44. Our fantastic voyage from Cape Town on the RHMS Ellinis to Australia.

 

The Chandris Lines Greek passenger ocean liner the Ellines for the next sixteen days at sea became the playground for Joan, the children and me. My expertise in shipping procedure and that we weren’t 10 English pounds assisted English passengers made it easy for us to use every available and unavailable facility on board ship. Our first morning at breakfast when I trooped in with the family and found that only two seating arrangements had been made for Joan and me, I summoned the chief steward for an explanation. It seemed that all children on board had their meals at a first sitting, which in their brochure that we hadn’t received stated. On patiently explaining to him that I had specifically asked when booking the passage that as a family unit we wanted to have our meals together because it would be irresponsible for us to leave our five children on their own, and without any supervision to wander the ship while we were having a meal, made him hum and haw. My further adamant request was for him to check his passenger list where he would find that I had paid adult fairs for two of my children and in that case they couldn’t be classed as children, and that we weren’t assisted passengers as the rest. My family was the largest one on board and I knew from past experience that all passenger liner companies had a policy to cater to their request. We were then set up at a separate family table and the Chief Steward had to also patiently explain the situation to the English passengers with children, who were bitching, and that received us a bit more respect and pleasantries all round when hearing that we had paid full fares.

The Ellinis because it was under contract to convey 10 pound assisted English passengers from England to Australia for immigration purposes, which had to come via Cape Town due to the ongoing Suez Canal crises, usually catered to paying passengers. The ship was grouped into first, intermediate and economy class, and because we were the last to embark, our cabins were in the bowels of the ship. That didn’t bother us for it was a first come first serve arrangement. Those who were fortunate to be placed in first class though thought they had priority of everything on the first class deck. No such luck where I was concerned, and when trooping with my brood there, the imaginary haughty complained again. Our children were well behaved, disciplined and parent controlled, while theirs were behaving atrociously and hogging all entertainment equipment while their parents were elsewhere flaunting their snooty charms. A quite word to the deck officer saw that change quick smart and parents begin to control their brats. The other place where our children shone was in the swimming pool because of having early childhood lessons and could swim like dolphins. It was surprising to those who had entered in a diving and swimming competition to be well and truly beaten in all the events our children had entered, especially when taking all the major prizes, but they had also made many new friends because of it.  More friends were also made in the gym when they donned their Judo costumes and gave demonstrations to open mouthed spectators. It all began when the gym instructors who were putting others through their paces that had done various elements of physical training before, but it was our children’s first time there.  It was while they were watching a group of older boys been taught wrestling moves and holds, that those that were wresting on the mat must have thought here are newbies that we can twist into a pretzel and slam down on the mat. Wrong! They all had blue-belts that were in the fifth stage of Judo, and those who had previously seen the Judo video of them in competition in one of my blogs, would know what I’m talking about. It’s also true what they say about the bigger you are the harder you fall because that’s what occurred to those smart arse pommies who found themselves flattened on the mat every time. The instructors who were watching in amazement were convinced that my kids knew all about wrestling until been told that their discipline was Judo, which lead to the demonstration request.

South Africans love to party, and even our children at a young age were encouraged and taught all modern dance steps, which my parents also did for my siblings and me, and that saw them on the dance floor at any function. On board ship the nightlife centered on adults only and older children were bored shitless, so when our two eldest, the one fifteen and the other fourteen, requested to go dancing with Joan and myself, we didn’t have second thoughts. Those at the dance tried stare us down for our audacity in bringing them along because there were no other youngsters attending. When the four of us took to the floor and put the rest of the dancers to shame by dancing every dance number played, which ranged through the whole category from old to modern, they formed a circle at one stage around us as we rock ‘n rolled with the band-musicians going into a real hot lick to keep us going. Metaphorically, the dancing shoe was in the other foot then, for we were receiving smiling stares instead and request to be danced with.

Being in the bowls of the ship, which was aft and in the stern where most of my seafaring years were spent, gave the cabin stewards the impression that because we were in the arse end of the ship they could give us crappy service, again no such luck. I compiled a list of complaints and presented it to the chief steward. I was having a field day because it listed every service pertaining to passenger steward’s compulsory duties, which I was very aware of that I had performed and they were not. They had refused cabin-service meals to two of our children who occasionally got seasick when bad weather eventuated. Their cleaning of the cabin consisted of walking into the cabin while we were elsewhere, look around and then walk out again, which both Joan and I saw them do, and the reason was due to all of us making up our own bunks and packing everything away. That didn’t give them the right not to vacuum, dust, wipe, clear out the wastepaper baskets or change the linen, and the bathrooms received the same treatment. The Chief Steward on seeing me approach his office smilingly waved me in to sit down. It seemed from captain to crewman had heard of our run-ins, sorting outs, and passengers understanding and acceptance, so he too accepted my list and brought everything related to the inconsistencies of the cabin stewards into perspective.

