The Roadside Fruit Seller


Photograph Print by Yip Cheong Fun.

This artwork is mounted on matboard.

Down Memory Lane in Singapore:
The Roadside Fruit Seller

The picture of the Chinatown fruit seller was taken in the Fifties. At that time, there were myriads of street stalls on the roads in Chinatown. Following the world depression in the Thirties, people in Chinatown, unable to find work, turned to street hawking. Although the street stalls added a certain charm to the social and cultural landscape, they nevertheless posed a problem to the authorities. The fact remains that many stallholders operated under less than desirable conditions, due to lack of piped water supply and inadequate facilities to prepare and cook their food. To compound the problem, the authorities and the general public had to deal with the indiscriminate disposal of wastes into drains. This caused a pollution problem. In the Seventies, the hawker problem was tackled in a comprehensive way by the government when an island-wide census was carried out. Following this, hawkers were registered, and later they were issued with temporary hawker licenses. In 1970, an exercise to relocate the hawkers started successfully.

This picture is nostalgic on several counts. Just look at the customers – the young lady wore the then fashionable samfu, a traditional oriental attire of blouse and long pants of silk or satin materials. The Chinese blouse was unusual in that the cloth buttons were placed on one side of the blouse from the neck down. The older woman wore the traditional a-mah dress. See the use of the traditional Chinese scales to measure weight, and the peculiar squatting stance of the roadside fruit seller.

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