The enthusiasm you get today of children as they enjoy the Christmas season is way above the enthusiasm of children 25 years ago.
Today they talk about the huge Christmas tree, the millions of lights, the transformers and all the expensive electronic toys. But don’t you ever think that there was no enthusiasm back then. Oh yes, there was a lot to be enthused about in the 1950’s when Christmas came around.
Though there were no electric twinkling lights, we had these things called sparklers, which you still find at times today. We used to light up the sparklers and run down the street hollering as it shot little “stars” of light, as we used to call them. As a matter of fact, we did not call them sparklers, but “estrellitas” or little stars.
Another thing we did with the “estrellitas” was to toss them in the air and see who could hurl them higher. It was fun watching them fall back to earth like a falling star. Estrillitas used to give us quite a thrill until at times they would land on a thatch roof. We used to quickly smother it but at times a small fire would start. I think in our lifespan, only one house was burnt down as a result of sparklers or the famous estrillitas. The bad thing about sparklers is that they only lasted about a minute, so the fun was very limited.
At par with the twinkling sparklers, there were the “boladores” or fire crackers. These were compacted gun powder with a wick and once lit it would create a loud pop or explosion. These we lit and flung unto another person. We put them inside glass bottles to see if they would break. We also placed them inside plastic bottles to see how far they would be hurled by the explosion. And finally (don’t you ever do this silly thing) we used to compete to see who would hold the pop shot longer in his hands. At times they blew up right between your fingers causing some injury.
The other explosive was called a pop shot. These were small rolls of paper which had gun powder on them. You placed them into this special gun which could shoot, according to us. The trigger of the gun would hit the gun powder dot and made a fairly loud bang more or less like the cowboy guns you see in the movies today.
Oh, we had fun playing cowboys and Indians and of course the cowboys always won because once the shot hit you, you had to fall to the ground and play dead. These guns also created some gun powder smoke which some silly boys would inhale into their mouths and play like they were smoking. Oh, the thrill of the pop shot guns until your dad caught you inhaling that smoke and then popped the belt on your buns. On Christmas day nine out of ten boys would be walking around the village with guns hanging on their waists.
As for girls they had the thrill of getting a tea set with mini plates, cups and saucers, kettle, stove and frying pans. The girls would cook all kinds of things- sand, leaves, pieces of sticks or small stones. They would be thrilled feeling like mother and serving food to all their friends.
As said before there was also the thrill of eating Christmas fruits which were apples, pears and grapes. We only got half of an apple or pear. As for grapes we got about six to ten because they were very expensive, one dollar a pound. Apples were also very expensive at a whopping 15 cents, so Christmas time was the only time we could delight with them. Such were the thrills and enthusiasm of Christmas for the children 25 years ago.
- by Angel Nuñez, Columnist