Bedford then and now
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.