Blog To Express

A blogosphere learning experience to express with blog

My Photo
Location: Singapore, Singapore

A "recycled teenager" learning to blog.

Mar 31, 2012

Ways Done in the Past - Charcoal for Fuel

What are these wooden logs?

These are the charcoal, a black substance that resembles coal and is used as a source of fuel. Charcoal is generally made from wood that has been burnt, or charred, while being deprived of oxygen so that what's left is an impure carbon residue. While charcoal is used in the manufacture of various objects from crayons to filters, its most common use is as a fuel.

Children fanning charcoal stove in the kampong kitchen  c 1960
 In the ways done in the past in Singapore, charcoal for fuel for domestic uses in the homes is very common in the 1950s. My mother used it this way when we lived in Bukit Ho Swee in the 1960s. We did not realize that this was a fire hazard, especially when a fan had to be used to stoke the fire for more heat.

As the saying goes: "add fuel to the flame (figuratively): to make a problem worse; to say or do something that makes a bad situation worse; to make an angry person get even angrier. (Alludes to causing a flame to grow larger someone or something to move forward when fuel is added). Rumour-mongers who love speculations to attack people with their mouths and words (now can use digitally through SMS, Facebook and more fast and convenient ways) are never to ask me how the fire was started in Bukit Ho Swee in 1961. I would chase these "kay poh" people away because my own house was burnt down and I who could tell how the stove with burning charcoal was accidentally overturned or something. Please don't disturb me!

In fact my mother had told me that everybody who lived in attap wooden houses in Bukit Ho Swee or other kampongs were living with fear of a fire.

As I remembered that my mother was interviewed in Hokkien by a small group of young people after the fire, apparently non-Bukit Ho Swee residents, and asked: "Ah Mng, si mi nang pang heh ah" (Auntie, who set the fire?).

She told them not to bother her with this type of investigations because like other fire victims, she was already feeling sad and worried without a home. Can you help us with a house for my family, she asked with annoyance at a time of crisis.

My mother had heard from elders a Buddha quotation (but not in so many words though)-
It is as if a man had been wounded by an arrow thickly smeared with poison, and his friends and kinsmen were to get a surgeon to heal him, and he were to say, I will not have this arrow pulled out until I know by what man I was wounded, whether he is of the warrior caste, or a brahmin, or of the agricultural, or the lowest caste. Or if he were to say, I will not have this arrow pulled out until I know of what name of family the man is — or whether he is tall, or short or of middle height … Before knowing all this, the man would die.
Simply in her plain words: "When shot by poisoned arrow, pulled it out and look for help. Don't ask too many useless question or will just die". I knew her meanings and could understand what she said. Later on, I found this quotation in the Buddha Dharma.

The frequently asked question about the Bukit Ho Swee Fire is found in the latest book "Pioneers Once More" (The Singapore Public Service 1959-2009) by Chua Mui Hoong on Page 59:
"A major test for the new HDB came in 1961 when the slums at Bukit Ho Swee burnt down in a fire. This was the third fire in the area. Those who lost their homes were rehoused in nine months. Ironically, this gave rise to a rumour that the HDB had been responsible for the fire to clear the slums in the first place.

Mr Lim Kim San, the energetic and practical businessman who took charge of its building programme as a hands-on Housing & Development Board (HDB) Chairman, pooh-poophed this suggestion in his interview with the Oral History Department, waying the HDB's technical team was able to come up with plans quickly, knowing the urgency of the problem.

There were fire victims with lots of speculations, gossips and rumours during the fire to coincide with the rapid building of HDB flats in the early days of Singapore's development of housing for the people. The "kopitiam talk" spread like wildfire because the kampong people were told that "the HDB flats were built to standby for the Bukit Ho Swee fire victims..."
In primary school, I have read a nursery story of "The Three Little Pigs" who built a house with straw, another with wood and another with brick to protect against the big, bad wolf. I did not attend nursery school in my young days, so I was a late learner in school. It wasn't my fault or the education system, young kids at that time had more time to play because nurseries and kindergartens were not built for the community in those days.

The favorite nursery story book for children.

Fuels for domestic uses in the kampongs

The burning charcoal and earthen stove.

Another fuel for cooking used in the kampong as I remembered, was with sawdust. That was with my auntie at Kim Chuan Road where she lived in the 1960s. Please read about it here .

The sawdust was supplied by the wooden log factory near the house. My cousins would usually collect the firewood sawn sawdust in sacks at very low cost. However, the sawdust as fuel was very dusty, smoky and highly polluted unlike the use of charcoal.

