Koos Kombi

Today Mother Mary took a break from playing the piano. She suddenly remembered a time Mona du Plessis came to her after a ‘do’ at the town hall. These memories come and go so she must tell them as she thinks of them.

Mona said to me – says Mary – “While we were at the town hall Kosie took the kombi, loaded up the de Villiers kids and drove to Joan and Jannie’s where our kids were. Then they all got in – Mignon, Jean-Prieur, Sheila, everybody and they drove up and down Hector Street!”

Of course I remember doing stuff like this – I loved “borrowing” the kombi – but I don’t really recall any specific accomplices! I spose it looked a bit like this:

Koos Kombi full_2

Chaka’s Rock Luxury Beach Cottage

Back around 1962 we joined the du Plessis on a beach and fishing holiday on the Natal north coast – Chaka’s Rock! They were beach regulars, this was one of our two beach holidays that I can remember.  It was amazing! The cottage on a hill above the beach, the rocks and seaside cliffs, narrow walkways along the cliffs that the waves would drench at high tide; magic swimming pools set in the rocks. The men were there to fish:

We baljaar’d on the beach and sometimes even ventured into the shallows – just up to safe vrystaat depth. A swimmer I was not and I still vividly remember a near-death experience I had in the rock pool: a metre-high wave knocked me out of Mom’s arms and I was washed away out of her safe grasp! I must have been torn away by up to half a metre from her outstretched hands; little asthmatic me on my own in the vast Indian Ocean for what must have been a long one and a half seconds. Traumatised. To this day I am wary of the big-dam-that-you-can’t-see-the-other-side-of.

baljaar – frolic

vrystaat depth – about ankle deep

postscript: I tried to keep up the luxury cottage theme but Barbara talked about the big spiders on the walls and yesterday even Dad, who was talking about Joe Geyser, mentioned ‘that ramshackle cottage we stayed in at Chaka’s Rock’.

Dad was saying Joe hardly ever caught a fish. He would be so busy with this his pipe, relighting it, refilling it, winding the reel with one hand while fiddling with his pipe with the other. My theory is the fish could smell the tobacco and turned their nose up at his bait. Dad reckons tobacco was never a health hazard to old Joe. Although he was never without his pipe, it was mainly preparation and cleaning, and the amount of actual puffing he did was minimal.

Once he caught a wahoo and brought it back to Harrismith. Griet took one look at it as he walked into her kitchen and bade him sally forth, so he brought it to Dad and they cut it up and cooked it in our kitchen.

21st on Kenroy

Sheila saw to it I had a party! As so often, Sheila saved the day.

Des Glutz threw open his palatial bachelor home, Kenroy, on the banks of the mighty Vulgar River to an invasion of students from JHB and PMB. That’s because as a lonely horny bachelor Free State farmer he had his eye on some of those student teachers from PMB!

“Kindness of his heart” you thought? Ha! You know nothing about horny bachelor Free State farmers! Anyway, he owed me for managing his farm brilliantly when he went to Zimbabwe.

Eskom had not yet bedevilled Kenroy so paraffin lamps, gaslamps and candles gave light. Music pomped out from car batteries. Noreen, Jo and Ski danced their Broadway routine The Gaslamp Revue with Redge Jelliman holding the silver tray footlight staring in open-mouthed wonder at their skill. And of course, their legsnboobs – another lonely horny bachelor Free State farmer, y’know.

Koos 21st Kenroy 2.jpg

Reg Jelliman gaslight engineer dreams harem dreams – Nor, Mandy, Jill & Liz

There was also Liz and Mops and Jenny, Georgie, Mandy, Gill and Jill; Hell, we bachelors were in awe at almost being outnumbered – a rare event. We were so excited we got pissed and fell down. Timothy Paget Venning got so excited he walked all the way round the house smashing Des’ window panes to let in the night.

 

Poor ole Gilbert, Des’ personal butler, valet and chef, bore the brunt of the extra work! He cooked and cooked, including a big leg of lamb which didn’t make the main table, getting scoffed on the quiet by ravenous would-be teachers under the kitchen table. Pity the poor kids who would have to grow up being taught all the wrong things by this lot in Natal in the eighties.

