Rhodesia Hot Spring – Family Vacation Spot

In the last post I left about my grandfather, Idris, I finished by mentioning one of the families favourite vacation spots, Hot Springs. My aunt Norma, (Aunt through marriage to my Dad’s older brother, Glyn) leaves daily devotional thoughts and ‘nuggets’ on Facebook. Today she left one that revolved around this vacation spot. I asked her permission to share it on this blog and she agreed.

I hope you’ll agree with me that it’s quite a vivid recollection of the historical events which swirled around my families upbringing, and of a location I may never be able to see. I’m happy she shared it.

Picture was taken by Norma Davies: Rhodesian Air Force Alouette Helicopters – September 1976

NORMA’S NUGGET FOR 8/8/2017 (African Memory)

PROTECTION FROM HELICOPTERS

Hot Springs Resort……… I am sure for most Rhodesians, this is a place of many sweet memories! Camping under the stars, or in tents, or in caravans (campers) or if you had the money to spend, staying in the Hotel Chalets. No matter what your accommodations were, one thing you could count on; the mosquitoes were as big as horseflies and as hungry as vampire bats, the searing low veld heat was relentless, evening meals cooked over the open fire tasted better than anything you could buy at a 5 star restaurant. But the most delightful memory was soaking in the hot sulfur water in the pool until your legs turned to rubber, then wobbling your way back to camp and sleeping like a baby. So much laughter, new friends made, sunburned limbs and noses, all created in a rural rustic get-away hidden in the middle of the Rhodesian low veld! As a child, my family visited Hot Springs, as a holiday place of choice. Glyn and I spend an idyllic honeymoon staying in the Hotel accommodations and then we returned on several occasions, for camping trips, with our children.

In September 1976 we headed for Hot Springs after an exhausting annual Conference that was held at Rufaro Mission. Shortly before this we had bought a second-hand Gypsy caravan. It was very basic – just a table, sleeping bunks and a few storage cupboards, but it kept us off the ground and it was dry in the heavy downpours. We had a canopy that we attached where I set up my “kitchen” with a table and a two burner Coleman gas stove, plus we would “braai” our meat over an open fire.

On this particular visit our son was five years old and our daughter was just five months old. While shopping at O.K. Bazaars I had found an adorable yellow polka dot two piece swimming suit that was perfect for the baby. She still had “peach fuzz” for hair, so I concluded that putting her in a little two piece swimming suit would show she was a baby girl. One morning before it became too hot to be out in the baking sun, I was standing in the shallow end of the pool with the baby in my arms, just bouncing her little legs in the warm steamy water. A lady made her way across the pool to me and commented on what a “beautiful baby BOY” I had! REALLY lady, are you serious?

I chuckled and told her that actually the baby was a girl; thus the reason for the “itsy bitsy yellow polka dot bikini”! Unfortunately my attempt at not so subtle humor was lost on the lady!

Each day melted into the next as we enjoyed making memories with our children. One afternoon while we were seeking a good spot in the shade to escape the rays of the burning sun, a different sound intruded on the siesta hour of the campground. It was the distinct sound of the propellers of helicopters that became louder and louder until we realized that three Rhodesian Air Force Alouette helicopters were landing in an open space right in the campground.

This caused quite a stir amongst the campers; after all it is not every day that three helicopters with loaded gun turrets, land in your back yard! Naturally in a matter of minutes our brave soldiers in their bush camouflage were greeted by curious campers. Our son was in his glory as he was able to get up close to the machines of his dreams, while the soldiers showed friendly appreciation to their gawking admirers’.

The leader of the group explained that they had received a tip that a group of terrorists were hiding somewhere in the bush very close to Hot Springs, so they felt their presence would be a deterrent for an ambush on the campers and guests in the Hotel.

I assure you we ALL were very grateful for our “protecting angels” who dropped out of the sky, especially as darkness began to creep in. The terrorist war was ramping up and Hot Springs would be such an easy “soft target” because of its fairly remote location in the bush.

The next day the helicopters took off and we later heard on the news that contact had been made and they had successfully routed the group of terrorists from their hiding place and captured them. We were so thankful to these brave young men who fought long and hard to protect the citizens of Rhodesia, both black and white! Many of them made the ultimate sacrifice and gave their lives while loyally serving their country.

So many times during our years in Rhodesia we experienced God’s protection. Sometimes it was through human intervention, as was the case at Hot Springs, other times we could only believe that God miraculously intervened.

I wonder how many times you and I have avoided a catastrophic event without ever knowing it because God stepped in behind the scenes? I believe firmly that God has been and will continue to be involved in the events of our lives even when we don’t recognize His Presence.

This should give us a calm reassurance in these turbulent times. If fear of what the future holds is stalking your every hour then take heart, God has promised His Presence and protection.

