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Walking the Woodstock Lockdown 8 am -9am

PLEASE NOTE NOT ALL MY FOLLOWERS WILL BE INTERESTED IN THIS. THOSE WHO KNOW OR GREW UP IN WOODSTOCK CAPE TOWN MAY WELL ENJOY MOMENTS OF THEIR OWN REFLECTIONS. STAY WELL, BOB.

I set off from my house in Earl street, and turned into King, from where I could get a better view of the historical houses in Melbourne. My friend James Davidse’s aunt lived in one of those houses for many years. I wonder who lived in the Victorian house on the corner. Then I turned into Walmer Road, which must rank as the most attractive street in Woodstock. The Flats “Kings Corner” was renovated two years ago and is very desirable. Then first right into Barton, where my now departed friend William Payne lived for many years.

I swivel to the right up Tech road and pass the very mysterious and alternative Victorian house on the corner, back into King and to the right to go up Walmer. What exquisite houses and the section of old cobble street. Then through the lane which many a learner must have taken in the old days, to get a view of what we called the small park. Remember the rings and the boats, fast and slow. The park is suddenly green again. I remember the old park-keeper in his khaki uniform with baton in hand, and his son Felix who must have had polio as a child. I remember how strong he was, his vice-like grip.

I look along Nerina and remember Anthony Van Heerden and Nigel Donnethorne who lived in the double story houses. The houses behind are just as attractive. Then comes my first view of the school and all its memories, of learners and teachers. For me school has a bitter-sweet taste of teachers who were absolute bullies and others that shaped my life. There was a wonderful teacher, Mrs Land who so nurtured and drove us to achieve something in life.

Do you remember the stone building called Leliebloem House which stood where the Garden Court stands now?

I have crossed the bridge and look along Coronation road and think of the Walmer Estate bus, through District Six to the Parade, and how one bounced along. Then up Mountain Road and a right turn into Chester Road. The houses are transformed into huge monstrosities, each claiming a view of the sea. And to think that these were once such unpretentious homes. Perhaps some of the readers lived in one of them.
I turn left up Melbourne road and find what I think is my friend Greg Featherstone’s house where I spent many hours as a teenager, chatting and playing snooker. I turn around for a view of the docks and sea. Remember those Union Castle liners that arrived on Thursday and we had comics and magazines at Parker’s, Roy of the Rovers, and Eagle.
Then along Eden road to the end to get a glimpse of the Brick Fields, where we ran wild in our games, soap boarding down the chalk slopes, collecting tad-poles or just escaping from home.

I zigzag into and through Cambridge Road with its magnificent homes, but still find a fews homes unchanged since the sixties in this street and Beresford road on the way back. I am close to the old De Waal Drive and head down for a walk along the top of the Brickfields. I look up Kylemore and Garrick and remember some friends who lived there.

On my left through the fence I get a glimpse of the old farm house on the Brickfields. I think it was a milk farm in the old days. I continue along Rhodes avenue and cross Roodebloem, and Linda Featherstone’s house, on the corner, comes into view. What lovely generous and hospital people and what happy times I spent at their home.
I continue walking until I come to the little park in the University Estate, and remember some of the boys and girls who lived in this area. I take a left turn before the park into Ritchie Street. I usually cut through Tooting lane to reach the paddock, but today I want to take a picture of what I think was Trevor Ludski’s house. Tooting Lane was special for all those raids on loquats, figs, quinces, mulberries. It was a farm-stall of luxuries for hungry boys.
Is that Trevor’s house where the car is parked? Then pass the shop on the corner which I think was another dairy in the old days.

I cross the bridge over the motorway and remember walking Linda and Eunice home on many occasions after church. What a view of Woodstock and beyond to the mountains! Below is the Afrikaans school and top-Parker and a view too of Queens Park High. I turn right into Palmerston road and take a picture of Mrs Marzo’s house – she was the Sunday School teacher who taught us all how to act. Each year her plays ran for a week in All Saints hall. What amazing confidence she gave us for the life that was to come.

On the left I pass the old garages where we used to play ball-games and ride our bicycles. The sun obscures the O’Niels house where Margaret O’Niel lived, the star of all Mrs Marzo’s plays. At the end of the road the Paddock comes into view. Note the overgrown grass because of Corvid 19. What amazing memories of soccer, rugby, hockey baseball and the many people associated with those games – there was Cleave who could dribble through an entire team and never would pass the ball, and Jimmy who could kick a ball into the goals from any angle, but never really played in a match. There were the many soccer matches between Chamberlains street and Roberts road that went on until the 12 noon gun. If you were winning you picked up the ball and ran home. The swimming pool has become a place to walk your dog, and a very special place it is.

Then down Queens and left into Balfour and everything to remember from our High school days, good and bad. At least one teacher, a Mr Williams, influenced my love of poetry and literature and became a lifelong friend. Some great friends lived in this street and shared my life in little League baseball – the Tenants, the Terry’s, the Colin’s, the Wicombs. I pass the little shop that was on the way to and from school. I remember Schwepps orange and lemon cool drinks. Then back into Roodebloem with it many new restaurants.

