Tony Willies has just written in with some of his Durban memories including of the time he spent as a thorn among the roses in Payne Brothers hairdressing salon. He wrote:
I dreamt of Payne Bros. Ladies Hairdressing Salon, which was on the third floor, last night. Having worked there for about four years, from around 1962 to 1966, I am often haunted by the people I worked with, thinking of them often, as I would dearly love to know what happened to them all.
Due to the above, this morning I was Googling Payne Bros., and up came your site, Facts About Durban. Scrolling down the articles I spied a name I have not forgotten. — Rose Enstrom. Could it really be the Enstroms I knew so long ago? — It was and I nearly fell off my chair!
I read with a real passion, the story she submitted to you, relating in every way to the contents. I gasped when I saw the first photo with Reg on the left, his wife Flo (both now deceased) who was the oldest sister of five Quirk girls from Woodlands, Durban. My first wife Colleen was the fourth Quirk girl and the Quirk family lived on Norwich Crescent. — Number 27, I think. To the right in the photo, next to Flo, was Aubrey and then his wife Rose.
I have not seen or heard of Rose and Aubrey since they left South Africa for Australia, in 1970! I left for Canada in 1977 with my wife and three sons. I was only back once in 1987, with my second wife a Canadian. The four in the photo were neighbours and friends and my family and I often saw the Enstroms when visiting with my in-laws, Reg and Flo Pascoe and their two delightful daughters, Gaylyn and Meryl, who both still live in S.A.
The Vespa Scooter that Rose mentioned in her story, was bought by myself sometime prior to the end of 1965. I know this as I crashed it on the way home one dark and rainy night, after celebrating my 21st. birthday after work! I also relived a great memory of the ‘Tropical’ in Albert Park. Friends of ours, Benny and Dorothy Malan (nee Walsh, from Woodlands) also had a Vespa Scooter and we all used to ride to the Tropical for a drink (Milk shakes I believe.) The Indian waiter used to say, “Here’s the Vespa Gang again!”
The initial purpose of writing to you was to ask if you could send me the E-mail address of the Enstroms and my second is to tell you a little of my story now, so here goes.
In the very early 1960s I served my apprenticeship for Ladies Hairdressing at the Payne Bros. Salon on the third floor. It was one of the best periods of my life. — Emblazoned on my memory for eternity!
After spending one year at Hilton College, I hated boarding school life, I returned to ‘my old school’ Westville High and did one more year, to end 1960 there. I wanted to become a motor mechanic, as I loved working on motors.
My father being a respectable architect in Durban (Payton, Taylor, Willies and Bennett) said, “No son of mine is going to be a grease monkey!” — At that time it was, End of story!
I was talked into becoming a Fitter & Turner as the Principal at Natal Tech told me I could, when qualified, get a job on the ships and travel the world. — It had an appealing ring to it. I loved boats and travel, so started an apprenticeship with van Thiel’s Wire Industries on the south coast.
It was while living at a Catholic Youth Hostel (McClure House?) on Kenyon Howden Road, Woodlands, that I met Colleen Quirk who would later become my first wife.
We used to go to the movie on Saturday night at the M.O.T.H. hall up the road from the hostel.
I lived at the hostel as my parents; home was in Westville, on the border with Pinetown, and so too far to travel. There is Willies Road, named after my dad, just off Dawncliffe Road in Westville. It took me about eighteen months before, knowing this was NOT what I wanted to do and, to my parents horror, I quit!
It was after some time had elapsed that my mother, who had been a beautician before she was married, suggested that I should try “Hairdressing”. After my mother batted her eye lashes at the Salon Manageress, Miss Nesbit, an interview was arranged for me.
I was seventeen, and with hormones raging, I entered this very large Salon where about twenty-five gorgeous girls, that all looked like they’d stepped out of Hollywood, were working. “Sure I’ll give this a try!” I said.
I was only the second male Ladies Hairdresser apprentice in the city of Durban.
Today after all these years, in my mind’s eye I can still walk through the place, knowing every detail and remembering all ‘The Girls’ but, unfortunately I never knew all the surnames. If any should read this, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We used to have fabulous Christmas parties at Miss Nesbit’s home, I believe it was. Sandra Sommerville showed me photos of those parties before I left for Canada and I wish I’d made copies then. There is a BBC TV sitcom called, ‘Are You Being Served?’ — It so reminds me of back in the 1960s at Payne Bros. The departments and staff were all so organised and efficient back in those days.
A friend Barry Williams, who lived next door to my parents’ house, worked in the Men’s Wear Department. On the weekends we’d all gather in Barry’s attic bedroom to listen to cowboy records and play cards, gambling for matches or pennies if we felt rich enough, till the wee hours of the morning!
I remember watching a group of Africans one day who where obviously from the country, very warily checking out the Payne Brothers escalator. They would cautiously get on and then jump off again in a panic! There were three elevators in the lobby. One of them was still operated by a Zulu Lift Operator who would call out all the departments on the floor that we were coming to!
I remember one time, I could not find a parking for my Vespa Scooter so I took it up with me in the elevator to the third floor and parked it outside the Salon. — Miss Nesbit nearly had a bird! To me those were wonderful times and I hope this little blurb will trigger memories for someone else.