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by IpohBornKid

Preface: Following the nostalgic stories “Awesome Playground Equipment found in Ipoh ACS 1953, Anyone for Konkey and The Game of Marbles as Played in Ipoh and Surrounds c1950s” which appeared in IpohWorld, this article, “Bat and Ball games Menglembu style”, is the 4th in the series in regard to the games played around Ipoh and Surrounds.

Preface: Following the nostalgic stories “Awesome Playground Equipment found in Ipoh ACS 1953, Anyone for Konkey and The Game of Marbles as Played in Ipoh and Surrounds c1950s” which appeared in IpohWorld, this article, “Bat and Ball games Menglembu style”, is the 4th in the series in regard to the games played around Ipoh and Surrounds.

In 1950s, Menglembu was blessed with 2 large patches of green within the town centre. Patch A (see picture) was a green park with swings bounded by the old railway road (now Jalan Lee Ming Hin), the back end of the terrace houses in Main Road (now Jalan Lahat), the mysterious house & hidden temple, the Lee Wan Sang house, the toddy shop & public toilet. Patch A has a softer and moist surface. Patch B (see picture) was a vacant lot bounded by the old bicycle repair shop, No 61 Main Road, the mysterious house with a long brick wall, previously a soya sauce manufacturing place, and the Main Road. A satellite map of these two patches are shown above. Parch B is a grassed area with harder and drier surface. Bat ball games can be played on the two green patches but Patch A was more suitable for soccer games. Today, Parch B no longer exists and is occupied a row of terrace houses.

8.1

In all the bat and ball games described here, the bat is made from rubber wood and used tennis ball is used.

The first bat ball game, called BG1, was an adaption of the American baseball game. The players were divided into two teams of nearly equal capabilities and even distribution of age in the teams. Normally, a minimum of 4 players were required. On the field, 4 bricks were placed on the ground forming the corners of a diamond shape. The home brick (see illustration above) and brick No 2 faced each other whilst brick 1 and brick 3 facing each other. The toss of a coin was used to choose the batting and bowling sides. Once chosen, the batsman stayed behind the home brick, the bowler behind the brick No 2 and his team mates (fielders) were scattered all over the field behind the bricks No 1, 2 and 3..

The direction of the run for the batsman is counter-clockwise, starting with the brick No 1, Brick No 2 and Brick No 3 and finally the home brick. The game began when the batting team sent out the first batsman and the bowler team sent out its bowler. The bowler is usually the strongest of their players and sometimes they did switch bowlers during the game. The batting team took turns to become batsman and they position themselves just in front of the home brick.

The bowler faced the batsman. He “chucked” the ball in a similar fashion as the baseball bowler would but never a gentlemanly fashion as the cricket player. The aim of the batsman was to hit the bowler’s body (if it did, the bowler is out) or the home brick, and the batsman job was to defend his body and home brick with a bat fashioned generally from a piece of rubber tree fire wood, shaped like a cricket bat but flat. A baseball bat was never used. The batsman could also “whack” the ball in the air. If the ball was caught in the air, the batsman was called out.

The batsman hits the ball and he dropped his bat on the ground. As the ball was up in the air, the batsman would attempt to circle as many bricks as possible (making sure he was on the left side of every brick). Meanwhile, the fielders was attempting to retrieve the ball as fast as possible and return it to the bowler who would attempt to use the ball to hit the body of the batsman. Alternatively, the bowler can hit any brick whilst the batsman is running. If successful, the batsman is out. Otherwise, depending on the risk of being hit by the returning ball, the batsman had a choice of stopping at a brick and putting his foot on it. Whilst his foot is on the brick, he could not be called out even if the ball hit him. There was no referee in these games and at times, controversial decisions taken can cause the game to be abandoned. When a batsman returned behind his home brick, the team score one point. In summary, a batsman could be called out when his ball was caught by a fielder in the air, being hit by a ball whilst running in between bricks or the (another variation), the ball hit the brick before he could reached it with his foot.

When a batsman has to stop to rest his foot on brick 1, 2 or 3, another batsman comes out to bat. As the ball is hit, both of them will try to retain to the home brick. Each batsman returns score a point. Both batsman can be a body target also and if they get hit whist running, they are considered out.

When all the batsman were declared out, the team changes side and the game continues. The team with the highest score was the winner. This was an example of a team effort game played by the children of Menglembu. The game was usually played when the sun is not high in the sky or a cloudy day. The game cost nothing to play.

The second bat and ball game (BG2) is more individualistic and could allow some bullying to take place when confronted with physically strong built bowler. Each player would chose a position in the field by dropping his stone (half-brick size) on the ground and putting one foot on it. A minimum of 5 players were required for a good game and sometimes more than 10 players participated. One player was chosen to be the bowler and he had no home stone. His job was to take a batsman out and occupy his/her home stone.

In the beginning of the game, the bowler toss the ball high up in the air and any batsman can “whack” the ball away from his home stone, whether the ball was still up in the air or on the ground. The bowler would be looking at the batsman on the field and would attempt to occupy a stone if it was not guarded by the foot of a player. Since each batsman could whack the ball with his rubber wood bat, it was rather dangerous to retrieve the ball with your bare hands. You could get whacked with the bat. It would be better to occupy the “whackers” stone rather than to challenge his bat with your hands!

One the ball is safely retrieved by the bowler, he could be standing in a position surrounded by batsman. He would then choose the weakest batsman, and chuck the ball at him whilst the chosen batsman would protect his turf by attempting to whack the ball to away from him. The batsman is out when the ball hit his body, or when the ball is caught in the air by the bowler or his home stone was occupied by the bowler. It was quite a frightening experience for a physically small built batsman when facing a physically big bowler. Of course it hurts when the ball hits your body at close range. Hence bullying little ones did took place. But, one can take revenge, by targeting the bully, and in this case, it was a satisfaction that you can still whack the bully even though you could not cause too much pain. The old principle for a fearless victim was this: “if I could not win the fight, the least I could do, was to bleed all over him!”.

In retrospect, this game was quite rough and despite that, girls were also allowed to play. Nevertheless, it was fun!

Written and contributed

by IpohBornKid

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Written and contributed

by IpohBornKid

The Controversial Speeches by the Fourth Formers 1961

The Controversial Speeches by the Fourth Formers 1961

On day in 1961, the school decided to train students in From IV how to make public speeches. It was an interesting day as the teachers went around gathering information about their charge and discussing in their teacher’s room who to select. A total of 8 boys were selected for the preliminary program and I was one of the eight selected.

The selection criteria was not known to us and in retrospect, I gathered that they were looking for intelligent bright boys, vocal and extroverted. The topic was “What would you do if you were elected Councillor in Ipoh”. It seemed to be a harmless topic as such, but it did not turn out the way the teachers expected.

Among the 8 selected, at least 4 or 5 of them were noted for being “naughty”, playful and undisciplined. Maybe the teachers wanted to make good boys out of us and that was their mistake. Five of out the group decided to hold a “caucus” meeting during recess and tried to make a common goal in our speeches. Many subjects were discussed and one matter became unanimous. Each of us will use the same statement of action in our speeches.

Speech day came, and all of us Fourth Formers arrived at the School Hall in the main building. Today was the day when we were to utter the same statement of action and we had kept this secret for a whole week. I cannot remember the sequence of the speakers but I remembered that only 4 of us made the same statement in solidarity and we were the last four speakers.
We made the same statement to the effect that we will sack the Principal of ACS Ipoh if we were elected Councillors. This statement is almost “treasonable” in terms of the autocratic rule of the Principals in those days and the Moreira type discipline we had to endure. What made us do it? Was it peer pressure, was it stupidity or just simple madness! No, it was none of that. In our minds then, Mr Teerath Ram was a good Principal much respected and feared at the same time. What would anybody risk canning or sacking?

It was a prank, stupid and simple. We thought we could become heroes after we made the speech and if anything did happened to us, we could become martyrs to our cause of being a rebel. To this day, I still do not understand why it happened and why we allowed it to happen. In our moment of madness we have forgotten about responsibility of speech nor did anyone taught us in school about this.

The controversial speeches caught the teachers by surprise and they had a week to decide what to do with us. Luckily, we did not make any defamatory remarks in regard to the reasons for sacking the Principal. We, the offenders, did not have a good week either because rumours were floating around about imminent public canning or even expulsion from school. I believe it was a crisis for the school. The question is whether the school can expel 4 students in one go? What is the public consequence to the school, the reaction of their parents and the reputation of the school?

On the other hand, we live in democracy and free speech is important right of a citizen. Does the statement “sack the Principal” a defamatory remark by itself? Or the remark, an “expulsion” offence?

Fortunately, none of the nightmare came about, canning or expulsion. In their wisdom, the teachers and Principal have decided that the students needed serious counselling in making public speeches. To our relief, we were pardoned by the Principal. One would think otherwise that the school which was strictly governed by a Moreira’s Cane would take a soft option. None expected this compassionate action and yet in crisis, a wise decision was made to re-model the “prankster”. And modify their behaviour consistent with the then current community values.

We were quietly and seriously counselled and made to promise not to do it again. It was not the first time our group got into trouble with school authorities, it was the most serious offence so far. We are indebted to the wisdom of the teachers in giving us another chance to finish our secondary school education.

In retrospect, having sat on the legal bench and pronouncing legal decisions, I must say that the statement itself is not defamatory but mischievous as it undermines the disciplinary system of the school. Challenging the establishment may not be a criminal offence but inciting rebellious behaviour in school should not be tolerated. Outside the school, political debates are full of these similar statements and yet people accepted it as a fair comment if backed by facts. However, a hierarchical system exists in the school and the discipline must be maintained for good character development. Counselling is far more superior than canning or expulsion and in this case all the “naughty” boys were successful in world as professional or business people and indeed, they benefitted from a school of discipline, compassion and care, and that is the Ipoh ACS.

Written and contributed

by IpohBornKid

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by IpohBornKid

1950s The ACS Ipoh Carpentry Shop

1950s The ACS Ipoh Carpentry Shop

For those readers who had read the Cendol man story in the small playing field of the 1950s would appreciate that the “new” carpentry block was built in the late 1950s to include carpentry as a vocational subject. Under the captaincy of our favourite teacher, Mr Chan Tuck Wah (fondly known to us as Bodak), the carpentry subject flourished in ACS Ipoh, just as the typewriting class and the industrial art class (stationed next to the Boys room under Mr Negara’s office).

I took carpentry for one year and learned quite a number of things from Mr Chan. The most unforgotten thing in my mind was the word “Meranti”, a kind of wood, which still ringed in my memory after more than 50 years have passed. This wood was abundantly available in Malaya and would be less expensive to use other woods for practice.

We learned how to use the basic carpentry tools, the chisel, and the wooden & metal plane, the hammer and chisel action, drilling and gluing. The basic task in keeping the tools sharp was an important skill in carpentry and blunt tools were not only useless for work but dangerous. Each of us was given a sharpening stone and began to learn how to sharpen the chisel, firstly the up down motion with the angled side down on the stone and later the circular motions. Finally, the chisel is turned around and all blurred areas removed. Similar sharpening techniques were used for the blade from the plane.

Next lesson was about planning the wood to give a smooth surface. You always plane in the same direction of the wood grain, Mr Chan used to emphasise this basic action. Yes, we did tried to do the opposite and we took chunks out of the wood. You get a knock in the head with that piece of wood before you get another piece of meranti.

After some lessons on planning, we went on to make joints. Simple joints, dove tail joints and other multiple exotic joints. Some students are better than others and they were moved upwards and given projects to really built things, such as chairs, tables and cupboards (the latter required high skills). Unfortunately, I was not too good with my hands then, and had to remain to making joints with no nails. I remember Lam Kok Wah (Falim boy) was pretty good with his hands and was miles ahead of me in carpentry.

The most dangerous occupation in the carpentry shop was electrically powered devices such as the electric sharpener for knives and blades and the lathe. I spend some time learning how to fashion a block of wood into table legs. With the wood properly locked on into the lathe. I put my safety goggles on, place the lathe guard in position and turn the lathe on. With gentle pressure on the chisel onto the rotating piece of wood I began to shape the piece of wood with no plans for its shape. It was fun! In the next carpentry class, it was classmate turn to be on the lathe. He had an accident on the lathe and he later told me that it all looked too easy and he began to be inpatient and pushed the chisel too hard against the rotating block of wood. There was a loud “ping”, and hid chisel was snapped and the broken piece hit the roof and fell on the floor. Luckily, no one was hurt. Yes, Mr Chan had told us before not to apply too much pressure on the wood and something like that would happened.
What is the use of learning carpentry when you want to be a professional anyway? Wrong again. The carpentry lessons gave me skills which I did not realise that I would need later in life. I stayed in Australia after finishing my degrees, I bought my own house and started to tool up my garage. I had to survive as a handyman since I could not afford to pay carpenters, electricians and plumbers to do all the small repair jobs in the house. Yes, I bought chisels, screw drivers, hammers (iron & wooden), screws, electric drills, electrical sharpening tools, electric sander, and elementary carpentry tools for joining and aligning and gluing wood. All these tools came in handy, but without the elementary education by Ipoh ACS Carpentry Shop, I would have been scared to use power towels. I even got myself an electric router and power saw. Here again, the skills accumulated in the humble carpentry shop became an asset to me in my adult life. The moral of the story is also simple: learn a skill today and you will always use it in the future even though you can’t see it now. I am not the best carpenter but at least I can change the door hinge, resize the door to fit the door frame, put in a lock on the door, and strengthen wooden frames with glue or screws. From my school vocational education I have become a simple handyman (including some plumbing & minor electric work) and save a bundle of money which I cannot afford to spend in my younger days. Thanks you Mr Chan Tuck Wah.

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by IpohBornKid

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5

Form I B 1958: Class Teacher Ms Wong Suet Lan

 

In 1958, I was in Form I B as an eleven year old boy. Having passed the Std 6 exams by fluke, I was parachuted into the high school section of ACS Ipoh. The classroom was in the main building, northern side, ground floor and the middle classroom. When the northern class room doors were opened, one can see the big tree when Mr Quah Quan Teik parked his Honda, Moreira’s Office and the Science Lab. There were about 40 of us in the class.

We are very fortunate to have Ms Wong Suet Lan as our class teacher. She is the daughter of Mr Wong Wai Lam, the Principal of the Methodist Afternoon School, Ipoh. As a teacher trained in UK Brinsford Lodge, she had returned to Ipoh to take up a teaching position in ACS Ipoh. Ms Wong parked her Ford Prefect adjacent to the classroom. Unlike Ms Ling, my primary school teacher, Ms Wong was a smart dresser who always wore western clothes when teaching. She wore a pair of spectacles and had her hair short and permed. She was consider tall and had a fair complexion.

Ms Wong taught the class Geography. In the old days, we were taught to underline important sentences in the book. My geography book did not contain too many lines as I did not pay may attention to the “underline” instructions but more concentrated on her sweet voice. I often close my eyes and just listened to what she said and I had a terrific audio memory. I passed my geography exams (about 60% mark) by just remembering what she said. Till this day, I can still recall her voice in my mind.

Ms Wong was a talented piano/organ player and she have a sweet natural voice when she sang. She used to play the organ for Friday morning Chapel Service. The only way to see more of her then was to join her choir. Yes, I managed to join the School Church choir under her direction. We were taught many religious songs besides hymns. At Christmas, we were dressed up in choir boy’s attire and performed during the Christmas Church service in the Methodist Church on the school grounds.

At one time, she gave me a nickname “smilee” as I always give her a good smile. She was very nice to us and to return her dedication and passion for teaching little boys, I can only say thank you with a big smile.

My personal experience with ACS teachers were wide and diverse. They were angry young man teachers, grumpy old man teachers and gentle lady teachers. They all left their mark in my psyche and in the minds of other school children. There is no good or bad, but despite their idiosyncrasies they all meant well. But with Ms Wong, it was a different feeling. It brought me back to Std I when Ms Ling was my class teacher and Mrs Grace Tong was the Supervisor. Ms Wong would be my third happy experience in school that would give me a long lasting warm impression of a gentle lady with a heart of gold. I would treasure these memories forever. Thank God for teachers like her, particular for us the “naughty little soul”.

