East/West Collet Canal in Belize City, 1920
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East/West Collet Canal in Belize City, 1920

Canal side at Church Street. Looks like King Street in the second Bridge. The difference between West and East Collet Canal is between the streets on either side of the canal. Pound Yard bridge side was East and Batty Bus side was West. Berkeley Street, Vasquez house.

Collet Canal (Vernon Street)

by Michelle Rivana Buckley

If you grew up near or on Vernon Street you would be familiar with the field (was owned by the Weir family who owned the Bliss Hotel on Water Lane) that existed off Vernon Street and was opposite the restaurant/club Kitty Kat (owned by Lloyd Pitzold aka Crappo, his brother was Superintendent Winston Carcamo) at the corner of Johnson Street. At Kitty Kat you could buy the best Cow Foot Soup, Fried Chicken, and 123 aka rice &beans with stew chicken and potato salad. According to constable of British Honduras Police Force Mr. Kent Edgar Thompson, Sr. who worked at the KK for their dances he was paid only $1 per hour. There dances lasted up to 3am. To note come 6am you could go and see their customers still hanging around after hours because they were loud and at times sitting on the stairs. Kit Kat management change hands over the years.

The Weir field in front of Kit Kat had many soccer, softball, marble games and flying kite challenge took place there. There was a young man on Woods Street who lived in the front house of Ms May Gonzalez (Kalin, Sandra, Mirna) yard who could build some serious box kite. He and my brother Ashley Coye would compete against each other and they were friends. The kites were made from flour glue paste and water, sheer paper and wooden sticks tied together with string. I know as we would watch my brother build his. He was flying kite from our veranda where our home was one street over from Woods Street. Many kids from south side of the city came to fly their kites at the Weir field. It was also a place where you could roll your homemade cart with wheels made from tin cans.. Mrs Bucknor always had her billy goats tied to the one Palm tree that stood in the field next to the old empty concrete house. The BelChina bridge now links North Front street to Vernon Street. At the back of the field near the river was another open lot that was filled with red dirt you could find the prettiest amber rocks in that area (it was next to Conch Shell Bay and I am not too sure but the field or lot was owned by the family who made Polar Pak orange juice.)

At the beginning of Vernon St which crossed over Collet Canal. The canal ran from Conch Shell Bay to Yarborough area. Before you crossed the canal coming from downtown the street before it was West Collet Canal and after you crossed the bridge the street listed was East Collet canal. You have the Hutchison’s at the corner opposite was the Marsden family, Mr Albert was beside them, Garbutt’s on Thurton Lane, a lady named Ms Sedacy (made Coconut Oil), then came the Cruz family (famous for their red & black recardo), the Marsden Mr Ted & Ms Teresita, Marion and family beside the Marsden was Ms Eieleen Blackman (who came from One of those rural villages her home had parrots; her famous one was a Scarlet Macaw when it died she had it embalmed and had it on her veranda), opposite her home was the Majarrez family, Gabourel’s was next (owned herds of sheep) and the Vernons at the corner of Vernon Street and Mosul Street. (Fighting Phillipa) she was a cool kid and a big girl as such. Others thought she was a bully but technically she wasn’t she fought battles for kids from Holy Redeemer where she attended. They were challenged by kids from Salvation Army or St. Mary Primary School. You wanted her on your side because she could whip some ass. I saw her beat beat up three girls at the same time on Water Lane as we were walking home and they approached her. She did not back down. She sure did clubboard them. The Dougals was another fighting bunch from the Long Barracks area (rough neighborhood). Boy did they run Sarstoon Street. They all attended Salvation Army school. There brother Buck was always in fights. Once he had hit me and my brother and my cousin held him for me the following day and I punched him back. They nevah messed with us Coye because if you hit one of us you had to hit all and you know it was 13 of us plus my mother, daughter in law Valerie plus Aunt Val’s family. It’s so funny looking back. The Joseph’s from Long Barracks were always loud as you passed by. Yes these folks were protector sort of.

Behind Weir field a little before the edge of the river lived the Robateau family (Alex, Warren,Susan) house. you could see Magazine Road where the old ice factory used to be if you walked back by the river. The Wallace family was in the same lot and going towards the canal and Conch Shell Bay Area was the saw milll and a small dockyard for the boats. The area was filled with wooden huts all dilapidated. It was a rough neighborhood.

