Back in 1965 however the memory of the second visit to Robert was starting to fade in our minds. Father’s business was doing well and he had just opened a branch in Pretoria, meaning that he was now away from home more often as he had to make sure that the new branch became profitable as soon as possible. Mother was now to all intensive purposes running the Johannesburg office still with no pay, contributing to the good of the family. It was at this time that father bought his first Mercedes, the car of his dreams. Not bad for an emigrant who had arrived in South Africa with one suitcase filled with a spare shirt, change of underpants and a spare pair of socks.
If I close my eyes I can still smell the new leather and walnut interior. I see the imitation ivory steering wheel and the tomb stone shaped instrument panel. The colour of the car was white and to my knowledge he has never bought a car in any other colour. He was so proud of that car and I remember the drive that we went on the night he brought home the car for the first time, we cruised through the suburb that we lived in and took a leisurely drive around Zoo Lake. The car was so quiet and the ride so smooth that it was hard to realise that we were still attached to the road. My father must have felt that he had “Arrived”.
During that year my father was not only away looking after the Pretoria branch but was now travelling to Europe on business on a regular basis. So he became a visitor to our home and when he was home he always seemed to be entertaining either overseas visitors or clients, so even though he was home we saw him less and less. My mother was always the perfect hostess and because most of the foreign visitors were of German origin, she became an accomplished German cook. Also, as Granny’s room was now empty, most of the visitors tended to stay at our house for the duration of their visits.
There were numerous visitors, but only two really stand out in my memory. Most of our visitors were typically German, polite, aloof and arrogant but there was one German and one Swiss that were not at all typical in any way. Let’s start with the Swiss national, I cannot remember his name, so let’s call him Swiss, just for identification, but he was probably the most fascinating of our visitors. I also think that he was not visiting my father for business reasons but I stand to be corrected.
Swiss left every morning with my father and did something during the day, but I have never found out what. To be sure he was dressed in a suit and tie as were all businessmen of the day so presumably he was some sort of businessman. It was on weekends that he became so fascinating at least to us children. You see Swiss was a frustrated Chocolatier and pastry chef. So every weekend he would pull out all my mothers baking equipment and commandeer the kitchen, much to Hubby’s disgust and to our glee. Swiss created the most fascinating cakes, sweets and chocolates that I have ever had the pleasure of eating.
Cakes shaped as ships, planes, cars, dolls houses in fact any shape that you could imagine, not only iced, but smothered in chocolate, marzipan and various other strange but delicious coverings. He also made chocolate creations that were so scrumptious that today I still yearn for those chocolates. He made pies with fruit fillings of all sorts, that if he had been in the Garden of Eden, Eve would not have been tempted by an apple, but would have spent eternity in exile as long as Swiss supplied his pies.
He was that good, his command of the English language was not great but he was one of those grown-ups that had a natural affinity with children, to say we loved him was an understatement. Swiss was around on my sixth birthday and secretly baked a birthday cake for me to take to school to share with my classmates It was designed in the shape of a passenger liner, the outside made of marzipan, resplendent with portholes made of sugar, ropes of chocolate, crew of marzipan and even smoke made of cotton candy. It was truly a work of art, so much so that my teacher, the angel refused to cut the cake so it was left to me to hack it to pieces. Unfortunately after about three months he departed the skies of South Africa and never returned.
Lots of Hugs and more,