Draw strength my friends from the promises in Psalm 121 – allow the words of this Psalm to permeate your very being and throw your trust upon the One who has the power, to deliver each one of us.

Psalm 121:1-8 (NKJV) “I will lift up my eyes to the hills– From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is your keeper; The LORD is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.
The LORD shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul.
The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in;
From this time forth, and even forevermore.”

*****

I consider myself fortunate to have an Aunt and Uncle who still vividly recollect these events and times. I thank them both not just for this piece, but the many memories they’ve shared with me on the journey I’ve taken to discover my grandparents and their live in Africa.

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The Life And Ministry Of Harold Emanuel Griffiths Part 2

Part 1 can be read here. 

Ruth recalls that while ministering in Ireland their family would travel in a gospel caravan. They were quite poor and dependent on donations from others. Despite this, Harold was a Welshmen and he wanted his children born in Wales. They would travel back to Wales to give birth to each of their children. (1)

I am not certain of the exact year Harold returned from Ireland. The 1931 census covered England, Wales and Scotland, but not Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland had its own census in 1926. The British census was also destroyed so its details will forever be a secret. What I do know that is that during the early to mid 1930’s renowned evangelist Edward Jeffrey’s put on several evangelistic crusades across the Potteries and Liverpool. He requested that Harold join him as singer and pianist during these crusades. The Bethel Evangelistic Society was formed from this movement. Harold was a significant part of this. (2)

In a much earlier post I described one of the songs that Harold Griffiths wrote while part of these campaigns. As mentioned in part 1, he had a booming tenor and was a beautiful singer. The Bootle Times annual of 1935 mentions the affect of one of his songs and the Crusades in Liverpool.

“A foreman remarked that the men had never worked so well together as now; there was little blaspheming and the general topic of conversation was “the Tent.” Men are heard singing at their work, “I fell in love with the Nazarene,” and there is concord and a spirit of harmony where once there was cursing and swearing.” (3)

As mentioned in my other blog, I am blessed to have a copy of the song sheet for “I fell in love with the Nazarene.” 

Several people that attended the Liverpool “revival’ and are still alive, left some feedback on the website liverpoolrevival.org.uk about the impact this song had on them.

Sally Wing says, “…during this meeting a song was sung which made such an impression on her that she remembers every word of this to this day, 71 years later: –

I fell in love with the Nazarene
The beautiful Nazarene
Whose face in glory was the light
The fairest I’ve ever seen
By his side I would abide
With never a veil between
Since I fell so deeply in love
With Jesus the Nazarene.


The Rev. Richard Kays records “He remembers well the Bethel songs that were sung such as “Jesus is mighty to save” and “I fell in love with the Nazarene,” which have lived with him for 70 years.”


By 1934 they were definitely in Cheddleton, England. Their daughter Ruth recalls they lived in a Bungalow there when she was 5. Harold was both a strict and very loving father. He expected his children to do as they were told but he was also “as soft as a teddy bear.” (4)

Ruth continued to recall that, “My Mum was always very placid,but a nice lady. Everyone respected them and they were very much loved in the church. People were always calling in with their troubles.We kids were sent out to play for my Dad to council them as it is called now. Mum would bake welsh cakes & we used to hope there would be some left for us.”

Ruth also remembered that usually they were given a crust of bread with jam on it for their tea. (5) Times were hard and the family were very poor. One time Naomi didn’t eat all of hers so they hid it under the flap of a tent that Harold had set up in the field at the back of their bungalow. They or friends would often set up tents for evangelistic church meetings. The next day Harold found it and came into the house asking who had wasted it. Naomi was often caught lying about such things and Harold ended up breaking it in half and making both Ruth and Naomi eat it because food should not be wasted. To this day Ruth insists it was “wet and vile.”

Harold was often away from home because of work. Ministry still paid little so he would sell Christian books at a market stall and continue to work in the mines where he could. He used to keep cardboard in his shoes because there was a hole in the sole. None of his children went to high school because you had to pay for it in those days and the family could not afford it. They were taught to sing and play piano by Harold and Annie.

For transportation Harold had a little motorbike with a side car. One day he brought it home to take it apart and fix it. He then asked Annie to ride with him and test it out. Ruth was watching as they rounded a nearby corner and the side car came off, sending Annie one way and Harold the other. He had forgotten to screw the side car to the motorbike.  Fortunately neither were injured and were able to continue their ministry as the late 1930’s approached.

___

(1) Confirmed by interview with Harold’s youngest daughter, Ruth Salmon.

(2) Several books and websites talk about the missions and life of Edward Jeffreys. Seminary and Masters of Divinity graduates have written many papers on him. There is not room here to talk about everything he did and I only mention him because I know that Harold worked a great deal with Edward Jeffreys. A summary of Edward Jeffrey’s life and missions can be found here.  When Harold Griffiths died Edward Jeffreys wrote a letter of condolence as was noted in Redemption Tidings 1968 Volume 4, February edition. 

