About Butch

Oxygen Thief

 

 

 

 

These are stories about my childhood, poetry and issues of concern to all of us.

I was born in Lydenburg in 1941. I was the youngest of five children. The oldest was Meg who was 19 years older than me, followed by Gilbert 17 years older, John 13 years older and Tuppy 6 years older. I never knew Tuppy who died while I was still a baby. Shortly after birth my mother deserted me and went to her sister Madge in Kenya. For the first couple of years of my life my sister Meg looked after me and she in fact gave me the name Butch.

My earliest recollections of my mother was when I was six years old. My mother was a very distant sort of individual who constantly talked to herself and answered very few of my questions. When I asked a question the stock answer was I will tell you bye and bye which I took to mean later. The answers to my questions never materialized.

My father was a very, very, big man. He was close to 300lbs and stood about 6′ 5″ in the old language. He had enormously large hands with very thick fingers. He loved to have his feet, head and hands tickled and scratched. This was normally done by me and my nephews and niece when they were there after supper in the evening. We of course got paid a tickey a stint for this. I eventually had about £28 in my piggy bank. At four tickeys per shilling and twenty shillings per £ this amounted to 2240 stints of tickling and scratching. Luckily even with his enormous stature and strength he was a very kindly and placid person.

In the house that I grew up in there was no running water, no telephone, no electricity and no toilet in the house. The toilet was a long drop situated some eighty paces away from the house. The toilet paper was old newspapers or magazines torn up into squares and placed on a spike for use.

All the ploughing was done either with a team of oxen or mules. We had an ox wagon on which heavy loads were transported either from the lands or to Lydenburg which was about 16 kms from the farm. I have memories of riding on top of an enormous load of hay(teff) which had been collected from the lands and being scared of sliding off. All this hay was stacked in an enclosure in very big haystacks. It was wonderful to play on these stacks. My father did eventually buy a tractor.

In this age of modern technology I feel it is a privilege to have been able to experience both these different stations of life. The stories that I write will be mainly about those early times. There will also be stories about some members of my family.

I will also write about issues in our present day South Africa which are of concern to me.

Butch Hannan

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