Queen Street was so beautiful with palm trees lined both sides of the street in 1890's in Belize City!
It looks so very WIDE in comparison to today! I like how everybody, mostly men, could walk in the middle of the street. They had no idea that one day it would be occupied with, first bicycles, then motorcycles and then all these motor vehicle! Even in the 1970s much of Belize City still looked like this. Well dressed residents too!
The Queens Sqaure Area
by Michelle Rivana Buckley
In addition to Central Market on the Southside of town many of the residents of Collect Canal area would go to the old Queen Square Market. Besides the market being a landmark you had Novelos Bus Terminal, Malics (sold poultry), Queen Square School, Slaughter House, and Hostel, Santos Grocery shop, Ayuso bar and restaurant, Mr Joe Boxing gym and his panades shop.l, Tabasco aka Bert Lankadt who word at Palace theater. Canto the watch repair man at the corner of Iguana Street and Fairweather Street.
Notable families in that area were the Dyers (Mrs Hazel, Jacqueline, Richard, Anna), Gullap (Eddie and Friday both fishermen), Leslies, McKhenzies, Skeen (Evalee and Emerson), Mr. Santos (Max), Ayusoís (Gary, Libby, Waldo) and many more families.
It was fun going in that area with my mother to shop at the market and to visit my sister. At that time my sister lived near the canal a few yards from the old concrete bridge which wasnít too far from Quen Square School on Dolphin Street and Yarborough area and Queen Square Primary School. Before coming towards that bridge not too far from Malicís was the old wooden bridge. The opposite side by Magazine Risd was the route My mother would walk to get to the market. I believe it was Magazine Road past Hicatee Street then made a left which land you near the open lot where the market was.
On the opposite side of Rogerís Stadium you could also access the market. This meant you would have to walk on Collect Canal near Pound Yard Bridge to get there. That street was not paved and was very dusty. Passing Slaughter House on this side of the stadium you would see the huge Zebooí cows as we called them waiting in their pens to be slaughtered. I forgot to mention that pigs were also kept there. I could recall sneaking in and petting a huge white one (cow). I felt sorry for the poor thing. That sorry only lasted when I saw them. Not to be cruel but the day my mother made stew beef with okra and coconut rice, forget the moo moo. I clean my plate; at that time as a kid I preferred beef over chicken any day. To me chicken legs and wings were gross. Yes put those pieces onion or bell peppers, tomatoes or carrots on my plate I would start crying. My siblings had a bad habit of flinging the veg on each other plate when my mother wasnít looking. I guess some of you had dislikes of veg too. That was the only thing that made me bawl beside not allowed to go somewhere. Long eye water falling heavy and fast. My mother would scold us and let us battle who threw what on each other plate. My sister old chew up the bone of the chicken not even a piece left for our dog Bengi. Iíve been to Belizean parties in America and see folks grind up them chicken bone with their bare teeth. Yikes! Looking back itís a good laugh but back then I would be mad. My dog Snowball was always under our ding table waiting to get my chicken. At times I sat on the side of the dining table next to the window where I could fling the meat and veggie outside. I now it is sad! but if you could recall the chiicharron man would ride his bicycle in this area too to sell his wonderful bags of friendly and freshly made chicharron and plantain chips. If you had his you know it was worth the price you paid. Warm and oozing with oil in the one pound brown paper bags.
Noveloís Bus Terminal was a huge lot that was dusty. To this day I remember the yellow mustard color concrete one story building. The buses serviced the villages on the Northern and Western Highway taking you south of the country. The terminal would come alive with the Garifina women vendors and folks heading to the capital Belmopan or Cayo out West to visit family or friends or to do business.
Once pass the bus terminal you turn the corner of the Collect Canal street and there was the market. You would see fresh vegetables, this was the only place that I saw the greenest bell peppers aka sweet peppers. I could recall purchasing mami so sweet with a beautiful red color inside like the sunset. Unlike Central Market the vendors would have free samples of the fruits to entice you to buy. When you purchased their watermelon they would could a little triangle at the top to show you how red and sweet they were. The variety of scotch bonnet and habanero peppers all brightly colored red, yellow, orange, and green. On a good day you could get the black/purple ones. My mother never bought the meats out there but if my father wanted some game meat she would purchase it there. You could get fruits like Baboon Cap, Monkey Apple, Goiseberry around Christmas time, and May Plum. The market came to life in the early 80ís. Saturdayís Mercia, hot Johnny cakes and tea was available. I used to love the Mayas when they brought there produce such as corn and those beautiful hand sewn white cotton dresses or blouses embroidered with brightly colored threads at the ends and around the square neckline. My, My the market was vibrant, loud voices filling the air. Broad creole being spoken in high pitch. Next to the market was an old land mark wooden concrete house. It had beautiful ornate trimmings with the old style wooden blinds. I donít know who owned that house but in that area you could see the colonial style designs.
