The year when Ruby showed ‘Gone with the Wind’….
A Tribute to Mr NC Thomas – by IpohBornKid
We present to you a little tribute to Mr NC Thomas – a man who was both Friend and Mentor to many a youth in Ipoh in the 1950s. We thank IpohBornKid for this write-up!
A Tribute to Mr NC Thomas – Pioneer in Youth work
Mr NC Thomas came to Malaysia in the early 1950s and took a teaching position in St Michaels, Ipoh. He was an English teacher and was among the great English teachers of Indian descent. Good grammar books were written by Indians and used throughout Malaya then. Mr Thomas was a Malari, a devout Catholic, quite and unassuming man. Yet his contributions to the Youth activities in Menglembu are legendary. The author owed this man a great debt, not only in adolescent personality development but also for the foundation laid by him for a successful academic achievement later in life.
When Mr Thomas arrived in Menglembu, he started a youth club in Lahat Road opposite the Indian settlement and adjacent to the Lutheran Church in Menglembu. It was a wooden house raised by pillars, and one can play underneath the house without being noticed. When the youth club was established, the elder boys were part of the youth committee whilst the author was not. The author and some youth often disrupt the youth committee meeting by being a nuisance under the house. The situation was corrected when these errand kids were roped in by Mr Thomas to do something useful.
The youth club has boys and girls in it. Most teenagers then attended the Ipoh English School, viz. ACS, St Michaels, Anderson, Convent, MGS and some attended Chinese schools like Yuk Choy and Perak Girls. There were boxing, weight lifting inside the clubhouse, but soccer was played across the field adjacent to the Indian housing.
Mr Thomas never smoked nor did anybody see him drink (if so, never in public). He set a good example of clean living for teenagers under his charge. Parents were delighted to have Mr Thomas look after their kid’s interests. In this, Mr Thomas has gained the utmost respect from the parents in Menglembu.
As a teacher, he is soft spoken, not easily angered, good tempered but firm. In his bachelor days, he always has cooked meals by an Indian family and delivered to his residence in the Youth Club. Later, Mr Thomas moved to another location in Ipoh, and the Youth Club went with him. The place was near the banks of the Kinta River and close to the Mosque in Jalan Datoh.
One of Mr Thomas’ most popular activities was excursions. In 1957 or 58, he organized an Excursion to Kuala Lumpur. For small town people, it was a big deal. To top it up, Mr Thomas has political clout. He arranged the visit to see the first Prime Minster of Malaya (Tengku Abdul Rahman) and the Education Minister Ong Yoke Lin. During the visit to the PM’s residence in KL, we had an opportunity to greet the PM in person and for a bonus; we were also introduced to Miss University (Miss Japan) who was visiting the PM at the same time. We then met up with the Education Minister, Ong Yoke Lin and have afternoon tea with him. The visit was a basic introduction to politics and politicians. For a kid, the author did not recognize the importance of such a meeting but the benefit was realized in later life.
Mr Thomas also took us to see his relatives who operated the St Thomas Dispensary in KL. In a group photograph shown here, one can see the youth of Menglembu rubbing shoulders with professional medical personnel in KL. Another observation is the multicultural group of people in the photo, all traveling together in harmony.
There is one story I must relate. Mr Thomas took me to see his friends who was a former student of his and lived in a fishing village called Morib. All five of us (photo enclosed) went for a trip to Seremban on a Morris Minor. On the way back, we traveled on the coastal road lined with palm oil trees. Somehow, the author convinced his travelling companions that he could drive and they let him. In an attempt to overtake a lorry, the inexperienced driver hit the uneven surface of the right edge of the road. The car started to swerved and the brake was applied fully (like emergency braking). The little car then made a 180 degrees turn on the road. It was miracle because they were no oncoming traffic in either direction and missed slamming into the palm trees on either side. It was scary and the author’s driving opportunities were curtailed. After returning to Morib, they all went to buy a lottery ticket. None of them ever related this incident to my mother. Phew!
As I left Malaysia for overseas study, I lost contact with Mr Thomas. I was informed that Mr Thomas later got married. If the descendants of Mr NC Thomas are in Malaysia, please accept our thankful acknowledgement of his significant contribution to Menglembu youth of the 1950s generation.
[Note: Due to the lack of space, the other pictures which accompany this story will be uploaded onto the database in due course.]
“Style of the Month” ?
