Amongst the few things that I know about my grandmother’s upbringing, is that as a Beckley, she was raised in the family house in Draaifontein. Furthermore, Elizabeth Daisy McCleland always claimed that she was the first person to be betrothed in the St Albans Church.
Only after recently receiving a photograph of the original iron & timber church from Rosemary MacGeoghan and the excellent notes by Anthony Beckley, have I been able to establish something of substance about this quaint church.
This is the story of the family church.
Main picture: Original St. Alban’s Church
Spare a thought for an extremely young girl, her parents first separated and then at the tender age of 10, her father dies. Imagine the sense of loss, the perpetual sense of emptiness. This is the personal and touching story of Meriel [Merry] Burman as she recalls her father, Cecil McCleland and recounts her life growing up almost cheek-by-jowl with other McCleland’s in Newton Park but never knowing them. Meriel is the correct spelling of Merry’s name as I have gently been scolded.
This is Meriel’s story
Main picture: Cecil & Dorothy McCleland in 1939. A serene idyllic scene of family happiness with Cecil fishing & Dorothy stroking the family dog
In March 1926, the 19 year old Kathleen Mary McCleland took the momentous step of getting engaged. No one understood what attracted Kathleen to the 33 year old George Wood but whatever it was, she was smitten.
To congratulate her and offer some sound words of advice, her grandmother, Mrs Mary Ann Beckley, sent her this letter. Having been born in Ludlow, Shropshire, England on the 20th December 1847, Granny Mary was 79 years old.
Main picture: Top L-R Thelma, Mr Clements, Daisy Bottom L-R Kathleen, Maureen & Clifford
Bryce was the proverbial laat lammertjie. By being born on the 24th August 1922, meant that he was the youngest of the six McCleland children of Harry & Daisy McCleland of Schoenmakerskop. In what can only be described as a tumultuous few years, first his elder brother Francis accidently shot himself during an attempted break-in at his parents Tea Room, then at the age of 8 his father succumbed to Black Water Fever which he had contracted fighting in German East Africa.
Main picture: Bryce and Auret McCleland – most probably taken at their 40th wedding anniversary in 1986 when Mom was 65 yrs old – Dad was 68.
Francis Joseph Walker McCleland, born on 19th September 1909, was the eldest son of Harry & Daisy McCleland of Schoenmakerskop. His life was tragically cut short on the 11th August 1930 when he became the first and possibly the last person who will ever be killed during a robbery at Schoenmaker’s Kop.
Main Picture: Francis Joseph Walker McCleland
This article has been written by Rosemary MacGeoghan in response to my request for an article on the life & times of the McCleland family at Schoenmakerskop.
Main picture: Schoenmakerskop on 10th December 1922 after the opening of Marine Drive outside Daisy’s Tea Room called THE HUT TEAROOM
A letter by Mary Ann Beckley nee Waspe to her daughter Elizabeth Daisy McCleland shortly before her death on 30th December 1931
This is another in a periodic series on our childhood in Port Elizabeth. In this episode Blaine relates an incident of which I was blissfully unaware until this morning. How is that possible if we lived in the same house?
Main picture: Ferguson TE 20 “Vaaljapie”
There can be little doubt that Port Elizabeth offers some superb opportunities for the ill-advised youths in Port Elizabeth to partake in speed related challenges. Needless to say, my brother Blaine has finally revealed some incidents in his ill-spent youth in which he might have met his maker long before his allotted three score and ten years.
Main picture: Blaine’s Yamaha which was the crux of Blaine’s follies
Amongst the many traits of the people half a century ago were loyalty, loyalty to one’s family and fealty to one’s employer. Because of this, one never got divorced however dysfunctional the marriage or toxic the employer.
In my father’s case, it meant spending his whole working life for bosses that he disrespected and conditions under which he felt exploited.
Spare a thought for one such employee, Harry Clifford McCleland, in this milieu.
Main picture: Main Entrance to Yard of JJ Ruddy & Sons in Lindsay Road