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My Lae City nostalgia: Going back in time

Eriku had its own cinema  that played the latest movies every day and night.  

Some of the best you shops were on this stretch (Thor May)

In its glory  days,  Lae was a beautiful city to live in.  Well planned, with a functioning city council and adequate funding,  it  rivaled Port Moresby  as an ideal destination to visit. 

Each suburb  had amenities and services  in close proximity. For instance, the Bumayong,  Igam, Unitech population  didn’t have to go to Top Town.  East Taraka was a main center for people in that part of the City.  East Taraka  had a cinema, a shopping center,  private doctor’s clinic and  a post office. 
There was a BMX bicycle track  along the stretch  between Unitech and Igam where kids hung  out.    

Bali news agent and sports store, current location of the Eight Six shop (Thor May)

Eriku had its own cinema  that played the latest movies every day and night.  On Saturdays, the best movies were played from midday onwards. Of course, there were strict rules for PG-rated and MA-rated  movies and the cinema attendants made sure unaccompanied minors  were removed at the end of a G-rated picture. 

Top Town also had a cinema.  It was a favorite because they sold popcorn as well and it was directly opposite  a line of shops that sold some of the best toys in the country imported directly from Australia.  Of course in those days, the kina was worth about the equivalent of the  Australian Dollar. 

The suburban roads were sealed and well maintained.  Rubbish was collected every week. The  Second Seven cemetery was well kept. The grass kept short and  the graves tended by the council. 
Next to the cemetery, the Telikom College  was one of the primary training institutions  of Papua New Guinea. It was where all the technical experts  in telecommunications  were trained and sent out to keep essential infrastructure running.  It was serious business and  outside of Australia and New Zealand,  Papua New Guinea was a leader in the Pacific in terms of telecommunications development and training. 

St. Mary’s Catholic church is still here (Thor May)

Lae was  called the Garden City, it was a child’s playground with well kept hedges,  flower gardens and neat footpaths wherever you walked.  The Botanical garden was unfenced.  Children  could wander in unaccompanied and enjoy the  ponds filled with fish or learn the names of trees on the metal plates attached to the stems of  trees.  The whole garden was a botanical wonderland of knowledge. 

Lae had two international schools and one International High School.  
It  now seems difficult  to imagine, but a bottle of Coke was 20 toea  and a pie, 50 toea.  Ten kina was a small fortune and if you had K20, you were a tycoon.  Bus fare was 10 toea for school kids.   We preferred to walk home and save money for the cinema on Saturday. 
That was Lae City.  People cared about where they lived and how they lived. 

12 comments on “My Lae City nostalgia: Going back in time

  1. Elsie Samarita Loth

    Reading through the article just brought the best memories of my childhood growing up in Lae. That was Lae then. As a child, my family and I once lived at Coronation Drive, where the War cemetery and the Botanical Garden was right next door of which we would spend our time at the war cemetry or enjoying the senrenity of the botanical garden or watch the movies at the cinema and walk home afterwards with. Very safe place then. Lae was the best place then growing up. The best days of my childhood.

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  2. Elsie Samarita Loth

    Reading through the article just brought the best memories of my childhood growing up in Lae. That was Lae then. As a child, my family and I once lived at Coronation Drive, where the War cemetery and the Botanical Garden was right next door of which we would spend our time at the war cemetry or enjoying the senrenity of the botanical garden or watch the movies at the cinema and walk home afterwards with. Very safe place then. Lae was the best place then growing up. The best days of my childhood.

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    • Those were the very best of times. If only it was the same today.. (economically & socially,etc..)

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  3. Elsie Samarita Loth

    Reading through the article just brought the best memories of my childhood growing up in Lae. That was Lae then. As a child, my family and I once lived at Coronation Drive, where the War cemetery and the Botanical Garden was right next door of which we would spend our time at the war cemetry or enjoying the senrenity of the botanical garden or watch the movies at the cinema and walk home afterwards with. Very safe place then. Lae was the best place then growing up. The best days of my childhood.

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    • Hi Elsie,
      Thank you for sharing your experiences! It was a wonderful place. I was talking to my son about what it was like and this blog article happened in a spur of the moment decision. I would like to see the same for the generation that is here now and those yet to come.

