The good ol’ days, by Ruth Spencer

Weekend Herald - Canvas - - CONTENTS -

This 1964 pho­to­graph of La Gonda House at 154 Queen St is a fairly typ­i­cal street scene at first glance: that’s until you spot the win­dow washer on the 3rd floor. He’s pol­ish­ing the street-grime off the win­dows of Chic Fash­ions Whole­sale Millinery with the kind of ca­sual dis­dain for health and safety the 60s was famous for.

La Gonda House was some­thing of a one-stop shop for your glam­our needs, with clothes on the ground floor, hats on the third and jewellers G&G Hein­rich on the top. Once suit­ably at­tired you could pop to the Quintet Cof­fee Lounge for a restor­ing bev­er­age. Quintet did open sand­wiches and Cona cof­fee; Cona cof­feemak­ers used a vac­uum sys­tem con­tained within two fu­tur­is­tic glass globes. Auck­land Mu­seum owns a sou­venir 1959 tea towel printed with a Cof­fee Guide to Auck­land, which is how we know what Quintet of­fered. One of 33 cof­fee venues listed, Quintet was up against tough com­pe­ti­tion. The Bali Hai in Chancery St had smor­gas­bord lunches and danc­ing, and the Paris Boule­vard on Queen of­fered lunch mu­sic and cabaret.

The man in the cen­tre of the photo is at­tempt­ing to fold him­self into a Re­nault Dauphine, with an en­gine in the boot and a boot at the front for what­ever he bought at La Gonda. The Dauphine would have been as­sem­bled in Pe­tone, at the Todd Mo­tors plant; the year this photo was taken they made 199 of them. The car in front is a Ford Es­cort. It has gained a tow­bar and lost a rear bumper in pos­si­bly re­lated in­ci­dents.

The ground floor of this build­ing is oc­cu­pied these days by Photo Ware­house, and the top floor is cur­rently avail­able for sale. Win­dow wash­ing and Bali Hai smor­gas­bord lunches sadly not in­cluded.

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