Of hawker centres and hospitals

Of hawker centres and hospitals
STREET HAWKER: A typical street stall selling bak kut teh. Diners sit on wooden stools around the hawker, who would take their orders and serve the dish hot from the pot.

We think of today's hawker centres as a foodie's heaven, housing all our favourite dishes.

However, 50 years ago, street hawkers dominated the scene.

"The hawker stall in the photo reminds me of the kway chap stall that I used to frequent for lunch when I started working in 1969," said engineer Victor Yue, 62.

"For 30 cents, I could have two bowls of kueh and some tau pok and innards."

The National Archives of Singapore (NAS) launched the Citizen Archivist Project last month, an initiative that invites Singaporeans to help caption photographs from Singapore's past that have been digitised and posted online.

The New Paper is featuring photographs from the archives and this week, the photos capture the lives of Singaporeans in the past, both young and old.

We showed the photos to Mr Yue, who is passionate about history and is a member of the Singapore Heritage Society.

A photo of nurses on duty triggered his dread of falling ill in the past.

Mr Yue recalled: "I had the fear of going to hospitals. The doctors and nurses all looked so fierce!"


He added that people who did not speak English called the nurses "bi si", from the English word "Miss".

Other sights familiar to Mr Yue were attap houses in kampungs and creches, more commonly known today as childcare centres.

NAS director Eric Chin said: "Since the launch of the project last month, contributions from the public have enabled us to upload 1,200 new images that had no captions.

More than 700 pages of handwritten manuscripts were successfully transcribed and are now searchable."

Some of these photographs have no captions.

If you recognise the places in the photographs, contribute to the archives by logging on to The Citizen Archivist Project website at www.nas.gov.sg/citizenarchivist/ and captioning the photos.

This article was first published on April 27, 2015.
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