Jess is my spotter in the game reserves. ‘Dad What’s That?’ she’ll say time and again. And it’s always something interesting. Once she said ‘Dad What’s That?’ and I peered and peered and eventually saw it after she’d told me exactly where to look – a snake in a tree as we were driving past! That’s amazing.
Walking to breakfast in Tembe we had Jess bringing up the rear as Aitch, Tom and I strolled ahead. ‘Dad What’s That?’ she said.
Today she called me out to the porch. This time she said ‘Dad There’s a Snake.’
In forty one days of lockdown I had taken the car out two or three times. Yesterday I took the car out three or four times! Once to fetch Ziggy with the shopping from the nearby PnP; once to take Ziggy to the taxi rank where she headed off to work at her call centre; once to fetch a parcel from Sheila, delivered just up the road; and once to get out of the way of the plumber who came to replace our burst geyser!
Then today we had a visitor, one of only three all lockdown. The first two I had immediately shooed off the premises: Rasta and Thandi, well-meaning, but sorry, no visitors! Just cos our gate slides open doesn’t mean you can stroll in. But this was our housekeeper Cecilia Shozi, and she had come to fetch her ID card which she had left here over 41 days ago when I sent her home to her girls before lockdown. We weren’t expecting her, it was a surprise call, so thank goodness the place was looking presentable. Ziggy had cleaned the kitchen; I had mopped the floor, swept the patio and tidied my office; and Jess had swept the TV room and lounge; So when I served her tea on the patio she couldn’t laugh at us and tell us how we cannot live without her! Even though that’s true.
Such activity! I had to lie down a while once they’d all left.
Play the Warsaw Concerto, demanded 99yr-old Louise at Mom’s retirement home today. Ooh, says Mom – eight years younger and has always respected her elders – I used to play it, but I don’t think I could play it now. You go right back to the piano now and try! ordered Louise.
Mom says she’s a real character. She had just finished playing ‘I Love Paris in the Springtime’ to the assembled mass of old bullets. Probably half a dozen of them.
How did the Warsaw Concerto go? I ask. Ta ta da da DUH! says Mom.
Here it is:
Who’s it by? I ask. Addinsell she says. Ay double dee and ends in double ell. I think it ends in double ell. I check: Of course it does. Richard Addinsell. Written for the 1941 British film Dangerous Moonlight, which is about the Polish struggle against the 1939 invasion by Nazi Germany.
She’s reading Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. ‘I can’t follow the plot but I’m enjoying the descriptions of the Thames, the muddy banks, the river traffic . . ‘
Apparently there’s a Miss Haversham in the book – she was let down by her to-be on the day of her wedding – she stayed in her room – kept her wedding dress on – ate the wedding food. Mom says Annie called someone in Harrismith ‘Miss Haversham’ but can’t remember who. She had wild hair. I suggested Mrs Fitzgerald, but she couldn’t remember her.
She had a fall on her walk with her friend Barbara yesterday, but ‘went down gracefully and haven’t got a single bruise. I just lay down gently on the tarmac and waited till two ladies on the staff came out to help me to my feet.’ She hadn’t thought of the obvious, so I had to point it out: ‘Mom, they’ll all think you’d been drinking!’ That amused her.
After the fall the 91yr-old dear skipped her piano session, but today she got back to her usual schedule, and played before all three meals. She has found a few new songs to play, she says.
She told her friends the joke I had told her about the Las Vegas strip club that had a sign out for the lockdown period: ‘Clothed till 30 April.’ Says they enjoyed the joke. Asked if I had been to that strip club when I went to Vegas! I said ‘Ma-a! I went to see Petula Clark sing.’ She couldn’t remember who Petula Clark was! Wow! Those cells must have been blitzed in one of her TIA’s. It’ll come back to her. I’ll sing ‘Don’t Sleep In The Subway Darling’ and she’ll be wow’d. She’ll also remember Petula always kept her clothes on.
As she does every time, she asked, ‘How are Jessie and Tommy? Send them my love’ (two of her grandchildren, 22 and 18 – my kids).
