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* Colloquial way to describe something that happened a long time in the past  

This may be a familiar Singlish phrase for us but for our elderly patients, policemen in shorts were an actual reality, and just one of the many things that have vanished from their generation. Let us celebrate Singapore's 56th birthday with a blast from the past!


MSW Sandy

Since April this year, the OCH Medical Social Services (MSS) team has been running sessions called "Our Collective Memories of Singapore" for rehabilitative and palliative patients at Ward 12A. Using nostalgic photos and items, the team invites patients to take a walk down memory lane. 

Topics from past sessions included hawker centres, cinemas, television series (only local channels available!) as well as games played in the past. 

Besides encouraging self-expression, Sandy Koh, Principal Medical Social Worker at OCH said that the sessions have helped to boost patients' mood and evoke a sense of gratitude for how Singapore has progressed. For example, patients were grateful that hygiene standards at hawker centres have improved and public transport is now more efficient and comfortable. 

Exchanging fond memories have also led to sharing of food. Sandy recounted how friendships have bloomed and some patients even got their caregivers to pack extra snacks for other participants they got to know through the sessions. 


MSW Wenyang

For the MSS team, the sessions allow them to assess patients' cognitive and communication abilities. These observations are then shared with the rest of the clinical team and caregivers for patients' care planning. 

"During the sessions, participants detach from their role as a patient and became our history teachers! We got to hear their memories and stories, and gain insights into a generation before our time. It is definitely an enriching experience and reminds us how far Singapore has come," said Sandy. 

While Sandy and fellow Medical Social Worker Goei Wenyang now conduct one-to-one sessions instead because of the COVID-19 situation, they look forward to resuming group sessions once it is safe to do so. Sandy said: "Participants told me that it is more fun to reminiscence about things in a group!" 



Photo credit:

"Sometimes, buses would run out of fuel halfway. Bus breakdowns were also common and passengers would alight to wait for the next bus."
-Mdm Keong SY


"The conductor would ask for our destination before issuing a ticket and collecting payment. The non-air conditioned buses were very hot and the wind always made my hair very messy."
-Mdm Kum LH




"Toys were made not bought. We entertained ourselves with games like five stones, which we sew using recycled materials. Children nowadays are so much more blessed!"
-Mdm Kum LH


Mr Retnanam with pic of old Shaw Lido in the 1970s (left) and Capitol Theatre (1965).

"I used to play truant from classes and the best places to hide are cinemas. Some spots I frequented with my classmates after school were Orchard Shaw Lido and Capitol Theatre."


Photo credit: Ministry of Information and The Arts (MITA)

"There used to be drive-in cinemas at Jurong in the 1970s. The parking space was huge and movie goers get to enjoy more privacy while enjoying the movies."
-late Mr Teo BB


"Hawkers were quite territorial. They had to provide their own tables and chairs so you could only dine at those provided from the same stall you bought your food from."
-late Mr Wong GS


"Mandarin TV shows in the 80s were one of the main forms of entertainment for most Chinese families. We can still remember some shows now as we can relate to them well, such as 'Five Foot Way' (about life in shophouses)."
-Mdm O and Mdm K