Joan and I also had the time of our lives because we attended every function given, which included fancy-dress, stage shows, theatre, game shows, comedy shows, jazz combo , night clubbing, pub crawling, card games, deck sports or just lazing by the pool and eat and eat and  eat. The ships officers and crew must have taken a liking to us because we were the only passengers who were invited onto the bridge of the ship with the captain in attendance, and the children were allowed a hand at steering. The engine room, which is a no go zone for anybody except ship’s crew, was another minor exploration they experienced, and when the older children had exhausted the ships play facilities they hung out with the officers and crew. They were taken up with them because they would assist the scullery boys on deck every afternoon to serve consommé and rusks as a snack to the passengers, and would think nothing of it to tidy up play areas where equipment was left lying around by other passengers. Joan and myself too were invited to many private parties in the officers and crew’s quarters where ouzo; a Greek drink of aniseed-flavored spirits, was the flavour of the night. On the last farewell dinner our family received the privilege of being invited to sit at the captain’s table to a bit of jealousy from the other passengers. We had made our mark on the ship and I was sure we were going to continue doing it in Australia. That friendship association with the crew of the Ellinis continued for many of their return trips to Melbourne with visits to our home and their introducing us to Greek friends and restaurants. Anzac Day that is not only a remembrance day for what it represents to Australians for maintaining their freedom but also it was the freedom that we were going to share in Australia when the Ellinis berthed in Melbourne on the 25th April on Anzac Day, and we stepped ashore on freedom land on a day that has been always memorable to us for both reasons.

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RHMS Ellinis.

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Australian New Zealand Army Corps.

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ANZAC Day Parade.

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43. My Out of Africa Family To Compliment My African Drums Blogs.

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Great Grandfather Antonie Manuel Lorenzo. Born: Lisbon Portugal.

Great Grandmother Catherine Epolde. Born: Naples Italy.

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Grandfather William John Edward Lorenzo. Born: Cape Town South Africa.

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Grandmother Dolphina Francina Wilhelmina Newman. Born: Kovna Russia.

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My Father Harold George Lorenzo. Born: Cape Town South Africa.

Uncle Anthony Manuel Lorenzo. Born: Cape Town South Africa.

Uncle Franck Lorenzo. Born: Cape Town South Africa.

Aunt Doreen Lorenzo. Born: Cape Town South Africa.

Aunt Maud Lorenzo. Born: Cape Town South Africa.

Aunt Olga Lorenzo. Born: Cape Town South Africa.

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Me Harold George William Lorenzo. Born: Cape Town South Africa.

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Great Grandmother Elizabeth Carolus. Born: Pretoria South Africa.

Great Grandfather Benjamin Bradley Dodgen. Born: Kimberley South Africa.

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Grandmother Maria Annie Margaret Dodgen. Born: Kimberley South Africa.

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Grandfather Benjamin William James Dodgen  (left). Born: Kimberley South Africa.

Great Grandfather William Bradley Dodgen. Born: Kimberley South Africa.

Great Grandmother Annie Dodgen. Born: Kimberley South Africa.

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My Mother Elizabeth Maria Dodgen. Born: Kimberley South Africa.

Uncle William Dodgen. Born: Kimberley South Africa.

Uncle Benjamin Dodgen. Born: Kimberley South Africa.

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Grandfather George Llewellyn O’Connor, Born: Cape Town South Africa. 2nd husband of Grandmother Maria Annie Margaret Dodgen.

Aunt Phoebe O’Connor. Born: Cape Town South Africa. Uncle Robert Odendaal. Born: Cape Town South Africa.

Aunt Grace O’Connor. Born: Cape Town South Africa. Uncle John Rhode. Born: Cape Town South Africa.

Aunt Violet O’Connor. Born: Cape Town South Africa. Uncle William Engel, Born Durban South Africa.

Uncle George Llewellyn O’Connor, Born: Cape Town South Africa. Aunt Iris Doreen February. Born; Cape Town South Africa.

