Trader Horn and Me

Reading Tramp Royal again! So here’s a re-post from 2016:

I lapped up the famous Trader Horn books ‘The Ivory Coast in the Earlies’ and ‘Harold the Webbed.’ I’m still looking for their third book ‘The Waters of Africa.’ ‘Their’ being his and the special and talented lady whose sudden insight made it happen when she befriended a tramp at her door in Parktown Johannesburg back in the mid-1920’s – Ethelreda Lewis.

If ever the philosophy of ‘Be Kind Always’ paid off, it was in this tale of a friendship that developed after the reflexive dismissal of a tramp at the door of a middle-class Parktown home was changed to a sudden, instinctive ‘Wait. Maybe I will buy something from you . . ‘ and – even better – ‘Would you like some tea . . ‘

– Ethelreda Lewis on the Parktown porch where they wrote the books –

After reading Trader Horn 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 Aloysius ‘Wish’ Smith – now famous as Trader Horn – ‘s first book in 1930. MOST of what the old tramp, scamp, rogue and adventurer had claimed to do he had, in fact, done! Tramp Royal is a wonderful vindication, and a moving, fascinating and captivating read.

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

(phew!) . . . . . 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. He would have died there, unknown and in penury, had it not been for her sudden decision to listen to him tell a story. ‘Wish’ came to love Joburg, as did I. In Parktown he was in Loch Street in 1926, I was in Hillside Road in 1977;
  • Hwange in Zimbabwe, or Wankie in Rhodesia as it was then; – BTW, pronounce Hwange ‘Wankie’;
  • 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; He showed his humanity by describing the Boer women’s sadness, and states – I hope its true – that they always left ‘one milk cow behind for the kids; and we called it Pansy.’ And Harrismith is 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;
  • The Seaman’s Institute in Durban where he holiday’d happily for two pounds a month while waiting for his book to be published; His editor needed a break from him and sent him off by train on the 2nd April 1926 to avoid the Jo’burg winter. My only connection here is drinking in the nearby Smuggler’s Inn. If it was around back then, Wish Smith would have gone there!
  • Kent, where he died in 1931; I visited Paddock Wood on honeymoon in 1988.
  • Wish himself would be saying, ‘What, you haven’t been to Lancashire!?’
trader-horn_3

I would love to see his river – the Ogowe or Ogooue River in Gabon. Everything I’ve seen on youtube verifies Aloysius’ lyrical descriptions. Here’s an example (but turn the sound off);

– Ogooue river –
– Samba falls upstream on the Ngounie river from Trader Horn’s trading post –

I also loved the unexpected success of the first book. Written by an unknown tramp living in a doss house in Main Street Joburg, 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.

the tramp in new clothes! –

Then it started selling! 1523 copies one week, then 759, then 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.’

His fame grew and he reveled in it.

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! It was the age of ballyhoo and fooling the public with bearded ladies, confidence tricksters and hype. Some critics grew nasty, depicting Ethelreda – without whom none of this would even have happened, and without whose kindness and perseverance Aloysius would have died in obscurity, never seeing his family in England again – as abusing ‘Wish’ for her own gain. The truth really was that she – in effect – saved his life; she certainly returned him to his family; and she enabled the kind of rollicking final few years his dreams were made of! He had people to listen to him; he had money to throw around! What a better way to go than dying anonymously in a doss house in Main Street Joburg!

The hype died, cynicism (the bad kind, not healthy cynicism) set in and old ‘Wish’ Smith – Trader Horn – died in relative obscurity with his family in Kent. 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 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!

It was a landmark film of sorts that chalked up several firsts. It was the first fictional feature-length adventure shot on location in Africa (but the wrong location! East Africa while Aloysius’ adventures were in West Africa!). It was the first sound-era ‘White Jungle Girl’ adventure – many more would follow. It’s an old movie, sure, it is of its time; to me as a Trader Horn fan, the worst thing about it is: it isn’t the true story! Nevertheless, some rate it as ‘surprisingly engaging and worth checking out’ now that it’s been reissued on DVD. (NB: See the badly-made 1931 movie, not the worse-ly-made 1973 remake).

Trader Horn pamphlet

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Trader Horn wrote glowingly of a real lady he met on his river: an American missionary, Mrs Hasking. She died on the river, and Trader Horn took her body down river to be buried. I found out more about her here.

