Stoepstorie 3: Scotty the English teacher

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Stuart Street – this quaint and superbly kept cottage once belonged to Miss Helen Scott “Scotty”. Miss Scotty was the English teacher to many scholars. She was a wonderful teacher and friend to so many people in Harrismith who all loved her

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The letter dated 13/10/1958 which Josie Cronje received from Miss Helen M. Scott her English teacher in 1958 when she was in Std 8. This little part of our history is priceles.

She also wrote a testomonial for Mary Bland, in 1945, when Mary was finishing off Matric.

Scottie testomonial to Mary Bland in 1945

Till next time

Hennie & Sandra

De Oude Huize Yard

Stoepstorie 2: Traveling Companion

Wanneer ek ‘n Volkswagen Beetle op die pad raakloop dan kyk ek altyd waar sy flikkerligte sit. Julle weet daardie armpies wat so uitgeskiet het langs die deure wanneer daar gedraai word. In Engels is dit semaphores.

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Pa was die “traveler” in ons familie. Hy sou niks daarvan dink om ons in die kar te laai en êrens heen te ry. Ons eerste kar was ‘n Borgward – ‘n besonderse motor wat op voco-paraffin kon loop.Aust76

Daar was die oranje VW Beetle met die “dog-box”. Ek onthou die reis af Jeffereybaai toe – die bagasie is in die neus van die Beetle gelaai en dan het Pa die neus van die motor in die regte rigting gedruk. Ons plek was bespreek in die Jeffreys Bay Hotel. As ek reg is is dit vandag die Savoy Hotel. Pa het op gevoel gery so het ons Jeffreysbaai ge”overshoot” en in die destydse Ferreiratown gestop. Gelukkig was daar ‘n vriendelike man wat Pa in die regte rigting gestuur het.

Dan was daar later die bootvaart op die Knysna Lagoon en die gety wat ons wou intrek. Janboel en Julian wat moes stoot dat hulle bars om die boot op droeë grond te kry.

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Al die kere wat ons gaan springhase jaag het met die Willy’s Jeep. Dit was ons Saterdag-aand uitstappie op die plaas. Menige aande het ons met Jeep en al in ‘n gat te lande gekom. Dit was pret om met ‘n groot gesukkel weer huis toe te hinkepink.

Die Nuwejaar kamp by West-end dam met pa se 8-ton lorrie en die wit Engelse tent. Die blou lorrie sou die naweek van Nuwejaar gelaai word met onder andere beddens wat kon opvou in sulke oulike amperse tafeltjies, die nodige potte en panne en natuurlik die wit tent. Daar is visgevang en geswem. Later van tyd was daar ‘n bootjie waarmee die vissermanne se hoeke die water ingeneem is. Dit was in die tye voor sonbrand beskerming en gewoonlik was daar ‘n paar erg verbrande rooi lywe.

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Die Engelse tent het ‘n spesiale plek gekry by Kameel Rust & Vrede Bed en Ontbyt

Die kuier by tant Meraai in die Gamtoos en die tabak-vlooie wat ons byna opgevreet het. Ma het so in ‘n fluister stem vir Pa vertel van die vlooie maar ai, met Tant Meraai se ore was daar geen fout nie.

Dan onthou ek ook die kuiers by oom Salmon en Tant Pollie op Uitenhage. Tant Pollie was my ouma Barlow se suster. Vandag nog is Tant Pollie se appeltert deel van De Oude Huize Yard se spyskaart. Ek onthou die tafel in die kombuis waar ons almal saam gekuier het en stories van die Kolonie vertel het.

Daar was die tye wat ons laat-laat middag by die huis weg ry om by Popeye, soos my Pa my Ma genoem het, se familie in Skurweberg te gaan kuier. Tant Madeleine en oom Was het by Skurweberg gebly. So lekker teen die klip koppie. Daar is gekuier om Grand-cru en roomys.

Soms het ons 21h00 van die plaas gery om op Cypress in die Steynsrus distrik te gaan kuier. Dit was waar Fritzie en Rhoda geboer het. Ontbyt aan die tafel in die voorhuis was altyd ‘n ondervinding met Fritzie wat vir elkeen ‘n snybrood gesny het. Nooit meer as een sny op ‘n slag. Vir ons Finchams was dit nogal vreemd want dit was ons stapelvoedsel. Ek onthou die uitstappie met die Bluebird Datsun in die Golden Gate. Daarna was Pa Gerald nooit weer gretig om Golden Gate te besoek nie.

