Stoepstorie 10: Devondale tot Kameel

Al ooit gehoor van Devondale?

Die stasie is 25km vanaf Kameel. Vandag is daar min oor van die eens tuiste en besigheid van my Oupa Victor en Ouma Hester. Na hulle huwelik het hulle Devondale Store besit en in die huis langs die winkel gewoon. In die goeie dae van Devondale was daar die watertenks waar die stoomtreine water gevat het. Ek onthou nog die ou Convent wat een van die groot geboue in die omgewing was.

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Wanneer daar by die familie op Kameel gaan kuier is, het oupa en ouma met die motorfiets en side-car gery.

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Oupa Victor op die motorfiets reg om die pad te vat Kameel toe, maardaar was darem tyd vir ‘n foto sessie.
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Dan was dit Ouma Hester se beurt in die syspan. Sou wat wou gee om daardie hoed van nader te kon besigtig.
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Ouma op die motorfiets. Kyk die leer kamaste. In my opinie sien ons altyd ons oumas en oupas as baie streng maar as ek so na die foto’s kyk haal ek my hoed vir hulle af. Niks kon hulle onderkry nie.

Ek is seker hulle het by al die bekendes van die omgewing gekuier. Aunt Ethel (oupa se suster) en Uncle Rex Collins het, net oorkant die spoor op Devondale, gewoon. Ek is seker dat daar ook gekuier is by Uncle Alfi and Ant Nellie Fincham, wat op Kinderdam gewoon het. Ook onthou ek die Starkes van Curnow. Daar was die Barlow’s (my ouma en ouma aan moederskant) van Langverwag.

Pa Gerald het altyd vertel van die spook op Devondale – ouma en oupa het na die 4 uur tee gaan stap. Toe hulle terug kom was die tafeldoek onder die koppies en teepot uitgetrek en bo-oor alles gegooi, sonder dat iets uit sy plek was. Daar was natuurlik die fosfor-ligte op die drade waarvan Ma Floss vertel het.

Victor en Hester September 1940
Groot-Oupa Alfred Ernest is in 1937 oorlede en Oupa en Ouma Fincham het toe Kameelbult toe getrek.
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Die dae op die plaas was gevul met daaglikse plaas aktiwiteite. Die eerste trekker was ‘n groot aanwins.
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Die dorsmasjien

Kameel het ‘n winkel gekry – Mr McKay se winkel. Mr McKay was natuurlik Tannie Glen se pa. Hy het vir jare die winkel besit, maar die beste was die stories oor die mak kraanvoël, Jock, wat almal gejaag het.

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Oom Ernest en Tannie Glen op hul troudag. Tannie Glen was ‘n legende in die plaaslike poskantoor waar sy vir jare gewerk het.

Die winkel is later jare deur Oom Daan en tant Lizzi bedryf. Nadat hulle vertrek het, het oom Russel en tannie Corrie Olewage die winkel bedryf. Later jare sou my ouers die winkel bedryf. Nadat hulle genoeg gehad het, het Patrick, my broer die winkel bedryf en later jare het hy dit verhuur. Toe die laaste huurders van die winkel hom, na vele kere gesoebat het om die winkel terug te neem, het hy die bul by die horings gepak en die deure van Wilrick Kontrei winkel geopen.

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Kameel se “Mall” ‘n kontrei-winkel, posagentskap, ATM en die bottelstoor

Daar was ook die Italiaanse kryggevangenes wat op die plaas kom uithelp het na die Tweede Wêreld Oorlog. Pa Gerald het hulle by Zonderwater gevangenes gaan haal en weer teruggevat. Renato het vir baie jare kontak met die familie gehou.

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My Pa, Gerald staan links
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Pa Gerald, Oupa Victor, Ouma Hester, Jean voor en die Italiaaners.

Oupa Victor is in 1954 oorlede en ouma het die Cafee langs die treinspoor begin.

