Category Archives: school

To Sir With Love

Those schoolboy days

Of telling tales and catching snails nails 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.

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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

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)

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 gulp down this unadulterated H-TWO-O; just opened our mouths big big, and turned on the tap handle, and the thirst was history.

My late mum 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 encounters we had as primary school kids was the germinating of green beans in a jar — jam jars, Essence of Chicken bottles, etc.  Just needed to add water.  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 tall Beanstalk ever came out.   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.