Football Turnaround – So Glad You Could Leave!

I played football in Apache Oklahoma in 1973 for the Apache Warriors.

Apache Football Team 1973 – I was No. 47 – and surplus to requirements

The coaches did their best to bring this African up to speed on the rules and objectives of gridiron. We played two pre-season warm-up games followed by five league games. And lost all seven encounters!

Myself I was kinda lost on the field, what without me specs! So here’s me: Myopically peering between the bars of the unfamiliar helmet at the glare of the night-time spotlights! Hello-o! Occasionally forgetting that I could be tackled even if the ball was way on the other side of the field!

At that point I thought: Five more weeks in America, five more games in the season, football practice four days a week, game nights on Fridays. I wanted out! There was so much I still wanted to do in Oklahoma and in preparing for the trip home. I went up to Coach with trepidation and told him I wanted to quit football. Well, he wasn’t pleased, but he was gracious.

We were a small team and he needed every available man, how would they manage without me?

By winning every single one of the last remaining five games, that’s how!!

Our coach Rick Hulett won the Most Improved Coach Award and the team ended up with one of their best seasons for years!

I like to think the turnaround was in some small way helped by the way I cheered my former team-mates on from the sideline at the remaining Friday night games! But I suspect it was the fire in the belly of my teammates determined to succeed without me!

This after me:

Apache Football

edit:
I see Apache football has had some great results recently!

Mother Mary Memories

Mr Pretorius was a new teacher in Harrismith. This is back in the ‘forties. One Geography lesson he asked a question and the answer he wanted was the town “Heilbron”.

Johnny Priest (chosen perhaps because the teacher knew he wouldn’t know?) answered “The Free State” at which Mr P lifted his eyes to the heavens, rolled them and sighed sarcastically “Why don’t you just say The Union of South Africa?” at which Johnny hastened to say,

“I meant the Union of South Africa”.

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

High school teachers Mr Coetzee taught Afrikaans and Mrs Coetzee taught English. One day in matric she asked Linden Weakley a question. He was slouched low in his chair with his legs stretched in front of him and crossed, his feet almost under her desk. He was a languid chap, Linden. He answered as he was, not moving. “Uncross your legs” she said. So he did. “I mean GET UP!” she said, more sharply this time.

Once Mom was playing tennis with Linden when their opponent got cramp in a leg. Mom, ever helpful, went to the net to tell him to how to cope and what to do ti get rid of it. “Let him keep his cramp” said Linden “I want to win this match!”.

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

Outside toilets

Toilets were outside, well away from the house, usually at the back border of the yard where the alley ran past so the ‘Night Car’, or ‘Honey Cart’, could get to them easily. If you had a big yard it could be a long walk. Mrs de Beer used to say theirs was “Halfway to Warden”!

“Oh, the embarrasment”, says Mom, “of meeting the Honey Cart at night when walking home from the bioscope!”

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

Mom’s doctor in Harrismith was Dr Hoenigsberger, who was married to Janet Caskie, an Australian cousin of Mom’s Granny Bland. He was the government doctor (district surgeon) and part of his job was to attend to the inmates in the Harrismith Gaol. On the way back from there one day he hit the bridge over the Kakspruit and landed up in the spruit below the bridge. He was taken home, a bit shaken.

Later one of his friend phoned the house and one of his sons (Leo or Max) answered. “Hello, is the doctor in? We want him to come around and play bridge with us” said the voice.

“No, I think he’s had enough bridge for one day” answered the son.

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

Wealthy Casper Badenhorst was apparently very tight with a dollar. Had plenty, spent little. When Harrismith people free-wheeled downhill in their cars they would say “Ons ry nou op Casper se petrol”.

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

Sr. Mary Bland Boksburg

After matric Mary went to do nursing at the Boksburg-Benoni hospital. Older sister Pat had gone there three years before, with Janet. Pat was highly regarded by her colleagues and she took Mom to her first ward, ward 10 in the old block to introduce her to the nurse already there, Nurse Groenewald. The ward was on the fourth floor and they got into the old rattle-trap lift but no go – it was out of order. She found out it was often that way.

