Monday, 23 March 2020

Kameel Stoepstorie: Roos met 'n storie


In 1991 het Pedri een middag by ons huis in Waterkloofrif, Pretoria gekom. Die seuntjie was 7 jaar oud en gereed om 'n aankondiging te maak.

"Ek het werk gekry - van Maandag af lewer ek 15 Pretoria News koerante af. Soos ek genoem het - hy was 7 jaar oud en het n BMX fiets gehad.
 
Van die News se kant het hy n denimsak gekry vir die koerante. 
Noodeloos om te sê hy het vir 7 jaar koerante afgelewer. 
Op 'n dag het Ludwig's 'n roos na Pretoria News vernoem het n roosboom vernoem.
Deur die jare het die Pretoria News roos saam met ons gereis. 
Hennie maak elke jaar stiggies van die oorspronklike 3 roosbome. 
Daar is nou nog net een wat nog oorleef het deur die jare. 
About jou rose blom. 

 Till next time 
Hennie & Sandra

Monday, 24 February 2020

Kameel Stoepstorie: Lonely Hill

DeOudeHuize
To start the Lonely Hill Stoepstorie I have to go back to an extract from the book

MEN OF THE TIMES.

. . . . Alfred Ernest Fincham is yet another of the sons of South African soil of whom we have the pleasure in writing this small sketch. He was born in the year 1869 at the Grange in the Herbert District and is a son of the late Mr. John Thornton Fincham, framer and general merchant of the district. Mr. A E Fincham's education as principally conducted in Herbert and at the finish of his curriculum he commenced business in one of his father’s branch stores, which he ultimately managed. In 1870 he gave up the business in those parts and proceeding northwards to Vryburg. Bechuanaland where he assisted in establishing the firm of Fincham and Sons being a partner in same until 1899, when he sold out his interest to take up farming in the Mafeking District, purchasing a block of farms of at Ramathlabama. Mr. Fincham was one of the defenders in the siege of Mafeking, belonging to the Town Guard, manning De Kock’s Corner Fort through the siege. When the siege was raised he returned to farm life, and subsequently commence business again, establishing the firm of A W and A E Fincham, general merchants, Mafeking, which he now controls, at the same time looking after his farming interests, giving attention chiefly to raising both large and small stock. Mr. Fincham has been a member of the Mafeking Divisional Council since 1899, and in 1900 was elected a member of the Town Council, serving as such through 1902 – 1903 and re-elected in 1905, being a Councilor at present. As may be understood he takes a keen and energetic interest in the welfare of the town, and for his sympathetic personality and public services, he has earned the highest esteem of his fellow townsmen. He married Elizabeth Ellen West, the daughter of Henry and Elizabeth West of Beaconsfield and had four children . . .

Alfred and Elizabeth Ellen four children:
Louisa Elizabeth Smith (nee Fincham) married to Tom Smith
Mary Amelia Webster (nee Fincham) married to Albert Earnest Webster
Ada Ethel Rex (nee Fincham) married to George Henry
Victor Baden Fincham (my grandfather) married to Hester Cecilia Gauche.
Victor was born on 6 June 1900 during the Siege of Mafeking (Anglo Boer War) in an underground tunnel.
The Siege lasted for 217 days. 
Alfred Ernest and Elizabeth Ellen

The cattle on the farm in Ramathlabama contracted foot-and-mouth diseases. Alfred and Elizabeth moved to a new location - to the farm known as Biesiebult. Biesiesbult is now known as the town of Stella. As they reached the end of the road, Mary made commented, such a lonely hill. The part of the farm at the foot of the hill was then named Lonely Hill. 


This farm was situated next to the Salt pan. The salt pan was mentioned by David Livingston and Robert Moffat in their memories from the area. 

Hennie and Heather on the walk to the salt pan
 You can read more on Heather's visit here 10SouthAfricanTown

Great-grandfather then started the mining of salt. To get the salt to the customers they need for transportation was urgently required. The railroad at Kameelbult was the obvious choice. 

