Keeping the history of void decks alive
SINGAPORE, July 16 — Void decks may be familiar to all HDB residents but they hold special meaning for this 29-year-old. Over the past six years, Mr David Wee has visited numerous traditional provision shops in older housing estates, such as Queenstown and Commonwealth, to collect memorabilia related to void decks. Among the hundred items he has amassed include vintage Fraser and Neave (F&N) glasses, a beige coloured rotary telephone and old school biscuit jars.
Last month, he left his job as an events manager at People's Association to pursue his passion. He also started a company trading in vintage items. “I wanted to collect things from the '70s and '80s that bring back a lot of memories,” said Mr Wee.
“All of these tell a bit of story about Singapore's heritage, Singapore's history.”
His collection first began 15 years ago during a visit to Sungei Road. There, Mr Wee spotted a vintage F&N glass which made him reminisce about his younger days.
“I wanted to keep a slice of history because I feel that in Singapore, things are disappearing very fast,” he said. “If I don't keep them, maybe they will end up somewhere (being) disposed of.”
Living with his 77-year-old father, Mr Wee's collection is sprawled across two rooms in their two-storey home. There are two items that Mr Wee is particularly “proud” of – a 1958 glass to commemorate the 75th anniversary of F&N and a 1953 glass to commemorate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
Mr Wee's collection includes childhood games such as paper balls, paper aeroplanes, kuti-kuti and chapteh. These items are an eye opener not just for his friends but also his three nieces, aged between seven and 10.
“To me, history is about keeping all these things and then passing it on to the next generation and at the same time telling them about (the history of these items),” he said.
Last Sunday, Mr Wee showcased his collection at the Our Void Decks, Our Shared Spaces travelling exhibition at Chai Chee Road. The exhibition was a prelude to this year's Singapore HeritageFest which kicks off on Friday.
The exhibition brought back fond memories for some residents. Mr Poh Chang Sek, who lived in Chai Chee Avenue till the late '80s, recalled there used to be a stamp club located at his void deck. “At that time the club was quite active, there were a lot of collectors,” said the 76-year-old retiree.
Once home to mama shops, bird singing corners and the quirky toy libraries, void decks here have seen changes through the years. Child care centres, kindergartens and senior citizen corners have been set up at these shared spaces.
Mr Chan Yee Kew, a 59-year-old retiree, says he meet his friends at void decks “almost every evening”. “When you come down, you meet some friends, you will sit down chit chat, (and) from there you start friendships,” he said. — Today