And romances were not tolerated.
However it was normal for boy-girl relationship to develop even though it was frown upon. One of the great romances was that of a yet to become State Assembly man and a pretty girl staying the the Methodist Girls' Hostel. He was a senior boy hailing from another town. Of course he was a " marked man" as he had the right background and was of good intellect. Perhaps many girls were already trying to catch his eye. Fortunately in those days no mothers were daring or blatant enough to drive up to the hostel to invite him out for dinners..
Many boys approached the pretty girls or their tragets to help with their sewing in order to "test the grounds". And many couples started off in this way.
According to the school legend he needed his slender white trousers shortened a bit so that he would ride his bicycle better. So he approached the pretty girl in the girls' hostel right in the middle of the basket ball court and asked her to do him a favour. Could she help him hem his trouser legs?
They became an item after that.
Now in all schools throughout Sarawak in those days there would be boys who needed help in the field of sewing. Girls who were able to hold a needle and thread it would be very popular. Trousers needed to be flared or narrowed - shortened or lengthened. Some girls offered to helped. Others had to be coaxed.
And some boys who could hold a needle would charge for sewing!! I believe none of the girls were enterprising enough to charge for their sewing.
Chivalry was in. And ladies were only too happy to do a thing or too for their knights in shing armour!!
|Today most boys would be able to handle this. They can sew their buttons and mend some holes.|
|Hahaha...remember this...a torn sarong held together by a safety pin? Safety pins are very useful|
|My son is quite good in sewing buttons. He can charge 50 cents per button.|
|Useful tools of the trade. The red thimble is quite an antique today....|
And our school clerks would gossip saying that a boy had just received a small parcel and the postmark was Sibu...They would guess..."Ha ha! Must be a handkerchief inside...and the writing belongs to a girl..." Many of us used to hang out near the school offices waiting for mails from our pen friends. Well a bit of gossip would make our day. I am wondering how many girls did make handkerchiefs for their intended.
One of the clerks is still around. He has been quite a favourite of ours as he plays the piano very well. This man is Mr. Chong Chung Sing. He is also a good photographer.
I am glad that my son is more independent and more than competent so I don't have to worry about him...he can sew better than any girl. Mothers should encourage their boys to sew well. Furthermore today hemming and other clothing alterations cost a lot. My grandmother used to say.."Your parents can be very skilful and do everything for you but nothing can beat your own skills."
It is nice to think of the old days and how simple it was to get a girl to pay attention to a boy. Helping a boy to do some sewing definitely showed that the girl was kind hearted and skilful if not anything else. If a girl was not interested she would say no immediately. However if a girl was kind enough she would probably sew for a lot of people who ask for her help!! I think there was one girl who had a sewing machine and she was making lots of clothes for people!! Sewing was taught from Form One to Form Three during my secondary school years.
What strategy did you use to catch the eye of your girl friend/boy friend?