Mrs Naudé’s journal

Genealogists are thrilled when they stumble onto a personal diary during their research, and so were we when we started dusting off personal documents that once belonged to Pierre Olivier Naudé (1895 – 1933).

We were cleaning out the Heemkring’s attic when we found a large box full of cards, letters, invoices, cancelled cheques and so forth. The papers were covered with dust, and the box had a few cobwebs lurking in its corners. Mindful of dangerous button spiders we carefully carried the box down and unpacked with all the anticipation of children opening presents on Christmas Eve.

The great find was a journal Mrs Naudé’s journal entry, written shortly after the birth of her only child. It is beautifully written, and addressed to her newborn son:

” … what a night you have selected for your arrival. A storm as violent as can be …  thunder galloping after thunder, wind and blinding flashes … The telephone wires were down between Franschhoek and Paarl, but by the very kind assistance of the postmaster, Thomas W de Smidt, who stopped shaving halfway to race to the post office to get us through on another line.

“During the hour or more waiting for Dr Frank P Bester and Nurse L Rosenstrauch of Paarl to arrive, Mr and Mrs Cilliers our neighbours, then living at Windsor House, kept Mammie company …

“At 10 o’clock Doctor and Nurse arrived and at two thirty on Thursday morning 11 February 1932 your maiden song to mankind echoed and re-echoed through the long silent halls of Bellevue.

“With what anxiety did your Grandma Naudé and Dad wait for that song and what joy filled our hearts when a few moments later we saw a little bundle lying on the bed. The little bundle who was responsible for all the stir and anxiety and joy. The first Naudé had been born at Bellevue, where the memories of your father’s boyhood days and the courting days of your parents will ever flit and fade and live again. To those memories already so sacred are added those of their little first born son.

“We mention the courting days of your parents for it is at Bellevue that sacred bond was tied between your Mum and Dad. It is to Bellevue that we fled during the weekends – away from life and its many conventions and it is at Bellevue that the wonderful memories of those days have been reborn in our own little lad.”

What makes this journal entry particularly poignant is that Mrs Naudé became a widow a year later, and that her young son would never know his biological father.

Genealogy: Pierre Olivier Naudé (1895 – 1933) lived in Bellevue House in Franschhoek, and was married to Jacoba Hofmeyer du Toit (1905 – ), and they had one child, David Edward Hugo Naudé (1932 – ).

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