— Nona Parks ~ 1950-1953

45 Morrison Hill Road

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The photo on the left shows where our apartment was (red pin) and I also marked the Race Course and the Yacht Club on Kellett Island, before they built the causeway to the island.

Our flat was on the top floor of the apartment block but it really was a weird set-up. There was a lift but it didn’t work – broken during the Japanese occupation and not repaired after the Liberation – so it was boarded up.

The stairs were really narrow and as the flats all had high ceilings, although there were only four apartments, there were a heck of a lot of stairs to get up to reach our flat.

Not only that, but there were also entrances to the block on the left-hand side of our block!  When you got to the front door of our block, there was a passageway to the left which led to the other apartment block’s doors!  Totally spooky, as I was always terrified that someone could hide down there and mug me as I was running up the stairs.

I hated getting up to our apartment but once there, it was a pretty big and spacious flat.  The servants’ quarters were right at the bottom of a long corridor which ran the whole length of the flat.  Coming up from there, my bedroom was on the left, while Lindy’s was on the right.  Our bathroom was next to my bedroom.

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At the top of the corridor, mom and dad’s bedroom was on the right, while there was a door going into the dining room opposite, which had another bathroom off it, and to the right, through double doors, was the sitting room.

My father used to come and tell me bedtime stories when I was very young.  There was a tale about “Uncle Why-Why-Why My-My-My” but I cannot for the life of me remember what the purpose of the story was.  It wasn’t a scary story but I just can’t figure out what the point was 😮

A narrow verandah ran along the front of the flat, so we could step out from my parents’ bedroom and the sitting room.

The verandah was made of concrete with exposed aggregate which was honed and polished.

I remember getting a flat-head screwdriver and a hammer and sitting on my bottom on the verandah, trying to remove the pieces of aggregate!  Oy!  I hope I didn’t upset our neighbours below but they were good friends of my parents so if I annoyed them with my banging, they would have told my folks!  😀

Being the top floor flat, we had access to the roof so we could take our dogs up there for a run around.  There was also stairs at the back from the servants’ quarters but I can’t remember if we could open the door to those stairs.  I don’t think we could.

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Mom looking at the view of Happy Valley from our roof with our German Shepherd, Wudjie Click to enlarge

The view of a very empty Happy Valley from our roof Click to enlarge

 

And here is a photo of our other dog, a Scotty-cross who was called Tsutsk or Snowy ( a black dog called Snowy, typical of my parents!)  😀

The roof over the wall belonged to the apartment block to the right of ours, as you looked at the front of our building.

1952 – Ah Pah feeding me in my bedroom 😮 (Click to enlarge)

My mother told me that I spoke Cantonese better than English when little, and that was because I spent so much time with my amah, Ah Pah, and the cookboy, Ah Sam.  Ah Pah used to feed me in my room if my parents’ were having people over for dinner … feeding me while I read comics!  How lazy was I?  😮

Ah Pah’s daughter also lived in the servants’ quarters so we used to hang out together.  We were about the same age but certainly not the same height, as you can see from the photo below 😉

Ah Sam used to escort me over to Balia’s for piano lessons, as well as taking me to the LRC for swimming lessons!

Great that we had such kind and diligent servants working for us.

It started to change in the mid-1960 – one cookboy my parents had working for us got very bolshi and actually threatened my mother with a chopper because he objected to not having the exact time when my father was coming home for dinner after a meeting  😮 Happy to say the police took him away and after that my parents decided it would be better to not have any more servants!!

Ah Sam serving my parents dinner …

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I wrote about Jenny’s ex-fiance, Sam Cameron, on her page. Although she broke up with him, he remained friends with my parents and when he came to HK on R&R from Korea, he took a bunch of photos of Lindy and me while we were clambering on the rocks at Rocky Bay

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I’ve added all the other pictures Sam took in its own album at the bottom of this page 🙂  Look at my feet – Lindy used to tease me mercilessly about my toes and called me «froggy toes». I used to refuse to wear sandals and at the beach, would sit with my feet buried in the sand so no one could see my toes!