From this area you could walk out to the Yarborough area near Albert Street.
Santos grocery shop at the corner of Hiccattee and Magazine Road was a two story white wooden building. It was packed to capacity with products. As a shopkeeper he could barely move around in his shop. Later on I donít know if he was rob but he had chicken wire screen attached to the counter. He was our to go to shopping stop if Blades or Montero ran out of goods.
Mr Ayuso bar/ restaurant was across the street from Santos. His downstairs was the bar and his family lived upstairs. It was the only bar where creole bun and bread could be purchased. Inside was dark with brightly colored neon lights on any given day. He was funny and friendly. His daughter Libby was my coverup for sneaking out. Gary his son was the only boy I hung out with at BTC. Gary would smoke cigarettes and bring the rum to school in his backpack. He would ride his bicycle to school or wait for me at the corner of Vernon Street so we could go together thru Berger Field aka Lake Field. These people were my extended families. The Dyers went to the same Caye every year and we all grew up together.
In the evenings you could hear softball going on at Rogers Stadium. Us Coye children were huge fanatics of the sports you pay your entrance fee at the gates then go to the wooden bleachers about 10 feet off the ground and find the perfect spot to enjoy the games. Not too sure but the softball teams from the Caribbean or US would come play there. You had the Ellis sisters who were star players. Yes our Belizean softball team shone overseas and at home. There was a huge metal fence behind the catchers mound. Before entering the softball area of the stadium you saw the basketball court. There Pullloo Lightburns and those players for the Green Stripe, Travellers team played. If your older brother played ball there they probably know my older brother Richard Coye aka Sagastomeh. You could always hear the loud cheers from the games. The stadium was packed from folks from the north and south side of the city.
The stadiumís two storey concrete building was used for political meetings and youth events. Minister Dean Lindo would often pop in to encourage the youths. During Carib Settlement Day now known as Gardena Day that stadium came alive with the festivities of punta dancing, Drancunu performance (traditional dancers in Garifina costumes made from seashell and ornately painted screen masked). My mom was a big supporter I could recall the women dragging her in to punta with them and she knew the traditional songs. It was an all day festivity. There arrival by canal at the Pound Yard Bridge in their canoe filled with coconut palms, fruits and cassava was captivateing. They would March from the bridge to the stadium. My dad would be there helping along the way and singing. Those were remarkable times for our neighborhood. Children were allowed to go to the stadium to play only sports. There was a family that were the keepers of it. At Christmas time the Garifina Drancunu dancers only men with the drummer would walked the neighborhood and performed for a small donation in the yard. Our yard was where they came. My dad would have the liquor flowing. My sister was scared of the Drancunu dancers like so many other children. Me I wasnít! I joined in the punta party and my dad gave me my shilling for wallahing (dancing). It seems like yesterday I could hear my motherís voice yelling ďCome Shell shake it!!Ē
Gillís Restaurant which was opposite the stadium was our to go to place. Next to his restaurant was the wooden hut where you could purchase your Boledo aka lottery. The sound of Glen Bood practicing and passerby nodding good day to each other as they turn the corner to go to their homes in the Queen Square area.
Btw Gillís Restaurant was packed during events held at the stadium. Folk bought up all the food and Mr. Meighan would be taking photos with his huge flash bulb camera. The stadium was another meeting place for boyfriends and girlfriends. Like I stated in my stories I was always tagged along. and it didnít take much to bribe me. Ideal, hard time biscuit, fruits and those wonderful red and yellow round translucent candy did the trick.
De Leslies and Mckenzies. hoo.meh knoo TABASCO aka Bert Lankadta used to work at Palace Teata. Also the watch repair man Mr. Canto at the corner if Iguana St and Fairveather Street
I remember Malic's with his large freezers holding hundreds of chicken!! He had a way of making them available soft n ready for the kitchen knife
Michelle Rivana Buckley:
During secondary school I worked with him. We had a bin that was set aside early morning and put the frozen ones in there to thaw but mostly his chicken were delivered fresh daily. He could not keep them in stock because they sold out quickly especially on Saturdayís. How I got the job was his son was my classmate and he liked my best friend Carla. I hooked him up he got me the job. I earned $35 a week at that time that was a lot of money for a 13yr old. I didnít mind working there because back then I didnít like chicken on my plate. Had to was my hands with bleach all the time to get rid of the raw smell. He helped many young men thru school with jobs at his place.
Is Velda Malic still around? Malic had a shop on Lake View Street and Velda used to run it. Lake view street used to be or still is off Cemetery Rd.
Michelle Rivana Buckley:
Sam I donít know but I remember the shop her sister who was married to Charles Bowman ran it. They lived upstairs as I recall. It was a grocery store too. We would walk thru the street Supa Lady first spot was on to get there. Just opposite the lot that was next to Ms Juban.
Photograph by Aguirre
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