So they started off up the stairs at speed. Mom got to the top out of breath. She soon got fitter and learnt to run up  those steps with ease.

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

“Ons ry nou op Casper se petrol” – We’re riding on Casper’s petrol

 

 

Pieter G. Swanepoel, Maritzburg College

Pieter Gerhardus Swanepoel, Maritzburg College, 1937.

*dad-maritzburg-college-1937

Sheila writes: Dad was at College from 1935 – 1938. He was “pushed up” twice and ended up starting matric in January 1938 a month after he turned 15. Three months later, on 1 April 1938, he left. He says he didn’t run away – he left. He’d had enough!

And now, 78 years later – he’s still doing his own thing! His way! In May this year, I (his daughter Sheila) took him to his 78th matric re-union at College. And yes, he was the only one of his year there, but he wasn’t the oldest old boy! That was Cyril Crompton, matric 1933, who was 97. He turned 100 last week. He and Dad have become great pals.

Cyril Crompton (97) and Pieter Swanepoel (91)
Cyril Crompton (97) and Pieter Swanepoel (93)

Sheila

Tragic Testicular Descent

I used to sing beautifully. The teacher who trained the boys choir in Harrismith Laerskool said so. Well, she might have. She was Mej Cronje I think, and was half the reason ous would volunteer for the choir. To look at her.
I was a soprano and we looked down on the altos who, though necessary as backup, weren’t in the same league as us squeakers. One directly behind me used to bellow in my ear: “Dek jou hol met bouse off hollie! FaLaLaLa  La LaLaLaLa“.
One day this discerning talent spotter Juffrou Cronje chose me to sing a solo in the next konsert.

Fame loomed.

Then tragedy struck!

My balls dropped. They handled it very diplomatically. By ignoring it and cancelling practice. The konsert didn’t materialise (co-incidence? Surely they didn’t cancel a concert just because one boy suffered testicular descent?) and by the time the next one came around I hadn’t been banished – just consigned to the back and asked to turn it down.

* * *

Just in case there are people who think Harrismith se Laerskool se Seunskoor was a Mickey Mouse outfit, lemme tellya:
WE TOURED ZULULAND. The Vienna Boys Sausages were probably nervous.

We got onto the light blue school bus and drove for hours and hours and reached Empangeni where the school hall was stampvol of people who, starved of culture in deepest Zoolooland, listened in raptures as we warbled Whistle While You Work, High on your Heels is a Lonely Goat Turd, PaRumPaPumPum, Edelweiss, and some volksliedjies which always raised a little ripple of applause as the gehoor thought “Dankie tog, we know vis one“.

If memory serves (and it does, it does, seldom am I the villain or scapegoat in my recollections) there was a flood and the road to ReetShits Bye was cut off, sparing them the price of a ticket (though those were probably gratis?).

Can’t remember driving back, but we must have.

After that warbling faded in importance and rugby took over.

like here

What a Lovely Man

We grew up next door to Gould Dominy on a plot outside town. Our plot was Birdhaven, theirs was Glen Khyber. We knew him as Uncle Gould and would watch fascinated as he drank tea out of the biggest teacup you ever saw. Size of a salad bowl. A flock of small dogs would be running around his ankles as he drank, seated on their wide enclosed and sun-filled stoep.

Then he disappeared and re-appeared years later at the hoerskool as religious instruction (RI) teacher. Seems he had been teaching music at some naff school in Bloemfontein all those years. St Andrews or St Somebody.

He had been very fond of me as a boy but he was re-meeting me as a teenager and that was about to change. Or would have had he not been such an amazingly tolerant and loving gentleman.

His classroom was at the back of the school in the row of asbestos prefabs. For the cold Harries winters it had a cast-iron stove in one corner.

We were terrible. We would saunter in while he caught a quick smoke outside, grab his sarmies and scoff them, move the bookmark a hundred pages forward in his copy of The Robe* (that he was considerately reading to us as our “RI” in lieu of bible-punching) and pull up our chairs around the black stove and sit with our backs to him.