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42. Our first bought home at No 7 Leader Street Vanguard Estate from 1965 – 1972 (Farewell Vanguard Estate))

 

For me the wheels were then set fully in motion and went only then to book our passage tickets that were confirmed on the Greek passenger liner SS Ellines to within four months. With the tickets and passports handed to the Australian Embassy all that was required were the bank’s cheque for the house and my monies for the short fall, which was already in my bank account, and I was informed that the buyers  bank took three months to settle. That suited us fine for it was school holidays and my employer had kindly allowed my two eldest school going sons to work at the factory for the family to accumulate extra money for our trip. My employer at first had tried to discourage my immigrating, but when pointing out to him that his daughter who was as darked skinned as myself, and some of my children too, and that she had all the opportunities as a White because they were Jews and money speaks, he saw my point and assisted me in every possible way. His glowing reference afforded me six employment interviews even before my arrival in Australia through applications made by me through vacancy applications sighted in a Melbourne newspaper at the Cape Town Australian Embassy.

Three months had expired with no news from the purchaser, but that didn’t bother me at all because of knowing that whatever decisions I executed properly would event into positive fruition. I did though execute plane B just in case there were any slight hitches, and without seeming reliant or pushy, my subtle approach was a conveyed message that there was two other buyers who were willing to pay 6 000 rand immediately. The reply was for an instant settlement but the transaction was ludicrous and farcical. The father insisted that he would hand me the bank cheque as I handed him the house key, and to do that his son and myself had to first sign the house over at the Government Housing Office, which I was aware of, and when that was officially done we would make the transaction. The former was no problem but the latter could have been. Making an appointment with the housing office to sign over and notifying the father and son, although not letting them know that it would be a day before our departure, we crated all our personal belongings that got sent to the shipping companies holding shed and packed our baggage. My next position was a conjecture on every obstacle that might eventuate and how to resolve it by my behaviour and verbalization at the Government Housing Office, for any unforseen hitches would have spelt disaster for our departure. Chatting to the son at the office to enthuse him on his forthcoming marriage and how fortunate he was to start off with a furnished house made him all keen when signing.

Then the first hitch came when handshakes, smiling and pleasantries were conveyed, because as we were about to leave, the housing official inquired when the payment was due. That exuberant young fellow proudly stated that his father was giving me a cheque for 5400 rand that day, which almost beat my well-rehearsed answer. Immediately the official said that it was not the amount according to the paperwork that was signed. My quick rehearsed response was that the refurbished house was fully furnished and that the grounds had been re- landscaped. He though stated that it was very irregular and both amounts should have been separately paid. My instant reply was that it was a bank cheque and they only disbursed lump-sum payments in those instances. Although I kept my composure my stomach went into knots and my heart pounded with anxiety as he showed dissatisfaction with that. The son then saved the day when he chipped in by saying that he was getting married, his father had bought the furnished house as a wedding present and that it would save him from buying furniture. On that note the official wished him everything of the best but still gave me a quizzing look.

The second hitch came when his father who was waiting outside in his car told me that the handing over would only occur at the house for his last inspection. My whole intention was to take the cheque to my bank, transfer my monies through Barclay’s Bank to Australia, take the bank statement to the Australian Embassy, receive my ship passage tickets, clearance and visaed passports they were holding, and purchase travelers cheques at Cooks Traveling Agency through which my tickets were obtained. All those establishments were right there in Cape Town, but not wanting to tell him my personal details and wanting to get him away from that area because his son worked in that same building, which fortunately he had gone straight back to work, and I didn’t want his father to know what had transpired and conveyed to him yet, I reluctantly agreed to his demands. On the way my only conversation was about the wedding and what a kind and considerate father he was, and that I hoped to take a leaf out of his book and do the same for my children one day. That boosted his ego and made him eager to boast about himself and the wedding. He was so full of his own importance that he handed me the cheque as we alighted at the house, took the key and waved me on. What an arsehole, and all that unnecessary palaver. I was then on pins and needles for getting back to Cape Town, for it required a bus and train journey of about one and a half hours to go and complete my transactions. Every stop on the journey became an aggravation as my whole being urged the bus and train to go faster. Arriving at Cape Town station my almost running to the bank and the Australian Embassy was due to my apprehension that the son might have gotten in touch with his father, related what had occurred, have second thoughts about the transaction and stop the payment of the cheque. With all the relevant documents in hand, a spring in my step, a broad smile on my face and a feeling of pure joy, my relieved happy wife and children welcomed me with open arms when arriving at her sister’s home where we were staying until leaving.

That night at Joan’s sister’s home we had a farewell party for family and friends. We were the first of the family to start the exodus out of South Africa to Australia, so the party went through the night and continued into the next day aboard the Ellines. Our family and friends crowded the cabin, the allay-ways and some had to go on deck, and when the ship’s departure was delayed until the night, eatables and more liquor were organized ashore to be brought aboard for the farewell party to continue. When we eventually sailed very late the night, about ten cars of our well-wishers lined along the ship on the quay with high beams flashing and car horns blasting, and amidst cheering and waving us on, they threw unraveling toilet rolls onto the ship. Curious ship officers, crew and passengers inquired who we were of importance because they had never seen such a send-off for anyone.

