Paul Tsui Ka Cheung's Memoirs 2

My childhood - age 4 to 8

1. I knew very little about the school days of my father. From what I could gathered, he was apparently quite bright, placing first or second in class. He had the reputation of being able to recite from cover to cover, the Lutheran version of the Catechism before he even entered primary I in school. When studying in the De La Salle Brothers' St.Joseph's, he did well in the then public exams, the Junior Local and the Cambridge Senior. He was quick and accurate in his arithmetic, and was reputed to excel in geography. I gathered that my father taught for a short while at the London Mission's Ying Wa School for Boys. Thereafter, he went back to the "country" and taught English in a modern Secondary School at Mui Yuen (Meixian ) for a few years. Then he returned and took up a teaching post at his Alma Mater, The St Joseph's. One of his proudest achievements was his scoring of 100 marks for his Essay in English, when completing his Teacher Training Course at the then Technical Institute. He kept that Essay of his for many years, - right up to a very late stage of his life when he was about to celebrate his 90th Birthday. He proudly showed it to his grandson, ( my youngest son Ephraem), when the latter, in the late Nineteen Seventies, led a small group of young Wah Yan Students, -involved in the publication of the Student Magazine, "The Starlet", -interviewed him for a special write up.

2. In the Baptismal Register at St. Anthony's Church in Pokfulum Road on Hongkong Island, was an entry recording my baptism on 26th November, 1916, by Fr.A, Liu, at St. Anthony's Chapel. It recorded a boy, christened Paul, born on 5th November, 1916, at 81 High Street, son of Tsui Yan Sau, Peter (father) and Chin Kang Tai mother, with George Bristow as Godfather.

3. However, I did not become conscious of the physical existence of my father until I was a boy of 4 year old, when my mother brought me back to Hongkong from our ancestral village of Tsim Hang in Ng Wah County. The explanation given by my mother was, when I was just over 1 year old, my father made up his mind to establish a private school of his own. He first had to resign from his teaching post at the De La Salle Brothers' St. Joseph's, at which he had been teaching for a few years. To ensure that he need not have to worry about a growing family of already 5 children, in addition to innumerable problems relating to the founding of a new school, he sent his young wife and 5 children home back to the village - which was, in those days, regarded as sensible, proper and socially acceptable arrangement. It was in the village, in the year 1918, where and when my brother, Mark was born.

4. According to the written record in the school's Log Book, Wah Yan College, Hongkong started classes, with 4 pupils, at 60 Hollywood Road, Hongkong, on 16 December, 1919. The First entry in The School Register, shows that Cheung Yan Sung ( ), who happens to be my cousin, as the No.1 registered student of the school. It was a year thereafter, that my mother was allowed to bring the family back to join my father in Hongkong. On arrival back in Hongkong, we first lodged for a while in the House of Noel Botelho, Godfather of my father, in Chancery Lane, ( at the back of Victoria Gaol, off Old Bailey Street). Shortly thereafter, we moved to No.33 Mosque Junction, which was newly rented to provide more rooms for the expanding school, by then already expanded to include a rented premises in Old Bailey Street off Hollywood Rd. We occupied the rear portion on the 1st floor of this new rented house at 33 Mosque Jounction. Soon thereafter, the De La Salle Brothers' St. Joseph's School, - which had been occupying The St. Joseph's Building and the customs built school premises at 2, Robinson Road, (the same site as the post World War II St. Joan of Arc School) - moved to their newly acquired the premises at Kennedy Road. (The Kennedy Road premises was, before World War I, the German Club). On learning that the St. Joseph's was vacating the premises at 2 Robinson Road, my father jumped at the opportunity and successfully negotiated the taking over of the custom-built school builidng - with the Roman Catholic Procurator, which owned the buildings - for Wah Yan. There and then, we first moved to occupy, for a while, a flat on the ground floor of the St. Joseph's Building (demolished in 1988 for redevelopment), but later moved to an `outhouse' (? designed as servants quarters), attached to the school premises at 2 Robinson Road. Here we lived for a few years.

