Categories
1_Harrismith 2_Free State / Vrystaat 8_Nostalgia Family travel

Honeymoon Hudson

Mom & Dad went to Lourenco Marques in Mocambique for their honeymoon in 1951.

With cars being very scarce after the war, Dad looked around for anything he could afford. He found a Mr Smith selling a fifteen year old Hudson Terraplane 4-door for £100. It came with a spare engine in the boot – and the feeling that it would probably be needed.

Honeymoon Hudson.jpg

But it made it to LM – and back. Mom had to put her feet on the seat – the floor got too hot, even with shoes on. While in Lourenco Marques the Hudson started missing so Dad took it to a garage but the Portuguese owners couldn’t understand him. He tried Italian, which he’d learnt in the war. “Candela?” – Ah! Candela! Yes, they had sparkplugs and they could sort him out.

They stayed in a boarding house a couple blocks back from the seafront. ‘It was cheaper than a hotel’. While there they met with Frank Cabral a big game hunter married to some relative of Mom’s. They swam – Mom remembers the huge beach and the shallow sea with only tiny waves. They had fish for breakfast one morning – a whole fish whose eye gazed balefully at Mom, spoiling her appetite.

– they went to a bullfight –
– detail from the signed matador cloth / scarf –

Outside the zoo Dad bought six parakeets or lovebirds with red faces. He made a cage for them and as they approached the border he hid it behind the large Hudson cubbyhole – there was plenty of space under the dashboard. So he’s a smuggler.

On the way back they went through Kruger Park and Mom distinctly recalls feeling very uncomfortable at how flimsy the reed walls of the park huts at Skukuza seemed when she thought of the wild animals outside! They went to visit an old friend of Dad’s, Rosemary Dyke-Wells, an old Boschetto agricultural college girl who was married to a game ranger there. He was the son of the famous Harry Wolhuter.

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The Kruger Park was opened to tourism in 1927 and after a slow start  – only three cars entered the Reserve in that first year – soon turned into a popular destination. Within a decade, 3600 kilometres of roads had been built and several camps established. In 1935, some 26,000 people passed through the gates. By 1950 a research station and rest camp had been developed at Skukuza, transforming Stevenson-Hamilton’s base into the “capital” of Kruger.

Some Kruger Park pics from the later fifties – 1956 to 1958:



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Later back in Harrismith when the clutch packed up Dad found out the Hudson had a cork clutch. He bought dozens of cork medicine bottle tops from the chemist and hammered them into the angled holes set in concentric circles in the clutchplate, then cut the protruding parts off as level as he could and it worked again.

When it came time to sell it he can’t remember who he sold it to and for how much, but he does remember Pye von During would pay £25 for them and convert them into horse carts.

Years later they came across one at a vintage car show. Dunno when this was, but this year they’ll be married 67 years (2018).

1936 Hudson Terraplane

Hudson Terraplane 1936 interior RH Drive

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Soon after this the Post Office moved Dad back to Pietermaritzburg following a back injury. They stayed in the Creamery Hotel – ‘a dive, but cheap’. They moved to the slightly better (but ‘very hot in the afternoon’ – Mom) Windsor Hotel. Mom took a sewing course at ‘the tech’ while pregnant and then, just before first child Barbara was born they moved in with Ouma Swanepoel in Bourke Street in downtown PMB. Mom gave birth at Greys Hospital in mid-summer, 7th January, then came home to Ouma. Mom remembers the Bourke street home being beautifully cool.

Somewhere before or after, they stayed in Howick, in The Falls Hotel.

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First ‘date’

Annie came to Mom and said ‘Peter Swanepoel has tickets to the Al Debbo concert in the Town Hall, would you like to go?’ He sat between Mom and Annie in the upstairs stalls, and ‘that was the beginning of their romance’ says Mom.

Al Debbo around then – 1949

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An old LM citizen spotted this post and used the pic of Mom & Dad sitting on the seawall in his blog here – but first he deftly tidied it and colorised it. It looks terrific! Thanks Antonio!

Categories
8_Nostalgia

Commodore Tabbo

I’m sure I told you about Tabbo’s first boat? Before the Pheasant Plucker with its inboard motor and Hamilton jet?