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      • Ha Lae! It hasn’t been the same since 😦
        Gone are the days of the movie theatres where, you could watch two movies for the price of one. Tom & Jerry cartoons to get you settled in, a break and then the headline movie! At Eriku & the Lae Theatre, you paid top kina to sit in the upper balcony, and the masses in the lower level. You felt like you were a tycoon sitting up top 🙂

        The Eriku Oval was an oasis for sports, Aussie rules, Softball, basketball. Played on one of the best women’s softball team in town, Lae Freightways – but every team was as competitive. Week days were spent practicing there, and on Saturday’s, women’s softball was in full swing. Men’s softball brought down the place on Sundays!!

        Walking from Balob Teacher’s College/Ampo areas, all the way to Eriku to play was the best times………….because if I had only a few kinas left in my pocket, it was to buy a big bottle of coca cola and fresh bread made from the Morobe bakery to eat after the game, and bus fare back home 🙂
        Haaaah!! memories, so much more to tell of the beautiful city, the beautiful people, walking to Sip Paia every weekend to swim in the ocean, the beautiful botanical garden, the beautiful and wonderful well kept homes along the streets that criss crossed Lae. The Hash House Harriers, the green bowling lane by Eriku, the Yatch Club, Aero Club, Melanesian Hotel, the racquet ball club at Top Town and Eriku, where we competed on teams. It’s a bygone era that lives on in this wonderful mind. Stories told to my kids who can only imagine it.

        Took my boys home back in 2008, and their biggest question to me was, “WHY DID YOU AND DAD LEAVE THIS PARADISE?” and wanted didn’t want to come back to the US.

        It isn’t the same, everything needs to be upgraded, roads fixed, buildings upgraded, roofs fixed, the city and its people have to take ownership of this wonderful place, its children, its parks and bring back movie theatres, because Lae City, as it was for us back in the last 30-40 years, a peaceful place…………needs to be brought back to its glory days. It takes everyone to make it work.

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  4. annemacca

    I lived at the Telikom college for 6 years when I was a kid. My Dad was a trainer.
    They used to show movies at the mess hall on weekends and we’d buy ice blocks at the canteen.
    Thanks for sharing.

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  5. William Sapmai

    Thankyou so much Scottie as I always address you during my employment with Telikom. I still can recall those good old days when I touched down at the newly built Nadzab airport tarmac way back around noon of February 1981 to commence training as a telephone technician at the the P&T college, now Telikom Training Centre. Those days, things in the shops were so cheap. At the same time the college was runned by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The food was great, we use to have full breakfast with cereals, big fat lunch and to finish it of with a three course meal dinner. On top of that we get an allowance of K60 to K70. Taxi services runned by Jumi Cabco was the only expensive means of travel for a fare of K5 from Lae town to the P&T college. Beer was going for K15 for a carton of stubbies those days. There were 5 theatres, Malahang, Market( lings freezer), top town ( newly renovated Morobe haus), Eriku and East Taraka( Anglican church). Most residents don’t have high fence and one can walk free in the nights after movies. I can go on and on but cannot bring back good old memory lane. planting story stap. Hat lo toktok.

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  6. John Laskam

    Thanks bro Scot. Just reading through your article really brought back memories of my childhood days. Lae was so peaceful and well structured set up. The manucipal authorities were very effective and efficient. Those days my friends and I would always look forward to the weekend because there were number of spots to hang out and have fun. The obvious ones are the cinemas. There were many specialty shops and toy shops that we usually frequent.

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  7. Pingback: Lae kids of the 70s, 80s and 90s share their personal experiences |

  8. Serah Narakou Ainui

    Thank you Scott. I remember my high school days in the mid 80s. Every Friday evening my brothers and I would walk from Salamanda St to Eriku theater (haus piksa) now Huon Haus and watch movies. The movies usually finishes around 10pm or 11pm and that’s when we would walk back to Salamanda St. It was very safe then. My family are still living at Salamanda St but I will never walk that road in the night again.
    Even going to Lae Show was more enjoyable and safe then. My girlfriends and I usually spend the whole day at the showground whereas in the recent years my kids and I have been going in at 8am and out at 12noon. Scared of being attacked or robbed outside the showground. Why are we especially women living in fear in the city we grew up in?

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