Page references are from the coffee-table book, 'Remember The 50s: Objects and Moments of a Dynamic Era' by Tectum Publishers 2010 (image 3).
Nothing jolts the memory like snapshots of old. Using the coffee-table book as a guide, the content as milestones and the photographs as lightning conductors I recreated my own teenage journey as I flipped through the pages of time and reminisced the moments, mementoes and music of the 50's.
Images quickly conjured in my mind as I read the short paragraph about the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II (page: 18). In the first week of June 1953 when I was only 13, Singapore celebrated the coronation in style.
I recalled how my parents booked one of Adelphi Hotel's uppermost rooms facing North Bridge Road so we could watch the coronation floats passing by below us. This event could have been the original concept for our annual Ching-gay parade.
A trip to the old Esplanade the next evening revealed the most fascinating sight that I had ever seen in the 50s. A dozen sampans at sea were carrying a beautifully illuminated sea dragon spouting neon lights (image 1) but from afar the illusion was so life-like and breath-taking. And this was a time before the advent of high technology and laser lights.
As I turned around to face inland, the crowned 20-storey Asia Insurance Building before us stood high and mighty in the night sky. It was the pride and joy for Singaporeans then as the building was the tallest on the island. Neon signs below the crown twinkled brightly announcing, Long Live The Queen (image 2).
In the same year, certain songs played constantly over the radio waves. Bill Hayley's Crazy Man Crazy, Les Paul and Mary Ford's Vaya Con Dios, Perry Como's Don't Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes, Dean Martin's That's Amore, Kay Starr's Changing Partners and Earth Kitt's C'est Si Bon were some of the more conservative ones featured on Radio Singapore.
Do you remember the 50s in Singapore? Or perhaps your parents do? Are you aware that God Save The Queen was Singapore's National Anthem in the 50s?
Check out Part II soon for references from the book about the hula hoop, pony-tail, Tupperware, Capris, Match-Box Cars, Cadillac 59, Playboy, Drive-Ins and James Dean.
Images 1 and 2 by courtesy of Susan Brooks.
Original article: Andy Lim.
(This posting is not a book review.)