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Home/Yuan Magazine/History, Yuan #151/151 – 旧貌新颜

 

合洛路跟新加坡河平行,从市区朝向亚历山大路的方向,过了万基山(约克山)便来到合洛路的上段,俗称乌桥头的老地方了。

根据1918年的《邮传指南》,Delta Road(立达路)的中文名为乌桥,乌桥头的词源可能来自跨越立达路水沟(现在的亚历山大水道)上的黑色水管;另一可能性是从前这里为沼泽地,村民搭建的木桥被踩黑而得名。

两个甲子前落成的玉皇殿(天公坛)是保留在乌桥头最古老的地标,创建人章芳林设定条规,不准“聚赌聚饮,及设鸦片烟具,邀集朋众,引诱匪人,以蹈不法。”相信跟不久前发生私会党徒提着斧头,走入华民护卫司办公室,砍伤“大人”的案件有关。

玉皇殿前的锡安路从前是哥文园(Covent Garden),不过此木屋区跟伦敦典雅的哥文园有天渊之别。拆除前这里有座以章芳林命名的芳林巴刹,那是家庭主妇每天报到之处,也是街坊的情感联络站。德士司机可能不晓得哥文园,但肯定知道芳林巴刹在哪儿。

乌桥头曾经跟广客人士的绿野亭坟场为邻。坟场于180年前便开始下葬,百余年后先民的骸骨集体迁葬至蔡厝港华人坟场,腾出来的地方兴建河水山组屋。如今遍布新加坡各地的土葬坟场,多数跟绿野亭一样消失了。

私会党猖獗的日子

二战后的新加坡,沉寂一时的私会党重新活动。1950至60年代初,河水山、乌桥头、红山形成黑区,几乎每天都有殴斗与凶杀案,起因通常为了争夺地盘,有时候只因看对方不顺眼。打斗的时候巴冷刀、匕首、菜刀、木棍、硫酸、脚车链都派上用场,敲破的啤酒瓶也可置对方于死地。

据刑事侦查局的报告,当时的大小帮派约两百个,党员上万人,辨认自己人主要靠身上的纹身。新加坡自治邦政府成立后,给予16天宽限期,让有意从良的私会党徒自首,非但既往不咎,还为他们安排工作。由于入党时曾经发誓不能退党,否则被千刀万剐,当时敢于“叛党”的人士少过百分之十。

19世纪落成的玉皇殿

芳林巴刹后面的哥文园亚答屋,约半个世纪前拆除(图片来源:互联网)

这个年代冒出名字听起来浪漫的“红蝴蝶”,其实那是刺青的标记。这是个年轻的欢场女子组成的私会党,专向酒吧女郎和妓女收取保护费,不听话的就被施暴甚至毁容。红蝴蝶也为女人出头教训情妇,下手狠毒,跟男党徒不遑多让。

明枪易挡,暗箭难防,打击历史悠久的私会党必须多管齐下才可能见功。警方使用社团法令第55节,被逮捕的私会党徒不准保释。林有福为首席部长的立法议院通过刑事法(临时条款)修正法案,授权警方不需拘捕令亦可逮捕及扣留私会党徒。警方甚至派“无间道”混入私会党探取情报,这些卧底往往命悬一线。到了1980年代,有组织性的私会党终于在警方掌控之中。

乌桥头的国会议员与妇女宪章

虽然乌桥头地带好勇斗狠的私会党特别活跃,该区(立达区)的新加坡自治邦立法议员,竟然是年轻娇小,芳龄25岁的陈翠嫦。陈翠嫦在牛车水长大,有空时到父母的路边摊帮忙卖猪肠粉,职业为工厂书记,接地气是她高票当选议员的主因。

陈翠嫦与《妇女宪章》几乎画上等号。一个甲子前,只要摆过喜酒、有婚照或有证婚人就算是合法婚姻了。虽然社团会馆鼓励文明婚姻,为新人撮合良缘与证婚等,但将男人娶妻纳妾的千年旧包袱连根拔起,最有效的方式还是明文立法。

