ASL NOO WHAKATH (BACK IN THE DAY) with Uncle Bhai Gora. Today we talk about the Home of Legends. The Kentucky Milk Bar in Fordsburg JHB.
What are you fondest memories of this Legendary Place?
Left to Right from top….Moe Adam, Sam Adam, The Legendary Brazil pics, Sherrief Khan,Advocate Ismail Mohamed,Junior Adam,Peter Gun.
‘I left the shop knowing I had touched my past’ By Aslam Khota Recently on a very cold afternoon, I felt for something light but tasty. So I parked outside the old Avalon cinema, where a huge and classy fabric store has just opened. Lyric, a stones throw away is derelict and depressing and was once the top cinema with the latest releases.Old Kentucky, the cafe and take away next door displayed the banner headlines of the Citizen and The Star.
As I stepped in, Uncle Ebrahim, who somehow manages a smile with a frown and his nephew Mohammed, invited me in with a warm greeting. They were not busy, as they usually were in the heyday. I looked up above them and saw the original menu, in the handwriting of late brother and dad, Uncle Sam. All that was on the menu was still available. I was spoilt for choice and entranced as I turned to observe the place. It looks so much smaller. The pin Ball Machine is replaced with new arcade games. Up above the mirrors were the old magazine snap-shots of the greatest football team that triumphed and won the Jules Rimet trophy for a record third time way back in 1970.
They are all now ruffled at the edges and colourless. Brazils giants of that era, Rivelino, Jarzinho, Tostao and Pele still adorn the new “sacred” walls. I smiled and soaked myself gently in nostalgia. The toasted steak was no different from the countless times I had eaten it in the past. The huge chicken rottisserie, the first available in Jo’burg, was no longer there, nor was the special milkshake machine. We talked soccer, cricket, politics and about the new generation of customers who have been introduced by the old. Many from Fietas, Fordsburg and the surrounding areas, who have made their lives eleswhere, still stop by and grab a bite for those in far off places. Uncle Ebrahim wants to remove the old pictures. Mohamed argues about the memories it brings back to the countless faithful who still frequent the cafe. The action shots are still an attraction, he says. I suggest to Mohammed to restore and laminate them to their former state. Ebrahim is according to his nephew, always outvoted on the issue. These days, in burgeoning Fordsburg, one is no longer lost for choice, but Kentucky will always take me “back”. My kids have been converted. Fourteenth Street, the original mall and flea-market, is desolate and distant memory. Fietas really only has two mosques to allow you to ruminate, but very little still exists. Twentieth street has many velds now, no Star Cinema, no Dawoods Cafe. The butcher and Chinese shops are but a memory and the former Queenspark ground is a monotonous landscape of concrete for a new bus service and the old Girls school now serves as offices. I thouroughly enjoyed the toasted steak and the chat. I will always return to Kentucky for my take-away-of the-week. For some unknown reason, as I stepped out, the Carpenters song. “Its Yesterday Once More” rang in my ears. I left the shop, knowing that I had just touched my past.
Sometimes on the cold nights when that Steak and Cheese and Nip Cokes are like no other we sit and listen to the stories from way back then. Some just for our ears only and many to share. We get a taste of what it was like and we admire the unity communities had. Through the good and the bad the era was special. “Timer” walk in and out and sporting debates start. Names ring around the shop…”Abdul Bhamjee,Toby Hatia, Dynamos,Fordsburg City.Past till present to me this is indeed the Home of Legends
Kentucky Milk Bar 95 Central Road Fordsburg, Johannesburg. Telephone: 011 834 1159
By Aslam Khota is a cricket commentator, analyst and writer. If you have any cricket questions, email: email@example.com