25 YEARS AGO ON AMBERGRIS CAYE BY ANGEL NUÑEZ
Naughty Boys & Their Things
Children are naughty because they are children. They will do naughty things, but the naughty things done 25 years ago are indeed light to the things we hear today. Just for you to know that they were no saints either, here are some naughty things of the past.
During the fishing season, when the snapper used to "run", most boys went night fishing and put their catch in containers called "viveros". Now when one's luck was not so good and he did not catch many fishes, he used to go and untie the cover of someone's "vivero" and the next day the "vivero" would be empty.
The game of playing mama and papa has always been a popular one. The ones that were chosen to be papa and mama were supposed to give the orders and all the children were to be perfect. Papa and mama used to whip their other friends who were not obedient children, but many times the whip slipped and made serious marks on someone's back. Incidentally, today papa and mama drink Belikins as the children do chores in the playhouse.
One serious and very naughty activity that many a boy engaged in was line fishing in someone's fishing trap. Yes, in the fishing trap! After an unlucky day and several hours of trying all the fishing spots, one sure place to go for a haul of snapper or other fish was the fish trap. Dad would be amazed at the good catch and the boys would innocently and enthusiastically describe mysterious fishing spots which happened to be someone's fishing trap.
Boys messed up girls' skipping ropes with the tar that drifted on the beach. Poor girls! When they played with their skipping ropes, their hands and nice dresses got all messed up.
Some boys did place broken mirrors on their feet. They did put razor blades on the tails of the kites to try to cut the strings of other kites. They did jump inside a circle and grab all the marbles and run home. They did jump fences to steal papayas, guavas and watermelons. They did tie strings across the streets to try to trip down some old man or some young girl. They did put exercise books in their pants so as to ease down the pain of the teacher's whipping across the butt. They did break a leg off the teacher's chair and laugh when he fell down. They did throw sand on a fisherman's fish that was being dried out in the sun along some fence.
And here are two that I certainly do not encourage now or ever. You know fishermen used to put their dried fish in large boxes and at times in the wooden lobster traps. Now cats would enter those boxes to eat the fish. When those cats were caught in the box, they were locked and thrown in the sea for them to drown. It was not done for amusement nor mischief. It was done because of a superstition that if you throw a cat in the sea, it will rain for many days, and this would mean days away from school. The other one was fishing for birds. The bait and hook would be flung at birds, which were very hungry. Children delighted in having a frigate bird caught on to the hook, and it was not until someone shouted that the police was coming that they cut the line and let the bird go away.
I think that with very little entertainment on the island, children had to be creative and find means of having a little amusement. I rather see children today doing some of that than cutting their arms with razor blades, smoking marijuana, and disrespecting people in general. Children will continue to be naughty, but naughty does not have to be really rude and disorderly.