Settling in a New Chum

Gervas' office & mill 1939

Gervas’ office & mill  on Main Street Que Que , 1939

Settling in a New Chum

After Brian Freyburg recovered from the measles at Barbara’s parental home Herschel in the Cape, he heard that Gervas wanted a learner for his farm at Que Que.  A failed engineering student, he had always hankered for a farm life.   This might be his chance. He applied via Barbara for the job.  Gervas replied, “If you only learn to work, it will be of some use to you.”

Gervas had a heavy work load  and looked forward to an assistant.

Settling in a New Chum

Brian travelled to Que Que by train, which took three nights and three days. He arrived in Bulawayo to change trains to the Salisbury mail. His trunk was in the guard’s van, where heavy luggage travelled. He went to clear immigration but was told that Gervas would have to stand security for him, if he was deported. Gervas refused. After some discussion and phoning they allowed the luggage to be transferred to the Salisbury train and Brian was allowed to travel on.

Gervas met him at Que Que railway station. They drove to the farm where Brian’s first job was to assist a cow with a stuck calf. The cow was tied to a tree stump in the middle of a cattle-kraal. This was his introduction to farming, his arm up to the shoulder in a cow, being thrown around the place as she struggled. They did not get the calf out and Brian did not forget his introduction to farming.

Brian settled in at Gervas’ office complex in Que Que.  There was an office, a mill and a forge in one long building, facing the main Salisbury-Bulawayo road and beyond, the water tanks for the steam trains.  The office had a desk, a table and two chairs.  A small wall safe for petty cash also had a tin for beer money. No one paid cash. If Brian wanted groceries he would give his cook-house servant a note to fetch them from the appropriate shop. The bill would arrive at the end of the month for payment. Account payers were so dilatory that the rates and water bill, which came by the hand of a one armed messenger, carried a 50% discount if paid by the 15th of the month!

Barbara did her utmost to protect Brian, a ‘new chum’, from the tough locals. He had promised his mother he would not drink spirits until he was twenty one, but he drank one beer at the pub every night. Gervas paid him £5 a month all found. Brian persuaded him to double the salary to £10 and he would feed himself. Thereafter he had his dinner at the Que Que Hotel, and, much to Barbara’s envy, bought a ham to carve for his lunch.

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.


 

12 Comments

  • Diana

    Reply Reply November 17, 2012

    Abe Menashe writes: I am trying to place the exact position of the Hughes’ property.
    In 1939 I was 12 and have a reasonable memory.

    On the corner was Was Wilson’s Garage opposite the Que Que Hotel. coming along the main street there was Beretta’s Bakery. Then Watt’s garage. Then there was a Hall where the Free masons operated and on the Corner was a series of shops. On the actual corner was a Hairdresser’s where Mary Dill Russell many years later was apprenticed. On the other side of the Road in Railway territory were the Water Towers holding water for the Steam engines. Back on the the Corner was Mintz’s Bakery, later Tepperson’s Bakery. Back furt6her inj the side road on the other side of the dividing Sanitary Lane was Aron Menashe’s home since about 1930. I left the Home in 1948 (after graduating at UCT. My parents retired a few months later and bcame to join me in Bulawayo. The native Commissioner’s Buildings was on the other side of the road in the direction of the G & P Mine.

    • Diana

      Reply Reply November 17, 2012

      Abe, You have a great memory. I recently received two wonderful aerial maps of QQ of high resolution cirra 1940 from Peter Harris. I will post them on the blog (perhaps on the map page soon) meantime we await reader comments.

    • Jillianne Treamer

      Reply Reply July 11, 2014

      Would anyone remember the owners of berretta’s bakery on main st ?
      Or that they had a daughter named either jennifer / jenny / jean, think she would of been around 4 or 5 years old .
      Am desperate to find out what happened to her or the family, for my mother in law, whom was her older sister, before there mother gave her up for adoption to the bettetta’s.
      And has not seen her since the day she was taken away, any information would be greatlt recieved.

      • David Beretta

        Reply Reply July 23, 2015

        My great-grandfather was Gelsomino Beretta who owned the Bakery in QueQue with his brother Guiseppe. They moved to Rhodesia from Brusnengo, Italy after World War 1. They started a bakery in Salisbury after the one in QueQue. Gelsomino had 4 children – Freddie, Benito (my grandfather), Rita and Norma. Guiseppe had 2 children Virginia and Anthony. My guess is that Virginia might have been nick-named Ginny. Perhaps she is who you are referring to.

  • Chris Duckworth

    Reply Reply November 24, 2012

    Greetings from Johannesburg…
    I remember a chap called Freddie Berretta… He went to school at Chaplin – And the surname Dill-Russell I also recall from Que Que days…

    • Diana

      Reply Reply November 24, 2012

      Chris, Abe Menashe tells me the Dill-Russells were an old QQ family, and have the distinction of having QQ’s first female policewoman if I am not mistaken. Her name was Agnes Dill Russell.

    • Diana

      Reply Reply November 25, 2012

      The Berretta’s owned a bakery (before my time) on Main Street.

    • Jillianne Treamer

      Reply Reply July 11, 2014

      Mr, Duckworth, you mentioned you remember a chap named freddie berretta ? did his parents own what was berretta;s bakery on main street ?
      Can you recall a sister named jennifer ?

      Many Thanks.

      Jillianne.

      • Diana

        Reply Reply July 11, 2014

        Unfortunately, Jillianne, Chris Duckworth passed recently. He was a great enthusiast of the blog and contributed greatly to it. Perhaps some other readers will come to light for you. I have connected many estranged family and friends on the blog.

  • Chris Duckworth

    Reply Reply November 24, 2012

    The Water Towers at the Station – At the north end – Memories of that station, there must be thousands of memories belonging to hundreds of people from those bygone days – The Garratt Steam engines – The Goods Trains and the Passenger Trains – And the people….

  • Peter Beretta

    Reply Reply July 23, 2015

    As far as I know, my grandfather, Gelsomino Beretta started the Beretta’s bakery in QueQue and later moved to Salisbury where he established another bakery. Gelsomino was married to Maria Benedetti and had two sons (Benito, known as Bennie and Freddie) and two daughters (Norma and Rita). Both Bennie and Freddie worked in the bakery in Salisbury. I am the son of Bennie Beretta and found it interesting to stumble across these comments on your website.

  • Jaqui Beretta Polito

    Reply Reply July 23, 2015

    Please email me on piccolino@hotmail.co.za

    You are looking for my aunty Jennifer – she is my dads adopted sister

Leave A Response To Chris Duckworth Cancel reply

* Denotes Required Field