Inventions of Yesteryear

ndeed necessity is the mother of inventions as I commented last week. Did you know that back in the 1950’s we could catch radio stations as far as Harlingen, Texas? And how did we do that? Simply by using two very tall bamboo poles and setting up a very high antenna connected to the radio, and as simple or unsophisticated they might have been, those radios could tune in to Harlingen, Havana, El Salvador, Honduras and the Cayman Islands.

And there were other things fabricated right here in San Pedro like the crude sandals made of rubber tires. The only problem was that there were no vehicles, so tires were scarce, but when one landed on our beaches, it was valuable stuff.

The shape of the foot was cut and with some strings or rope, some crude sandals were made, great for walking in the bush or among the burrs.

There were many toys that the boys and parents used to fabricate as well because these things were simply not imported. We used to make our tops, you know the dancing tops. We used to make all shapes of kites as well as the famous caperucho. Then we also made toy sailing boats that could actually sail. It was the delight of any boy to come up with a great fifteen inch sailing boat that could make it from the beach to the reef. Then we would paddle our way to the reef to get our boats. We also used to make our own paddles for our canoes.

Of course we used to make our own Caye Coffee using toasted corn. This made everyone’s breakfast and dinner too, at a time when Ovaltine or Milo were foreign to our village and island. Then there was the “Kis Kis”, a gadget like a giant pair of thongs, but made of bush sticks, and used for handling firewood and hot objects.

Men used to knit their own fishing nets like the cast nets and guild nets. And young boys also learned this art. Women used to knit caps, socks, sweaters, blouses, pillowcases, and even mattress covers, well those who had mattresses. Also on the inventive side and necessity side as well, our parents used to make their own fire hearth oven used to bake over the hot charcoal. These were made from the bottoms and tops of the large metal drums. These drums also made excellent large pots used to boil corn or to make the pork chicharon.

Want to talk about more things made on the island due to necessity? Well how about the skipping ropes made out of regular vines running about in dirty yards. We used to make floor mats using pieces of cloth and discarded sacks from the stores.

The fishermen made their own hook sticks used in skin diving for lobsters. They used to make their Hawaiian slings used for spearing fishes. And just when you would think that there was only hard water from the wells and no shampoos, we used to make our own shampoo water using well water and ashes. This gave you very soft and lathery water that was better than any shampoo I have seen on the market today, and it would curl up your hair as well.

These are only a few of the many inventions or gadgets made twenty five years ago that exemplifies the fact that “necessity is the mother of inventions.

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