We are ten cousins from the four children of Ouma Elizabeth and Oupa Paul Fouche Swanepoel of Pietermaritzburg. Our cousin Liz Grundling-Fortmann in Camperdown passed away in 2018 and a gathering of family and friends took place in Camperdown where Liz lived most of her life, to salute a special lady.
Afterwards, I wrote to cousin Shirley Solomon-Miller in Seattle Washington, USA:
Hi Shirley – Well, Lizzie had an amazing memorial service in Camperdown! I was amazed at the number of people who turned out. There were five cousins – the ‘Uncle Pieter’ Swanies, Barbara Sheila & Koos, and the ‘Aunty Lizzie or Aunty Anne’ Grundlings, Jack and Marlene. The four generations present were beautifully represented by Mary, Barbara Mary, Linda Mary and Mary-Kate.
Lizzie’s son Zane and brother Jack spoke beautifully of her at the service. She sure was loved and admired. Dad said it was the biggest funeral he’d ever been to – and he’s been to a bundle! I arrived just on time and then waited for Sheila, hoping I’d be able to hang back and maybe even stand outside as I have at many a funeral and wedding, but they had kept seats for us! We were ushered to the very front row! Caught out!
After the preacherman had finished Dad (95 then) leaned over and in his loud deaf voice he complained the service had been way too long. I indicated HUSH and he says ‘Can they hear me?’ Yes! I nodded, so he – no handbrake – says ‘Well, the last time he was subjected to such a long sermon was by dominee Ras in Harrismith.’ That was about fifty years back. See, people forget he’s there for the food!
And the Camperdonians laid on a feast – tea and coffee and tons of food – and then they said we must follow them home for a braai!
We all gathered at Auntie Lizzie and Uncle Con’s old home (and Lizzie’s home ever since) and had a lovely gathering and braai and then Sheila followed me and we drove home in the dark on that very busy N3 road to Durban – the road that runs right past Lizzie’s garage and petrol station. When we got home I phoned Sheila to check she was in – she was already in bed!
We agreed on what a really lovely bunch of people Lizzie had around her, her son and daughter, their spouses and kids were all so friendly, hospitable and helpful to all of us, some of whom – like me – they have seen very seldom indeed.
I saw Aunty Lizzie and Uncle Con’s graves and was surprised to find she didn’t have Elizabeth in her name! She was Anna Naomi, and Con’s nickname was Sarge. I did know a lot of people called her Aunty Anne. We only called them Uncle Con and Aunty Lizzie! Sheila says it was something about Dad’s nickname for her – ‘Skinny Lizzie” or something. Surprised me.
Another surprise: Lizzie was affected by emphysema after smoking for years – even when she was sick she ‘cut down to one a day.’ And there was her daughter Lisa smoking! I had to chuckle! Us humans!
Other pics were taken. I’ll send as I get them. I see mine have very few people in them! Just Sheila and Jack on the back stoep. – Lotsa love – cousin Koos
Some time before, Shirley and I had spoken of her Mom, Liz’s aunt, Adriana ‘Janie’ (pr. ‘Yahnee’) Swanepoel-Solomon who died in 1974. Shirley had held a ceremony on the Skagit River up north of Seattle where she lives.
Luckily nine of the cousins had managed to get together not long before – I think in 2014?
Recently it was Liz’s birthday. Cousin Solly in New Zealand reminded us, and Liz’s kids Zane and Lisa and their partners Bridget and John sent a pic of the flowers they had placed at her plaque:
Shepherds’ cottages in Lesotho are often quite primitive affairs, used itinerantly as their flocks graze in that area; then moving on to pastures new, where – especially in winter – a new shelter may be built, or an old one re-roofed with available grass or shrubs.
We enjoyed their hospitality there when we went up to celebrate the new chef at the castle above serve his first formal meal. A lovely experience!