Op ‘n ander toer is ons na Francistown in Botswana, daardie kuiers in die destydse Suid-Rhodesia. Die Vic Falls, waar ons op ‘n bootvaart op die meer was. Een van die passasiers se kinders het ‘n aap geterg en is gebyt. Toe moes almal terugkeer wal toe. Pa het ons die Valley of Ruins en Matopo Hills gewys. My gunsteling plek was Leopards Rock omdat dit so ‘n pienk kleur geverf was en ek het aan Monaco gedink.

Daar was al die rally’s saam met Cecil en Paaijapan. Persoonlik dink ek daar is klein-kinders met Av-gass in hulle bloed. Pa en Ma het een aand in die middel van die winter by ons oorgeslaap. Juis met die hele Rally konvooi. Pa het voorgestel dat die manne buite sou slaap maar het nie rekening gehou met die Vrystaatse koue nie. Die nag het die manne voor die kaggel geslaap. Dit het nogal ‘n gesnork uit die boonste rakke gewees.

Pat en Pa wat “flips” in DVZ ZA oor Kameel geneem het. Dit was vir Pa groot vreugde en hy het later jare vertel hoe Kameel en die omgewing uit die lug lyk. Daar is later ‘n langer aanloopbaan deur die mielielande gemaak. Later jare sou Pat, Ma, ek en Hennie gaan blomme kyk in Springbok en ja ek kan ‘n noodlanding aftik op my lys.

Daar was die kuier in Namibia by Susan en Derick. Die plaas was op Gobabis en toe die terugrit aangepak moet word was die motor se battery pad en al genade was die Landdrover. Nodeloos om te sê, Derick het ‘n plan gemaak, ‘n matras is vir Ma en Susie agter op die Landdrover gesit. Hulle moes darem in gemak reis. Ma kon nooit uitgepraat raak van hoe sy en Susie die hele pad terug Windhoek toe gegiggel het.

Daar’s al die kuiers by Mike en Hes in Bloemfontein en Mike wat Pa na elke “scrapyard” in Bloem moes neem. Dis seker waar ek my liefde vir ‘n skrootwerf gekry het.

Daar was kuier in Harrismith en pa se woorde aan Hennie – “Hendrik ek weet nie wat jy betaal het nie maar ek is seker jy het te veel betaal”

Oupa wat Pedri geleer het van toast, bacon en eiers – sy gunsteling!.

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Wat ‘n lewensrit was dit nie!
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When you give your children knowledge, you are telling them what to think. When you give your children wisdom, you do not tell them what to know, or what is true, but, rather, how to get to their own truth.

Tot ‘n volgende keer

Hennie & Sandra

De Oude Huize Yard

Stoepstorie 1: A farm school in Kameel

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This farm school opened it’s doors in 1934 in a room in my grand-parents house. My Granny – Hester Fincham was very involved with the day to day issues of the school. My parents and family also attended the farm school.

Growth was evident and soon my grandfather – Victor Fincham built a school. Till today it is fondly remembered as the ‘Wit skool” due to the fact that since I can remember it was painted white.

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The Wit skool

Mrs Vic (Granny Hester) as she was known in the community was still seeing over the day to day running of the school. During break the learners would go to the post-office to get the mail. En route to the post-office was Mr Mackay’s shop and here you could buy to huge Wilson toffees for one penny.

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Fifty-seven years ago, my brother, Julian headed off to school. This was a huge family celebration as he was the eldest grandchild of Mrs Vic

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Front Douglas and Julian. Middle Patric and Francis on Granny’s lap. Back Myself and Elaine

It looked like great fun and he even got to take sandwiches everyday too! He had a smart suitcase, BOOKS, CRAYONS AND PAPERS! After not too much persuasion, I went off to school with him. I must have been the first 4-year-old in “Grade 0!”

Our teacher – I can’t remember if it was Miss Betsie or not, but she let me practice writing with the left hand and when that was tired, with the right hand. My mum would come and pick me up at break time soon after all the sandwiches had been devoured.

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Front Riana, Maggie, Rita and Amanda. Middle Mariette, Elmarie, Elize, Myself and Ansie Next row Analize, Heila, Marieta, Velmay, Elaine and Ria. Roux, Hanelie, Anina, and Martjie (So sorry I have lost a name) Miss Betsie. Miss Betsie traveled by horse cart to school.