1961年立法议会通过由陈翠嫦提出的《妇女宪章》,将一夫一妻制合法化,同时把妇女结婚的最低合法年龄定为18岁,希望可以杜绝童养媳与童妓的习俗。此外,妇女可以提控丈夫通奸、重婚等不合法行为,离婚后享有赡养费等。它不仅改变男女间对婚姻关系的观点,更大大提升了女性的社会地位。可是那个年代,一般妇女不是不了解,就是觉得传统与隐私受到侵犯,甚至有诸多顾虑,譬如会不会因此连累到丈夫和孩子,制造更多家庭纠纷等。好些男议员家里也有几个妈妈,因此将《妇女宪章》解读为政府偏袒妇女,对男人不公平的法律。旧时代包袱何其沉重!

杨协成与百事可乐

新加坡曾经是个“汽水王国”,生产各品牌荷兰水(汽水),生产商分别找到自己的专属市场。譬如百事可乐与可口可乐跟运动挂钩,流了一身汗后喝口加盐的可乐特别解渴;绿宝是殡葬场所的选择,吊唁人士边喝橙汁嗑瓜子,边陪朋友守丧;婚宴和农历新年则少不了F&N红狮橙汁、沙斯、樱桃和苏打水。新年前杂货店老板做个顺水人情,赠送汽水给客户。曾几何时,杂货店被超市取代,失去的正是心照不宣的味蕾。

乌桥头曾经是家喻户晓的杨协成品牌和百事可乐汽水的生产地。杨协成的汽水如豆奶、菊花、薏米水等,跟传统碳酸汽水背道而驰,以“无汽”闯出一片蓝天。不过杨协成并非靠汽水起家。中日战争全面爆发后,杨家从漳州来到新加坡生产酱油,设于合洛路与欧南路交界的酱油厂,成为附近广东新会人的泉昌酱油的竞争对手。二战时日军投下的炸弹炸毁部分厂房,反而因祸得福,获准继续生产。日战结束数年后,杨协成在武吉知马设厂,开始生产罐头食品和瓶装豆奶。

友联有限公司创建的百事可乐制造厂,于上世纪50年代初在乌桥头投入运作,每天生产七万多瓶汽水。当年的生产线已经自动化,新旧玻璃瓶经过自动洗涤机消毒,装注汽水后自动打盖,由输送带运往装箱。

半个世纪前河水山火灾,将一万多居民的木屋区烧成废墟,眼看火势就要蔓延到百事可乐工厂,幸好风向突然转变,员工总算保住饭碗。

百事可乐于60年代末搬迁至兀兰,乌桥头原址发展为现在的Harvest Mansions。由于友联有限公司跟工友的劳资关系越闹越僵,最终一拍两散,由杨协成取得百事可乐的生产权。

乌桥头这个昔日的轻工业区,还有光裕盛花生油厂,陈嘉庚的谦益饼干厂等。根据苗芒的口述历史,陈嘉庚家族的饼干厂别墅于战后成为马共的支部,村民就是在那儿学唱国际歌等歌曲来培养反殖情绪的。政府宣布紧急法令后,有些村民甚至走入马来亚森林,进行武装反殖斗争。

 

从前的杨协成酱油厂(图片摄于新加坡国家博物馆特展)

1950年代武吉班让中学的学生参观百事可乐工厂(图片来源:武吉班让中学校友提供)

胜利书局:不懂英文的英文书批发商

1960年代在乌桥头第22座组屋立足的胜利书局是个白手起家的故事。白文保从福建安溪南来后先在木板厂工作,于30年代走入文化圈,在俗称摃石街的勿洛路中段开设小书摊,让附近居民茶余饭后,有个翻阅图文并茂的古典名著的好去处。

白文保的小书摊门庭若市,居民称它为“文保古书店”。战后读书识字的知识分子与日俱增,对华文书刊的需求高,文保古书店发展成“胜利书局”,在吉宁街(Cross Street)和乌桥头经营书店业务。老人家的记忆中,那个年代的胜利书局非常亲中国,专门代理文革时期的邮票和左派书籍,尤其是鲁迅的著作。别的书局卖断货的,到胜利书局往往都有收获。

