Stoep Stories No 17

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Saturday, 17th May 2014



Published by the Graaff-Reinet Heritage Society 

By Marge Noel

The Graaff – Reinet Training College is no more but memories of that institution are alive and well among ex-students. Recently one of them now an octogenarian told me how happy were her years there notwithstanding the close supervision under which they studies and played in the thirties. She recalls vividly the searing heat which greeted her on her arrival all those years ago.

She found to her surprise that the seniors were expected to help the new comers with their luggage from the station to the College.

The building as it existed in the thirties was subsequently swallowed up and incorporated into the residence which is known as College House. Dormitories were over crowded both at the College where the girls lived and at the men’s residences Reinet House and Werda.  Toilet facilties were behind the College in the veld.

The hospital the station and the College were the only buildings at the entrance to the town. Church Street was lined on both sides by residential properties.

Looking back my friend recalled that recreation was sedate and opportunities of mixing strictly limited. On Fridays the students were allowed into town briefly. Sometimes after supper a chaperoned group stroll was permitted.

The scence was charged with excitement after supper on Fridays when visist were allowed.  The men from the College had to contend with strong rivalry from the local blades some of whom made a big impression with their jalopies.

Once a term there was a College picnic always chaperoned. Spandau’s Kop was a challenge to the energetic even then and my informant who tackled the climb successfully reminded me that slacks and shorts were unheard of as climbing gear. As there was yet no rope or wire ladder the girls had to be assisted up the steepest section of the ascent but willing help was offered by the men.

A regular social provided opportunities for flirtation and romance. Unsophisticated games such as “kalkoentjie Kalkoentjie trap al so trap al so” were played. It seems that this may have resembled musical chairs with overtones of the “Paul Jones”!

The annual College dance in the Town Hall was for seniors only. No transport was available so the dancers walked there and back no doubt at a leisurely pace if the chaperons could be persuaded t turn a blind eye.

Memorable treats were the ice creams available every afternoon from a cart at a penny each and Hanepoot grapes at a trickey a pound from a source near the present Berrange Bridge( in those days a low level affair).

Occasionally with special permission students could attend a bioscope.  I was assured that all these restrictions could not stop the exciting exchange of smiles and coy glances among the students.

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