HHH40 Reunion 2014 (Part 2)

8 years 1 month ill …
(c) 2014 Edward C Lunnnon

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I said some more than sixty replied in the affirmative. I’m still not sure exactly how many attended – there were still people booking on the Friday morning that the reunion started and some arrived without booking!

The more, the merrier!

Originally, one event was what I had in my mind. But as more people from afar replied, that grew to three official events – and a few more unofficial get-togethers!

All were planned from Port Elizabeth for the weekend of 26 – 28 September 2014. I had also arranged to return to the Cape on 13 September in order to ensure that everything was in place (and an excuse, I guess, to go “home”!).

Communication with everyone was problematic. Not many of my era are computer-linked via the internet and some don’t even have an e-mail address! I had to resort to letters, envelopes, stamps and the Post Office – when last did you post a letter in a red letter box?

The functions planned were a get-together at the school on Friday including tea with the current staff, a tour of the new school buildings and an spitbraai in the evening.

Saturday was winetasting at Vergelegen Estate, rugby and starters at Erinvale Golf Course and Dinner (courses 2 and 3) at Lourensfords Millhouse Restaurant.

Sunday was a brunch and farewell at The Lord Charles Hotel.

I arrived in Cape Town on my late father’s birthday (it would have been his 99th!). In between all the arrangements, thanks to my niece and her husband, Michelle and Sebastian Ridgway, and friends Gretel and Willem Wust from Durbanville, I was able to visit family, friends, wine farms, pubs, restaurants, etc etc. The Cape of Good Hope does not seem to run out of entertainment options.

I celebrated my 58th birthday in the CBD (not my illness!) of Cape Town and in style with my Strand family. I haven’t done that in many a year!

All the time, the reunion dates came closer. People started arriving early in the week, like Kevin Russell from England, Piet Faure from Johannesburg and Carl Groenewald from Pietermaritzburg. We ate various meals at various places, from Gordon’s Bay Harbour to Helderberg’s Slopes.

Cecil Bond arrived the previous Saturday from Vancouver – and he and his wife and I managed to get in a few good visiting hours at The Lord Charles. He then also managed, in addition to our function, a SACS reunion in Cape Town and a family 60th birthday party in Kimberley!

And yes, despite the best of plans, things do go wrong! As the guests were arriving at the front door on Friday, the pub organisers were threatening to withdraw because they still had not received my EFT deposit from the bank!

Imagine a reunion without a pub!

The dinner was double booked and I had to improvise a two stage dinner at two different venues!

But, the people arrived, the memories were unlocked, the camaraderie gelled, the wine flowed and the chatting continued, by some, until four in the morning!

Too soon, it was all over. But not the pics, the memories, the history and the renewed friendships.

I was so pleased that I had persevered, despite the difficulties, to continue with the arrangements and to renew the links.

I was so pleased that we had all come.

I had finished what I had been doing and stopped working. It was all good, so then I rested!

And, before I flew back to Port Elizabeth on Tuesday morning, I managed to slip in a visit to my neurologist at Tygerberg Hospital Dr Henning and his lovely wife Helen. The supper was great, the pills were upped and the company was good!

I did wipe back a tear as the British Airways plane took off over the Cape Flats, False Bay and the Hottentots-Holland Mountains.

“Our school has done well, may it ere excel …”

HHH40 Reunion: 2014 (1)

8 years 1 month ill …
Mental: Advantage Ed / Physival: Deuce
(c) 2014 Edward C Lunnon

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I went to Hendrik Louw Primary School in The Strand, Hottentots-Holland High School in Somerset West and Sulphur High School in Sulphur, Oklahoma, USA.

I then attended Stellenbosch University and did some of my practical teacher training at Paul Roos Gymnasium in Stellenbosch and Hottentots-Holland High School.

I did some brief teaching at Sulphur High and taught for five years at Grey High School in Port Elizabeth from 1984 to 1988.

I have also lectured at what was the PE Technikon, the University of Port Elizabeth and the UPE Business School.

My sister is a teacher, my brother-in-law is a teacher and my wife is a teacher. Teaching is in our blood!

Five years ago, in 2009, I organised the 25 year reunion of the very first class that I had taught at Grey – the Grey Class of 1984. Grey is a school with a very strong Old Boys’ Union and has annual reunions for many of its classes – the 10, 20, 25, 30, 50, 60 and many more! Thousands of Old Boys return to their Alma Mater every year.

This year, I assisted a bit with the 30 year return of the Class of 1984. My health would not allow me more than just “a bit”!

Whilst busy with those arrangements, in May of this year 2014, it dawned on me that I had matriculated in 1974 and had been out of school myself for 40 years! Not once, in the ensuing years, had our class ever had a reunion and most of us have never seen each other since we left “… the Valley famed both far and wide since the days of Van der Stel”!

