Lloyd Zunckel R.I.P

Lloyd’s sister Filly wrote from Zimbabwe:

Lloyd sadly passed away in the early hours of August 3 2016 from a brain bleed –

huge shock to us all and especially his partner who could not wake him for his tea.

John and I held a memorial service for Lloyd in our garden and we were

overwhelmed by the 150-plus friends who came to bid him farewell.

I wrote:
Hi Filly
Dammitall I am so sorry to hear of Lloyd’s passing! So so sad.
He and I had a helluva good time together in Herriesmif. We clicked and just shared a similar outlook on life, the universe and kop-toe dutchmen.
It wasn’t long, but it was a great friendship while it lasted.
Thinking of you
Love

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What a lovely guy from the bestest, funnest, hilariousest, lekkerest part of my youth. Lloyd Zunckel arrived in Harrismith from the metropolis of Bethlehem and switched the lights on. A breath of fresh air. He was kind, genuine, modest, charming, and a barrel of laughs. He just couldn’t do maths. Or English or science or any of that shit. But man, could he do life! LIFE! He loved life; and he loved people.

Things I remember with Lloyd:

What a tennis player!

A bit of golf. I would ride my dikwiel fiets to the hostel, pick up Lloyd and a golf bag and with him on the cross-bar, cycle to the country club where we’d while away the hours “playing golf”. Sort of. On the bike we would sing – him way out of key, me melodiously:

“Let the spidnight mecial.

“Line a shite on me

“Let the spidnight me-ecial

Line a helluva lotta shite on me . . “

Me and my mate Lloyd! There was this and this and this.

What we didn’t know was this – from his amazing sister Filly:

I don’t know if any of you or his other mates were aware but Lloyd was hugely dyslexic – not really recognized way back then.  Lloyd hid it under his happy-go-lucky facade and was told throughout his schooling he was stupid and lazy and all sorts. Lloyd in actual fact did not matriculate and eventually left school in 1973 being 19 without getting higher than Std 8. He went off to the army in 1974 for 18 months. 

He married in 1979. Things went pear-shaped on our farm in Bethlehem with them partying and spending everything they had. My dad Fred bought him a Bayer agency and they moved to Pongola in Natal. Then to White River where his business was thriving and they were very successful but for some unknown reason his wife was very keen to move to the Cape – George and Wellington – and after a few years they were living way above their means. The marriage fell apart and Lloyd owed hundreds of thousands of Rands. He moved alone, with nothing but a bakkie my dad bought him, to somewhere near Pongola and we lost touch.

I eventually tracked him down, no car – written it off when he was two sheets to the wind. He was living on a verandah with a woman who was also homeless. A great friend of ours Dave Kahts drove me down to find Lloyd. It was his 50th birthday – and he looked awful.

My wonderful husband John told me to settle all his debts and bring him to Zim to live with us. Problem – he had no passport, so we sorted that and brought him here where John gave him a job in Mozambique. Sadly the farm invasions had started in Zim a few years earlier and we were hanging on to ours with every muscle in our bodies, but eventually lost it.

Things fell apart for all the farmers who moved to Moz, so Lloyd came back to live with us until he met Shana. He moved in with her – they were together for eight years, a rocky relationship, but they did love one another and she had a home and Lloyd did the cooking and oversaw the gardening – he was happy there 😀 .

And that’s that 😘

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Another song (reminded by his big mate Steve Reed);

Steve expostulated: Lloyd having no musical talent? That’s rubbish Fil.  Lloyd did a pitch-perfect rendition of:

“The doctor came in, stinking of gin”  

And sometimes he even added the next line:
“and pro-ceeded to lie on the table”
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Actually, there was a third he would warble off-key:
“Christ you know it aint easy
“pum pum per-um
“you know how hard it can be-e . . .
“pum pum per-um
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dikwiel fiets – eco-friendly tranportation

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

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 to impress Miss Estcourt Sausages with. Look! Miss Estcourt Sausages, we’d say. We came courting you in an Escort! HaHaHa! She’d collapse laughing.

Bernie Ford Escort
Like this, just white

We eventually tracked down her flat in Estcourt’s only highrise building and knocked on her door on the top floor (also the third floor).

From inside came a deep man’s voice: FUCK OFF! it said. It was Doug the Thief’s voice, the swine.

