The Bend – Earlier Daze

Before we learnt to drink beer on the banks of the mighty Tugela, we drank oros and water while observing our elders drinking beer on those same rocks on the same bend in the river that gives the farm its name. Here’s an 8mm ‘cine’ movie taken back in the early 1960’s – before we followed suit in the seventies.

These were the days when Thankful and Grateful – as that incorrigible axis of evil or mirth Sheila-Bess-Georgie-Lettuce called Frank and Gretel Reitz – would have large soirees on the farm with the Swanies, the Kemps and others gathering ‘in their numbers.’

In the movie Gretel, Joyce, Mary and Isabel walk along that stunning driveway lined with (amIright here?) Grecian (Roman?) columns to the old double-rondawel thatched homestead. Then the drinking party moves down to the river where Gee and Kai pilot the motorboat and Barbara and Bess paddle in the shallows. Check out Doc Reitz’s old Chev OHS 71.

——-ooo000ooo——-

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 (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 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.

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.

.

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

Hilton Braithwaite, Carol Gower-Jackson, Carl Reitz, Sarclet Dam - 1 Dec 1974

Hilton Braithwaite, Carol Gower-Jackson, Carl Reitz, Sarclet Dam – 1 Dec 1974

Old Harrismith Sarclet

Simpson, me, duP - Sarclet Dam?

Simpson, me, duPlessis – Sarclet Dam

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 . . .