25 YEARS AGO ON AMBERGRIS CAYE   BY ANGEL NUÑEZ

The Very, Very First Telephones


T
here was a time when Paradise Hotel, one of the first hotels in San Pedro used to advertise in its brochures: "San Pedro- no traffic, no television, no telephones. Indeed, there was a time not very long ago when there were no telephones in San Pedro. Can you imagine your business firm without a telephone? Paradise Hotel once had no phone. Can you imagine those phone freaks and how they. would have managed 25 years -ago? Can you imagine yourself living in San Pedro and your wife or boyfriend living in Corozal or Stann Creek and there is no phone for communication. Pretty rough, eh?

The exact year when the first phone was brought to. San Pedro is not certain, but it must be either 1971-72 or thereabout. Louis Sylvestre was the area representative and he thought this would be good for San Pedro. One telephone was installed and hooked up at the home of Mrs. Elvia Staines. She was a housewife. then- and spent most of the day at her kitchen., A small 6 feet by 6 feetbooth -was built right at the foot of her kitchen steps, and as soon as the phone rang, either she or Mr. Staines (deceased) would run to answer the phone. They received messages for villagers, or if the villager was close enough, they would send someone to call that person. If the outside caller hung up, one would go over to the Staines' and wait for a second call . if one wished to make a call, one would go there,- get the key from Mr. Staines and proceed to make his personal call. The number of the single community phone was 52. Inside the booth there was one directory and in the course of time, there were some 100 numbers written all -over the walls (graffiti in San Pedro 25 years ago).

As the need of the telephone became evident, 20 phones were installed in various places. Holiday Hotel, Caribena Fishing Cooperatives, Coral Beach Hotel, etc., got their phones. Caribena 2011; Coral Beach 2013; Alfredito Alamilla 2006; Holiday Hotel 2014; George Kumul 2026; Martha's Store 2053; Lilys Hotel 2059; Alberto, Nunez 2038: Angel Nunez 20.10; Ramon's 207 1; Luis Nunez (deceased) 2066; Chico Gomez 2065; Pedro Salazar 2004. Beto Marin 2064.

These were the early telephones and still in operation with the original subscribers. Today we have reached with phones in the 3800 series. Indeed, telephone service has come a long, long way. But no doubt you will remember that we used to make phones with two empty. tin cans connected with a string., These toy phones came before the one at Mrs. Staines' house and before BTL was born.


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