Muizenberg, South Africa

 

Monica Harris

My Life in Muizenberg 

All changed when we arrived in Muizenberg in December 1933. We were now relocating from Kimberley.

We could not stay at Ormonde, for reasons unknown to me, but my Mom found a large stone house also down the Holland road called Barnbogle was vacant so we moved in, there was a vacant stand between the two houses. There was also with a maid called Mary who had been Amelia’s right hand, although she had a lame leg, possibly polio (she was called “lame Mary”) moved with us and helped until we were settled. We then became holiday makers boarding house keepers.

Lippy was to write his matric and Hilda JC (junior certificate, Standard 8) so they remained in Kimberley with our Grandparents, as well as Lily and Harold as Louis has married in June 1933 and it was now the year of 1934.

Some of Aunt Amalia’s regular guests could be accommodated at Barnbogle. With Mary’s experience and knowledge of the guests who arrived and were due to arrive for their annual holiday in Muizenberg.  The Duchen Family, Mrs Duchen and her daughter Ethel, and two sons Isaac and a very young son whose name escapes me. The Raphael sisters, Ray Fay and Marcia also stayed with us. I still have a picture of Marcia as we became friends. Ray married Joe Goldin were regular visitors even at Hillcote in later years. Joe’s father, Mr Goldin paid us his annual visit for many years he had the little Fry Pan shop in Johannesburg. The Friedberg Family were also some of the early holiday boarders. Mr Goldstone the Photographer stayed for quite a while. Fanny Janit (nee Susman, my cousin) came with two friends, one of whom shocked me by talking about my sister, but really meant Rose Kahn, my mother’s cousin who was staying with us for a few days, I misunderstood it for Sylvia.

Mrs Rosin lived in one of the semi-detached houses across the road. The Gelb Family were in one and I’m sure Mommy hired the house for rooms. The Gelbs had also come from Namaqualand, and what I remember was a young daughter who had six fingers on each hand and was having an operation.

Issy Cohen lived up the road and he must have been at least five years older than me, but quite often I would meet him at the back of the property which bordered on Albertyn Road, and we walked and talked, till he told me that his friends teased him that he was “cradle snatching”. There were boys I had a crush on, but certainly not Issy Cohen. Harold Levinsohn, my Mother’s brother studied pharmacy in Cape Town and he stayed at Ormonde with Amalia, and was friendly with Ocky Navias (Schneider) at the time I was friends with Bobby Krikler and Alex Navias (cousins), ducky Kaplan, Mervyn Kurland, Robby Slome came later.

Enid Ettman and I were bosom pals at the time and we spent a lot of time together, - we fanaticised quite a bit, particularly about boys. In standard 5 James Barnard sat next to me, also in standard 6, we were the “clever okes” but very vividly I remember he was colour blind, and his seas were coloured purple, he could not distinguish between red and green, so you can imagine his drawings. Some of the teachers were memorable, but others have drifted in the seas of forgetfulness.

Mr  Grove in standard 6 sent Enid and I to the office for playing imaginary pianos on the desk  during his class resulting in us being sent home. I sat watching the sea on the bathing boxes until it was time to go home, and don’t think my Mother ever knew about it.

We had several concerts that took place at the pavilion hall, also sports days where we had races, the prizes were slabs of chocolate donated by the shop keepers. I remember getting a slip of paper with I think 6d written on it and I retrieved a slab of chocolate I had won in a race of sorts.

This was 1934. We did not stay longer than 2 years in Barnbogle, then moving to bigger premises called Hillcote Hotel, Main Road Muizenberg opposite the Muizenberg Station. It had originally been JB Robinson’s private home with enormous rooms with high ceilings and with the most wonderful view of the sea, the whole False Bay coast could be seen from the second and third floor windows.  This was the beginning of many friendships and leaving my childhood behind, I had to mature rapidly.

At the time there were many hotels and boarding houses run by local Jewish families. I can name the big hotels first, The Balmoral run by the Phillips family, Marine, Atlantic by the Lieb family, Grand, Bay View, Muizenberg, Alexandra, Rio Grande by the Sackes, Sydney, Mossie, Issy and Gerty, Kriklers by the Navias family, Alec, Ockie and Lilian; Mountain View by the Seftel family; Mrs Navias and Mrs Seftel were Krikler sisters and Dr Barney Krikler was their brother. I was at school with Sydney Seftel, then there was also Benny, Hillly, Pauline and Gugu, I can’t remember his real name, he became a land surveyor. Muizenberg Hotel on the station was run by the Hart family. In Atlantic Road the Levinson family, Bob and his brother Max ran a little boarding house St Elmo with their mother. Max later settled in Israel after the war. The Esplanade; Embassy; Queens were another group of hotels that come to mind.