随着教育政策的转变,许多中文书局受到华校生迅速下降的冲击,不谙英文的白文保凭着敏锐的嗅觉,进军英文课本批发业务。胜利集团成功转型,跟欧美的国际出版商分庭抗礼。

林日新绘制的庙湾第50座组屋可口可乐壁画
(图片来源:《海峡时报》Francis-Ong)

用声音留住一个时代

卜清山在乌桥头第50座两房式租赁组屋生活十多年,对度过青葱岁月的老地方念念不忘。他对头尾相通的组屋长走廊印象清晰,逢年过节,不同籍贯的邻居互赠自家制作的美食。一些住家设置神坛,庆祝神诞时,善男信女将整层楼挤得水泄不通,大家习以为常,也不会太在意。

这座组屋的特色是一楼和二楼为小贩中心与熟食摊。70年代中叶,职总超市进军乌桥头,熟食小贩必须搬迁到组屋外临时搭建的帐篷下营业。晚上黑社会在熟食摊谈判,火拼打斗的叫喊和砸碎玻璃的声音四起,有胆量的居民开门看热闹,害怕的则马上锁紧门户。没有打斗的日子,酒客三杯落肚发酒疯,声音传上十楼住家,就当做催眠曲好了。

这座组屋最抢眼的是外墙上的广告壁画。林日新回忆当年身为“高空美术家”的三大要诀:第一是够胆识不惧高,那个年代没有安全管制,只搭个木棚架或从屋顶吊块木板下来,人站在高空边抽烟边上色;第二是美术造诣与分工,壁画先由学徒打底,林日新和父亲画轮廓,头手为可口可乐上色。由于是从地面往上望的,角度必须拿捏得准才显得逼真;第三是懂得“看天”,否则油漆未干时下起大雨,可就前功尽弃了。

乌桥头未建组屋前,卜清山到那里的空地看大天球马戏团演出。有头大象逃脱了,邻居说大象会用鼻子把人卷起来抛向天空,小孩子听了都不敢出门。马戏演完后,这一带的组屋也渐渐屹立起来了。

大天球马戏团从一个世纪前创办时的纯女班开始,其中不乏旧时代被遗弃的女孩,数年间马戏团壮大成百人的男女班。1950至70年代是马戏团的鼎盛期,动物和驯兽师的风趣互动,熄灯演出的空中飞人等,都为民众带来惊喜与满足。场面失控的时候,除了大象出走外,还发生过老虎逃到市区,少年被动物攻击致死等意外。

新旧交替的乌桥头

乌桥头-合洛路的上段宁静和谐,早已摆脱刀光剑影的氛围

当然最普遍的大众娱乐就是丽的呼声了,遇上粤语李大傻,厦语王道,潮语黄正经的讲古时段,许多双耳朵自动锁定在神奇的箱子旁。乌桥头听众联名邀请丽的呼声的华语与方言话剧组,将“与听众共欢乐”带入社区。能够跟只闻其声,不见其人的广播员面对面,居民当然开心。

转眼间,丽的呼声的方言节目,甜蜜蜜的汽水滋味,刀光剑影下的日常生活,一妻多妾童养媳的旧时代都变成了集体记忆。

参考文献:

[1] 白振华,《胜利书局》
http://www.pehchinhua.com/Ch/essays_9.html accessed 3 November 2020.
[2] 卜青山口述记录,2020年10月21日。
[3] 何盈,博物馆华文导览组的线上华文讲座:《私会党浮沉录》,2020年8月30日。
[4] 李海鹰,《无限风光忆合乐路》 http://www.sgwritings.com/bbs/viewthread.php?tid=33263 accessed 26 October 2020.
[5] 《南洋商报》。
[6] 《海峡时报》。
[7] 芊华,《时光与我的距离》,《新华文学》2009年12月。
[8] Adele Wong, Life beyond the big top: stories of the Tai Thean Kew Circus, Goff Books 2015. ISBN 978 194 1806715.
[9] Andre Frois, The story of Yeo’s: Singapore food and beverage company grew from soy sauce factory in China, South China Morning Post, 17 Oct 2020.
[10] Ng Yew Kiat@MiaoMang (黄友吉@苗芒) Literary Scene in Singapore (Chinese), Accession Number 003200, National Archives of Singapore.
[11] The Red Butterfly-Girl Terrors of the Sixties,
https://remembersing-apore.org/2016/06/01/sixties-gang-the-red-butterfly accessed 2 November 2020.
[12] Yulia Hartono, Yeo Hiap Seng, Singapore Infopedia,
https://eresourc-es.nlb.gov.sg/infopedia/articles/SIP_1881_2012-05-09.html accessed 13 October 2020.