 The railroad between Vryburg and Mafeking was first built in 1894, part of Cecil John Rhodes dream to build a railway from the Cape to Cairo. This project would run through my great-grandfathers' farm known as Kameelbult. The stop was named Kameel. Salt was brought in, with donkey wagons to Kameel where it was then loaded onto the railroad tracks. In those years it was a wooden and pole building. Later on, a corrugated iron building was put up. Only in the early 1930’s was a permanent building built. 


The following extract from the book:
Gun and camera in Southern Africa; a year of wanderings in Bechuanaland, the Kalahari Desert, and the Lake River country, Ngamiland.
By Bryden, H. A. (Henry Anderson), 1854-1937
There had been heavy summer rains for some days, during which Vryburg had become a quagmire, and the inhabitants waded forlornly about, as is their custom, in “field” boots, top Idiots, mackintoshes, and any other gear calculated to withstand the swamps, holes, and " sluits," that everywhere abounded. We waited till 3.30 p.m. and then set forth in a Cape cart under a lowering, stormy sky. Two hours and a half of heavy travelling brought us to Fincham's, a farm and accommodation house fifty miles out, where we out spanned.  Our horses were put up and we were offered such shelter as could they have given us for the night.


Lonely Hill's house is still there today. It has known better day but it was with a feeling longs that we stood on the land known as Lonely Hill at the foot of the little hill next to the salt pan.


The door leading to the Salt pan.  You can see the stone that was used to build the house. This stone was hauled from the banks of the salt pan

Hennie is taking a look out of the window to the porch
The out-building built from the same stone that was hauled in from the salt pan.

A lot of nostalgics when visiting Lonely Hill
There is still some of the ruins of stone building from the salt pan's stone in the town known as Stella


The old church that is now the workshop of the municipality



Till next time

Sandra

Please note that Lonely Hill is situated on private land and is not open to the public. 


  

Thursday, 23 January 2020

Die Legende van Rensburgkop

Hierdie legende is geskryf deur Leon Strachan en gepubliseer in die kontrei koerant Maluti Berg en Dal. 

Die erg onstellende storie van die pa wat sy seun in ‘n klipskeur moes doodskiet om hom ‘n verskriklik pynlike lyding en uiteindelike dood te spaar, was een wat ek saam met moedersmelk ingekry het en waarmee ek grootgeword het.
Ons bly naby Rensburgkop en het ten minste elke tweede Sondag daar verbygery op pad om by my Engelse oupa en ouma op Rainfall te gaan eet. Ek het altyd grootoog opgekyk na die hoë dramatiese gekeepte sandsteenkroon en met ‘n hol kol op die maag gewonder in watter skeur die neerdrukkende storie afgespeel het.
Van Rensburg en sy opgeskote seun het glo ‘n bok vir die pot gaan skiet. Hulle het aan die oostekant van Rensburgkop ‘n troppie rooiribbokke gekry. Die eerste skoot was rakelings mis en die bok het blitsvinnig voete gekry. Pa en seun volg die bokke teen die vloethewel aan die suidoostelike hoek van die loop op, maar die diere swenk vlugvoetig nog hoër teen die kop uit. Die tweede is uitasem agterna tot bo. Die bokke is skaam, Van Rensburg kry egter sy skoot in. Hy kwes die bok swaar, maar die seun sit die hinkende bok agterna. Net toe hy na die bok gryp swenk dit op die rand van die kop skielik wes. Die seun se momentum bring hom tot op die rand, waar hy sy balans verloor en vooroor val. Hy tuimel gillend seker ‘n goeie honderd en tagtig voet daar af.
‘n Erg getraumatiseerde Van Rensburg sien hoe sy kind deur die lug trek en met ‘n siek slag in ‘n skeur land. Gelukkig leef die kind, want hy kreun en huil en skree van die pyn. Hy probeer waansinnig vinnig afklim, maar dis regaf, en hy kom nêrens nie. Hy probeer van die kant af daar kom, en toe van onder af, maar dis ‘n onmoontlike plek – en sy seun lë in ‘n eienaardige posisie, sy rug waarskynlik af.
Helpers en osrieme is haastig gehaal. Van Rensburg is vasgewoel en versigtig oor die krans laat sak. Hy probeer naarstigtelik om onder die effense oorhang in te swaai en sodoende op ‘n lysie te beland waarvandaan hy by sy kind sou kon kom, maar dit was pure verniet. Teen laatmiddag word die seun se kreune al flouer en die aasvoëls begin draai. Naderhand is daar nie meer planne nie. Die genadeskoot klap, ‘n ouer se loodsware hart sou nooit weer herstel nie.
***

