Categories
1_Harrismith 2_Free State / Vrystaat 7_Confessions 8_Nostalgia 9_KwaZuluNatal Family

Bloody Marys

Mary Bland and Sylvia Bain, cousins, decided there was NO WAY they were going to miss the dance in the Harrismith Town Hall. This is quite possibly Mary’s single biggest act of defiance or wilful disobedience in her whole life. See, they were meant to be in Durban then, to start their midwifery course at Addington Childrens Hospital.

But to the dance in the dorp they went. Mary with Pieter, who she later married; and Sylvia with John, who she later married.

The next day they left (by train?) and in Durban they got their new quarters and their new uniform, which they loved: ‘It had a long fishtail headdress down the back almost to our waists. It looked beautiful.’

Also, their new matron was Mary Hawkins and they knew her sisters in Harrismith and in fact, Mary’s Mom Annie had dated her brother ‘Hawks’ Hawkins for quite a long while.

When they were summonsed to Matron Hawkins’ office they waltzed in merrily feeling glam and looking forward to a warm Harrismith welcome; only to be met with a frosty blast and a good dressing-down from Bloody Bill, as Mary Hawkins was known by those who knew her! Or sometimes Bloody Mary. She had been the Matron of all SA nurses in the war, and this was shortly after the war, and she was in no mood for nonsense. They were LATE starting their course!

– Mary left and Sylvia, new in Durban – ca.1949 – day off –

~~~oo0oo~~~

Somewhere there’s a newspaper photo of Mary and Sylvia with a New Year crop of fresh Durban babies. Must find it.

The feature pic shows Mary and Pieter also in 1949, also outside the Town Hall, but another occasion.

~~~oo0oo~~~

pics from skyscrapercity.com; and kznpr.co.za – thank you. kznpr is Hugh Bland’s site; Here’s the cover of Hugh’s book on the Addington Childrens Hospital:

Hugh Bland and Mary Bland are related if you go way back to Josiah Benjamin Adam Bland and John Francis Adam Bland, so they have both played a part in the Addington Childrens Hospital. Hugh didn’t deliver any babies, though.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Categories
1_Harrismith 2_Free State / Vrystaat 8_Nostalgia Family

Treasure Chest

Sheila has just had a treasure chest smuggled to me by James, Mignon’s husband. A dozen books, old letters, a diary of her 1985 trip taking Mother Mary right around those small islands which made such a damn nuisance of themselves in the era they call the Breetish Empire Daze. Of course, they’d just say ‘The Empire.’

So where to start among these riches, which could take ages to sort through?

Here:

I now know that in November 1957, a concert to raise funds for the Harrismith hospital was held in the ‘Kerksaal’ (that would have to have been the saal of the moederkerk in the middle of town, otherwise it couldn’t have just been called ‘kerksaal’).

Mom Mary played this piano solo – Rustle of Spring by Christian Sinding. Close your eyes and listen:

. and in March 1957 at an earlier concert – also funds for the hospital – Mignon’s Mom Mona du Plessis played Chopin’s waltz in E minor. Close your eyes:

At the March concert, Mary also sang with Mona and Esther Mouton in a ‘vocal trio,’ and in another trio with Trudy Else and Esther, they sang ‘Come To The Fair.’

Mary also played Cecile Chaminade’s ‘Pierette’

Lucky Harrismith! To have these talented ladies perform for them. Our Moms! All their numbers would, of course, have been better than the motley youtube crew I’ve shown you above!

~~~oo0oo~~~

Also in the treasure chest: My letters from America, from Veld and Vlei, from the army in Potchefstroom, and to Mom and Sheila in the UK. Lots of work!

Oh – and under all this good old stuff there was a bottle of champers and a bottle of red! Sheila and James run a proper smuggling ring!