After a most pleasant trip we arrived back in Cape Town, to find Queenie and Cherrie waiting for us. Something else was waiting for me – an “SOS” telegram from my friend Noel Chunnett, principal of the High School (for whites) in Butterworth, asking me to come and help him, as he could not get a teacher for English and History, Stds 8, 9 and 10. But there was a difficulty: Margery had already been offered a very good post as secretary to a good firm in Cape Town and wanted to accept it, and Queenie and Cherry were very anxious also for her to take the post. I felt that my place was in the Transkei, so we talked about the
situation and prayed about it and decided in the end to go to Butterworth. It was fortunate that we did, as Margery almost at once was asked by the school committee to accept the position of the Principal’s secretary. She was very pleased to do so thus she and I used to go to the school together. Soon, however, Margery became a sort of “fairy godmother to the Primary School children: when any of them had a fall in the playground resulting in a wounded knee or a scraped finger Margery was called on to apply the iodine or the plaster to the limb or the wound! She also had to give them cures for stomach aches or headaches or to rush them home in her car when they had to be returned to ‘mummy.’
I had been appointed to the High School as teacher of English and History for one year but in the end stayed for eight! Also I soon became the Vice-Principal of the school to take over when the Principal was unable to be at work because of ill-health or absence on Departmental duties.
Here again I was soon called in to help in the church. Margery, of course, being an Anglican, became a member of that congregation in Butterworth. There was no Presbyterian congregation in the town, so by special permission I went to the
Anglican Church and was even appointed a sidesman in the church! A year or two later the minister of the Methodist Church came to me to ask whether I could take the services in his church for three Sundays as he had to attend the annual Conference of the Methodist Church, which I agreed to do. Thus for a few weeks I became a Methodist as well as an Anglican and a Presbyterian! Quite a record when you remember that I started out as Dutch Reformed!
We stayed in Butterworth until the end of 1972. I should mention that we had been able to go overseas again on the money I had earned by writing nautical articles for the new Standard Encyclopaedia of Southern Africa (SESA), such articles as ‘Ports of Southern Africa,’ ‘Sea Trade,’ South African Ships,’ and so forth. But as I worked on these I saw that they were incomplete and that other subjects should also be added to the list, e.g. ‘The South African Navy.’ They told me, in a rather stiff letter, that the South African Navy was preparing an article about itself which they would receive in due course. I was very lucky in the ‘Ports’ article as I had a friend who had been a pilot at all our seaports at one time or another, so he could give me all the information I needed. Luckily he also had a semi-official booklet full of statistics and pictures which he lent me. I told him that I would use his knowledge and his book if he would share with me the money I would get. This he utterly refused to do, so all I could do was to add his name to the names of all my other ‘sources’ and a special ‘thank you’ to his name.
Two things hampered me in all this. First was the number of words to which I was restricted by the editors, which I always thought was too few; and secondly the pictures, where again I was allowed too few and, moreover, their substitution of pictures that they had instead on my pictures, even though mine were usually the better. The reason being that they would have had to pay me for every one of mine that was used!