musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Month: February 2013

Heading Out

Regular readers of this blog may have noticed stirrings in my life. There is a good reason for this, because on 28 February I am heading out to the United Kingdom.  
The decision was made shortly after we were retrenched, but it took quite a bit of time to get paperwork together and organise my life. The Olympic Games in London also confused the issue somewhat. However, I am now on my last legs so wish me luck. 
How long will I be there? I honestly don’t know. It is one of those things that I will talk about when I know more. At the moment I don’t know anything apart from having two long flights, and a temporary place in South London. My flat in South Africa is packed up and my stuff is going into storage.
So, if things get a tad quiet here, you now know why.  
Postscript 2017. 
I have now been in the UK for 4 years and 10 months, I have seen a lot and still need to see more, but my visa expires on the first day of the new year, and until I get a decision I am literally in limbo. 
DRW 01/03/2013 – 27/12/2017 
Updated: 26/12/2017 — 16:03

Hill Street Cemetery: Emmarentia. (2)

Continuing where we left off… 


In spite of going past the cemetery every time I was in the area I never saw the gardener or received the phone call that would allow me access to the cemetery. It was very frustrating. I was due to leave South Africa on the 1st of March 2013, and if I did not get it photographed before then it would be too late.

On 14 February 2013 I went grave hunting on the East Rand with my godson, and on our way back we were in the area so I stopped at the cemetery to show him where it was. Lo and behold the gate was open! there was no sign of the gardener though, but that did not stop us and finally we could record the graves inside it’s walls.

There are supposedly 77 graves in the cemetery, and sadly a lot of the older stones have been toppled and laid flat on the graves so legibility is poor. I photographed all the graves, because who knows what the future may bring for this small enclave.

There is however no way of knowing how many unmarked graves there are, and I believe that there is a register somewhere.  Geldenhuys is not the only surname here though, there are a number of other family members and possibly the graves of some of the ABW veterans that helped build Emmarentia Dam or who lived on the plots on the farm. History does not tell us the whole story. The oldest legible grave that I saw was dated 1891, but it is possible there was older. It is a pity that the older headstones have toppled, and that they are not restored. 

And what about Louw Geldenhuys?

My supposition was correct, this is the grave of Lourens (Louw) Geldenhuys (1864-1929) and his wife Emmarentia (1866-1938). They left quite a legacy behind in the area, and I don’t think too many people are aware of it.

I felt so much happier now that I had this cemetery under my belt, in fact this was amongst the last cemeteries that I photographed in South Africa,  

The images of the graves are available on the eggsa website  and it is possible to see the deterioration of some of the graves between when I first photographed over the wall so long ago. The cemetery may be found at Google Earth co-ordinates -26.164606°,  28.010052°, but there is no guarantee that it is open, or you can find the gardener (we did not see him while we were there, so it was pure luck that we did manage to take our pics undisturbed).  Many of the names in this cemetery have streets named after them, and of course the area is named after Emmarentia Geldenhuys. Way back when this was all a farm it must have been a very interesting place with Melville Koppies close by and the fledgling mining camp of Ferreirasdorp not that far away.

My 1908 map shows the size of the farm “Braamfontein” and the farms around it, today the borders of those farms are no longer identifiable and I cannot help but think that the Geldenhuys family left quite a legacy behind. 

It was time to go home, my quest was finally over.

DRW © 2013-2018. Created 20/08/2016, links recreated 05/03/2019

Updated: 06/03/2018 — 07:40

Bye bye to my bank

Today I closed my bank account. It is roughly 30 years since I moved from my original bank to Standard. I originally had a savings account at the then Barclays Bank Harrison Street Branch because my brother worked for them and I needed the account for when I went into the army. 
When I came out of the army and was doing my apprenticeship I decided that I really needed a cheque book, so I toddled along to a Barclays branch in Braamfontein close to where I worked. I was met by a snooty suit wearing banking clone who icely informed me that I needed R500 in my account to open a cheque book account. I used to get paid the princely sum of R195 (before deductions) per month in those days working as an appy, so R500 was nearly 3 months salary! I walked out and went into Standard Bank Airways Centre branch where I opened my cheque account with the 75 cents I had in my pocket at the time. I then went back to Barclays and withdrew all the money out of the account and closed it. I have never liked Barclays after that, and when they left South Africa I did not bat an eyelid. They will not get my business when I go to the UK either.
Standard Bank gave me good service over the years. Their atm’s worked like a charm, their service was reasonably good and I very rarely ever went into a branch. In fact, my current branch I have been in only once, and that was the day I had to close my old account and re-open a new one, and that was in 1999.  My ATM card was 12 years old, and I sadly cut it in half today.  Sure, some Standard branches did give me poor service, and the last lot of poor service from Clearwater Mall branch was one of the reasons that I closed the account.  Apart from exorbitant bank charges of course, but that’s another story for another day. 
I do have a long memory though, and when I went to finance my 2nd vehicle I tried ABSA and they declined it. Wesbank treated me like royalty and have financed 3 of my vehicles. I financed my house through the Natal Building Society (NBS) because at the time Standard had a reputation for not approving bonds, and they lost that part of my business. 
A few years back I opened a Capitec account and it was dormant for quite some time as I only used to put any spare savings into it. But as we approached the here and now it has become my primary bank. And I get good service and cheap bank charges too. 
The only problem I still have is: When I emptied the account out yesterday they charged me 65 cents to sms me. So I owed them 65 cents. However, they reversed it, and have probably charged me R25 to reverse it, and then another 65 cents to sms me to tell me I now owe them R25.65. They will then reverse that and charge me another R25.65. Oh gads, I should have paid them that 65c.  But, they would then probably charge me a cash deposit fee of R20 for depositing 65c and 65c to sms me to tell me I owed them R20.65!  And, at the way these thing go I may never be rid of Standard Bank after all! 
Thanks Standard Bank for the good service over the years. 
Updated: 07/05/2016 — 06:31