CHATTANOOGA CHOO CHOO From the film “Sun Valley Serenade” (1941) (Lyrics: Mack Gordon / Music: Harry Warren)
Pardon me boy, is that the Chattanooga Choo Choo? Track 29, boy you can give me a shine. I can afford to board a Chattanooga Choo Choo, I’ve got my fare and just a trifle to spare. You leave the Pennsylvania station ’bout a quarter to four, Read a magazine and then you’re in Baltimore; Dinner in the diner, nothing could be finer Than to have your ham and eggs in Carolina; When you hear the whistle blowing eight to the bar, Then you know that Tennessee is not very far. Shovel all the coal in, gotta keep it rolling, Whoo,Whoo, Chattanooga there you are. There’s gonna be a certain party at the station, All satin and lace, I used to call funny face. She’s gonna cry, until I tell her that I’ll never roam, So Chattanooga Choo Choo, won’t you choo choo me home!
Recorded by: Glenn Miller & His Orch. (vocal: Tex Beneke & The Four Modernaires) – 1941 Glenn Miller & His Orch. (Film Soundtrack) – 1941 Cab Calloway & His Orch. – 1941 The Andrews Sisters (with Vic Schoen & His Orch.) – 1941 Johnny Long & His Orch. (vocal: Paul Harmon) – 1941 Kurt Widmann Mit Seinem Orch. (vocal: Ruth Bruck) – 1941 Carmen Miranda with Bando da Lua (feat. in the film “Springtime In The Rockies”) – 1942 Bill Haley & His Comets – 1954 The Modernaires – 1954 Karel Vlach & His Orch. – 1955 Ray Anthony & His Orch. – 1956 Al Saxon (with Ken Jones & His Orch.) – 1959 Cyril Stapleton & His Orch. – 1959 Ray Charles – 1960 Martin Denny – 1960 Ernie Fields Orch. – 1960 Oscar Peterson (Instr.) – 1960 The Checkmates – 1961 Floyd Cramer (Instr.) – 1962 Si Zentner & His Orch. – 1962 Hank Snow – 1963 The Tornados (Instr.) – 1963 The Shadows (Instr.) – 1964 The Fabulous Jokers – 1965 Harpers Bizarre – 1967 Billy Strange (Instr.) – 1968 Joe Loss & His Orch. – 1969 Syd Lawrence Orch. – 1969 Ted Heath & His Orch. – 1972 Enoch Light & The Light Brigade – 1973 Haruomi Hosono – 1975 James Last & His Orch. – 1975 John Hammond – 1975 Joe Bob’s Nashville Sound Co. – 1976 Vic Lezal’s Professionals – 1976 The Dooley Family – 1976 The Million Airs – 1976 Tuxedo Junction – 1978 Rita Remington – 1979 Taco – 1985 Denis King – 1986 Mercedes Ruehl (feat. in the film “Big”) – 1988 Asleep At The Wheel – 1988 Barry Manilow – 1994
Also recorded by: Sammy Davis Jr.; Teresa Brewer; Tony Rizzi And Pacific; Larry Elgart & His Manhattan Swing Orch; Johnny Bond; Boston Pops Orchestra; Harry Connick Jr.; Ray Conniff; Bette Midler; Matt Monro; Jimmy Caro; Udo Lindenberg; Xavier Cugat; Stéphane Grappelli; Rick Van Der Linden; Al Russ Orch.; Rune Öfwerman Trio; Ron Russell Band; Harry Roy; Klaus Wunderlich ….. and many, many more.
‘When the Sun says Goodbye to the Mountain’ – (1936 M: Larry Vincent / T: Harry Pease)
The Masqueraders, Dir. George Scott Wood V. Sam Costa Recorded 27th November 1936; Also recorded by: Geraldo, V. Monte Rey Comedian Harmonists; Roy Fox; Primo Scala & His Accordion Band; Susan McCann 1983
When the sun says goodnight to the mountain
And the gold of the day meets the blue
In my dreams I’m alone on the mountain
With a heart that keeps calling for you
The voice in the trees
The song in the breeze
They bring memories of love we knew
When the sun says goodnight to the mountain
I am dreaming, my sweetheart, of you.
Transcribed from John Wright’s 78 RPM Record Collection (Transcribed by Bill Huntley – May 2013). Our lyrics were different: eg: ‘says goodbye’ – ‘brings back sweet memories of you’
“Cruising Down the River” is a 1946 popular recording song; winner of a public songwriting competition held in the UK. Words and music were written in 1945 by two middle-aged women named Eily Beadell and Nell Tollerton. One of the original early recordings of this song issued in the UK in January 1946 on the Columbia record label (FB 3180), was by Lou Preager and his Orchestra, with vocal by Paul Rich. This was immensely popular on radio, with record and sheet music sales making it one of the biggest hits of 1946 in the United Kingdom.
