Ohio Honeymoon

Honeymoon OhioOn our honeymoon in 1988 we visited good friend Larry Wingert. He’d been a Rotary exchange student to Harrismith in South Africa back in 1969-1970.

We flew out of Lawton Oklahoma to Dallas/Fort Worth, on to Little Rock Arkansas, to Cincinatti and on to our destination: Akron, Ohio. on Friday 8 April. Larry’s friend Dave “Zee” picked us up at the airport, took us to his condominium and fed us. Later, Larry fetched us in his Subaru and took us to his beautiful old home on North Portage Path.

I love the canoeing connection with his home: North Portage Path is an 8000 year old path along which native Americans portaged their canoes from the Cuyahoga river out of lake Erie, across a mere eight miles to the Tuscarawas River from where it flows into the Muskingum river, then into the Ohio and on to the Mississippi. Thus they could paddle from the Great Lakes to the Gulf Of Mexico with only an eight mile portage, something any Dusi paddler would do without a second thought! The amazing thing: You can still paddle from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico today, unbroken except for one short section – and along that you could pop in to Larry’s place for tea! America’s waterways are astonishing.

Larry indulged us lavishly. On our arrival in the States some weeks before, we received a letter saying “Please accept these portraits of old American Presidents and USE this plastic card!” Various big denomination dollar bills and a credit card for gas (or petrol)! How’s that!?

He then indulged Aitch’s joy in shopping, especially deli shopping at the best places, followed by a big cook-up at home and music with the two of them on the piano, shoving me aside and asking me to please stop singing! (Note: Gotta find the pics of them at the piano).

Then he took us to parks and nature resorts for me to indulge in my birding passion. When he wasn’t able to join us he handed over the keys to his Subaru. Above and beyond . .

One morning we visited Cuyahoga River State Park quarry area. Afterwards we went shopping at another rather special deli – its obvious Larry is GOOD at this! For supper Larry cooked us some great steaks on his portable barbeque outside his kitchen door. We ate like kings.

A visit to Kendall Lake; Later to Cleveland’s Old Arcade Centre and a look at Lake Erie. Supper at a French restaurant on Larry; He had already spoiled us generously, now this.

Suitably fortified, we moved back home to liquers and piano and song! To bed 2am, rise 5.30am; off to Boston 13 April 1988. Cape Cod is next . .

The Day The Music Died

Sixty years ago today a plane fell out of the sky and this was finished:

American Rock n Roll musicians Buddy Holly (22), Ritchie Valens (17), and JP ‘The Big Bopper’ Richardson (28) were killed when their plane crashed in Iowa.

In 1971 Don McLean sang about that day AND – less known – about another day ten years later:

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When asked what “American Pie” meant, McLean jokingly replied, “It means I don’t ever have to work again if I don’t want to.” Later, he stated, “You will find many interpretations of my lyrics but none of them by me … Sorry to leave you all on your own like this but long ago I realized that songwriters should make their statements and move on, maintaining a dignified silence.” In February 2015, McLean announced he would reveal the meaning of the lyrics to the song when the original manuscript went for auction. The lyrics and notes were auctioned on April 7, and sold for $1.2 million. In the sale catalogue notes, McLean revealed the meaning in the song’s lyrics: “Basically in American Pie things are heading in the wrong direction. Life is becoming less idyllic. I don’t know whether you consider that wrong or right but it is a morality song in a sense.” The king mentioned was Elvis, the jester was Bob Dylan.

Then the song also contains a much longer, and near-verbatim description of the death of Meredith Hunter at the hands of drunken Hells Angels at a free concert in California ten years after the plane crash that killed Holly, Valens, and Richardson. Where the music died a much more tragic and violent death. A death that was not an accident.

Oh, and as I watched him on the stage
My hands were clenched in fists of rage
No angel born in Hell
Could break that Satan’s spell

And as the flames climbed high into the night
To light the sacrificial rite
I saw Satan laughing with delight
The day the music died

In 1972 the title of the song came to bite me when I embarrassingly cocked up the most important part of my matric dance. None of that.

