Donald Coleman was my good mate and older side-kick in Harrismith up to around 1964. He died in a car crash (alone in the car) around 1975 (I have no detail of what exactly happened).
In around 2011 or 2012 I found a letter on the floor of my garage at 10 Elston Place.
It was from “your mate Donald” and consisted of one page (probably page 2 of a 2-page letter) and a scrap of envelope addressed to:
e Free State
A franked 2½c stamp in good condition is still on the scrap of envelope (but the date part of the franking was/is missing).
I suspect it fell out of the old Cape Colony post office stinkwood desk Dad gave me, as I had moved it to give it back to him before it fell to pieces.
The letter, in neat, flowing cursive writing in blue ink, said (I have kept the way he did his lines and spacing):
This is slightly exaggerated but between points
0 and 1 it is 50 miles and between 1 and 2 it is 13 miles and between
3 and 4 it is 14 miles. Even if you go at 10 m.p.h all the
way you will make it in a day. Well don’t take
too much equipment etc because you’ll shit yourselves
coming. Don’t forget to take hats and plenty of patching
equipment. If something goes wrong and you reach
Bergville or Winterton after dark just ‘phone us our
number is Winterton 2412.
Well I hope I’ve got everything down here, any-
way I still hope to run the Mountain Race
with you. I’m going to try harder this year.
It’s a pity I won’t be seeing you fellows
because I’ve got some jokes to tell you.
From your mate
Not a single correction or spelling mistake (oh, one tiny correction, changing your to you).
So it seems he had sent a map as well as the (presumed) 1st page of the letter. Obviously we were planning to ride our bikes to Winterton!
I gave the letter to his Mom, Jean. Wish I’d taken a photo of it and the stamp!
I must ask Dad about the old stinkwood desk. Here’s the mystery: He gave me the desk when I was at 7 River Drive some time after 1990. In 2003 we moved to 10 Windsor Avenue and in 2005 we moved to 10 Elston Place.
Was it a Harrismith find? From when?
That could explain how the letter got in there, I spose. Suspicion: Did my folks open the letter and not pass it on!? Must ask Mom! We had done this around then, so maybe she wasn’t keen on another jaunt? Unlikely, though. Not like Mom not to give me a (very rare) letter addressed to Master PK Swanepoel!
I searched the desk again and found the rest of the envelope: It was franked on 30 March 1971. I was in Std 9, Donald would have completed his time at Estcourt High School. He would have been “a student at varsity” – an exalted state of being that I couldn’t WAIT for!
Nope – Dad says he bought the desk at Cannon & Findlay Auctioneers in PMB long after 1971. I have no idea how the 1971 letter could have got lodged in the back of the desk behind the drawers.
SO glad I found it though!