After Sarclet dam was built he NEEDED a boat and he found one for sale in Howick. Good price, so we set off to fetch it. It was rather small – for which read: very; and its 30-horse Johnson looked like Noah would have only used it as backup. But it was cheap.

We set off towing back to the big HY, city of sin and laughter, at a rate of knots, Tabbo behind the wheel of his red Datsun-Lamborghini with the round lights at the back.

datsun-160z-red
– remember?? –

We had a good chuckle when we saw a wheel overtaking us on the main tar road between Howick and Estcourt: ‘Wonder which poor fool that belongs to?’ till we heard a scraping in the rear (we hadn’t felt a thing). Well, it was our wheel that had parted and rushed forward to try and give us a message. So that was a problem, as we had sort of ruined whatever a new wheel might have attached to by driving on blissfully ignorant, feeling smug, dragging the axle stump on the tar.

A couple weekends later we finally got the boat to Sarclet dam and into the water. Some okes came around (I think Rob Spilsbury was one) – fortunately no ladies to roll their eyes – and we launched the tiny boat and plucked the starting cord. There was only room for two, so Tabs was sitting in the boat with one other oke who stood in the boat and rukked and plukked. Two of us were standing in the shallow water, holding the transom.

And we plucked and yanked and plukked and then we took turns to pluck and pull and huff. Then we pulled and puffed. Then we took the motor apart and cleaned the spark plugs and put stuff in the carb and did all the things okes do who know a bit and then we re-assembled it and rukked. And still fokol. Two okes were in the boat and two in the water standing on each side of the motor holding the boat and taking turns plucking.

After 4520 plucks it spluttered and began to roar, so the two okes in the water hopped on and the whole fucking thing sank, motor and all.

Dave Simpson wrote: Peter, I think my staff must think I am a bit fucked in the head, as I have just burst out into some raucous laughter. What a classic tale. I can just imagine what happened next: Everyone pissed themselves laughing; Tabbo called some of his trusty staff to pull the boat out; and you all got stuck into a few cases of Lion Lager. Did the boat ever get a second life? – (answer: no) –

Simpson, me, duP - Sarclet Dam?
– Dave Simpson, me, duPlessis – Balmoral Dam on Sarclet –

Here’s the newer, bigger Pheasant Plucker – some years later:

One day I’ll have to tell how I parked the Pheasant Plucker on the bank amongst the parked cars. At high speed. Eish . . petrol and beer . . .

~~~oo0oo~~~

Comments ensued on this picture, which was taken apres ski on nearby Gailian:

This picture got emails going again – Dave Simpson wrote:
It looks to me like an early morning thaw in winter. This probably explains why you are the only oke drinking cuppachino.

Me: Because of Sheils’ notes I can tell you: It was 18 August 1974. And that was cold tea. I’m amazed I was the only one drinking – probly you okes overdid it the night before.

Steve Reed: Hill – larious !! I wonder whose feet and prize winning bell bottoms are on the left. Nothing could beat a Sunday morning debrief on the lawn on a chillsome Free State morning.

Simpson: Do you know Peter, I actually remember that day on the new dam at Sarclet, down there in valley in front of Ian and Bev’s new house. It was the first time I had ever been water skiing. I was totally wind-gat to say the least, as the water was minus plenty, but I though this will be no problem – get up on the skis and have little or no contact with the water.

Well, needless to say, my nuts nearly froze off and my body was just about in the state ready for one of those cryogenic capsules – you know, those things that some Yanks get into before they die with a plan to wake up in about 300 years. Not much chance of that here, with all the load shedding going on.

On the positive side, I did learn to water ski in double quick time, as after that, I never did have a problem on the skis. Was this really in August, the coldest month of the year?? What madness!!

Me: Hosed myself at the cryogenics and load shedding! Imagine strolling into the cryo chamber to re-awaken granpa and the whole place stinks of vrot!! I’m going to stick to my original idea of pickling meself . . . internally.

Reed: Cannot believe your bravery / madness entering those waters in August. Also laughed out loud at both tales!

~~~oo0oo~~~