Thursday, August 16, 2012
Gypsy Dance at Bethesda Kindergarten
I was searching for some old photos and came across the above picture. My daughter was in K2 Bethesda Kindergarten at Frankel Estate. It was her class graduation day and parents were invited. Before the presentation of Graduation Certificate, her class performed a gypsy dance as in the above picture. This photo was taken in the mid 1960. My daughter is 3rd from the left. I hope to bring fond memories to the girls who are now very close to 50 years old or older. I believe they are mothers and one or two might even be grandmothers.
Sunday, August 5, 2012
Chun See wanted to turn back the clock and was trying to locate the former New World Amusement Park side gate so as to have another free entry. I remember the side gate entrance and tried to get my bearing. There was an open canal running along the side of the amusement park. A wooden bridge across the canal led to the side gate. The other end of the bridge led to the carpark. We looked around and found the open canal had been covered up with concrete. Part of it is now a walkway starting from Jalan Besar. The other half is a driveway and is named Kitchener Link. I could roughly guess the position of the side gate entrance and pointed it out to Chun See.
open canal concreted over to form a walkway
I walked along French Road and then to Jalan Besar to see the buildings that have replaced the three abattoirs before proceeding to City Square Mall for the opening ceremony of the Jalan Besar Heritage Trail. Then my memories flashed back to the abattoir days and the job I was doing.
Picture Story of Pig Abattoir
Pigs brought by butchers were kept in the abattoir pig pens
Meat Inspector examing pig carcasses
carcasses found fit for human consumption were branded
Picture Story of Cattle Abattoir
cattle brought to the abattoir for slaughter
skinning the cattle carcass before inspection
I was inspecting the cattle carcass with the help of a labourer
I was removing the localised infected part of the meat
cutting open the cattle liver for inspection
The three photos from the National Archives of Singapore surprised me. I did not expect to see pictures of myself doing meat inspection. I was not aware when the photos were taken in 1964.
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
The Straits Times 18 July 2012 published an article "Bloodbank gets boost on SPH Red Apple Day" The above article reminded me of an appeal by The Free Press dated 5 July 1955 with the opening sentence "Your blood may save a life".
I was then working in the City Council and the appeal for blood donation went to all the departments. The response was good for many of the staff signed up. One week later a mobile blood collection unit arrived at City Council. It was formed in 1949 to enable donors to give blood near their homes or at their workplaces. A year later the Singapore Blood Transfusion Service (SBTS) began giving out certificates, badges and medals to recognise its regular donors.
The SBTS took 100cc of blood from each donor as stated in the Free Press. But in my case, because I had blood group "B" which was very rare and most useful to save life, more than twice the amount (220 cc) of blood was taken from me. I donated blood to save lives and also to find out my blood group. As a blood donor I was given a certificate which showed my name, blood group and the amount of blood donated.
Later when there was an appeal, I went directly to SBTS to donate blood and was given a can of beer or stout to drink at each visit. I understand SBTS had stopped giving free beer/stout to donors sometime ago.
Friday, June 22, 2012
Two koyoke men who worked in pairs.
Heat up to soften the koyoke
Apply the koyoke on the affected part of the body
In the 1950s I like to watch kung fu men selling Chinese medicine and black plaster. They were always in pair. One man would advertise and boast about his medicine while other beat the gong at intervals. Koyoke was a black plaster made from herbs. It relieved all sorts of muscle pains including sprained ankle. A fresh koyoke could be used straight away. If kept a few days, it needed to be heated up to soften and then applied to the affected part of the body.
I liked to watch the kung fu men promoting their merchandise. It was usually held at busy places such street corners, vacant lands and wayang sites. They set up stall by beating the gong repeatedly to attract people. When a crowd was form the medicine one of them performed some kung fu steps and introduced his merchandise. He added humour in the talk to make the crowd laugh. I had to watch the show behind the crowd. As a kid my view to the front was blocked and I had to keep on moving to have a glimpse of the the front. On a few occasions I was early and managed to squad in the front row.
Time has changed and the traditional way of selling Chinese koyoke becomes a thing of the past. Setting up a stall needs to be licensed and the noise from beating a gong is considered a source of annoyance or nuisance.
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Another toy is walking on empty tin containers like stilt walking. It can be empty milk tins or cigarette tins. Method: Used a nail to knock a hole in the center of the tin. Put a string through the hole and tied a knot bigger than the hole to prevent it from slipping through the hole. Hold the other end with your hand. Do the same with the other empty tin. Then stand of the empty tins, one with each foot. Pull both string tight so that the tins hold onto your feet as you walk forward as shown in the picture. Usually the kids challenged one another to see who could walk the farthest with the empty tins.
I am sure many of you can relate to the above.
Saturday, May 26, 2012
The above photo was taken outside my house. It shows children playingt together. The boy in singlet is my brother. At the background on the left of the photo is a group of kampong folks chatting. They met at the front of a provision shop which is hidden by the fence.
Unfortunately part of the kampong had been acquired by the government for the MRT line and Sim's Ave extension. Other parts of the kampong gave way to new developments such as private housing. It is difficult to have the same kampong spirit when resited to a new environment.
