It is December 25, 1960, one year before Hurricane Hattie. That day there are no boats sailing to the fish traps because it is Christmas and the fishermen are tired. Yes, tired but not of fishing but of dancing. San Pedro wakes up that morning to the sound of pop shots.
There are many children with two silver guns hanging at their sides and they are shooting at one another with a type of pop shots that came in little rolls and they automatically roll in the barrel making one loud pop every time the trigger is pulled. When a boy fires first, the other one is supposed to fall to the ground and pretend to be dead. On the streets of San Pedro there are Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, John Wayne and other American folk heroes that we read about in comic books. A few children have small rifles that fire a piece of cork attached to a piece of string. These rifles are a lot of fun and are used by some kids to sting the enemy on his back. There are some children, I guess poorer ones, who only have a plastic water gun. That one does not make any noise but it is a lot of fun because you can wet your opponent. These same ones we will take to school and wet the blackboard when the teacher is not looking. And finally there are some poor children who only have a small plastic gun that can do nothing. The poor child has to do all the gun noises with his mouth.
The girls, on the other hand are silent, but at play also. Some have beautiful ten-inch dolls, well dressed with shoes and all. Others have smaller plastic dolls without clothing and the fun of it is to get them dressed. The girls also have a set of teacups with pots and pans and little stoves and they are busy cooking leaves, sand or anything they can put their hands on that can mean “play mommy in the kitchen”.
Around eleven in the morning, the men are finally up from the previous night’s dance at Daddy’s Club. Yes, their eyes are swollen and their breath smells awful. However, they are ready for the day’s events, which includes visiting friends at home. The host is supposed to offer boiled ham, chicken relleno, light cake (pronounced liecake), and of course, mucho, mucho rum. There is lemonade for the children and the women who visit also. The guests usually arrive with guitars and accordion to provide music while the rum lasts. And when the food is finished, or the rum, or the wife is tired, or the man of the house cannot support himself on his feet anymore, the crowd leaves for another house. By the end of the day the crowd is dwindling to a mere handful.
By seven in the evening the wives and the girlfriends have taken a bath and are well dressed and ready for the dance, which starts at eight. Only a lucky few have a male partner that is still sober and fit to go to the dance. The not so lucky ones must be resigned to have an early sleep for a woman does not dare go to the dance without her husband. By midnight the men and women as well as the musicians would be too tired to even desire to continue. So the kerosene lamps are turned off and darkness takes over the skies once more to mark the end of Christmas. The folks would have to wait one full year for another party of this magnitude- Christmas 25 years ago.