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  • Writer's picture Kester Eddy

Man Maketh the Pic - Breyten, South Africa, October '75

Updated: Nov 9, 2022

No tourist in their right mind would go to Breyten. But then Jake and I were probably not in our right minds: we drove there, backwards. Every Picture Tells a Story [don't it?] 29

Photo: He's probably dead by now. If not, he must be over 80. I'm talking about the gentleman on the right, of course - he turned round at just the right moment to make this pic. Breyten, South African Railways locomotive depot, around mid-day, Oct 1975.

I must admit, I'm a pretty bad blogger. In May last year, I started what was supposed to be a series telling the tale of a trip to South Africa in the last quarter of '75.

I did one post - it's here to save you scrolling back:

[I'd completely forgotten that this photo was also, probably, at Breyten. Hey, I've made this little one-horse town almost famous :) ]

Well, until now, I suppose. I was musing about posting something, and thoughts came back to me of this trip, and this pic, and I realised it was 47 years ago, almost to the day when I took this photo. (In truth, it was probably about October 2 or 3.)

As a youthful photographer, I always thought I had a right to take pics of people when on public property. I would never pay a camel driver at the pyramids to take his photo - forget that!

Now, sometimes I wonder; after all, this man makes the photo. Sure, there is some nice light coming through the roof - there's even another man, probably a fitter, looking at the locomotive's valve-gear on the left. But let's face it, it's him there, like a modern Lot, turning to see what's going on - except that instead of turning to salt, he really gives this pic value.

In truth, I've never made any money from this image. So that leaves both of us unpaid for a moment we alone, and no others, consciously shared. (That makes me feel better. )

I have, however, made (modest) dosh from similar images published over the years. And those models, whom I never approached for their permission, furnished me the opportunity. My thanks to them all.

Whatever, I hope his descendants see this image. Maybe I'll send a link to the Mayor's office and someone there can find them. I've just checked on the internet, and - unlike many locations in South Africa - nobody's thought to change the name of this little town,

Except it's now located in - oh gosh, how do you pronounce it? - Mpumalanga.

I suppose that's the native tongue for Transvaal. Oh well, that's local freedom - not sure if it will bring any more tourist traffic to Breyten however.

For steam nuts, the locomotive is an SAR 15F 4-8-2, which dominated traffic at the time between Breyten westwards across the veld towards Springs, Johannesburg and the Rand.

That's all for tonight. I hope you're well. I'm sure the next post will be on Hungary, or central Europe, at least.

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