Even more "Good Old Days"               <--Prev : Next-->

From the pen of Guy Hilton-Barber :

In Bulawayo in the very early days next to the Kingfisher on the corner was Dolton's Tea Room which was a popular meeting place for farmers and their wives during shopping. Jackets & ties and hats & gloves were the norm.

The walls of Dolton's carried copies of Punch cartoons which had the theme "Don't gossip, the walls have ears" referring to the security of information during WW2 when it was presumed that there were spies everywhere. (even the road bridge names were removed so that spies parachuting into the bush wouldn't know where they were from the map).

The famous Crystal Palace ballroom in the Grand was the venue of some outstanding dances, The Show Ball, Debutantes Ball, Old Years Night, The Arts Ball and so on. Two buffet suppers were served (you could take your choice) and Jack Harmer (who had a music shop where Townshend & Butcher are) had two bands which played in turn right through to the early hours. Of course dress was Black Tie and evening gowns.

After Hotel Victoria was built the lunch became the favourite venue for morning tea. A 5 piece violin orchestra provided background music. The Casa Alba (underground the Vic) was the first genuine night club in Rhodesia which sported  cabaret, dancing and dining until 3 am. I remember Carol Lancaster, John's sister, performing in fish-net stockings much to the delight of the young men of the time. Shalom Middledorf was an exceptional pianist who played at various restaurants particularly the Warnborough.

Motor bikes of the Main Street Cowboys were mostly British, AJS, BSA, Triumph, Matchless etc without any Jap machines in sight. Joe Partridge possessed the top bike, a Four Square Vincent HRD (4 cylinder and very quiet) while Marshall Davies (Rhodesian middle-order left-hander batsman had a TigerTriumph twin). Debates in those days centred around the respective merits of twins and singles.

Salisbury's cowboys were of Second Street. Remember that Bulawayo was bigger than Salisbury until the early '60's.  Naison's Milk Bar was the first one of its kind (I think it was opposite Haddons) in the country and introduced the milk-shake and was a meeting place for the Cowboys. The police all rode BSA "Golden Flashes".

The Cecil had "The Cellar" below the pavement and had 5 bob lunches "eat as much as you like" with a wonderful range of hot and cold buffet. Moira has chipped in with Morrisons, Nagrani's (Indian silks) Roberta's (Mrs Nussbaum's dress shop) Jerries Bakery, Fenner's Music and a little shop called Novelties. Sports clubs were big and active, BAC, Queens (turned 100 in 1995 as did the Byo Turf Club and the Byo Golf Club) Raylton, Old Techs (home ground at Callies) (no OM's or Busters then) and the Byo Sports Club (Asian community) fielded amongst other teams 6 First League cricket sides.

Rugby was not only played at Hartsfield but at many clubs too. Bowls, golf , hockey , squash and tennis were equally  strong and supported by the Chronicle over 3 pages of coverage. Virtually everybody travelled by train up to the early '60's and businessmen boarded at Suburbs Halt (near the park) in the evenings sleeping overnight in their coupes ( for an extra 5 shillings your shoes would be polished and you would get the morning paper) to awake fresh for the day in Salisbury and return at the end of it in the same way.

The main airport was in Kumalo (now Brady Barracks) where Dakota's followed by Viscount's then the first jet-liners, the hapless Comets which began crashing around the world because of metal fatigue. Several Bulawayo residents died when one disintegrated near Dakar, one of whom was the young Heather Sanderson. Those were halcyon days for Bulawayo, the country's industrial hub, the railway headquarters and the CSC head office. We haven't talked about the Empire Exhibition or the schools and other things which can come at another time.

Thanks so much Guy.