VINTAGE VIGNETTES – By Vinodh Wickremeratne


Vinodh Wickremeratne reminisces his childhood/adolescence and anecdotal ‘renderings’ of many ‘elders’

 In the unique pursuit he is involved the ‘young’ are about ages 50-60 middle aged are 70-80 and the elderly are over 90. The challenge being to find people with good memory.

 (This note is disjointed, but it will be restructured in 15 year segmented periods or by subject. Also Indicated will be clear ‘cut-off’ periods of the discussion under review, the ‘hotch-potch’ placings will be ironed out, loosely thought of from 1890 to the end of Ceylon in 1972. Obviously events before the writer’s birth and childhood are from anecdotal sources >grandparents, greatgrandmother and doing the ‘rounds’ in elders’ homes’ and reference to an extensive ‘home archive’ Ferguson’s Directories, Times Books, old  newspapers , there is an almost complete 1898 CEYLON STANDARD with a ‘wealth ‘ of information. The writer is a Consultant to the National Railway Museum and is the  Co – Chair of the Industrial Archaeology Committee  of the NATIONAL TRUST,  the Co Author of CEYLON RAILWAY HERITAGE, Editor of the LANKA RAILWAY DIGEST, Convenor/Chairman of the CEYLON RAILWAY ENTHUSIASTS ‘ CIRCLE.

Read More →


“REMEMBER WHEN”? – By Des Kelly

The years seem to have slipped by, too fast. Now, all we can do is try to remember times when this World of ours moved at a pace that most of us could keep up, with. 
In my own case, it was a simple, yet satisfying life, no “living it up” as the saying indicates, no fancy restaurants to frequent, no expensive birthday presents to expect, never enough money to keep ahead of the “bills” that came in, my dad being the only breadwinner in the family, mum being just the cook & carer of the family, still, I can never ever remember missing a single meal, simple enough, though it was. Luckily, mum, God rest her soul, was a superb cook, and anything she made, was worth going a long way, to eat.
Somehow, it was a good life. You did not need money to spend an entire weekend at the closest beach, marsala and ulinda wadais, murukku, thosais, & either plain tea or kiri-kooppi or saruwath was always available quite cheaply, and let us not forget the “bananas” from the banana-palace in Wellawatte. Ordinary Plantains, kolikuttu, anamalu, suwandel, plus a half dozen other varieties, easily available,
As I said, I could write a book on this subject, but this will have to wait, because I would now like our readers of eLanka to bring back a few additional memories of life in the good old days, via “REMEMBER WHEN”??.
Desmond Kelly

Desmond Kelly.
(Editor-in-Chief).  eLanka.

Can you remember: Bring back any memories?

My son asked me the other day, ‘What was your favourite ‘fast food’ when you were growing up?

‘We didn’t have fast food when I was growing up,’ I told him.

‘All the food was slow.’

‘C’mon, seriously.. Where did you eat?’
‘It was a place called “home  ,’ I  explained.
‘Mom cooked every day and when Dad got home from work, we sat down together at the dining room table, and if I didn’t like what she put
on my plate, I was allowed to sit there until I did like it.’Pizzas were not delivered to our home… But milk was.
No KFC, No Mc Donald’s only the good old bakery.

How many do you remember?Headlight dip-switches on the floor of the car.
Ignition switches on the dashboard..
Trouser leg clips for bicycles without chain guards.
Using hand signals for cars without turn indicators.
Count all the ones that you remember, not the ones you were told about..

1. Bulto toffees

2. Alerics Ice chocks

3. Home milk delivery in glass bottles

4. Wrack denims

5. Newsreels before the movie and the National Anthem

6. TV test patterns that came on at night after the last show and were there until TV shows started again in the
    evening.(This was after 1979)

7. Catapults 

8. 33 rpm records/ 45 rpm’s

9. Enid Blyton/Hardy boys books

10. Record players instead of High Fi’s

11. Metal ice trays with levers

12. Kerosene Fridges

13. Cork popguns

14.Hardly a Jap car on the road. First Jap car was Datsun Bluebird.

15. Cops in long Khaki shorts  (ha ha ha that was a sight with their skinny legs) and hats. At big matches
    kids loved to tease them as “Kossas’

16. Same goes for Grade 10 students in mini shorts with their skinny legs (ha ha ha, -another sight was
      when they were made to stand on their chairs by teachers for not doing their homework to be teased
    by primary school kids, after school )

17.Imported apples sold were wrapped in purple tissues.

18. Full meal of wadai at Saraswathie Lodge for a large family for less than two bucks.

19. What was served at kid’s birthday parties were, sandwiches, ribbon cake, marshmallows, kebabs in a half pineapple and iced coffee.

20. Elephant House Ice Palams in triangular cardboard cases for 15 cents

21. Those who were privileged to go overseas brought home as gifts. Wilkinson blades and Parker refills.

22. Imported popsicals sold at Perera and sons, were  delicious.

23. Soft drinks were delivered to homes.

24. Many had accounts with Cargills and Elephant House

25. Clothes were laundered by Dhobies, and they were heavily starched so much so that when school kids were
      administered corporal punishment, the cane strokes on their starched shorts sounded like balloon bursting.

26. Repeating groves on 78 rpm records, were so funny to hear.

27. The best gift a kid would expect for their birthdays are Mecanno sets

28. When a kid gets through his/her OL’s, the normal gift the kids get from parents is a Raleigh bicycle from Hunters costing Rs 100/.

29. Black and white striped candies for 2 cents.

30. A hundred Rambutans sold at Alexandra Place costs Rs 2 and 50 cents.

31. School kids were allowed only fountain pens to class. ‘Fights’ among kids were spraying of ‘Washable Royal Blue’ ink on others’ uniforms.

32. Cial fountain pens used by school kids was Rs 2/50.They carried their books in suitcases, which were used as chairs after school.

33. Naughty children used to cut school and go for 10.30 shows.

      I remember it all……………….!!!!

      I must be ‘positively ancient’ but those  memories are some of the best parts of life.
      Pass on Especially to all your really OLD friends.


Read More →