Because of My Father I’ve Been a Movie Buff Since I Was Four
He was a very ‘outgoing’ man (which, Google tells us, means ‘not shy or afraid of trying new things’), a great musician (always in demand), a prize-winning golfer, the local Scout Master, and a wonderful Dad – who happened also to be the Town Clerk of Ficksburg, a beautiful little town, just across the Caledon River from Basutoland (now Lesotho), in what was then the ‘Orange Free State’ of South Africa. Because he had access to the Town Hall at all times, it was because of him that the townsfolk of Ficksburg were privileged to watch movies, free of charge, long before the citizens of many larger cities.
That was sooo long ago, but I vividly recall the excitement in the atmosphere while we waited breathlessly in the gloom for him to start projecting the ‘picture of the night’ from the gallery – a picture that would be considered ‘primitive’ today, but was positively riveting then. He died when I was six, but, decades later, I still miss him so much, and the many memories, so deeply imprinted in my memory, keep streaming back into my thoughts, urging me to keep writing about him.
A Change in Circumstances
I have written, previously, of how all the flags in the town hung at half-staff, and places of business were closed on the day of his funeral, and after that our circumstances underwent a drastic change. After his death my mother, my sister and I moved to Bloemfontein, the capital of the Orange Free State, where there was a plush, state-of-the-art movie house, but unfortunately my mother and my sister (who was ten years older than I) had to work, and we now had to pay to see a movie, which was very low down on the the list of “essentials!” One of those I was fortunate enough to see was Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch (1934), in which Zazu Pitts played the role of Mrs Wiggs. After that I was truly hooked!
Then I knew that I simply HAD to earn some money, so, at the age of nine I went into business for myself! My aunt had also come to live in Bloemfontein and, being a very stylish woman, she was employed by a leading couturier who had a driver who was kept busy taking Madame’s wealthy customers home with their purchases; but, often sales were made over the telephone, to be paid for C.O.D, and I was hired to deliver them after school – on foot! From then on I went to movies approved by my mother and sister, every Saturday. (I still can’t understand why Romeo and Juliet was not one of them!)
I still love movies and now I am blessed to be able to see them on my TV (watched a great oldie on Netflix last night!) but perversely, since I became a fanatic, I’m hooked on ice hockey.