This goes back to the early 1950s. I spent all my life in some boarding school or other. The first one was the Convent in Lydenburg, followed by Waterkloof House Preparatory School(WHPS) and then Pretoria Boys High and finally Milton Senior in Bulawayo. When I got to WHPS I was about 12 years old. One of the rules of the school was that you had to write at least one letter a week to your parents or your guardian. This was recorded in a register by the duty teachers. This was a rule that was enforced .
At Pretoria Boys High the Sunday evening prep period was designated a letter writing period. At the end of this period you had to hand in a letter. This did not necessarily have to be your parents. Quite often it could be to a girl friend or anyone that you chose to write to. You had to hand in a letter and this was the duty of the prefects to see that you did.
In those early days it was the norm for people from the farms and outlying small towns to be shipped to boarding school. Most of these boarding schools were either for boys or girls. There were very few of these boarding schools that catered for both boys and girls.
I was basically a very wild farm boy who grew up as an only child. I was the “laat lammetjie” or proverbial afterthought as I was thirteen years younger than my brother John. Other than the odd friends at boarding school I had no friends who came to the house. There were my two black friends but as I grew older we drifted apart. I led a very solitary life with the days at the farm spent fishing, shooting and riding around on horseback to all the corners of the farm. I also at a very young age helped with a lot of the work on the farm. I milked cows at the age of about eleven, helped with the ploughing and cultivating of the crops that we planted.
When my father passed away and then eventually my mother the family decided that at the age of about seventeen I should go and stay with my sister Meg and Harold in Colleen Bawn in Rhodesia. I was thrown into the mix of my nephews, Bob and John and my niece Pat. They became like brothers and sister to me. My life took a dramatic about turn at this time as I discovered girls. Needless to say hormones and testosterone started affecting ones thought processes. There were some gorgeous young ladies at Colleen Bawn. Who can forget the parties we had at the different houses. The music came from records played on radio gramophones. Who can forget the dancing and many games that we played. The games were designed with a forfeit which was normally to go outside and count the stars in the different parts of the garden with your partner. My heart throb was a voluptuous young lady Norma. Needless to say my hands tried to get into her knickers while kissing. A stern “no Butch” always stopped me.
These friendships ended up in the writing of love letters as we went to our different boarding schools. Some of the girls went to Eveline and Townsend while we went to Milton. What has to be remembered here is that your chosen girl in your mind is the most beautiful and perfect creature that was ever created. She is like a goddess to you without blemish or fault and perfect in detail. This of course ended up in writing love letters where you expressed your undying love and extolling all her virtues. These letters normally ended up in many pages. The amount of pages you wrote was considered a measure of your love.
The letters we received from our girlfriends were also something else. They were beautifully feminine. They were of many pages where their love for us was expressed. When you received these letters the first thing you did was to smell them. Our girlfriends would sprinkle a couple of drops of scent on the pages and the envelope. This of course would really set your hormones bubbling. I still have a picture in my mind of Rob Ferguson and George Coleman sniffing their letters before opening them and reading them. Rob Fergusons favourite trick was to push his letter under your nose to make you jealous. You normally retired to a quiet corner where you could read your love letter and indulge your fantasies. These letters were kept as treasures.
Who can forget some of the acronyms we wrote on the back flap of the envelope. Holland- hope our love lasts and never dies. Swank-sealed with a nice kiss. Burma- be undressed and ready my angel. Italy-I truly adore and love you.
Sometimes I think our young people of today have missed out. Declaring your love on a piece of paper has more meaning than saying I love you on a cell phone.
Butch Hannan born in 1941 and written in 2017.