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Talk About Hardships

Adults in their 50’s and 60’s love to talk about hardships that they encountered 25 years and beyond. What could these hardships be when we hear that you could buy a string of fish for only ten cent or a can or corned beef for 25 cents?

First, there were no meat products that you could purchase from the stores; therefore you had to eat what you caught from the sea. Of course fish is a delicacy, but just imagine eating it three times a day and seven days a week. Now you can see why corned beef was a delicacy on Sundays.

Let us talk about soap. There was one well-known soap I can recall and that was a large yellow bar or Sunlight soap. It was used for the laundry, for the dishes and, yes, for the daily bath as well.

Do you think children in the 1950’s could eat a fruit all by themselves? Never! A mango was shared among three children with the two “cheeks” going to two elder children and the seed with some flesh going to the younger kid. Apples were shared between two and even a soda or pop was shared.

Studying by kerosene lamp or lantern was a hardship. Wearing underpants fabricated with the bleached flour bags was a hardship. I would say that going in the middle of the night to use the outdoor or backyard toilet was a hardship too. The men had to use the public toilets that were built over the lagoon and reserve the one at home for the ladies and children. Doing the laundry with a scrubbing board was a hardship, don’t you agree?

Perhaps one of the biggest hardships for women was cooking outdoor on the “fogon” or fire hearth. This required obtaining fire wood from the bush or picking up old pieces of wood or lumber, fanning a fire until there was a good flame, and feeding the fire. Worse of all it required spending hours in a smoky kitchen while preparing the “frijoles” and the “tortillas” or cooking up the pot of beans, fish soup, fish stew, or frying the fish egg, or the “chaya” with eggs. With wet firewood or coconut husks, just lighting up the fire was a stressful hardship.

Want to talk about hardships for fathers and the fishermen? Just think of using a paddle or pole to push your dory all the way to your fishing grounds instead of pressing the starter button of your outboard motor. We can go on and on, but for now we can appreciate the hardships families went through 25 years ago and we’ll elaborate on some cases in the weeks to come.

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