Category Archives: Family

Road Trip with Larry

Mom lent us her Cortina. Like this, but OHS:

cortina 1970

How brave was that!? The longer I have teenagers of my own the more I admire my Mom and her quiet courage and fortitude back in the ’70’s! The thought of giving my teenage son my car and allowing him to disappear (it would be in a cloud of dust and tyre smoke) on a three week jaunt fills me with querulous whimpering. (I’ll do it, I’ll do it, but only cos Mom did it for me).

We drove to PMB then on to Cape Town. Took us ten days in going nowhere slowly style back in 1976.

Wherever we found a spot – preferably free – we camped in my little orange pup tent. Weza Forest – free; Tsitsikamma – we paid:

Tsitsikamma campsite internet pics till I find mine

Driving through the Knysna Forest we saw a sign Beware of the Effilumps. So we took the little track that turned off nearby and camped – for free – in the undergrowth. Maybe we’d see a (very) rare Kynsna elephant. Not.

knysna forest

In Cape Town we stayed with Lynne Wade, lovely lass who’d been a Rotary Exchange Student too. She played the piano for us and I fell deeply in love, then disappeared on yet another beer-fuelled mission. Coward.

Malmesbury – We visited Uncle Boet and Tannie Anna. Oom Boet was on top form, telling jokes and stories and laughing non-stop. That evening he had to milk the cow, so we accompanied him to the shed. Laughing and talking he would rest his forehead against the cow’s flank every now and then and shake with helpless mirth at yet another tale. Meantime, this was not what the cow was used to. It had finished the grain and usually he was finished milking when she had finished eating. So the cow backs out and knocks him off the stool, flat on his back, bucket and milking stool upturned. He takes a kick at the cow, misses and puts his back out. Larry and I are hosing ourselves as we help him up and try and restore a semblance of order and dignity.

Back at the house we give them a bottle of imported liquer to say thanks for a lovely stay. It’s a rather delicious chocolate-tasting liquer and it says haselnuss mit ei. Its only 500ml so we soon flatten it. Something like this, but smaller:

haselnuss liquer

Ja lekker, maar ag dis bokkerol, Kosie – Ons kan dit self maak! (We could make this stuff ourselves!)

Ja?

Larry and I decide to call his bluff. In the village we looked for dark chocolate and hazelnuts, but hey, it’s Malmesbury – we got chocolate with nuts.

Oom Boet is bok for the challenge. He dives under the kitchen sink and starts hauling things out. He’s on his hands and knees and his huge bum protrudes like a plumber’s as he yells “Vrou! Waar’s die masjien?” Anna has to step in and find things and do things as he organises. She finds a vintage blender and – acting under a string of unnecessary instructions – she breaks eggs and separates the yolks, breaks chocolate into small pieces. He bliksems it all into the blender and adds a fat dollop of a clear liquid from a label-less bottle. “Witblits (moonshine), Kosie!” he says triumphantly. He looks and goois more in, then more. Then a last splash.

like this, but the goo inside was yellowy-brown:

Oom Boet blender_2

He switches on the blender with a flourish and a fine blend of egg yolk, chocolate and powerful-smelling hooch splatters all over the kitchen ceiling, walls and sink. He hadn’t put the lid on! And it was like a V8 blender, that thing.

Vrou starts afresh, we mop, we add, he blends, and then it’s ready for tasting at last.

And undrinkable. That aeroplane fuel strength home-distilled liquor was just too violent. We take tiny little sips, but even Oom Boet has to grudgingly admit his is perhaps not quite as good as the imported stuff. We add more chocolate and more egg yolk, but its only slightly better.

Ten years later I still had the bottle and it was still three-quarters full!

 

 

Barbara se Ouma woon in Boomstraat

She actually did. My sister Barbara’s granma lived at 131 Boom Street Pietermaritzburg.

Born in the bedroom on the left on 15 December 1922

and right across the road was this school. Going to the Afrikaans school would have meant a bus ride, and Oupa was frugal. And so started the ver-engels-ing of Dad. The rooinek-erisation. Pieter Gerhardus became Peter.

131 Boom St PMB (1)

*ver-engels – Anglicisation

*rooinek – Boer word for Poms – anyone from ‘England’ (which meant any of those islands left of France. (Literally ‘red necks’ – but not America rednecks). NB: This excluded Irishmen who fought for the Boers against the plundering, wicked, invading, looting Poms.

 

The Blands in Africa (one branch . . )

On 2017/03/16, Sheila wrote:

Hi Everyone

Our distant cousin Hugh Bland has been doing some wonderful work sniffing out the Bland family history.

Today he found the grave of Josiah Benjamin Adam Bland – he was born 1799 in the UK and arrived at the Cape in 1825. He settled in Mossel Bay, where he became mayor and the main street is still called Bland Street. He died in 1861. The grave is on a farm, in very thick bush, in the Wydersrivier district near Riversdal.  The farmer very kindly took Hugh to the gravesite.

Hugh says you can read the inscription on the grave stone – it’s indistinct, but there’s no doubt that it’s JBA’s grave. He says it was “quite a moment” for him – JBA was buried there 156 yrs ago and Hugh wondered when a Bland last stood at that grave.

Hugh put two proteas on the grave and then laid his shadow next to his (and our) great great great grandfather:

JBA Bland's grave

After Josiah Benjamin Adam Bland came John Francis Adam Bland (born 1836) who trekked inland to Harrismith in the Orange River Colony with a small baby – John Francis Adam the second. This started “our branch” of the Blands. JFA II later married Mary Caskie (who became the beloved Granny Bland of Harrismith). They had five sons of whom our grandfather Frank (JFA III) and Bunty were the oldest.

