Friday, May 7, 2010

From Siang Lim Florida, USA !

Photo circa early 60's: [ Courtesy of Vin Cain of Florida ( Bibik Yankee ) ]

After I began my posts about my old kampong of "FRAGRANT FOREST" aka Siang Lim Park, with a handdrawn updated map and describing the many interesting personalities and people who like me had once lived there, no one I personally knew from SLP had reconnected with me via the blog story. All that changed rather dramatically while I was away holidaying in the early winter of Europe. On the move through Italy, Switzerland and France, D2 and I deliberately kept away from the internet so as not to be sidetracked by emails and whatnots.

On our return, we had to go through hundreds of emails that piled up. Of all my mail or messages, there was one from someone not yet familiar to me by the monicker of " Bibik Yankee" which appeared on my Comment Box at my Blogsite. Click HERE and HERE to read that post and comments.

Check up item 17....Mr Seow Cheng Fong, Devan Nair etc..

After few short exchange of info and past data we both knew who we previously were in the 60's. Vin is the only daughter/child of the late Seow Cheng Fong, a man who was highly respected and well regarded in our Fragrant Forest. I not only knew him well as a neighbour ( just a few seconds away! ) but he was also my 2nd boss at my first school I taught in..... PBS. He was also at our wedding, together with many invited fellow kampongers.

I decided to include our mutual updating by email here as blog content as many of the tidbits, details and anecdotes are too interesting not to share with you the readers.

Vin, that sweet little girl in the photo above...has the Honour of being the 1st former "Fragrant Forest" bona fide resident to check in and confirm her Siang Lim Park roots at this SLP site.

Two days ago, Soon Lee Ling ( aka Rose in my post ) became the 2nd genuine SLP former resident to check in here.

I am astounded! Never dreamt that in so short a time that through my efforts at this blog dear friends and good neighbours like Vin and Ling can now be in touch with others , with former childhood friends, so long as more and more come here and check in!

So, if you were a former resident of SL Park or Lorong 40 or Guillemard Rd or Geylang Rd ( near Lor 40), do not be shy. Put in a simple comment in the Box. No matter when you once lived it in the 40's to 70's or 70's to 90's...I, WE would love to hear from you!

Let's relive the sweet memories through reconnecting again, through photos, and dare I suggest a kopi chat! From the great Musical "Camelot" ( about King Arthur's enchanted forest )I still recall this poignant line: "In short there's simply not, a more congenial spot for happy ever -aftering than here in Camelot! ( SL Park!)

Hi Vin,

First of all, thanks v much for that old photo. It brought back a ton of pleasant memories for me. I've been looking and re-looking the whole scene and the background again, trying to pick out little pieces of the past from that frozen piece of time. I can still see the corner house with the zinc boarding where the "Liew" family lived. Albert Liew being the eldest son was an albino ( you do remember him I'm sure...the only one in our kampong). He, my eldest brother John, sis Jenny and a few others in SL Park were all members of the Geylang Methodist Church. Often, during the annual X'mas carolling party...all of them would visit SL Park at night. And guess who was the eternal Santa Claus in full garb. Yes, it was always Albert Liew! We are still in contact.

Vin, I am saddened to hear about your dad's passing. I had no knowledge at all having lost contact with many former kampong neighbours and friends. Your dad knew my parents well too and stopped to chat with them whenever he was nearby our place.When I first joined the education service in 1967, fate played a hand. I was posted to Presbyterian Boys' School where your dad happened to be the Senior Assistant ( today's version of vice-principal). I did not know beforehand! More was to follow.

When I was attending lectures at the Teachers Training College...I found him there too!He was lecturing English Literature on a part time basis. Thus from time to time, when our schedules met, your dad would pick me up from SL Park in his old but very reliable car and merrily we would proceed to the TTC together. I still remember he used to park the car just beside your house, along the backlane. For a long time, his was the only car there. I was at PBS for 17 years from 1967 - 1983. A year before I left the school for Hwa Chong JC, July 23 1982...then President, Devan Nair came on an informal visit. He stayed the whole day even conducting a Literature lesson! During a break with the staff, he asked about your dad openly...and was told that your dad had by then retired from service.He next asked if anyone knew where your dad lived. The staff all pointed to me... and obviously I told the President. In an aside, he told the staff that Seow Cheng Fong was an old friend and comrade and that he would like to visit him one day.I must say I never knew whether he was able to meet up again with your dad. The 3 photos I have attached were taken the the night of 15 Dec 1970 at our wedding dinner at the Golden Crown Restaurant, Queenstown. In the 1st picture, your dad and other kampong friends at the table. "M" is for " Mat Tikus" who lived at the left corner of Lor40/ guillemard Rd. His younger brother was Salim( always got into all sorts of trouble! ). B is for " Baba" ( real name Terun Kumar ) who was neighbour of the widow. A is Jalil. He was at Lor 39 area. The 2nd picture: A is Sam, my sis Jenny's husband. B is again Baba. Behind him, my father and then us ( me and wife Daisie ). C is your dad. The 3rd picture: A is Sam. B is "Bibik", the mother of Kok Poh who lived at the other side of our kampong. I mentioned her in my blog as a very good "see-sek" player. So, let's remain in touch and there's so much to update about ourselves and all around us. Btw, my dad passed on around 1997 aged 91+, my mum in 2007 January aged 93+ . All my brothers except for Alfred have retired from work. Florence and her hubby run a very successful air-con business. I myself have retired from service since 2005 and keep myself busy and active with 4 grandkids to occupy me, travelling,sports, music( esp the Ukulele which I teach ), blogging and other hobbies. The mystery of KF is actually no mystery. My Chinese name has always been Kum Foo. But somehow some people still say it in their own special ways...Kum became Kim or at times Kung and so on. I never did mind.

