As my father was an importer of German goods, and I think he held the sole franchise for some of the goods that he sold, he used to have a stand at the Rand Easter Show that was held over Easter every year in the show grounds just below Wits University. That year he had his stand as usual, and my Saturday job during the show was to make sure that the pamphlets that were in little piles never ran out. His stand was always in the House of Germany, where all German products were on display, from the smallest to enormous manufacturing machinery.
That year was the first time that I had really noticed plastic as a packaging material and directly across the way was a machine that spat out hundreds of plastic bottles in what seemed like seconds. One thing that seems to have stopped at the modern Rand Show is the innovative products that always seemed to debut at the old show, also the free samples that were given out by all the manufacturing exhibitors. That to me was the highlight of the show, seeing new models of cars, boats, airplanes and all sorts of commercial vehicles unveiled for the first time during that fortnight. The modern show is just an over large Flea market.
During my rest breaks I would rush around the German hall and collect free samples and pamphlets of new innovations like a demented bee. Plastic was the new miracle product and there were machines that made all sorts of plastic products, from packaging of every description to common household items such as mugs, plates, cutlery and even plastic buckets. The old Rand Show was an Aladdin’s cave of man’s ingenuity and to my young mind the ultimate of human endeavour.
I have attended the show only twice as an adult, mainly to appease my children, but have always left the show feeling despondent and troubled, that a show that used to flaunt the best of man’s achievements in science and technology has been reduced to an exhibition of man’s lowest traits, profit and illusion, with grubby stall traders hawking goods that can be bought in any shopping mall in the country.
Lots of Hugs and more,