The shophouses in Serangoon Gardens are not that old. Perhaps built in the 50s? But they sure have undergone a lot of face lift. The late Dr Fernandez, whom everybody in Serangoon Gardens loved, had his clinic along this row. So was the Maggie hairdressing salon ran by two sisters which was next to his clinic. This hairdresser was around even up to the early 2000s. My mum used to have her hair done there and I would follow as a kid. The hairdresser would set a pile of movie magazines like the "Southern Screen" (those featuring Hong Kong actresses and actors) beside me. I would be in utter bliss poring through the magazines as mum got her perm. I remember the hairdresser saying to my mum in Cantonese, "Your daughter no need to talk hor, just let her read magazines can already." And the corner shop (now ACE SCORERS) was Mubaruk, a shop selling books, magazines and toys like those Matchbox cars and etc. I think the trees are orignial though, Angsana trees.
This is the row of shophouses across the road from the row shown in the picture above. The corner shop used to be Tip-Top in the 70s (and early 80s as well?) I think the only surviving shop from the good old days is the Chinese medicine shop, somewhere in the middle of the row (picture below). The signboard looks very different now though.
The UOB was where Chartered Bank used to be (which has now moved to another corner on the next row of shophouses adjacent to this row). It used to have pale blue mosaics for flooring along the corridor as well as the steps. It being the corner unit, it has the steepest steps among all the shophouses there (as they lead to the road itself, and not to another unit along the row). Today, the steps didn't seem that steep. Either they have raised the level of the road, or my legs have grown longer since I was a kid.
OK, this is a tree and not a row of shophouses. But in front of this very old Angsana tree (believe me, it has been around) is a row of shophouses similar to those in the pictures above. The corner shop at the mouth of Chartwell Drive used to be a coffee shop. Next to it, was an Indian stall by the wall selling sweets, sundry goods and magazines. Both long gone. But now, there's McDonald's and Pow Sing chicken rice restaurant along the row. (Pow Sing is a very popular makan place, BTW). When I was a kid in the 70s, this row housed the Neo Soon Huat Emporium (hope I remember the name rightly). It didn't open for too long though. I only bought a dress and poster colours from there, and I think a toy musical instrument which sounded like a yangqin -- but you only need to press on keys like that of a piano on one end and strum on the other end. Then, there was a shop in this row that sold crockery and China vases. Very deep, dark interiors (to me then), full of newspapers for wrapping the goods when sold to customers. There was Captain's Cabin of course -- the very Ang-Moh establishment run by Hainanese ( I believe) with heavy, dark wooden swinging doors selling fish and chips, ice creams (good old banana split and bomb alaska) and other western dishes. And even longer ago, there was the Singapore Dispensary along this row. It was aircon and definitely rather high class to me as a child -- definitely mysterious too, as you don't get any preview of what's inside, there being no display windows or whatever! The taxi stand was near this big tree. Taxi drivers used to smoke and wait around their vehicles and call out to you when you walk past. But of course, you hurried on to the little flight of steps which led to the road, and then cross the road to the bus terminus across. They are all gone today. (The bus terminus has moved to Serangoon Ave 2.)