From behind Robateau you could cross the river in canoes to the ice factory. A portion of the river jutted into Magazine Road. The land was reshape by Hurricane Hattie. The ice factory was where huge blocks of ice could be purchased or Polar Pak orange juice. Mrs Robateau was a staunch UDP supporter. She would coordinate the carnival dance group of the young ladies from the neighborhood or from the Northside whose families were the same party supporters. Ms Faith Babb who worked at the Delicatessen on Cemetery Road and Albert Street was another big supporter. Faith Babb was one of the first women besides my cousin Sandra Coye to run for political office. My mother had voted for her. These women were ahead of their time. Mrs Robateau was my mom best friend; hers sons Alex and Warren were always at our home, my brother was at theirs. Mr. Sydney Flowers home was their hangout spot (the group of kids were Claude, Alex, Warren, Alex, Winston, Charlie, Godfrey, Azsweta (woods Street), Jerry and Michael). He taught these young men construction work and took them fishing in his boat. My mom was staunch UDP and my dad was PUP like most folk in the neighborhood. She was friends with Shubbut and he would always try to convince her to change party. Mrs. Hortense Deshield (aka Ms Tency from St. George’s Caye tried but to no avail. She was UDP up to her death. I remember Minister Dean Lindo and Philip Goldson visiting our home often to chat with my parents. My mom setting out the best chinaware for them to have tea with us.

Much further down was Berger field (aka Lake Field). The Usher family lived opposite Fat Burger (established by Mr. Humes) The area was developed in the early 60s. the young football players from the Lake Independence area would come there to play soccer at the field. Fat Burger was located at the corner of Vernon Street and Magazine Road. Cristobal Magen, Gene Guild, Mandingo Barnett and other soccer greats use to practice here. These were the players of the famous Berger 404 football team at the Barracks. the club/bar next to Berger Field was established by the British soldiers for the Steadfast youths. It became a bar run by football goal keeper Rupert Anderson. The McCauley brothers used to play football there and other greats.

If you could recall old man Galvez and his son built the bar called “Red House”. Galvez business progress he then built a much bigger bar a little further up near the canal heading towards town. There was a Chinese restaurant opposite the second bar. Besides Ms Vangie husband iChinaman Chan was the only place that sold Boledo (lottery). The other option was to go to Cemetery Road side to purchase. At times your parents have you visiting all the boledo stands to buy up all of a selected number (meaning it sold out). Upstairs of Mr. Chan’s restaurant was a lady who was a seamstress. There was also Pilgrims Sawmill.

Coming back down toward Magazine Road Lake field was the path taken as a short cut to go to school at either Nazarene High School, Belize Junior Secondary School #1, St. John’s College, Belize Technical College, Palloti High School, to go swimming at the plane hangar, Barracks, or to get to Belcan Bridge. Some of the sewing factory women workers if they miss their bus would walk in group to Belcan bridge and hitch ride from in front of Palotti High School to the sewing factory on the Northern Highway it was the shortest route.

If you needed a church home there was always Church of God at the corner of Magazine Rd. & Vernon. Tanimae (resident) and Mrs Perry lived opposite the church. Harold Usher family lived near the field before the area was developed and government housing were established on Magazine Road. From the church you could hear their praise and worship which often filled the neighborhood. The sound of the tambourine mainly. I used to go there for Harvest. The women wore their beautiful white cotton dresses or lace dresses with white gloves and their fancy hats. You could stop at the other canal near Lake View Street and shop for ideal and snacks at the Arthur’s family home (Sharon, Darlene and their brother). Mr. Wills also had his little shop on Vernon Street. it was fun watching all his children (12 picknee) go to school on their bicycles from the smallest to the eldest.

