Tuesday, 24 November 2009

The Balloon Man

Here's a photo of the balloon man touring the estate some time in the 1960s. He sold ordinary balloons, stripy balloons as well as inflatable cartoon characters, dogs and reindeers. There's an inflatable girl on the front of his bike here but I think I also remember him selling inflatable cartoon characters such as Marine Boy and, maybe, Gigantor.
It made me think about all the other people who used to call around with all their goods piled on their bikes or small scooters. I remember the brush man who had every variety of brush you could imagine. He had so many brushes on his bike that you couldn't see him underneath! Then there was the man who came around, again on a small bike, with plastic buckets, washing up bowls and every other plastic utensil you could ever want. It seemed that they had to get as much on their bikes as was possible, so much that you wondered how they managed to see whaere they were going! Of course, the ice cream man would come around regularly but he wouldn't just have ice cream, he'd have toys, transfers, stickers, popcorn and anything else a kid could want. There was also the satay man and also other people selling curry. Aparently, the was a fish and chip seller but I don't remember that one! All these small enterprising businesses sprung up purely to supply the influx of Western servicemen and their families. They must have noticed the difference when they all disappeared!
I would look forward to the ice cream man coming around. He would stop right outside our house in Jalan Wijaya and, even if you were just buying an ice cream for a few cents, he would always give you a free gift like Marine Boy transfers, which I loved. It made it all very interesting for a kid back then, I bet it's not like that nowadays!

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