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PostPosted: Sat Aug 25, 2007 3:18 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jan 03, 2006 11:41 am
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On a small island, in the Caribbean – with a very hot sun and the doldrums that come with the humidity of August – on this island about 50 years ago, things were different for a small boy.

Kids wore starched and ironed white t-shirts that had been bleached into a shocking white. Shorts were beige Khaki without belt loops but instead there was the elastic band that mercilessly held the waist in place. Most feet were covered by black high-top Keds. The kind with the white ankle bone rubber protectors on the sides and laces that were much too long and resembled Flopping Bunny Ears when tied.

I had three pair of shoes, a black pair that had been shined every week-end since the day they were bought – even if I only wore them once or twice, a brown pair that I never polished and were scuffed into a comfort beyond words and (of course) my Keds. On week-ends most kids wore socks with their shoes, during the week they didn’t. August summers were listless, hot and dusty. Nowadays they are hot – everyone scurries way too much. Listlessness is almost non-existing. There is barely any dust left that hasn’t been paved or cemented.

Back then, the lack of cars and other vehicles that nowadays fills so much of our space, allowed for open areas. The heat slid into those open areas and “hunkered” for the day. The heat looked for nooks to slide into. Cats panted as they leaned against outside walls or under small pieces of wood.

I remember walking the streets of Wilhelminastraat and looking in through the windows of the homes and seeing faces far in from the sills. The heat had not yet known the cure that “Air-Conditioning” gives to sweltering humanity.

It always amazed me at how perky and happy skinny dogs are in these kids of environments. Give a scrawny street dog the worst that the world has to offer and they prance around like they are walking down a winter wonderland. They hold their noses up and, for them; dust becomes snow flakes and the searing asphalt is the newly fallen snow. They were ritualistic animals. I never (to my recollection) saw one just sit down. They hovered over an area, looked down at it and then spiraled down into it leading with the nose. Once settled – they closed both eyes and lifted one eyebrow every few minutes.

The heat created was everywhere and had a humming sound in my ears - a sound that stays with me today. There were no real colors in the town area. But if a color had to be chosen, it would be light shades of dusty yellow.

Then, one Sunday, my parents took me to the beach and they went off to sit with friends. We were at the “Aruba Zwem Club” and I walked out to the sandy beach and dug in my feet. I looked out to the ocean and was accosted by colors. The brilliant white of the sand contrasted against the light shades of blue surf that worked into a darker shade indicating ocean grass or depth. There was a gentle rolling sound made by sand and shells along the surf. The air carried the dry odor of the salt that floats along most shores. Along with that was the mouth watering odor of cooking onions that were on their way to join some other food item.

All of it – the colors and the smells and especially the vision you could clearly see when you closed your eyes, pounded on me that Sunday morning. As I stood there, I looked up at the skies and noticed that the sky had a pale blue hue to the North but to the South, it was dark and ominous – as if it were storming over Venezuela.

One side seemed innocent while the other looked angry.

In this, we lived. We went to school and we learned and we played. We talked to each other and it was a happy time.

Today, I saw a boy wearing a shirt with many colors and he had on pants that are too long to be shorts and too short to be called pants with to many pockets to be “Bermudas”. He did not wear Keds – He wore shoes that lit up as he walked and they were red.
It is hot but the wind isn’t the one of my youth. I look around and there is no dust to speak of. Something is missing. There is no dust - and I think that for the dust to not become a faded memory, we should talk about it – shouldn’t we? Off to the side is a cat sitting in a soft chair and he pants slightly, even though we have air-conditioning.

be well
charles


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