This is a description of the old neighborhood. On Johnson street there was an old concrete well that was used to feed the mules in that area before families started settling there. There were no streets only paths that lead to Prisoner Creek which was established in 1958. It was an extension of the neighborhood. To note Alexandria Street was the starting point as it turned into Vernon Street. The street continued all the way to Central American Boulevard. Central American Boulevard was one of the main streets that was paved and not dirt road like the smaller streets. At the corner of Johnson Street and Vernon Street was the old hand pump faucet next to Mrs Maud home at the corner. I remember going ahead of my sisters to hold a spot and lining up and waiting my turn for buckets of water. Standing there in the morning or evening waiting for my two older sister and brother to come with the buckets. At times you would draw lines in the sand to mark your spot. No one dared erasing it. If they did, you go tell your big brother, sister, momma, puppa and everyone in the family, even you neighbor. The neighbor would stand up for you. I once saw a young lady from Magazine road sister got bax (hit), another girl for cutting the line. Poor thing she was new to the neighborhood. The rules of our neighborhood were obeyed. No one could pass by your street and threw their trash down. Eh! The older women would stop you and tell you to pick it up and if you answered back your ass get cussed out. You couldn’t walk that street again because by the end of the day the entire neighborhood knew who you were. Old Mrs Maud would sit on her veranda paying attention to us at the faucet. If you did anything wrong, boy she would tell your parents. Often you have to go there on time before the water got cut off by the city or ran out. It was the meeting place to chatter with your friends. If you took too long best believe your mom would send someone to get you. As they call it “sky larking. Every now and then on a hot day us kids would stick our heads under the pump faucet and enjoy the coolness of the water. It was a time to wash off them dusty feet after playing. You carried the buckets of water to take showers, wash dishes, and to water the plants if there was no Vats in your yard. If you spilled your bucket you would have to trek back again. Which meant later on you would be teased by the other neighborhood kids. Spilling a bucket of water or using someone else bucket of water was a reason to fight between siblings. Which meant everyone will get their behind (ass) tear up (whipped) for fighting. This was our household rule. We were allowed to fight anyone else in self defense if they were not family but fighting amongst our selves was a no no,0

Me, my sisters, and brothers were not allowed to go make purchases of any kind for cigarettes or soda from the bar near Lake field for my parents. We would have to go to Kitty Kat or Red House to buy the Polar Pak juice, cigarettes, rum and let me state no ID was required. Little kids back then were smart we had to know how to shop, bring back the correct change after a purchase. If there was a shortage of grain or dairy products them two legs of yours had to go to the grocery far from home to make the purchase in that hot boiling sun. Once I had to walk all the way to Smiling Meat shop back by Belcan to try and get the ham, Major the Grocery store on Lake View canal had run out. I was miserable going from shop to shop trying to purchase a ham. I never forgot I got yelled at and my playtime was taken away because I had gotten distracted near field and ended up playing with my school friends playing a game of “catch” in the field. I had put down the ham and forgot all about it. Until I saw my uncle Fat man Sally, Alexander Encalada who chased me home. Yep he told on me.

As some of you could recall you could go purchase pointed or titty bread from old man Oscar shop opposite Lake field for a shilling. They were fresh and homemade, he also sold bun (sticky glaze on top) not the creole ones too. If we couldn’t purchase plantain or bananas from the little shop opposite Ms Vangie we get it from him. Two plantains for shilling. Also his Milky Way ideal was the best.

There were public out houses near the river side in the area they called Conch Shell Bay. Audrey Wallace family owned the land from Weir home all the way to the canal side. The sawmill was in the same area. The fishermen would parked their boats along the canal. In the evening you could pass by and see my aunt Rita Leacock, her sister my mother Loyola Coye, Ms Vangie and other ladies of neighborhood sitting on the post of the concrete bridge chit chatting in the evening. The canal was the dumping location for waste. The women would take their enamel room bucket to the canal early morning before dawn. Sometimes your brother would tag along and this was because he saw some young lady he liked. Husbands would escort their wives to complete this house duty. The neighborhood would be stinky from the fouls odor. At times folks would go dump their buckets late evening and if you were passing by you would hear the loud splash then the scent would hit you faster than you could inhale. It was the cure for sinus problems. Just for laughs You would hold your breath all the way home. You would have to be mindful of not stepping into spilled poop along the street. Some buckets had heavy overflow along the way. Some folks would also go to the river near the ice factory on Magazine Road to empty their buckets. Vsible was the old barge that had washed up ashore after Hurricane Hattie had hit. The government had built a small wooden pier for docking but folks used it to go dumped their buckets instead. The river bank in that area was always filled with oil coming from the ice factory. Premier George Price sure did develop that area. community with housing.

