Author Topic: Oranjemund characters  (Read 17723 times)

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Offline John Haycox

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Re: Oranjemund characters
« Reply #60 on: September 11, 2009, 03:58:15 PM »
Hi Bob,

I wonder, might be same guy.  Surely Pollard is not a name you hear often.

The bloke I'm thinking of had cauliflower ears, must've been fighter in his young days.

OPS 1950 to 1956;   Piketberg Hoër 1957;  JG Meiring 1958;   Piketberg Hoër;  Cape Town Tech, Wingfield Tech, CCATE, UCT 

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John Haycox

Offline Alfred Boehme

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Re: Oranjemund characters
« Reply #61 on: September 11, 2009, 04:50:39 PM »
I remember the Pollard boys or young men one of them or maybe both where very good athlete's I recall the one used to through hammer field event in athletics or could I be wrong?

Offline Bob Molloy

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Re: Oranjemund characters
« Reply #62 on: September 12, 2009, 05:32:29 AM »
Hi John,
            You may be confusing Polly with another character, a member of the DDD, who had the most incredible pair of cauliflowers I've ever seen on a human head. He was a former professional wrestler - built like the proverbial brick outhouse - but a devout churchgoer who loved nothing more than singing in the choir and had a very gentle manner.
Though come to think of it, I once saw him and Polly give a wrestling display in the Rec Club - very much blunt force trauma stuff, not much play-acting that I could see, in fact it made me resolve never to cross his path. On that score, Polly may well have had a cauli or two.
The DD guy also had two beautiful daughters who appeared to lose out to male attention as few single guys had the courage to front up to the house.
I'm guessing but think his name was Danie van der Westhuizen or could be Van der Merwe.
Bob Molloy

Offline John Haycox

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Re: Oranjemund characters
« Reply #63 on: September 13, 2009, 07:55:57 PM »
Hi Bob,

No, the bloke I'm thinking of was called Pollard and he was a DDD.  In the fifties he drove the bus to Luderitz every Monday returning on Tuesday.

I wonder, is it possible that he moved to the farm later?  Or, better still, is he perhaps related to the Pollard you guys are talking about.

I seem to recall he left Oranjemund or left the DDD's during 1959.

He was a wrestler in a previous life.  We also knew him in Kimberley, before we moved to Oranjemund.
OPS 1950 to 1956;   Piketberg Hoër 1957;  JG Meiring 1958;   Piketberg Hoër;  Cape Town Tech, Wingfield Tech, CCATE, UCT 

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John Haycox

Offline Alfred Boehme

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Re: Oranjemund characters
« Reply #64 on: September 13, 2009, 09:32:46 PM »
John, the Pollard I'm refering to I new as "Oom Danie Pollard" he had two son's, he also stayed in the house near the farm at Sheperds Nec. I recall going through to Baevalon farm with either my folks or could be freinds of ours not sure most likely somebody else you refering tp

Alfred

Offline john wilson

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Re: Oranjemund characters
« Reply #65 on: September 17, 2009, 09:58:00 PM »
Hello Again, The Pollard I am refering to is Polly Pollard the farm manager,who at some time or another was in security,he and his brother both lived on Beauvalon farm when I was there,he also had some pull around CDM as he had contacts in Kimberly,when I get time I can tell a good story about that.

Offline john wilson

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Re: Oranjemund characters
« Reply #66 on: October 06, 2009, 02:49:15 PM »
As I mentioned before Polly Pollard the farm manager was treated with kid gloves and most of the formen on the mine really didnt want to deal with him for some reason.When I was sent to Beauvalon the very first time my foreman Tony Dunster told me he was taking me over to show me all the work that needed to be done there,and instructed me not to talk to anybody just show up and do my job and report to him on the progress. This I did for the first week there ,and I never saw a sole around except for the African workers. The second week on Monday morning Tony called me into his office and asked whats the problem over there and I said no problem, as I have never seen Mr Pollard anywhere ,but needless to say he was watching me. Tony then informed me that he was called into Head office as a report had came in from Kimberly of an unautherized person on the farm and demanded an explaination. This was a big deal for Tony and asked if I would go and see Mr Pollard this Monday when I arrive,this I did and arrived at his house which he had an annex he used as an office,I wasnt sure what to expect as he was quite an imposing character,so I intruduced myself to him and he just grinned and said sit down ,do you want tea or coffee, and for the next 4 hours asked every question in the book about me,that was the start of a long and pleasant relationship I had with him,he was a very interesting character and told some great stories about the region.Another great memory.

