In the photo above is the Sinajaña I grew up in, before Urban Renewal changed it all in 1971 and 1972.
The village of my childhood was a village where the streets were narrow and the natural playgrounds of the neighborhood kids when a car wasn't passing.
We had no concept of private property and we leisurely moved in groups from one family's property to another, making use of whatever we found on the street, brush or yard to make into toys. A stick and an empty tin can were more than enough for a few of us to get a half hour's worth of fun.
The picture also reminds me of two accidents I had as a kid. Two accidents aren't much and one of my brothers got into much more, to the extent of crashing his bicycle into a barbed wire fence, dripping with blood walking back home where our Auntie Rita, whom we all called Nina, burst into tears.
But I had at least two mishaps to "brag" about.
One accident involved my right foot.
One afternoon I was walking around the neighborhood, bored and looking at what was up. I noticed that a bunch of guys (all in their teens) were under a house. Many houses in those days were built on posts (haligi) so that the space under the house (påpa' såtge) could be used for storage, chicken coops or whatever.
I had no idea what those boys (older than me, I was around 8) were doing under that house but it sounded like fun. So I started to creep under the house. About five feet into the space, which was somewhat dark, my right foot, wearing a zori or rubber slipper, went right into a coffee can filled with melted wax.
Those boys had been making bamboo cannons, as seen in the pic above from another country. They were shooting soda pop cans! But they needed melted wax to seal holes, as the wax dried. I had made the mistake of stepping into their can of hot, melted wax made from stick candles.
So I cried like a baby and out of the dark, muddled shadows of teenage boys emerged my brother Mark who took me out of the underspace. I learned later that my other brother Carl was also in the group. Mark was around 16 years old at the time. He carried me in his arms to our house, just about a block away. Both mom and dad were not home. There weren't cellular phones in those days. Luckily it was around 4pm so we just waited for an hour till mom got home from work. All the while I was crying at the burning sting in my foot. All Mark could do was hold me on his lap. I looked at my foot and thought my skin was peeling off. In reality, it was the wax hardening from cooling off. Lol.
When mom came home, she drove me to the Seventh Day Adventist clinic which, in those days, was where Simply Food and their church is today, in Agaña Height across the Governor's House. There a nurse put wet strips of something or other on my foot then bandaged it in gauze.
In the end, whatever burn I suffered was minor. My skin didn't even peel. After 24 hours, I was good as new.
FELL INTO AN OUTHOUSE
In those days, we had outdoor toilets here and there. Kommon sanhiyong, in Chamorro. Most houses had indoor plumbing by then, but some either didn't have an indoor toilet or they just preferred doing their business outside.
I was walking past the Ramos house and saw a big hole in their yard. I can't say for sure the hole was on the Ramos property, but their house was not far from the hole.
Being the curious person I am, as seen in my burnt foot incident, I walked over to the hole to look inside. It was a rainy day and the soil was slippery. I just remember being impressed by how deep it was and how red the slimy soil was.
Before you know it, I found myself inside the hole!
My feet had slipped on the muddy edge of the hole. I didn't hurt myself going down, but now I saw no way of getting out of the hole! I was between 8 and 10 years old at the time; maybe 5 feet tall, give or take a few inches. The hole was at least 6 or 7 feet deep.
I started screaming; not too much; not as if I were drowning or in a panic. Just yelling out "help" every minute or so.
Eventually, someone heard me and after around 5 minutes one of the Ramos teenage boys was looking down at me from the top of the hole. If memory serves, someone just used their hand to reach in and grab my hand and pull me out.
The only thing injured was my pride.
I later found out that the hole was dug for a new outhouse. Thank God I didn't fall into a hole that already had its grand opening.