Just prior to the Second World War, in about 1939, Percy started working for Woolworths in the accounts department and he continued to do so throughout the war. In 1940 he relieved the manager of their branch in Wynberg and he was working at their Head Office for a couple of years and up until 1945.
It was towards the end of 1941 that Mabel and Percy bought the house in Rouwkoop Road, Rondebosch called 'Wellwood', which lay across the Main Road from 'Westbrooke' and at about that same time they also purchased the small labourer's cottage that lay directly behind their house. This was in Roslyn Road and called 'Bungalow'; it was built of mud bricks, (reputedly having been a 'slave cottage'). It had two small interleading bedrooms, a nice sized lounge and basic kitchen, outside toilet and a bathroom with antique four-legged tub and very ancient, explosive, gas water heater.
We lived in the 'Bungalow' for a year, in 1951 and the early part of 1952, returning there in 1957 while we were looking for a small farm, eventually finding and moving into 'Eendracht' in Firgrove. While we were there the first time another small bedroom was added to the side and the rusty corrugated iron fence was removed. We cleared the rubbish dump that was lying on one side of the house and unearthed a large number of glass bottles, the old-fashioned kind, sort of cylindrical, that lay on their side and without a flat bottom. Inside each one was a marble to aerate, or stir up, the soda water. We were foolishly ignorant and should, of course, have collected and retained these instead of discarding them with the other rubbish. The small backyard also required clearing and planting to grass because, as with so many rented properties, none of this kind of maintenance had been done by the tenants. Many years later, having passed through the hands of other owners it was done up to look very attractive in the 'Chelsea' fashion, with a small white picket fence in front, a big improvement.
In about 1944 Mabel and Percy decided to buy a small seaside cottage in the bush near the beach at Kommetjie and this provided them with easy access to the sea and the fishing that Percy enjoyed. Under the prolific kelp found around that rocky shore there were quantities of crayfish that were easily caught in large numbers, using baited nets thrown from his small clinker-built rowing boat.
Phillip recalls many happy weekends spent there, catching and cooking the crayfish in a large forty-four-gallon drum. There were always far too many for their own consumption and on the way home they would drop off a couple for various friends. But eventually found there were so many that it was it quite difficult to continue finding recipients who wanted them. At the time one could 'buy' them in quantities along the road from the coast from Coloured fishermen in exchange for a bottle of cheap (1/6 pence) bottle of wine!
In all likelihood it was due to the years that Percy's spent in France, but he was knowledgeable about and delighted in good food although his appetite was small. It was a great pleasure for him to go down to one of the beaches like Muizenberg and watch the fishermen trawl in the nets full of fish, such as steenbrass, bring one home for Mabel to cook fresh out of the sea. Or he would get a hankering for a sole and spend his 'pocket money' in order for them to indulge in this luxury. When we were living in the'Bungalow' he would go through to the Cape Town harbour where the fishermen brought in their catch of crayfish. These were for export and the crayfish legs were discarded, so he would purchase a large brown paper packet full, for a shilling, and bring some home for us to share.
Later, they also contemplated buying the property over the road from where they lived at 'Wellwood' but decided against investing at the asking price. This was next door to where a developer eventually built Grosvenor Court on the corner of Rouwkoop and Main Roads. This was one of Percy's regrets and he often spoke about missing an opportunity there.
Throughout his life it was claimed that Percy had a weak chest, but to all appearances he seemed to remain in excellent health. However, he had been quite a heavy smoker and continued to smoke until he was about sixty years of age.
The only 'illness' I recall him having was when he went into Groot Schuur Hospital for a prostate operation in about 1961 and his quip at that time, when asked how he was doing, was to say that all the men were enjoying playing 'marbles' in the hospital corridors!