Kameel is een van die dae ek en Hennie se nuwe tuiste ons hoop om in die voetspore van ons ouers, groot-ouers en geliefdes te kan stap.

Tot ‘n volgende keer

Sandra en Hennie

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Stoepstorie 8: Stuart Street Harrismith

Stuart Street Harrismith as Autumn sets in

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We are part of the street as much as we are part of the town.

Our house address is 17A Stuart Street.

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De Oude Huize Yard was built in 1860! You will find it in the little block right on the right hand side.
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First Title Deed of De Oude Huize Yard

The name Stuart relates to two possibilities.
*Major Warden named all his children after the Royal house of Stuart. Rumors were that he was an unofficial grandson of Bonnie Prince Charlie.
* Stuart Jacobus, 1803 – 1878, author, diplomatic agent and advocate of emigration, took part in the Sand River Convention in 1852.

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Stuart Street in 1904 with a Rickshaw left wide sidewalk right and a railway line. Horses pulled the wagons (or coco-pans “coco pans”).

After the Boer War in 1904, the British had a huge camp on Kings Hill. Here they broke many stones, cut and trimmed it to be used for building purposes. To get these stones in the town a track was laid from Kings Hill to the town. Some of these stones were used when the Town hall was built. This information probably also explains the existence of many houses and buildings in Stuart St, which were built of stone. There were also traces of the track in Vowe and Bester streets.

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The first public building in Harrismith was the Court house, serving the community as a venue for the school, public meetings, bazaars and entertainments. All church services were held in the Court house until 1879 when the first church, the Dutch Reformed Church, was built on the site of the present Moederkerk. (Hawkins 1982)
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Stuart street on a peaceful Sunday morning. The trafic light is situated on the corner of Stuart and Piet Retief Streets.

The early magistrates were Bester, Chauvin, Theron, D Cloete, J De Kock, Bramley, (that was accused of high treason), Canisius, J N Boshoff, J Z de Villiers, F W van der Riet, Charles Warden. (Steytler 1932)

Mr. Joseph De Kock resides at De Oude Huize Yard from 23 July 1861 till 23 April 1903 almost 42 years.

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The corner of Stuart and Retief streets. The Court House on the Left. The trees planted in a square at the foot of Platberg were planted by the “konsentrasiekampkinders” and the indication where the Concentration camp was. The people of the Camp were then transferred to “Tin Town” in Ladysmith
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Corner of Stuart and Piet Retief streets today. The Court House made room for the new Post Office. The trees has grown and where the Concentration Camp use to be is now the town goal.

An almost mad Kitchener was tormented by the Concentration Camp women and children when they did not show respect when the funeral procession of Dr Godfrey Reid pass them. Instead a hissing sound was made. Reid was killed during the Groenkop battle on Christmas day. The women and children were then moved to “Tin Town” close to Ladysmith. Some were transported in open train carriages and the luck ones in proper passenger car.

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This picture was taken on the morning of 8 August 1900. A very interesting photo with significant history. On this morning more than 200 burgers of the Harrismith Commando came into town by horse, by “kapkar” and even Spaaiders. They were ready to hand in their weapons and take the consequences. In front of the Court House the Boer’s were ready to sign neutralizing document. The horses were tied to the railings. The name hendsoppers was given to the Commando members. Some came to town in their best Sunday outfits and hard hats while some came in worn out cloths. One of them was the Member of Parlement – Commandant Piet Maree.
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The guns that was handed in was demolished and was loaded onto a “bokwa”. There it was transported to the courtyard of the Court House. Here the 5th Coy Royal Engineers destroyed the weapons with a 16 pond-hammer on a anvil and hit to pieces.
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The house on the left was the home of the Sieberts-family on the corner of Stuart and Mauritz streets. The building on the right was a private school.
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Further down Stuart street is the Harrismith Club. This is still standing but been looted.
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Sandstone curbs in Stuart Street
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Stuart street with 42nd Hill in the back

Thank you to Leon Strachan, Nico Moolman en Biebie de Vos for their contribution

Till next time

Hennie & Sandra

De Oude Huize Yard

Stoepstorie 7: Wesley Hall and Anne James alias Mrs Tom James

Our next story comes with a twist as we noticed that the cornerstone of the Wesley Hall was laid by Mrs. Tom James. It left a question mark.

