I was born in Durban, South Africa, on the 6th May 1960. My birth was quick and everyone reeled from the suddenness of it all. Sometime quite soon after that, I was dressed in a tiny full length, white, finely embroidered dress and bonnet and christened Linda Christy Lowe. I heard sometime later that my conception was as unplanned as my birth. It was hard for them to convince me that while I wasn’t planned, I was wanted. It took me a while to get that one. My siblings were Susan, David and Peter.
Linda means “charming” or in Latin America, “beautiful”. I haven’t always been charming or beautiful. “Christy” means Christ-like. I was named after the then famous jazz singer, June Christy. Neither of us were particularly Christ-like. Maybe my names have grown on me. As for “Lowe”, my father always reminded us “Low(e) by name but not by nature”. Mmmm, not so sure about that either. We got pretty low. We just covered it up really well.
Being a decent family in a lower-middle class neighbourhood, we tried our utmost to keep the good Lowe name in tact. Time would tell that even our utmost wasn’t enough. In the meantime, we were happy to be British/South Africans.
My father, Wilf, arrived in South Africa on a merchant navy ship in his early twenties. Among his few possessions were some of the first Jazz LPs ever pressed. His plan was to make his home in South Africa. Wilf’s youthful marriage to his jitterbug partner in Kent ended abruptly and sadly. He was moving on.
In the local newspaper he noticed that “The Cales” were looking for a boarder. He moved in and in no time at all he married their beautiful daughter who was an apprentice hairdresser. Her name was Valerie Elizabeth Cale. His love for Jazz took him to the SABC (South African Broadcasting Corporation) to apply for a job in the world of broadcasting. His “Cor Blimey” limey accent was a put off and he was advised to go for elocution lessons. He found a willing teacher, David Horner, whose efforts paid off. Some time later his accent was approved and with his passionate knowledge of Jazz, he found himself employed part time by the SABC.
My dad always pursued his passions. None of them brought in an abundance of wealth, but we were well looked after and never went hungry.
Tru-Life Studio in West Street, above Colombo Coffee and opposite the flea infested ROXY movie house was his place of business for many years. It was there that the four of us learnt how to develop photos and a love for photography. I loved seeing the images forming on the photographic paper when they were pegged up to dry.
Weddings were my favourite. We learnt how to hold the flash and enjoyed seeing dad get the best angles from the bride and groom BUT, when it all came down to it, we were the prime models for dad. He entered us into every photo competition there was; Beautiful Baby, Funny Face, longest hair, cutest and anything else that was going. We did win a few and those photos were displayed in the studio window for all shoppers in West Street to see. The Lowe children also found their way into newspapers and were often seen on Saturdays at the Big Top talent shows on Addington Beach with Cyril Sugden. We sang and danced and won lots of prizes while the beachcombers ate their ice-creams, sun-bathed and watched the show.
On Saturday mornings in the studio, when there wasn’t a wedding and when we got too boisterous, we were taken across to the ROXY to watch double features for 5c. It was there that we all watched Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds”. It was all a horrible misunderstanding really. Mom swore blind it was a Disney movie. She realised her mistake when she picked us up, all sobbing and frightened of birds. I will never forget that movie. Life changing at 8 years of age.