Did you come across these Durban personalities?

 

Growing up in Durban from the 50s onwards, there were certain individuals one came to meet possibly through the business they had or perhaps they were just well known names in and around Durban. As someone else pointed out to me that in the 50s and 60s, Durban was a relatively close knit community and through a friend of a friend there was this network that existed of knowing people.There were some individuals of those times that everyone knew about but perhaps had never met.  Some examples I remember were people like Jock Leyden, the Daily News cartoonist, Ernie Duffield who commentated the Durban July every year, Elizabeth Sneddon the English professor, Archbishop Eugene Hurley of the Catholic Diocese, Majorie Chase and her Ice Shows, David Horner the well known actor,  Charlie Barends the champion jockey, Keith Oxlee the rugby player and so on. Never met the majority of those but see them in the street I knew who they were. In those days mention a name and you instinctly knew who the person was or had an idea of.

And then there were those who were just ordinary folk, whom you did not know at all yet knew of them. These would be like Ralph, a simple person, I would say in his forties, who would go around Durban on his bicycle dressed in his Scouts uniform. He would stop in at my old school, St Henry’s, on odd afternoons when there was sports practice on and he would let us know how DHS were going to thrash us. From what I gather he would visit Glenwood High School as well.

In the late 50s I well remember that every Saturday morning, there was an elderly blind gentleman who would set himself up, sitting on a box outside the OK Bazaars in West Street, playing a saw fiddle with a small bowl at his feet. Then there was Claude, a blind switchboard operator who worked for the Department of Posts and Telegraphs who you would see in town pushing his crippled wife around  in a wheel chair. They lived on the Bluff if I recall.  Then there was the evangelist who every Saturday evening would stand in front of Queen Victoria’s statue in the Town Gardens and ask you to repent before it was too late.

On this theme I would like to recall three people who I knew relatively well.

The first is Mr Barnard, the shoe repairer. I first met Mr Barnard when I was a school boy. My mother used to have our shoes repaired by him. His shop, always busy, was a small outlet in Smith Street sandwiched between a shop that sold oak furniture and I think Durban Leather. This would be on the left going up towards the Berea. My mother could speak Italian and once Mr Barnard found this out I well remember that as she entered the shop he would greet her with “ Ah Mrs Spaghetti”.

That smallish shop had a distinctive smell not only of leather but also the type of glue that was used. Repaired shoes would always be collected in a stout brown paper bag and attached to the shoes was the tag of a label with a number on it.  The shoes were labelled when you brought them in. For many years Mr Barnard traded from that shop until that area started to redevelop when he moved to the lower end of Moore Road near the corner of Gale Street.  He traded there for some years in a building which he had bought. Eventually after some 40 years he called it a day. I visited him just as he was closing down the business and took a photo of him outside. The sign above his head was the original he had in Smith Street.

I took the opportunity then of asking about his shoe repair business. He started in the late 40s apparently much to his father’s chagrin. The first premises he hired were in Madeline Buildings on the corner of Smith and Broad Streets.  My vague recollection of this building is that it was two storeyed and had a verandah upstairs. There was a Chinese Laundry in the building facing Broad Street. Why do I think the Security Police were housed in this building? It was then pulled down and replaced if I am correct by Escoval House.

Mr Barnard closed his business in May 1999.

oooOOOooo

The second person I would like to write about is Henk van Hoogdalem who sadly passed away a few years ago.  Henk  was a Dutch immigrant who came to Durban as a young man in the early 50s. He was from Amsterdam. I met Henk in the early 70s when my interest in philately was rejuvenated and I joined the Philatelic Society of Natal.

He traded from the newly built Escoval House at that time and his shop was at the back of the entrance passage. Henk was a short rotund man, with many interests and a sharp brain. He had an excellent memory. His business was called Philately and Art although in all the years I knew him there never was any art in is shop. He was a wily man and as they say “knew his oats”. He loved stamps and built up an extensive clientele sniffing out for his clients whatever they were after.

He no doubt traded with overseas connections and in the 70s I recall there was a boom in philately. He had an extensive amount of stock and he no doubt was involved with many collections from local estates. In later years Henk started a postal auction business which did well for him. His shop became a meeting point for fellow collectors and there was always some discussion going on.

I recall one day being in the shop when a dishevelled beggar walked in, handed him a small packet for which he got paid. I was intrigued by this and asked Henk what gives. At the time, the collectors of this world had turned their eyes towards telephone cards, then a new innovation. South Africa had started producing some of these cards with animals pictures on them and these became very collectable overseas. So what Henk had done was approach some of the city’s beggars to scrounge, especially at the city’s telephone booths, for the discarded cards. These they brought back to him and he duly paid them for their efforts. Business is business.

In the mid 90s, Henk’s health took a down turn, and with rising rental costs and the philately business not as strong as it used to be, he moved operations to his house in Glenashley. In 1999, when Philately and Art closed in Durban it was the last stamp dealer business to be operating from premises in Durban.

 oooOOOooo

Click to enlarge

David Ritchie

David Ritchie was another Durban personality many knew of,  but not much about. Dave Ritchie as he was known was a Rhodesian who had come to Durban to attend the University of Natal.  A tall, good looking young man, he could be called what was termed a “struggling student”.  To supplement his income and pay his way through University, he took on the task of being a social photographer.  Dave was the guy in the late 60’s who everyone knew what he was, and that was all. As the caption below says, for 4 years, six days a week he would visit all the leading nightspots in Durban taking photos of couples and groups. Always immaculately dressed in his black tuxedo, camera in hand and battery slung over his shoulder, he would announce his presence by flashing off his camera. As the room lit up, you knew “the photographer” was here. He duly would ask at each table if you wanted a photograph. There must be thousands of photographs that he took.  David eventually married a Durban girl, a fellow student. I actually attended the wedding in 1970. He emigrated to Australia where he took up a position in an Australian university.

Postscript: David Ritchie died in Sydney Australia on 16th January 2016.

 If you can add to the post please do or comment on any other Durban “personalities”.

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137 Responses

  1. Allan Hannah
    | Reply

    Hi Gerald
    Your stories on the army and Durban personalities evoked some old memories – some pretty grim ones and some very happy ones!
    Fortunately the grim ones can be discarded and the happy ones may remind some folk of the really good times we had as we progressed from “boyhood to manhood”!! Question is – how many of us are still children at heart!!
    Some of the personalities that stand out in my memory were –
    Bill Payn – the legend who ran the Comrades Marathon inn Rugby boots, stopping along the way for a mammoth breakfast, guaranteed to give lesser mortals a heart attack!! He taught English at DHS and I was lucky enough to be his class. A really nice thing about Bill was his wealth of knowledge on subjects like the world war and life as a POW! He was easily distracted from the nouns, verbs, adjectives and the suchlike and would keep us enthralled with stories of POW life !!
    Izak van Heerden – coach and rugby tactician! Great guy and if you were ever coached by him you would surely remember him swatting your backside with the cord that was attached to the whistle!
    LCWT – Theobald – hope I have the initials right! We knew him as Theo – Mr Theobald to his face of course! I think that guys like Barry Richards, Denis Gamsy and a host of other well-known cricketers will have fond memories of Theo!
    Ralph – who could forget Ralph and the loyalty he showed for DHS. I remember him and his old bike and his “uniform” which I think was a pair of khaki shorts, a khaki shirt and a grey pullover. In my mind’s eye I have the vision of a pair of brown shoes and long socks that completed the picture.
    There are so many personalities that one could mention – Des Collopy is another, and so on, and on!!
    The army story will need to wait – maybe there is nothing too much different to your story! As you know, I started at Tempe as well – Bungalow 58 I think! And where was Sergeant Major Crumpton when you were there!! Hope I have spelt his name correctly!!!

    • Alan Wells
      |

      I remember Ralph etc. The point of my recollection is Sgt Major Crumpton. He was an immaculate English Sergeant Major who drove around the parade grounds of Tempe, Bloemfontein in his own army khaki painted Ford bakkie complete with his handle bar moustache and pukke English accent. However, if things were not standard and were not going right, then he dismounted and burst in the most fluent Afrikaans diatribe of swearing which even embarrased every Afrikaner on parade as well as the English speakers and had us all wanting to collapse in laughter on the parade ground and which was absolutely not allowed. A never to be forgotten performance!!! However once relaxed in the bungalows later, we all sifted with much laughter through his performance! It so happened last week-end (June 2015) that I played bowls at Mooi River, KZN with 2 other bowlers whom I had never met before. Over lunch, it emerged that we had all been through the hands of Sgt Major Crumpton in Tempe. What a character. Well done Sgt Major!!!!!

    • ivan beal
      |

      i wonder if dave ritchie ever took a photo of denny loren? i wonder what happened to all hi photos and where they are now?

  2. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Allan H,
    School Days and School Teachers evoke their own memories for everyone. No doubt we all had our own inspirational teachers some where along the way. The names you mention at DHS were very well known in Durban in my time late 50s/early 60s. As it was in those days, there weren’t that many boys’ high schools in Durban.
    Talking Barry Richards. In 1966, I had just bought a new VW Beetle and not having a garage for my new wheels, looked in the Daily News for a garage that was To Let. There happened to be one close to where I lived so in the evening I went round to a block of flats to discuss the rental with the person who was letting it. The block of flats was Nuffield Court and who was letting it none other than Barry Richard’s father. The family had no need for it and if I recall Barry had gone over to the UK to play professionally. I always thought it ironic that Barry lived in a block of flats with a name synonymous with cricket in Natal. Des Collopy if I recall was a swimmer of note as well as a water polo player.
    Yes Sergeant Major Crumpton was at Tempe when we arrived there in April 1962. I seem to recall he actually was Regimental Sergeant Major. A WW2 veteran he really was a military man to the back teeth. Every morning when he appeared on the parade ground he was impeccably turned out. I recall he had the whole intake, soon after arrival, formed around him (I think the formation was called a boxed square) and he laid down the law regarding one’s personal health ( I won’t elaborate), hair at the back of the head that could be grabbed with two fingers was too long, that we all would be shaven every morning, that all officers would be saluted, that the curfews on weekend passes were going to be strictly enforced, and absolutely no alcohol would be tolerated within the camp confines. It was a rather daunting introduction to army life.

    • Alan Wells
      |

      See my previously reply re Sgt Major Crumpton.

  3. John Taylor
    | Reply

    Seeing that we’re discussing school teachers, and in particular Izak Van Heerden and LCW (Les) Theobald, I’d like to supply an anecdote about each of these personalities. When I was at DHS, Izak coached the under 15A team – he was unable to coach the 1st team because of his obligations as coach of Natal. He utilised exactly the same training methods to us 15 year olds as he did for the Natal senior side and expected the same skill levels, and when this didn’t happen we were berated with a selection of choice language. For example his advice when carrying the ball in a tackle situation was to “hang onto that ball like you’re hanging on to your girlfriend’s tits in the cinema!”, and “if you kick when you can pass, stick the ball up your arse!”.
    Les Theobald was the antithesis of this, always calm and elegantly dressed and mannered. The main cricket pitch at DHS was aptly called “God’s little acre” (those of you who have any knowledge of classical Greek will know that “theo” means god) and it was his habit to inspect the pitch at various intervals every day. One night some inebriated individuals planted a paw paw tree in the middle of the pitch, and upon discovering this the following morning, LCW was distraught to the extent of tears, such was his love of the game of cricket.

    • Alan Wells
      |

      I was always proud to know Les Payne, LCW Theobald and to have been coached by Izak van Heerden, who introduced rugby to Argentinia. There neeeds to be a posthumous award to him for his efforts in Argentina. I also remeber Jiggs Gray and his Singer car and his cycling to school from the Bluff etc. with rumours of his steel plate in his head!

