Harmony has posted a series of drawings by Trevor Romain vividly depicting some of the things one might remember from growing up many years ago in the suburbs of Johannesburg and ‘The Witwatersrand’.



  The one above includes a fast foodery which holds a special place in our hearts.  The Doll House.  This was a scene of visits when driven there by parents, and later over a number of years it saw us in all the stages of growing up from teenage to young adulthood. 

  It was there that I passed out after having been dared to do a ‘boat race’ or ‘down-down’ on half a bottle of whiskey after many other drinks at a work party.  Fortunately my girlfriend, after wondering if the corpse would ever be revived, and how she could drive my sports car home when her feet wouldn’t even reach the pedals, recognised a cousin’s boyfriend as a late visitor to the roadhouse. 

  He was also far gone and had come to try and revive himself with coffee, but sobered up immediately he saw me.   He drove me home in my car while girlfriend drove his. Then I was marched up and down outside before being injected into the front door.  I woke up the next morning with no memory of the party or its aftermath and a hangover from hell.  I didn’t touch a drink for a good couple of years after that!

Surprisingly, that girlfriend didn’t dump me, and the Doll House saw many more visits from us over the years of our courtship and engagement.

  In due course, when we were visiting it as newlyweds, all we had to do was draw up and a minute or so afterwards two Cokes, in glasses for dipping, and three ‘Frozen Dolly’ ice creams on sticks, would be delivered to our window.  I would be dipping two-handed.  One Frozen Dolly would be slurped by me and the other held over my shoulder to where our Siamese, Thai, would be sitting on the backrest telling me loudly to get a move on with it.

  I can imagine the howls of protest at the thought of feeding a cat Coke and ice cream, but he loved it as passionately as we did, and showed no signs of not thriving.  He went everywhere with us, and he gave me the inspiration for my character Tabika’s dog-riding exploits when he rode a notorious cat-killing German Shepherd, who had escaped from confinement and come looking for trouble, all the way down the road, digging pins energetically into its back and hindquarters.  The dog was so petrified it left a trail of … ahem!
After that Thai would often sit on the gatepost, head moving from side to side as he hopefully looked for any more dogs to chase or ride.

  Anyway, a less pleasant memory of the Doll House was when we ran our budget too tight, and I went to work in the kitchen for a while wearing glassless spectacles and a false moustache – my employers frowned on moonlighting.   It was extremely hard work, and without the tips enjoyed by the front line staff was poorly paid. 

  Nevertheless I look back on that roadhouse with great fondness.

  Thanks for the inspiration, Harmony!

 © January 2013 Colonialist (WordPress/Letterdash)

About colonialist

Active septic geranium who plays with words writing fantasy novels and professionally editing, with notes writing classical music, and with riding a mountain bike, horses and dinghies. Recently Indie Publishing has been added to this list.
This entry was posted in Cats, Dogs, Personal Journal and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Jason says:

    I’ve been living in the UK for almost 10 years now 😦 I MISS JHB sooo much. I am visiting in Jan for 2 weeks and the first place I will be going is straight to P&C (assuming it is still there?)…haha.

    I was there all the time as a pup during the 90s, used to go to the drive-inn across the road as well.

    Ah the memories….


    • colonialist says:

      The days of ‘Ag pleeze daddy won’t you take us to the drive=in’ are largely things of the past. I am afraid you will find that many things have changed, and not for the better. We, on the other hand, are going to UK for a couple of weeks in December, and are greatly looking forward to that!


  2. johann says:

    wonder wher i can find fotos of doll house from the 50 – 60’s, my dad worked there


  3. Sidevalve V8 says:

    The mix-up between the Doll House and Pure & Cool and is simple – they are one and the same. The name changed much later. We started the dicing after the Stadium Drive-In traffic cooled off , must have been about 1954. Made a lot of friends there, and still keep in touch with a lot of them.
    Those were great days, and I still think that those of us who grew up in the fifties were blessed.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Tokeloshe says:

    Great post, that sure brings back memories.
    I love the poster 😉
    Thanks for the link to another great blog.


  5. SidevieW says:

    Dolls House – occasionally, but the one for us was in Linksfield (but I can’t remember its name right now – sign of age)


  6. optie says:

    Great post Col, not many people can boast of taking their cat to the roadhouse for coke and ice cream! I remember the Doll’s House in Mouille Point, Cape Town very well. Coke floats and slap chips with salt and vinegar were as far as our limited pocket money could go but enjoyed nonetheless.


    • colonialist says:

      He was certainly a less usual type of customer!
      I remember staying with an uncle in a home at Mouille Point once, although we didn’t visit the Doll House. I remember everyone called it Milly Point. I wondered where the mill was. No difficulty in knowing where the lighthouse was – that foghorn was deafening!


  7. nrhatch says:

    Loved reading about Thai’s love of ice cream . . . and car rides to the Doll House.


  8. footsy2 says:

    Got me thinking of Pick ‘n Chicken on Louis Botha Ave (and the very first Nando’s – a hole in the wall, just down the draq).


  9. Harmony says:

    Funny how there are so many of us with memories of the Doll’s House! I worked in Orange Grove for 10 years so I was a regular there – chocolate milkshake and toasted chicken mayo! But if you want a reaaaal good memory of that area … The Radium Beer Hall!

    What lovely stories and I’m so happy to hear your girlfriend didn’t dump the corpse!


  10. melouisef says:

    When we were at varsity we often went to the Doll House in Sea Point. Now of course it is no longer there, some buildings erected on the site, you would never know it ever existed…
    Sad actually!


  11. I love Trevor’s drawings. They do bring back memories!


  12. 68ghia says:

    I have fond memories of that roadhouse in Jules str, Malvern – Pure & Cool – brings back memories of Sunday nights at the drags, and turbo intercooled motors and slap chips, and they still make the best burgers ever!! Those were the days 😉


  13. Lisaman says:

    I remember walls icecream but not choc bar and definitely sherbet!!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. The Asian says:

    I only moved to JHB when I was 13 but I can relate to some of the things in the picture.
    Down in PE there was (not sure if it’s still there) a roadhouse on the beachfront that we used to frequent quite often and the order would always be the same for us kiddies: one toasted cheese and tomato sandwich and a creme soda float 🙂


  15. We used to have “The Doll House” in Green Point, Cape Town….your post brought back a flood of memories of going there with my folks on Sunday afternoons for cokes and a plate of chips……so yummy…..


  16. Pussycat44 says:

    Excellent drawings and, even though I grew up in a dorp, some of the memories are the same.


  17. newsferret says:

    oh, Oh, the raod houses – mmmm no further comments, you know as well as I do.


  18. adinparadise says:

    Oh this brought back so many memories. We went there mostly for the Banana Splits and milkshakes, but the toasted chicken sarmies were also great. Seems like another lifetime ago. I wonder if we were ever there at the same time. 😕


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