Shek Kip Mei after the fire, 1953

Mon, 09/22/2014 - 19:29

Photo courtesy of reader Moddsey.

Date picture taken
26 Dec 1953


Submitted by
Peter Yee (not verified)
Wed, 08/08/2007 - 10:36

This was at the southeast corner of the soccer field off Cheung Sha Wan Road and Maple Street, if my memory serves me correct. Shortly after that, they took down the protective fence; and the soccer ball I kicked broke a window there. The staff confisticated the ball until I had a friend replaced the broken window glass several days later.

Seeing these photos is the next best thing to being there. I close my eyes and memory of my childhood would come back.
But first, I want to change my plea, Your Honour. My soccer ball broke one of those four end windows where there was no screen protection, not the side window. When I entered the building to retrieve the ball, there were refugee families staying there and sleeping on the floor. No one got upset, even the staff who kept my ball. He only asked that I replace the broken glass before I can have my ball back.
I know very well these 7-storey buildings, growing up minutes' walk away and just off Boundary Street and Kilung Street in the 1950s. I knew two brothers who lived there and they sold newspapers at Cheung Sum Kei Restaurant.
My church (St. Francis Xavier of As.) at the end of Shek Kip Mei Street looks just like 50 years ago. I attended evening class and was baptized there. The street wasn't that busy then.
Sincerely, Peter Yee

I had lots of fun memories of living in the Shek Kip Mei Estate as a kid. Though the living condition was poor and we had little space, it was great getting the kids around to play. We played at the corridor, stairs etc, basically anywhere we could park our bums down. No one seemed to mind. As a kid, I was running around the block corridor all the time without worried being lost (the block was in H shape). If one kept going forward, you'd finally get to home again. The best thing was to buy "dried fruit". There was a guy walking around the groud floor of various blocks trying to sell dried fruit. He would scream as he walked to tell people what he has to offer. If someone wants to buy it, the buyer would throw money at him from whatever floor he/she lives. The guy would in turn throw the dried fruit back up to the floor for the buyer to catch.

Mrs. B

Mrs B: Since your very last photo on the Internet shows Tak Ching Girls Secondary School, I assume you attended it at one time. I attended Grades 3-4 on the north side of the road in early 1950s where the building was later torn down to make room for the secondary section. The stair-case, erected outside the building and exposed to the elements year-round, is unforgetable. At that time, us kids would cross the road to the south side where the high school section was located, and roamed from classroom to classroom. We had no worry then, and neither did the adults about theft and intrusions by strangers. My father taught secondary school maths there before we moved to Canada.
Yes indeed, the Shek Kip Mei Estate is very a part of our heritage. I am happy to see they keep it to make it affordable for seniors. In my days there, I don't remember any toilets for each unit, but now notice these big drainage pipes outside the balcony in the photos, likely to serve each unit separately. Our childhood is indeed fasinating time.
The man who throw wrapped olives (about 2~3 in a package) are very skillful in throwing them to your balcony up to 6 storey high. He would keep throwing them until one landed at your place. It cost about 10 cents at that time.
Thanks for reading my notes.
Peter Yee

A minor correction - this shows the southwest corner of the playground.  The clothing/fabric stalls (visible) were along Yu Chau Street so the street on the right is Wong Chuk St.  For the next two years or so, they allowed tents to house the homeless.  To celebrate each lunar new year, there was a temporary opera stage.  True to its name, the playground's surface was of sand and here I learned to ride a bike and would go around and around along its perimeter.  Several years after, it was covered with asphalt.  Soccer players thus could run faster, but they were also more careful when practicing their shots so as not to injure their big toes.