Familiar? Well, those of you who followed the fashion trends of the different eras would know this look 😉
Fashion aside, do you recognise the place? Where is this fountain, where the lovely ladies are standing next to? Judging from the school buses in the background, this was probably a school field trip….
The Perak Dance Festival 2011
Renovation…or down right DEMOLITION?
This was brought to our attention by Mark Lay of Kinta Heritage.
Apprently, there’s been some ‘activity’ going on along Jalan Mustapha Al-Bakri (New Town) recently. From the notice that MBI put up, it appears to be “small renovation works”. Really? Well, we’ll let the pictures (below) be the judge of that!
So much for Ipoh garnering a place as ‘UNESCO World Heritage Site’……. 🙁
“…Sons (and Daughters) of St Michael…Valiant and True…”
Schooling in Ipoh – Episode 8
For those who have been waiting patiently, here is UV’s Episode 8 of ‘Schooling in Ipoh’! 🙂
Episode 8: Schooling in Ipoh
Life in Lower Six quickly went by. Soon we became the seniors and new Lower Six students were coming in. Many of those, especially those from MGS Ipoh were my friends from MYF (Methodist Youth Fellowship). ‘Ragging’ was the usual activity for these new Form Six students. It was really mild as each one had to appear before the whole Upper Six and was asked various questions. It was more like an introduction of themselves to their seniors.
With that done with, academic work became our priority. We have the HSC (Higher School Certificate} Examination to worry about. This is one hell of a tough nut to crack! We sat for four main subjects: English (English Literature), Geography, History and Economics as well as General Paper. There were 3 papers in English and Geography and History and Economics had two papers each. The minimum requirement for entry into local university (Only one then in Malaya – University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur) was two A Levels Principals and two A Levels Subsidiary passes (equivalent to an Ordinary O Level pass). If one does not pass with at least a Six in all the papers in a subject, one would be given a subsidiary pass.
Most of us would be concentrating on getting at least two Principal passes or three at best but the brighter ones would strive for 4 and even try to score distinctions in as many subjects as possible. Arts students are not noted for academic excellence and to get one or two distinctions would be very outstanding in those days. I decided to go for three and decided to leave English out, merely hoping to score a Subsidiary pass in that subject. Why? Our English teacher was Mrs. Teerath Ram Senior. She was boring to tears and I could never appreciate her teaching. I think the only thing I learned from her was the title of the poem about Omar Kayam! Until I started teaching poetry to some students as a private tutor, I really did not know what the content was!
In order for us to pass those three papers even at Subsidiary Level, we had to beg Mr. Chin San Sooi to give us extra lessons on poems. Passing the paper based on Shakespeare’s plays was not difficult as we could learn on our own with the help of guidebooks (something very popular in the 60s among students). However, the Romantic novels were left aside by those, like me, who didn’t want to get a principal pass. Thanks to Mr. Chin San Sooi, many of us were even able to get a principal pass, the writer included!
I banged on getting a distinction in Geography, as it was my favourite subject and taught by my favourite teacher. History was great when we had the late Ms Tye Soh Sim (Mrs. Eddy Chin) teaching us in Lower Six, but unfortunately she left for a scholarship to do her higher degree in Canada at the end of our first year. Ms Chong Nyuk Mui took over the subject. I was her ‘artist’ drawing those Historical Maps on the Board for the rest of the pupils to copy. I vaguely remembered they were European maps (rather difficult to draw) as we were doing European History from the 15th Century till Modern Days!
Economics was taught by a Ms. Wan and later a Ms. Tan. I remember Ms.Wan as someone who would come to class wearing cheongsam. She has a ‘unique’ way of pronouncing certain words and names. I can always remember how she would call Chevarani (Mrs. Siva now). Most of us would try to suppress our laughter each time she called her to answer a question. Many a times, the class almost brought her to tears! She left teaching after a short period with us. Ms Tan took over and was a direct contrast. She spotted the then fashionable slanted white framed glasses. She wore mainly Western dresses and was slim and petit. Many of the boys must have ‘fallen’ for her (writer not included). Her teaching was excellent as most of us did well in this subject (except for some girls)!
General Paper was taught by Rev. Butler White, a pastor of Wesley Church but also taught as a teacher in ACS Ipoh. His lessons were never dull. I did not shine in this during my Form Six days. I was only a moderate writer then and still is now.
