Story Time Memories 2: - Dr H.O. Reisener

I first met Dr H.O. Reisener (Hasso) towards the middle of 1951 when I doing my training as "pupil engineer" with the SA Railways and Harbours. He was chief metallurgist and had a laboratory in the old Pretoria Workshops behind the Pretoria Station. It was a free standing building and he worked on his own in the lab. The lab was well equipped and even had a Fixed X-ray machine, but as far as I remember no ultrasonic equipment. I and a colleague spent about 3 weeks there and were his general assistants, doing tensile tests, polishing specimens for metallurgical test. He was not very busy and spent a lot of his time explaining defects in the hundreds of specimens he had in the laboratory.

He also told us about his life and the fact that he trained in Germany before the 1939-1945 war. He had a Leica Camera with which he photographed many historical buildings in Germany. After the war he offered these photographs to the German authorities and it was used in the restoration of the buildings. He lent us the camera on several occasions and I remember using the telephoto lens that he had. We once stood on the balcony of the Voortrekker Monument and using this lens we could just get the Union Buildings in the view. It was a wonderful experience, being only used to a box camera! He also told us that his house was the only one with a copper clad roof in Pretoria. This house was in Om die Berg (street) in Lynnwood Pretoria but was not visible from the street as it had a lot of natural vegetation around it. His wife had a toy shop in Schoeman Street known as Reisener's toy shop. He apparently also owned property in Western Germany. I lost contact with him as I was transferred to Cape Town and eventually resigned from the SAR.

I next met him when talks started on the forming of the NDT Society. He was at that time metallurgist at Vecor in Vanderbijlpark. He was a keen supporter of the Society and delivered the first two lectures to the Society and had acquainted himself on NDT techniques.

He was a very formal gentleman, but could let his hair down and party with all others. He could also be very informal. I remember when we went to 1970 meeting of ICNDT in Hannover, he had a battered apple box, and battered it was, with him. When we arrived at the Customs he told them it was a doll for his granddaughter who was living in Germany. He spoke in German to the customs official and an argument developed, they wanted him to open the box and he refused to do it. After a while I said to him "Hasso maak die boks oop sodat ons kan deurgaan".When the customs official heard that we did not speak German to each other, he said "You are not German?" Hasso nodded and we were on our way.

When the committee decided to award a prize for the best lecture of the year, it was a unanimous decision: "Let us call it the H.O. Reisener Prize"

He was retired by this time and the building where his wife's shop was, was demolished and I again lost contact with a remarkable man.

Submitted by Mr Pieter Scribante   In later years, the alternative route to Pretoria went along Jan Smuts Avenue and via the Bryanston Leeuwkop direction. As my house was just off that road, it was often my privilege to entertain Hasso to the early morning in a similar manner. My secretary could usually deduce that Hasso had visited by a very bleary-eyed boss next day.

The trick I inherited from Mr H was to quickly decant most of whatever whiskey there was while my guest was in the loo, so as to keep the price down and the evening a little shorter. That worked for a few years until Hasso - in desperation at the empty whiskey bottle - was quite prepared to accept brandy as a substitute! But that's another story

Pieter Scribante