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Here‘s a much better, two-post review of the Trader Horn phenomenon – and Tim Couzens’ book – by fellow ‘tramp philosopher’ Ian Cutler. Do read it!

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On 27 October 2016 I wrote to Ian Cutler:

Sad sad news today: Tim Couzens the master tramp sleuth has 
moved off to join his Tramp Royal in the afterlife. 
At 72 he was about the same age as the old rogue at his death. 
Regards, Peter Swanepoel
Sad news indeed Peter. Thanks for letting me know.
Ian

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Courage and Principle

I said the book was coming. Now it’s here! I’m on page 121 236 and I’ll report back soon.

I finished and will have to write a summary. What a saga! Twenty years of telling people one simple fact: What these developers are proposing will completely ruin Vetch’s Pier and Vetch’s Beach! And very few people listening. Eventually Johnny managed to get some people to listen. The result is he managed to SAVE VETCH’s BEACH!! – an amazing feat for one man, his two-man legal team – who did the work Pro Deo – and the people he managed to get to support these three principled people against huge evil rich crooked corrupt private and government adversaries. But Vetch’s Pier is gone forever.

My copy was hand-delivered by the author himself! Johnny Vassilaros met me in the PnP parking lot near my home – he had penned a lovely inscription -:

If you’re interested in Durban; if you’re interested in good governance; if you’re interested in skullduggery and corruption and thieving; if courage and principle is important to you; and if you’re interested in reading the Wonderful Prose of Johnny – get this book! – write to littleboatsandbigfish@gmail.com –

At the very least, read courageous and principled Adv Peter Rowan’s foreword.

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New Book Coming!

Johnny Vassilaros is a courageous mensch. And an author. And I can’t wait! If you love Durban, get your copy. Write to – littleboatsandbigfish@gmail.com –

Foreward by Advocate Peter Rowan
I have known Johnny since 2003. I have spent many long hours with him, in meetings, in consultations, in Court proceedings, in open debate and in argument (even between us). He is a man of the utmost integrity. He is a man of high intelligence, a man of conviction and undeniably strong character. He has values and standards to be admired, a man of good, fair and even judgement, a family man, a music lover, a historian and environmentalist. A spade is a spade, and he calls it that way. Nothing in the civic domain is done for his own ego, or his own pocket. What he does is motivated by distinguishing between principles of right and wrong, and then, resolutely pursuing what is good for the situation that lies before him. He is disciplined, tough and unrelenting in pursuing his goals.

The nucleus of this book is the story of the Durban Paddle Ski Club, of which Johnny found himself as chairman, during the most taxing period in its history, and which was to have a profound effect on the plight of a most valuable public asset – Vetch’s Beach. This book has many interesting stories to tell. It brings colourful characters back to life by their amazing and often insane deeds in their pursuit of big fish on their little boats. And then, the anecdotes, historical facts about Durban, the pioneers of this city, shipping, the once dreaded “Bar” and shipping disasters off our coast, only a few life spans ago. For the fishing fanatics – just read it!

– Johnny Vassilaros and Pete Rowan – men of principle –


But this book is more than that. It also covers a most serious topic, that being the biggest and most expensive and controversial coastal development in the history of this city – the Point waterfront development. Having read the book, all I can say is “Wow!” The meticulous attention to detail and irrefutable accuracy on the facts is immaculate. Yes, some 250 pages are devoted to the tragedy of Vetch’s, where those who would like to know what truly happened, should read and read again. Johnny does not mince his words. He slaughters politicians, prominent municipal officials and powerful businessmen, decimates major role players from certain water sports clubs, all so justifiably, through their unethical deeds committed throughout the long Point waterfront years. If you don’t know who these individuals are, read about them in this book.

But the author doesn’t go at people simply for the sake of doing it. He acknowledges good and good people and good deeds. He despises bad or useless incompetent people, and most of all, reveals the wrongdoings, the corruption and skulduggery, all of which, we see aplenty in his book. He also provides more irrefutable facts, explaining how all this has led to the loss of the watersports clubs’ premises and the cost to the ecosystem at Vetch’s. 

Johnny writes both from the head and from the heart. He adds comment which is well founded, and where he castigates the unfortunates and criticises others, he does so because it is relevant to the story he unfolds. His words amount to fair and justifiable comment and criticism, made for the public good, all within his constitutional rights and freedom of speech. The events that he describes involved matters that could so easily have been laid to rest around a table with sportsmen and women, as we were all meant to be, acting reasonably,  in the interests of all our wants and needs of our respective sports. That’s what reasonable and civilised people with any sense of decency and good sportsmanship would have done.

