Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Kindergarten at the end of the road

One of my childhood memories was the year that I went to the kindergarten at the other end of Seang Tek Road in George Town, Penang. The kindergarten, whose name has totally eluded me now, was just a stone's throw away from the Anson Road Market. It was housed in a double-storey bungalow with a reasonably huge compound where we kids could run about. The master of the kindergarten was someone that we knew simply as Mr Poh.

Unlike nowadays when kids get to attend three or four years at nurseries or kindergartens, I attended this kindergarten for only one year in 1960. Yes, that was the norm then. A one-year pre-school to get us ready for Standard One in a primary school.

In my first few days at kindergarten, I remember getting to learn my ABCs and coming home proudly with my first workbooks where I had traced out the names Janet and John in huge letters before progressing to other simple words.

There were lots of music and singing sessions. I always loved the occasions where we were allowed upstairs to an open air balcony or verandah where the teacher would bring out vinyl records of popular nursery rhymes and we were asked to sing along. What fascinated me most were the coloured 45rpm records. It was the first time that I had seen coloured records; so different from the ones my father had at home.

The rest of the activities at the kindergarten is a huge blur to me, except the memory of a morning-long concert show at the end of the year. I would think it was the last day of the school year. The kids dressed up in various outfits to put on a show for the parents. Chairs were laid out in a big circle in the compound for the children to sit while their proud parents stood behind. Me? I didn't have to wear any outfit except a headgear of paper.

It was quite possible that this kindergarten operated until the late 1960s or early 1970s before it closed. I remember being quite shocked one day to see that some corrugated zinc sheets had been erected at the front of the compound. No way that anyone could have looked in and see what had happened to the building or compound.

And then just a few months ago, I saw that the corrugated metal sheets had been removed and some construction work had commenced. I would assume that the old bungalow had been torn down and some new building would be erected here. Well, that would be the last remaining evidence of the kindergarten I had attended in my childhood days.

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