If you were in primary school in Tzaneen at any time in the last five decades you would know Tannie Marty Reynolds. The 77-year-old retired teacher taught many children from various schools in this area over the course of half a century.
As you read this, she is hard at work packing up her life on the Whispering Waters farm up in Agatha from where she will be moving to spend her golden years with her children in Gauteng. Marty spent 47 years on that farm, but with the continuous power cuts, the crime and her age, her family decided that she would have a better quality of life under different circumstances.
“I am leaving to live in Gauteng. My grandchild, Greg, and my daughter Natalie informed me on their last visit here during the past holiday, that I will be moving to live with them. Since my son Mark passed away, I had been living alone here. It is just not a safe place here anymore and an elderly person like me living all by myself here worries my family”.
Her son, Mark, nicknamed his mom the ‘Recycled Teenager’ (for always being so young at heart). The two of them lived on the farm until Mark passed away in August 2017 at the age of 43.
On the wall at the back door, she pointed proudly at the four paintings Mark created for her 70th birthday. She struggled to hold back the tears as she discussed the craftmanship from her talented artist son.
After his passing, his ashes were brought back to the farm. No matter how sad it is for Reynolds to leave her son’s remains behind, she fully understands that Whispering Waters was his happy place.
Reynolds taught generations of children, literally, as a teacher at Tzaneen Primary, Unicorn Preparatory School, Gravelotte Primary and PEPPS in Modjadji amongst others.
She arrived in Tzaneen in 1958 as a child. After school she studied to become a teacher where she first started at Tzaneen Primary in 1969 until 1971. She continued her career at Unicorn Preparatory School that same year. After a 30-year tenure at Unicorn, the then headmaster of Tzaneen Primary, Vic Rijnen, lured her back to the Larries as an English teacher until she retired in 2014 at the age of 70.
Reynolds will fondly remember the friendliness of Tzaneen’s residents. Whenever she frequents town, she will be stopped to be greeted by former colleagues, learners and friends by her nickname, “Mrs. R” which the pupils gave her after she so eagerly dished out nicknames to all who crossed the threshold of her classroom.
In fact, she was famous for nicknaming children according to their surnames. The children she has taught over the years until this day still uses their nicknames to remind her who they were if she can’t remember them.
“For example, Van Zyl became Van Vlees, Du Plessis children were Do-Play-Cee and for the Venter surname I called them “Venstertjie”. The children loved it. I remember a learner that once asked me what Velcro was, and after a lengthy explanation I named him Girtsie after the sound the Velcro makes when you pull the two sides apart.”
But Marty was known by various names afforded to her by colleagues and others she had regular dealings with. The names she recalled during her teaching career span from The Dragon, Culture Vulture and Fresh Air Fanatic.
“What I will miss most about Tzaneen will be the wide-open spaces, nature and the quietness of living on the farm. The quality of life in this area, the amazing friends and colleagues I will also sorely miss, not to mention Mark’s beautiful garden and artistic creations in and around our home.”