As a child you would stand near the river edge of the ice factory building (it was previously on North Front Street) later relocated to Magazine Rd. While waiting for your block of ice to be crushed and watch the fishes swim close by. Catfish mainly, Tuba, Cranny, and the long guard fishes were also visible. Some of the neighborhood fishermen like Allan Green would go there to purchase ice for their lobster or fish catch before taking to the cooperative or market.

Sometimes old man Boom as my dad called him would play his mouth organ. Mr. Boom was an employee of the ice factory and he was handicapped. he was missing one of his arm but it never stopped him in picking up those huge blocks of ice. He was one of the original member of the band Boom and Shine before they became famous. These old men would come to our home after work and sit with my dad in the back yard and drink their rum and other alcoholic beverage such as Green Thing (Creme de Menthe), bitters etc. and playing their instruments such as the turtle shell (Auxbill Shell that hung on our living room wall) grater, and the banging of knife and fork together. I could recall me and my mother sitting on the veranda listening to the old folk songs they sang. Music filling the air. The song “Solomon Gah” was written about my father. He was funny, a womanizer, boat builder, and Plummer for the merchant ships. Music played a big part of our community. On a separate note my older brother Ashley would use his pellet gun in the evening and shoot Capenta (bird that could not see in the daytime) this meant my sister Barbara would clean it and stew it. I didn’t eat it but from my sister point of view it was dry no matter how much it stewed down in water. Anthony Middleton had his cabinet shop next to our yard and on Saturday he would sell barbecue mutton with white rice and cold slaw made by his wife Ms Olive.

These men have passed on but the memories remain. So are the memories of the iconic businesses, fields and people of that neighborhood. To name a few of the families we had Mrs Kirkwood (last house on Magazine Road near ice factory), Bronzo (who lived behind the St. Ignatius teacher home), the Trujueques, Erskin, Carter, Thomas, Flowers, Moody, Erskin, Fuentes, Williams, Robateau, Buckner, Bladden, Eilley, Lizama, Henry’s, Dougals, Leacock, Conorqui, Mr Neal (sold fruit and barks at the bridge foot near the canal), Ms Rubina Lizama panades shop, Blades grocery, Ms Vangie shop, and the old man shop who sold plantains and ground food opposite Vangie/ Leacock, yard of Santiago warehouse Vernon Street side, the Hispanic family that sold Panades near the bridge, Policeman Heredia family, Prison Warden Samuel, Doris Middleton, Commissioner Samuels family, Policemen Leonard and his wife Margarita who made and sold meat pies, Ushers, Mae Gonzalez, Perrote, Ms Alice Gibson and her son Barney (postman), Bevans, Tillet, Cadle, Coye, Acosta, Bevans, Price and countless of others. On Woods Street, the Bennetts (aka Junior Daisy), Garcia (in front of the Esso gas station), Mckay, Tingling, McCoy, Gabourel, Williams (the construction man), Gillett, Waight, Robinson by Sibun Street, Bodden (Carolee) and many more.

On a scary note I’ve just learned that they used to burn bodies in our neighborhood. If you see any ghost feel free to contact me so I can put it in. Ah nuh fraid fuh deh now but as a kid a pin drop ah run. Many of you know what I am speaking about.

Our area has had several individuals represented in the Queen of the Bay Pageant. In 1955 Harold Usher sister, Melonie Smith (Mrs Bucknor granddaughter)!and Melanie Eiley. My cousin Francine Encalada in the 80s she was near Queen Square and my other cousin Sarita Acosta who made it to the Ms. World Semifinals.

If you grew up near or on Vernon Street you would be familiar with the field that existed off Vernon Street that was opposite the restaurant/club Kitty Kat was (Johnson Street). At Kitty Kat you could buy the best Cow Foot Soup, Fried Chicken, and 123 aka rice &beans with stew chicken and potato salad. At the field Many neighborhood soccer games took place there. The BelChina bridge now links North Front street to Vernon Street. At the back of the field near the river was another open lot that was filled with red dirt you could find the prettiest amber rocks in that area (it was next to Conch Shell Bay) if am not too sure that field or lot was owned by the family who made Polar Pak orange juice.