5. It was in this house, that my brother, Matthew was born in the month of October, 1921. It was from this year onwards Wah Yan began to prosper. In 1922. it was admitted to the Government Grant-in-Aide List. Following thereafter, Mr.Lim Hoy Lan ( ) joint, in partnership with my father, to make Wah Yan College even more successful and famous. Soon a Branch of Wah Yan College was estabished at 70 Portland Street, Kowloon. It was in this year, and for the first time in my life, I came to know of a thing called Telephone, which my father installed for the school. I even remember the Telephone Number allocated was: Main Exchange, 4290. It was at this stage of my life also, and for the first time in my life, I saw a Movie (silent of course), and also a magician performing on a stage. It was at this stage of my life, that I started my schooling. I attended the Special Pre Primary Class at The Pui Ching School for Girls ( ), operated by the Precious Blood Sisters ( ), under the overall supervision of the Canossian Sisters ( ) at Caine Road, Hongkong. It was at this stage of my life, I learnt to read and write, to say my prayers, to know how to behave in church, and also to recite my catechism. It was at this stage of my life, I had my first ride on a motor-car, touring round the Hongkong Island. It was at this stage of my life, I saw the first ever reinforce concrete building in Hongkong (The St. Joseph's Mansion - now the Caritas Valtorta House at 2A Robinson Road) being built. To break up granites on the steep hill slope, explosives had to be used, and resorting to the beating of gongs to warn the passes by of the danger.

6. In those days of Early Twenties, there was quite a large Portuguese Community living near the vicinity of the Cathedral, -i.e., spreading from 2-14 Caine Road ( where the Caritas House now stands) upwards, including the St. Joseph's Terrace (built in 1921 & demolished in 1988), St Joseph's Building, (demolished in 1988), 4 - 10 Robinson Road, the Belilios Terrace (now 5-25 Robinson Road), the entire length of Mosque Street, and part of Mosque Junction. The Portuguese Community formed the bulk of the Catholic Community in the Cathedral Parish. There used to be a special Choral Mass, with sermon in Portuguese at 8 am. every Sunday. On First Sunday of every month, there would be an indoor Procession of the Blessed Sacrament, at which, apparently only the Portuguese took part. 3 or 4 times a years there would be an outdoor Procession of a larger scale, at which the Chinese community would be represented by a small group walking under the Banner of St. Joseph, Patron Saint of China. The most impressive of all the Processions were the ones on Passion Sunday in Lent, when a huge statue of Jesus carrying a Cross would be borne by several Portuguese Gentlemen, and a Brass Band playing Marches would follow it. A special preacher, apparently invited from Macao or elsewhere, would preach a sermon in Portuguese. It all gave an impression that it was a special Festival of Great Importance to the Portuguese Community. Every year, in Oct/Nov, the St.Vincent de Paul Society staged a Bazaar, at which, again, the Portuguese community played the most active and predominant parts. When the St. Joseph's Mansion was built, the first tenants were almost exclusively Portuguese. The long hall, at its basement, too, had the Club de Lusitano as its first tenant. I recalled watching from the steps, the Portuguese Community celebrating the Opening with a very well attended Dancing Party in that hall.

7. The Chinese Catholic Community at that time was quite small. We seem to know every one there was, particularly those claiming to belong to the Cathedral Parish. There was the Tang Family, from which Archbishop Dominic Tang came, which, I gathered, worked for the Dominican Fathers, who had its mission station at Seymour Road. There was the Yu family, who operated a catering establishment, providing meals for many Portuguese and other European Families. There was the Tse family, who was in shipping business, believed to be connection with a Japanese shipping line. These was the Chu family, who built, repaired and hired Sedan Chairs to coolies, drawn from Swabue and the Hoi Fung District. There was the Pun Family, who made candles for the churches and also made inks as a side line. There was the So Family, who made excellent Coco-nut Ice Cream and very good Coco-nut candies. There was the Chan Family, which produced a Priest. the Rev. Fr. Simon Chan Kwok Wing, who unfortunately died young, soon after returning from Rome. There was also the Shak family, which produced a Vicar Gen Mongr. F. Shak, a Precious Blood Nun, my teacher, Sr.Mary Shak, and of course, Miss Shak, who has been running the Adult Education Services for Caritas ever since it was established. There was also the Cheung Family, of Dominic Cheung, whose father taught at St. Joseph's College. There was the Liu Family, to which Fr. Liu Sek Kong belongs, which was the main building contractor, building many of the Catholic Church. There was also the Lam Family, which produced two priests for the Canton Diocese; Fr. Lam Yat Sing and Fr. Lam Yat Kwong. There was also the Lau Family, of Lau Po, who taught in St. Joseph's College, one of whose sons became a De La Salle Brother and taught at St. Joseph. I learnt to know all these through my contacts at Sunday Schools, organized by the Parish Priest, Fr. Bianchio for the boys from Chinses Catholic families of the parish. There were several others, whose names I have now forgotten. Lastly, but by no means the least, there as the Tsui Family, to which I belong.