Hugh found out that JFA the first died on 10 September 1891 aged 55, and is buried in Senekal.

JFA II and Granny Bland and all five of their sons are buried in the same grave in Harrismith. Granny Bland buried her husband and four of her five boys – what a tragic life, but she did live long enough to know us, her great grandkids. The one son who outlived her, Bunty, died in 1974.

JFA III’s wife Annie Bland (nee Bain) – our granny Annie – died aged 90 ca 1981. Her daughter Pat (Cowie), our mother Mary’s sister died in 1974. Mom Mary is still alive and turned 88 in 2016.

I’m hoping sister Sheila will fact-check me here!

 

Mother Mary Memories

Mr Pretorius was a new teacher in Harrismith. This is back in the ‘forties. One Geography lesson he asked a question and the answer he wanted was the town “Heilbron”.

Johnny Priest (chosen because the teacher knew he wouldn’t know?) answered “The Free State” at which Mr P lifted his eyes to the heavens, rolled them and sighed sarcastically “Why don’t you just say The Union of South Africa?” at which Johnny hastened to say “I meant the Union of South Africa”.


Outside toilets

Toilets were outside, well away from the house, usually at the back border of the yard where the alley ran past so the night car (or ‘Honey Cart’) could get to them. If you had a big yard it could be a long walk. Mrs de Beer used to say theirs was “Halfway to Warden”!

Oh, the embarrasment, says Mom, of meeting the Honey Cart at night when walking home from the bioscope! “So embarrassing!”


Mom’s doctor in Harrismith was Dr Leo Hoenigsberger, who was married to Janet Caskie, an Australian cousin of Mom’s Granny Bland. One day he hit a bridge in has car on the road to the gaol and was taken home, a bit shaken.

Someone phoned the home and one of his sons (Leo or Max) answered. “Hello, is the doctor in? We want him to come around and play bridge with us” said the voice.

“No, I think he’s had enough bridge for one day” answered the son.


 

 

Cannot be

When I was around six years old Sheila came marching up to me and demanded-

“Do you know what Dad’s name is?”

Well, of course I did! I was the older brother.

Kleinspan Skool Koos Sheila.jpg

It’s “Dad”

“No man, his real name!”

What did she mean? Oh, of course- I’d heard Mom call him that lots of times.

“Peter”

“No. It’s PIETER GERHARDUS!!”

What rubbish! I’d never heard such foul language! And this from my MUCH younger sister! (she was a whole year younger’n me. Which was like: All of living memory!).

Amazingly, investigations proved her right!

Riding Shotgun

My lift from JHB dropped me off at home. The dorp was empty, where WAS everyone?

I phoned 2630 pring pring pring (or was it 2603 priiiiing priiiing priiiing? I forget). Can you fetch me? No, get yourself here quick, we’re going to Warden to scare some guineafowls. Now.

What could I do? The imported white Ford Econoline V8 van was in the garage, I knew where the keys were, and the folks were away. And after all, I’d only be using it to get to Gailian then hop into Tabs’ bakkie and away we’d go. What could possibly go wrong? Oh, and I’d better borrow Dad’s 12-gauge shotgun, too.

As I drew up next to the prefab on Gailian a cry of Perfect! A real shooting brake! went up and six gentlemen holding shotguns and beers piled in, calling Tommy the German Pointer in with them. No, guys, hang on, I said feebly . .

The day at Warden was a blur but the drive back came into sharp focus. We ‘had to’ pull in to the pub in Warden (I of course, had suggested we go straight home, but that went down like a lead balloon). In the pub the barman took one look at us and refused to serve us. Someone who shall remain nameless but whose surname maybe started with a G fetched his shotgun and casually aimed it at the expensive bottles of hooch above the barman’s head whereupon he suddenly remembered our order and delivered seven beers pronto. When we decided we’d like to play snooker same thing: A Simpson-like character aimed the (turned out to be LOADED) shotgun at the cue ball and the cues were produced with alacrity. And chalk.

When to my huge relief, we finally got going, the G-man, who was riding shotgun on my right (the van was Left-Hand-Drive), sat on the windowsill and three of Warden’s four streetlamps went ‘pop’. Now I KNEW I was going to jail forever. Putting my head down and roaring for home I wasn’t stopping again for NOBODY. Except the gentle tickle of a shotgun against my ear persuaded me otherwise and I stopped as instructed with my headlights shining on the Eeram sign. A firing squad lined up, three kneeling in front and four standing behind them. This is for Ram, guys, he’s getting married next weekend! BLAM!! and there was ‘ram’. Nor do I believe it.

I finally got home and looked at the van. Holy cow! Dog hair, guineafowl feathers and the mud and the blood and the beer all over the carpets and upholstery of Dad’s Ford Econoline V8 camper van! I set to work cleaning it. And cleaning it. And scrubbing it. Still it stank of that mixture. In desperation , I took a jerrycan and spread petrol liberally on the carpet and scrubbed again.

When the folks got home I made a full – OK, partial – confession: Dad, I spilled some petrol in your van, but I’ve cleaned it all up. Sorry about that!

Uncle Boet in Malmesbury

1983 Uncle Boet's truck 20004

After the 1983 Berg River Canoe Marathon we stopped in at Boet & Anna Swanepoel’s smallholding outside Malmesbury. Boet was Dad’s older brother. Mom and Sheila had seconded me on the race. I’d forgotten this visit, remembering only an earlier 1977 visit with Larry Wingert, but Sheila had pictures! And there I am sticking up above Uncle Boet’s head above, watching, hands in pockets. Probably too tired and cold to help after the four-day freeze I had just endured?