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by IpohBornKid

 

 

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4

ACS Ipoh did have vocational classes like carpentry, industrial art and typewriting. Of the 3 options, the author had the opportunity to attend the carpentry and typewriting classes.
The typewriting class was first located in the main building, southern side and upstairs in the middle classroom. Each desk had a typewriter and the brand was generally “Underwood” and not many Remingtons. They were all mechanical typewriters, mostly with heavy keys, large rollers, mechanical margins settings for left and right, and the ubiquitous black ribbons. Some models had red and black ribbons, but the class only used the black ribbons. In order to save costs, dried black ribbons were resuscitated and restored to its original usefulness by wetting a rag with some solvent or kerosene and running the ribbon on the wet cloth twice. Bingo, it goes back to the typewriter ribbon mechanism. Of course, the teacher got his fingers blackened and sometimes the typed letters went blurred because too much solvent was used.

Before learning to type, you have to master the mechanical controls on the type writer. Setting the margin, back space, tabulation control, upper case shift key and other interesting keys. Once you have mastered the controls, you were ready to begin to learn how to type. You bought a “backing” brown coloured paper with the top folded, and you inserted your white sheet of typing paper underneath the brown flap. You aligned your paper on the left margin and then inserted the paper in the rollers. You set your top margin, left and right margins and begin to type.

In the first few lessons, you follow a record player which reads the letter to be type and you follow suit in your typewriter. “a s d f (pause) ; l k j ‘ting’ & carriage return). The next lesson allowed you to type “g with the left finger extended and “h” with the right finger extended. Next comes q w e r and p o I u and followed by extended fingers for t and y. On the bottom row, you start with z x c v and / . , m and b and n with extended fingers. Lastly you hit the big time with numbers 1 2 3 4 and 0 9 8 7 and extended fingers for 5 & 6. The music had a 4/4 tempo, with each note about 1 second apart and the unforgettable ‘ting’ and “carriage return”.

When you have mastered the elementary keys, you begin to learn how to “touch type”, and this was done by looking at a page of writing in the “typing book” and without looking at the keyboard, you began to copy the letters/words from it. The typing book had two hard covers and the correct position is to place the book in an inverted V shape on the right of your typewriter. Before long, I had mastered the typewriter and since I had one to practice at home and doing real typing work for my Uncle, (who did a lot of pro bono work the villagers by typing their letters, applications for drivers licence, ICs, citizenship, and extract of birth certificates in the 1950s). I then sat for the Elementary Certificate and passed the exam with a typing speed at 30 words per minute. One year later, I sat for the Intermediate Certificate and passed with a typing speed of 45 words per minute.
Who would have thought that electric typewriters and later the golf ball typewriters would have come into being just under 10 year after 1960? This special skill was one of the greatest gifts that ACS Ipoh has ever given to their pupils who learned how to type. Instead of handwriting letters, one can use the typewriter which is neat and fast. I remembered that I had used a special eraser (more like sandpaper) to rub out mistakes and technology caught up again with the invention of the typing error fluid, followed by sticky correction tape on the golf ball electric typewriter. It was during these period that I had put skills to good use by typing my academic thesis instead of paying some professional to do it. With typing and arranging skills any graph can be typed. The longest thesis I have typed was over 200 pages. All these wonders were superseded by the first computerised word processor and topped by the current Microsoft Word, where the correction is electronic and the final printing done electronically. As an aside, my old school mate in ACS Ipoh, Mr SY Lee, a solicitor practising in Ipoh, said that he did not attend typewriting class and his technique with the computer keyboard was the art of “search & land”.

The arrival of typing technology was timely and I used it for writing my academic papers. The average ACS Ipoh boy with typing skills was miles ahead of others who cannot type. This skill had stood by me all my academic life, working life and now in retirement life. It was a skill so easy to learn, cheap to teach and yet the rewards for the pupils were endless. Amazing, after the golf ball typewriter first emerged, I was able to type 80 words per minute but with the keyboard, speeds of up to 120 words per minute can be achieved. Sadly, I have slowed down to 80 words per minute because the fingers were not as nimble and quick as they used to be. It is a gift that I most treasured from Ipoh ACS.

