The Road through the Grove

The Road through the Grove : A book of the ‘burbs

This fully illustrated coffee table book compiled by John Burgess is open for pre-orders & will be released soon.  It ships worldwide.

The preview promises a nostalgic trip down memory lane for South Africans who lived in the country during the 50’s, 60’s & 70’s.  Although it does focus on Louis Botha Avenue, Orange Grove in Jozi, it is certain to be of interest to anyone who lived in the country.  There is mention of holidays in Durbs, so what’s not to love?


Braaivleis, Rugby Sunny Skies & Chevrolet ……

that old jingle is going round in my head as I browse the website announcing the book launch.  It makes me smile & it makes me sad at the same time. Memories are of the good times, hundreds of unrelated incidents, laughs & conversations that are safely polished & locked away in my treasure chest of nostalgia.  Some might not be as accurate as they were at the time, but they are pretty & perfect as glance back at them.  Sadly. many of the places are gone along with the people who just seem to have disappeared.

Drive-In, Springbok Radio, music sessions & places like Smokers’ Corner are the glue that formed the backdrop for many young lives.  People who never lived in this place & time will never comprehend the deep sense of loss & longing felt by a generation who watched the landmarks of their lives being renamed, demolished or reconstructed into something else.

As people get older, many of their old haunts are lost to development.  Open land becomes a building site which becomes a housing estate.  Skating rinks & cinema change hands & names.  This natural progress cannot begin to compare though with the scope & speed of the transformation that happened through countries in Africa & elsewhere during the post colonial transition years.  The impact that these understandable but often deeply painful changes was profound for many people on a deeply personal level.  While we accept that progress is inevitable, we all wish that some spots could last forever.  My mother hankers after a place called Adams Terrace, a row of old miner cottages in Scotland that have long since been condemned & demolished, but those old leaky pipes & cold stones remain her “go-to” place when today gets a bits too real.  The hankering for places lost opens to road to the people we once were.

Did you live in times of change?

Imagine, if you can, watching as the landmarks, maps & the old haunts of your daily lives are changed, reconstructed or simply wiped off the face of the earth.  These events can leave you feeling as if your past was just a dream, & that your childhood was swept away swiftly & totally by the psychological equivalent of the the Great Flood.

Loss & love

Regardless of politics or any other mental or logical leanings or conclusions, the renaming or condemning of streets, places & building where you worked, played & loved really does leave a deep hole.  The loss can never be filled, & even the most resilient of us feel the sting.  Because of politics & social change, this sense of loss is often left repressed & unexpressed because on some level, we understand & even agree with many of the changes. Complaining about them make us feel old, silly & selfish.  We have been conditioned to accept that looking back & wishing that certain places were saved & preserved is something that maniacal narcissists do. This is simply not true.

Our genetics & experiences make us who we are.  Looking back & missing the familiar things that gave our lives purpose & structure is human.  We associate pleasure & pain with places & people.  For most of us, the places remain after we lose people we love & visiting them brings a sense of peace & comfort.

Love & loss

As a society we need to first accept & love who we are individually if we have any hope of accepting & loving our broader society.  This is even more important when it feels like a sledgehammer has smashed through much of what we hold dear. A bench is not just a bench, it might be the place we sat, ate lunch & laughed with work mates.  A park might be the place we experienced the first flush of lust or lust.  Inanimate objects & public places can hold deeply personal attachments for each one of us.  That is why this book is important.

Between the covers

The samples that I have seen of this book so far are very appealing.  The layout looks a lot like my site, so I could be biased.  Easy reading, lots of pictures & a collage of topics that I find interesting makes me want to jump right in.  Over 280 pages of anecdotes & photographs of familiar places with a hand drawn map by Trevor Romain & a Forward by Bruce Fordyce make it a well supported & attractive package.

Why does it matter?

The purpose of this site is to preserve & celebrate the good things about the people, times & places of this unique & short-lived period of time in history.  As such, this book looks to be a perfect fit.  The complier describes it as,

“It is a book of great memories,friendship, adventure,naughty friends,successful people from the schools flanking Louis Botha ave, love and passion, deep research on Old JHB/Randlords/Gold/Mansions/Herbert Baker and just so much more!”

“It is primarily about a time pre “Television and Internet”, the  greatest Music era and so so much more ”

“…driven by  my own purpose and giving back to my friends, the Grove community, all the People still living in SA and lastly , but most importantly, the “Global ex Pat Market” that still love their roots and in a sense beautifully never forget and still slightly hanker for SA.”

I look forward to reading it & hope you do too.  Click the book graphic to pre-order, or the green link below to ensure you get your copy. I wish it all the success possible, & hope that the effort is well supported & encourages a lot more of the same.

The book is available here

I do not profit from any sales generated, & am posting this because it interests me & might interest others.  This would be a perfect gift for anyone who lived in this place in this era.  

Do you know of any other publications or movies that might be of interest?  Please let me know if you do, & your thoughts about this book if you grab a copy.

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