Talk of the Town
When the Ravens rocked Langdon
In November 1964, Syd Alder, owner of Port Alfred’sLangdon Hotel on the west of the Kowie River, invited the Ravens rock band from Grahamstown (now Makhanda) to audition or do trial runs as the hotel resident band for the 1964/1965 Christmas holiday season.
The auditions were bop sessions and young peoples’ dances over weekends, and the Ravens’ five-man outfit was confident and ready to rock! The band’s manager was Dudley Raven (after whom the group was named), and the members were Piet Gerber (vocals), Doug Pashley (lead guitar), Gavin Reid (drums), Peter Muddle (bass guitar) and Sid Penney (rhythm guitar). Gerber and Penney were working at the time; the other three were Graeme College pupils.
The Ravens rocked the rafters of the outdoor dance floor, and the auditions went so well that they received news by phone the next week that they had been booked for three weeks over Christmas 1964. The contract entailed Friday and Saturday night dances, plus Wednesday evening ‘cocktail hour’ music of a more subdued nature.
Prior to the auditions, the Ravens had received encouraging compliments from the famed Staccatos band from Johannesburg, who had been on a nationwide tour of South Africa. The Ravens were a support act for the Staccatos at a packed Grahamstown City Hall, and the Staccatos were impressed with the local band.
Having previously provided the music for a myriad functions in Grahamstown, the Ravens were looking forward to ‘hitting the Kowie’ and rocking the Langdon. They had even played a few songs before the big screen at His Majesty’s Theatre (HM) during interval at a Saturday afternoon matinee.
The Ravens arrived at the lovely setting of the Langdon Hotel in Beach Road alongside the Kowie. Today it’s the Ferryman’s Hotel and not the ‘Grand Old Lady’ it was back in 1964. The three-storey hotel was within an easy walk of the hugely popular West Beach which attracted hordes of holidaymakers from up north and elsewhere over the holiday period.
Back then, bands across the country wore ‘uniforms’ and looked oh so smart on stage. The Ravens’ outfits comprised satin-type waistcoats (black for the vocalist, bright red for the others), black trousers, white shirts and black bow ties.
Those who knew the Langdon in the 1960s and 1970s, and those who pass the present-day Ferryman’s, know there’s a parking area between the hotel itself and Beach
Road. Below the parking area were the covered outdoor dance floor and lawns. The dance floor came with a roof and was surrounded by a low wall and fence – ideal for summer months!
There was a stage for performers and electric plugs galore for amplifiers and other equipment.
Band members had ample room to move about on stage, and dancers had room to gyrate and twist to the music of the Rolling Stones, Beatles, Cliff Richard and the Shadows, Buddy Holly and the Crickets, The Ventures and all the others of that era.
Tables and chairs were scattered about the ample lawn, with easy access to the bar area. The dance floor buzzed and the bar buzzed, the Ravens raved and rocked while the patrons danced — and the waiters waltzed and scurried back and forth, trays in hand, with refreshments of the brewed kind. Oh, Christmas time in the Kowie!
Occasionally, Langdon management made rooms available to the Ravens – just one of the perks for the stars, you know! The Langdon once arranged a ‘larney’ dance for older folk on its dance floor, so the Ravens moved across the river for a rock ‘n roll night at the Lagoon Café, where the Royal Alfred Marina is now. In this time Gerber and Muddle left the band, but Gavin Reid
and Doug Pashley took over the singing. Soon after, Gene Smith (vocals and guitar) and Errol Fellows (bass guitar) joined and proved a huge acquisition.
Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve were the best nights for the Ravens: the crowds numbered several hundred and boy, did they party! The streets and lanes near the Langdon were packed with cars night after night — so too the beachfront areas.
The Nash Rambler provided band transport, among Morris Minors and Minis, maybe also a Studebaker Lark and a Chrysler Valiant. There were Ford Anglias, Ford Cortinas, Vauxhalls, Triumphs, and Borgwards – maybe a ‘buzz-bike’ or two, perhaps a Santa Maria 50cc or a Puch. That was the era of jukeboxes, LP records, Coke floats, stovepipe jeans, ducktail haircuts, luminous socks and Chappies chewing gum!
Alder has since passed on, so too have Raven, Muddle, Pashley and Smith. Reid lives in Cape Town, Fellows in Durban; he still plays bass guitar, while I, Sid Penney, continue to live in Makhanda. Nothing was ever heard of original singer Piet Gerber once he left the band.
Every time I drive past the Langdon (oops, the Ferryman’s) I remember the happy, carefree days of young people bopping, rocking and twisting away. And now all that is just a memory, covered by a parking area.
FROM MAYOR TO MANAGER
Former Executive Mayor of Makana Municipality, Pumelelo Kate, has been appointed municipal manager, following the culmination of the contract of former municipal manager, Moppo Mene, at the end of October.