The first pavilion I remember was a wooden construction, with the new pavilion being built somewhere  between 1928 – 1933, because when we came to settle it was there in all its glory with many memories of concerts, dances as well as school concerts. Holiday fetes held in the pavilion even into the 1960s by the Jewish societies of Muizenberg, WIZO, and Women’s Zionist society. The Cape Town Orchestra would come and play for the school children once a year, Peter and the Wolf was a popular story demonstrating the various instruments.

Can you remember the Indian snake charmer who sat in front of the pavilion hypnotising his cobras, with the children standing around open mouthed, then a brave boy would guess where he had hidden the little coloured ball under the cups, never being successful but the snake charmer would successfully press the little boy’s nose and out would fall the ball. “Too much butter” he would chant and everyone would laugh. The nightly walks along the Promenade with the up country lady visitors who would air their fur jackets were a common sight. After the walk the tearoom in the pavilion was a most popular place to meet the visitors and listen to the band. Banana splits were the flavour of the day with two dollops of ice cream, walnuts and strawberry jam on a split banana, or of course milk shakes were popular. Youngsters could afford to treat their current girlfriends to a milkshake. The more adventurous youngsters would spend time under the pavilion, I have yet to find out what they did there?

The Empire cinema was popular in the thirties and forties. The local youngsters often spent Saturday afternoons at the “bioscope” sitting at the back if possible, holding hands. I can remember coming out of the cinema one Saturday afternoon to the smell of fire and a red sky. The whole face of the mountain was alight. Luckily there were few houses on Boyes Drive, but the school which was on the side of the mountain was in danger but luckily no buildings were damaged, but the mountain looked a sad black mess, till all the trees and fynbos grew back.

The Luna Parks that were brought to Muizenberg for the season was always a very exciting time for us locals. I have not mentioned the soft white sand beach and the wonderful swimming we enjoyed. Rev Frank used to swim everyday, who could forget him in his blue striped gown running down Alexander Road. When Sir Earnest Oppenheimer was in residence at Blue Mountains he too would be seen swimming in the sea. We watched him walk across Atlantic Road and across the lawns, through the opening under the promenade through to the sands of the snake park. He would then take off his gown and place it over the railings of one of the brightly coloured beach boxes and into the waters of the most wonderful beach in the world. Enid Ettman and I would witness this memorable sight of him coming out of the sea in his full black woollen bathing costume. We would get a pleasant greeting from him while we watched his return to the Blue Mountains.

1934 Colin and I attended Muizenberg School; I entered Standard 5, Colin entering Standard 3. I was a new environment, a co-ed school after being at a girl’s school, so it was new to me, not exactly as boys had attended the grades in Kimberley at the girl’s school. As I had done Grades 1 and 2 in one year, skipping Std 1, I was only at the next phase which was a little school comprising of Std 1 and std 2, the next year we moved to new premises called Belgravia Junior School which went up to Standard 5 then on to High school, but by this time I was in Muizenberg.

Enid Zabow (nee Ettman) told me years later that when she saw me she said, “I’m going to be friends with that girl” We were bosom friends for four years, then friends for life. She now lives in Sydney with her husband Bob. We still speak regularly. I also became friends with Nina Apter from Muizenberg who had been primed by Nina Apter from Kimberley, the fact that I did not have a father, which became an issue. I also became friends with Charlene Tucker and Mavis Michelowsky, but they were at Wynberg Girls. Bubbles Faiman (neeShapera) had come from Kamieskroon in Namaqualand and still had a strong accent. We went to learn dancing with Judith Katzen, some relative of Enid, not particularly good but even took an exam and passed. I envied Nina Apters calves and thought she could dance well. Charlene was short and rotund but could she tap dance, we all gave up when Judith left Muizenberg, she was the wife of Cantor Katzen, but not before we had taken part in the “Muizenberg Frolics” which was a concert during the holiday season and took place at the Talmud Torah Hall, with adults taking part as well as children at all ages and stages doing an act or two. I can remember. I can remember the costume we wore for the dance, a maroon satin circular skirt with a bib attached and buttoned round our necks. You can imagine how slippery satin was and our tiny tits were continually exposed. One of the tricks we had to perform was to go back to back with a partner and be swung over our partners back and head. It was a fun time, we had several performances. I took part in several holiday concerts.


I thoroughly enjoyed school in a happy go lucky way of life, living at the seaside on the warm water side of the peninsula.

While in Kimberley I was a good Hebrew scholar and won prizes each year, so when I came to Muizenberg, I fitted in quite well. I was put in the class with the Bar mitzvah Boys, Bobby Krikler, Alez Navias, Ducky (Norman) Kaplan, Mervyn Kurland, Sydney Rifkin were some of the boys in the class. Rev Frank was one of the teachers for the Bar mitzvah class and Mr Natas, as he was then, came to be the Principal. He was a fantastic teacher and gave us a little more than just learning Chumash; he decided to have a play in Hebrew. I can remember that I was the mother in the play and it was the first time we had to talk Hebrew, not just read and translate into English.

Mr Natas as we all know did not stay very long, but continues to study and became Dr Natas and a well known scholar and lecturer at The University of the Witwatersrand.

