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When There was no Television

It is reported that Americans spend one sixth of their lives watching television. It is approximately 4 hours of television per day, so that if a person lives 60 years, he spent 10 of those years watching television. Indeed television is a great tool today, but something we did not miss in the 1950’s and 60’s.

Twenty five years ago there was no television in San Pedro or anywhere in Belize. All the live coverage of world events, news, sports, debates and interviews were unknown to us. A war would be going on and we did not know. An earthquake would be striking and we would not know. That was living in some degree of ignorance.

To take place of the movies, parents and the older folks entertained the kids with great stories and fables and myths. There were master storytellers of Xtabai, La Llorona, and el Tatabalan. Oh, the Sisimito was a thriller, and a personality we all feared when we went into the bush. We learned all the folk tales and we were afraid of them too because dad related those stories with such conviction.

To take the place of the T.V novelas and soap operas, there were the radio novelas. There were 2 or 3 radios in the village and we all went to those homes to enjoy radio stories like “Tarzan, Cazan el Cazador, and Tanganika”. The women enjoyed “Una lagrima por tu Amor” and other romance stories. These radios operated with some large batteries, almost the size of a golf cart battery. Some 20 kids gathered to enjoy these radio stories and there we learned to be quiet for if anyone made noise, he would be asked to leave.

To take the place of televised sports neither Cubs nor Lakers at that time) we had real sports. San Pedro boasted top teams in baseball and soccer and even basketball. Instead of the musical videos, we used to try some real music and most kids learned either the harmonica, guitar, or accordion. I know, today teenagers will download from complicated musical equipment and operate an MP-3, but can’t play a simple musical instrument as many kids did 25 years ago.

Oh yes, we missed out on a lot of current events. We probably did not learn of a war until 5 years later. However, that useful time, those four hours that people use on television today, were used for very useful and practical hobbies and skills. To have entertainment, the people had to be creative. Village life was by no means boring. There was dancing, learning music, real sports, knitting and sewing and embroidery, building lobster traps, making toys like the tops and sling shots, and others. And listen to this. San Pedro Village in the 1930’s boasted one of the leading orchestras in the country of Belize- La Gran Banda de San Pedro. Village life was by no means dull nor backwards. And for the same reason that we did not have television, neither did we have violence 25 years ago.

– by Angel Nuñez, Columnist

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