Growing up in Norton.

Growing up in Norton. Now it was a long time ago, but at the time it was an idyllic time in our country which was known as Rhodesia. Where do I begin to tell the story, the sweet love story that is older than the sea, where do I start? It was before the war had started and politics and hatred had not really begun, but unbeknown to us the indigenous people were quietly simmering and soon all hell was to break loose. So it is important to tell you about some of the people I knew who had very different views, so here goes.

I am at Norton Junior School as a boarder and I become very friendly with a guy called Jeff Dix. An amazing talent who could do just about anything from sports to art and so much more. He also had an older sister who was teaching at the school called Judy who to this day remains as one of the most beautiful woman I have ever known. Now the other boys had ganged up against Jeff and a great fight was had. I was the only boy in the school to support him, so the two of us were not exactly popular at the time. The long and short of this is that he asks me out when his parents come on a Sunday. Judy is also with us and we drive past a farm known as Merton Park. Even in those far oft times it was one of the show pieces of the country and Rhodesians en masse sure knew how to farm. It was owned by Sir Cyril Hatty, knighted by the crown for his services to the country as Minister of Finance. He had a son Graham, who was working for him and a great romance began between him and Judy, whom both are still married to each other.

Now here is where politics enter the equation. Rhodesia had a new Prime Minister called Ian Smith and he had just broken away from the crown and declared Rhodesia’s unilateral act of independence. You see Rhodesia had always been a British colony but independence was to be granted the same way this was given to Australia and New Zealand but in our case was denied. You see what I am really leading up to is that not everyone thought the same way about politics and how the country should be run. Sir Cyril Hatty for one had exactly the opposing views to how Smith thought. However the bulk of the white people agreed with Smith. Which is about where I come in because as a young boy I had learnt that everybody has opposing views and this did not mean that thinking differently made you any less well liked. It certainly didn’t work that way in Norton.

I have finished my secondary education and am at home on the farm before commencing to do my National Service. It is just before Xmas and a variety concert is being held in the hall at Norton Country club. I have been playing snooker with some of my mates so am late getting there and all the seats have been taken, so sit on a table at the back of the hall. Lady Doris Hatty who used to be a chorus girl is singing on stage, dressed up in a long dress and floppy hat which the girls wore way back then and she sure could sing. One of my mates says something to me at the back which causes me to burst out laughing. Lady Doris immediately stops singing and says. ‘Ah Spook, I’ll carry on when you have stopped laughing.’ The whole hall swings around and showers me with dirty looks. TSUH, and I wasn’t even laughing at her I promise Mum. It is not long afterwards that I am  left totally deaf from my very short time in the army. I go to Gwebi Agricultural College and in my last year there do Merton Park as my project. Sir Cyril and Lady Doris Hatty couldn’t have been nicer to me or more helpful as were Graham and Judy.

Times are now bad and the war goes on ever escalating. Politics are now the forefront of everything and everything we stood for looks like it is being lost. Robert Mugabe, onerous dictator has a purge of his cadres in Zambia and Josiah Tongarara is murdered. Sir Cyril Hatty makes the eulogy for him and a most fitting tribute it was.

Then there were Ralph and Marguerite Palmer who were also farmers in Norton and two nicer people one couldn’t hope to meet. I well remember when I was chosen for Standard Bank first cricket team and my Dad told Ralph who replied, ‘he’ll play for Rhodesia yet’. Now they were completely opposite to most whites in Rhodesia and passionately believed ‘that you can’t judge a man by the colour of his skin’. Somewhere in 1980, and Mugabe was in power, Jim Sinclair there son in law and onetime head of the Commercial Farmers Union, came over the radio one morning. In a most distressed voice he told us ‘that there had been a murder’. It was none other than his beloved Mother in law Marguerite who had been shot in the head through the window in their household. By an African soldier, of all people. He wasn’t one of Mugabe’s lot but a former soldier in the Rhodesian African Rifles, who I guess had finally lost it and gone off his head. It was a most distressing time for all who lived in our country.

