The smoke house remained closed after my grandfather passed away. But there were lots of stories associated with rubber tapping and jelutong collection as told by him and our uncles.
According to an uncle my grandfather sold his smoked rubber sheets to the middlemen in Sibu. And it was also part of the duties of the two families to send the rubber sheets after the smoking process to the middlemen.
Besides, Sibu, Sungei Merah was a rubber and jelutomg collection centre in the 1950's . It collected rubber and jelutong from the Ibans and Melanaus of the Seduan and Igan agreas. A favourite middle man was a Heng Hua Towkay who was much favoured by the Ibans of Aup and Teku.
|Hill species of jelutong (Google)|
Towkay Heng Hua was a kindly man who treated his Indigenous suppliers and customersvery well.
|Nursery growing jelutong in Indonesia. http://archive.kaskus.co.id/thread/5679403/120|
Each time the Iban families came with their collection of rubber sheets and jelutong balls, Towkay Heng Hua would give the children a bottle or two of the old style lemonade which the Iban kids enjoyed. Sometimes he would call out to one of the servants to cook some noodles for the children as the adults discussed daily business and waited for the rubber and jelutong to be weighed and paid for. So on "market day" Towkay Heng Hua's shop was full of Ibans and Melanaus. The kids grew up remembering for the rest of their lives how good this Heng Hua towkay was.
The Iban kids also remember that they would return the lemonade bottles in exchange for some cents. If they had enough empty lemonade bottles, they would go home with three or four bottles of lemonade. According to one of my friends, this recycling deal was a joy in their life!! A dozen empty bottles gave them back one bottle of lemonade in those days.
A Land Rover ride was 50 cents per person from Sg. Aup to Sg. Merah and her father could probably get 50 to 70 dollars from the sale of their rubber sheets and jelutong.
There were lots of jelutong trees in the Igan area and in those days jelutong still fetched quite a good sum of money.
She commented that when she and her brothers were young, they would follow their parents to the forest to look for jelutong. "Tap the trees like rubber and these trees were wild for any one of us to tap/ Our rubber trees were planted and we were glad that we had a few acres of those latex producing trees/ White gold!! But these days we are too old to tap rubber already and anyway our rubber trees are too old also. May be one day, some scientist will find that jelutong can have a new use..."
Towkay Heng Hua passed away a long time ago, his mini bus is now a part of our faded history, Ah Mee's Airport coffee shop is no longer there and Sungei Merah has a great face lift recently after many decades of backwater lifestyle.
But great memories remain in our hearts.
May God bless the good people of this earth!!