Archive for September, 2007

Long Hair Males

Credit : SPH, The Straits Times.

Do you still remember the above posters put up in most government bodies? Of course not in the current era, it happened in the 60s/70s – in Singapore haha. Long hair males were frowned upon in the past.
You may laugh it off now, but in the past it’s no fun at all. Male artistes with long hair were not allowed to appear on TV too; male with long hair will also be stopped at Woodlands immigration checkpoint and turned away until they had their hair cut. Think that was around 1972.

Well probably our government is trying to stop the Hippies fashion and habits infiltrating into our country. Besides the long hair, there was another icon of the hippies – the peace sign! Most of those fashionable men with long hair, wore a peace sign necklace;

Here is a guide on how the hippies looked like;

Credit : Ruth Bronsteen. The Hippy¹s Handbook.

So lucky me, when I was in Singapore Poly, it’s already 1979. I still able to keep my long hair but just long enough to cover my ears and slightly below the shirt collar. Below shows the long hair me in Poly days during the late 70s and early 80s;

Mooncake Festival

Once again the Mooncake (Mid Autumn, 中秋) or Lantern Festival is coming again. And it’s time to eat my favourite 月餅 (mooncake) but not too much due to my high cholesterol…

Of course, the Mid Autumn festival or whatever name you called it, is on the 15th of August under the Lunar month. Just like the past few years, the mooncakes are already for sale even before the start of Chinese 7th Month! Can’t blame them, selling mooncakes is getting more and more competitive.

When I was just about 4 or 5 years old, I remember it was a time of reunion of family members. All would gather together in the evening and had our dinner. After dinner, the children will gather together in the open field or playground or backyard to play with their simple lanterns. The adults will prayed with their offerings and after that, we will feast on the mooncakes or other food.

The above is me holding a simple lantern in Sep 1966, about 41 years ago. Life was simple but happy then.

Later when we shifted to Haig Road in the 70s, the Mid Autumn festival was celebrated with just a simple meal without the lanterns. Probably my brother and I thought we were in our teens and shouldn’t be playing the lanterns. Lantern or no lantern, here are some food that are related to the Mid Autumn festival;

1. Traditional Piglets in basket;

Photo credit : Henley46

These plain little piglets were my favourites when I was a kid. They were usually given free when you purchased mooncakes from the stall. Now you need to buy or pay for them…and there are different designs and of course more expensive.

2. Water caltrops ( 菱角);

These are actually a type of water chestnut. The look of these water caltrops may not attract the youngsters nowadays, and eating them also not easy.

Photo Credit : Exif

See the inside of this water caltrop;

Photo Credit : FoggyChan

3. Mini Yam;

Photo Credit : Neowy

Not really my favourite but taking a few bites is ok. Definitely not the whole piece for me…

4. Pomelo;

This is definitely a Multi-Use Pomelo. After eating the juicy fruit, the adults will usually dry the skin. The innovative one will used the skin to make into lanterns. Of course some preferred to wear the pomelo skin as a hat over their heads.

5. Mooncakes;

Finally my favourites…mooncakes. I still preferred the traditional types lotus seed with 2 salted eggs in it.

Some of the traditional shop names related to mooncakes are Tai Thong 大 同, Da Zhong Guo 大中囯 or Da Tong 大東, etc… Remember those traditional paperbags used to contain the boxes of mooncakes;

Photo credit : Kybrdgal

The boxes used to contain the mooncakes then were very similar in design and not so beautiful compared to now.

I remember in the 80s when I was still a regular in the Airforce, I did part-time marketing in mooncake (of course not allowed officially, but the enterprising me…). I checked the Yellow Pages for big corporations and I sent faxes to their personnel department to market Tai Thong (大 同) mooncakes. I went to Tai Thong at Gay World then (now at Mosque Street) and asked them for better discounts when I placed order from them. I even managed to get orders from staffs of Singapore Mint!

