Thursday, November 15, 2012
Joo Chiat Changing Scene 2 - Post Office
An access road to Tembling Road Carpark
Joo Chiat Post Office was the only stand by itself 2 storey building at Joo Chiat Road. It was situated between No 159 and No 169, and was one of the landmarks in Joo Chiat Road. The building had since been demolished and the place is now an access road to the carpark at Tembling Road and Joo Chiat Place junction.
The building itself has an interesting history. It was build before WWII and was first used as a licensed retail opium shop. Joo Chiat at that time had migrant Chinese workers and many were opium addicts. Opium could be bought by individual to smoke at home, as my grand uncle did or by opium den operators to cater for poorer opium addicts. Smoking paraphernalia consisted of a long pipe with a small bowl fitted near the end of the pipe. An oil lamp is needed to heat and melt the opium as the addict inhaled the smoke from the pipe. The shop ceased selling opium since the Japanese occupation period.
After WWII the building was converted into a toddy (palm wine) retail shop. Toddy is an alcoholic beverage obtained from the saps of coconut trees. The saps collected were allowed to ferment for a day to turn it into toddy. It catered mainly to the Indian daily rated workers. A municipal labourer quarters was just behind the toddy shop. Majority of the occupiers were Indians who worked for the Municipality. The toddy shop opened in the afternoon, usually after the labourers working hours. Drinking toddy was a way of life for them, especially after a hard day's work in the hot sun as road sweepers, trench diggers, pipes layers and as mason. It was a common sight to see some of them falling to the ground, lying on the roadside and five foot ways, dead drunk.
The final occupant of the building was the Joo Chiat Post Office. The ground floor was used for postal services and the upper floor was supposed to be living quarters for the Post Master. I am not sure if he and his family ever live there. The above photo of Joo Chiat Post Office was taken in 1970.