Leon Fluffy Crawley

Talking about the photo of the soap box derby on 42nd Hill with Fluffy’s Dad Charlie in it, we got into an extended email conversation:

– Charlie Crawley (left) and Michael Hastings (crouching); Frank Reitz the starter? Looks like his car in the background ‘vimba’-ing the JHB traffic –

Fluff: Amazing the dress code!!!!!!!!

Me: Yes, from kaalvoet kid to full jacket & tie. And two ‘hoeds’. Even the most casual of the ‘racing drivers’ have long pants on. I see your Dad clearly, is that Michael Hastings next to him crouched over the reins with his chin between his knees?

Fluff: Yep, Michael Hastings; I sent the photo to Mom to see if she can identify any others on it. My Dad crashed his kart and came a whopper, apparently had no skin left. He was the moer in when we had our races on the old road, because of the accident he was in. He still owes me a hiding with the kweper lat (quince switch). I bet he is waiting for me in Heaven! But we will just chat about it!!!

Me: By the time we raced down that hill the trees were tall next to the road, and it had become the ‘old road’, a new one having been built above it.

Canoe trip from Swinburne:

– We started under the old road bridge in Swinburne –

Me: So we did the full Swinburne to Harrismith in a day? I remember being picked at the bridge (I think the same bridge you once caught a huge barbel under – correct?). You may remember I went again a few years later with Claudio Bellato. The river was up and we both lost our glasses, spent a wet night sharing one sleeping bag (only half wet, the other one was sopping), then wrecked the canoe (borrowed from the Voortrekker’s) on a tree block in a rapid on Walton farm. Charlie Ryder fetched us and we got the wrecked boat out 2 weeks later. Claudio lives in Durban and I see him from time to time. He still introduces me as “Meet my friend Peter. I slept with him”.

Fluff: Your Dad picked us up in Town, but we did not sleep over en route. The river was terribly low and we did a lot of foot work crossing or bypassing the rapids. We made the trip in one day. I can remember the trip you had with Claudio, jeez terrible to sleep wet, and that with a man. You fixed up the canoe in the backyard if I can recall. That fish: It was a huge barbel from the bridge and that with my a split rod, Dad used for bass!! Haha early one morning standing on the bridge, it was still too dark to go down to the river.

– We finished under the old Hamilton bridge in Harrismith –

Voortrekker camp:

Me: I joined up briefly, thanks to you. Or to your description of the upcoming camp on (I think) Bok or Boy Venter’s farm! I remember the camp in the wattles, a campfire, not much else.

Fluff: I remember the Voortrekkers and I think our membership lasted until after the camp. A huge bonfire, that night; Boy Venter. That was about it.

The 1969 SWA trip . . . The Kestell Trip

We have good memories of the SWA trek and I still have some photo’s as well.

Strangely not of the group or individuals!! I will scan at some stage and put them in mail.

The welwitchia, Namutoni, Finger of God..the lake Otjikoto, the schools of fish. The Germans dumped their weaponry in these lakes, close to Tsumeb. Did we go to a disco in Tsumeb?

Do you remember the beers we ordered, but we were under age but we reckoned there was no age limit buying booze?! You were on the bell and it got stuck and the barman kakked us out and chased us out of the hotel!!!

The visit to the karakul farm, the meerkats!!! Eish the price of that lovely freshly baked brown bread near Twee Rivieren….17cents OMW – the price of brown bead was about 6 cents back home!!!!!

Lovely memories Braam Venter was the guy from Kestell…and who were the brothers who played cowboy and crooks with .303 rifles on horseback!!!! I can recall yourself, Pierre, Tuffy, myself who else was in the party from Harrismith??

Dune 7 with that huge Chevy bonnet that did not work!!!

——————————————————

Me:
Was the hiding “on the cards” when he died? Heart attack, was it? How old was he? That was such a damned shame. I can actually still feel (feel, not remember) how I felt standing in the kitchen at 95 Stuart Street when I first heard uncle Charlie had died.
And here’s my old man turned 91 after 60 yrs of smoking and all that dop in the Club and Moth Hall!! Each old toppie I see (and my work is seeing old toppies!!) has a theory of why he has lived so long but I can tell you right now there’s one main factor: LUCK.
For every “formula” they have for their longevity I know someone who did just that but died young. About the dop my old man used to say, “Ah, but remember he drank cane and WATER. It was the mixers other ous drank that stuffed them up (!!)”. That was his theory and you can say what you like, he’s sticking to it!

Another death I felt sharply was Harry Mandy. Frik Ras came to the fence of the Laerskool tennis courts and told me casually he’d died (he obviously didn’t know him that well) but it hit me quite forcefully. Strange ne?

I’d love to see the SWA photos. I didn’t take any. I still have the ossewawiel (axle centre – what’s it called?) that I got there. It had everyone’s names on it, but they’ve faded now as it has spent a few decades outside propping up my offroad trailer’s disselboom.

From HY I can only add MarbleHall’s name. From Kestell I remember ‘Aasvoel’ and ‘Kleine Aischenvogel’. And my name was Steve McQueen thanks to you not using it at the last minute!

I don’t remember a disco but I do recall the beers at Karasburg and the oke storming in to ask Wat Maaaak Julle? Wie’s Julle? Waar’s Julle Onderwyser? Also the springbokke caught in the fence and the shout Ek Debs Die Balsak! from a savvy farm kid (I’d never heard of turning a balsak into an ashtray till that day!). And the huge bonfire in the riverbed and sleeping out in the open and shifting closer to the embers as the fire died down. COLD nights! Also slept on the ground outside Etosha gates.

I’ll have to cc Pierre & Tuffy on this one!

I don’t recall cowboys & crooks and 303’s.


On heeltemal another trant, remember Abel Louis Aparicio Caixinha? He has surfaced on Sheila’s facebook and I thought of him this week when Eusebio died. Eusebio was his HERO! He would give me great detail about Eusebio!! and Benfica!! and when he scored a goal (remember Rooineks vs Rocks soccer at break, complete with a trophy made in woodwork?) he would shout Eusebio!
———————————————————-

The Bend – Earlier Daze

Before we learnt to drink beer on the banks of the mighty Tugela, we drank oros and water while observing our elders drinking beer on those same rocks on the same bend in the river that gives the farm its name. Here’s an 8mm ‘cine’ movie taken back in the early 1960’s – before we followed suit in the seventies.

These were the days when Thankful and Grateful – as that incorrigible axis of evil or mirth Sheila-Bess-Georgie-Lettuce called Frank and Gretel Reitz – would have large soirees on the farm with the Swanies, the Kemps and others gathering ‘in their numbers.’

In the movie Gretel, Joyce, Mary and Isabel walk along that stunning driveway lined with (amIright here?) Grecian (Roman?) columns to the old double-rondawel thatched homestead. Then the drinking party moves down to the river where Gee and Kai pilot the motorboat and Barbara and Bess paddle in the shallows. Check out Doc Reitz’s old Chev OHS 71.

——-ooo000ooo——-