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May 12, 2010

Kim Chuan Road in the 1960s

Photo 1: "Tua Kim" (Elder Auntie) with her grandchildren photos taken in the late 1980s in front of the house at Kim Chuan Road.
(Photo taken standing from left to right): Ah Lian, Ah Siew, "Tua Kim", Ah Hua, Ah Bee, Ah Ho. All nicknames are shown.

The late "Tua Kim" in an old photo taken with my elder sister, May and Wei in July, 1985.

Photo 2: The playgroup kids for a photo taken beside the house. In the background was the "rambutan plantation" before the house was resettled and demolished in the 1990s.

Photo 3: Another kids playgroup at the stair steps.

Photo 4: "Tua Kim" at lunch with her friend.

Photo 5: My nephew Andy on kiddie tricycle with his sister, Judy.

Photo 6: Cousin buddies.

Photo 7: Badminton game with improvised wooden racket planks and shuttlecock.

Photo 8: Childhood games in the kampung. So fun!

Photo 9: A group of cousins watching the badminton game.

This blog is an incidental reminiscence of a happy childhood time at Kim Chuan Road about 50 years ago.

The album collection of the photos here were taken in the late 1980s.

When I found the photos recently, it somehow triggered me the TV ad with the slogan adapted from ‘In My Life’ by John Lennon & Paul McCartney:

"There are places I remember, all my life,
though some have changed
Some forever not for better,
some have gone and some remain…
All these places have their moments,
with lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead, some are living
in my life I’ve loved them all.”

"What the heart cherishes, there its home will be".

Please turn on the PC speaker.



The kampung house is gone. My favorite "Tua Kim" (elder auntie) had passed on several years ago.

Another blog I had associated was about "Memory Aid for The Elderly"

A friend had previously asked me about his memories of firework display: “How to remember something which happened about 60 years ago? Most of those people who brought me to watch the firework display are no longer around and I do not have any old photos to help me to recollect these events“. He has a point there".

As Aldous Huxley said: "Experience is not what happens to a man, it is what a man does with what happened to him."

The kids and teenagers who appeared in the photos have grown into adults now, most of whom have become parents themselves. Some of them have located elsewhere and migrated overseas. Others have homes in various parts of Singapore.

I remembered that the occasion was initiated by my cousin, Lucy Cheong. She wanted to invite everyone in the family before the Kim Chuan Road house was demolished in sometime 1990. Fond memories of a family gathering which happened twenty years ago at the old house.

MEMORIES...









Who knows, some of my cousins could be surprised that these photos ever existed ; )

Google 'satellite' map of Kim Chuan Road captured online (May, 2010).

Google 'hybrid' map of Kim Chuan Road captured online (May, 2010).

Map of Kim Chuan Road extracted from Singapore Street Directory of 7th Edition, Mar 1963.

Reflection by blogging is a form of "travel journal" about the past on their reminiscence. Literate folks may keep diaries but the not-so-literate ones have to store and depend only their memories. Bitter memories should be forgotten, but fond memories should not be thrown the baby out with the bath water. Just throw away the water, not the baby.

Notwithstanding this, most people may also attach different emotions and feelings to our experiences with selective memories. I realised that this happy moments of my childhood at Kim Chuan Road in the 1960s is slow in my thoughts.

Please come join me on a boyhood journey 50 years ago on this blog with the help of photos, street directory, Google maps as the memory-aid for the elders...and the best my memories could help me to remember not to forget. Of course, not to mention and thank the supportive "bloggers of my same feather" network to help to jolt my memories often now and then with email and comments. Some of the blog topics may be the places where we grew up in the similar places or neighborhood and times, but our individual experiences are never the same.

The link to related posts of other blogs of a similar topic help the collective memories and information for the benefit and convenience of readers on the blogs.

Here goes my trip to Kim Chuan Road in the 1960s:

Kim Chuan Road as I remembered it in my young days was considered a suburban, not an "ulu" (remote countryside or forested) place easy for people to find. It was not like a messy, cluttered kampung where I grew up in Bukit Ho Swee.

Tua Kim's house was located quite near their neighbors, lined with houses along the mud-track. The mud-track path from a short distance of Kim Chuan Road, as marked with 'X' in red on the street directory and Google maps.

In those days, Tua Kim's house at Kim Chuan Road leads to the junction of Paya Lebar Road, near a bus-stop. With the help of the 1963 map, the landmarks around the area were Bartley Primary and Secondary Schools, Times Centre at New Industrial Road, Lorong Tai Seng, Bright Cinema, Playfair Primary School and a row of shophouses on the main trunk road of Paya Lebar. The bus service at that time was operated by the defunct Tay Koh Yat Bus Company (forgotten the bus service number though).

