Monday, January 7, 2013

Early Memories of my Parents – Colin Mckenzie

The earliest I can remember is snow at Glenluce. I remember been very cold. I also remember Dad giving the farm workers a Christmas party behind the Glenluce house.

Dad had a truck, brown I think. He brought a huge slab of stone to make a bridge across the drain at the back of the house. It was dragged there with oxen. I was in the truck when Dad drove off the stone bridge with the back wheel and the oxen pulled the truck out.

There were oak tress down the side of the house. I climbed them all.

I was very small when Mom went to tea next door and I was left in the care of a maid. Her name I don’t recall, but she was strict with me. But, I still managed to put the sewing machine needle through my thumb. There I sat with a thread through my thumb until Mom came home, expecting the hiding that the maid had promised.

Dad had a dog called Rodger. He followed me everywhere and was very protective.

There was a gold fish pond in front of the house. I was not allowed to go there alone.

I think we moved in about 1960 when Dad went to work at Orange Grove. It was only at about this that time I started to remember my older brother and sisters. I do not recall Stella been born.

At about this time, Dad stopped in a dark spot under the pine trees on Orange Grove and showed us a sputnik, the first Russian space ship. I still look at and for space ships today.

The first time I climbed the mountain (Indumeni Platberg), I was 6 years old. Dad told Joseph (a farm worker) to look after me. He wanted to stop and smoke the whole way and I wanted to climb. He got to the top of the mountain out of breath. I climbed this mountain 65 times.

John and I were with Mom, talking to her on her bed. (I think John has this bed now). She was smoking Cameo cigarettes. She offered me one. I was about 11 years old. I took one puff and coughed my lungs out. I never touched smokes again (except to put match heads in them! *Another story for another day.)

Dad bought a brand new bakkie for R1280.00. I learnt to drive in that bakkie.

We went on holiday once a year, normally to Eden Park at ‘Tweni (Umtentweni on the Natal South Coast). Eden Park is still there today. We spent many happy hours fishing for Shad at the ‘Tweni rocks. Little did I know that we would have restrictions on Shad today. I was 10 years old when Dad bought me a strong pair of binoculars. The shop where he bought them is still in Port Shepstone and I still use them to this day.

Mom fishing
As a child I had a leaking heart valve. This made life hard as I could not run without over-heating. I went with Mom to see my cousin Edward in Johannesburg. (Dr Edward Gale). We went by train. We were about 10 km from Jo’burg when a bomb went off. We had been delayed somewhere, so we missed the bomb. We heard it but we missed it.

Christmas at the Town House was always fun. I could not work our how Aunty Mary could cut the steam pudding so it only had on sixpence. Mom and Dad would not say. One year I watched from a distance and saw how she put the tickie in each time she served. I still have a tickie from Christmas.

On New Year’s Day, we often had a braai where anybody could come. The only rule – no booze!

My brother John and I used to keep snakes. I used to take a pet Night Adder to school in my pocket. We were sitting in hall one day when the girl behind me screamed “slang”. My pet had it’s head out of the pocket. Trouble I knew was coming so in the confusion, I put it in my scants, so if I was searched the snake was safe. Luckily it did not bite me as this would have taken a lot of explaining to Mom.!

One day the dogs were barking in a strange way. Under a sheet of sink-plaat, I found a one metre Puff Adder that had just given birth to about 30 babies, which were each 10 cm long. I wanted to catch them to send to the Snake Park in Durban. I saw big bucks here. Just then, Dad pulled me back and shot the snakes with his stove-pipe shot gun. There wasn’t enough left for snake and kidney pie! Dad saved my life that day as a new born Puff Adder has a fatal bite. Dad was bitten by a Cape Cobra. That gave him a hard time!

We got home one night and the yard was full of black people. In those days, you never locked your house and Dad’s shot gun stood in the corner in his bedroom. On asking, we discovered that one of the women had been bitten by a snake. We had snake bit serum but we only had ox syringe needles, which are as thick as drain pipes!! Half went into her bum and half into her leg. She survived but had a sore bum for a while!

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