Category Archives: school

From ‘Work Conquers All’ To ‘Aim And Achieve’

Not a case of badge-engineering that is so prevalent nowadays. Rather it symbolized the coming of age of a school.

My school in Butterworth – Assumption Boys’ School – apparently was an offshoot of St Xavier’s Institution, Penang, planted on the “ulu” mainland by the Christian Brothers.  And it also adopted the school badge of its more prestigious elder sibling, for a long time. 

When I entered Std One in 1962, we all wore that SXI cloth badge — stitched onto the pocket of our white shirts.  No one asked what “Labor Omnia Vincit” meant.

Then, circa 1968/69, a new Headmaster came onboard.  Brother Stephen was distinctly different from his easy-going predecessors. He decided it was time for us to step out of the shadows of Big Brother – with a new (metallic) badge and an inspiring  triple-A motto: Aim And Achieve. 

Blowing The Whistle On My Past ECA

KEEP CALM, and take it easy, OK?  It is only about my participation in a uniformed Extra Curricular Activity in my lower secondary school — not any secret society!

When we entered Form 1, it was compulsory for us to pick our ECAs.  So besides the Art Club, I decided to join the Red Cross Society. (I did not choose the Scouts group due to  its “curi ayam” reputation).

I loved the white uniform with black buttons and the Red Cross decals, the black beret and the rather antique whistle that was attached to the end of a pleated lanyard. Well, I never found occasion to use the whistle — it was always inside the left breast-pocket.

I also remember a lady officer from the RAAF Red Cross who drove to our school on Saturday  afternoons to give us first aid lessons.

Those Knotty Days

As a young school-boy, I did not join the Boy Scouts, because they had a naughty “curi ayam” reputation. (It still puzzles me how that came about). 

Nevertheless, I had some opportunities to learn the ropes in the art of making several types of knots — when I joined the Red Cross society instead.  Alas, I can only recall four types of such knots, as shown in the picture. 

Granny’s Knot needed no introduction, as we had already been lovingly tutored by our own grandmas (without knowing the name). We called it “Dead Knot”. 

The Reef Knot fascinated me, as it could perform the same security as the Dead Knot, but could be undone much more easily.

The Fisherman’s Knot was supposed to be very useful if the rope was slippery.  As for the fourth one,…,I have forgotten everything lah.

Gripped By Vices

All vices will have a grip on you, but not all of them are evil. In fact some types can help you hold a job steady while you work on it !

My first encounter with a vice was in my Form One Industrial Arts class in 1968. That was a massive chunk of cast iron, bolted onto a sturdy workbench.  We gripped pieces of metal between its jaws, whereupon we did our manual sawing, hand filing and drilling.

Later on, in my studies at the Technical Institute, Penang, there were more occasions to “indulge” in  vices of all sizes and configurations, while the class underwent advanced training in metalcraft at the Engineering Workshop.   I enjoyed these lessons a lot, as I was and still am a very much “hands-on” guy.

I bet many younger folks have not seen one.

To Sir With Love

Those schoolboy days

Of telling tales and catching snails are gone…

But in my mind

I know they will still live on and on..

But how do you thank someone

Who has taken you from crayons to Brylcreem ?

It isn’t easy, but I’ll try

If you wanted the sky I would write across the sky in letters

That would soar a thousand feet high…

TO SIR WITH LOVE”

This photograph was taken with my beloved Standard One Form Teacher, Mr Francis Heng, at the 1st reunion dinner of the 1970 LCE-graduating batch of the Assumption Boys’ School, Butterworth. It was the first meeting after 45 years.

How It All Began — “A Man And A Pan”…

Flashback some three score years, when I started to received kiddie lessons in rudimentary English.  Back then, there were no nursery or kindergarten classes.  So my late mum – with her very limited knowledge of the language – took it upon herself to each me the A,B,Cs..and slightly beyond.

I remember most clearly a textbook called “The Oxford English Course For Malaya”.  The opening pages showed a man and a pan. And so off we went ranting : “A man; a pan; a man and a pan; a pan and a man”. 

Alas, I cannot remember anything past these items.  It would be nice to get hold of a copy of that vintage book.  As a consolation, I went to Google, downloaded some old photos, and re-created the cover with Adobe PS, printed it out and pasted it on a dummy book.

Going ‘Overseas’ To Study — Every Weekday

Never mind if it was actually over the sea. Just let this old man reminisce the thrills and spills of the days (1971-72) when he had to make the {12~14km} or so trip from Bagan Ajam to the Technical Institute on the island for his studies.

At first I tried cycling – getting up at 5am, I pedalled all the way to the ferry terminal, got onto the lower deck of the ferry, and then out onto the island….finally arriving at Jalan Ibbetson where TI was located.   School dismissed at 1.50pm and by the time I got back home it was around 4.30pm.   Alas, after 1 school term, I was reduced to just skin-and-bones.

My parents then ordered me to take the public buses.

Finally, in 1973, our family moved over to the island, in preparation for my Lower Six. Thus ended my odyssey over the sea.

Paip.Sekolah : The Thirst Was History

It was far better than Pepsi-Cola: it was cool, refreshing and clear.  And F-O-C and F-O-S too (free-of-charge,and free-of-sugar).

Well, just reminiscing my primary school days, when after a PE lesson or a game of football, we kids made a beeline for the solitary standpipe in the school compound, and got our thirsty throats quenched.

No SWEAT for us to drink in this unadulterated H-TWO-O; just opened our mouths big big, turned on the tap handle, and took a BIG GULP or two, and the thirst was history.

My late mum always cautioned me against drinking straight from the tap for the fear of water-borne diseases.  She always made me carry a bottle of boiled water from home.  But,…,drinking from Paip Sekolah was a totally different experience.  I never told her.

 

Jar & The Beansprouts

One of the first biology experiments we had in primary school was the germinating of green beans in a jar.  We lined the inside bottom of these jars with some moist cotton wool, threw in some green beans and waited.

We were thrilled to see the beans sprouting and growing each day.   By the 4th day or so, our sprouts were standing tall and proud.

Our young minds and imagination were all fired up.  Mine went further, having read the story about one guy named Jack.   I quietly took some more green beans, red beans and soya beans from my mum’s treasure trove in the kitchen and threw them out onto the soil outside my kampong house.   Waited and waited,….,but no Beanstalk ever came out, not even a small one let alone a giant.

Haiz, maybe I used the wrong beans

First To KERETA ….Then To School

Borrowing BATA’s tagline …

Long before Bas Sekolahs drove into the school transport scene, there were KERETA SEKOLAHs of all shapes, sizes and colors ferrying kids to and from their schools.

My first encounter was with a black vintage Vauxhall Wyvern, owned by an enterprising neighborhood Uncle.   The car had a column-mounted gearshift and a one piece sofa-like front seat.

Uncle also ingeniously added a long wooden bench onto the back seat and another one of half length onto the front seat.  With these mods, the capacity was raised to about 15 Standard One kids, including me.  By the time we got to Standard Three, the capacity maxed out at 12 — we were growing fast.

Though it was quite reliable, the car often needed some robust hand-cranking to cajole the engine into working mood.