The entire area was earmarked as an industrial sector, most parts of which are already developed in Paya Lebar as seen on the latest Google maps.

The first time I went to Tua Kim's house was stayed with my mother (the sister-in-law of her late elder brother) during my primary four school holidays for two weeks.

I was very "suakoo" (country bumpkin) and lots of anecdotes of my personal experience while staying at Tua Kim's house for almost every school holiday until I started secondary school. In primary five, I was able to travel on my own by bus from home to Tua Kim's house.

My first visit to Tua Kim's house, my mother and Tua Kim had a big fright when they were in the house and I was roaming around with curiosity.

Tua Kim's dog was a stranger to me when I first arrived the house. The dog's name was Bobby, a very good guard dog and watchful to outsiders. To Bobby, it followed me around the house wherever I went on that visit.

At the back of the house was a small wooden hen coop. Tua Kim told me that the hen she reared lays egg (the hen lays egg, not my Tua Kim ; )

I was told that if the egg is laid immediately, the egg shell would be warm and I could swallow the egg without boiling. The fresh egg consumed this way is nutritious and make us strong, I was told. The teacher didn't taught me this in primary school during Nature Study lesson. I learnt something new!

While on my own exploration around the hen coop, I discovered that there was an egg inside. I took the egg and found it warm. I then broke the shell and swallowed up the egg. It was really tasty and fresh.

The next moment out of no sight, I found Bobby chasing after me and I was screaming and crying, shouting out at the top of my voice. I was running around the house while Bobby was chasing after me.

Tua Kim and my mother then quickly dashed out of the house when they heard the commotion with Bobby barking to attack me. Fortunately, Tua Kim ordered Bobby to go back to the house and chained it up.

It was funny to laugh about it after the episode was over. No injury harm. Bobby was just doing his work to guard the eggs.

That was really an unforgettable childhood experience to remember until this day.

Bobby was a big, white furry dog which became to be friendly after my many visits to the house. Poor Bobby. He passed away over thirty years ago.

Photo 1 shows the asbestos and zinc house with wooden walls, which "Tua Kim" stayed under one roof with her three sons and a daughter, Lucy. My cousins were not yet married at that time. The main house with a small hall and two rooms; one stayed by Lucy and Tua Kim while another room with deck beds for the three male cousins.

Next comes the interesting living style in the kampung which youngsters now in Singapore have never heard about:

At another section of the house was the kitchen. Cooking was not done by chopped wood, charcoal or the modern day PUB piped gas or gas container.

It was by sawdust collected from the wood factories in the nearby. Well, that was new to me in my young days at Bukit Ho Swee. It would be wonderful if fellow bloggers could describe and share their enriching and interesting lifestyle blogs in the kampungs before private houses and HDB heartlands were developed in Singapore.

The house was lighted with portable kerosene lamps, two or three of them whenever necessary to save energy and money.

Outside the kitchen was the home-owned well, to fetch water for cooking, bathing and other residential use. The well was built when I witnessed it once on my at stay Tua Kim's house during a school holiday. Not constructed by contractor, but by my three strong male cousins and able-bodied neighbors.

The community wooden latrine was shared with the next door neighbor, a vegetable farmer. The toilet was built above the cemented "pond", to be used as fertiliser for watering the vegetables to recycle...no waste. The "latrine experience" was unforgetable...'pong', 'pong' popping up from the water when the hard shit hit the user. (I beg your pardon, this is an exclamation by the blogger when he described himself as a young boy then ; ).

The breakfast every morning was Teochew home-cooked porridge with simple dishes, cooked by Tua Kim, a Teochew (while my mother was a Hokkien). She introduced to me for the first time in my life, the 'black olive', her favorite. Somehow, I like the 'black olive" with hot porridge after awhile. What an interesting cuisine experience during my kampung days.

Photo 2 is the background of the "rambutan plantation", owned by a neighbor. He was a friendly elderly man with while hair. We nicknamed him "Lau Hero" (Old Hero).

Although fenced, there was an entrance to a public access by a gate. There were about fifty rambutan trees in the plantation. Whenever the rambutans are ripe, we kids helped "Lau Hero" to help him and his family to harvest the fruits. We were allowed to pluck the rambutans for eating, but not to destroy the branches and the trees.

This was the most enjoyable visit during harvest time. My youngest cousin, Ah Leong, is an expert swinging from trees to trees like a Tarzan. With him and my childhood friends of my age, Ah Siong and Ah Puat, the rambutan feast at harvest time was most remembrance. I couldn't climb very well though. So I just help to eat the sweet and fresh rambutans when others pluck ; )

Those were the happy childhood days of my personal experience at Kim Chuan Road in the 1960s. The kids shown in the photos lived in another different generation and their children of the young relatives.