This is the photo of a specially designed stove in the kitchen as displayed at the Pinang Peranakan Museum in Penang. For the purpose of exhibition, charcoal was not used.

With the help of "memory aids" from the National Archives of Singapore, with photo credit and acknowledgement with thanks the curated old photos on this blog.

These photos were taken at a charcoal yard somewhere in nearby Indonesian island and transported on boats to Tanjong Rhu in the past.

Charcoal are still available in Singapore now, especially the shops near Changi Point, Pasir Ris Park, East Coast Park, West Coast Park, Sembawang Park and other beaches provided by the National Park for rental of barbecue pits.

These charcoal in smaller sizes and quantities are packed and sold as fuel for grilling purposes on the barbecue pits.

BBQ party at the beach.

The most common ways done now for domestic use of fuel in the homes are portable gas cylinder by delivery shown in this photo. An alternative fuel which is cleaner and safer to protect the environment.


Mar 27, 2012

Von Trapp Family Singers

Its amazing! They visited the filming location of "Sound of Music" forty years ago for a reunion to have this photo taken among the mountains.

Remember the 7 children of the Von Trapp family?

The Sound of Music' won the Academy Award for Best Picture of 1965 and is one of the most popular musicals ever produced.

They were having a reunion...same place, same people, different times, wonderful memories!

Please read Melanie Lee's "The Hills are Alive! And Alive. And Alive" blog here .


Mar 25, 2012

Ways Done in the Past - Fashion Trends

Was that photo in the background Van Kleef Aquarium, Singapore or winter in Britain in the 1950s?

The winter fashion in 1957 was out of place in Singapore over 50-year ago.

Van Kleef Aquarium, a popular tourists place of interest located at River Valley Road in 1957 has been replaced by Underwater World Singapore, situated on Sentosa Island of Singapore, a unique and well-known oceanarium showcasing some 2500 marine life from 250 species from around the regions and is extremely popular with all our visitors for providing fun, leisure and educational experiences.

Underwater World Singapore was opened in 1991, with over 30 million visitors now.

"What do you know anything about fashion?", my senior citizen friends asked me.

I have to frankly admit that I know nothing about fashion, but I did try to follow fashion trends ways done in the past when I was in my 20s. I was then wearing "drain pipe-tight pants" and keeps Elvis Presley hairstyle and some other fanciful fashion to keep up with the times.

After awhile, I realised that Elvis Presley's hairstyle looks attractive, no doubt - on his head...but the same hairstyle on my head looked weird!

I have never been a fashion-conscious guy since the "mata cheng teh khor" ("policeman wears shorts' in Hokkien) days.

I have poor taste for fashion and always keeps to simple hairstyle and clothings since my National Service days.

It doesn't matter now that I love my "botak" look!

I need consolation to refrain from feelings and thoughts of jealousy or envy about other people with a crowning glory and a whole head of hair. I was born with lots of hair on my head when I was young too. At one time I thought to myself that it is better to have grey hair than hairless...

Fashion and fashion trends mainly refers to anything which is popular in a culture at any given time. It is inclusive of areas such as; style of dress, cuisine, literature, art, architecture, fashion trends and many other popular factors. Fashion trends often change rapidly, and "fashion" is often used to describe the latest version of these trends.

The terms "fashionable" and "unfashionable" are used to illustrate whether or not someone or something fits in with the current fashion trend or even a certain type of popular mode of expression. The term "fashion" is often used in a positively as a synonym for style, glamour and beauty. However the term "fashion" can have negative connotations of fads and trends, and materialism. Popular fashion trend centres include New York, London, Milan and Paris.

Singaporeans, young and old, guys or gals are the most fashionable people in the world. They are no longer "suaku" or out-of-fashion from top to toe. The toe-nail designs and color are the most fashionable when we look around everywhere in Singapore.

With courtesy of David Teo Boon Hwee's "Anecdotes and muses about the photographic life" blog on "When Fashion Stops Traffic" blog posted on March 18, 2012 at Orchard Road, the "Happening Street" of Singapore.

Next, my blogger friend Jerome Lim's blog here of the similar topic with camera lens aimed at another different creative angles to share and enjoy the latest fashion news.

Thank you, Jerome. I have taken the liberty to link to your related blog to share with everyone here. Your professional photos with high-quality standard are suitable for publication in the international fashion magazines.

With the courtesy and acknowledgement of National Archives of Singapore with thanks to show everyone the old photos related to this blog topic.