My sister scarred me for life with her teasing!  🙁

Home » -- Nona Parks ~ 1950-1953 » Sam Cameron's Photos

Sam Cameron's Photos

Photos taken by Sam Cameron, a war photographer, when he was in HK on leave from the Korean war. Taken at Rocky Bay.
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My folks joined the Ladies Recreation Club … or maybe it was just my mom who joined?! … during that time and we used to go and enjoy the pool and other amenities.

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I remember going to the LRC for swimming lessons with Billy Tingle a couple of times a week when I was older.

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Ah Sam, our cookboy, used to take me and back in those days, the Peak Tram terminus on Garden Road looked like the photo on the left.

We’d get on the tram and get off at the May Road station.  mayroad_01

 

It was always amusing to see the tourists staring at us kids as we stood at a very sharp angle by the door waiting for the tram to stop, and then jumped out onto the stairs.

Once off the tram, Ah Sam and I used to walk down May Road, past Miss Fleuty’s, to the LRC. I’d have my swimming lesson and then we’d walk back to the tram stop and head to town. There we’d grab a tram and head back home!

I used to be so energetic when young – hah! 😀

Another memory which sticks in my head was me “leaving home” when small 😉

I can’t remember with who or what the row was about – it was probably a fight with my sister – but I do remember packing my bags to leave – hahahaha!  I had a small rattan basket – like the one in this photo ….

… so I threw in a pair of socks, underpants and a vest, closed the basket and marched out of the back door, which was through the kitchen.  I went down the back stairs, past the Vargassoffs’ back door then I got scared, so sat down on the steps, feeling incredibly unhappy 🙁

A short while later Ah Sam joined me on the steps and persuaded me that it was not a good idea for a 3 year old to leave home 😉  He stood up and gave me his hand, which I took, and we both returned home together!

Dear old Ah Sam – he really was such a wise and kind man 😀

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1950

This video clip shows me on the beach at Deep Water Bay on my 3rd birthday – so lovely and empty compared to just 20 years later – and the party my parents organised for me at the PRC 😀

 

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Another exciting event happened in September of 1950 … Lindy and I were flower girls at the Cherikoffs’ son’s wedding 🙂

Victor and Sonia Cherikoff were friends of my parents in Shanghai, I think.  Certainly the Cherikoffs had their bakery there and probably came to Hong Kong around about the same time as mom and dad!

 

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In 1949 Luna Park opened its doors and it included the Sky Room, where my parents went with their friends and where mom had some fashion shows.

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The entrance of Luna Park

Ad for the opening of Luna Park

Luna Park was an amusement park and in 1950, my folks took me there with Ah Pah, my lovely amah!  It looks like I had a ball spinning around on all the rides 😉

 

 

1951 – Macau

On August 4, 1951, we went to Macau for the weekend on the «Hung Mien».  It would have been my first longish boat trip and I remember being quite excited about the whole adventure 🙂

At the time, Macau was a Portuguese colony and the ambiance was like that of a Mediterranean town. So different from bustling Hong Kong.

The trip took approximately 4 hours so there were cabins on board for night trips and also for people who wanted to snooze on a bed during the day rather than in a chair.

We stayed at the Hotel Bela Vista and it amused me to think that just 15 years later, I went to Macau with 4 girlfriends to see a Portuguese bullfight (they don’t kill the bull!) and we stayed at the same hotel.

It was a very grand hotel and I would imagine that in 1951 it retained its olden day glory, whereas in 1966 it looked pretty rundown and sad 🙁

It was situated on Penha Hill and overlooked the «Praia Grande» – the esplanade – and the bay beyond. It was built in 1870 as a private residence for a British couple but 20 years later they turned it into a hotel called «Boa Vista».  The name changed to Bela Vista in 1936.

Mom and me on the deck of the m/v “Hung Mien”, heading to Macau Click to enlarge

Standing at Portas do Cerco – the Macau/Chinese border Click to enlarge

 

The right hand photo shows us standing at the Macau/Chinese border, known as Portas do Cerco.  Just a year later, in 1952, there was a major incident which happened there!  Portuguese African troops exchanged fire with the Communist Chinese guards for 1 ¾ hours which resulted in one dead and scores injured on the Macanese side and 100 Chinese casualties 😮

The Macau Grand Prix was introduced in 1954 and a number of well known names used to take part. I remember Lindy going out on a date with Stirling Moss in the late 1950s when he was taking part in the event.

