Koos Mof van Wyk was a bachelor who lived with his Ma out on the Kestell road. One evening he drove home and a Joburg driver drove right up his bum as he slowed suddenly on the main road in order to turn in at his gate.
The Joburg oke was angry, ‘Waddefok maak jy dat jy sommer so skielik stilhou innie mirrel vannie pad!?’
Koos Mof was astounded. Waddefok maak JY!? he yelled. Almal weet dis my hek hierie en ek draai altyd hier in. Ek is Koos Mof en ek BLY HIER!
Joburg driver: How can you just stop in the middle of the highway!?
Koos Mof: What do you mean!? Everyone knows this is my gate and I always turn in here! I LIVE HERE!
I saw the above pic on the internets and it reminded me of an incident after a river outing. It’s apparently of an old fella who rolled and his wife is still inside, but they’re getting a picture already. I can believe that these days, everyone has a camera in their pocket, but my story was back in the eighties BCE, Before the Cellphone Era.
We’d paddled to Josephine’s bridge and me and Bernie (I think it was) were on our way out of the valley when we rounded Dead Man’s Corner and saw a car on its roof with the wheels still spinning. We skidded to a halt, hopped out and ran over, ready to rescue and get the car back on its wheels before all the oil ran out (or that’s what I was thinking – dunno if that actually happens?) or before another car zoomed into it.
We shouted “You OK?” and a young guy said “Fine!” and started crawling out on his tummy out of the drivers seat window. As we grabbed the car and started to heave he said “WAIT!” grabbed his camera and took a picture of the upside down car. “One for the album!” he said, grinning.
I’d never seen that before.
We righted him and off he went. Driving off we decided it must definitely have been a case of Daddy having bought the car for sonnyboy.
I arrived back in town for the weekend from JHB – 1976 or 1977 – in my shiny new grey and grey 1965 Opel Rekord I’d got from Mom and Dad for my 21st.
Saturday morning I phoned Tabbo. What’s happening in the City of Sin and Laughter? The usual. Nothing. Come on out to the farm. Gailian.
I roared out of Piet Uys street into Stuart street, up Bester street into Warden street on a sunny Saturday morning, heading west with the sun behind me. I pass Annie’s Caltex garage, I pass Stewart Bain’s Town Hall, I pass the beautiful Badenhorst gebou on my left (it’s on the right in the picture). One of our metropolis’ three traffic lights is green so I proceed. I notice a fellow on my left who seems a bit under the weather. He walks forward as if to cross against the red. I move out wide but he then stumbles into a run and I hit the brakes but I also hit him! Shit! I’ve hit a pedestrian! Right in front of the Methodist Church nogal!
I’ve screeched to a halt, horrified, and I hop out. He’s lying about 5m in front of me in the middle of the oncoming lane. His hat is on my bonnet, his carton of sorgum beer is 2m in front of the bonnet, his shoes are 5m past where he’s lying!
Before I can even think where to phone from, Joseph Bronn is there. He saw the whole thing and has already phoned the cops and an ambulance, thank goodness. They’re there in no time and the fellow is taken off to hospital. The cops take names and statements and let us go.
From Gailian I phoned the hospital. Already they know who he is and where he works – on a farm, he’s in town shopping but it seems he decided to do a bit of celebrating too. He seems fine but he’s very drunk so they’re keeping him overnight for observation. The next morning I phone again – he has left already. Don’t worry, he was OK.
Phew! That slow-motion tableau will never be erased. I can see him looking up at me at the last second and hear the thump even today. The car: A small smooth dent in the bonnet, which I never repaired. It would get other dents in time.
Helios gave his son Phaeton permission to drive the Sun chariot around the Earth. Helios was the Sun God, and a son of almighty Zeus.
Talk about “Don’t Spare the Horses”! Typical youth, the lad Phaeton took some sporting chicks along for the ride, lost control of those horses and the chariot ran amok. The world was at risk of being incinerated!
Grandfather Zeus was thus forced to kill him. Zap! He killed his grandson! Zeus could gooi a mean lightning bolt if you pissed him off.
I’m sure glad the punishment became a bit milder in our day, a few millennia later.
Come to think of it, we never did get punished. Never got caught, actually, though I can’t imagine our folks didn’t have a shrewd idea of what was happening – at least an inkling. See, we used to say we didn’t steal our parents’ cars. We ‘borrowed them on the non-permission system,’ we’d say. In the early days of illicit driving I used to drive the old blue VW Kombi OHS 153 around our large garden at 95 Stuart Street.
Round the circular driveway, out into Hector Street and back in again. Back near the garages was the washing line and the kombi just fit under it. Except I’d forgotten about the flip-up airvent on the roof. It caught the wires and pulled down the washing line poles. Some feverish spadework got them more or less vertical again and the old blue kombi was parked back in its exact spot outside the garage.
Another time I reversed into the tap at the horse trough, the pipe broke and water sprayed out in a long arc. It was evening and the folks were out. Parking the kombi I hastened to the tap and straightened the downpipe, getting drenched in the freezing water – it was mid-winter. That caused less water to gush but there was still a very visible spout. Rushing down to the front gate I found the stopcock that turned off the main water supply. That fixed it and I went to bed before the folks got home. The next morning I rose very early and turned the stopcock back on. “Hmm, the pipe must have frozen and burst last night” was the consensus at breakfast.
My butt was saved by Harrismith’s frigid winter weather!
*Some apparently did, though, as my friend Fanie Schoeman hastened to inform me here.
‘Son borrows Dad’s car’ predictably caused South Africa’s first serious automobile accident – 1903:
On 1st October 1903, Mr Charles Garlick driving his father’s new 24hp Darracq with his friend Harry Markham and chaffeur Snellgrove as passengers, entered the Maitland level crossing from an open gate, only to find the opposite gate closed. Before they could open the gate or reverse out of the crossing, they were hit by the Johannesburg Express traveling at full speed.
Snellgrove was thrown clear, Garlick suffered minor injuries and Markham, with his arm already in splints from a previous engine-cranking mishap, had a badly broken thigh.
It was announced that the Garlick workshop would undertake repairs to the Darracq. A new chassis was obtained from Paris and the final result testified to the efficiency of Cape Town’s first motor repairers.
From ‘Early Motoring in South Africa’ by R.H. Johnston