Boonop was CM van den Heever se Waar Ruwe Rotse destyds, in my sentimentele tienerjare, ‘n mooi en aangrypende gedig wat realiteit en beelde van die storie opgetower het.
Waar ruwe rotse teen die hemel klim,
waar morerooi se eerste traanglans glim,
waar aasvoëls hoog in sirkelbane sweef,
hul rou gekras in afgronde laat leef;
waar grou-wit kranse na die klowe val,
gekeep-hou tot spelonke bo ‘n dal;
waar oopgeskeurde klippekake wag
met draketande wat daar grynsend lag –
daar knal opeens geweerskoot bo die kruin
en eggo’s antwoord hard met skelbasuin.
Die dassies wip verskrik oor gladde krans,
patryse saai vlerktrillend uit hul skans.
Skuins glip ‘n voet en drillend val ‘n roer…
‘n skerp geskuur – ‘n pad wat afwaarts voer.
Twee hande gryp ‘n bos, die angs oorstelp,
benoud klink uit die diepte: “Here, help!”
Twee vader-oë kyk verward…sy seun,
die afgrond lag oor wilde skuurgedreun.
Die kruit en stof vlek oor die lug se blou,
die vader bly sy hand oor sy oë hou.
En dan gewaar hy in die skemering
sy kind, deur rotseskouers vasgedring.
‘n Riem rol na die seun daaronder neer,
“Bind vas, my kind…en Pa die sal probeer.”
Maar dis vergeefs…die kransedraak hou vas,
die riem bly stukkend breek, kry las op las.
En hulp snel by…die rotsetande gryns,
hier moet die mensverstand terug voor deins.
Dan klaag daar uit die diepte, sag en flou:
“Ek smeek dat Pa my skiet…en nou…”
‘n Roer die bewe in die growwe hand,
sag sif in skemerafgrond korrels sand.
Vas lê die kolf teen vaderskouer aan,
en langs die sneller glans ‘n afloop-traan.
“Vergeef my, God!”…’n skoot gedemp en dof…
en bo die bergegraf styg kruit en stof.
Nog skuur iets rog’lend in die diepte daar,
dis stil…die aasvoëls kras…’n vader staar.
***

