Snapshots with Stories

6 – St. Nicholas eve in the tropics (1939)

Photo above :
St. Nicholas speaks to the students, while “Zwarte Piet” (“Black Peter”) stands behind him. In the foreground is the dinner table.

In 1939 ‘Kwai-Lô’, the association of Chinese pupils of the Koning Willem III – HBS in Batavia, organized festivities for the celebration of St. Nicholas eve for the graduating students. (‘Kwai-Lô’ means joy or fun). My eldest brother and sister were there also. It was our house at Chaulanweg 20 that was chosen to be the venue for this celebration. The picture shows the tenniscourt where the festivities and dinner were held. I don’t remember which restaurant catered for this occasion.
Freddy P.H. Yo played the role of “Zwarte Piet” (Black Peter), while the very tall Eddy L.B. Thung (1.90 m) played St. Nicholas. Freddy Yo would later become a lawyer and Eddy Thung a luitenant in the Royal Navy. The latter was the father of Rolf Thung, the well-known tennis player.
Of all the secondary schools in Batavia, the Koning Willem III, or KW-III school, had the highest percentage of Chinese pupils. The school’s existence came to an end with the Japanese occupation. The building is now part of the National Library compounds in Jakarta.

After his visit, St. Nicholas would leave by car, rather than on horseback as was the tradition.

Tan Wie Giok, December 2012