During that term things were to be a lot better with the change in the Afrikaans teachers attitude, so I was not punished by them that much and because of my move, I had made friends with one or two of the older English speaking students in one of the other prefab barracks. These new friends were of the rebellious mould and they showed me ways of bunking out of the school grounds at night and the dubious pleasures of Barberton after dark.
The only way to town at night and not to be spotted leaving the school was through the grave yard as it was the one place not many people visited after dark, once through it was easy to sneak along the less frequented side streets to reach the illicit and corruptible fish and chips shop.
One evening while bunking out, we entered the graveyard at the usual slow walk that always ended in a run at the exit. We had just broken into a very fast walk when the boy next to me disappeared, which meant the two that were left probably broke every record in the book for sprinting, we only slowed down once we had left the graveyard. It was then that we realised that we had to go back and save our fellow conspirator from whatever had befallen him.
With legs that were as heavy as lead we slowly crept back the way that we had come, to finally hear quiet whimpers from the ground just a few graves further in front of us. Where I summoned the courage to keep going I do not know, but I finally arrived at a newly dug grave and at the bottom was my friend curled up into a ball whimpering. We finally persuaded him to stand up and helped him out of the grave.
That was to be my last night time expedition into town, my friends carried on and were eventually caught and severely punished. There was to be one other dangerous escapade that I was to participate in with my intrepid friends and that was the ride in the “cocopans”, as we called the aerial cableway that stretched between Barberton and the asbestos mine in Swaziland.
One Saturday they decided it was boring to go to town as we had already seen the movie that was showing the previous Saturday and that they had a far better thing to do. So stupidly I followed their lead, we left the hostel as usual, but instead of going to town they headed towards the cableway. It was easy enough to climb the pylons that supported the cableway and it was not that difficult to jump into one of the empty returning buckets, it was getting out that was to prove dangerous and difficult.
It was not something we had considered, when we attempted the stunt. Also the cable moved very slowly, or so it seemed from the ground, but as a worker on an assembly line will tell you it moves a lot faster than it looks. So that Saturday we rode the cableway over into Swaziland and managed to jump onto one of the pylons just before it entered the mine compound. When I jumped out of the bucket I almost did not manage to catch onto the pylon I was aiming for, and even though I finally did, it was not before I had badly scrapped my hands and bruised my chest in the fall against the pylon. If I had not needed to return, there would have been no way I would have attempted the return trip, but as there was no option I did.
We were very fortunate that neither the people in the mines nor the Swaziland police spotted us or we would have landed in jail and I am sure would have been expelled from the school.
Lots of HUGS and more,