1_Harrismith, 2_Free State / Vrystaat, 8_Nostalgia, Family

The Mass Choir Amasses

A large gathering of the Goor Koor – that assembly of happy inebriates led and accompanied by virtual-teetotaller Mary Methodist, our Mom, gathered together – assembled, amassed – on the occasion of Mom’s 45th birthday. Usually there were far fewer of them gathered at any one time, an occasional Lubricated Quartet perhaps, but this was a special occasion!

And Sheila – thanks goodness! – took pictures. She was in matric at the time, I was in Oklahoma, Barbara in Pietermaritzburg.

– Joyce Joubert; Marie Roux peeping out; Isobel Kemp; Stella Fyvie; Mary the birthday girl, wearing specs, grog in hand; Mary Wessels; Martie Dreyer; Baby Mandy; Annemarie van Wyk –

. . and here – precious picture! – Mary at the keyboard and Hugo Wessels right there, ready to belt out a number! Two very talented people, 45 years old, who were in matric together in 1945. And this fun gathering happened 45 years ago, as Mom is now 90! I think all my stats are right . . .

– in earlier years my ear would be near the floor right outside that door behind Hugo – listening in fascination –
– Dina de Kock; Hester Schreiber; Koekie de Bruyn; Hugo Wessels; Hannes van Wyk; Jack Kemp; Pierre Roux; Hector Fyvie; Steve Schreiber; Dad; Bennie Dreyer; Joyce Joubert Isobel Kemp; Stella Fyvie: Anna-Marie van Wyk –

Wonderful memories of crawling down the long passage to get nearer to the sound of Mom playing the piano; Also of sundry ‘choir members’ over the years, belting out popular songs with high enthusiasm and various degrees of talent. If spotted by any of the choir it would be ‘Hello Kosie!’ – if spotted by Mom or Dad it would be ‘Get back to bed!’

Also memories of the smell of ash trays! Always plenty of ash trays. Ours were from tyre companies, so they were glass inside miniature Dunlop or Goodyear tyres!

– I couldnt find one overflowing with butts and ash! –

~~~~oo0oo~~~~

Goor Koor – Dire Choir

~~~~oo0oo~~~~

– 45yrs later here’s Mary, still beautifully at it –

~~~~oo0oo~~~~

1_Harrismith, 2_Free State / Vrystaat, 7_Confessions, 8_Nostalgia, school, travel

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. It was 1965 and even then the image of a golden buzzer appeared to me in a vision.

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 the 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

~~~~~ooo000ooo~~~~~

Harrismith Laerskool – the village school

ous – us men

Dek jou hol met bouse off hollie! FaLaLaLa  La LaLaLaLa“.

seunskoor – boys choir

stampvol – sold out, overflowing

volksliedjies – folk songs

gehoor – audience, fans

dankie tog – fanks heavens, sigh of relief

ReetShits Bye – Richards Bay, then still a small harbour town on the warm Indian Ocean

1_Harrismith, 2_Free State / Vrystaat, 7_Confessions, 8_Nostalgia, school

Harsh Rejection, Deep Scars

In high school we had an older mate who was in the Free State koor. He was famous in Harrismith for that. His nickname was Spreeu but we called him Sparrow. Everyone knew Sparrow was one of “Die Kanaries – Vrystaatse Jeugkoor“. Fame! Bright lights! Girls threw their broekies at him. OK, maybe not.

One day a buzz went round school that Septimus – apparently he was the seventh child – Smuts, Free State Inspector of Music was there – here! in Harrismith, city of song and laughter – to do auditions for new members for this famous koor.

We were there! Me and Gabba. Neither known for having the faintest interest in warbling before (my membership of the laerskool koor a distant memory). Nor any other form of culture come to think of it, other than rugby. Gabba was a famous – beroemde, kranige – rugby player, having been chosen for Oos Vrystaat Craven Week in Std 8, Std 9, Std 9 & Std 10. Strong as an ox.

People were amazed: “What are YOU ous doing here?” they asked as we waited in the queue. We just smiled. We’d already missed maths, biology and PT.

Septimus was a dapper little rockspider full of confidence. He gave Gabba exactly three seconds and sent him packing. Gave me ten times longer and said “Nice enough, but no range”. So back to class we went, crestfallen look on our dials, mournfully telling our mates and the teacher that we COULD NOT understand how we’d been rejected and there must have been some kind of mistake. Tender-rigging, maybe?

The teacher raised his eyebrows but we stuck to our story: It had been a longtime deep desire of ours to sing for our province and the rejection cut us deep.

It became mine & Gabba‘s standing joke over the decades that followed.

Gabba, disappointed songbird:

Rugby HY 1972 Gabba crop.jpg

~~~~~ooo000ooo~~~~~

Decades later research has uncovered what Septimus was looking for. If only we had known! Here’s the criteria they were looking for in aspiring choristers in the late 60’s:

We may have scored C’s and D’s on most, but on 7.2.1.8 Intelligence and Dedication we surely got an A? Also if we’d known the choirmaster had ‘n besondere liefde vir die gedrae polifonie van Palestrina se koorkompetisies,’ we’d have practiced that shit.

~~~~~ooo000ooo~~~~~