Pirates of the Hage


Of the Hage?

Yes, you read that correctly.

Not Penzance, the Hage!

Saturdays were Pirates days.  In my family that is.  Particularly for me and my Dad… These were happy and special days and I loved Saturdays with my Dad.  And I’m talking about baseball and in particular, Pirates Baseball Club!  Not Red Sox, oh no, they were the arch enemy…..there was only one decent baseball club in The Hage and that was Pirates!

Lots of Uitenhage families were involved – Samuels, Wates, Krain, Snyman, Michaelides, Serrao – these are some of the names I remember – if you can think of any others, include them in the comments section please.  Did the Transell’s play for Red Sox?  Can’t remember, but I think so.

In the early to mid 1960’s I can remember going to baseball games with my Dad and Mom…this was before my baby sister arrived.  My Dad played baseball for years and I can remember watching baseball games all around the Eastern Cape.  I can also remember my Dad lost his two front teeth after being hit in the face with a baseball!  My Mom was not impressed but I remember my Dad still finished the game!

Once my Dad retired from playing baseball, he umpired, so for many more years, baseball was still a regular part of our weekend lives.  After my sister arrived, it was my Dad and I that continued the baseball tradition.  My Mom stayed at home with the baby…in fact I don’t remember my sister being at baseball games ever, even when she was a toddler.  Come to think of it, she was so naughty I don’t think my Mom could risk taking her to baseball.

In the 1970’s I can remember helping my Godmother Aunty Elaine, in the tuckshop at the Pirates field which was perfectly positioned behind the home plate.  We had a perfect view of all the balls that were pitched, a perfect view down to first base and a perfect view of who crossed the home plate .  My Godmother used to get so cross with the umpires if she thought they called the balls pitched incorrectly or if they gave our players out when she thought they were “safe” and “let them have it” in no uncertain terms.  I often wondered why she was not an umpire as in my eyes she seemed to know everything about baseball.

In the tuck shop we sold homemade ham rolls that I loved, sausage rolls, maybe two or three soft drink varieties, tea and coffee plus a few different lollies or sweets and packets of crisps.  Somehow the ham tasted different in those days and there was definitely butter on the beautiful soft bread roll (which most probably came from Flamingo or Ramona – if you are from The Hage then you will definitely know about the beautiful bread from Flamingo and the world famous sausage rolls from the Ramona!).  The ham rolls had mustard and lettuce on them too and all these years later, I can still taste them!

I wonder if baseball is still played in The Hage and if Pirates still exists?  If anybody knows, please leave a comment.



Sundays in The Hage


Sundays …

The Hage …

1960’s …

More childhood memories ….

Sundays were church day.  St Joseph’s in Baird Street.  We were always late.  My Mom was not a morning person, so we were always flying out the door at the last minute.  We sat in the same pew every week as did everybody else who went to church.  Heaven forbid if anybody sat in somebody else’s spot!  My Dad didn’t go to church with us – he was a Methodist, not a Catholic, but never went to church anyway and when he passed away 8 years ago, he was buried from the Catholic Church by Father Max.  We must have had connections, not sure if that’s good or bad.  Two of my boy cousins were altar boys.  They looked liked angels in their vestments and for an hour they behaved like angels, but other times both were definitely not angels.

After church, we stopped at my Granny and Grandpa’s house in Caledon Street.  Sunday morning tea was a ritual and a very important part of my growing up years.  For 7 years I was an only child, so this was  a happy time for me.  Playing with my cousins and pretending they were my siblings.  I had a real thing about not having siblings when I was younger it seems.  My oldest girl cousin always looked out for me.  She stood up for me as I had no sibling support when things went wrong or we were all being naughty and so I often copped the flack and was blamed for something I didn’t do.  I wasn’t always innocent, but I wasn’t always guilty either.

So the adults had tea and some home-baked delicacy my Granny had made.  None of the adults drank coffee in those days and if they did, it was usually only at breakfast time and the brand of the day was, wait for it – Ricoffy!  I don’t even think it was made with coffee beans, but was a chicory blend!  And everybody had sugar and full cream cow’s milk in their tea and their coffee in those days.  Boy, how things have changed.

As for the grandchildren, we would walk along the road to the “Fish Shop” on the corner of Caledon and John Streets where we were allowed to buy Joy Lollies which were ice lollies.  Guess how much they cost?  1c each!  I can remember walking along with 10c and we got change…If it was a special occasion, like one of our birthdays, we were allowed Banana Boy ice creams – they cost 3c each!  They were my favourite.

If the weather was good, all the adults sat outside on the front stoep of my grandparent’s house and we kids played on the front lawn.  We spent many hours playing hide and go seek, cops and robbers and if we had an empty cardboard box we would slide down the little hill in the front garden.  The grandchildren of today would think we were retards for sure, but my childhood memories are happy ones and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

Photo credit: Shaz North

Pomegranates and The Hage



The Hage.

More childhood memories I said I would share.

As you know, I grew up in the street where the Flamingo Bakery was…so those of you from the Hage know exactly where I grew up!  We knew everyone in our street and all the streets around us – Victoria Street, Vida Street, aka the  “Back Street”, Cannon Street, Caledon Street, the whole block ….  This is so different from today where the kids usually don’t know anybody in their neighbourhood, not even the kids next door.

