This was the problem: Most of the guys and gals I would do river trips with had a serious deficiency: a lack of some specific paddling strokes one should use on a river trip. Most of them especially couldn’t execute my favourite stroke: Paddle on your lap, arms folded, gaze around in awesome wonder, and allow the boat to gently rotate in the current. The Swanie 360° River Revolution, or Swannee River for short.
They were racing snakes. They’d say ‘Let’s Go,’ and then they would actually do that! Weird. Then they’d look back, wait till I eventually caught up and ask, ‘What’s Wrong Swanie?’ I was of course much too polite to reply ‘Nothing. What’s Wrong With You?’ or ‘What’s The Hurry?’ or ‘Where’s The Fire?’ I’m polite that way.
And so we would gently bumble downriver. Every few hundred metres they’d wait, or one of them would paddle upstream (more weirdness) back to me and ask ‘What’s Wrong Swanie?’
When the current was swift enough my speed could match theirs. It was the flat water that was tricky. In their defence, they were actually going slowly and enjoying the scenery in awesome wonder. It’s just that their slowly and mine was out of sync!
Watch Luca Sestak (then 14yrs-old) show us how to do the Swannee River:
Scope magazine wasn’t always South Africa’s Playboy. Even though it was given a nice niche by the banning of Playboy and Hustler, it seemed to struggle with the intriguing question: ‘What Do Men Really Want?’
Once they got so desperate and misguided they even tried this:
These turned out to be not so much icons as aikonas (to gratefully steal a pun from Pieter-Dirk Uys). Sales plummeted . .
Then they hit on them at last! They had been staring at them all along:
Sales soared! In 1973 they could push their price up . . . to twenty cents! Never again would sweaty, fully-clothed, flat-chested models grace the cover of Scope Magazine!
aikona – isiZulu for ‘no way!’
failed cover – Charles Mason and Tank Rogers, winners of the 1967 Duzi Canoe Marathon!
Friend Charles got marooned on a Seychellois island from drinking too much. Drink – hard liquor – made them forget about their yacht and it broke anchor and drifted off without them. They were marooned like My Man Friday. And his mate, the colonial. He’s writing a book about his adventures, of which more later, when he has published and become famous. On this lonely island he met ‘an Empire Games javelin champion.’
I went looking for who that might be. I didn’t find a javelin gold medalist, but I found:
Henry Beltsazer “Harry” Hart – a South African athlete born in Harrismith, Orange River Colony on the 2nd of September 1905.
At the 1930 Empire Games in Canada he won the gold medals in the discus and shot put competitions, and bronze in the javelin throw. He finished fifth in the 120 yards hurdles.
In 1932 he went to the Olympics in Los Angeles, USA and finished tenth in shot put, twelfth in the discus and eleventh in the decathlon.
At the 1934 Empire Games in London (originally awarded to Johannesburg, but changed to London due to concerns regarding the treatment of black and Asian athletes by South African officials and fans) he won his second brace of Empire gold medals in the discus throw and shot put competitions. In the javelin throw contest he won silver.
Hart was the owner of the Royal Hotel in Reitz, Orange Free State, South Africa. He was friends with Hollywood actors Douglas Fairbanks, Errol Flynn, Clark Gable, US swimmer and Tarzan actor Johnny Weissmuller and CR ‘Blackie’ Swart – at that time a cowboy actor, later the first state president of South Africa. His study at the Reitz Royal Hotel – not really ‘Royal’ – displayed hundreds of photographs of himself in the company of these famous stars, as well as with US swimmer and actress Esther Williams, and Irish actress Maureen O’Sullivan – she played Jane in six Tarzan movies.
Henry Harry Hart himself was apparently offered the part of Tarzan but refused as he had to return home to his farm to practice for the Empire Games. Hmm – I can just hear him: ‘Hollywood? Reitz? Ag, fanks, I’ll take Reitz, OK?’
So Johnny Weissmuller got lucky. Here he is with Maureen O’Sullivan, shouting AAH ee YA ee YAAAH!! She’s a good actress: She’s not blocking her ears.