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Reuniting with a prized possession after 64 years

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OWN CORRESPONDENT

Carole, who was then Benatar, grew up in Johannesburg in the 1950s and went to live with her grandmother – who was a music teacher – when she was five.

“She taught me to play the piano, and in 1954, she took me to a recording studio where I recorded a solo, and a 78 RPM record was made,” says Carole. “In 1991 my Gran passed away, and my mother cleared out her flat in Bree Street.

Carole attended Johannesburg Girls High School (JGHS) in Berea and matriculated in 1964. Fifty years later her JGHS year had a school reunion and Jackie Israel created a simple website to trace pupils from the class of 1964.

In October this year Jackie – whose contact details were on the website – got an e-mail from Steve Hooppell, who lives in Albury, New South Wales, Australia. He told her that he had found Carole’s 64-year-old record among his record collection and he wanted to return it to its rightful owner.

 “It was still in its original sleeve, which I had made on the February 10, 1954 at the SABC in Johannesburg,” explains Carole. “He has absolutely no idea how this record came to be among his possessions.”

Jackie forwarded his e-mail to Carole. “I was sorting through some random records in my collection and came across this 1954 pressing of a piano solo by Carole (aged seven years), read the e-mail.

“After some detective work I have tracked Carole to the JGHS class of ’64 website (hence your contacts) as well as a possible link to Shaarei Torah Primary School (as a school teacher under her married name Carole Bome).

“I thought that Carole and/or her family may like the 78 record which I am happy to forward as soon as I have an address (if available).”

Piecing things together, Carole says: “When my grandmother passed away and some of her belongings were auctioned off, somebody who emigrated to Australia must have purchased a lot of records, including this one. That must be how this landed up at the other end of the world. How it ever reached Steve Hooppell in Albury, is a mystery.” 

Carole contacted Hooppell as soon as she got his e-mail and he returned her record.

“I am happy to say I have just received this prized possession, which brought back many memories. How amazing is the power of the Internet, and the kindness and determination of this total stranger who took the trouble to return this to me. It certainly restores one’s faith in humanity,” she says.

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