Memories of Rhodesia

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PUNTER'S PICNIC

ON AUGUST 11th, 1906, the population of Livingstone assembled at the old race track for an afternoon of the sport of kings. There were two events and three horses on the card. At 3.30, the local butcher's "No Go" was to do battle with a challenger "Jim Crow" for the grand stake money of £20. An hour later, the same "No Go" was scheduled to run against "Hot Stuff." Presumably to put all three horses in one race would have meant too short a meeting, but as it happened, the sporting public of Livingstone got very much more value for their money than was advertised. Much publicity had been given the event in the "Livingstone MaiL" Some of the more adventurous and sharp gentry of the town set up books for the day, and betting was heavy. Only ten minutes !ate, the mighty "No Go" arrived, and the main event began, over four furlongs. Ridden by Mr. Buchanan, "Jim Crow" went into the lead, but was soon overhauled by Mr. Elliott on "No Go." However, when the two horses reached the final bend, instead of turning into the home straight, they tore off across the country in the direction of Livingstone. Buchanan immediately pulled up "Jim Crow", but try as he might Elliot could do nothing with "No Go", who was determined to get as far from the race as possible. Fifteen minutes later, a somewhat shamefaced "No Go" was brought back to the course for the race to be re-run, but his rider Elliot declared he had had enough for the day. There was no difficulty in finding a substitute jockey among the young blades at the track, and the second start was made. "No Go", understandably took it easy the second time, and the outsider "Jim Crow" ran home an easy winner. About an hour later, the gallant "No Go" was again saddled up, this time ridden by Hefferman to meet the challenge from "Hot Stuff", with Hodge up in the junior event, also over four furlongs. "Hot Stuff" led from the start, but a hundred yards from the winning post, "No Go" put on a brilliant burst of speed to win by half a length.

The fun was by no means over. Hodge, on the losing "Hot Stuff", refused to dismount until Hefferman had weighed in, claiming that it had been agreed that both horses would carry eleven stone or more. Hefferman's reluctance to go through a pettifogging formality became understandable when, after many arguments in which the backers of both horses joined, he agreed to be weighed, and was discovered, together with bridle and saddle to be no more than ten stone. Hodge, beaten in the race, triumphantly won on the scales, weighing 8 good eleven stone, so that "Hot Stuff's" supporters claimed a win on an objection. However, the judge declined to giving a ruling until the written terms of agreement could be produced, and the bookies also refused to payout on either horse. At the time of going to press the "Livingstone Mail" was unable to report the result, and for all we know, the racing dispute still remains unsettled.

Nevertheless, win or lose, "No Go" deserves a place in our history as being the first horse to run three times over the same track and into town all in one afternoon.

 

 

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Imagae

RATS & RAND'S KICKERS

SOME POLE AND dagga huts, some tents and a marquee. . . that was the first hospital to be built in Rhodesia, in Salisbury immediately after the Pioneer Column arrived. Glass was unobtainable and the windows were stuffed with canvas. Beds were made from rough poles and strips of bark. Malaria was rife in Salisbury in those days and most of the sick went to hospital with fever. Dr. Gelfand, in his book "Tropical Victory," tells us that there seems to have been two trusted remedies. One was a glass of dop brandy which patients had to take at sundown whether they liked it or not; the other a dose of Epsom Salts followed by quinine, the dose being measured in the palm of the hand. This medicine was known as Rand's "kicker." If the patient began to show signs of deafness the dose was judged as having been excessive and further issues were reduced in size. When Mother Patrick and her Dominican sisters arrived to take charge, they brought blankets, sheets and pillows with them, and she also pestered and wheedled the authorities into giving supplies, including nourishing food. The sisters did all the domestic as well as the nursing work themselves. At first only candles were available for illumination, but after a supply of paraffin arrived the sisters were issued with hurricane lamps, carrying which they wandered from hut to hut at night through deep pools of water and through wind and rain. Far from being afraid of mice, they seemed to take philosophically the great rats which became a plague in Salisbury's first year. They ran all over the hospital, even on to the food tables, and the patients were armed with sticks to defend themselves. One unfortunate man had to have his thumb amputated as the result of a rat bite. Snakes were also to be seen wriggling around the floor and white ants
invaded the place, eating the papers and even shoes. And the swarms of mosquitoes were such that patients were known to wear their hats at night as some sort of protection. Little provision was made for the Africans who were sick, for they obstinately preferred the professional services of their own witchdoctors. What with rat-bites and Rand's kickers, it is small surprise that thc white man's medicine was regarded with caution! A new hospital was built in 1891, still of pole and dagga with mud floors, but much larger with two sixteen-bed wards, and separate wards for women and isolation cases. Operations were performed on a rough wooden table in one of the huts, and Dr. Jameson, although chiefly occupied with his work as Administrator, used occasionally to perform operations there. Mother Patrick with her sisters remained in charge of the hospital until her death in 1900, and soon afterwards lay professional nurses, under a Miss Georgina Ronaldson, took over. Such were the primitive beginnings of the magnificent countrywide hospital and health service which throughout the years has been built up in Rhodesia.

 

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