Old Cambrian Society

  OC Society
  OC Alumni
  OC News
  Events Diary
  Register Here
  Impala Project
  Where are they?
  Contact us

   Jitze Couperus


Jitze Couperus

Nickname: Copper-Arse
House: Hawke
Years: 1956-1961

School career ended prematurely as POW last term was cut short because of the emergency precipitated by Congo Independence. Hawke House was turned to housing Belgian refugees and I got conscripted as an interpreter to help there - pending call-up into Kenya Reg. I never made it there but was seconded directly into KAR (I was a Uganda boy) to help with rescue and evacuation of missionaries et al. Demobbed early after an illustrious military career lugging a WW1-era Lee-Enfield rifle around Bukavu keeping the United Nations peace.

Joined The British Tabulating Machine Company (EA) which later became ICT then ICL. Sent to England to learn how to program and maintain computers, eventually returning to Nairobi where I baby-sat the first computers for EAR&H and EAP&L. Eventually transferred back to UK to do research and design for ICT and then to Holland to look after their machines there. Here I came to the attention of an American outfit and was recruited to emigrate to the U.S. and next spent 30 years working for Control Data Corporation in R&D on supercomputers.

Have lived in California (San Francisco Bay Area - Silicon Valley) ever since with my wife Nancy. Have two daughters who have since left the nest, and recently retired (mid 2002)

Generaly manage an annual sojourn back to the UK to visit with friends and family.

Photo below - I'm the tall skinny guy standing up. Seated is Ian MacOwen who I remember was a "Day Boy" who lived up the road in Kabete. We are wearing CCF uniform and the building to the right is the Science Labs. This was taken just outside "the armoury" where the rifles for the CCF were kept.
Jitze Couperus

An addition (Feb 2003) to Jitze's recollections:
The Scottish Dancing pictures (1961) reminded me of "Spunky" Duncan - he and I revelled in illicit chemistry experiments. I recall we used to hollow out the pods dropped by the gum trees at the top fields. (Some people fashioned pipe-bowls out of them in which to smoke various dried leaves or 10-centi tobacco reclaimed from used stompies). Our variation was to fill them with ammonium-nitrate (swiped from the labs) mixed with sugar, and detonate them. I don't know if anyone remembers, but there was a 1ft pipe under the road leading to Junior House (storm culvert) and this mysteriously exploded one night when we miscalculated the dosage required for a big bang..... (the perpetrators were, of course, Prefects seconded to serve in Junior House from their respective senior houses. These were supposedly the guardians of law and order, and mentors to the young and impressionable rabble. What 'was' the youth of those days coming to?)

In Junior House, grace before meals was initiated by the Housemaster banging smartly with a large gavel on a round wooden block. 'Somebody' created a hollow in the bottom of this block and filled it with home-crafted nitrogen tri-iodide...... with the result that the next time grace was said, the block split due to the explosion, and the celebrant was enveloped in a cloud of purple vapor.

I see from Brod Purdy's entry on this web site that he now indulges as "...mature student reading Hons Oriental Studies with Chinese at Oxford..." and I see also that he indulges in racing old jalopies round France.

I am now somewhat more pedestrian in my pursuits - see http://couperus.home.mindspring.com, although I must confess that on returning to EA after my stint as an apprentice in Britain, I and a friend entered the East African Safari Ralley as one of a team of 3 DKW's. This was the 2-stroke 3-cylinder job with front-wheel drive, competing mainly against Saab (we thought) but that year an Austin Mini won in the under-one-litre class if I recallcorrectly. Our car ran out of road in a tea plantation somewhere near Kericho in the dead of a very dark night. Thankfully passed between two rubber trees while taking out a couple of tea bushes and modifying the distributor by pushing the front bumper in to it.

I exited the vehicle after checking that my co-driver was OK and decided to take the opportunity to now relieve my bladder - which I did against a rubber tree. Too late!! It turned out that the trunk of said rubber tree was in fact the back leg of an elephant that had strayed into that shamba. So beat an ignominious retreat back into the Deek and waited there till morning and the backup/rescue vehicle came looking for us.

Youthfull follies.......

(Registered - 10th December 2002)

If anyone wishes to contact Jitze, please e-mail webmaster@oldcambrians.com to obtain his contact details