8. The most impressive part of the old Cathedral was the tall Belfry, rising from the Cathedral level, with its roof-top Cross reaching as high as the roof of St.Joseph's Mansion, above the level of Robinson Road. It had 5 huge bells of different sizes, each chimes a different musical note. The biggest of the 5 bells tells the time, three times a day, at 12 noon, at 6 in the evening and at 9 late in the night, - except during the Holy Week in Lent, to remind the Faithfuls to say the "De Angeles". For Masses and for Benedictions on Sundays and on other feast days, only 4 of the 5 bells would chime, descendingly, from the high to the low notes, continuously for about a minute, to summon the Faithfuls to come to church for the service. For Baptism or Wedding, only 3 of the higher-note bells would be chimed to announce the happy news. For funerals, however, only the largest but lowest note Bell would chime at long intervals, to toll the passing away of yet another one of the Faithfuls. On Big Feast Days; namely, Easter Sunday, Christmas, Pentecost Sunday, Assumption Day - and on other Feast Days, e.g., Corpus Christe, Christ the King, when there were Solemn Processions, and on the Feast of Immaculate Conception, the Patron Saint for the Cathedral, all the 5 bells would be rung, manually by about a dozen boys, not in disciplined descending order from high to low notes, but `naturally' and without specific order to make the difference. (The ringing of 5 huge bells for a Feast Day was quite a major operation. I participated a few times on such occasions, when I was older : 13 - 15. It was real good fun - an experience I would never forget; and I would try again, if I were given a chance). At the commencement, you find the huge ropes, each of which was tied to a wheel sharing an axle with a bell, and securely attached to it, which was hung to the huge beams high up near the roof of the Belfry, one the floor above. You could not see the bells from where and when you rang them. At least three persons, of whom one must have had the necessary previous experience, would be needed to initiate, (by the shear weight of their bodies), the bell wheel to turn. The bell would only chime, when the bell-wheel had turned more than half way around. By then the weight of the bell itself would turn the bell and the wheel around, and as the bell itself turned round, the bell's chime, would knocked on the wall of the bell, thus the Bell chimed. Further more, as the wheel and the bell turned, the huge rope, which was tied to the wheel, would pull you up, with your feet several feet hung up above the floor. It gave you a sensation as if you were flying. The noises of the chiming bells were so great that it deafened our ears. After each such operation, our ear drums would be numbed for a few days thereafter. But the operation gave you a wonderful feeling, so wonderful that you longed to do it all over again. Poor 5 Lovely Gigantic Bells of the Cathedral Belfry, they had, as I was told, all to be sold, during the besieged days of World War II, so that the Priests, the Janitors, and our beloved Bishop, His Lordship Henry Valtorta, might have rice to eat, to keep their bodies and souls together. I would not blame them. But if you were to ask me what I miss most in to day's Cathedral of The Immaculate Conception of Hongkong, I would, without any hesitation, say, I miss the Belfry most.

