Monday, April 29, 2013

Wedding restaurants I remember

You may have seen this photo before. It was taken by Mike Robbin’s friend, Ray Kirkman, some time in the mid-1960s. You would certainly recognize the Lido Theatre. But do you know the name of the building on the left? More importantly, do you know the name of the Chinese restaurant inside?
During my recent meeting with my “new old friend”, Mike Robbins, he presented me two souvenirs that he had kept for more than 40 years. One of them is this menu from the Peking Restaurant, and the other was an invitation to wedding dinner at the Capitol Imperial Room at Capitol Cinema.

Man ... just look at those mouth-watering prices!
The Peking Restaurant has special significance because it was here that my dear, recently-departed sister, Pat, had her wedding dinner. Except for my eldest brother, Chun Chew who had his at a special place – The Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Hill Street – the rest of the Lam siblings held ours at restaurants, as was the custom of those days. I thought it would be interesting to list the restaurants that I can remember where my family and friends held their wedding dinners, and see if readers can recognize the names. So here goes. I hope friends do not mind. And I hope you will share yours as well.

My elder brother David has his at the Oxford Restaurant at RELC, I had mine in Charming Garden Restaurant in Orchid Inn and my younger brother James had his at Cathay Restaurant. Besides the Cathay which is still around, albeit much changed, the others are probably gone. In fact, the Orchid Inn at Dunearn Road is in the process of being demolished.

My dear friend Chia Yew Heng had his at Sin Leong Restaurant in Upper Serangoon Road, next to the Fountain Night Club. I suspect he probably had this one for his Singapore friends and colleagues and held a separate one in his home town in Malaysia. My old friends Heng Tew and Ros held theirs in Omei Restaurant at a hotel in Orchard Road called Hotel Grand Central. Recently, I attended the wedding of their eldest son. How time flies.

My old friend from ACS, Simon Chu had his in a restaurant at Bukit Merah Central. I cannot recall the name; probably Oriental. I think it is probably still there. My sister-in-law, Bee Wan had hers at the Phoenix Restaurant. All I remember is that it was in Ang Mo Kio. When it came my dear friend Chuck Hio, it was in the 90s, and by that time, the trend was to have the wedding dinners at hotels. His was at ANA Hotel. I cannot remember the name of the restaurant.

One last name that comes to mind is the Tai Nam Tong (大南唐) Restaurant where my parents sometimes had their birthday celebrations. But I cannot remember where it was located.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Join me for a trip down memory lane

Dear friends,

I have been invited to present a talk-cum-slide show tomorrow evening at the Baby Boomers (Facebook Group) Social cum Business Nite gathering.

Venue:          Pearl Centre Office #04-13
Date/Time:  Friday, 26/4/2013, 7.30pm

I will be speaking about Growing Up in Singapore in the 1950s and 1960s. Will be covering more or less the contents that I covered during my presentation last month at the 50PlusExpo organized by the Council for Third Age – with lots more photos and interaction of course; as that talk was very rushed.

For more information, please visit BBS Facebook page here and indicate if you are attending so as to facilitate logistical/refreshments arrangements. You can purchase my book Good Morning Yesterday at a special special price.

See you there.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Taman Jurong Heritage Trail - Jurong Drive-in Theatre

Young Singaporeans may not know this. We used to have a drive-in theatre right here in Singapore. Thanks to my dear friend, Stephen Lai, I am able to share with you, these 2 rare photos of the Jurong Drive-In Theatre.

That little structure in the centre; could it be the projection room?
The pick-up truck in this photo is travelling along Yuan Ching Road towards Jalan Ahmad Ibrahim.This giant screen, measuring 47 ft by 100 ft, was raised 25 ft above ground and tilted at an angle of six-and-a-half degrees. Source: Singapore Infopedia.

Where was it located?

The Jurong Drive-in Theatre was located along Yuan Ching Road next to Japanese Garden Road. Today, the land is occupied by the Fairway Club. The rear of the cinema was near Japanese Garden Road, whilst the screen was towards the direction of the Tang Village, which, of course, was not in existence at that time.

Viewed from Blk 113
What I remember of this place

Actually, I cannot recall much of this place as I had only been there a couple of times. It was not a popular place for Singaporeans for a number of reasons. One, there was no air-conditioning. This kind of open-air concept is just not suitable for our tropical climate; especially since by the 1980’s, Singaporeans had grown affluent and accustomed to watching movies in air-conditioned comfort.  Besides this, there was also the factor of rain to consider.

