Wednesday, February 22, 2017

"The Grandfather I Never Knew" Part 8

Another significant event that occurred early in the 1950s was an accident that happened to Idris. He worked for a company in Palmerston that sold mechanized machinery. One day he was operating a crane and attempted to lift something with it that was too heavy. The crane crashed over and Idris was admitted to hospital. This event caused the ulcer that prevented him from eating much of his favourite foods all the time and triggered the rest periods he sometimes took during the building of the house in Umtali.

Despite this unfortunate event he was known to call for English pancakes (Crepes) on his own and other people's birthdays. He would also drink a lot of milk on these occasions. It wasn't always the best idea due to the stomach ulcers he suffered with but it seems he had a bit of a sweet tooth. Welsh rice pudding was also a favourite of his, as was custard pie. He would often try and sneak a Fanta or Vanilla milkshake as well. On occasion he would take the family out after church on a Sunday and buy one slab of vanilla ice cream for desert. Eating ice cream together as a family was a treat I also enjoyed growing up, so Idris must have passed it along to my dad, Merthyn.  One of Idris' favourite main meals was fricadles, which is a type of meatball. 

In the early 60's Idris' eldest child, Wendy, was married in Cheltenham 1964. Idris and Iris were unable to make the wedding. Idris had to console Iris who was upset over it, but they were able to make the local newspapers with their international call to their daughter on her wedding day.[1] 

Their eldest son, Glyn, went off to bible college in the United States. (66-69) Their daughter Wendy had already left in the 50's to join Cardiff College of music. Before leaving, Glyn brought Norma to visit the family, and early in 1966 they were married. Idris never knew quite how to respond to Norma but his wife exclaimed on the first night, "Glyn, you must marry this girl." 

Idris and Iris with Glyn and Norma in Bulawayo
Despite the long distances and expensive rate of international phone calls, Idris must have been in touch with his brothers about the wedding of his son because his older brother David John Davies[2] posted a congratulations in the weekly Assemblies of God magazine, Redemptions Tidings.

Posted in the 1966 March edition of Redemption Tidings
It's possible the communication was through letters; Iris' sister Ruth would often contact them in this way. 

One of Idris' hobbies was reading westerns. Both Glyn and Merthyn would borrow these books from him and read along. He particularly enjoyed Louis L’Amore and Zane Grey. Perhaps the Louis L'Amore appealed to him as he added historical details and wrote about a family leaving England to travel to the United States and set up a home there. Much as he left to set up a home in Southern Rhodesia. Idris would mainly find the time to read on holiday and would then devour these books. He also introduced his son Merthyn to the Hardy Boys.

As far as holidays were concerned there were a few primary locations. While they lived in Umtali they traveled often to Biera in Mozambique and later when they had moved to the west they often went down to South Africa and Amazimtoti. Glyn and Norma, when they returned from America, sometimes went with them. 

While on holiday Idris would go swimming with his youngest son, Merthyn. One time when visiting Biera, his son taught him to body surf. In a form of tubing they would go out into the sea and then catch the waves, holding on to a tube and running the wave back towards the shore. While doing this Idris was knocked over, and so his son taught him to body surf to land so he wouldn't have to swim the entire way. 

Once they moved to Bulawayo it took much longer to reach Biera so they would travel to Hot Springs[3] instead, a place where people still relax today in the heated pools of water, waterfalls, lakes and geysers that spring up from the ground. 

[1] Wendy remembers reading about the phone calls being in the local paper but to date I have been unable to locate the actual articles. 

[2] Idris' older brother David John Davies was named after Idris' uncle who died suddenly in 1931 from Pneumonia.

[3] Nyanyadzi Hot Springs are still known as a tourist attraction in Zimbabwe today. One tourist describes it this way in the online magazine "All Africa."  "Recently I visited Nyanyadzi Hot Springs in Manicaland. At the centre of the breathtaking Eastern Highlands geomorphology dominated by craggy mountains, tour filled lakes, sparkling rivers, spectacular waterfalls, glorious forests, rolling moorlands and dramatic gorges lies a hot spring with water at boiling point, that villagers believe is boiled by mermaids."

Much information for this blog post comes from a series of interviews with Glyn Davies, Norma Davies, Merthyn Davies and Wendy Thomas.

1 comment:

  1. I notice Iris' arm is in a sling. There must be a story about that somewhere? :)