Travel and a bit of shopping
First published in Juice, Mango Airlines in March 2017
The iconic Voortrekker Road from Salt River to Stikland has long reached its sell-by date yet a leisurely drive down this CY corridor – provided you have an open mind and an appetite for seedy quirkiness – proves fascinating, not to mention entertaining.
Plastic eyeballs bigger than an average-sized beach ball adorn an optometrist’s window, a clothing retailer proudly announces that it stocks bed legs, a meat market describes itself as “King of Lambs”, Springbok Furnishers sells everything voetstoots, you can “sleep and go” for a nightly rate in Parow, the Ear Institute advertises hearing tests at an intersection, pine gel foam bath and engine cleaner share shelf-space at a home soap shop and a curvy blond with pink lipstick and a gun beckons you into Ryan Accessories.
Goodwood Diner & Grill sells “smoke snoek”, toilet paper and airtime while private detectives offer their services at a side entrance, so they say. Antonvatikaki presumably sells anything but junk, Mariaan has a Braai Centre, there’s a Big Fat Butcher in Stikland, Angels snip scissors at a Hair Salon close to Goodwood, attorneys go by the name of Napoleon and Vogel (I kid you not) and perfume shops, oil-based or not, abound.
Rumour has it that the Voortrekkers took off from Salt River Circle or thereabouts back in the day. These days the elegant Bridge Mansions on the corner proclaim ‘wish u were here’ accompanied by graffitied, mostly moustached, Jack Fox figures whilst Cafe Zorina sells fish and chips a door down.
Not much more than a stone’s throw away the Adams family at Ondersteun Handelaars have been trading fruit and vegetables for the past six decades. They also have a wonderful selection of spices as well as custard apples, dates, fresh turmeric and lime leaves, chilli paste and okra.
At Shop 38 John Brass Plumbing offers much more than new and used Victorian baths, basins and pedestals. The movie fraternity knocks on their door for a variety of props such as an original Non-Whites Only sign, a mannequin with a Venetian mask, a small fishing boat or a chipped trumpet.
In the corner of Salt River Market, on the same side as the old “Mark Meester Kantoor” with original lettering still intact, The Market Deli offers great coffee and The Legal Cafe, an inspirational community initiative that gives legal guidance to the public in an atmospheric book-lined setting.
All along Voortrekker Road there are businesses – Patel Stores (13 Voortrekker Road, Salt River), The Maitland Pawn Shop and The Lamp Workshop (both at 197 Voortrekker Road, Maitland) and Wool World International (133 Voortrekker Road, Parow) – that have been trading for decades.
Leaving Salt River for Maitland Broadway Deli & Cafe has the best “pasteis de nata” (Portuguese custard pies) in town! Ignore all other reports to the contrary.
Meeting Bob Lansdowne at City of London 18th Century Brushmakers, linked to the original establishment from 250 years ago, made my day. I couldn’t resist the fuchsia pink facade of the old Standard Bank building. Once inside it was a treasure trove of shaving brushes, male mannequins and display cabinets, apart from Vandah’s Packaging Supplies.
Close by Emmanuel Christian Church shares space with The Tyre Shop on a tooth gum pink wall.
Should you be interested Maitland Cemetery has a burial register online. It’s not wise to wander around here on your own however tempted you might be by heart-shaped or pillaried gravestones. Conveniently nearby, Avbob is housed in a neat facebrick building, Memorial Art has three red arrows to indicate where you should pull off, and Martin’s Funerals, with a crucifix in the place of the T, invites you into their dusty lilac house premises.
You could end your drive at the Stikland Cemetery, so to speak.
Goodwood seems to specialise in used car lots. And pawn shops. Legends Auto and Visserboyz Motors look as if they specialise in white cars only.
Goodwood Sport Fishing Tackle Specialist has an angler on the roof. Spot Cash sports a mannequin with half a garden chair on her head. At least that is what it looks like. The Hungry Shark Take-Aways has morphed into a friendly-looking fish.
Kwaailappies sells fabric, trim and sequins as well as triloble. Whatever the latter may be.
Etsetra, your one-stop wedding shop, like so many others, is paranoid about anyone taking photographs. The inhabitants of Voortrekker Road seem not to have heard of Pinterest.
The old Vasco Hotel sports a burly security guard. He scares me so I move on quickly.
Need some washing to be done? Pop into Divine Drop Off Laundry or Laundry Corporation.
Captain Johann Heinrich Ferdinand Parow survived when his ship was stranded in Table Bay in 1865. The captain married the daughter of the family that helped him and later sold land in the area of Parow that was subsequently named after him.
More recently Koos Kombuis sings in Paranoia in Parow-Noord about boere-punks, smoking a zol and an ex-wife who stole everything including the hosepipe. Quintessentially Parow, he says.
Another singer, the late Johannes Kerkorrel, got his stage name from a shop that used to be across the road from Tonkil Optometrists in Parow (though he mistakenly thought it fell under Goodwood). At the time he thought the name represented the “ultimate f*cked up Calvinistic koek”. It would become his stage character and alter ego.
The original Johannes Kerkorrel shop is still remembered by a receptionist at Tonkil though she can’t recall ever having gone inside.
On the 24th of December 1966 Frick Zig-Zag De Luxe ran an advertisement for sewing machines at R66.25 available from their premises in 35 Voortrekker Road, Parow. At Old Skool Different Bike Customs they offer broken bikes a second chance. Gives them wings, they say.
Harlequin, an Italian restaurant, opened its doors in 1965 and has been serving their loyal clientele in their time-warped venue ever since. A few blocks away The Hat Shop also seems encapsuled in a former era when church hats were obligatory. No photos please.
In Bellville Blues David Kramer sings about Bettie from Bellville – he picked her up at 47 Voortrekker Road after falling her in love with her supermarket smock and patent leather highs. His car sported lime green fluff on the dash board and a dog with a head that nods in the back window. Typically Bellville, some would joke.
Before you head home treat yourself to a meal at a genuine road house. Nothing has changed at the Burger Fair just off Voortrekker in the vicinity of Stikland. The trays that hook up to your car window are still the same, the strawberry milkshakes are still fluorescent pink and the portions like it used to be in the old days.
Voortrekker Road is no longer the unofficial dividing line it used to be in pre-1994; it’s now truly cosmopolitan. Yes, progress has passed it by but it has given it its own charm provided you scratch under the surface. There have been calls for a boomburb or edge city, a commercial hub of sorts with more jobs than beds, to be established in Voortrekker Road. Though probably desperately needed it would also be sad to see it all go, if it should happen.