April 23, 2024


The Truth must be told no matter what so Justice can live!

Remember how things were back then in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s?

A friend forwarded an email to my spouse who in turn forwarded it to me reminiscing about the days and years gone by where life as we knew it was much more practical, easier , cheaper costs of living and kids had fun in the truest sense of the word.

The context of the email reopened a flood of memories in me and I have decided to share them here with you.

TO ALL THE THOSE WHO WERE BORN IN THE 50’s and 60’s / early ’70s…..

First, the majority of those born in the 50’s,60’s and 70’s survived with mothers who had no maids. They cooked /cleaned while taking care of us at the same time.

I was raised by my 3 sisters as my mom left me when I was 2 and remarried leaving me to the care of my 3 elder sisters. May Allah SWT bless them all.

I cherish the moments I spent with my friends in my kampong, Jalan Kota Giam, East Jelutong, Penang and will always remember with fondness all the times I enjoyed with my friends, Wan Ali, Arwah @ the late Che Mat Sabor, his younger Brother Nordin, Abu, his younger brother Ali Fatah, Iqbal, Samsudin, Baharudin, Kamarudin, all brothers, and many others who must be in their early and late 40’s now.

Photo above shows Wan Ali with his family which he just emailed to me.

Wan Ali and myself were best buddies and we spent a lot of time at the sea front of our village. I made a raft out of a drifted wooden pallet and stuffed all the polyfoam and styrofoam I collected which had drifted from the sea to my kampong’s seashore. I nailed in all the foams in the raft’s sides with scraps of plywood and planks collected from the nearby Lean Seng Shipyard.

When the tide came in, I would push my raft out to sea and slowly float out to sea.

Two bricks tied up and attached to a long nylon rope was my anchor and I fashioned two oars from planks salvaged from the shipyard.

Ali and myself enjoyed going out to sea and we caught many fish like gelama, ikan belanak, semilang, stuka @ small stingrays, ikan gerut gerut, ikan penyulung, ikan ketang,etc. We caught belanak with our ‘jala tebar‘ @ throw nets. Ali would cast the nets while I kept the raft steady from toppling over!

At times, he would borrow his uncle’s sampan and we would go fishing into deeper waters with Pak Pin , a kampong friend. We used to also fish at a mid sea platform. Really great to have done all that.

Sometimes, we would go fishing in the night there and everything would be pitch dark save for the hurricane lamp we had and we caught better quality of fish there.

We would drink hot plain coffee which we brought with us in Thermos flasks and we ate Cream Crackers or the ‘roti mayat‘ @ an oval shaped biscuit brought by the kati or kilo from the Chinese sundry shops. Best memories of having the sea breeze caress our faces as we felt the fish snapping at our lines. Can’t forget that!

Another great fishing spot was the Ferry Terminal. Groupers and catfish were found in large numbers there and I always brought home a netful of such fish. Only thing was having to slip past the PPC staff. Hehehehehe…

Back in the kampong, we would indulge in Gula Tarik‘, candy floss @ ‘Gula Kapas‘ , F & N fizzy drinks, ‘Ais Kacang‘ @ shaved ice with syrups, ‘Ice Cream Malaysia‘ @ frozen syrup in plastic tubes (popsicles) and all kinds of sweet stuffs. We also ate ‘Sagon‘ @ a mixture of fried shredded coconut mixed with cane sugar and prepared dry. The mixture was sold in paper cones.

I remember another favorite delicacy that we enjoyed back then, ‘Gula Katok‘ @ a hard caramel sweet confectionary sold by the Chinese man who would carry the sweet which was prepared in a ‘dulang’ @ round dish which he balanced on his head and carried a stand which he would fold up and carry on his shoulder.

When we kids gathered around him to buy a chip or two from him which he sold for 5 cents or 10 cents, he would chip away at the hardened caramel hence the saying of ‘Gula Katok‘ which meant ‘Hammered Sweet’.

Another form of sweet sold by another Chinese confectionery seller was the ‘Gula Gulung‘ or ‘Rolled Sweet’. This was a gooey molasses kind of sweet which was sold by the Chinese guy using two coconut leaf sticks and rolled and rolled by him till it formed sort of like a lollipop. Costs about 10 cents a stick. we just sucked on it and smiled broadly grinning from ear to ear as we enjoyed ourselves!

Funny thing was , back then, diabetes was rare. Salt added to Pepsi or Coke was often the remedy for fever.