Offline Ricky Barron

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Re: Oranjemund characters
« Reply #67 on: October 07, 2009, 10:17:22 AM »
Hi John!
What is your surname? The reason I ask is that "Uncle Tony" Dunster lives in a retirement village around the corner from me....Maybe I could jog his memory next time I see him, I don't believe he is on-line!

Ricky

Offline john wilson

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Re: Oranjemund characters
« Reply #68 on: October 07, 2009, 02:36:42 PM »
Hello Ricky,My name is John Wilson,Tony was my foreman for the first few years in Omund.

Offline Bob Molloy

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Re: Oranjemund characters
« Reply #69 on: October 08, 2009, 12:25:43 AM »
Hi Ricky,
              I'd be grateful if you would also give my best regards to Tony and ask him to drop me an email. He was a thorough-going nice guy and also my foreman at one stage. Ask him if he recalls the day I wrote off the front bumper of the workshop Landy while reversing it out of the workshop.
Regards,
Bob.
Bob Molloy

Offline Michael Alexander

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Re: Oranjemund characters
« Reply #70 on: October 08, 2009, 06:59:23 AM »
Gee! Bob, you seem to have a thing with damaging landrovers.....   laughpoint
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Offline Bob Molloy

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Re: Oranjemund characters
« Reply #71 on: October 08, 2009, 10:59:34 PM »
Hi Mike,
            The front bumper incident was only a practice run for the biggie which happened a couple of years later. In between came joy rides on Sherman tanks, bucketwheel scoops, diggers, dozers, Le Tourneau scrapers and - glorious moments - creatively free in the control tower of the legendary Sauerman Scraper.
I was a slow starter but I had a great mentor in George Lovett, the demon rigger. On reflection, I think the company's bottom line improved after I left. The share price certainly rose sharply.
"Just a coincidence," my wife said. "Don't stress about it."
Regards,
Bob.

Bob Molloy

Offline Bob Molloy

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Re: Oranjemund characters
« Reply #72 on: October 30, 2009, 03:56:06 AM »
Encyclopaedia seller par excellence

They say if you can remember the Sixties you weren't there. I'd turn that on its head and say that anyone who lived in Oranjemund in the Sixties could never possibly forget them, nor indeed the host of charismatic characters who worked there when Omund was in its heyday.

Which brings to mind Kevin Butler, one of the most engaging. Kevin was one of the annual crop of university students who used their summer break to earn hard cash on the mine. I talked to him recently to get some background material for this piece. He recalls that as a penniless student even getting to Oranjemund was a mission, you either bummed a ride in someone’s car or if lucky got a lift on the company Dakota. The first time he landed at Alexander Bay he thought the plane had made an emergency landing as the airfield was so bleak and desolate. Oranjemund wasn’t much better but the pay was good.

He first worked in the rather boring job of plant operator but later applied for, and got, the much sought-after position of barman at Caseys, then a rather tough men’s bar. He proved to be ideal for the job: cheerful, talkative, coolly efficient when the evening rush filled the bar, a calming influence on fighting drunks, a sympathetic ear for the weepy and good at crowd control. But on one occasion even his tactful charm had no effect when two beer-swilling off-duty cops refused to leave at closing time. A tussle developed.
Fortunately, as Kevin recalls it, one other bar regular was still there. It was Koos Vermaak, a hulking good-natured giant of a man who when not filling a booth at Caseys was a building foreman for Rumbles, the housing contractors. Seeing Kevin about to be annihilated by the two fired-up drunks, Koos downed the last gulp of his beer, stood up, grabbed one cop in each hand, banged their heads together and tossed them out through the batwing doors.
The doors had been specially fitted for such occasions, allowing for easy exit when propelled at speed. Oranjemund was a whole different ballgame in those days. Such incidents weren’t uncommon and as long as the offenders turned up for work next day management usually turned a blind eye.

Another bar habitué was Father Devenny, the resident Catholic priest who once arrived one empty afternoon with two other clerics of different religious denominations. One ordered a beer very sheepishly, the other a brandy, asking Kevin not to mention it to his parishioners. Father Devenny looked at both, called for a double whiskey “and you can tell who the hell you like.”   
The same priest came into the pub one evening when the bar was going full tilt, looking for a man who had just beaten up his wife. He confronted him in the bar, told him to put his glass down and then punched him onto his backside. “That’s just the first instalment,” he told him. “You’ll get the rest next time you hit your wife.” The bar cheered. There were no more reports of wife-beating. I don’t think they make priests like that any more.

