25 YEARS AGO ON AMBERGRIS CAYE   BY ANGEL NUÑEZ

Some Dying Arts for Ladies


W
hat are the favorite pastimes for young ladies today? I don’t know any better than you, but I believe it is listening to music, using the play station, chatting over the computer, making cellular phone calls all about, loafing or walking about. Sounds like fun and even educational. There might be some young ladies who are still doing it the way it used to be 25 years ago.

In the absence of television and computers and play stations, young girls had to find activities that kept them busy and entertained during their pastimes. After all, that is what a pastime is supposed to be. Perhaps it can be safely said that sewing was a favorite pastime activity for ladies 25 years ago.

A young lady could hardly wait to leave primary school for her father to purchase a sewing machine for her. Remember those lovely Singer sewing machines that were hand operated? The more affluent families purchased the standing ones with drawers and other accessories.

Young girls 14, or so, pretty soon became quiet versatile at sewing and provided for their home needs- curtains, pillow cases, shirts and pants for little brothers etc. With the discarded flour bags they used to sew underwear for dad and brothers too.

We are talking about the 1960’s when there were no gift shops or boutiques, so there were no imported clothing. I tell you some girls became so good at sewing that they got to design dresses for all occasions including wedding dresses. For the annual general meeting of Caribeña Fishing Cooperative, there was a display and showing off of talents of all the young ladies who fashioned their own dresses. To be a “costurera” (a seamstress) was an honorable thing. In fact young men looking for a wife-to-be, set eyes on a “costurera” because she was a practical lady.

Even up until today you will find that these young ladies (now grandmothers) are still sewing. I am talking of persons like Elia Guerrero, Chabby Salazar, Addy Gomez, Anita Eiley, Edna Marin, Bertha Graniel, Omelia Marin, Ony Marin, Leni Alamilla, Martha Guerrero, Nita Marin, Mickey Nuñez, Lupita Brown, Melly Graniel, Ilva Castillo, Neivy Guerrero, Ermelinda Aguilar, Emerita Munoz and the list goes on. These are a few I can remember by memory. Today you really need to search for a young lady who has this talent. At San Pedro High, one teacher is trying to pass on this art to the young ladies and a few boys too.

Another dying art is embroidery. “Hay que aprender a bordar para cuando te cases,” mothers used to say. They encouraged and taught their daughters to embroider so that they could beautify the home with the pillowcases, bed covers, tablecloth, and even designs on dresses. Embroidery was taught in primary school, and then expanded at home. Again today, it is one of the dying arts. I am proud of some teachers and students who are learning it at high school.

What about knitting? Was that a popular art 25 years ago? You bet. Is it a popular art today? Girls knitted items like baby socks, baby caps, bibs, sweaters, and even blouses. Oh yes, that took time, patience and love of the art. A girl would be seated at home chatting with her boyfriend and she would be knitting. This was a pastime to be proud of. And when you got married to a girl who could sew, embroider, knit, cook, wash and iron, you had it made. You found a treasure girl.

Yes, these are the dying arts today. Of these I picked up cooking. My wife found a treasure boy. But what do young girls do today for a pastime in terms of art? Cooking? Or are they painting, designing, interior decorating, cake decorating? Any parents out there with the art please pass it on to your children or friends. It is simply something to be proud of and rewarding. It also helps to keep out of trouble.

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