Secondly, the sound quality was poor. The sound came from a speaker which had a bracket attached to it. You mount the speaker on the car door with the window wound down. The car, by the way, is parked on a slight incline so that you can view the huge screen. I believe that, as the distance from the screen increased, this angle of inclination was reduced. For these reasons, sometimes, we preferred to get out of the car and watch the movie from the public gallery seats located at the back of the cinema.

The only movie that I recall watching at the Jurong Drive-in was Bruce Lee’s The Big Boss. This movie was such a big hit that all the tickets were sold out in the regular theatres in town; and so in desperation, my brothers and I headed for the Jurong Drive-in.

The Big Boss broke the drive-in cinema's box-office record, collecting S$12,000 for one night. Source: Singapore Infopedia.

For a more detail explanation of the Jurong Drive-in Cinema, check out this article at the Singapore Infopedia website.

Below are some photos from the National Archives’ Picas website.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

From Bullworker to Jack Lalane (by Peter Chan)

I chuckled going through my family album of photographs.  It was a photograph of someone who was into “pumping irons”.  It was not where or when that photograph was taken but rather, the extent the guys could go to sculpture their anatomies.   

After posting one of the family photos into Facebook, I was further encouraged by comments to go more in-depth on this subject.  After all, this subject spans three different generations and we all were targeting the same objective. 

Photo 1: Three generations of body sculpturing.  [Left to Right] 1940 weight-training method; A 1960s new Bullworker product; Modern day protein supplements.

In Singapore today, there is more than just California Fitness Gym; there’s True Fitness and Fitness First.  Workout must go hand-in-hand with special diet, protein supplements and if you can afford it a personal trainer.  Not surprisingly in the Sunday Times, there is a column by Ashleigh Sim who writes for HOT BODS describing the regime. 

Photo 2: [Left to Right] Hot Bods column (Source: Sunday Times); Example of a healthy dinner meal.

Whilst we might have some knowledge about pumping irons, the Bullworker Exercise is something not many of us do.  My cousin introduced me to the BULLWORKER Exerciser in 1969.  It is not difficult to explain why I tried it.  First, it offered a very quick method to put on pounds and inches from a skinny torso.  Second, we could exercise anywhere, anytime away from public eyes.  Third, I didn’t need to pay: He responded to a mail-order advertisement in the Straits Times.  If I am not wrong the cost for the BULLWORKER was S$99.90 or was it $59.90 over 6 easy monthly payments?

How does the Bullworker Exercise work?
After you open up the mail-parcel, inside you find this pump with two encased steel cables and hand-grips at both ends of the pump.  The instruction manual comes as a glossy sheet detailing the various types of exercises that must be done in the next 365 days and the number of “reps” – short for repetition for each type of exercise.

Photo 3: Details of the training regime

Photo 4: [Left to Right] Charmed by Bullworker’s advertisement; Doing it the Bullworker’s way Anywhere & Anytime; Rusty Bullworker 2 exerciser belonging to my cousin.

During the school holidays, I stayed over at his place in Paya Lebar.  I put great intensity into my work-outs because school holidays were the only opportunity for me to develop my muscles.  After a few months, both of us gave up on BULLWORKER.  It didn’t seem to work; we didn’t have the look of the people featured in the advertisements. 

National TV introduced us to the world of Jack Lalane on every Saturday evening.  Jack had a simple answer on getting rid of those unwanted love-handles, didn’t involve a hefty investment but a single glass of fresh carrot juice to go with the exercises.  We never doubted Jack because here was a matured guy in his sixties with a great waistline and his approach looked so simplistic.  Come every Saturday at 7.15 pm, we stood in front of the television box and studiously followed everything that Jack taught.  Though it made us physically fit and put the zing in our body wellness, we could not feel those pounds and inches.

Photo 5: Jack Lalane simple floor exercises (c 1969)

Well the dreams of developing a great physique came to a halt when we were enlisted into National Service (NS).  NS did a better job than BULLWORKER and Jack Lalane put together.  When you don’t need to exercise one’s brain much, eat as much as you can take and exercise for 2.5 years, I came up with a 98 kg body-frame to boast after NS. 

