Letter to the Editor

Sepoy Lines Recreation Club.

Thank you for the great articles that really do bring back so many memories. I am now a resident of Perth, Australia, and since being introduced to Penang Monthly, I have encouraged my friends who are ex-Penangites to sign up with your magazine.

One article that I particularly enjoyed was “The History of Bukit Mertajam” – more so because my late father was a BM boy and though I was living in Penang with my grandparents, holidays were all spent in BM. My dad used to take me to the market; I recall the altars put up to the gods on their various feast days. I also walked up to the filtration plant on the hill. Though Bukit Mertajam High School was my rival where sports were concerned, I did have many friends from the quarters of the District Hospital.

My paternal grandmother then lived at the property adjacent to St. Anne’s Church. This was a treasure for youngsters growing up because we were given the task of keeping the lalang short during the holidays. We roamed the property – some 4.5 acres – which had a wide variety of fruit trees: durians, rambutans, mangosteeens, jangus, buah nam-nam, mangoes and sour plums, to name a few. Alas, because of the Emergency, Grandma had to vacate the property and move to town.

We enjoyed the cinemas there and in those days, seating was on a first-come-first-serve basis, so whenever there was a particularly popular movie showing, one of our cousins would go to the theatre early, queue up and purchase the tickets. Then he would enter as soon as he was allowed to and tie handkerchiefs to the best seats to “reserve” our seats!

Your article on Pulau Jerejak (“On the Isle of Outcasts”, August 2016) also brought back fond fleeting memories. My dad was the hospital assistant at the leprosy camp there – I think in 1950. I must have been about six years old then. The camp I think was located towards the south-eastern part of the island facing the mainland. It was pristine and we did enjoy a lot of fishing. The patients in the camp would invite Dad to join them when they went “spearing crabs” at night and to Mum’s horror, she would be awakened in the early hours of the morning to boil a bucket or two of crabs. (Fridges then were used only to store the medicines, and all the crabs were speared). I do recall that on the other end of the island was the tuberculosis quarantine camp.

The article on Gurney Drive (“The Evolution of Gurney Drive and Its Name”, September 2016) was excellent too. I remember the hotel at the southern corner. We also learned to catch worms for bait on the seashore prior to heading to our favourite fishing spots.

Lately, I came across an old photo of the Sepoy Lines Recreation Club (SLRC) football team. The details state that on June 9, 1946, SLRC defeated the Selangor Govt. Servants 3-1. The names of the players can be faintly made out.

This prompts me to suggest that an article be written about the SLRC as I recall that a number of its members did excel in sports. The Club was mainly made up of members of the General Hospital staff. Names that come to mind are Teoh Choon Chooi, who held the Malayan Veterans Badminton Champion for a number of years (I believe the war years cheated him when he was in his prime). There was also a lady who was high up the badminton rankings, whose name fails me now. Next I recall is Toh Boon Teng, a good badminton player who also played as goalkeeper for the Chinese Recreation Club football team; he later excelled in tennis. The Club’s hockey team too did very well in the local league.

I hope that I have not bored you with my ramblings. Thanks for the many trips down memory lane. I must add that it has always been a pleasure reading your articles because of the excellent English. When compared with articles I find in other blogs coming from Malaysia, all I can say is that it’s as different as chalk and cheese.

Keep up the good work.
A fan,
Patrick C.

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