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The Sad Story of a Major in the B.M.I. 1 week 4 days ago #83184

  • Rory
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In what can only be termed as a stroke of good luck, I stumbled upon mention of my good friend John Griffin Maynard whilst researching Philip Baily Eastwood, whose story I posted a few days ago. Eastwood's brother William wrote his memoirs, A Peep into My Life, in 1934 and these were privately published by his granddaughter a short while ago. I corresponded with her and she, very kindly, sent me a copy thereof.

Great was my surprise and unconfined was my joy when there were entire sections devoted to Maynard, As any collector will tell you, it is always a wonderful thing to find anecdotal information on a recipient - all the sweeter when it comes from an unexpected source.

Below, I have transcribed the various sections wherein he gains a mention:

"The Rand – Witwatersrand - I had a fortnight of this and then my brother thought I had better proceed to Johannesburg, to stay with his great pal Captain Maynard, the two having come up to the Rand together the previous year, in 1886. He told me I would find Maynard at meal-times at the head of the long table in the Central Hotel, and that I could not mistake him as he was a most imposing looking ‘buster’ with a heavy moustache and a head like a billiard ball.

Arriving at the hotel I had no difficulty in spotting the man as described. Spotting the billiard ball was not meant as a joke. I walked up to him and giving him my hand said, "How do you do Captain Maynard? My name is Eastwood.” He replied, "How do you do, but how the devil did you know I was Maynard?" His bald head caught my eye and, for a moment, I was baffled for a reply. Captain Maynard was the leader of everything. He had a wonderful personality, could make a good speech and at meetings was an ideal chairman. He lived in the first Standard Bank premises, before they moved to more central quarters. It was a thatched building of three rooms in Ferreira’s Township, just outside the then centre of the town, and was a landmark for several years. He occupied one room, I another and Phil the third when he came into Camp, for really Johannesburg was not much more than a camp at that time. There was good stabling and he kept some very good horses.

I joined The Rand Club, of which Maynard was Chairman and we were three of the original two-hundred members, who formed the first syndicate. We were later paid out the £10 we had each subscribed, given a bonus of £10 each and were made members of the new club, paying the ordinary annual subs of £16.16.0.

Johannesburg was then a very scattered place and I remember well when Maynard took me up Commissioner Street and I asked him why they had built The Rand Club outside the town. Those who know Jo'burg now, (1934) will appreciate the growth of the town from these remarks. Phil and le Roux had no luck on Witpoortjie, the farm they were prospecting, so came into town and we founded the firm of Eastwood Brothers and Le Roux. We put up a signboard outside our offices advertising ourselves as ‘Company Promoters, Financial Agents, Accountants, Secretaries of Companies and Insurance Brokers.’ (It is just as well we did not add what our banking account looked like.) As with everyone else, we dreamed dreams of fortunes, which were actually lying all round us and we did not know it. The few tents occupied by adventurers of a year ago, had given place to buildings which now formed quite a respectable town, but the price of stands, claims, options on farms and so on, were not a shadow of what they were to be, even in the immediate future. The Corner House property, as it now is – a huge massive ten-storey building - was then occupied by little tin shanties, two rooms deep with hot, low, tin lean-to roofs Johannesburg in September 1890 was just four years old.

I was at that time still living with Captain Maynard in the small detached building referred to, which was still more-or-less isolated and, after a boxing lesson at the Wanderers one night, was returning home, stopping every now and then to spar with an imaginary opponent, when it occurred to me that should anyone be watching, they would imagine I was some escaped lunatic. Looking round, I saw a man coming along so I dropped my arms and walked on. Feeling a little uncomfortable, I again looked round and saw he had gained on me, so I walked very quickly and, looking back, saw he was still gaining, so I ran and he ran after me. Then I knew he meant business. I was about 100 yards from the cottage. I knew my door was locked and that I would have no time to unlock it. It was a tight race and he was closing in on me, being about only ten yards away, so near that I could hear him breathing hard. I made a dash at the door with my booted foot and it flew open. I seized my revolver and returned to the attack, but the bird had flown."


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