Buckle the Blacksmith

After Maritzburg College, Dad joined the General Post Office as an apprentice electrician. 1938. Here’s a spirit level he was issued with that day: While he was still apprenticing, he tried to enlist but was sent back. He was transferred to Harrismith, from where he again made his way to Durban and was sent homeContinue reading “Buckle the Blacksmith”

Random Ancestors – #1 Ginger Bain

I know little about my ancestors, so when a friendly Essex wideboy who is into genealogy liked one of my posts and spoke about an ancestor’s challenge, I thought I’d attempt a more modest challenge: Learn about family whose names are very familiar to me, yet I know very little about them. Another prompt cameContinue reading “Random Ancestors – #1 Ginger Bain”

Cappy Joubert

Uncle Cappy was a mentor to his three sons and to many others around him. He was a huge influence in my life. He taught me how to play cricket, how to rough-and-tumble, how to BE THERE for your family; how to do the right thing; He had new cars every now and then whichContinue reading “Cappy Joubert”

My Umko Marathon

There he goes, no lifejacket as was the way those days. . . another guy might be wearing full lifejacket and helmet but he’d be disqualified: wasn’t wearing his club colours! Such was ‘safety’ back when ships were made of wood and men were made of iron! I roared in 140th – looks like 152Continue reading “My Umko Marathon”

Caveman Spies in Engels

Four Spies brothers lived in the Harrismith and Kestell district. These broers had very different personalities; it was said Andries fought for the Spies clan, Hans cursed for them, Frikkie drank for them and Martiens prayed for them all. Harrismith’s historian Leon Strachan has kept this lovely tale of an amazing Eastern Free State characterContinue reading “Caveman Spies in Engels”

Polo in Harrismith

The first recorded polo game in South Africa took place in October 1874 at the King Williams Town Parade Ground between the Gordon Highlanders and the Cape Mounted Rifles. The Military Ninth Division played during the 1880s at Harrismith, Orange Free State. Polo was played in Cape Town in 1885 at a club formed byContinue reading “Polo in Harrismith”

A Slice of Vrystaat

I was born in Harrismith in 1955, as was Mom Mary in 1928, and her Mom Annie in 1893. Annie thought “the queen” of that little island left of France was also the queen of South Africa (and for much of her life she was right!). To balance that, there’s this side of the family.Continue reading “A Slice of Vrystaat”

Kleinspanskool

This used to be something else, I think, but in our time it was the junior primary school. Occupying a full block between Stuart and Warden Streets near the centre of the metropolis, our Sub A to Std 1 classes were here. Except if your Std 1, 2 and 3 was all together in oneContinue reading “Kleinspanskool”

Pulling a Fa(s)t One

Greg Bennett told me about his latest Yamaha outboard motor over coffee the other morning – a 425hp beast. “Stands taller than me with my hand stretched skywards” he said. This reminded me of the time we went out to Hazelmere to test his then-biggest outboard motor: I think it was 225hp. I was slalomContinue reading “Pulling a Fa(s)t One”