Mom Mary Swanepoel made costumes for a fancy dress event in the Harrismith town hall ca.1959. We were living on a plot Birdhaven in the shadow of Platberg just a kilometre east of the edge of town on the forestry road.
Some thirty years later, big sister Barbara in the middle on the left, made costumes for her kids Linda and Robbie in a re-enactment ca.1986. They were living on a farm Shukela Estates outside Greytown.
At the time our Oupa was visiting us from Pietermaritzburg. Paul Fouche Swanepoel, grandpa of Peter Frank – me.
Now we await Linda’s move – I’ll bet she’ll repeat the re-enactment with her two, Mary-Kate and Dawie VII – they’ll be third generation ‘gypsies.’
The baby in the feature picture is Mary Caskie, daughter of Alexander Caskie and Mary Craig.
Her father Alexander Caskie became mayor of Harrismith. She married JFA Bland II and gave birth to JFA Bland III.
JFA III Bland, called Frank, married Annie Watson Bain, daughter of Stewart Bain, mayor of Harrismith. So much of mayors, your worships!
Part of the stone wall which surrounded Granny Bland’s home in Stuart Street, Harrismith; and the oak tree her grand-daughter Pat Bland Cowie planted.
Bain Sisters Annie Bland and Jessie Bell lived with Granny Mary Bland after their husbands died. Annie’s daughter Mary and granddaughter Barbara Mary also lived there for a while. Barbara now has a daughter Linda Mary, who has a daughter Mary-Kate – So much of Marys !
The old home now has an artist family living in it and has been beautifully restored.
Apparently this was Granny Bland’s – we grew up with it in our display cabinet
Granny Bland had a husband and five sons. She buried her husband and three of her sons in the same grave – later she was buried there. Her only surviving son Bunty later joined them all.
Mum says Barnie Neveling had a rather caustic tongue at times – it was he who told Mum that Frank Bland’s brother – either Bobby or Bertie – had “taken his own life” – he was a pharmacist and couldn’t live with his asthma any longer. Granny Bland spoke of it as an accidental overdose. Mum didn’t think it was necessary for Barnie to tell her that.
One of Granny Bland’s other sons, Alex, who was the Royal Hotel barman, played the piano. He cut his finger and it couldn’t straighten properly, so a friend offered to pay for the op to straighten it. Dr Reitz did the op and Alex died on the operating table. One of his favourite pieces was Rachmaninoff’s Prelude – Mum couldn’t remember the key – she sang a bit of it to me – looked it up and I think it was G Minor. Mum says that whenever it was played on the radio, they had to switch the radio off because it made Granny Bland too sad.
For those interested, here you can see the original broken daguerreotype Sheila had, and how I digitally ‘stitched’ or ‘healed’ it with FastStone Image Viewer (lovely program):
Update from Sheila on Granny Bland’s five sons:
John Francis Adam Bland III (aka Frank) our grandfather – married Annie Bain – two daughters, Pat – born 1925 died 1974 (married Bill Cowie – two daughters, Frankie and Jema) and Mary born 1928 (married Pieter Swanepoel and had 3 kids, Barbara, Koos – me – and Sheila)
Bunty Bland – married Eve Richter – one son, John (not the golfer) – he married Ethel, and they had a son James and a daughter Janine. John & Ethel divorced. John married a girl about 40 years his junior – I bumped into them in Durban once. Ethel, James and Janine all live in NZ. Janine has two kids, James has never married and has no kids – so out of Granny Bland’s five sons, there is no Bland to carry on the name. Granny Bland buried her husband and four of her five sons – only Bunty outlived her. They are all buried in the same grave in HS.
Albert (Bertie ) Bland never married, pharmacist, committed suicide
Robert Bobbie) Bland never married
Alec Bland - he had a crooked little finger, which he couldn't straighten - he played the piano and this finger bugged him, so Dr Frank Reitz offered to fix it for him - a friend sponsored the op (Mum knows who it was - I've just forgotten his name) and Alec died on the operating table.
Mary Craig married Alex Caskie; they had a daughter
Mary Caskie, who married John Francis Adam Bland; their eldest son was
Frank, who married Annie Watson Bain; their second daughter was
Mary Frances, who married PG Swanepoel; their eldest daughter was
Barbara Mary, who married Jeff Tarr; their eldest daughter was
Linda Mary, who married Dawie Pieterse; their eldest daughter was
Mary-Kate, boss of the house, turning six this year!
In this day of easy instant photography I find it fascinating to read how this image was made:
To make the image, a daguerrotypist would – 1. polish a sheet of silver-platedcopper to a mirror finish; 2. treat it with fumes that made its surface light sensitive; 3. expose it in a camera for as long as was judged to be necessary, which could be as little as a few seconds for brightly sunlit subjects or much longer with less intense lighting; 4. make the resulting latent image on it visible by fuming it with mercury vapor; 5. remove its sensitivity to light by liquid chemical treatment, 6. rinse and dry it; 7. seal the easily marred result behind glass in a protective enclosure.
The image is on a mirror-like silver surface, normally kept under glass, and will appear either positive or negative, depending on the angle at which it is viewed, how it is lit and whether a light or dark background is being reflected in the metal. The darkest areas of the image are simply bare silver; lighter areas have a microscopically fine light-scattering texture. The surface is very delicate, and even the lightest wiping can permanently scuff it. Some tarnish around the edges is normal. (thanks wikipedia)
Nowadays a few quick sweeps of Faststone and I can hide most of the cracks of the broken glass: