Close your eyes... and go back in time... Listening to the mule cart clattering along down the "sanitary lane" in the early morning for the buckets to be emptied.
Remember hen milk and newspaper were delivered to your back door;
The Farmers Co op used to deliver your groceries to the house;
Doctors would be too happy to visit you at home;
Petrol cost 3/3d a gallon;
The "hot dog stall" near Bogies clock in Gwelo served the best burgers in town;
that is of course not counting the Fritz Pie Carts in Grey Street!!
I'm talking about the time of Hide and Seek in the park or the dark;
The garage down the road, Hopscotch, skipping and hand stands;
Mar co Polo in the pool, Dandy & Beano annuals, French skipping;
Swimming till your feet went wrinkly, jumping the river;
Building a swing from a piece of rope tied to a tree;
Tennis on the street or picnics in the backyard;
The smell of suntan lotion, hot tar and Mazoe Orange Juice;
Dandy bubble gum for a cent;
An ice cream from the Dairymaid chap on the corner with his little cart; (Eskimo Pies)
Wait, can you still remember...
When around the corner seemed far away and going into town seemed like
going somewhere, and your mother made you "dress up" for the trip;
A million mozzie bites and peeling skin in Summer, Sticky fingers and
sand in and on everything;
Catches, Stingers & climbing trees, Walking or riding your bike to school & friend's houses - no matter what the weather;
Playing in the Makabuzi was such fun, but the 21 Bilharzia injections which followed were no joke: Running till you were out of breath;
Laughing so hard that your stomach hurt;
Jumping on the bed..... Pillow fights;
Spinning around, getting dizzy and falling down;
Being tired from playing...Remember that
A piece of card in the spokes held by a clothes peg transformed any bike into a motorcycle;
I'm not finished just yet... Can you still taste and smell...
Eating raw jelly or Tree-Top from the packet, Ice lollies made from cold drink in plastic holders in the freezer;
Eating Willard's Peanut Butter on the fattest slice of fresh Downing's bread;
Fresh cream Doughnuts from Bake'n Take after church on a Sunday;
Boiling tins of Condensed milk to make caramel - took hours!
There were two types of takkies - Tommies and North Stars, and the only
time you wore them at school, was for "PT";
Wearing shoes with the toe caps cut off was accepted by all. How hard
you tried to swop your hostel sandwich for a day scholars sandwich;
The skin on the boiled milk at the hostel;
It wasn't odd to have two or three "best" friends;
Nobody owned a pedigree dog;
Sixpence could buy you a coke, wilson toffee, nigger ball, and wrights bubble gum; 25 cents was decent pocket money;
When you'd reach into a muddy gutter for 5 cents and feel lucky;
When nearly everyone's mom was at home when the kids got there;
Remember when it was magic when dad would "remove" his thumb or make 10 cents appear from behind your ear
When it was considered a great privilege and very unusual to be taken out to dinner at a real restaurant or in a proper hotel or even better,Haddon & Sly...
Or When on the rare occasion Dad stopped at Eskimo Hut or "Milky Inn"
Decisions were made by going "eeny-meeny-miney-mo."
Mistakes were corrected by simply exclaiming, "Ninger!"
"A race issue" meant arguing about who ran the fastest;
Money was handled by whoever was the banker in "Monopoly";
The worst thing you could catch from the opposite sex was germs;
Having a weapon in school, meant being caught with a 'BIC' pen pen pea shooter or an eraser catapulted by a 30cm ruler;
Taking drugs meant chewing on 'Cafenol' chewable vitamins or Cod Liver Oil...(yuk);
Eskies Ice Cream, Flings, Willard's Chips, rock-hard marshmallow Easter eggs and Coke were considered basic nutritional requirements (and don't forget Tomango Tomato Sauce)
Building a swing from a piece of rope tied to a tree. Taking a bath at 4:00pm (woe betide you if you hadn't bathed when your parents got home at 5pm!!).
Waiting for TV 1 to start and watching cartoons like Fat Albert, Voltron, Care Bears, Rainbow!!! Smurfs, Inspector Gadget and those unforgettable cartons from the Czech Republic or some place with no sound and simple graphics!
And pleading with your parents to watch the news at 8pm (not because you were interested in current affairs but to delay bedtime!) Alas when the weather report started you were sent to bed!
School holidays that lasted what seemed like years. And the night before the first day of school when you couldn't get to sleep. Shoes polished till you could see your face in them, suitcase clearly labeled with your name in large capitals, uniform pressed, new stationery (that your parents got from work!)
Going to visit your grandparents in the rural areas at Easter, Heroes Weekend and Christmas. Roasted mealies, monkey nuts, sugar-cane, pumpkin, pumpkin leaves in peanut butter, beef that tasted like beef, sour milk.
Going to the 'growth point' to play soccer with a ball made of plastic bags and newspaper or 'slug'. Sipping a 300ml bottle of Coca Cola and a packet of maputi. Going to the river with the girls to do the laundry.
Good times were always had at the following places - any evening of the week... The Blue Gardenia / The Gremlin / The Yellow Orchid / Fritz in Byo / The Capri /, Maxies / cross the Border at Maria's, or Merna Brown's place, or Machipanda, and don't forget the Little Swallow;
And what about an afternoon at the following places... Matopos Hotel / Mazoe Hotel / Mermaids Pool / Aloe Park / Hot Springs / Rusape Dam;
Pie and Gravy in Meikles Umtali on a Sat morning with the mates;
Mixed grill at Helen's Umtali for 7/6d Window shopping at night without fear of being harmed; an afternoon visit to Hermit's Peak in the Matopos, to Windermere on The Vic Falls Road.
And those days when children were allowed to run free without worry through the bush surrounding our houses, learning to entertain ourselves through the wanders of nature. When a scrape, a bump, or cut was treated as just that and accepted as a requirement in the process of growing up.
Those days at Breedon Everard Raceway to help run bars, cook burgers, and then when just a teenager being allowed to do the beer and cash run in someone's pickup, and then latter to martial a check point. If not at Breedon Everard these activities were repeated by us all at one of many sports clubs or associations throughout the country.
The regular coming together of many friends with their offspring at dinner parties, Braais, vintage car runs, progressive dinners to name a few. With good humoured mirth, stories, myths and acting the source of entertainment. All this to be listened to whilst pretending to be asleep next door or supposedly in the car outside. The days when someone was in need there was a whole network of support from family and friends waiting in the wings to lend a hand.
May be, just may be, that is why the likes of us Zimbo's, no matter where we have now scattered throughout the world, are regarded as a good, honest, resourceful people who enjoy the good life but prepared to take hardship on the shoulder. Often resulting in us being taken to be older than our actual years. For we have seen more, done more and learnt to enjoy life for what it throws at us, even if at times it may strip us of everything we have worked so hard for. However we have the character to shake our shoulders and stand again in our own pride.
What is the reason for this ability The answer is not far away, and not very surprising, for are we not ALL from pioneering stock, as historically all Africans are
So lets give a moment of thought to give thanks to those who started the whole unforgettable adventure enjoyed by our generation, our forefathers and mothers!!!! Without them we would not now be able to contact each other, from time to time, from across the globe and reminisce about the good ol' times! For they are what make life worth living, THE MEMORIES.
If you can remember most or all of these, then you have LIVED!!!!
Pass this on to anyone (especially those who grew up in Rhodesia who may need a break from their "grown up" lives.) And remember that we who are left here, are now Zimbabweans, we have enjoyed our lives so much in this beautiful country, let us pray that, as true Zimbabweans, we will be able to enjoy the new, if different, life that stretches before us.