  4. Allan Jackson
    | Reply

    Some great memories there Gerald. I remember Mr Barnard very well and had many shoes repaired by him over the years including my army boots.
    You also mentioned Henk van Hoogdalem and, although I didn’t ever get involved in the stamp world, I was an avid collector of militaria and it got me to thinking about the characters in the antiques business whom I actually met. There was the Brigadier who ran Antiques and Bygones. I spent many happy hours rummaging through his boxes of assorted badges and remember cap badges from British county regiments costing the princely sum of 50 cents each. Buttons and collar badges cost even less. In much the same area at the bottom of Smith Street was Tubby Martin’s medals and coin shop and we’d always drop in to look his stuff over although I don’t think his selection was as varied as the Brig’s.

  5. claudette
    | Reply

    I have been sitting at my computer for hours going thru the Facts about Durban which I have enjoyed so so much,sure made me go back in the time machine,thanks to all who have posted these stories on,

  6. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Claudette,
    Why not post some of your memories? The more the merrier. Claudette? I remember…

  7. Ian Jackson
    | Reply

    Personalities
    Thanks guys for all those memories,I think Ralph died when he was hit by a car.I do recall a story about someone pouring a bucket of water over Izak while he was tanning outside the staff room but who knows if its true or not.What is true is that I would lie in the long grass at midnight waiting to ring the school bell which now sounds silly but then it was a big deal.
    Ian

    • Allan Hannah
      |

      Hi Ian

      Couldn’t resist another Sas Nourse / Izak van Heerden anecdote!! Will try to make it as brief as possible!

      Sitting in Sas Nourse Phy. Science class upstairs new science block DHS. Sent by Sas to collect his tog bag which he had left in teachers common room. Found there were 4 identical bags and took all 4 back to Sas so he could choose his one, intending to take left over 3 back to comm0n room!

      This one not mine said Sas and chucked it out upstairs window of classroom! Repeats process next 2 bags despite my protests!

      Stentorian bellow from class room below where Izak has just witnessed his bag fly past his window and land with sickening thud on cement walkway outside!!!

      Cannot tell end to story – suffice to say class abandoned!

      Best wishes
      AllanH

  8. Marie Goding
    | Reply

    Wow – I have just spent all afternoon reading all those wonderful memories about Durban. We moved there in 1972, after spending so much time holidaying there (we used to live near Springs where my father was one of the original designers of the Blue Train’s engine, and worked at the Union Carriage in Nigel.)

    I attended St Agnes’ Primary School (near Gordon Rd Primary) and then later Mitchell High. Returning 6 years ago to attend my 20th matric reunion, I found neither operated as a school – though a little disappointed, it was good to see the buildings were still being used for a good cause.

    I will dig into my boxes of news items I have saved and see if I can find some of the information some folk have asked for – I have quite a bit of memoriablia being an avid learner of the past! I now live in Far North Qld where there are so many ex pats!

    Thank you so much for a wonderful site.

    Marie

    • Gerald Buttigieg
      |

      Hi Marie
      There is a fair gap between Far North Queensland and Durban. Good to read that ex Durbanites from all over the world are finding the site interesting. St Agnes School. Yes sadly no longer. It is now the Deutsche (German) School. Even St Joseph’s Church, next door, has moved from Stamford Hill Road to the new St Joseph’s in Florida Road. St Joseph’s is now called San Jose’s and is the church for the Portuguese Catholic Community. My sister attended St Agnes for a short time in 1948 and coincidentally attended Mitchell High School as well when it first opened I think 1955. I recall Miss Cheesman was the first head. Mitchell closed down I think in the 1990s and was recommissioned as a Technical School which it remains as today. Just a reminder Mitchell High was in Earl Haig Road.

    • IVAN BEAL
      |

      hello gerald, i wonder if your friend marie would have known julie taylor who went to mitchell high around that time. i used to own a shop in west street called franklin & Co, i used to sell general goods and also supplied local magicians with tricks that i imported from inzani henley magic company in london (among others) julie is the daughter of jean taylor who worked for me as an assistant in the shop. i can remember julie coming into the shop after school to see her mum and she always looked impeccable in her school uniform. the caretaker of kings hall was a lady that we used to call auntie babs, she was a lovley lady who took pity on myself and my flatmates. we used to host noisy parties and sometimes the neighbours would complain about late night noise. auntie babs would never throw us out, she just moved us to another flat on the other side of the building. kings hall was huge and i can remember that she moved us at least four times. i can aslo rememeber dickie loader and the blue jeans. dickie was in a class above mine at mansfield high school, i think it was in 1957 at the end of the school year dickie and his band played, whatta you wanna make those eyes at me for, if they don’t mean what they say. it was a fantastic hit and i shall never forget it. i wonder if mrs cheeseman was related to our maths teacher at mansfield, he was a mr cheeseman, a very fierce man who scared me into learning my maths. the head was a mr newton parry. this site is bringing back a lot of very happy memories

    • Gerald Buttigieg
      |

      Hi Ivan
      I remember your shop! It was a small shop near Kearsney Road. I used to get out of the building where I worked at lunch times and take a stroll and passed your shop many a time. I recall the shop windows were full of novelties like imitation dog bogs, water pistol cameras, those bobbing birds that dipped their beaks in the glass of water, whoopee cushions, drinking glasses that had a hole at the rim so they wet you when you drank. Yes there is a lot to read on FAD.

    • ivan beal
      |

      hello gerald it is me again, ivan beal. i was going over the cookie look stuff again and i have ben trying to get a lead on denny loren the singer. i have tried the south african archives and the english archives and i have an absolute zero response, this is very unusual because normally one would come up with several possibilities.
      i am wondering therefore if DENNY LOREN was a stage name. i have searched on line for denise loren and then simply D LOREN with again a zero result. the only thing that comes close is an american family that features a nick loren who does stunts in american films and did a gig for travolta, his wife is denise jean loren but obviously no relation to our singer as she is only 47 years old. our denise loren would be in her seventies now. (like me and many other cookie look patrons) do you have any other ideas how it may be possible to track her down? i saw somewhre else on your site that she had married an american chap and moved to redondo beach. that would have been the time that american ships were in durban waters to monitor the satellites. so it makes sense, she could have met her american when he was taking leisure at the claridges and then carried our denny of to the good old USA. i hope you can throw some light on this, if not maybe another older reader has some input?

    • Gerald
      |

      Hi Ivan
      To be honest I have not heard of Denny Loren and what her association with Cookie Look was. Was she a lead singer in a band or a solo artist? As a long shot I looked up Loren in my 1965 and 1968 Durban Directories as a possible clue as to where she or her family lived in Durban. Absolutely no entries for Loren. Unfortunately you can only hope someone on this site picks up on this and provides you with the info you seek. Hope you are well.

    • ivan beal
      |

      mon cher gerald, denny loren was a very well known and well liked singer, she was a soloist although i am not sure if she always played with the same band, like you, i have tried to track her down but have run up against a completely blank wall. i presumed that she was south african but i see no trace of her in the south african archives, i tried durban, pietermaritzburg and then transvaal etc but no mention whatsoever. i had a go with english births and deaths but again no mention so it is a mystery. i wonder if she maybe came from rhodesia. i sould try that but not sure how. as a long shot it may have been her stage name, some artists did that. think sophia loren? i aslo tried redondo beach but no joy there, one presumes she married her american but i am not sure how to check american births and marriages and anyhow we don’t know her husband’s name. as you say, somebody else might pick up on this and enlighten us. there were a lot of singers, musiciand and artists in durban at the time, playing various hotels, some became quite famous, howard carpendale, the flames, four jacks and a jill and i think where was a julie or judy murray who also became quite famous. durban had a lot of talent.

    • Richard Holmes
      |

      Hi Ivan
      I cannot help you in your quest but as a bynote I remember Denny. She did indeed sing at Cookie Look as front for the Square Set although I can’t recall whether this was at the same time as Neville Whitmill or not. Apart from her fabulous singing voice she is remembered for her erm assets

    • ivan beal
      |

      thank you richard, that might help, i shall try looking up the square set. do you know anything about them? any names or anything at all. i shall start by googling them, thanks again

    • Richard Holmes
      |

      Ivan no further info I’m afraid. Sadly Neville Whitmill passed about 20 years ago. Bob Gooderson owned the Claridges at that time and is I think a memberr here. Your best bet is by trying to contact Richard Mackridge via Facebook. He s an encyclopedia of SA performing artists . Also via FB try Billy Forrest and Marq Vas.Good luck

    • ivan beal
      |

      thank you very much richard, i shall have a go at that, you are very kind, thanks again

    • ivan beal
      |

      i found this on the site if that helps
      DENNY LOREN ANYONE?

      I was a very very good friend of Denny Loren who used to sing in Johannesburg at Ciros (more often than not!!). I decided tonight to punch her name in the computer and see what I could find and where she ended up. It came up with her on the front cover of the Sounds of Brass!!! http://rock.co.za/legends/jazzrock/index.html

      Denny met a man from the States, married him and went to live in Redondo Beach, California. I have often wondered about her and where she ended up. I have a photo of her and I somewhere where we travelled with Brian and the boys.

      I know it’s a long shot, but do you or have you heard what happened to her? I would love to know if you do …

      Regards
      Colleen Chard (known as April now)
      mailto:unicorn47@ntlworld.com

      PS: I live in Bristol in the South West of England now …..

    • Allan Jackson
      |

      Hi Marie
      Looking forward to your contributions. I’m also in Qld and, although I didn’t go as far north as you being based in Brisie, I do work a couple of days a week on Queensland Country Life and North Queensland Register.
      Allan

    • Glen Adams
      |

      Hi Marie
      Join our group on facebook,It is called Greyville the greatest place to growup

    • marie
      |

      Thanks, Glen – will do!

  9. Bianca Lawrence
    | Reply

    What a surprise to be browsing this site and to come across an article about my dad Henk van Hoogdalem. i know he would have been delighted with the article and thank you for including him.

    • ismail
      |

      i knew your dad henk very well
      he was a gentlemen.. i was a school lad then
      collecting stamps and i recall henk had a son who opened
      a stamp business in umhlanga… is your mum still alive
      best of wishes to your family
      from ismail kajee

  10. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    This sad notice appeared in the Sunday Tribune dated 4th November 2012.

    I wonder how many of us who were in their mid teens in 1960 did not hear of or attended the Kinrade Potter Dance Studio? The studio was upstairs in King’s Hall, then a relatively new block of apartments in Aliwal Street opposite the Local History Museum. At street level, there was a Ladies’ Hairdresser , a pharmacy (I think) and also a popular coffee bar called the Three Kings.

    In those far off days, school dances were still in their infancy with few schools actually having them. St Henry’s (Marist Brothers) only started having school dances round about 1960 as up until then they had no school hall. Holy Family Convent (St. Andrew’s Street) had a big hall and they held dances there. There was no hype or hoo-hah as that which surrounds school dances nowadays what with all the hysteria around venues, dresses, freaky arrivals, after parties and the like. I could not believe my grandson telling me that the DHS Matric Dance ticket two years ago cost an incredible R700!!

    At that time as well, school numbers were far less than they are today with some schools only having one or two Matric classes or Form VIs as DHS used to call them. They probably had the most matrics in those days. St Henry’s, I know had only one Matric class, one Standard 9 and one Standard 8 in 1960. It was for this reason that to make up a suitable number, at St Henry’s, the annual school dance was open to all the boys from Standard 8 up. I think this was the norm at most small schools.