But that was not to be. Not this bunch with whom we had to deal. Six individuals, who, as a committee, snuck off and formed a “Point Watersports Club”, with a “constitution” not remotely relevant to the aims and objectives of the water sports clubs, and, most importantly, in total contradiction to a legally-binding agreement they had all previously signed. And, staggeringly, with no mandate from their members and without any of them having any inkling that this was going on. And yet, this continued for years and the members still say nothing to this day.

How much in litigation costs did all of this amount to for the clubs, and ultimately the members? Johnny raises this in his book. I would conservatively estimate that between this “PWC”, whoever they may be, the DUC and the Durban Ski Boat Club, must have paid in the region of R5 million if not more. Look at what it cost the Paddle Ski Club and Save Vetch’s Association to save the beach, whilst others stood by – millions. What a waste! And how much irredeemable human and tangible destruction took place whilst all of this was going on?

And for me, one of the most dramatic standout points. How and why and on whose mandate did Hall, Kidger and Donald come to give away, in 2015, all the clubs’ rights to invaluable freehold property, to arguably own the highly valued land on which they were to build their clubhouse? Were these self-appointed directors simply dancing to the tune of the developer, giving away land that was worth millions, without a murmur? One can only be left wondering whether anyone was ever rewarded, for this act of “high treason”. No matter how one looks at this, it stinks. Rotten to the core. Should we not all be digging deeper into this? If we do, some people might just land up in jail. Johnny’s book lays this bare. Read it with care.

There is one last thing that needs to be published. The man I chose, during difficult times to put my money on, ahead of a multitude of erstwhile friends, the Geriatskis, and all of those who paddle with them. When I teamed up with the Geriatskis, paddling and socialising with them at DUC, it became one of the most motivating factors in my life. It was pure fun and pleasure. What camaraderie, banter amongst, what I imagined true friends to be! But when crunch time came, when it was clear that Hall was leading them down the garden path, and I started to ask questions and take a strong stance, where were these people? It seemed easier for them to step back and drift with the tide or blow with the wind.

Taking a strong value judgment call or a moral stance, or simply for the stark ecological sake of saving the beach, was not for these folk. But they paddle across that stretch of water, saved by others making huge sacrifices, day in and day out – conscience free, having done nothing to save the reef they so guilelessly now use. They went along with Hall because it was convenient and expedient. As tough and as sad as it has been breaking away and being excised from a strong group of wonderful erstwhile friends, and sad as the lonely situation is that I have now found myself in, I would suppose a gregarious fellow by nature, I wouldn’t swap Johnny Vassilaros and his solid principled fishing ski guys as friends for any one of these fickle souls – in my view, may they forever hang their heads in shame every time they paddle across the Vetch’s basin. Read about it.

I associate myself with all the facts set out in this book and with the words of the author, having been part of the action and privy to the multitude of documents and the voluminous court papers, which I still have in my possession. I am in the privileged position of being able to support or refute either the content of the book or any further comments that may arise. I challenge those who disagree with the content to revert, by way of constructive written exchanges, and back their views with adequate proof. I also challenge any one of you to take us to Court on whatever cause of action you may wish to rely upon.  

I salute this man, Johnny Vassilaros, for his tenacity and his courage in disclosing the truth. He is a man who I would want alongside me if ever we were to go to war. 

Advocate Peter Rowan SC       (Durban February 2020)

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Blue Lagoon

Let’s go fishing Dad – at Blue Lagoon. Just till 7pm.

As we were leaving the plaintive ‘flat battery’ cry of the Water Thick-knee (Dikkop) sounded from across the lagoon . .

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again, thank you xeno-canto.org for bird sounds

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A week later the fishing bug is still strong! This time Tom goes to Doonside rocks with Ryan.

Doonside beach and rocks - Tom n Ryan

They chose the spot and Tom was surprised when I showed him it was directly below Aitch’s Mom Iona’s last place of abode: The Mooi Hawens frail care home.

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2010 Soccer World Cup

We went to fan parks on the beachfront to watch on big screens. It happened during that outbreak of The Dreaded Plague of the Vuvuzelas – you may remember?