Now as time progressed and things became worse and worse in our beloved country. Sir Cyril Hatty paid a visit to parliament and there was no paper in the toilets. Can you believe it? As he said himself, he’s an old man now and the call of the toilet is never far away. The long and short of all this, is, even people who were all for the change now realised that it actually had all happened to fast. Their lovely farm Merton Park is now no more as with most farms in that poor blighted country.

Don’t you feel like crying?

About spookmoor

I'm a 61 year old happily married man with three grown up children. I lost all my hearing as an eighteen year old whilst doing National Service and then had a Cochlear Ear Implant twenty years later. I love trying to explain these things to people and bits about my life. I never thought so at the time, but it was the best thing that ever happened to me. Thus one gets Random ramblings from a man who has seen a lot with a touch of humour underlying all.
This entry was posted in Culture & Society, Education, Family, Family and Relationships, Farming, Healthy Living, Parenting, Poetry & Writing, Politics, Schooldays, Travel, Travel & Places and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

47 Responses to Growing up in Norton.

  1. James Whidborne says:

    Nice piece. In the early 80’s Sir Cyril Hatty also served as Finance Minister in the homeland government of Bophuthatswana, of all places. There was also an article in the UK press about Graham Hatty about 10 years ago, he was invited to farm in Nigeria after the land invasions.

  2. Robyn Sumpter (nee Beghin) formerly from Selous says:

    Another great read with lots of shared memories! Just one correction though Kevin (sorry, I never knew you as Spook!) regarding the World Ploughing Championships – sometime in the 60’s – and the catering. The ladies from all the farming districts round and about, Selous and Hartley and others I am sure, were baking and cooking up a storm for days before the competition. Keep these great stories coming!

  3. Maggi says:

    Morning Spook. Beautiful day here in Australia. Thanks again for this, and stirring up some memories buried somewhere in the grey matter. I spent the first 6 years of my life in Makwiro, just downt he road of Norton. I remember vaguely visiting folk in Norton and some of your names ring a bell …. Simon just to add to your mentioning of IDS, I use to work for CAPCO main offices just diagnally across the road from Parlaiment. Use to watch IDS drive himself up, hand his key over to the person beside him to go park his car, and walk into the building. The RGM would arrive with the wailers, two trucks one in front one at the back mounted with guns, and him in his bullet proof Benz those days. What a difference. Spook back to you, The Hatty’s name rings a bell, what did their house look like , vague memories …

  4. Judith McArthy says:

    I love reading the old stories of the country I grew up in.

  5. Heather Steel says:

    Really enjoyed reading this. Would love to read more.

  6. Roger Ryan says:

    A little bit of paradise. So well written Kevin?

  7. Charl Grobbelaar says:

    Excellent, Spook – I hope this is only the first of many chapters on “growing up in Norton”. Coincidentally just visited the said PK’s old house in Bath Road, Harare this morning.

    • spookmoor says:

      Delighted to see you here Charl and of course with the comment. Yes, I hope so too, the problem being that these days everyone has such a small attention span so if one makes the post too long, they don’t read it to the end and more is the pity eh?

  8. I remember a Jim Dix , met him in Shamva was working for Ian Ross , was he any relation . Spent many a good bush trip with Billy Ludicke , great remembering the times I had in Norton , mostly after 1980 .

  9. Mike Park says:

    Mr. Moor…. in a peculiar way we have much in common… and I do enjoy following your blog and posts on FB…. ( Did Gweebs, got the trophy for Farm Management Essay – an amusing story behind this – , played cricket for Standard Bank…. grew up on a farm in Selous next door to another RF Politician – PK… and a bit more.. ).. Keep well… 🙂

  10. Gomer Pyle says:

    As always well written and a lovely tribute to the very special people of an incredible country …
    Frozen in time and memory,
    How can we not ‘Don’t you feel like crying’
    That’s why, although I love you writings, when it comes to home
    I find it very difficult to read ….
    Because to live here and retain my sanity
    I have to live in the now …desperately seeking the positive always
    Not looking back at what mighta, coulda, woulda …
    Because all that’s is left… is devastation .. in one form or another.. !!
    Roll on the day when there will be a shift for the better …
    It is on its way as surely as the sun rises in the east !!

