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PORT Elizabeth author Bartle Logie remembers walking with his teacher father in Fordsburg, Johannesburg, and watching as he pointed to holes in the wall: 'These are bullet holes from the 1922 miners' strike." The young boy studied the wall closely, completely engrossed by the scene. This event instilled a deep and lifelong passion for history. It was not surprising then, after retiring from Woodridge Prep after 29 years — six as principal - that history played such an integral role when he turned to writing his first book.
More specific to the writing of his first tome was a diary by the Governor of the Cape, Sir Alfred Milner, about his trip in a horse-drawn spider (a sporty, open carriage) from Uitenhage, through passes designed by Thomas Bain, to Cape Town in 1897 - one of the earliest recorded journeys by road.
"I made use of this as a sort of string on which to hang the stories I knew of down the coast," Logie said.
His latest book, Sundays, Tales from a Winding River, centres on his adventures among the communities of the Sunday's River, from the Loodsberg (between Graaff-Reinet and Middelburg) to where the river flows into Algoa Bay.
"In this book I used the river as the link for all the stories, so it's got all sorts of odds and ends. It's got history, it's got plants, it's got all sorts." Logie's book is a blend of research reading and interviews with the local populace. "I picked up some stories which were completely unprintable, " he chuckled. "We spent an evening in Kirkwood with Boeram Venter and some of his mates. "Some of the stories we heard were absolutely hilarious. We rolled with mirth but I just couldn't print those stories."
One story he did elect to publish, "not one of Boeram's stories but another one in the valley , raised some eyebrows over there?, he said.
The story is about the young girls who used to come to Kirkwood to pack oranges in the old days. One ofthe girls met a local Don Juan and the couple fell hopelessly in love. She, however, was Dutch Reformed and the young man, an Anglican, insisted she change denomination.
The Anglican minister agreed to instruct the young lady about Anglicanism and took to visiting her home for this purpose. The suitor was a great tease.
When he called he would knock on the door and when she asked who was there, he would reply "It's Reverend So-and-so" and she would fling open the door.
One day as she was taking a bath there was a knock, and she asked who it was. "Reverend So-and-so," came the reply.
Stark naked she flung open the door thinking it was her boyfriend but to her great embarrassment there stood the real Reverend So-and-so.
"I felt it was a sort of innocuous story but I can tell you, some of the people there didn't think so at all. The names have obviously been changed," Logie said.