For those of my year of birth - the leading edge of the "Baby Boomer" generation - the 1960s were our teenage years, and the year 1960 saw a number of us moving off to boarding schools out of town.  Peter Smith went off to Michaelhouse; Stuart Wood to Pietermaritzburg College; Peter Turnbull to Pietermaritzburg Technical College, Everard Ivins to Glenwood High School; and Stuart Clark to Durban High School.  Already at Hilton College were David and Elwyn Lloyd, and Michel Norton was already at Pietermaritzburg College.  Peter Rogers and Brian Reich were also at Glenwood while they were residents of Dundee.  In the following years a number of others went off to boarding school: Paddy Smith and Jennifer Wolmarans to St. Johns, Gill Lavers, Ruth Morgan, Anne Morgan, and Brenda and Christine (“Steeny”) Coghan to Epworth, Jill Rogers to Pietermaritzburg Girls College, and Murray Clark to Durban High School.

Those who went to out of town boarding schools missed some of the glory years of the Dundee High School and the Dundee Convent.  Both schools distinguished themselves academically, on the sports field, and in the arts.  Among those who reaped the academic awards at the high school in the early 1960s were David Ritson, David Albers, Jean Daly, John Stanbury, Beulah John, Jannie Beukes, and L. H. Schroeder.  In sports High School students Ronnie Wellman, Donald McDougal, and Wouter de Vos distinguished themselves at rugby, all playing for the Natal Schools team. Michael Martin and Jock Clelland excelled at cricket, Myra Mackintosh, S. Coetzee and the Wellman/McDougal duo excelled in athletics, and Hans Botha at swimming.  And Pam Glutz and Yola Howes excelled on the hockey field and on the tennis court,

At the Convent, the school orchestra swept the awards at eisteddfods, and its individual members distinguished themselves as soloists too.  Marie-Jean Osborn was an accomplished violinist, and went on to study music at the Free State University.  And the debating team won acclaim for its performances. 

While our generation of kids were distinguishing themselves at the Dundee schools, those who went to boarding school were also racking up some accomplishments themselves.  At Epworth Gill Lavers played on the 1st hockey team, and Paddy Ann Smith did the same at St. Johns.  Peter Rogers and Everard Ivins both played on Glenwood’s 1st rugby team, and Elwyn Lloyd and Glyn Haines played for both the Hilton 1st rugby team and Natal Schools.  Colin Lauf played for the St. Charles 1st rugby team – along with his Glencoe friend Tom Stokes.  Murray Clark was in the Durban High School swimming team, and Peter Smith swam for Michaelhouse. 

Outside of the school context many of our generation distinguished themselves in other pursuits.  Chris Kneppers and Martin Dando became Dundee’s first Springbok Scouts – the highest award in scouting.  They were followed by a further Springbok scouts – including “Ajax” Kneppers.  And Jonathan Walters and Peter Holliday and the Kneppers boys distinguished themselves as juniors in the world of sailing. 

In 1964 the first of our group of boys (or, by now, young men!) went off to do their military training.  Among those of the Dundee station in March, 1964 waiting for the train from Vryheid to Glencoe on the first leg of the journey to the 1 SSB Training Battalion in Tempe, Bloemfontein, were Peter Smith, Bevin Shirley, and Stuart Clark.  Peter Turnbull and Stuart Wood were off to Pretoria, and many others followed them over the years.  Lourens Roos was in Tempe with 1 Parachute Battalion.  Murray Clark was based in Pretoria.  Our Dundee ladies offered free army haircuts for our group of departees – administered by placing a bowl on the “client’s” head and shaving off all the hair not covered by the bowl (as a result of which when I got to camp and was summoned for a proper military style haircut the barber called me “ringkop”!).  That was the beginning of a period in which almost all able-bodied matriculants went off to perform military service for nine months, then later for a year, and then eventually for two years – with the result that by the 70s these servicemen were seeing active service in Angola and on the South West Africa border.  Thus, virtually all of Dundee’s young men of the 60s, and for a good few years thereafter, received military training.

