The word memorabilia means things that are remarkable and worthy of remembrance. My old roll-top desk has a draw jam-packed with flat files on which I’d stenciled the word.
“Stenciling” alone dates back to a long-gone era.
Mine are unremarkable and worthless to others, but to me they conjure up events and incidents that at the time reflected specific eras – and errors.
Although still mid-winter, I do a spring-cleaning of the overflowing drawer that strains the hernia with all the pulling and pushing. Some serious dumping is called for.
But the more I delve into the files, unopened for at least a half century, the more excited I become, reliving moments I’d forgotten about. Like the receipt for payment on our first three bedroomed house. When seeing the total amount, R15 000, I assume it was the deposit. Wrong. ‘Twas the total cost. We had to procure a loan from the erstwhile Trust Bank, the only bank employing sexy lady tellers known as “Trassies”, and sporting a way-out hairstyle known as Beehive, “teased high with lots of lacquer”.
It took five years to pay off the loan on apprenticeship wages. We could ill-afford boerewors on bread, boerewors on pap, and boerewors in soup - for the luxury of mince we removed the skin. A folder stenciled “baby photos” is a reminder that throughout that time Heids was at home with babies ordered by a spirited apprentice stork.
I then come across a column I wrote lambasting the disputed defence force for neglecting to get my elder son airlifted from the Angolan border to Voortrekkerhoogte hospital in time to prevent a high fever caused by an unknown bug. If it weren’t for a clandestine “ticky box” call in the dead of night from a fellow soldier, we would not have known our son was at death’s door.
I received a rude telephone call from some kommandant threatening me with arrest for writing about the war. “It’s treason!” he bellowed. My answer to him was filled with high-pitched lekker Afrikaans expletives. My experience as a sergeant-major in high school cadets came in handy. Never again heard from Groot Bek. I still feel bucked having taken on the army obsessed with the rooi gevaar and other curved balls.
There are many other memorable pieces I’m loath to dump, like a clipping of the murder of our school principle by his wife who today is walking free. Maybe with the next spring-cleaning. . .