Cosmo chat

posted in: Mini Memories 10

Allan Hannah, a comparatively recent convert to to FAD, has sent a couple of e-mails. In answer to a recent question about the Cosmo and Firefly nightclubs, he wrote:

Hi Allan

Just had a look at the FAD site for the first time!

Having lived in Durban for short periods during my life, I suppose that I can lay a small claim to being a Durbanite!

If my dates are correct then I believe that I completed my matric year, as a border at a Durban school around about the time you were conceived!

I remember the Cosmo quite well – probably not for all the right reasons! The club was upstairs, in a building on the corner of Old Fort and Umgeni roads, adjacent to the railway tracks that led to the old Durban station.

The interior was strange inasmuch as there were numerous pillars dotted around the edge of the room. On reflection, I think they were there to support the ceiling rather than to decorate the room! If I remember correctly the Cosmo was a “late night club” that was open into the wee hours of the morning and it seemed to me that the club only got busy towards midnight! We made the odd visit to the club but at the time, being of a tender age, I must confess that the “big breekers” that frequently the club made me a little nervous.

Smugglers was “the place to go” in the old days! I think that I most visited Smuggies when I was a young sales representative and needed to buy the odd client a lunch and watch the lunchtime show! At the time, Smuggler’s was renowned for their curries and steaks so it was a safe bet taking a client there lunch. Oddly enough, snob value was high and you you could rub shoulders with “big shots” from all walks of life!

I have included a pic of RDLI [Royal Durban Light Infantry HQ. Ed.] and some of the older cars on show:

Then he wrote:

I must say that I am fascinated by the FAD website and I am trying to read as much as possible about “old Durban”. What a pleasure having someone like Gerald Buttigieg on board – and such a prolific contributor as well! Gerald and I go back quite a way and I regarded him as a great friend – and my go to pal when the old Kodak Brownie didn’t do what was expected! Well, maybe not quite the Brownie era; I think that I owned a very second hand Konica in those days.

I am sure that Gerald was responsible for the enlargements of our wedding pics, black and white of course, which were taken by Roland Judais who has since passed on! In any event. Gerald was very kind to Lynne and I and he was always ready to give a helping hand –that’s Gerald! I hope that he remembers the Hannah’s and I am proud to say that we have passed the 45 year test so I guess the next milestone is the big 50 (years of marriage. that is!).

Looking at the articles on the website I had tear in my eye when I read of all the old spots in Durbs and how so much fun was had by the old ballies of today! Somehow I never came across anything about the Los Angeles where Maureen Donne and The John Drake Trio kept us entertained for years. Also, there seems to be some confusion about the Mayfair Hotel, adjacent to the Playhouse and where The Supper Club was situated. The resident pianist was well known – was it Eduardo Jaime?? He had a decided limp but this didn’t interfere with his ability on the ivories! I think that it was here that I heard Cornelia sing the song about Pebbles??

What about the jolly old Model Dairy, just opposite the station, I think. where we used stop just about every workday and have an “Anchovy Toast” and a cup of coffee – just to set oneself up for the day, so to speak!  At the same time you could slip a sixpence or a shilling into a box on the counter and select 2 or 3 of the latest tunes to be played on …..I forget what the wretched thing was called!  (Jukebox??? Ed.)

Godfrey Mocke, Lester Kitto and I am sure there will other names that bring back memories – each name having a story and a place in the history of Durban! Before I become the proverbial bore I will sign off with best wishes to Gerald and, just maybe, we may get an invite to visit OAB!