In 1962 Macau turned into an oriental Las Vegas when the Portuguese government granted a syndicate of Macanese and HK businessmen the monopoly rights to all forms of gambling!  This was a magnet to a lot of Chinese, as they tend to be inveterate gamblers 😮

Home » -- Nona Parks ~ 1950-1953 » Macau and Cheung Chau holidays

Macau and Cheung Chau holidays

Photos of our vacation in both Macau in 1951 and Cheung Chau in 1952
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This video shows what it was like to go to Macau back in the “olden” days …

 

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I had a very quiet birthday in 1951 … just enjoyed it with the family but I must say, seeing this photo of Balia with a cigarette in her hand surprised me  🙂

I remember she used to smoke and her favourite brand was a large circular tin of “Craven A” which was known to us all as “Hak Mau” in Cantonese … that means ‘black cat”, which is on the label.

I have very vague memories of Balia smoking when I was young but mom told me that one day, she decided enough was enough and stopped.  She didn’t smoke a cigarette after that!  Wonderful self control DesiSmileys.com

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Such a grumpy looking birthday girl 😮 Click to enlarge

Balia with her daughter and granddaughters 🙂 Click to enlarge

 

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Have to laugh at the way they allowed cigarette ads to go on tin plates, as well as in newspapers, etc 😀

 

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It would seem that my parents, probably with a little hint from Balia, thought that I, as a young lady, should be fluent in French so – when I was four – I was sent to Miss Fleuty’s kindergarten on May Road.

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Marguerite Fleuty was a gorgeous lady and I remember my time there fondly.  She had come to HK in 1935 and originally started her kindergarten in Peak Mansions.  During the war, she worked as a nurse in the French Hospital and was bombed for her trouble 🙁

After the war she moved into her flat in Aigburth Hall, 9 May Road, and continued with her kindergarten as well as teaching French to adults.

Sadly Miss Fleuty died in her sleep on New Year’s Day in 1963 🙁

 

 

1952 – Cheung Chau

In September 1952 we spent a week at a friend’s house in Cheung Chau 🙂  I remember my father getting up on the pedestal but I’m sure he had a sheet around him like a Greek or Roman senator!  Maybe my mother thought his physique was too good to hide behind a sheet!  LOL!  😀

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Cheung Chau is a dumbbell-shaped island 10km southewest of HK and was quite famous for its seafood restaurants back in my day.  As it only took about 35 minutes to get there by ferry, it was great for day-tripping to gorge on yummy Chinese chow 😉

There are only narrow laneways there so no traffic to really worry about. The residents there have mini vehicles to move around in but visitors walk or hire bikes to get around.

A few gwailos had holiday homes there so I assume we spent time at one of my parents’ friends’ house.  Not sure if it was just for the weekend or if we spent longer there but I do remember it was fun!

Standing with the amah of the holiday house and her daughter Click to enlarge

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The house we stayed at Click to enlarge

 

An interesting article about the peak in Cheung Chau …

Hong Kong’s Other Peak – and the City’s Overlooked History of Segregation

 

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1952 – Tiger Balm Gardens

Tiger Balm Gardens was 3.2 hectares park on Tai Hang Road, which adjoined the house of the Aw Boon Haw family, which was built in 1935. Tiger Balm Gardens opened to the public in the early 1950s and we went to have a look soon after its opening.

It had a 44m tall pagoda, called Tiger Pagoda, which was surrounded by sculptures showing all kinds of horror  😮  I was five when we first went there and I remember how I had nightmares after seeing those terrifying things! 😮

I went back with some school friends 10 years later and must confess that we were more amused than frightened by the sights we saw!  Shows you how impressionable young kids are 😀

This written by Christopher de Wolf of Zolima City Magazine gives a better description than I could ever 😀

Tiger Balm Garden was a bizarre, disturbing yet beloved trip into Chinese mythology. And while the park was demolished in 2004, its legacy survives.

Many visitors remember the park’s concrete tigers, including the bow-tied Mr. Tiger, who greeted them as they entered the park. But for others, it was the often disturbing religious caricatures that left a deeper impression. “The freakish and stern faces of many of the characters made the experience more like a trip with Alice in Wonderland, where not everyone Alice met was friendly,” writes Nicolson. “Some scenes of sculpted animals were fun and carefree while others were menacing. Benign images of Buddha sat beside vile scenes of purgatory.”