If you walked to the very edge of the river near Alex and Warren Roboteau house you could see Magazine Road where the old ice factory used to be. The ice factory was where huge blocks of ice could be purchased or Polar Pak orange juice.

Much further down was another field near Fat Burger located at the corner of Vernon Street and Magazine Road. The McCauley brothers used to play football there. If you could recall old man Galvez and his son built the bar called “Red House” then as business progress for him he built a much bigger bar a little further up near the canal. There was a Chinese restaurant opposite the bar. Upstairs of the cChinese restaurant was a lady who was a seamstress.

This is a description of the old neighborhood. On Johnson street there was an old concrete well that used to feed the mules in that area before families started settling there. There were no streets only paths that lead to Pridoner Creek. At the corner of Johnson Street and Vernon Street was the old hand pump

faucet next to Mrs Maud home at the corner. I remember going ahead of my sisters to hold a spot and lining up and waiting my turn for buckets of water. waiting for my two older sister and brother to come with the buckets. At times you would draw lines in the sand to mark your spot. No one dared erasing it. Often you have to go there in time before the water got cut off by the city or ran out. It was the meeting place to chatter with your friends. If you took too long best believe your mom would send someone to get you. As they call it “sky larking).

There were public out houses near the river side in the area they called Conch Shell Bay. The canal was the dumping location for waste. The women would take their enamel room bucket to the canal early morning before dawn. Sometimes your brother would tag along and this was because he saw some young lady he liked. Husbands would escort their wives to complete this house duty. The neighborhood would be stinky from the fouls odor. At times folks would go dump their buckets late evening and if you were passing by you would hear the loud splas then the scent would it you. You would hold your breath all the way home. At times you would have to be mindful of not stepping into spilled poop along the street. Some folks would also go to the river near the ice factory on Magazine Road to empty their bucket. The government had built a small wooden pier for docking but folks used the area to go dumped their bucket instead. The river bank in that area was always filled with oil coming from the ice factory.

As a child you would stand near the river edge of the ice factory building while waiting for your block of ice to be crushed and watch the fishes swim close by. Catfish mainly, Tuba, Cranny, and the long guard fishes were also visible.

Collet Canal (Cemetery Road)

by Michelle Rivana Buckley

Does anyone remember Desho Record Shop at the corner of Cemetery Road and Pound Yard Bridge, East Collet Canal street? If you bought your LPs and 45s there you will remember him playing the music loud. Mask man shop was next to it. Opposite was the City Council and across the bridge West Collet Canal street was David Montero grocery shop, opposite Montero was a liquor store. These two streets were Major landmarks in the area. The canal ran from

Conch Shell Bay near the river all the way to Yarborough. You had these other land markers such as the Rosado’s (David and his brother) corn tortilla factory, Chong Sang, St Ignatius Church and School on Euphrates Avenue, Grace Primary school on Amara Avenue the families were Gotoys, Tillett, Banner, Popular Fat Boy, Ms. Benita’s shop (she had many cats in her yard) Batty Bus, Malics, Slaughter House, Queen Square Market, Novelos Bus Terminal, Esso Gas station, Davis Cabinet Shop, the mechanic shop behind Esso, Cain brothers worked at the tire shop and got the nickname “grease gun” (employees were Cucchie, grease gun, mike, Macca Lamb) it was a hang out spot and they sat there holding up the wall by sitting on it), Henaro’s and his side man Andy Cox, Bladen vat maker, Butane, Taxi stand, Constitution Park, Matron Roberts Clinic, Solis ice cream Shop, Bali Quinto (Mr. Tan his father was a wealthy businessman who sold Boledo/lottery), Gills Restaurant, Meighan Barber Shop, the Drugs Store, Rogers Stadium, Mr Joe Panades Shop and boxing gym, Supa lady, One foot lady who sold ideal (aka ice pops), Ms. Maisy Panades Shop, Ms. Taba (son name Guermo) who sold Ducunu, Glen Bood Band house, and Johnny Cake lady aka Jubban, the field next to Matron Roberts.Clinic and Alpheus the mechanic (this field was where the Evangelist mission from the US would come and set up the huge tent the length of the field or the Circus would come in and it up their tent for the shows) that Mr. Gilharry bought for his bus station. Mr Muddy Grocery Shop on Magazine Road. If you recall Mr Ayuso (Gary, Libby) his restaurant/bar on Hicattee Street, the Hostel (reform housing for delinquent children or as we say in Belize the house where the bad boys go to for punishment). Note: There was another hostel In Cayo.

