I recently received an email from Lal – who lives in Malaysia. Some of you may remember the Fairdinkum’s store which was 5 minutes from the base at Butterworth. Lal’s father ran that business and Lal has made contact with me.
Here is a slightly edited copy of Lal’s two emails. It was just interesting to read and something that others might find interesting as well. Reproduced with permission, of course.
6 May 2013
My name is Lal, I am writing to you from Malaysia.
I know you will not know me but my dad ran a retail business just about 5 mins drive from the RAAF Base in Butterworth.. The business was called FAIRDINKUM’S…have you heard if it? He started his business in 1957 at Butterworth just about when the RAAF took over from RAF…and the shop was kind of exclusively selling to the personnel and families of RAAF…
It’s 2013 and FAIRDINKUMS is still here now still serving some what remains of the RAAF presence in Butterworth and the Royal Australian Regiment – Rifle Company Butterworth that has an infantry unit rotating every 3 months. You can look at our www.fairdinkums-store.com. My brother and I run the business; my brother is a lot more into it than me. I am mostly on the export part of the business while my brother takes care of the retail. By the way my brother’s name is Kan; he is married with 3 lovely daughters.
Kan has extended the business now into the Air Base (The RAAF base before which is now the RMAF Base….RMAF being Royal Malaysian Air Force) where he has a shop at the RAR lines ( RAR = Royal Australian Regiment) which is on a 3 months rotational exercise visit.
Sad to say, though I very much grew up in Butterworth (I was born in 1958) and have been here ever since, I failed to collect any real photos of those good old days – the times at the Boatie, Radio RAAF Butterworth, The Dolphins swimming club where I was also a member along with my brother and sister and where I picked my very first swimming lessons and the Saturday matinees I so looked forward to at the Astral.
So looking thru some of the photos and narrations you have on your site truly strikes a nostalgic chord as you say
I just wanted to connect with you….and hope to with all the rest who were once here, with their families to keep the memories afloat and everlasting.
20 May 2013
Its good to hear from you, it feels great to connect. Sorry for the delay in replying, I was in HongKong for business.
Penang is so much changed. One significant development here is of course the Penang Bridge linking mainland Butterworth to the island…and now we have another 1 more bridge coming up. Traffic is getting crazier. The shore line of the island has changed magnificently, lots of new villas and condos including new shopping arcades and boulevards have sprung up.
You would remember Gurney Drive ? That’s turned into a real night spot.
Lots of 5 star hotels and colonial bungalows turned into motels are on the stretch. Restaurants, night entertainment lots and lots of tourists.
As you say what we took to be ordinary then seems more than treasure now. I too wish that I had more tangible images of that special past, I think by connecting with you and the many wonderful people you know who were a part of all this, I will be able to re-live some of that special time.
I have some fond memories of how my dad had really good friends in the RAAF and their families. I remember going for Christmas picnics put together by the families…to Merdeka Beach some miles away from Butterworth, I especially remember the caroling throughout December every year. Turkey, presents and beer. Yes my dad suggested beer for his sons. Apparently my first taste of beer was when I was 3 months…same with all my other brothers.
Truly wonderful days. I will love to share more, pls do keep in touch , take care.