‘To a Definite End’

Malcolm Mackendrick of the Connemara Mine standing on the doorway of the cab of Tim Hughes’ 1939 Chevrolet Pickup truck on Giraffe Farm. Tools and fuel were stored in the Cato hut in the background.

‘To a Definite End’

One’s school motto does, I think, to a greater or lesser degree, influence one’s thinking even if sub-consciously. Que Que High School was founded to service the Globe and Phoenix Mine almost half a century before my parents arrival in 1946.   They, each in their separate ways,  much more so than us kids, fully embraced the school’s motto Non sibi sed omnibus, ‘Not for Ourselves but for All.’  Tim Hughes, at fourteen, applied himself to Plumtree School’s motto Ad Definitum Finem, ‘To a Definite End’ when the opportunity arose to revive his fathers abandoned 1939 Chevrolet pick-up so he could bring ‘a definite end’ to dependence on the bicycle.

‘To a Definite End’

For a start, raised on chocks, the pick-up lacked tyres.  Bert Hossak, on the next door farm, allowed Tim to scavenge worn out Fordson Major tractor front tyres from his rubbish dump. The tyres, still with tubes tucked inside, were worn smooth but fitted the sixteen inch Chev. rims perfectly. After a lot of help from Philemon, the farm foreman, and parts from Gervas’ metal scrap heap, the Chev. was a go’er.  A year later the bonnet and tray were found by Tim, who repaired and refitted them.

Gervas’ grey Ferguson tractors ran on petrol and Tim was permitted to fuel the Chev. from his forty four gallon drums.  He taught himself to drive.  The Chev. made the trip to visit his old junior school friends at the Connemara Gold Mine seven miles from Melrose Farm and two miles south of Hunters Road siding, on the main Bulawayo-Salisbury highway a breeze.  At sixty miles per hour down the highway it was a dream come true.

The fact that Tim did not have a driving licence and the Chev. was not registered for the road didn’t seem to worry Gervas, although he did have the vehicle covered by third party insurance. One of the first refinements Tim made to the Chev. was to add an exhaust pipe. The original muffler was broken off under the cab and had been lost. Exhaust fumes and noise from the six cylinder engine were hard to tolerate. The problem was solved when Tim forced a long metal pipe, from the scrap heap, into the broken exhaust pipe. He supported the pipe with fencing wire along the chassis to extend half a metre beyond the back of the vehicle.  Emitting a mighty roar, flames shot out of the pipe when the motor was revved up which was quite spectacular at night.

Tim took off one evening for the mine while Gervas and Dorothy were having a quiet sundowner on the front verandah. The next day Gervas had some harsh words for Tim about his driving. They had heard him changing down to go over the railway crossing five miles away. He was more careful after that, worried that the Chev. would be confiscated bringing ‘a definite end’ to his newly acquired freedom.

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.

Serious Rhodesian car buffs might enjoy a look at Wayne Kennerley’s web site http://www.classiccarsinrhodesia.co.za/

 

8 Comments

  • Diana

    Reply Reply June 21, 2013

    Hi Diana,
    I was blessed to have 2 first cars. My late grand-father helped me buy an Austen Healy Sprite coupe sports car, which was a ‘cow catcher’. I flew a Rhodesian flag from the aerial, wore a cap and scarf a-la Brit like.
    Every girl wanted a ride and I met my first real girlfriend this way. The car was white with black upholstery. All this in Bulawayo. When my grand-parents went back to SA for good I was priviledged to meet my father outside Queenspark
    Road to Que Que/Gwelo where I enticed my grand-father to travel through Byo with me to the Beit-Bridge road a distance of some 20kms. I will forever remember the joy, laughter and facial expressions on his face as I accelerated away
    With a wheel spin and the fast flowing fresh air brushed his face and the limited few hairs he had on his head gave way to the wind and he shouted that he was loosing all his hair and kept trying to brush the 2 strands he had left.
    It was an exhilarating joyful moment in our lives that brought pure joy as we bonded in that short trip. He was 80 at the time. Tears of laughter and joy ran down our faces that hot dry day leaving a precious memory behind. He passed
    On two months later. God blessed us that day and it is a moment I always cherished.

    Regards Louis Fourie

    • Diana

      Reply Reply June 21, 2013

      Louis, Absolutely wonderful experience to treasure all your life. Thanks for sharing. Diana

  • betty goolsby

    Reply Reply June 21, 2013

    I am envious of your experience, Tim! Both my brothers got hand me down cars, which needed lots of work and were constantly in ill repair. But they had such fun searching for parts and taking school friends on get-away rides from the old neighborhood. Both my brothers used the excuse of needing to do research at the downtown library, just to have an excuse to run up and down Old Main St in Houston. There were names for the cars…Green Hornet and the Blue Bomb….did you have a name for yours? I had to wait for marriage to have a car….and it needed a jump start every morning, just to go to college classes………. We were too poor to get a new battery!

    • Diana

      Reply Reply June 21, 2013

      Betty, I had to go 40 miles to Gwelo to get my drivers licence. A swimming boyfriend’s father from a competing team, Maple Leaf, was the tester and I failed the first time. I had to reverse out of a steep parking spot. I failed to put the car in reverse, jumped the curb and almost went through a shop window. Learned a bit since then. Loving my red Mazda Miata with the top down riding on the coastal range in my second childhood. Sorry we didn’t get to use it when you were here and the weather was lousy. You’ve got to come again.

  • Tim Hughes

    Reply Reply June 26, 2013

    Betty, You kindly asked if I had a name for my first car. Yes, it was: “The 39 Chev”. I was only fourteen after all. My second car had a descriptive name and Diana just might tell you in a future blog.

    • Diana

      Reply Reply June 26, 2013

      Betty and Tim, When I married Jan in 1982 he bought an old Delta 4 door 88 Old’s in Houston. He hadn’t owned a car for 13 years having been at sea in the oil research business all that time. He was very proud of it with its long long bonnett and so on and there was plenty of room for a ready made family. He called it Varoom and used to croon to us Elvis’ I’m Gonna Rip It Up on trips.
      Unfortunately the steering wheel did not sit true and I found this most disconcerting. This was the least of its problems. He had inherited his fathers perchant for used cars…which were always in distress of one sort or another. They were not as adept as Tim at repairs. Jan’s dad once bought an old Citroen of my Dads. I was used to ‘trading in’ every two years. This was an education for me.

  • Brian Fickling

    Reply Reply August 14, 2014

    Came across your site and got cold shivers down my back. I grew up on a ranch between Gatooma and Que Que. Your Father along with Dr Brown were our family Doctors in the 60’s and 70’s. Especially poignant were the two posts “To a Definite End” – “Ad Definitum Finem” and “The Life of a Plumtree Fag”. My brothers and I attended Plumtree for 65-79. Hope you enjoyed Portland and the coast – I have been living here now for 4 years. Take Care and looking forward to reading the rest of the posts

    • Diana

      Reply Reply August 27, 2014

      Brian, so glad the blog is conjuring up great memories for you. I’m hard at work on finding an agent for the first of my four novels about Southern Rhodesia (’46-65) follow my progress here.
      I’m not sure where you are located, but always welcome for an overnight at the beach with us.

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