Whatever at every era, every kid at every different time with different space during schooldays to learn, to enjoy and explore school and community activities for them to reminisce in four decades or more. Its the kids grow naturally at one's own pace and own time.

Unfortunately, the thoughts dragged on a lengthy blog to record as and when those incidents had happened. Some may say that it was just like yesterday and my memories are vivid and fresh. Not for me to turn back the memory clockwork so fast though.

I enjoyed the childhood memories with fun! Thanks your patience for reading.

Related Posts:

Visit the blogs on Memories of Ipoh/Malaysia by Lam Chun See at "Good Morning Yesterday".

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17 Comments:

Blogger Victor said...

Nice photos of kampung living, James. But which one was you?

May 13, 2010 at 12:37 AM  
Blogger Lam Chun See said...

For children, visiting cousins house is always a very enjoyable time. Many of our friends came and stayed over at my kampong house when we were small. Some were city kids like you and Victor and found the experience very refreshing.

Likewise, when we stayed over at our cousin's house at Dorset Rd, it was such a nice experience. Best part was, Farrer Park swimming pool was within walking distance.

Hence I can understand why my kids enjoyed our annual trips to Ipoh when they were young (go to my blog and click of Malaysia/Ipoh category if you interested to read). In fact one year, our family spent a tidy sum for a holiday in New Zealand but the children complained that they preferred Ipoh :(

May 16, 2010 at 10:06 PM  
Blogger Lam Chun See said...

One thing we kampong kids know, which the city boys seemed to be ignorant about is this; when approached by an angry dog, never run. Always faced it directly and don't turn away.

May 16, 2010 at 10:08 PM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Thank you for sharing our kampung days experience, Chun See. The links to your blogs have been added to the related posts.

Fellow bloggers are invited to include other blogs here to share their nostalgic memories of kampungs in Singapore and elsewhere. Enjoy!

May 16, 2010 at 11:40 PM  
Blogger yg said...

i had some relatives who lived at lorong tai seng. those days it was an area notorious for its gangsters. i remembered passing kim chuan road with its sewerage treatment tanks, like those found at jalan membina.

May 17, 2010 at 8:48 PM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

My cousin Ah Leong used to bring me to Lorong Tai Seng in the old days. The main road was mud covered and lined with shops and push-cart hawkers. There were many lanes which lead to the attap and zinc-covered huts.

You're right YG. The sewerage tank near Kim Chuan Road was covered. Another one beside the Tiong Bahru Road in the open (now the Tiong Bahru Park)near Jalan Membina. What an unhygienic environment then...could you imagine the stint?

May 19, 2010 at 7:43 AM  
Blogger PChew said...

Thank you James for evoking my memories of old kampong days at Joo Chiat and later at Kampong Eunos.

May 19, 2010 at 9:41 PM  
Blogger PChew said...

Lorong Tai Seng reminded me of the popular turtle soup hawker. You must have patience to wait for it could be up to an hour.

May 19, 2010 at 11:22 PM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

My cousin once accompanied me to the Lorong Tai Seng turtle soup at its original location before resettlement several years ago.

I've never tasted turtle soup though and wouldn't ever touch them for food...I'm a non-exotic food adventurous type ;)

May 20, 2010 at 12:13 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Wow.....I can't thank you enough for sharing those wonderful pictures.....especially since I'm part of them!
I can show a little passage of my childhood to my children, who probably won't appreciate the kind of living my dear 'Ah Mah' lived......either way these pictures are cherished by me and once again, thank you so much for sharing them.....

BTW.....I am one of the little cousins and daughter of Lucy, who is now residing in America......

May 21, 2010 at 12:12 AM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

What a pleasant surprise to read your comment in the blog. Lucy must have forwarded my email with the link to everyone whose photos appear in this blog about Kim Chuan Road.

So nice to hear from you. Thank you Michelle. Mum & Dad would be glad to hear this.

I will post the next blog on "Childhood Days" soon. Appreciate your encouragement my humble blog to express.

Love,
Uncle James

May 21, 2010 at 7:19 AM  
Blogger lim said...

I was a student at Bartley Sec Sch in the sixties. Some of my classmates lived around the Kim Chuan and Paya Lebar area. I still have fond memories of those times.

December 5, 2010 at 1:45 PM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Hi Mr Lim,

If you have contacted your Bartley Sec Sch classmates in the sixties, it would be wonderful to revive fond memories of the Kim Chuan and Paya Lebar area and have a fond collective memories and their old photos for posterity.

With the completion of the development and road construction in these areas, these places are now unrecognizable. Great memories to get the classmates, friends and neighbours.

Please join the "On a little street in Singapore" group at Facebook as linked via Yesterday.sg here . Cheers!

June 2, 2011 at 7:40 PM  
Blogger Rudra Pughal said...

