~~~oo0oo~~~

From here (the way I understand it) they all went to Havelock Road Primary; Yanie the oldest went on to matriculate at Girls High; Lizzie the second child went on to Russell High School adjacent to the little school across the road, leaving in Std 8 to go and work; Boet finished Std 6 at Havelock Road and got his first job at Edel’s Shoe Factory, his second in Howick at Dunlop. On the way back one day he crashed his motorbike and injured himself badly. Lizzie arranged a bursary for Dad the youngest to go to Maritzburg College where he left in April in his matric year to join the post office as an apprentice electrician.

– a pre-school, a primary school and three high schools – click to enlarge –

~~~oo0oo~~~