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Who was Mrs. Tom James?

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The Chevy is doing a trip and parked in front of the Wesley Hall next to the Methodist Church.

The Wesley Hall was built in 1906 and the cornerstone was laid by Mrs. Tom James on 17 January 1906. She was the eldest daughter of James Putterill. Her husband was a true supporter of the church and was for many years the Sheriff and Mayor of the town.

Wesley Hall 2

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The old Methodist Church was demolished in 1967 – 1968 and the Record Stone of the previous stone was laid by James Putterill on 14 June 1882.

From the time Harrismith was established most of its inhabitants were English-speaking. The British settlers who emigrated to Natal during 1849-50 found the country in the Byrne Valley not suitable for traditional farming practices. Many went to settle in urban areas, while some returned to Britain. Encouraged by Mr Warden, about 1 500 settlers came to Harrismith.

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The story of Anne as shared by Leon Strachan.

Mrs Tom James was Anne Putterill and has a truly sad but remarkable story.
Her father James Putterill was a Byrne settler with a big personality who owned land in Verulam before moving his family up to Harrismith in 1863. His eldest daughter, a tiny but stubborn 25-year-old woman refused bluntly to get married, even though women were in great demand in the Free State (in 1863 the Free State Republic had been in existence for only 9 years and was extremely sparsely populated).
Unfortunately her disinterest did not prevent a man to fall in love with her. Anne didn’t want to have anything to do with him. When Anne’s strong-willed father (a grandchild referred to him as domineering) got wind of this he stepped in to salvage the situation. He instructed the man, a Welshman called Thomas James, to build a suitable house and furnish it. He, on the other hand, bought trousseau and a wedding dress for Anne, and fixed a wedding date.
When Tom James completed his ‘solid cut stone house,’ James Putterill instructed his daughter to prepare for her wedding. Anne refused, she said she didn’t love Mr. James and that was that.
The Putterill’s were a prominent family thanks to the very forceful James Putterill, who was an excellent business man and played a leading role in the Wesleyan (Methodist) church, as he did in town affairs. Whilst guests filled the church in Warden street on Anne’s wedding day, he instructed his womenfolk to dress up the unwilling bride. He then continued to drive her to the chapel in his carriage, where he walked a very unhappy daughter up the isle. He maneuvered the obstructive girl into position next to the groom, while he flanked her on the other side ‒ urging a flabbergasted minister to get started.Don’t think James Putterill had won the battle of wills yet. Anne was unfazed, she declined bluntly to take the marriage vows in front of all the astonished wedding guests. She stood her ground, not unnerved at all. Putterill didn’t despair either, neither did he give up. It would be a battle of wills to the inevitable end.
Every time it was expected of the bride to answer the parson, James pushed his silent daughter’s head slightly down as if she nodded whilst signalling impatiently to an ever more uncomfortable parson to get on with it. The ceremony was thus unceremoniously consummated, and the unlikely couple settled shakily into the solid stone house.
They were childless (3 stillborn). Tom James turned out to be a stalwart who became sheriff and mayor of Harrismith. Both he and his wife loved fishing, they were often seen fishing together whenever an opportunity occurred. The 66-year old Tom died in 1894, after which Anne took in a Miss Dixon to keep her company. According to Beryl Osborn (Anne’s niece who penned the family history) they lived happily together until the British garrison arrived on Kings Hill in 1903, when disaster struck.
A striking and very charming young soldier, conveniently named private James, befriended the two elderly ladies. Young James told them he was an orphan with no home and no family, all alone in the world.
Besotted with him, Anne bought him out of the army and formally adopted him. The young man then gratefully proceeded to squander his adopted mother’s savings. Even when Anne had lost everything she owned, never an unkind word was uttered or anything damaging believed of the young man. He bolted unceremoniously out of the country when there was nothing left to spend.
The Putterill family had to club together to provide the necessary means for Anne and Miss Dixon, and their parrot, to live on. Anne rewarded them by living into her nineties.