Oklahoma Mountain Oyster Fry

Back when I was seventeen or eighteen I became an American farmer – a certified Future Farmer of America and I can still hear how Mr. Schneeburger would say EFFIFFAY in Ag Shop class. In Ag Shop I craftily constructed a rotating cattle feeder made of a 55gal drum, mounted on a wheelrim on an axle that would always turn away from the wind thanks to an angled weather vane on top. Thus keeping the cattle feed dry in all weather. Clever, hey!? Trouble was my birdshit welding, so it fell over in the first little breeze. Still, the thought was there and I was – maybe – on my way to greater things.

I went to hog shows – where the winner wouldn’t be looking quite so pleased with himself if he read what his mistress had planned for him on the placard:

I planted peanuts in Fort Cobb – well, watched some Mexican fellas do it anyhow. I sprayed something on Jim’s lands. I drove in Walter & Pug Hrbacek’s – or was it Gene & Odie Mindemann’s? – airconditioned cab of their big combine harvester or tractor (yeah, a farmer should remember which it was!) with an eight-track tape sound system overhead. Remember them?

okla 8-track tape

My farming career peaked when I took part in the big annual roundup, catching, de-horning, castrating, branding and inoculating the bull calves.

Then we went home to wash up and joined up again to eat the produce and wash it down with beer. It was my first ‘mountain oyster fry’. It was like this, but in Walter’s barn, not at a church, and not in Texas:

Ball with Jesus_Testicle

They’re delicious, and they smell good – unlike the smell of burning cowhide from the branding! – but I found them best fried and covered in batter. You don’t really want to see them, especially not raw. I only ate the well-battered ones. They also get better with each ice-cold beer!

Okla testicles fried

Recently I found out they do it better in Montana where they add a competitive eating of bull balls, or “Rocky Mountain oysters” and they throw in women’s hot oil wrestling, a women’s wet-T-shirt event, and a men’s “big ball” competition – basically a men’s “wet thin white underwear show”. Sounds like fun, huh?!

They make good products too, good merchandise: One for an insecure man, and how useful is this one for a lady who has a dick of a boss?

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Not a Billionaire

As you take a picture of the kids they say “LEMMESEE” and look at the photo of themselves on your phone, then say ooh! or ugh!

In 1944 a three year old girl apparently said that to her Dad and he had to explain the film would first have to be sent away to the lab when they got back home from their holiday and then the lab would develop it and send it back to them and only THEN could she see the pic he had taken of her. She thought that completely unreasonable and so her Dad set to work and in 1948 the first Land Polaroid cameras went on sale. His name was Edwin Land and his Polaroid Corporation became very famous indeed. Instant pictures in 1948 looked like a miracle, like the fax did forty years later.

Some of you will remember those cameras:

Polaroid Land camera
Edwin Land and a surprised codger

I first got to use a Polaroid camera in 1973 when – in my quest to do as little schoolwork as possible – I was kindly allowed onto the Annual Staff of Apache High School where our job was to be amateur reporters and amateur fund-raisers and to cobble together this school annual under the wonderful friendly guidance of our teacher Virginia Darnell.

 

 

We had old cameras with bellows and a newer version.

 

So why am I not a millionaire? Because everyone knows Polaroid went bust as newer technology came out and nowadays there’s absolutely no need for paper photos when you have all your digital photos instantly viewable and always available on your camera. Everyone KNOWS that.

Except – – – this:

Polaroid new camera
2017 Polaroid cameras

and this:

Fuji-Mini-70 instant camera   Camera, instant

Seems kids still want to hold a paper copy of their image in their hand. Last year Polaroid launched new instant cameras which look very retro-similar to the ‘new’ ones we used in the seventies!  My predictions on new stuff that eventually ‘went viral’ has usually been ‘hmph! that’ll never take off!’

Time will tell if paper photos make a comeback. Recently Jess saw a pink one in the window of a camera shop and said she NEEDED it! “Dad, you don’t understand! It instantly prints out a paper photo!”, she said.

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Thanks to fellow optometrist Ann Elsner, Professor of Optometry at Indiana University for a lovely article on Polaroid’s 70th anniversary 1948 – 2018.

 

R.I.P Herve de Rauville

fourDammit, Hervie died!

Me, Herve, Dave Jones, Jurie, Steve - The Lincoln loaded

Me, Herve in red, Dave Jones, Jurie the cameraman and Steve, Chris Greeff’s buddy. Greeff took the pic, cutting off the nose of the Lincoln to make sure got my elbow in. The Lincoln is loaded and ready to take us to paddle the Ocoee River in Tennessee after a night at Dave Jones’ house in Atlanta. Dave is a military man, a dentist and an international paddler. We were there cos Chris Greeff is a military man, a dentist and an international paddler. Weirdos like that tend to stick together.

