My Life in South Africa 1947 to 1951 (my preschool years)
My Life in South Africa 1947 to 1951 (my preschool years)
I was born in June 1947. For the life of me I cannot remember being born or before I was born.Some people claim to remember warmth, a red and gold vortex (the birth canal) and blue bright white light (the birth itself). Me no such thing! In the mean while, during the year of my birth,
- The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered at Qumran
- The Transistor was invented.
- India and Pakistan get independence from Britain
- The DC6 was brought into service as a commercial aircraft in the US
- Britain open the world's first Atomic energy plant at Harwell.
- The Soviet Union rejects US plan for UN atomic-energy control.
- The world's first commercial Air crash occurs, killing 40 people.
- Oscar Peterson, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong and Frank Sinatra are making popular music.
- Mahatma Gandhi is a key figure in India. Jawaharlal Nehru becomes premier of India.
- Chuck Yeager breaks the sound barrier.
- Howard Hughes pilots the world's largest aircraft (The Spruce Goose) on its first flight.
- The House Un-American Activities Committee blacklists over 300 actors, directors and writers for involvement, or alleged involvement, in communist activities.
- Gentleman's Agreement wins the Academy Award for Best Picture, Ronald Coleman wins for best actor in A Double Life, and Loretta Young wins best actress for The Farmer's Daughter.
- Pan American is the first airline to offer round-the-world service: the fare is $1,700
- Thor Heyerdahl completes his epic Kon Tiki expedition
My first real memories are when I was about 3 years old. My brother was born at home. I was terribly disappointed, I wanted a sister and as I pointedly told my mother "send him back, I want a sister and I don't care if she is black!".
Encounters with snakes
As an adult, and as far as I can remember, I have always had a fear of snakes, I still go cold with fear , even in a snake park! However as a three year old this did not seem to be a problem for me.
I used to play in the road outside our house. All the roads around our area in those days were sand (or dirt) roads. One day while playing with my toy car, I came cross this snake lying there. He seemed dead, so I poked him with a stick. He then reared up and spread his hood. This snake was a rhinkals which is a relative of the cobra family. They are known for playing dead when threatened! I then entered into a bin match as he swayed from side to side. Eventually he slid away. I told my mom about the nice snake that I had a boxing match with1. my mother was horrified. The next encounter I had was in our garage. My Dad used to use the Garage as a workshop. We did not have a car in those days. My dad was a talented woodworker as was making dolls furniture for our neighbors daughter for Xmas. I was watching my dad when I spotted a snake sliding down the rafters from the roof. My dad dispatched the snake which was quite near to me at the time. According to custom at that time, he burnt the snake's body in a tin can covered in spirits. The belief was that other snakes would stay away from an area where a snake had been cremated. This certainly did not work!.
Trix our dog
At around that time we had a magnificent Sheppard named Trix, who was my constant companion and protector. My parents were very worried, when I approached a coal bin in our back yard. We had no electric stoves in those days' only coal stoves, so everyone had a coal bin and coal was delivered by a coal man with a horse drawn coal truck. However, on this particular day, Trix appeared to very aggressive a kept growling and me and pushing me, eventually knocking me down. My mom called my dad and said the dog was going mad and was attacking me! My dad investigated an we found a large snake in the coal bin and Trix was just protecting me, after all. My mom was always a little chary around Trix. Eventually she persuaded my dad to ‘get rid of the dog". He was given to a farmer who had a farm in Krugersdorp some 40km away.
A month or so later I was playing in the road, yet again, and suddenly this skinny, tatty dog came runnuning up to me, licking my face and whining and whimpering and jumping with excitement. It was Trix! She had found her way home!. Her paws were bloody from the walking and she was a little malnourished, needless to say Trix stayed. I know my dad had to negotiate with the farmer but they agreed Trix was to stay, much to my mother's chagrin.
The above events were when I was around three to five years old which coincided with the beginning of the fifties. Around the world at that time:
- North Korea invades South Korea
- U.S. combat troops enter the Korean War.
- Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower is named supreme commander of Allied Forces in Western Europe by NATO
- The Vatican confirms the discovery of Saint Peter's tomb beneath Saint Peter's Basilica
- Movies at that time were Sunset Boulevard, starring Gloria Swanson and William Holden; All about Eve, starring Bette Davis and Anne Baxter.
- Good books were ;Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles; Budd Schulberg, The Disenchanted; Ernest Hemingway, Across the River and Into the Trees.
- Artists and songs of that ime were; Bing Crosby, "Dear Hearts and Gentle People"; Red Foley, "Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy"; Eileen Barton, "If I Knew You Were Comin' I'd've Baked a Cake"; Billy Eckstine, "My Foolish Heart"; Bill Snyder and His Orchestra, "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered"; Nat "King" Cole, "Mona Lisa"; Sammy Kaye and His Orchestra, "Harbor Lights"; Betty Hutton and Perry Corno, "A Bushel and a Peck
- The government passes the Immorality Act, the Group Areas act, the Suppression of Communism Act, and the Population Registrar Act (which officially divided South Africans into 'White', 'Coloured', 'Asian' or 'Native')
- Springbok Radio is launched and a generation of South will grow up on Springboks radio's stories, music (hit parades) and recipes.
Events that I recall were centered on my home life. I recall that my dad had a magnificent Dahlia garden. He fed these plants on horse manure. You may recall I mentioned horse drawn coal carts, we also had horse drawn milk delivery and mounted police. Now this added up to a lot of casual manure being dropped. One day my dad gave me a sack and sent me to collect manure. This was the first time that I recall my mom and dad having an open disagreement in my presence. The fight was about (you guessed it) me having to collect manure. I guess my dad won because I collected the manure.
My Best friend
Other things I remember were double winger planes which flew over our house from time to time. My best (and at that time I think only) friend Barry and I were typical little boys. We used to stare at these planes making up stories about the pilots and where these planes were going. One day I got hold of a box of matches and we proceeded to set the veld alight. This caused a fairly big veld fire. The mounted police arrived and we hid from them in the servant's quarters of Barry's house. We also figured if we took our clothes off no one would be able to identify us. So we did so but we wer wrong. The Mounties rounded us up and took us home. I was banned from consorting with Barry for a period of time after that incident.
After the incident with the ghosts (see my Hub My encounters with supernaturals...) we moved out. I recall waiting for the moving vans coming to take our furniture. That day we had Vienna's and Chips (hot dog sausage and fries) for lunch and it was the first time I had eaten take away food. We were going "far way" to cape town and that chapter of my life came to a close.