9. The most awe inspiring of the interior decorations in the old Cathedral was the Statute of the Holy Queen Mother of Mercy towering above the main Alter at the far end. The Alter piece must have been a piece of real good marble, with decorative carvings - which I could never see the details from a distance. The wooden panels surrounding the "Inner Sanctuary" of the Main Alter, was, to me, like the Walls of a medieval Castle, protecting an elaborately decorated Throne for the Bishop on one side, with special peels and benches around, apparently for priests only. The columns on both sides of the Main Hall had always been impressive. The solid looking Pulpit attached to one of the massive granite columns on the right was outstanding. At this pulpit, I have seen different preachers manifesting their different personalities vividly, by their respective different voice-volumes and peculiar gestures. As a child, little did I understand let alone follow, what were said in those sermons, but the different manners they preached all seemed to have inspired me, as a child, to imitate how they did it. The Pipe Organ, in the choir cockloft at the back, when played at High Masses and at Benedictions, were always impressive. On most occasions, when a choir were needed, meeting the call, it used to be the choir of boys, drawn from the Seminary students from the Holy Spirit Seminary across the forecourt, then located in an old building, standing on the site where the Raimondi College now stands. The carved wooden 14 "Ways of the Cross" tablets on the walls on both sides of the Main Hall, always distracted me from my prayers. I found it fascinating to admire at the smartness of the carved Roman Soldiers, with their spears or swards, in these tablets. They provoked a lot of imaginations in my innocent childish and hero worshipping mind. Looking at these smart Roman Soldiers, I dreamt of becoming a smart soldier one day when I grew up. I don't recall ever feeling really sorrowful or sad, when seeing the thorny Crown on Jesus's head or the blood and sweat, flowing down from his forehead. I always found the snake, coiling on top of the Globe, but stepped on by the bare feet of Holy Mary, Mother of God, fascinating. I never like snakes, and I must have cursed many times in my mind, saying "Serve you right, nasty snake!". Very rarely, did we find Masses being said in the several side chapels - not even at the Chapel of St.Joseph, Patron Saint for China, on my right. There was one elderly man, who must be the Cathedral's Janitor, who kept his long pig-tail of the Manchu Dynasty Fashion, right up to the late Nineteen Twenties, who used to hold a mop in hand, walked slowly from peel to peel, cleaning the latter as he walked, at least once a day, and every day for many years. We have known him for years, but we had never heard him uttering a single word. Sometimes, we wondered if he were a mute. We never had a proper answer. On Sundays the Choral Mass would be at 8 o'clock with Sermons in Portuguese, was always well attended. The Mass with sermons in Chinese would be at 7 am, and the Mass with Sermons in English would be at 10 o'clock - both relatively quiet. On Feast Day, High Mass would be at 10 am, with the Gregorian Chants sung and chorus responded, complete with the Pipe Organ. Holy Communion would normally be received at railing of the Sacred Heart Chapel on the Left side.

10. For Social or other valid reasons, which I have never bothered to find out, we soon moved house, from the "outhouse" servants quarters of the school at Robinson Road, to a small flat at High Street, Sai Ying Pun. Thus we physically left the Cathedral Parish, and moved back to the St. Anthony's, where we once were -in fact where I was baptized in 1916. Although our family moved away from the Cathedral Parish my brother Philip and I continued to attend the Sunday School a mile away. One of the attractions was, Fr. Bianchio gave us 5 candies each, every time we finish attending the catechism class. It was in that year, when work was started to build the old Bishop's House. One Sunday afternoon, we were playing in the construction site. We climbed on the piles of timber logs and planks, without realizing the danger. One of the logs slipped and broke the little finger on my left hand. A bit of my finger dropped out. It was bleeding. I pick the piece of my flesh and put it back to my finger. The old carpenter advisedly used tobacco and applied it on to my broken finger to stop the bleeding. It worked. To-day, I can still see the scar of the broken bit of my little finger.

11. It was at this new place abode and in this Parish od St. Anthony, my (No.8) brother, Stephen, was born in August 1923 on a day after a Typhoon. He was baptized a few days thereafter. It was in that year there was a plague epidemic, which was quite scaring. There were no motorized Ambulance vehicles in those days. Canvas Beds on Wheeled Trolleys were used to convey the sicks from tenements to hospitals, or the "black box" to carry away the dead for disposal. The teams of Sanitary coolies, led by European Sanitary Inspectors, were "unwelcome sights", not only because of the nature of their jobs, but also because they were seen as symbols of bad omen. However, there already were a few motorized Fire Engines, occasionally seen ringing their bells, when speeding through the streets -full of pedestrians rather than vehicles. It was also in that year, when we first had TAXI service introduced to the roads in Hongkong. I have had the experience of a few rides with my parents. I recalled quite clearly, the fare was 40 cents a mile, and an additional 10 cents for every quarter of a mile thereafter. There were two franchises, one for the Yellow- band on Blue Body London cab like larger Taxi Cabs; the other for the Red-band on Grey body saloon car type Taxi Cabs. The fare was the same. It cost 50 cents for a ride from the Star Ferry Pier at Central to our house on High Street, Sai Ying Pun via Queen's Road, West and Pokfulum Road. If my memory serves me right, it was in this year also, when the Hongkong Hotel Ltd. introduce the first ever Bus Service, operating on two routes; one from Central to Repulse Bay Hotel, the other from Central to the University at the Junction of Bonham Road meeting Pokfulum Road. I never travelled on those buses, hence I did not know the fare rate, nor the degree of comfort travelling thereon. However, rickshaw fare from the Junction of Central Street on Bonham Road, through Caine Road to Old Elegant Street, Central, was 10 cents. Sedan Chair from Star Ferry Pier at Central to Robinson was 20 cents, but reduced to only 15 cents if the journey started from the lower end of Wyndham Street, at Queen's Road level.