The Talmud Torah Hall in Wherry Road, became a popular venue for concerts and dances, I have mentioned the Muizenberg Frolics where I participated as part of a dance troupe of young Muizenberg girls in 1934 and 1935.

We must have been in year 7 or 8 when we had a big school concert which was held at the Pavilion Hall. Many years ago there was a picture of us in our costumes, we did Hungarian Folk Dancers, it was hanging in the passage of the old school on the mountain in the forties and fifties, which later became the Police station when the High School moved across the vlei.

While a pupil at the Muizenberg School we played netball on the tennis courts in the municipal park next door, which sported bowling greens and tennis courts. We were able to hire tennis courts especially during the school holidays when we often played tennis with friends who were visiting from mainly Johannesburg.

When the Duke of Kent who was Prince George, visited South Africa in 1934, we all lined up on the pavements in front of the gardens opposite the Post office, while he walked from the traffic lights on Atlantic Road till the station. We all had South African flags which we waved excitedly while seeing the member of the Royal Family so close to us. A school holiday was proclaimed and we all then went home.

I can remember Juhudi Menuin coming to South Africa at about that time and he stayed with the Oblowitz Family in Wherry Road, Rosa and Ivor’s family.

Enid and I were lucky enough to come face to face with him and got very excited about the meeting.

The 2nd Muizenberg Scout Troop were very active group who were all Jewish. I then remember Netta Haft and Helen Ginsberg who were Rangers were involved in forming a Girl Guide Troop in 1935. I was most enthusiastic and quickly joined as did Enid Ettman, Charlene Tucker, Mavis Michelowsky, Bella Shear, Maureen Kramer. Pat Hart, Raie Michelowsky  and Hilda my sister were there for a while.

Miss Chandler a school teacher took over from Netta and Helen, but it was Mrs de Gruchy who played a more important part while I belonged to the Girl Guides. She took over the group from Miss Chandler.

Mrs de Gruchy was the wife of the Post Master, they had two sons and a daughter who was also a guide, but unfortunately she was mentally disadvantaged. We were certainly taught compassion by example. Mrs de Gruchy who was an interesting person and of Afrikaner decent and was held in a concentration camp by the British during the Boer War. She told us about the atrocities which took place in the camp of women and children.  In time I became one of the patrol leaders. Guiding played quite a big part in my life, I was chosen as a leader early on, my patrol was the Disa Patrol named after the beautiful wild flower found on the mountains. We held our meetings in the same hall as the scouts which was the boat house just over the bridge at the vlei and Axminister Road, where the stream comes from the lake and enters the sea at the end of the promenade. We had many meetings with the scouts who were led by Bertie Stern, mostly around the camp fires. One which stands out, was held at Scout Rock on the Mountain side at Lakeside just off Boyes Drive entrance. We guides found it most exciting to be sitting at a camp fire with the scouts entertaining us with songs and plays. I remember a concert at the Talmud Torah Hall where Wally Woolfson sang and acted Walzing Matilda (the famous Australian song.)Issy Sacks also comes to mind as he could sing and act. Henry Shagam, Max Levinson, Gugu Seftel were some of the scouts, Joe Hurwitz too was one of the senior leaders, he too belonged to the Rovers.

I was one of the guides who were chosen to meet Lady Baden-Powell on one of her visits to South Africa. We met at Tokai Forest and had to demonstrate our various camping abilities. Incidentally we were never able to go to camp and envied the scouts who bragged about their annual camps.

Mr de Gruchy was eventually transferred to Touws River and in 1942 they were living in Worcester. I took my Mom for a June holiday to Goudini hot springs near Worcester. We went to visit Mrs de Gruchy  and as she was the District Guide Commissioner for the area she was hosting Lady Baden-Powell for some rally and we were introduced to her, it had been the second time I had met her. The first time I was still a Guide, the leaders formed a row at some Rally when Lady Baden-Powell came to South Africa, perhaps when Lord Baden-Powell had a Scout Jamboree. We were each introduced to her, shook with the left hand and saluted with the right hand. Unfortunately we were never able to go to camp and envied the scouts who were taken regularly by Bertie Stern the scout master to many camps but we did take part at Camp Fires with them at the scout hall which was on the Axminister side of the vlei, it no longer exists.

I can also recollect a camp fire with the scouts on Muizenberg Mountain near the entrance of Boyes Drive, it started in daylight and must have been till 9 – 9.30pm with songs and entertainment by the Scouts who were very enterprising, fun was had by all.

The  2nd Muizenberg Scout Troop were very talented. A concert that comes to mind is one where Issy Sacks and Myra Kaye were the leading male and female in the operetta which was staged at the Pavilion Hall. The group of Hungarian dancers including Enid and myself were included as gypsies. It was such fun practicing and being part of the group of other children, which at that time we all seemed part of the whole community.