2010 Soccer World Cup

After the tourney we went to a game at the big fat expensive white elephant Moses MaFIFA stadium – ticket prices were way down compared to when the tournament was on. Much better, thank you!

Bafana vs Angola.jpg

Did you hear me blowing my own vuvuzela?

Sanity Break

Kids – six of them! – driving me crazy so I pack a flask of coffee, some buttermilk rusks, grab my binocs and waai. Three minutes away to the Palmiet Nature Reserve on my doorstep. Just me.

Palmiet Picnic.jpg

Two hours later off to Pigeon Valley in town for another two hours. Palmiet is only 90ha in size and Pigeon Valley a tiny 10ha, but they’re rich in plant and birdlife. These collages are just some of the birds I saw and heard today in the two reserves:

Bird Pics internet

I spotted an old landsnail shell in a tree hollow. New life sprouting out of it.

– thanks Derek Keats –

I tried to get a good picture of a Mountain Wagtail from above; As it flew the pattern was so beautiful. I didn’t get one, and I haven’t found a good one on the internet so far, that shows it as well as I remember it. Here’s the best so far, from Derek Keats at stellenboschbirds.com :

I pinched the pics from all over the internet, and some from Friends of Pigeon Valley‘s Crispin Hemson and Sheryl Halstead. Thank you!

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waai – bugger off

Ocean Cruise 1934

Janie & Lizzie Swanepoel

I told Dad I’d taken the kids on a boat trip to Maputo and he remembered his two older Swanepoel sisters Janie and Lizzie going on a trip from Maritzburg to Durban by train then to the same city in Moçambique by ship back in 1934. The city was called Lourenco Marques back then and the ship was called the Julio or Giulio or Duilio or the Giulio Cesar, he said.

Oupa would have organised the train trip at a special rate or free, being a railway man! This is where he worked:

pietermaritzburg-railway-station-natal1

Dad remembers the whole trip costing them seven pounds each, all in. Here’s a ticket from the Giulio Cesare in 1923, the year it was launched:

ticket-ss-giulio-cesare

I went looking and found – as so often – that Dad’s memory was good. Maybe the Grundlinghs and Solomons know more about this trip? What an adventure it must have been for the girls! Dad said he was worried sick his big sisters wouldn’t return! ‘Cried my eyes out!’ he said. He was eleven years old.

Here’s the ship’s service history:

The SS Giulio Cesare was used on Genoa and Naples to South America voyages but also served North American ports. Until 1925 the SS Giulio Cesare and the SS Duilio were the two largest ships in the Italian merchant fleet.

In November 1933, the Giulio Cesare was reconditioned and made ready to serve on the Mediterranean – South Africa Service.

giulio-pc-2

A feature of this ship was the Club situated on the boat-deck, with a bar. The ship also featured a saloon dining room, galleries and a ballroom. Second class was situated amidships. Talkie apparatus were also fitted to the ship and a long-distance wireless telephone was also available.

Tourist class accommodation was situated astern and also had several public rooms. The tourist passengers shared an open air swimming pool with the second class passengers.

guileo_brochure_pool

Name:

SS Giulio Cesare

Namesake:

Julius Caesar

Owner:

Italia Line (Navigazione Generale Italiana)

Port of registry:

Italy

Route:

Italy-South America & Cruising

Builder:

Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Ltd, Newcastle-on-Tyne, United Kingdom.

Launched:

7 February 1920

Completed:

March 1922

Maiden voyage:

1923

Homeport:

Genoa

General characteristics

Class:

Ocean liner

Tonnage:

22,576 grt

Length:

636 feet

Beam:

76.15 feet

Depth:

66.3 feet

Decks:

4

Installed power:

  • four sets of geared steam turbines manufactured by Wallsend Slipway

  • six boilers D.E. & four boilers S.E. creating 220lb of steam pressure by Wallsend Slipway & Engineering Company Ltd. Newcastle-on-Tyne

  • 21,800 shaft horse power

Propulsion:

Quadruple screw

Speed:

20 knots

Capacity:

Total passengers: First Class: 244 Second Class: 306 Tourist Class:1800

Notes:

Paintwork: White hull and upper works ; Boot-topping green

    • Funnels white with red and black tops and narrow green band

Her fate:

During WW2, SS Giulio Cesare was chartered to the International Red Cross for a time before being laid-up in the port of Trieste. She was sunk there by Allied aircraft on 10 July 1944, along with the SS Duilio.

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Durban Nightlife

Nightjars are fascinating birds.