Mom was 18yrs old and already an accomplished piano player, studying under Miss Underwood!
Cruising down the river, On a Sunday afternoon With one you love, the sun above Waiting for the moon. The old accordian playing A sentimental tune Cruising down the river, On a Sundy afternoon. chorus: The birds above, all sing of love A gentle sweet refrain The winds around, all make a sound Like softly falling rain . . . . Just two of us together, We’ll plan our honeymoon Cruising down the river, On a Sunday afternoon. (Contributed by Ruthie – March 2003)
Mom has played the piano for about eighty years. First Granny Bland’s Ottobach, then her own Bentley she bought from her aunt Marie Bain. She can no longer read her sheet music, so doesn’t play her classical music anymore, but she still plays our favourite popular singalong and dance songs.
I thought I’d know the names of the songs – I don’t! I’ll find them and come back and add them in.
Here’s a stirring tale of Boy Scouts and Girl Guides and my family. It also obliquely references a lockdown and social distancing. In fact a much longer lockdown than we have endured: From 13 October 1899 to 17 May 1900, the people of Mahikeng – which the Poms called Mafeking – were locked down and besieged by the locals during the Anglo-Boer War. Theirs lasted 217 days.
In Oct 2018 I wrote: Whenever I hear Jimmy Buffet singing Pencil Thin Mustache I think of my uncle Dudley, oops, my cousin Dudley.
Dudley Bain was a character and my second cousin. I had known him over the years when he used to visit his old home town of Harrismith, but really got to know him once I started practicing optometry in Durban. He was very fond of his first cousin, my Mom Mary – and thus, by extension, of me.
Dudley worked in the Mens Department of John Orrs in downtown Durban back when there was only downtown. Anybody who was anybody worked in downtown. Anywhere else was “the sticks”. Even in 1980 I remember someone saying “Why would you want to be out there?” when optometrists De Marigny & Lello opened a practice in a little insignificant upstairs room on the Berea above a small gathering of shops called Musgrave Centre.
Dapper, hair coiffed, neatly dressed, often sporting a cravat, Dudley had a pencil thin moustache and definite opinions. He was highly chuffed he now had a pet family optometrist to look after him when I first hit downtown and then Musgrave centre.
Fitting his spectacle frame was a challenge as he got skin cancer and his surgeon lopped off ever-bigger pieces of his nose and ears until he had no ear one side and a tiny little projection on which to hook his glasses on the other side. He would hide these ala Donald Trump by combing his hair over them and spraying it carefully in place. I am glad I wasn’t his hairdresser.
He would pop into the practice frequently ‘to see my cousin’ – for me to adjust his frames by micro-millimetres to his satisfaction. He walk in and demand ‘Where’s my cousin?’ If the ladies said I was busy he’d get an imperious look, clutch his little handbag a bit tighter and state determinedly, ‘I know he’ll see me.’ They loved him and always made sure I saw him. He’d ‘only need a minute; just to adjust my frame, not to test my eyes,’ and half an hour later their knocks on the door would get ever more urgent. Then they’d ring me on the internal line, and I’d say ‘Dudley, I got to go.’
I would visit him occasionally at their lovely old double-storey home in Sherwood – on a panhandle off Browns Grove. Then they moved to an A-frame-shaped double-storey home out Hillcrest way, in West Riding.
We had long chats while I was his pet optometrist and I wish I could remember more of them. I’ll add as they come floating back. I’m trying to remember his favourite car. One thing he often mentioned was the sound of the doves in his youth. How that was his background noise that epitomised Harrismith for him. The Cape Turtle Dove . . here it is:
Dudley married the redoubtable Ethne, Girl Guides maven. I found this website, a tribute to Lady Baden-Powell, World Chief Guide – so that’s what made me link this post tenuously to our lockdown:
Olave St. Clair Soames, Lady Baden-Powell, G.B.E., World Chief Guide, died in 1977. In 1987 her daughter and granddaughter, Betty Clay and Patience Baden-Powell, invited readers to send in their memories of the Chief Guide to The Guider magazine.
