50 Years of Umko 1966 - 2016 1966 - 2016 - Page 59

©Jon Ivins was made about either supper or the next day’s breakfast, both consisting of bread and cereal without the benefit of either butter or milk. No modern-day food official would tempt fate in this manner, but amazingly the food dished up must have been considered adequate, for the following year the same food officials were back, supported by one or two others.” Whereas 1969 had been wet, in 1970 the notorious Umkomaas Valley heat pulled out all the stops. The river was flowing well, but the temperature in the shade was so high that one of the officials - a generously proportioned and correspondingly thirsty man with some records of his own (including once having consumed a full case of beer at one sitting) - went into a coma. His colleagues laid him in an iron bath containing water (the ice having long since melted) and three dozen beers, and retired to discuss whether he would prefer to be buried in the valley or taken home in a sack. Fortunately Doc Curson’s expertise paid off and our man survived, although that was the end of his canoeing association. Don continues: “That was the year that Porky Paul went missing on the second day. Since it was clearly impossible to start looking for a pint-sized schoolboy in the middle of the night, it was decided to report the matter to the SAP at Umkomaas. By this time all the officials had had enough of the oppressive heat, and there was no shortage of volunteers to get out of the valley on any excuse. Ossie Peake and yours truly drew the short straws and we departed in Hamish Gerrard’s well-worn Gunston Orange Land Rover. The constable on duty at the Umkomaas Police Station quite wisely decided that there was nothing that he could do at 1am. We were made very comfortable in the police quarters and assisted by the off-duty staff, we proceeded to make a big hole in the beer that some other hopeful-ofdeserting official had loaded into the Land Rover. “Meanwhile Porky had found his own way home, and was relaxing beside a friend’s swimming pool when he heard a news broadcast to the effect that he was missing in the Umkomaas Valley, and that helicopter support was 59 being sought for the search parties.” Don believed that “Every canoeist will have stories to tell, but the censored ones are those told by officials around the camp fire.” Hoogewerf’s Hot Rocks Another year of novel catering was a t the stop the year Brian Hoogewerf provided the meat and the fire. And no tongs or braai grids! Young novices milled about, drooling. Old hands marched down to the river, found some smooth flat rocks and placed them in the fire. Soon the smell of sizzling hot rock steaks filled the air. You’d pay a fortune for those at a fancy restaurant and they were thoroughly enjoyed. So much so that when Doc Curson ventured to criticise the catering at the post-race evaluation in the Oceanview Hotel, a fiery Rob Bourne-Lange leapt to the defence of his paddling partner and made it known in no uncertain terms that the catering had, in fact, been World-Class! Rennie Naidoo of Supervision Services must get a mention. Here’s a typical Rennie menu: Lunch - Two hamburgers, 1 fruit, juice; Dinner - Beef Stew & rice, bread & jam, 1 fruit, juice; Breakfast - Cereal, porridge, bread, jam, juice Once Ernie served Fast Food! The day before the 1978 race Ernie fetched the food frozen in a huge pot. As it thawed it went ‘bloop’ and it became obvious replacement food was needed. At short notice. From his flat in Musgrave Road Ernie started phoning. “I need food for 160 people in a hurry, can you help?” No. No. Then the Royal Hotel said Yes! “Can you have it ready by 2pm?” No, but they thought they could do it by 3pm. It was ready at 5pm. Ernie fetched it at the Royal in Bugsy Grant’s* big Ford F250 truck, put it UMKO 50 Years