Categories
8_Nostalgia Family travel

Road Trip with Larry RSA

Mom lent us her Cortina. Like this, but OHS:

cortina 1970

How brave was that!? The longer I have teenagers of my own the more I admire my Mom and her quiet courage and fortitude back in the ’70’s! The thought of giving my teenage son my car and allowing him to disappear (it would be in a cloud of dust and tyre smoke) on a three week jaunt fills me with querulous whimpering. (I’ll do it, I’ll do it, but only ‘cos Mom did it for me).

Larry Wingert was an ex-Rotary exchange student to SA from Cobleskill, New York. He and I had been on a previous Road Trip USA in 1973; now he was teaching English in Athens and had flown to Nairobi, then traveled overland down to Joburg where we joined up and hitch-hiked to Harrismith. There, Mom parted with the Cortina keys and we drove to PMB then on to Cape Town. We took ten lazy days in going nowhere slowly style back in 1976.

Wherever we found a spot – preferably free – we camped in my little orange pup tent. In the Weza Forest we camped for free; In the Tsitsikamma we paid.

Driving through the Knysna Forest we saw a sign Beware of the Effilumps.

knysna forest

So we took the little track that turned off nearby and camped – for free – out of sight of the road in the undergrowth. Maybe we’d see a very rare Kynsna elephant? Not.

In Cape Town we stayed with Lynne Wade from Vryheid, lovely lass who’d been a Rotary exchange student too. She played the piano for us and I fell deeply in love, then disappeared on yet another beer-fueled mission. Coward. We also visited the delightful Dottie Moffett in her UCT res. She had also been a Rotary exchange student to SA from Ardmore, Oklahoma and was now back in SA doing her undergraduate degree. I was in love with her, too.

We headed for Malmesbury to visit Uncle Boet and Tannie Anna. Oom Boet was on top form, telling jokes and stories and laughing non-stop. That evening he had to milk the cow, so we accompanied him to the shed. Laughing and talking he would rest his forehead against the cow’s flank every now and then and shake with helpless mirth at yet another tale. Meantime, this was not what the cow was used to. It had finished the grain and usually he was finished milking when she had finished eating. So the cow backed out and knocked him off the stool, flat on his back, bucket and milking stool upturned. He took a kick at the cow, missed and put his back out. Larry and I were hosing ourselves as we helped him up and tried to restore a semblance of order and dignity.

Back at the house we gave Oom Boet and Aunt Anna a bottle of imported liqueur to say thanks for a lovely stay. It was a rather delicious chocolate-tasting liqueur and it said haselnuss mit ei. It was only a 500ml bottle, so we soon flattened it. It looked something like this:

haselnuss liquer

“Ja lekker, maar ag, dis bokkerol, Kosie – Ons kan dit self maak!”

Ja?

Larry and I decide to call his bluff. In the village the next day we looked for dark chocolate and hazelnuts, but hey, it’s Malmesbury – we got two slabs of Cadbury’s milk chocolate with nuts.

Oom Boet is bok for the challenge. He dives under the kitchen sink and starts hauling things out. He’s on his hands and knees and his huge bum protrudes like a plumber’s as he yells “Vrou! Waar’s die masjien?” Anna has to step in and find things and do things as he ‘organises’. She finds a vintage blender and – acting under a string of unnecessary instructions – Aunt Anna breaks eggs and separates the yolks, breaks chocolate into small pieces. Boet then bliksems it all into the blender and adds a fat dollop of a clear liquid from a label-less bottle. “Witblits, Kosie!” he says triumphantly. He looks and goois more in, then more. Then a last splash.

It looked like this, but the goo inside was yellowy-brown, not green. And it had a layer of clear liquid overlaying it nearly to the top.

Oom Boet blender_2

He switches the blender to ‘flat-out’ with a flourish and a fine blend of egg yolk, chocolate and powerful-smelling hooch splatters all over the kitchen ceiling, walls and sink. He hadn’t put the lid on! And it was like a V8 blender, that thing.

Vroulief starts afresh, patient and good-humoured as ever. We mop, we add, he blends, and then it’s ready for tasting at last.

And undrinkable. That aeroplane fuel strength home-distilled liquor was just too violent. We take tiny little sips, but even Oom Boet has to grudgingly admit his is perhaps not quite as good or as smooth as the imported stuff. We add sugar, more chocolate and more egg yolk, but its only very slightly better, and still undrinkable.