The pink building on the corner of Chamberlains street was the butcher shop and home of the Adikars. They were Sufi’s and I remember when the British actror Terence Stamp came to visit them. I am now a great lover of Rumi the Sufi, of whom they would have known all about then.

Left into Chamberlains Street and the first view is of the Jooste’s house with recollections of Stephen and all our soccer matches. Mrs Collins and her family lived next door for many years. The Basticks, Van Zyls, Apostolos, Nichols, Thorpes frequented these homes and streets. The house that I lived in sadly is the most rundown house in the street. Chamberlains like Balfour and Salisbury proudly nurtures avenues of trees. Woodstock has become a leafy suburb.
Then down Queens again with the flats on my right, once the Marsh Memorial Home run by the Salvation army, then the Graceville flats which we called disgraceville, and played in its lifts endlessly and ran away. Now very sedate and prestigious.

This end of Salisbury Street was always very quiet with some large houses with garden owned by members of the Jewish community of Woodstock. We used to call the redbrick building the boxes, because it housed large boxes which we broke into sometimes to see what they contained. I always imagined it was owned by a shipping company to store things. Now it is a very handsome building.
Milner Road was always regarded as a great place to live with the Hotel on your doorstep and the pub always open. I remember wet Winters when their garden flooded and we would go and sail our stick-boats in the water. Later it became my drinking whole. It is a majestic and beautiful building now. On to Parker’s corner and All Saints, where we spent so much of our lives. We were electrified by those pin-ball machines, and weaved bodily with the player who slotted the money. All Saints, its priest, servers, choir, concerts, films, youth-clubs and gym club was such a centre of activity for many of use. And there is so much to tell of Ronny Rhoodt’s gym-club.

Along Salisbury where I can almost post a name of a person on every house, Jackie, Terence, Wally Talbott, the Leggots, the Marais, the Cerffs, the Reids, the Carneys, the Kotse’s. And Roberts Road, where I lived until I turned 16. The corner was our playing field, the garage our goalposts, our wicket. The Gabier, the Milnes, the Nelson, the Lennox’s ran wild on that corner. Islam and Christianity found a wonderful mix of friendship, food and adventure.

I look down Fairview Avenue and remember joining a schiffel group there, a rage then. Victor Honey lived just off the corner or was it Mountain Road? What great views from the tall houses of Salisbury. I turn into Mountain Road and pass the Greek Orthodox cathedral on my right, and am reminded of the days of Hellenic and Mike’s Sports Shop on the main road. The cathedral has the most magnificent frescoes on the walls and is always worth a visit when the liturgy is sung.

Opposite is The Woodstock hospital and the nurses home, now occupied by many people desiring social housing. I remember going to pick up a girlfriend at the Home when it was very new. Back along Earl Street past the Old Bowling Green which was once a hive of activity and social life, and where my father sometimes went for Moth Shell-Hole Meetings.

I pass the little houses where so many of my school friends must have lived, with the toilet out in the yard – the houses are now totally transformed and very expensive. And there on the corner my journey comes to an end.

I hope it brought back many memories for those who grew up in Woodstock in the 60s, and forward to the present. It was a beautiful morning and Woodstock was radiant in the clear air.

Tomorrow the wind will blow to remind you why you moved from this wonderfully cosmopolitan suburb. Tomorrow I will walk in another direction. Let me know if I passed your old house, and if not let me have your address and I will go and take a picture and send it to you.

Bob Commin

bcommin@gmail.com

The Ruins of District Six Exposed

Daphne, my wife came home from shopping in the Garden centre recently and told me that on her way home through District Six she saw that the top soil of the fields had been removed exposing some of the ruins of inside walls of the old houses, and that I should take a look. The Apartheid Government in 1966 declared District Six a “whites only” area under the Group Areas Act of 1950. The area was eventually totally bulldozed and became a shameful scar on the landscape. New businesses refused to move into the area, and those who attempted to …

Amazing Women

The Amazing women in my life This is Women’s Month, when in South Africa we are questioning why there is so much violence committed against women and children. The incidence of violent crimes, sexual and verbal abuse committed against women, is horrendous. This set me thinking of the amazing women in my family life and within my circle of friends. My mother and her sisters were orphaned in their teens and were sent from Kimberley to a Salvation Army home in Woodstock, Cape Town. She was very proud of the contribution the Salvation Army made to her life. One of …

Song of Songs

A Reflection on the Song of Songs I want to reflect this evening on this passage from the Song of Songs, which I find so beautiful and sensuous in its language – celebrating young love.The voice is that of a woman anticipating the arrival of her lover, who is leaping and bounding over the mountains and hills in his haste to reach her. He is a deer, a stag – he is at the window peering in. There is such a spirit of vitality and sexuality in the passage, and with their intimacy and connection Spring comes and the fields …

18 comments on “Walking the Woodstock Lockdown 8 am -9am

  1. susanmargaretsarah says:

    hi Bob what a wonderful trip down memory lane and what memories – thank you the streets all look as though they have been laundered … some lovely old homes .