In Upper Six, the Prefects were being scrutinized to be selected as Head Prefect and Deputy Head Prefect. Manogaran would has slotted easily into the Head Prefect slot and the post of Deputy would go to a Science Stream Upper Six Student (if any qualify) or an Arts student when they fail to get one from the Science Stream or the Girl Deputy Head comes from the Science Stream. However, Manogaran was a playful character and very often seen by the teachers to ‘misbehave’. His greatest sin was to go around poking girls on their side of their waist to make them scream and was caught doing so, one day, by a teacher! He was therefore not made the Head Prefect but the Deputy Head Prefect. The Head Prefect posts went to Yap Teong Aun (became an Engineer later) and the Girl Deputy Head Prefect went to Ung Swee Kim (daughter of the famous Mathematics teacher from Anderson School, Ipoh, Mr. Ung Kwek Chow).
At the end of the year, we sat for our examination in MGS Ipoh. Yes, the Arts HSC Centre for us was in MGS Ipoh and not in our own school as we had no hall big enough to accommodate both the Form Five Examinations and the Form Six Examinations. I already had my scooter (Lambretta) license in Lower Six and I transported my good friend, Loh Chin Hin from Rose Garden, to MGS every day we had a paper.
The examinations were soon over and it was a period of waiting for the results which came some time in March the following year. Some of us went to work, others took up various courses. I did neither but lots of church works – helping in the office, etc. When the results came, most of us qualified to enter university but some couldn’t because of financial restrains and so had to go into teaching colleges.
I was fortunate to get into University of Malaya, although at first I wanted to opt for law in University of Singapore, but because PSA sent me a set of application forms for University of Malaya and stated that I was on the reserve list for a Teaching Bursary, I submitted my application for an Arts Course in University Malaya instead. They never granted me the bursary! My parents struggled to pay for my fees and boarding.
On a sad note, Mrs. Teerath Ram died before the results came out. It was rumoured that she took her own life by burning herself at the back of her house. When my results came out, I dreamt of her walking from her house (in the school compound) towards the porch of the Main Building of ACS Ipoh and asked us for our results. I was there, in the dream, with a few of my classmates. I woke up with a start! It was so real. She was dressed in her usual flowing saree!
Life in school as a student ended in December 1964. I would return to ACS Ipoh not as a teacher but as a Principal 46 years later! I never taught in ACS Ipoh although I was a teacher, Senior Assistant, Afternoon Supervisor and Principal in other schools in and around Ipoh before returning to ACS Ipoh.
Where Do You Think THIS Place Is?
The Perak Choral Festival
In conjunction with the Perak Choral Festival 2011, the following events will be taking place:
- A Choral Training Workshop, by Susanna Saw, on 18 June (Saturday) at Garden Villa from 1pm-6pm
- A Choral Performance by Perak’s Promising Choirs, on 19 June (Sunday) at Dewan Leong Wan Chin (Perak Girls’ School) from 2pm-5pm
- An evening with the German Youth Choir, on 20 June (Monday) at the Syuen Hotel, 8pm
For further enquiries/reservations, do contact PSPA: 05-5487814 / email@example.com
ACS – 1930s! And by Special Request – the 1920s Students
We thank Ignatius Chew for these pictures – taken at the Anglo-Chinese School (ACS) Ipoh, in the 1930s.
Perhaps Ignatius or any of the other ‘Old Salts’ (as they call themselves) could tell us MORE? 🙂
Looking forward to your comments!
We did better than just comments for AP(at)IpohBornKid sent us the following picture and words.
Dear ACS Old Salts
Having read ACS 1930s and looked at the photos, I suddenly remembered that I am in possession of an 1932 ACS School Certificate Class photo of my late father. He was in the first standing row fifth from the right. Would someone bother to comment on the similarities and differences between the photograph already published and the one I just sent. Can someone name the teachers or the students?
My mother showed Mr Kesselring the photograph and I was immediately accepted to ACS Primary School at the age of 6, one year earlier. The old school tie system always works and what a great British tradition. Maybe UV@Valiant Knight might be able to explain to us what Form would the School Certificate Class be equivalent to?
PS:I was born in Ipoh General Hospital , hence the name IpohBornKid.
Soon Yik Goldsmith Shop (and a sample of an old receipt!)
