Back and Forth and Ups and Downs

Back-and-Forth-and-Ups-and-Downs

Back and Forth and Ups and Downs

Barbara loved her childhood home went to stay at Herschel in the Cape again the following year, leaving the babe with Joan, going off with her Dad–they were very special friends.

Meanwhile, Gervas made plans for a family trip to England, by train to Capetown and ship to Southampton.

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Muscle and Wood Power

Gervas' firewood

Muscle and Wood Power

By now, besides Brian Freyburg, Gervas had approximately 100 Black employees on the farm. They all worked six days a week. Sunday, was a rest day for the men, and the only day for Gervas to do his office work. Once a month he had an extra job being the paymaster. This meant a visit to the Standard Bank in Que Que to obtain money in the required denominations. All the workers were paid their exact dues, in cash, through the farm office window.

Cattle were all herded when grazed, as there were no paddocks at that time. Gervas’ punishment for a herdsman who lost cattle, was to draw a circle a couple of feet in diameter in the dust, outside the office door, and give him two grasshoppers to herd in the circle, much to the herdsman’s shame and amusement of visitors to the office.

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More lessons for a Jo’burg Lad

A City Lad Gets Down to Work

Gervas Hughes, in addition to his office on Main Street, bought the first industrial site east of town, made available by the Lands Department of Que Que. It was one acre and cost £50, with a building clause (improvements) of £250. He built stables for the mules, a cow shed and a dairy, two huts for the two men who ran the mill, and for the mule driver and the leader. A four mule team pulled a four wheel trolley for town transport. There were two mule teams.

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No Water-borne Sewage, but Charming

Aerial Map of Que Que 1940

No Water-borne Sewage, but Charming

A number of readers have asked me where Gervas Hughes’ office and mill, and industrial site were situated, and fortuitously Peter Harris has come up with a wonderful aerial photo to give us the big picture then. Gervas’ photos show roughly made habitations scattered on the land, like the Old West in the nineteenth century. But by the early 1940’s, Que Que looks rather tidy – certainly from an aeroplane.

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Rhodesian Ingenuity

Gervas' wagon

Rhodesian Ingenuity

Rhodesia was not regarded as the promised land for those seeking a fortune in the early years before WWII. Rather it was a place where those who found it hard to get a job in Britain might make a living. Immigration into Rhodesia was on a small scale. Every year about a third of newcomers found they didn’t fit in, couldn’t shift for themselves and drifted back. Those who had initiative, drive and individuality to make a success in the difficult conditions, remained. Gervas Hughes was one of those hardy souls and he took it upon himself to share his knowledge with his assistant Brian Freyburg.

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Settling in a New Chum

Gervas' office & mill 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.

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