Muizenberg, South Africa


Memories of my days in Muizenberg


By Beryl Baleson, Israel



 With thanks to Beryl Baleson

"My memories go back to the early-1950's when I was old enough to go on my own with my friends,  whom we met every Sunday morning at 10a.m. under the Clock on Cape town Train Station, to make our way to the very packed Snake Park Muizenberg, - with its smells of the sun and the sea,  sun-tan lotion and polony sandwiches.


I,  in particular, remember using Brylcream on my skin in order to get a better sun-tan! (I am grateful that  in my older days I never developed skin cancer.) Not to be forgotten is the mixture of Brylcream and the salty sea water to make our white skins as dark as could be! First thing I did when I arrived home was to have a hot bath (on my mother's instructions) with bicarbonate of soda in to remove the sting which "HIT" at the end of the day!


Every Sunday morning we took turns to phone the Police Station in Muizenberg to enquire about the weather, as although it usedto be really hot in Cape Town, the wind  usually blew strongly in  Muizenberg!  If the weather was fine, then we "phone-chained" everyone  and met at the Cape Town Station as pre-arranged. I must say “thank you” to the Police on duty on Sundays who were only too pleased to be able to give this advice.


On many occasions we used to climb over the wall onto the Pavilion Balcony so as not to pay at the entrance!!  I must say that  I do not remember how much the entrance to the Pavilion  Balcony on a Sunday, or holiday afternoon was, but, we  rather used the monies to have pictures taken at "MovieSnaps" at the Balmoral Beach and to buy frozen suckers from the people who sold them whilst walking  around the beach, trying not  to step on well-oiled,  tanned bodies!


In any case all we did as teenagers on the Pavilion Balcony was to "call down" to our friends and shout instead of going down to have a quiet conversation instead!  So our teenage attitude was “why pay for this”!! Was the Snake-park ever quiet??   I don't think so.


When we didn't lie around the beach in groups, one head on top of another's stomach, the fatter the stomach, the more comfortable we felt, we sat on the Promenade wall, swinging our legs, again talking to those below or just looking to see who was there and who we should join for the day!

We Cape Town girls were quite lucky in the summer school holidays i.e. from the end of the 1st week in December to about the 15th January,

the Johannesburg boys enjoyed "dating" the Cape Town girls and the Cape Town boys, "dated" the Johannesburg girls  - so for 6 weeks a 

year we had a change of talent!  And what a "shame" if one wasn't asked out for New Years Eve parties! (dating always arranged at the

Snake Park).


Here I mustn't forget my parents who also came every Sunday, but in the afternoons only, and sat on the Balmoral Beach - that is where

most of the adults sat with their group of friends. However, I always refused a drive back home with them as I wanted to be with my friends

on the train!  My father offered a lift to some, but not could fit all in the car, so I stayed with my friends.  We went home by train, and then

took the bus up to Vredehoek where we lived in those days - the bus station was outside the Main Cape Town Post Office which was opposite

the Station, and the Sunday time-table we already knew off-by-heart - so we knew what time to leave Muizenberg in order to catch the 6p.m.

Vredehoek bus home!


On the way back to the railway station, how could we not stop at Normans to get our Kosher Hot Dogs  smothered in chicken fat?



This I would say is the end of Chapter 1 at Muizenberg.


In 1963 I got married and my days at Muizenberg changed somewhat once we had children.


Firstly, to go on a Sunday with 2 young children was quite an experience and plenty of work!   Early Sunday morning my husband went to

Milly’s to buy their freshly baked Rye bread;  pickled beef;  pickled cucumbers and Debra’s Schmaltz.


He and I stood in the kitchen filling up the “cool-bag” with sandwiches, bottles of Purity baby food and of course tins of cold drinks.


Then the children’s bag had to be filled with a change of nappies;  bathing “bikinis”

(changed every time they were taken into the water so that they never sat in wet costumes at their tiny age) and jerseys, just in case

the weather turned windy during

the day.  (As a matter of interest the same Police Station was also phoned in those days to check the weather.  The Police really deserve

a big thank you, which they always got from us, and probably every other person who phoned, as they were so well mannered and only

pleased to help us in telling us what the weather was like).


Now, because of the children, there was a change in the “Snake Park” schedule.

We couldn’t sit with them inside the “Snake Park” as it was far too hot for them, so we moved to the front of the bathing boxes

(why didn’t I take a picture of these bathing boxes before leaving South Africa???) – to get the cool sea breeze.


As we all got older, we slowly changed our regular places to fit in with our age – and

by the time we left South Africa in 1977 we were sitting on the narrow strip along the pavement on the side of the Balmoral Beach where

all the “adults” and their friends sat.  Once we reached that stage our 2 girls had their own friends who usually came with us, or they went

with their friends parents to Muizenberg and so

before we came on Aliyah in 1977, at age 37 and 38 respectively, with our daughters aged 13 and 9, the Balmoral Beach was where we sat

and the sea air was the most important part of our Sundays in Muizenberg.


One more notation – in February 1984 I visited South Africa and went to the Snake Park – at that time I was 44 – I sat myself down, not

knowing anyone, but noticed that nothing had changed except myself.  But, one thing did not change, the Snake Park and the fresh Indian Ocean. 

I remember saying to my sister “this is a maychel” (Pleasure in Yiddish) – after leaving the Israeli winter behind.


And so Muizenberg has become a memory, really a memory of the 1950’s – a memory which will live on with me as long as I am alive to remember

those wonderful days.


Beryl Baleson