Stories and Traveltips

ID #5393

Memories of John Harris, Port Alfred, Eastern Cape, South Africa.

John Harris was a boy in Miss Bartlett’s Standard 2 (Grade 4) class at Port Alfred School in 1959 if I remember correctly. We must have been about 9 years old at the time. I believe his father was Rex Harris who, prior to the establishment of the NSRI, would, together with Pixie John and Mannie Samuels, put their lives at risk by going out to sea to rescue seafarers in distress. Given the rough seas off the South Africa coast, particularly during winter, their reputation for bravery was hard earned and well deserved.

Pixie John was famous for another reason -- he dared to be different. In an era when "short back and sides" was the norm, he had a shock of shoulder-length reddish brown hair. As a result he looked like a mixture of cowboy heroes such as Wild Bill Hickock, Kit Carson and Colonel Custer. But worse was to come. Horror of horrors, he tied it back with a shoelace! Now that really got the town talking. Fortunately however the nattering didnt seem to bother Pixie very much.

What made me think of John was his amazing ability to draw pictures of elephants. One or two lines and, in the wink of an eye, there was an elephant.  Needless to say he practiced his art diligently and the classroom was covered with his elephant pictures. John  lived, together with his mother and father, in a wood and iron house behind the Roman Catholic Nunnery on the east bank in Park Road. One day John and I happened to be playing in the garden around the back of the house and out of sight of his mother. As it was getting late, his mother emerged from the front door and called out: “John – where are youuuu”. To which he replied: “I’m not here Mommy – I’ve gone to toooownnn”.

Times have changed! John – if you read this please contact me.

Alan McIver, Doha, Qatar, January 2013

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Last update: 2014-03-17 02:20
Author: Alan McIver
Revision: 1.9

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