Short Stories: Sonny’s Cake Shop –  By Geoff Burrowes

–  By Geoff Burrowes

People tell me I have a good memory because I can remember things that happened nearly 80 year’s ago. Not true – when you reach my age those things are fresher in memory than what I had for breakfast this morning! But I must admit that I often remember more impressions and flavours than actual events!

Ask any kid who grew up in BG in the 40s 50s or 60s about cake shops and calculate the wattage of their smiles and be impressed! Cake shops were generally single floor buildings got to by a board bridge over a gutter or trench and containing a plethora of delights within the price range of most children! For example 3 cents for a small lemonade. or a penny for butterscotch, colourful soury, pink nuttin or fat white peppermints, all wrapped in thin greaseproof paper. Slightly sweet tennis rolls and satisfyingly sweet, crunchy, rock buns, all were within reach.       

       Cake shops were more often than not on street corners – ours was at the corner of Cummings Street and South Road and was presided over by an amiable, plump Indian gentleman named Sonny. He was very kind and pleasant to young customers and always had a string of us clamouring for his attention. From our neighborhood there were the Parsley boys David, Max and Michael, my cousins Wendy, Penny, Christopher and Brenda Mae, The Willems family, Yvonne, Sonia and Don my sister Mary and me, Ian and Marg Glasford, My cousin Arthur, Peter and Gerry Willems, Conrad, Peter and Luke Gorinsky and Barbara Anne and Leslie Da Silva, Robin and Terry Logan and many others who lived in Willems Flats from time to time, like Howard Welchman and the Solomans. Kids from the surrounding neighborhoods also kept Sonny busy, though he must have had to sell a lot of sweeties to keep ahead of his expenses. Daddy and Uncle Charlie and other  adults helped by buying chasers like Weiting and Richters sodas and gingers, whenever we had unexpected visitors, which happened often as Guianese loved to “drop in” on their friends.

Vibert Cambridge has written marvellous pieces on the sweet drink economy which tells of the history of sweet drinks in BG. Chasers were an important part of that history and little boys and girls played an important part, with their chubby little legs carrying them to and fro from the neighborhood cake shop.

Sonny had the good sense to close his cake shop on the day riots broke out and the looting of the stores in the business district took place. One of the business districts looted was Regent Street, which was just to the North of our neighborhood. One of the looters would arrive at Sonny’s Cake Shop with his arms full of ill-gotten gains, drop them over the low galvanized fence around Sonny’s Shop and depart for the next round, when another theif would hop over the fence with the loot. Gave a whole new meaning to the old Guianese saying “T’eif t’eif from t’eif mek God laff!”

Sonny was back in business the next day unaware of the use to which his business had been purposed!

There were some super cake shops known all around Georgetown, such as Ferraz on Main and Murray Sts (now Quamina), I believe, where you could buy “Ferraz’ famous Peanut Punch”  and I believe, polouri and curry and roti, Holder’s Bakery on Crown and Oronoque Sts. famous for Chinee cakes. I am no doubt forgetting some of your favourites, so remind me if I am.

One of my favourites, out of Georgetown, was “St Peter’s at the gate” just outside of Soesdyke by the gate at Atkinson Field run by a tall handsome gentleman named Mr. St Peter who produced the greatest frothy topped mauby which he served in large glasses, with the ice causing the moisture to run down the glass in deliciously cold drops. It looked good and tasted heavenly to boys who had just ridden the long East Bank Road in BG heat!

I don’t know if cake shops are still around as the last time I was in Guyana was May 1975 when we left for our Northern life. In Canada we found convenience stores like Mac’s Milk and Beckers and later 711, where you could get supermarket goods at inflated prices (apart from milk, which was reasonably priced!) but they didn’t have the magic of the corner cake shop!

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Comments

  • Rita Bowen  On 11/17/2021 at 3:19 am

    Great memories…..don’t forget Channa man at the corner of Camp and Durban Street and Shantas- at the corner of Camp and Newmarket street…..- Dhalpouri and small lemonade…..great times…..

    • Kman  On 11/19/2021 at 5:34 pm

      Yes, good ole Chanda men. They were two brothers. Best Chanda l have ever tasted. Hot parched nuts. Loud music. I lived across from them. There was also a pastry shop called the Nook. Best patties in town. Forbes used to purchase from there.

