I just loved the old two storey post office buildings that were found all over Singapore when I was growing up. With a compound where one could park the car, it made it easy to “run in” to the post office for whatever stamps you might need. These were unlike the post offices of today, nestled in an obscure corner of a crowded town centre or on the hard to access upper floor of a shopping complex. I suppose there are those SAM self service machines which does make it convenient to buy a self-adhesive stamp label and post a letter, but nothing actually beats buying a stamp which would come out of a book and wetting it on a damp sponge placed in a little container of water at the counter, or even licking it, before getting it onto the envelope.
Many of the old post office buildings have since disappeared. Of the few that have been left standing – what comes to mind are the ones at Killiney Road and Alexandra Roads are still used as post offices. There is also the former Nee Soon Post Office building, now disused, which still stands along Mandai Road, close to the junction with Sembawang / Upper Thomson Roads.
Some of the post office buildings were built with an upper floor to serve a purpose: while the ground floor served as the post office proper, the upper floor given to serve as the Postmaster and his family’s quarters. A childhood friend whose father had been the Postmaster at the Thomson Road Post Office once related a story of how visitors to the post office were sometimes greeted by the strange sight of bean sprouts strewn across the car park. To get quickly through the tedious chore of plucking the roots off the huge bag of bean sprouts, which his mother often had him and his brother do, they would discard a portion of the bean sprouts out of the kitchen window into the car park!
The former Nee Soon Post Office building that still stands provides us with some reminders of a time when it served Nee Soon village, dominated by the rubber factory with a zinc sheet exterior painted in a rusty red, which was once owned by Lim Nee Soon: an orange and white post box of another era, old PO Boxes built into a wall … I am not sure what the future holds for the building, but I do hope it would always be there, to serve as a reminder of the old Post Offices that I so loved.