Thursday, 12 June 2014

Jewel and Arthur

Gran (Jewel Booysen) and Gramps (Arthur Huebsch) met in early 1949 in a boarding house called Faylands, in Pietermaritz Street, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, where they were both staying.

Gran and her younger sister, Jenny were living there together. They had grown up in Cape Town, where their mother was still living at the time. Gran worked in the Post Office, starting on the switchboard and then moving to the telegraph office.

Gramps was there with his brother, Edgar. Their parents had retired the year before and bought a small farm called Langverwacht, in Hidcote, near Mooi River (a small rural town in the foothills of the Drakensburg Mountains.) The boys needed to stay in town for their jobs. Gramps worked in the local brewery, as a mechanic.

There was a shared dining room at the boarding house, and no doubt they caught each other's eye one night at dinner. One evening, Gran was sitting in the lounge knitting, when Gramps walked up to her and pulled one of the knitting needles out of her work, leaving all of the stitches dangling. Later, they all decided (Gran, Gramps, their siblings and some friends) to go for a walk. They ended up walking for a long time, and found themselves at The Hatcheries on the north side of town. Somehow Gran and Gramps got separated from the group and got back home much later, long after everyone else had gone to bed. When Gran's mother found out, she was not impressed.

After a whirlwind romance of only 3 months, they got married on 1 August 1949 at St Mary's Catholic Church in Loop Street, Pietermaritzburg. Gramps had been raised a Catholic, so that's why the ceremony was held there. They had very little money, so Gran got married in a normal inexpensive pale-blue dress. The whole ceremony lasted only 7 minutes. (That was just like her, not to make a fuss.)

Gran was 22 and Gramps 24 years old.

They moved into a tiny one-roomed place after they were married. Gran told me once that some people thought (incorrectly) that she was pregnant, hence the 'rushed' wedding. The fact that their first baby was born more than a year later proved the gossips wrong.

Gran told her new husband that all she really wanted was 6 children and a van to drive them around in. She did conceive 6 babies, but sadly miscarried twin boys. Their 4 surviving children are: Uncle Philip (who lives in Botswana); my Mom Heather (UK); Aunty Ruth (USA) and Aunty 'Joon' (Kathleen) who still lives in South Africa. Gran also got the van she desired, about 14 years later.

They had 10 grandchildren, and now, although they never met them, 9 great-grandchildren, and one more on the way.

They were happily married (they really were happy and obviously still very much in love) for 48 years, until Gramps died in 1997.


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