Saturday, October 24, 2009

Siang Lim Park - 1950's to 1970's, part 2.

11 House facing Guillemard Road where Agnes lived. She was a family friend and was a regular at our home.

12 Albert Liew, another old family friend and regular visitor, lived here. In his compound he had some very good guava trees of the red variety and a most tempting “buah kedong-dong” tree with lovely fruits. His kampong nickname, which still sticks till this day ( we remain in touch ), is “buah long long ". Yes..that's what we all fondly called him.

13 This was the home of a well-known Malay film actor Aziz Jaafar.He starred in many Malay films from the 50’s, 60's onward. When he wasn’t acting, he was just like anyone of us ordinary folks in the kampong.
We kampong folks were very proud that we had him in our midst. His home was just a minute walk from ours. This legendary actor passed away in 2005, aged 73. I will do a separate post about him.

14 An Indian family lived here. Yaswant and Yanti the two sons were our childhood kampong friends. Their home had a very fragrant jambu mawar tree.

15 Another Indian family lived here. The son, Terun Kumar, whom we fondly call “baba” till today ( we are still in touch) is about my younger brother’s age. Of all the kampong kids, he was the closest to us and was treated almost like an adopted son of our family. My late parents, and that included all of us, were very fond of him. So, a major blogpost huh?

16 A very loving chinese couple lived here with their two young kids. He was a driver of a private school bus and she a good homemaker.Tragedy struck one day when they went to a picnic at Pasir Ris.He got into difficulty in the sea and drowned. The devastated poor wife took it
upon herself to bring up the family after that heart-rending event. She learnt driving and took over the role of the late husband. Not many women could pass driving in those days.

17 The house of Mr Seow Cheng Fong who lived with his wife and a pretty daughter. Later, he lived all alone when mum and daughter moved out. Mr Seow or “old man Seow” was one of the most respected figures of our kampong. He was an educationist, lecturer in Literature, theatre and drama and a Shakespearean expert. One of his very dear comrade in politics and close friend was none other than C V DEVAN NAIR, our late former President. Seow Cheng Fong was a founder-member of the Malayan Democratic Union ( MDU) around 1946. Unk Dicko was close to him. He will be covered in some upcoming major posts.

18 This was the corner house at the other end of our same row. My fellow residents of our kampong will remember they had the largest red Jambu Ayer tree which covered the whole compound and outside. Many of us used to climb the tree to pluck the plentiful fruits.. without permission. The family members would sometimes yell weakly and all would descend. But they allowed us to pluck with bamboo poles tied with hooks.

19 Home of my childhood friend William, about a year or two younger than me. He was a gentle giant, good-natured and mild mannered. I received shocking news that he passed away ( sudden illness ) when I was away at OBS in 1969. We were still living there then. Next to his home lived some women of whom my late mother and others referred to in Cantonese as ”tah pow por”. Know what that is? Don't know? Time to learn some Cantonese...haha.

20 There were only two shops in the whole of Siang Lim Park. This was the Indian “mamak” provision shop. The owner and boss was very close to us as we were just opposite him.

21 This was the other provision shop owned by a Chinese family. They were not as popular as “mamak” because of two reasons:- their prices were slightly higher and they were not as friendly.

[ Don't miss part post ]


peter said...

There are only 2 possibilities why Uncle Dicko knows so much.

Either the people who live in the estate are gossipers or that the residents are very close despite cultural and socio-economic differences. I find the latter argument more persuasive.

From my personal experience in a private estate, this was the kind of ambience we enjoyed in the 1960s. Unfortunately these days, you don't get this kind of atmosphere anymore on landed estates, what more in high-rise living.

For example, I didn't even know I had as my neigbours a Permanent Secretary, an owner of a chain of hifi speakers in Singapore, an "Ah Long San" (not "Runners" ok) who changes BMW cars every 1 year, public-listed company chairman who was kicked-out....Gee, what's happening? How come we don't know about our neighbours or communciate?

unk Dicko said...

