Categories
8_Nostalgia

Food Glorious Food

We used to buy our groceries from Freddies Cash Store, straight across the road from our bottle store, seen in the picture. Freddies was owned and run by Grace Schimper (round as a beachball, thick glasses) and her sister Edna Bisset. Grace unmarried, Edna divorced with two special kids a bit older than us – Petra and Ray. Rey?

Milk would be delivered in big tin cans on the back of a grey Morris Minor pickup by Joan and/or Vera Simpson; they were unmarried, lived on their dairy farm, Joan slept on the open veranda year-round. Later in glass bottles – who delivered that?

Our meat we would buy from Paul Raath, then from Louis Schoeman, ex-dashing, polo-playing bachelor – thought he was the Prince Imperial, says my Ma! Now he was the father of five wonderful kids, the older ones our age, and good friends of ours. Dad says Louis once snorted to him, speaking of his lovely wife Cathy, ‘Hmph! All that woman wants is babies, babies!’ I think he was probably just bragging!

Food was also available at the big Ross general dealer store – a forerunner of the supermarket? – where friendly Charlie Ronalds was the grocer. Later Harrismith got Sonop, our first supermarket.

~~~oo0oo~~~

I thought of this old-time food shopping while reading an article on supermarkets in The Atlantic. How supermarkets have changed the way we shop for food. I thought this passage was very good:

At the very least, you have to marvel: How did we take something built to satisfy the simplest human need and make it so utterly baroque? The supermarket does not “curate.” It is a defiantly encyclopedic catalog of our needs and desires, each and every one of which it attempts to satisfy. With nothing but a can opener, you can get a “turkey dinner in gravy,” “chicken shrimp and crab stew,” “saucy seafood bake,” “chicken and turkey casserole,” “prime filets with salmon and beef,” “bisque with tuna and chicken,” “ocean whitefish dinner with garden greens in sauce,” or a “natural flaked skipjack tuna entrée in a delicate broth.” And that’s just in the cat-food aisle.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Categories
1_Harrismith 2_Free State / Vrystaat 8_Nostalgia

Louis, Imperial Schoeman

Mom Mary fondly says bachelor Louis Schoeman was quite important and quite full of himself – ‘He thought he was the Prince Imperial!’ she says teasingly. ‘Louis the Seventeenth,’ she says, adding one to the last of that French line of kings.

‘He played polo, you know, and that was very posh. He walked with a regal bearing. So when he walked in to Havengas bookstore one day and threw down a document on the counter in front of Dad saying, ‘Pieter! Sign here!’ Dad said ‘What for? I don’t sign anything unless I know what I’m signing!’ all the assembled men’s heads turned to Louis, sensing drama.’

‘I’m getting married!’ he announced, ‘to Cathy, the sister at the hospital.’ Well, like sympathetic, caring, thoughtful bachelors will do when a friend is in need, the men roared with laughter and teased Louis unmercifully!

‘And you know what?’ says Mom Mary: ‘It was the best thing that ever happened to him! Cathy bore them five lovely children and was a wonderful companion, mother and home-maker. Wonderful sense of fun and humour, and they were very happy together.’

~~~oo0oo~~~

Categories
1_Harrismith 2_Free State / Vrystaat 8_Nostalgia Family Wildlife, Game Reserves

Caltex Calenders

Annie had a Caltex garage; Dad worked for Annie; Louis Schoeman traveled for Caltex. Between 1962 and 1971 Caltex gave cloth wildlife calenders as their gift to their filling station owners.

Dad (now 96) says Louis would ‘forget’ to hand them out and he would insist on seeing what was in his boot. And there, ‘along with the sheep shit’ were the calenders! An inveterate collector, Dad would get ‘his’ share! Right! That’s why he has quite a few duplicates!