Till next time

Hennie & Sandra

Stoepstorie 6: Melktert

Hier by De Oude Huize het ons ons eie melktertstorie om te vertel.

Elke storie het ‘n begin en hierdie ene begin jare gelede toe ek in 1978 skoolgehou het in Port Elizabeth.

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Die Edward Hotel se binnehof, Die biblioteek, Duncanstraat huise, en weer die biblioteek.

Die pragtige St Georges park was net ‘n paar meter van my woonstel af en was ek bevoorreg om ‘n see uitsig te hê, maar so ook die baie bekende  Havelockstraat wat ‘n paar winkels gehad het onderandere ‘n tuisnywerheid.  So staan ek eendag in die einste winkel en kyk wat ek kan aankoop vir die tee by my  vriendin wat in Prospect Hillstraat gewoon het. Net so om die hoek van die pragtige St Mary’s Church.

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Terwyl ek nog so tussen die koeke en die terte dinge bespiegel kom ‘n Oompie nader geloop, maar ek gaan my gang en toe ek hand uitsteek in die rigting van die melkterte toe vertel hy my sy melktert storie.

“Niggie ek koop toe mos ook so ‘n melktertjie om huis toe te neem.  Die dametjie vra een of twee en ek is ‘n man wat gulhartig is so ek stem in vir twee.   Die ruilhandel vind plaas geld vir tert en daar stap ek uit.  Dit voel vir my al asof ek ‘n paar spoelklippe in die sak het, maar ek gaan vroulief beindruk.  Terwyl ek nou my motor se neus so in die rigting van die huis druk wonder ek darem oor die  tertjies wat nou saam met my oppad huis toe is.  Hulle roep my naam en nooi my om tog net so ‘n stukkie verleiding te proe voordat ek by die huis kom.  Ek het die pad langs die rivier gekies om my huis toe te vat dus was daar min verkeer.  Ek maak toe ‘n plan en proe so ‘n happie  . . . .  wat ‘n skok . . .  daar was geen verleiding in daardie terte nie.  Ek het die kar se deur oop gemaak en die tert laat rol en ek is oortuig hulle het tot binne in die Baakensrivier gerol sonder om enigsins vorm te verloor”.

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De Oude Huize se melktertstorie begin by tienuur vanoggend toe ons Nederlandse gaste vanaf die Drakensberg arriveer.  Nou moet julle besef die vorige nag se gaste borsel nog tande na ontbyt.  So doller dan ‘n afkop hoender hardloop ons rond en die Nederlanders soek ‘n badkamer – wil net noem daar is ses van hulle.

Uiteindelik is die vorige nag se gaste by die hek uit en die Nederlander koek vir ‘n wyle in een kamer terwyl ons die ander kamers poleer en suig en pof en tof om reg te kry.  Ek moet byvoeg ek floreer nie wanneer dinge bietjie vinnig gaan nie!.

In die proses vergeet ek om beskuit te bak, ek vergeet om ‘n happie vir 4 uur koffie te bak. Hennie bring uitkoms en gooi ons kar se wiele in trurat en jag SPAR toe.  Op TV sê die oompie mos hul bakery is so goed.  Ek stel voor hy kyk vir ‘n melktert – so een soos in die brosjure – ‘n outydse melktert van een of ander tannie.

Binne 20 min is hy uit en tuis.  Hy het die laaste melktert gekry.

