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Location: Singapore, Singapore

A "recycled teenager" learning to blog.

Jun 26, 2012

Ways Done in the Past - Vanished Trade

What is this?
Did any youngsters today know what's this on a tricycle?  Is this a toyhouse with many windows?

Several of my friends with children who are schooling asked me to blog about vanishing trade in Singapore.

I discovered that a group of young students from Tanjong Katong Girls School had presented their project in 1999 on Vanishing Trades at ThinkQuest - "Projects by students for students".

About this site:

"Our website is about the vanishing trades in Singapore, how they become extinct as time passes by and the reasons why they are disappearing. We introduced 12 main vanishing trades in Singapore. We want people who visit our website have a greater knowledge of Singapore's history. For those who are not Singaporeans, we hope that through our webpage, they will get to know about the traditions and customs of Singaporeans better. For those who are Singaporeans, we hope that they will understand our own country's history deeper. We also help that our webpage can provide students information for their projects and other school stuffs".

About us:

"This webpage is done by us -- Chin Ping, Chin Thing and Kelly. Chin Ping and Kelly are Singaporeans while their coordinator, Chin Thing is a Malaysian. Our coach is Kelly's brother.

Chin Ping and Kelly are studying in Tanjong Katong Girls' School where students study with people of different races and religions. However, Chin Thing is studying in a Chinese school whereby everyone is Chinese, of course. We got to know one another while talking in chatrooms. We got along pretty well and the idea of getting together to do this project came up when we were told by our computer teacher incharge.

We separate the job equally and everyone did their part, doing her very best to finish this project. We hope that during your stay here, you can appreciate our hardships as we had spent a couple of months doing this project in spite of our heavy homework, other school projects and numerous tests and exams".


Our aim to do this website is not because of the attracting prizes and money but to let the younger generation of Singaporeans and even people from other countries to have a greater knowledge about the history of Singapore.

This is rather important as many youngsters nowadays are not familiar with the traditions and customs of their own races, including what people use to do in the past, why they do it etc.

Alternatively, we hope that by doing this website, people especially teachers and students can come into here to gather information for their projects and for resources during teaching lessons.

By doing this website, we hope that people will have a deeper understanding of the vanishing trades in Singapore, why they had become extinct and what are the subsitutions of these vanishing trades.

We try to make this webpage beneficial to people who come and visit here. We will update the information here every now and then and research for more vanishing trades so that we can add them into our website. We try to make this webpage educational and fun at the same time so that people will enjoy their stays here and enjoy themselves even when they are studying!

Due credit must be given to these resourceful students for their splendid efforts to share with everyone which I had conveniently included a link, cut and paste and just like a "copycat" without any original ideas. 

Here's a quotation from former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew: "Every success brings about imitations, emulations and overtakes. That's the rule of the game ..."

In a related forum on the Internet, a Netizen said "Japan is a copycat nation. As you might have know already, Japan copies almost everything. Tokyo Tower from Japan was copied from Eiffel Tower".

Here's a "24 Seven Post" world news report on "Shanghai capsule hotel copycat Japan idea" here .

In Chinese,  "偷师" (translated as "stolen teaching"), means just learning from eavesdropping or watching from a distance without awareness of the "teacher" and the "learner".

Teach and Learn - Learn is a direct reflection of Teach.  It sure is, in every sense!

"Teach and Learn, Learn and Teach" is a life process among human and other creatures.

Animals can learn by copying and following what their parents do. i.e chimpanzees watch their parents build nests and copy them in swinging on vines, and soon they know how to do it too. A visit to the zoo is a learning experience to observe how the animals learn from their parents.

"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" - Charles Caleb Colton

“I have stolen ideas from every book I have ever read.” - Philip Pullman, The Amber Spyglass

When Steve Jobs was alive, he said: "I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product."

"I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple's $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong.  "I'm willing to go thermonuclear war on this." -- Steve Jobs"
Steve Jobs was no friend to Google's Android operating system as witnessed by numerous lawsuits filed against Android partners this past year. Android-based smartphones were seen as a mere annoyance when they first broke onto the scene in late 2008, but by early 2010, Steve Jobs was growing a bit tired of the inroads Google and its partners were making on its turf. . That's when the lawsuits started, with HTC getting the first jab from Apple.  [Source: Daily Tech published on October 20, 2011].

Rest in Peace, Steve Jobs
This is an incidental blog topic about "copycats" and the fierce battle in the business world to sell ideas to the world...not to share them in the public domain.  In commercial terms, "ideas are converted into money, as a protectionist".  To learn for education through sharing and to sell ideas to make money for profit are totally different kettles of fishes to talk about.  In business, "No money no talk", realistically speaking!

No money talk here on this nostalgia blog though.

Lets reminisce the "Vanishing Trades of Singapore 当年的行业" for us to share.

Here's the answer to the first photo on this blog topic:  Display at National Day Parade 1980 at National Stadium depicting vanishing trades in Singapore - "Cinema on Wheel".

The archived photos and descriptions on "Cinema on Wheel" are curated from National Archives of Singapore and relevant sources with thanks and acknowledgement with credit of the respective contributors.


For only a few cents (five cents for a 50-ft film and 20 cents for 200-ft), one could peep through the slots on the specially constructed white box with a red roof and view one's favorite legendary or cartoon characters in action - Robin Hood, Tarzan, Frankenstein, Popeye the Sailor and Donald Duck.  It was cheap and good entertainment.

Here comes the "Cinema-On-Wheel" in Singapore in the 1960s
A choice of movie titles in the box

How did this "Cinema-On-Wheel" work?

It consisted of a project and a movie box, like a toyhouse with many windows.  The movie box was a simple structure with 16 square slot (windows) - four on each of the two sides and eight facting the screen, installed inside the box.  The projector was wired to a generator and a battery.  The red roof, apart from giving it a house appearance, also served as a storeroom for the wheels.

The "Cinema-On-Wheel" vanished from the streets of Singapore in the 1970s.

If we juxtapose these scenes 50 years ago with the same group of kids watching the "Cinema-On-Wheel", would they be as curious and excited?

At that time, the "Cinema-on-Wheel" was the latest invention, new toys of the day to those better stuff than this for fun?

If a similar original design and the movie titles, in working condition, and show these "peep shows" to the same group of kids who are now senior citizens, how would they feel?

I have experienced and watched these "peep shows" from a "Cinema-On-Wheel" at a few wayang stage shows near the Bukit Ho Swee kampong in the 1960s.  It now evokes me fond nostalgic childhood memories of one of these vanished trades, but toy and entertainment technology with new invention is always changing; new toys and innovative stuff  to bring kids smiles for every generation.

They now prefer "edutainment games" to play on iPad.

How to make traditional toys that can be timeless and hold just as much interest in every generation?

These old, outdated "thingy" to show the young generation to understand how granma and grandpa they were "youngonce"...what sorts of "thingy" their future grandchildren would have 50 years down the road?



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