Further up on Cemetery Road which turned into the Western Highway you had the nightclub, another grocery store, Belize Junior Secondary School #2, the old cemetery, Mayor Lizama, at the corner of Central American Blvd and Cemetery Road was another Restaurant. On the Western Highway starting past the Lord Ridge Cemetery was the area where the trash was burnt. Further West was Georgie August, Mr Craig bar ( aka Kang), Dr. Reneau, the Aguet’s family, Arthur McKenzhie (they were from Jamaica), Trevor Roberts who were also from Jamaica, my uncle Neville Gillette refrigeration company and the coolie family who lived a little way before Belizean Beach. At the old beach was a gigantic rusty old merchant ship.

Cemetery Road came alive in the early morning with the women heading out to work at the sewing factory (Dickies American clothing company) on the Northern Highway. They waited for their buses to come and pick them up. I remember the Hops man being out there early to sell his Hops (drink made from seaweed). The Garifuna women from Stan Creek or Toledo district coming in on the trucks with their buckets or large bowls of Mangoes to sell to the neighborhood. They sold the best mangoes.

Mask Man was the place to go purchase Colonial, Independence, Winston, Chevannes Lemonades, Crush Soda orange and grape flavor, or RC Cola, later came the large glass liter of CocaCola. Looking back I think my sisters bought out all the PK (British chewing gum) from him and Mr. Allen’s shop (on Johnson Street) These two vendors always ran out of the gum. Spearmint gum was their second choice but never tasted the same or could withstand the competition. Just me take from a sisterly point of view. There was a tiny restaurant next to Desho’s Record store who sold food. My teacher Mister Bryan from Holy Redeemer school family ran it. He taught standard 2 class. Besides my mother and the neighbors of Johnson Street they made the best Milk Cske and coconut tart. I’m telling you it was always busy. The women from sewing factory bought up everything daily.

The taxi stand was also the location for the village trucks to be parked. These trucks were fitted with a wooden top that provided shelter, they had wooden rows of benches fitted for seating. If you missed Batty Bus you could take these enroute to the Western Highway. If you had to go to the capital Belmopan then the buses or these privately owned trucks were your means of transportation daily. In addition to parking political meetings were held in front of City Council and Tsxi Stand area. On a political night you could hear Shubutt as loud as the loud speaker. He was a staunch supporter of the party PUP. It was funny because the young people used the political meetings as a way to go see their girlfriend or boyfriend it was the perfect meeting place besides Constitution Park.

Constitution Park was the government or public park for the south side of the city. Its wasn’t too well lit at night time so it was the perfect spot for young lovers to meet besides the Barracks or Forth Point. It’s borders were pine trees later the government removed them. The parked contained three concrete benches located on Cemetery Road side, the swing and seesaw was on Johnson Street side and the entrance if coming from downtown was near Woods Street. I saw my first boa constrictor in that park. I never forgot it. It crawled into Mrs Williams yard which was at the corner of the park. She had plenty of rose trees in her yard. Another time there was another found in the huge metal red British mailbox on our street opposite matron Roberts Clinic. It was a spectacle to see it, all the neighbors came out as word had spread like fire.

In the park at the corner was the wooden hut for the constables to sit in. I can see it so clearly not more than 5 ft wide and 10ft tall, zinc roof, white wooden walls with green window trimmings and glass blinds so it could open and close to see the children playing in the park. The constable would come to tell you stop standing on swing while swinging. I know all too well because I did it. Best ride of your life! The seesaw was painted white and the steel handles were painted green. There were no curfews when it came to playing at the park. If you were not listening your parents sent you home which was the worse punishment.

You would quickly run across the street if no traffic coming to purchase your vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry ice cream from Mr. Solis shop or go buy your 5cents panades from Ms Maisy at the corner of Woods Street opposite the gas station. Business got better for her and she bumped it up to 10cents then 15cents and finally her garnaches were 25cents. Back then 5cents was plenty money. A candy or cookie cost a 1cents aka a penny.

