1955 Mark & Paul Esslemont, Broadway Methodist Pirates (Stuart) >
Mom drove us to many parts of SA in her Morris Minor, while we scoffed lekker padkos. We visited friends in Cape Town, Afrikaner aunts in Somerset East, Wolhuter friends on their farm near New Hanover, and aunt Dorothy in Bloemfontein. Mom took Mary, one of Rosie's grand-daughters, on one holiday in Orange Free State, where it was illegal for Indians to live. "Yoiks!" said aunt Dorothy, "I'm hiding Mary in my maid's room, as it's illegal for Indians and whites to live together."
According to mom's genealogy, there were early stamvaders of the Hendrikz Dutch family in SA, like stamvader Fook Hendrikz who sailed with Jan Van Riebeeck and stamvader Thielman Hendrikz. Although from 1661, one of Van Riebeeck's managers, Thielman Hendrikz was granted the farm Coornhoop on the Liesbeek River (Amstel or Fresh River), Cape Town, mom's later stamvader was a sailing ship purser Hendrik Jacobus Hendrikz, who eloped with a French contessa Caroline Antoinette De Sanderes, marrying her on 25/03/1793. (Source David Hendrikz).
According to mom, her stamvader Hendrik Jacobus Hendrikz and contessa Caroline Antoinette De Sanderes produced a son Willem De Sanderes Hendrikz, who married Rothman Micta Botha, another French connection, who produced 7 sons and 1 daughter including Willem De Sanderes Hendrikz junior, Louis Bernadus Hendrikz, Carl (Karel) Theodorus Hendrikz and Charlie Hendrikz. (Sources Dietmar Stephan and David Hendrikz). Brothers Carl Theodorus Hendrikz and Charlie Hendrikz trekked to Rhodesia in the early 1900s to grow the Rhodesian branch of the Hendrikz family (Source David Hendrikz).
1910s Ouma Hendrikz, Mark Esslemont's maternal great grandmother: Dorothea Wilhelmina Roux m. Willem De Sanderes Hendrikz, parents of 7 sons & 7 daughters who grew up in Somerset East SA
Willem De Sanderes Hendrikz junior, mom's oupa married Dorothea Wilhelmina Roux, another French connection, and raised seven sons and seven daughters in their karoo home with corrugated iron roof and front stoep in Paulet Street off Charles Street, the main oak-lined street of Somerset East. One of the Hendrikz Victorian brat-pack was Rosa Hermina Hendrikz, mom's mom.
1930s Mark Esslemont's maternal grandmother Rosa Hermina Hendrikz from Somerset East SA m. Weslyan minister Rev. Frank Frederick Cosnett from Birmingham England
Offspring of the Hendrikz brat-pack, mom had 17 "Hendrikz" cousins throughout SA, (like Banderlierskop, Bloemfontein, Cape Town) as her mom, granny Rosa had six sisters and seven brothers, who grew up in Somerset East. Granny Rosa smelled of Eau de Cologne, and sewed clothes for herself and us. We holidayed at Somerset East where granny Rosa's sisters, kwaaitannie Winnie (spinster, retired teacher) and tannie Beattie (who'd buried three husbands) squabbled in their Van Riebeeck Straat home. Cross aunty Winnie was skinny, wore flowery dresses, and scolded us boys. Fat aunty Beattie wore black, lacy dresses and wide-heeled shoes.
Late 1920s Mark Esslemont's mom, Valmai Wilhelmina Cosnett & her favourite aunt Beatrice Hendrikz, sister to Rosa, Winifred & Isobel Hendrikz
In the mornings, tannie Beattie obsessively washed her hands and clothes, and in the afternoons sat on her stoep while chatting to mom. Tannie Beattie had a bass voice, laughed like a quacking duck, and chain-smoked Lexingtons, using a long, black cigarette-holder. Kwaaitannie Winnie made biltong, jams and chutney, and using her coal-range stove, she cooked boerekos we smaaked.
1920s, 1950s Mark Esslemont's great aunt Winifred Hendrikz, sister to Rosa, Beatrice & Isobel Hendrikz
We used our tannies' long-drop toilet, stole grapes from their vine, and dried apple-rings on their garden wall. Kwaaitannie Winnie didn't like walking, but during late afternoons Beattie walked with us around the dorp. She klapped us boys with her black, silver-knobbed stick, if we kicked up dust, and she waved her stick at barking dogs and swore at them, "Voertsek kaffir-brakke!"