My instincts of leaving everything for the last minute were confirmed when in Australia. It seemed, when the family informed us, that the purchaser of the house was inquiring of my whereabouts because he and the Government Housing Department weren’t satisfied with the transaction. Some people are never satisfied and I had stuck it up the Afrikaners once again. My family and friends were satisfied though, for we were able to sponsor them to immigrate to Australia over the ensuing years after purchasing a home, and they received a rousing welcome of reciprocation for the farewell they had bestowed on us.

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The glowing reference received from my employer that saw my advancement by leaps and bounds in Australia.

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Joan and I at the farewell party for our bon voyage to Australia.

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More guest arriving for out farewell party at Joan’s sister’s home. — with Joan Lorenzo.

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Our last family photo taking together with the Fisher Matriarch before leaving to Cape Town Harbour. — with Harry P Lorenzo, Neil Lorenzo, Marion Fisher, Regina Lorenzo, Joan H Lorenzo, Greg Mixzen-Beatz Lorenzo and Christopher A Lorenzo.

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Getting ready to board the SS Ellines in Cape Town Harbour. — with Christopher A Lorenzo, Joan H Lorenzo and Regina Lorenzo.

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Aboard in our cabin. — with Joan H Lorenzo, Peter van der Byl and Barbara van der Byl.

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Our very crowded cabin with well wishers. — with Neville Kennis, Gilly van der Byl and Joan H Lorenzo.

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The rest that had to be on the ship deck due to the cabin overflowing. — with Regina Lorenzo, Joan H Lorenzo, Gladys van der Byl and Carol van der Byl.

41. Our first bought home at No 7 Leader Street Vanguard Estate from 1965 – 1972 (Part 4)

 

At 37 years-of-age I was completely grey at the temples, which wasn’t due to the stress created in South Africa but heredity, and I had applied to immigrate to Australia. Was accepted, but the problem though was selling my house within the time frame set down by the Australian Embassy of one year before our acceptance time expired, or we had to apply again. My first bought home was in a nice suburb of Vanguard Estate, one of many situated out of the hustle and bustle of city life in a more quite pleasant country atmosphere. Now not to go all political but, the circumstances leading up to my decision was due to the amalgamation of the Afrikaner National Party Government’s discriminatory policies. It’s not also my intention to rack up old coals but, they thought it appropriate and for the common good of all South Africans to introduce a Group Areas and Coloured Property Act that made it unlawful to live, own property or a business in a declared, designated area proclaimed White. One of many was District Six, which was a city division of Cape Town, where Coloureds, Muslims, Africans, Indians, Chinese, Jews and poor Whites lived and had businesses there. They co-existed and lived in a congenial atmosphere until apartheid lifted its ugly head. They were systematically and belligerently moved out to areas designated for them, and District Six was razed to the ground so that it could be declared a White area for Whites to build, live and establish businesses, which still stands today as a vast vacant lot to remind them of their stupidity. If they weren’t erasing black spots out of declared White areas they were drawing lines in the sand that nonwhites could not cross, and they were railway lines that virtually separated us from them. The forward planning of the government was to move all nonwhites over to the other side of the track regardless, with the conceited idea that Whites were in a superior class of their own and shouldn’t be tainted with inferior nonwhites sharing the same facilities. Cape Town City would be only theirs for enjoyment, entertainment, recreation, diversion and relaxation, and that also included all the beaches right around the Cape Peninsula. The beach allocated to nonwhites was Strandfontein (Dutch = Beach-fountain), where the only way to reach it was by motor transport or horse and cart, and where sharks and a horrific sea backwash that was a hazard, was deemed to be natural to non-white survival skills. My majestic Table Mountain was not seen fit to be traversed by nonwhites, and the lush and fertile valleys, the meandering rivers and the lakes was taboo, as was the learning institutions of Technical Colleges and Universities. One of the reasons for me getting the hell out of South Africa was the Afrikaners government policy of the restraining of a God given right to the freedom of choice. The other was their conniving indoctrination to be susceptible of their misrepresentation that White was right for my family and me to accept.

