Jacks of All Trades

Que Que's First Street, 1930. (Notice the baboon on the donkey's back)

Que Que’s First Street, 1930. (Notice the baboon on the donkey’s back)

Jacks of All Trades

When Gervas Hughes arrived back in Que Que in 1928 there was still no electric power for Que Que, but the G&P Mine supplied water from their pipeline, originating from the small cement weir above Sebakwe Poort. When the drought came there was not enough water so bore holes were put down in the vlei near Amaveni, along with some type of water-softening plant.  On the same site was a native cemetery.  Mr Edgar Smallman, being the town engineer, besides other things, managed the pumps.  He said, “The graveyard gives the water body”.

Jacks of All Trades 

Not much had changed in Gervas’ eighteen month absence.  Que Que was still a shanty ming town.  The only well built brick buildings were the Que Que Stores, near the G&P Mine and the Que Que Hotel, towards the railway and Campbell’s buildings half way between.  Opposite Campbell’s were two small shacks on the sanitary lane; one occupied by a plumber, who made rain water tanks and the other housed the Native Department.  The poor clerks had a hard life; in additon to the plumber hammering, they had a small workers mine under them.  He had mined very close to the grass roots.  When he blasted, the clerks covered their tables and waited in the street as white paint flaked off the ceiling.

Jimmy Lowe, was digging foundations for Vernons flats on Main Street near the Que Que Hotel.   Gervas went to see if he could do some transoprt businss for him.  He found Jimmy with a puzzled look on his face.  Probing through the bottom of a trench with a three meter rod, he exclaimed, “There’s a big hole down there!”

“There’s a mine underneath!” Gervas told him.  He never heard how Jimmy solved the problem, but did notice some time later that the foot path had sunk about half a meter.  Fortunately the building was alright.

Gervas’ business grew and others did too.

Gervas’ friend, Mr Delacy H. Stowe came from Meikles Umtali.  He turned to small mine working, first at Kaka Mine.  Later he made money on the BF Mine, the site now occupied by BSA Police Rural Camp.  A battler, like most of the locals, he bought Chicago Plots 14 and 15, the area later known as Hillandale.  In time he acquired Baldachin’s Iron Agency, sold Chevrolet cars and all types of electrical fittings. Peggy Stocks was his pretty assistant.  As his fortunes improved,  his first house was built at Hillandale where Capt. Collins later lived, later came  Fernleigh. While living there, he was largely responsible for making the old golf course, part of which was on BF claims. He also built a third house in Main Street where the Plaza Bakery is now.

The Italian Mr. Frau, besides owning a car repair shop, owned the block opposite the Phoenix Hotel, now part of Sloman’s store.  Another car repairer set up shop about 1925 in a small tin shanty where Barclays Bank is today.  Oosthuizen was the mechanic, Sam Baldachin his partner. Baldachin also owned the petrol pumps in the area which later became Smallman’s garage.

Mr Markham operated a small mine between Gervas’ property and the railway lines. Mine-slime spilled onto the tracks.  When railway officials objected he said, “Take your railway away, I was here first”.  The Railways went to the law.  Markham lost.  The Village Management, recently elevated from being the Sanitary Board, but still chiefly concerned with sanitary buckets, made a bargain with Markham to abandon the claims.  In return he received six town allotments, which ran from Wilson’s Garage, then owned by Matherson, to what was later the north round-a-bout.

Civilization  was catching up to Que Que, officials becoming too fussy for Gervas.   He moved to his Greenham dairy farm on the Que Que River.

Many Thanks to Tim Hughes of Queensland, Australia for the  picture and the excerpts from his unpublished manuscript  Matambega and Son written in the 1980’s.

 

21 Comments

  • Diana

    Reply Reply October 8, 2012

    Here is a comment from Abe Menashe posted on his behalf:

    Found this most interesting. Please have you got a map of “Old Que Que” OR where can I find one quickly.

    I remember the Frau’s (not Fraw.) There was Rex and his older brother whose name escapes me. There was also Joan one time friend of Spiros Ferrindinos.

    Jimmy Lowe was well known to us. He built my father’s Departmental Store (A.Menashe’s Corner) in 1938. He had a son Norman, a very good light weight Boxer at St. Georges.

    Of course Mr Smallman was the man that kept Que Que alight. I remember Steven his son was a very good rugby player at Prince Edward. David the younger son was my age and I was introduced to Cubs (His mother was the Cub Mistress – Arkeilah) David played the Horn in the Chaplin School Band.

    Please add all this to a Blog – Thanks abeM.

  • Chris Duckworth

    Reply Reply October 9, 2012

    And, when my father died, and the family moved to Gwelo, guess who built the house my mother designed, none other than J.J.Lowe…
    And it must have been Mr Smallman’s son who played left wing for Chaplin in about 1946…
    Also there was a Mr Stowe who owned Ludgates in Livingstone Avenue in Gwelo… Had two sons, the younger Alwyn had rheumatic fever and my brother Guy and I travelled with them in their brand new Hudson, to go went fishing over a weekend at the the Que Que river… And that’s another story…

    • John Stowe

      Reply Reply October 12, 2012

      Hi Charles
      I would love to hear the story of the fishing trip. Clive the elder of the two Stowe boys is my late father. He left a very lengthy yet incomplete set of memoirs growing up at that time. I am finding it fascinating as I research more of the era.
      John

      • Diana

        Reply Reply October 13, 2012

        John, I encourage you to publish your family’s story. The early years were not for the faint hearted.

