It was in the days before South Africa had ever heard of Motorways or Highways when traffic moved along National and Provincial and Municipal roads.
Dr H.O. Reisener – Hasso to most of us – was then Chief Metallurgist of VECOR in Vereeniging and lived in Pretoria, so frequent after-hours commuting was called for at the weekend or after SAINT or SAIW evening meetings or other social activities.
The trip in those days – around the 1970 -1980 era – went fom Vereeniging via the Golden Highway past Uncle Charlies into Johannesburg central and out to the North through Hillbrow along Louis Botha Avenue onto the Old Pretoria Road. Hence to Halfway House, Zwartkops, Voortrekkerhoogte to Central Pretoria and out towards the Reisener residence near Sunnyside.
Well, Hasso’s friend Mr Heinz Rohloff – Mr H as he was known – lived just off Louis Botha Avenue, so whenever Hasso needed a pit stop, Mr H’s was a convenient Halfway stop. This could be any time of the night.
Now Hasso was known to be quite fond of a wee drop of Whiskey, so if he was not offered one by the ‘pyjamered’ host, he would simply ask for it. Hasso was a brilliant metallurgist but also had a very broad range of interests and was a very entertaining storyteller. So the tales started in an increasingly relaxed atmosphere and finished only when the last drop of whiskey had been consumed. It was then often 3 or 4 a.m. when Hasso’s car finally turned towards Pretoria. We often wondered how he got home in one piece!
In later years, the alternative route to Pretoria went along Jan Smuts Avenue and via the Bryanston Leeuwkop direction. As my house was just off that road, it was often my privilege to entertain Hasso to the early morning in a similar manner. My secretary could usually deduce that Hasso had visited by a very bleary-eyed boss next day.
The trick I inherited from Mr H was to quickly decant most of whatever whiskey there was while my guest was in the loo, so as to keep the price down and the evening a little shorter. That worked for a few years until Hasso – in desperation at the empty whiskey bottle – was quite prepared to accept brandy as a substitute! But that’s another story.