Hierdie volume, geproduseer om die honderdjarige bestaan van Johannesburg te gedenk, handel oor die sosiale geskiedenis van die myndorp in sy pioniersdae. Die vier ingeslote joernale is: C. Du-Val, ‘All the World Around!!! with pencil, pen and camera’; T.R. Adlam, ‘Sunrise and Advancing Morn: Memories of a South African Boyhood’; E. Bright, ‘Letters, 1902-1909; Excerpts from the memoirs of William T. Powell.
‘Eiffel Tower’, Simmer and Jack Gold Mining Company, Limited
AANHALING UIT DIE TEKS:
“……….out to the back yard to climb again into the big wattle tree that had grown noticeably during our absence. How grand was the feeling of freedom which we had not rightly appreciated before our sojourn in Port Elizabeth.
Johannesburg seemed much the same as when we left it, still under martial law, but this time of the British variety. The “blue bottles with the White corks’, as we used to call the S.A. Republic Police (from the white helmets and blue uniforms), were no more. They were superseded by khaki-clad soldiers with rifle and fixed bayonet; and on the railway, we noticed the letters NZASM had been painted out where they had appeared on locomotives and rolling stock, and, in their stead were the letters “I.M.R.” in white, for “imperial Military Railways”.
We examined, with interest, a bullet mark on the window frame of the small bedroom that had been Mr. Matern’s. While in bed, he had fired his revolver at a suspected burglar trying to effect an entrance, so he told us, and we began to respect him more as a man who could be “quick on the draw” both for burglars and the kingfishers that threatened to eat up all the goldfish in the pond. Another intriguing thing was my father’s Lee Metford rifle, which he possessed as a member of the “Rand Rifles”. It stood in a corner in the dining room. Although warned not to touch it, the temptation was too great. Very soon we knew how to operate the bolt mechanism and itched to fire off a round, but we realised that would lead to instant detection because of the noise. What we once did do, however, was to insert in the breech a cartridge case from which bullet and cordite had been removed and fire off the percus¬sion cap, which gave a rewarding sharp crack.
In due course, we went back to school. A few of the boys, like us, were re¬turned refugees, but most of them had never been away at all. The latter told exciting tales of what they saw and heard when Johannesburg surrendered, and we, to keep our end up, told of travels and adventures in distant places garnished overmuch with schoolboy exaggeration. Even Brother Eusterius, who taught my class, and Brother Valerian, told stories of the time the Boers used the school as an emergency military hospital; to those we listened with morbid curiosity.
We did spare a thought for poor old President Kruger, who had paid the penalty of challenging British might. He had to give up all his dreams of Boer ascendancy and flee in a hurry to Holland via Delagoa Bay, leaving his wife, for a while, behind. But were he alive today, he could rejoice to see how things are actually going his way! I believe his statue still stands in some Pretoria square with the old fashioned straight-up-and-down top hat and ~ the trappings of presidentship. It was said that Mrs Kruger, a kind~hearted soul who had a thought for the thirsty birds, caused the crown of the top hat to be hollowed out to hold rainwater for the birds to drink, but this had the unfortunate result of requiring very frequent cleaning of the Statue.’
To the delight of my father and other British subjects in the former Boer re¬publics there were no more franchise difficulties, and, no doubt, the natives some relief too for, although the franchise was not extended to them, they no longer prohibited from walking on the pavements, as had been the rule under the old regime. In those days, the British Empire was at or very near the zenith of its glory.
Our education in the domain of music was sadly neglected and practically non-existent. My mother and her family could hardly be called musical. My father, on the other hand, appreciated music, though, unlike his brothers and sisters, he never played any musical instrument. His brother, our Uncle Frank j~ London, had some reputation as an organist and composer of church music. In partnership with Harry Dacre (Frank Dean & Coy), he was also re¬sponsible for a few of the popular songs of the period, such as Daisy Bell of bicycle-built-for-two frame; Bluebells (I’ll be your Sweetheart), and As your Hair. grows whiter But our repertoire was limited to the National Anthem, three or four hymn tunes, Soldiers of the Queen, Swanee River, and two songs we were taught at the Marist Brothers’ School. The words of the chorus of one o(the latter I remember was:
“Singing home, boys home, and it’s home we ought to be,
Home boys home in the Old Countree
Where the oak and the ash and the blooming willow tree
All grow green in the Old Countree.”
and the other had something to do with the Fire Brigade:
“Hark! Hark!” that piercing call,
The distant noise and running.
Fire! Fire! Fire! The Fire Brigade is coming.
At that dread cry so thrilling
The brave and ready firemen come
With eager hearts and willing.”
We never had a piano. For the actual production of music, all we had be¬tween us was a mouth organ and a “tin whistle”. We were surprised to find that little Arthur, at the expense of blistered lips, excelled Duncan and me in……..”