A simple life growing up in Bodden Town

Fifty years ago, Bodden Town was not what it is today. 

Children went about by themselves. Kids swam, rode bikes, ate wild fruit, walked to school barefoot and went to bed before 7 p.m., either because the night was thick with mosquitoes, or the light of the moon had vanished. 

It was a more innocent time – a time that now seems long past and impossible to find again. 

The island had a relatively slow pace of life, low cost of living, good comfort, happy people and plenty of home-cooked meals. 

In the 1960s, Caymanians lived a simple life, gave thanks to God, enjoyed animals and nature, worked hard and made delicious food for their families. Some cooked and baked a bit extra and made sure their friends and neighbors had enough to eat, taking that food around to their homes and sharing it. 

People did not have to make plans for any night or day of the week because everyone knew where each person was going to be – at the drive-in-theater, at home, at work, at church, or at a community dance in the town hall. 

Garbage was never a problem. Back in those days, everything was recycled or waste was burned. If you saw smoke, you did not call the fire department because it was probably just a bonfire. That was what people did in those days – used fire to clear a piece of land for farming, to get rid of the mosquitoes, or to burn a rubbish heap. 

Cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt and rice were purchased by most families, who relied heavily on each other for survival. But there were three square meals a day: fritters and fish or porridge in the morning; fish rundown or stew beans for lunch; and more fry fish and fritters for supper, along with hot cocoa. 

Everything either came from the land or the sea. 

Searching the bushes for wild fruits and land crabs and cracking almond seeds to make almond candies were among the favorite pastimes for most kids. 

Bodden Town also had a dairy farm in Pease Bay. The man who operated the place at the time would bring milk to the town hall for children attending school, and later on, when the company started to make chocolate, I would go there with my friends for the broken pieces of chocolate that could not be sold. 

Our lives changed seemingly overnight, from going to school barefoot, to a widened world of possibilities as the island grew more affluent and “the islands that time forgot” were “discovered,” apparently both by time and by the outside world. 

Like any other country that has found wealth, time passed, things have changed and we have moved on, but our memories of those simpler days live on. 

Most of the cooking was done outside under the trees. - Photos: Jewel Levy
Most of the cooking was done outside under the trees. – Photos: Jewel Levy

Fresh eggs were collected from the chicken coop each day.

Fresh eggs were collected from the chicken coop each day.
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