Ten years later I still had the bottle and despite offering it to many people to sip as a party trick, it was still three-quarters full!

If we had marketed it we’d have called it Oom Boet se Bokkerol Haselnuss mit Eish!

I visited Oom Boet and Aunty Anna in a Ford Cortina again in 1983. The top featured pic with the old Chevy pickup was actually taken then.

~~~oo0oo~~~

haselnuss mit ei – hazelnuts with egg

“Ja lekker, maar ag dis bokkerol, Kosie – Ons kan dit self maak!”- Nice, but we could make this stuff ourselves!

“Vrou! Waar’s die masjien?” – Wife! Where’s the machine?

bliksems – throws

witblits – moonshine

goois – throws

Oom Boet se Bokkerol Haselnuss mit Eish! – the same stuff except very different

Categories
7_Confessions 8_Nostalgia

The Marvelous Brauer/Stromberg

Very few people realise just how good the Stromberg is. One of those very few is Brauer. He knows, as he invested a large portion of his student fortune in one at The Rand Easter Show one year (or was it the Pretoria Skou?).

We watched a demonstration in fascination. I mean EVERY time the good honest salesman hooked in the Stromberg the engine ran sweetly and WHENEVER he unhooked the Stromberg it spluttered and farted. Brauer was SOLD. He just KNEW this was the answer to his faded-blue Cortina with faded-black linoleum roof’s problems. Instead of taking it for a long overdue service and changing the oil, water, filter and spark plugs, he would sommer just fit a Stromberg. What could possibly go wrong go wrong, and who could doubt this:

Stromberg

Here’s an email thread that sparked the discussion of the amazing Stromberg phenomenon:

2015/08/30 Steve Reed wrote: Re: Fat takkies

Further proof that nothing stays the same. From our youthful past, it was always a “given” that the back takkies would be fatter than the front …Specially if you have the windgat  version. Now the Audi RS3 has em 2cm fatter  in the front than the back if you have the windgat version.

Really…I am getting too old for all this.  Do they have to mess with everything?


Me: Yep. Because they can . . .

I remember the mindset change I had to undergo when diesels started getting status. Ditto when auto boxes started making more sense than manual? Had to quietly swallow a few ‘definite’ and ‘absolute’ statements made in ignorance!

One of my fascinations has been looking up when the first ____ (whatever) was ever fitted or used in a car.

First electric car – 1881 in France

First patent for seat belts – 1885. But still not compulsory when we grew up and STILL not compulsory throughout the USA today. Politicians in many states wouldn’t dare vote for such a law!

First petrol-electric hybrid – 1899 Lohner-Porsche Mixte

First modern hybrid car – 1904 Auto-Mixte (Belgium)

First four-wheel drive car – 1910 Caldwell Vale

First 8-speed manual – 1931 Maybach DS8

First diesel engined production car — 1935 Citroen Rosalie

First automatic transmission – 1939 Oldsmobile Hydra-Matic, also the first 4-speed automatic.

First trip computer – 1958 Saab GT750

and so on – almost always WAY before I would have guessed !


Brauer: A glaring omission has been noted from your ”when was it first fitted” list:

THE FAMOUS STROMBERG

Do you recall how I had Alan Saks (the great car fundi) going  on this one . . ?


Me: I do. Didn’t we see it some show or other? A great demonstration. If it had been a religion I’d have converted. I would be a Strombergie now.

Who would think Pretoria would have a skou!? What is there to show?

So Alan was not an all-knowing deskundige after all?! Even HE could learn a thing or two?

—————————————————————

Brauer: The one and only Pretoria Skou. ca 1976. Alan had driven my Cortina a few days prior and was subjected to the stop/start lurching. He had many remedies and suggestions. I obviously thanked him for his advice, BUT ALSO ENLIGHTENED HIM re: THE NEWLY PURCHASED SOLVER-OF-ALL-CAR-PROBLEMS . . . THE STROMBERG. Remembering the  “God-ordained” visit to the Skou and that Stromberg stand where we witnessed the justifiably impressive presentation of a product that should have outstripped Microsoft in sales.

To which he chuckled and shook his head in disbelief. I hauled it off the floor behind the driver’s seat to show him. I remember a few choice expletives . . “complete f…ing piece of sh-t” etc etc.

So that weekend I started installing said Stromberg, which involved a rare opening of the bonnet (a procedure I normally advise against to any motoring enthusiast). For starters (no pun intended), after glancing at the oil coated sparks, I thought that while the bonnet was open I might just clean the sparks and set the gaps. Before removing the Stromberg off it’s familiar position of lying on the floor behind the driver’s seat I thought I’d take the Cortina for a spin to see if it still could go after my risky DIY service.

Shit a brick . . it flew! (“why the hell didn’t I do that long ago!?” rolling through my thoughts as the apparently turbocharged Cortina used our sedate suburban streets as its new-found race track).

After getting back home I parked the car and almost forget what I’d started . . THE STROMBERG.

I quickly installed it on-line on the main spark lead and couldn’t wait for Alan’s visit that arvie. Chucked him my keys and said he should take the Cortina for a spin to see if he could tell if the Stromberg had made any diffs . . . The rest is folklore history . . he was stunned into silence, well for at least 3 minutes – but a Saks record nevertheless.


Steve Reed chipped in: You will laugh out the udder side of your face when you read these glowing endorsements. I think I am going to buy one online right now.

stromberg

Me: Brauer, you forgot to put in the most important feature of the Cortina: The colour. What colour was it?

(I read about a popular radio talk show in the States: Two brothers had a “Car Experts” show. People would phone in and ask about the problems they were having with their cars. Long technical details of what the clutch and carburetor and shit were doing and where the smoke was coming out of etc etc – and the one brother would ask “Tell me: This Corvette of yours: What color is it?”).

.

It was light blue.

– the Cortina after the stromberg was fitted –
– before stromberg –