Met die skryf van Abe Sparks se storie in Blafboom (1999) soek ek na verwysings vir die Rensburgkop-legende. Daar is geen gerapporteerde weergawe van die verhaal in die destydse Harrismith News (tot 1903) of die Harrismith Chronicle (sedert 1903) nie. Ook geen rekord daarvan in die twee uitstekende geskiedenis bronne van ons omgewing (FA Steytler se Die Geskiedenis van Harrismith of Blanche Hawkins se The Story of Harrismith) nie. Inteendeel, Hawkins verwys daarna, noem dat sy ook geen bewyse daarvan kon kry in haar navorsing nie en spekuleer dat dit kroegstories is.
‘n Soeke na ‘n Van Rensburg wat in die geweste geboer het, was ook vrugeloos. Die landmeter (gewoonlik van Britse, Duitse of Nederlandse herkoms) wat die plaas in die 1850’s afgemeet het, het waarskynklik van Rynsburg (Nederland) of Rendsburg (Duitsland) af gekom en vandaar die naam.
In D J Opperman se Junior Verseboek merk die samesteller op dat dit ‘n volksvertelling is wat in die bergstreke van verskillende dele van Suid-Afrika voortleef. In een van die studiereekse oor daardie Junior Verseboek word gesê dat ‘n ou en bekende legende deur Van den Heever spannend verhaal word.
In ‘n onlangse bespreking van die storie op Facebook het baie mense gereageer. Almal ken die storie, maar verskil dramaties oor waar dit plaasgevind het. Die volgende plekke is genoem: Volksrust, Danielsrus naby Bethlehem, Kogmanskloof (tussen Bonnievale en Montagu), naby Montagu in Ashton (Winterhoekberge) Golden Gate, Rensburgskop en Gordon Rots in Paarl Berg.
Van den Heever het glo sy gedig op ‘n verhaal wat in Smithfielddistrik by Aasvogelkop, naby Gladdedrif (Caledonrivier) oorvertel word, gebaseer. Dit wil voorkom asof die legende die prominentste by Aasvogelkop en Rensburgskop is.
‘n Ander bekende Van Heerden, Ettienne, se Toorberg is klaarblyklik ook deur die legende geiinspireer (‘n vader skiet sy seun wat in ‘n boorgat vassit).
In ons geweste is die legende van Rensburgkop wyd bekend en word dit sonder bevraagtekening geglo, van Johannesburg af met die N3 langs tot in Durban. In so ‘n mate dat die SAUK destyds die drama The Mountain, wat oor die legende handel, hier geskiet het met Sandra Prinsloo in die rol van die seun se ma. Die filmspan het in die plaas Stirling (net oos van die kop) se woonhuis gebly tydens die verfilming.
Alles dui daarop dat dit ‘n sogenaamde ‘urban-legend’, of stoepstorie, is.




Dankie aan Biebie de Vos vir ‘n fotos wat ons gebruik het en ook fotokrediet aan die Bald Ibis staproete.

Tot ‘n volgende keer
Hennie & Sandra

Saturday, 4 January 2020

Kameel Stoepstorie: De Oude Huize @ Kameel

DeOudeHuize 
We, Hennie and Sandra invite you to visit the village Kameel, on the R377 in the North West Province. Situated between Delareyville and Stella

De Oude Huize @ Kameel
 

The cottage that, we made available for guest accommodation, is situated in Kameel and was originally built as the Stationmaster house in 1945. It is a two-bedroom one-bathroom cottage fitted with wooden floors. The foyer serves as a photo gallery of the Fincham family that was involved in the lives of Kameel from the early days of the railway station. 


You will find the bedrooms very comfortable. The first bedroom is furnished with a king bed and the second bedroom is fitted with a queen bed. Our bedroom linen is percale and you will love the sheer pleasure of sleeping in cool sheets. We love the handmade quilts that add charm to the beds.
 
King bedroom
 
Queen bedroom

 The lounge/dining area is fitted with comfortable vintage and antique furniture. There are railway memorabilia and vintage cameras on display. We have filled the bookcase with old books for reading during your stay. 






 The bathroom is fitted with a bath, basin and toilet. We offer white cotton towels and gowns for your stay.


There are two stoep areas to enjoy the outdoors. The front stoep, with an old church bench, is wonderful to enjoy a glass of wine while watching the sunsets or spot the occasional freight train going through the village.




The back stoep is ideal for bird watching and early morning coffee with rusks. You will find an antique pair of binocular to watch the birds close up. We have spotted plus-minus 100 species of birds and for your convenience, you will find a bird list in the cottage. Kameel is a wonderful place for star-gazing. 


 The garden is there for you to enjoy. You will find the recliners ideal for an afternoon nap. 

The kitchen is fully equipped with a fridge and gas stove.