The government was enforcing the herding of other nonwhites into types of homelands like the Africans. They were nothing short of compounds for the working class, and cheap flats and units sprung up like mushrooms overnight on the Cape Flats to house those that were dislodged from non-white areas, which had been declared White areas. It didn’t bother the government if nonwhites were disgruntled, disillusioned and frustrated, even to the separation of families, the workers from their place of employment, places of worship, shopping areas and the community spirit that had been built up over generations. They didn’t give a damn, and their hastily built cramped styled quarters for nonwhites that was eagerly negotiated and snapped up by non-white entrepreneurs, who I’m ashamed to mention, to line their own pockets, became breeding grounds for the criminal element. Gangs roamed the streets, and fighting, assaults, robbery, rape, stabbings and murder became the norm, and so did unemployment. What non-white skilled and unskilled workers through diligence once gained, was then allocated to Whites only. Due to all of that and the defeated attitude felt, the criminal element vented their frustration and anger on the people closest. All nonwhites were in their line of fire because the Whites were completely isolated in their White utopias. In our neighbourhood we were hassled for money even when walking in our street, and some used their self-trained dogs as a threat to obtain whatever they wanted. Others would smack, kick or chase you if one looked better off in dress, and it was known that some would divest a person if the clothes fitted. Children who were sent by their parents for purchases at shops were robbed of monies and girls and women were touched up indiscriminately if ignoring them in passing. The government’s operation of separate areas was twofold. The obvious one was that White was superior and couldn’t be inferior to non-white. And the other was to have a barrier of sacrificial lambs between the Africans and Whites. That was where the rest of the nonwhites came in, for their chicken cooped dwellings were strategically built and placed so that they could be first in the line of fire from any crime, unrest or uprising from the Africans. Those enforced dislodged nonwhites from all their then declared White areas were firmly entrenched in blocks of flats right up against other nonwhites privately owned houses. That was the Whites first line of defense followed by squats adjoining for African people in townships like Guguletu, and those areas were eventually fenced off as enclosures to keep wild non-white South African government made animals firmly in their place.

In our estate we were forced to organize a neighbourhood watch and patrol the whole area on weekend nights. Break-ins, assaults, verbal abuse and harassment became common practice from our new neighbours. I was attacked twice, once luckily to get away with my life, and my wife and children were affronted, threatened and often chased. Having the good fortune and opportunity to experience what real freedom was through my merchant navy travels, gave me the foresight to investigate which countries were accepting South African immigrants, what were the social conditions and most important human freedom. Canada and Australia both came pretty close as ideal. Having had the experience of Canada though and wanting back the complete freedom my fore parents had attained and enjoyed over a century ago, I opted for Australia. It seemed that because it was a young continent they were learning from the past mistakes of the others. Also, there was no apartheid, it had social freedom, one man one vote, labels were of your own doing, and their having a fair go made it an excellent situation for my children to grow up in.

Being financially secure to start a new life as a family of seven and to pay for the sea voyage was a big ask, for the Australian Government didn’t offer us assisted passage. The fares were 2500 rands, and by my calculations 6000 rand was required to restart our new life in Australia, so what I required all up was 8500 rand. The glaring problem was how the hell I was going to accumulate that within a year, which was the stipulated time before an application expired. I knew I wouldn’t be able to get that from the sale of the house because of it been purchased through a government rent paying ownership scheme and I had only had ownership for six years. My wage earning capacity was in the region of sixty rand a week depending on my output in a time and motion bonus system, and it only covered comfortably our family of seven. With sleepless nights and scheming, I set my groundwork into operation after consulting a banking friend of mine. His advice was to set a flexible selling price of two amounts whereby the lower price would be the one that a prospective buyer would go for. In addition, I was told to renovate my home with a new splash of paint, jazz up the garden with a bit of landscaping and advertise it as a furnished house.  With all of the furniture remaining, my asking price was between 5400 and 6000 rand, however, the advertising had also to be done by word of mouth without the Government Housing Office getting wind of it. The other problem then was that I would have a shortfall of 600 rand, and with only fifty rand in the bank and still the passage fare of 2500 rand to consider, my contemplation on various outcomes that would achieve personal success for that to eventuate was foreseen in a sure fire method within the bounds of possibility.

At that period of time, sporting clubs held functions in homes called a bob hop. It entailed an entrance fee of two bob (two shillings) or (twenty cents), dancing to record music, the sale of light snacks and alcoholic drinks, and because it was a cheap social night out it was always well supported. The illegal part was the selling of liquor; nonetheless, it didn’t bother me because of knowing non-white police that would attend when off-duty and so too staff of hotels when closing at night, especially if it was low key. Seeing a way to cash in for the shortfall, Joan and myself worked out a scheme. Our first priority was the sale of the house so it had to be in top condition for any prospective buyers viewing at all times. An indoor function was out of the question so we decided to have it outdoors. Our property was grassed from one side of the house to the backyard that had a large overhanging leafy tree growing at the top end of a wide sunken grass depression, and that extended into an enclosed barbeque area. That became our bar area because it was enclosed, secure and hidden from neighbours preying eyes. My next-door neighbour Mr Johnson had a 2.5 meter brick wall between his and my property, so by affixing a canvas sheet from my house front edge to his walls front edge and another canvas sheet from my house guttering to the top of his wall, it completely enclosed the whole side right up to the barbeque area. A lead of coloured lights strung along the roof guttering and his wall, and with music played through an open bedroom window it set the scene.