The mid to late sixties saw an exodus of baby boomers from the town to local and some overseas universities and technical colleges.  Alena Mallet went to Natal University in Durban, followed by Peter Smith, Stuart Wood, Stuart Clark, Rene’ van Vuuren, Brigitte and Audrey Boulle, Norma Mackintosh, Jonathan Walters, Robert Marshall, and Michelle “Shelley” Mallet.  Myra Mackintosh, Gill Lavers and Chris Kneppers went to Natal University in Pietermaritzburg.  David and Elwyn Lloyd followed in their father’s footsteps and studied medicine at Cambridge University, and their younger brother Mervyn “Smith” Lloyd joined the British Army and went to Sandhurst Military Academy.  A number of the Natal University, Durban, crowd made a mark there: Alena Mallet was the Drum Majorette Leader in 1965; Rene’ van Vuuren was Miss Freshette in 1967 and Rag Queen in 1969; Stuart Clark was Rag Chairman in 1970; Jonathan Walters was President of the Engineering Students Association and – by a strange coincidence – in 1971 followed Stuart as Rag Chairman.  (For those not familiar with “Rag”, it was an annual charity fund raising event which involved many activities culminating in a float procession through the main street of Durban; unfortunately Rag fell victim to political correctness when it was abandoned as being too much of a “white students” activity.)

One of the defining features of the 60’s, not just in Dundee but throughout the Western world, was its music.  And undoubtedly the most defining musicians of that era were the Liverpool band that rocketed from obscurity to cult status virtually overnight – the Beatles, with their first album, “Please Please Me.”  Most baby boomers will remember where they were when they learned that President Kennedy had been assassinated in 1963, and when they learned that the Russian ships had turned back from Cuba in 1961 – as the world seemed poised for nuclear war.  But most of them will also remember when they heard their first track of the Beatles first album.  For me it was standing outside the prefects’ room window at Durban High School in late 1962 – in my Standard 9 year – when one of the prefects allowed me to listen through the open window to his new LP, i.e. “Please, Please Me.”  Within only a few bars into the first track on side one – “Just Seventeen” – I was hooked.  And I was in the front of the line to buy –and I still have, dated “Xmas 1963” – their second album, “With the Beatles.” 

For us leading edge baby boomers the 60’s were also the time that parties – and the “boy meets girl” associated with those parties (called “hops”) – were the focus of our social lives.  Most parents found themselves taking turns to host these events – while discreetly disappearing (at least most of the time) during the parties.  Peter Smith’s flat in the grounds of his parents’ home on Smith Street was a favourite venue, especially since Peter had a snooker table in his lounge.  (However parties happened less frequently after his father Denis Smith discovered that someone had attacked his whisky decanter during one party!).  Other popular venues were the homes of the Coughlins and Laufs – but most of our parents had to take a turn.  The Golf Club was another popular venue for parties – the more upscale ones! And there were lots of parties!  Here are some extracts from my 1963 diary referring to “hops” and other activities during the July holidays of that year:

Sunday, July 7: Hockey tournament in Dundee.  Went to golf club for graze and hop at Coughlins.

Tuesday, July 9th: Went to Lavers for day.  Saw pig and cows slaughtered.  Went up gorge.  Hop at home.

Thursday, July 11:  Hop at Chanochs

Saturday, July 13:  Went to flick “Honeymoon.” (Lot of bull) Lourens’ party at “Cotswolds.”

Sunday, July 14:  Went out to Smith’s farm.

Thursday, July 18:  Tennis tourney.  Soden’s party at Golf Club. 

Friday, July 19:  Went to Morgans for slide show.

Saturday, July 20:  Went to flick “Counterfeit Traitor.”  That evening Hobo Dance at Golf Club.

 The Cosy Tea Room was undoubtedly the social centre of the town in the 60s.  It was operated by the generally patient Trevor Krause and his wife Agnes, both of whom seemed to be there all day every day – at least until his sons Vernon (nicknamed “Tea Room”) and Leonard, and daughter Fiona (“Fifi”), were able to relieve their parents from time to time.  As for amenities, the “Cosy” was nothing special.  One entered the premises to find the service counter extending probably 30 feet on the immediate right – a counter that included display cabinets filled with cakes and sweets and other treats above and below the counter.  To the left and towards the rear of the premises was the seating area – perhaps twelve to fifteen Formica-topped tables and Formica seats and backs, with chromium legs – not very fancy, but functional.  But there was a classic Wurlitzer jukebox, and a classic American pinball machine!  And Trevor did a good job in ensuring that the jukebox was stocked with the latest top ten hit records (all 78 RPM!).  The old records – when they were off the hit parade or were just worn out – would be sold off to us kids (sometimes after some competitive bidding: I was delighted on one occasion to get Elvis Presley’s “One Night With You” for 25 cents, even though it was so worn that the black shellac was almost grey).

