“呜…”船来了。 当时只有14岁的杨宝泉(同安会馆副文教股长)跟随父亲登船， 将热腾腾的咖啡、茶、面包、饼干等卖给船员和乘客。 这是1952年的事。 当时正值朝鲜半岛内战。 支援南方的美国船只，载了军人前往朝鲜半岛，在新加坡短暂停留。 宝泉和父亲就当起了海上小贩， 也就是马来语中的Jaja。 海上小贩售卖日用品、文具、食物给船员， 因为顾客来自五湖四海，所以还得懂得换算不同国家的货币。他们可说是靠船吃饭的一群。 海上小贩工作辛苦， 一年后， 宝泉和父亲就换到陆地上工作，当起了流动小贩。
50年代的新加坡， 酬神戏还是挺盛行的。 有戏台的地方，就可以看到流动小贩的踪迹。宝泉和父亲当时就是在戏棚下，摆摊子售卖烤鱿鱼和豆干包。 不过， 对年仅15岁的宝泉来说， 那也是一段苦日子。 因为一连几天的酬神戏如果在乡间演出， 他就得在外过夜， 碰巧戏棚搭建在坟场旁，他就得与死人同眠， 还得忍受蚁兽蛇虫，刮风下雨， 一点也不好受。
这样的日子又过了一年。16岁那一年，宝泉开始同文字接触。 他进入了印务馆，从排字员做起，后来也做校对。 70年代， 宝泉进入《南洋商报》 ，除了排字校对， 也从事广告招徕。
1980年到2005年间， 宝泉不但创立了《金泉广告》 ， 也做起饲养牛蛙的生意，并且在峇淡岛南部深海海域， 兴建“佳美韵”奎笼提供住宿和钓鱼服务。 这是他的事业高峰期。
其实， 生意归生意， 喜欢与文字为伍的宝泉，从没有忘记写作，写诗填词。 而宝泉与妻子鹣鲽情深 ，在妻子于2000年逝世后， 还特意为她出版了纪念专辑。
现在的宝泉， 卸下所有生意和职务， 专心写作。 爱好旅游的他，除了定期到外国探访孩子、看望孙子外， 也和朋友周游世界， 可说是现代版的徐霞客。
From a Hawker to a Writer
The ship sounded her horn as she sailed into the harbour. A 14 year-old Yeo Poh Chuan (The current Deputy Head, Culture and Education, Tung Ann District Guild) boarded the ship with his dad, peddling coffee, bread and biscuits to the crew and passengers. This was in 1952 when the Korean Civil War broke out. The ship carrying US soldiers was making a stop in Singapore enroute to the Korea Pennisula, where the US was fighting North Koreans. Mr Yeo and his dad were ‘floating hawkers’ , also known as ‘jaja’ in Malay. Besides food, they sold stationery and other daily necessities on the vessels. They were also required to do fast and accurate currency conversions as their customers hailed from various countries. It was all hard work. A year later, the father and son decided to move on.
In the 1950s, street opera performances were a popular sight in Singapore, and this led to the rise of street hawkers. So Mr Yeo and his father sold grilled squid and stuffed beancurd by the stage and they travelled with the troupes. When performances were staged in the villages, the then-15-year-old recalled there were times he had to ‘sleep with the dead’. That was when the stage was erected next to a graveyard. The performances were believed to be offerings to deities and the dead. He also had to put up with the occasional rain and the insect bites. But the teenager had other dreams.
A year later, Mr Yeo joined a publishing house. He started as a typesetter and was later promoted to a proof-reader. In the 1970s, Mr Yeo joined Nanyang Siang Pau. There, he canvassed advertisements, besides doing typesetting and proof reading.
Between 1980 and 2005, Mr Yeo turned his attention to business . He set up Kim Chuan Advertising, bred frogs, and even built a ‘kelong’ in Batam, offering fishing and weekend getaways.
Business aside, Mr Yeo loves to write, spending much of his free time indulging in prose and poetry. After his wife died in 2000, he published a book dedicated to her memory.
Today, Mr Yeo has since relinquished all business duties, turning his attention to his hobbies of writing and travelling. He enjoys visiting his children and grandchildren who are overseas and explores new destinations with his friends.
Despite his busy schedule, Mr Yeo has agreed to contribute to this website. He will be writing on late luminaries of Tung Ann like Mr Chen Jia Geng, Mr Chen Liu Shi and Mr Chen Wen Que etc. We look forward to his contributions.