So other than my 3 older “non-blood siblings” that lived down the road, I also had 6 other “non-blood siblings” over the road that I spent many hours with.  Behind their house, extending from Cannon to Caledon Streets, was a huge field and on the other side of the field were the backs of the houses in Victoria Street.  This field provided endless hours of fun for us kids.  We only really played in this field in the winter months as we had no shelter from the mad man who lived down the bottom of the field in the summer.  There were also snakes in the summer, so we stayed away.  Winter time the liquorice grass grew up to about 4 or 5 feet tall and provided good cover for us kids.  We used to joke with each other that we needed to avoid the “yellow” liquorice grass as that was the grass that the neighbourhood dogs had pee’d on!  Just like you don’t eat yellow snow, don’t eat yellow liquorice grass!

During the winter months, the oldest of the 6 kids I played with used a lawnmower to mow tracks in the long grass of this field.  We would ride our bikes in here, we played cops and robbers in here, we sucked on the “liquorice” grass in the field and there were also a couple of empty dams in this field that provided fantastic props for our cops and robbers games!  Surrounding these dams were pomegranate trees and from memory some apple trees.  The apples were promptly picked by the mad man at the bottom of the field, but he obviously didn’t like pomegranates so they were left to rot on the trees.    This nasty old man didn’t like us playing in the field and he didn’t want us to enjoy his pomegranates either!  However, that didn’t stop us!  We used to steal the pomegranates and he used to shoot at us with a pellet gun!   How we never ended up with pellets in our bums or our heads or anywhere else for that matter, baffles me!  Winter was the best time in the field.  I will never forget the wrath of my Mom when I eventually got home with red stains on my hands and my clothes.  I don’t know why she didn’t put me in black or navy clothes all the time, but she didn’t.  It would have been much easier, for her!   She was never impressed, to say the least.

It’s funny how these neglected fruits have now been shown to have fantastic health benefits.  The rich, ruby red reminds me so much of  the colour of our blood.  Pomegranates are rich in Vitamin C and therefore powerful antioxidants, they contain Vitamin K and magnesium and they are rich in fibre.  Studies show eating the fruit and/or drinking pomegranate juice can help protect against disease, like certain cancers and Alzheimer’s.  They are anti-inflammatory too.   Make sure you wear old clothes or an apron when cutting open and de-seeding your pomegranates, but make sure you eat them, they are little powerhouses of nutrition.

Custard Apples, Pomegranates, The Hage


Custard apples, pomegranates and The Hage.

What do they have in common?  Memories.  Memories of my childhood.

When I saw them today, in two different fruit and veggie shops, I had flashbacks to my childhood years.  I grew up on another continent in a little town that I’ll refer to as The Hage.  Growing up in The Hage was special and those of us that grew up there were privileged as we had a special childhood in an idyllic place.  The sad thing is that none of us thought we were privileged at the time.  We all thought we were stuck in the back end of nowhere and couldn’t wait to leave!  Now, with us all scattered around the globe, we have a special connection to each other and we can travel to all 4 corners of the world and know somebody who will put us up or advise us what to do and where to stay!  Yes, our connections to The Hage are very strong.

custard apple

Custard apples I looked forward to once a year and as I watched the developing fruit I can remember how I salivated, just waiting to taste them again.  The most disappointing thing for me was that the tree wasn’t in our garden.  I think there were 3 trees in my “aunty’s” yard.  She wasn’t a blood aunty but an aunty in my eyes.  “Aunty” and “Uncle” were very special neighbours.  They lived down the road from us, our parents were great friends, in fact my Mom and “Aunty” worked together for the same men’s outfitters in The Hage for many years.  And they looked so alike, many customers thought they were the same person, although my Mom worked in the morning and my “Aunty” worked in the afternoon!  My “Aunty” had 3 children, 5 years + older than me, but as an only child for 7 years, I always thought of them as my blood siblings!  Our families went on holidays together, we caravanned all along the coast together, our fathers built boats and fished together and even after I was married and had my first baby, we continued to caravan at our favourite places.

The custard apples used to be shared out amongst a few of us lucky neighbours.  And then the unthinkable happened.  Two of the trees had to be removed to make way for a carport that needed to be built to house the caravan!  As a young kid I was horrified as I realised there would be even less custard apple treats coming my way!  And a few years later, we moved away and “Aunty” and “Uncle” moved too and it was bye bye custard apples for me!  Don’t think I ever saw one again.  I was devastated.

So as I stood and admired the custard apples in my local fruit and veggie store this week, all these memories flooded back!  Custard apples, so nutritious and good for you.  A rich source of Vitamin C, magnesium and potassium, these apples are cardio-protective, high in anti-oxidantsants, can lower blood pressure, and are also a good source of Vitamin B6, iron, copper and dietary fibre.

As for the pomegranates, well that’s another story and involves another family, but still involves the Hage and the street we lived in, which was where the Flamingo Bakery was.  That will be another trip down memory lane on another day.  Watch this space and please share with anybody you know from The Hage as we really are lucky to have grown up there.