Magic show held at void deck
What happens now? Over the years I noticed the kampong spirit declining. Original residents had moved out and new ones moved in. There was no more pock-luck and organised activities had ceased. The children in the photos have grown up, got married and moved out. The void deck is now very quiet. There is no more kampong spirit among the neighbours. But the original residents which are a handful now still maintained a very good relationship.
Monday, April 2, 2012
On 27 Mar 2012 The Straits Times published an article regarding primary one school registration. Its caption "Registration changes will mean more slots for Singaporeans". Having priority over permanent resident kids is clearance of first obstacle. Singaporean kids have still to compete among themselves in other phases of primary one school registration excercise. Sibblings already in the school are automatically given a place. Next phase is children living within the school zone, that is within 1 km of the school. Final phase are for children who had no affiliation with the school and will be balloted for the remaining vacancies.
The school primary one registration exercise flashed my mind back to 1969 when my eldest son Chris had to register for a place in primary one at St Stephen's School. He came under the last phase excercise and there was no balloting then. It was a 'first come first serve' exercise and the long overnight queue was like buying a condo during the building boom. At that time there were very few primary schools in the east. We opted for St Stephen's School and had to queue up overnight to get a place for him. My son was lucky to get a place. I am not sure about those who were lining up behind us as there was very few vacancy left. Three years later I went to the same school to register for my second on the appointed date. He was automatically given a place for having a brother in the same school. I think the primary one registration exercise should be reviewed and changed to a system that is fair to all.
St Stephen's School sports day was featured in The New Nation newspapers on Thursday May 13 1971. The boy in the center is my son Chris. He took part in the 8 x 25m relay. Each boy had a bag on his head while running. It's a matter of balancing. That was 41 years ago and his children are now older than he was in the above picture.
On Monday April 14 1980 The Straits Times published an article about student police corps in St. Patrick's School. Again he was mentioned in the article together with a group photo.
In that year the student corps actually helped the police to detain a suspect who allegedly robbed a student of his watch in the school compound. They investigated the case by interviewing the victim and managed to established the identity of the suspect including a photograph of him. The student corps went to Joo Chiat Police Station and provided the police with what they had found. Later the suspect was arrest.
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Many senior citizens are quite familiar with the shorthand book shown above. I found it hidden somewhere in my bookselves. I remember shorthand courses were very popular in the 1960/1970s, especially with young girls who aspired to be a stenographer (steno). The pay was better than an ordinary typist. Furthermore a steno could be the Company's secretary or personal assistant to a Manager, Director or CEO. She had to serve hot drinks to her boss every morning although it was not part of the job description. A steno had to take dictations by using shorthand, that is using symbols or abbreviations for words and phrases. In that way it was faster than writing word by word. There were 2 forms of shorthand. One was known as Pitman shorthand and the other Gregg shorhand. Both were equally popular. It was widely used before the invention of voice recording machine.
Saturday, January 21, 2012
A giant has fallen and is breathing its last breath. Will it be able to get up again? I attached much sentimental past with Kodak cameras and Kodachrome movie film. During school days I had a Kodak Brownie camera. It was cheap and easy to use. Later I upgraded to a Brownie box camera. Each negative was square in shape and the hard copy was exactly the same size as the negative.
Square negatives and photos
I do not know the reason for keeping the negatives except putting them aside after the photos were printed. Now they have become more precious as the negatives and the photos reminded me of the past, especially my growing up years.
Each small reel of movie film was glued together to make it into a spool for about half an hour show. I had a Japanese projector but the film was often jammed and burnt due to very intense heat from the projector's light. I had to cut the film, removed the burnt part and joined the two ends together. Much films were wasted in this way. It was very tedious as everything was done manually. Thinking about it, the time spent was really worth. Now I can look back when I was once young. I can still see in the movie films (converted to DVD) the places that had disappeared or had new landscapes. National Theatre and Van Kleef Aquarium had been demolished. Raffles Place has new landscaping. The Changi beach that we used to go for swimming and picnics is different now. The kelongs or fishing stakes that were close to the beach and the sampans for hire had disappeared too.
8 mm Kodachrome movie film
small reels of 8 mm movie films
spools of 8 mm Kodachrome movie films
Sunday, January 1, 2012
Chinese New Year is fast approaching. It reminded me of the time when I was still working in Jurong. Every new year my colleagues came visiting and we had an enjoyable time together. A group picture was taken each year for remembrance. They were Chinese, Malay and Indians. It was real racial harmony.
Many Chinese are looking forward to this coming Chinese New Year because it will be the 'Year of the Dragon'. An auspicious year for most Chinese who wishes to have a 'dragon' son or grandson. Dragon is the fifth sign of lunar cycle. There are five types of dragon and each has an element such as metal, water, wood, fire and earth. My son was born under the sign of 'wood dragon'. He has chosen to live in US. During one dragon year I painted a dragon on the wall to remind me of him. An elder relative who came visiting then told me that my dragon had four claws which was no good and advised me to erase it. I did not bother to find out the reason then. After the festive period was over I erased the dragon painting with a few coats of white paint. Each lunar animal sign has a cycle is twelve years. When the dragon year was approaching, I painted a five claws dragon on another wall. I still do not understand why a four claws dragon is bad. Perhaps, someone can enlighten me.
Chines New Year 1978 & 1979