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School Days

In the 1950’s school days were so different, but at the end of the day, the objectives of learning and good discipline were accomplished just as it is today. Let’s look at some conditions. Before going to school most kids had to carry out some chores at home, something most kids today are not required to do. Some kids had to grind the corn for mom to bake the tortillas. Others had to cut firewood or fill the drums with well water for the laundry. Some kids cleaned fish for mom or sold them in bunches to the neighborhood.

As a result of these chores, some kids were constantly arriving just in time or a bit late. Some children arrived at school smelling fishy or sweaty. Every Monday morning was hygiene checking days by the teachers. As soon as they entered the classroom some boys remembered that they had not combed their hair so they spat on their hands and wet their hair and passed their fingers through their hair for a perfect hairdo. Don’t laugh; this is true. Teachers checked for neatly combed hair, short and clean fingernails, brushed teeth and overall neatness in clothing. Even in the line before marching in for inspection some kids wee biting off their long finger nails and with the help of a broken piece of glass they cleaned their nails. Others were busy cleaning their teeth using some piece of stick or sharp edge of paper or cardboard. I believe tooth picks were modeled after this early school days practice in San Pedro. And to have clean clothing on Mondays for inspection, you can guarantee that kids did not play softball before the bell rang at eight in the morning.

In the early days at school there were no walls to serve as partitions between the classes. The standing blackboards separated the classes. Therefore you could hear what was going on in the adjacent classroom, I mean class. You could hear which teacher was in a bad mood and beating or lashing the hell out of unruly or lazy students, so you knew who to be on the watch for.

When you were noisy in one classroom, the teacher in the adjacent class had the right to jump in and give you a good lashing for bothering his class. Therefore we had double or triple guardians or “policemen” to be on the look out for.

We’ll look at some other interesting conditions of schooldays 25 years ago in out next issue of Ambergris today. Stay tuned.

– by Angel Nuñez, Columnist

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