Durban Preparatory High School – First Stint

Durban Preparatory High School – First Stint


At age 7, whilst still in the DPHS boarding establishment, I moved school from the Gordon Road Kindergarten to DPHS. The move was made easy by my knowing both the headmaster “Felix” Bullimore and the Hostel boys. On my first day I raced a new boy from the school gate to the main building coming a poor second. This was not surprising as the boy concerned was Jolyon Rhymer who became Victor Ludorum at DPHS and later Michaelhouse. My standard 1 teacher was Miss Benningfield , a kind and understanding lady.


Our time in early primary school was divided into craze “seasons” of marbles, jo-jos, paper aeroplanes, parachutes, diabolos and spinning tops. As a junior and not involved with sport to the same extent as older hostel boys, I often returned from school alone up Rosetta Rd and along Lambert Road. On the way I would stop and talk to an elderly gentleman doing woodwork in his garage who taught me to make paper aeroplanes and parachutes. He also delighted in repairing and modifying tops for all the boys.


Mrs. Randles assisted in caring for the hostel boys and I idolized her son Keith as opening bat for the Natal Cricket team. Through Mrs. Randles my mother and I were introduced to the guest farm Liddesdale in Merrievale, owned by Colonel and Mrs. Lindsay. Several happy holidays were spent sometimes with my mother and once with my father. The Lindsay girls Paddy and Lynne, in their teens, were friendly and hospitable. During holidays we also met the Beisiegel family comprising mother, father, daughter June and son Donovan. It was through this meeting and friendship that the Beisiegels accepted me as a border for my second stint at DPHS after a year and a half spent in Pretoria.


I watched the hand milking of cows, cream separation and making of butter. I took part, with local umfaans, in hunting field mice referred to as “mbiba’s”. We used wattle sticks to make bows and sorghum stalks for arrows, with sharpened wire for arrow heads. Arrows did not require fletching as the required range of flight was only two to three feet. The hunt area was a narrow strip of grass bordering a mealie field. Each archer would locate a field mouse run path, and then crouch with bow at the ready for arrival of the quarry, while other umfaans drove the mice towards them by banging paraffin tins and shouting. It needed a quick response to achieve success. Killed mice were roasted but I took no part in the eating.


On a particular day I witnessed the arrival of a massive swarm of locusts which darkened the light of the sun. They wasted the mealie fields in the span of a single day, resisting all efforts to drive them away by banging and noise. Many were killed, roasted and eaten with relish, but I could not bring myself to join the feast.


Farming activities included growing of wattle trees. Bark from these trees was sent to a factory in Dalton where an extract was removed for tanning leather. This industry fell away because a more potent extract became available from different trees in the Amazon area of Brazil.


Farm transport to and from the railway station, was by ox wagon. I was intrigued by the power of oxen and their response to commands from the driver. The powerful pair, named Jasman and Nonobees was always in- spanned nearest to the wagon. They seemed to respond when called upon by name, thus inspiring the full span of eight.


A tributary of the Umgeni River formed the border between the farm and Hilton College property. It offered an ideal pool for swimming, fed by a small waterfall. My father Sydney found a stone near the river which he thought could be a diamond but proved to be a garnet.


We sometimes were taken to the Howick Falls and the adjacent nine hole golf course. I was astounded by the direction and distance of practice drives by Roy Trickett, the local butcher who was a top amateur of the province at that time. It amazed me that 50 years later when I was accepted to join the Natal Senior Golfers, that Roy’s name was on the active list.

Sailing is great