Die gaste sit aan vir koffie en koek en ek haal die tert van verleiding uit die dekseltjie bak  . .  glo vir my as die Baakensrivier naby was sou die ding ook gerol het.  Dis in ‘n tinfoelie pannetjie met baie deeg en min vulsel.  Die kalf is in die put ek kerm en verduidelik al die asprekte van ‘n ordentlike melktert en begin die affêre te sny.  Die kors splinter is fladers en die tert breek waar dit nie veronderstel is om te breek.  Ons lig die ding uit sy tinfoelie houer en sit dit in ‘n diepbord en probeer weer.  Groot genade kry ons ses stukkies uit die dingetjie.  Ons skarrel om tee en koffie te bedien en dan neem Hennie die bordjies met tert in en . . . .

Ek weet nou nie mooi wat gebeur het nie maar een stuk was seker so moeg vir my afbrekende kommentaar dat hy of dit mag ook ‘n sy wees besluit om uit die bordjie te spring en karplaks op die vloer te land.

Ons altwee staan verstom . .  daar was net 6 stukkies

Gelukkig onthou ek dat ons vroeër die dag so ‘n ou versnapperingtjie geëet het en daar ‘n stukkie “bêre vir later” oorgebly het.

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Noodeloos om te sê ek is nou verantwoordelik vir enige tuisgebak!

Groetnis tot ‘n volgende keer

Hennie & Sandra

Stoepstorie 5: Jan Els

Life was not always moonshine and roses that we all know.

We all get motivated to do something that made the community  jaw drop. This was the case of Jan Els when he punched the town clerk.

Leon Strachan we can only send a huge thank you for sharing the wonderful legends with us and putting a smile on our faces. You will find this story in Blafboom 1999 Also thanks to  Cate Lotter for her contribution in the translation of the story of Jan Els.

Jan Els

“I punched the town clerk,” said Jan Els, bursting into Mayor Nic Duursema’s  VC Cafe.

VC cafe and garage

In the sixties Annie Bland was the owner of the Central Service Station, Oom At Truscott ran the workshop which was situated between the VC Cafe and the Flamingo Restaurant. Spent many happy times in amongst the grease and old tyres. Loved the smell of new tyres. Barbara Swanepoel Tarr.

Jan Els and Caveman Spies were not the only men who punched Harrismith into the newspapers. There were quite a few, from the earliest years. These were often members of the legal profession.

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When the Free State became independent in 1854, the new government found that there were insufficient funds to run the administration that the English had left behind. They would have to scale down, and Joseph Orpen, a surveyor who was the magistrate of Winburg, was instructed by President Hoffman to close the magistrate’s office in Harrismith. Orpen sent a black man on foot, as was the custom at that time, to Harrismith with a letter to that effect. However, bad weather resulted in Orpen arriving in Harrismith before his letter.

Paul Bester, founder and the first magistrate of Harrismith, was told that he was to be transferred to Bloemfontein.  This did not suit him at all as he owned a lot of land in the district and near Ladysmith where he lived.

The other officials were summarily dismissed, with the exception of  Cauvin, who remained as a special peace officer.   They were now without income, and most unhappy. The townspeople were also very displeased as their nearest magistrate’s office would now be in Winburg.

While Orpen was making an inventory of the books and furniture in office, Bester and the others arrived. A crowd of dissatisfied townspeople had formed outside. Bester hit down hard with his walking stick on a table, and Field-Cornet van Aardt threatened Orpen.    Georg Schmidt, the magistrate’s clerk and the  first postmaster, was also there.

Orpen simply went on with his work, but when he started to carry books outside, Van Aardt blocked his way. He pushed Van Aardt aside, but when he reached the door Schmidt hit him hard against the head. Orpen, a rather small Englishman, regained his balance and hit back. Schmidt punched him so hard on the chin that he fell to the ground.  Schmidt was summarily locked up in the prison behind the office. The crowd outside was getting  riotous, and Orpen took his rifle from the wagon. “If you can shoot, we can shoot too,” shouted one of the townspeople. “Yes”, said Orpen, “that’s true, but keep in mind that I am shooting in the name of the law, while you will be hanged!” He was’t called Do-or-Die Orpen for nothing!