    School dances as I recall caused stress on quite a few fronts. First you had to find a partner unless you were going “steady” which put that problem aside. If this was not the case, much telephoning would go on, trying to arrange a dance date with some one you had in mind but who you had to approach via an intro through a friend of a friend. Once that was finally achieved, you then had to arrange transport to and from the dance. This is where elder brothers, family members and in my case, my brother-in-law became most handy. To expect your dance date to bus it to the dance and back was unheard of. In those days, the standard dress for the boys was the school blazer, better still if you had an honours blazer, or scrolls running down the front, or coloured binding round the seams. Your date of course would be in a specially made or “altered” dance dress, totally coiffured and out to make an impression. Then there was the added tension of meeting the girl’s parents for the first time if she was a blind date. The awkwardness and anticipation of questions that would be asked of you at this first meeting. Finally so as not to look like a chump on the dance floor, you had to have the rudiments of some dancing skills and that is where the dance studios of the time came in.

    I was trying to recall the dance studios in Durban in the early 60’s and three immediately came to mind, Kinrade Potter, Dudley Andrews and Myklebust. There was also Arthur Murray, but I have an idea that was a franchise which came later. There may have been others but I do not recall them. Ballroom dancing was very popular in those days and there was much rivalry between studios who had professional and amateur dancers associated with them. Annual interprovincial competitions were held with the standards exceptionally high and the competition keen.

    Which brings me to Kinrade Potter. It was either 1959 or 1960 that I realised that my dancing skills needed upgrading and I found out that Kinrade Potter had dance classes on Saturday mornings for teenagers. The cost was 25 cents a morning and classes started about 9 am to noon. Being situated in town meant that I could get there by bus so I “enrolled” along with many other girls and boys who were as leaden footed as I was. The two teachers were Mr and Mrs Potter, as we knew them. They were never referred to by their Christian names. The boys and girls were split up initially and Mrs Potter took the boys under her wing. She was a jovial, spirited and vibrant lady and would draw you into her bosom, tell you to relax and flow with the music. There were three dances that she felt one needed to be confident with on the dance floor. That was the quickstep, the waltz and the cha cha, which was all the rage then.

    Rock and Roll or as the dance studios called it Jive, was also popular but in that department, Mrs Potter left us to our own moves. I still remember all the boys lined up in single file at one end of the studio floor with arms up as if holding a partner with Mrs Potter selecting one of us as her partner. The music was turned on and Mrs Potter would loudly direct us attempting the quickstep: “Slow slow quick quick slow” and then “ Side, side, side together, side” as we tripped our way down the length of the hall. Those were fun times and eventually the Potters succeeded in getting us, the boys and girls, doing a fair rendition of the dances.

    These dance lessons were also an opportunity to meet “girls” as in those days, meeting other girls (and I suppose it was the same for the girls) was by and large a case of first being introduced through a friend whereas in this situation you were “thrown into the mix” if I can put it that way. I do recall meeting Penny Coelen’s younger sister there. Wonder if she remembers that!

    I have no recollection of how long the Potters carried on with the Kinrade Potter Dance Studio. I know that the building, Kings Hall was eventually taken over (perhaps bought) by TAFTA (The Association for the Aged) and the dance studio was turned into a dining room for the TAFTA residents. This would have been in the 80’s. I was also unaware that Mrs Potter was a hair stylist but it would seem logical that she had a salon downstairs with a fair number of clientele upstairs.

    I had always assumed that Kinrade Potter was a double barrelled surname but see that Mrs Potter’s maiden name was Kinrade hence the dance studio’s name. I also never knew that her name was Enid, she was always Mrs Potter to us.

    Inevitably time marches on and with it, so folk pass on. Folk who in some small, maybe unremarkable way, leave you with memories to remember when you come across their name so many years later.

    • Hester Joseph
      |

      Hi Gerald
      That hall you talk about where the dances were held, still exists. Come pay us a visit at Diakonia Centre (which it is now called) 20 Diakonia Avenue (formerly St. Andrews Street).

      It will be my pleasure to show you around. I manage the Centre for the Diakonia Council of Churches, who own the building.

    • IVAN BEAL
      |

      hello gerald, this article reminds me of when i used to live in kings halll, during the early sixties. they often had wedding receptions at the hall and my flatmates and i would dress up in our best suit and tie and queue up at the entrance where the brides parents would be on one side and the grooms parents on the other. we would dutifully shake hands with the parents of both parties who naturally assumed we were friends of the other. that way we would get into the reception and have a drink or two and try to meet girls. i can remember also joining the dancing class where for several weeks they tried to teach me to dance, i had and still have two left feet, i just couldn’t manage it. eventaully, my dancing instructress took me aside and asked me very politely if i would consider giving up the lessons because i was having a bad effect on other would be dancers. it seems my lack of progress was discouraging others. she promised me a full refund however, i did not accept the refund but i did resign from the class. i hadn’t met any girls there either, mostly likely because they could see perfectly well that i was absolutely useless on the dance floor.

    • Louise Kinrade
      |

      Hi Gerald and Rodney. Lovely to read your memories of my late aunt Enid Potter and those wonderful years of dancing. Amazingly Bill Potter is still alive at the grand age of 96 but sadly his knees have given him grief in recent years and walking is very difficult but otherwise his health and memory is fine. My father Gerald was also a good dancer and should have danced professionally as they did but he was rather the party boy in his youth. He used to learn all the modern steps and bring them back to teach in the studio as Enid and Bill favoured the traditional dancing. I recall many wedding receptions they ran in Kings Hall – doing the catering etc while my dad ran the bar side. As a child I watched many a wedding from the sidelines – could kick myself now that I could not overcome my incredible shyness to learn how to dance with them as I am fascinated with all the current TV reality shows featuring balloon dancing. The arrival of television in SA sadly brought about the demise of the dancing schools as folk preferred to stay home to watch the box. Bill and Enid still ran their 2 hair salons (Kings Hairstylists) for many years until they retired. Bill managed the Aliwal Street salon and Enid managed the Murchies Passage one (opp the Wimpy) where she ran the downstairs beauty salon. The hair salon was upstairs. Quite a few of the hair dressers who started their apprenticeships with Kings have remained very close to Enid and Bill even to this day – almost becoming children to them as they never had kids of their own. A life time of dancing certainly helped Enid and Bill live long and incredibly healthy lives but sadly a fall badly managed by the healthcare system lead to the untimely death of Enid. Enid and Bill met in the war years when Bill’s ship was stationed in Durban (he was a radio man) and in all the years they were together the only time they spent apart was when he had to go back to the UK to be demobbed by the Merchant Navy and then when she was in RK Khan hospital before we got her into Pinetown Nursing Home. They spent 24/7 of their married lives together and knew much happiness together. I can only imagine how lonely Bill must be now without Enid. But many happy memories of those good and fun years for us all.

    • mel
      |

      Thank you, Louise, for your lovely input on Enid and Bill Potter. As a high school boy, I used to enjoy my Saturday mornings at the studio, where I learned ballroom and made some good friends. If the subject ever comes up these days, and anyone asks me if I had a favourite dancing partner, I’d tell them without hesitation, “Yes – Enid Potter.” She got me through my bronze medal, but sadly, shortly after that I had to leave when I started working in January 1958 and the two activities clashed.

      I’m sorry to hear of Bill’s problems with his knees and it must be difficult for him to get around.

      The Kinrade-Potter Dance Studio was very much a family business – another person I remember was Mrs. Kinrade who sat at a table next to the door, taking the admission money.

      Those were the days…

    • Gerald Buttigieg
      |

      Hi Louise
      Thanks for your post. I well recall the Saturday morning classes at Kings Hall as I wrote about earlier. Enid Potter would circulate amongst the boys taking them through the steps and I recall the quickstep and the waltz which she helped me master. In those days knowing how to dance was an advantage in the social world. Perhaps you have a photo of Bill and Enid which we could post? I will contact you.

  11. Rodney
    | Reply

    I also remember going to the Kinrade Potter Dance Studios in Aliwal Street for dancing lessons but I was a lost cause with two left feet. I went with friends in the late 50’s for about 6 lessons at 2/6 a time – no Rands and Cents then! I remember being told that the Arthur Murray Studio was better, but that they did not accept school-children or was it under 20s? (I can’t remember which).

  12. david evans
    | Reply

    i had a motorcycle shop in umbilo and chris barnard used to pass on foot always a happy face he also repaired my racing leathers and boots

    • Karen Ward
      |

      I lived 2 doors down from Chris barnard. Would lovove to connect with heis kids Cheryl An
      d 2 others!

  13. Chris Charlesworth
    | Reply

    The Movies – Does anyone remember the Refreshment Tray lady who would sell sweets, Ice Cream & Cooldrinks at the Capri (or was it the Embassy). She would shout “Top Tens – Ices Here” to draw custom.

    The Wax Museum – The over made up Cashier Lady. She must have been 70 odd, with blond hair in a beehive, and plastered-on Makeup.
    Also the African chap with his head “on the table” and the rest of him underneath, saying “I’m velly hungly. Give me some food”

    Stuttafords – The lift operators and the crank handles they used to operate.

    The smell of the air as one walked into big Department stores (especially Payne Bros). Cool, conditioned air, smelling of new cloth & goods.

    The Italian owner of the record shop, also on Smith St (Passage corner shop). He was a classical musician in the DSO.

    The toy shop, near Point Rd, South Beach, on Smith (or West). The cranky old man liked hurting children. He once pinched and twisted my cheek. He also shot one of my friends with a spud gun (I think it was Dave Wiseman).

    • Tony van der Linde
      |

      Does anyone remember Burlington Art gallery in Salisbury Arcade I think…The old guy who owned it smoked a Pipe and the shop had this rich pipe tobacco smell amongst all these frames etc….for a youngster it was so interesting…I used to go to Art classes in Colonial Mutual buildings with Mrs Ritter who was an elder lady then and she had a studio where we did batik ,oil ,water and acrylic painting…that was 1967-8 …

    • Gerald Buttigieg
      |

      Hi Tony
      I do remember the Burlington Art Gallery in Salisbury. Not a big gallery per se but it used to be reasonably well stocked with art works. I checked my 1968 Dbn Directory and voila! the owner then is given as Arthur F. Payne. 10 Salisbury Arcade.
      Also given is the following : Miss Clara Ritter, arts and crafts, 420 Colonial Mutual Building. Given as Miss not Mrs? That was the building with the worst lift in Durban in those days. It had the expanding gate cage and used to jerk on its way up or down.

    • Irene Colyn
      |

      Gosh Anthony, I still have your painting that was done in those art classes. I am sitting here with tears in my eyes. So poignant. Love you my brother.

  14. Gail Cooper
    | Reply

    Hi,
    I lived at Kings Hall Durban in 1962 with my family having come over from England.
    I was seven at the time and just wondered if anyone has any photos of it from back then ? Or anytime really ??
    Sadly my mother had Alzeihmers for quite few years before passing away and consequently threw out all of our old family photos.
    I would love to be able to share at least something of my stay in Africa as it was (and still is) a very special time for me.
    Could anyone at all please help ?
    Thank you

    Gail Cooper

  15. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Gail,
    If I remember correctly King’s Hall was still relatively new in 1962. For those not knowing the building it is in Aliwal Street and opposite the museum end of the City Hall. Gail if you could post some information as to the school you went to and some other activities I am sure someone will chime in.