Doug Eskort sausage

Welkom OFS

I emigrated from Hillbrow and Parktown to Welkom, Free State. The joke goes “I spent a year in Welkom one weekend”.

In about April 1978 Kurt Eggmann, optometrist in the city centre near the famous horseshoe – the dead-centre of town, asked me to work for him. Yes, please, I said. In Hillbrow Graham Bennetto had said he didn’t have enough work for me – he had “let me go” – so I drove off in my grey and grey 1965 Opel Rekord in a south-westerly direction, crossed the Vile river and arrived in Welkom, city of sin and laughter.

Got myself a big ole empty flat through the Thornes – father and sons estate agents – who became firm friends. Andy & Evyn, and Dad Wally. I bought a double bed, a couch and a fridge, you don’t need anything else. I left behind the lovely communal house at 4 Hillside Road in Parktown and a lovely lady SSS the beautiful Fotherby. I was all swoon and sigh, but the Pru in her soon sorted me out and made me realise life moves on!

I loved the work – I was much busier than I had been in Hillbrow, doing a far wider range of challenging cases. One of my first patients was a keratoconus patient I fitted with her first rigid contact lenses and she saw beautifully as she hadn’t in years!

Kurt was a character, ex-Swiss squash champion. He had two mates who were also ex-Swiss champions in various disciplines besides drinking and carousing – cross-country running and skiing, I believe. They would meet annually and preen, drink and carouse. He had an old Merc and a beautiful Beechcraft Bonanza India Mike Alpha. He kept a little car at  the airport in JHB so when he flew there he had transport.

Winter solstice in 1978 we had a boys night in Kurt’s sauna with Kurt and Johnny Hardman the lawyer; We sat drinking in the heat till it became unbearable, then plunged into the freezing open air pool. Then back into the sauna . . . It’s good for you, they say . . .

Kurt once asked me to drive his Merc to Joburg while he flew there. I took a young lady pilot with instrument rating along – she was probably going to fly the Bonanza back at night. The Merc got tired in the metropolis of Parys and we had to spend the night there while the local mechanics got it back on its feet again. A few months earlier the Barclays bank manager in Hillbrow had pressed a credit card on me – a ‘barclaycard’ – over my protestations that I didn’t need it. Well, that night I did – I paid for both hotel rooms and the car repair as my first credit card transactions.

Memories of people: Kurt’s receptionists, Elsabe and La Weez; Kurt’s lovely wife Barbara; The shapely Maria; The shapely pharmacist Fick or Frick; Elsie Campher’s shapely blonde varsity friend; Kurt’s friend Johnny Hardman the lawyer; McMahon the shapely lass, a student at Rhodes University; The mafia tenderpreneur builder / truck transport brothers who wore matching thick Safilo frames and bought matching yellow Lamborghinis; Ralph Guard the other optom.

Swanning around in my grey-and-grey Opel Rekord Concorde the Welkom ladies must have swooned. Surely.

Opel Rekord 1965 interior_2.jpg

And this is just the FRONT bench seat.

I was due in the army for national service in July but Kurt spoke to the local Nat MP and swung it so I only started in January the next year. Strings. Who said corruption is a new invention?

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Around 1967 – long before my time there – the Welkom manne decided that the Welkom / Johannesburg road was too dangerous to travel on, and learnt to fly. Together with his great friends Wally Thorne and Heinie Heiriss, Kurt bought a Cessna 182 Skylane, ZS – DRL and operated the aeroplane in an association known at “HET – Air” – Heinie, Eggmann & Thorne. I got this off Barbour & Thorne’s website.

When I was there in 1978 Kurt owned a Beechcraft Bonanza – India Mike Alpha. Here’s a recent internet pic:

Beechcraft Bonanza - ZS-IMA - Kurt Eggmann

 

Twaalf Eiers

Alf Beyers, son of the Hoof of the Hoerskool in Petrus Steyn OFS, struck enormous good fortune on leaving the village and striking out for the big smoke of lower Doornfontein, Johannesburg, city of sin and laughter. It was akin to winning the lottery.

He was allocated me as his room-mate.

Dropping our suitcases on the sticky deep purple linoleum floor we immediately headed off to Nirvana, a place we had heard about for years. A place our mothers warned against with such dire foreboding that we knew we had to find it.