Dear old Mr Dominy would come in and start reading while tickling the inner canthus of his eye with a sharp pencil till he couldn’t stand it any longer, would then “gril” and rub his eyes vigorously, flabby cheeks wobbling, and then carry on reading. Every so often he’d mutter “I’m sure we hadn’t got this far?” proving he was the only one listening to the story. Not even the girls, sitting in the normal school benches, would comment on the fact that we read ten pages a day but moved on a hundred pages at a time.

‘Tex’ Grobbelaar, meantime, would also have swiped one of his cigarettes. Rolling up a sheet of paper, he would set light to it in the stove, light the fag and smoke it right there, furtively holding it in the palm of his cupped hand in that ‘ducktail’ way and blowing the smoke into the stove opening.

What a lovely man. Gould. Not Tex. Nor the rest of us.


Here’s Ann Euthemiou combing Mr Dominy’s hair on a trip to Kruger Park back in 1968.

april-1968-ann-coming-mr-dominees-hair-school-trip-to-kruger

*The Robe – a historical novel about the crucifixion of Jesus written by Lloyd C Douglas. The 1942 book reached No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list. The 1953 film adaptation featured Richard Burton in an early role. (wikipedia)

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

hoerskool – house of ill repute;

gril – shudder, jowels wobbling;

Blaas, Boetie!

Marching in the cadets was a ballache. Once a week we would arrive at school not clad in grey shirts, grey shorts and grey socks, but in khaki shirts, khaki shorts and khaki socks. It was ‘kadet dag’ or something. Softening us up and brainwashing us in the glory of fighting for the vaderland.

This had to stop, so Lloyd and I decided to try out for the orkes. Still the kadet orkes and you still had to wear khaki but we thought it might be less onerous. I was assigned a drum and drumsticks. Zunckel was give a bright brass trompet, slightly battered.

What was lekker was instead of marching up and down like drones in the school grounds with some kop-toe ou shouting LI-INKS . . . . OM!! we headed off out the gates towards town. Freedom! There we were, Vrystaters going on A Long Walk To Freedom! Often there wasn’t even an onnie with us, and nobody shouting. We marched to the beat of the huge bass drum. Boom Boom Boom. Left Right and all that. We would march right into town, once going as far as the post office. Bonus was you also got to keep an eye on the pomp troppies.

It couldn’t last. Some parade was coming up and it was time for quality control. Kadet uber-offisier von musiek Eben Louw lined us up, got us started on some military propaganda lied and walked slowly from one to the other, listening intently as we parum-parum-pummed away. He watched as I bliksem‘d the drum more or less in time, nodded and walked on.

Then he got to Zunckel. He leaned closer, then put his ear right near Lloyd’s trompet. “Blaas, jong!” he muttered. Niks. Not a peep. The Zunck had been faking it, pretending to blow with his right pinky raised impressively. Never had learned how to make that thing squawk.

Back to barracks he went.

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

Oh no! This post was a dredged-up memory from 45yrs ago. I sent it to his big mate Steve Reed in Aussie, who forwarded it to Lloyd’s sister Filly in Zimbabwe where I thought Lloyd would have a chuckle reading it.

But no, I learned instead that Lloyd had passed away a few months ago.

1974-may-the-bend-sheila-lloyd0001 1974-may-the-bend-sheila-lloyd0002 1974-may-the-bend-sheila-lloyd00030001 1974-may-the-bend-sheila-lloyd00030002

 

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

blaas boetie, blaas jong – prove you actually know how to blow a trumpet and you’re not just fakin’ it; You’re faking it aren’t you?

kadet dag – toy soldiers day;

vaderland – fake concept designed to get you to do things without asking embarrassing questions;

orkes – brass band with drums n stuff;

kop-toe ou – brainwashed individual;

