In June 1951 Mr Francis attended a meeting of the Business Association to talk about starting a local newspaper, this was to be called the Fish Hoek News. The cost of production was to be covered by the advertising and one thousand copies would be printed and distributed to the public free of charge. An editing sub-committee was appointed to look at any articles “of a contentious nature” and “to avoid any possible irritation to any section of the local community.”
An almost impossible task! It appeared monthly until October 1952 when it ceased publication. This was partly because of the lack of enthusiasm on the part of local advertisers, and perhaps also because it was said that “too much space is being given to Social Notes which leads to jealousies and misunderstandings” and that it was not really necessary to publish a long sermon in each edition. However, the few issues that did appear give us a fascinating look at the Fish Hoek of that time.
The advertisements tell us that films were being shown at the Recreation Hall, now the MOTH Hall, every Friday night, admission 1/4d and 3/8d. This was before our currency was decimalised and at that time there were twenty shillings to the pound and twelve pence to the shilling. When we changed to the rand, in 1961, the exchange rate was R2 to the pound, so the prices were then under 50c. It was proposed to build a cinema in the Main Road seating almost 800 people but as the films in the Recreation Hall could not draw a big enough audience to keep them going the cinema was never built. If it was entertainment you were looking for you could go to the Dalmally Cafe, now Dalmally Flats on Beach Road, where there was dancing nightly, except Sunday and Monday and they kept open until I I pm on Saturday nights!
Westbrook’s Pharmacy, on the corner of Recreation and Main Roads, was advertising their Cough Curer at 1/6 and 2/6 and Ban-Tick for your dog at 1/3d. At A. P. Jones you could buy Rite-Fit Frocks in half sizes, 38in to 50in for 75 shillings. Rabkins Stores, next to Wakefords Furniture, had “the very latest in chic hats” and at CNA you could buy Munro’s Bowls Encyclopaedia for 15 shillings, “a book every bowler should have”. At Morris’ Bazaar, in the Main Road, your mother could buy sock wool at 1/7 per ounce to hand knit your socks and it was “guaranteed shrinkless”! Male thoroughbred Pekinese puppies were offered for £5.5s and females at £3.3s. You could even buy a plot for £300 or £3 monthly.
The Fish Hoek Women’s Association Morning Market had been a great success, raising the grand sum of £184. The 4th Annual Flower Show organised by St Margaret’s Horticultural Club raised only about £40 for the organ fund “probably because it was such a shocking afternoon”.
In the Mayor’s Report for 1950-51 it was noted that Fish Hoek was growing. Plans had been submitted for 63 new dwellings, 21 blocks of flats, 6 blocks of shops, flats and offices and 74 for alterations and additions to existing buildings, but we are not told if they were ever built. There was talk of widening the Main Road but this was not to be considered for several reasons. “The cost would be prohibitive and beyond the means of the Fish Hoek ratepayers. The proposal will cause undue hardship to property owners. The traffic requirements at present and in the foreseeable future do not justify it. Despite parking on both sides of the road there has never been any congestion.” If only they could see it now!
At the 8th Annual General meeting of the Ratepayers Association more police protection was asked for as there had been several cases of housebreaking. Three burglaries had been reported at one shop in Kommetjie Road but only a small amount of meat was taken each time! There was a complaint about growth on vacant plots which were “a harbouring place for rats, snakes and also for ill-doers.” There was also a complaint about the noise from milk deliveries, which started at 1.40am. It was suggested that 6am would be a more suitable hour. However Cron Dairies replied that Fish Hoek had now become so large that if deliveries only started at 6am some people would not get their milk until after 8am and this would not be acceptable. Who could foresee the day when there would be no home deliveries.
In 1953 the Business Association supported the publication of the Fish Hoek Magazine by Mr Playfair. He felt sure that “of the possible 10 000 visitors to Fish Hoek during the season an appreciable number would purchase the Magazine.” At sixpence per copy he visualised a thriving business, but although three editions were published the expected volume of sales did not materialise and there were no more.
Mr Francis started the Fish Hoek Echo in 1953. This was much more successful, perhaps he had learnt what sort of paper the Fish Hoek public wanted, or did not want, during his short stint as editor of the Fish Hoek News. He soon took on an assistant, Cedryl Greenland, who had lived in Fish Hoek since 1921, when her father decided to make his holiday home his permanent residence. As Mr Francis used the pen name of Porpoise she wrote under the name of Dolphin and was soon reporting on more and more of the events in the town. In 1963 she took over the paper completely and ran it until 1978. It was then a monthly paper with reports on all the Fish Hoek weddings, funerals, parties, meetings and other occasions. She attended most of these events herself and being a gentle little lady tried never to offend anyone. Her accounts of social occasions were warm and friendly, brides were always beautiful and their mothers elegant, and the obituaries were written from her heart, for most of these people were her friends.
The paper was printed in Caledon and railed to Fish Hoek where Ceddie and a young helper would get out her basket on wheels and deliver it to all the local shops. Trade was good on “Echo days” as everyone came to the shops to get their copy. It was always a “good read” sometimes running to sixty pages. She also found time to write several books. Starting by editing a cookery book, Tasty Tips, for the Fish Hoek Women’s Association she went on to write Before We Forget, a book about the early days of Fish Hoek, a book on Peers Cave and the Peers family and a small book of poetry, Land of Colour and Contrast. She published a book of her most interesting articles from the Fish Hoek Echo, called Echoes of Yesterday and her last book was A Century in Shreds, an account of her parents early lives.
After her death, in 1985, her many friends contributed to a fund to erect a statue in her memory. A local sculptor, Ernest Lodge, was commissioned to produce a statue of a family of three dolphins which was first erected on the grass area behind the first subway but, after having been vandalised several times, was moved to a more central location on the edge of the parking area. On 12th December 1987 a group of her family and friends gathered at the newly erected statue. The Mayor, Councillor John Florence performed the ceremonial unveiling and one of her poems was read by Ethelmay Gillard.
In June 1978, when Ceddie felt that it was time for he to retire from the Echo she sold the paper to Joe and Lyn Frylinck who published it fortnightly and printed it in Paarl. The printing costs almost caused a charge to be made for it until the advertisers agreed to increased rates to cover the extra costs and so it has remained a free paper.
In 1984 it was bought by Stoffel Lotz and his son Barry. It later merged with the False Bay News, an Argus publication, and so the False Bay Echo was born. As a part of Cape Community Newspapers it reflects a wider area so that some in Fish Hoek were aggrieved that it no longer carried so much Fish Hoek news.
Joe Frylinck, who had returned to Fish Hoek with his second wife, Simone, saw an opportunity and started the People’s Post. The “Post” was sold to Media 24 in 2004 and is now published as nine stand alone publications totalling 318, 495 print order plus a further 30,972 covering the South Peninsula. Not bad for a publication that took on the might of the Argus starting off as an A4 publication, printed in Fish Hoek.