Nostalgia time…In the beginning…

1861
“When we are children we seldom think of the future. This innocence leaves us free to enjoy ourselves as few adults can. The day we fret about the future is the day we leave our childhood behind.” – Patrick Rothfuss

 

 

Seeing that I have been delving into my archives searching for images and stories, I decided to take this opportunity to share my story with readers over the next few weeks.

I was born on Monday, June 15th, 1953 in the Port Elizabeth Provincial Hospital. I have been told that I was two weeks late and since then I have had a phobia about being on time (Allegrophobia). For all the obvious reasons, I remember nothing of what the interior of this austere building looked like. On my last visit to Port Elizabeth in 2018, I was unable to gain access to take pictures. Therefore, whatever is behind those imposing doors will forever be a mystery to me.

 

This is the home that I grew up in and lived in until I left Port Elizabeth for the bright lights and promises that lay in Johannesburg in 1975. When we lived at 18 Hartley Road, the wall did not have the metal railings, neither did it have this imposing entrance.

All we had was a gate that visitors could just open and walk up to the front door where they could ring a bell. I wonder if modern homes still have them as gate intercom systems seem to have made them redundant. I had a garden to play in and friends who lived in this street…including one who went on to become the current CEO of Dischem!

These were different times. Evenings where you could play in the street without the fear of being attacked or abducted. I particularly remember roller skating in skates that clipped onto my Bata school shoes and tied up with a red plastic strap.

 

The first primary school that I attended was Walmer Primary as there was no school in our suburb at that stage. I started at Parsons Hill Primary in 1959 and I am still friendly with two of my classmates from all those decades ago. Externally, the school has not changed much, but internally it is quite different from what I remember. Several security doors now guard various doorways and the admin block has undergone major alterations since I was a pupil here. The most noticeable one is the fact that the office that used to be occupied by the principal has been expanded and now contains admin staff.

 

We got into a lot of trouble for sliding down this set of bannisters. Why we did it I have no idea, but it did seem dangerous and anarchic at the time. Back then corporal punishment was still allowed for both male and female students. Our principal at the time was a dab hand at wielding a cane for almost no rational reason at all. It was as a direct result of his teaching methods that I developed a hatred for maths which continues to this day.

 

During my 2018 visit, I was able to get access to one of the classrooms that I was in as a child. The perspective looks so different as an adult! I cannot remember if the class layout was the same all those decades ago, but the basic layout of the class has remained the same.

I was able to source the words to the school song, which I have to admit I have no recollection of singing. Looking at the lyrics, I wonder as an adult how a 6-year-old can comprehend what we were being asked to sing…

Persevere is our motto and also our aim, whether we are studying or playing a game, by our conduct we know….people will see, we are the pupils of Parson’s Hill Primary.

 

 

This building was where I spent much of my early years. The Mini-market on the left used to be called Novelty Bookshelf and was a shop that was owned by my parents. One of the best memories was getting the December annuals in November and being able to read them before all my friends. I still have some metal animal toys and even a bookmark from the store. I have no memory of why or when it closed, but the advent of larger stores like CNA might have had a hand in the decision that my parents took. Where Hairline is now situated was a bank, probably a Barclays, and as a 6-year-old, I was allowed to sit with the teller BEHIND the bars. I even have a memory of seeing a pistol lying hidden out of sight of the bank clients. The final shop was a Cafe owned by a Greek family. I have very fond memories of time spent there buying penny sweets and marshmallow fish and mice with liquorice tails!

 

Looking into Happy Valley from Humewood Beach after the 1968 floods. The Shark River that ran from the Boet Erasmus Stadium burst its banks and swept away the road that runs along the foreshore. When it was rebuilt, this underpass was created in case there were ever floods again.

 

Any posting of a seaside city needs to have a seascape, and this posting is no different. This is the beach in front of the Bird Rock Road House, which was still in operation back in 2018.

 

 

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