Bed­ford then and now

go! Platteland - - LETTERS -

A de­li­cious flood of mem­o­ries washed over me when I read Jac Kritzinger’s ar­ti­cle on Bed­ford and Ade­laide in your Spring is­sue ( Plat­te­land #12).

Around 1950 my par­ents and I moved to Bed­ford. We were Dutch im­mi­grants and my father got a job as a builder-car­pen­ter at the for­mer con­vent. The con­vent had the most beau­ti­ful gar­den and a walled pool where we’d some­times sneak in a swim over week­ends while I was a boarder at Tem­ple­ton High School. Tem­ple­ton had these real wooden desks with inkpots for our foun­tain pens – the tip of many a girl’s plait ended up in the ink when the boys were seated at the back.

Oh, and what a de­light the shops were in those years! The Wil­liams Build­ing was like a mini Gar­licks: the won­der­ful women’s sec­tion with mir­rors on the walls, hats on stands and wooden dis­play cases with enor­mous draw­ers, plus a separate room for men’s cloth­ing. And then there was Farr’s shop: in one room, the brother ran a hair­dress­ing salon and in the other his two sis­ters sold sta­tionery. The shop was al­ways half-dark, but won­der­ful to ex­plore.

At the top of the dou­ble-storey build­ing was a real tai­lor, Oom Wol­marans, with rolls of fab­ric for men’s trousers, vests and suits. There was also a real old-fash­ioned café with seat­ing and ev­ery­thing on of­fer back then: sweets, cig­a­rettes, cooldrink…

To much ex­cite­ment Oom Len Fisher opened his “Milk Par­lour”, and we could drink milk­shakes and buy ice-cream cones for a tickey. In those years, Van Niek­erk’s Dairy still de­liv­ered milk with a horse and cart – you’d put the thick glass bot­tles with coupons on the stoep in the evening.

Go­ing to the movies in a large room at the garage in Van Riebeeck Street was an ex­pe­ri­ence. I re­mem­ber so well the roar of the Metro-Gold­wyn-Mayer lion, “God Save the Queen” that was al­ways played, and the Bat­man and Robin comic se­rial movie ev­ery week.

We spent three years liv­ing in Eil­don, which now has one of the top gar­dens in the area, and I re­mem­ber how up­set ev­ery­one was the when the wife of Humphries, the lawyer, fenced in her planned gar­den and let pigs roam there to dig up the soil and fer­tilise it. She then laid out a vi­sion of a gar­den with flow­ing lawns, stone path­ways, and a stone gazebo with benches and a stream. Our fam­ily’s kids were al­lowed to play in this lit­tle par­adise, and I think that’s where my love of gar­den­ing was born.

Years later I mar­ried a farmer from Ade­laide. There were many farm gar­dens, and so the Bed­ford Ade­laide Gar­den Club was born. I re­mem­ber count­less weddings where the Women’s Agri­cul­tural As­so­ci­a­tion would cater for hun­dreds of guests. Ten­nis days on those farms with ten­nis courts. Drought and floods.

To­day, we still live on a farm, in a com­mu­nity that is al­most like a small plat­te­land, with a farm­stead nearby and our own farm­ers’ mar­ket ev­ery Satur­day. It’s the most won­der­ful life here in the mid­dle of the Gar­den Route.

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