12. Traffic on the roads in those days were far from being "crowded" let alone congested. There were plenty of activities in the streets. It was the custom of the day, when hawkers were allowed to literally ``shout out' their wares, to "promote" what they were selling, or `sing out' their goods to "attract the attention of their potential customers" as to what they had to offer. The Wun Tun Noodle hawkers, in particular, used specially cut small bits of bamboos, knocking out sharp noises not unlike the tic tec sounds of Spanish Dancers chips. The olive hawkers used their blaring "bugles" to announce their presence. The Dancing Monkey Showman used his gong to attract an audience. The Punch and Judy puppet show had its easily recognizable make shift "orchestra" to attract attention. The cough-pills and anti rheumatic plasters seller had his brief pre sale Kung Fu Display combine with a snake charming trick to convince any doubting Thomas. One can get ones kitchen knifes or tailoring scissors sharpened, or suit-lengths of piece-goods of any pattern cut to ones need, without having to go shopping. You name it, they had it. The Rich and Famous did not have motor cars yet; they used rickshaws or Sedan Chairs, and indicated their social status by the number of coolies employed to pull their rickshaws or carry their chairs. Social Status of Weddings were shown off by way of displaying the elaborate Bridal Dowry being openly conveyed on the Betrothal Day, and by the relatively length of time, for the long string of Fire crackers to burn out. Funerals were correspondingly shown off by the length of the Processions of tributes which precedes the elaborately decorated coffin. I923 was also the year I first ever had a banquet dinner in a Restaurant, when my parents arranged a small "Mun Yuet" celebration for our new comer brother Stephen in the summer. It was also the year when I first accompanied my father and my elder sisters to attend a Mid-night Mass - at the Chapel of the Canosian Sisters's Sacred Heart Orphanage -(at the door steps of which, where babies, particularly bay girls, were very frequently `left' by their abandoning parents), at the Junction of High Street and Pokfulum Road - the very premises, where we now have the Ling Yuet Sin Child Care Centre. The Mid-night Mass was a very sleepy experience. If my memory serves me right, it was Fr. Valtorta, who later became the Bishop of Hongkong, who said the Mid Night Mass on that occasion.

13. Those were the days (in 1923) when the Diocesan Boys School had yet to move across the Harbour to Kowloon. It occupied a site at the top end of Eastern Street at its junction with Bonham Road. While the St.Stephen's Boys School had yet to move to Stanley, and was occupying the site at the top of Western Street at its junction with Bonham Road (opposite to where King's College now stands). King's College, at the time, had yet to be founded let alone built. What is now the Li Shing Primary School, was then the old Sai Ying Government School. What is the Kau Yan Church and the Kau Yan College of to-day, was then the Basil Mission Complex ( ), complete with a church, with tenements built round it at that time. The mid level No.8 Police Station at the top end of High Street had yet to be built. Opposite to the site then, was the Sisters' quarters for the Nursing Sisters of what was then the Government Civil Hospital (the predecessor of Queen Mary Hospital) at Hospital Road (now the Tsan Yuk Hospital). What is now the King George V Memorial Park, was then only the private resting grounds for the Staff of the then Government Civil Hospital. The Euston (Yu Tung Seng's private Castle on Bonham Road - since demolished), had yet to be built. The Alice Memorial Hospital Complex on Bonham Road and Breezy Path, however, were already there. While the Ying Wa School for Girls was already there, the Hop Yat Church however, was still being built. The St.Anthony Church, which now stands at the end of Bonham Road, junction Hill Road and Pokfulum Road, used (in 1923) to stand on a lower site located at the end of 3rd Street, edging over Queen's Road West. However, according to my late sister Agnes, the location of the original St. Anthony's Chapel, at which I was baptized (in 1916), was at the top of Western Street, junction Bonham Road, the same site at which King's College now stands. The Rhenish Mission Church was there at the bottom of Babington Path in 1923, as it is to-day. The St. Stephen's Girls School was there in the same place as it is to day - on Park Road/Lyttleton Rd.