We have here a picture of the interior of Soon Yik Goldsmith shop. This picture was apprently taken when this famous duo (the lady with a knee length dress and the gentleman in a suit) visited the shop. Do you know these celebrities? I’m sure there’s a little story that goes with this picture – if you know more, we’d like to hear from you! 🙂
Here’s a sample of an old Soon Yik receipt…sent to us by ‘Ipoh Born Kid’
Dear Ipoh Old Timers:
Re: Soon Yik Tukan Emas in Hugh Low St
My mother bought a jade bracelet from Soon Yik in 1973, nearly 38 years ago.
My family members used to frequent this store.
Their receipt s clearly described what you bought, how much and who is the person that sold it to you. I agree with SY Lee that this is a truly honest shop.
Schooling in Ipoh – Episode 7
Here’s the 7th installment of UV’s childhood memories! Happy reading 🙂
Schooling in Ipoh – Episode 7
In 1963, to get into Form Six was through an Entrance Examination conducted by the Ministry of Education. Students in Form Five who wished to go to Form Six had to sit for this examination towards the end of their Form Five year before sitting for the Overseas School Certificate (‘O’ Levels) Examination. Students were divided into the Arts and Science streams. Those who passed were divided int 3 grades according to the total marks they scored in the papers they set for. A and B grade students were assured of places in Form Six classes but those with C grade had admission based on vacancies available. The students were also put into positions within each state based on the total marks they scored.
I remembered Mano Maniam was 2nd and I was 12th in the State of Perak. From ACS Ipoh Arts Stream only a few of us got into ACS Ipoh’s Form Six Lower Arts. The rest of the students came from MGS Ipoh, Main Convent Ipoh, Secondary School Tronoh, some secondary schools in Sitiawan and Tapah. A few odd students would get a transfer from their local schools to ACS Ipoh because it was then (and still is) a premier school in Perak, if not in Malaya (a few months before the formation of Malaysia in September 1963).
I remembered we had even a pupil from the Royal Military College. He is none other than Datuk Cecil Abraham, a prominent lawyer. Some joined us in Upper Six after having studied in other schools the previous year. Therefore, education in Form Six is very different from those years in classes in the lower forms. Here we have the best from many schools and also for many not from co-educational schools, they have to study with members of the opposite sex.
The ‘true blooded’ ACS students considered those from other schools as ‘outsiders’ and so took upon themselves to ‘formally introduce them’ to ACS Ipoh. Each student was placed at the front of the class to introduce themselves and be ‘cross-examined’ by their ‘true blooded’ ACS classmates. As I was appointed the class monitor by the late Ms Tye Soh Sim, I had to ‘chair’ the ‘ceremony’. This was all in clean fun and meant to break the ice. None of the ‘new’ students was humiliated nor intimidated. Eventually, we all became close friends even until today.
There were almost as many girls as boys in the class. Most of them would sit with members of their own sex with some exceptions. Did anyone marry a classmate? No, I can categorically say so. However, there were many a dating going on but nothing came out of it. You may wonder why I touched on this area. Well, Form Six education goes beyond merely learning facts from textbooks and teachers. It was also then a place for social interactions and development. That was why they made all Form Six classes (except residential schools) coeducational. I would say the policy was a good one. Nowadays, some Form Six Classes in all girls schools or all boys schools do produce ‘warped’ people! (I leave myself open to attacks here but I do have my point and will defend myself if attacked.)
In the next and final episode, I will describe the type of learning that took place and what happened to most of us.
News Flash: The Grand Hotel
This picture was sent to us by Hasbi, who also provided us with some information:
1. 6th December 1927 – The Grand Hotel building which housed The Anglo-Chinese Girls School turned again into hotel.
2. 29th December 1928 – Grand Hotel new Dance Hall and Lounge were opened Saturday night by Mrs. E. A. Dickson, wife of D.O. Kinta.
3. 1st May 1936 – Voluntary liquidation of Grand Hotel, bought over by a wealthy Chinese syndicate, manager Mr. Lim Hee Jee.
4. 16th December 1937 – Dance Hall re-opened at Grand Hotel.
We thank Hasbi for the picture and the little details. Sadly, the Grand Hotel is no more…however, judging from the picture…..it was quite a magnificent building indeed!
Sam Tet School, Ipoh
Station Road, during the Great Floods of Ipoh!
From the recent comments we’ve had, some of you love looking at old photographs. Well, today you’re in for another treat!
We estimate the date of this photograph to be 1926, around the time of the great flood. The picture shows part of Station Road – notice the sign on the far right “Charles Grenier & Co Ltd”.