The same group belonged to the Young Israel Society which was led by Sammy Levin who later emigrated to Israel. For a while I was involved with the society when Saul Levinson from Hillel College encouraged me to go along to meetings even in Cape Town. Captain and Mrs Levinson from Johannesburg, they had a small Jewish Boarding School, came to stay in a big stone building between Muizenberg and St James. It was mainly for girls but a few boys including their sons were pupils, definitely during 1935 and 1938. Saul was a great Zionist and also emigrated to Israel. Julia his eldest sister married a Judge in Israel.

Socially we were quite active and had a group of boys and girls, a party I was unable to attend made a splash on the teenage scene. Charlene Tucker had a party, and at the time Mervyn Kurland and Robbie Slome were the flavour at the time. Mavis Michaelowsky and Charlene were close friends and vied for their favours.

At this stage I was more friendly with Enid and Bubbles Schapera (Faiman) but when I was in Standard 8 I went with Aunty Dorie, Chasman, ( the nanny Hester), Beryl , Sheila and the driver to Kimberley by car to visit the Grandparents.

That trip cost me ultimately the close friendship of Enid and Bubbles. During that holiday they became friendly with Ralph Ger, Bobby Zabow, Hymie Tocker, and another couple of lads from up the line and on my return to Muizenberg I was then left out of their activities. I then became closer to Marguerite Jacobs , Etta Movsovic and Leila Arens. If there are any anecdotes of interest that I remember at a later stage I’ll recap, but for now will jump to the last two years of school.

Hilda had gone to Wynberg Girls as previously related, and I was now at Wynberg Girls High. Except for the fact that I enjoyed formal gym and games, school was pretty bland, very few teachers left indelible impressions. We were the matrics who were due to do a Shakespeare play, we didn’t because Miss Lazarus, who was the speech and drama teacher, was ill and had various replacements including Bibi Hadley, who came dressed in suits, jackets and skirts, with a fox fur stole round her neck, with the fluffy tail and beady eyes. We missed the building of the new hall and gym, also a swimming pool, we did change uniforms, we had had a navy gym, white shirt and tie and blazer with the badge, black stockings, they changed to chocolate brown blazer and gym, cream blouse and beige stockings, as matrics we only had to have one uniform instead of a summer and winter uniform. I enjoyed gym with Miss Moir, a teacher trained in England, she had a long plait which she scrolled round the top of her head, almost like a halo.

Came to the matric dance, Miss Hawkins gave us permission for a school matric dance with the provisos, white long sleeved dresses, black stockings and no boys. We happily agreed and the dance took place at an outside venue, I had a partner and all, Charlene Tuckers cousin,------ but they decided to have the dance on Rosh Hashanah and Mom refused to allow me to go, but I did attend the Wynberg Boys Matric Dance with Basil Trackman, Big eyes ( when Miss Hawkins who was there as the Girl’s Principal) caught sight of me.

Not many memorable happenings at school. Came the end of the matric year, lo and behold the inspectors came and I was one of the unlucky ones to be chosen to recite and make a speech.

When it was time to choose a career, I must have been influenced by the enjoyment I reaped from the gym and games. I had to have an interview at Training College as I had decided to do Physical Education diploma to teach.

Biby Hadley Mommy’s cousin took me for the interview. Dr Pienaar was the Principal. He was a tall thin man wearing glasses and sported a thin moustache; he took the second year students for psychology. I did not learn very much from him, only one bit of advice, if you can face the worst that can happen to you will never have a nervous breakdown. Training College, for the first two years we were only two Jewish girls, Ilsa Barron who came from Oudtshoorn and was a boarder, and myself. Ilsa often complained about anti-Semitic incidents with the students, but I never had any references to my being Jewish. At this stage of writing there wasn’t anything of particular to write about the course, we went to different schools for teaching practice, sometimes enjoyable and instructive, but others were not terribly interesting. Some teachers welcomed pupil – teachers, others found it a nuisance. Miss Blumenfeld the maths mistress at school, called me after class when she heard I was going to training college, and the advice she gave me was, as I was Jewish to have a low profile ( what sort of encouragement for a young girl entering a career.)

One teaching practice which necessitated catching two trains, had to be cancelled for me, as the young Werbelof girl had contracted scarlet fever, she was staying at Hillcote at the time. It was a notifiable disease, and had to be away for ten days, so had a holiday while the others were on teaching practice. Certain aspects of the course I enjoyed, some of the lecturers were dull others a bit better, but not one could I truthfully say were role models, some even a bit off beat, one drank like a fish and was often under the weather. I think Miss Kittley who came from the UK was probably the one lecturer who gave me the most skills for teaching. She took us for methodology and was a keen “activity method” teacher, way before her time. I believed strongly in her ideas, and made sue of them when I started teaching.