14. From the back rear window of our small flat at High Street, we had a good view over the west part of Hongkong Harbour. We could see the ships tied up to the many Buoys in the Harbour. I recalled watching these ships one day, my father came and taught me how to identify the nationality of the ship by identifying the Flags they flied on the tail end mast of the ships. Thus it became more interesting by shouting out, Oh, that is a British Ship,....that is a Japanese ship, .....that is a Dutch ship,...etc. Next he taught me how to distinguish a Jardine Ship from a Taikoo ship or a Japanese ship by the colour or design of their funnels. We were soon taught how to distinguish River Ferry Boats (those plying between Hongkong and Canton, or Macao or Kong Moon) from Ocean going ships by paying more attention to the difference in the Hull and in the Superstructures. We could easily tell which were sailing boats and which were steam ships. It happened there was a severe typhoon, many boats and ships were sunk as result. I recalled seeing one of the sunken steamship had only its funnel sticking out of the water in the middle of the harbour for many months. It was also in that year when we had a "Seamen's Strike". I did not know then, what a Strike was all about. However, I recalled every adult was talking about it. Prices of every thing were said to have gone up. People were also talking of going back to the village or the like.

15. As can be seen, by 1923, ours was already a large family, with 2 daughters and 5 surviving sons (my elder (no.3 ) brother died young of pneumonia a few years earlier). The flat at High Street was proving too small for us. One day my father took me along on a house-hunting tour. We inspected the new houses with gardens in the newly developed Garden City of Kowloon Tong. We also inspected the recently completed tenement houses in Shamshuipo. We saw others in Happy Valley, in Causeway Bay, and in Tsim Sha Tsui. My father could not find any which suited his taste, his requirements and his pocket. It then happened the husband of my aunt (sister of my father), Mr. Pang Lok Sam, who had established his new home in Fanling, New Territories, paying us a social visit. On learning my father's plight, he talked father into interested in buying a site and building a country house of his own in the village where he was. This led to a series of visits to Fanling in the New Territories, ending in an agreement reached between the two of them, and of course with the full support of my mother and my aunt, for my uncle to sell, by private treaty, a part of his own orchard, with two plots of paddy fields attached, to my father for a homestead of his own. This set the direction of all subsequent development of the family, and sealed the fade of the family, if not also the destinies of all of us.