The little TV/music room is fitted with a piano. There is a very special display of vintage hand planes. 

 We offer a Webber braai should you want to enjoy an outdoor meal. 

There is one shade cover parking area. 

Things to do
Go for a walk and visit the site where the old British Blockhouse used to stand. You will also find the trigonometrical beacons of the area. There are also a lot of veldt plants that you will find on your walk. 


 We can arrange for a little tour to show the Sociable Weaver nest nearby. 

A self-drive outing to the Anglo Boer War site at Kraaipan is an interesting site to visit. You will find a book in the cottage telling you more. 

Please note that you can book for a special dinner at R250 per person. You need to book in advance!

The cottage, sleeping 4, is available at R1300 per night with a minimum stay of two nights. 

In case you were wondering – yes we are the previous owners of De Oude Huize in Harrismith. 

Give us a call on 0822642863 to book your stay
You can send an email to deoudehuize81@gmail.com
Yes there is a blog and you will find it here https://deoudehuize.blogspot.com/
You can find us on Facebook at https://web.facebook.com/deoudehuize/

See you soon 
Sandra  

Saturday, 21 December 2019

Kameel Stoepstorie: Soetdorings

DeOudeHuize
The Soetdorings are in full bloom. The fresh sweet smell fills the air and the little yellow flowers put colour in our day.


Vachellia karroo, commonly known as the Sweet thorn


Hope is some extraordinary spiritual grace that God gives us to control our fears, not to oust them.

Till next time
Sandra 


Sunday, 1 December 2019

A Free State Harem



It is always an honour to share a writing of Leon Strachan. This was taken from Blinkoog (2002). Thanks, Andrew Barlow for translation, Mia Prinsloo – the granddaughter of Jurie who introduced us to the ruin on the hill, Niek Swart who show us around and Biebie de Vos for sharing some of the photo’s
“Look at that, that is crazy Jurie’s harem…no there….. on top of that hillock directly behind Reennenhoop’s homestead. He imported French girls, indeed from the Moulins Rouge.” In the puritanical reformed Free State rural area? A harem? Naughty French girls?
The sandstone ruin on Reenenshoop created a phantasy which held its fascination for many generations thereafter. Perhaps it is something still derived from ages ago herd instincts which have not died out fully yet. So that the very idea would still raise men's’ blood pressure.
The satisfaction of a bull with a whole herd of heifers, or something like that.
 The house was to be in a T shape, with the living area in the long leg, and the reception area in the top of the T. The walls were more than four metres high of solid sandstone with no mortar, no shortcuts were taken – which is why it remains almost intact. Top Italian artisans who were part of the 1200 workers who had completed work on the Union Buildings, and who were highly competent did the stone masonry.


 There was an unusual amount of building shortly before the First World War. “Juri costruisce castle,” remarked an Italian stonemason in his broken English-Italian in the bar of the Central Hotel.
“Yes the Hall of Mirrors is much longer than the whole of the Central, and the walls are this high,” said Retief as he pointed to a spot halfway to the top of the second storey” as the men were gossipping in the Central Hotel. Niek and the Hall of Mirrors
“I hear that it is harem?” Si…il harem” replied the Italian. The harem storey spread like a wild-fire. When the unusual door and window frames arrived there from England a few weeks later the wildfire became a raging fire
Leon and Mia in a “window”. Mia shared a little information that her grandfather would stand here would tell them about many lights and water” Suzie would put blame old age to it.
 “My husband, do you have a fever?” she asked him because it was still many decades before the Sterkfontein Dam and the Tshiame township would arise there.
“The harem story is then really true,” remarked one of the men on the truck. He pushed his hat to the back of his head and wiped his forehead. He hooked his thumbs into his suspenders and kicked against one of the crates. “Look. this what a harem’s windows should look like!



