Dave remembers the Tulbagh earthquake
27
Sep 2020

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The night of the earthquake, another story played itself out deadly on Robertson.

What on earth I did that night in Robertson’s main street, heaven alone knows. A friend and I were sitting on our bikes, in front of the Arcadia cafe, soft drinks in hand. And then, at 22.30, the earth began to shake under our feet. My lasting image of the event was the sleeve stripes in the middle of Church Street, which moved like a living animal on the black tar. We got a bottle of gin, and made the hysterical aunties in Church Street a decent chicken head.

The buildings in in Tulbagh op 29 September 1969. Photo collage: ResearchGate

But there is another story about this. A beloved friend was a policeman on Wolseley, and received an emergency call from the nursing home in Ceres – Aunt Kittie was clean. They rushed through and arrived at the nursing home. There, the confused residents, in Candlewick dressing gowns, stood in front of the ruined nursing home. No one knew where Aunt Kitty was. Andries (my friend), flash in hand, started at Aunt Kittie’s room, where the bed was still made up. Finally he comes to the bathroom, and hears faint noises from a bath, covered with rubbish.

Aunt Kittie! he called. And then the voice came out of the bath. “Kriegie, is that you?” He was relieved to find her alive, and when he removed the rubbish, Aunt Kittie lay stiff and naked, eyes as big as saucers. “Aunt Kittie! How do you feel?”

“Oh Kriegie, I just took a nice bath, climbed in, when a terrible stroke gripped me. Stroke paralyzes one, doesn’t it? And with my last strength I pulled out the bath plug with my toe, because I did not want to come to my end like that ”

Andries wrapped Aunt Kittie in a dressing gown, and she walked outside upstairs.

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