25 Years Ago

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Yes, I know Lino will like this and the guys at the Sausage Factory too, and so will Chico and all the other guys who deal with hams, for it is Christmas and it is the time for those delicious succulent hams and those well smoked hams, and all the fine gatherings at home where hams are the delight of everyone. First of all, who does not like ham?

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There used to be a time when chicken was a real delicacy and we ate it once in a blue moon. We used to eat fish every day. Today it is the opposite. Fish is very expensive and we eat that once in a blue moon while we eat chicken almost daily.

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Long before there was this fancy wallpaper with all the lovely designs and the self adhesive back that was sold all over the United States and the world, there was wallpaper used in every humble house in San Pedro. Yes, these were dirt floor houses, the most humble houses you can imagine, but they had wall paper on all four walls of the living room and even bedrooms.

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When I see today’s music systems with the powerful amplifiers, CD players or DVD players and the equalizers, the stereo surround systems, etc., I am amazed at how far technology has come in line of music. Twenty five years ago in the 1950’s we used to throw a dance at a girl’s birthday party using only a small 10 by 15 inch record player and that included the speaker on the cover.

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They say that necessity is the mother of inventions and for our old San Pedro, this saying goes a long way. Our folks, I mean our parents in the 1950’s, used to be genuine inventors of things that worked for them in the absence of anything better or easier.

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Can you imagine living in San Pedro today without some basic services? I know, you would die or live complaining every day until you die. Well, it was not so bad, but folks in San Pedro in the past had to live without several things that today we take for granted. I know it is nice to have them, but folks lived without them as if they never missed them. Here are a few in brief and then, by popular request, we’ll detail them week by week.

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P.C Smith was stationed in San Pedro in the 1970’s. He was one hell of a good officer- friendly when he had to be, polite when it was due, and strict when the need arose. He was one hell of a good officer- so soft yet so tough. He had his wife and children in San Pedro and I guess that made him all the best for he had to live up as a role model to his family as well. His daughter, Lavern, attended San Pedro High and was a great softball player. When she came to San Pedro, she did not know one word of Spanish, and by the time she graduated, she passed Spanish R.S.A.

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When I hear of the many cases of crime in San Pedro I think of my little San Pedro twenty five years ago when those crimes were alien to our peaceful and safe community. When I hear of our police force with about twenty strong officers, I think of our lovely little San Pedro 25 years ago when all that was needed was one police officer, who spent most of the day fishing because there was nothing to do at the police station simply because there was nothing wrong going on.

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How was life in the village of San Pedro with a small population, say of about five hundred persons? This is how it was in the 1950’s. There were some 75 students in the primary school, no high school, no discotheque, no traffic, not even bicycles. Was life pretty much the same as it is today? I am not talking about life in general because we know that technology has changed that, but simply life with a small population.

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You know, good rich percolated coffee like we enjoy it today was not available on the island in the 1950,’s or like we say, twenty five years ago. I believe the chocolate drink Ovaltine was available to some degree, but it could only be afforded by the richer persons, if there were any. I think the Ovaltine chocolate cans remained for ages on the shelves to catch dust and a lot of rust.

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There are many questions to ask in this topic and here they are. Are thatch roofs stronger than zinc roofs? Are wooden houses stronger than concrete houses? If all houses are made of thatch and palmetto sticks, then which were the hurricane shelters if all were alike?

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There is a song written by a Belizean Calypso composer and musician and it goes pretty much like this in lyrics: “From Puerto Rico it went past Jamaica. Then they said it was heading for Cuba, but like a boomerang, it turned on its course to Belize my land.”

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Will be updated soon.

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Oh yes, we are in the middle of the hurricane season, and some people have already taken the necessary preparations to battle the night of the storm as well as to survive the hardships of the days that follow the devastation. This includes everything from having a stock of nails and boards and flashlights to even purchasing a small power generator to provide lighting after the storm. And what exactly were the preparations made for a hurricane 25 years ago, or in the 1950’s and early 60’s?

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Was it different? You bet! Oh yes we had a grand celebration, but we did it in our own wonderful way. Twenty five years ago we did not have a lot of flags to fly around the town and at our homes. So what we did was to decorate the place by going into the bush and cutting small palm trees which were placed around the town to add more greenery and to make the place look joyful and in the celebration mood.

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Not many things drift onto our beaches today like they used to in the past. The only things we hear are bales of cocaine or marijuana, but it does not become the talk of the town to attract all the folks to the beach to do our famous beachcombing. One or two persons are said to find the cocaine, and then you don’t hear any more about it. The next thing you know is that that person is buying new boats, building new houses, or living it big. That is as far as drifts go today.

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The Costa Maya Festival is perhaps the biggest festival San Pedro sees and for some people it does seem like a long festival and only participate in a day or perhaps two. If you tell that to an old timer, he will laugh at you for in the 1930, for example there used to be a festival that lasted up to one week.

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Television is pretty new to San Pedro. It came many years after it was available to the world. It did not reach San Pedro until the 1980’s. Before cable television, people relied on the radio for most of its communications from abroad and nationally.

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Without a doubt, the largest gatherings today at a given time and place in San Pedro is the huge crowd that fills Saca Chispas Field during the Costa Maya Festival. It is estimated that there could be anywhere between two to three thousand people gathered at the field to applaud the Costa Maya Queens during the pageant and perhaps a little more during the appearance of the international star for the International Night. From the stage, you can appreciate an endless array of colors, and exhilarated persons all enjoying the presentations during the festival nights.

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I believe that San Pedro was the only place in the world where people used to have this strange habit of actually studying the clouds. No, we were no astrologers, nor were we trying to come up with some theory or great discovery. It was simply a form of entertainment and relaxation and a time to "kill time". How did this happen twenty five years ago?

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