I was keen on sports and there was little offered at Muizenberg School, especially for girls, so chose to go to Wynberg Girls High School for Std 9 and 10. Girls only, Spinsters as teachers, ugh. I enjoyed formal gym and the sports offered, no sports were compulsory. It did matter how good you were, if you weren’t a boarder, you took second place, I played mainly hockey and tennis, a bit of netball. For fun I did a bit of cricket, where the boarders as soon as Miss Moir the gym mistress was having tea would hit the ball over the fence into the Wynberg Boys playing fields in order to ”catch sight of a boy.” We were forbidden to talk to boys if we were in school uniform. Living in Muizenberg I had to catch a train and had to walk about a mile from the station to school. Unless a prefect reported you, how would they be aware if you spoke to a boy? Having mixed freely with boys for four years at Muizenberg it was nothing special for me to talk to boys.

Strangely enough, Miss Moir got a couple of the Wynberg boys to come and help with the cricket. Jimmy Matthews was one of the boys and lo and behold when I started training at the Teacher’s Training College, Jimmy too was a student. There were only 3 boys in our year, Jimmy Matthews, Dixie le Roux (more about him later) and John Thomas. At college my very special friend was Joan Zeeman, and we were chosen by the boys as partners to work on various projects we needed to work on.

Both Jimmy and Dixie joined the army, unfortunately Dixie was a casualty and the principal Dr Pienaar had an assembly and called Dixie’s sister who was at college, onto the stage and gave her a rousting for her brother joining the army. (Dr Pienaar was a Nazi I heard from my gym teacher about it. He was a Nazi- Nat and didn’t believe in the war against Germany)

Jimmy came back and improved his diploma by doing a degree and then became a teacher at his old school Wynberg. I think he became head of one of the school, either Junior or High school. He died some time ago.

In 1942 I was able to meet Lady Baden-Powell who was visiting Worcester in the Cape, hosted for a rally by my Guide Leader Mrs de Gruchy was then living in Worcester and was the District Guide Commissioner for the area. My Mom and I were visiting Goudini, the hot water springs during the training college June holidays. We had Lippy’s green Chev, a business man’s Coupe car. I had made contact with my former Guider and she invited us to meet once again with Lady Baden –Powell, a memorable event, she was a most gracious lady.

Talking about camping, in November of each year, there was a sudden excitement in the air, Muizenberg Hotel and Boarding House keepers were getting ready for the season. A spot of paint here and there was necessary as the salty sea air played havoc with buildings. Rooms had to be opened and aired having been closed for the winter months. But the excitement for the young people in Muizenberg was the thought of the campers descending into Muizenberg for the season. The Rosenberg Camp, the Young Israel Society and the Betar Camp in Lakeside. The Rosenberg Campers were housed in houses (not tents) in the semi-detached houses across the vlei facing the sea.

The Campers were mainly from the Transvaal and some from Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) as it was then called. Many friendships were made with the yokels, and renewed each year, some even resulting in marriage.

The Snake Park was full of happy-go-lucky youngsters enjoying   the surf or lolling in the sun with arms across each other’s backs.

Speedy Bental was a name everybody knew. He was charismatic in looks, in manner and could he play the guitar? Music and singing on the beach was the name of the day. Speedy qualifies as a doctor as did so many of the Muizenberg visitors who came to the coast for their regular “Yam luft” the tonic for the year, so they could go back to the Highveld for the rest of the year with such wonderful memories of picnics at Boulders and Sea Forth, trips up the cable way on Table Mountain, fishing on boats from Kalk Bay on the False Bay waters.

Yom Kippur dances took place in the hall, nobody went with a partner, we just turned up in droves. There were always the wall flowers, the girls who were unlucky enough not to have the “gutspa” to talk to the boys. Enid and I had no problem, even if at that stage we couldn’t really dance properly.

In later years when I was teaching at the Muizenberg Primary school, the school celebrated the Matric dance at the Talmud Torah Hall. I remember having different partners at several of the dances and dancing with some of the matric boys, who thought it was a “gas” to dance with a teacher.


Dances at the Blue Moon on Main Road Lakeside, dances at the Grand Hotel, Bay View hotel and sometimes at the Marine Hotel.

In the evenings the hotels had card games for middle aged and elderly visitors after they had their evening stroll in front of the pavilion and along the esplanade meeting old friends and making new ones.

On the balmy evenings the Capetonians flooded Muizenberg to enjoy the electric air after a sweltering day in Cape Town and Sea Point.

During the season, which extended from November to the end of February, Muizenberg was alive with people, many Capetonians and people from Paarl, Wellington and Worcester who had holiday homes would descend on the village which once more would come alive after hibernating during the winter.

Many Capetonians would come for as long as three months and their children would catch the train to schools in town such as Sachs, Wynberg and Rondebosch schools.

Then there were the families who regularly spent Pesach at the hotels in Muizenberg. My Mother too had her regular local visitors for Pesach.

We would seat as many as fifty people for the seders and a number of years it was my duty to read the “Manish tan a” the four questions.

