Sunday, December 30, 2007

Kacang Puteh,Sweets,Iced lollipops at Rex Cinema

The cinemas in Sibu had very Latin names: Rex Cinema and Lido Cinema. How did this come about?

Perhaps when cinemas had to be named and licenses obtained from the then local authority, the British colonial officers then suggested nice sounding names they were familiar with from Britain. I suppose also at that time, if a cinema had a nice sounding name, the Colonials would most probably go to the movies!!

Or would the cinemas have more class if they had a nice foreign name. So the world over cinemas have been named The Palladium,The Odeon, The Colliseum, The Plaza,etc. Even in some parts of India, you can find a Rex Cinema or a Lido Cinema.

although many memories were associated with cinemas I particularly remember two.

Firstly, I remember how I had to queue up to book tickets for movies that were very popular.Most of us were very determined to get seats before the film ended its showing period. full house was bad news to us because we could not get to see the movie!!

Being very short and just a young teenager, I was often pinched and pushed, and sometimes punched, not only by men but also by women.

Forty years later, while in a queue for Air Asia , coming from KL to Miri,I was pushed by someone using the luggage trolley. somehow people never change when standing in a queue over the years. We have to expect very lousy behaviour.

And once when trying to get a ticket in Rex Cinema in Sibu, a friend of min, who was perhaps 12 at that time, put his hand into the little opening of a box office, to get his tickets with about ten other hands. The lady ticket seller pushed down the window like a guillotine when all the tickets were sold out. Those stronger arms withdrew immediately. But my friend's arm received a long scar which could be visibly seen until today.

I suppose this was how much all of us suffered because we loved movies so much at that time.

Secondly I would like to share with you one of my fondest memories of Sibu.

Outside the Rex Cinema was a little retail shop owned by one of the Tiong families. He was oen of my grandfather's cousins, who had emigrated with my grandfather. He also doubled as a well known and honest tomb builder. My Grand Uncle Tiong would always give me half a packet of kacang puteh and would not charge me at all. He would say, "Free for you. Your grandfather was a good man. Take ,eat...."

I remember him as a very hardworking person. Grand Uncle Tiong would go early to Sungei Merah to build the tombs and by afternoon, he would be back with his wife to man the little outlet selling kacang puteh, sweets and Ice lollipops. the family eeked out a living for a long time like that. The children grew up becoming very street wise and really good youngsters. Somehow they were extremely brilliant and hardworking.

I taught one of the boys and he was the delight of my heart. As a young teacher, untrained and temporary, I was very impressed by his attitude. He and some of his classmates really liked to learn English and they gave their one hundred per cent to the learning of the foregin language in Transition class.Each day of my first year of teaching was made better because of this wonderful class of Chinese boys and girls. Many of them are still my good friends today.

I remember that my grand uncle continued to provide tidbits to cinema goers for some time after he retired from his cemetery work. He was a good man who would not undercut, cut corners, or cheat on the daching so to speak. He was one of the best Foochow men I ever knew.

And in his last years, he looked extremely distinguished in his suit as he took photos with his children and grand children. To me, he had led a great life, in a very decent way. His hard work paid off. And as good parents and being very God fearing , he and his wife were truly blessed by good children who are not only successful but are today pillars of the society. My grand uncle's is blessed by two engineers, and two doctors.

Sibu lost a good man when he passed away.

5 memories:

FrancisN said...

Sad to hear of his passing. I would have purchased quite a few things from him before going in to movies at Rex.

My friend and I were movie fans. We would have seen at least 2 movies a week. The best sessions were morning sessions at Cathy on Sundays and then lunch at nearby kopi tiam.

What about the midnight shows! There was just something special going to midnight shows showing most of the premier movies.

I was most surprised when I went back to Sibu and learnt that Lido was burnt down. Had to just go there and looked at an empty plot of land remembering that the top floor of the kopi tiam next door was haunted too.

sarawakiana said...

I am surprised you remember my grand uncle. He was a very good sort. He and his wife were very good partners. To the envy of a lot of people.

Yes I will write about midnight shows, double feature shows on Saturdays and how one of my friends swore that she became good in English because she spent all her time watching English movies!!

Do you remember a lot of boys came out of the cinema walking like John Wayne after watching all those wonderful cowboy movies? I still smile, remembering the vivid scenario. :)

sarawakiana said...

By the way I also remember the times when Hong Kong Stars came to Sibu and they would appear with their movies.

I had (now all gone) autographed photos of them. It was sheer madness as we behaved like cattle in stampede!!

Perhaps that was the beginning of Sibu Kiasu!

Happy Memories and Happy New Year.

FrancisN said...

I remembered those cowboy movies and especially those with John Wayne.

I never did try to walk like him after the show. A few of my friends did. They looked silly with the walk and trying to execute a fast draw at the same time.

Just glad that he didn't puffed on cigarettes, unlike Clint Eastwood with his cigars.

I wasn't too crazy about movie stars coming out to Sibu but my elder brother was. He collected many autographed photos too. Even requested for them from Hong Kong.

FrancisN said...

A Happy New Year to you too and thank you for the memories.


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