On Sun, Dec 20, 2009 at 10:47 PM, Bibik Florida wrote:


I noticed your "K F" part sounds like "kungfu"? Facebook is going through its "born again" stage. It just slapped every account with enforced new settings and on Fri (US time) tried to revert to its old settings but in a partial way, I've given up so I just do my own reviewing of privacy settings now and then, as I'm pretty private ~ always have been, being an only child.

My dad lived in SL Park till early '95 when he starting moving partially, slowly to my place along Clemenceau Ave near Newton Circus. When he got compensation of some sort, he moved in fully and stayed with me for over 2 yrs. He wanted a place in Bedok area so we bought a corner flat close to MRT & market in Bedok North. He seemed happy there as he had friends living nearby. In 98 he came down with dengue fever and was hospitalized. That brought on problem after problem during his 14 day stay in TTSH. He insisted on going home and his GP agreed to monitor. 7 days later he passed away in his sleep on a Fri night because I came to meet him for our Sat lunch and found him in bed. His GP confirmed it was death in sleep as his clothes and sheets were all in order.
My mum bought a place in Katong area but he simply refused to move, so there I was torn between the devil and the deep blue sea, hmm, maybe that's a bit grave an expression (hehe pun intended). Anyway I used to attend school then go to SL Park for him to check my books etc. and I guess there came a time when I simply had to tone down my tom-boy traits and be more genteel so I didn't 'roam the streets' so much.
I moved to FL in 2002 but only sold my place in Tiong Bahru in 2007 as I found it crazy having to go back every year, for about a month, to clean and care for the place. Orlando is a 2-hr drive from me and Space Centre is 1.5 but in the opposite direction. It's nice here, a slower pace of living, very clean air and we were lucky to find this superb "hidden" plot of land, 2 mins drive to supermarkets, library, etc but close to rivers & nature reserves, even local friends are surprised of its existence. So we built our new house incorporating some feng-shui and moved in 7 mos ago. But we still have a condo unit, right by the river, for sale and in today's market, we might still own it for quite a while.
So what's new in Singapore and the Yip family? Typing about SG, I think I'll make kai-chok (chicken porridge) for lunch as we have a cold front in today - 11*C, nice & refreshing!ciao4nowvin

Hi unk Dick,
Thanks for doing up the old pic. That's Jessie (lived next to jambu ayer), me and Helen (daughter of Ah Pui, the original Chinese provision shop owner).
Wow, looking at your wedding pics is like walking through the time-tunnel. The moment I saw your face the "KungFu" ring came back loud and clear. And yes, I knew Salim's face the moment I saw him there too. Good grief! I didn't know you were in PBS - and for 17 years! Devan Nair, yes, they go back a long, long time. Nair was also a teacher once and a group of teachers would rent a seaside bungalow and spend hours each day, planning and doing up syllabus, timetables, etc. I still remember that humongous black Remington typewriter that went from our dining table to the bungalow's 'big table' and home again... for a couple of years. While the teachers did their thing, Mrs Nair would warm up her big pot of curry, stirring away and chatting with all the wives about... who knows?! I was too young to understand. Jenadan Devan (ST's journalist/editor, Nair's eldest son) was my 'guardian'. He would literally follow me all over including into the sea to make sure I was safe. Another Lit teacher buddy of theirs was Uncle Seong Yam who lived in old Beach Road area, in case you happen to know him.
Yes, Devan Nair & dad did get to meet later in life because I remember being asked if I would like to join them for lunch. I offered to drive him to the cafe in the Supreme Court building but he said "no lah, I'm going to be chauffeur driven today". I can't remember what year that was but I opted out as it was an "old boys' chat".Did you know that he was also involved in labor/arbitration courts? I've got a pic somewhere that had him and Devan Nair during a hearing. I'll keep digging my old boxes.
This getting interesting. I'll be visiting your blog to read your updates. :)

ta ta for now, vin


Oldyonfoldy said...

Hello Unk Dicko. Im looking for a picture of a typical house in Siang Lim Park. This estate was built by Chan Teck Chye, a wealthy Malaccan developer who lived from 1882-1974. There are 11 pairs of 2 bedroom houses in Limbongan Malacca that he built which has an Anglo Malay architectural style. I wonder if you can send me a picture of SL Park houses or write to me at lovethefold add gmail dot com. I am interested in history and heritage of Malaya and Spore :) Thank you so much. Great blog. Alvin Lee

Unk Dicko said...

Hi Alvin,thanks for dropping by and your warm comments.I taught history during my early days in teaching among a few other subjects. Heritage and history are indelibly linked. Will try to attend to your request about photo of S L Park. Are you located at Malacca today or in S'pore ?

siu kang fook said...

Found SEOW CHENG FONG niche at Mt Vernon. Raffles Institution's Head Prefect in 1934,

Unk Dicko said...

Thanks for your valuable comment and input. By the way are you personally acquainted with the late Mr Seow Cheng Fong ? His daughter Vin and I are in contact on Facebook.