Fashion Trends in Singapore in the 1950s and 1960s

Fashion show at Straits Times Studio c 1959.

Fashion show at Sky Theatre c 1959.

Fashion show at Sky Theatre c 1959.

Fashion parade at Raffles Hotel c 1953.

Fashion parade at Raffles Hotel c 1953.

Fashion parade at Raffles Hotel c 1953.

Fashion parade at Raffles Hotel c 1953.

Fashion rendezvous at Whiteaways Gown Salon c 1954.

Fashion Parade at Raffles Hotel c 1954.

Fashion show at The American Club c 1956.

Fashion show at Odeon c 1956.

Fashion show at Raffles Hotel c 1958.

Fashion show at Capitol Restaurant c 1959.

Joan Booty Fashion show c 1959.

Fashion show at Adelphi Hotel c 1959.

Fashion show at Robinsons c 1959.

Fashion show at Robinsons c 1967.

JAL hostess Madeline Tan at fashion parade c 1958.

Sari fashion show c 1958.

Tailors' Exhibition & Men's Fashion Show at Victoria Memorial Hall c 1967.

"Muu Muu" Hawaii fashion c 1962.

Hats, Hairstyles, Shoes & fashion accessories

Siput Sarawak (mother of well-known singer Anita Sarawak) c 1953.

Anita Sarawak was her ever effervescent self here .

Fashion designer and hairdresser Roland Chow in 1959.

Models on Grand Prix at Upper Thomson Road in 1964.

Fashion show at Raffles Hotel Ballroom in 1959.

Fashion show at Ardmore Park in 1956.

Beach fashion at East Coast beach in 1957.

To a practical businessman interested in making money and economic sense, fashion is good business, fashion makes everyone to be beautiful and happy!

In the 1970s, long hair was frowned upon during the sex, drugs and rock & rollers, "Hippies - people with flowers in their hair", and the "Peace and Flower Power Movement" in the US. Rock and Roll was at its peak, with Woodstock. This kind of western negative influence as a fashion trend which the government was concerned with long hair for men was seen as dope consuming, trouble making, rebellious rockers.

Fortunately, it was a passing fashion trend which the Hippie movement died down in the United States and many parts of the world.

Optional Reading:

The excerpted project page for coordinating the rewrite of the article Taste (sociology). Related casual discussion about practical issues...heavy theory stuff for anybody interested in reading. Please skip this optional section on fashion trends.
There's a link between fashion and taste. Fashion can be seen as a mechanism which defines what good taste is. Things which are in fashion are usually considered as beautiful or good, but being in fashion can also have a negative meaning. It can mean something that fades away and changes constantly without actually ever being able to define what's beautiful or stylish because every new fashion is different from its predecessor.

Goods have been representations of status and for example in the 15th century england attitude towards goods was that the older goods families had, the higher social status the family had. Only old and respected families possessed items that were inherited through generations. During the cultural change that occurred, the social value of an item was begin to be defined by items novelty instead of patina (the age of the item). Only rich families had money to buy new goods. Novelty was no longer seen as a mark of commonness.

This want for novelty is something that is essential in fashion. Fashion is always something new, something that's never been seen before. If it stays still, it becomes a tradition and tradition is always seen as vulgar. Fashion satisfies the consumers demand for novelty over and over again. Even though, in reality, it often just repeats and varies old styles and models. Fashion regulates things that could just as well be otherwise.

Usual concept of fashion in sociology is that fashions are always class fashions. The usual model of fashion is that it has origin in the upper level of society from which they descend the social ladder. What was new in the hands of upper classes loses it's high status and descends to the hands of lower classes. Therefore fashion also unites members of social class and at the same time distinguish them from others. It can be seen as a product of class distinction.

Pierre Bourdieu's attempt was to show how individual tastes, and lifestyles in general, are connected to different positions in the social structure. In addition to social hierarchy of consumers, there exists also a hierarchy for cultural practices and goods. And what Bourdieu claims is that between these two hierarchies, there is a structural association.

According to Bourdieu, an individual taste is a product of upbringing and education, and, therefore, associated with class background. By assessing relationships between forms of capital (cultural and economical) and social practices, he identified different class fractions in 1960's and 1970's France, each distinct in their tastes.

Working class ("taste of necessity")

Cultural elite (high total volume of capital, higher cultural than economic capital)

Economic elite (high total volume of capital, higher economic capital than cultural capital)

Middle classes: ("taste of cultural goodwill")

Source: From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia