Buttigieg - 2 July 2004
would be a word familiar only to a certain generation and,
I would hazard a guess, that it would be those who were young
adolescents or "older" teenagers between the years
1955 and 1965. Rock and Roll had exploded into the world with
Bill Haley and his Comets and their "Rock around the
Clock". Then Elvis appeared and Rock was here to stay.
am not sure if Durban started "sessions" but some
members of the older generation cottoned onto the fact that
money could be raised by providing the youngsters with the
music which was all the rage. It was the M.O.T.H.S. (Memorable
Order of Tin Hats) who may have been the initiators of sessions.
their "shellhole" premises as venues, Friday/Saturday
nights were the nights for a session. A local 4 piece rock
band would be hired to play rock music and at an entrance
fee of 25 cents, the local shellhole would be the place to
be either with your "steady" or a good place to
meet the "local talent". These venues proved so
popular that some churches needing to raise funds, got onto
the band wagon. I
remember "sessions" at St Cyprians in Umbilo and
at Assumption Catholic Church Hall, the later collecting funds
to build the Church that stands today. Shellholes that come
to mind were at Durban North and Umbilo.
those attending the sessions
was a "rougher" element called "ducktails"
because of their distinctive hair styles, Texan cigarette
packets rolled up into the sleeves of their skin tight white
T-shirt sleeves, and their "irons" (motorbikes).
This was the pre-Japanese bike era and the bike to have was
either a Triumph , AJS or Norton. Unfortunately, crowd control
at the sessions was wanting and rival ducktail / bike gangs
would quite often spoil the fun by breaking out into fist
and boot fights.
was not served on the premises but, inevitably, it was available.
There were certain places in Durban were liquour could be
bought illegally. When the punch-ups got out of hand, the
Police would arrive in their Dodge Scorpion Vans, break up
the fracas and remove the inebriated.
of a 'session" is far removed from today's raves were
live bands do not exist, males, females and others, dance
singly or in groups, light and laser shows are in and the
music is vastly different. Whereas sessions were restricted
to roughly 4 hours, 8 to midnight (the law forbade public
entertainment after midnight), today the night starts at 10
and ends anytime thereafter. Sessions were a regular entertainment
in Durban for many years. The advent of the Beatles, for some
reason (perhaps the waning of the ducktail cult), saw the
demise of "sessions" with more formal venues (still
with live bands) becoming the norm.
Buttigieg - 8 May 2004
uncle was a very keen fisherman and was adamant the best bait
was live shrimp. He and I used to drive in his small 1952
Austen to Fynnlands which in the mid 50s was still a very
swampy area. The present tanker berths were not there and
these were built later from land reclaimed. We used to drive
along Edwin Swales Drive in the dead of night to seine netters
houses in Fynnlands and buy fresh live shrimp. The shrimp
was sold in a "parcel" of newspaper.
in hand we would then drive all the way back to the North
Pier. Edwin Swales Drive used to be lit by sodium lights which
bathed the whole road in a eerie strange orange light. North
Pier at the time still had two wooden jetties which jutted
out into the channel between North and South Pier. I have
a feeling they were World War 2 remnants. The one jetty closest
to the harbour was the more popular as, at the head of the
jetty, it opened into a large area. However, space was limited
and it was very much first come first accommodated.
by were two very large sewage outlet pipes and these were
opened to discharge Durban's effluent when the tide changed
to outgoing. You can imagine the contents of the outlets with
the associated odour. However, the muck attracted the fish
and some fine grunter were caught off this pier. In later
years the two outlet pipes were replaced by a pipeline which
took all the effluent out to sea.
on the South Pier was a large gantry crane which was used
to bolster the pier with huge concrete blocks. This crane
eventually rusted so badly that it collapsed and fell over
into the channel and had to be replaced. The South Pier was
not really as popular with local fisherman (probably because
it was more difficult to get there) but the seaward side of
the South Pier was the domain of the Shark fishermen. Using
whale meat as bait and kites to get the bait out to deep water,
local shark fishermen used to try and catch the large sharks
found in that area. The Leviathan Fishing Club comes to mind
and names like Harold Roseavere, Cecil Jacobs, Gordon Leadingham.
Break Up Day
Buttigieg - 2 April 2004
High School at St. Henry's (Marist Brothers) in 1956 and distinctly
remember the mayhem the more senior school pupils used to
cause in Durban on year end break up day. I cannot recall
how long this tradition had been going on for but it was stopped,
I think, in 1958. At year end all Durban senior school scholars
(boys and some girls) would converge on Durban Central on
the trolley buses or double decker motor buses.
would be upstairs on the upper deck and, as the buses came
down West Street, exercise books (and school books) were torn
up and thrown out of the windows in a sort of ticker tape
parade. West Street used to be littered with paper. I remember
the one year getting on to the bus going into town at the
Glenwood Terminus upper MacDonald Road. At Bath Road (which
in those days was a through road) the bus stopped to pick
up the Glenwood High School contingent who overtook the top
into town, the Glenwood boys were emptying sackfuls of torn
friend of mine was standing behind one Glenwood boy who had
a bottle of ink in his hand. He opened the lid and prepared
to hurl the contents out of the window. Unfortunately physics
took over and the ink departed the bottle with the throwing
action and landed all over my friend standing behind the "thrower".
I can well imagine the explaining he had to do on reaching
home with ink splattered all over his uniform.
the buses Durban Corporation street sweepers would follow
the buses with palm tree branches in hand clearing the mess.
The next point of focus was the Town Gardens were a basher
[straw boater] was put on Queen Victoria's head and a tie
placed around the neck of, I think, Harry Escombe. Finally,
everyone made their way to the "movies" where the
afternoon show was fully booked out.