REMINISCENCES OF AN EARLY SETTLERíS DAUGHTER
BY ESME NEWFIELD
father, Joseph Schattil arrived, in this country in late 1897 having come from
Ritavas, near Plunyan, in Lithuania. Arriving in Cape Town he then took the
train to the railhead, at Mafeking, completing the journey to Bulawayo by Cape
Cart. Like so many of the early settlers, he engaged in the Native trade as it
was then called.
Weekends when possible were spent in Bulawayo, and he was one of the first
members of the Chovevi Zion Society. One weekend, he very nearly lost his life
when riding into Bulawayo, when during a fierce thunderstorm his horse was
struck by lightning.
He was thrown onto a rocky outcrop, but came to and managed to walk
into town although very badly battered and bruised.
mother, Dina Masinter, came to Salisbury in 1906 from Tavrig, or Tauroggen as
it was also called. She came via the East Coast route, disembarking at Beira.
There were no docks there at the time and passengers.had to be carried ashore.
She came out to stay with her sister, Mrs. RayI Isaacson, who lived in a house
on Belvedere Boad near the Kopje. My parents met in Salisbury, and in
they were married at the home of a Mr and Mrs Bernstein.
mother's first home was at the Jumbo Mine, one of many mines they moved to.
These Included, the Miffel Blue, Lonely, Queens and the Alaska Copper mine,
but from 1929 onwards they remained remained in the QueQue district.
was no shul in QueQue in the pre-war (1939) days, and Yom Tov services
were Held in W.I Hall.
father in his day was a storekeeper, butcher and baker and I remember as a
small child traveling With him
out on the Gokwe Road to Zhombe and Jombe, buying cattle for his butchery. I
remember Chief Kassela
most hospitable man. Meat in those days used to sell for 3d a pound and a big
ox cost about Stg 2.10.0.
were dirt. Tracks in some parts and it wasnít until the strip roads
were built in about 1937 than any decent road really existed in the country
districts. I remember by father directing the cutting of a road through the
bush from the Blue Mine to the Gothic Mine in Lower Gwelo.
relaxaction there was always a game of "Solo" on Sundays in Que Quem,
played at the homes of the friends like the Slomans, Ricks and Kahns. There
were also two film shows a week, on Wednesday and Saturday nights, shown at
the G and P Hall. The Que Que
Hotel also used to show films but if my very early memory serves me correctly
the film hall was burn down in the early 1930s and the present Modern part of
the Hotel now stands in its place. Mrs and Mrs Aronowitz ran the Hotel.
father had one great love Ė prospecting and the rest of the family
were also keen to tramp in the "bush on a Sunday morning , armed with, a
prospector;s hammer, sample bag, and a shotgun, just in case. I never saw any
predators on foot safari, but I remember the time when, trayelling to a in a
vanette, we came across a pride of lions at the Giraffe Spruit. Our African
servant, sitting in the back of the open, vanette was terrified,, and,
who could blame him. My father was a conservationist of wild life, and never shot
a "buck or other wild game,, ;.:Game was plentiful in those days,
especially in the vicinity of pans -in the rainy season.
Talking of-rainy seasons, reminds me of 1939 when the rains just went
on arid on. A corduroy of thick sticks had to be laid. across the dirt roads
so that cars could get through otherwise your car was .likely to sink to its
axles in mud.
out in the country was hard indeed for. Women. There was no running water or
electric light, and it was only in 1935 that we bought a paraffin
what a luxury that was. Wood stoves were the vogue,, and these were housed, in
kitchens with corrugated iron roofs, on account of" the fire hazard.
were separate from the main dwelling for this very reason. At night paraffin
and candles lighted the house. Water had to be carted in the Main
as the water
collected from roofs into large water tanks during the rainy weather was not
Bath water was either heated on the.kitchen stove or an outside fire,
and had to be carted into the bathroom in buckets as was the cold water.
Laundry was done down at the river if.there, was one in walking distance.
Houses were mostly built of pole and dag'ga, with, a thatched roof and
they were wonderfully cool in summer.
Other houses were built with a timber frame and were
Australian style, on stilts. The inner shell of the house was panelled with
wood and the outer shell was made of corrugated iron. It was cool under the
floor of these houses and with no fridges at that time many items were stored
under the house. Being in stilts it was also easy to monitor the presence of
white ants under the house. Loos were built a goodly distance from the houses
and a journey there by torchlight was often a nightmare with snakes, large
hair spiders snad bats encountered on the way. On occasions the cough of a
leopard could be heard or the bark of a jackal.
were a favourite form of spending a Sunday in the country especially to the
Sebakwe Poort. How we ever escaped getting bilharzia remains a mystery but
perhaps it was not so prevalent then as most rivers seemed to run all year
dound. We used to go out there on the back of Slomanís lorry all the young
Jewish boys and girls in the town plus several older people who were also keen
on picnics. There was the Mintz family, the Benatars, Menashes, Baldachins,
Kahns and Middledorfs.
A big even every Sunday was for
practically the whole population to go down to the railway station to see the
Bulawayo to Salisbury mixed train pass through.
One heard all the news this way, and it was seldom that someone
didnít know at least one of the passengers who were passing through.
Today the Jewish Community of Kwe Kwe
has all but disappeared. The old timers have all passed on and of those of my
generation who grew up in this small Rhodesian town very few remain in the
Of my family both my parents have
passed on and are buried in the Bulawayo cemetery. My older bother Ralph is
still in Kwe Kwe, my other brother Alex joined the Civil Service when he left
school in 1928 and rose to become the Commissioner of Taxes. He and other
sister Ida died in 1968. My husband and I are still farming in the Enterprise
district just outside Harare. Of the four generations who once lived in the
two Rhodesias only Ralph and I remain.
Hope this is of some interest.
Click on pictures below to
|Dinner/dance at the Sephardi
Hall 1949 - Charlotte and Abe Shulman, unknowns, Hancy and Bennie Goldin,
Esme and Stooky Newfield.
|Esme Newfield - taken on one of the
Rhodesian mining towns were they lived -circa 1927/1928
|Photo are of Esme Newfield and
her mother (Dina Schattil) taken on one of the mining towns were they
lived -circa 1927/1928
||Newfield wedding, Salisburg St Synagogue
March 28, 1948 - on the sides are Les Lessem, the little girl is Moria
Susman, behind her is Harry Susman
||Picture on left Wedding
entourage shows a few Zimbabweans - : Front row ; Alex Schattil, Rhona
Hirshowitz, Michael Hirshowitz, Shalamit Herschowitz, Ralph Schattil.
Middle row seated : Ida Samson, Dina Schattil, Bernice Price, Les Price,
Annie Susman, Pearlie Abrahams, Jacob Schattil Back Row: Ronnie Samson,
Jack Price, Phil Newfield, unknown, Maurice Newfield, Harry Susman,
Oscar Susman, Joe Schattile, Annie Hirschowitz.