They wrote:- Everyone who knew Olave Baden-Powell would have a different story to tell, but if all the stories were gathered together, we would find certain threads which ran through them all, the characteristics which made her beloved. Here are a few of the remembrances that people have of her, and if these spark off similar memories for you, will you please tell us?
Here’s Ethne’s contribution: 3 West Riding Rd, Hillcrest, Natal 3610, South Africa When I was a newly-qualified teacher and warranted Brownie Guider in Kenya in 1941, our Colony Commissioner – Lady Baden-Powell – paid a visit to the Kitale Brownie Pack. Due to an epidemic of mumps, the school closed early and Lady B-P was not able to see the children, but she took the trouble to find me and had a chat across the driveway (quarantine distance) for a short time.
A year later at a big Guide Rally at Government House in Nairobi, the Guides and Brownies were on parade, and after inspection Lady B-P greeted us all individually, and without hesitation recognized me as the Guider who had mumps at Kitale. Each time we met in the future, she joked about the mumps.
My next encounter was some twenty years later, on a return visit to Kenya, in 1963, with my husband (that’s our Dudley!), our Guide daughter D. (Diana) and our Scout son P (Peter). We stayed at the Outspan Hotel at Nyeri where the B-Ps had their second home Paxtu. We soon discovered that Lady B-P was at home, but the Hotel staff were much against us disturbing their distinguished resident. However, we knew that if she knew that a South African Scout/Guide family were at hand she would hastily call us in. A note was written – “A S.A. Scout, Guide and Guider greet you.” Diana followed the messenger to her bungalow but waited a short distance away. As lady B-P took the note she glanced up and saw our daughter. We, of course, were not far behind. Immediately she waved and beckoned us to come, and for half-an-hour we chatted and were shown round the bungalow, still cherished and cared for as it had been in 1940-41.
It was easy to understand her great longing to keep returning to this beautiful peaceful place, facing the magnificent peaks of Mount Kenya with such special memories of the last four years of B-P’s life. From her little trinket-box, Lady B-P gave me a World Badge as a memento of this visit which unfortunately was lost in London some years later. Before leaving Nyeri we visited the beautiful cedar-wood Church and B-P’s grave facing his beloved mountain.
My most valued association with Lady B-P was the privilege and honour of leading the organization for the last week of her Visit to South Africa in March 1970. Each function had a lighter side and sometimes humorous disruption by our guest of honour. The magnificent Cavalcade held at King’s Park, PieterMaritzBurg deviated from schedule at the end when Lady B-P called the Guides and Brownies of all race groups to come off the stand to her side; they were too far away. A surge of young humanity made for the small platform in the centre of the field where she stood with one Commissioner, a Guide and three Guiders. Without hesitation, Gervas Clay (her son-in-law) leapt down from the grandstand two steps at a time and just made Lady B-P’s side before the avalanche of children knocked her over. Anxious Guide officials wondered how they were going to get rid of them all again. The Chief Guide said to them, “When I say SHOO, go back to your places, you will disappear.” Lo, and behold, when she said “SHOO, GO back!” they all turned round and went back. You could hear the Guiders’ sighs of relief.
Steve Reed wrote: Hilarious – I reckon every family worth its salt should have had an uncle like that. Something for the kids to giggle about in secret at the family gatherings while the adult dads make grim poker faced humorous comments under their breath while turning the chops on the braai. And for the mums to adore the company of. Good value.
And funny Steve should mention that!
Sheila remembers: “After Annie’s funeral, in our lounge in Harrismith, Dudley was pontificating about something and John Taylor – married to Sylvia Bain, another cousin of Dudleys – muttered to me under his breath ‘Still an old windgat.‘”
Family tree: (Sheila to check): Dudley Bain was the eldest son of Ginger Bain, eldest son of Stewart Bain who came out to Harrismith from Scotland in 1878. My gran Annie Bain Bland was Ginger’s sister, so Mom Mary Bland Swanepoel and Dudley Bain were first cousins.
