Wednesday, November 28, 2012

P.E.E.S Reunion (Class of 1967 - 1972)

Princess Elizabeth Estate School Class of 1967-1972 held its 40th anniversary class reunion last Saturday 24th November.
They have sent me some photographs showing the great time they had!
Thanks to Grace Chua and Moliano.

But first a message from Grace to all.....

Hi All (including the Absentees!)

We had a BLAST last night.

I hope most of you managed to rekindle old ties, exchange numbers and stay in close touch again.
As the saying goes...

Old Friends are like Diamonds ; Precious & Rare!

The night ended at 10.45 pm and spilled over to 1am at the poolside..

Everyone went home w at least one gift. Mostly with two. The luckier ones with three. All made possible by generous sponsors. Thank you! thank you!

There were games that brought us back to 1972... like 0-be-som n lom jiam pas !

The 'kids' went crazy!

We jammed the night away with songs from our era. Country Road, Beautiful Sunday and heated up to Hey Jude & Venus. Many jumped to their feet in rhythm to the beat! With loud speakers, rock guitarist, amateur tambourin-a n cajorn-a..real concert - Led by Mol !

Not forgetting, we had volunteers too-

Guest Relations Officers - Beatrice & Fiona Yeo
photographer (Mols Son) & projectionist (Gary). Thank you!

Finally , the moment everyone was waiting for...... the grand prize went to ... (Drumroll please)..... appropriately from the one who flew the Red flag .. to his target object..    Wong Mun Yee ... !!

Rafie gave out the prize via teleconference.

It all ended with the finale song. YOU VE GOT A FRIEND.

Thanks again to all for making the night an evenFUL one!

Without all of your presence this would not have been possible.

Warmest Wishes

Blessed Christmas to All!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Primary school gotong royong 1974.

Gotong Royong is a Malay phrase depicting the ideals of community self help and  neighbourly assistance. For example, everyone pitching in to help with the arrangements of a neighbourhood wedding, cooking, cleaning, entertainment, etc.

In 1974, the authorities started another one of their many campaigns. This was styled Gotong Royong with the aim of getting citizens interested in community work. Though the concept was borrowed from the Malay connotation of self help, it was more perceived as getting groups of people to maintain their own surroundings instead. I guess it didn't work out after all since the results today smack more of self interest kiasuism than any sense of community!

Anyway, the campaign in the Bukit Batok district was launched by the MP for Bukit Batok, Mr Chai Chong Yii on 17 March 1974.  The launch location was at Princess Elizabeth Estate School.

The following photos are from the National Heritage Board and shows the launching of the Gotong Royong campaign. If you were at P.E.E.S. in 1974, you might be in one of these pictures. Do drop me a comment if you remember the occasion.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Green Bus No.5 at Princess Elizabeth Estate

A remarkable set of photographs taken by Mr FW York in 1955 showing the Green Bus service No. 5 within Princess Elizabeth Estate.

The bus terminus beside the primary school (right).  The terminus was not paved with bitumen but red laterite.
The trees were just saplings in those days, with the undeveloped hill at the rear.
The bus was the British Seddon model. 

The bus had just reversed backwards from its parked position and preparing to leave the terminus.
Blks 21, 20 and 23 (7-storey blk). See the hedges planted around all the grass fields.

A Green Bus No. 5 Vulcan bus passing the Hillview Circus.
On the right, the fence of the Hong Kong Rope factory and the Chinese kampong opposite.

Another Vulcan bus after passing under the girder bridge at Hillview Road.
The bus stop was at the top of this slope, just outside the gates of the Union Carbide factory.
There was another bus stop at the junction where the bus turns off Upper Bukit Timah Rd.

Related links:  The No 5 Bus Terminus at Princess Elizabeth

More photos on the Green Bus Co No. 5 service.
No 5 bus leaving Queens Street terminus.
How many of you boys can remember using Brylcreem?

No. 5 bus after refuelling at the King Albert Park depot.
Very common occurrence, giving passengers a free whiff of diesel!

No.5 bus waiting at the Queen's Street Terminus.
The route was Queen's Street, Rohor Canal Road, Bukit Timah Road,
Upper Bukit Timah Road, Hillview Road, Princess Elizabeth Estate.

No 5 bus at Rochor Canal Road.

No 5 bus boarding passengers along Bukit Timah Road.

No 5 buses bunching up along Bukit Timah Road. As usual !

Friday, November 23, 2012

Going up the Hill

First  generation of children, especially boys, living at PEE would be familiar with the term ‘the hill’.  Though Princess Elizabeth Estate was built on the hillside of Bukit Gombak, the ‘hill’ which we all knew was not the high summit of Bukit Gombak located behind the tall 7-storey blocks of our estate but rather was another location to which this moniker seem universal to everyone at the estate.

“The Hill” was the lower hilly area beside the primary school. This was the then undeveloped land across Elizabeth Drive opposite the estate.  This would be where the terrace houses of Popular Estate and Bamboo Grove Park would be constructed in due course.

Whenever we were going there, we would say we’re “going up the hill”, “playing on the hill”, “exploring the hill”, etc.  This was the best playground we had and everyone knew the place as ‘the hill’.

The hill was covered with low shrubs and grass and was not forested as much as other parts of Bukit Gombak, although the hill was part of its ridge.
The small shrubs and trees were mainly Tembusu, from which we would forage for the best branches to make our ‘lastik' – catapults! There was no shortage of good lastik material there.

A peek of the hill beside the old primary school.