“How would you know Thys?” The others burst out laughing. Later some of the clerks from the station walked over to the goods shed to see what all the noise was about. Two ox wagons were loaded with the crates in which the unusual door frames were packed – wide and high. Solid frames with skylights, all of Oregon and made on special order in England. Some of the window frames were higher even than the doors, extraordinary pieces. “Yes, Jurie will have massive mirrors against the walls of the reception room and seven French girls have already arrived in Cape Town.”
“Never”.
“That cannot be true”.
“It is so, Chris Cloete had to have them fetched from Cape Town”
“Nonsense, Chris is a man of the church. He would not do it. In any event, where are they now?”
“He merely paid them and put them on a ship back to France.”
Oh no! Why the devil would the man have done a thing like that?”. said cross-eyed Thys, “if Jurie does not want them, I will take them.
“Yes you old loudmouth, you cannot even keep Zina satisfied!” The men roared with laughter but had to dodge quickly – cross-eyed Thys throws anything he can get hold of, even empty cream cans.
The story starts much earlier, at the time 1840 – the stretches of land belonged to the Uys family in 1840 including Reenenshoop. Dina Uys married Louwrens Wessels. Three children were born Jurie Johannes in 1883. He passed matric at Harrismith in 1899 – this was unusual. Boer children at the time did not have much schooling – Boer Matric was the norm – catechism, writing, reading and arithmetic. Julie was the first person in this predominantly English-speaking town to have achieved this distinction despite the fact the English speaking people had a completely different attitude about learning. He achieved this in the first class. Jurie perhaps had little choice other than to farm.
By 1906 the economy had improved slightly and Jurie was able to go to the Cape Colony to buy sheep. The handsome 23-year-old red-head had a head for business. Faan Bekker of Rietvlei in the Aliwal North district had sheep for sale. He stayed with the family for a couple of days. At first, Jurie was only vaguely aware of her, until he caught her eye – the ‘bywoners’ girl with a ‘kopdoek’ and soulful eyes which haunted him so much that on his return to the Free State, he wrote to her. He wrote in English but halfway through the letter, he switched into Afrikaans. It is in this language that she replied, explaining her life as a ‘bywoner’s’ daughter. In his reply, in his neat handwriting, he declared his love for her.
They were married within a year. Without the headdress Suzie was a beautiful woman – he had quite an eye for beauty. With increasing self-confidence, Suzie made her mark on Reenenshoop. The neat sandstone house became a home with a warm and friendly atmosphere. The spontaneous girl from the Colony made friends easily and liked to entertain.
  