We would also wet a leaf and stick it to our foreheads to bring the fever down and most times , it did ! Mothers would also stick a wet piece of paper and stick it to the forehead of their babies to stop the hiccups! Remember that?

For small cuts , we would just bandage the wound with the coffee powder and it would heal nicely in a few days time.

I should know for I once sliced off the tip of my forefinger while chopping wood and did just that. Today, the finger bears testimony to the efficiency of the coffee powder first aid treatment.

When it rained, me and my friends would go play in the rain and stand underneath the pouring deluge from the various gutters of the kampong houses! We didn’t catch colds back then and we were tough guys. We didn’t fall sick easily and we played outside throughout the days when we weren’t in school.

During breaks in school, we would play our hearts out and became healthy, in both body and soul. Nobody cared about each other’s race, religion or social status. We simply loved each other and became true friends to this day.

We have aged no doubt but in our hearts, we remain as kids and if we were to get to meet again, all those memories will flood back and we would laugh and smile at each other’s recollection of those carefree days of our life!

Back then, we used to make paper boats and sampans and let them float along the raging streams and drains out to the sea. We would follow our paper boats all the way while being soaked in the pouring rain and frolic as we pleased!

We also made boats out of the coconut palm stalks, which we just collected from the trees growing all around us. I have drawn a sketch here showing what I mean. As they say, a picture is worth more than a thousand words. See for yourself.

We would push the boats with the remaining stalk of the coconut leaf all along the kampong roads and passageways. All that pushing and running along made us strong and we had muscular legs and feet.

Think of the rewards of being poor! Hahahahahaha! Rich kids get sick by not being able to run and sweat!!! Not that I am asking you to be poor. Just trying to see the plus points of my being poor. Hehehehehe.

Nowadays, the slightest drizzle would see an onslaught of cold and influenza, meriting a visit to the clinics and hospitals. How come people nowadays get sick so easily?

We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets, not to mention all the knee guards and extra protection you see being worn by cyclists nowadays.

As children, many would ride with their parents on bicycles/ motorcycles for 2 or 3. Richer ones rode in cars with no seat belts or air bags. Riding in the back of a private taxi was a special treat.

As a poor kampong kid, it felt luxurious to be able to ride in the taxi and not have to suffer the hot, cramped buses which had no air condition back then.

Even the taxi’s weren’t air conditioned but the taxi had those two turnable window side panes which caught the air and channeled it into the cab and circulating the air within. Still remember?

Accidents were rare back then and people were not in a rush to reach their destinations. Traffic jams wasn’t a norm back then as not many people owned cars and most rode in buses or trams.

Owning a bicycle was already considered being rich. I didn’t own a bicycle until I finished my schooling and started working as a money changer’s assistant. Bought my first bicycle with my first salary of RM300.00 which was quite a big amount to me that time.

I think life back then was so much better when everyone took it easy and were more relaxed.

We drank water from the tap and NOT from a bottle. I developed my paunch from my schooldays where I would gulp fresh tap water from the gardener’s tap. The water in Penang came from the Waterfall Gardens and was very sweet and refreshing.

Now, people get murky water from their taps as a result of all the pollution that has taken place in the land and the rivers have turned into open sewers. Yechhh! No wonder, people need to go buy their drinking water from the shops and supermarkets nowadays.

The cause of this problem is because people nowadays don’t care about preserving the rivers and streams of this nation. They just throw all kinds of rubbish into the rivers thinking ‘Out of sight ; out of mind’.

What bloody idiots we have amongst us who are not only stupid but bloody egoists who wouldn’t want to listen to good advice!

Our local authorities and ‘enforcement personnel’ are a corrupt useless lazy apathetic bunch of morons, who do not do their duty to the nation as they swore to do when they were appointed to their jobs!

They did their ‘Ikrar Sumpah Setia’ with a hypocritical heart and didn’t really mean it when they uttered their oaths to uphold the laws of the various local authorities! Things were much better during the British colonial days because the Brits were a tad more disciplined and paid a lot of attention to such matters.

The people of this nation have over the years deteriorated into being litterbugs and wouldn’t bat an eyelid to throw anything onto the streets or drains and rivers that are before them.

I am sure many of you have seen the driver or passengers of the car, van, bus or lorry in front of you simply chuck whatever trash they have in their hands and out of the window and onto the road! The major casualty is surely this nation’s water resources.

