Growing Up in a Kampung in the 1970s

Posted by on Feb 19, 2016 in Memento | No Comments

For writer Clarice Pereira, growing up in the 1970s was one of the best times of her life. From playing hide and seek in her neighbours’ houses, to playing in the long kang (drains), the memories of growing up in the 1970s are something she will cherish forever.


In the 1970s, the trend was to take black-and-white photos, and have people in the photo stand from the tallest to the shortest. Of course, I was the shortest and these are my siblings.

I was born in the year 1966, at Jalan Wijaya, one year after Singapore gained independence. The place I was born in has been demolished. Now, it’s a condominium opposite Kembangan MRT Station.

Every time I pass by that place, I am transported back to time to the early 70s when I was a kid.

Those were the best times of my life. Dad was a banker and Mum was a housewife. I was the youngest of six children. I had three older brothers and two older sisters. Life was so carefree without any worries. We did not own any smartphones nor PCs – not even a watch.


This is a photo of me and my siblings at our humble home in 1974. We did not have much money but we had lots of happiness which money can’t buy.

But what we had was a wild imagination.

I grew up with Chinese, Malay, Eurasian and Indian kids in my kampung. Every morning, all the doors of all the houses in the kampung would be open. When we played hide and seek, we could go in any house to hide. We could hide under the bed, or behind the doors, and we did not get chided for that. Imagine if kids did that now and hid in their neighbours’ houses… Perhaps they would end up on STOMP, haha.


This photo was taken in 1973. Here, my brothers, neighbour and me are getting ready to play with the other kids but before that, we posed for a photograph first.

Every day was different, and fun. One day, we might play hide and seek; the next day may be police and thief; and the day after, catching spiders and putting them in matchboxes. That was how we entertained ourselves from morning to afternoon. After lunch, it’s usually nap time until tea-time. After tea-time, you can start hearing the sound of the kids coming out of their houses to play again. My Mum never knew which house I was playing at, so every lunch-time she will shout my name for me to come home.

In the 70s, it was a big thing to own a colour TV. The Chinese family in front of my house owned one, and in the evening they would let all the kids in the kampung come into their house to watch TV. It was like a mini-cinema. How fun and enjoyable.

Another thing we enjoyed – the rain. We enjoyed the rain so much, especially when it floo