Africa, Family & Kids, Life, Motorcars_Automobiles, Nostalgia, Student Life

Workshop Swansong – Wait, a Curtain Call

Its ongoing. There’s even less stuff there, but some stuff is going to have to be pried from his tight reluctant fingers, maybe?

– “No, that’s hardwood for Gavin. He wants to make knife handles . . ” –
– “You must take these, they were Oupa’s . . ” –

The awl and the hand drill brace were Oupa’s in Boom street in PMB. The screwdriver and needle-nose pliers on the right were issued to Dad by the General Post Office when he started as an apprentice electrician in 1938. He had to climb up telephone poles with those in his pocket. Here’s the GPO vehicle he’d drive around in, fixing the phones! They didn’t bother with parcels and letters, no! That was old-school! They were the high-tech side of the Post Office: The telephones!

By the way, everything has a correct name. The screwdriver is a ‘perfect handle’ screwdriver. That’s a specific kind of screwdriver.

– the camera probably a box brownie held at waist level? –
– happy apprentices under jovial Wally Coleman –

~~~~oo0oo~~~~

Today I learnt Mr Buckle didn’t shoe horses. No, he was the blacksmith, upholsterer and wagon-maker. Charlie Rustov shoed horses. He was a few rungs lower down the totem pole, and the only farrier in town. He had a high-pitched voice and would say ‘Nee man, Mnr Swanepoel, daai blerrie hings gaan my skop!’ when I took my stallion in to be shod. Dad would buy horses, school them, then sell them for a much higher price. I made more on horses than my post office pay.

~~~~oo0oo~~~~

‘Nee man, Mnr Swanepoel, daai blerrie hings gaan my skop!’ – No man, Mr Swanepoel, that blerrie stallion is going to kick me!

blerrie – bladdy

bladdy – bloody; no blood though, just a swearword

Life, Motorcars_Automobiles, Nostalgia, School, Student Life, Travel Apache OK

Jammin’ and Draggin’ Main

Rob & Jay were in my senior class in ’73; Jim & Donny were a year or so below. We used to jam in the garage and in Rob’s bedroom; I was an onlooker, really! I learnt one riff on the guitar which I believe I can still play . . Forty years on and they’re still playing gigs – or some of them are. Some are still based in Apache. Their bands have had various names.

At school, Rob drove a Mustang, Jim a Cadillac convertible, Jay a Camaro and Donny I forget, but I remember his Dad had a lovely old pickup.

Apache’s population sign on the road approaching the town was already faded when I got there in ’73 and the jokes hinted at “1500? Yeah, maybe.” But I was told the population shot up in the oil boom a few years after I had left when the middle east put up the price and we had to drive at 80km/h and hide our jerry cans. But it soon went back down, and when I visited in 1984 and 1988 the clapboard motel which had sprung up to house the workers and drifters, and the two extra liquor stores to relieve of them of their cash were abandoned and flapping in the prairie breeze.
I should write a western.

I see in the 2000 census the population was up to 1616.

The Apache Population 1500 sign was near the start of the quarter mile drag strip where the petrolheads had painted a line across the road. 440yards further was another line, much to the sheriff’s annoyance. It is ILLEGAL to paint lines on guvmint roads. Also to burn up your fat tyres on said road. Jay had a wicked Camaro with fifteen inch rear wheels, raised rear suspension and something I didn’t catch under the hood, despite him telling me many times. It went like smoke and he was very justifiably unhappy with me when I put it in a ditch with the one tyre off its rim. Beer. Terrible stuff beer. Jay was a gentleman and went easy on this foolish foreigner that night!

Just a bit closer to town than the drag strip, a local lass had written in large white spraypaint letters across both lanes: WELCOME TO PEYTON PLACE in pissed-off anger at love’s disappointments.

I taught Rob and Jay the wonderful poetic lyrics of Balls to Your Partner – remember? “If you’ve never been fucked on a Saturday night you’ve never been fucked at all”. We’d been talking about a sexy chick from a few villages away, hot pants and crop top, and Jay said laconically: “Well, she’s been fucked on a Saturday night by that little wine-maker: ME”.

Once we were dragging Main in Robbie’s turquoise Mustang, and Debbie pulled up in her car next to ours. How the conversation got there I don’t know, but one of the guys said “Ah, suck a dick, Debbie!” to which she shot back: “Well, flop it out!”

