25 Aug 2009 – Cathay Building & It’s Neighbour!
1st SIN skyscraper was built in 1939 and for 15 years it was SIN biggest building which stood 83.5m high with 17 storey. The Four Feather was the first movie screened in its 1,300-seat cinema. In the 1950s, my parents and I, the Kwoks and Leungs gathered at the Chinese restaurant for Sunday push-cart dim sum lunches and watched the floor-shows. Movies like The Man Who Knew Too Much staring James Steward bring back fond memories, and even up to now the text from the song still lingers…que sara sara, whatever will be will be, the future’s not ours to see, que sara sara. The days of innocence when Kenson KWOK & Peggy LEUNG became my first childhood friends. Today, Kenson & I will be flying to Perth visiting Peggy who recently had heart surgery.
The art-deco style façade of the building is preserved because of its historical importance, while the rest of the building is redeveloped. The Cathay now houses the Cathay Gallery & Residences, 8 cinemas, beauty & wellness centers, boutique shopping, fine and food court dining etc… The gallery tells the story of LOKE Wan Tho, his family and the Cathay Organisation. Besides documenting the film heritage, there are art works from the Loke’s collection who was also an avid photographer and naturalist. Sadly he died in an air crash in 1964, two years after my friend, Winnie LEE’s parents and her 2 sisters who also died in an air crash in 1962.
In the 1950s & 60s, there was a music shop across the road from Cathay (by the traffic lights where a beautiful tree now stands and hopefully will still stand till the end of my days!), Keller & Co. The property was owned by the LAM family until it was reprocessed by the state, as they did with 5 Temenggong Road.
We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future – George Bernard Shaw