1930s and 40s
I heard from the wife of our local policeman, Murielle "Wallie" de Wahl (129 11th Street 1950 - 1965) that the house was built by a gold-prospector in the early 30s. After the war, the back part of the house became a hotel, was extended to include a bathroom, three guest-rooms and a breakfast area. Two of the rooms had a basin and mirror for the guests. The basement was a large entertainment area that lead out to a terrace, flower garden with a square 6m x 2m fishpond with fountain and one hectare garden. The house had 13 rooms of which five were bedrooms.
My newly married father and mother migrated to JHB in 1954 from Bavaria. My father believed that the Russians would one-day continue WW2 and invade Europe. His first choice was Brazil but his two sisters, nuns, one in Potchefstroom and one at St. Vincent School of the Deaf (Oxford Road), convinced him to fly to South Africa. My parents first lived with German friends in Yeoville for 9 months. My father was a talented bricklayer and earned well, BPS 16 per week while living costs were only BSP 4 per week. The "Sandton Farmhouse" was up for sale at a very good deal because the property was abandoned, the house and garden not maintained for a long time. Windows were broken, doors smashed in. A neighbor used, what is now the kitchen, to breed chickens. Somewhere, there is a photo of those kitchen cages. My father bought the property and worked on it and the garden every week, all his life. Sister "Christia" was born in 1956 and brother "Hans" in 1957. In those days there were only about 20 houses in Parkmore, veld surrounded the house. Transport was a BMW with a side-car, until Hans was born, then a Ford truck which is now buried under the fill of Parkmore Recreation Center. The area was wild with insects and reptiles. My "Mama" said one-day she found 3-year-old Christina playing in the sandpit with a cobra sleeping beside her. With a very calm voice, she asked the child to come and have an ice cream and so got the child away from the pit very slowly. They locked themselves in the house till my father returned from work. The snake disappeared and was the only wild snake I heard of in the area. Sometimes leopards were shot in the area. "Papa" planted 10+ fruit trees on the property, There were two old fig trees in the middle of the one acre property. The two apricot trees were very fruitful.
On 8th March 1960, I was "suddenly" born in the house. My father left for work at 6am and my mother gave birth to me by herself at 8am and alone until a doctor came midday. My father bought our first refrigerator that day. We had about 40 rabbits, a few chickens and even a pig at one stage. We always had two "Alsation" dogs, that is what German Shepards were called in British colonies. All our neighbors were British, we were often smeared as "Nazis". There was a 9m x 3m chicken shed on the lower part of the property which eventfully became the "club-house" for us kids to play in. My father started his own building company with 4-12 workers and 1-2 foremen (Portuguese), doing mainly extensions and restoration projects. My sister "Rosa" was born in 1966 and was also my best friend. Then, we three older kids got rooms at the backside of the house and Rosa the NW-room. There was always a room free for guests visiting occasionally from Europe. We became a second car to the VW-double-cabin truck, a red VW bus and fold-up caravan-trailer, explored every corner of Southern Africa. A yearly visit to the Kruger National Park was essential.
In 1973 "Papa" ripped off the decaying thatched roof and built the huge 5m x 12m loft room as entertainment area, with private bar, balcony, second bathroom, also as cinema and party-room. The biggest party we ever had was a whole-night fest, included the 3-hour film "Woodstock" and bonfire in the garden with about 30 guests. Being a nature loving and outdoor family, we built a weekend hut at "Aloe Fjord" and spent every second or so weekend sailing, water-sking and fishing there. We had a speedboat which towed Hans to South African Waterski Champion "Class B" many years in a row.