16. To plan and build a house of his own took time and demanded a lot of efforts. The flat on High Street was too small for a family of 7 growing children. An alternative must be found in the interim. So my father successfully negotiated to take over the tenancy for a ground floor flat at Elegant Street (off Caine Road) in mid level Central District, together with the furnitures therein, early in 1924, from a relative of a distant cousin. The now over 70 years old `Smith' clock, the outsized writing desk, and several other old but rather unique pieces of furnitures left in `Shek Lo' in 1985, were amongst the many items of furnitures bought over on that occasion. The flat at Elegant Street, though darkish, was fairly spacious. There was sufficient spaces to spare for the temporary storage, in transit, for the many items of teakwood doors and windows (for the new house in Fanling), which only the skilled carpenters in Hongkong could have made. For building of the new house, my father appointed was himself as the architect. He bought many housing books and magazines, mainly from America,for reference. He used the outsized writing desk, which we bought from the previous tenant of the flat, as his `drawing board', and drew plans after plans for the new house. He used his pens, pencils, rulers, erasers, papers as well as the abacus, to work out the costings etc of the materials needed or acquired for the new house. For a greater part of the year (1924), he spent every Wednesday and Saturday afternoon as well as every Sunday and School holiday, personally supervising the construction work of the new house. At weekends, he often spent the nights in my aunt's house, so that he could get up early next morning to get on with the job. Towards the end, he pride himself by claiming to be an expert master-builder, and commenting jokingly that had he chosen "Building Contracting" as a career instead of "Teaching", he might have made much more money and could well have been a millionaire by then. He used to take me out to see him work now and again. By so doing, I came to learn through him, what proportions of cement, sand and stones should mix, for cement concrete. He initiated me to the basic knowledge of knowing the exact dimensions of the variety of bricks available in the market; and of telling the different timber qualities of teakwood, china firs, camphor wood, and other varieties so as to work and achieve the best result. He pointed out to me where he could buy cheaper large size red tiles, and where the smaller blue tiles. He explained to me, how many blue bricks a country woman could carry with ease, on her shoulders over a certain distance; and how many more her male counterparts could do because of his physique. He explained to me, why the relatively flat and hard surface footpaths would suit the wheel barrel, why the uneven and softer ones would not. He pointed out to me how many brick kilns there were within a walking distance from the site of his new house, and explained the relative the qualities of their products on account of the clay used, or the expertee of the master `Stoker" employed to work the kiln. He explained to me why he could get more work done during the dry months of October through January, because by then the farmers had already harvested their second crop of the year, but would need additional cash in anticipation of extra expenditure enriching the celebration of the forthcoming Chinese New Year. He pointed out to me, that working at a height of over so many feet on a building, would require scaffoldings for access, which would add considerably to the cost. All such words of wisdom were stuffed into my young mind, without my fully appreciating the real value of the knowledge. Had I been smart enough to realize the treasure earlier in my life, I could have made use of same, and turned myself a successful Building Contractor - may be a multi millionaire.

17. For reasons no one has ever explained to me, the short Elegant Street, which branched off from Caine Road downward along a gentle slope to join Peel Street, then on to Staunton Street, appeared to be a popular venue of all sorts of Chinese style processions. We had the very frequent Funeral Processions, the occasional Wedding Processions, the sparing Fund-raising Processions (for flood relief in certain parts of China, etc.) as well as the Religious Festival Processions, notably, the most impressive Chiu Chow Yu Lan Ghost Festival Procession. There were many other activities in addition to the variety of Processions. In the early part of the 7th Moon, we had the celebration of the 7 sisters Festival for Girls. Following immediately thereafter, we had the burning of Joss Papers for the departed souls, which continued right up to the Ghosts Festival on 14th Day of the Seven Month. Then we had the lanterns for the Mid Autumn Festival, on the 15th Day of the Eighth Moon. Then the flying of kites and the climbing of heights for Chung Yeung Festival on 9th day of the Nineth Moon. Living in a ground floor flat on such a busy street, we watched them all from a `ring side' seat, the activities of all these Pageants and celebrations and the rest of it. In particular, we could more or less tell the `Order of Parade' for funerals, because there were so many of them passing by. Elegant Street is so close to my school, that it took us less than two minutes to walk from home. Thus my younger brother, Mark, also started his schooling in the Pre-Primary class in the same school-the Pui Ching School for Girls - that year. Going to church, i.e., the Cathedral meant no more than 10 minutes walk. So I continued my Sunday Schools, and it was in that year that I had my First Holy Communion. I became slightly more mature, and began to be able to follow the meanings of some of lessons I learnt in school from that year onwrds. I could even memorize by heart a few lessons I learnt in school that year. It was in that year, when my mother heard that her mother was very sick in the village up country, and might soon die. So she made up her mind to pay a visit to her mother, bringing along with her, my no.8th brother, Stephen. Half way, near Swatow ( ), the pirates robbed the ferry boat on which she travelled. Every cent she had was robbed. Somehow, she managed to send back a telegram asking for help. My father responded by bringing money etc overnight, to fetch her and Stephen back to Hongkong. So my mother did not succeed in seeing her sick mother, who soon after died. Nor did my brother Stephen have the honour of being presented to the kindly Grandma. After the Feast of Epiphany, and before the Chinese New Year in early 1925, we vacated our ground floor flat on Elegant Street, and moved - log, stock and barrel - to our `not quite ready' new house in Fanling, New Territories. ҁ ʁ h the Chinese community would be represented by a small group walking under the Banner of St. Joseph, Patron Saint of China. The most impressive of all the Processions were the ones on Passion Sun