Today I dare say if you consider married life, a major surgery, career and fine dining, I still can look good (Photo 6), i.e. by deep breathing and holding my breath for a few split seconds for the camera. 

Photo 6: [Left to Right] Now & Then.



Sunday, April 07, 2013

Taman Jurong Heritage Trail - Taman Jurong in 1970

Recently, I came across an interesting document concerning Taman Jurong. My church, the Calvary Bible-Presbyterian Church at Toa Ching Road, has just celebrated our 40th anniversary. They gave each of us a copy of the the first issue of our church bulletin, Vol 1, No. 1, dated September 1970. In this bulletin, there was a pastoral letter was written by our first pastor, Rev Philip Heng. Titled A Glimpse of the Promised Land, he narrated his impressions of coming to this part of Singapore for the first time. I reproduce extracts of his essay below. You will see that he mentions several places that have since disappeared from the face of Singapore. Do you remember any of these places?

Notice that Corporation Drive joins directly to Corporation Rd in this map – no Yung Ho Rd at that time!

“Those who have seen our proposed church site in Jurong Town will readily agree that we are in a strategic position, not “far from the madding crowd and strife” but rather in the midst of humanity. Let me take you on a tour to see why our site is so strategic.

Just look at the numerous significant landmarks that point the way to our proposed church. Coming by the “southern” approach, we drive westwards along Jalan Ahmad Ibrahim and turn right into Corporation Road at Bulatan Gudang (Godown Circus). At the traffics we turn right again into Corporation Drive. On the left hand side are the Police Station and the Bank of America while on the right side are the St. John’s Ambulance Association House and market. Further along comes the First National City Bank and Chartered Bank, the Jurong Dental Surgery, on the left hand side with the Jurong Primary School conspicuously opposite. Right next to the school are more high rise flats.

At the Junction with Yung Kuang Road, and on the left side is the Jurong Hospital and Clinic. Two stones’ throw away are the Jurong Town Corporation (JTC) visible from the road. We next pass a large open-air cinema and come to the junction with Tao Ching Road. And right here, in the foreground of Blocks 111 and 112 is our “Promised Land”.

Site of the Calvary Bible-Presbyterian Church at the junction of Corporation Dr and Tao Ching Rd (1970)
Bro. Moses and Lillian Tan of the Life Church live here in Block 111 which also houses the Jurong Town Residents’ Association. Behind Block 112 and skirting our proposed church are several blocks of multi-storey flats being built and presently overtaking the 10-storey blocks. Beyond these will be executive housing.

What about the older blocks of buildings? Across Corporation Drive from the church are 3-storey blocks. How dwarfish they look by comparison! However, they house established shops such as the tailor, photographer, stationer, laundrer, dress-makers, grocers and the hair-dresser. Beyond these, on the far left, are numerous eating stalls, JTC offices, the post office, the Government outpatient dispensary and other shophouses and business houses.

Continuing our tour along Corporation Drive, we come by another large empty plot on the left earmarked for a cinema and a creche. Then we pass by the Jurong Church and Civic Centre on the right. The road runs on for another quarter mile with multi-storey flats flanking both sides some still under construction. When we come to the end, it is now block 99 and just think of the thousands dwelling there.

We turn left in Yung An Road to be confronted with several blocks of Army barracks. What an opportunity it would be to minister to the men in uniform – defenders of our country, our sons.”

Here are some photos of places mentioned in the above article that are still standing today.

PS - Having been closely associated with this part of Singapore for more than 30 years, I plan to start a new series of articles about Taman Jurong which I will label Taman Jurong Heritage Trail. Look out for them.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Then and Now – Cashin Jetty

The photo that I put up in the latest GMY Book Contest is of the Cashin Jetty near Lim Chu Kang end. Actually I do not know much about this place until my friend James Tann pointed it out to me during my recent visit to the Lim Chu Kang Jetty.

Thanks to Peter Kirkman, I am able to share with you a few more photos of this place taken in the 1960s by his father, Ray Kirkman and forwarded to me by my friend Mike Robbins. I suspect, these photos were taken during the time when we were part of Malaysia. I also suspect that at that time, you could travel to Johor from Cashin Jetty. The reason why I say so is because among Ray’s photos from the same batch, there were several that were of Johor Bahru.

Incidentally, if you want to know more about the Cashin Jetty, its history and what it looks like today, please check out my friend Jerome’s very informative article here.