remember that music recorder you used to play in primary school? or Mr. Wolly and Mr. Yakki, two of the recurring characters in textbooks? if any of these seems familiar, you are probably a singaporean who had your childhood in the 80s or early 90s. being a 1984 baby, i found myself chuckling as i went down the list identifying with many of the things listed. it really brought back fond memories of my childhood.
1. You grew up watching He-man, Transformers, Silverhawk, Ultraman, Super Friends, Woody WoodPecker, Tom & Jerry, Care Bears, My Little Pony, Smurfs and Mickey Mouse. Not to forget, maybe Ninja turtles too.
says: care bears! my all time favorite bears. i liked ninja turtles too, and captain planet, and doraemon!
2. You grew up brushing your teeth with a mug in primary school during recess time. You would squat by a drain with all your classmates beside you, and brush your teeth with a colored mug. The teachers said you must brush each side ten times. Not forgetting the silly red tablet which you know not the purpose for.
says: we did this by the large wash basin instead of the drain. in fact i have been using the yellow mug all along and dumped it just last year! it survived over a decade.
3. You know what SBC stands for.
says: singapore broadcasting corporation. who can forget that yellow logo?
4. You know in school, you could subscribe to get the milk which would come before you go back home. Some days you would get chocolate milk, other days strawberry. The old Magnolia fresh milk came in a triangular packet.
says: in my days it was half-dozen milo packet drinks that came once a week. i used to love that!
5. You were there when the first Chinese serial, The Awakening was shown on TV.
6. Everyone in class would tremble in fear when someone with a gauze stuck in the mouth came to your class and called out a name to go visit the school dentist.
says: so true! i was one of the lucky ones that rarely got called upon. teehee!
7. You find your friends with pagers and handphone cool in secondary school.
says: my first mobile phone was a nokia 3210 when i was in secondary school. it was a rock! i remember modding it at one of those neighbourhood shops until it had an inverted black screen with white characters.
8. SBS buses used to be non-airconditioned. The bus seats were made of wood and the cushion was red. The big red bell gave a loud BEEEP when pressed. There were colorful tickets for CSS buses. The conductor would check tickets using a machine that punched a hole in each ticket. All SBS buses used to be manually operated, with a gigantic gearstick to the left of the driver.
says: those colorful tickets were awesome. as a kid i liked to collect tickets of different colors. i remember there were some rare colors like blue or green and i would be thrilled if i found any.
9. Your favorite actor and actress were Huang Wenyong and Xiang Yun. Next were Li Nanxing and Zoe Tay and the Aiyoyo woman (Chen Liping).
says: damn, i think there are actually a couple of those old cassette tapes of the “zao an lao shi” soundtrack still stowed away somewhere at home.
10. You’ve probably read Young Generation magazine. You know who’s Vinny the Little Vampire and Constable Acai. For some, cikgu will always ask to buy the “Dewan Bahasa” magazine.
says: read? i even subscribed to the young generation magazine and diligently took part and won in several lucky draws. one of the prizes included a red and blue horlicks lunch box.
11. You were there when they first introduced MRT here (Yio Chu Kang to Toa Payoh). You went for the first ride with your parents and you would kneel on the seat to see the scenery.
12. Movie tickets used to cost only $3.50. Tickets were scrawled across using big red pencils. Ushers brought you into the cinemas using big metallic torchlights.
says: $3.50 huh… those were the days.
13. Gals were fascinated by Strawberry Short Cake and Barbie Dolls. You also collected sticker books of Street Fighter, The Semi-Pro Soccer League (for boys) and care bears (for girls) by Panini, trying to complete the impossible task of filling up each sticker book.
says: believe it or not i have never played with a barbie doll in my entire life. i was more fascinated by regular stuffed toys, polly pockets and lego bricks.
14. You remember some taxis were green in color. Taxis had gearsticks behind the steering wheel, with a transparent knob and little colorful flowers inside the knobs.
15. You longed to buy tidbits called Kaka (20 cents per pack), and Ding Dang (50 cents per box), that had a toy in it and it changes every week. Not forgetting the 15-cent animal crackers and the ringpop, where the lollipop is the diamond on the ring. There were such things like the 20-cent dinosaur eggs, the 10-cent satay, Choki Choki Chocolate Sticks and the all favorite 10-cent “Air batu” that broke into two parts to be shared amongst friends.
says: the ringpop was absolutely precious! the 10-cent satay still remains a yummy snack even today.
16. You watched TV2 (also known as Channel 10) cartoons because Channel 5 never had enough cartoons for you.
17. All that you know about Cantonese is from the Hong Kong serials you watched on TV2. You probably would remember George Lam as the moustached man whose line was “Are you OK?” in the Guiness Stout Advertisement.
says: totally familiar! in chinese commercials he used to say “你怕黑吗？黑有什么好怕的。怕黑，那你不是白白的活着吗？”
18. You grew up reading ladybird books. Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, The Three Investigators, Famous Five and Secret Seven were probably the thickest story books you ever thought you had. Even Sweet Valley High and Malory Towers. You also love Enid Blyton’s Enchanted Wood, Magic Faraway tree… and the 5-dollar Bookworm book you bought when there was a book fair in school.
says: at 5 dollars, those thin bookworm books seemed quite costly at that time. my favorite character was edison, named after the famous scientist. he always had on a white overcoat.
19. The only food you bought from McDonalds was the fish fillet burger and French fries as it wasn’t halal back then and your parents didn’t allow you to buy other stuff.
