Nostalgic flash back in Ipoh ACS – The little park in the site of the current Carpentry Shed 1953
Prior to the erection of the Carpentry Shed, there was a little park of green grass with a middle line of trees, one of which was a frangipani tree of nearly 12 feet tall. The park was bounded by a bamboo plant fence parallel to Lahat Road, the main entry road to the Ipoh Anglo-Chinese School (ACS) Main Building, the impenetrable fence (south) and a deep grassed slope (west). On top of this slope was a School Residence (see illustration above). From the park looking towards Lahat Road, you can see the Hindu Temple.
Some students waited in the park to be picked by private transport. Many activities occurred in that area within a space of 30 mins after school.
When a piece of leaf from the palm tree was found, it was everyone’s favourite to do “bob sledging” down the steep slope. You climbed to the flat top, position your bum on the end of the wide leaf (bark side), move it on the edge of the slope, and with one shove, you make a quick descent to the bottom of the slope. It was a cheap thrill. Sometimes, your pants could be severely stained if you accidently slide off the leaf and continue downwards without it or you simply fell off.
The frangipani was a source of entertainment and prankish behaviour. One day, whilst I was sitting under the tree for shade and was waiting to be picked up,I felt something wet dripping on my head. My hand reached for the spot and felt wetness. I inspected my fingers and found the wetness was caused by a sticky white liquid. At first, I thought it was bird shit but the consistency and the smell (rather sweetly) eliminated my first guess. On looking up the tree, I discovered that the latex from the tree was dripping on my head. What a sigh of relief because if that was bird poo, it was considered unlucky and to reverse the curse, I would have to buy lollies and shared it with my friends. However, I did remember seeing someone known to me, had climbed up the tree as I was sitting down. He had cut the bark of the tree (or carved a grove in the bark similar to tapping rubber). The latex then flowed to the opening and when it accumulated, gravity did the rest. It was the “dripping latex on your head” trick. I had a fight with him then but we remained friends.
After learning the trick from him, I was able to do it to another person. You climbed up the tree and waited for the next victim to sit in the spot where the cut in the tree would result in the latex falling into his head or body. All you need is a good pen knife. All bad things can be learnt from ACS boys if you are willing to learn.
The little park is only second to the ground below the gymnasium for fighting. Many scores were settled in the park after school. It was a good place because the teachers were busy preparing to go home in the teacher’s office and the park was unsupervised. I had cut lips, sore arms and black eyes during my early primary years. As a young boy with classmates 2 years older and bigger, you need to defend yourself when they dislike you being more intelligent than them or you being the teacher’s pet. Or they were just bullies. Once you have established that you can fight back and not necessarily win the fight, you have gained their respect and they will not touch you again. The motto “I can bleed all over you” .was a principle that we smaller beings lived by in ACS. Despite these fights, we were all friends in the later years and we seem to have forgotten our past disagreements.
My maternal uncle attended the afternoon school in ACS called the Methodist Afternoon School (MAS) with Mr Wong Wai Lam as the Principal. He parked my Grandfather’s green Vauxhall near the little park and he had the driver’s window wound down so I could use the horn to summon support if the boys tried to wallop me. His classroom was in the Main Building where he could see the car from where he sat. Fortunately, I did not use his service because I was able to take care of myself.
The ice-cendol Indian man always came and parked his tricycle store in the front lawn between Lahat Road and the bamboo fence. If I had 10 sen in my pocket, I would also get a bowl of ice cold cendol. Very tasty and when I think of it, my mouth watered. As boys we were curious to investigate whether there is any truth in the matter about earthworms at the bottom of the cendol pot. The Indian man obliged us by scooping out the green cendolwith his large spoon and declared “see, no earthworms”. We were satisfied. I found out the truth whilst I was overseas when the discussion of the earthworms in the cendol pot started again. Yes, there were earthworms but they were carefully wrapped in a white piece of cloth and it sat on the bottom of the pot. Some said that it reduced the chances of the coconut oil in the coconut juice turning rancid, ie an anti-oxidant. Believe it or not!
One last comment on the bamboo fence – there were no fighting spiders living there but you can make a single note flute by pulling a young shoot of the bamboo and pulling other joints out and use the one part with a leafy stem. You can make a single note by either blowing into it or sucking it. Another old ACS boy trick.
I believe the fence on the south boundary did have some spiders (fighting ones). True or False?
P/S Does anyone remember the rabbits that were kept at Horley Hall, adjacent to the railway line?