Friday, July 14, 2017
Our teachers and their cars in the 1960s
Cars are status symbols in a very big way to-day. Do you remember the cars owned by our teachers during our student days? I am sure that you would have had very 'close encounters' with these cars and their occupants. Please try to rack your memory for those memorable incidents.
1. Ernie Pieries VP - Green, two tone, Austin Cambridge 55. This was parked near his ward in the mornings.
2. Dr Wijenayake VP - Dark blue Opel Rekord. Dr.Wijenayake used to come ion an ash grey suit and wore tinted glasses. He was well built and smart.
3. Prof. Rajasooriya - Silver coloured Borgward Isabella.- A very good powerful car with superb suspension and road holding. We used to duck away from sight when we saw it on the road.
4. (Lord) Francis de Silva - Orthopaedic Surgeon - Mercedes Benz 180.
5. Dr.P.R.Anthonis - VS - Humber Hawk- The stamp of the Consultant in UK. 'Antho' used to read his morning papers while being chauffeured around Colombo.
6. Dr. Cabraal - Neuro surgeon - Humber Hawk.
7. Dr.R.A.Nawaratne - DKW Junior. A small car, with a two-stroke engine and front wheel drive. Nava was very mechanical minded. If the operating table needed attention he would attempt his best to put it right. His lectures in surgery once included the voltage parameters and current characteristics of the diathermy machine, used in the OT.
8. Prof Milroy Paul - Riley. This car was in it's time a marvel of British engineering. Milroy's car was black in color. Milroy would park it near the blood bank. On his operating day he would go round to the back of the car. He would open the dickey and pull out a pair of black 'Wellington" boots. He would remove his shoes and put the 'Wellingtons' on with the lower end of his trousers tucked inside the boots. He would then march to the operating theatre. The labourer in the OT would be waiting with his red rubber apron to tie round his waist and put the loop round the neck. The sister OT would put the cap and mask. With a barrage of verbal invectives, Milroy would enter his Kingdom. He would be wearing the same boots, inside the operating theatre. It was a sight to see him marching down the corridor wearing his boots on one of his operating days. He would get into his operating kit and would wear the same boots inside the operating theatre.
9. Prof Ranasinghe - Peaugot 403.
10. Dr.D.F.De S Gunawardena - VS - Mercedes Benz 180. He had a problem with his vocalization and talked in a whisper.
11. Dr J.D.U.Austin - VS - Austin Gypsy (With caravan in tow, on Yala trips). One of my friends was doing an Anesthesia appointment with Dr.Lucas, Consultant Anesthetist. They were doing Dr.Austin's list that day. There was a man about 20 odd years, on the operating table, waiting for an appendicectomy. He was to be given a spinal for the surgery. He looked round and was getting scared. He saw the array of needles and instruments, sat up on the table and was expressing his reluctance for surgery very timidly. Big made Austin saw this, came to the side of the table, said 'Lie down you coward' and the patient obeyed. The 'Pentothal' was given by Dr.Lucas in a jiffy and he was 'out for a count'. The surgery proceeded and a nearly perforated appendix removed. Those were the days when 'informed consent' was not heard of and the Surgeon ruled the roost.
12. Dr.Wijesundera - Lecturer in Biochemistry - Audi. Very conservative, rich, aristocrat. It was standard practice for medical students to wear white shirt and trousers. One of my friends wore a black pair of pants during a biochemistry 'practicals'. He was inquired from which school he entered and was given a scolding for not wearing white.
13. Prof Bibile - Peaugot 403. He was ever charming and his lectures were very popular. He created the State Pharmaceutical corporation which is even now, giving drugs cheap to our citizens.
14. Dr. Misso - VS - Hillman Minx. (Jubilee Model). We often used to see this parked near the Maradana railway overhead bridge.
15. Dr. Kottegoda - Lecturer in Pharmacology - DKW 3 = 6. A lovely 2 stroke 3 cylinder front wheel drive. This car had a superb pick-up and road holding. He used to take our lectures in pharmacology. Unfortunately it was held in the hot humid New Anatomy theatre, at 2pm. Quite a lot of the listeners used to snooze off during the monotonous lecture. One day a lively student in the back rows, emitted a loud yawn, when Dr.Kottegoda was writing something on the black-board, on the rostrum. He stopped his writing turned round and told the class that he knew that there were a lot of uncultured chaps from the central schools and that he felt sorry for them. The fact was that the yawning was done by a chap from one of the 'prestigious' Colombo schools.
16. Dr. Ranasinghe - Lecturer Forensic Medicine - Mercedes Benz 180. Another 'aristocrat'. He ended up as Professor in Peradeniya.
17. Dr.Mrs Yoganathan - Lecturer ?Parasitology - Austin Mini. This was a bright red colour and had white blotches of paint on it painted at random. Those were the days of the 'Beetles'. Apparently she was 'doing her own thing'.
18. Dr.Thanabalasundaram - VP - Austin Cambridge.
19. Dr.Valentine Basnayake - Lecturer in Physiology - Bicycle. Dr Basnayake used to come to work in the morning on his bicycle and as far as I know, was the only academic to do so at the Faculty of Medicine Colombo. He was a good western classical pianist and was a member of the Ceylon Philharmonic Orchestra. He was later Professor of Physiology at Peradeniya.