The Galoobs are coming!

Many years ago, when I was a wee lad, it was announced over the radio; “The Galoobs are coming!

And they did. Total ran this promotion at their garages where you could get a Galoob when you filled up your car (and I think you could buy them over the counter too). And, for those that don’t know what  a Galoob is, or looked like… 

The Galoobs are coming!

The Galoobs are coming!

Now bear in mind, these little guys are small, that one is sitting on a 35mm film canister, which makes him about 1cm in height. They came in various poses and wearing different hats. There was also a larger version and standing ones too. None wore any pants!

Now the strange thing about Galoobs is that very few actually made it to 2013, I expect because of their size they did tend to end up being thrown out, or swallowed, or lost behind the bookcase. I and sure that family pets accounted for some, and  then general wear and tear eroded the population even more. I was fortunate to find this one a few years back at a toy fair, and he went awol almost immediately after I got him. I found him again while packing my flat to move, and after taking this pic he went awol once again. Yep, I own an awol Galoob.
The Galoob is indicative of the promotions that many of the garages used to offer to get people to buy petrol there.  Children would bug their parents to fill up with a specific petrol brand because of a promotion, and three that I specifically recall are: A map of South Africa in polystyrene with various “treasures” that had to be found. A chart with holes for plastic inserts with airline logos’ on them, and finally a cardboard folder that had to be filled with silver coins depicting various Apollo and Gemini space missions.  
In spite of us not having a car I too used to collect these gimmicks, and that is thanks to generous friends and petrol attendants. Alas, none of my collections have survived. 
Remind me one day to discuss things in cereal boxes….. 
© DRW 2013-2018. Image recreated 26/03/2016
Updated: 26/12/2017 — 16:04

Died in Detention.

Today, 05 February 2013 is the anniversary of the death of Dr Neil Aggett. I found his headstone a few years back while gravehunting in West Park cemetery, and it was one of those jarring moments in time.

I did not know him in person, but the name was familiar from the early 80’s and finding the grave just triggered a sadness that is difficult to explain. The fact remains that he did not die an easy death, and while the official verdict was suicide, it is easy to view his death in the same way as that of Steve Biko.  However, nobody was ever prosecuted for the torture that he suffered, and many of those who committed the atrocities on behalf of the government of the day are still living amongst us.  

Personally I cannot see how many of these “men” that abused their power can really live with themselves. I cannot see how they went home after a long days torture and abuse and sat down to dinner with their families, or how they could sit in church and listen to the Dominee all the time thinking that on the next day they would back in there with their rubber hoses, shock machines and other instruments of violence. They share the same part of history as members of the Inquisition, witch finders, Nazi’s, concentration camp guards, serial killers and  terrorists.

Another grave that I found was that of David Webster

Assassinated 1 May 1989, that says about it all. Do those responsible lay awake at night and consider that they did a good job on that day? do they go home and tell their wives? I do not understand it and frankly I never will, but then I have never been in that position either. 

The problem with finding graves like this is that it changes your perspective. Before finding the grave Neil Aggett and David Webster they were only names in a newspaper, now the are real people who had the courage of their conviction. 
Another grave that left an impression was that of Hector Petersen. The schoolboy that became an icon on 16 June 1976.  It is easy to look at that iconic photograph by Sam Nzima of the boy being carried by  Mbuvisa Makhubo. It is like looking at grainy black and white footage of World War One. It does not seem real, yet it did happen. On that day the sun was shining, birds were singing and people were dieing. 
However, once you find the grave, things change. I remember I felt a deep sadness on that day in Avalon cemetery,  All I could do was stand there and hope that this death, like so many others, was not in vain. Whether we like it or not, the ghosts that form the past of South Africa will not rest until we all  come to realise that there were sacrifices on both sides, people died on both sides, people murdered and tortured on both sides, and that we are all in this together.  Maybe its about time we took our children to see these graves from the past, let them make the connection, let them reach their own conclusions about who was right and who was wrong. And let them carry us forward. 
© DRW 2013-2018. Images recreated 26/03/2016
Updated: 22/06/2018 — 12:56
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