Rockey Street – The Early Days

Rockey Street – The Early Days

Yeoville became a suburb in 1890. It was advertised as a ‘sanitarium for the rich’ with purer air as it was up on a ridge overlooking the dirty, smoke-filled mining town that had sprung up out of the Transvaal bushveld.

The rich, however, did not buy into the suburb. Instead it became a multiclass area, which attracted many of the waves of migrants from abroad that came to South Africa seeking a new life.

By the 1970s, it had a predominantly Jewish character, with a number of synagogues, Jewish delicatessens and bakeries.

Feigels became a deli with a personality. The neighbours were ecstatic. Feigel continued some of the lines from Judy’s deli; she made sandwiches for the community.

Bread was delivered by Patel in his white coat from Fanny Farmers. He would drop off on consignment and collect left overs the next day.

Sammy Samson, the boxer who ran the gym next door, didn’t like Feigels keeping their cash in a small wooden box, or in their apron pockets; so he bought them a small petty cash tin which we still have today.

You may be young enough to remember that there was no parking allowed on the northern side of Rockey Street after 4:30pm; which made driving past and popping into Feigels very difficult. The resident traffic cop with his black helmet would conceal his bike, pop out and ticket unsuspecting motorists. Often disgruntled Feigels customers would walk into the shop complaining about a fine for illegal parking. But this didn’t stop them from shopping.

In those days Saturday mornings were busiest at Feigels. Extra staff, like Solly, would come into help. As business grew, they got another fridge and milk and meat could now be kept separate. The petty cash tin was replaced with a cash register.

Feigel cooked at home on her little gas stove and introduced Eastern European delicacies like teiglach, chopped herring, gefilte fish, tsavey (sour leaf soup),  and helzel. Patsy, Jos and Feigel carried pots of food down to the shop…

The story continues next week.

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