By Angel Nuñez
In response to last week’s column on things made in San Pedro, I got several phone calls reminding me of things we used to make and improvise right here in San Pedro.
“Hey Angel, do you recall when we used to build our own radio antennas much higher than the present day television antennas?” Indeed we used to pick up long bamboo poles on the beach and used them for our radio’s antenna. The end of a wire was fastened to the end of the bamboo pole and then it was erected at the corner of the fence. The other end of the wire was attached to the radio and this boosted up the radio signals. There were no F M signals, only A M and with that we used to pick up radio signals from Honduras, Cayman Islands, La Havana Cuba, and even a radio station from Harlingen, Texas in the USA.
Now let’s fabricate a pair of sandals so that we can walk in the bush among all those thorns. The biggest problem with this is that we needed rubber tires and these were unavailable on the Island. Whenever we could lay our hands on one of those, it was a valuable material and every piece was put to good use. First you cut the rubber the shape of the feet. Then you pierce one hole by the big toe area and two more holes on the side about midway. We artfully strung some soft string or rope through the holes as you would see on modern sandals, and there you had a nice pair of sandals for use in the bush.
“How about the making of toys Angel,’ my friend commented, because we did not have any computer games nor electronic toys in the 1950’s and 60’s.” And then we started remembering the popular caperucho. I don’t know if that toy is played anywhere else in the world, but we made caperuchos with tin cans, small and large and then the small wood ones. We also made tops of hard wood and placed some very sharp nails unto them, not for dancing purposes, but to crack other tops in a game we used to enjoy so much.
One of the favorite things we used to build were twenty and twenty five inch boats either with soft wood or cork with sail and rudder and we let them loose from the beach. At times these little boats sailed all the way near the reef before we paddled our way in our dories to pick them up. This was an art not everyone mastered, but I do remember Mr. Aldo Marin was a pro in making toy sailing boats. Later on in life he made real boats and skiffs.
Of course we used to make our own coffee. In our days as children in San Pedro, there was no Milo or Ovaltine. We were raised drinking black tea with condensed milk. For a change we used to make coffee- local caye coffee. How? It was made by roasting (almost scorching) corn, grinding it finely and used to brew a nice corn drink which we called coffee. Then there was the “Kis Kis”, a gadget like a large pair of thongs, but made with a flexible local bush stick. It was used for handling firewood and hot objects, grabbing crabs , and at times to give a rude child a good whacking.
Men used to knit their own fishing nets like the cast nets and guild nets. And young boys also learned this art. Women used to knit caps, socks, sweaters, blouses, pillowcases, and even mattress covers, well those who had mattresses. Also on the inventive side and necessity side as well, our parents used to make their own fire hearth oven used to bake over the hot charcoal. These were made from the bottoms and tops of the large metal drums.
Fishermen made their own hook sticks used in skin diving for lobsters. They used to make their Hawaiian slings used for spearing fishes. And just when you would think that there was only hard water from the wells and no shampoos, we used to make our own shampoo water using well water and ashes. This gave you very soft and lathery water that was better than any shampoo I have seen on the market today. Indeed necessity is the mother of invention. We used to make a lot of things that did not reach the Island and we certainly did enjoy them, and saved money too twenty five years ago.
25 Years Ago Books Can Be Purchased At:
-Ambergris Today -Lala’s Store -Chico’s Meat Shop -Pampered Paws -Ambergris Jade -San Pedro BTB Office -Aquarious Salon (Kim) -S.P. Town Library -Di Bush -Richies Stationery -San Pedrano’s Stationery
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