Here’s Herve on all fours studying the map of the rapids of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. Willem van Riet left of Herve with the ducktail is telling us about the moerse rapids he went through that day.

1984 Grand Canyon (3)

Here is Hervie again, red cap left back, in the Swim Team, much as he tried to earnestly explain why his swim didn’t actually count as a swim! Competitive swine, our Herve!

Canyon 1984

and here he stands dead centre with the faded red cap at the end of our 480km trip through the Canyon:

1984 Grand Canyon (4)

My last supper with Herve was positively biblical: He arrived in a cloud of holy blue smoke in a hundred year old chariot – a faded yellow Merc diesel with four million miles on the clock. Nice car, Herve, I said. “Hey! Think of the money I save”, said he. He brought four quarts of beer and six bottles of ‘communion wine’ which he called his ‘quota wine’. I thought, ‘quota for the night!?’ but it turned out he owned shares in a Western Cape wine farm and – just like they did with their workers – you get some of your pay in liquid form. Suddenly I thought I understood ‘liquidity’.

We had gathered together, dearly beloved, to write down Herve’s tales of the Umkomaas. As the evening progressed I would say ‘but Herve, wasn’t that the Dusi?’ Oh, Yes! We’re talking Umko, hey? But Herve, wasn’t that the Berg? Oh, Yes! We’re talking Umko, hey? But Herve, wasn’t that the Breede? Oh, Yes! The Crocodile? Oh, Yes! But you didn’t saw your boat in half to get it on a plane to go to Umko, did you, Herve? Oh, Yes! We’re talking Umko, hey?

We laughed for seven and a half hours. Then he left after midnight in a cloud of holy blue smoke in a hundred year old chariot – a faded yellow Merc diesel with four million miles on the clock.

Too soon. Go well, Herve.

Hand-Me-Down

You like that jersey fella?

Sure do.

Do you know who gave it to me?

No. You’re not going to take a picture are you?

Did you know I have two Moms? Gogo Mary and . . .

Oh, yes, the lady in America!

Right! Katie Patterson. She sent me a parcel one Christmas with this jersey in it. Around 1990 I think. The jersey’s way older’n you!

Yeah, you showed me a picture of her.

Oh. Well, here she is again:

Apache Patterson Lunch (1).jpg

She has a lovely smile, just like Gogo Mary, says the boy. Knows just how to say the right things at times, my boy (and the very wrong things at other times!!).

When did you go to America?

1973. I was seventeen.

How did you get there?

I flew.

You flew! In what?

A jet plane.

They had jet planes back then?

Yeah, I didn’t swim. I think the first commercial jet flew in the late fifties.

Oh.

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wikipedia: The first purpose-built jet airliner was the British de Havilland Comet which entered service in 1952.

Here’s a bit about flying in 1973. 

Trader Horn and Me

I lapped up the famous Trader Horn books “The Ivory Coast in the Earlies” and “Harold the Webbed”. I was then even more enamoured of Tim Couzens’ book “Tramp Royal – The true story of Trader Horn”, as it validated the Trader Horn legend – Alfred Aloysius ‘Wish’ Smith was real and he had got around!!

Couzens died in October this year, tragically – he fell in his own home. I thought OH NO!! when I read it. He was a gem, almost a Trader Horn himself – what a waste! Too soon! He did the MOST amazing sleuth job of tracking down all Trader Horn’s jaunts n joints across the world and revealing that – despite the skepticism that had followed the incredible fame and Hollywood movie that had followed the success of ‘Trader Horn’s first book in 1930 – most of what the old tramp, scamp and adventurer had claimed to do he had, in fact, done!

