Inside was a basic wooden seat. The door could not be locked and there were always spiders and cobwebs around. There was no light. And it smelled bad as anyone who has ever used one, will know. And there were heavy bodied metallic “brommers” who seemed to enjoy the permanent stench of the longdrop.
Our father, Winston (Spindy) Roberts, was the fourth youngest of ten children. His father was English and his mother was Italian. Her maiden surname was Sante, which was bestowed on me as my second name. But we’ll get to this mish-mash of international names later in this story. It would have a profound effect on my life as a youngster and be the perpetual subject of teasing and ridicule. It also built loads of character.
Granny Sixer (as we used to address her) was without question the dominant parent of the King Williams Town Roberts clan. All but two of the children had the distinctive Italian complexion. My father was distinctly Italian in both looks and temperament. My brother, Carlo looks very much like our father. Carlo was accident prone. There are many tales to tell, but the one today stands out boldly above the others.
Our father would bellow at the top of his voice:
“My God Carlo! What have you done now?”
This would bring the rest of us to the scene of the crime to find out what our big brother had managed to get up to.
My mother was in the nursing home in Somerset East, giving birth to Janine, the youngest of the four of us. My father, whose office was just up the road was left to care for the other three children and hold down his job at the same time.
The day arrived where we were all going to collect my mother and the new baby. Lola and I were ready to go, but Carlo was nowhere to be found. He was 9 years old. After Lola and I were grilled as to his whereabouts, our father went into panic mode. His voice became louder as he searched through the house for the missing boy. Each bellow become increasingly enraged and louder.
There was only one last place to look - the long drop. Winston bounded to the toilet and peered down into the gloomy pit yelling Carlo’s name, but was met only with the sound of a lazy resident brommer.
Winston at that point hit the red zone. He was convinced Carlo had fallen into the pit and was busy drowning in excrement. Overcome with dread, he tore down the toilet building and jumped into the pit sifting through years of human waste, in search of his oldest son. He was in a hell of a state. Just then Carlo came sauntering into the yard. He had been at a friend's house. He had a quizzical look on his face with a half smile coupled with a furrowed brow.
That frozen moment in time when Winston, now fully immersed in the brown stuff saw his oldest son standing there with a grin on his face, is impossible to describe. Relief, followed in an Italian second of anger. I don’t remember if Carlo got his pakslae before or after Winston cleaned himself up. Ever since then I have studiously avoided using a long drop toilet. The memory is indelibly etched into my brain.
- A chat about Part 2 of the Bloukrans and Grootrivier Passes relived through the eyes of Dr Graham Ross
Pass of the Week
A quiet back road under the admin number of P605 runs through some of the most beautiful high altitude scenery between Mount Frere and Cedarville. Last week we featured the Nungi Pass, which lies just to the north of our featured pass this week.
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Words of Wisdom: "Opportunities don't happen. You create them" - Chris Grosser