The Fabric of Private Education

Sebakwe Poort

Sebakwe Poort

The Fabric of Private Education

Mr. Aaron Menashe arrived in Southern Rhodesia 1919 from the island of Rhodes.  By 1938 he owned A. Menashe Corner in Que Que, which consisted of four shops.

 The Fabric of Private Education

In the Haberdashery they sold Lister wools from Yorkshire as well as Emu, Hayfield, Pingouin, Robin and Sirdar.  There were patterns of every sort: double knitted sweaters and cardigans, slipovers, jerseys, skirts and trousers, jumpers, knickers and socks for those who could handle four needles at once.  There were pattern booklets by Beehive on tea cozies, slippers, toys, boudoir and bar accessories.  There were drawerfuls of needles and crochet hooks.

The ladies store was the exclusive agency for Bon Ton corsets.  Bolts of fabric lined the floor-to-ceiling shelves, from sturdy canvas, rough hessian,  gabardine and  practical cottons and muslins to fine crepes de Chine, velvets and ribbons of many widths and colors.  Next-door was the men’s department. Serina was a talented bespoke tailor.  The store also sold Rex Truform suits and Dougson clothing.  The forth store was rented to Bata Shoes.

The Menashe’s were now a family with Katie, Rachel, Abe and Ben.   Mr. Menashe’s priority was getting a good education for them. They all began at the Salisbury Convent. The two sons went on to Prince Edward after standard two.

He routinely saved up all the shop accounts for ninety days.   Then Rachel would come home from the convent and could attend to the books.   He could not read or write in English.

Private school fees for four did not leave much household money for holidays, but occasionally he would hire a truck (he didn’t drive himself) and take the family for a two-day sleep-over on the banks of the Umniati River at the bridge or to Sebakwe Poort.  They would be joined by relatives on his mother’s side, the very big Albert Amato family, from Eiffel Flats near Gatooma about forty miles away.  The Amatos were an impressive family, being able to trace their ancestry back to 1492 and the Spanish Inquisition.   Often their Uncle Solly, who did not like regular work and was instead a professional gambler,  would drive down from Selukwe or Shabani in his two seater Whippet, not withstanding the three or four punctures he would have to repair on the way down.  Abe loved to sit in the dicky seat that opened up at the back.  Sometimes the Benetars of Gwelo would join them.  Then they would indulged in traditional Sephardic treats of hard boiled eggs accompanied by potato cheese balls fried in oil and savory filo pastries prepared beforehand at home.

But best of all was the river in the heat of summer, with its wide sandy beach which was relatively free of bilharzia (Schistosomiasis, a debilitating disease).  It was a great place to swim.  Abe’s swimming costume was a very long vest pinned between his legs.

Many thanks to Melody Kelly (nee Hannaford) from England for the photo of Sebakwe Poort, that much-loved picnic spot and to Abe Menashe of Bulawyo, Florida, London and Johannesburg, for the family history.

 

9 Comments

  • Chris Duckworth

    Reply Reply January 14, 2012

    Remember the name Menashe… Just haberdashery in my young days… Rhodes Island, with the castle and the streets of the Old Town – Fascinating… The honey and oranges – Devine….

    • Diana

      Reply Reply January 15, 2012

      It must have been quite a shock leaving the lush Mediterranean with it’s rich long history and culture for pioneer dusty Rhodesia!

      • Chris Duckworth

        Reply Reply January 24, 2012

        No shock… I was born in Que Que in 1933… And had few most joyous years there…

        • Diana

          Reply Reply January 24, 2012

          Chris, So glad you are still reading and it is bringing back great memories. We should do a cricket story. When did you first picked up a bat and ball and who was your first mentor?

  • Andrew Davis

    Reply Reply January 15, 2012

    Spectacular shot and great profile! Loved reading the story today!

  • Barry Kruger

    Reply Reply February 15, 2012

    Hello Diana, I am so pleased that I have found this wonderful source of information about Que_Que, where I also spent a few years from 1958-1963.I remember you from
    Que Que high school but you were in Form 2 when I started in qqhs in 1960.Your father was also our family Doctor, and I remember Dr.Brown who had a practice in the same building. Please keep up the good work and I will definitely follow this page eagerly from now on. Barry Kruger Cape Town

    • Diana

      Reply Reply February 16, 2012

      Barry, So glad you have found the blog interesting and your memories of QQ are good. There are over ninety blogs you can browse and I do invite you to send me a photo, story or incident to broaden the scope of the blog to make it more inclusive of all of QQ. The novel I have written in conjunction with the blog is in the editing stage. Stay tuned. Thanks for signing in.

  • Barry Kruger

    Reply Reply February 15, 2012

    The photo of Sebakwe Poort brought back many memories and very happy ones at that. What a blast from the past.
    Barry kruger Cape Town

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