20. KFC used to be a high class place that let you use metal forks and knives.
21. The most vulgar thing you said was “asshole” and “idiot”… you just couldn’t bring yourself to say the Hokkien relative.
22. Catching was the “in” thing (a.k.a. Police and Thief) and twist or “choap” was the magic word. For those who always frequented the void decks, there was the “rumah dayak”, Octopus and “Goli Duit”.
23. Your English workbook was made of some poor quality paper that was smooth and yellow. And the textbooks were striped in different colors for different levels.
says: who can forget those brown-covered exercise books?
24. Some part of your school was ALWAYS haunted, like the toilet or clock tower or a certain block. You walk fast to avoid them.
25. The only computer lessons in school involved funny pixel characters in 16 colors walking about trying to teach you math. You printed with noisy dot matrix printers and used computer paper with two rows of holes at the sides. Mouse? What’s that?
says: hey, we still have one of those dot matrix printer and paper with holes at my workplace!
26. Waterbottles, with your favorite cartoon character on it, were slung around your neck and a must everywhere you go.
says: mine was slung on one shoulder!
27. Boys loved to play soccer with small tennis balls in the basketball court.
28. Hopscotch, five stones, chapteh and zero point were all the rage with the girls and boys too… Remember 5 times, highest, one-inch…
says: hopscotch was a real fun activity before and after classes. we would draw the hopscotch outline on the ground in chalk and used our purses as markers.
29. Science was fun with the balsam and the angsana being the most important plants of our lives. Remember the “Young Scientist” badge you got when you completed the set of tasks in written on the blue booklet for “Young Ecologist”, “Young Botanist”, etc? The first excursion to the Science Centre was the best day of your life.
says: and the pong pong fruit! that was supposedly very poisonous. i got many of those “young scientist” badges. the one i’m proudest of is my “young astronomer” badge. no one else in my school had it!
30. Who could forget Ahmad, Bala, Gopal, Sumei, Peihua and John, eternalised in the textbooks. Even Mr. Wolly, Mr. Yakki.
31. You did stupid exercises like seal crawl and frog jumps.
says: and star jumps!
32. Every Children’s Day and National Day you either get pencils or pens printed with “Happy Children’s Day 1983″ or dumb files printed with “Happy National Day 1984″.
33. In Primary Six you had to play buddy for the younger kids like big sister and brother.
34. There was an ACES day where you would get this stupid hat and do the Great Singapore Workout.
35. The Scouts used to wear shorts, and the NCC uniform was a plain green color without camouflage.
36. The worksheets were made of rough brown paper of poor quality. During art and craft classes, you had to make your own art folio using a vanguard sheet.
37. You went to school in slippers and a raincoat when it rained, and you find a dry spot in the school to sit and wipe yourself dry. Then you wear your dry and warm socks and shoes.
38. During National Day, you would have to do and decorate your own shakers, usually using a cassette tape container, or an empty aluminium can with green beans inside all taped up and decorated with white and red paper. Who can forget the all-time favorite recorder you played during music lessons?
says: ah… the recorder, the only musical instrument (if you can consider it) i know how to play. our music teacher madam kong really terrified us. everyone dreaded going to her classes each week.
39. After exams, you brought Game & Watch to school, and played card games like “Snap”, “Donkey” and “Old Maid”. You also played pick-up sticks and Snakes & Ladders and the aeroplane board game. Those erasers with the flags were also a popular game. Either that or you would play those cards comparing aeroplanes, warships, or tanks - who had more firepower or speed or weight, etc.
says: the game of pick-up sticks was real fun. i loved those brightly colored sticks.
40. You remember your uncles, big brothers and father screaming and shouting in front of the TV when the Singapore soccer team (always in blue jerseys) played against the Malaysians.
says: who can forget singapore’s most glorious soccer moment in 1994? with fandi and sundram on the pitch, we won the malaysian league and cup double.
41. Your friends considered you lucky and rich if your parents gave you $3 or more for pocket money everyday.
says: gee, i remember getting just 20 cents everyday in primary one. i would use it to buy a fishball from the canteen stall during recess. it was only after a long time that i discovered the fishball cost just 10 cents and the auntie had been cheating me out of an additional 10 cents every single time.
42. During class gatherings, parents always tag along in case someone gets lost at Orchard Road.
43. You freak out when the teacher tells you to line up according to height and hold hands with the corresponding boy or girl.
44. Handkerchieves were a must for both genders
45. Collecting notebooks, erasers and all kinds of stationery was a popular thing. The bookshop was a favorite place to go to get all those stuff during recess.
nods furiously in agreement: i was the bookshop’s most loyal customer!
46. Autograph books were loaded with “Best Wishes”, “Forget Me Not”, and little poems like “Birds fly high, hard to catch. Friends like you, hard to forget”.
says: let’s not forget the colorful pens and poems that started off with “roses are red, violets are blue…”
47. Class monitors and prefects loved to say “You talk somemore, I write your name ah!”
48. You remember songs sung by a huge group of people, like 4U2C, Feminin, Nico (Malay) and the English “We Are The World”. In secondary school, you listened to Bananarama, Jason Donavan, Kylie Minogue, New Kids on the Block, ABBA, and Tommy Page (Remember “A Shoulder to Cry On“?)
says: during my time, it was already the backstreet boys era.
49. Large, colorful schoolbags were carried. And fanciful pencil cases with lots of small tiny drawers, trays, sharpener or thermometer that pop out at the push of a button were the “in” thing.
says: oh how they used to fascinate so.
50. You brought every single book to school, even though there was one thing called the timetable, written on the inside cover of your little blue notebook.