 We would make a habit of sticking our heads into the entrance of the Cosy whenever we passed by, to see if any of our “gang” was there – in which case we would head in.  We spent our time getting to know the opposite sex, while the jukebox played and some of us (generally the boys) played pinball.  (Remember how frustrating it was for the game to be cancelled with the “Tilt” sign lighting up, when a little too much pressure was put on the machine!)  The drinks of choice were Fanta Grape and “Brown Cow” – a Coke float made with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  As the decade progressed and a few of the group acquired cars, they would be proudly parked outside – among the “cool” cars were Lourens Roos’ Cortina GT (with lowered suspension, wide tyres, and a good exhaust growl, and Naas Ferreira’s Alfa Romeo.  Sometimes, however, what was “parked” (i.e. “hitched”) outside the Cosy were the horses of Bevin Shirley and Stuart Clark (named “Starlight” and “Major” respectively).  Generally the presence of the horses outside was not a problem, as they parallel parked just like the cars alongside them.  However, on one occasion the horses parallel parked themselves in the opposite direction, across the pavement.  It was bad enough for Mr. Krause that his customers had to negotiate their way past the horses, but when one of them dropped a “deposit” on the entrance steps that shredded the patience of the usually unflappable Mr. Krause, and the horses and their riders were promptly sent on their way!

 Bevin and Stuart’s horses were also a regular sight on the Berea side of the railway line, as the horses acted as near full time substitutes for the tandem bicycle that Bevin and Stuart used when they were not on horseback.  The horses lived in the open field on the corner of Tatham and Bulwer Street – still partly undeveloped to this day– which had direct access to the back of the Clark home at 60 Colley Street.  That land had been set aside for the new residence of Dundee’s magistrate, but the residence was never built, and my father rented the property from the government for ten shillings a year!  Probably the most often ridden route – known to Bevin and Stuart as “En Route” – was one that took them from the Colley/Tatham Street vicinity and along  Cornhill Street, Victoria Street, Cuthbert Street, and Tatham Street.  The object of going “En Route” was to ride by the homes of Alena Mallet, Myra Mackintosh, and Shirley Lowe, in the hope that we might see one or more of those goddesses – or, heaven forbid – maybe actually speak to one of them!

 The Hattingspruit Dam and Glendee Yacht Club were regular venues for outings of the Dundee kids of the 60s.  We would make our way out to the dam on bikes or through lifts from parents, and we managed to beg or borrow parents’ or other members’ yachts for those outings.  Contributed yachts included Bunny Elliot’s Hornet, the Sprogs of Tommy Wood and Claude Stanbury, the Graduate or Sharpie of George Clark, and up to two or three others.  We would engage in water fights “at sea” – it being one of our objectives to wet the other participants’ linen sails, thereby making them more vulnerable to tipping over when the breeze got up. 

 Another of the popular recreational areas of our youth was the Clay Pits – the area between Hosking Street and the golf course which had been excavated by Dundee Brick and Tile since the 1920s for clay for its brick making purposes.  With its irregular pattern and depth of excavation there were cliffs and pillars of sand and rock, and depressions – a wonderful place to imagine one was playing cowboys and Indians in an environment which, with a little imagination, could be the Wild West that was so often featured in the matinees that we watched at the Dundee Cinema.  When it rained heavily the whole clay pit area were transformed into a series of lakes in the more deeply excavated areas.  And those lakes were the venue for many – often failed – efforts to float a variety of home-made water craft (we learned that a piece of galvanized flat iron bent in half and attached at each end was too unstable to serve as a canoe!).  The Clay Pits were also a venue for Bevin Shirley and Stuart Clark to ride their horses – it was particularly enjoyable when the area was flooded, as they would swim our horses through the “lakes”.  The area was not always hospitable to the kids who did not live in the area – some of the locals considered the area their private backyard, and one could expect at any moment that Ranier “Bushy” Paijmans and his cohorts might attack us intruders with pellet guns or clods or the local weapon of choice – the “clay laatjies” (a “laatjie” is the diminutive of the Afrikaans word “lat” – a cane).  This weapon was made from a highly flexible willow branch about four to five feet long.  A handful sized round ball of wet clay would be moulded around the “sharp” end of the stick, and with motion like casting a fishing rod the clay ball missile was on its way to its target.  And it hurt like blazes on impact!