One night in my first own home, Whittington Court in Marriott Road on Durban’s Berea, I heard a strange sound. It was like a small dog barking, but not quite that and I remembered from all my reading and re-reading of Roberts and Newmans bird books: Nightjar!

Aitch! I shouted, a nightjar! Luckily she knew I was weird so she joined me and we peered out from our first floor window and a nightjar flitted past. I was over the moon with excitement and discovery. A Freckled Nightjar right outside my flat!

Investigation revealed it to be a well-known one, roosting on the roof of the residential hotel nearby. Eden Gardens, now a retirement home. It had been discovered by Philip Clancey, famous birder and splitter and Durban Natural Science Museum ornithologist and author and artist, who lived in the hotel. They usually roost on rocks and the roof was a good substitute. Their camouflage is impressive:

Freckled Nightjar_africanbirdclub
– looking like a stone – africanbirdclub.com

A previous “discovery” of a nightjar also had me hugely excited.

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Durban museum ornithologist Philip Clancey took numerous expeditions into Zululand and Mozambique, discovering several new subspecies as well as one new species to science, the Lemon-breasted Canary in 1961. Clancey was a prodigious publisher of papers and books including “Birds of Natal and Zululand”, all lavishly illustrated with his excellent and distinctive bird paintings.

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thanks stellenboschbirds.com – Chris Krog for Freckled Nightjar Caprimulgus tristigma pic

McCord’s Zulu Hospital

McCord’s Zulu Hospital is a well-known institution in Durban. It was started in 1909 by Dr James B. McCord, who had studied medicine at Northwestern University in Illinois, qualifying in 1891.

McCord James B.JPG

McCord joined the Student Volunteer Missionary Movement at Oberlin College in Ohio and there met his future wife, Margaret Mellen, who was born in Natal when her parents had been missionaries there. She and James fell in love and decided to go to Africa as missionaries.

In 1899 he was sent to Adams Mission in Amanzimtoti as a medical missionary. Medical services for Africans in Natal at the beginning of the twentieth century were meagre at best and at worst non-existent.

So, right at the start of the Anglo-Boer War, James and Margaret, accompanied by two young daughters, travelled to South Africa in a troop ship carrying British soldiers! In 1902 he became a member of the Royal College of Surgeons, and a licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians in London. He then moved to Durban where he remained for the rest of his working life. Initially he opened a clinic and a dispensary. To establish his hospital for Zulus in a fashionable part of Durban Dr McCord had to battle ingrained prejudice and unfounded fears. In time McCord’s Zulu Hospital became a well-known institution in Durban, gaining a reputation for excellence both in its treatment of patients and for its teaching and research. Predictably some whiteys agitated for it to be removed from the Berea to a ‘black area’ but – not predictably – they didn’t get their way.

McCords Hospital
See the book ‘The People’s Hospital’ – link below

It was here that the McCords trained the first African women to become nurses, and fought for them to become registered by the nursing profession overcoming suspicion and the deadweight of bureaucracy. They received great help from Katie Makanya, whose knowledge of isiZulu and allround capabilities were essential to their success. At first he was assisted by two doctors who worked part-time and one trained nurse. His wife Margaret served as nurse and business manager. Much later the hospital staff expanded to include nine doctors, and 150 nursing sisters and trainees.

Katie Makanya
Katie Makanya on the right

By the time of Dr. McCord’s retirement in 1940 at age 70, African female nurses were being licensed for the first time. His dream of establishing a medical school to educate and qualify African doctors was realized in 1947, three years before he died, when the University of Natal in Durban brought into being a Faculty of Medicine for black students, now named after Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

Our own dealings with McCords were all good. When Trish’s Mom Iona was well in her eighties the orthopod there advised her to rather not risk a hip replacement. Sound advice we thought.

In 2014 the Provincial Government of KwaZulu Natal took over the McCord’s Zulu Hospital and converted it into a specialist eye hospital, McCord’s Provincial Eye Hospital. I now readily refer people without medical insurance to McCords these days for cataract and other eye surgery. They get great treatment there.

Dr. McCord wrote his autobiography My Patients Were Zulus (Rinehart & Co., New York, 1946); His daughter Margaret wrote The Calling of Katie Makanya (John Wiley & Sons, New York, 1995) about McCord’s first translator, theatre nurse and ward supervisor, who worked with him for over 40 years.