So, when the Grey reunion had finished in May, I started with the arduous task of trying to organise a reunion for my own class in a school where reunions are not annual events but held on a very “los and vas” basis!

I had a few names of HHH classmates on Facebook. Like throwing that proverbial stone into the water and watching the rings that that creates, I approached those first few people to gauge the water – would anyone really be interested in getting together after 40 years?

The rings kept getting bigger an bigger, and soon we had the complete name list of 99 people. With the most unbelievable sleuthing skills by Annemarie Nieuwoudt (Sherlock Holmes!) we managed, in three months, to find that nine of our class had passed away. Of the remaining 90, we traced and spoke to 89 (all except our headboy) and received affirmative replies from over 60 of our class mates!

The stage had been set for a good reunion! (to be continued …)

Rob Stear

(c) 2014 Edward C Lunnon
8 years 1 month ill …
Physical: Deuce / Mental: ED

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Last weekend Pera and I spent with Dickie and Colleen Ogilvie on Doorndraai somewhere in the midst of the Karoo.

In their passage hangs a photo frame with photographs taken of various friends when we all lived in Port Elizabeth. I collated the pics and gave it to them at their farewell party when they left PE.

There is a photo of Rob Stear at David and Debbie Capel’s farewell party at the Thomsons. David was the professional cricket coach at Grey and they were returning to Britain.

The dress was semi-formal – formal from the waist up and casual from the waist down.

We spoke about those “good ole days” when we were just kids ourselves!

We spoke about our good friend Rob Stear – the life and soul of every party.

“Never fear because Stear was here!”

October being cancer awareness month and the Oglvie/Watermeyer homes being familiar with the fight against cancer, we spoke about cancer, hospices and fundraising.

We discussed Rob’s recent battle with cancer.

I said that when we returned to PE I needed to visit Rob.

The visit never took place!

None of us anticipated that Rob would pass away the very next day.

He had a name for everyone and I was Edgar. When we met at Old Grey Club, he would paraphrase the previous week’s radio interview that Edgar had concluded with Lance du Plessis.

He would talk to the ceiling, telling it what “kak” they played on the radio nowadays! It was always just loud enough for me to hear about his complaints. He never admitted to listening to one of our discussions!

Thanks Rob for listening! I know you got something from our talks! In the grand scheme of things, I was supposed to go before you … but then we just never know, do we?

I hope you have that dinner table prepared for our next function – maybe formal this time, but knowing you, it may just be completely casual?

Oh yes, but then I quess I don’t have to remind you, don’t forget the beers!

RIP Rob Roy Stear

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Meat and Greet

(c) 2014 Edward C. Lunnon
8 years 1 month ill …
Physical: Advantage CBD / Mental: Advantage Ed

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It was eight years ago, in Kirkwood, that I first realised that there was something wrong with me.

Last Wednesday Pera and I drove past Kirkwood, on our way north to the Graaff-Reinet district. It was school holidays and we were taking a break – a bit of a road trip, some would call it.

I laughed at the austerity measures undertaken by our roads department when it came to painting the white lines on the road – just two thirds of each white stripe has been re-painted. I wonder how much that saved the tax payer in having to buy less piant! A nice exrcise for a maths class, I thought!

We had 5 days and in that time we

* travelled about a thousand kilometers on gravel, tar and cement roads
* first north, then west, then further north, then south east
* through the Noorsveld, Camdeboo, Great Karoo
* arrived at farm gates that read Tandjiesview, Kareepoort and Doorndraai
* visited the Harris’s, the Wrights, the Swarts, the Watermeyers and the Ogilvie’s
* saw my ex 1974 Headgirl Lorraine Swart (Myburgh) and her husband Dawie Swart after 40 years
* passed through Jansenville, Graaff-Reinett, Aberdeen, (almost) Beaufort West, Miller, Fullarton, Steytlerville, Baroe, Wolwefontein and Uitenhage
* slept in three different lovely farm homes
* ate copious amounts of lamb, mutton, beef, steak, eggs, sausage, mushrooms, veges, deserts, biltong, chips
* drank volumes of coffee and other more alcoholic drinks
* saw springbok, kudu, wildebeest, giraffe, mountain tortoise,likkewaans, warthog, goats, sheep, cattle, dogs, cats
* chatted XXXXX number of words to old and new friends – in English and our best Afrikaans

We socialised, talked, walked, rested, slept and ate. After all, we are all social human beings. No man is an island and I am most definitely not!

Braai the beloved country!

We experienced Peace in the heartland of south Africa. They call it Africa – we have the privilege to call it home!

