Here’s part 4 of our series, written by UV.
A photo of the Author, in a Boys’ Brigade uniform during a Methodist Intermediate Fellowship programme. The American boy in the picture is the son of Bishop Lundey (Lundey was the pastor of Ipoh Wesley Church then).
Episode 4 – Schooling in Ipoh
I crossed over into secondary school education at the same time Malaya achieved independence. In January 1958 I entered Form 1. I was among the elite of ACS Form 1 students, many of whom today are famous professionals or business captains. Having taken things easy for the last few years in the 2nd class each year, to catch up and change my style of studying was rather difficult.
In the secondary school I became interested in singing as the teacher in-charge was a charming lady, Ms Wong Suet Lan who was also my Form Teacher. I joined her junior choir that would sing for some church services. It was this year too that I took part in a Christmas play and played the role of Joseph. Of course there would be a Mary and of course my friends would link us together for years to come, but we never became more than just choir mates.
In the primary school days, my parents would send me to Sunday School conducted by Wesley Methodist Church Ipoh. Here I obtained my religious education in Christianity. I was also involved in the Methodist Intermediate Fellowship and the Boys’ Brigade (2nd Ipoh Wesley Company). I have already selected my path I wanted to follow from those early years. The Church would become a very integrated part of my youth.
I took my studies as something that was essential but I would not devote all my time to it. I decided that my extra-mural activities must also play a very important role in my life. My parents, thanks to them, left me alone and never pressured me like some modern parents do to their children to just study and do nothing else. In this way I had a very full and rich life in my lower secondary school days. It was because of this that I never imposed on my own children the need to just concentrate on studying.
I never attended a single day of tuition throughout my school life. My tutors were my fellow classmates who were better in certain subjects than I was and I too became their tutors in subjects I was better in than they. You would be surprised that the telephone was a great way to communicate with your classmates to ask for help in doing homework in the late 50s and early 60s.
Yes, singing was fun. Parading under the hot sun every Saturday Afternoon when it was not raining with the Boys’ Brigade was great training for discipline. I had to spend the whole morning on Saturdays to polish my shoe until I could see my face on its surface, polish the metal buckle of my belt, all the metal badges and make sure my shirt and pants were starched stiff and ironed smooth. After Boys’ Brigade meetings, the whole group of us would then adjourn to the Kidd Road bus station for a cool drink or the famed ABC (Ais Batu Campur or then known as Ice-kacang). Our mode of transport was our bicycles. [Some of my BB friends have already contacted me through this website.]
During the holidays we would go hiking or camping. The Kinta River was the favourite spot for hiking or camping. We also attended an all-Malaya gathering of Boys’ Brigade Companies know as the National Boys’ Brigade Parade (same as Jamboree for Scouts). It would take place in various towns in Malaya. I attended those held in Penang, Kuala Lumpur and the local one in Ipoh.
Methodist Intermediate Fellowship was a church organization for youths below 16 years old. Here we were involved in social activities centred on Christianity. We had an elected organizing committee like any society with counsellors giving guidance. Here too we had the opportunity to socialize with girls. Something other boys my age never had, except for those girls in their neighbourhood. Many of these girls were from Methodist Girls’ School, Ipoh but there were others from other girls schools too. Here too developed some puppy love among the boys and girls.
Life was rather interesting in those early days in lower secondary. I would continue with more interesting in-depth stories in the coming episodes.