– I could find nothing on the internet about BK Dugdale – Mom’s hand here in pic –

Some have been sewn together to make table cloths. He still has plans for them, can’t get rid of them. He knows someone who will make them into cushion covers. Then he’ll get some cushions . .

~~~oo0oo~~~

He’s had it done: The calendars are now table cloths and cushion covers and he’s very proud of them. Can’t understand why his eldest daughter didn’t rave about them! She doesn’t like them, I dunno why; I like them. Nice and colourful.

Categories
2_Free State / Vrystaat 7_Confessions

Call the Engine, Call the Engine . .

Fanie, is that a box of matches in your pocket? asked stern Uncle Louis. No Dad, its just a block of wood.

We were having lunch on their smallholding east of Harrismith and father Louis knew enough to ask, but not enough to check. After lunch we were off into the veld and once out of sight Farnie bent down, struck a match and set fire to the grass, watched it in fascination for a few seconds, then beat the flames out with his hands. My turn. Then his turn again.

Who knows whose turn it was – doesn’t matter – but we let it grow too big. Both of us tried to beat it out, stomp it out, but the flames spread and ran away from us.

OH! SH*T!! We ran back to the farm house and phoned the fire engine in town. When Louis found out he phoned again and told them not to come. He had already phoned the neighbours and alerted all hands on deck.

My most vivid memory was herding cattle out of a paddock and having a cow refuse to go, charging straight back at us and forcing her way back in. Her calf was in there and she only left once it was with her.

Nine farms burnt, we were told. And calling the fire engine costs money we were told. And we learnt some other lessons, too. You can tell: Both of us are fine upstanding citizens today (telling our kids to BEHAVE themselves, dammit).

Bakerskop Platberg 2

A fire in 2014 in the exact same spot (click on the pic). Our fire was ca 1960.

~~~oo0oo~~~

NB: As memories are notoriously fickle, read older sister Barbara’s (probably more accurate!) recollection of this day:
Let’s go back to the Schoeman’s farm. The three little Swanepoels were spending a week-end on the farm with the three little Schoemans.
BarbsKoosSheila ca1960 Three Swanies ca 1960
After breakfast the six of us went for a walk in the veld. Unbeknown to me, two little sh*ts had lied about having matches in their pockets. Not far from the house they crouched down and I thought they had seen something on the ground. On inspection I now knew that it was matches that they were playing with. They lit a few little fires and quickly with their bare hands (brave boys!) killed the flames. Until then it was all fun for them but I felt very uneasy.
Suddenly the next little flame became a “grand-daddy” of a flame and within no time the two little sh*ts could not longer use their brave little hands. Guess who ran away first? Yes, the two little sh*ts! Something made me look back at the roaring fire and that’s when I saw little Louie – who was 3 – standing in a circle of flames with his arm raised and covering his face – he was frozen stiff. I turned around, ran through the flames, picked him up and ‘sent it’ back to the farmhouse.
With no grown-ups at home, I phoned my mother at the Platberg Bottle Store and through lots of “snot and trane” told her what had happened. She ran across the road to the Town Hall corner and “hit” the fire alarm for the Harrismith Fire Brigade to come and save the day. Needless to say they saw no fire in town so must have just gone home.
The fire did burn through about 3 farms – the damage was extensive. Uncle Louie and Aunty Cathy, on coming home that afternoon, apparently stopped the car on the main road, got out and just stared – could not believe what they was seeing.
Well, we were supposed to spend the week-end there but all the grown-ups had had enough. We were packed up, bundled up into the car and taken home.
Years later (before they left SA) I bumped into Louie and Gaylyn and told them the story. I could not believe it when Louie told me he had always known that I had saved his life – and I thought that that memory had gone up in flames!
Lots of love to you all
Yours “Firewoman” Barbara

~~~oo0oo~~~

Later I wrote (thinking that nothing had really happened to us after the fire):
Dammitall, we really had amazingly tolerant parents back in the sixties, come to think of it!

To which Farn Schoeman replied:
Koos, small correction: YOU had amazingly tolerant parents!