“The municipal manager arrives at a time when the municipality is faced with serious challenges,” said the municipal communications office in a statement. “We are confident that he will be able to address the issues we face and drive the municipality towards an upward trajectory. We understand that he will need our full support to deal with the challenges facing our municipality. “We are here to assist in any way we can because we all want to see Makana Municipality return to its former glory. We look forward to a new chapter for our municipality under the administrative leadership of our new municipal manager.”
A LONG TIME
Towards the end of October, Graeme College welcomed six former staff members to the school for the unveiling of a print that that has been mounted to a wall in the top corridor of the Junior School.
The print honours staff members who have given multiple years’ service of their working lives to Graeme.
They are Alwyn Riddin (40 years), Elmarie Riddin (27), Ian Suttie (39), Glynis Suttie (39), Sandy Hill (37) and Sheryl Luden (31). Also present at the unveiling was Nico van der Meulen (35 years), still teaching at Graeme.
GOOD MONTH FOR GIVING RED
October was a bleeding good month for the Gqeberha-based SA National Blood Service (SANBS) when its mobile unit collected all of 145 units of the life-saving fluid in Makhanda.
The four Tuesday visits to the NG Kerk hall in Hill Street yielded 90 units, Graeme College 29 units, Victoria Girls’ High School 24 and Eastcape Midlands College two.
The non-appearance of Grade 12 pupils during October had an effect on monthly figures as they were busy with matric exams.
Tando Maseti, donor relations practitioner of the SANBS, thanked the community of Makhanda for giving patients the gift of life. “It is because of donors that the SANBS is able to consistently deliver lifesaving, safe blood products to the nation,” she said.
“We applaud you for making the time to come and donate blood voluntarily, and to ensure that the (national) target of 3,500 units per day is maintained,” Maseti added.
The SANBS visits the NG Kerk hall at the intersection of Hill and Beaufort Streets between 12 noon and 6pm each Tuesday.
Jonty Fincham, who has been executive director and deputy managing director at
GBS Mutual Bank over the past seven years, will become the bank’s managing director as from December 1.
He takes over from Anton Vorster who has been managing director for the past 15 years.
Meanwhile, long-serving staff member Pat Hornby will proceed on retirement, while John Williams has been promoted to financial director.
GBS Mutual Bank has its head office in Makhanda, with branches in Port Alfred, Gqeberha and Cape Town.
Matriculation pupils – those at public schools and those at private schools – are presently engrossed in their respective end-of-year examinations.
Public school candidates started writing on October 31 and continue until December 9, while private school candidates write their Independent Examinations Board (IEB) exams until November 29.
IN THE SADDLE TO THE COAST
A total of 276 mountain bike riders, including many from Makhanda, completed the 58km and 75km G2C (Grahamstown to Sea) races from Makhanda to Port Alfred on Sunday. The event, sponsored by BUCO and organised by Makana Residents’ Association, was split into four classes –
75km, 58km, E-bikes and gravel bikes (road bikes with MTB-type tyres). Most riders opted for the 58km race (177 finishers) and 84 for the 75km.
The bulk of the field were from Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth), Kariega (Uitenhage) and East London.
COMFORTABLE AILSA WIN
Scoring 83 points, Scott Jackson and Sandra Knoesen won the Ailsa Trophy competition at Belmont Golf Club in Belmont Valley on Sunday. Runners-up on 77 points were Michelle and Roger Walsh, while Rob and Kirsten Wilmot were third with 74 points.
COOL IN THE BOTS
The weather may have been cool and ideal for running and walking last Saturday morning, but just 47 parkrunners took to Makana botanical gardens for their weekly jaunt along the paths and tracks.
Other local runners were up in the
mountains taking part in the various Oldenburgia trail runs.
Back in the bots, no less than eight personal bests (PBs) were recorded on the day by Keagan Ellenberger, Joe Orsmond, Craig Bailie, Francois Hendrikz, Peter Sulter, Terry Butterworth, Colleen Duffy and Peter Matanda. Participants not previously mentioned in this column over the years have been those who have completed between 51 and 100 parkruns.
Those who are on their way to the 100mark and took part on Saturday were Samuel Hockly 55, Terry Butterworth 58, Thobela Sambane 59, Joe Orsmond 60, Nkgodi Obed 66, Nombongo Mavikela 66 and Cindilee Bester 72.
LOCAL STREETS DETERIORATING
It is quite sad really how Makhanda’s streets are being allowed to deteriorate to such an extent that driving on these streets is posing a threat to vehicles and their occupants.
Potholes are increasing in numbers and size by the day, despite the valiant efforts of local businesses and individuals using their own resources to effect repairs. Not only are CBD streets in really bad shape with thousands of potholes, so too are suburban thoroughfares.
Take the roads that link Cradock Road and Prince Alfred Street – Graham Street and South Street. They are both in particularly bad shape and if not attended to shortly could soon resemble gravel roads.
In fact, there are scores of other streets in Makhanda that are headed the same way. Prompt action is needed!