They are still using the traditional receipts;

That Red Brick Library – Part 2

…cont’d from Part 1

Besides the above First Day Cover showing the National Library together with a few other landmarks of Singapore, I couldn’t find or remember seeing any stamps or covers on the old National Library alone. Wonder why?

So do you know exactly where is this old red brick National Library? Let’s take a look at the old map below (around 70s) showing the National Library;

You can see that the old National Library is just besides the National Museum at Stamford Road. The demolishing of this old red brick library is to facilitate the building of the Fort Canning Tunnel, but the reasons why the importance of this tunnel, I’m not keen at all to touch on it. See the current map now without the library;

Of course with the tunnel built, and lots of road changes made and the SMU buildings around the area – it seems like a different landscape! Before my memories fade, let’s recall some of the main buildings around here…

CPIB Building;

This 3 storey building at Stamford Road was just near to the old library. The old Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) building was here from 1962 to 1984.

Tao Nan Chinese School;

The old Tao Nan Chinese School was located at Armenian Street and was built in 1906;

Photo Credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS.

Now this building has been restored and it’s the Asian Civilisations Museum;

MPH Building;

This is an very old building (1908) formerly known as Malaya Publishing House (MPH). This Red and White colored building seems like a very “expensive” bookshop to me during my school days. I still remember the wooden staircase inside the bookshop;

Photo Credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

It is now known as the Vanguard Building, which houses the Vanguard Interiors Pte Ltd;

After taking a look around the old library, now let’s take a look at the old library itself. But just before that, we probably could not forget that old coffee shop besides the library carpark. It’s a very small coffee shop. Below shows some old photos of the red brick library;

The front main staircase

Photo Credit : National Library Board, NLB

Below shows 2 photos taken in 2004.

The courtyard which is rather different from the 70s;

The most memorable fountain at the library. Wonder where it is now?

Above 2 photos credit : By James 1504

Take note of the old logo at the main entrance of the library;

Photo Credit : National Library Board, NLB

See the difference with the new logo;

Now let’s talk about the National Library Logo;

During the Raffles Library times : The Logo resembled the crest of the Colony of Singapore. The crest which looked like the British Royal Coat of Arms had mottoes that read “Dieu et mon droit” (French for ‘God and my right’). It neither represented the library’s function nor aspiration.

Below – something like that;

Credit : Wikipedia

In the 60s : The National Library carried its own logo. It is said that the logo was designed by one of the librarians. The logo composed of a book and a superimposed figure of a lion. The book symbolised the collections, or books and reading, while the lion represented Singapore. This logo was seen on library cards and library books.

The old library card carrying the old logo;

The New Logo : The new logo was launched in 1996 after it became a statutory board. The logo is composed of a stylised book with flipping pages that transits from bold solid pages to pixels. It symbolises the organisation’s aspiration of a modern, dynamic and creative library and information service provider. Meaning of the new logo as stated in the library report;

Stylised book and flipping pages
Represents qualities of dynamism and the power of unlimited learning. It also reflects the qualities that promote reading, learning and a continual search for information.

Transition from bold solid pages to pixel
Traces the evolution from print to electronic media. It represents NLB’s focus in current technology and its commitment to be at the cutting edge of technological developments as well as the drive for improvement and expansion of its services.

Three pages
Depicts the library system’s three-tier concept: regional, community and neighbourhood libraries and the outreach programme to bring information to the doorstep of every household in Singapore.

Here is the new logo;

…how I miss the old red brick library…

Built in 1960 and end in Mar 2004…lived a life of 44 years!

That Red Brick Library – Part 1

I remember that was how it looked like in the 60s/70s. If I’m not wrong, my last visit there was during my secondary school days in the 70s. After the Fort Canning Tunnel was completed, what remained are the 2 red brick pillars (previously located at the entrance of library);

Significant changes are seen in these areas of the old National Library!

Check here for a more detail of the History of National Library.

