Author Archives: happyrecall

About happyrecall

Just a very plain old man, with some knowledge of English

The Pink Panacea

A bit of exaggeration perhaps, but the self-proclaimed “Famous Pink Tablets” were probably the most highly-favoured over-the-counter medication of the ‘50s and ‘60s.

It was like the grand-mummy of the present-day Panadol.  As the claim went, 2 tablets of these pink tablets could quickly take the misery out of Headches, Fever, Body Aches, Influenza and Toothaches. I suspect women of those days must have used them for other needs too.

In any case, I must have eaten at least 10 dozen boxes of the pinkish stuff in my younger days, as usually we did not (and could not afford to) visit a doctor unless we were about to die.

These days, I think Vinac is not popular anymore; the familiar red-and-yellow packaging has been replaced by something nondescript.  I have not seen a modern specimen in real-life.


Beginnings Of Cake Expectations

Before the early 1970s, making a cake was somewhat of a hit-and-miss affair, having to deal with the unpredictable mood swings of a highly-battered dough taken to task in a charcoal-fired makeshift oven. 

All that changed, when we bought a circular flat contraption called an “Ovenette”.   After the dough was put in, and the cover closed, and the switch was flicked on, all that we had to do was to wait, see and smell. 

The cover had a circular window on top through which we could see our rising expectations.

Though there was no temperature control for user manipulation, the results were usually very pleasing and palatable.   At last we could have our cake and eat it as well.

These days, we have upgraded to built-in ovens in the kitchen, thanks to a wifey with very cakey tendencies.

Morphy’s Lore Of Ironing

An electric iron  that my aunty (then staying with us) received as a wedding gift, circa 1965, probably whetted our appetite for electrical gadgets over the years that followed.  It bore the label “Morphy-Richards”.

Ah, what a breeze and delight it was to set this red baby gliding over our clothes, taking out the creases with literally no sweat! 

Temperature control allowed us to set “different heat for different pleats” and, stopped Murphy* from making an occasional inopportune triangular-shaped ventilation hole in someone’s prized shirt or skirt. 

Of course, we, the children also loved to play with this new toy as little “kaypohs” helping mummy with the ironing.

Today, Morphy-Richards has vanished from the domestic appliance scene – nobody younger than 40 years would know this name.

*note : reference to Murphy’s Law  

“A Star Is Born”

That was the excitement back in 1971, when the nation’s first tabloid, The Star, was released into circulation in Penang.

It delivered a much-needed refreshing break from the stoic, stolid, long-winded reporting style that was built into the DNA of the two established publications, viz.,The Straits Times and The Straits Echo. 

Reading was crisp and delightful.  Perhaps The Star people were early recognizers of the ADHD* phenomenon.  And the tabloid size was more humanly-sized as compared to the older fit-for-gorilla format.  

Oh, I need to mention that there were also a lot of wild, racy photos of pretty women in all kinds of seductive dressing.  Over the years, however, the new kid on the block has mellowed a lot and has evolved into a more sombre and serious news medium

*note : ADHD refers to Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder

A Statement In Black And White

In the 60s and 70s, when Adidas was mistaken for a mosquito breed, and before other so-called sports shoes stepped into the footwear scene, men took great pride in wearing leather shoes.  Of these came a fashion – an essentially white-bodied leather ornamented with shiny black patches in strategic places.

In fact, as a kid and in my youth, I had worn through several such pairs.  (My parents must have skipped many lunches to buy them).

Oh yes, one of my school principals was a dyed-in-the-leather fan of these shoes. Without fail, he would strut up and down outside the classrooms daily, making an unmistakeable B&W statement that he was serious with discipline in the school.

Of course views are different today – people prefer 50 shades of gray (or more), interspersed with a revolt of colours.

When Everything Else Was A Copy

32 years ago, in the autumn of 1985 that I was privileged to be assigned by my company in Singapore to go to the HQ of Xerox Corporation at Rochester, NY USA, to help in the design of the control panel for a new photocopier. 

At that time, Xerox had a huge majority market share for photocopiers, with many patents on this technology. While working there for 2 weeks with the designers and engineers, I learnt that Xerox had licensed its patents to several other companies in Asia, but the folks always said, “Only Xerox is original, all others are copies”. 

OK, that made sense, I thought, since Xerox was meant to produce more copies!

Sadly, today the copies have eclipsed the original, and seldom do we now hear people say, “xerox a copy for me”.

The Gold Diggers

In the finest of tradition, they were slim and slender and ready to fall into the hands (not arms) of folks whose ears were itching for an excavation.

Enter the venerable Ear Wax Digger.  In my kiddy days, we had a couple of these implements at home.  I used to enjoy lying down with head on my late mum’s lap while she gently scraped  the walls of my ear canals.

My ears did not yield much.  However, I have seen cases of other folks whereby the diggers often struck the mother lode, with nuggets as big as half the size of a full-grown cockroach.

In those days, barbers also rendered this extraction service, but I never trusted their hands or eyesight.  I think this practice has probably died out, as this form of mining has become unglamorous