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A Brand New Year...Are you?

01 January 2013, 11:42

New Year’s resolutions are nice and give you something to work toward, but it is a past  filled with fond memories that makes you grateful for the life that you’ve had and that, which you’ve already experienced.

As a Brand New Year approaches and we attempt to get rid of the old and take on the new, I am reminded of many of the old memories, old brands and with it, the “good ole days”

Brands play an important part of our lives and many have become such an essential part of our lives that it seems impossible to “live without.”

But this article is not a marketing exercise or an indictment against the subtle indoctrination by some major corporations; it is fond recollection about how some brands have survived and how others have disappeared.

Like the old saying goes: “gone but not forgotten” some brands I grew up with are no longer on the market yet it still conjures up memories of my childhood, not all pleasant (the memories, not the childhood)

In fact, some brands I have deliberately ignored or can’t stand as an adult because of the negativity attached to it. One such reminder is LIFEBUOY soap. I am convinced that this product was not for personal use but more for commercial and industrial cleaning.

I hated the smell and the look of it - it was this huge square block that didn’t smell of roses, cocoa butter or the sea, in fact I don’t think it had a smell at all. It only had one job, to clean, and my mother was determined to clean me with it.

I often felt that my skin had invisible dirty spots that only she could see and that this soap was the only way to get it out.  As an adult, I have since seen the re-branding of the product but I will never be convinced to use it again. (shivers)

Locally, there are many brands that we continue to use as adults simply because we grew up with it and also of the nostalgia attached to it.

Personally, I have changed most of the brands I grew up with, partly because I grew up humbly and the brands used then was generic or “no-name” brands as opposed to the more “popular” and more often than not, expensive ones, which I now can afford and like.

Some brands have become bigger than the product itself, with many often referred to by its brand as opposed to its product - Kleenex (instead of tissues) Pampers (instead of diapers) Kool-Aid, Oros, Bashews, etc.

With the New Year approaching, I’ve been thinking about how I have been branded by these products over the years and I can only but wonder what life would have been like without them?

I grew up in Hanover Park and if you grew up in the “flats” it would be the norm to once a week hear the blare of the fish-horn as the fishermen would come around and sell fresh fish off the back of their vehicle.

 My dad loved fish and my mom would clean it thoroughly at the kitchen sink. He loved the fish heads and after my mom boiled it in salt and pepper and made "soup" - he often use to gross me out by loudly slurping the fish eyes out of the head.

Their fish-horns could be heard from afar and people would rush to get to the “kuite” (fish roe) of the fish first. This was a delicacy that even today, is hard to come by.

On Friday nights another vehicle would slowly (very slowly at about 20kms) make its way through the flats and would be so heavily laden with crates of cooldrinks it was surprising it could move at all.

Stacked high and wide on the back of an open bakkie, these wooden crates of small glass bottles of fizzy drinks of all flavours would be a weekly treat. You’d hand in your crate of empties and exchange it for a new crate for the new week.

When you heard the clanging and jingle of the glass bottles, you’d know BASHEWS had arrived.

In addition to working so hard and consistently delivering door-to-door in these dangerous neighbourhoods, these “businessmen” often sold “on the book,” which meant they extended credit to their customers until week or month end when their customers got paid.

I started reading newspapers by the time I was ten and I fondly recall the sale of the paper being heralded in loudly every day.

With the advent of electronic media, less and less newspapers are being printed and sold on sidewalks.

Then, along with today’s daily papers, it was the CAPE HERALD that sold out first and the vendor would at the top of his voice let you know he was there “ CCCCAAAAAPPPPPEEEE HHHHEEERRRAAAAAALLLLLLL!!!)  (No D)

More fond memories came flooding back when was listening to some “ole skool hits” on the radio the other day and I fondly recall my “Blaupung” radio and cazette player, which always had the pause and record button depressed.

This was because you were recording a cazette of the latest hits…sometimes you’d be in the room when it started or ended, and other times, would come tearing down the passage toward the player to press stop in order not to get the DJ or ADS play over your tape.

If it did, you’d have to rewind and fast-forward to just that right moment and “standby” by pressing record and pause again for the next song.

We didn’t have a TV growing up, but all of the kids would go and watch at a neighbor’s place, where programmes such as “Brakanjan, Dallas, Trompie and many others were often the only way to get us IN the house and off the streets.

Back then, all games were played outside, and in summer, in the road and or field until at least 9pm.  It was normal for us to take over the whole road and play games like “Skalooloo, Dutch ball, Blik-blik – Bok-bok and Kennetjie”.

We never moved our games; it was the cars that had to swerve around our set-up or cricket stumps made of crates and bricks.

If it was hot, you’d simply be sent to GATTI’S for ice-cream and or ice lollys. They were probably the supplier to the “ice-cream man” who after 25 years, STILL drives the VW Volksie van and still plays Richard Claydermann over the loudspeakers…I can still hear it now, “dum dum, dumdum dum,…”

I am thankful that these products helped in branding and moulding part of who I am today and I look forward to brand new memories in the New Year.

How many of the brands that I have just mentioned (or others) elicit similar memories for you (pleasant or not) DO share…

Wishing you all the best for a BRAND NEW YEAR!

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