Lewis, son of Sam Lewis
born in Lithuania. Mother from Germany.
left home alone to southern part of U.S. at
age of 15/14.
a piece of land there. When asked
for father to come and
purchase, he became annoyed and said if he can't
do it himself,
is leaving to Cape Town. He knew
someone in Cape Town - got a
looking after his houses. Eventually
had a brickfield in
Freznay in High Level
Road. Married Johanna
Kaminsky in South
moved to Verinechin ( Spel?)and Meyertown
where (ask Dolly)
born in Verinechin (spel?) -
* During Boer Var - Sam in Johannesburg
supplied houses to Dutch
- Had a special permit to travel by rail and also to ride a
1902 (gap - DeAelgrs)
Dave's story - started school in Marandellas 1914 (had to send Dave
at 4 years as needed 16 children or government would send a teacher.
Teacher's name was Miss Dockrill. She was
strict. Everybody poor.
School 1 room, iron roof, a few windows, school benches. Wild
animals and snakes were often seen. Living in bush - the house
built 1912 on Sam's farm - steel decorated ceilings. Farm bought
2.6 acre - 5000 acres, paid in instalment
whenever he could.
Cattle farm. Sam bought Marandellas Hotel and ran a general store
as well, in 1911. Population in 1911 about
50 - police station,
native commissioner, cattle inspector. Seats were parafin
of whiskey boxes - furniture in home only in lounge - and proper
beds. In 1915 Sam well in, in cattle - buy and sell - (Notice
wearing apparel in picture). That's how he made his living. The
was mainly a "bar
- Farmers all around. Travelled to sales
rail. It was safe to leave family on farm. Community
like one family. Train had no specific time but time immaterial.
Depending on "business the whole
family used to move "backwards and
forwards to Salisbury. In Salisbury stayed at Me ikies.
Christmas all the community went to Mr. Tarent's
farm called the
settlement - sports activities - climbing greasy pole, shooting,
racing horses - spent from Christmas to New Year. No Jewish
education at home until came to Salisbury. 1918 - 1920. Stayed in
rented house in Union Avenue/5th Street. Sisters not allowed to
to town through the bush - because of snakes. Dave to Boy's
the school High School (Moffat/Jameson) -
took violin lessons - boarding
school - location Moffat and Fife.
Didn't do too well. At the age
of 12.6 went to learn for Barmi with Rev.
Rosin who was everything.
Lessons at Guild Hall. Guild Hall centre of all Jewish activities.
Barmi - say one line only. Went to Chedder
because of Malburnies
(Minnie Saltzman). Never learned a
thing. Leon Bloom's
lived behind the Shul and when no minyan
- they used to drag the
boys by the ear. Boys absorbed nothing. Yet always felt proud of
being Jews. Pasted on Yom Kippur
but didn't know why. Had seder,
at the Blooms - a wonderful excuse to get out of Boarding School.
In 1920 - very few Jewish families in Salisbury. At Seder Jews
used to get together - Fanny Rosenberg
(Gordon), kids roped to sit
with bodyes after Barni
age for a night, Baker (old man) was paid to
with body (other boys at the time Harry Bloom). Simchat
and cakes. party popular -
free sweets, Kids built the succah (was it
who got the kids together to do the job). The most un
Jewish crowd ever brought up. Became more interested only when
married Jewish women. Nobody married non
Jews. In those days it
was more of a disgrace to take out a Shiksa
than at any other time.
1924 Sam took mother Johanna to Cape Town
because she had
cancer. Ada Mellor Lilly Steinberg
and myself left on the farm
alone. Rosa Bloom, Johanna's sister used to
send food. Keeping
food cool - box of chicken wire (double layer) between layers there
was charcoal which was kept moist - bucket on top dripping. Dave
shot a buck for food. Boys skinned and cleaned the meat. Also had
chickens. Made own soap from animal fat fy
Ethel Cohen Baked own bread - baked
on wood stove with chimney
through roof of kitchen. Made own cheese. Water out of well in
farm - most unhygienic - a hold in ground (life depended on 4 gal.
petrol tins) 20/50 feet deep. Children never fell in. Had animal
instinct. Eventually we were put on train to Cape Town, 1925 - on
way passed a train that brought Prince of Wales (Edward) on his way
to Salisbury on visit. Came white train.
The trip to Cape 5 days. -Sleepers. Sam rented a house, mother stayed
in bed. Dolly who was a married then, left her husband to go to
attend to her mother in Cape Town. So did Auntie Rosa Bloom.
Mother died December 1925. (Sam went to Cape Town about 1920 to
have an abcess lansed
which was done in those days by only one
Dr. Petersen. Had to make a will as it was
so dangerous - cut of
operation lay behind the ear). Dave went to Boy's High School and
then Sacs till 1927 - were very poor. Sent -the
girl to buy meat
for £2.6 - she got drunk on it and there was no more money to replace
it - so had no meat that day. Father Sam continued to speculate
mainly on buying lands and subdividing it. Elsie's River was a farm
out of Cape Town - bought on paper - sold a piece of it to get enough
for the deposit.
Essex motor car £16.00 bought on auction on the Parade in Cape Town
on a Saturday. Had to pay for it on Monday (in order to go to
Elsie's farm). Dave tested quantity of petrol in the cars for sale
and bought the one that had the most petrol - paid when he could.
Took a rich partner who eventually landed with Elsie's farm and
Sam remained with little. In 1927 had enough money to return to
Salisbury - A.A. magazine reported this as the first trip "by
from Cape Town to Salisbury - no roads. Carried petrol in tins.
