Present(ing) the Past: A Date at MacRitchie Reservoir (Part 3 of 7)

14 Feb

MacRitchie Reservoir – A popular dating spot for couples in the 1970s. This picture was taken at the park’s iconic zig-zag bridge.


The old Band Stand and zig zag bridge

To me, the best part about finding old photos is discovering the stories behind them. And armed with the entire album of which this photo was part thereof, I sat my parents down and asked them about the day this photo was taken.

Mum & Dad at MacRitchie Reservoir

Mum & Dad at MacRitchie Reservoir (1971)

So the story goes – Dad took this photo using my grandfather’s camera and tripod. They were out for a day in the park with a pair of young twins that my mum’s family helps to care for. They were still dating at that time, probably in their early 20s, if the year marked on the photograph – Aug 1971 – can be trusted.

The story of how my parents met just had to be asked.

Mum: “Your Ah-Mah (maternal grandmother) and Ah-Ma (paternal grandmother) were classmates in school. At that time, Papa’s family ran a bookshop. I just finished my GCE O-Levels and went to help out at their bookshop. That’s where we met lor.”

And so that was how my pretty sweet mum charmed my cheeky playful dad and began their 7-year courtship. According to my other sources, Mum and Dad would spend hours talking on the phone well through the night and were inseparable.

Mum and Dad at Dad’s Paya Lebar house (1971)

Two years after that photograph in MacRitchie was taken, i.e. 1973, my parents said “I DO” in the presence of family and the Justice of Peace at the Registrar of Marriages.

Mum and Dad's ROM (1973)

Mum and Dad’s ROM (1973)

In Singapore, even though you may be legally bound as husband and wife, you aren’t really “married” till you’ve been through the customary rites and wedding banquet etc etc. That much hasn’t changed through the years at all!

Mum and Dad (1974)

The young lovers at mum’s Alexandra Rd home (1974)

The legal union allowed my parents to apply for a flat in the new town Ang Mo Kio, where I spent the first decade of my life. (The Remember Singapore blog has a brilliant blog entry on the development of Ang Mo Kio.)

Mum and Dad were finally officially and customarily (?) husband and wife after the tea presentation ceremony with both sides of the family, and a traditional local Chinese wedding banquet with all kin and kith, to celebrate the blessed union. This was in 1976, a good 3 years after their ROM. Gosh, what a marathon love affair! Which probably means they were well prepared for what’s to come I guess! Heehee… 2014 is year 38 and counting!

Mr and Mrs Yeh Toh Yen (1976)

Mr and Mrs Yeh Toh Yen (1976)

mum & dad wedding2

Mum and her sister, who was also her Maid-of-honour

Mum and her sister, who was also her Maid-of-honour

As I was flipping through their wedding album, my parents recounted their wedding day. Dad remembered how they had their wedding photos taken at a professional studio but they could only pick a few to save on cost. The rest were all taken back at home. They were lucky to own their own camera equipment.

Dad said, “Your mum made her own wedding gown you know! She had a certificate for dressmaking,” which resulted in my mum responding with a little shoulder swagger and a smile tinged with pride.

“And then she fell into a drain.” Dad continued without missing a beat. Uncontrolled giggles ensued – dad, mum and aunt (mum’s sister). Me.. still not quite getting it.

Mum: “They were all so worried because I was bleeding (giggle giggle), I cut myself… all because I forgot I was wearing a tight petticoat underneath.”

Dad: “Well, it wouldn’t have happened if you took the long way round the drain like the rest of us.”

Mum: “Tsk.”

Me: …

I love Family time, sharing all our proud and  embarrassing moments… 🙂

Anyway, I thought this particular memory was perfect for sharing on this Valentine’s Day, which is coincidentally also the last day of the 15 days of Chinese New Year celebrations (元宵), traditionally a day to celebrate family togetherness. It was enlightening to learn how my parents met, their union, and the humble beginnings of our little family unit.

My first Chinese New Year!

Three generations during Chinese New Year in AMK (1980)

And just one last thing. A little trivia on the image below –


See that hand holding the photograph? That is the hand of my husband-to-be. (I always thought he had nicer looking hands.)

I still remember the day we took this picture. And now that I look at it again, it hits me… there we were, a couple, taking a picture of another couple, mirror images of each other (almost), separated by film and time.

Happy Valentine’s Day baby. This post is for you. ;-*


yuehann’s notes: Today’s post is the third in a series of posts first born in reaction to Looking into the Past. Read the very first blog post here & also Part 1Part 2 of the series. And also a related article I wrote for online e-zine Draft (pg 68).


2 Responses to “Present(ing) the Past: A Date at MacRitchie Reservoir (Part 3 of 7)”


  1. Presenting the Past: The Pelican of Ang Mo Kio (Part 4 of 7) | Still.Life. - May 20, 2014

    […] to Looking into the Past. Read the very first blog post here & also Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 of the series. And also a related article I wrote for online e-zine Draft (pg […]

  2. Presenting the Past: Chinese Gardens Playtime (Part 5 of 7) | Still.Life. - June 30, 2015

    […] in reaction to Looking into the Past. Read the very first blog post here & also Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 of the series. And also a related article I wrote for online e-zine Draft (pg […]

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