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10 Responses

  1. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Over the years, I have always regarded with wonderment, the fact that so many family members and old friends have been reunited by means of the internet. Regardless of what the channel is, forums, specific websites, et al, reconnecting unexpectedly with friends from way, way back, has been a particular delight for me. So here I can say Hi to Allan and Lynne Hannah and we must go back to 1968 or so. Allan and I first met at Duropenta Plastics in Pinetown where Allan worked. I was then doing all the PABX Unit maintenance in the area north of Ridge Road as far as Shongweni . Allan, Lynne and their “baby” Paul and I became close friends. Quite right Allan I did blow up your wedding photos having a black and white dark room at the time. At that time I had just bought my 35 mm Minolta SRT 101 from a very small Indian business situated in a remote corner of the Grey Street area called Modisons. They sold patent medicines, cameras and photographic dark room supplies. That business eventually did very well for them!
    Eduardo Jaime I recall became the resident singer at the Copacabana Nightspot at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Umhlanga Rocks. Sol Kerzner was running the hotel then. He still owes me a lunch! Allan was it not John Drake that had the limp? The Gongs Hockey Club for which I played, in its many years of existence never had a “clubhouse” but used to move from one venue to another. The Los Angeles was one of those venues and for many years it became the gathering point for us for an after practice beer and meeting spot. We would sit under the trees whilst John Drake and his Trio entertained us. I recall one Saturday afternoon at the Los Angeles when the Gongs crowd were having a get together. It actually was July Day. Late in the afternoon, a jockey, Percy Cayeaux (spelling?) walked in, and shouted out to all and sundry, “Have a round on me”. He had just ridden that year’s July winner. Sadly John is no longer with us nor is Lester Kitto. Lester and I were at 5SAI Ladysmith together doing our military bit in 1962. Lester was very involved in swimming and the Durban Surf Livesaving Club. So Allan, Lynne good to meet up with you again and I will try and contact you after all these years.

  2. Allan Hannah
    | Reply

    There were a host of swimmers and water polo players around in those days and I often wonder about some of the chaps that were, to me anyway, great sports people – for example, I recall guys like Alan Mckenzie and Des Collopy ( who was quite ruthless when it came to training young fellows to play water polo)! The list of “our heroes” seemed endless and the Beach Baths was the venue for the water polo games! regards – Allan H

  3. Shaun Nalson
    | Reply

    What a good site to read and catch up about the Durban “Old Days” I was a proper Durbanite after school from 1983 – 1993 Had great fun, those old bars you talk about we use to frequent, not quite all of them. The Vic was a favourite, every Sat pm was off to the Vic for a “flatty” and a good couple of beers, after being at lunch since 12 thirsty until 4.30pm the sunglasses were needed to help the eyes !!!
    Small memories come to me when I think of those days, the “Cuban Hat” was a favourite on the beach front, enjoying the beach etc……. In the later years came “Cattleman” which was a great attraction for the evening stint, crawl out of there in the early hours and then go to work, sorry Allan the truth is coming out, some mornings at work were really not pleasant especially when we had to listen to one of your Cycle meetings, no disrespect, we did listen !!

    Keep up the chats, I really am enjoying reading all the stories, I am sure my Dad, Stuey Nalson can tell a few as well. His days were slap bang in the sixties, everything was cool and Flower power !!!

    Shaun Nalson

    • Allan Hannah

      Ja,no,well fine! You mention the “Cycle” meetings! The full title for these meetings was “Cycle Briefs” and were the invention of our MD, at the time. When he told me that we were to introduce the system in all regions I had the insane desire to laugh at him – all I could think of was a lady cyclist wearing pink cycle briefs! By the way, I found them as arduous as the guys in the meeting, and, what’s more, I had to contend with the bloodshot eyes, all with the same stare of fixed concentration!!

      There are many stories to be told and I am sure that “me old pal Stuey” has many to relate, maybe of his early rugby days and I’m sure that a fishing story of two may come to light!

      By the way, there are two Allans on this site and I am the AllanH whilst AllanJ is the man who controls the site!

      Best wishes


  4. Shaun Nalson
    | Reply

    Yes Allan H, I also imagined the “Cycle Briefs” when the mind wondered ! Durban is filling up with our fellow “Rainbow Nation” neigbours from Gauteng, the city always has a festive feel at this time of the year, good or bad, its good for Durban !

    Wishing all of you a Blessed Christmas and a prosperous New Year. I think 2012 is going to bring us many challenges with the world economy is turmoil and the Arab states fighting their old regimes. Perhaps it is time for change and 2012 is going to bring us this change, who knows ?
    Reflecting on 2011, it was challenging but I think preparing us for more change in the world econmony and domestic. We have the ANC conference nearing the latter half of 2012 and I think that conference will determine what road this beautiful “Rainbow Nation” will take. I hope for who lives in SA it will be right road and a road which will benefit all. Let hope the education system is first on the list !!!