~~~oo0oo~~~

Categories
5_Army days 6_Canoe & Kayak Rivers 7_Confessions

P Addled Brains

That Pretoria restaurant probably spiked our drinks with omega fish oil because when they finally asked us to leave we were brilliant.
We wisely allowed Terry to drive my white Ford Cortina 2-litre deluxe GL while Pierre and Old Pete and I gave comments, directions, instructions, witticisms and dropped pearls – or bokdrols – of wisdom.

‘Twas a balmy night and the breeze was slight. The canoe on the roofrack seemed to Brauer to be a better bet for catching that breeze, so he nimbly hopped out of the window and sat in the cockpit of my Dusi boat, a white Limfy with red deck with matching red tie-downs. I was on an army camp and had brought the boat to get some time off as I was ‘training for Dusi’ on Roodeplaat dam.

First Duzi. Dad seconds in my Cortina 2,0l GL

Terry thought ‘Uh! Oh! HKK’ and pressed on the accelerator to get us home quicker, which meant the breeze inside the car was now adequate. With Brauer’s departure the average IQ in the car had also risen appreciably.
Outside meantime, Brauer started undoing the paddle possibly thinking he could speed up matters if he also paddled through the air. My warnings that the rope tying the paddle on was also the rope holding the boat on, just spurred him to loosen it more. You know how he is.
Which caused Terry to press harder on the accelerator thinking if I go really fast maybe the cops won’t notice there’s a carbuncle on my roof and now we were FLYING! This was not good . . .
Brauer’s ass was saved by a red light where we managed to haul him down and explain gravity, wind resistance, speed, inertia, impact, abrasions, contusions and broken bones to him. As usual, I was the stabilising influence.

He did seem to understand at last, as he poured some stiff drinks when we got home to the Gramadoelas in Tshwane – ancestral home of the original Tshwanepoels, to which we have land claim rights. But that’s another (important) story for another barmy evening.

~~~oo0oo~~~

bokdrols – like pearls, more temporary, though

Dusi – The Dusi Canoe Marathon

HKK = Uh, Oh! Here Comes Trouble

LimfyLimfjorden kayak; sleek fibreglass speed machine (Hey! It was – in 1959!)

Gramadoelas – upmarket suburb in Pretoria, or – more correctly – Tshwane; some call it Maroelana

~~~oo0oo~~~

Comment followed –

Terry Brauer: No-one ever believes that story Pete! My two Peters really have aged me rapidly I fear. When I look back I guess I deserve some accolades for hanging in there!

Me: ‘Some accolades!?’ You deserve a Nobel Peace Prize, a Victoria Cross, various gold medals, an Oscar and a salary increase with perks including danger pay! And that’s just for surviving Pete – I haven’t factored Ryan into that deal . . .

~~~oo0oo~~~