A semi-selfie in the Mustang with me safely in the seat without a steering wheel . .
A deserted Main Street

But please don’t think there wasn’t culture. I got invited to a Pow Wow by the local Native American Movement where they gave me a gift of a colourful shirt and jewellery.

— pic of presentation here —

——-ooo000ooo——-

Reed: Screw the Camaro and the fat tyres. More about Debbie please.

Me: OK. Here she is, seated right:

——-ooo000ooo——-

Of course on hearing about me ‘jamming with the guys’ and knowing my lack of any musical talent, the rude comments flowed!

Brauer: Koos jamming!! Playing the washboard? Or just Koos Konfyt ahead of his time?

Reed: They would have had a lot of trouble finding a replacement for you, Koos.

Me: Nah, they moved on. Here are some later pics when they called themselves The Grissleheads:

Grissleheads, Apache OK

Taylor: Did this jamming involve making jello sandwiches? Didn’t know you played any instruments?? Except wind . .

Brauer: Played the organ, did he not?

Taylor: I am sure he has done many solo recitals – unappreciated by the world at large but deeply gratifying to the organ player . .

——-ooo000ooo——-

Reminiscing about old songs began:

Taylor: I am glad to see you took the cultural exchange program seriously. Balls to your partner counts as poësie . .

Brauer wrote: OK. So let’s see how deeply your culture is ingrained. Who knows all the words to “Balls to your partner”; How about the Ingineer’s Song?

Me: All, I dunno; but I do know a lot of them – both songs. A-hum a-hum

Soutar: . . and . . “Up jumped the monkey in the coconut tree, it was a mean motherf___ it was plain to see; it had a 10 bopper nanny and a ten inch ______. Time overdue for a song reunion, have song sheets . .

Me: Fourteen-beer song evenings. I remember them well
-ish
——-ooo000ooo——-

poësie – poetry; right?

Africa, Nostalgia, Student Life

‘Samiracle

Its amazing that old oke in the middle is still ALIVE!

In that photo you see 150 years of contact lens practice, lecturing, innovation and expertise. It’s clear from the way their specs are carefully centred that these okes KNOW their contact lenses!

Sid Saks on the left started practising as an optometrist around 1958, Brauer in the middle around 1978 and Des Fonn on the right around 1968 (I’m guessing, but it’ll be close).

Des lectured me in contact lenses; Brauer was in my class actually, so maybe he isn’t THAT much older than me – but definitely older; Sid mentored us when we ventured into private practice – me over the phone occasionally, but Brauer needed direct supervision. In fact, in order to get a job Brauer married Sid’s daughter.

A recent booze-fuelled reunion in Pretoria – Des visiting from Canada.

 

Life, Student Life

How to Win Friends and Influence People

The alcohol you people drink is called ethanol. C2H5OH. This is a molecule that, in highly technical chemistry terms, looks like a hound dog with its leg cocked. Two carbon atoms (black) are stuck together to support an oxygen head (red). Six hydrogen atoms (white) spread out over the molecule to give each of the carbon atoms two feet, the oxygen atom a nose, and the rear carbon atom a tail. Ethanol is small, mobile, water and lipid soluble, so like a dog it can get into all sorts of places that maybe it shouldn’t. Like a dog it can also (sort of) head butt you in the crotch while sniffing to find out, or let others know, where you’ve been.

Ethanol Doggie

And where do you people want your ethanol? Why, in your brains, of course. That’s the point, innit? You might bulldust that you drink for your nose, or your palate, or your stomach or your blood. Rubbish. You drink to get that stuff in your brain. Once in the brain, alcohol acts on the nucleus accumbens. This area is a midpoint between the reward centre of a brain and the parts that make associations and memories. Ah, those memories, right? The good ones that you remember. And then there are those that your “friends” always insist on reminding you about!

Now everyone knows that too much alcohol at once can kill you, but how? It depresses nerve function, makes you sleep and suppresses the gag reflex, so people who are passed out can choke on their own vomit, like rock stars. So if you’re a wannabe rock star but can’t sing, can’t play, can’t grow your hair – there’s always that. The brain also controls things like breathing and heart rate, and enough alcohol can shut down those parts of the brain too. People pass out and their brains simply forget to breathe.

BUT: Alcohol also has its good side, don’t forget! Scientifically, its a solution, and according to Homer Simpson, the solution to all life problems.

Homer alcohol

It causes a bunch of dopamine to be released, hot-wiring your brain-ular system.  It makes you feel confident and talkative, because it depresses some Shut Up! brain functions and deadens the Be Discreet centre. It also makes you feel good, dunnit? And invincible, right? Erudite, and a very good dancer and singer. Remember Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl?