One (small) reason I LOVED the trader Horn books, besides the original title: Trader Horn; Being the Life and Works of Aloysius Horn, an “Old Visiter” … the works written by himself at the age of seventy-three and the life, with such of his philosophy as is the gift of age and experience, taken down and here edited by Ethelreda Lewis; With a foreword by John Galsworthy was the number of places A. Aloysius Smith – ‘Trader Horn’ (or Zambesi Jack or Limpopo Jack or Uncle Pat – he had aliases!) had been to that I have also been to:

  • Joburg, his least favourite city in the world. He was in a doss house in Main Street in 1925, I was in Eloff Street in 1974. Parktown, where Ethelreda Lewis ‘discovered’ him was different – he came to love it, as did I. In Parktown he was in Loch Street in 1926, I was in Hillside Avenue in 1977;
  • Hwange in Zimbabwe, or Wankie in Rhodesia as it was then;
  • Harrismith, where he went with Kitchener’s Cattle Thieves to steal Boer cattle and horses in the scorched earth tactics of the wicked looting Brits. And where I was born and raised;
  • The west coast of Madagascar where our yachting trip to the island of Nose Iranja took us quite close to his ‘Chesterfield Islands’;
  • The east coast of Africa, although he spoke of Zanzibar and we visited Mombasa – which he probably visited too, as he sailed up and down the coast;
  • Oklahoma, where like me he befriended and was befriended by, the local Native Americans – his mostly Pawnees and Osages, mine mostly Apaches, Kiowas and Cherokees;
  • Georgia, where he behaved abominably and which I used as a base to go kayaking in Tennessee. He drank in a doctor’s house and I drank in a dentist’s house;
  • The Devonshire Hotel in Braamfontein, where both of us got raucously pickled;
  • Kent, where he died in 1931; I visited Paddock Wood on honeymoon in 1988.

trader-horn_3

I also loved the unexpected success of the first book. Written by an unknown tramp living in a doss house in Main Street JHB, the publishers Jonathan Cape advanced fifty pounds which Mrs Lewis gratefully accepted. Other publishers had turned it down, after all. Then the Literary Guild in America (a kind of book club) offered five thousand dollars! They expected to print a few thousand, and also offered the rights to a new publisher called Simon & Schuster who hesitated then went ahead, receiving advance orders for 637 copies.

Then it started selling! 1523 copies on week, then 759, 1330 and then 4070 in the first week of July 1927. Then 1600 copies one morning! Then 6000 in a week. They now expected to sell 20 000 copies!

Up to November that year sales averaged 10 000 a month, thus doubling their best guess. They had already run ten reprints, the last reprint alone being 25 000 copies. 30 000 were sold in December alone up to Christmas day. The story grows from there – more sales, trips by the author to the UK and the USA, bookstore appearances, talk of a movie. The trip continued until he had gone right around the world, drinking, smoking and entertaining the crowds with his tales and his exaggerations and his willingness to go along with any hype and fanfare. At his first big public appearance at 3.30 pm on Wednesday 28th March he spoke to a packed house in the 1,500 seater New York City Town Hall off Times Square:

William McFee was to have made an introductory address but the old man walked on the stage (probably well fortified with strong liquor), acknowledged tremendous applause with a wave of his wide hat and a bow and commenced talking in a rambling informal style before McFee could say a word. He started by quoting advice given to new traders: “The Lord take care of you, an’ the Divil takes care of the last man.” He spoke of the skills of medicine men, rolled up his trouser leg above his knee to show the audience his scar, and threatened to take of his shirt in front of the whole Town Hall to show where a lion had carried him off and was shot only just in time. When the aged adventurer paused to take a rest in the middle of his lecture, McFee delivered his introduction.’

Then suddenly people started thinking old ‘Wish’ Smith’s whole story was a yarn, nothing but the inventions of a feeble mind, and wrote him off as yet another con artist – there were so many of those! The hype died, cynicism set in and old ‘Wish’ Smith – Trader Horn – died in relative obscurity. It may all have been a hoax.

So was he real, or was it all a hoax? To know more, read Tim Couzens’ book – it’s a gem!

Here’s a silent movie of the old rascal on a Joburg street corner soon after he’d been kitted out in new clothes when the first cheque for his book came in.

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Here’s the full program for the 1931 movie.

Here’s a wonderful site where Ian Cutler, another fan, writes about Trader Horn and about Tim Couzens’ dedicated work, research and travels that validated the old rascal.

Trader Horn pic

Here’s the back page from the movie program. The movie, of course, was Hollywood – WAY different to the true story! An interesting facet was for once they didn’t film it all in a Hollywood studio; they actually packed tons of equipment and vehicles and sailed to Kenya and then on to Uganda to film it ‘in loco’ – although on the wrong side of Africa to where it had happened!

Trader Horn pamphlet