By Angel Nuñez
How would you like to do your homework with the aid of a kerosene lantern? Is it possible to do some sewing or embroidery or even knitting under the light of one of these lanterns or candlelight? As for the men, would it be comfortable to weave a fish net at night using the light of a dim gas lantern? These are relevant questions we can ask today but in the 1950’s this kind of lighting was the order of the day. Here’s how it went.
The first mode of lighting was the candle but eventually we got the “kinque” or kerosene lantern to brighten up the homes. Whenever night fell and there were some chores to do, we would light up the “kinque” and get down to business. To read or write your homework, you had to be at least three feet away from the light source. Mom could prepare the evening tea or supper with a lantern in the general area of the kitchen.
At times dad would have a fish net, whether it was a cast net or seine, to complete and he would work several hours during the afternoon, but still had the need to work at night. Again, with the aid of the brilliant light of the gas lantern, he would progress in this chore quite comfortably. It was quite romantic passing by the small thatch huts along the street and watching the glow of light coming through the curtains of the windows of the homes. You knew that there was activity going on in the home because by eight or nine o’clock there would be total darkness.
Just about this same time, there were a few fortunate people who had the luxury of another kerosene lantern which we traditionally called a hurricane lantern. Nobody ever tested whether this lantern operated during a hurricane but it was so called because it could be taken outdoors into the breeze and it worked quite well. Occasionally dad would have a very large catch of fish to process and his job ran into the night. Here is when the hurricane lantern helped tremendously. Five or ten of these lights out on the streets made the village look sensational-like a party place.
By the end of the 1950 and beginning of the 60’s there was a revolution in San Pedro as far as lighting goes. It was the introduction of the air pressure kerosene lantern. This was stupendously bright. One of them made a little house look like daylight. Whenever there was a dance, three or four of these would be lit and hung around the dance hall. Please note that people welcomed bright lights inside a dance hall quite unlike today. These lanterns operated with a small air pump built into them and every half hour or so one would have to pump them to pressurize them. I would say that half of the village owned one of these and by then the streets of the village of San Pedro looked spectacular.
Air Pressure Kerosene Lantern "Pump Lanterns"
After that we got the coming of the commercial gasoline generators that generated power to the village in different stages. At first it was power until 9 every night. Then it went to twenty four hour electricity with the noisy power plants. Then it went into submerged cables under the sea and then the block outs commenced. People get upset even annoyed whenever the power goes off in San Pedro. The complain of the inability to do laundry, cook, iron, watch television, operate a computer, or suffer the heat due to the non-functional air conditioners. Not me. I simply light up my “kinque” (the very first ones in San Pedro) and simply chit chat of the good old days of San Pedro when everything was so simple, so quiet, so peaceful, so loving, and so very much like Paradise 25 years ago in San Pedro.
25 Years Ago Books Can Be Purchased At:
-Ambergris Today Online Newspaper -Jose Luis Zapata Photography –Lala’s Store -Pampered Paws -San Pedro BTB Office -S.P. Town Library -Di Bush, A & R
Contact the Author at: [email protected]