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Toffee Treasure

In the Great Karoo, sometime in the early 1950s


For my grandson Joseph Lin Dreyer, born November 11, 2023


Working the shop, at twelve, I sold

Sunrise Location's young scions

toffees (Velvets, Wilson's), giving

the boys a farthing's change per head.

"Dankie, Kleinbaas,”* the kids all said

—not feeling, I suppose, that bold.


Wilson's two a penny, Velvet

four, then desiderated sweets

at Dreyer's Handy Market store,

alas, our grocery no more:

it's a Pick n Pay Hyper outlet

now, selling what you have to get.


Libra, solidus, denarius,

"£.s.d."** to me; I didn't fuss

over farthings in a tickey

but wait a bit: Wag net ’n bietjie!***

twenty bob, and you'd got a quid.

No big deal if you did like us!


Had I still but got a farthing

of that lost pretty penny sum,

I’d bequeath it to my grandson,

revealing to him at leisure

the return for toffee treasure

in "Then"—my sometime thing.


So, my grandson lives in Shanghai;

I riff on 1952—

just distantly remembered, true,

though I was then as good as new;

good people asked a heartfelt "Why?"

—and had not so succumbed to sigh.


Wouldn't trade for what's on now.

It tots stuff up all wrong. Nohow!



*“Dankie, Kleinbaas” = “Thanks, Little Master."

**£.s.d. = "pounds, shillings, and pence." Pronounced “el-es-dee." The £ symbol is an L for libra, pound—colloquially, a "quid." The "tickey" was a thrupenny bit; the shilling was called a "bob."

***"Wag net ’n bietjie!" = "Just wait a little bit!"



Christmas 2023


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