Hillbrow.

We heard they sold liquor in Hillbrow and we had fresh pocket money, so off we went with the gang of new students in the Doories res of the Wits Tech for Advanced Technical Education on our first night in Joeys, 1974, in search of pubs and nightclubs. Vague names waft around in my head now: Summit? Idols? Sands Hotel?

Most of us returned late that night, but there was no sign of Alf. He had landed up in the Johannesburg General Hospital, a victim of alcohol poisoning. The docs assured him it wasn’t bad liquor, it was simply too much good liquor.

The ill-effects wore off quickly and the potential for fun endured. On another occasion when we’d had a skinful Alf indulged in a bit of streaking under the Harrow Road flyover, appearing completely kaalgat to the amusement of rush-hour motorists. Someone called the cops and Alf roared up the stairs and hid in the smallish free-standing cupboard in our room, which actually overlooked the spot where he’d been parading!

When the hullabaloo died down he appeared with a huge grin on his face, still buck naked and inquired innocently “Looking for me?”.

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twaalf eiers – a dozen eggs; rhymes with Alf Beyers;

hoerskool – school of ill repute;

kaalgat – naked as the day he was born;

 

 

 

House (mistress) Trained

Willie the housemaster of the Doornfontein residence of the Witwatersrand College for Advanced Technical Education was a good ou. In the fickle lottery of life he drew the short straw when we moved in to the room adjacent to the housemasters conjugal apartment that he shared with his long-suffering wife. Willie tried his best. We ignored him.

You couldn’t really ignore the real boss of the res, Sarie Oelofse though. She was fearsome. When we checked in to res on day one she made it very clear that she vatniekaknie.

Let us pause briefly right here to think about what sort of doos would christen a place a “College for Advanced Technical Education”. Fuck me! Catchy title, china! One can imagine flocks of proud alumni saying “I went to the College for Advanced Technical Education”.

But about Sarie: She was tall, had been through some husbands, and was crowned by a snow white mop on top. No one would dare give her kak, we thought. Then we met Slabber. Sarie marched into our room one day in our first week as inmates in first year and asked in her strident voice “Vuddafokgaanhieraan?” We were drinking against the rules and making a happy, ribald commotion against those same rules.

We were ready to capitulate and come with all sorts of “jammer mevrous” and “ons sal dit nooit weer doen nies” and kak like that when Slabber – an old hand in his third year in res stepped forward and said “Ag kak, Sarie, hier: Hier’s vir jou ‘n dop” and poured her a large brandy.

Sarie melted like a marshmallow on a stick roasting over an open fire. She sat down, smiled coyly and lost all her authority in one gulp. It was wonderful. From then on, we wagged the dog. We continued to show her huge respect while doing whatever the hell we wanted to. We helped her, and she turned a blind eye. The formula Chris Slabber had worked out worked like a charm. It needed regular dop provision, of course, but that was no PT: Whatever we were drinking we would just pour Sarie some and she would remain completely reasonable and amenable.

It was what you could call win-win.

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vatniekaknie – intolerant of rambustious student behaviour

doos – person lacking your clear insight

kak – uphill

Vuddafokgaanhieraan? – What gives, gentlemen?

jammer mevrous – apologies

ons sal dit nooit weer doen nies – perish the thought

Ag kak, Sarie, hier: Hier’s vir jou ‘n dop – Have a seat, ma’am

dop – libation. Actually no, any alcoholic drink

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Borrowing Cars Genetic?

We used to borrow our parents cars on the without-permission system and drive around at night with the ultimate destination being the Royal Natal National Park Hotel down Oliviershoek Pass. That was a triumphant destination I only achieved once, other times we went to Little Switzerland, halfway down the pass. Or Kestell.

Once Steph de Witt decided to raise the bar and we headed off to Durban with the goal of putting our toes in the warm surf of the Indian Ocean and getting back to Harrismith before sunrise but we ‘changed our minds’ soon after Ladysmith and turned back.

I knew this habit could not be genetic as Mom would never have done such things, but recently I found out something which may throw new light on the possible causes of such fun behaviour.

Mom’s older sister Pat matriculated at Girls High in Pietermaritzburg while Mom matriculated at Harrismith se Hoer. I suddenly wondered why, so I asked.

