St. Peter’s was a revelation to me in the fact that they had large sports fields, and we were expected to participate in at least one organised sport. The choice was extensive, soccer, cricket, rugby, swimming, tennis, athletics and various others. As some sports are seasonal, most students participated in at least two organised sports during the year.
The sport I chose for the first term of the year was cricket, so my mother took me shopping to buy all the required paraphernalia required to be a professional cricketer. Practice was twice a week after lessons had finished for the day, I stand to correction, but I think they were on a Tuesday and Thursday. On those days when I did not have practice, I left for home straight after lessons. I would catch the bus to Rosebank, change buses, catching the city bus disembark in Parktown and walk down to Jan Smuts avenue to connect with the bus going to Parkview.
Granny by this time had divorced Robert, and had moved into a small flatlet that had been built above a double Garage in Roscommon road in Parkview, about three blocks away from our house. If I hurried to catch the Parkview bus, I would be on time to catch a lift with Granny as she headed home. She would never wait for me if I dawdled, but always picked me up if I was waiting for the bus.
There were two advantages in getting a lift and not catching the bus, the first was that I saved the bus money, and the other was I spent the afternoon with Granny and was given all sorts of treats over afternoon tea. So you see it was to my advantage if I did not miss that lift. The city bus always stopped at the bus stop at the entrance to Sherborne road, which incidentally was the road that I walked down, or ran down if I thought I was late for Granny, to catch the connecting bus home.
The City council decided one day to move the Sherborne bus stop about a hundred meters passed the entrance to Sherborne road in what I presume was a safety measure, for a bus stopped directly in front of an intersection tends to block the road behind and the intersection itself. What they failed to do was let their passengers in on the change.
Johannesburg at that time had double decker trolley buses, and we children always sat on the top deck above the driver, so that we could see our stop coming up and to frustrate the driver below by placing our feet over the sort of periscope that was situated so that he could monitor the behaviour of the upstairs passengers. There were also two exits from the bus, one at the front passed the driver, and one at the rear, a sort of spiral staircase ending about a meter before the exit that did not have doors.
When you saw your stop approaching, you rang the bell and preceded to one of these exits, my preference was the back one where you could run down the stairs, jump catch hold of the pole and swing yourself off the bus. So came the day when I saw my stop ahead, rang the bell and ran down the rear staircase, I had done this so often that it was a game to arrive at the bottom of the stairs just before the bus stopped, jump, grab the pole and swing to the ground just as the bus was almost stationary.
Not knowing that the bus still had a hundred meters to go, I launched myself at the pole, but the bus did not slow, and in panic I missed the pole and landed in the busy road, tumbling bum over head behind the bus. How I was not run over is just one of those small miracles.
The next conscious recollection I have is of an ambulance attendant moving me onto a stretcher. Fortunately my mother, in her wisdom had printed not only my name on the flap of my school case but also emergency telephone numbers and contact details. So when I arrived at the hospital she was already waiting for me. The scrapes and wounds were quickly cleaned and bandaged as well as the large swelling on my head; I was then released into my mother’s care and taken home.
I returned to school the conquering Hero, but was from then on fetched from Rosebank every afternoon as if I was a baby again, and that I would be stupid enough to attempt the foolish stunt after what had happened. I suppose all mothers will understand and sympathize with mine and all sons with me.
Lots of Hugs and more,