They were wild n topless:

Koos' 21st.jpg_cr

If the bachelors had been there, we’d have politely averted our eyes. Right!!

Tabbo wore his tie so he could make a speech into his beer can microphone:

Koos' 21st Tabs Koos

Funny how Glutz doesn’t feature in any pics! Where was he? We know he wasn’t in his bedroom cos the TC girls raided it and were in awe at the impressive collection of toys and rubber items in his bedside drawer. No stopping those TC girls!

After the weekend I roared back to Jo’burg in my brand-new 1965 two shades of grey and grey Opel Rekord Concorde deluxe sedan four-door, full-bench-seated, 1700cc straight-four, three-on-the column chick magnet motorcar. My first! Watch out Doornfontein!

koos-opel-1976

21st birthday present! A 1965 Opel Concorde DeLuxe 1700 in sophisticated tones of grey and grey.       Note my reflection in the gleaming bonnet!

Thanks Mom & Dad! And thanks for the party, Sheils!

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The old man organised the numberplate OHS 5678 for me. The man at the Harrismith licencing office said “Oom, are you sure you want an easy-to-remember number for your son? Don’t you want one that’s hard to remember?”

 

 

Thanks, Sister Dugmore

On 2015/12/19 17:34, Sheila wrote:

Hello Everyone. How’s this for a blast from the past!

Eddie Coleman, George Elphick, Anne Immelman (nee Coleman), Sheila & Koos Swanepoel

sister-dugmore_3

This was taken at the sad occasion of Jean Coleman’s funeral yesterday. Jean was Mum’s great friend in Harrismith in the 50’s & 60’s. They lived in Hector Street, opposite the du Plessis’ first home.

Mum says when we still lived on the ‘townlands’ on the way to the waterworks, Jean would often ‘phone and say “Have you got a little visitor?” – once again her son Donald had gone missing and she knew exactly where he was – he used to walk all the way to our farm to visit his great mate, Koos. The two were inseparable.

Mary Methodist is Anne’s godmother.  The Colemans left Harrismith in about 1964.

While we were standing around chatting yesterday, Anne suddenly realised that she, her brother Eddie and George Elphick (whose daughter is engaged to Anne’s son – small world) had all been delivered by Sister Dugmore at the maternity home on Kings Hill. “So were we!” chorused Koos & Sheila!  So we had to have this pic taken!

Apparently Biebie de Vos has the scale on which we were all weighed. When he was born, he was so small that ‘Duggie’ christened him ‘Biebie’ and Biebie he’s been ever since. **

Koos 1 April 1955; Anne 14 April 1955; Sheila 26 June 1956; George & Eddie circa 1959 or 1960.

That maternity home – note the steps and column:

maternity-home-kings-hill-sr-dugmore

And what was left of it last time I went there:

Maternity home Kings Hill
Anglo-Boer War doctors house – then Duggie Dugmore’s maternity home – Kings Hill
Kings Hill2.jpg

George Elphick is an architect in Durban. His parents John & Una, also left Harrismith in about 1964. They lived in Lotsoff Flats where Una had a grand piano in their tiny sitting room!  She was a very talented pianist and used to accompany Mary Methodist, Trudy Else and other singers.

We used to have “musical evenings” in our home in Stuart Street – wonder what the neighbours thought?  John Elphick, bless his soul, had an enormous reel-to-reel tape on which he would record the proceedings.  I have had these tapes put on CD – no Grammy winners here – but just to have this music preserved is so special.  I have Mrs Euthemiou singing “La Paloma”, William vd Bosch singing and playing his guitar, Harold Taylor singing “Til the sands of the desert grow cold.”  Harold lost his leg at Delville Wood and on tape he tells us that he learnt the song on board ship en route to Alexandria in Egypt, in World War 1.

So now you know. Lots of love to you all. Sheila

Koos adds:

  • Donald once did a big “going missing” on the beach somewhere on the KZN South Coast. That time the police were called upon to help find him. But – as always – he was just exploring. He’d have made it home sooner or later.
  • He and I walked home from the Kleinspan Skool once (I spose it was about a mile or so) and got home after 5pm.

2018: Just heard Una Elphick died this year.

** Just as the bump in Mary Swanepoel’s tummy was called ‘Koos’ and Peter has been called Koos ever since.