Remembering yesteryear’s Town Centre

On the left is a view of Symphony Lane in Town Centre taken from the bridge leading to the station.

Ebrahim Sydow,
Blue Downs

Mitchell’s Plain Town Centre. The place to be.

The mainstay attrac-tion for youngsters back in the 1980s.

We prepared ourselves for a total day outing with our best outfit just to go spend a day loafing and skarreling for a five bob and if you strike it lucky, a hele rand at the Town Centre.

Your parents will ask you where you’re going so early. “Uitgevat soes ‘* nat kat,” and the ans-wer would be: “Ek gaan Centre toe” (On my way to the Town Centre.)

If you cannot afford a taxi ride in the Toyota aardkie, then your best bet is joining the ghamma vrag tjommies making their way to the centre.

Lunchtime was very important, so by noon, when all the small groups come together and club for a massive dite.

The vinsby or gatsby and a two litre Frulati or Cabana would be the order of the day.

Wow. The memories. It is like the Western movie The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – starring Joe (Clint Eastwood), and a Mexican outlaw, Tuco (Eli Wallach), who form an uneasy partnership during the Civil War. But we always just focused on the good and be aware of the bad and ugly.

The first traders were on the railway bridge but before all of them was the late Boeta Achmat Abrahams and his Bedford truck right in front of the Town Centre.

In the background you hear the aunty’s shouting: “Hie’s jou warme roeties”. And the other: “Hie’s jou warme koesiesters”.

Surely we are talking about the pioneers of informal trading back then.

Then you will have the community rushing to OK Bazaars, the first retail supermarket in the Town Centre.

As time went by from the early 80s retail shops opened like daisies, including one of the main attractions among others was Metro 1 and Metro 2 – the cinema theatres.

The first movies had intermissions so it was just one movie per slot.

Raiders of the Lost Ark; Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes; and Hands off the Island were the feature films back then.

The young adults preferred to frequent the dansbaane that opened which were Club Fantasy, Route 66, Michellos, Inn on the Plain, to mention but a few.

The opening of the Station Plaza was the new addition to the Town Centre.

It was a real attraction and we used to call it formal trading under a roof with bargains galore.

If you looked for a bargain or had a little money to just get by for the day, you didn’t have to look further than the Town Centre.

And who can forget the boogie burners busting their moves on the band stand. With the breakdance moves to the sounds of Ollie and Jerry and a dance session with Phil Fearon and Galaxy and the Pointer Sisters.

Later on Luigi de Klerk, the entertainer, would attract scores of people to come and strike it lucky with his local auction show, and in between he would throw a bag of 2kg frozen chicken and a pakkie aartappels at you and say “jou supper is uitgesort mummy girl” and instruct his DJ to play a jam with his famous words: “Music Mr DJ”.

My personal experience was to run a curtain stalltjie with my wife Fatima. That is what I call the golden years whereby informal trading was the main income for most of the informal traders.

Come December and the Town Centre was bursting at its seams.

People from all over would make their way to come get their festive bargains and other important household goods at the Town Centre. And who can forget their festive CDs, Tommy Saaiden and Bobby Hendricks with his orkes was a must.

Everyone has his own unique experience of the Town Centre.

One can write or talk endlessly about the Town Centre.

I can only but treasure the fond memories of the Town Centre.

Like the good old days for any teenager, who grew up in the ’Plain back then in the 1980s.