At Belt Bridge pulled through river by
donkeys (plugged all
openings - opened doors so that water would go through car and not
Dolly pull car. Then
from one police station to the other. People on
Fanny the way would
invite the family to stay overnight. Span of oxen
Ada would come
to pull one's car out when stuck in mud.
Town Jewish children - for Dave and Sam no Jewish life.
went prospecting all over the country - Wedza,
(used to dig a hole and look
for gold. Learned to recognize the
rocks through trips and prospected till 1929 - conditions were bad,
prospecting was something to do. Sam went into Estate Business
Greendale - in 1952/5 went there to buy the
gum trees. Sam decided
to buy the farm, together with Louis Braude
and Harry Shapiro –
Braude lent the money £5000 for deposit -
went into partnership
cut the land and eventually sold it. Took a long time and continued
till after the war. Also a farm in Prospect at the same time,
parcelled and sold. Highlands the same, it
was the first. No shops
in Highlands as it was thought no one would want to open a shop so
far away. Good profits made eventually. Sam
gambled in business.
with no money (Highlands North in Johannesburg as
well with a rich partner). Dave left mining
before war and joined Sam in business (Estate Agency) - sell plots
– used to get stuck in the mud on the way to show customers
When war broke out Dave joined
army. (Married Edna Heller –
brother/sister. Bister/brother - had a
daughter 1937) Save took
out a big insurance policy of £500 which
is still going on*
army, trained in Drill Hall in Salisbury
when there was nothing of
interest at films. Landed in Nigeria (to Cape Town by train then
by boat). Also Mark Mande, Leon
Bloom, Eli Eliasov,
Friend, Max Gordon. Spent
8 months in camp to pick up black
and become their officers.
When Dave got there the black
had already been in the army for 52 years,
weeks had to be his officer. Then by ship for 52 days from Lagos
Mombasa to fight the Italians in East
Africa. Dave landed up
hospital in Nairobi
after back injury caused by fall one night
Spent 7 months in hospital.
In Nairobe met
Jewish people and learned more about Judaism than ever before. This
family Mr. & Mrs. Katzler, Mr. &
Mrs. Ruben, Mr. & Mrs. Soman.
used to collect all the Jewish blokes for
every Yomtov, went to
Shul and celebrated in their homes.
Jewish chaps in proportion joined army during war. Many
Jewish soldiers were sent to Egypt. Some to Burma - all via West
Africa regiment. Volunteered even before conscription. Dave returned
because of bad back - got discharged. Rookie
Rotstein landed up in
Malta Air Force. Returned to father's business. Father died in 1944.
Father - Sam started to plant Gum-Eucalyptus
in 1924 or so, although
10 years "bo mature, mainly for
mining. Planted with a
primitive plough with four donkeys - were poor. All his life he
was busy planting trees (probably came
originally from a forest
area) and parcelling lands for townships. As it eventually became
cheaper to buy ready made gums for the mines rather than send ox-
wagons to cut indiginous trees, Sam managed
to sell his gum.
The Globen Phenix
in Kwe Kwe
became their biggest customer for
over 50 years. Also dealt with cattle - bought and sold. Walked
from Marandellas to Selukwe
with a herd of cattle 200 or so.
After Sam's death, Dave started his own lumber business about
25 years ago, assembled gum from other farms as well. In 1920
Dave going to mining at Wedza, father was returning from Wedza and
ran into each other on the road - had a collision. Dave slept in
bush that night - made a big fire, heated axel
and straightened it
on stone - then proceeded to the mine. Learned to use gun at 10 -
no danger - carried guns. Lost a lot of money on mining.
gum to Egypt during war through Beira,
50 ft. long poles
through government , also to Beira
when built the docks 1950. Still
supplies to South Africa. Also makes hammer handles, and farm
implements handles for mines. The older the tree the harder the
wood - 5000 acres of tree,planted 1200 trees per acre. White ant
eat some especially in drought. Timber is treated once it is cut,
dried - telephone poles mustn't dry too quickly -•
about 12 months
in shady area. Dave used to play rugby -
Was a Mason - qualified as a master for about 5 or 4 years. Dave's
wife Ji'dna died in 1957, Stanley was 12, Myra
was 20. She was in
teacher training at the time. Edna did Wizo
work - was much more.
religious - "brought religion to
the family. Kids had education
in Salisbury. Nothing specific about
children. Myra taught at
King David - either retarded or too clever - still attending
courses to improve her specialties. Printing - a nice trade for
Jewish boys who are not university
Greendale - bought a plot, £75 an acre and good terms, dug a hole
and hoped to find water drawn out with bucket. Build a two roomed
house and add to it slowly as money became available - no electricity
bought with money received from army when de-mobbed - originally
paid £5.00 per acre. Laid water and roads. After war sold for up
to £2000 per acre. Ask
Dolly Blank about her wedding in Marandellas
- how did they cope.When
going shopping in other towns, slept on shop counter on blankets in
olden days. Two poles - cut grass and put in middle to make a grass
mattress - mosquitos, ants. Dave went
meat in V.'edza - got inbetween
sac of boulders. Was attacked
by baboons who couldn't get out. But managed to fire a few shots
and run. Was all alone 20 miles from nearest white men - flooding
rivers. At high school all boys belong to cadets - used to go Gwelo
and play soldiers in uniform with heavy guns. Heavier than the boys
were. Once a year for about 1 week, climbing, walking mountains
etc - This was part of schooling. Dave boxing career - originally
forced to box - was beaten heavily but decided to learn well and
eventually boxed for his particular group
at Sacks in Cape Town.