Memories at Clementi
Lee Sai Hon
It was never about what happened in the classroom,
but rather, before and after classes....

Very recently I learned of our class web site from Kit Keung. I looked up the web site and was pleasantly surprised how well organized and informative the web site is. After a couple of exchanges with our wonderful editor Winch and with his encouragement, I thought maybe I could contribute an article or two.

I must first apologize for not being able to write proficiently in Chinese. Having left HK for the USA since 1967 I have difficulty even reading the Chinese newspapers picked up at the local Chinese supermarket. Like the old saying -- "if you don't use it, you lose it." How true!

Let's start with myself. I retired from the YMCA this past year after a 37-year career with the organization -- having served YMCAs in the Washington DC area and in the Chicago area; I spent my last few years as an officer and a national consultant at the YMCA headquarter in Chicago.

For 15 years I commuted weekly between Washington and Chicago and I learned much about air travel during those 15 years. Between personal and business traveling I have enough to write a book about my experiences in the air (and yes, on the ground as well) -- from the good to the bad and the ugly. These stories will be for another day.

I remember most about the old Clementi School on Kennedy Road. It was never about what happened in the classroom, but rather, before and after classes.

I think it is fair to say that there were two distinct "Groups" at Clementi --the academically diligent "book worms" which are most of you reading this now (by the way this is a compliment), and those "ball cows" which would be me and a bunch of others who were more interested in "play" than "study". And then there was the "Gang of Four" -- So Shung Kee, Lai Wing Lin, Wu Po Shung and me.

During the last two years at the old Clementi the four of us would gather at the playground for an hour or two before classes started. We would play two-on-two basketball for a period until others arrived and joined in. This would happen almost daily. And the reward -- a 30-cent beef noodle soup at the small canteen by the school-gathering hall. I recall they had the best hot sauce and the hot sauce was the reason for the noodle soup.

Another memorable reward, Clementi won the High School Basketball Championship during my junior year. Shung Kee, three other senior classmates, and me were on the first team. We were so proud to see our team picture with the championship trophy in the next day's newspapers. I am not sure if the rest of our school was as happy and proud. After all, sports were never very important in the minds of HK academics.

Then there were those mahjong days at Shung Kee's house on weekends. The So family was so hospitable that we always felt welcome and free when we were there. Shung Kee's brothers would join us at the table sometimes. The meals were always plentiful and delicious, and the conversations lively. Those were the very good years.

Sure we could have spent more time on books. But with life so fun and friendship so cherished, why bothered.

Looking back, had we not been so busy "playing" we could have all become juvenile delinquents.

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