Last week, I was rummaging through my old things, searching in vain for my father’s birth certificate and citizen certificate to donate to the National Heritage Board. But to my delight, I found 2 long-lost photographs of Lorong Chuan where I grew up in. These photos are especially valuable as they are amongst the few that do not have people posing for the camera. As I have explained before, in the old days, it was considered a waste of film to take pictures of places and things.
And so I take this opportunity to tell you a little about what Lorong Chuan was like in the 1960’s. I hope some of the residents living in the many HDB apartments and private condominiums along Lorong Chuan, as well as the children at the St Gabriel’s Primary School are reading this blog. The younger ones would be surprised to see what Lorong Chuan was like in the 1960's
Did you know that Lorong Chuan was quite picturesque in those kampong days? Of course it was surrounded by mainly farmland then. There was one particular stretch close to where the present St Gabriel’s Primary School stands, where there were some ponds. At the edge of the ponds were rows of trellises covered with climbers like cucumbers and gourds. In Cantonese, we called them ‘chit kua pang’. It was quite beautiful really. There was a certain rustic charm alike to those you sometimes see in old Taiwanese romantic movies. And so, when we bought our first camera, a Kodak Brownie camera, we headed down to this place to take some photos which I will share with you here.
Left – My sister Pat, aged around 17 or 18. Can you see the rows of trellises and some palm trees in the background. Right – Siew Tin, her best friend from Cedar Girls School. Would you believe after more than 4 decades, they are still in contact with each other. Indeed, blessed are the ties that bind.
On the left is the same bus stop where our dog Napie was knocked down and killed by a car. Directly facing this bus stop was one of two dirt tracks that led to our kampong, Lorong Kinchir. As you can see from this photo taken last month, there is some construction going on. No doubt another condo project ….. sigh.
Another notable landmark along Lorong Chuan was the crocodile farm where they slaughtered crocodiles for their skin. The stench from the farm was quite strong and well-known to the nearby residents and passers-by. In fact, when I was interviewed on the 938 FM Breakfast Show earlier this year, the host, Mr Keith De Souza asked me if I could remember this place when he heard that I used to stay at Lorong Chuan. Apparently, he used to live at Serangoon Garden.
Further down, on the opposite of the road was another dirt track called Plantation Avenue. We only got to know this place when my eldest brother, Chun Chew got to know a pretty lass from this kampong ….. who later became my sister-in-law. I don’t think I am permitted to reveal more details. I was surprised to learn that a short stretch of Plantation Avenue is still exists today.
The land on which we stayed was acquired by the government and we moved out of the area in 1974. But some of our neighbours were more fortunate. They sold their land to private developers at a much higher price. One of the new buildings that emerged was the Timex Factory. I believe it was later renamed Newton Factory. Today, it is occupied by a spanking industrial complex called New Tech Park.
Places I Remember: Serangoon Garden
My Kampong Best Friends