The fairy tale transformation of the servant girl to a popular hostess married to an anti-social man. He did not visit people and didn’t go to church and had not even been confirmed. Suzie only much later persuaded him to be confirmed and even for this she had to get the person to come to the farm.’
Suzie had entered a world of riches but it was not easy at all. Her intelligent and well-read husband was forbiddingly strict he didn’t tolerate any opposition, his “no” was “no”. This she could respect but his unreasonable obstinacy later became a thorn in her flesh.
Jurie was an enigma; as strict, miserly and relentless as he was, he could spend money lavishly on something which he regarded as worthwhile. He overwhelmed his beautiful wife with valuable jewellery and started to build a dream hose for her. On completion, it would probably have been the most imposing house in all of the Free State, Suzie’s complex husband, in his way cared very much for her.
Juries' favourite spot on the farm was the high ridge to the north of the house which dominated the surroundings. From there he could survey the whole farm and see to the farthest horizons. He could sit there and dream and plan – and even see visions. In a moment of inspiration, he decided to build a palace for Suzie, her a castle. On the eastern point, he measured out the foundation. He planned a large home with a wide passage, four large bedrooms, a big kitchen and a large reception area for his Suzie.
It was the gigantic reception room with its very large windows that set the tongues wagging. This room was 80 feet long by 24 feet wide, with a surface area of 175m2 which in 1912 was bigger than the average house. Imposing, overpowering it was comparable with the Hall of Mirrors of Versailles which it probably inspired.
The fact that French girls were involved furnishes the clue. Jurie was well-read and had excellent general knowledge and had travelled too – certainly, he had visited Versailles. He knew how Marie Antoinette’s room of mirrors had entranced, impressed and even intimidated and he wanted his Suzie to come to her own in this hall. The outside wall of that room had six very large high windows as well as two similar ones at each end. With mirrors at regular intervals in the spaces between the windows and mirrors along the opposite inner wall, the effect of light, reflection, unspoilt nature and phenomenal view it would have been astounding. Like Versaille’s Hall of Mirrors.
Hammer blows on metal chisels were heard daily from sunrise till late at night, in between shouting, threats, cajoling and encouragement of drivers and guides of teams of oxen drawing sledges full of fashioned stone from the quarry to the building site.
Jurie kept his plans to himself. Even his neighbours could get no information from him.”Why are the rooms so large, – heavens you could turn a span of oxen in them.” Jurie had no patience with fools. “Well, I see that you are not going to talk. But tell me one thing – how are you going to get water to that hillock ?” That was a body blow – it is a dry hillock. There are limits to a reasonable man’s patience. “Hey man! A harem does not need water. That long room is for the French girls that I am going to import. Do you understand?”
When the walls were roof high the imported doors and windows arrived at the Harrismith station. They were transported from the station with ox wagons. The last heavy lintels were raised and mortared in position when the Great War broke out in 1914. Jurie rebelled and joined the commando of Wessel Wessels. The building stopped and the ‘bywoners’ had to look after the farm. It was during this time that Jurie heard that some of his cattle were missing. He arrives at Reenenshoop late on a Friday night. Suzie had measles, and he heard that a neighbour had stolen his cattle. To crown everything his fine black piano had also been taken. That was not the end of his troubles; one of his workers had betrayed him. On a Saturday morning, the police came to arrest him. He saw them in time and fled to the cliff from where he fired at them. He informed them but he would surrender voluntarily on Monday morning if they would give him enough time to recover his cattle.
On Monday morning with Suzie well wrapped in blankets, he and she went to town. She convinced the magistrate that she had written to him at the request of the government. Suzie managed to have him released but he did not recover his stolen cattle. 

