Tarzan in the fig tree: This local mom's hilarious childhood story will leave you in stitches
"There were rumblings and bubblings in our tummies. When the cramps started, we had to GO!"
When we were children, there were no TVs. (iStock)
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Parent24 reader Lynette wrote in to share this hilarious tale from her childhood, and we are confident it's bound to bring back a memory or too from other readers. See why she's never forgotten that figs and fictional characters don't mix... 


My dad hurt his back at work when a drunk sack loader threw him from the second story of the mill where they worked. 

After a stay in the hospital in traction, things went kind of back to normal.

A year or so later, we were playing in a tidal pool in Cape Town, probably Milnerton, and dad suddenly started screaming in pain. He was taken out of the pool, paralyzed from the hips down. 

Zorro and Tarzan at the matinee

Three operations and tons of physiotherapy necessitated us moving to Maitland, to my uncle's house so that ma could go and visit dad. 

Now when we were children, there were no TVs, but on Saturdays, there was a matinee at the local film theatre.

The programme usually had a few advertisements, an SA mirror short about some or other long old news, followed by a cartoon. 

Then came the serial. You never saw the serials in order, because the films came as a package deal. 

Commander Cody part 67, was followed by Zorro part 26 or Tarzan no.5. It was these serials that drove the neighbourhood kids' play. 

Several Commander Codies could be seen flitting around corners

One week there would be a multitude of vanished towels, and clothes would disappear to make their debut as 'The Mask of Zorro'.

The next week no boxes could be found as several Commander Codies could be seen flitting around corners. The week after that and Tarzan swung into our lives. 

Now anyone who knew old Maitland would remember rows of council houses, each with a tiny front garden and a backyard covered in cement.

There would also be one or two holes in the cement, and sometimes there would be a fruit tree or two. The cement yards were dismal, but during long, grey winter rains, less mud was trod onto wood floors. 

We wanted to swing

Anyhow back to Tarzan. We were five kids together: two girls and three boys. We wanted to swing. There was no other place, so it was decided to rig our swing on the beautiful old fig tree, which was covered with a multitude of almost ripe and green figs. 

My cousin got the honour of the first test swing. He was the biggest. He gave one almighty jump into the air and leaned into the swing when ....the whole tree came down with a whoosh! 

Some muffled cries and a couple of fluttering fig leaves later, and the only source of shade in the yard had been destroyed in seconds. 

Well, the boys got a hiding of course as that was the usual currency for any misdeed. 

We were in trouble and got no supper

Not one to waste anything, my mother made us strip the tree of most of the figs. 

There were so many they filled about half of a washing machine box. (Anyone remember how big those were?) 

The fig sap started burning our fingers, and those hairy leaves were eating at our hands, but my mom was relentless. 

A couple of tons of sugar and bottles which later turned up from everywhere, even neighbours, and there was still a washbasin, a big one, heaped with figs left. 

They were not going to be discarded. So ma decided to turn them into sugared figs. But something went wrong, and the figs were coated in a thick sugary "skin". They were left on a table to dry out. 

Now there's something you need to know about my cousins: They could eat. They. Could. Eat! 

So of course, while my mom was at the hospital, they and us two girls climbed into those figs. Let's say we ate most of them and they were good. 

We were in trouble and got no supper. Well, we'd had so many figs we didn't need food, so whê. 

The roll of toilet paper made its rounds

Sometime early the next morning the rot set in. There were rumblings and bubblings in our tummies.

When the cramps started, we had to GO! We stormed into the bathroom to find both the toilets occupied.

I got the peapot, and the rest had to make do with two coffee tins. The roll of toilet paper made its rounds. 

No breakfast, thanks. Couldn't leave. 

No sympathy from the adults. 

Later that day, spent and clean from the inside out, we stumbled into our beds. 

Now, do you think we learnt our lesson? 

A week or two later we got hold of lots of icing sugar and two big bottles of Eno. 

We made a huge batch of sherbet, and we ate that. We had some tea with it...... Bring the coffee tins! 

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