The moral of the story is “A short term of hard work, good teachers and opportunity to learn, pays a life time bonus “. And the credit goes to my old alma mater, Ipoh ACS & my typewriting teachers.

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by IpohBornKid

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3

Photograph: 1958 (left to right teachers) Mr Ng Ah Fook, Mrs Lee, Mr Lee? Mr Low Choo Beng, Mr Ng Park Hing, Mr?, Mr Appaduray?, Mr Wong (art teacher) and Mr Robert Leong.

Mr Ng Ah Fook was a keen soccer fan. He was also the tuck shop master and his wife Mrs Ng also worked at the tuck shop selling noodle soup and soft drinks. Mr Ng commonly wore white shorts and shirt with long socks, a bit like Mr Moreira. He was one of our class teacher in the Primary School section of ACS Ipoh and was a kind hearted man with no mean streak for canning pupils like Lo Mo did. As a feverish soccer fan, he used to drive his car to Kuala Lumpur and watched the soccer matches. He would start in the morning and return in the evening. One interesting story which he told us which has imbedded in my mind permanently. was the night driving skills and tactics. One night as he was driving back from Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh (132 miles of winding roads in the old days), he was followed by a newer model car behind him with the high beam on. As the roads were winding and it was not easy to overtake any cars as you cannot see on-coming cars in a curve. Mr Ng was annoyed because the rude driver behind him did not dip his headlights to low beam and the bright headlights shined through his little car back window into the front windscreen of his car. He then took counter-offensive measures against the car behind him by adjusting his internal driving rear mirror to reflect the on-coming high beam back to the offending car behind him. It worked! When the driver saw his high beam reflected back to his eyes, he dipped his head lights and increased his distance from Mr Ng’s car. Well, if you think that is trivial, think again! Later when I was driving home one night, I encountered a similar rude driver who got close to my tail and with the headlight on high beam. I used the Mr Ng Ah Fook trick and reflected the high beam back on the car behind me. The driver behind was a bit rude and annoyed that I countered attacked on him. He blew his horn at me and I gave him an internationally recognised rude finger sign.

Mr Samuel Welch is another good story teller. He used to teach us poetry in class and made us memorize poems like “Oyzmandis”, “Yellow Daffodils” etc. To this day, I can still recite part of the poems even after more than 50 years had elapsed. Mr Welch forte was reading a “Post” type magazine and with stories about fighter pilots in WWII and landings in aircraft carriers. He bought the magazine to the classroom and showed us the illustration of the fighter planes and WWII aircraft carriers. I too was fascinated with the illustrations and begin to follow other publications that contained such stories. Obviously, my comprehension of English was not too good and I mainly relied on the “Beano” comics for stories about the boy and his remote control aeroplanes and later on, with war comics which belonged to my more affluent classmates. Mr Welch had an idiosyncrasy about dressing tidiness and I remembered that boy’s shorts with cloth fasteners which were not properly fastened. He had them cut off with a razor blade. I believe, Mr Welch and another teacher Mr Choy, later left the school and became commercial pilots, possibly with Malaya Airlines.

Mr Robert Leong was another wonderful story teller. He was characterised by his crew cut hairstyle and was slightly smaller than his brother Mr Leong Fu, the wrestler. Mr Leong loved everything about the United States and he would tell us stories about the US, the taxi drivers, the cinemas and even showed us the greenback (US dollars). For a young boy, such stories about a far off land like the America (US) was ever interesting and in 1950s, the US was the world leading military power and our school was founded by American missionaries. So anything American was welcomed. Merrill Leong is Mr Leong’s son and it is not surprising that he was named after an American General. Although Merrill said that his father had never been to US at that time, Mr Leong’s stories were too factual, credible and interesting. In those days, there were a few gangsters amongst our midst and Mr Leong reminded us to see him about these little thugs if they ever demanded money from us and he used to say “I will gang him to jail”. The statement gave comfort to a lot of boys in the class. At the gymnasium where he also taught us to sing, he put one of the “gangster” inside the cage of the chair and sat on the chair for the whole period.