    Enjoy your family time, signing off until 2012.

    Shaun Nalson

  5. Jaime
    | Reply

    Oh ye… good old days. Well I meet Eduardo Jaime while he was playing his guitar and singing at the Durban Holiday Inn. Really nice guy. It´s a pity that I lost his contact on the early 80s. I saw him playing at the Copacabana in Beverly Hills. But I wonder also if someone knows anything about the crazy Horses band. The name of the band was “The Sound of Gerry Fitzgerald. Do you remember this ?

  6. Derek Cook
    | Reply

    I’m coming into this many years later. I hope you are all still healthy and happy!
    My credentials are that I have lived in Durban all my life and am now 82. The pianist with the limp at the Supper Club at the Mayfair Hotel was Pierre Martine and he was a terrific Jazz pianist. Round about the same time John Drake was in residence at the Palmerston Hotel. I spent many a night there. After John came another great band, the Charlie Sayers Quartet. As for the Cosmo Nightclub it was owned around about that time by Fred Zucker and the musical fixture there was Basil Metaxas. (Fred’s wife Anita Zucker was a good singer (with a spectacular bosom) for a while but many years later fell foul of the law as the “Ganja Granny”). I do remember quite a lot else about Durban. I lived in Umbilo Road and walked into town from there countless times.

  7. Chip Mogensen
    | Reply

    As a newly degreed American journalist I wound up as the Shipping Reporter on The Daily News August 1971 to late 1973. Smugglers was a main stop to get the latest harbor news at all hours of the day or night. I remember Barney, I think that was his name, as the manager. He was quite a character as were some of the regulars.
    Does anyone remember The Pink Pusy Cat further up Point Road on the left? That was quite a lively bar as I remember. One of my favorite hotels was the Marine. I spent its last night dinner party there before it was torn down. I remember having a great curry that night and plenty to drink.

    Does anyone remember Roy Barnard The Daily News Crime Reporter? I lost contact with him after I joined Unicorn as second officer after leaving the DN. I know he joined the SABC TV station when it went on line, I think it was 1973. I would like to know what happened to him. I am quite sure he was also connected one of the intel agencies.

  8. Marina Benetti
    | Reply

    Hi there,
    Firstly a big ” THANK YOU! ” to all of those people who posted their amazing stories of beautiful DURBAN back in the 60’s!
    I too was born in Durban, in Greyville and have such amazing memories of all of those places mentioned above!
    Tiles in hermitage lane in 1966 and listening to the fantastic FLAMES play on a Saterday afternoon at an Esplanade Hotel. Forget the name now! Liatening to the BAT”S playing at Claridges Hotel on Durban’s beach front during COOKIE LOOK!! Visited The Place Hotel, Smugglers Inn and also The Pussycat with my girlfriends and Brother’s and had lot’s of fun too!
    Also remember the Disco called ” The Macarbé ” inside the Butterworth with coffins as tables and only a few times The Cosmo Nightclub in Umgeni Road. They had a very good band playing there but I can’t remember what they were called unfortunately! Think the drummer was called MALCOLM???? Does anybody still remember the name of the Band and who they were maybe?? would be awsome if someone out there still remembered!!
    I would really love to hear from people from those good old day’s back then! Have fantastic memories of the Little Top on Addington Beach Front by the XL and also of the Cuban Hat and the other one next door!
    Look forward to chatting and reminiscing about the Flower Power and incredible music of that era!
    Durban in heart and soul.

  9. Roger Ellison
    | Reply

    Cosmo Night Club: a work colleague at RMS, Chris Eastes played piano at the Cosmo and told me some stories. When Sonny Tomson walked in the band would play Accentuate The Positive and Sonny couldn’t resist; he would join the band and sing.
    In the band was Boris Cohen playing trumpet. He later was musical director and arranger for many Brickhill Burke shows.

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