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From a paper by Prof Dennis Luck of Oberlin College Ohio, sent to Bruce Soutar. Bruce and Heather took Dennis – who grew up in Durban – and his wife to see Ohlange Institute at Inanda, a high school founded in 1900 by Rev Dr John Langalibalele Dube and his first wife Nokutula. It was the first educational institution in South Africa to be founded by a black person. Like Dr McCord and Prof Luck, Dube had studied at Oberlin, and was a founder of the ANC. Nelson Mandela cast his first free democratic vote in 1994 at Ohlange school.

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Pics from Hugh Bland’s great Natal-History-Saving site KZNPR. Go and have a look at it.

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Do go and look at a new book The People’s Hospital by Julie Parle & Vanessa Noble is available free to download online. Wonderful old photos like this one in a spacious ward:

McCords Ward 1918

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Bruce Soutar sent this to his connection in the USA, who replied:
From: Prof Dennis Luck
Sent: Thursday, February 8, 2018
Dear Bruce,
Many thanks for sharing with me comments from various people who have read the “one-pager” on James B. McCord.   It seems that they found it interesting and informative.
I’ll never forget the day, some years back, when I stumbled across McCord’s autobiography, My Patients Were Zulus, in a second-hand bookshop in Oberlin that was going out of business.   What a lovely connection between Durban, where I was born and grew up, and Oberlin, where I taught at the College for 33 years before retiring in 2005.   I never knew that James McCord was a graduate of Oberlin College until that time!
John Dube, by the way, was not a graduate of Oberlin College: he attended the College for only two years,1888-1890 (thus overlapping with James McCord), before returning to South Africa.   On a return visit to the US in 1897 he studied at the Union Missionary Seminary in Brooklyn, New York, for two years: in 1899 he was ordained as a priest thus becoming the Rev. John Dube.   Finally, in 1936 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of South Africa, becoming Dr. John Dube.   Oberlin College is very proud of him, and claims him as one of their own!
Another by- the- way: my field was biochemistry, not microbiology.   Sorry to be so pedantic – I guess it comes from being an academic!!
All best wishes, Dennis

What a Storm!

Left home at 9am and got back at 2pm. Never did get to work.

Sat the whole time in this storm. Thought it was bad till I saw the videos of the worst places! This was mild!

Montclair Storm (5).jpg

Meanwhile at the practice, the ladies were having their own good time:

Montcl Storm Damage (2).jpg

Bloody Tropical Storm Koos!

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Cleanup day today. Jessie and Tobias came in to help Raksha, Prenisha and Yandisa.

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After we’d mopped we got the pros in – R5000 for the wet vacuum cleaner hire!

TC the Original

First puppy. That was TC whose name didn’t signify much but we couldn’t think of another and settled on TC which teasingly was for “Terrible Canine” or “Terrific Canine”. Maybe the character from the TV show Magnum P.I influenced the name too. She was born on Melrose Farm of Mouse the Jack Russell by that he-man and character Stan the dark Staffie and was a gift from Dave and Goldie Hill, new parents of Tatum at the time. This was December 1988.

Stan with Goldie; Mouse with Tatum:

Goldie with TC's sire & dam - Stan the Staffie & Mouse the Jack Russell

 

Hills, Melrose Mouse Tatum

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Dogs aren't allowed on the bed at 7 River Drive!
– dogs aren’t allowed on the bed at 7 River Drive – much . .

TC with her siblings before weaning:

Puppies 1988 Farm.jpg

We still lived in a flat but were moving into a house soon. Flat life suited TC:

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– Top Dog surveys her domain –

 

 

But so did the great outdoors:

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And even though three younger new arrivals outgrew her . . .

 

She outlasted two of them and remained Top Dog:

 


Her big friend and sparring partner was Tess the bull terrier from next door. Great mates they were, but occasionally when we near they’d go at each other with much snarling and hound-dog insults.

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Once I held Tess high overhead with TC attached to her leg in a firm bite, both growling furiously, then dumped them in the deep end of the pool before they would quit their nonsense!

TC lived to fifteen, outliving Matt and Bogart. She is buried at 7 River Drive Westville on the banks of the Mkombaan river under a kanniedood tree, the paperbark commiphora (was Commiphora harveyi). She just got old and tired and slower and thin, and died quietly in her basket one evening.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Ocean Cruisin’

Should’n have asked, should’n have asked, should have gone to a game reserve . . . Jess decided she wanted an ocean cruise for her eighteenth birthday. Tom was cool with that for his fourteenth birthday, so off we went.

