Saturday, August 18, 2007

Lee Clan Association 李氏書室

Nestled amongst the rapidly renovated and transformed row of houses along ASH (as popularly known to many youngsters who grew up in this quiet neighbourhood) - Ang Siang Hill - stands a building that seems to be able to keep it at its time. It could have been rebuilt in the 1960s, this building houses a 133 year old Association of the Chinese who came from the three areas in GuangDong, Li Shu Shi Shi 李氏書室. Better known as an association for the people from these three areas, hence, Kwong Wai Siew, this is another association apart from its better known associate organisation in Peck Shan Teng.

While the outside might give a neo-modern facade, once inside, it brings many of us from that era to feel what an association is like in the 1950s, or probably earlier. Rows of big photographs of elders who have served the community through the association stood and these days, probably only a few could recognise them, and for their contribution to society.

One of the most outstanding members, probably known to most Chinese of the 1950-60 era, must be Lee Dai Soh, the famous Cantonese Story Teller, from whom we heard tales of China through the Rediffusion. Grandpa, grandma, parents and children would sit or squat by the Rediffusion box to listen this tales, starting with his famous words "Cham Mung, go de gong toll .. (Last night we talked till .. in Cantonese). For many who did not have Rediffusion at home, it was the kopitiam.

As typical in most associations or homes, there will be a board to block direct view from inside out and outside in through the main door. This build has that kind of aura that sees many DIY tourists trying to peek in to take a look. For the history buffs, there lies much treasure about this association and its association with the growth of Singapore, and indeed for many in Chinatown.

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