“Poor Little Angeline” – by (maybe) Will Grosz, Hugh Williams, S. Wilson & Jimmy Kennedy – 1936
She was sweet sixteen, Little Angeline, always dancing on the village green, as the boys went by, you could hear them cry, Poor Little Angeline. Oh her eyes were brown and her hair hung down, laddered stockings and her old blue gown, but she dreamed we’re told of a lover bold Poor Little Angeline. Then one day a prince came a-riding, and he stopped right by her side, very soon she heard him confiding, I want to make you my bride. What a pretty scene on the village green, when the prince was wed to Angeline. Now as his princess, she’s a great success, Poor Little Angeline
Over on my blog about the olden days in the Orange Free State – you know, when knights were bold and nights were cold – I’m running a series on the classical music pieces Mom Used to Play on her piano while we were growing up. Chopin, Mozart, Beethoven, Liszt and fellas like that. Those are mostly played by ‘guest artists’ as we have very little of her classical pieces ‘on tape.’
Here it’ll be different. Mom will feature in person! playing the popular songs she knows by heart – reading her sheet music has become just too hard, but at 91yrs old she can still belt out some of her favourites. Quality varies – cellphone video’ing by sister Sheila and myself – and as she has good days and bad visually and cognitively. But she has fun and people listening generally love her playing.
Well, Grab Your Coat and Get Your Hat – Let’s go! ‘On the Sunny Side of the Street’ is a 1930 song composed by Jimmy McHugh with lyrics by Dorothy Fields. Some authors say that Fats Waller was the composer, but that he sold the rights to the song.
ON THE SUNNY SIDE OF THE STREET From the Monogram Picture “Swing Parade Of 1946” (Dorothy Fields / Jimmy McHugh)
Grab your coat and get your hat, Leave your worry on the doorstep, Just direct your feet To the sunny side of the street. Can’t you hear a pitterpat? And that happy tune is your step, Life can be so sweet On the sunny side of the street. I used to walk in the shade With those blues on parade, But I’m not afraid, This rover crossed over. If I never have a cent I’ll be rich as Rockefeller, Gold dust at my feet, On the sunny side of the street. (Contributed by Ferda Dolunay, lyricsplayground.com – April 2005)
Here’s some of her repertoire in her own handwriting – Sheila has more. I see our first one is No.9 on the Quick Step side:
Recorded by: Ray Anthony; Louis Armstrong; Chris Barber; Count Basie; BBC Big Band; Tony Bennett; Les Brown; Dave Brubeck; Benny Carter; Frank Chacksfield; June Christy; King Cole Trio; Nat King Cole; Harry Connick Jr.; Bing Crosby; Doris Day; The Dorsey Brothers; Jimmy Dorsey; Tommy Dorsey; Roy Eldridge; Duke Ellington; Dorothy Fields; Ella Fitzgerald; Helen Forrest; The Four Freshmen; The Four Lads; Judy Garland; Erroll Garner; Georgia Gibbs; Dizzy Gillespie; Benny Goodman; Stephane Grappelli; Lionel Hampton; Coleman Hawkins; Earl Hines; Billie Holiday; Jack Hylton; The Ink Spots; Harry James; Louis Jordan; Bert Kaempfert; Stan Kenton; Diana Krall; Frankie Laine; Brenda Lee; Peggy Lee; Jack Lemmon; Ted Lewis; Liberace; Nellie Lutcher; Manhattan Transfer; Barry Manilow; Shelly Manne; Dean Martin; Johnny Mathis; Billy May; Jimmy McHugh; Glenn Miller; The Modernaires; Rita Moreno; Ella May Morse; Willie Nelson; Anita O’Day; Charlie Parker; Les Paul & Mary Ford; Oscar Peterson; The Pied Pipers; Louis Prima; Leon Redbone; Don Redman; Django Reinhardt; Marty Robbins; Artie Shaw; George Shearing; Frank Sinatra; Keely Smith; Dorothy Squires; Jo Stafford; Art Tatum; Johnny Tillotson; Fats Waller; Dinah Washington; Chick Webb; Clarence Williams; Teddy Wilson; ….. and many more.