In the 80s in Mrs Jubban yard they put up a hut and sold Gauchos (biggest flour tortillas about 1 1/2 feet in diameter, spread on top was stewed red kidney beans sprinkled with grated cheese). If you had one you know what I talking about. Mrs Jubban made the best Johnny Cskes even better than some of our mother’s. She had a great sense of humor and was very friendly to us kids. She started her fire hearth at 6am and by 7am all of her Johnny cakes were gone. Listen she kneaded all those flour dough by hand and ah mean by hand. You would sit on the little bench in her downstairs and watch her do her thing. The neighborhood smell so good. She used freshly grated coconut and when I tell you , you could not resist eating a Johnny cake before you get home. You know all too well that that was your share. Two was the maximum and on a good day three. As a regular she would give me a brattah(extra). I felt like I was the luckiest girl in the neighborhood because she at times would give me a hug and encourage me to stay in school. I truly loved her and when she took i remember myself crying. Yes many of her Johnny cakes was morning breakfast. Corn Flakes cereal was always second choice to her cakes. Served it with some Blue Boy Chicken sausage in oil, margarine or creamy butter and baby bye!

Gill’s restaurant, oh mein! Talk about milk cake, potato pound, creole bread and bun, their 123 aka rice & beans with stew chicken and potato salad, coconut crust, jam roll, bread pudding (couldn’t top my mother’s) and trifle (coconut cake) had your mouth watering. Their food sold out too. You get your soda there and fresh juice. I did not add key lime pie because I never saw it there. I could be wrong but deh greedy people bought it all up (just kidding).

At the Esso gas station you would take your gallon bottle and go purchase kerosene oil for your lanterns. If there was a shortage the lines would be long. Blackout (power failure) was a part of daily life. Gas was real cheap and only few had cars like the station wagons.

Mr Young’s furniture next to Solis Ice Cream shop. Folks would go to his business to get their woods plain, furniture built, or collect sawdust to fill their yard. He was a generous man to his neighborhood.

This was the way of life in and around Cemetery Road and it was my cherished experience growing up in the neighborhood. Our local businesses were owned and operated by Belizeans. They gave financial credit on a monthly basis to many families in the neighborhood. Helped those less fortunate. You had to have honesty and great trust in your character to purchase goods back then. I don’t know if it’s the same in this day and age. No one tried to rob them. Everyone was on the lookout to protect these businesses and their owners.

Below is a map of the city and shows the names of the streets I mentioned in this article. Vernon Street crosses Collet Canal. East Canal is labeled as Collet Canal. The bold grey area running North to South is the canal. The Canal which runs from Mikes Club to Aunt Joyce Saloon is THE SOUTHSIDE CANAL, The Streets which runs Parallel to that Canal are East Canal Street and on the other side of the Canal is West Canal Street. The Bridges which crosses over these Canals are generally named from the said street which crosses the Canal such as Bishop Street Bridge, Prince Street Bridge, King Street Bridge etc., however some of the other Bridges which crosses these two Canals were given real names, such as, BOLTON BRIDGE, BROOKLYN BRIDGE, YABROUGH BRIDGE, STANDFORD BRIDGE, POUND YARD BRIDGE and most recently FISH BRIDGE. The Canal which runs from Counch Shell Bay to Yarbrough Fire Station is THE COLLET CANAL, The Streets which runs Parallel to that Canal are East COLLET Canal Street and on the other side of the Canal is West COLLET Canal Street.

Click here to see a larger version of the map, which is easier to read.

Orin George Morrison: There ae many canals in Belize City, some of them are SOUTH CREEK CANAL, PRISONER CREEK CANAL, PARTRIDGE STREET CANAL, MAGAZINE ROAD CANAL, NORTHSIDE CANAL, DOUGLAS JONES STREET CANAL, PRINCESS MARGARET DRIVE CANAL, EAST OF LANDIVAR CANAL, WEST OF LANDIVAR CANAL, UB CANAL and MCKAY STREET CANAL.

Gale Waight: At that same canal side the dorrie use to come from Gales Point full of mangoes of all kinds and sugar cane! How about the lady we use to call Mary Poppins!

Photograph courtesy Noel Escalante

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