  16. Gail Cooper
    | Reply

    Hi Gerald,

    Thank you so much for the response, YES you’re right it was very new ! It was a beautiful building. I remember swimming close by at ‘The Tiki pool’ ? ??
    As I was only 7 my memories are a little vague I remember we had a maid !!
    I will need to contact my sister for information re: The school we all went to (there were 4 of us kids) and hopefully she will be able to enlighten me on other places as well
    My older sisters were 12 and 13 at the time so hopefully they remember more than me.
    I remember ‘Rickshaw Boys’ ? Do they still call them that ? They were a little scary but AMAZING in all there regalia in particular their ‘Head’ gear ! and the noices they used to make…very impressive on a little kid

  17. Gail Cooper
    | Reply

    I attended ‘Addington Primary School’ we used to get the bus that was outside the Hotel next door to Kings Hall. The OK Bazaar was opposite on “West Streeet” ?
    Does this ring any bells with anyone ???

    • Chris Nel
      |

      Eissssssssh……… was in Addington school from class one up to standard 5, still remember playing marbles during breaks

      stayed behind Addington hospital

    • Chris Nel
      |

      anyone remember the Oxford / Roxy / Capri movie houses…favorite Saturday hangout

    • mel
      |

      When we were newly married, in the ’60s, we used to frequent all three of them – but mainly during the week.

      When our kids started arriving, we adjourned to the drive-ins, of which there were several.

  18. Richard Holmes
    | Reply

    The hotel was probably the Waverly – although there was another one where I think the Oswald Pirow building is now ( or whatever they call it these days )

    Yes I seem to recall a branch of the OK there – I haven’t been in central Durban since I left SA in 1999 but at that stage the building there was the new Metro Cinema and furnishers Geen & Richards had a branch precisely where the old OK was I think

    • Gail Cooper
      |

      Thank you Richard
      Yes now that you mention it you’re right ! It WAS ‘The Waverley”

  19. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Gail,
    To start off with in 1962, OK Bazaars was in West Street but quite a distance away from King’s Hall. OK Bazaars was on the left hand side (looking up to the Berea), adjacent to Stuttafords which was on the corner of Field and West Street. That would put the OK about three big blocks away from King’s Hall. As far as I know, the OK franchising of small OK Bazaars outlets was not yet in place so I think you are a little confused there. The short section of Aliwal Street that King’s Hall was in was dominated by three structures. The Waverley Hotel Hotel (cnr Aliwal and West St) on the left which was an old Durban landmark, now demolished, then King’s Hall in the centre and on the right was the Broadway Hotel (cnr Aliwal and Smith St). At ground level there were small shops the ones I recall were the Aliwal Pharmacy, the King’s Coffee Bar and the Kings Ladies Hairdresser. There was also a small supermarket but not the OK. The Broadway Hotel had an open verandah on the first floor and overlooked the movie houses on the opposite side and the intersection of Aliwal and Smith St. The Broadway Hotel was eventually closed and the site sold to the Methodist Church where the new Durban Central Methodist Church was erected. King’s Hall remained an apartment block for some years into about the 1990s when it was taken over by the TAFTA (the Association for the Aged) and became an old age home for elderly people who could still manage to look after themselves. TAFTA had also acquired the old Hollywood Court building in West St (next to the Embassy Cinema) and this was converted in to old age accommodation. The hall that was once Kinrade Potter’s dance studio in King’s Hall became the dining room for King’s Hall and Hollywood Court residents. As far as I know Tafta still controls the two buildings.
    If you attended Addington Primary School (green dress uniform) then you would have caught the South Beach Trolley bus. The trolley bus starting point for this route was next to the Town Baths near the Post Office. Cannot recall them being called Tiki Pool. The bus stop would have been opposite the side of Waverley Hotel facing West St. The bus would run straight down West St to Marine Parade were it turned right and then travelled past the beach front hotels, past Addington Hospital, the Children’s Hospital, some blocks of flats and at the end the turn around point which was close to Addington Senior Primary School. Addington Junior Primary was next to Addington Hospital facing South Beach if I remember. I hope this helps you to remember some of the locations.

    • mel
      |

      One occasion that stands out in my memory is the time I was shopping at the O.K. Bazaars in West Street when I noticed a celebrity among the shoppers.

      Al Debbo, who must have been holidaying in Durban, was shopping there with a small entourage. This would have been in the early 1960s. I was a huge fan of his but I couldn’t summon up the courage to speak to him…

  20. Gail Cooper
    | Reply

    Wow !!! Thank you soo much or all the information Gerald !!!!That’s great !!
    You’re completely right about the OK Bazaar. I checked the message again from my sister and she said it was on West St ! I don’t know what made me say opposite the flats.
    Sadly, back in those days it was ‘Whites only’ at Addington seems things have changed since then, Thank Goodness !!
    As for ‘The Tiki Pool’ maybe that was just a nick name as it cost a ‘Tiki’ to get in but obviously the same place
    I’m really enjoying re-visiting these places again after all these years later, even if only in my mind

    Thanks to Richard as well any information at ALL is Greatly appreciated
    It would be great to get some pics from back then.

  21. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Gail
    That is the fun of reminiscing. Basically pictures in the mind. You had me on the Tiki as I was thinking of a KonTiki association. Tickey was the way it was spelt. Just to put that in time. In 1961 South Africa dropped the Pounds Shillings and Pence and went Metric but probably in 1962 it was still around as the coins were still valid. The Tickey (2 1/2 pence) was made redundant when the money changed. It was the cost of a local telephone call at a Tickey box (Call Office) if you remember. There was of course also Tickey the Clown of Boswell’s Circus who would visit Durban in the July school holidays. Tickey was part of a duo clown act and he was a midget. He was known all over SA and I recall forst seeing him in Potchefstroom about 1950. The circus tent was pitched on an empty piece of ground near the top of Old Fort Road called Cartwright’s Flats. I had a look at the 1968 Durban Directory and there was no OK Bazaars down that part of town. A branch was opened in Sol Harris Crescent in the Mutual Beach Centre and there were other branches around Durban on the Bluff , Durban North and Montclair. There are pictures scattered around this site, you have to look for them. And then there are word pictures some of which I have written up so if you want to read, put my name in the Search box and see what comes up.

  22. Rodney
    | Reply

    My memory on OK Bazaars may be a little hazy. I am of course familiar with the OK near Stuttafords in West Street. I am not sure, but I don’t think that it ran all the way through to Smith Street when it first opened. Again, I may be wrong, but as far as I can recall the previous OK was situated in the L-shaped shop that ran from West to Gardiner Streets (with Reed & Champion Pharmacy on the corner – can’t remember the name of their building, but it was a well-known sky-scraper of that era.) When OK moved to their new premises the old OK continued as a down-market version of OK called CTC Bazaar. There was another branch of CTC Bazaars in the Brittainia Building (?) further up West Street between Payne Bros. and Grey Street. I don’t know if many will remember the old Brittainia Building. I remember it well on account of the marvelous second hand bookshop situated on the 1st or 2nd floor.

  23. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Rodney,
    Ah, the beauty of being able to go back to 1938. The 1938 Directory gives the OK Bazaars as being at 381/387 West Street and at 370 Smith Street. So the shop went right through from West to Smith Street as we knew it. Smith Street was the “delivery” side and I recall the OK and Harvey Greenacres having a free delivery service. My late mother in law who lived on the Bluff never carried her parcels home in the bus, she had them delivered. So the OK was and is today exactly where it always was. Now the L shaped building you are describing was the original Woolworths and I recall it from the mid 50s being there as my mother worked there. The main entrance was in West Street and to gain access you had to go up a wooden ramp. The ramp had something to do with a water drainage problem Durban had in that area. Eventually it was resolved by draining the water down Gardiner Street to the Bay. The building was rather old and decrepit and the floors were wood and suspended so everyone stomped around the shop. Two friends of my mother were a Mrs Louisa Pedersen (formerly Lightfoot) and her sister Mrs Mary Jones. My mother in law worked at the same shop before the war. The shop had the old fashioned counters were each assistant had there own counters and manged their own transactions. The Gardiner Street side if I recall had the sweets and cigarette counters. Now the 1938 Directory records this as well giving Woolworths address as Corner West and Gardiner Streets.
    Right next door to Woolworths was the Central Methodist Church which I saw being demolished by Atomic Demolishers in the early 70s. Next to the Church was the Standard Bank Building with its highly ornate interior which sadly was also reduced to rubble. The building Woolworths was in was called Reed and Champion’s Building with Reed and Champion having the corner to themselves. They were Chemists and Wholesale Druggists established in 1877. In later years a new building was erected and this was called Trust Building and the L shape of the old Woolworths was converted into the Trust Arcade which I think still exists. Woolworths eventually put up a new store at 344 / 352 West Street which ran through to Pine Street. Woolworths is still there but the access to Pine St is now closed. Getting back to Trust House that was demolished to make way for the Old Mutual Towers which transformed the whole corner. There is a picture I posted of Gardiner Street which shows the Trust Building as it was
    CTC Bazaars was at the lower end of West Street near the Roxy Bio cafe. And yes the Britannia Building was right there. CTC (Cape to Cairo as I remember it) Bazaars was a “cheeper” shop with quality sacrificed for price. Ackermans were also in the area. As far as I know CTC had nothing to do with OK Bazaars. CTC Bazaars do not appear in the 1968 directory so they must have been bought out. Britannia Building was a very old building, I think double storey situated at 426 West Street. It is listed as being there in 1938. It was still in existence in 1968 at the same address. I recall the book shop, called the London Book Shop, upstairs which was accessed via a wide staircase. It was run by a very old lady and I recall buying an old 1947 Stanley Gibbons Stamp Catalogue there in 1956 for a shilling (10 cents). I still have it. All I recall was that the rooms were large, very dusty and the fittings very makeshift. If one looks at the site today, JET Stores stands where the building was. In short it was directly opposite the Colombo Tea and Coffee shop (now a Nandos) landmark building. This down town area of West St was rather interesting as it was the point at which there was a mixing of the Indian and European cultures with Grey and West Street meeting here.

    • Rodney
      |

      Thank you for your comments and corrections Gerard. Sometime after making my posting above, I did wonder if in fact the L-shaped bazaar was in fact Woolworths and not OK. Having spent 2 years in England in my pre-teen years I returned thoroughly confused about Marks and Spencer, Woolworths and OK Bazaars. The South African Woolworths are somehow connected with the British Marks and Spencer, not the British Woolworths. How this connection came about I have never been able to establish. The British Woolworths were as far as I recall slightly down-market to Marks and Spencer, but the British Woolworths chain has, I read, now closed down. Just who owned CTC Bazaars I don’t know – it may have been a down-market subsidiary of the South African Woolworths or just someone else being opportunistic. Thank you, too, for reminding me of the name of the bookshop which I had forgotten, but I seem to remember usually being seen to by an elderly gentleman (but at that age most adults seemed elderly). I also remember Trevenna opening at the new shopping centre at the lower end of Mackeurtan Avenue, Virginia. It was not the first supermarket in the area – Morrisons Fine Fare were on the corner of Broadway and Kensington Drive. I think that Morrisons were a small supermarket chain based in Pinetown.

    • Rodney
      |

      My apologies Gerald for incorrectly naming you above. For some obscure reason (not entirely unrelated to FAD as it happens) I was thinking of The Blessed Gerard.

  24. Bianca Lawrence
    | Reply

    Talking about shops made me think back to a time before Durban really had supermarkets. It must have been sometime in the late 60’s when a store called Trevenna opened (I think somewhere near the sea end of West street, where the car dealerships were before they all moved out of town). There was big excitement about going there because it was a “supermarket”, about the size of a small Spar, more like a large cafe really. It’s logo consisted of large diamond shaped objects. Then one opened in Virginia at the Virginia circle (bigger excitement). As far as I can remember, Trevenna was the forerunner of Checkers.

