Larry visited from Ohio back in 1996, so we arranged to meet up as the Old Fab Five musketeers down in Cape Town, where Steph and Tuffy were living.
He had been Harrismith’s Rotary exchange student back in 1969 and had returned to South Africa twice before – once in 1976, down through Africa from Greece all the way to Cape Town; and once in 1985, when we had done an overland trip Botswana to Zimbabwe.
Trish and I took him to Mkhuze game reserve:
and down to Cape Town:
Asked what the Fab Five was I had to think about it. We were a gentlemanly triple-AA
gang club who would meet clandestinely after dark and do creative things. The one AA was for automobiles, which we would borrow under an intricate arrangement where the actual owners were not part of the bargaining process; we would then use these automobiles to go places; And the other AA was for alcohol, which we would procure under an intricate arrangement of dispatching a third party who could legally buy the stuff, to a bottle store other than my parents’ bottle store; we would then imbibe it for the purpose of stiffening our resolve. And for laughter and the third AA: Action Adventure!
One of the founding reasons for launching the august club was we suddenly had a Yank in our midst and we were really afraid he’d go back to the metropolis of Cobleskill, upstate New York and say there was nothing to do in Harrismith. The thought mortified us. We had to DO something!
We were reminded how offended we were late one night on one of our adventures – this one not motorised – when we saw a policeman driving around drunk! That was OUR forte! What was HE doing driving around drunk like us!? So we phoned the copshop from a tickey box, reported him to the dame on laatnag diens and walked away feeling smug. Next thing we heard a squealing of tyres and the roaring of a Ford F150 straight six. It was him! She had obviously radio’d him and told him! Maybe they were an item!?
We started running as the cop van roared closer. It was the only thing making a noise in the whole dorp at three in the morning so we could easily hear where he was. We sprinted past the Kleinspanskool and as he came careening around the corner we dived under the raised foundations of Laboria – Alet de Witt’s big block of flats. We crawled through and out the other side, at Steph’s house. Steph & Larry went home as did Tuff. Pierre and I had a way to go yet, so we set off along Stuart Street – we could hear him in the grey Ford F150 with the straight six and the tralies over the windows roaring around in Warden Street. He never stood a chance of catching us. We were fleet of foot!
tickey box – street phone booth
dame on laatnag diens – lady on late night duty
Kleinspanskool – junior primary school
tralies – burglar bars