20. Prof ACE Koch - Austin Cambridge 50, ash colour.
21 Dr. Bartholomews - VS - I remember his satin drill white coat and tie, and the orchid in the button hole of his coat, but I cannot remember his car. Can any one help?
22 Dr. Karunananthan - Demonstrator in Anatomy - MG Magnette- This was remarkable because 'Karu' used to talk softly and moved slowly - but HE, had a 'fast sports car'.
23. Dr.Jansz - Lecturer in Physiology - Ford Anglia (Square type).
24. Prof RP Jayawardena - Opel Kapitan. Ever the aristocrat, RP's car also was the 'aristocrat' in the Opel stable. He used to come round to the Pathology department buildings, to pick up his charming wife. Very often we used to see the two young daughters in his car.
25. Dr. Stella De Silva - Paediatrician - Ford Consul Mark II.
26. Willy Ratnavel - Pathologist - Mercedes Benz 180. A superb lecturer. His lectures used to be packed. At a time, when Hb% was being determined by the rough and ready, 'drop of blood on filter paper and match the color against percentage', he fought against this.
As you can see that even with the limited number of models available at that time, the variety of cars was big. But in those days one bought a car for life and all were built to last for at least 20 years. None of them had air-conditioners fitted unlike to-day, when even the humblest house officer has A/C in his car. At the Colombo NHSL (former GH), you will not be able to find parking space for your car inside today. Almost all the House Officers park their cars in the House officers quarters opposite the NHSL. Land-rover Free-Landers and RAVA vehicles are common now with consultants. British & Continental cars are exceptions. The majority are Japanese and Korean. Toyotas and Nissans rule the roost. There were a lot of eyebrows raised when I, as Senior Surgeon NHSL, bought an 850cc Maruti Omni, converted it to run on LP gas, as I wanted to do my own thing for the environment. That nimble and strong Maruti Omni gave me very good service for 4 years before I parted with it and went for my third Toyota Corolla, a brand I found very reliable.
My husband who is a car nut jogged his memory for some additional information:
Parasit Lingam, Rover, “one of England’s fine cars”
Prof Abeyratne, Mercedes Benz
TDH Perera, Mercedes Benz
LMV Atygalle, Mercedes Benz
Dr Richards anesthesiologist, Mercedes Benz, with miniature traffic lights on back window
Prof G Cooray, Ford Consul
JR Wilson, Dyna Panhard, with a spare car to cannibalize for parts
CP de Foseka, Singer Rapier,
Earle de Foseka, Turner, an English fiberglass bodied 2 seater convertible.
Dr Medonza, Mercedes Benz
GR Handy, Chevrolet
Kamalika Weeratne (nee Abeyagunawardene).
Incidentally, did you know that Sr Reginald Watson-Jones had a Rolls-Royce, with a number plate, RWJ 1. He was brought to Ceylon in the late’50’s to attempt some spinal surgery, on my sister in law’s brother through Lord Francis himself.
My husband and I, have been auto enthusiasts, from even before we got married, we used to do rallies in Ceylon, with the Ceylon Motor Sports Club. We still do Rallies here in the US, and my husband does some auto cross events, and he was second in his class at a national event, a few years ago in a Mercedes SL.
Prof Milroy Paul also had a red three wheel car, that students called the Red Peril.
L D C Austin-used to say that he could have a Baby Austin anytime he wanted
Batho I think had a chev
Malin weeratne had a volks EN 843 fitted with an altimeter
Small correction. The Mercedes Benz Gull-wing is designated 300 SL, to denote its 3 litre slanted inline mechanically fuel injected 6 cylinder engine, which was far ahead of its time, capable of speeds upto about 140 mph.
We are members of a very active MB club, and this morning, 20th Saturday, we are motoring up to New Hampshire to visit a private collectors museum, that houses all the cars from A to Z.
Incidentally, today, a pristine Gull-wing, of which there are quite a few here, fetches about $ 400,000.
There is a company here called Gull-wing Service that deals exclusively with restoration of this and similar marques, that we have visited, and it is a sight to behold how they ply their trade. The place is as clean as a surgical suite, and they do meticulous work
I am quite familiar with Messerschmitt, having been a WW II buff. The ME 109 was probably mechanically more superior to the early Spitfires, but was apparently no match for the Rolls Royce engined later ones and the American P 59 Mustangs.
Incidentally,they put out the first jet fighter as well, the ME 262, which fortunately did not see action at the close of the war.
Copy of letter to Daya from Malin Weereratne
So you remembered the altimeter ! It was off a world war II airplane. You forgot the manifold vacuum gauge and the rev counter that I also had installed. I wonder if that car is still running.
Kamalika and I, visited a lovely private collection of cars, with members of the MB club, in a small town in the hills of New Hampshire, in the middle of nowhere, the area that we drove through with Nalini and you on the way to Montreal a few years ago. This is the only collection in the world, with a car for every letter of the alphabet, including x,y and z.
Keep in touch,