In the early 1960's, Mabel, who had also enjoyed a lifetime of remarkably good health, started having trouble with her digestion. Once again she was extremely opposed to even consulting a doctor for fear that it would necessitate an operation. She was loosing weight and obviously far from well. Eventually Phillip persuaded her to visit a doctor we had met through Peter Picton, and who lived in Sea Point, called Dr. John Battersby. Unfortunately he confirmed our worst fears, telling us he believed she had a growth, but she was told that the problem was simply an ulcer, so we were faced with having to convince her that an operation was the only option. Meanwhile Phillip had informed his sisters, Winnie and Dolly of the situation, but they were very loath to believe him. However he finally convinced them it was serious, whereupon they immediately came down to Cape Town (in the August) and insisted that she see a specialist known to Dolly, named Mr. Marr. In the event, he performed the operation and informed us that he had removed a 'cancerous growth as big as a grapefruit'. However, we ultimately found out that he had done nothing of the sort. The problem proved to be so bad that he decided it would be best just to provide some sort of bypass for the bowel and leave it at that. Winnie and Dolly then returned to Rhodesia but, during the period following the operation, while she still remained in her home, Phillip and I would call in each evening in order to cook for Pa and ourselves, as at that time Ma ate next to nothing. She never wanted Phillip to leave her and go home to Firgrove, so although she had always been against the consumption of liquor, she would offer him another beer in order that he would extend the time spent with her. (It was at this time that Phillip's weight increased considerably.) But she simply wasted away and died on 4th February, 1962 [Peter's twelfth birthday] at the Wynberg hospital. Dolly and Winnie returned to Cape Town for the funeral.
Mabel Helene May was buried at the Plumstead cemetery with her family in attendance. Her coffin was placed in the same family plot as her brother-in-law, Jack Murray.
Towards the end of her life when she was very far from well, some Roman Catholic nuns called at the house, but she did not feel able to ask them in or to talk to them. She had not remained attached to their faith and when she died, they recalled this and refused to hold the funeral service in their church or to bury her in the consecrated ground of the Roman Catholic section of the cemetery.
Although I did not know it at the time, apparently Dolly was most resentful that I did not go to her mother's funeral and always said afterwards that 'she would never forgive me for this omission'. I was brought up in a very old-fashioned way, I suppose, because our family did not think that funerals were the place for women and children. I did not attend my own mother's funeral but stayed at home, sitting quietly in 'Graystone's' garden with Peter, aged not yet four and Andrew almost two years old. Over the years, however, as things changed, I have been to any number of funerals, so perhaps Dolly had a point.
Just after his wife's death, Percy, Dolly and Winnie spent a few days together out at Hermanus where the Rudlands had a seaside house. Then, after the funeral, Percy's son, Victor, came down from Bulawayo to help him pack up and sell the home and the 'Bungalow', before taking him back to live with him and Biddy in Bulawayo.
During those last few days that Victor and his father spent in 'Wellwood', we continued to call each evening to cook a meal for all of us. As we were both working in the office in Cape Town (near the docks) Victor used to buy whatever was needed each day and have it ready for us when we arrived. That was the last time I saw either of them.
Once the house 'Wellwood' was put on the market, Dolly and Winnie went through the place deciding what was worth keeping and what each one wanted. Mabel had trunks full of material and other 'bargains' she had purchased over the years, stored under the beds, in cupboards and so on. As is usual in these circumstances, there was a great deal of sorting out needed and decisions to be made. A few items that belonged to Percy were set on one side for him to take with him, such as the marble clock with bronze figures and two other bronze figurines from the factory in Belgium (which had always stood on the mantle piece in their home over the years. These ultimately went to Victor's son, Sean and are now in his home in Perth, Australia) and, no doubt, other items considered as belonging to him One evening Dolly and Winnie called at the farm 'Eendracht' on their way out to Hermanus and, to my amazement Dolly presented me with a couple of blankets, saying 'The rats have been at these and they have a few holes, but I'm sure that you can mend and use them.' Well, that gave me a bit of a laugh, but I did as she suggested. After they, Victor and Percy had all returned to Rhodesia, we went to the house to clean it up and remove any 'left-overs' before the new owners moved in. Although it looked as if it had been stripped, in fact we found quite a number of items of interest which we kept and to which, through the years, we have become attached, such as Percy's barometer, and miniature long case clock, his 'spy glass', magnifying glass, fireside bellows and silver cigar cutter. In the pantry, stored in wooden mineral boxes and carefully wrapped in paper were all the Belgian glasses that Mabel only used at Christmas and in the bedroom were two floor rugs, one rather old and thin, but the other a really nice Persian; all of these we have to this day.
Percy remained in Bulawayo with Victor and Biddy until his death some eleven months after Mabel passed away. He died on 5th.January 1963 and was buried in the Kumalo cemetery in Bulawayo.
Percy claimed that he knew when he would die, saying he would live to be eighty-two years old. As it turned out he lived until two months short of his eighty-third birthday.
Philip went up to Bulawayo towards the end of 1962 and stayed with Victor. He found his father confined to bed and too weak to get up. He was suffering from cancer of the lungs, as by then a secondary cancer had occurred there. On his next visit to Bulawayo he went with Doris to visit his father's grave.