It was many years before we had our Hamilton Beach electric beater, so I became quite an expert at beating eggs and sugar for the wonderful sponge cakes my Mom baked for her guests during Pesach week. Almond biscuits and of course “gesmeerte matzah”. While my Grandparents stayed I helped him make Pesach wine from the wonderful muscatel grapes. We had our own barrel and the wine was the best ever. I can still see my Grandfather testing the wine and checking the marvellous deep red colour while he held the glass to the light.

At Hillcote we had a big pantry off the kitchen where we kept the refrigerator and of course all the crockery, cutlery, bowls etc for the dining room, but we also had a cellar which we reached down a staircase from the kitchen, where we kept our Pesach utensils. The Robinson Family no doubt had it to keep their wines cool.

The linen was kept in a linen cupboard on the first floor and the grocery pantry was an entirely separate walk in pantry with shelves on each wall, it was big enough to be used as Mom’s office where she did her accounts and bookings for her guests.

Although it was in the thirties and forties  we were able to get imported John West Salmon, Crossed Fish sardines, Amour asparagus, Scotch salt herrings in barrels, kippers from Scotland and all our Pesach matzos etc from America. We got groceries from Figg Bros, Walt and also Yudelmann , eggs and chickens from Lurie Bros. The Royal Dairies and Millers Dairy were milk suppliers. Mrs Schneider had the fish shop in Palmer Road and the Trapplers, the grocery shop. We supported Sachs butchery  and also Mr Scneider the butcher in Palmer Road.

Palmer Road was the hub of the life of the village. Mrs Hurwitz had her shoe maker shop at her home, she had a coloured cobbler who mended the shoes. There was also an Indian shoemaker in the street and a tailor. Mr Segal had a fish shop and there was a small haberdashery shop. Next to Trapplers was a wool shop where the ladies knitted garments for sale.

People of Muizenberg have forgotten that Mr Wortreich was the chemist before Mr Reichlen, and Mr Shagam was also one of the early chemists of Muizenberg. His chemist was at the corner of Main and York Roads. Mrs Shagam assisted him in his pharmacy and then Henry their eldest son took over the pharmacy.

Max Rosenberg was also a pharmacist while I was growing up; in fact one of his daughters, Pamela was in one of the classes.

Mr Tockar only came later and of course Mr Musikanth very much later.

Shops in York Road, I have mentioned, Mr Shagam, then Mr Sakinofsky had the drapery shop opposite, and Mr Gallias was the fruit and sweet shop owner. Youngsters often took the opportunity to pinch sour figs or such from his display on the pavement. The CNA Book Shop was always busy, selling newspapers, magazines and of course school books. The Barber’s shop was next to the office where we were able to order coal and wood as we used coal stoves in the hotel and of course  the combustion stove to heat the hot water for the bathrooms and the kitchen. We also had an electric stove, which we used mainly for baking cakes and various deserts as crème caramel. One season we had two men from Tanganyika (as Tanzania was then called), one was a cook and the other a waiter and cleaner. The crème caramel that he prepared was fantastic. Sometimes he sprinkled coconut which toasted and added an exotic flavour to the desert.

We baked cream puffs, which we filled with cooked pineapple and custard with a dash of cream on top.

Our usual staff consisted of a dear little Malay woman who we called “Cookie”. She was a “fundi “at preparing Jewish cuisine under my Mother’s guidance. The food in the hotel was “par excellance”. Four different meat dishes for every lunch with an assortment of vegetables and salads. Soup was the usual starter, each day was a different flavour. There were also perogen, blinzers, kreplach, lochen, chicken soup to give you some Idea of the delicious food on offer.

Breakfast too was a good meal, paw paw or watermelon or fruit compote, cereals of all sorts and at least two kinds of porridge, (oats, maltabella or mielie meal) as well as eggs to order, Scotch kipper or haddock, toast and jams or cheese, tea and coffee. Some of the elderly guests drank Posstum which was also offered.

Suppers were essentially fish prepared in many tasty dishes. Fried Cape fish and gefilte fish you couldn’t beat were made at Hillcote. Salmon frikkadels, baked fish with various sauces, asparagus, mushroom, cheese, lemon and egg as well as baked minced fish with cream.

There was always a starter of a selection of herrings, sprats, smoked salmon asparagus, pickled cucumbers and olives, stuffed eggs which was also a favourite. Cream and cheese, which we obtained from Millers dairy in Palmer Road, or there was a German Jewish immigrant and her husband, who ran a small herd of cows, supplied us with fresh produce. They came around on a horse and cart. When I married, the lady (I don’t remember her name) gave me a finely crocheted milk ring, which she had made herself. I kept and used it for many years.

Deserts, most people had a sweet tooth, the puddings were many and varied. Ice cream, fruit salad, baked apples, xmas pudding, jelly and puddings of all sorts.

Hillcote was known for its afternoon teas. The elderly guests had a sleep after lunch and got up for four-o’clock tea. The young people came back from the beach and invariably had one or two “nog schleppers” to come and enjoy a free cup of tea and freshly baked cake, biscuits, tarts, scones, you name it we baked it.