So alcohol is brilliant and worth investing in. Also, depending on what research you choose to believe, a glass of wine per day can either not do any harm, prevent heart attacks, or make you functionally immortal. I believe the latter. Does that make me a Latter Day Saint? Long after you finally die, they’ll have to beat your liver to death with a stick. Or transplant it into some lucky recipient who can wake up in the operating theatre pre-pickled.

It’s kind of nice to know that – sometimes – relaxation, cheer, wittiness and immortality can literally be bottled. All that’s needed is to take care just how much alcohol you let into your brain at any one time.

Cheers!!

– – Paraphrased from a lovely article by Esther Inglis-Arkell. It’s worth a visit! It showcases Doug Adams’ cocktail, the ‘Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster’ from Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy and shows you how to set fire to grog in spectacular fashion. Marvelous stuff!

Nostalgia, Student Life, Travel Apache OK, Travel USA

My ‘Hometown’ Apache Oklahoma

Apache was my ‘hometown’ for a year in 1973 as a Rotary exchange student.

My 1973 Apache memories are recorded here.

Former Apache resident Rebekah Cooksey lived there for twelve years or more about ten to twenty years after me. She wrote “Top Ten Things Heard This Weekend in Apache, Oklahoma” after a return visit to her hometown. Her blog now seems to have disappeared, but I got these extracts from it.

Here’s Rebekah:

Small town Oklahoma defined my early life. My hometown was Apache. Population: 1500. Our school was so small we had no class electives; My class pictures between kindergarten and 12th grade included all the same people, generally in the same position.

I am the youngest of seven kids; Dad was a minister, Mom was a nurse. I think at one point we were actually below the poverty level but I have such great selective memory that period is all kind of blurry. I do remember being laughed at because of my clothes and wishing that we could live in a mobile home because some of my friends lived in them, and their homes were nicer than ours. While I had good friends (whom I still keep in touch with), I always knew I would move away because there really wasn’t anything there for me.

Those of you who actually read my blog (thanks, Mom!) know that my family and I went to Apache Oklahoma this past weekend to attend the annual Apache Fair. Going to Apache is always a bittersweet event for me. Growing up in this small town of 1500 people was mostly a frustrating experience, and I spent my junior high and high school years plotting my escape. But even after almost twenty years of being away, I am tied to this place by my memories, my values, and my dreams for my own children — because the kind of town I ran from is exactly the kind of town I’d like to raise them in, but hopefully with a larger population by a factor of ten!

Why bittersweet? Going back reminds me of the many wonderful things about being raised in a town where everyone knows everyone, where the same families have farmed the same land for generation after generation, where the values are so traditional that Home Economics is a required course for girls and Ag Shop (agricultural workshop – welding, woodworking, leather tooling) is a required course for boys. But, it also makes me sad, because many of the store fronts are boarded up, the family-owned businesses have been replaced by Sonic and Dollar General, and the landscape is dotted with barns falling into themselves, rusted cars and vans, and, in general, signs of the struggle of the lower-middle class.

The best way to describe it, I’ve decided, is Mayberry meets Sanford & Son, with a Native American twist.

So, in a lighthearted way, I’m going to attempt to share with you some of the highlights of the weekend. Again, while this may appear like I’m poking fun – well OK, it will be poking fun but remember, I grew up here, so I’m allowed to. I’m laughing with my fellow Apacheans, not at them.

# Do you feel that breeze?

apache-wind-farm

There was a lot of controversy over the installation of 150 wind turbines southwest of Apache because of the blight on the landscape. Not surprising: when you have been living with an unobstructed view of the Wichita Mountains for years, and suddenly someone proposes to build wind turbines across the horizon, that’s bound to put a bee in your bonnet. But the Slick Hills (as the foothills of the Wichitas are known) supposedly have some of the best wind in the USA. The Blue Canyon Wind Farm now produces the energy equivalent of powering 60,000 cars on the road, so with the gas price hovering just under $4 a gallon, I don’t think the residents mind so much anymore.