LI-INKS . . . . OM!! – Military command to get a bunch of people all dressed alike to go somewhere. Instead of saying to sixty people, ‘Listen chaps, please get your arses over to the mess hall. See you there in three minutes’, you line them up in twenty rows of three and start shouting blue murder and generally getting really irritated with each other. Forty minutes later you arrive quite near the mess hall in a cloud of dust and blue air all hot and bothered, the only thing you learnt being one new way to cuss your mother-in-law; Massively inefficient;

onnie – paid brainwashed individual;

pomp troppies – short skirts – nuff said:Drum Majorettes 1969.JPG

 

Pow Wow

I was warmly welcomed by the friendly Native American folk in Apache. I really enjoyed them and I think they enjoyed me. They invited me as their guest to a Pow Wow one night.

Here’s a teepee in the Apache showgrounds.

Apache showgrounds

At school the American Indian society presented me with gifts. Debbie Pahdapony Grey does the honours:

The Apache Indian Society presented me with a special hand-made shirt

Oklahoma was Indian Territory before we whites stole it all back, and there’s quite a bit of Indian history about. Read something about it here: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-shocking-savagery-of-americas-early-history-22739301/

For more, read Harvard historian Bernard Bailyn, who has revealed the very ugly, savage treatment of the indigenous Americans in his book The Barbarous Years.

European and U.S. settler colonial projects unleashed massively destructive forces on Native peoples and communities. These include violence resulting directly from settler expansion, intertribal violence (frequently aggravated by colonial intrusions), enslavement, disease, alcohol, loss of land and resources, forced removals, and assaults on tribal religion, culture, and language.  http://americanhistory.oxfordre.com

Here Melvin Mithlo readies Joe Pedrano for an event.

Melvin Mithlo dresses Joe Pedrano

apache-powwow-4

Museum stuff at Fort Sill north of Lawton, south of Apache. Apache chief Geronimo died here, 23 years after being taken captive. His Apaches were the last tribe to be defeated.

Robert L Crews IV at the Apache museum in Lawton (Ft Sill?)

apache-powwow-5

Brief History

Earliest Period – 1830
The tribes usually described as indigenous to Oklahoma at the time of European contact include the Wichitas, Caddos, Plains Apaches* (currently the Apache Tribe), and the Quapaws. Following European arrival in America and consequent cultural changes, Osages, Pawnees, Kiowas and Comanches migrated into Oklahoma, displacing most of the earlier peoples. Anglo-American pressures in the Trans Apalachian West forced native peoples across the Mississippi River; many including Delawares, Shawnees and Kickapoos-found refuge or economic opportunities in present Oklahoma before 1830. However, some of those tribes split in the process.

*Naisha-traditional reference to the Plains Apache

1830 – 1862
The Indian Removal Act of 1830 culminated federal policy aimed at forcing all Eastern Indians west of the Mississippi River. The Choctaws, Cherokees, Creeks, Chickasaws and Seminoles–the “Five Civilized Tribes”– purchased present Oklahoma in fee simple from the federal government, while other immigrant tribes were resettled on reservations in the unorganized territories of Kansas and Nebraska. Passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854 precipitated further Anglo-American settlement of these territories, setting off a second wave of removals into present Oklahoma, which became known as “Indian Territory.” In 1859, with the state of Texas threatening genocide toward Indians, several tribes found refuge in the Leased District in western Indian Territory.

1865 – 1892
The Civil War (1861-1865) temporarily curtailed frontier settlement and removals, but postwar railroad building across the Great Plains renewed Anglo-American homesteading of Kansas and Nebraska. To protect the newcomers and provide safe passage to the developing West, the federal government in 1867 once again removed the Eastern immigrant Indians form Kansas and Nebraska reservations and relocated them on Indian Territory lands recently ceded by the Five Civilized Tribes. The same year, the Medicine Lodge Council attempted to gather the Plains tribes onto western Indian Territory reservations. Resistance among some resulted in periodic warfare until 1874. Meanwhile, the last of the Kansas and Nebraska tribes were resettled peacefully in present Oklahoma. Geronimo’s Apache followers, the last to be defeated, were established near Ft. Sill as prisoners of war.