This was the beginning of three important events in his life –
  • a feud with his neighbour which would last for more than a generation
  • his conflict with the law
  • the ‘bywoner’s treachery
This would torment him for the rest of his life.
Despite all his eccentricities, he cared very well for Suzie and the children – Jurie was happiest when his children and later his grandchildren entertained him with music, and need only to have listened. Irene who was born nine months after the marriage had two brothers – Laurence, who they called Laurie nine years later and Hugo who was named after the in-laws as they had also moved to the farm to assist with the farming. Suzie accepted the fact that he was a miser. With farming with laying hens and making butter, she had her income to finance her social activities.
Drama with the law did not remain absent for long at Reenenshoop.
  • Jurie bought a Spanish donkey stallion to improve his donkey stud and he was convinced that it was a mule, he refused to pay and had to go to jail for a few days and the seller had to pay for his board in jail.
  • During the East Coast Fever epidemic, the movement of cattle was prohibited. The border guards caught him and were fined fifty pounds. He went to jail again. Suzie had to face her prominent friends while Jurie could not be bothered about it at all. She paid the fine. Jurie was enraged. “You are wasting money, I was happy in jail, nobody bothered me.”
  • Jurie, Suzie and their last child Hugo were on holiday in Durban. Jurie was fined by a traffic policeman and again refused to pay. He was in the cells in Durban and commanded Suzie not to pay the fine. She took a tomato crate put a few cushions on it, Hugo could hardly see over the dashboard but Hugo took the Studebaker and Suzie back to the Free State. Days later Jurie telephoned, he is out and “I am enjoying the holiday and will return by train.”
Suddenly Jurie dressed with care when he had to go to town, this was every second day. Suzie wondered what was going on. He whistled happily when he thought that she could not hear him – she became suspicious. Suzie in a roundabout way found out about the English speaking very grand woman. Suzie wrote a scathing letter in Afrikaans and her daughter Irene translate it. She then rewrote the letter and had it delivered by hand. She had insulted the temptress in her language. A day or two later Jurie came home, very annoyed. “And then you pretend that you cannot read or write English!”
Jurie paid no attention to social norms. This with his eccentricity, his self-centeredness and strangeness which was due to his bi-polarity made him known as Crazy Jurie. A severe condition of suspicion gave rise to an anecdote of Crazy Jurie without which Jurie’s history would be incomplete. Jurie wanted his son, Hugo, to become a surveyor because he was convinced that he had been cheated out of the land by those who had sold farms to him. He wanted his son to measure his farms accurately. Jurie did go to university but came nowhere near the department of trigonometry but enrolled for medical tuition with the assistance of his mother without the knowledge of his father.
Suzie has by this time accepted her fate and did not doubt that Jurie would refuse to pay for Hugo’s studies if he had enrolled for anything else except to become a surveyor. A white lie was the only recourse to get Hugo started. Hugo did extremely well in his first year and Jurie expected that he would in the December holiday survey the farm properly. This was naturally and Jurie was told the truth. He was angry but still proud of his son and thereafter supported and encouraged him.
The infamous rondavel was not only a refuge from the sheriff, but it was also the place where he isolated himself when he became depressed and could last for weeks. Laurie and the ‘bywoners’ had to see to the farming. The rondavel revealed much about him – sandstone, thatched roof and white scrubbed wood floor. At one end there was a copper bedstead and a shelf with many books. Across from this was a Queen stove which in winter was fired with corn cobs and a comfortable sofa draped with a karos. Next to this, he had his desk on which were heaps of books, magazines and radio. Jurie did not miss the morning news and listened to classical music while he did his accounting, opened the post and attended to correspondence in his neat handwriting. This was where he read the newspaper, he had subscribed to “Die Burger” and received a bundle weekly by rail from Cape Town.
The cartoons from Die Burger and Die Landbouweekblad were collected religiously – Kaspaas, Häger and Waldemar were collected and pasted and kept in large books. The pleasure which he obtained from the cartoons indicates a healthy sense of humour which gives rise to the suspicion that he may have laughed at his escapades.



 Suzie was an excellent hostess and smothered her guests with charm and hospitality and entranced them with beautiful jewellery. Besides rings with large diamonds, a heavy slave bracelet, a gipsy charm, a gold lucky bean bracelet with rubies and amethysts but the Star of David necklace was her favourite. This necklace was a large white diamond surrounded by blue sapphires and a host of small diamonds.
Dressed in this finery she on a certain Sunday invited several guests. Her back then had become slightly stiff, and on this day the guests included the local member of parliament, the bank manager, doctor, school principal and naturally the parson. However, Jurie was again in isolation.
Her assistant had arrived there earlier that morning with a basket suspended on each end of a pole, each basket filled with fruit from the orchard. Leg of mutton had been cooked to perfection, the turkey was filled and gammon spliced with bacon. Beef, potatoes, sweet potatoes and vegetables were on the stove and the aroma from the kitchen was delicious.
The table had been laid with fine delicate porcelain on a white damask table cloth with a large vase of red roses in the middle. With the start of the meal, the guests were in a jovial mood after a few rounds of drinks. While wine was poured in crystal glasses Suzie lifted the lids of the dishes one after the other. She looked up questioningly.
“Johnny where is the turkey?”
“The turkey is gone.”
“What?”
“Yes.”
“How is it gone?”
‘It was stolen”
“Who stole it?” She was dumbfounded, angry, livid.
“The master.”
Jurie was a teetotaler but he enjoyed eating. He and a young man who worked for him had gone to the river with the turkey. Under a large willow tree, they sat and ate the turkey, calmly, without affectation and any worries.
Till next time
Sandra