During the war years we couldn’t buy white flour, but an innovative company manufactured and sold a flour sifter made with a muslin strainer, so we could sift our own flour, and bake with white flour. Somehow, we managed to buy enough butter although there was rationing up to a point.

I personally never really felt that commodities were rationed except for petrol. My mother as a hotel keeper was allocated sufficient coupons to enable us to go to market in town, as well as to buy any other necessities such as fetching extra furniture we hired over the season as my Mom always took an extra house or two on the vicinity to accommodate extra people.


School in Muizenberg

January 1934 my mother took me to the Muizenberg school where I was admitted by Mr Andrews the principal. Miss Rivitt was my class teacher, she had taught for many years. Miss Kenmuir and Miss Satchel were also teachers who taught Std 5, Miss Satchel took the girls for sewing and Miss Kenmuir for History and Geography and singing. There were two Standard 5s that year.

In Kimberley we were only going to be taught cursive writing in Standard 6, so when I arrived in Muizenberg the children had been taught cursive since Standard 1. Miss Rivitt didn’t give me any special time so I just had to learn to join my printed letters. But this didn’t deter me as I was and ad been an apt pupil., I was eleven years old at that time. We had twin desks and I to sit next to James Bernard, he and I vied for top place. Although Mr Andrews did not allow places in his school, the reports were essentially on individual’s progress.

Mr Matz was the Maths teacher, Mr Hillhouse, Latin, Mr Dorer Science, Mr Barrows English and Miss Rivitt were all on the teaching staff when I became the first pupil to become a teacher at the Muizenberg School, later Devorah Braude took my place when I got married. There were other teachers such as Phyllis Hart, Eunice Barry, Magda van Deventer, Miss Hoets, Mrs Griffiths, Alice Nussbaum, Esme Clark; the names of the others escape me at the moment.

My first class consisted of Std 2’s and 3’s. I had taught at Good Hope for the second term, so this was the third term of 1943. There were some very bright youngsters in the Standard 2 class and I was able to allow them to join the Standard 3 group. Ryno Greenwall stands out in my memory; he later took all the top prizes at Wits Dental School. I remember Bender Davis, Ronald Cohen, Sydney Edelstein, and Rubin Kastan. We had some balmy days and Mr Andrews allowed me to take the class down to the rocky beach just the other side of the railway station. We were able to go down the steps just in front of John Brown’s shop, crossing the Main Road and walking through the subway under the railway line to the other side where we met the Rocky Beach as it is called.

Here there were days when only I took my class, or sometimes Magda van Deventer also took a class. It was not a time for play but learning. The rock pools gave a many a nature study lesson, the wet sand taught the children how to sculpt sand castle dogs, aeroplanes, boats or people, it was amazing to see how young children could use their imagination. A gym class was taken with races being run. While the children were busy I was able to hear individual children read while we sat on the rocks. To me those were very happy days.

Being very high up on the side of the mountain we were able to look out of the window and see warships entering the harbour at Simonstown. The Whales which came into False Bay to give birth to their young was also a lasting memory I have while being at school and then teaching at the school on the mountain.

For the next two –and-a-quarter years of my teaching career at the Cape took place in the newly built Junior School on the Main Road opposite Robb’s Garage. The Grades and the Standards one and two were transferred at the beginning of 1944.

If my memory stands me in good stead Phyllis Hart took the Grade ones, Eunice Barry took Grade two, Miss Griffiths and Miss Hoets took Standard ones and Magda van Deventer and I took the Standard twos. We still managed to go to the beach on those wonderful summer days, but now we walked straight down Albertyn Road to the bottom of the promenade and onto the beach, where we still had out gym lessons, art lessons and collected sea shells for our art lessons at school.

It was war time so many commodities were in short supply, so we teachers had to improvise. We collected the large mussel shells found on Muizenberg beach. With these shells we decorated bottles and large shell using plaster of Paris to make vases and ash trays for their mothers.

I took the boys for arts and crafts, and taught them to knit with two needles and we knitted little teddy bears and squares which were sewn into a blanket. We also collected cotton reels and with small nails constructed equipment for French knitting. Both the boys and girls learnt how to knit woollen tubes which were turned into mats or little bags. The concentration on the boys faces were a sight to behold, many had their tongues sticking out as they would put one needle into a stitch and widely swing the thread around and be delighted when a stitch was knitted. Strangely enough nobody made a fuss about the boys knitting so all went well in the arts and crafts lesson.

Minister Hofmeyer had insisted on a school feeding scheme, which was enforced not only in the poorer schools but in all schools. Parents at the school formed a committee and mothers came to prepare sandwiches, a fruit, a small bottle of milk and often a little packet of nuts and raisins. It enabled all children to have some food during the school day.


The War Years

It was the war time and Cape Town was a port of call for all the allied ships going to the Middle East and also to Asia at a late stage.