Oh, she was getting into boys so Dad sent her off to boarding school, said Mom. She must have been in standard eight and about fifteen or sixteen years old.

Apparently some boys had borrowed a car from Kemp’s Garage in Warden Street and headed off to Royal Natal National Park Hotel back before it was Royal. It only became Royal after the Breetish Royal visit in 1947 and this must have been about 1941. Mom thinks Pat’s fellow felons may have included Michael Hastings and Donald Taylor. Pat, being the fun-loving person she always was, was right there! FOMO (fear of missing out) was a thing then too, even if it didn’t yet have an acronym! I know I had it big as a teenager.

The hotel looks like this now, but not because of us, swear!

Royal Natal National Park Hotel - Heritage Portal - June 2014 - 1

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Potted history of the Royal Natal National Park area:

In 1836, while exploring Basutoland, two French missionaries, Mons. Arbrousset and Daumas first discovered Mont-Aux-Sources, the source of three rivers. In 1908 the idea of establishing a National Park in this area was conceived, and the territory was explored by Senator Frank Churchill, General Wylie, Colonel Dick and Mr. W.O. Coventry. Recommendations were put forward, but it was not until 1916 that the Secretary of Lands authorised the reservation of five farms, and certain Crown Lands totalling approximately 8160 acres and entrusted it to the Executive Committee of the Natal Province.

On the 16 September 1916 the National Park came into being. An advisory committee was appointed to control the Park. Shortly afterwards the Natal Provincial Administration purchased the farm ‘Goodoo’, upon which a hostel for hikers had already been opened in 1913 by W.O.Coventry, and incorporated a small portion of the Upper Tugela Native Trust Land, thus swelling the National Park to its present 20 000 acres. The Advisory Committee was abolished in January 1942, and the Park was administered by the Provincial Council until the formation of the Natal Parks, Game and Fish Preservation Board on the 22 December 1947.

Mr. F. O. Williams held the first hostel lease rights on the farm Goodoo which he obtained from Mr. W.O. Coventry, the original owner. Mr. Coventry became Lessee of the whole park in 1919, and took over the post of Park Superintendent in August 1924 at the grand salary of five pounds per month. In 1926 he was succeeded by Otto and Walter Zunkel, who each added their share of buildings and improvements. Mr. Alan Short was the next Superintendent.

Short was in charge when the Royal Family visited the Park in May 1947. Prime Minister Jan Smuts wanted King George VI, the Queen and the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret to take a break from their two-month tour of southern Africa and see the splendour of the Drakensberg. It was Elizabeth’s first overseas trip and she celebrated her coming-of-age there, drafting her first important speech at the hotel.

The Royal family were so impressed with their stay that they insisted that the hotel and national park be granted the “Royal” designation.

Today, the Royal Natal National Park is managed by KZN Wildlife, the provincial conservation body of KwaZulu-Natal.

Here’s why everyone loves the area:Amphitheatre Pierre (1)

Picture taken by Pierre du Plessis while he was working down there.

Harrismithian Sayings

Collected by Sheila Swanepoel:

Louis Schoeman, (Farnie and Little Louis’ father) when he heard that a whole Portuguese family was living behind the Fruit & Veg shop in Warden Street, remarked: “Hmph – that’ll ripen the bananas.”

Maybe the same family, when they arrived in Harrismith, decided to join the Anglican Church. On the first day, the church warden politely inquired of the head of this large, obviously foreign family: “Are you Greek Orthodox?” “No”, came the reply, “Portuguese Fruit & Veg.”

Elsa du Plessis at Aberfeldy Primary School in the 1960s – the teacher asked for a translation into Afrikaans of “horseshoe”. Elsa came back quick as a flash – “drankwinkel”. Old Harrismith people will remember the Scott’s Horseshoe Bottle Store just up the road from Mary and Pieter Swanepoel’s Platberg Bottle Store, both in Warden Street.

When Annie Bland used to ask her old mate, Dr Nel (Petronella) van Heerden, how she was, the stock phrase was “Oh, fair to bloody!”

The Lotsoff Flats in Stuart Street were owned by Basil Lotsoff, who was enormously fat. Inevitably, he was called Lots of Basil.

