Now and Long Ago: Pictures of Orange Street and West Canal, Belize City
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Saturday March 12, 2016

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Now and Long Ago: Pictures of Orange Street and West Canal, Belize City

Photographs courtesy Noel Escalante

The shops along Orange Street back in the day

by Michelle Rivana Buckley

In the late 60s-70s Orange Street had many stores. I can remember the light mustard brown wooden house that was at the corner of Orange Street and the little side street that was in front of Bliss Hotel. Hardly anyone walked that side street. It was dangerous because the drunken men from Rickís bar (Triangle bar) located between Regent Street and Waterlane could be seen sleeping or arguing on that street. It led to to a Orange Street. At the corner was a home that became a store. That little store was owned I believe by a Belizean family. It was three stairs up then you were inside of it. The family lived upstairs and it was where a tailor could be found. Beside it was the store that sold menís clothing and housewares. Next to this store was the grey two storey tile building that had the Indian store at the bottom. The pavement and the entire building was covered with tiny one inch tiles. It had a grainy effect for the design of the tiles. I would always rub my hands across the tiles on my way home because it would shimmer in the sunlight. A group of us student coming home from school would stick our head in the entrance to the building and shout to hear the echo of our voices. Inside that building there was a physician on the second floor. It was eerie and smelly when entering the stairs. I believe the Indians used to live upstairs. Them tile that Grace the floor and walls of that building were strong years after returning to Belize in the late 90s it was there.

The delicatessen owned by Claude Bradley was on the ground floor. You enter it and it had the raw meat smell. This was where my mother bought her pork chops, liver, beef and brisket. You would go there to purchase your Christmas ham and Turkey before both were sold out. Which meant your legs had to take you to Smilings Meat Shop across town (Northside). Faith Babb was the manager. All the folks who worked there were always in attendance at the Presbyterisn Church next to the Belize City Market.

The vendors with their carts would be out in front of the tile building selling their fruits, plantains, oranges, craboo in the bags per cupful measurement. It is funny because they would have the one pound brown paper bags cut in half then filled with plums. As a customer you look for the bag with the biggest and ripest plums and you picked bag. You wouldíve been asked if you needed salt & pepper? Once there was a shortage of brown paper bags and this was when the vendors would Sometimes sell in the rolled white shop paper wrapped like a cone. You know making it into a folded paper hat then flipping it to put the plums or craboo int it. At school we called it paper cup.?By the time you filled it with water it was soaked. We didnít care at all a blank page was just as good to make our cup. I always remember the shortage because we had to used the bread plastic bag for a while to purchase our flour and sugar in. Kasham was also folded in the cone coiled shop paper and sold for 5 cents from the carts. In front of the building facing the market was always busy and crowded. If you recall sometimes during rush hour or Saturday morning it would be packed and you would be bumping into each other. The pathway was a little elevated coming from the bridge.

The Indian store was on the ground floor itís huge floor ceiling showcase windows were on both sides of the room displaying the latest in menís clothing and shoes.. Augusto Quan store bustling with customers displaying the latest rolls of linoleum and rolls of vinyl to cover furniture at the entrance. Those linoleums were thick and heavy. The patterns were often square with a fluers or flowers in the center of each square. The new roles of linoleum sure did have a smell to it. If you couldnít carry it home you get a taxi from the taxi stand nearby or at times you see folks who couldnít afford taxi walking thru the city carrying theirs (two people one on each end). If you stopped in the Quan store the fluorescent was barely lighting up the room and once in a while it would flicker. Augusto Quan was made rich by the amount of loyal Belizean customers he had.

The beautiful white building next to the Drugstore was also very busy. I remember they had bikes, open umbrellas, and pots hanging from the ceiling if you glanced in. That store was expensive but nonetheless our families shopped there. The drugstore had an odor to it like the hospital and I remember the big heavy metal scale that was in there on your right side as you entered. There was a sales clerk who was employed there for many years and the pharmacist was always wearing his white vest. Looking like he was about to take you to the asylum. You would have to wait your turn to ask the pharmacist a question while waiting with a room full of customers. Folks these businesses were patronized by the entire country. Some are probably millionaires by now and hold a place and pleasant experience for many.

Remember the huge Square shop paper Mr. Blades had on the table in his store. His wife and kid would be cutting up the paper into 4 smaller Squares to use to wrap cheese or put your pound of butter or lard in?

I would like to ask Who owned the tile building? What was the name of it? And Was it a hurricane shelter?

Eugene Trench: I believe when people start carrying their own bags st shops is that the shop owners were starting to charge extra for the paper bags

Jean Barklow: I think his name was Henry Quan. My mother would buy our Christmas dolls from his store.

Hanifa Eleanor Reneau: Agusto Quan owned the establishment between La Mariposa and the 3 story concrete building which housed Dr Francisco Pacheco PeŮaís Private Hospital.

Caesar Cuellar: The bar on the cor of orange st. and duck lane was Shoemans bar the white building across was Arjonillas they lived upstairs and sell lottery and boledo downstairs.

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