Now Makhanda businessman Pieter Burger is “Going Yellow” at his We Wash It vehicle washing facility at 23 African Street.
On Saturday, December 10 he hosts the final charity wash day of the year when proceeds will head the way of the Home of Joy and Child Welfare.
GRAEME WINS THE BAILEY
Ten Graeme College tennis players have won the Bailey Cup for their school. This is the sixth time in a row, excluding the Covid years, that Graeme has won the trophy.
The age group competition was introduced in 1984 and caters for the top two players in each age group from Graeme, Kingswood College, Port Alfred High School and St Andrew ’ s College/Prep.
The 2022 results are: 1st Graeme – 161 points; 2nd St Andrew’s – 127; 3rd Kingswood – 82; and 4th Port Alfred – 80. Graeme won 13 of its 15 matches. The winning Graeme team comprised Julian Boy/Bukho Hoboshe (U10), Connor Holder/Tyler Bouwer (U12), Rhys Wiblin/Kits McConnachie (U14), Ryan
Stobbs/Jesse McConnachie (U16) and Murray Tyson/Ethan Beyleveld (U18).
RUBBER DUCKS TACKLE THE WAVES
Makhanda resident Elandre Human will be taking part as pilot along with his cousin and co-pilot Rikus Human of Gqeberha in the Amanzi Challenge rubber duck racing at Port Alfred on November 12 and 13.
They will be racing an Aquarius racing duck built by Rowan Hawkes of East London.
The rubber duck racing forms part of the Amanzi Challenge and takes place between 9am and 2.30pm off East Beach on the Saturday, and from 8am to 11.30am on the Kowie River and in the ocean on the Sunday.
The Amanzi Challenge weekend will comprise rubber duck racing, body boarding, surfing, tennis, croquet and bowls.
Grahamstown Hospice holds its annual general meeting at 15 Milner Street at 1pm on Thursday, November 24.
Three framed photographs that catch the eye upon entering the downstairs clubroom of the Neels Heunis Hall at PJ Olivier High School are those of three accomplished rifle shooters that the school produced.
The years 2006, 2007 and 2008 were splendid ones for the sport of shooting at PJ Olivier when Gerrit Vlok, now deceased, was shooting coach. Three pupils who achieved Junior Protea status for the sport were Christo Cronje (2006 and 2007), Elandre Human (2007 and 2008) and De Wet Cronje (2008). All three represented their country at competitions in Bisley, England. Gerrit Vlok’s daughter Marli, a pupil at PJ Olivier at the time, also achieved Protea Colours.
SHINING TENNIS STARS
Congratulations to the four U15 players who represented Kingswood College at a quadrangular tennis tournament in Gqeberha.
Madison Edwards, Chloe Erasmus, Theo Moshoke and Emily Poultney came up against players from Collegiate Girls’ High School, Pearson High School and Framesby High School.
In winning the tournament, Kingswood scored 30 points, with Pearson runners-up on 28, Collegiate third on 15 and Framesby fourth without scoring a point.
PJ Olivier High School’s Sportsman of the Year, Junaden Kadie, was also rugby
player of the year and played cricket as well. He represented’Albany Schools at rugby, was PJ Olivier s victor ludorum athletics, and went on to represent Sarah Baartman District at athletics.
Aphiwe Mnyanda has been awarded the Ian Lloyd Cup for the best all-rounder in the Graeme College 1st cricket team. The Charlton Richardson Cup for the best bowling average went to Viwe Gana, and the Charlton Richardson Cup for the best batting average to Murray Tyson.
STREETS AND NAMES
Not all Makhanda streets are included in the official listing of the then Grahamstown streets compiled by Mrs Beatrice Rennie in the 1960s. Several suburbs only made their appearance after the completion of the list.
North of the Graeme College campus is the Oatlands North suburb, and its street names include Spencer Chapman, Cotterill, McGowan Clarke and Espin Drive.
Any idea of who the thoroughfares were named after? E-mail email@example.com
The Graeme College senior athletics victor ludorum award has been made to Licebo Ngwentle.
TOPS AT HOCKEY
The Butterworth Trophy for the best senior hockey player at Graeme College has been awarded to Abongile Golela.
The seemingly abandoned Grahamstown Golf Club course that flanks the road leading to the military base is overgrown with grass and weeds, much to the delight of the cattle that roam the once meticulously manicured fairways and greens. Not only that, but it is clearly noticeable that lengthy stretches of fencing at the side of the R350 have been removed.
LOOKING A BIT TATTY
West Street, home of the erstwhile Cathcart Arms Hotel and Gluepot men’s bar, is overgrown with grass, weeds and succulent plants on its western pavement and looks rather unsightly.
To think that a double-storey dwelling in West Street, between Osbourne Lane and Market Street, featured in a television series shot in the then Grahamstown back in the mid-1980s.
Across West Street is the parking lot of the Market Square Mall which was looking very grubby on a visit there at the weekend. Surely the mall owner or its agent should ensure that the parking area is free of the litter scattered about.