# We’ll have to wait our turn to get on the bridge.

apache-bridge

We actually didn’t stay in Apache for the weekend; instead, we rented a cabin in Medicine Park, a tiny tourist village about half an hour away just outside the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. If you can desensitize yourself to an over-abundance of junked out cars, scrap heaps, and crumbling mobile homes, Medicine Park is quite a cute destination and the natural beauty is astounding. Definitely worth a weekend trip from Dallas-Fort Worth. But my mention here is just about the one-lane bridge that goes across the river in Medicine Park and joins East Lake Drive with West Lake Drive. You don’t see many of these anymore.

# Look, it’s Tow-mater!

In Medicine Park we found what must be the actual model for Tow-Mater from the animated movie Cars.

# Wow! Look at the view from the wastewater treatment plant!

Apache Medicine bluff

The fact that the most beautiful real estate in the area is used by a waste water treatment plant is astounding to me. With a view of the Wichita Mountains, Lake Lawtonka and the surrounding hills, this plot would be turned into million dollar homes (or, adjusted for Oklahoman prices, maybe $250K homes). Seriously, it made my heart sad to see the $32.5m sewage facility sitting smack dab on top of the best view.

Wichita Wildlife Refuge

Wichita Bison

# Hey, Look! The stoplight is working!

apache-stoplight

I remember when the blinking red stoplight was installed at the main intersection when I was in junior high in the early 80′s. It seemed like no time at all had passed before the light burned out. No one seemed to notice, really, and it took years before it was replaced. Clearly progress has been made because the town’s only stoplight was blinking when we drove through town.

# The Apache Rattlesnake Festival drew 60,000 people last year.

apache-rattlesnake-festival

Our little town of Apache is host to one of the largest Rattlesnake Festivals in the USA. The Apache Rattlesnake Festival was created by some local townspeople (one of whom was my high school best friend’s Dad) back in 1986, and features guided snake hunts, contests for the longest/heaviest/ugliest rattlesnake, an ever-growing flea market/craft fair, and a carnival. Last year, they had 60,000 people come through for the 3-day event, and Discovery America was there to film it. Pretty good for this small hometown.

# Mooooo!

Livestock fairs

One of the big attractions of the Fair is livestock judging. Most FFA students have animals that they show at fairs such as this for prize money and bragging rights. This night was cattle judging night, so Jack and Luke got plenty of opportunity to see cows. I think this was the first real “Moo” they had ever heard, poor things. Usually it’s me trying to sound like a cow when I sing Old MacDonald.

Thanks, Rebekah Cooksey for sharing those memories!

===========oooooooo00000ooooooooo=============

Glimpses into Me — By Rebekah Cooksey from her blog: MyKindOfMom on August 20, 2008

Apache School 2014

Apache Co-Op

Birds & Birding, Family & Kids, Life, Student Life, Wildlife, Game Reserves

Jess on a Field Guide Course

Set in a beautiful sand forest, Ehlathini bush camp is where Bhejane Nature Training courses take place. Up in Zululand north of Hluhluwe village within sight of the north-west arm of Lake St Lucia, the camp borders iSimangaliso Wetland Park.

Jess to Zululand Training Course (15)

Jess was assigned a wooden cabin in a mango orchard to share with Lydia from London.

Jess to Zululand Training Course (13)

Jess to Zululand Training Course (39)

Better than a tent, eh Jess? “Just, Dad!” Lydia from London had arrived before her, so got the better bed!

With much trepidation and bravery Jess waved me goodbye and started her first extended spell away from home!

Visit Jess Bhejane (1).jpg


Update: She’s now in Ebandla Trails Camp in Amakhosi Reserve up near Nongoma. She’s out of comms but today they were up on a hill and she borrowed her friend Blessing’s phone and let me now she’s well: Hey Dad, We walked right near an ele herd, and a lioness with a cub, and we’re staying here till Sunday 28th May, and will I visit when they get back to Ehlathini that day? –  “Sure thing my love!”

At night they took turns standing guard while their colleagues slept.

Jess & Lydia being brave:

Lions roared in the dark nearby. This scared them, but not as much as harmless spider they found in the wooden camp back at base camp.

Jessie’s Team: She was one of the two teenagers. The rest ranged from low twenties to mid-thirties – and one aged 67.

The course proved very challenging, the lectures long (“and boring, Dad”) and Jess decided not to wait for the exams.

The books and notes were more extensive than I’d have predicted when I booked her on the course:


Ehlathini – ‘in the forest’

Ebandla – ‘where men assemble’

Amakhosi – ‘of the chiefs’

Bhejane – ‘black rhino’

Hluhluwe – ‘thorny monkey rope (creeper)’

iSimangaliso – ‘miracle; wonder; surprise’