This was taken at the sad occasion of Jean Coleman’s funeral yesterday. Jean was Mum’s great friend in Harrismith in the 50’s & 60’s. They lived in Hector Street, opposite the du Plessis’ first home.
Mum says when we still lived on the ‘townlands’ on the way to the waterworks, Jean would often ‘phone and say “Have you got a little visitor?” – once again her son Donald had gone missing *** and she knew exactly where he was – he used to walk all the way to our farm to visit his great mate, Koos. The two were inseparable.
Mary Methodist is Anne’s godmother. The Colemans left Harrismith in about 1964.
While we were standing around chatting yesterday, Anne suddenly realised that she, her brother Eddie, and George Elphick (whose daughter is engaged to Anne’s son – small world) had all been delivered by Sister Dugmore at the maternity home on Kings Hill.
“So were we!” chorused Koos & Sheila!
So we had to have this pic taken!
Duggie Dugmore’s maternity home – and below what was left of it the last time I visited. )
More from Sheila:George Elphick is an architect in Durban. His parents John & Una, also left Harrismith in about 1964. They lived in Lotsoff Flats where Una had a grand piano in their tiny sitting room! She was a very talented pianist and used to accompany Mary Methodist, Trudy Else and other singers. We used to have ‘musical evenings’ in our home in Stuart Street – wonder what the neighbours thought? John Elphick, bless his soul, had an enormous reel-to-reel tape on which he would record the proceedings. I have had these tapes put on CD – no Grammy winners here – but just to have this music preserved is so special. I have Mrs Euthemiou singing ‘La Paloma,’ William vd Bosch singing and playing his guitar, Harold Taylor singing ‘Til the sands of the desert grow cold.’ Harold lost his leg at Delville Wood and on tape he tells us that he learnt the song on board ship en route to Alexandria in Egypt, in World War 1. So now you know.
*** Donald once did a big ‘going missing’ on the beach somewhere on the KwaZulu Natal Coast. That time the police were called to help find him. But – as always – he was just exploring. He’d have made it home sooner or later, I’m sure.
He and I once walked home from the Kleinspan school – a distance of less than a kilometer – and got home somewhat later than our folks thought we should have.
Duggie in a nutshell: What a wonderful epitaph!!
We’ve just heard Una Elphick died this year. – R.I.P –
My mate Donald Coleman found, excavated and re-assembled a complete fossil back in about 1962. He was about ten years old at the time. I can see it now, at the back doorstep of their house at the foot of Platberg: About 500mm long I’d guess, every little bone in place. A stout, lizard-gecko-looking creature, it now seems to me. He found it thanks to the excavations for the new N3 bypass around the town which went right near the mountain end of Hector Street, which was where the Colemans lived. Wonder what happened to it?
To me, searching in hindsight, it looked like a Lystrosaurus. It could be Thrinaxodon, common in the Karoo 235 million years ago – and has been found in Harrismith. Or maybe Cisticephalus.
It looked something like the top picture, but completely whole, not embedded in rock. Paleontologists surmise one of the smaller species looked like this:
Dinosaur: “fearfully-great lizard” – as used by Homer in THE ILIAD, written around 760–710 BC. I looked it up: While everything said about Homer is subject to debate, the popular opinion is that he was a blind bard who composed and recited The Iliad and The Odyssey a few hundred years after the events described.
Tragically, Donald died around 1972 in a car accident, or he would have told us exactly what his fossil was and where it is. I want to find it and have it assessed. If it’s a new species I’ll ask them to call it Harrysaurus donaldii !
Our Swanepoel house
Pierre du Plessis’ house
Donald Coleman’s house
Area fossil was found
I got some feedback – via Sheila to Eddie to Anne:
Donald’s lil boet Eddie:Hi Koos – I got this e-mail from Anne today and it’s in reply to a request from Sheila about Harrismith days – I think the fossil mystery may have been solved! I did like my theory about the farm burial though! Eddie had said earlier: I have an idea Donald buried it on a farm we lived on near Winterton – just to confuse future geologists!
Donald’s sister Anne:Hi Sheila – my memories are very hazy. We left Harrismith when I was nine years old. The vivid things I remember don’t really involve school. I remember going up Platberg frequently for picnics at the Gibson Dam; the new highway under construction close to Hector Street – so it became our playground and Donald found a fossilized small animal all intact – that is now at a museum somewhere – I thought Bergville. I also remember early morning Sunday swims at the public pool – Ken (my dad) had some arrangement with the caretaker and we used to pick up children in the neighborhood – definitely you guys.
I remember Miss Nicoll – Donald and I used to go to her everyday as a kind of pre-school – she was a formidable old lady with wild grey hair – she seemed to be about 6 feet tall – but that was probably because we were so small. She taught us to knit – even the boys – and to weave cushions and do cross stitch. And every year we had our items exhibited at the Harrismith Show – with great excitement. As far as school goes – I do remember that Donald was left handed but was forced to write with his right hand – his left hand was actually strapped behind his back !!!! And he came home from school and announced that his left hand was his “home hand” and his right was his “school hand”. Poor thing ! The mind boggles at how primitive some teaching methods were in those days. I also remember a teacher that had a leather strap on a stick and she would creep up behind you and give you a resounding smack if you were being idle! Did I make that up? Sounds like something out of Matilda! I wonder if anyone else remembers such a thing. (Me: Yep. Miss Jordan).
I do remember what fun it was to melt snow on the little stove in the classroom. I remember swimming in the gala at the public pool and it was night time. As far as the children I knew – there was Lesley Wessels whom I idolised and thought she was so beautiful. Then little Heather Mackenzie who was so sweet with amazing hair and blue eyes and freckles! I also really enjoyed the Wood family – I remember Anne and Lynette and that their mother was a kind lady and I loved going to spend the night there . Then there was Marian Searle – a bit older than me – I used to play there .
I remember Joan du Plessis teaching us to swim and Ken impressing on us that she was a springbok swimmer and the best teacher we could have. She did a really great job and when we left to go to Bergville we swam in the Christmas gala and cleaned up! Of course I remember your farm too Sheila – and I was riding a huge tricycle at great speed down a very long driveway and the front wheel came off and I fell off and skidded on my face.
I remember the carnation milk factory Christmas tree and that Jean made me a dress every year for the occasion . I remember the blossoms in the middle of the road above your house – and each year Ken took photos of us so that we could see how we had grown.
Gosh it takes me back! Will email should I remember further ! Lots of love Anne
Just left of this pic was the Coleman back door where Donald placed his fossil; and not far past the house in the background was where he found it. Platberg mountain in the far background.
Pics from wikipedia by Ghedoghedo – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,