At the top of the hill was a wide plateau where today the Gumilang, Dermawan and Chu Lin areas are located. It was on this plateau that kite flying or rather kite fighting in those days was the common activity. Main layang layang we called it.

Unlike today where kite flying is recreational with its myriad of modern nylon and plastic designs, kite flying in those days was more combative. Kites were made of rice paper or brown paper or even of newspaper and bamboo. Many were homemade and kite-making was a skill every P.E.E.S. schoolboy worth his salt must know.

I can recall how I was taught to measure the ratios of the kite length and breadth, how to bent the bamboo sticks to get the right tension and how long the tails had to be to increase drag for stability of the kite. It was a skill we all picked up from experience. I wonder if kids today can understand the mechanics of building a fighting kite?

The meanest thing about fighting kites was the ‘glass string’. This was the repulsive string that was coated with grounded glass particles and was the main weapon in fighting kites.

Whenever you saw someone flying their kite high, it was an open call for a fight. You would then raise your own kite to the challenge. The idea was to try and entangle the opponents’ string and with several hard tugs to try and cut their string. This was where the evil glass string did its worst!

Believe me, whenever a fight was on, there would be lots of boys just waiting to claim the down flyer.
There was no such things as personal property. All downed kites were free for all and you had kids running after them shouting “Anjong! Anjong! Layang terlapas!”. The trophy belonged to whoever reached it first.

Knowing how to make your kites also entailed knowing how to make glass strings. You would boil some sort of resin (I forgot what its called, but was told by my friend Peter Chan it’s “lau peh kau”). This awful smelling stuff would be boiled in a condensed milk tin together with a few coils of kite string. To this was added glass powder which we obtained from a crushed and grounded Green Spot bottle. This was the worst part of the entire process because our fingers would always get cuts from the glass splinters.

After the resin, glass and string were fused by boiling, you had to quickly run the string out to dry. This was usually done by running the string between trees. I usually did mine on the clothes rack that was provided behind each block on the ground floor. After a few hours the string would be dry and you wound it round another condensed milk tin and you were ready to go fight kites!

Wonder why it was always a condensed milk tin we used?
That was the only type of containers available those days and we sometimes had to buy it at five cents a tin from the coffeeshop ah pek. Takeaway coffee was always dispensed in used condensed milk tins then.

Today's kite flying is probably no less fun !

You can see another photo showing part of the hill here.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Photos from ex-residents (12) - Yum Shoen Keng

S. K. Yum used to live at Blk 20, Princess Anne Hill, unit #120B.
He was in Princess Elizabeth Estate School in the 1970s.

Though he continues to reside in the Hillview area, he still reminisces about his days in the old primary school. He takes his children there now for walks and occasionally visits the old school building. The building that was our old primary school is now the United Medicare Nursing Centre.

Here are some photos SK Yum took of the old school building whilst it was under renovation last year.
Former students of P.E.E.S. will remember fondly these scenes.

The school caretaker's quarters. There were 2 units housing the families working for the school.
Many will recall the vegetable gardens planted around it.
In my own days in the 1960s, it was always flooded with mud flowing from the construction of Bamboo Grove Park.

The old school store replaced by a new structure.
The old store housed the school sports equipment and also the scouts den.

The drain which ran under the bridge leading to the school field.
Remember catching fish and crabs from this stream?

The new  Nursing Home has built a new elevator at the far end of the school building.

Related links:
New use for an old school

The burial of the Hillview Mansion.

Most ex-residents of Princess Elizabeth Estate know, but speak softly, of the infamous Hillview Mansion. If you are not aware of what I am referring to, you can refer to my earlier article about the Hillview Mansion here.

This Mansion was destined not to be built. Some put it to bad luck, some say it was cursed. Most believe it was haunted. Whatever the reason, the land has remained vacant from the 1970s till today - prime real estate that was left untouched for more than 30 years! Why? Has it anything to do with the fact that a young lady was struck by lightning on this very spot?

When a landslide occurred in 2006, rumours spread like wildfire that the cause was supernatural. This so called paranormal incident was further reinforced when a bigger more massive landslide reoccurred at the very same spot a few months later in 2007! This confirmed in the minds of many nearby residents that the spirits refused to have any structure on that spot.

Here are some pictures of the 'Hillview Mansion' just after the 2007 massive landslide.
Though the mansion was previously demolished, the landslide finally buried all traces of the structure.

The mansion stood where the orange spot of earth with the excavator is on.

Strangely the landslide occurred only where the mansion's property lies.

The land terraced and grouted to prevent further occurrences.

The Hillview Mansion property is still vacant till this day.
Can you see something unusual in the photograph?

Related links:
The haunted house at Hillview.
The haunted house re-visited.

Photos copyright & courtesy of Yum Shoen Keng.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Photos from ex-residents (11) - More from Eddie Tan

Besides looking for his classmates, Eddie Tan is also trying to find some of his former neighbours.
Eddie lived at Blk 19 on the 3rd floor, unit #113B.

The photo shows a young malay girl standing on the left.
Her name is Esah whose family was our neighbor before the Ongs moved in.
Her parents are Hashim & Fatima who moved out to live at the artisan quarters. 
Wonder if anyone here knows them?

Rajan was my very best friend who lived next door.
We would always hang out & play together & 
I remember his mum makes the best homemade Putu Mayam, 
which I had a helping hand in pressing the dough out of a special mould.
Hopefully someone can recognise him & God willing, we may meet up again after  50 years.