  25. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Bianca
    The 1968 Directory says: Trevenna Supermarket 84 Smith Street. The only listing. To get some idea of the location, next to 84 was the Farewell Service Station which was on the corner of Farewell and Smith Street. Farewell and the next one down, Kearsney Road are both diagonal streets meeting Smith Street. In the same area were Maxwell Campbell and McCarthy Rodway the two big car dealerships as you mention. Cannot recall Trevenna at all but I do seem to recall that a supermarket was opened in Malvern which also was one of the early breakaways from the general supply store concept which was common before the arrival of supermarkets.

    • lance strachan
      |

      Hi Gerald. Trevenna opened a second store at Virginia. I was newly married and lived in Cutwill House , 4 doors from trevenna where we did all our grocery shopping

  26. john
    | Reply

    read with interest
    I used to manage the Fine Fare at Durban north at one stage, also at Pinetown when Ockie Friedman was overall manager

  27. john
    | Reply

    also an “usher” at the Rex cinema
    Boy what good times !!!

  28. Gerald Grove
    | Reply

    Hi to all, I was at Bloem-Tempe ISSB regiment in 1965/66 and the RSM was Crumpton. We had many fights with the para-bats. I also remember the aching cold nights standing guard at the tank park in Bloem city, the terrible coffee and my 2nd parade where I wore a “civy” jersey. S/major called me up in front of the battalion and roared out that he will shove my rifle through my ears and “ride you like a Harley Davidson”. That jersey was never seen again. From Tempe we were sent to Lenz Camp who also had a demon RSM know to us as “Fat Man”. He sent many of us to DB including the soon to be World 350 /500cc motorbike champion Jon Eckerold. Good times those!

  29. colin
    | Reply

    So here is the skinner on the OK. Founded in 1927 by 3 families one of which had control of CTC which is actually named after the founders favorite tobacco. And yes the Durbs branch did span West and Smith streets woolworth OTH was founded by the Susman family who married into the M&S founding family for many years there was a major cross holding between the 2. Now it’s just a technical agreement.

  30. ivan beal
    | Reply

    having read a great deal about durban on this site, i have been prompted to look back on my own memories. some of my earliest memories date back to when as a child, i would go into town and join the other children gathered on the steps of the playhouse cinema or bioscope as we used to call it in those days, and swap comics. i well remember that we had comics of superman, cowboys hopalong cassidy, tom mix and roy rogers to name but a few. we also used to watch films of those same characters at the matinee shows at the playhouse and the metro if my memory serves. thinking of going to the bioscope, i am reminded that we all used to stand up for “god save the king” at the end of the film.
    i went to st henry’s marist brothers school and then mansfield high school where i first encountered dicky loader who entertained us at the end of term school celebrations in 1957, ( i was 16 years old at the time) dicky was in standard eight J.C he sang “watta ya wanna makes those eyes at me for” which was the first time i heard the song. later on i would see him and his band the blue jeans at various nightspots in durban which had many hotels featuring some excellent singers and bands that have been mentioned on this site to a fair extent so i shan’t eloborate further. dicky went on to become quite a star and put out many records, he is still entertaining, even today, he has a show in johannesburg which is very popular.
    payne brothers and and stuttafords have been mentioned, i think it was at one of these shops that i first saw an automated change system at work. it was very high tech for those days, there was a system of pipes that held a sort of tube that would be put into a sort of trigger mechanism with the money tendered for the purchase. the saleslady would then push a button and the tube would be projected by air pressure to the cash point. the change if any was then put back into the tube together with the sales receipt and any other paperwork and shot back to the saleslady at the counter. it was very impressive and there was no cash at all kept at the counters or points of sale. i don’t think i ever saw such a system anywhere else in the world.
    i remember the ok bazaars, i think it was on the third floor where they had a soda fountain, or perhaps it was called a milk bar. incidentally kings hall has been mentioned and the coffee bar downstairs in all street was referred to as a milk bar although they served food. pie and chips was always a big favourite, i think it was ninepence. however i digress the soda fountain at the ok bazaars had a very american appearance with bar stools and a counter that resembled the sort of soda fountains that we used to see in american films. it was there that i first saw a pepsi cola, an american had come up to the counter, mounted a bar stool and opened his case from which he withdrew a pepsi cola and asked the waitress for a glass and some ice. i thought it was bit of a nerve but the waitress didn’t turn a hair, she just popped a glass filled with ice in front of him carried on with her work.
    in those days we had hubby bubbly, atkinsons shandy ale and other soft drinks produced locally.
    i have also seen mention of a bunny chow, in fact it was called a BUNYA chow and i first saw these when i was an apprentice printer working at hayne & gibson “the press at kings mead” an african with a bicycle equipped with two metal boxes, one with “hot ice” for ices and cold foods and the other for sandwiches and bunya chows and other such delicacies. talking about a tickey, i recall that it was three pence and replaced what was called a thruppeny bit when we still had pounds shillings and pence. my first wage packet at hayne and gibson was thirty two shilling and sixpence, my weekly wage for the first year of apprenticeship. i was able to save money from that.
    as for the ctc bazaars, i can remember cigarettes called ctc, and yes it was cape to cairo, not quite sure why. almost everyone smoked in those days, there was texan, a strong rhodesian cigarette, another called de rezke after some italian opera singer i believe, it was supposed to make your voice beautiful and was a favourite with the ladies. cigarettes were cheap as was petrol, i can remember filling my very first car for something like five shillings and the car was a second or third hand chevrolet. nearly all the cars were american with tailfins at the rear. ford fairlane, chev impala, studebaker, pontiac are names that come to mind.
    i remember quite often going to the waverly hotel upstairs on the verandah for drinks on a friday evening after work, the sun would set around six or soon after, i remember that we had sunup and sundown almost exactly the same time all year round, so unlike my native england. like clockwork around seven o’clock a group of ladies would show up and occupy a table in the corner of the verandah and order some drinks. a few moths after i had started visiting the waverly i took a girl friend there and when the ladies arrived to take their place at what was i think, “their” table, she said to me, ivan do you know what those ladies are? of course i said i have no idea, they come every friday night. it was then that she told me that they were ladies of the night plying their trade. i was very naive in those days and didn’t know very much about the birds and the bees. we were not taught things like that when i was at school, most of the youngsters i knew learned from dirty books which had brown paper covers.
    i think gerald mentioned “broads” and yes that was one of the expressions used for girls along with dolls and babes.
    i can recall that when we got stuck for a date one of the tricks was to phone the addington nurses quarters and when the phone was answered, you would ask if geraldine was there or betty or anna. of course the response was, betty who? or geraldine who? and then it would start. oh i don’t remember her surname, she has brown hair and is about five foot two or three. from this would progress the inevitable conversation as to well, don’t worry trying to find her, how would you like to go to see a flick tonight? and so it went on. yes the films were called flicks in those days.
    as for people that i remember who were fairly well known i can recall “lefty” Pitout a big name in football, his sister sheila, a very beautiful girl, used to travel to school with us on the bus from the bluff into town.
    another was manie bloem who ran onto the rugby pitch before a game with a bunch of bananas. the natal team was known as the banana boys.
    i had better stop here, that’s enough for the time being. if anyone has any other recollections i would be happy to hear anything of the slightest interest. ah the nostalgia!

  31. mel
    | Reply

    Wonderful memories, Ivan. Ah, the nostalgia, indeed.

    Just a couple of things:

    It was the Prince’s where we used to congregate before the morning matinee on Saturday mornings to swap comics. If I’m not mistaken, the Prince’s was pulled down to make way for the new Embassy cinema.

    The cigarettes you referred to were C TO C (yes, as you said, Cape To Cairo) and you were quite right about De Reszke cigs being named after a celebrated Italian opera singer whose voice, most unfortunately, went unrecorded.

    Thank you for sharing your memories with us. Perhaps you can send more at a later stage.

  32. ivan beal
    | Reply

    hello mel, i certainly cannot argue, the memory is not as good as it used to be
    for some reason i have the playhouse cinema (bioscope) etched into the memory but it may well have been the princes. my memory of the playhouse is of a grand magnificent building with very wide steps going up to the entrance. in later years i have a recollection of the playhouse as a gathering place for people who would go to the cinema of an evening and take one’s girlfriend. it was de rigeur to give your girlfriend a box of black magic chocolates. those were the days my friend. i wonder if anyone can remember thew radio show
    JACK PICK A BOX BRYANT!! jack bryant had a sales pitch i think it was in west street where he sold cars, i am not absolutely sure but i think they were used cars. his radio show was, i believe, used as an advertising medium to get people to buy cars from him. the show would have boxes in a wall that contestants could pick. in one of the boxes would be a prize, so the idea was to have the contestant call out a number of a box in the wall. after much hype, the box would be opened and if the contestant was lucky, he had a prize, most of the contestants were unlucky. i remember my dad knew jack bryant very well, i think we came out from england around the same time as jack bryant who was a bit of a del boy. not sure if your readers here know what a del boy is.

    • Delyse
      |

      I am delighted to find info on Jack Bryant! I have been searching and came across your post. My father knew him well too, and I do believe they got up to all sorts of mischief together. I wonder if you would allow me to use some what you have written here, in a book I am writing? Thanks

    • Allan Jackson
      |

      Hi Delyse
      You’re more than welcome to quote from the site but we do ask that you credit the site and the author of the particular piece. An example might be: Bv Joe Bloggs on http://www.fad.co.za
      Cheers
      Allan

    • ivan beal
      |

      hello delyse
      you are welcome to use anything i have mentioned, i wish you the best of luck with your book. i am among other things, a bookseller. my shop is called the muswell hill bookshop, 72 fortis green road, muswell hill, london N10 3HN england.
      so let me know when it is published and we shall be happy to give it a display in our window for a while.
      kindest regards
      ivan beal

    • delyse
      |

      Thank you! What a great idea… A way to go yet…Blessings

  33. mel
    | Reply

    The money or the box???

    How well I remember that programme.

    We youngsters were addicted to Lourenco Marques Radio (David Davies, Evelyn Martin, Leslie Sullivan et al) until the advent of Springbok Radio in 1950, where we’d listen every late afternoon to Superman! with our ears glued to the radio… My favourite comedy programme was The Caltex Show. How I wish I had some of them on recordings that I could listen to now…

    Thanks very much, Ivan – it’s remarkable how little things can jog one’s memory about our young lives in Durban during the 1950s.

    Keep ’em coming, if you can.

  34. ivan beal
    | Reply

    good heavens mel, you have jogged the old memory again, i remember how very much the radio influenced our lives, i too used to listen to superman when i got home from school, and i remember the caltex show, i also listened to consider your verdict and there was a comedy spot of an american bill glenn who always had a story about when he got home from the salt mine and all sorts of things happened to him, he was very funny and later on his wife julie joined the programme or perhaps she got a slot of her own, not too sure now. dickie loader had a hit with sea of heartbreak in 1966. stamford hill aerodrome is mentioned, our family arrived at that airport after leaving england in 1947, i think it was october. we flew via brussels, algiers, kano, leopoldville, johannesburg and ultimately durban where we lived for many years. our first house was at the top of fenniscowles road number 263 and i even remember our first telephone number 58150. amazing how these things come back to us. thanks to gerald for jogging the memory

    • mel
      |

      Thanks again, Ivan – now, in turn, you have jogged my memory somewhat.