In the calm that followed, Schmidt was summarily put on trial and  sentenced to three days in prison. Orpen however, with his rifle balanced upright against his table, fiddled with the dates on the summons and Schmidt was released immediately.

***

In 1875 a town council was elected for the first time. With the first session of the Council a large number of residents arrived, intending to attend the meeting.  Magistrate Boshoff (previous president of the Free State) would not allow them to enter. This resulted in a clash of words between him and Niel McKechnie, one of the new council members. McKechnie thrust a fist under Boshoff’s nose and shouted: “I defy you!” Strong words, but McKechnie  was chosen as mayor at the same meeting, the first of Harrismith.  It seems clear the South Africa was never at any stage a country for cowards!

***

In 1938, more than half a century later, Council Member Corkhill remarked at a city council meeting: “Farmers, like lawyers, never agree.  But there is one difference.  Lawyers get paid for disagreeing.”

This was not always true. In fact, it sometimes cost them money, and once, even a person’s life.

***

Brand Wepener was another member of the legal profession who was often in the news. On one occasion Brand and Phil Wright, also a lawyer, got into a fight in Stuart Street, right in front of Wright’s office. They rolled around in the dusty street with their neat dark suits until  they were seperated by …….. This while Wepener was on the Council with Corkhill.

Wepener was  not the easiest of men to get along with, but he was a most interesting chap. He came from a line of Free State heroes, being a grandson of Louw Wepener, and named after President Brand.   His father, Louw, was the head of police of Harrismith during the Boer War.

Although Brand had qualified as an advocate, he was eccentric, very eccentric. He was a well-known face in town, strolling along with his walking stick, dressed in his neat dark suit, black hat and dark glasses. He was never without his glasses as he had only one eye. Clients would often approach him on the street.

When a new voter’s role had to be compiled for a municipal election, the typist made a terrible mistake. After the surname and christian name of each resident, the next item was the name of the street where the person lived, followed by the person’s occupation. Alas, in Brand’s case she typed the street name in the wrong block, resulting in the following entry:

Wepener    | Jan Henricus Brand         |   40   Murray                  | Street Advocate

Brand was furious. He accosted Tom Searle, ordering him to  have the municipality summoned for defamation.     “But Brand, isn’t it true?”  asked Tom, with a twinkle in his eye. Brand was the only person who did not find it funny.

He played a role in the burgher monument saga, and on another occasion saved the beautiful trees in Murray Street.  But he was always full of plans, took shortcuts and was constantly in conflict with municipal officials.    At that time Harrismith had a constant shortage of water, which had a very negative effect on the development of the town, until the weir was built in the Wilge River. Water restrictions were nearly always in effect, which Remington, the water-baillif, had to enforce.

Brand had a lovely patch of maize on the big stand on the corner of  Murray and Biddulph streets, which apparently never suffered from a lack of water. Remington was aware of this and went out of his way to catch him out. When the ground became dry Brand would  lead his horses into the mealie land, and leisurely wash them down with a hosepipe until the whole mealie land was thoroughly wet, or until it rained once more.

And then one day Brand Wepener punched another colleague, Henry Helman.

At that time the old court building was situated where the post office stands today.  Wepener and Helman were opposing each other in a civil case. Wepener started to argue with the magistrate over the merits of the case, and Helman responded with sarcastic commentary. This led to a clash of words between the two. Wepener told Helman to keep his mouth shut, and the magistrate told him to calm down. Wepener stormed out of the courtroom shouting: “I’ll get you!” He waited for Helman in the passage, and when he showed, punched him on the nose. The court ordely had to separate them. Helman consequently had Wepener summoned for assault.

