Neil Grantham regaled his Facebook friends and family with a tale from his father’s youth to celebrate Father’s Day and shows with a little tenacity, dreams can come true.
Benoni, South Africa (24 June 2020) – Neil Grantham decided to share a story from his father’s youth as a way to celebrate Father’s Day this year. He wanted to show just how great his father is. The story highlights his father’s tenacity and how he made a dream come true at just age 13.
Neil’s story is brilliant and if it were a book, it would be classed as a page-turner! Take a read below.
“In 1970 Hugh Grantham was thirteen. The youngest of five boys and just older than his younger sister. Living in a small house on a plot on the Benoni small farms. Somehow, by what can only be described as remarkable, he managed to swop 250 cubic meters of sand for a Porsche Master tractor. This is his story.
It was October. A young Hugh was probably barefoot, in shorts and a t-shirt as you would find him today. His brothers pushing him around in a wheelbarrow on the dusty, dry grass. I like to imagine he would have been happiest thinking about the day he would have his own Jersey cows or harvesting some crop with his own combine harvester. Just feeling the warm soil between his toes – happy as can be.
As it would happen that week, Hugh had gotten word that the Renken’s were selling their family tractor. The Renken’s ran a nursery up the road and Hugh’s elder brothers were friendly with the Renken sons too. Hugh introduced himself to Mr Renken senior and told him of his intention to ‘acquire’ the tractor. The tractor was a 3.3 litre, 4 Cylinder, 50 Horsepower Porsche Master Diesel imported from Germany. It was a standard traffic light red in colour. The asking price was R250-00. Part of the deal was that there were some licensing issues with the tractor. There were no papers of ownership and hence the tractor could never be insured. I’m convinced that Renkin senior must have been shocked and delighted that a naive, young blonde-haired boy from the plots wanted to buy a Porsche tractor.
Hugh went home that night knowing he didn’t have anything close to R250-00. But, he knew absolutely that the tractor was his. The next morning, knowing his fate, he skipped up the pebbled road to Mr. Renkin. He had discovered that the Renkin’s were now doing landscaping in peoples gardens and needed extra earth. Dark, brown, rich soil. All according to plan, Hugh told Mr Renkin that he could offer him some soil for the tractor. Incredibly Mr Renkin agreed on 250 Cubic meters of sand for the straight swop of the tractor.
And so Hugh began digging a huge hole at the bottom of his parents property behind the tree line. All unbeknownst to them. Over three days Hugh delivered the soil to the Renkins’ property. On his last load of sand, a tired yet eager Hugh was handed the keys to his new Porsche. He was thirteen years old.
He parked the tractor at home at the bottom of the garden where there was now a rather large hole for a pond busy filling with water. Still, his parents knew nothing of the feat.
The second part of this astonishing story is Hugh’s commitment to getting the tractor in his name. He wanted to be the rightful owner. Plus he wanted to take it out and ride it on the streets. As you do in Benoni in the ’70s. Or if you’re Hugh Grantham, you do it in the 2000s too.
In early 1971 Hugh posted a handwritten letter to the Commissioner of the Transvaal detailing his position of being under 18 years of age and not being able to legally register the tractor nor having a license to drive it. The commissioner replied to his letter instructing the Benoni Traffic Department to issue Hugh (now fourteen) with a special license for his tractor. He cycled to the traffic department and handed in the letter at the counter. He received the papers and license right there and then. His tractor was now in his name.
Hugh is my dad. What a great story. True and unbending intent. A tale of magic and creation. He was just a kid with a simple little dream. He doesn’t always know this about himself but he’s my hero in so many ways. When I ask my dad about his relationship with his parents and how they responded to his story, he always kind of shies away from how he really feels. I’m not sure they ever really told him that he was amazing. But he had to be. He traded some sand for a Porsche. Imagine how proud you must have been and never knew how to express it. Thirteen years old and you drive a Porsche through the front gate. That sounds pretty epic to me.