      I concur – Bill and Julie Glen was a very entertaining and funny programme – Bill’s humour being rather dry, as I remember. I think they had an infant whom they called “Skeezix” (what a handle…)

      I remember the old Stamford Hill aerodrome – and the year 1947. That was the year that the Royal Family visited South Africa, and when they stayed in Durban it as at King’s House, overlooking Mitchell Park. I could never figure how one actually got there – for security reasons it seemed to be well hidden. It was exactly outside the Stamford Hill aerodrome that we were (my parents, my younger brother and I) on the day that the Royals drove past, and we caught a glimpse of them. Princess Elizabeth, as she was then, celebrated her 21st birthday while they were in SA, but not while they were in Durban.

      Funny that you should remember your first telephone number. I have had many telephone numbers during my life, but the only ones I remember are my present one and my first one – 82427 (Toll Gate exchange). No, that’s not quite true – I have just recollected my second one that replaced the first one: 882673. And that was many decades ago…

    • Gerald Buttigieg
      |

      Hi Mel,
      Talking telephone numbers. Having been in that game all my life, I was familiar with the telephone exchanges of Durban. Toll Gate Exchange was in Berea Road near Hunt Road. It was one of the Durban Corporation telephone exchanges as opposed to the Dept of Post and Telecomm. exchanges. In 1969, the Govt bought out the Durban Corporation network as it was the only privately owned network in South Africa. Toll Gate numbers were original 4 XXXX (5 digit numbering but in the early 60s an additional digit was added in front to all Durban Corporation exchanges and Tollgate changed from 4 xxxx to 34 xxxx . If your number was 88 2673 then you worked off the Overport Telephone Exchange in Ridge Road. Before digitalisation, the first two digits were the significant digits as they identified the exchange, each exchange having an individual “code number” to put it that way. The Dbn Corporation had three suburban exchanges namely 3 xxxx Stamford Hill, 4 xxxx Toll Gate and later 5 xxxx Congella. The CBD exchanges were 2 xxxx and 6 xxxx. Later due to the network having to be expanded, a CBD exchange was brought in with code 31 xxxx. This necessitated the suburban exchanges having to add an additional digit 3 to their code so Stamford Hill became 33 Toll Gate 34 and Congella 35. It did not affect the CBD exchanges 2 and 6 which by then were due for replacement. A bit long winded but I hope you understand the gist of it.

    • Roger
      |

      Hi Gerald,
      Where did the Bluff fit to all of this? I remember our number was 8788803 the was changed to 4668803, can’t remember the year, but think it was possibly early 70’s
      Regards

    • Gerald Buttigieg
      |

      Hi Roger
      The Bluff was originally served by two exchanges, Fynnlands and Wentworth. My memory of the roads they were located in is a bit hazy but Stott Rd in Fynnlands and Doon Road in Wentworth come to mind. Fynnlands Exchange Code was 86 xxxx and Wentworth 87 xxxx, both 6 digit codes not 7 as you indicate. Possibly one 8 too many? Of the two, Wentworth was the older. I do not remember the exact boundaries of the areas the exchanges served but Fynnlands served the far end of the Bluff as well as the harbour area. Wentworth served the area where Edwin Swales Drive met the Bluff as well as all of Wentworth and Jacobs industrial area. Later than the early 70s, the telephone network needed expansion badly so a main switching exchange was built at Rossburgh (originally 81 xxxx code) and all exchanges that side of Durban changed the leading 8 number in their codes to 46 (two digits instead of one), followed by the next code digit (now three code digits) followed by the last 4 digits. This changed numbers from 6 to 7 digit numbers. In many cases area boundaries changed so people working off Wentworth were diverted to Fynnlands. A lot of this took place then as a means to deload some overloaded exchanges. A new exchange was built at Austerville. Originally the exchange code (the first two numbers e.g. 87 = Wentworth) indicated the area the exchange served but this all fell away when the digital exchanges came in (circa 1990) as the identification of exchanges was no longer strictly dependant on the area. It also had to do with the fact that loop dialling that is where you dialled the number creating electrical impulses that directed your call, were now replaced by digitized tones and that ushered in the digital area. But we are getting technical now.

    • Roger
      |

      Many thanks, an eight too many yes

    • mel
      |

      Thank you, Gerald – very well explained and not hard to understand.

      Just a little addendum to what I previously wrote:
      82427 was actually the phone number of the previous owner of the house and we had the use of it only for a short while. When my parents bought the house, they applied for their own phone. We had to wait; for a few months we were without a telephone, and when it was eventually installed its number was 882673. This must have been around 1946.

      On another note – of course, subscribers were regularly issued with two telephone directories: one for the Government service and the other for the Durban Corporation service.

    • Gerald Buttigieg
      |

      Hi Mel,
      The telephone number 82427 intrigues me as that does not fit into the Durban telephone codes. As early as 1938, Overport numbers were 88 xxxx and so your number 88 2673 in 1946 would be correct. Exchanges did not change codes that quickly in those days so all I can surmise is that the number 82427 has a leading 8 missing and should be 88 2427.
      Quite right about the Durban Directories and that is where the Lawrie’s Directories came in. The Lawrie’s Directories were hard covered thick books with a load of information. including streets etc. I have two, a 1938 and a 1968 version. I am not sure how they were financed but I would assume Lawries were contracted to the Durban Corporation to supply everybody with a copy. The Govt. Directories listed subscribers only with little other information bar perhaps Govt. Depts. They did have the coloured pages section, later to be known as the “Yellow Pages” because they were yellow, which was a business directory. Today you cannot get directories as far as I know.

    • Peter
      |

      The Fynnlands telephone numbers were 5 digits only from at least 1955 (when I first became conscious of a phone in the house) till the change to a 46 prefix. My parent’s and grandparent’s numbers were 86946 and 86957 respectively. My grandparents moved to the Bluff in the early 30’s and my parents in 1946 so the 5 digit numbers could go back a long way.

    • Gerald Buttigieg
      |

      Hi Peter,
      I stand corrected. Fynnlands was a 5 digit exchange 86 xxx. I started with the then Dept Posts and Telegraphs, in 1962. I looked up Fynnlands in the 1938 Durban Directory and the few telephones installed were all 81 xxx also 5 digit numbers. What normally happened is that as exchanges were enlarged an additional digit was required and exchanges changed from 5 to 6 digit codes. Fynnlands working then as 81 xxx means that the subscribers worked off the Rossburgh exchange and I note in that directory that that applied to places like Hillary and Malvern and Montclair etc all outlying areas. This gets interesting so I think I must start a thread about the telephone exchanges, codes, location etc as all the old exchanges are now so to say, extinct!

  35. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    HI Ivan and Mel,
    Thanks for your memories. Unfortunately on FAD various subjects appear on various posts so finding them is quite onerous. However a SEARCH does help. From what I gather and what I remember the Princes was the place to swop your comics on Saturday mornings. They had a Milk Bar on the left hand side with stairs leading up to it and this where the swopping would take place. If you recall and it has not changed the Playhouse had stairs leading up to its entrance in Smith Street but these were much narrower. In addition the stairs led to the entrance “foyer” which actually was a large lounge divided by the passage leading to the cinema itself. Live music was played in a small area provided for the clientele and drinks were served so it was an adult place so to speak. Ivan my memory of the OK Bazaars Milk Bar was that it was at the back of the shop Smith Street side. It actually was a type of mezzanine floor with the milkbar over the Smith Street entrance. Quite right it had the usual American milkbar appearance complete with the round chromed swivelling seats. The radio as you both have related was virtually the main home entertainment in those days. One got to know the voices and names but never knew the faces bar a few of them like Eric Egan, Don Davis, Johnnie Walker Peter Chiswell to name a few. Remember Lux Radio Theatre? Yes Bill and Julie Glen and smooth voiced Michael Jackson who if I recall left SA for the USA. Pick a Box was presented by Robin Alexander and Elwen Morris and was sponsored by the then new Surf Washing Powder. Lever Brothers actually sponsored quite a few radio shows and are still advertising on TV these days. I do not know if I am getting mixed up but the Caltex Show was it not “Next Stop –Makouvlei” with Pip Freedman? Favourites of mine were the Stars at Night with Patrick Moore, Test the Team with Dewar McCormack and Alistair Cooke’s Letter from America on Sunday evenings. Some of these were BBC transcripts. And of course The Goon Show!

  36. mel
    | Reply

    Hi Gerald,

    It’s indeed great to be sharing memories like this. FAD is a tremendous site and I agree that it’s an onerous task to try to navigate around here. It’s largely a matter of persevering.
    I’m afraid I don’t remember the Princes milk bar or live music at the Playhouse. I do, however, remember Tommy McLennan who played the theatre organ at the Metro while the audience sang along (“follow the bouncing ball”).

    We used to buy the SABC magazine, a weekly that tabulated the coming week’s radio programmes on the English Service, the Afrikaans Service and Springbok. It started with the inauguration of Springbok Radio in, I think, 1950. The SAUK magazine was also available, for Afrikaans readers. Most issues featured profiles about the various radio presenters, with their portraits. The male presenter who had the most engaging stentorian voice was, in my opinion, Michael Jackson. I was very sorry when he left South Africa. He was extremely knowledgeable about popular music, Broadway shows and records in general. Another knowledgeable presenter was John Walker who I think was an Australian. Pick-A-Box, as I remember, was only presented by Jack Bryant – Robin Alexander and Elwen Morris must have come later. The Caltex Show was a forerunner of Next Stop–Makouvlei but Pip Freedman was in both of them, so it’s easy to get mixed up. It was on the English Programme that Alistair Cooke’ Letter From America was presented; also The Goon Show. Luckily, many recordings of both these shows are today easily available on the Internet. Another light comedy programme on English was A Life Of Bliss with George Cole. In later years, Springbok remade many episodes with a local cast. And don’t forget Tony Hancock in Hancock’s Half Hour.

    For ex-Durbanites like me, FAD is quite the best resource. Many thanks for the good work you are doing to keep it interesting!

  37. ivan beal
    | Reply

    goodness me, another memory comes flooding back ERIC EGAN, how could i have forgotten, he used to have a slot every morning that would feature “a corny crack” he became quite famous for that and got into trouble at least one time that i remember because he told a joke about someone fishing in the ice and a hole had to be cut into the ice to enable the fishing, i can’t remember the lead up to it but it ended up with the fisherman having got kicked in the ice hole. not very risque by today’s standards but in those days it raised a storm and i think the radio station had to issue an apology.
    i very much remember tommy maclennan who played at the metro, my brother tony is a keen organist and he actually went backstage, if that is the right term, and got to meet him. my brother says he was succeeded by dennis van rooyen. i am not a keen fan of the organ but my brother took it up and played professionally, he still plays, has his own organ at home and plays every day, he now lives in england.
    my brother says the organ at the metro was eventually purchased by a collector and it was taken down and packed up and crated i think to england. that must have been a huge undertaking.
    i do remember johnny walker, didn’t he also do a hit parade with the top twenty hits? or was that somebody else.

  38. ivan beal
    | Reply

    i wonder if there is anyone on this site that knew or has heard of a soprano who was very successful in durban, her name is dulcie martha roome, her maiden name was labuschagne, she had and maybe still has a magnificent voice. i met her at one of her recitals and bought one of her records. it was “there is danger in your eyes cherie” and she sang that song with such feeling and emotion, of course she sang other arias but that was my particular favourite. pop music was more prolific but i also enjoyed classical music and some opera. i doubt that she sings now as she would be around my age if she is still with us. well of course she might still sing, i do sometimes but you wouldn’t want to listen, my wife tries to get out of range if i start, usually in the bath

  39. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Mel,
    Yes a couple of memories come back once reminded of them. John Walker I think was an Aussie because I seem to remember years ago reading he had returned and died there. He used to have a programme on Springbok Radio in the evenings about 7.30 pm called Mr Walker wants to Play and it was all to do with new 78 rpm record releases. He was rather staid and matter of fact and recall his uncertainty when Bill Haley’s “Rock around the Clock” was first aired. If I recall that was just prior to Elvis appearing on the Rock scene. Up until then Frank Sinatra ruled the roost but mid and late 50s the Rock ‘n Roll revolution set in. Another radio star was Douggie Laws and of course Clark (Clackie) McKay who went over to LM Radio. LM Radio was another story as it transmitted on the shortwave 49 meter band and to get good reception your chances were better with an outside aeriel and fine tuning in your finger tips. The LM Hit Parade was compulsory listening. Yes you are right those programmes were on the English station.
    Talking organists on cinema stages I recall one Buster Whiteley (? spelling) who used to come up from below I think playing a Wurlitzer.