 The 60s saw the first skateboards, and the Victoria Street bridge lane into town became a popular venue for skateboarding (a lookout would be posted at the top of the bridge to warn of approaching cars).  Eventually that venue was not challenging enough, so one day Naas Ferreira found a pick up truck and took a group to skate down the Mpati hill on the main road into town.  A few of us started together from about in line with Dennis Gehren’s house, i.e. about halfway up the hill, with Naas driving ahead of us and with a cheering section on the back of the truck.  Unfortunately we picked up speed rather more quickly than anticipated, and we soon found ourselves going too fast to step off, and therefore unable to stop.  Until I hit a stone, and the board stopped dead!  My increasingly lengthier strides notwithstanding, I eventually tumbled onto the tarmac, to be bloodied and bruised.  I still have the scars to prove it!  We didn’t do that again.  It was back to the bridge!

 One of the treats for Dundee’s kids of the day were the regular visits to the Lavers’ farm, on the site of the old Burnside coalmine.  Mr. George Lavers’ driver “Skey” would pick us up in Dundee and return us home in the three ton farm truck.  Jean and George Lavers were consummate hosts, and they allowed us the run of most of the farm, and fed us generously.  In addition to viewing the farm animals there was the river running through the farm which ran through a gorge that was as a great place to hike.  There was also a beautiful swimming pool and its surrounding grassed area.  It was quite the resort.  A couple of photographs taken on the Lavers’ farm appear in the Photo Gallery.

 As we later teenage years approached were introduced to the demons of cigarettes and alcohol.  Most of the boys smoked at least occasionally by that time (remember that almost all of our parents smoked heavily in those years, so they were hardly role models for not smoking!).  It was possible to buy small packs of cigarettes like “Max” which – I believe – had only four cigarettes in a pack.  And we also rolled or own!  The demon liquor started showing up at parties in the early 60’s – often supplied by our friends the waiters at the Cosy tea room, who would buy wine for us (a bottle of Lieberstein white wine cost 23 cents!).  Though there were occasions when some of us over-imbibed, there was none of the binge drinking which seems popular with youngsters of that age nowadays.  A vivid recollection of an evening when there was perhaps a little too much booze consumed was at a party at the home of Johan “Paw Paw” van Rensburg (son of the local magistrate, to boot!).  Colin Lauf was standing on the front lawn with his then girlfriend (name withheld to protect the innocent), who was trying to get him to explain how he was going to get her home.  Colin insisted that he would just take off and fly home, and that if she hung onto his feet she would get home safely too!  On the positive side, drug taking was unknown (except perhaps for over the counter Phenzidel cough mixture!), and smoking of “dagga’ (marijuana) was limited to no more than two or three boys (names withheld to protect the guilty). 

 Another great attraction were the barn parties held by the United Party Youth (spearheaded by Archie Blyth, Diana Bennett, and Ishbel Henderson) at the Henderson farm "Balbrogie” in the Wasbank district.  These events attracted both Dundee and Ladysmith party-goers, and were always a fun-filled evening.

 In the mid 1960’s The local Rotary Club – and Denis Smith in particular – introduced a student exchange program, initially with the United States.  The first visiting American student was Linda Taylor (featured in the swimming pool photographs in the Photo Gallery), followed by Dwight Ely (also featured in the Photo Gallery, with the Wolseley 1100).  And Dundonians – starting with Paddy Ann Smith – visited the United States under that program.  Dundee’s pioneering initiation of this program had the result that as the program spread Dundee remained the centre of activity, to the extent that Dundee hosted an annual Thanksgiving Dinner for all the visiting American students.  (By an amazing coincidence in around 2000 I met one of those visiting American students who had been in Dundee for a Thanksgiving dinner – he was then a San Francisco attorney, and my opponent in a lawsuit!).

 By the end of the 60s many of the leading edge of Dundee’s baby boomer generation had moved off to other areas – often to the areas in which they attended university.  And the children of the later baby boomer years followed them too.  So many of the children of the fun-filled years of the 60s drifted away, built their careers and families in other places, and were lost to our lovely town.   

 The music at the parties was predictable.  No fancy CDs or IPODS then, or even tape recorders – we played records on turntables.  Of course the latest Beatles and Rolling Stones records songs were always popular, as were Johnny Rivers (remember “Secret Agent Man”?), Conway Twitty, Connie Francis (remember “Don’t Break The Heart That Loves You”?), Gene Pitney (remember “A Town Without Pity”?), the Rolling Stones (remember “Under The Boardwalk”?) and Elvis Presley (remember “Blue Suede Shoes”?) – we never played any Pat Boone.  Then there was “Conniff Meets Butterfield,” Acker Bilk’s “Strangers on the Shore,” and the ever popular “Last Date” LP by Floyd Cramer, for later in the evening when the lights were low.