The most memorable thing from that first school year was Julian’s speech about what happened at home just prior to his leaving for school. I have never quite understood why children must always write a speech or composition about their holiday or what happened at home on a particular day.

Getting back to the story – like most farm children of the day, Ouboet (Big brother) was quite capable of driving the Ford. Hennie says it was a Ford 100. We would catch Uncle Koos’s bus to school. With Ouboet behind the wheel, we would drive to the farm gate and then get onto the bus.

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His speech went as follows, “Miss, this morning on the way to school, the Ford’s clutch slipped and the gears locked which nearly resulted in us being late for the bus.”

The following year, school really began and it was a serious business. I recall Maggie and Elmarie who had the most delicious peach jam sandwiches. The sandwiches were later replaced by the most delicious chocolate cake. Elaine could go home whenever she felt like it. She was also my cousin and I would accompany her home during many a break time. She could run like a streak of lightening. Then there was Marieta and Mariette who could both sing so beautifully. Years later they would even get to sing the Drummer Boy song in the NG Church’s gallery. The clever girls were Heila, Riana and Amanda.

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Still remember some of the boys names Koos Swart, Johan, Evert, Karel, Kosie, Julian, Hennie, Pieter, Henry, Douglas, Patrick, Gertjie, Theo, Pokkie, Johnny, Pierre, Diekie, Johannes Mr Olivier is the teacher. Ouboet is standing in the second row from the top just behind Gertjie with the black blazer. Next to ouboet is Kosie with the badge on his lapel.

It was during this time of my life that I came to meet a certain school inspector. As he walked between the desks, he stopped at my desk. I think it was quite unusual at the time that a child could cope quite well writing with both their left and right hand. Perhaps he had not yet heard of the word ambidextrous! Who would have heard of such a thing back in 1963!

With the following words, “Miss, you had better decide which hand you are going to use to write with!” I got such a fright, I decided to go with the hand in which the crayon was held at the time – it was my left hand. Fortunately, all left handed people are seen by myself as somewhat special, many of whom happen to be in our family.

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I remember Mr Basson – he had his classes in the old white school building. We sat according to our classes. The standard 3’s in front, then 4’s and then the 5’s. As the standards progressed each year, we would also move further back too. The thing I remember the most about Mr Basson were his essays. He taught me to write about mountains. He would write key words on the black board and we would have to create a story around them. I always wondered if he were missing the mountains of the Cape Boland as he would spend so much time teaching us about these majestic blue giants. I must say that from where I sit right now, living at the foot of the Platberg, I could even wax lyrical about the colors of this beautiful mountain.

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Later on, Andrew would arrive at school with his bandy legs. Like Elaine, he would run so fast you would just spot him disappearing into the distance!

And so, the years marched on. Many of our, “clutches,” would slip and our, “gears,” would jam but at the same time we learned of the Majesty of God’s Grace and Mercy.

May God’s blessings always fall on the Kameel Primary School like a soft and gentle rain.

Till next time

Hennie & Sandra

Van Reenen’s Railway Pass

Next time when you travel between Johannesburg and Durban on the N3 and follow the Van Reenens pass – just pause a moment and notice the beauty around you. DSC_0001

This road is often mistakenly called the Old Van Reenen’s Pass, which is incorrect because the original pass mostly followed the course of the present-day N3 route. The road tracks the course of the railway line, which follows a series of contorted loops and tunnels in an effort to keep the gradient to a reasonable level. There does not appear to be an official name for this pass, so it can be confusing to research and to locate. The road, which is mostly gravel, is in a surprisingly good condition and can be driven in any high-clearance vehicle, provided that the weather allows; like Van Reenen’s Pass, the route is subject to both snow in winter and violent thunderstorms in summer. Thanks to Mountain Passes South Africa for the information

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The landscapes around the Van Reenen Pass are stunning and the railway service roads and tunnels top off the adventure. The route is a superb gravel pass but easy going and we duck off the N3 just just after Van Reenen. We traveled on the downhill mode. The scenery is stunning. This is the service road of the railway line and we traveled pass sidings, tunnels and farms. It include a 200m tunnel built in 1925, with a curve.

Watch the video that will take you with us Van Reenen Railroad pass

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Bookmark this pass for a sunny day and get lost in time and space and escape the frenetic traffic off the N3.

Till next time

Hennie & Sandra