The Grandchildren of Chong Soon Fan’s eldest daughter lived in the “old house” at Main Road, Menglembu. They were all studying in the English schools in Ipoh. At the break of dawn, they all got up, brushed their teeth and started to walk towards the Chong Family bungalow opposite the Wan Hua Primary School. There were two reasons for going to the bungalow, to have breakfast and getting a ride by car to school in Ipoh.
There were also 6th, 8th and 14th Aunties going to school in Ipoh, Breakfast was served starting a 6:30 am. Breakfast menu were usually, toast with Kayang and Coffee, porridge or simple rice meal. Sometimes the late comers (usually getting out of bed late or spend too much time making up or some unexpected circumstances) would take their breakfast in the car. Generally speaking, the aunties spent too much time making up their faces in the morning and they were causing the delayed departure to school They were the elders and hence no comments or protest or you would get “hot tongue” for additional breakfast.
The Grandchildren living in the bungalow were spared these delays as they just walked from the front door of the house, cross the road and they were in school. Lucky for them, but when they started to go to high school, they had to join the crowd. By that time, most of the aunties have graduated from high schools.
The driver arrived at the bungalow at 7:00 am and his job was to take us to school. Sometimes the car would not start because of flat battery and we had to push it to start. Luckily there were plenty of people who can push. We all piled up in a Red Vauxhall Cresta 1956 model (AA9788) l with 3 forward gear, column shift and a bench seat in the front (seated 3 people including the driver). Later in the early1960s, a Ford Galaxy (BH2131) was used to transport the kids to school in Ipoh.
The journey to school started usually at sunrise 6:45 am. Turning out of the gateway to the right, it passed the Movie Theatre and at the junction of Lahat Road (Main Road), the car turned left and headed for Ipoh. Passing through the Menglembu Police Station on the right, it continues north passing the saw mills and iron foundries before reaching Falim. Passing Foo Nyit Sze bungalow on the right, it then crossed the Sungei Pari. The road then became divided with lamp post in the centre. Sometimes, the driver, on the urging of his passengers would overtake cars weaving pass the lamppost and crossed to the right hand side of the road and then weaved back between the lamp post into the left lane, It was exciting start of the day to be thrilled.
In those days, there were plenty of bicycles and motor cycles competing for the road. Bicycles were 2 to 3 abreast and sometimes they bunched together in a group of 12 cyclists. Cyclists did not wear helmets in those days and it was amazing that accidents were quite rare with bicycles.
Prior to arriving at the railway crossing, the car would turn left into Maxwell Road. After passing the road tunnel below, it turned left heading into the direction of the Kidd Bus Station. Then it turned right into Ipoh Tutorial, dropped off an Aunty and returned into the main road and this time heading for Guru Nanak School. From Guru Nanak, the next stop was the Convent and Rajah Perempuan, and it continued to Perak’s Girls High School in Kampar Road. On returning from Kampar Road, it went to Jalan Datoh and headed in ACS Ipoh at Lahat Road. In this route, the poor fellow who went to school in ACS was mostly late. If the car is driven up into the main building, you are sure to be caught. by the Prefects. The penalty at ACS Ipoh was one 220 yards round in the field for every 5 minutes late.
After much complaining and a change of circumstances, where there were two ACS students, the route was changed to ACS the first stop. It then went ahead through St Michaels to Yuk Choy High School, then to Convent, Raja Perempuan and Perak Girls High School. A few years later, the ACS boy got smarter and rode a bicycle to school.
There was no afternoon pickup service as the Grandfather used his car for business all day. Most of us take the bus home.
There were no TV in those days and it was fortunate for the Grandchildren of Chong Soon Fan to have a picture theatre next door and the admission is complimentary. I believe, the movie theatre leased the premises from Chong Soon Fan and he was given many complimentary tickets. Coming home after school, one would throw the school bag into the dark corner, eat lunch and headed straight for the movies which started at 2.00 pm, school day or not. It did not matter what language film was showing as long as we could sit there for one and a half hour entertained. In a year, we can have seen at least 50 movies (twice a week) and sometimes seeing the same movie twice.
The favourite food for the movies were ice kachang or ice ball, With the ice ball, you sit on the rattan seat (full of ticks) and you attempt to suck all the melted ice with the fan blowing hard under you. Of course, your clothes were dripped with coloured ice water. After the show, we cool our heads with the picture theatre tap located inside the cinema complex before returning home.
If we had seen a sword fighting movie, most of the boys would get some sticks and started to imitate the swordsman. Yes that was fun until one of the younger boys got hit accidently with the stick and started to cry. In a whiff, we all disappeared so no one can take responsibility for hurting the young brat. We swore not to include him in our activities but he also managed to get in because he could invoke the elders to fix us.
By 6 pm, the local appointed time for evening meal. Grandchildren can choose to eat at the bungalow or at the old house. Most of the time, , the old house Grandchildren ate at the bungalow.
After dinner, we had a bath and changed into pyjamas. We did our homework from 700 pm till 9:00 pm and were expected to go to bed by 9:30 pm. .