Jaap van Reenen (Rina’s grandfather) had a very loud voice and you could hear him coming long before you saw him, so he was called Jaap Aeroplane.

Roy Kool was a traveling salesman, selling fertiliser to farmers. The first time he called on Mr Blom, the farmer stuck his hand out and in the time-honoured brusque manner of old Free State farmers, said “Blom”. Roy said “Kool” (Afrikaans pronunciation) and the story was Blom thought he was taking the mickey! (‘Blomkool’ means cauliflower).

Roy Cartwright, who owned the Tattersalls, called Barney and Louis Green, brothers who owned a little shop in Warden Street where we used to buy our school shoes, Barmy and Looney.

The Green brothers’ stock was always coming in on “Vensday Veek”. Whatever you were after, they didn’t have it, but it would be there by “Vensday Veek”.

Roy also christened Martha McDonald and Carrie Friday, as they cruised around in a beautiful bottle-green Buick “Martha and My Man Friday”.

Michael Hastings to Mary Swanepoel as they were leaving Harrismith in 1964: “There’s been a Hastings in Harrismith since 1066 and now we’re leaving.”

Dr Hoenigsburger, great friend of my great grandfather, Stewart Bain was the family GP as well as the Harrismith government doctor (district surgeon?). Annie always called him Dr ‘Henningsberg’.

One day, driving back to town from the prison, he missed the bridge and his car landed in the spruit. Only his pride was injured. In the meantime, back in town, the hostess of the bridge evening was getting a bit perturbed as Dr H hadn’t arrived yet and they couldn’t start playing bridge without him. She ‘phoned the Hoenigsburger home and was told by Dr H’s young son Max: “No, I don’t think my father will be coming tonight. He’s had enough bridge for one day.”

Aunty Hester Schreiber was a much loved friend of our family and had a wonderful sense of humour. She was walking along the pavement one day outside their home opposite the big Dutch Reformed Church right in the middle of town. Suddenly she felt faint and sank to the ground. But help was at hand. Gerrie Coetzee, Harrismith’s own Maurice Chevalier, happened along. Always impeccably attired, in tweed coat, deerstalker and kierie – with beautiful manners to match, he gallantly bent down and tried to help Aunt Hessie up. Her response? “Nee los Gerrie, los. Netnou lê ons altwee innie gutter. Wat sal die dominee dan sê?”

The same Aunt Hessie walked into her lounge one say, slipped on the “springbok velletjie” rug and slid right under the narrow coffee table. And there she lay, completely trapped by the legs of the table and screaming with laughter. Oh, how we loved her and her sense of humour.

So many of Mum and Dad’s stories are about good times they had with Steve & Hester Schreiber, Joe and Griet Geyser, Bert & Margie Badenhorst, Jannie & Joan du Plessis, Frank & Harriet van der Merwe, Cappie & Joyce Joubert, Manie & Mary Wessels, Hector & Stella Fyvie, Geoff & Billy Leslie, Dick & Barbara Venning.

The last time Mary saw Jannie du Plessis, he said to her: “I’ve got to take so many pills I can never remember if I have to take two at 10 o’clock or ten at 2 o’clock.”

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Mosleyisms

Stan Mosley worked for the Woollen Mills in Harrismith back in the ‘fifties. Born in England, he had a colourful turn of phrase. Mom used to tell us of things he said over the years, but I forget them, so I’ve been trying to get her to remember them.

Here are some Mom remembers and one Pierre du Plessis recalled:

  • A journey in a pickup along a rough road “We rattled along like a tin of sardines”;
  • Harsh justice: “The judge sentenced him to be hanged by the neck until death us do part”;
  • On the golf course: “The ball was rolling towards the pin, gathering memorandum”;

HS Golf course

  • The lights went out at the factory, so Stan phoned up Ben Priest in the municipality: “Mr Priest! Is there any lights?” To which Mr Priest answered “No, there isn’t none at present now”;
  • On Platberg: “On the mountain the only living thing we saw was a dead baboon”;

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Lovely old pic of the golf course (so clear!) from deoudehuizeyard blog.

“Nee los Gerrie, los. Netnou lê ons altwee innie gutter. Wat sal die dominee dan sê?” – Abandon me to my fate, gallant knight! We can’t afford to be seen together in the gutter by the local guardian of the dorp‘s morals!

dorp – village;