  • Lal  On 11/17/2021 at 1:54 pm

    The memories live forever….. Country bai come to work in town in ” 56″ after 6th standard, $7/wk. Discovered Ferraz, peanut punch, tennis roll and cheese, and a crab back for lunch on Fridays (payday).Flew over the pond in August “69” aftergraduating from GTI. Now three scores and 20.

    • wally n  On 11/18/2021 at 11:19 am

      Like reading these stories, reminds me of the days without responsibilities, good times.Here are my three,
      German “restaurant” Tiger Bay,close to THD hole in the wall, great soup.
      now International
      Ferraz was close to Schuler and Gomes, my first “paying” job,first time order, peanut punch and dhollpuri, Me, this thing is sour!!! got a glare and another one.Second visit, punch was again,sour.Peraz Get out, don’t come back,I never did.
      Shelia Chinese restaurant, close to Big Market and Stelling/wharf, first time I visited, I noticed the exposed kitchen drain passed through the middle of the Restaurant,fantastic food,never went in again, I would send someone to pick up.
      Somehow….still standing.

    • wally n  On 11/18/2021 at 12:09 pm

      Lal there was a teacher at GTI probably taught English, for us was Communications, do you remember his name?

      • Heralal Sukhdeo  On 11/20/2021 at 10:44 am

        Hey Wally, glad to hear from fellow GTI grad from the old days. My english teacher was Claude Viera in the day, block release courses. and Dornellas when I did night classes for the technician’s program.

      • Lal  On 11/20/2021 at 10:59 am

        Hey Wally, glad to hear from a GTI grad from the old days. My english teacher was good old Claude Viera in the daytime block release courses and very pleasant and funny Dornellas on the evening techinician’s program

  • Mike Parsley  On 11/18/2021 at 9:51 am

    The name lives on but the substance has been lost! Can you remind us again Geoff what a nuttin was, or a tennis roll?

  • detow  On 11/18/2021 at 3:29 pm

    Hi Geoff, not meaning to butt into your post but you did ask to be reminded of other prominent cake shops in GT and the one that I visited the most and which had a large clientelle was Chuck-A-Sang’s at the corner of Murray (now Quamina) and Cummings streets. Great mauby in large glasses, a penny a glass. People you may have known who frequented that cake shop were the Tait boys who lived in what is now Moray House and Godfrey Chin of Nostalgias fame. I lived further down Murray street closer to Camp Street where there was another cake shop on the North Western corner which was owned by a Mr. Khan. Regards.

    • Kman  On 11/19/2021 at 3:54 pm

      Was Mr Khan on Waterloo street?

    • Lal  On 11/20/2021 at 11:18 am

      Yo detow, i worked at 339 Cummings St. at a bottom house mechanic shop owned by Kenneth Chung – On. Frequented Chuch-A-Sang’s at least 3 times a week. for mauby and buns pleaseant and funny guy. You call it penny a glass, I call it Jill a glass. Same price ( jill ) for a big “kokenut” bun that always full yu belly Ha Ha Ha.

  • Lal  On 11/20/2021 at 10:51 am

    Hey Wally, glad to hear from fellow GTI grad from the old days. My english teacher was Claude Viera in the day, block release courses. and Dornellas when I did night classes for the technician’s program.

  • wally n  On 11/20/2021 at 11:45 am

    Thanks.. I think it was Dornellas, I did the National Certificate during the day, he had an acerbic sense of humour,I liked that, what is strange, I remember a lot of the things he said, other things not so much. I lived in East Street, I think I knew of Chung’s Garage through someone else’ Stay well buddy.

    • Lal  On 11/22/2021 at 7:57 am

      Yo Wally, maybe we stood together and watch guys sail their hobby boats in the East St, canal.

      • wally n  On 11/22/2021 at 12:09 pm

        Canal?? that..no…if you don’t mind where do you live now Lal? I live in Toronto

  • Kman  On 11/20/2021 at 2:45 pm

    Parsley,

    No Mr. forgetful, Forbes Burnham. You can’t even remember tennis rolls.

    • Mike Parsley  On 11/22/2021 at 7:09 am

      But I did remember tennis rolls! I just forgot what they were. Can you tell me Kman?

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