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Lewis Family
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                                       Family Biographies

     

    Dave Lewis, son of Sam Lewis

    Sam born in Lithuania.  Mother from Germany.

    Sam left home alone to southern part of U.S. at age of 15/14.

    Bought a piece of land there.  When asked for father to come and

    sign purchase, he became annoyed and said if he can't do it himself,

    he is leaving to Cape Town.  He knew someone in Cape Town - got a

    job looking after his houses.  Eventually had a brickfield in

    Freznay in High Level Road.  Married Johanna Kaminsky in South

    Africa, moved to Verinechin ( Spel?)and Meyertown where (ask Dolly)

    Dave born in Verinechin (spel?)  - 1910.

    * During Boer Var - Sam in Johannesburg supplied houses to Dutch

    army. - Had a special permit to travel by rail and also to ride a

    JphanBeBbopc*: 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 boxes
    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

    Hotel was mainly a "bar - Farmers all around. Travelled to sales on
    "business "by 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. On
    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

    walk to town through the bush - because of snakes. Dave to Boy's  

    at 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 family
    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

    sit with body (other boys at the time Harry Bloom). Simchat Tora
    and cakes. party popular - free sweets, Kids built the succah (was it Isaac

    Lasovsky 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.

    In 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 caustic soda.
    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

     money 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 car
    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.
    Dave      Cape Town Jewish children - for Dave and Sam no Jewish life.

    Dave went prospecting all over the country - Wedza, Que Que, Mazoe
    (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.

    Bought with no money (Highlands   North in Johannesburg as well with a rich partner). Dave left mining just before war and joined Sam in business (Estate Agency) - sell plots used to get stuck in the mud on the way to show customers plots*
    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* Joined
    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, George Salomon,

    Lionel Friend, Max Gordon. Spent 8 months in camp to pick up black

    troops and become their officers. When Dave got there the black

    sergeant had already been in the army for 52 years, Dave only

    2 weeks had to be his officer. Then by ship for 52 days from Lagos

    to Mombasa to fight the Italians in East Africa. Dave landed up

    in hospital in Nairobi after back injury caused by fall one night
    during maneuvers. 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. They
    used to collect all the Jewish blokes for every Yomtov, went to
    Shul and celebrated in their homes.

    Dave Lewis

    More 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

    took 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.

    Exported 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 - now bowls.

    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 special
    courses to improve her specialties. Printing - a nice trade for
    Jewish boys who are not university material.

    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 shooting for
    meat in V.'edza - got inbetween cul de 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 camp
    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.


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