Thursday, November 23, 2017

Memory Lane

Stanley - Thursday

I was thinking about my childhood recently - of the Fifties and Sixties.  And how fortunate I was to have a loving family, food on the table, and parents who prized education and, of course, books.

That sparked memories of things that if I told youngsters of today, they would look at me blankly.

A tickey box

Public telephones used to cost threepence for a three-minute call.  In South Africa, a threepence coin was called a tickey.  Hence the name.

I remember the tickey box at the tuck shop at school - some enterprising future scientist had rigged up a wire from the innards of the box which, if you touched it to a small metal plate on the receiver, completed the call without having to pay.

Abandoned tickey boxes
A one-and-thrup

Comic book stories - longer and more complex than Superman or Popeye - were very popular.  For us they were expensive, but much sought after.  They cost one shilling and threepence (thruppence).


A popular sweet (candy) was a small packet of what we called sherbet that came with a straw.  Sucking the fine powder was wonderful, except if you accidentally inhaled it.  I'm sure it was just flavoured confectioner's sugar.

Brown cow

I still enjoy an occasional brown cow - half coca cola, half milk.

White cow

I never enjoyed a glass with half milk and half lemonade (Sprite).

A sammy

My family bought most of its vegetables from an Indian man who drove along the streets with a specially adapted bakkie (pick-up truck) displaying his wares.  I guess the word sammy was slang for an Indian man.  I don't remember if it was pejorative, but it probably was, given this was South Africa.



Bug house



Cloth on the back of a seat to protect the fabric from being stained with hair oil (macassar or brylcreem).  "Brylcreem - a little dab'll do ya!" was the radio jingle for Brylcreem.

Anti-macassars on a train

Swimming costume

Bathing trunks

We still use this term in South Africa.


Swimming costume

Spend a penny

To urinate.

Public ablutions cost a penny to use.

Monkey gland steak

Exotic simian meal.

Just kidding!  Monkey gland sauce is a tangy sauce to put on steak.  A good recipe can be found here.

Chappies bubble gum

Fruit-flavoured bubble gum

Nigger balls

We never knew that the name of those hard, black sweets was offensive - partly because the word 'nigger' was not in common use in South Africa.  We had our own offensive terms.  They are now called black balls.

Nigger balls

Delivered milk

At the front door - every day. With dollops of cream at the top.


Pronounced as many Americans say 'roof'.  Or perhaps how Caro would say it.

Louis Washkansy

The recipient of the first heart transplant - done at Groote Schuur hospital in Cape Town by Dr. Chistiann Barnard on December 3, 1967.  He lived 18 days.

Apartheid signs

No comment necessary.

Ag, Pleez Deddy

The most famous song from the Sixties was what was known as Ag, Pleez Deddy.  Jeremy Taylor wrote and played "The Ballad of the Southern Suburbs", which mildly mocked the language and accent of the southern reaches of Johannesburg.  Taylor was later banned because of his anti-apartheid stance.  You can listen to the song here, scratches and hiss included.

I'm sure everyone reading this will have similar lost memories.  Please share some.


  1. Tee hee. Sherbet dabs as well as Sherbet Fountains - they had a liquorice straw in the middle, the former had flat lollipop to lick and pick up the sherbet.
    It now costs 20p to spend a penny at a UK train station.
    I still have antimacassars, very good for cats who like to sit right behind your head on the chair. Antimacassars
    and aspidistras kind of go together.

    We had our milk delivered by a horse called Major. I used to go out and give him sweets. The day he retired he was on the news. He used to pull the milkcart unsteered as he knew the route.
    I remember him very well, a gentle giant.
    Birds used to pick at the foil tops in winter to get at the cream. And that fact provoked a very famous animal behaviour experiment ie how did they all learn to do that at the same time....

  2. I wish I were young enough to remember what we used to call so many things back then. Our brown cow was Root Beer and Vanilla ice cream, and my grandfather's horses--used for hauling his produce huckster wagon through the streets of Pittsburgh, where named Chester and Raleigh...a likely homage to the cigarette brands most favored in his grocery store...out back of his brother's store grew up a young man named August Wilson. Ah, memories...may they remain.

  3. I still combine diet root beer and vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt, love it.
    The reminders of apartheid are too horrible to recall. What horrors and torture went on during that regime, Stephen Biko, Chris Hani, Ruth First, Soweto, Sharpsville, and then the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and their compatriots for decades, not to mention the unnamed heroes. They should all be honored.