Basil and Mabel Joubert of Aberdeen celebrated their 59th wedding anniversary last week, 59 years and five weeks after they first met.
Mabel Nel was 17, and already engaged to someone else, when she first met Basil (26) in the canteen at the South African Railways office in Germiston. Mabel was on her lunch break, and Basil was visiting his brother, who also worked for the Railways. According to Basil, his brother pointed out Mabel as the local flirt, so he went across to introduce himself by giving her a kiss. “All I got back was a slap across the face,” chuckled Basil ruefully, when he recounted the story!
Things obviously improved from this inauspicious start, and six days later, Basil moved into the spare room at Mabel’s parents’ house. After just five weeks they were married. With a twinkle in her eye, Mabel said that it would have been even sooner, but her father insisted that they must be married in church, so they had to wait for the banns to be read.
Their first home was a small flat in Kempton Park above a butcher’s shop, and then they graduated to a house on the Modderfontein dynamite factory, where Basil worked. Their three sons were all born during this time.
They moved around the northern provinces of the country for 26 years before retiring to Jeffreys Bay in 1995. After ten years, they decided that they wanted to be somewhere quieter, and 14 years ago they moved to Aberdeen. They spent about 18 months renovating the large property they had bought, and for several years ran it as a guest house. A major attraction was the lush English-style garden, which was a favoured spot for many bridal parties’ photo shoots. Mabel is proud to report that her garden won the very first garden competition held in Aberdeen.
Soon after their arrival in the town, they started the first Ratepayers’ Association, with Basil as Chairman. Mabel was also Chairlady of the Garden Club, and an active member for many years.
Basil often helped the older residents out as a general handyman, usually charging nothing or very little for his services. He now spends a lot of time reading, while Mabel still enjoys working in her garden, as well as reading, knitting and embroidery.