Sunday, 23 November 2008

Family Tree conversations, Part I

Chatting with Mama Jo this morning (she finally had the radio turned off so she could actually hear me)

Mama Jo's father was a British citizen, having been born on St Helena Island on 9 August 1874 - Edward Alfred Thomas. He met Hannah Maria Goner (born in Matroosfontein on 23 February 1874) in Namaqualand and they were married in Port Nolloth on 1 January 1894. They lived in Port Nolloth until 1935. Mama Jo was born in Port Nolloth on 21 September 1918. She left at the age of 15, to study teaching at Zonnebloem college in Hanover Street, District Six, Cape Town, finishing her studies in 1936 and starting teaching the following year, earning the princely sum of 8 pounds 6 & 8 (about 16c in Rand terms).

Mama first met Papa Les when she was seven years old - when her family visited Cape Town by boat. The two families used to pray together. Papa attended Mama's 21st birthday and gave her a set of beautiful, embroidered, lawn handkerchiefs. He used to stand at the top of the road when Mama's various boyfriends brought her home, until one day he walked down to meet her and they started talking. They courted for many years, and one of Mama's favourite memories is of Papa being best man at Uncle Charlie's wedding, but dancing only with her the entire night - not one dance with the bridesmaids.

They got engaged at the age of 24, and married just after Papa turned 26 - on 23 December, 1944. Papa wanted to get married before Christmas, and he didn't want to share his wedding date (Mama wanted to marry on her parents' 50th anniversary, on 1 January, 1944). They were married 57-and-a-half years when Papa died.

Mama's most-cherished memory of Papa is the way he used to rub her back every night as they fell asleep - it was the best ending to her day.

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