If you were asked today what place in San Pedro is the center of activity, you would have many answers. Some would say the old plaza or soccer field while others would say the office of the San Pedro Town Council. Some would say it is Tropic Air area whereas others would probably say it is at San Pedro High School. Some will probably say it is the Roman Catholic Church, while others might say it is the Lions Den. There are many places that are considered the hub of activity for any given group of people.
Now what do you think was the center of activity in San Pedro twenty five years ago. There were not many places, but it was certainly not the central park, which boasted some wooden benches and high grass all over. People only seldom visited the park. It could have been Caribeña’s Fishing Cooperative processing plant, but then that might have been true for fishermen only. It could not have been the police station for there was only one policeman who spent most of the day fishing or playing pool depending on his personal hobbies or habits. It might have been the beach, but there the beach was busy at various spots and not as one center hub of activity. So what was the place?
In my opinion it was the open area right in front of the Roman Catholic Church which is now Friendship Park and which extended much wider and longer reaching as far as Central Park. It is at this place that children convened early in the morning before even entering school to play a game of softball using rubber balls and homemade bats. If the boys arrived first, then they played that morning. If the girls arrived first, you can bet your sweet lip that nobody could remove them from the field. It is this same place where boys played soccer after the softball season. Girls did not play soccer, so they stood on the side to admire the boys.
Every night, especially on weekends, boys and girls gathered at this open white area to play games. There were countless games that boys learned from their parents or from older guys. Here they played “azules y amarillos”, “alza y pica la zorra”, “el lobo”, “arranca cebollas”, “tun tun de la calavera”, and “huracan”, to mention only a few. Yes, all these games attracted boys and girls and even some teenagers to look on. Teenagers also sat in this white sandy area to simply chat or narrate stories. Parents often convened to this area to watch the children enjoy games and ensure that they were disciplined and not fighting.
Also at this white opening, the townspeople gathered to go to mass once month or more frequently to commence the processions. The religious processions started and ended at this spot. The living rosary was also prayed at this spot. I would say that when folks left their homes and wanted something interesting to do or view, they would go to the plaza in front of the church and Big Daddy’s and there was surely something interesting going on. The rest of the village was quiet and solitary. Quite a change from 25 years ago!
Photo Caption: September Celebrations parade passes by Friendship Park on Front Street.