Kathryn Gordon Bernstein
The Long Street Baths
“This is a personal journey steeped in nostalgia yet relevant today. I was an asthmatic child and my father didn’t believe in coddling me, as was the fashion in the 60’s. Instead, he took me swimming. My favourite place to swim was the Long Street Baths. The water, the light and the patterns on the mosaics captivated me, and still do.
The interior is like a cathedral that comes alive as people pass through it all day. Up until 1986 the complex was proclaimed a whites-only area but now it’s a melting pot of different races, cultures, ages and professions. Jewish and Muslim men talking about the olden days give way to children from affluent areas and from the townships, swimming together, their laughter reverberating from the high ceiling.
I thank my dad for his unconditional love. His persistence paid off in so many ways. I remember the first camera he bought me and how he used to save the old National Geographic magazines for me from the charity book stall that he ran. He was a man among men who devoted his life to charity, helping others without wanting praise or publicity for himself. I thank him for the love of photography and swimming he passed on to me.”