Joan Kruger also shares fond memories about the old Church Street picture

2017-04-05 13:08

My name is Joan Kruger. I am 71 years old and was born in Pietermaritzburg on the 10th November 1945 at St. Anne's Hospital in Loop Street.  I was the daughter of a British soldier Kenneth Smith who contracted Infectious Hepatitis (Yellow Jaundice) in Egypt during the Second World War, he transported to a hospital in Jerusalem and then transferred to Oribi Hospital to re-cooperate in 1943 where he met my mother, Muriel Templeton who worked at the hospital.  They were married in June 1944.  I was three month's old when my Dad, Mom and I sailed by troop ship to the United Kingdom so he could be demobbed.I lived in Pietermaritzburg my whole life up until August 15th 2016 when I relocated to Jeffrey's Bay in the Eastern Cape to join my daughter and her family

My grandmother, Mae Templeton, was the manager of Columbo Tea and Coffee Company for many years and I can remember walking down Church Streeet from Commerial High School and visited either my father who worked at Barclays Bank or my grandmother at Columbo. I adored the different pungent coffee aromas in the shop.  In those days customers would chose their favourite coffee blends by smelling coffee beans, with or without chicory and it would be ground and put into special Columbo paper packets and as Mr. Deane mentioned the aroma would drift out into Church Street when you walked past.  The Ok Bazaars as he said moved up on the Cnr. of Chapel and Church and then Nagels occupied the Ok spot in lower Church Street which was a departmental store a small version of The Hub which stands there today.  In my day, the public toilet in the middle of Chapel Street was there and kept beautifully clean.  The Excelsior cinema was directly opposite on the left and my favourite Lewis's Sweet Corner on the directly opposite on the right.

Pietermaritzburg was a very special place, we went window shopping with our parents, walking from the City Hall right up to Chapel Street and all the way down the other side on a Saturday night.  We had Azalea Week which was a marvellous time, there were floats which went from the Publicity House up Longmarket Street to Chapel Street and then down Church Street on a Saturday morning, and the different princesses who were from different businesses and banking houses would wave to the crowd on big floats which were normally trucks adorned by their companies, this culminated with the Azalea Ball held at the City Hall the following Saturday, where the Azalea Queen would be chosen and crowned.  The atmosphere was similar to a mardi gras, it was a marvellous time.  There were numerous other festivals that always followed the same route in the City streets like Rag Week and of course there was show week, The Royal Show, which brought a lot of people and farmers to Pietermaritzburg.  There were band competitions in the City Hall who came near and far to compete against each other, they were dance and jazz bands.  International bands like The Troggs and local ones The Flames to mention a few performed in the City Hall.  They also had local rock and roll bands placed in Church Street, outside the City Hall and Longmarket Street and the whole idea was for Pietermaritzburg teenagers or whoever to dance in the streets on a Saturday night, this was not a regular occurrence.  It was a wonderful time the 1950's and 1960's in Pietermaritzburg.

-Joan Kruger

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