Frank Reitz had to deliver medical evidence at the hearing.  He told the court that the complainant’s nose was badly swollen, and also remarked that different faces would swell in different proportions. Helman was of Jewish descent and Wepener immediately countered: “It is logical, Your Honour, that the bigger a person’s nose, the bigger the swelling will be.” After the laughter in court had died down, Reitz had to agree. Brand was found guilty and fined. However, both men were warned to stay out of trouble.

***

Nearly half a century later a tragedy took place at the country club. It was early autumn in 1978. Two acquaintances, the lawyer Charles Shadford  and Garth Romeo, a well-known rugby player, were socialising and gambling at the club on that ill-fated evening. An argument ensued over a throw of the dice, and tempers flared, ending in Romeo knocking Shadford off his bar stool. The latter was helped up and sat down again for a while. The argument flared up and when Romeo hit him again, he fell head first to the floor, partly on the footrest of the bar counter. He was out cold and a doctor was called in, who rushed him to Johannesburg. Shadford never regained consciousness and died tragically two weeks later at the age of 48.

Romeo was found guilty of manslaughter and fined. Extenuating circumstances were found to be the fact that Shadford’s skull was thinner than normal – he had a so-called eggshell skull.   His injuries would probably have been less serious if he had had a normal skull.

***

Caveman Spies was in court for assualt one day, as he had apparently slapped his garden boy. During cross-examination Spies differed from the interrogator about the nature of the slap. When the interrogator asked him how he had slapped the complainant, Caveman calmly walked over to the complainant’s bench, and before the stupified court orderly could intervene, gave the poor man a mighty slap. “Like that, Your Honour” he said, “like that did I slap him.”

 

Stoepstorie 4: The abundance of pears

There is a pear tree in our neighbor’s garden but we are fortunate that a couple of branches arched into our driveway. On a windy day the pears would end-up on our driveway and were to bruised to eat or use. Every year we would safe some but end up with a bottle or two chutney or perhaps a starter of blushing poached pears.

This year there was a good crop of little Hood pears hanging over our driveway.

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A little research and we were ready for our harvest. Pears ripen from the inside out. Left to ripen on the tree, they may become mushy. They ripen quite nicely once harvested. The old trick of storing the pears in a cool, dry place and the add of bananas did the trick. I put the bananas on top of the pears—and the more bananas, the faster the pears ripen.

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Yesterday was Mulled Pear day.

We peeled and core the pears and let is sit in a bowl with salt water to prevent the pears to turn brown.

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First the oven needs to be preheat to 150oC.

Then it was time to make the Mulled syrup. I used crab apples to give the syrup a nice pink color. Once there was a nice pink color in the water. The crab apples were removed.

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Then cinnamon, star Aniseeds, gloves and allspice were added to the crab apple water.

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The water was put to a rapid boil and then sugar was added. The sugar was then added and once the sugar dissolved a good bottle of red wine was added. A Merlot is a fruity wine that add to the flavor. The smells from the big pot was divine. It reminded we of my Mom and the many bottles that she filled during the summer months. Her specialty was canned whole peaches. We called it cling peaches because the pip was left inside and when eating the whole peach you really have to cling on to it or it would flew over the dinning table.

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The syrup was then strained through a muslin cloth and I must say the color was looking just right.

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The pears pack into warm, sterilized jars. Pears are very bottom-heavy and I find that you have to fill the bottles with more pears than originally though. Heat the syrup to boil and pour into the jars.

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Cover the jars with lids, but do not tighten it properly. Place the jars about 5cm apart in the oven for about 2 hours. This will also depend on the size of the jars.

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Remove from the oven and seal properly and place on a wooden surface. Leave undisturbed until completely cool and check the seal the following day.

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It will last for about 12 months on the shelf of your canning cupboard.

