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Reminiscences of Arnold Bloch

Arnold Bloch
Caricature presented to Arnold by the Western Province Cricket Association completing his four-year term as President

I was born in Parow in 1946, my father was in the motor-trade. I was one of four siblings and matriculated in Herzlia in 1964. I wanted to study Medicine but when I saw the first cadaver, I realized that Medicine was not for me and I decided to do Pharmacy. I studied at the Cape Technicon and qualified at the end of 1971.

In actual fact right now I'm in my 50th year of active working. It is amazing to realize that I am serving four generations of families!

During the Sixties, there were 110 Jewish families in Parow, slightly more in Bellville as well as in Goodwood and Durbanville. Voortrekker Road was full of surgeries. The houses were behind the surgeries which were on the Main Road. There were approximately ten pharmacies in Parow, most of them Jewish. Sonny Vogelman, a well known pharmacist had Kolly's Pharmacy. He lived in a flat upstairs. In the evenings, he would come down after the bell was rung to serve his customers. I did my apprenticeship with him for two years earning R38 per month! We lived in Jansen Street in Parow. Most of the shops were closed on the Jewish holidays.

Doctors were people whose patients knew them well. It was part of life then that doctors would visit their patients in the hospitals or at home.

I bought my first small pharmacy in 1978 and my wife Sonia worked for and with me for some twenty-five years. In 1996 I merged with a colleague, Pietman Botha, in the Sanlam Centre in Parow. Since the Afrikaners, being themselves religious, understood and respected our customs, I had no difficulty in not working on Jewish holidays.

Doctors of the 1940s-1980s had great relationships with the pharmacists. Wednesdays were known as 'Klein Saterdag' as the banks closed at 1pm. Many of the pharmacists and doctors played golf together at King David Country Club on a Wednesday. There was a wonderful atmosphere of friendship amongst them. They took their frustrations out on the golf-ball in those days. It was a different life-style and a different era. Life wasn't a bed of roses, but we managed.

In Parow in those days, children played in the street. We used to wish the visitors wouldn't eat all the cake and that there would be some left at the end of the visit.

In 2005, myself and two partners bought out Pietman's Durbell Pharmacy group. In 2015 we merged again with the Medicare group.

Arnold Bloch
Arnold at work 2021

I have always been a people's person, mixing with people and endeavouring to keep people contented and healthy.

I have served sport in various roles for 36 years. These included: school, club (chairman of Northern's Goodwood Cricket Club for 20 years, served WP Cricket association as President.) My standout experience was being in this role when in 2003, the Cricket World Cup started at Newlands!

I am still actively working and enjoy my days.

In addition to the above, I am involved in Jewish Communal affairs having served as President of the Marais Road Shul for four years. I still serve on the board.

Sonia and I have recently celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary. We have been blessed with three children and five grandchildren.

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