  40. ivan beal
    | Reply

    somebody mentioned al debbo an afrikaans comedian, this reminded me of jamie uys who was another afrikaans comedian and he had a big hit with a film called “geld soos bossies” which i remember seeing when i was probably fifteen or sixteen. i think i was still at school.
    you are right it was mr walker wants to play and i do remember bill hailey’s rock around the clock, however, he all but disappeared from the rock scene when elvis made his debut. frank sinatra and dean martin though were evergreens and maintained there dominance until they passed on.
    i can remember going to LM for long weekends and staying at the polana? hotel, on my first visit to LM i was amazed that a lot of the beachfront bars and watering holes had plates of prawns on the counter given away as snacks. i had never had free prawns before and they were indeed very very good.
    as for a buster wheatley or whitely, i do not know the name but it has come up on this site previously, i am wondering if it may have been at another cinema that had an organ coming up from the orchestra pit? did the princes or the some other cinema have an organ?

  41. mel
    | Reply

    Ivan, I was the one who mentioned Al Debbo – in a previous discussion about the O.K. Bazaars in West Street, where I saw him and his entourage shopping.
    He and Frikkie Burgers made some very funny comedy films together.
    I still have some of his records – Daar Kom Die Alibama, Hasie, Hou Die Blinkkant Bo etc., but I have been unable to find a copy of his Bokkie…

    Yes, the Polana Hotel in LM – a rather expensive place. The Coke I had there cost the equivalent of 1/6d. A lot of money in those days! I was about 12 or 13 when I went with my family for a cruise on the Bloemfontein Castle up to Beira and back to Durban, stopping in Beira for four days (our base was on the ship) and stopping for a day or two in Lourenco Marques both there and back. Of course, the highlight for me was visiting the Radio Club studios where we saw a broadcast in progress. I wanted to meet David Davies, but, as luck would have it, he was in Durban while we were in LM…

    The organist you were referring to was Buster Whitely. The Metro was the only cinema in Durban to have an organ.

    Gerald, what I liked about the radio programme Mr. Walker Wants To Play is that John Walker was sent sample records from record companies overseas, which he played on his programme – some of which were later released locally but many which were not – which meant that a lot of stuff that he played was the only opportunity I would ever get to hear them…

    • Kobus
      |

      Hi all. I knew Buster Whiteley and heard him play many times. He used to play at the Metro in Durban. I saw photos of big banners with his name on it in front of the Metro. We lived in the same block of flats in Richards Bay and also worked together for a few years. I do not know what became of him as he left a number of years ago. Being so much older than me, he most probably passed away already. He told me a number of stories during the time. He was also (according to him) a sergeant major during WW2.

  42. Mike
    | Reply

    A site where one can listen to various Springbok Radio programs.
    One can use the “listen online “button and sometimes there is something playing….
    Also look at the Springbok Radio Revisited, for a brief history………

    http://www.sabc.co.za/wps/portal/SABC/springbok

  43. ivan beal
    | Reply

    hello mel
    i am wondering when buster whitely played at the metro because i can only remember tommy maclennan and later dennis van rooyen. my brother, a very keen organ fan, actually met tommy maclennan when he was at the metro. he tells me that he can remember dennis van rooyen but has no recollection of a buster whitely so that is why i am wondering if he came long after tommy maclennan? also, my brother tells me that the organ was sold at some point and disassembled and crated up to be shipped to the collector that purchased it in england. was the organ replaced with another model? is there a record anywhere about the metro organ?

  44. mel
    | Reply

    Hello, Ivan,
    Buster Whitely was a popular organist in Durban; exactly when I can’t remember but it must have been in the ’60s. His preference was the Lowrey organ, if I’m not mistaken. If my memory serves me correctly, his day job was selling organs at Bothner’s and he had gigs at various night spots. When Tommy McLennan’s tenure at the Metro came to an end, the theatre (pipe) organ at the Metro was dismantled and sold, as your brother said, to a collector, of which there quite a few around the world at the time. Following an outcry from the cinema-going public, the Metro subsequently had a Lowrey electronic organ installed, which would be played by Whitely – I think this happened quite a while after Tommy MacLennan. Perhaps there were other organists there as well, but I don’t remember them. The only other popular organist in Durban that I remember was the late Cherry Wainer, about whom I’ve written here before, whose preference was the Hammond and who had a long-time gig at, I think, the Eden Roc with drummer Don Storer.

    Sorry I can’t give you any more info but that’s all I can remember. Perhaps someone else can help?

  45. Chris Nel
    | Reply

    Hi, anyone go to Addington school, 50′ / 60’s

    Surf at Addington beach (Pumphouse)

    Stayed in Moore Court….. Hospital rd

  46. Mike
    | Reply

    Thought some may be interested in the “original” Addington Children’s Hospital!. I suggest clicking on the building (top right hand corner), to see the full “slide show “. There are approximately 30 pictures. Enjoy.

    http://www.artefacts.co.za/main/Buildings/bldgframes.php?bldgid=3385

  47. ivan beal
    | Reply

    hello mel, you have brought back another memory for me, this time it take me to when i was a little older than my teens and very early twenties, i think i must have been around 26/27. your mentioning the eden roc hotel reminded of the retaurant on the top floor of the eden roc, if my memory serves, it was called the captain’s table, it was a very good restaurant with an excellent wine list and a wide variety of dishes. i never had a bad meal there and the service was impeccable i would say that it compared very favourably with the causerie at the edward, another fine restaurant. i would take my girlfriend to the captains table probably twice a month and we would enjoy the food and the music, they had a violinist who was pretty good and they also had a singer who was equally good and very entertaining. i had some very memorable evenings at the eden roc hotel

  48. mel
    | Reply

    Hello Ivan,

    Good to know that I’ve helped someone bring back memories of Durban.

    Regarding the Eden Roc, I have to admit that, although I was aware of the personalities there as regards the entertainment, I personally never went inside – so with your memories of your experiences you will know much more than I about it…

  49. ivan beal
    | Reply

    hello again mel, i am sure that you would have enjoyed it, do you still live in durban? i moved back to england from south africa in the late sixties, went back in the mid seventies when i was working for fluor corporation, an amercian company who were working on the construction of the sasol 2 project, i lived on project site secunda and stayed there for the two years that i worked for them. during the time i was working in secunda i would take the odd trip down to durban and visit some of the old haunts from my younger days. it was very much the same having not changed much and i stayed at the edward hotel and went to dinner at the eden roc again, it was just as good as ever. i also manged to get to north beach and do some surfing. i very much enjoyed returning to the old roots. i also went back to visit friends in the late eighties but it had chnaged a lot then. i went to johannesburg and visited hillbrow where i had spent a lot of time visiting friends in my younger days. it had changed overwhelmingly and i venture to say it was not a safe place. i can’t imagine what it could be like now

  50. mel
    | Reply

    Ivan, we left Durban (and SA) 31 years ago. When I read about the conditions there generally, I’m thankful that we left when we did.

    But I cry for the beloved country…

  51. ivan beal
    | Reply

    well goodness me that would make it around 1986? which is when i went back to visit friends and i also have two nieces, they are twins, who still live there near to pretoria. they are havinga tough time. i also have a cousin living in port alfred but she says things are very pleasant and quiet there. i also have a niece in cape town, she lives there with her daughter who has just turned 17 and wants to go to university. i have suggested stellenbosch because it is relatively peaceful there. cape town uni is a bit radical. so where are you now mel? we are currently living in france but we go to london every eight to ten weeks stay there for a couple of months then back here again. in london we live in muswell hill. i agree with your alan paton view of south africa now. springbok radio was mentioned earlier here and it reminded me of another popular radio programme, radio highveld, does that ring any bells?

  52. ivan beal
    | Reply

    hello mel
    take a look at this
    http://deathofjohannesburg.blogspot.fr/2006/07/tour-through-hillbrow-part-2.html

  53. mel
    | Reply

    Your arithmetic is spot on, Ivan.

    We left for Israel in 1986.

    I din’t know much about Johannesburg, but your pictures of Hillbrow look something like Durban’s St. Andrews Street was described to me by someone who once lived there…

  54. ivan beal
    | Reply

    hello mel, what a coincidence that you went to israel in 1986, quite a few of our friends did the same, don’t know if you might know some of them. maureen is in jerusalem, she is an artist and is quite well known there. i purchased franklin & co, 85 west street from her dad, jack konigsfest. i had the shop for some years, gerald buttigieg knew the shop, i was surprised that he remembered the shop after all these years but in a way it was quite unique in durban if not in south africa. we sold all sorts of novelties and fancy goods and i imported magic tricks for local magicians, some of them would come into the shop and chat and perform various magic tricks for customers while passing the time. whereabouts are you in israel, if you are in jerusalem i am sure that will have heard of maureen. she is a very well know artist and i have displyed some of her works in london. what a small world!!

  55. mel
    | Reply

    Yes, Ivan – I vaguely remember Maureen Konigsfest and her parents, but we weren’t close friends. I’m in Ashkelon – that’s down south, not near Jerusalem, and we go there very rarely.

    To change the subject, you’ve brought up something interesting. When I was little, I was interested in magic and magicians. I went with my parents to see some very good overseas magicians who put on shows at the Alhambra, including The Great Lyle and Jasper Maskelyne.

    Later, a couple of guys I knew took magic up as a hobby – the late Trevor Yates, who was also enthusiastic about clowns and practised as one; also Bernard Dyer, who was at my high school, DHS. Bernard became an adept magician and I believe became a high-ranking official of the Magic Society.

    Perhaps you could relate something about some of the magicians to whom you sold tricks.

  56. ivan beal
    | Reply

    goodness me mel, amazing coincidences, maureen konigsfest is now maureen fain she is married to dick fain. she is very very well known in israel a very consummate artist, oils, water colours, also does sculpture and has many exhibitions in israel and also here in france. as for my shop, another coincidence, jack konigfests sister jean, became jean taylor and worked in my shop as a saleslady, she also met a lot of the magicians. bernard dyer used to come into the shop and he would aslo do tricks for us and any customers who might be there, if i remember correctly, i imported some quite sophisitcated stuff for him from inzani henley magic company of baker street in london. when i left south africa for england i went to visit inzani henley and it was quite a fantastic experience although they never showed me how anything worked as i was not a member of the magic circle.

  57. ivan beal
    | Reply

    it just crossed my mind mel, where did you live in durban and did you know my shop at all? during my time in durban i lived on the bluff, and then in merrion court in durban which was near to addington. it goes back a long way, i am 76 now and i guess you must be around the same age. forgive me if you are much younger!!