Because we were not a sporting club we also had a slight problem of not able to nominate what the appeal for raising funds was for. I though came up with a solution that sounded honest, inviting and different to attract. I hand printed my own cards, which had assisted me once before for employment on the merchant navy, that read of an undercover function for overseas aid that was being held at ‘Lorenzo’s Hideaway.’ Family and friends that knew of our intention to immigrate rallied to our aid. Joan not only collected the entrance fee but also requested those who looked suss, as in suspicious, to hand her any dangerous concealed weapons and they obligingly did, which was kept until their leaving. We also sold snacks and food such as curry and rice, hotdogs and pies, our children organized the music, collected empty glasses and kept the area tidy, and my unceasing bar keeping and looking after the crowd was ongoing.  I knew the suss ones were those who tried to trek a skuif (have an illegal smoke) in the vicinity of the tree, which they must have thought because it was a boom (tree) they could smoke their boom (dagga) there. However, when told politely that it wasn’t allowed there and they should go outside in the park to do that, they understandingly complied. What a crowd, we ran out of food and booze. The disco atmosphere, which wasn’t established in South Africa yet, that I had picked up from overseas, had kept the crowd partying on and they demanded a repeat for the following week. Our fifty rand bank account had been used for food and alcoholic drinks, which had been purchased wholesale at a friend’s liquor store, and our profit of 150 rand was more than my two weeks wages. Joan and I came up with another idea knowing that our family and friends liked to gamble at cards. So we set up tables and chairs inside the house for the playing of cards, which wasn’t as raucous and untidy. Doing the same as the bob-hop, we did though also claim 10 per cent off every poker hand won, which at most times exceeded 50 rand that increased our overall profits by 200 per cent. Those games continued into the small hours of the morning, which was excellent for our amounting bank account, and we then had a disco and a small casino operating.

We had to consider our neighbours though, although they attended at times, so we had the disco every fortnight and the card drive every week that continued profitably for seven months until winter set in with rain that kept the disco crowds away. We not only had to contend with that setback, but also that we only had bights for the house and no definite buyers, so we had to employ other means as an attraction to fill our bank coffers. We had a fireplace in our lounge that was a warm comfort in winter; so we made use of it by again hand printing cards that read it as a winter indoor open-hearth evening-spend. Open fireplaces wasn’t a commodity in a majority of homes outside Vanguard Estate, so with no admission fee but still selling food and booze, we had bodies reclining all over the lounge floor. In the semi-darkened fire lit room, chatting, drinking, eating, smooching, telling jokes and rousing sing a longs was spent pleasantly instead of the discos, and the card drives continued in the other rooms every week.

Because a year had elapsed, it expired our acceptance time to immigrate to Australia, and with our house not sold yet we had to reapply. That meant the family had to redo physical examinations, police clearance and immigration. We were accepted again, and although we had the full passenger fare to book our passage, the shortfall and still other monies in the bank, we were stymied by the sale of the house. We also couldn’t receive our South African passport clearance and Australian visa until the tickets were purchased, produce the 6 000 rand entry, which I had designated as having when entering Australia, that had to be transferred to an Australian bank via a South African bank and entered into my passport by the Australian Embassy. The dilemma hinged on the sale of the house. Nevertheless, knowing that I had set all of the positive wheels in motion, we then had a definite prospective buyer who wanted to purchase it for his son. The father, son and their bank manager inspected the house with 5400 rand allocated by the bank on a mortgage of the father’s house. There was no price negotiation required by me because of having deliberately given those selling prices, but I did make a proviso that I would accept the lower price only because of having booked the families passage to Australia already, and that we had to leave in three month’s time.

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The morning after in the side of our garden where the bob-hops were given having a drink and playing cards in the shade of the tree and in the grassed hollow with my brother Paul Lorenzo and others of Vanguard Estate.

