Junkyard Jive

731
Chris Marais
Chris Marais

One man’s trash is another’s treasure, writes CHRIS MARAIS  

Dirk and Sonja van Rensburg of Calvinia are known far and wide through the Hantam Karoo as bakers of repute and holders of the secret recipe of the famous Oom Daan’s Pies. They also collect what others could mistake for trash.

Dirk and Sonja van Rensburg – the bakers and rust-art collectors of Calvinia.
Dirk and Sonja van Rensburg – the bakers and rust-art collectors of Calvinia.

The Van Rensburg junkyard may be one of the definitive collections of Karooviana, presented in an exhibition that shows every sign of one day being priceless. It’s all on display: enamel signs from farms and dusty township homes; old cards, photographs, ancient farm implements and wind pump parts.

One man's trash is another's treasure
One man’s trash is another’s treasure

If you live in the Karoo and you’re looking to spring-clean, give Dirk van Rensburg a call.

Your old walking boot could end up being a home for a lonely little succulent. The old enamel Koffiehuis sign on the outside wall was part of a chicken coop in Sutherland.

The Wardkiss Paint sign was the entrance of a shack in Augrabies village. The Atlantic Motor Spirit sign once did door duty somewhere in Olifantshoek.

“I made the guy an offer. He thought it over and said slowly: ‘Ja, as meneer my so baie geld wil betaal is dit orrait.’” If you want to pay me so much money, it’s OK.

Artfully displayed junk becomes an outdoor museum of the Northern Cape.
Artfully displayed junk becomes an outdoor museum of the Northern Cape.

Sit down to lunch with them and taste an original Oom Daan’s Hantam Lamb Pie. Is he the Colonel Sanders (KFC) of the Karoo? “Oh yes,” says Dirk. “Oom Daan was a real local character, who made great pies guaranteed not to give you heartburn.

“We tried in the early days to buy the recipe from Oom Daan, but he would not budge. A year later, Oom Daan came to us and said he was ready to sell. The transaction happened, and we took a photo of Oom Daan to use on the packaging.

The Van Rensburgs are keen anti-frackers and don’t mind telling the world about their feelings.
The Van Rensburgs are keen anti-frackers and don’t mind telling the world about their feelings.

“A couple of months later, Oom Daan passed away.”

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