Maybe a brief Time Line of the National Library may help;

1823 : A small collection of books were started in Singapore Institution (known Raffles Institution in 1950). Mainly for the British and priviledged class. Below shows the old Raffles Institution at Bras Basah Road where the current Raffles City stands;

1862 – 1876 : The Library was then transferred to the Town Hall (known as Victoria Memorial Hall). The postcard below shows the old Town Hall;

1874 : The British Colonial government took over the library and renamed it Raffles Library.

1876 : The Raffles Library again relocated back to Raffles Institution.

1887 : The Raffles Institution moved to the domed shape buidling (now National Museum) along Stamford Road. It was also known as the Raffles Library and Museum Building. The library was located at the West Wing.

Photo Credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS.

1942 – 1945 : During the Japanese Occupation, the library was renamed as Shonan Library.

1945 – 1953 : After the Japanese surrendered, the BMA (British Military Administration) took over the running of the library.

1953 : Dato Lee Kong Chian offered S$375,000 to build a free public library and the British accepted the offer. The old St. Andrew’s Chapel and British Council Hall located at the Stamford Road were demolished to make way for the then new red brick library. Below shows the then British Council Hall located at Stamford Road;

Photo Credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS.

Below shows Dato Lee Kong Chian laying the foundation stone at the library in 1957.

Photo Credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS.

1958 – 1960 : The library then was a project of the then Labour Front and the National Library was officially established in 1958.

Below shows the Mobile Van of the then Raffles National Library.

Photo Credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS.

1960 : The Public Works Department (PWD) completed the red brick library in 1960 and it was opened by our late President Inche Yusof bin Ishak. Finally the National Library was at this red brick building at Stamford Road and separate from the National Museum.

1995 : In 1995, the National Library Board was formed.

2004 : The old red brick National Library was officially closed on 31 March 2004.

Photo Credit : National Library Board.

2005 : The National Library moved to its new premises at Victoria Street in 22 July 2005. The library consists of two 16 storey blocks, with three basements. It has the glass building like in contrast to the old red brick look.

Do you still remember those old library cards (borrowers’ cards)? Think one need to deposit a small amount of money and get these 4 beige colored cards;

Credit : Emily Lim

Or do you remember the Due Date slip pasted on the inside of the front cover of the books you borrowed?

The above are no longer in use now. All you need is just to scan your IC or Student Pass at the Borrowing Machine (after you have registered as member) to borrow a book. A Loan Receipt will be printed from the machine showing the due date;

There are still many good memories of the red brick library itself and the surrounding, but I’ll continue in Part 2……

To be continued in Part 2…

Milk Talk

What’s so nostalgia about milk?

1. The Triangular Shape Milk;

Photo credit : SPH, and F&N

The packaging of the fresh milk has undergone changes from the past. I remember it used to be triangular shape as shown above. The other popular brand then was “Daisy” right? Of cousre Magnolia or Daisy, they are both under F&N now if I’m not wrong.

Photo Credit : National Archives of Singapore during the Heritage Festival 2007

How many of us still remember that during the 70s, we used to “subscribe” for the packet of milk in school (during my Primary Sch days). I don’t quite remember how was the packaging of the milk like for students in school then, do you?

2. Condensed Milk;

One of the common brand available in the 60s or 70s then was Milkmaid and of course the other was Blue Cross. I remember how I used to keep those labels which had pictures of fishes, butterflies or birds inside them;

Photo Credit : Above 2 – National Archives of Singapore during the Heritage Festival 2007

3. Goat Milk Delivery Man;

I’m not discriminating against him but I just cannot tolerate the smell of the goat’s milk probably from his “white” robe. There was this Indian man delivering bottles of goat milk to an Indian family one floor below my house in Haig Road when I was still staying there in the 70s/80s. I tried not to get in the same lift as him but at times if I couldn’t, I would just hold my breath.

This is the type of container on their bicycles for the goat’s milk;

You can see the above at the Singapore Philatelic Museum. Or you may even find one in the wax museum in Sentosa;


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September 2007