Di Bawoh Rang Ikang Kering
Random Ramblings of A Retired Retainer


Tuesday, January 04, 2005

I had the impression that there was an explosion of new schools in the 60s. There were schools being built everywhere including Sekolah Menengah Kebangsan Kuala Berang where I was posted. It was just being built in 1965 and we had to squat in the neighbouring Sekolah Tengku Ampuan Intan. Kuala Berang then was just a "cowboy" town with development yet to come. The school was out of town in a place still wild enough for a few teachers to come face to face with a tiger when they opened their kitchen window. I kid you not.

When our school was ready in 1966, we had to set up everything from scratch. We set up, among other things, the library, a book shop, a Scout Troop and a cinema club. There were many reasons to justify the cinema club. There was no television yet and the teachers were bored. There was a cinema hall in town that screened Hindustani and Malay films sporadically before it decided to give up. We also found that the pupils needed visual inputs so that they can better understand what we were talking about. Most of the pupils had not even been to Kuala Terengganu yet.

So, Bani Hussein, the Science Master was told to include a 16 mm projector in his Science budget. We got a solid state RCA projector which I operated before passing on the know-how to others. Wong Shop Sah, the Industrial Arts teacher was roped in to do the wiring for the sound system and to organise the ticket sales. We rented the films from Kuala Lumpur and they were sent to Kuala Terengganu via Pahang Mail lorries. We screened films such as "To Hell and Back", the Hercules series, the Tarzan epics as well as classics like "Spartacus" and "Ben Hur". The films were screened in the evening at the school hall. They were well-received with even the District Officer among the audience. Later, at the request of those living far from school and could not come at night, we held shows during the day. We had to paint the glass shutters black before we could afford thick black curtains.

Proceeds from the bookshop and the cinema club were used to subsidise the Scouts' uniforms and also for pocket money to some needy students. We collected more money by screening the films at palm oil factories in the district. Before each screening, we announced the time and the place through a horn speaker stuck through the window of my Ford Escort.

Our travelling cinema days came to end when black and white television came to Kuala Berang. The projector went back to screening educational and scientific films.

(Haloscan has been installed. Let's give it a try)