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Proof is always in the tasting. For an early evening we had mulled pears, with Parma Ham and Goat’s Cheese Salad

Till next time

Hennie & Sandra

De Oude Huize Yard

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 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.

Meisies van Kameel Laerskool
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

31 December 2017

The year came to an end

We celebrate live and awaits the blessings of 2018.

The Joy of the Season

During our 52 week challenge we have shared with you the following

  • Town hall in Harrismith
  • The old station building in Harrismith
  • The fossilized tree next to the Town Hall
  • A road trip pass Swinburne to Geluksburg
  • The history of Warden Street
  • The Great War Memorial
  • The old Goal on the sport grounds of Harrismith
  • A road trip to Geluksburg
  • The history of Stuart Street
  • The Westley Hall
  • The Toll bridge at Swinburne
  • The Block house or as we call it the Castles of the veld.
  • Odell’s
  • The Club house
  • The steel bridge at Abberfeldy
  • The house of Mary Bland (Granny Bland nee Caskie)
  • Caithness in Stuart Street
  • Freemasonry Southern Cross 1778
  • St John’s sandstone church
  • A road trip to Sandspruit
  • De Oude Huize Yard
  • Cloete and Neveling building in Southey street
  • Bergburgers written by Leon Strachan
  • Train bridge at Swinburne
  • Kaalvoet vrou
  • Royal family visit to Harrismith
  • Debora Retief park
  • Rear-Admiral Maxmimilian John Ludwick Weston
  • Burger Monument
  • The boy with a very long name
  • Farm school on the banks of the Meul river
  • Hamilton bridge in Harrismith
  • Military Insignia around Harrismith
  • The Hills and Mountains around Harrismith
  • The old hotels of Harrismith
  • Annie Baine
  • Road trip to Golden Gate
  • Mountain passes around Harrismith
  • Stain glass windows of the Town Hall in Harrismith
  • Road trip to Verkykerskop
  • A farm museum visit
  • The sustainability of De Oude Huize Yard
  • Platberg
  • M.O.T.H’S
  • Route R74
  • Rensburgkop
  • Free State Harlem
  • Mont Pelaan
  • Plums and Christmas

We hope that you have enjoyed the challenge as much as we did.

Lots of blessings for 2018

Hennie & Sandra

 

A blue grayish lamp post in our garden

There were oil lamps in the streets and candles in the churches and it was reported that the ladies complained of the candle grease “falling on their wearing apparel”.

The Council embarked on a scheme for electric lighting, at an estimated cost of 19000 Pounds. The work was carried out by Messrs Morley and Dawbarn of London and Johannesburg. Mrs Caskie, wife of the Mayor of the day, turned on the lights at a banquet in November, 1904. Six beautiful street lamps were donated to the town.

The according to word-of-mouth it was donated by the British Monarchy. These stunning street lamps took poll position in front of the Town Hall.

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A couple of years ago we were driving through town and saw four guys rolling this base of a lamp. After some negotiation we were able to rescue this piece of the lamp post.

In the same year the then museum had to be moved. This was a main . . . main job. There was an old ox-wagon that needs to be removed. Under the ox-wagon a lot of broken pieces of a street lamp, was hidden. The then committee entrusted the broken bits and pieces to us. We learn that it was destroyed by a truck. We managed to get a photo of the original street lamp.

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Original lamp pole on the corner of Warden and Bester streets
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The lamp post clearly visible on the photo

In the words of Mother Teresa

If you want a love message to be heard, it has got to be sent out.

To keep a lamp burning, we have to keep putting oil in it.

Then the restoration process started. Hennie painstakingly started to put the pieces together.

He had to make new pieces where pieces were missing.
Painfully he managed to restore it

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The centre pole standing in the garden
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It was time to once again switch on the street lamp.

The details of the street lamp

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After many years the street lamp and Platberg forms part of the Harrismith scene once again. The gardens of De Oude Huize Yard can only be thankful

Till next time

Hennie and Sandra