Ipohworld's World

Saving Yesterday For Tomorrow

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Here’s another NST picture, showing the ‘hello girls’ (as they were called). These girls worked at the Ipoh Telephone Exchange once upon a time. Dewi (wearing a checkered dress), and her sister Jamilah (face towards to camera) both worked 6-hour shifts at the Exchange. This picture is dated 1st November 1953.
  1. sk says:

    Of course can remember the Hello Girls. Was at the Ipoh General Post Office G.P.O
    making outstation calls. Pressed button A to connect your call after payment or Pressed B to collect your money for unsuccessful connection. Coins of Only 10, 20 & 50 cents accepted. There was once I received an earful from the Hello Girls when I waited too long. Instead of hearing 5 ting’s, I heard a thud without knowing that thud was a sound of a 50 cents coin! It is a long time I use a public phone. Heard they use card now instead of Coins.

  2. Homesickgoripoh says:

    I believe the operators only answered with a “Hello”.
    The whole phrase “Hello, is it me you are looking for” is the lyrics from the
    sone by Lionel Richie called “Hello” in 1984.
    But it’s a catchy phrase nevertheless.

  3. Ipoh Remembered says:

    One of the girls in the photograph usually answered with “Hello, I Love You (Won’t You Tell Me Your Name?)”

    And this was fifteen years before The Doors took credit for the song.

    • ika says:

      What a very forward young lady!

      Not being a rocker i had to look p The Door’s and this is what I found:

      The Doors were an American rock band formed in 1965 in Los Angeles, with vocalist Jim Morrison, keyboardist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robby Krieger, and drummer John Densmore. The band got its name, at Morrison’s suggestion[4] from the title of Aldous Huxley’s book The Doors of Perception,[5] which itself was a reference to a quote made by William Blake, “If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.”[6] They were unique and among the most controversial and influential rock acts of the 1960s, mostly because of Morrison’s lyrics and charismatic but unpredictable stage persona. After Morrison’s death in 1971 at age 27, the remaining members continued as a trio until disbanding in 1973.

      As I said somewhere else I was more into The Beatles.

  4. Ruth Rollitt says:

    The Ipoh telephone exchange opposite the Cold Store was also designed by my father, the Danish architect, B M Iversen!

  5. Ipoh Remembered says:

    Dear ika … All joking aside, I think it’s worth recalling that in December 1941, when the British were leaving Ipoh as the Japanese advanced, the operators at the Ipoh telephone exchange refused to abandon their posts. They kept doing their jobs through the chaos, ignoring a number of orders to leave, until in the end it was almost necessary to remove them bodily. When one recalls that many of them were Chinese girls not yet out of their teens, fully aware of what might happen to them at the hands of Japanese soldiers, their bravery is all the more breath-taking.

    Incidentally, do you happen to know if there’s anything in the ipohWorld database about the rate at which Japanese forces advanced down the peninsula?

    Ruth Rollitt:

    The Ipoh telephone exchange opposite the Cold Store was also designed by my father, the Danish architect, B M Iversen!

    Dear Ruth … Yes, your father did design the “Telephone House” building on Cockman Street, but as the exchange in that building was opened in 1955, it may not be what’s shown in the photograph above. Ipoh’s first exchange was installed decades earlier, and women, or what used to be called “lady operators,” were already employed by 1918.

    The exterior of Telephone House (as your father designed it) is captured in the database (item 6593, for example).

    • Ipoh Remembered says:

      In connection with many of Ipoh’s telephone operators in 1941 being Chinese girls, I suppose it’s worth recalling, too, that once the Japanese forces were in town, they, too, hired Chinese girls to do the job. They did this even for the exchange in Singapore that handled calls internal to their military administration.

      • NCK says:

        You seem to have a romantic notion that there was a trusting, close relationship between the Japanese occupation force and the local Chinese community, and that the community had no feeling about the ongoing massacres in China, their home country at that time. Hate to break it to you that you are wrong, at least about Ipoh. No comment on what you said about Singapore though – it is common knowledge that their former leader had, in his first memoir, declared his employment by Japanese military during the occupation.

        • Ipoh Remembered says:

          Quoting myself from above:

          When one recalls that many of them were Chinese girls not yet out of their teens, fully aware of what might happen to them at the hands of Japanese soldiers, their bravery is all the more breath-taking.

          You were saying something?

        • NCK says:

          We just need to use our loaves to know that if phone services were available to the public and any info was a phone call away, the occupation force must have had a lot of trust in the public.

        • Ipoh Remembered says:

          Dear NCK … Using your loaf is admirable but I don’t see the connection between that and what you wrote above, namely:

          You seem to have a romantic notion that there was a trusting, close relationship between the Japanese occupation force and the local Chinese community, and that the community had no feeling about the ongoing massacres in China, their home country at that time. Hate to break it to you that you are wrong, at least about Ipoh.

          What “romantic notion”? What “trusting, close relationship” do you think I imagined? What precisely am I wrong about? Kindly elucidate.

  6. NCK says:

    Ipoh Remembered, either you are not using your loaf or you are trying to be dodgy as usual. My first comment was clearly made to reply to your claim that Japanese occupation force employed Chinese Hello girls – no point you referred to your another comment which I do not care. And I have explained about the trust element in my second comment.

  7. Ipoh Remembered says:

    Dear NCK … I’ll just say for now that when you wrote that …

    either you are not using your loaf or you are trying to be dodgy as usual

    … there may have been other possibilities than only these two.

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