Paul, Fraser and I threw acorns in Charles Straat; attended Dutch Reformed Kerk; swam in the dorp pool; played at Bestershoek (non-Europeans forbidden); climbed Bosberg, where baboons skrikked us screaming, "Woohaa!..." from sweet-thorn trees.
Early 1900s Mark Esslemont's great aunt Isobel Hendrikz, sister to Rosa, Beatrice & Winifred Hendrikz
Mom liked visiting the Hendrikz grave-plot in Somerset East cemetery, where she honoured her ouma's and oupa's grave. Mom's uncle Jules died in Graaf-Reinet, and her aunt Hannah died in Bedford. An uncle was blown to bits fighting for Rooinekke in France during WW1. In the early 70s, after tannie Beattie died, kwaaitannie Winnie died in Silwerjare old-age home. They were buried in the Hendrikz plot.
We saw wildlife in Kruger Park, Umfolozi and Hluhluwe game reserves. We saw the Voortrekker Monument, Pretoria, and the Vrouemonument, Bloemfontein, while mom told us Boer War stories. Using her box-Brownie camera, mom took square snaps, and pasted them in black-page albums. At the end of one holiday Paul sobbed, "Our lives are hello, goodbye, comeback, voertsek!"
While we holidayed, dad stayed at our Chelsea Drive home. Dad chain-smoked Westminster 85s, mowed our lawn, trimmed our purple bougainvillea hedge, and liked talking to neighbours. Dad did engineering drawings at Durban Municipality office, Old Fort Road. Dad liked reading Daily News and listening to Springbok Radio. With dad, I listened to No Place To Hide, Pip Freedman Show, Consider Your Verdict, Squad Cars, The Creaking Door, The Eleventh Hour, Pick a Box, Top Twenty Time. When we walked to Broadway shops dad sang tenor, "Lily, Lily lout, your shirt's hanging out, three yards in and four yards out." Dad bought ice-cream and sweets for us boys - niggerballs, liquorice and marshmallow mice. Dad taught us bedtime prayers. One night I stuck a grape under his broeks when he sat on his bed. Dad laughed.
While Fraser and I still had our milk teeth, granny Rosa and Brother Fox both died of strokes in Durban. Their Stellawood Cemetery grave had a grey granite cross.
Once, while I chased Paul through our house, Paul slammed our lounge door on my left index finger, breaking it. I shrieked. Paul fell off his bike, while racing home from a white Northlands Boys High film-show, cracking his head on a Chelsea Drive curbstone. Paul died in mom's arms in Addington Hospital. Mom made a plaster-of-Paris death-mask of Paul's bashed head, which hung in our lounge.
Mom's doctor Prox certified dad schizophrenic. "Suck eggs!" said dad to mom, when male-nurses in white Uniforms came to our home, and took dad to Town Hill Hospital, Pietermaritzburg. Dad soon died of a heart-attack due to chain-smoking.
Mom, Fraser and I'd wept at four funerals in eighteen months. Fraser and I played catchers on graves. We took flowers from Stellawood dump, putting them on dad's red granite grave and Paul's white marble grave. We lived with their ghosts for the rest of our lives.
Whenever aunt Dorothy visited Durban, mom ordered Fraser and me, "Hide Brother Fox's Victorian silver-service in our oak sideboard darlings!"
Mom called our home Sparkhill in memory of dad's Brum background. Dad's faded stamps had been collected by his father, who'd been ship's doctor on HMS Revenge, in the Battle of Jutland, WW1. British Empire stamps had been stuck into exercise books. The stamps had trekked from Birmingham, to Calcutta, to Germiston, to Springs, to Durban. For over three decades the fragile stamps stayed in dad's oak desk. Sometimes, I paged through dad's stamps, below Paul's death-mask, looking at stamps and thinking of dad, Birmingham, British colonies and exotic islands.
Content & Pics Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.
< 1956 Mark & Fraser Esslemont, Halcyon Days nursery school, Chelsea Drive (Mumby)