25 YEARS AGO ON AMBERGRIS CAYE BY ANGEL NUÑEZ
Children Growing Up in a Fishing Village
Back n the GOOD OLD DAYS you did not see children walking about the streets during school hours; you found all the children in school doing school work. Back in the GOOD OLD DAYS when we asked for five cents from our parents it was enough money for a gala time. I love the good old days because they made me who I am.
Monday to Fridays from 8a.m. to 3:30p.m. you see young children walking about aimlessly down the streets or you see them performing adult chores like chopping and cleaning yards or selling souvenirs. Not so back in the GOOD OLD DAYS and for more than one good reason. First of all our parents did not allow us to miss classes for no good reason. A child got a whipping if he insisted in staying home.
Back in the good old days parents did not allow their children to perform jobs for regular wages. As responsible parents they absorbed total responsibility of raising their families even if that meant ten children. And here is perhaps the number one reason why you did not find children loafing about the streets. The policeman was also the truancy officer on the island and he immediately picked up any child on the street during school hours and took that child home. He inquired the reason for absenteeism from school, scolded or warned the parents and then took the child to school. The policemen truly cared and that made a positive difference.
What is a child's allowance today in San Pedro? You be the judge but I have seen children taking between two to five dollars to school. It is ten dollars for a primary school kid to go out on a regular weekend. A teenager gets twenty and don't ask me how much some teenagers take as pocket money when he or she goes on a school trip.
Now back to the GOOD OLD DAYS. "Gimme five cents', was the common request of a child. When he got it, he was king; with that he could purchase pepitos, fresco (saved ice with syrup), candies, and chewing gum. That was all a child needed, and that was what he got. Interestingly enough when ideals (popsicles) first came to San Pedro, they sold for five cents and that was when children started to ask for ten cents.