 

 

40. Our first bought home at No 7 Leader Street Vanguard Estate from 1965 – 1972 (Part 3)

 

Been a cabinet maker came in handy when I began constructing furniture for our home as soon as we moved in. With the kitchen only having a sink when moving in, I soon had built-in kitchen cupboards from the ceiling to the floor with a breakfast-nook within and a hand-built table and window bench to accommodate it. And for Joan’s convenience I also built a cupboard to house her sewing machine that had a drop-table that could be lowered within when not in use. At the kitchen sink I built cupboards on both sides with one against the electric stove and the other leading off till the back door and then on a right-angle back into the kitchen with an open raised shelf on top of that to act as a bar, which was a must with all the boozers in the neighbourhood. Then the lounge that only had a fireplace with a mantelpiece on the top was just as bare. My parents had one of those oak dining tables that could seat eight with a solid top and solid two round-shaped legs that tapered into a wide pedestal base that I sawed in half and placed one-half on each side of the fireplace. They also had a mahogany sideboard of which the doors I removed and replaced them with sliding glass partitions, and then re-polished it. Now it’s not like I was letting them go short on furniture in their home, because by then they had moved in with my sister Shirley and Manny Manim at 43 Zenith Road, and like we all know in those houses you could just about swing a cat. To complete the décor I hung pictures of my Merchant Navy travels, knocked up window pelmets, got the kids to assist  me in making  bead and dowel strung curtaining  that hung in the lounge/ kitchen doorway, and I made an upholstered seat up against the front window so as to view the passing world at our leisure.

Our house became the hub for family and friends to congregate invited or uninvited. Our families of Lorenzo’s and Johnny & Grace Rhode; Children: Cyril, John, Terence, Joseph. Patrick & Gladys van der Byl; Children: Carol, Peter, David, Patricia, George. And Robert & Iris Fisher; Children: Ralph, Samuel, Marion would pop in whenever they liked just as we could do the same at there’s. The Fisher gemos (rubbish), as the maternal mother called them, where the ones who almost lived at our home and we at theirs. We at one time all lived together in a double-story house in Albert Road, Woodstock that was a really spooky place with creaking steps, noisy backyard neighbours, shared banging outside toilet doors, and with no electricity only kerosene lamps, made for an eerie joint. Robbie and Iris when becoming the managers of Montpelier Hotel in Woodstock, whereby they lived upstairs, became our hangout place for weekend’s card games of rummy and klaverjars and an occasional game of dominoes, all with pooled monies. We called ourselves the ‘babbalas dowelaars’ (drunken gamblers) because we never left a drink out of our entertainment, and that went also for the card games and parties given at their home and ours. That car of Ralph really worked overtime in conveying his parents and Marion, his wife Dawn when they lived in Mannenberg, and Sam and my other nephew Bill Fisher to parties and card games at our home. Ralph and Sam were inseparable from the word go that would see them always together at their Ma Fisher’s home it seemed from morning till night, which was because they lived just down the road from her when younger. They also grew up with my children that would see both of them joining up to either go to Woodstock beach, Cape Town Gardens, the Glen for a sleep out and braai, and to Kloofnek to walk the Pipe-track. And then there were the dart games that we all lived and breathed from Pa and Ma fisher’s home first, that extended to their children and then their grandchildren of Ralph and Sam who became dart champions in their own right.

I was then 35 years-of-age and Joan and I had five children; four boys and a girl, but the circle of life was beginning to repeat itself. The wife and I were doing our parents thing and the children were doing ours when we were at their age. There was no scope, advancement or improvement in any field of achievement for any of us. Life was becoming a dead-end in a country that had everything going for it with so much to offer, the problem was that it was only being offered to the so named White South Africans. By then, Nelson Mandala and the freedom fighters were incarcerated on Robben Island for life; however, to compensate for that, a White man assassinated Prime Minister Verwoerd. The Afrikaner National Party then introduced the Terrorism Act to provide for indefinite detention without trial because of the beginning of the ANC guerrilla warfare against the Afrikaners. 1967 saw them create Bantustans; designated areas in South Africa for particular African ethnic groups in accordance with apartheid. An Afrikaner, Vorster, then became president in place of Verwoerd and he cancelled England’s cricket tour of South Africa because of the inclusion of Basil D’Oliveira who was England’s Cape Non-white all round player in the English team.

I knew Basil as an acquaintance in Cape Town, but neither he nor I knew that his nephew, Shaun, would become part of our family when he married Joan’s niece, Marion, before they both immigrated to Canada. Like Basil and other nonwhites who were world class in any endeavour, they had to leave or were forced to leave because of discrimination or because of speaking out about the same reason. Now here’s a funny twist of fate against all of that, which could have spelt disaster in our family. My two sisters, Rita and Gertrude, while working as receptionist at the Tudor Hotel in Cape Town met, one an Englishman, Arthur, the other a Scotsman, Brian, and fell in love. That caused one hell of a dilemma because if they had accepted the reclassification to White offered to them and the family before by the Afrikaner National Government, which was when they were looking for those who they had classified as non-whites back to white to fill up their imbalance of been the minority, it wouldn’t have found them in the predicament that followed. The police kept a close watch on mixed racial friendships or acquaintances. They hid, spied and arrested many persons who they felt had contravened the Immorality Act. Undignified medical tests were done, charges were laid and prison sentences were imposed if sexual intercourse was found to be committed. Arthur and Brian were both on working visas and employed by the Afrikaner government. Arthur was employed to survey by plane the Cape Town surrounds and photograph it with the intention of the government to facilitate which best areas of land could be legislated for the Whites. Brian was employed as an insurance broker with the heartbreaking job of making sure that any insurance claim application made by an Afrikaner Boer for any damages incurred on his farm by a non-white was immediately settled.