    • Megan Poulton-Stowe

      Reply Reply October 12, 2012

      Hi There
      Chris I am the older Stowe brothers daughter, his name was Clive. I would love to hear the story!

      • Diana

        Reply Reply October 13, 2012

        Chris is full of stories. I’ll get him onto it!

    • Diana

      Reply Reply October 13, 2012

      Chris, Lovely to see you still reading, bringing back memories.

  • Andrew Kluckow

    Reply Reply October 10, 2012

    The Veron’s Flats building is still there even though we have recetly been force by the municipality to make some changes to the outside of the building. Veron was my Grandfather, Vernon Kluckow. It is the building where on the Kwekwe map you have ‘Midlands Furiture Mart’, as a kid I remember Mr Rick having the furniture store in the northern half of the ground floor while my Garndparents and Parents run Vernon’s Cafe in the southern half.

    • Diana

      Reply Reply October 13, 2012

      Andrew, Yes, I remember the cafe very well. It had lace curtains looking onto the Railway Park across Main Street. There was a glass sweet case of course and lots of tea tables with white table cloths and a juke box in the 50’s. Next door was Wilson’s Garage. (I didnt realise your family owned the whole building including the Ricks Furniture Store. Perhaps you’d like to send me a picture of the cafe and a story to post.

  • Andrew Kluckow

    Reply Reply October 14, 2012

    Hi Diana

    I wish I had photos, my Uncle George is still alive and in Harare I will ask him and see what he has got. We still own the building and have ahd to alter the street front. It was the only building left on First Street which had pillars holding a roof over the pavement. The Town Council have made us remove the pillars and put a lean to canopy over the pavement which I feel has knocked the character of the building.

    • Diana

      Reply Reply October 14, 2012

      andrew, I’m so sorry the pillars are gone, the last vestiges of the Colonial Era I suppose. Cherish the memories. I hope Uncle George comes up with pictures. Sharing these days is so easy!

  • Chris Duckworth

    Reply Reply October 16, 2012

    Good morning Andrew,,
    You’re not by any chance related to Ian Klukow who was schooled at Highlands and Prince Edward?…
    Cjris…

  • Chris Duckworth

    Reply Reply October 16, 2012

    Morning Megan,
    Remember Clive – Bright boy – Was at Chaplin and about three years ahead of me – And most to his brother…
    Chris…

  • Andrew Kluckow

    Reply Reply October 16, 2012

    Hi Chris

    Yes, we were second or third Cousins, Ian unfortunately passed away last week. All the Kluckow’s in Rhodesia were decendents of my Great-Grandfather who had ten kids. Best regards, Andrew

  • Chris Duckworth

    Reply Reply October 16, 2012

    And so to the Fishing Story…
    Background – My father was Underground Manager at the Globe and Phoenix and I suspect that he, if not knew, knew of the Stowes, my mother, on the other hand, following my father’s death, moved to Gwelo, where she taught at Kingsley Fairbridge / Cecil John Rhodes, and where, amongst her KG pupils, Alwyn was one… And so it was that when Alwyn, no longer, on account of his disability, attended school, my brother Guy and I often cycled the mile to mile and a half from our home at Greyiles, to see him…
    It then occurred that Mr Stowe decided, in order to offer Alwyn a break from the house, to suggest a weekend fishing, an idea Alwyn most happily accepted and asked Guy and I to accompany them…

  • Chris Duckworth

    Reply Reply October 20, 2012

    And so it was – Reads like the start of a biblical line… Yes you might smile, but it was about about 63 years ago – 1949 – Well after our lunch that Saturday, Guy and I cycled from Greytiles down the slight valley and up the other bank to the Stowes – The Hudson, which was quite the car in those days, coil front springs and lateral leaf at the rear, was packed and after travelling to the end a stretch full tar through Clonscilla, which apart from the streets of Gwelo was the only full stretch around, it was onto the strips and the forty miles to Que Que…
    Hudson parked, roughly an hour later, under a tree on the wooded bank of the river, unloaded, Mr Stowe quickly organized us to throw masess, the residue from African beer, into the water – And, thrilled at the prospects, we started fishing – Haul minimal…
    Firewood collected – Camp fire made – Baked beans on toast, the toast manufactured from bread on skewers roasted in front of the fire – Mazoe crush and tea – And sleep in our clothes … Blankets on rough ground… And lying on our backs watched the stars…
    An early awakening to a rising sun and the sounds of the bush – Crickets, bird calls and the occasional swish of a surfacing fish, and armed with rods and worms, the day’s expedition gained momentum – And what a momentum, for, intoxicated by the alcohol from dusk till dawn, the bream were the easiest of prey… No sooner had one been hooked and you’d re-baited and cast back into the water, than, not ages later, you were hauling in another – Quite easily could have made a tidy sum had we been parked close to civilization and opened a Fish Stall…
    Well, it was fish or Vienna sausages or baked beans for breakfast and back to the fun, Alwyn, assisted from time to time, revelling in every moment …
    The identical menu for Lunch… And time to leave – And a quartet of Chaplin boys had become Fishers of Fish – Fishermen…
    The End…
    P.S. … Remember how when you’d completed a composition at School you often wrote The End – Memories of ages past, awakened…
    Love to you all…

    • Diana

      Reply Reply October 21, 2012

      Great memory Chris. Those were the days. Thanks for sharing this with everyone.

  • spiwe monica zulu

    Reply Reply March 17, 2017

    My father was one of the easiest black petrol attendants who worked for a Mr William Smallman for well over 40 years at Smallman Service Station or Garage in Queque. But before that he was a baby sitter looking after David,Stephen,Earnest and Gladys.

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