25 YEARS AGO ON AMBERGRIS CAYE BY ANGEL NUÑEZ
Were Things Made of Better Material?
I don’t know about you, but I have certainly concluded that 25 years ago, indeed things were made of better material. Even the people seemed to have been made of better stuff, and I can prove that.
Let us start with the fisherman’s outboard motor. The popular brands were Johnson and later on Evinrude. My dad had a three horse power and a ten horse power and those suckers lasted a lifetime. The three horsepower motor was used on a dory for some twenty years. I even had it fall into the sea several times. When my dad retired from fishing, he gave it to my brother and he used it for several years too.
My uncle Genaro Nuñez also had a twenty-five horse power outboard Evinrude and it must have lasted him for some 20 years too. I remember him using it on his boat, The Alice, forever. I hear that today, tourist guides must purchase new motors every four or five years because they have rendered them useless or unreliable.
Refrigerators used by our parents in the 1960’s lasted forever too. Today, after two or three years, the fridge door is rusting and beginning to slant to one side and does not close very well. Soon a refrigerator rusts away and looks so cheap and ugly that one must purchase another one. What material was a fridge in the past made of? Looked like metal to me, but it certainly lasted much longer without rusting away.
That reminds me of the zinc roofing for houses. My father complained that some nails would not penetrate the zinc roofing. It was so hard. And when it was finally placed on the rooftop, it stayed there for some twenty years without developing leaks. It looked red with the rust, but it did not leak. It was still strong.
And how about lumber used on buildings constructed in the 1940’s and 50’s? Gosh, was that lumber good. It did not even need paint. I remember the house inherited by Alfredito Alamilla (deceased) from his folks. It looked somewhat old because it had not paint, but when he removed some walls for renovations, the old lumber looked like new lumber when cut with a power saw. Today lumber lasts some five years at the most before it simply rots away. I’ll take it back! There is this treated pine that lasts a bit longer. But some doors you buy from the Mennonites have wood lice even before you hang then in the house. You see this dust coming out of the door even after you have varnished it.
Don’t laugh, but even the underwear sewn with discarded flower bags lasted for some five years under constant scrubbing and washing. Today the Fruit of the Loom briefs only last a few months and they stretch out of shape. And as for the $45 Calvin Klein underwear, they too will start tearing in a year or so, even if it is designer clothing. I guess it is designed to tear quickly so that the company can sell more.
Gas stoves lasted for innumerable years. You changed your stove, not because it was not good, but because you got tired of it. When I got married in 1973 I purchased a second hand Across Stove and used it for some fifteen years. It still looked good when I moved to a new house and decided to get a new stove. I sold it for $75 because it still looked good and worked well. Good stuff man, and it was Across. How long does a brand name stove last today?
Even paint was good stuff. My dad painted with Hubbucks paint and it hung on that wall for some five years. It had lead too. I guess it was the lead that made it a good paint. I can go on and on, but what’s the point?
You are convinced already that things 25 years ago were made of good stuff, but what can we do? Everything today is commercial and meant to last a short time so that businesses can do business. But were people in the past also made of better stuff? I think so. You seldom heard of cancer cases, heart attacks, diabetes and high or low blood pressure. People simply died of old age. And as for the “mal de ojo” and “mal de viento” or even the “pasmo”, the bush doctor cured those easily. Good stuff, man!