Subscriber looks back on 64 years of enjoying ‘The Witness’

2008-09-09 00:00

Prestbury resident Marion Nero (90) has been an avid subscriber of The Witness throughout the 64 years she has lived in Pietermaritzburg and says she can’t do without her daily Witness “fix”.

Nero says she feels “absolutely devastated” if the newspaper has not arrived or is delivered late, but luckily this doesn’t happen often.

“If I get to my postbox and find the paper isn’t there, I can’t wait to get to the telephone to find out where it is, and I must say, they are very good and I usually get it delivered within an hour or so.”

Nero was born in England, but spent her childhood in Durban, prior to her marriage to her late husband, Ralph, and the couple’s move to Pietermaritzburg.

Ralph Nero was a well-known mathematics teacher and lecturer at Maritzburg College, Girls’ Collegiate and the local Teachers’ Training College.

“We both loved The Witness,” says Nero.

She believes the newspaper has “not changed that much” in the sense that it is still “full of all the local news”, as well as world news.

“It always has a good mix of stories.”

Society has changed, however, and the current news reflects a great deal more crime and corruption.

“Unfortunately, the news content is sometimes a bit depressing, but that is not the fault of the newspaper.

“When we first got The Witness, it was during the war [World War 2] and of course there were a lot of war stories in the paper. The news was probably a bit more parochial in those days,” she adds.

She recalls that Hayfields was formerly the site of a military hospital camp for soldiers of the British Army.

Nero says in the early days, The Witness was delivered to her doorstep every morning by a man on a bicycle — now it is delivered by van.

“In those days, there were not many cars around. In fact, it was only the rich people who owned cars, and generally men owned cars rather than women.”

While she and her late husband were still courting, they used to travel around on a Harley-Davidson motorbike with a sidecar. “One day it just packed up and he left it on the side of the road. It would probably be a collector’s item now,” she laughs.

Nero is an enthusiastic gardener, but says as she has started to slow down physically, she spends more time reading The Witness and developing her hobby — watercolour painting.

Her son, Daryl, inherited her talent and is a professional artist living in Zimbabwe.

Nero’s daughter, Deoné Gerrard, lives in Hilton and is a frequent visitor to her mother’s home.

“My family are all readers of The Witness,” Nero adds.

She has four grandsons and two great-grandsons.

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