(3) Excerpts of this newspaper and others which talk about the Jeffrey’s crusades in Liverpool can be read on a website dedicated to his remembrance.

(4) Confirmed by interview with Ruth Salmon in 2012. 
(5) To the Welsh and northern English the last meal of the day is called tea. To this day I still get confused looks from Americans when I ask what they’re having for tea. The southern English call it ‘dinner’ and that, along with how to pronounce the word ‘scones’, can still be guaranteed a good 20 minutes argument if raised in conversation. 

The Graves of Price and Annie Davies

My first cousin once removed recently made a trip to Wales and upon request he stopped by the graveyard of Price and Annie Davies to take a picture for me. I had previously tried to find them through find a grave but had no luck. He said next time he made the trip he would happily accomodate my request.

Price and Annie Davies GravestonePrice and Annie Gravestone2

Since he knows Welsh he also kindly translated the inscriptions. The original inscription reads:

“Er Serchus Cof Am

Annie Davies

Annwyl Briod

Price Davies, Cynt o Dowlais Top

Bu Farw 6 Chwefror 1961

Yn 78 Mlwydd Oed

Hefyd Am y Dywededig

Price Davies

Bu Farw 15 Mai 1966

Yn 84 Mlwydd Oed

“Byth Ar Swn Y Delyn Aur.”

He informed me that the literal translation is:

“In Loving Memory Of

Annie Davies

Beloved Spouse of

Price Davies, Formerly of Dowlais Top

Died 6 February 1961

At 78 Years Old

Also of the Aforesaid

Price Davies

Died 15 May 1966

At 84 Years Old.

“Ever to the Sound of the Golden Harp.”

This relative, Roy, always sends me helpful links to explain references as well. He let me know that “the last line is from a Welsh hymn “Y Delyn Aur” (the Golden Harp) by Ann Griffiths. Her name was almost the same as Annie’s before her marriage – Annie Griffiths.”

I will share the hymn and some history behind it in another post. I can now add these to the gravestones I have for one set of my great grandparents on my mothers side. I blogged about them here.

You can follow more of my family history at http://www.talltalesofafamily.blogspot.com

Family History – The Marriage Of Harold And Annie

I promised my great aunt Ruth that I would transcribe Harold and Annie’s marriage certificate. So here it is. I originally sent off for this record 5 or 6 years ago so I’m happy to finally put it in blog format.

Date: 1911

Marriage Solemnized at: St. Paul’s Church, Cwmtillery in the Parish of Abertillery, in the county of Monmouth.

Number: 136

When Married: July 31st 1911


Name and Surname: Harold Griffiths.

Age: 19

Condition: Bachelor

Rank Or Profession: Collier

Residence At Time Of Marriage: 55 Powell Street, Abertillery

Father’s Name And Surname: Thomas Griffiths

Rank Or Profession Of Father: Collier


Name And Surname: Annie Simpkins

Age: 19

Condition: Spinster

Rank Or Profession: Blank

Residence At Time Of Marriage: 11 Earl Street, Abertillery

Father’s Name And Surname: John Simpkins

Rank Or Profession Of Father: Collier

Married in the Church Of St. Paul according to the rites and ceremonies of the established church

on after Banns by me.


This marriage was solemnized between us, Harold Griffiths, Annie Simpkins, in the presence of James John Simpkins, Emma James.

D.O Loyd Williams Officiating Priest.

****

There’s a couple of things to note about the information in this marriage certificate.

1. Cwmtillery had the church of St Paul was not opened for worship until 1891, so it was relatively new at the time of the wedding.

2. Cwmtillery was considered a very beautiful place before the coal mining industry became the prominent player in the local economy. According to Wikipedia and local sources there were 4 explosions within the mine its self. The mines closed in the late 1900’s and the town is quickly reverting back to a place of beauty.

3. At present I am not sure if the two witnesses James John Simpkins and Emma James are both family members. James John could be Annie’s father also listed as John Simpkins in this certificate. He could also be a brother, I need to do a little research. The 1901 census shows a Jas John Simpkins as Annie’s brother. It’s possible Jas is James. Annie’s mother was named Elizabeth, so Emma could be a wife of a sibling or a friend.

4. The ages on this marriage certificate are 19 for both. However, I currently have Harold born in 94 and Annie born in 96. The 1901 census has Harold’s age as about 6 so I am fairly confident he was born around 94. Annie Simpkins is also listed as 16 in the 1911 census. This would make them 17 and 15/16 respectively. Until the Age of Marriage Act in 1929 the age of marriage for males was 14 and for females was 12. Either I have their birth dates wrong, or they lied about their age on the marriage certificate.

 

— As always, the rest of my family history research can be found at http://www.talltalesofafamily.blogspot.com