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of Studebakers and old cars …

Philda Beetle

I love vintage cars

As the proud owner of a 1958 Volkswagen and belonging to the local Old Car Club, I am forever encouraging guests to visit the local Railway Museum just up the road, where private vintage car owners can display/store their vehicles amongst the Railway exhibitions. I chanced upon the following passage in the delightful book by Victor Smith called ‘Open Cockpit over Africa’ in which he tells of his adventures flying more than 13 000 miles from George to London and back. Arriving back in George he was welcomed back as a hero by the locals. (Fairview is of course the Mayoral home mentioned…)

“Uncle Jack Smith (JK), who had once claimed expenses from the tax-man for ‘lubrication of the best machine in the factory’ (brandy for himself), arrived in great style in his new six-cylinder Studebaker. But, despite his weakness, never let it be said that my uncle Jack was not a man of his word. I think the reader will agree when he or she reads the story which I will now have to tell.

Oom (Uncle) Koos Stander, Mayor of George, paid me the honour of a handshake with hands the size of boxing gloves. Oom Koos, with JK Smith, had been two of the most enthusiastic supporters of the bar in the old Victoria Hotel at the top of York Street – now the George Museum.

Said my uncle, after his fourth brandy, to the ex-mayor who was holding a cigar in his left hand and a brandy in his right: “Koos ou swaer (old brother-in-law) I think you are becoming a bit of an alcoholic!”

“Nonsense, I can give it up anytime I want to. I’ll bet you five pounds I can go without a drink longer than you can.”

“Taken”, says JK. ” I’ll bet you my brand-new Studebaker I can abstain for longer than you can; we start from tomorrow.”

Six weeks, or it may have been six days later, Uncle Jack decided that one small brandy would be very nice, and no one would notice. After looking round the bar he walked in and ordered a double. Great minds think alike, and before JK started to settle down to business, Oom Koos with the same idea in mind peeped around the door and walked in.

Uncle Jack paid up – but the ex-mayor never learnt to drive. It was always to be next week. The brand new Studebaker could be seen for many years corroding away beside the ex-mayoral home.”

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