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by IpohBornKid

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2

In the 1950s, all ACS Primary School pupils underwent a compulsory PT class every week which took place between Monday and Thursday but not on Friday morning because it was a Chapel period (that is another story). Most pupils did not have affluent parents and there were no sport gears to be worn including Track shirts and pants, shorts, shoes, or towels. Although there was one or two exceptions, every pupil came to school dressed in their white shirt and white shorts. Most of the pupils came in canvas shoes (the cheapest) with or without socks. These canvas shoes can be really “stinky poo” but it can be washed, dried, a white washed with some white liquid. At PE, every one took their shirts off and there was no towel to wipe your sweat nor did anyone had a shower after PE. You sweat and you dry up and you put your shirt back on and off you go to your classroom. The only comfort was the class ceiling fan which rotated at full speed, with the spindle gyrating and waiting to fly off the ceiling mount. (Aside: Some years later, some genius monkey put an unusual looking balloon on the fan blade!! LOL). On looking back, it was wise to have PT classes in the first period otherwise the heat would be unbearable. Interesting enough, when it rains after PE, one could catch a cold in the classroom under the ceiling fan.

Some PT masters were good and they were sportsman themselves. Others who were not sportsman and they went through the drill without much enthusiasm. There were no women PT instructors. Just imagine how the boys would react to a female teacher in shorts and T shirt! (Ask the boys who did the mirror in the shoe trick!!!)

The PT equipment was very simple and they were stored under the staircase office (ground floor, southern block, Main Building) of the Discipline Master, Mr Aw Boon Jin. Lo Mo was his counterpart in the high school. I was never canned by Mr Aw because he told me he knew my father as an old boy in ACS Ipoh. The PT equipment was mainly made of rattan, and two popular items were requisition from the office, ie. A rattan ball or two, (smaller than an average soccer ball), several hula hoops (a circular hoop made of rattan) and some skipping ropes. I often volunteered to bring those equipment for the class for a good reason. After the PT class, I would have the opportunity to roam around the school before returning to the classroom and the teacher in the next period would never question where I have been. Or perhaps they knew and kept a blind eye.
On the main field, surrounded by Tembusu trees along the west side, palm trees on the south side, main building on the east side and the “new” building on the north, several classes would have their 45 mins PT period at the same time. It was one hour after sunrise and the air was still cool. The PT class usually began with simple exercise of the neck and the arms with counting of 1, 2, 3 & 4. Leg exercise usually “running on the spot” or freelance running on the field. The next exercise would involving bending down and touching your legs with your fingers and then swinging your hips to allow the right fingers to touch your left foot and vice-versa. This was a strenuous exercise and one can cheat by bending your knees! This only worked if you were positioned at the back of the pack. More strenuous exercise like doing push ups were the forte of the physically stronger boys but not the author.

After the physical exercise, we were allowed to play games with the rattan equipment. The rattan hoops were used to practice gyrations of the hips (doing a hula hoop, Hawaiian style). It was amazing that one could keep the gyration for a long period. I used to be able to do that and in trying to teach my grandchildren how to do it. I failed miserably as the hoop stayed for two revolutions!

The most exciting game played was the passing of the ball. Each side had a person inside the rattan hoop and his job was to receive the ball from his team in order to score. The class was divided into two sides, and the teacher picked the members of each side. The game began in the middle with the teacher throwing up the rattan ball and two boys would attempt to capture it. As you cannot run with the ball, you had to pass it to your team members. The idea is to get the ball near your team member in the rattan hoop. Of course, each player was marked by the other team member and they can block and take the ball away. This game is very close to the ladies net ball game. In netball, the ball is placed in the net (hoop) to score whilst this game would require your team member in the hoop to catch the ball. No one knew that the game was a “kind” of netball otherwise it would have been labelled a “sissy” game and no one would play it. Ignorance is bliss and we enjoyed the game! Of course, there was no kicking allowed.

In retrospect, we were fortunate to have physical education embedded in our minds during our younger days and the proverb “All study and no play, makes Jack a dull boy”. The PT classes of ACS had its humble beginnings but its effect on its pupils who benefitted from this education have lasted a life-time. Thank you to those PT teachers. You did your best with the minimal material support and your improvisations to make it enjoyable for us to remember it for the rest of our lives.

Written and contributed

by IpohBornKid

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