Tom’s One Stop

On the way back from Afriski one year (I think 2012) we drove through Harrismith instead of our usual route down Oliviershoek Pass. Stopping to refuel at the Engen Tom and his mate (Josh, I think) said “Dad. we’re really thirsty, can we have a cooldrink?” Sure, I said and gave the the only cash I had: A R200 note.

When they returned they hopped in and off we went. Later I remembered and asked Where’s my change, m’boy?

“Um, there’s no change Dad”. No change!? “No, in fact, we had to pay in”. Let me see the slip, I asked.

Here’s their “cooldrink”:

Dad, can we stop for a cooldrink, please, we're thirsty!

At least they willingly shared their loot with Jess and me!

Dad’s War Medals

Spotted these visiting the folks this week. I’ve seen them over the years when Dad would wear them to special MOTH* do’s, but have never really paid much attention. This time I photographed them and asked about them. He told me:

Left Star – 1939 – 1945 war; Second Star with red white and green ribbon – Italian Campaign if you fought in Italy;
The Lion – Africa Campaign if you fought in Africa; Africa map – Africa Service Medal – general SA medal for all in uniform.

Epaulette: 8th Army with red tab (which indicated South African overseas – distinguished them from the ‘home guard’); Camel – Sudanese camel corps; Palm – Another Sudanese outfit; Horse – Some English bunch (‘a southern county’ he said, Dorset? Mom guessed); Mercury – SA Signal Corps (Dad’s unit).

Dad War Medals

*The Memorable Order of Tin Hats (M.O.T.H.) was founded in 1927 by Charles Evenden as a brotherhood of South Africa former front-line soldiers. The idea is to help fellow comrades in need, either financially or physically; and to remember all servicemen who have answered the Sunset Call, both in war and peace time.

 

Lepidopterism

From: pete swanepoel home

Sent: Thursday, August 21, 2014 7:03 PM

Subject: Lepidopterists lead exciting lives!

This from my LepSoc newsletter:

Hi everyone

We will be doing a day trip to Tswaing crater, just north of Pretoria, on the 24th September, where special butterflies such as Brown-lined Sapphires, Saffron Sapphires, Hutchinson’s Highfliers, etc. can be seen.

*********************
Us lepidopterists see not only these but others such as Skollies, Nightfighters, Pirates, Policemen and Admirals. Playboys and Pansies are also sought-after! One can go prancing after them wearing a pith helmet and waving a net! What’s not to love?

There’s even one called swanepoelii and one called brauerii

Lepidopterists lead exciting lives!
========================

Soutar wrote:

Keep your net stockings on.

We off to Karkloof today. Will try to bring back a dead Karkloof Blue.

That and a Pink Elephant.

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Pete wrote:

¶¶ . . and a Stuffed Delegorgue’s Pigeon, a Dead Cape Parrot and . .

¶¶ Planks from a Yellowwood Tree . . ¶¶

.

Hey! We could write a song like that . . .
========================

steve reed wrote:

When we lived in Clarens we had an annual visitation by what must have been the self-same Swanepoel. Khaki clad solitary figure, fleet-footing round the village with his net like something out of Peter Pan. Regarded by the locals with great interest (and a good level of suspicion ) . . .

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Real-Life Lepidoptometrist

Hilton Pike is a nimble optometrist fella who darts around lithely with a butterfly net, holding it rather like Obelix doesn’t hold his menhirs. A talented lad, young Hilton, he builds fancy hi-fidelity speakers, refurbishes phoropters and mounts butterflies with pins on polystyrene in glass cabinets. Lovely chap, I miss him. Where is he?

‘Bain of Harrismith’

My granny Annie had an older brother Ginger. He was the oldest of the seven Royal Bains and a great sportsman. They owned the Royal Hotel and were not to be confused with the Central Bains, who owned the Central Hotel!

This old report was reprinted in the 1997 Hilton vs Michaelhouse sports day brochure: 

Hilton Ginger Bain_2

Drop goals were four points and tries were three in those distant days. I like that the one side was “smarter with their feet” . . and that that beat “pretty passing”.

——————————————————

Ginger Bain’s father Stewart died in 1939:

Stewart Bain 1939.jpg

Sister Sheila says he was known as “The Grand Old Man of Harrismith” and his clan was called ‘The Royal Bains’ after his hotel!

I thought I remembered that, despite the fact that every dorp has a Royal Hotel, the Harrismith Royal Hotel was one of only two that could officially call itself ‘Royal’. Sheila has confirmed that I have a flawless memory (well, something along those lines):

Royal Hotel article

 

Long Lost Letter

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:
poel
rrismith
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:

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
                             Donald

Not a single correction or spelling mistake (oh, one tiny one 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 pic of it.

——————————————

I must ask Dad about the old stinkwood desk. Was it a Harrismith find? From when?
That could explain how the letter got in there, I spose. Suspicion: Did my folks open it and not pass it on!!? Must ask Mom! We had done this around then, so maybe she wasn’t keen on another jaunt?

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” – a state of being I couldn’t WAIT for!

20141130_081257.jpg

Later:

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!

Famous Jock & My Jock

I’m reading Jock of the Bushveld again. No, I don’t know for the how-manieth time.

jock-bushveld

Always gets me thinking of my Jock in high school:

Jock with the Swanie/Bellato Vulgar River Expedition Voortrekkers' canoe
Jock with the Swanie/Bellato Vulgar River Expedition Voortrekkers’ canoe

and then TC was a mini-Jock many years later:

scan0127.jpg

 

A Slow Walk, My China

Way back in around 1962 Donald Coleman and I walked home from school. The Harrismith Kleinspan School.

It was about a mile and we set off around 1pm. When we got home we got the “Where have you been!?” treatment. Apparently it was 5pm already and getting dark and cold. Well, we wouldn’t have known and anyway, we’d had a lot to talk about and Donald had a box of matches, so we had stopped and made a little fire of plane tree leaves in the sandstone gutters of Stuart Street. These gutters used to channel water from Platberg to town according to Blanche Hawkins, local historian.

Fast forward to 2014 and 12yr old TomTom asked me if he could walk home from school today. It’s about 4km and school ends at 2pm. When I got home at 5pm he had just got in and Cecelia and Carla had been worried: “Where had he BEEN?!”

I knew where he’d been. His journey was double mine and he’d taken one less hour. Why, he’d almost hurried home! And no matches, so how could I complain? You have fun, my boy? I asked. He’d stopped en route to buy a pie, a packet of jelly tots and an energade drink.

New Schools ! (2).JPG

=========ooo000ooo=========

Feature pic: Me, Anne, Donald & Sheila in Platberg’s shadow