Hello,
I lived at Kim Chuan Rd DCA Quarters from mid 60s to mid 70s. All the memories still livid in my mind, I did kindergarten at Kim Chuan CC and then went on to Bartley Primary. I do not have photos to share. Recently they demolished the Kim Chuan Sewerage Plant, I was lucky to have taken a picture of that landmark. It is on the Facebook.I also drove past once, I think my quarters was at the current SBS bus depot.I remember Thimbuktu's marked x place, It was near the meteorological station, after Jalan Kambing (coming from my side). Thank you for the memories.

November 17, 2013 at 1:19 PM  
Blogger lee benghwee said...

i am mr lee , 47yr, chinese, used tolive in 8a or 6a at aik hoe road off kim chuan ave. as a child, i remember our neighbour has a rambutan plantation. i remember going to a pap kindergarten which is 2 storey and near a wet market in tai seng and nearby a road always can see and smell the soil trucks. i remember a book store behind a bus stop and across was the bright cinema. i remember seeing the weather station release weather ballon everyday around 5pm or 6pm. across the station was a big tree beside a church at the road junction. across the weather station was a pig slaughter house where everynight they kill the pigs. my neighbour across my house does some rubber production business. i remember attending bartley primary from 76 to 82. there was was elling south and north primary and qiao nan primary which my sister attend. pasar malam was sold on the ground on new industiral road. the kong (something) clinic is still along the shophouse. there was a provision shop and a barber shop before turning into kim chuan road by paya lebar road. big tress used to be in the center of the road. good old days. also i can see planes fly low to land in paya lebar airport from my grandmother house in tai seng. a pestdestrian bridge was near elling south primary sch and a uncle selling pineapple drinks near a house there. we can smell the air in the morning from the kim chuan sewerage plant. also at the end of kim chuan road near hougang, a chinese opera group will perform on special occcasion and kids play under the stage and buy "tik kum". a indian man on bicycle come to our house to sell butter or kaya bread.

November 17, 2016 at 10:38 AM  
Blogger lee benghwee said...

i am mr lee , 47yr, chinese, used tolive in 8a or 6a at aik hoe road off kim chuan ave. as a child, i remember our neighbour has a rambutan plantation. i remember going to a pap kindergarten which is 2 storey and near a wet market in tai seng and nearby a road always can see and smell the soil trucks. i remember a book store behind a bus stop and across was the bright cinema. i remember seeing the weather station release weather ballon everyday around 5pm or 6pm. across the station was a big tree beside a church at the road junction. across the weather station was a pig slaughter house where everynight they kill the pigs. my neighbour across my house does some rubber production business. i remember attending bartley primary from 76 to 82. there was was elling south and north primary and qiao nan primary which my sister attend. pasar malam was sold on the ground on new industiral road. the kong (something) clinic is still along the shophouse. there was a provision shop and a barber shop before turning into kim chuan road by paya lebar road. big tress used to be in the center of the road. good old days. also i can see planes fly low to land in paya lebar airport from my grandmother house in tai seng. a pestdestrian bridge was near elling south primary sch and a uncle selling pineapple drinks near a house there. we can smell the air in the morning from the kim chuan sewerage plant. also at the end of kim chuan road near hougang, a chinese opera group will perform on special occcasion and kids play under the stage and buy "tik kum". a indian man on bicycle come to our house to sell butter or kaya bread.

November 17, 2016 at 10:39 AM  
Blogger lee benghwee said...

i am mr lee , 47yr, chinese, used tolive in 8a or 6a at aik hoe road off kim chuan ave. as a child, i remember our neighbour has a rambutan plantation. i remember going to a pap kindergarten which is 2 storey and near a wet market in tai seng and nearby a road always can see and smell the soil trucks. i remember a book store behind a bus stop and across was the bright cinema. i remember seeing the weather station release weather ballon everyday around 5pm or 6pm. across the station was a big tree beside a church at the road junction. across the weather station was a pig slaughter house where everynight they kill the pigs. my neighbour across my house does some rubber production business. i remember attending bartley primary from 76 to 82. there was was elling south and north primary and qiao nan primary which my sister attend. pasar malam was sold on the ground on new industiral road. the kong (something) clinic is still along the shophouse. there was a provision shop and a barber shop before turning into kim chuan road by paya lebar road. big tress used to be in the center of the road. good old days. also i can see planes fly low to land in paya lebar airport from my grandmother house in tai seng. a pestdestrian bridge was near elling south primary sch and a uncle selling pineapple drinks near a house there. we can smell the air in the morning from the kim chuan sewerage plant. also at the end of kim chuan road near hougang, a chinese opera group will perform on special occcasion and kids play under the stage and buy "tik kum". a indian man on bicycle come to our house to sell butter or kaya bread.

November 17, 2016 at 10:41 AM  

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