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.
The glowing reference received from my employer that saw my advancement by leaps and bounds in Australia.
Joan and I at the farewell party for our bon voyage to Australia.
More guest arriving for out farewell party at Joan’s sister’s home. — with Joan Lorenzo.
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.
Getting ready to board the SS Ellines in Cape Town Harbour. — with Christopher A Lorenzo, Joan H Lorenzo and Regina Lorenzo.
Aboard in our cabin. — with Joan H Lorenzo, Peter van der Byl and Barbara van der Byl.
Our very crowded cabin with well wishers. — with Neville Kennis, Gilly van der Byl and Joan H Lorenzo.
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.