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Archive for May 20th, 2014

Written and contributed

by IpohBornKid

1

After one year in ACS Primary, about 10 of us in Std I were moved in Std IIID. I believe they were Wong Peng Yan, Chin Kim Chen, Leong Hoi Siew, Too Kuei Fah, Oh Hock Phing, Chin Lee Tai, Siew Chuan, Yee Voon Chee, and Chin Yin Keong. Unfortunately, I lost my Std 1 B class photo of 1953. Anyone who has one, please post it to this blog.

I still have some memories of my first day in school in ACS Primary in Ipoh. I was only six years old. A week or two before the school started, I was taunted by my family members about bringing a portable toilet to school (in those days, it was equivalent to the spittoon found in coffee shops). The feeling was mixed, yes, I want to go to school and mix with other boys and yet the fear of being put into an unfamiliar environment really frightened me.

The day came and being awoken up at 6.30 am, I dressed up and ate breakfast. There was no school uniform then. My mother accompanied me to the school for the first day. I was taken to the place where the old primary classroom shed was, composed of 4 class rooms. Two were upstairs and two were downstairs. I was very apprehensive and I asked my mother to stay with me, at least be in the tuck shop until recess time. There were two or three amahs in the tuck shop waiting for other first year pupils,

In the primary school shed, I was in Standard I B on the ground floor (north side) and Lim Jit Teng (Civil Engineer) and Yee Voon Chee (Prof of Medicine) whilst Chin Yin Keong (a son Mrs Chin, Std IA teacher) was upstairs (south side). Someone told me later that A or B class was not based on merit but on alphabetical order of your surname. Later in years, I also found out that the house (Aziz-yellow, Horley-green, Tagore-Blue, EuTongSen-purple, and Oldham-Red) you belong to is related to number of your address. It took a few days to settle down and I had totally forgotten about being in an unfamiliar environment. It was fun to make new friends and play with them during recess with the available playground structures particularly, the “witches hat”, the wooden see-saw and the notorious wooden slippery dip where you climbed the stairs on the field side and slide down to the road (as described by Valiant Knight in your blog). My friend Chin Yin Keong always arrive with his mother in a Ford Consul AA5522 to school.

Going to school became an adventure not to be missed. I had the recent experience of taking my grandson to kindergarten in a Sydney Public School and his initial fear, sometime reduced to tears, and his subsequent interest in going to school were as expected and were not very much different from mine.

In 1953, it was the coronation of HM Queen II and the classroom was well decorated with the strings diagonally stretched from the ceiling corners of the classroom where a number of small flags, the Union Jack (British Flag) were tied to it. The buntings (flags on the string) crossed each other diagonally. We were taught to sing the “National Anthem” (as a British Colony) God Save the Queen. It was an exciting event.

Our class teacher was Ms Ling Siok Ting, a beautiful lady who wore mostly “SamFoo” instead of the Western dress/frock attire. To me, she is a sweet lady, always so kind and soft spoken. She never uttered a word in anger to us. The other benevolent teacher was Mrs Grace Tong, the Supervisor of the Primary School and lived in Cowan Street. She spoke Hokkien was a kind lady who showed compassion and care to me and other pupils when we felt sick. I was kept in the office for supervision after a return trip from the dental hospital in Kidd Road, and local optometrist for eye checking or just being sick. Such kindness will never be forgotten.

In terms of learning to sing nursery songs which took place in a building next to the Church, we were taught to sing by an American lady whose name I cannot recall. One of the songs taught was “Dickory Dock, the mouse went up the clock” A gramophone record was used in those days. The Principal then was Mr Ralph Kesserling. I remembered my mother taking me to see the Principal for enrolment into Std I and since I was under aged, she had to pull some strings to get me in. I saw her produced a class photograph of my father (ACS Ipoh class of 1938) and showed it to the Principal and he nodded his head. I was accepted for enrolment then and there.
With only 10 cents in my pocket for recess, I can only afford a bowl of curry mee (5c) and a cordial drink (5c) served by Mrs Ng Ah Fook. Mr Ng was the tuck shop master… As a small boy, it was difficult to buy the metal token, stamped with the correct denomination when the bigger boys were rushing for it. Recess was at 10.30 am whilst the high school was 11.00 am. A few Amahs were there to take care of their wards as they brought lunch from home in a tiffin carrier and fed the boys under their charge. One particular classmate with Amah was Wong Peng Yan.

The other interesting thing in the classroom was the arithmetic book. It was printed the right way up for half the pages and the other half was printed upside down. I use to enjoy doing the arithmetic and we simply turn the book around to the second half of the pages.

Nearly a year passed, and we had to line up behind the primary school shed for an important occasion, the prize given ceremony. I vividly remember that my classmate surnamed Lau got the first prize whilst Yee Voon Chee and I came equal second. The prize was a book. It was a good year in Std I and an incredible thing happened, ie. 10 or 11 Std I pupils were suddenly propelled in Std IIID (double promotion). Besides Voon Chee and me, I am sure that other 10 boys will declare their entry to Std III D in this blog.

In retrospect, I was not too sure that the double promotion was a good thing for me personally particularly when the average age of the class was 2 years old than me. Yes, I learned how to fight and defend myself, and had the name “fighting cock” given to me by my peers for many years to come. It was intellectually stimulating but a physical nightmare!

Written and contributed

by IpohBornKid

 

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