  58. mel
    | Reply

    We lived in Carrington Heights, Ivan. Franklin & Co rings a bell; many years ago when I was a lighty I’m sure I must have passed 85 West Street many times on the way to the beach from town. My mom and dad also had a shop in West Street, a pet shop, Tropical Aquaria (I don’t remember the street number), mainly tropical fish and birds such as cockatiels, budgies, canaries etc., pet foods and accessories, and I remember my dad also stocked novelty items like tricks for the kids – nothing sophisticated like those you dealt in. My mom kept the shop going for a while after my dad died, then sold it.

    Good guess, we are for sure around the same age – I turned 77 in January this year. Bernard Dyer would also be our age.

  59. ivan beal
    | Reply

    i am not sure where carrington heights was, was it in durban central or out of town somewhere? i don’t remember tropical aquaria, was it near to my shop or further down towards town? i can remember that not far from my shop we had mo greenberg who had a fairly large radio and hi-fi shop, it was on the corner a bit further up from mine, i had a butcher next to me, mrs hook, later her son mike took it over. his brother was manager of the natal or was it durbam cold storage? the other side of me was a cafe run by a lebanese couple who came to south africa as refugees. maureen konigsfest later maureen fain lived upstairs in finsbury court as did jean taylor and her daughter julie who still lives in durban. opposite me was j r ivy’s curio shop, they sold large ticket souvnier items such as animal skins african shields and assegais and the like, also opposite me was erechtion classical art run by chris gounaris a very talented sculptor who was commissioned by the south african government to produce statues for the parliament building and other public places. he gave me a sculpture of veronikhi signed by him and dated 1973 which i still have proudly displayed in our library in our french home.
    there was a large block of flats opposite called kenton court and jack and debby konigsfest, maureen’s parents went to live there after they retired. this site, and you too mel, have brought back a lot of pleasant memories.

  60. mel
    | Reply

    Carrington Heights is just after Glenmore, near the University.

    Tropical Aquaria was on the right hand side going towards the beach, a few hundred metres down from Aliwal Street. I seem to think that the number was 193 West Street.

    Apart from the Konigsfests, I don’t know any of the others who you mentioned, except Ivy’s Curio Shop.

    If you’ve ever lived in London, and are familiar with Cockney slang, you will appreciate the humour in the name of the butcher next to you, Mrs. Hook. Was that for real?

  61. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Mel and Ivan
    Tropical Aquaria was at 193 West Street. To place 193 West St. it was between Dick King Street and Rope Lane. Both rather obscure but on the corner of West St and Rope Lane was the Tudor House Hotel and next to the hotel was McNamees, the furniture shop with large showrooms. Tropical Aquaria’s telephone number was 62870 FWIW. This from the 1965 Durban Directory.

  62. mel
    | Reply

    Hi Gerald,

    That’s spot on, Gerald! My dad used to go in very early in the morning to ensure getting a parking in Dick King Street (all day for free – give you an idea how long ago THAT was)…

    There was one little shop on the corner of West and Dick King Streets (could it have been a pharmacy?) and next to that was Tropical Aquaria. Rope Lane was (perhaps still is) a bit further up the street.

    Yes, now I remember the telephone number, 62870. I wish I had a tickey for every time I dialled that number…

    I also wish I had a copy of Braby’s Street Directory from any year of that era…

    It’s just amazing how these little things trigger the memory cells!

    Many thanks, Gerald.

  63. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Mel,
    Quite right it was Murray’s Chemist at 191 and 191a was Protea Jewellers, then Tropical Aquaria and then Woodville’s which if I remember were Bicycle dealers.

    I have really been fortunate in that I have 3 Durban Directories, 1938, 1965 and 1968. They are most interesting volumes in that they hold a lot of information and the 1965/68 cover the time I was a young adult. They are very hard to find these days and I keep looking at fleamarket book sales etc. They used to be given away free if you recall.

    • ivan beal
      |

      mon cher gerald, i have a question for you. i can remember going to the goodwill hotel for curry, it was probably the best, if not one of the best indian restaurants in durban. i have googled it and searched all over the old durban maps to no avail.
      if my memory serves me well i think it was also a hotel. the goodwill hotel and restaurant. it was in the indian area, i stand to be corrected here but i have a notion it might have been grey street? i can also remember having trousers made to measure in, i think, the same street, if not then a street nearby. the indian tailors were second to none. i had all my trousers made to measure. when we used to get dressed up to go out with a very special girl, it was the made to measure trousers, red jarman shoes and crisp white shirt and tie with a good quality sports jacket. i suppose that the goodwill is no longer in business but i am sure it would be in your telephone directory?

  64. mel
    | Reply

    Yes, Gerald, that’s right. Last evening I took a look at the Google Street Map and was astounded to see that all three shops have been replaced by what seems to be a parking garage with a huge entrance in front. These seem to have been alterations only as the top of the building still looks the same.

    The two telephone directories (government and municipal) were given away free but Braby’s Street Directory had to be purchased.

  65. ivan beal
    | Reply

    was your parents shop the shamrock bird and pet store, owner J S barker? if so it was at 85 west street that would have been 1938 it would have become franklin & co nearer to 1950 or a bit later when i took it over

  66. ivan beal
    | Reply

    hello again mel i don’t think i have mentioned this before although the website is saying duplicate comment so i shall try again
    was your parents shop the shamrock bird and pet store, owner J S barker? if so it was at 85 west street that would have been 1938 it would have become franklin & co nearer to 1950 or a bit later when i took it over

  67. mel
    | Reply

    No, Ivan – they bought Tropical Aquaria at 193 West Street, a going concern, in around 1955.

  68. ivan beal
    | Reply

    hello mel, yes you are quite right, gerald has cleared that up, he certainly is a mine of information, it was gerald that told me that my shop was previously the shamrock bird and pet store owner j s barker, i think he got that from his 1938 directory. i have been trying to find a map of durban from 1955 or 1960 era but can’t dig anything up, all the googling does is bring the new street names, i am trying to find the old street names. does anyone have any ideas? thanks in advance and thank you gerald for the info

  69. ivan beal
    | Reply

    forgot to mention mel, michael hook was the name of the butcher that had the shop next door to mine. michael was at school with me at marist brothers, st henrys college. his mother and father ran the butcher’s shop, sadly his father died and he was taken out of school at around 16 years of age and put to work with his mother in the shop. i hadn’t realised this until i purchased franklin & co from jack & debbi konigsfest and took over the shop. when i went next door to introduce myself i nearly fell flat when i met mike hook and his mum, of course he was a lot older then. small world indeed

    • ivan beal
      |

      hello mel, the butcher’s hook, i should mention was also related to sling your hook, i used to know quite a few cockney expressions, in durban some of the younger crowd would use it as a bit of “street language” and of course the afrikaans speaking kids wouldn’t understand. at school however, it was frowned upon. i can remember a mrs conway and a mrs oelrichs at marist brothers, st henry’s and we were caught using cockney, or any other “bad language? there would be repercussions. i don’t know if anyone from those school days will remember, perhaps gerald as he was at st henry’s but mrs oelrichs was a tiger, she would rush down the aisle lashing out with her cane willy nilly from side to side to reach a boy near the back who had dared to talk in class, no matter who got hit on the way. there was a brother paul who was also very quick to lash out with his cane. he once gave my brother leonard the cane and when he got home he told my mother that he got cuts, rather proud of himself. our mother thought otherwise and the next day went into school, confronted brother paul, remonstrated with him, snatched his cane and hit him over his head with it, saying don’t you touch my boy again! my eldest brother tony and i hid between the large tree, mortified but the other kids had all made a ring around the scene and cheered my mother on. of the shame of it.

    • mel
      |

      Sounds like your old school Marist Brothers had some weird people on their staff. I’m sure that such behaviour would not be tolerated today, political correctness being what it is. Although who knows what it’s like in SA?

      I doff my hat to your mother, who did the right thing by confronting and retaliating.

      I was very friendly with three brothers who went to St. Henry’s – Simon, Desmond and Gerald Kerdachi, all of whom became jazz musicians, the two younger ones having also studied for non-musical professions. I never heard any such stories from them.

    • ivan beal
      |

      hello mel, i don’t know if i mentioned it but i also knew a neville kerdachi at school, i didn’t know simon desmond and gerald although gerald kerdachi rings a distant bell. i heard from neville some time back, he sent me a sort of “bio” of his time at school and a little of his later life. i shall try to dig it up and send it on to you. you may well remember him.

    • ivan beal
      |

      neville had a brother clive born 1937, he passed away in 2000

    • ivan beal
      |

      hello again mel
      i have the neville kerdachi document but i cannot send via this,it is too big. here is my e mail. ivan8renee@gmail.com, if you e mail me, i shall send it to you as an attachment

  70. mel
    | Reply

    Ivan, I have a list of the old/new Durban street names but it’s too large to post here.

    Also I have a Durban street map showing the old names.

    If you give me your email address or ask GeraId to send it to me I can send them to you as attachments.

    • Allan Jackson
      |

      Hi Mel
      Why don’t you send me the list and I’ll post it somewhere on the site. My address is on the Contact page of the website.
      Allan

  71. rob mahaffey
    | Reply

    hi don’t know ,if i’m barking up the wrong tree.
    My parents,sister and i lived in redhill for about 6 months,in 1953/4. we stayed in 1 of 2 or 3 flats attached to a general dealer type shop belonging to a mr. dunbar. was on a corner plot. would anyone know where this could be or point me in the possible direction of finding any information.
    i was about 6 or 7 at the time.
    regards, rob mahaffey

  72. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Rob
    Its a long shot but I found a Mr A.V. Dunbar living at 96 Church Road Red Hill in the 1965 Durban Directory I have. From experience Durban people tended to stay put in those days. 96 Church Road happens to be on the corner of Church Road and Clarendon Road. Church Road leads off North Coast Road. Strangely a Mr G. Dunbar lived next door at 92 Church Road. I could find no record of a general dealer but it is 10 years later. You need to have a look at a 1953/54 directory available at the Durban Reference Library.

  73. Karen Ward
    | Reply

    Mel and Ivan, Gerald Kerdachi is now living in the UAE and still working. Both Simon and Des have passed away (Des only in April).

  74. mel
    | Reply

    Karen, that is very sad news. I last saw Des at Simon and Yvonne’s place when we visited Durban back in 2005.

    I miss them both.

  75. ivan beal
    | Reply

    that is indeed sad news, if i recall correctly, neville’s brother died (cecil?) passed away in 2000. well i suppose we are all getting on a bit, let’s try to hang in there!!

  76. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    In this post I recorded the death notice of Enid Potter of Kinrade Potter Dance Studio. Sadly her husband Billy Potter has just recently passed away aged 97. Those of you who attended their Saturday morning dance classes at King’s Hall will well remember them.

  77. mel
    | Reply

    I am sorry to hear this news of the loss of Bill. Sincere condolences to Louise and the family from one of the Saturday morning dance students. I will always remember Enid and Bill with much affection.
    – Mel

  78. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    I saw in the Natal Mercury, July 26th 2017, that Errol Slatter has passed away. I did not know Errol Slatter personally but do recall he was an excellent organist. Many may remember the lunch time concerts held at the City Hall in the 60’s – 80’s where Errol would give recitals on the great pipe organ in the main hall. Not too sure if that organ is still operational. RIP.

  79. Susan woodville
    | Reply

    Hello
    My father (Stephen Woodville) was an evacuee in Durban during WW2 – he came from the UK about aged 10 to live with his uncle Bob Woodville (and his cousin Bert Woodville). He sang as a chorister in St Thomas’ church, joined their scout group and became asst. scout master. He LOVED his 10 years in durban. After leaving school there, he joined BOAC as a radio engineer on the flying boats in Durban Harbour, before returning to the UK. He is now 91 years and in good health and will be visiting Durban 30 October 2018 to 6 November. Does anyone remember him?

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