[Typed Airletter. Addressed to "Thomas A. E. Fletcher, esquire, c/o Box
48[5?]2, Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia. South Africa". From "Sir Angus Fletcher,
East Hampton, New York, USA"
East Hampton. New York
November 30th? 1951?
Rory [?] in a letter that came yesterday gave me your message asking when father landed in South Africa. I cannot give you the date but as far as I know the year was 1842. That is the year that I recall father often mentioned and unless I have confused it with some other event I think it must have been the year he came to Cape Town. I shall try to get at such records as I have before I seal this letter to confirm this.
I should have thought that among [RA's] papers there would be some old letters that would give us quite a lot of interesting information, but they have been destroyed. So few of the younger people in these days have any interest in their forbears. A few [xxx? ] I have been able to keep have been sent to me by various of the family, Murray, Jessie, (Archie's widow) [etc?] Mother's letters are always as interesting and full of her vitality and her wonderful personality; but very few of these have been kept. If there were any among [Rob's]? papers I would so much like to have them. I used to think I wou;d be able to write a sort of account of the family but there are so many gaps in the records and my memory of the extraordinary journeying all through the Old Cape Colony is of such odds and ends that I used to hear spoken of that it cannot be relied on. I always hoped that R.A., Pat and yourself would make a note of all the various resting places where father and mother lived their life of hardship and sacrifice. It is not too late even now if you could get someone to take down from your dictation. I find that writing and typing has become very laborious so I do not suggest it for you.
We wish we had the courage [?] to undertake a trip to South Africa before it is too late. Helen knows the Colony and the Free State quite well and would love to see them again. The obstacle is first the expense which I suppose would amount to something like ₤1000; and the second is that we should have to be away for a long time from the boys. They are becoming more and more independent of us, of course, but they still like to come back here for their holidays and for weekends. Donald is with the New York Times and works at night; he usually spends Thursdays and Fridays here. It is a very busy time for him; there are so many things to attend to which are now beyond my strength, such as sawing firewood, mowing grass, cultivating the garden and orchard, transplanting trees etc, pruning, clearing brush etc etc. I can do a great deal, but it is all against the doctor's orders.
Peter is at Stevens Engineering Institute, one of the leading engineering colleges in this country. He gets home only for holidays. He did very well in his first year, getting over [xx%?] average for his work. It will be very interesting to see how he gets on the second year. We Fletchers (and all my boys are Fletchers), are unpredictable people; however , I have great hopes for Peter. He is inclined to be [f???] in the Fletcher manner. Recently he came back from an engineering camp [?] (where they are supposed to learn a little land survey), with a beautiful Titian red beard. It lasted for a month or two and just as we were getting to like it he shaved it off. The other day he was initiated into a fraternity and he and the others had to take [ ] it off and then fall down before it and worship it. This they had to do in the Grand Central Station in New York, an immense place, until they were moved on by the police; they then went to Broadway and so on, the police moving them on as a crowd collected. The police are of course quite used to the initiation business among students, so they never get put in goal. I have always hoped that when Peter qualifies he might be able to get a job in South Africa. That will be several years off. I think I told Rory [?] that I know the American company that now owns and works the copper mine that used to belong to father. They have made a lot of money.
We are feeling very unhappy about the plight of Britain and longing for the day when she can recover her independence. I wonder whether people in South Africa know how much they owe to the strength and wisdom of the Old Country. I fear not. Yet [none?] would wish them the experience of being under the yoke of Hitler, Stalin, or for that matter the big interests in the U.S.A. This country has as much anglophobia as ever it had, in spite of fact that in the two great world wars we stood between them and the enemy. The reason for this is the undying hatred of the Irish-Americans, which is much worse than [ ] ] in Ireland itself; then there are German Americans, who know that except for us they would be the dominant influence in the world; and then the big industrial interests are terribly jealous of our overseas trade, and of our interests in raw materials all of which we have built up unaided. That is why we are always being blackguarded as wicked imperialists etc etc.
It is a paradoxical situation; we would not want to have better or more agreeable friends than we have here. It is the press, the politicians and the radio that preach the gospel of hatred day in and day out. Who supports them and why? [?] Well I can only say it must be the devil. We British ( and I mean all of us including the S. Africans) have plenty of faults but no other people is so free from the worst faults in public life as we are. This is not boasting; the records are there.
Do send us a postcard when you get the time. I find it hard to keep up with the family overseas. I think back to Millwood; I recall how I used to love Violet. I think because she used to give me a slice of white bread and condensed milk!! which was the last word in delicacy to me in those days! I remember their house, on the right [ as we went up to the camp ?] but I am not sure whether it was white or black. And [so on? ] one's memory plays hide and seek. I shall stop now. Our love to you Helen often asks about you because she thinks she would like you.
Yours ever [ends typescript]
Angus I should have said "Jinks" [Handwritten]
[Original letter with Roderick Fletcher. This typescript by NF from digital photo sent by Garrick Fletcher, 26/10/2007. Last Modified: 25 Mar '08]