Our First Paddling Pool at 1 Silver Oaks Road Globe and Phoenix Mine Que Que Southern Rhodesia Brian and I late 1940s.


The Globe and Phoenix Mine gave us everything we needed: jobs, houses, Que Que Stores to meet our material needs and wants and the club which had a bar, billiards, bridge and a library. There was also year round tennis, cricket in the summer, rugby in the winter and swimming ten months in the year. 


Water, as always in Africa, is a precious commodity: the swimming bath really was a luxury in the mind of mine management. The swimming bath was ever so conveniently situated for us, just across the railway line that ran behind the surgery and our house, surrounded by mature peppercorn trees.  It was a cavernous concrete affair filled by the mine once a year.  On arrival, in the winter of 1946, Mom looked forward to taking full advantage of the swimming bath.  However, having no filter, in the heat and rising humidity of October, suicide month, it festered with a healthy skin of algae, attracted daddy long legs to walk on water, water scorpions along with legions of frogs that laid their strings of eggs in it, and dragonflies the size of birds to prey on it from above.

Dad noticed a trend of increasing ear infections as the hot season wore on.  Much worse, bilharzia (Schistosomiasis, caused by a fluke carried by fresh water snails), a chronic debilitating disease, was prevalent in children swimming in the nearby rivers.

At their first hospital Christmas tea party, Mom met the mayor, Harry Watt, a canny Scot, serving his sixth term.  She made a plea for a municipal pool for the town which would also serve the mine, a separate jurisdiction.

“What me lass, we haven’t even goot water borne sewage yet!”  But seeing her crestfallen, he relented, “If you raairse,the mooney, me lassie, the council will undertake to maintain it.”  He felt safe.  The ball was in her park.

She had a cause and time on her hands.

She spoke to the high school headmaster, Mr. Davidson.  Together they applied for a grant from State Lotteries and in due course pleaded their case in the capital, Salisbury. They came back victorious.  Yes, State Lotteries would fund a swimming bath if the municipality would undertake to maintain it thereafter.

At the next council meeting, Mayor Watt rejected the proposal outright.  There was no discussion.

Mom returned home.  Dad was outraged.  “We can’t have that: an entrenched mayor and rubber stamp council.  That will have to change.  I’m going to run for council in the next election.”

“It’s okay,” she soothed. “I think you have enough on your plate already.”  Pragmatic, she resolved to put in a paddling pool in our big garden to cool our suicide month tempers.

Challenged, Dad entered politics in the smallest municipality in the world.


  • Betty Goolsby

    Reply Reply November 6, 2010

    Diana! I love the fact that the disappointment of your mother (and the cruel actions of the mayor) led to your dad becoming mayor of Que Que…what a hoot! I love your Scottish brogue also. What a fascinating series of events. I also love the description of the pool and all the little things that crawled, swam and grew in its waters! I am also amazed that you could swim 10 months of the year….being way down south close to the pole, I would think you had a much shorter swimming season, or else you all belonged to the polar bear club….good writing!!

    • Diana

      Reply Reply November 6, 2010


      Thanks for the compliments! You’re what keeps me going. The town was situated 265 miles north of the Tropic of Capricorn. You’d expect it to be sub-tropical
      but climate is moderated somewhat by the fact that it is on the Great Dyke, about 4000 feet above sea level. We don’t have 4 real seasons but rather cool and dry in the winter months of June and July building to hot and dry and very humid in suicide month, October when the rains finally come in glorious afternoon thunderstorms (much like Texas without air conditioning). It gets about 25 inches of rain a year. The pool was our salvation. Our houses had high 16 foot ceilings, cool concrete floors and deep verandahs much like the US South to accommodate the climate.

      Stay tuned. I’ll be recounting the first election experience in my next blog.


  • Tess Harris

    Reply Reply November 6, 2010

    More memories for me! The old G & P pool must have been where I learnt to swim, with a little help from my Dad. The water was so deep you couldnt touch the bottom consequently you learnt to swim in no time. Don’t remember all the nasties, perhaps it was cleaned more regularly by the 1950’s. I do recall going on the cleaning day and the fun we had while the pool was being refilled through a huge pipe gushing with water – it was bliss for the kids before it became to deep again!
    Not sure when the Municipal Pool opened, but no doubt, all will be revealed soon.
    Looking forward to the next trip down memory lane.

    • Diana

      Reply Reply November 7, 2010


      Yes, I’m sure it was where you learned to swim: it was the only place in town back then. Yes, it was uniformly deep (those days before lifeguards you did learn to keep yourself afloat under your own steam.) No wonder we grew up to be good swimmers! Thanks for the memory jog on cleaning day. I forgot about that. The Municipal Pool didn’t open until September 1953 and yes I’ll cover that two blogs from now. (Its a long story bringing it to fruition.)

      So glad you are enjoying the vignettes. Thanks for all your shared pictures and memories that add so much and keep me going.


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