I checked with veteran cruiser Craig and booked the four night cruise to Portuguese Island in Maputo Bay in Mocambique on the MSC Sinfonia.

Lots of queueing

What a bay!

Maputo Portuguese Island
– ferried ashore –
There's Milibangalala!!
There’s Milibangalala on the horizon! On the way back we had sunny weather.

The cruise north was rainy, so the kids had indoor fun. Jess took to quaffing cocktails at the various bars. Hey! She’s eighteen now! And the nice barmen didn’t need money, they just swiped her room key card.

MSC Sinfonia pub

Tom focused on the meals, making sure we got to where we needed to be and using the pizza and burger cafes in between meal times.

The highlight was going ashore on Portuguese Island in rubber ducks, having a swim and lunch onshore.

Portuguese Island
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On the beach a huge group of people formed a square and danced to some catchy tune. We swam and walked. I could see Jess actually wanted to join the dancers. But she didn’t. She just watched and watched and swayed in time to the music. Little did I know that tune was going to come back to haunt me!

– hamba nawe –

Back on the boat an obviously Durban family walked past us chatting to their friends about going for a jacuzzi; I had seen the jacuzzi and thought “Good luck”; Minutes later they were back to where we were sitting and told their friends “Hey you can’t even go in there, it’s CHOCKED!” Elbow-to-elbow people. Bum-cheek to bum-cheek. Every facility was crowded, every deckchair taken.

The kids loved the experience, so all good.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Bufftail Bogey Bird . .

. . nailed at last!

On 2014/06/23 Crispin Hemson – Pigeon Valley Patriarch and Monarch – wrote:
Conditions in Pigeon Valley are very dry, giving great visibility into the undergrowth. We are suddenly seeing Buff-spotted Flufftails on the main track, or just next to it. Yesterday I saw two adults and a sub-adult. These are very unobtrusive birds, so do not expect rustling. I suspect that while in summer the undergrowth is dim and the main track bright, the Flufftails stay under cover. In winter the undergrowth is as bright as the area just outside it, so the pressure to stay there is less. Spotted Ground-Thrushes are also very visible, often just on the edge of the main track, digging into leaf litter that accumulates there. There are more than I originally thought – I saw them in four places up the track yesterday.

I wrote:

I have heard a thousand bufftails – particularly at Hella Hella where we weekend-ed monthly for ten to fifteen years, and on the Mkombaan river in Westville where we lived for fifteen years; and although I searched and stalked and lay in wait, and saw two dead ones – next-door-cat-got-it in River Drive, and flew-into-plate-glass at Hella Hella – a sighting has evaded me till now. One would hoot right outside my bedroom window, metres away, but I never caught a glimpse.

bufftail-dead
– I forget whose pic this is! –

Thanks to Pigeon Valley’s tireless champion, Crispin Hemson reporting on his birding regularly, I went on Sunday to Pigeon Valley and saw a spotted thrush at the entrance, and then that flufftail up at the fence line along King George V avenue. At last! Two seconds after forty years!

A male bird, who ducked into low dense thicket just outside the fence.

bufftail-pigeon-valley
– another of Crispin’s pics –

This was a big bogey bird as far as a sighting goes! Must be close to forty years of thinking “soon I’ll see one”.

Can a pitta in my garden be far behind?

~~~oo0oo~~~

Here’s a Sheryl Halstead Spotted Ground Thrush pic

Thrush, Spotted Ground (Sheryl Halstead)

~~~oo0oo~~~

The Photographic Record

Every year Trish got a professional photographer to the kids’ parties. Me, I’m scrooge. I’ll take the pictures. I can do this! So at the kids’ uShaka Waterworld party I tried to photograph everyone. But I didn’t get one of lovely young Hannah, and she left early.

I told Tom.

“Doesn’t matter”, he says, “She’s a brownie/blondie hair kinda person”.

Oh. That’s obviously okay then.

uShaka Joint Party J&T (25)

Tom with friends whose pics DID matter . .

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Joining the fourteen year-olds and the ten year-olds parties was not a clever idea! These below do not blend well with those above! I rushed around searching for bodies all day. Never again!

