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It was at the MGS Reunion Dinner held at Impiana Hotel in Ipoh last Saturday night (13th June) that my second book, “A Daughter Less Ordinary” made its debut. Past and present teachers as well as former students were the first to buy and read the tale of a girl born with a pair of yin yang eyes. I truly hope they will like the book and find a meaning in the story.

I am very grateful to the organizing committee for allowing me the opportunity to bring my book to more readers. Special thanks to Miss Yau Sook Fun for making this happened.

Meeting the school principal inspired me to donate two of my first book, “The Scissor Sharpener’s Daughter” to the school library so that present students could read the tale of a girl growing up at 188 Hugh Low Street as the daughter of a humble scissor sharpener struggling to make a living amidst poverty and despair.

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The night was even more meaningful for me when a little girl of hardly seven ran up to me and wanted to have a copy of my first book, thus becoming my youngest reader!

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It was during this reunion dinner that I managed to meet up with some former classmates whom I have not seen for more than thirty years. We had a wonderful time catching up.MGS 1981 group

All in all, it was a memorable night for all who were there that night.

Once again, a big thank you, MGS!

“Our utmost for the highest!”

 

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You have a choice each and every single day.
I choose to feel blessed.
I choose to feel grateful.
I choose to be excited.
I choose to be thankful.
I choose to be happy.

— T. Harv Eker

Thanks to the hard work and efforts of the organizing team of MGS Class 1981, some one hundred girls from Methodist Girls’ School (Ipoh) Class 1981 came together to celebrate our 50th birthday during a luncheon at Cititel in Kuala Lumpur yesterday afternoon. Three former teachers were there to help us celebrate this milestone. They were Mr. Victor Chew, Mr. Clement and Mrs. Chin.

It is good to get together again after leaving school for 33 years.. most of us looks the same, albeit more matured and settled.

We had food, games, lucky draw and a talk on breast cancer by Wah Cheong. All in, it was a memorable get together.

I was able to share my book with the girls too and they were very supportive of me.

Thank you, everyone, for the great time. See you all again soon.

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MGS Ipoh 81, reunion group photo @ Cititel Mid Valley Hotel, Kuala Lumpur

More photos at my facebook: facebook

https://www.facebook.com/188HughLowStreetOnlineBookshop?hc_location=timeline

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Written and contributed

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.

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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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Written and contributed

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.

Written and contributed
by IpohBornKid

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Written and contributed

by IpohBornKid

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”.

Written and contributed
by IpohBornKid

 

 

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Written and contributed

by IpohBornKid

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.

Written and contributed

by IpohBornKid

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