They forget that when too much rubbish gets thrown into the rivers and do not decompose overnight because the presence of all those tonnes of rubbish slowdown the river flow and turn the water toxic and cause the water to become stagnant. The result is polluted rivers turned into severs and nobody gives a damn!!!

When I emailed Karam Singh Walia about the Ulu Yam River being polluted, the man replied asking for HARD EVIDENCE!

I don’t know what other evidence I needed to furnish when I had already emailed him a color photo of the rubbish polluting the river. I didn’t have a videocam with me to take a full motion picture to back up my complaint so ,it’s just another complaint gone to waste!

Malaysians of the future will suffer like hell when things turn out exactly as our famous cartoonist Lat pictured in one of his publications. a land full of smog and pollution.

Back to reminiscing.

We would spend hours on the fields under the bright sunlight flying our kites, without worrying about the UV rays which never seemed to affect us. Kids nowadays are applied with sunblock and lotions by their pampering moms and they turn into weaklings as a result.

We went into the jungles and shrubs to catch spiders without worries of the Aedes mosquitoes.

With a mere 5 pebbles (stones) we would have an endless game of ‘Batu Seremban’. Girls would spend hours throwing the stones into the air and catch them as they fall back. This developed a very good sense of balance and dexterity in the girls. It also improved their hand and eye coordination.

With a ball (tennis ball best) we boys would run like crazy for hours playing ‘Chabak’ or ‘Rounders’ as it was also called.

We became healthy and strong as a result of all that running and everyone would be all sweaty and flushed pink or as in my case, ‘golden brown’ with a healthy pumping heart and excellent blood circulation. We didn’t take all the multivitamin pills you see kids being fed nowadays and we were healthy naturally.

Kids nowadays waste their time away in the cybercafes, cursing and spewing expletives as they play their noisy cybergames as I had to endure a most uncomfortable episode recently when the internet connection to my home had a problem.

One particular Chinese teenager shouting ‘Tiu Na Seng’ every one or two minutes drove me nuts and I just turned around and gave the idiot a tongue lashing in Hokkien which promptly shut him up!!!

He was truly shocked to have this uncle looking so ‘Or Or’ suddenly ‘Tiu’ him back in Hokkien!!! Everyone else was so relieved and many nodded their heads in approval for my taking the fella to task!!! No more going to the cybercafes for me even if my Streamyx acts up at home!

Back to the past.
We caught guppies @ ‘Ikan Peacock’ in the drains, streams and canals and when it rained, we swam there. No worrying about whether the river was ‘clean or not’. Back then, most of the places were clean.

Not like today. Today, you are just asking for it if you go plunge into the rivers! No telling what dangerous stuff is gonna cause you to become sick once you are in them! A classic case of a river gone dead is the Sungai Pinang back home in Penang. I hope Koh Tsu Koon trips up and falls into that particular river one of these days and gets to gulp a mouthful!

Then….and only then, might we see any affirmative action on his part as the See Emm of the ‘Pearl of the Orient’ which is now the tarnished, corroded shell of it’s former lustrous self!

Back in the 60’s and 70’s, we shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and NO ONE actually worried about such sharing of drinks being unhygenic. We didn’t use straws. Everyone just drank from the bottle straight. Age of innocence and free of race or religious consciousness. Malays, Indians, Chinese, Punjabi’s all shared whatever we had with us.

We ate salty, very sweet & oily food, candies,bread and real butter and drank very sweet coffee, tea, ‘Ais Kachang’, Chendol and the likes but we weren’t overweight because…..WE WERE ALWAYS OUTSIDE PLAYING!!

We would leave home in the morning and play all day, till streetlights came on. No one was able to reach us all day. And we were O.K.

We would spend hours repairing our old bicycles and wooden scooters out of scraps and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem.

We did not have Playstations, Nintendo’s, X-boxes, multiple channels on cable TV, DVD movies, no surround sound, no phones, no personal computers, no Internet.WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!

We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and we still continued the stunts.

We never have birthdays parties till we are 21.

We rode bikes or walked to a friend’s house and just yelled for them!

The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!

Yet this generation has produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever!

The past 40 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas.

We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned HOW TO DEAL WITH IT ALL!

And YOU are one of them! CONGRATULATIONS!

You might want to share this with others who have had the luck to grow up as kids, before the government regulated our lives for our own good. And while you are at it, forward it to your kids so they will know how brave their parents were.

Thanks to Suhaya Manap for bringing back the memories. Really cherish them. How about you?

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