British, Free French, Australian, New Zealanders and Canadians were frequent visitors to Cape Town. There were times when the soldiers, sailors and airmen spent several weeks in town.

My mother offered hospitality to these fighting men and would have a dozen at a time spending a week or two at the hotel. There were some who were very friendly and I remained friends with several. A  British Airman Bill Stokes who sent me a psychology book which I still have, a Scot called Abercrombie who sent me crocheted doyleys from India where he was stationed.

Then there was Bill Sykes from Australia, who took me horse riding on the Muizenberg beach. He was an expert horseman and I was an inexperienced teenager. Being a considerate person that I am I told Bill that he should have a swift ride and I would amble along. Well hell broke loose when he came galloping behind me, my horse took off and veered towards the open sea, I held on for dear life and was eventually saved by Bill who was hysterically laughing at my mishap. The next day when I had to go to training college I could barely walk, and my thighs and calves were multicoloured from the bruising I had sustained.

Bill had continued writing from the Middle East and UK, there was then a lull. Some years later I received a letter from New York where he had been sent after being badly injured. Many injured were sent to America for treatment. He had decided to remain in America and had found a girl to marry, end of that story. I was married by this time and living in Johannesburg. My Mom had given up the boarding house by this time and was living in a flat in Alexander Road, how did I receive that letter?  Muizenberg had the most wonderful “posties”, coloured men, who remained at their post and knew everyone by name.

I had received many letters from Ken my husband to be who was in the air force and stationed in Kimberley. I was teaching, and many times while walking to or from school I was met by the postie on his rounds and he would get off his bicycle and sort through his pile of letters and hand me my letter, so I would get my post ahead of time. By this time Mr de Gruchy had moved to Worcester, but the “posties” were still the same friendly postmen.

Pollsmoor was a Military Camp between Lakeside and Retreat, where many overseas “fighting man” were stationed, either to be rested or deployed elsewhere in the battle zones.

The young people of Muizenberg, me included, were asked to help either in the canteen or on the dance floor. Several hasty marriages took place and women were left either widows with children or forgotten at the next port of call. It was not uncommon to see many blonde coloured children in the Cape, the result of visiting ships. There were many beautiful coloured women who were very popular with the visiting British officers. It was common knowledge that they frequented the exclusive clubs such as Kelvin Grove in Newlands.

When the Australian ships arrived in Cape Town the town was painted red. The men went wild, taking over the rubbish bins from the cleaners and dashing down Adderley Street disrupting the traffic for hours on end. The New Zealanders were very well behaved.

The British sailors who were stationed at Simon’s town were often helped by the famous Great Dane, Just Nuisance and taken by train back to Simon’s town after a night out on the town.

Dr Lennie Joelson instructed classes in First Aid and Home Nursing, these classes I attended and duly received my certificates.

I was then invited to join the group who were being trained as First Aiders should there be an attack by the enemy. I became an Ambulance Driver as I had my driver’s licence and had been in the group who were trained first aiders

Luckily we were never attacked so my duties were driving the ambulance with nurses and first aiders to rallies in the city. We would assemble on the grounds in front of the market in Cape Town and be inspected by military officers who were stationed at the Castle.

The voluntary “Medical contingent” from all over the Peninsula was at the rally. After being dismissed we were served tea and cake by the voluntary women’s auxiliary force, who wore brown overalls and brown hats as a uniform. These women assisted at the camps such as Pollsmoor where there were facilities for soldiers, sailors or airmen from the Allied Troops could recuperate after being injured and various battles.

Entertainment was arranged at Pollsmoor, including dances and shows.

Mrs Hettie Lipshitz who happened to be staying at Hillcote, would often rope me in to help at the camp, I was often at the drinks and tea counter and danced with the men.

The soldiers, sailors and airmen who came for a “holiday” break to Hillcote were sent by the band of women who did a sterling job by caring for all the fighting men. Mrs Sonnenberg I remember was also involved in attending to their needs, while waiting in Cape Town to be deployed to any of the battle areas. The campaign in North Africa, Italy, the Far East. As Cape Town was en route to all these areas we saw many of the Allied Troops.

Men and Women from Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand and of course our brave South African volunteers. As the war progressed I was involved more and more with men and women in uniform. I would stand for hours with a collection tin. There were people who showed their feelings about the war, and made it very obvious on whose side they were.

The principal of the Training College, Dr Pienaar was openly opposed to the fact that South Africa chase to be on the side of the Allies.

My two brothers, my brother-in-law and the man I married, as well as his three brothers all spent the war years fighting for freedom. I personally lost my Mom’s first cousin and quite a number of friends who never returned, men barely out of their teens.

There were dances at the Pavilion for the military men and women. Over the years we had several Jewish officers who had been sent down to the Cape on various courses such as navigation in the Air Force. They were allowed to live out of barracks so they brought their wives and children and stayed with us at Hillcote for as long as six months, this was how I met Ken’s brother Clive, his wife Rose and son Peter.