25 Years Ago
The other day, some teacher lit up some leaves to burn them in the schoolyard, and it bothered an entire neighborhood and in a few minutes, the fire engine and the fireman were there to order the teacher to put out the small fire. What if these persons were living in the small fishing village of San Pedro twenty five years ago? Back then there was smoke in the air everyday, all day long including Sundays. The reason was that people used the fire hearth to do their cooking, boiling laundry, warming water for a shower etc.
Children are naughty because they are children. They will do naughty things, but the naughty things done 25 years ago are indeed light to the things we hear today. Just for you to know that they were no saints either, here are some naughty things of the past.
Well, you know how a typical evening is spent in San Pedro nowadays. If you are not stuck to the T.V., then you are probably driving around with a golf car or at the Casino or some entertainment center. Do you wonder how a typical evening and night was spent in village of San Pedro 25 years ago, or rather in the 1950’s? Just imagine, no television, no telephone, no video or arcade games, no Jaguar’s or Iguana’s, not even all night electricity for that was cut off at 9 p.m.
When you live at the mercy of Mother Nature, you need natural markers to know where you are, or what time it is, or where to go or not to go. Forty years ago, in the absence of television, radios, clocks, telephone, and other gadgets, there was the need of special markers to assist in one’s life. Here are some famous markers used in San Pedro in the 1960’s.
Lent is Lent and Easter is Easter and I don’t think they can be different today than 25 years ago. You observe the passion, death and resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ with prayers and traditions. Perhaps there lies the difference-in the traditions.
A few weeks ago I touched on some popular items that we intentionally went out to look for on our beach combing walks along the beach. Items collected ranged from glass bottles to Styrofoam buoys, glass buoys, rope, sandals, crates, light bulbs, etc. Now there were other items you did not look for, but found them. Here are a few:
As I watched and listened to the National Anthem of Great Britain being played as British soldiers who have died in the war with Iraq were taken out of a plane, I could not help but feel sadness not only as a human being, but also as one who still feels “British”. You see, twenty five years ago all of us in Belize pledged sincere allegiance to Great Britain in many ways.
A few years ago I received a complimentary copy of the magazine “The Economist” from the Governor General of Belize, Sir Colville Young, who is an avid reader of the column “Twenty Five Years Ago”. Incidentally, he also decorated me with the medal as Member of The British Empire. Anyway, there was an article entitled “Beach combing- beach debris from Ducie Island.
Do you think we should encourage raising large flocks of pigeons like they do in some of the Mexican cities around the cathedrals or in some European cities where they serve as tourist attractions? Or do you think their white droppings can be a slight nuisance? I do notice a few pigeons feeding on the streets, but nothing compared to the flocks we had 25 years ago, when we did not have them as tourist attractions because there were no tourists back then.
If you look at names of children today, and you compare them to names of 25 years ago, you will see a few obvious differences. First you will see more Spanish names in the past and the tendency to go with English names today. Secondly you will see a change from the traditional and common names to more unique and uncommon names. Thirdly you will see an association of names with popular or renown persons like movie stars and popular singers and figures.
In Belize City there were three of them - Majestic, Palace and Eden Cinemas. In San Pedro there was Teatro Arenas (Sands Cinema). Those in Belize operated every night and there were the famous double headers on Friday nights. Sundays were special for there were three functions - the ten o’clock matinee, the five o’clock matinee and the eight o’clock movie.
Have you seen fish all over the place, even all over the roofs of houses? No? Well, I have and all the folks who lived in the 50’s are very familiar with what I am going to tell you now. Yes, it is different for when you get a nice snapper, mullet, shad, or barracuda, you prepare it and put it in the refrigerator to be preserved until the day you would need it for your dish.
Twenty five years ago the kids delighted in raiding all fruit trees on the island and if that were to be done today it would be called stealing. Back then it was called mischief.
I took a friend to the pharmacy the other day and was amazed at the large number and variety of medications available to the general public. I was also amazed at the knowledge of the pharmacist in dealing with prescriptions. No so 25 years ago when only unprescribed drugs were available. What were the common medications of yester years and did they do the job properly?
I cannot operate well without a siesta, and I imagine that many of you can’t either. Some people will tell you that if they take a siesta, they wake up miserable. I am the opposite. If I do not get my 15-minute siesta, I can only function at 50 percent. Just in case you are wondering, a siesta is a Spanish word that became so popular that it found its way into the English dictionary. My thesaurus defines the word siesta as a rest, a nap, sleep, snooze, 40 winks, midday sleep, catnap, a doze, catch a few “z”s, put your feet up.
Today I hear the young boys talking about Boxers and Nike, and when you talk about toothpaste you can choose from ten different brands. I wonder how many of the products of yester years still exist in the market today.
When you go to a restaurant today and you think of ordering a delicious fish plate, you would probably think of fried fish fillet or steamed fish in some particular sauce. Not so twenty five years ago when fish was the main source of the diet and moms or the chefs had to be very versatile in preparing a variety of menus from fish. There must have been some twenty ways to prepare fish and here are some of the main ones.
If you got tired of fish 25 years ago, you would have been in deep trouble. Today tourists tend to think of Ambergris Caye as a place to enjoy fresh fish every day. In contrast 25 years ago, we used to really get tired of fish, but what to do? That was the main source for our tables, much in contrast today. Today, even though we tend to think of Ambergris Caye as a fishing and tourism place, we eat more chicken than fish.
If you sit in your verandah at home and watch people pass by, you are bound to make this remark: “Gosh, there are a lot of strangers in San Pedro!” By strangers you would mean people you do not know, not born nor raised in San Pedro, Belizeans from other parts of the country, and foreigners from other parts of the world. Some people feel that the true Sanpedranos are now outnumbered in their own town. Some people feel that locals have lost control of the affairs of their home place.
New Year is New Year and you would think it never changes. New Year in Belize City is different from New Year in New York. Every community, town, city, and country has its unique way of celebrating a new year. However, a lot of people have asked me if New Year in the 50’s and 60’s was different from today. What do you think?