 

(作者为英国皇家造船师学会会士、自由文史工作者)

Orh Kio Tao:
The good, the bad and the ugly

 

To meet rising beverage demand in Asia-Pacific markets, a new Pepsi concentrate plant in Jurong East was opened a few years ago. This serves to remind us that Singapore was already a major soft drink producer in this region since the past decades.

The vicinity of Orh Kio Tao once housed Pepsi Cola and Yeo Hiap Seng factories, whilst F&N was just a short distance away.

The Pepsi Cola manufacturing plant was first set up by Union in 1950. The current Harvest Mansions sit on the old Pepsi-Cola factory premises. A sudden last-minute change in the wind direction saved the Pepsi-Cola factory from the Bukit Ho Swee fire but not the subsequent downfall. In 1969, Union moved from Orh Kio Tao to Woodlands to expand its production capacity. Subsequently, Union broke down with the worker unions, which led to the company’s closure in mid-1970s. The right to bottling Pepsi-Cola was transferred to Yeo Hiap Seng.

When Yeo Hiap Seng relocated the family business from Fujian province, China to Singapore during the Sino-Japanese war, the factory at Havelock Road and Outram Road junction was producing soya sauce. Yeo ventured into canned food and bottled soya drink after moving to Bukit Timah in the 1950s.

For the nearby F&N, apart from producing its own flavours of aerated waters, the factory was also licensed to bottle Coca Cola, the long-term rival of Pepsi in the Cola’s world.

The F&N beverages were advertised on the external wall of the 10-storey Block 50 HDB flat facing the Delta Circus. Coca Cola, Fanda and F&N oranges were featured from time to time. The HDB wall returned to a monotonous state in the 1980s as it was deemed that the gigantic mural might distract drivers.

Lim Jiat Kin who painted the mural, shared the 3 success factors as a “high rise artist”: gut, art skill and able to predict weather. As safety was not properly regulated in that era, Lim and co-workers built scaffolding using wooden poles. They also lowered wooden plank secured from the rooftop and stand on it to perform their works. They would use one arm to hook on to the pole and another hand to paint while smoking at the same time. As the bottle drink was at an elevation of over 20 metres from ground, the perspective must be adjusted in order to look real. They also had to forecast the weather, as heavy rain would wash away their painting effort. The entire production on site would take several days and even weeks. In comparison, digital prints take precedence nowadays and they have to put up on site within hours.

Orh Kio Tao, Bukit Ho Swee and Redhill formed a black zone dominated by secret societies in the 1950s and 1960s. The name Red Butterfly may sound harmless, but back then it represented an all-girls gang that once terrorised the society with extortion and assaults.

These girls, working as prostitutes, bargirls and dance hostesses, would intimidate other girls working in nightclubs and bars for protection money. The other major source of income was by providing services to women who wanted to punish mistresses or girlfriends of their cheating husbands.

The lawless days were clamped down under the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Ordinance. Thousands of secret society members and gangsters were detained without trial. By the eighties, organised gangs were under controlled by the police.

To some Orh Kio Tao’s residents, gang fights were part and parcel of daily routine. They just had to shut their main doors when fighting arose. To some others, they felt that gangsters broke those pepsi cola bottles just to frighten the opposite camp. They all disappeared within few minutes after making some noise. The good, the bad and the ugly interweave between daily lives.

Home/Yuan Magazine/History, Yuan #151/151 – 旧貌新颜