    Sue Gow 0834675995 0216853684 504 New Rosedale SA Legion Lower Nursery Road Rosbank 7700

    Like

  2. Lee says:

    Hi Bob

    What a remarkable idea! Loved the pictures and narrative!

    Edwin and I also went for a walk this morning and spoke about how beautiful a neighbourhood Woodatock is . . .

    Keep up the good work!

    Edwin and Lee
    15 Walmer Road

    Like

  3. pennysilva45 says:

    I don’t know Woodstock, Bob, but really enjoyed the walk. That mountain.. Thank you.

    Love to you both, Penny

    Like

    1. Rashida Bawa says:

      I grew up at 41 Balfour Str. Many memories

      Like

  4. anncorry says:

    What a wonderful walk through a place and a time and a childhood! I don’t know much of those roads but am tempted to follow your journey through them! Thanks for the stories … Ann Corry

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Like

  5. marisahoney says:

    Hello Bob

    Daddy (Victor) grew up in Fairview Avenue no 87, where Granny still lived after he got married and moved to no. 91.

    Thanks for this post – brings some memories back.

    Love

    Marisa

    Like

  6. Keith Loynes says:

    What a wonderful reminiscence. A veritable walk down memory lane. My father was born in Kitchener Street in 1926. I have lived at Elmwood cottage in the historical terrace in Melbourne Road for 36 years. Love Woodstock history! Would love to hear more of your recollections. Thanks. Keith Loynes

    Like

  7. petercharlesfox says:

    Wow Bob this is a mission of note and what an excellent memory and capture for historical reference and memory Somehow reminding ourselves of the past becomes a healing and helpful exercise now Your footprints are deeply etched there in Woodstock

    Like

  8. Trudy says:

    What a wonderful trip down memory lane. On your next walk maybe you could take a picture of Beresford Road, Nelson use to live in the 3rd house on the left handside it was a flat roofed house. Ronny Roodt lived further down on the opposite side. .

    Like

  9. lizbardolph says:

    Lovely to be reminded of the very happy few days I spent with you and Daphne at the beginning of the year. Stay safe and well. Love, Liz. Xx

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Like

  10. Jean Thomson (née scholtz) says:

    This brought back so many memories. I was born at no. 7 Altona Grove, lived in the same street until I got married in 1970. Attended Mountain Road Girls’ School. Miss Frazer was the principal. Also attended All Saints Church, and remember Mrs Marzo – her daughter also taught Sunday School. Rev Mc William was there when I got confirmed. Bob Weight was the owner of the Altona Hotel.

    Like

  11. Harold Stevens Stevens says:

    Awesome walk through memory lane, thoroughly enjoyed the excursion thank you for the effort you put into this walk All the best and Woodstockers will never forget where they came from and proud at that too.

    Like

  12. vanesa schenck says:

    thank you so much.
    we lived in 23 queens road.
    really brought back loving memories

    vanesa schenck nee Pearson

    Like

  13. Tariq says:

    Why you taking photos of my house bro 😂

    Like

  14. Azmie says:

    That was not ludski house.. it belonged to davids family for 40yrs before being sold in the early 2000 to the currents family

    Like

    1. bcommin says:

      Dear Azmie, Thank you for your comment. The Ludski’s if they did stay there or next door would have left in the 1970s. Stay well. Bob

      Like

  15. Ivan Barendse says:

    Hi Bob,
    That was a fantastic trip down memory lane. I lived in Woodstock all my teen and adult life till I left for Australia in 1974. All those streets and houses I used to walk until I got my car. I lived in 20 Plein Street Woodstock and my wife lived in Worcester Road Walter Estate. Unfortunately I was one of those cowboy Bus drivers that made for a bumpy Walmer Estate and University Estate bus ride.
    Was so good to hear of all those street names that faded out of my mind in the 47 years I’ve been in Australia. Living in Woodstock was the best days of my life. And the paddock and the swimming brought back a lot of happy memories.
    Thanks for the grand tour, keep it up, 🙏👋👋

    Like

  16. Lorraine van der Vyver (nee Scholtz) says:

    Lorraine (nee Scholtz)

    Thanks for these wonderful memories. I was born 81 years ago in No 7 Altona Grove and lived most of my life in the house in which I was born. I have wonderful memories of my youth. I attended Mountain Road Primary School and thereafter went to Observatory Girls High. My grandmother, (Hollis-Turner) lived opposite to us and I remember how, when my uncles used to come to visit, they used to play music on the pavement and we had quite a sing-song. I remember the Altona Hotel very well which was on the corner of Altona Grove and the Main Road in Woodstock. We used to attend All Saints church and were confirmed there as well. Thank you for the wonderful pictures – they are great and has made me feel very nostalgic.

    Like

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