Aristide and Rose were my grandparents on my father’s side and here is there story.
Aristide and Rose New Years Eve ball
Aristide my grandfather was born in Singapore on 28th September 1915 named after his uncle Aristide. His father Maurice was a French seaman from Bordeaux, France and mother Esther was an Italian born in Egypt in 1887. Esther’s mother was a German from Leipzig, Germany and father an Italian hotelier who traveled to many parts of Europe and the middle east before going to the Far East and Singapore.
Maurice and Esther were married at the Saigon Cathedral in Saigon, French Indo-China. They had 3 sons Rene, Aristide, and Emile (nicknamed Sonny). Maurice passed away shortly after World war 1 ended. Esther died of typhoid at the age of 27 in 1924 Aristide at the time was only 9 years old. The children went to live with their grandmother Clara Attias who bought them up as her own. Clara died in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp in Singapore in 1944 at the age of 72.
Aristide was educated at St. Joseph’s Institution, Bras Basah Road, Singapore. He left school in 1931 after passing the Senior Cambridge examination and in early 1932 obtained work as a junior clerk at General Electric Company (GEC), Singapore. He remained with GEC until the outbreak of the Japanese War at that time he was the assistant manager of the Radio Department.
My Grandfather Aristide
In April 1939 a nursing sister at the General Hospital in Singapore Rose Caulfield-James walked into GEC to purchase an electric iron. My grandfather’s life was changed forever he said “Seeing a pretty face with big eyes I went up to serve her and consequently sold her the electric iron. She fascinated me, leading me to make inquiries as to where she worked and where she was from.” Knowing where she worked he made up his mind to contact her he telephoned her to invite her out for dinner initially she replied she was not able to do so.
My Grandmother Rose
My grandfather persisted and told her he was leaving for Saigon in a few days and would like to see her before his departure finally she agreed, and a dinner date was organised. He said “At the dinner date I told her that on my return from Saigon I would like to take her home for tea to meet my grandmother Clara. This I did and fell madly in love with her. Life was never the same for me.”
Aristide and Rose
My grandmother Rose was a very beautiful woman she was born in Bangkok, Thailand on 31st October 1912, and was educated at the French Assumption Convent in Bangkok. Her mother Khun Piu Bhunyobohn was the second youngest of a family of 12 children. She was a Buddhist but became a Roman Catholic upon her marriage to Joseph Caulfield-James Rose’s father. Joseph of Irish descent educated and lived in England went to Bangkok for an English teaching position at Assumption College in 1887, and after a short period there was engaged inside the Grand Palace as tutor to the Thai Royal Family. One of his young pupils Prince Vajiravudh of Siam would later become the King of Siam, Thailand. Joseph became the principal of the Rajakumari College inside the Grand Palace in 1898. In 1901 after leaving his royal duties Joseph became the Honorary Secretary of the
Bangkok Gynkhana Club now known as The Royal Bangkok Sports Club and between 1912 and 1915 was the Chairman and Honorary Vice President. He passed away in Bangkok in 1925, and his wife Khun Piu died in Bangkok in 1981.
My Great Grandfather Joseph Caulfield-James
Rose at the age of 16 left the convent in Bangkok to join her sister Mary in Singapore. In 1927 they were both employed at the Singapore British General Hospital, Rose left in 1941 after marrying Aristide.
On December 8, 1941, Singapore was bombed by the Japanese and war was declared. One-week later December 16, 1941 Aristide and Rose were married at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, Singapore. During the Japanese occupation they moved to Cairn-hill Road closer to the city. Their car a new Renault was confiscated by the Japanese so Aristide acquired a second-hand bicycle to move around.
Aristide standing in front of his Renault
During this period, he sold car tyres, car batteries, lamp bulbs, electrical accessories, aluminium sheets, watches and even a Junk powered by a second-hand Ford V8 engine. A German/Japanese friend who was a major in the Japanese army suggested for his safety that Aristide try to obtain work with a Japanese organisation, as many unemployed men were being round up by the Japanese army for forced labour. Aristide found out that there was a vacancy in the Japanese Broadcasting Department for a DJ to make station announcements in English and play musical records between news broadcasts. Working in this department provided Aristide with an identity card which protected him. He said “Living was very difficult during the Japanese occupation. You were in constant threat of being taken in by the Japanese for interrogation. If this happened, you were never seen or heard of again.” Food during this time was in very short supply, and you had to queue up for every food item available: rice, meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, and sugar. Being constantly short of cash Rose often sold her jewelry or her clothing fabric. Rose during this time also did special nursing duties with private patients until the end of the war in 1945. My father Michael was born one year after the Japanese invasion on 19 November 1942. He was delivered into this world by Dr. Benjamin Sheares in a nursing home, Dr. Sheares would later become the President of Singapore.
My father with a Japanese Soldier
In September 1945 after the Japanese surrender the British re-occupied Singapore. Rose re-joined the British General Hospital until 1947 when she was expecting her 2nd son Andre born in February 1948. Aristide decided not to re-join GEC, but instead to go into business for himself.
In 1947 he started a small advertising agency named Papineau Studios Advertising, and the first guide book to Singapore was published “Guide to Singapore 1st Edition” Aristide was the editor.
A few years later he separated the advertising and publishing components of his business and started a publishing company, Andre Publications. Andre Publications published the Singapore Medical Journal for 30 years and continued to publish Aristide’s guide books for many years to come.
In January 1951 Rose bought Michael her eldest son to Perth, Western Australia, she stayed there for 4 months whilst settling Michael into the Mary’s Mount boarding school in Kalamunda. In 1954 Aristide and Rose purchased a home in Perth at Thomas Street, Nedlands Rose stayed with her youngest son Andre there for 6 months and then returned to Singapore with Andre. In 1959 Aristide and Rose returned to Perth with Andre who continued his education at St Louis School in Claremont and purchased their Marita Road, Nedlands home from my Mum’s parents Charlie and Thelma. My dad Michael and mum Wendy met at the sale of this house however that is a whole other story.
Aristide and Rose at their Marita Road house
Meanwhile back in Singapore the business prospered, and expanded Aristide was now the editor for “Papineau’s Guide to Singapore” and “Papineau’s Guide to Kuala Lumpar” with new editions being released annually.
Photos of the office and Aristide having lunch with his staff
In 1964 however, Aristide was plagued by labour union problems, and in 1968 sold the advertising agency to William Jacks a Singapore firm who were looking to expand their business. He sold the agency for next to nothing to secure employment for most of his staff. He retained Andre Publications and began increasing the destinations of Papineau’s Travel Guide books by introducing guide books to Bangkok in 1967, Hong Kong in 1968, Asian Lands in 1970, Malaysia in 1971, Jakarta in 1973, Bali in 1974, and the Philippines in 1976, one edition was also done for Sri Lanka. Aristide had edited and published 30 editions of his guide to Singapore from 1947 to 1978 a total of 31 years.
Aristide appears on the cover only once
In May 1979 Aristide sold the publishing rights of Papineau’s Travel Guides to MPH Ltd., a Singapore firm. Aristide and Rose then migrated to Perth, Western Australia where they retired. Aristide died in Perth in 1998 at the age of 82, and Rose died in Perth in 2010 at the age of 97.
Rose and Aristide New Years Eve