But, in the peace, I am becoming ever more concerned about our home. I hear the concerns and see the deterioration and degradation happening all around us. I am worried! Are we are busy fracking up, not only the Karoo, but indeed our whole country?

Cry the beloved country!

Welkom! by HHH40

Welcome back to HHH

Welcome back to HHH

Forty years ago, when I Mc’d a school gathering, I would have said

Dames en Here – dis nou die onderwysers – and Girls and Boys of HHH – dis nou ons!

Tonight I shall have to say

Ou dames en here – did nou julle, die onderwysers – en Dames en Here – dis nou ons, die wat was die boys and girls!

A very hearty welcome to all of you back to the Hottentots-Holland. Welkom terug na die vallei so mooi gelee tussen berge en die see!

Some of our classmates are not here this weekend. Over the last 40 years, many have been taken from us – we have lost some of our friends, teachers, parents, spouses, siblings, even our children and 9 of our classmates. I ask you to stand for a moments silence as we remember all our absent friends tonight.

Donald Buchan, Chris Carstens, Shane Hands, Theuns Labuscagne, Pietie Marais, Clifford Strutt, Johan Vd Merwe, Dirk Vermeulen, Anne-Marie Winter

I don’t want to know where you boys and girls went to school or who taught you!

Judging by the correspondence between ourselves over the last few months and

despite King Lear, Mrs Belcher, en Raka, Mnr Schoeman, they can’t read, neither English nor Afrikaans.

Hulle kan nie wiskunde doen nie, Mnr Verster, nor basic accounting, Mnr Roelofse. Settling their accounts for this event has been problematic. Simple addition, subtraction and multiplication to work out their dues has left me wanting, and ek weet nie of vanaand se boeke gaan balanseer nie! And, then, I am told that one of you is the financial director of Loslyf Magazine!

Julle rekenaar vaardighede is bedenklik! Your computer skills are abysmal. Whoever heard of anyone who does not have email, facebook, whatsapp, messenger, skype or tring me to say the least!

It has been a nightmare communicating with you and organising this event. It feels like It has taken 40 years!

Thanks to our very own Sherlock Holmes, AnneMarie Nieuwoudt Kuhn, who took it upon herself to find you all. Out of 99, 90 were found and 9 passed on. Of the 90, 38 are not here and 52 of you are present here tonight. Give yourselves a very big hand!

The class of 1974 is a special one.

We were the last class to write our matric exams in the old school hall. In fact, we were the last class to utilize just the old school buildings.

We were the last to learn and write Latin in matric!

We were the first matric class allowed to use calculators in our exams. No log books for us!

We were the last matriculants to leave school in South Africa unscathed by television. The government of the day labelled tv as duiwelsgoed and thus we were shielded from its harmfulness.

Selfs die boubedrywighede by die skool, het die duiwel ontketen. Die hoof het in sy jaarverslag geskryf dat die boubedrywighede hul tol eis – in die vorm van al moeiliker uitvoerbare dissipline, opmerklike verswakking in die algemene netheid van die leerlinge ( dit was ons), en ‘n subtitle verslegting in akademise staandaarde. En dis nie eers te praat van die duiwelse geraas vanaf ‘n verskeidenheid van tuisland dialekte wat op die skoolgronde gehoor is nie!

We were not allowed a matric dance. The principal Koos van der Merwe declared dancing sinful – it was like having vertical sex to music – and thus we were bussed to Houw Hoek Inn for dinner only.

Well, forty years later and close to our sixties, I would imagine that most of us have by now participated in all these sinful activities!

Hoekom ‘n reunie?

A few months ago, when organising a reunion at Grey high School in Port Elizabeth where I now live, I had this daft idea of getting the class of 1974 back here again. I don’t think we ever appreciated as pupils here just how magnificent and beautiful this valley, mountains and sea really are, and I wanted to come home again.

I wanted to say thank you to you, the people who helped shape my life and who made me the person I am today.

Ek weet nie of julle weet dat Mnr Schoeman en my klasmaats dit moontlik gemaak het met ‘n tjek van R1200 om my Amerika toe te stuur nie. That trip altered my life and affects my own children to this day!

Yes, on the 40 year journey back here, like the ANC, each one of us will have a story to tell! The road has often not been easy for any one of us, but this weekend we celebrate. We tell our stories. We reminisce. We laugh and we live life and we are thankful for the privileges that we have had and that we have shared with one another.

“All of these lines across my face

Tell you the story of who I am

So many stories of where I’ve been

And how I got to where I am

But these stories don’t mean anything

When you’ve got no one to tell them to”

So, thank you for attending this weekend and for continuing to make the stories.

I hope and trust that you will enjoy the weekend together.

Baie dankie. Geniet die naweek!