A diorama depicting the Ten Courts of Hell was particularly memorable. The Singaporean version, which still exists, hints at what Hong Kong visitors experienced: severed heads, topless women being disemboweled by demons, a man sawed in half. Each scene depicted how those who committed mortal sins such as prostitution, gambling or lack of filial piety would be punished in the afterlife. “A lot of people remember that because it gave them nightmares,” says Wu. “Nobody wants to think that they’ll get their tongue cut out.”

 

 

 

Home » -- Nona Parks ~ 1950-1953 » **VERY BORING PICTURES!!**

**VERY BORING PICTURES!!**

A group of pictures of me taken on various days. No idea why daddy took so many photos of me on the same day but he did! Maybe he was testing a new camera or techniques :o)
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A Christmas concert was held at Miss Fleuty’s at the end of 1952 and a very jolly time was had by all  😀

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I think I was piggy in the middle 😉 Balia and Lindy are in the right hand corner of the photo and Miss Fleuty is in the centre Click to enlarge

 

 

1953 – on leave for 9 months

We left Hong Kong on a Blue Funnel Line freighter called the “Antilochus“.  All the Blue Funnel Line ships for the China trade were named after Greek mythology figures and the company was run by brothers Alfred and Philip Holt.

They were so involved with shipping in Hong Kong and China that there was a Holt’s Wharf in Tsimshatsui, just to the left when leaving the Kowloon Star Ferry, Hankow and Pootung (Shanghai).

 

 

Home » -- Nona Parks ~ 1950-1953 » 1950-1953 ~ photos taken when we moved to Hong Kong from Cameron Road, TST!

1950-1953 ~ photos taken when we moved to Hong Kong from Cameron Road, TST!

We moved to Morrison Hill Road in 1950 as dad was working for HK Tramways at the time, and it was much easier for him to get to work being close to the office. However it didn't mean that we didn't go across to Kowloon or the NT at the time!
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Home » -- Nona Parks ~ 1950-1953 » Tiger Balm Gardens

Tiger Balm Gardens

Photos of Tiger Balm Gardens taken when we went there in 1952
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Home » -- Nona Parks ~ 1950-1953 » Sam Cameron's Photos

Sam Cameron's Photos

Photos taken by Sam Cameron, a war photographer, when he was in HK on leave from the Korean war. Taken at Rocky Bay.
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The video clip below was taken from the film «Love is a Many Splendored Thing» starring William Holden & Jennifer Jones, which was based on the autobiographical novel of the same name by Dr Han Suyin. Although the film was made in 1955, it’s about HK during the years 1949-1950.

Opening shots are of an ambulance rushing through the streets in Central then shows it heading up to the British Military Hospital*(which was called another name in the film) on Bowen Road < wrong! Please see (*) below! Then William Holden is at the entrance, picking up Jennifer Jones to take her to Tai Pak, the floating restaurant in Aberdeen.

The throng of sampan women was for real in those days – everyone vying for a chance to get the gwailo’s money to row them to the restaurant 😉

It was a ‘romantic’ movie but after reading the following from Wikipedia, I couldn’t watch it without snorting with laughter 😀

Despite the film’s romantic subject and their chemistry on the screen, Holden and Jones could barely stand each other on set. Holden was turned off by Jones’ obsessive involvement with her character and complaints about her makeup, which she said made her “look old”, costumes and dialogue. Soon they were barely speaking to one another. According to Holden’s biography, Jones was also generally rude and abrasive to everyone involved in the production. Their relationship was also not helped by Jones’ worries about Holden’s reputation as a womanizer. Holden claimed she chewed garlic before her love scenes, which she may have done to discourage him. Once, Holden tried to make peace, offering Jones a bouquet of white roses, which she tossed back in his face.

*Apparently it was not the BMH in the film!

The “hospital” was, in fact, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club which was at No 41A Conduit Road at the time. The building was previously owned by the Mok family.  Apologies for any confusion caused 🙂

The FCC (1951-1961)

Scenes from the movie

An interesting pdf by Dan Waters about his thoughts on “Han Suyin’s A Many Splendored Thing: Conduit Road and its Environs”, which you can download HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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