FEBRUARY 1960

Don't Bank On It

In 1947, after World War II, philanthropist and millionaire Aw Boon Haw, of Tiger Balm fame, decided to open a different sort of bank. Chung Khiaw Bank dedicated itself to serving the 'small man', instead of catering to only the top tier of society...

Geylang Serai

Named for the fragrant herbs that flavour many a local dish, Geylang Serai (lemongrass or citronella), was a small settlement on the banks of the Geylang River that dated back to the 19th Century.

Ice Ice Baby

There's really nothing more consistent in Singapore than the heat. But our little island also comes equipped with a great way to beat that heat - ice-cream vendors. One of the few survivors of the great modernisation wave that swept Singapore, mobile ice-cream hawkers can still be found in...

A Cut Above

Forget your favourite salon with the 20-minute massage or just the right amount of bounce with your blowout.

Girl Power

Many of us struggle just to get our groceries to the car without a trolley. It's safe to say Samsui women wouldn't be able to relate to that. Also known as hong tou jin, named for their trademark red headgear, these hardy women came to Singapore from the Sanshui district of Canton...

A cultural affair

AS A MULTI-CULTURAL and racial community, Singapore has long worked hard to foster mutual understanding and respect. Back in 1959, the then-Ministry of Culture - now the Ministry of Communications and Information - organised initiatives such as the Aneka Ragam Ra'ayat, which roughly translated...

Betting on batik

NOT ALL CLOTHS ARE CREATED EQUAL. Prolific in Asia but underrated in the West, the batik style of clothing saw its heyday in Singapore in the 1950s and 1960s. An Indonesian-Malay word, batik has come to be understood as a term for dyeing clothes using a "resist" technique. By covering...
June 1959

Dear John

While we're communicating by emoji these days, there was a time when we wrote actual letters to friends and relatives living far away. ...

Dancing Queen

SURE, SINGAPORE'S MOST FAMOUS DANCE might be that with the lion, where the costume forms the "mane" attraction. But there was one person responsible for the interest in the classical dance form here Rose Eberwein, who single-handedly put Singapore on the global dancing map...
DECEMBER 1960

Mail Order

AS CHRISTMAS DAY APPROACHES, the average Singaporean can be found struggling through the crowd of shoppers on Orchard Road, or thanking their lucky stars that online shopping exists. Some might even be using e-cards to deliver their season's greetings, But back in 1960, the Singapore post...

Happy Yule Year

WHILE OTHER COUNTRIES may look to Coca Cola's vintage Santa Claus as a sign of Christmas, in Singapore it has always been the Orchard Road light-up. Being Singaporeans, we're always complaining about the colours or design but there's no denying that it wouldn't be Christmas in...
March 1959

Showtime

Forget the likes of Madam Butterfly and Aida. Back in the '50s, you didn't have to travel too far to treat yourself to a little opera. Brought by Chinese immigrants in the 19th Century to Singapore, Wayang (street opera) enjoyed its heyday as the most accessible form of entertainment for...

River Run

Way before Stamford Raffles was even born, much less a 'sir', there was Sang Nila Utama, who chanced upon the Singapore River and saw a 'strange beast with a red body, black head, and a white breast' at its mouth. It was later assumed to be a lion, hence the name Singapura. ...
AUGUST 1957

Boys to men

When the scouts in Singapore realized they didn't have enough funds to send their first overseas contingent to Sydney in 1952, they set out to raise money the old-fashioned way - by working for it. They spent a week doing odd jobs and from then on, Job Week became an annual affair for these...
April 1957

Telling Tales

Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, there lived among us, storytellers. Setting up shop in various locations such as Chinatown or Boat Quay, these gentlemen recounted myths, folk tales, and classic Chinese literature pieces in dialects like Hokkien, Teochew, and Cantonese.

Wedding belles

FORGET a simple white gown - for the traditional Peranakan bride, the more vibrant the colours and heavy the jewellery, the better. Pictured below are Yeo Chye Luan and Goh Chwee Kee at their traditional Baba wedding ceremony in Beach Road in 1950, as well as another unnamed couple in their...
JULY 1955

Some Like It Hot

EVERYONE HAS TO START SOMEWHERE. Just take it from Yeo Hiap Seng Ltd, the food and beverage manufacturer and distributor which began as a family-owned business in 1938 under Yeo Thian In who had moved to Singapore to escape the Sino-Japanese war in Zhangzhou.

Empress-ive

The oldest performing arts venue in Singapore, Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall at Empress Place, was gazetted as a national monument in February 1992.

Going om

Mindfulness and meditation might be all the rage now, but some people were way ahead of the curve: Wat Ananda Metyarama Thai Buddhist Temple, for one, was founded in Singapore in the 1920s by Venerable Luang Phor Hong Dhammaratano.

August 1966 - Parade of parties

If you always felt that you should get more than one day off for National Day, then go back in time to the 1960s. Singapore's first National Day, celebrated on Aug 9, 1966, was a week-long affair involving a massive parade, fireworks, floats, cultural shows, and dinner parties...

Fishy Tales

In 1955, Singaporeans got to see fish in tanks other than in their favourite seafood restaurants, when the country's first public aquarium was opened to the public...