Those two men were lily-white and stuck out like sore thumbs. My parents were in a quandary in what to say or do when my sisters eventually sneaked them in to be introduced. To be sneaky was what had to be done, and sneaked visits occurred at night when they came via the back-roads in their cars, circled the area in case they were followed, and then all curtains were drawn when they were inside the house. To take the pressure and stress of my sister Shirley, Manny and my parents, they eventually met my sisters at our home in Vanguard Estate, and the same procedures took place. Although living dangerously on the edge, those two men had the time of their lives because they attended every party given at my home or relatives and friends, and accompanied us to lounge bars, movie theaters and rock concerts disguised by wearing a hooded anorak and keeping their lily-white hands in their pockets. Those two also picked up South African’s habit of liking a drink, and when purchasing liquor for entertaining over the weekend, underestimating did occur. Liquor stores closed half day on Saturdays and Sunday all day. That led to pooling our moneys, going by car to a shebeen at night and buying bottles of illegal brandy with my future brother-in-law as the driver. The procedure to buy liquor at those shebeens was to drive up to the house, hit the horn, flash your lights and make a U turn, switch of the car engine and wait. Somebody would saunter across, take your order and money, and go and come back with your liquor and change. We called those shebeens, drive-ins, which I now realize were the first ones before it caught on and became legally worldwide as drive-in bottle stores. The first time Arthur drove me there it didn’t work that way. When the person came over to take our order and saw in the driver’s seat a lily-white man in a blue anorak he ran like hell back to the house shouting that the police were there and were going to raid. I had to run after him, grab and hold him while explaining apologetically to alleviate his fears. There were stiff penalties for those caught, although I knew of a few of those sly grog houses where the police went for a nightcap. Our friends were amazed at our audacity for snubbing the racial laws, and again it was a good feeling to put one over the Afrikaners. To overcome the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act, both my sisters went over to the United Kingdom to get married and then immigrated to Australia, and our father, mother and brother followed too.

Now that same brother, Paul, lived with us from the time that Joan’s parents had to move back to live with her sister, Gladys van der Byl, because I had thought the house would have been sold within a short period of time before leaving for Australia. However, because everything happens for a reason and with him there were more reasons than one because it became an eye-opener in the understanding and care of our children towards him. He was an epileptic that would take turns at a drop of a hat, and when out of it, it was then them who not only removed his dentures, which we had taught them to do so that it wouldn’t work loose and maybe choke him, but also they would cover him over for warmth. We were very proud of our children who treated their uncle with respect and dignity that was reciprocated back to them with loving kindness. Now during that time while living with us he would eye an attractive elegant female that passed our home to and fro from work. I knew that she was a neighbour two doors away from us at the Reynolds residence, and after making enquirers found out that she was Nathan’s sister Pearl. Needless to say, Pearl and Paul became an item, eventually married and also immigrated to Australia.

The Klein’s that lived on the end of the street from us were also party goers that liked a good time. One party that we still remember was one that we went to in Zeekoe Vlei with a convoy of cars. It was Robbie and Iris my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, the Klein’s of Vanguard Estate, my brother Paul, my sister Rita’s future husband Arthur Read, my mate Anton and Joan and I and Errol Malloy, who had invited us.  It began as a respectable get-together of friends at somebodies home that we didn’t even know from a bar of soap. However, seeing how we always went well prepared with our own snacks and booze just in case others didn’t have enough because we didn’t like running short, and Iris even brought a watermelon, which we almost rued the day for bringing it with. It was fine for Barbara Klein and Iris to cut up the watermelon and serve it without the skin, but it’s what occurred after that set the party into an uproar. It was also those two who begun the watermelon-skin fight and the rubbing of it in others faces, but what caused everyone then to use the skins as to slide on across the floor without falling off was anybody’s guess. Nevertheless, buckets of water and mops quickly cleaned that up to the people of the house satisfaction, however, we were never invited back again and we wondered why?

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Joan with the last of the watermelon, Iris & Paul almost getting a shower of it, Me enjoying every minute of it, and the Lady of the house smiling then but not afterwards.