Jess 14th bday party uShaka (with Tom)

Angel Fevvers From Above

Went to watch a troupe of French “Angels” flying high above the city hall last night. Me and the kids with Cecelia Shozi and her two girls.
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We met Bruce & Heather and Vicky there, sitting on the base of a statue.
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Cables had been strung from the top of the city hall spire over to other buildings and between various other buildings, criss-crossing the square in front of city hall, where Jannie Smuts and Queen Vic and other umlungus stoically endure the pigeon shit. Some cables went from the top of buildings such as 320 West Street down at about a 70º angle to Aliwal Street.

Angel fevvers
Pity few of the cables are visible in my pic – I should draw them in!

I was looking forward to the madness!

After a while an old sapurity (Tom’s word) guard came up to me where I was peering up at the cables with Tom on my shoulders and told me there’s gonna be an hour’s delay. We joked about the angels having to preen their wings and I said I was worried one of these angels might come and take me away.

“Oh, no, sir” he says to me “Yours will be black  and carry a scythe, and he’ll come from up there” pointing at the blackened top floor of 320 West Street which had recently burnt out. Then it started raining and the wind came up, so I decided there’s no way the angels will fly and off we went home.
Dammit. THE ANGELS DIDN’T FLY!

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Then Sheila wrote:

Oh no – what a pity you left.

THE ANGELS DID FLY!

I was there and it was utterly enchanting. We came out of the concert (in the city hall) at about 8.30pm and it was drizzling ever so slightly, but even that stopped before the angels started flying. It was pure magic.

The fevvers (as Deon Joubert would have called them, back in Harrismith in the 60s) floating down made it look as though it was snowing, ‘specially in the spotlights.

I couldn’t help thinking that there must be a hellavu lot of kaalgat chickens skoffeling around today – I have never seen so many fevvers – and they were real!

The atmosphere was fantastic – with great shouts going up everything the angels released huge bags of fevvers all over us. I had my binocs and you could see the angels were having huge fun.


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FROM A REPORT: Angels paid Durban a visit this week, bringing magical moments of “light, sound and heavenly activity and a sense of cohesion, unity and humanity shared” to quote Bongani Tembe, South Africa’s commissioner general for the French Season in South Africa that opening in June and ended with the angels.

Strange feathered creatures edging along zipwires strung from high above street level outside the city hall. Glittering winged figures. Flying. Gliding playfully above crowds of spectators invited to the free sky spectacle by the heavenly Place des Anges.

At first the feathers fell like thick flakes of snow; then the flurries became almost a blizzard as the area became a mysterious new place.

Magical Moment of Light put Durban on the map alongside Piccadilly Circus and the 2012 Olympics in London, Moscow, Tokyo and Perth to name a few places where Les Studios de Cirque have taken their angels and feathers.

For thirty minutes, the twisting and twirling trapeze artists careened across the sky in graceful flight, slowly performing tricks and turns, before releasing a cascade of feathers from suitcases and umbrellas on the crowds below.

“Taking place in the creative heart of Durban, the show also serves to remind all of the city’s magnificent architectural beauty and artistic value, and to revive a sense of pride during these moments of playfulness.”

While the crowds gathered in the plaza in front of Durban’s city hall waiting for the aerial show, guests and dignitaries inside the city hall — first bored by some overlong speeches (the speakers were apparently given two minutes each — but some took up to twenty!) — were enchanted by the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra and three extraordinary KwaZulu-Natal choirs.

 

 

 

Hair Today

Years ago I wrote about my hairdresser then. She had more to do than my hairdresser now.

I went and saw her one day and realised I’d chosen the wrong time. Fergie was getting married to the porky ‘prince’ and all the ladies were glued to the telly, ooh-ing and aah-ing.

Bloody ‘Royal Family’ mania!

I can come back later, I offered.

No, its fine, she fibbed and set to trimming my locks, out of view of the Pomp-ing Ceremony.

Have you seen!? she asked in her pronounced Affies or Dirkie Uys accent.

No, not really interested, said anti-monarchist me.

Ag, Saah-ra looked so beautiful as she stepped out of the cart, she gushed.

~~~oo0oo~~~

– home hairdresser with Tiger –

Now my CURRENT hairdresser is something else. Saw her yesterday. Much less to do, but hey!

Presses her boobs against me; Stands with her thighs on either side of mine; Pats me tenderly; Fusses over me; Quite a performance. And charges me nothing! FREE haircuts for me.

Course, I’m married to her . . .

~~~oo0oo~~~