  11. frankiekay says:

    Thanks for that, for me, Norton is a place you drive through (watching the speed limit!) on the way to Harare, and Ive only been there about four times in my life! Strange, living in Mat’land, we travel to South Africa more than Harare! I was too young to have an opinion about Ian Smith, but with Sir Garfield Todd living next door to us in Suburbs – I learned more about his side of the story than Smith’s.

  12. mc1a says:

    Great story spookmoor.

  13. davidac977 says:

    Thank you Spook. I well recall the “differences” in opinion amongst the white population but it was already too late. The Mugabe train was already on the tracks and gathering speed. The transition from white to black rule was ill designed and managed. Britain wanted to wash it’s hands and do it faster than advisable. The USA had it’s racial problems and were only to glad to be seen championing black rule as it took attention away from the searing “apartheid” that was rampant in their country.

  14. Siobhan Sullivan says:

    Lovely essay Kevin. Very interesting read even though I didn’t know any of the people you mentioned!

  15. msasa13 says:

    Good one, Spook, enjoyed it. Was that the farm where the international ploughing contest took place, early seventies I think? Pure magic to watch them turning the furrows!

    • spookmoor says:

      No msasa that was Kent Estate run by Bert Bryson and remember it well. The club was doing the catering and were staggered by how many people turned as we were only expecting two men and a dog so Wilf Wrench had to send an emergency call to catering suppliers in Salisbury. Luckily, all went well. Ah memories eh and what wonderful times we all lived in.

  16. Bill Ludeke says:

    Well written there Spook, brought back many found memories. I was fortunate to be a young policeman serving my time in Norton, it was a great community and many good friends made along the way.
    Regards Bill and Jenny

    • spookmoor says:

      Remember your time there as a cop well Bill and especially your early morning wake up call on the radio which had all the wives in ecstasy. Shades of old whathisnames.

  17. George Azevedo says:

    So….you had the hots for Judy…lol,great story Spook,as always.
    Keep them coming,really enjoy your sarcasm.

    • spookmoor says:

      Sarcasm? Perish the thought.

      • George Azevedo says:

        Plain and simple sarcasm Spook,not everyone is as good as you with words..No offence meant obviously but I would like to see you join up these little stories one day and write a book.
        I can almost guarantee you ,it’ll be a best seller!

      • spookmoor says:

        Unfortunately I’m too dumb George. there’s a hole in my bucket dear Lisa, dear Lisa, a hole.

  18. Sarah Mellon says:

    I loved my teaching days in Norton at Dudley Hall……. the Hatty’s were a great family. Thanks for the memories

  19. Jim Sinclair. says:

    THanks for that Spook. Brings a tear to the eye mate.
    Love Jim and Ann

  20. A lovely tribute to the varied people of our beloved country Spook. The two side of the same coin were in fact very differing in their political views of Ian Smith and even to the Crown, and that lead to some very interesting discussions and “debates”. I know my former father-in-law certainly had no love lost for Ian Smith and the “rest of his sell-out cronies.” But I believe this was not purely political, but based on the “fact”, that these people had sold us down the river leaving many of us trapped by their decisions, whilst they were all comfortable and able to flee to other countries of their forefathers. As we know Ian Smith did not flee, but that is another story. We were certainly the transition generation, I believe, in between the Royalists and Zimbabwe generations. Fighting for what we all passionately believed in, but doomed to the course and ill-winds of political destiny. Thank you again for sharing and I personally do like the text interspersed with images.

  21. Anna Othitis says:

    Love your page and stories

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s