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Times to remember (Continued)
Written by Frank Leslie Boswell   
Thursday, 30 June 2011 16:02
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EPISODE TWO 1953 to 1956

My first employment and introduction to Northern Rhodesia

On the 1st Feb. 1950 I joined the South African Post Office as an Apprentice Telephone and Telegraph Electrician. It was a 5-year contract. My mother’s top priority was her children and it was not until the beginning of 1952 that she for the first time actually started going out with Johannes Dippenaar. Later that year my Mom approached me and told me that before she accepts his proposal of marriage she must first get my approval. There were two reasons for this. Firstly she respected my father’s wish that I must fill his shoes while he was away. Secondly that Johannes was immigrating to Northern Rhodesia. This meant that I would have to stay behind, as I had not yet completed my contract with the Post Office. On the 15th Nov. 1952 they were married in the Dutch Reformed Church in Kitwe. After spending their honeymoon at the Victoria Falls Hotel she returned to sell our house. We referred to our stepfather as Dad as we respected him and found it difficult to call him Dip, which was his nickname. Our stepfather Johannes was now working for the Rhokana Corp. as an engine driver.

My first train journey to Northern Rhodesia

In Jan 1953 I went to visit my stepfather who was now staying in the single quarters number F3 room 2. Nkana. Before boarding the train my Mom gave me a crash course on the sequence in which I had to use the cutlery in the Dining Salon.

The train journey started to get exciting as the train was pulling into Mahalapye station in Bechauanaland (Botswana) You were greeted by the sounds of music and before the train came to a standstill passengers were already dancing on the platform to the music supplied by an African band.

At Shasi another watering stop vendors appeared from nowhere. Most of their craftwork was made from the rather soft Marula tree. These curios smelt of burnt wood as they made use of a hot iron rod for the engraving. To say the least I was really fascinated with these vendors and the curios they made. For the first time I began to feel excited about my decision to visit Nkana.

At Bulawayo station you had a long wait before you could board the train going north. This had a big advantage as you could book your luggage in at the baggage counter and for two shillings you could have a bath on the station. My vision of a relaxing bath was soon shattered as the bottom of the bath became most uncomfortable with the coal dust from my hair. You must remember this was the Brylcream era. The second bath met with my expectations. To be part of Bulawayo’s history I simply had to walk the length of what they claimed to be longest platform in the Southern Hemisphere. Looking at the train as it was being shunted into the station one could not help feeling that you were going back in time. The coaches reminded me of those seen in the old Western movies. A bigger surprise awaited me when I went to the dining car. It was not its age but stewardesses replaced the stewards and they were busy playing bridge. The dummy hand saw to the needs of the diners. Fortunately there were not many of us and she could easily cope.