Good observation you have...well done!There are many good reasons why the "ambience" was infinitely far better and superior to our modern townships, enclaves or estates...even with all the Resident Committees, Block Committees,Neighbourhood Committees place. All these committees do not spring up naturally. They are created "artificially" for specific purposes, one of which is hopefully to foster closer neighbourliness.
In the good old days there were no such committees. My kampong had none. Good neighbourliness begins with communication among neighbours...something that folks living in the 50's to 70's did naturally,on a daily basis.
We had time for each other. We made friends easily. And everyone in the kampong was regarded as a fellow "kamponger" regardless of race,language,religion,educational level or social strata.
As I've said, there was no need for any appointed committee to settle even differences or spats among neighbours.
For sure, humans living close to one another have problems with each other occasionally. But always, those involved respect the natural advice, guidance and assistance provided by fellow neighbours. Common sense usually prevailed.
We never fought over boundary, rights or property. There was in evidence a clear "give and take " attitude. Very little of taking, more of giving.
Today...most people keep to themselves. The attitude is "you don't disturb me and I won't disturb you." So, you may live for 2 decades with neighbourly STRANGERS!
Never could happen in my kampong of SL Park.

Andy Young* said...

Maybe we've met along the way. Used to live across Geylang Road at Lorong 39.

There was a sarabat stall in the evening and an ice-ball man in the day at the corner. That's where I chatted with friends about The Platters and Dean Martin.

Joined the Velvetones guitar group on the other end of Lorong 39 at Sims Avenue, near Lim Yew Hock's house. Remember?

unk Dicko said...

We just might have met..Andy Young!
On free evenings and nights, I used to chat with friends from my own kampong, Lor 40 as well as some from across the main road ( your side-Lor 35,37, 39 and 41) and some from the malay kampong of enku aman.
Behind the shophouses fronting the main road, was the very useful backlane. During the night, the place really come out alive...with foodstalls. Located between Lor 41 and Geylang/Paya Lebar road junction.
It was the favourite supper place for many of us. Very good satay, hokkien mee,satay bee hoon, porridge..etc yummy! Remember?
Guess all of us from Geylang must know about the late Chief Minister Lim Yew Hock whose house was between Lorong 37 and 39.
I do recall your group the Velvetones.
Hopefully, you can add more memories of Geylang of the bygone days here.

Victor said...

Never mind about not being neighbourly in modern Singapore. I am just grateful that I don't have "Everitt Road-type" neighbours.

unk Dicko said...

Poor Everitt Road property prices! I guess you're right. I would have moved out not because I am afraid of screwball but surely the on-going,never ending saga would have brought very negative and bad publicity to those trapped living there. Potential buyers of property would be frightened of.

Anonymous said...

Can we 'ever get rid' of the culprits?

Is there a way to entice them to move out?

peter said...

It goes to show some parts of Singapore can still live "above the law". Oops! Got to watch what i say otherwise kena video clipped or show hand sign.

unk Dicko said...

At the height of the mother of all spats in Everitt Road when the case went to court..did you all know that Malaysians came all the way from Johore and Malacca not to visit our historical places but to visit Everitt Road?
So it has become an unwanted tourist attraction!

Soon Lee Ling said...

Hi, I in the midst of doing research about the residents of Siang Lim Park in the late 50s and early 60s. If I can get in touch with Tarun Kumar alias Baba, would appreciate his contact details. Does he reside in Singapore or India. Namaste, kemp cho TK.

unk Dicko said...

Hi Rose,
Baba attended the wake of my late mother in Jan 2007. There were quite a few old kampong friends and former neighbours.
I'm not sure where he is at the moment but will check up.
Btw, the late Mr Seow Cheng Fong's daughter VIN has reconnected with me through this blog. She's living in Florida.
You might know her too as she used to come out to play in the backlne near my place.

Anonymous said...

Hello Unk Dicko!

You are really a historian, I like your blogs! Anyway, I'm doing a project on Singapore Keramats. Seeing that you may have some info that I need, for example, on the 2 keramats @ Siang Lim Pk, I think I need more info., hopefully you are willing to share :) Do you have any email addr? Thanks!

Unk Dicko said...

Hi there,
Certainly I have email contact. But to prevent SPAM and other junk mail from going to my address...I have not included here.
However, anyone who can send me your email contact address as a comment here..I can reply to you and will delete that email address/comment so that no one cam misuse it.
Also you can send me a private message on Facebook under my FB name Dick Yip ( my photos can confirm who I am ).
Thanks !

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