Kevin, ever the entrepreneur, soon boosted his earnings by renting out a guitar for singsongs and darts by the hour, and photographing wild parties then selling the prints at, as he puts it, “extortionate prices”. Apart from the punch-ups, there were rowdy “bok-bok” games that broke furniture and bones indiscriminately. Official inquiries usually only happened when the participants landed up in hospital. Even then the explanations sounded innocuous. Hospital matron Monica Barnes, herself a very formidable character, told me a survey of the report forms would show that an amazing number of guys walked into trees and fell down steps but nobody was ever injured in a brawl. “Generally that explanation was accepted, unless they walked into the same tree or fell down the same step twice.”

In his final year Kevin hit the jackpot. Before heading north for his summer job in Oranjemund he put in a few days training as a salesman for Colliers, the big American encyclopaedia company which had just opened an office in Cape Town. Then he hit Oranjemund with a bang, armed with a sales talk that signed up most of the town while working after hours. He was charming, persuasive, well informed about his product and knew most of his prospective customers. He sold only to married couples with children, his approach being to make an appointment to talk to husband and wife together at their home, tell them of the incredible educational advantages for their children, let them page through a glossy full-colour sales brochure, than hand them a pen to sign up.
The market was perfect: before the Internet, before television, with minimal library facilities, a town with only one store which didn’t sell books or magazines, with customers in full employment with ready cash and eager to buy.

The encyclopaedia, which came complete with custom-made bookcase, was pricey – about a month’s pay if I recall correctly. But as with most small towns, when people heard the neighbours had signed up they were eager to keep up with the Joneses. Kevin made a killing. He was top encyclopaedia salesman in the world for a short period and was congratulated by the American CEO of Colliers. More importantly, his earnings paid for his university fees and all expenses at UCT for the next year.

He remembers signing several sales one evening and on the way back to his quarters noticed the lights were still on at a house. On a whim, he knocked at the door. In his own words: “I encountered a guy who after a long sales pitch said he would buy my books if I would drink with him. While it meant that I actually broke the Colliers sales record of four sets of books in one day I also fell down in the road three times on the way home. The following day I was late for work and sent to General Manager Stan Devlin’s office for a dressing down but he just laughed when I told him the story. It helped of course that I knew him well as I was also seeing his daughter Hilary at the time.”

An astute salesman, Kevin was careful to arrange for the encyclopaedias to be delivered after he left town. Not that there were any comebacks, or at least none that I knew of. There are probably still some sets of Colliers in Oranjemund to this day. I still had mine 20 years later. Kevin, a glutton for academic punishment, graduated as geologist and took a second degree majoring in psychology with economics.
He then did a post-grad two year management training course with Unilever but gave it up for the advertising world where he spent the next 12 years in London and Johannesburg. Cape Town called so he started a business there manufacturing and marketing a range of cosmetics, taking on a pharmacist and an accountant as partners. The trio made such a dent in the market they were eventually bought out by a publically listed company. Today he is retired and living in Somerset West where he is completing an historical novel.

I was going to add “and all that from selling encyclopaedias” but that would be skewing the scrum. It was all just pure luck - if you define luck as personal charm, an eye for an opportunity, sheer hard work and equipping yourself with the skills to take advantage of the luck when it comes along.
Bob Molloy

Offline Robert Bruce

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Re: Oranjemund characters
« Reply #73 on: April 05, 2010, 03:12:15 PM »
And these Collier encyclopaedis travelled with us Bruces for decades after we left Oranjemund.
ROBERT BRUCE

Offline Robert Bruce

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Re: Oranjemund characters
« Reply #74 on: April 06, 2010, 10:41:39 PM »
Did any of you hear the tale of the legendary Irishman who wanted to defy death by drowning and surf off the beach at Oranjemund?

No?

This story is what makes legends. It is a tale of bravery, missing a calm tidal window and of pitting an extraordinary man against one of Earth's worst seas on a 'surfboard' that defied the standard designs of the day.

Those 'dumper' waves and viciously dangerous backtows do not make for easy surfing. Death and serious injury were very real risks. There was only a small window of opportunity to succeed when the sea was not at its furious norm. But the window of opportunity slowly ticked away.


Who wants to know more?


ROBERT BRUCE