Back in the time before television and computers, we made our own entertainments on a meagre budget and joined in the widespread South African practice of The Sunday Afternoon Drive.

After lunch and the mandatory one-hour ‘lie down’, we’d all pile in the car and head off.  If we asked where we were going, we’d be told “There and back to see how far it is”.   Sometimes we drove to see some specific sight (a new airport building!), other times to view new ‘Skema Huisies’; new, low-budget housing being built at the time, en masse to enable the baby-boom generation to own their own homes.

We’d drive through the centre of town, gazing sombrely at the tramps sitting in the closed-up storefronts, a severe warning against the evils of idleness and drink; old, old men who’d had their spirit sucked out of them and never recovered from the experience of war in the 1940s.

Up we’d wind on Naval Hill and park to look down over Bloemfontein, sometimes to encounter a couple petting in the car next door, which made my dad clear his throat and say to my mom “Allright then Bird, let’s break the bank and have a Sundae Sunday?”


At the roadhouse we’d be spoilt for choice, vacillating with drooling mouths between a peach parfait, a banana split or an ice cream sundae.  Unable to decide, we’d order one of each and go half-and-half; eating until we were slightly sick and still hardly a dent made in the dishes (made of thick, slightly green glass).

And driving home, a bit drowsy and with our hot legs making dewy marks on the red vinyl seats, a sight melancholy would descend on all of us:  the end of the weekend; school tomorrow.



  1. Another awesome remembrance.

    My grandparents took us on “mystery rides” to the park, the petting zoo, and once all the way to the coast of Maine.


  2. I love hearing about your experiences as a youth…some moments are like mine albeit in a diffeent environment but with the same level of love. 😉

  3. we used to do the sunday drive when i was a child in England. It usually involved driving around in the rain, though when it was spring time we used to drive to the country to see if any lambs were in the fields!

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  5. Oh mercy I remember those dreaded rides with my grandfather. He just loved to go out and ride around. No where in particular. Believe me there was nothing to see and we never went to get ice cream. He just drove all around no where. It was quite boring.

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