"Memories Of The Canal Zone"

© Snow W. Frost (Jo Ann Marti)
BHS "66"
(I lived in the CZ from 1947-1968. Been back to CZ only twice.)
The Canal Zone was a great place to live. I lived on the Prado, across the street from the Elementary School.  There are so many memories of growing up in this beautiful paradise......

Ancon Hill
I remember sliding down the Administration Building hill in Balboa on large pieces of cardboard. The hill was sloped into several tiers, and a person could either slide down sideways for an "even" ride, or riding down the various tiers for a super fast "bumpy" ride. There was no stopping--even if you rolled off of the large piece of cardboard that you used like a sleigh, you'd go rolling and rolling down the hill. Fun--many hours, days, years, I spent doing this.

Television in the Canal Zone
TV with no commercials. I can remember when we visited the US for vacations, how my brothers and myself would memorize the various songs of commercials---we thought commercials were great. I can remember in particular the "Mr. Clean" commercial words.

Because we didn't even have television in the Canal Zone until I was 14 years old, a child had to be creative in other ways for entertainment. Playing games, such as "Double Dutch Jumprope", dodgeball, or, pretending an old metal building near the Balboa Elementary School was a dungeon (whereas it actually was a storage building for explosives back in the Panama Canal construction days). One solid rule most "zonian" kids had---you had to go "in" when the streetlights came on. Of course, just as the lights would be coming on, the DDT trucks usually were putt putting along, dispensing the thick cloudy smoke that we'd play in. We'd challenge each other who could follow the truck the furthest---no knowledge then how our later lives would be affected by this poision.

Snow Fights
My brothers and I would go to the ice house behind the commissary, and get pounds of shaved ice and make CZ style snow balls and have snow ball fights. Felt good in that tropical heat.

Climbing Mango and Banyan trees
So many years climbing trees. Usually I could knock down a mango from the ground using a "ground" mango---you know what I mean there---but, if there was that special mango up high, then up I'd go. Banyan trees, they were the greatest to climb. Really big limbs---a great place to do some day-dreaming about life. I especially liked those by the Ancon hill.

"Roach Control"
Uck---all that spraying inside your apartment every "whenever." The entire place would stink. Having to help wash the pots and pans, food cans, and all your dishes before using them. Roaches had a paradise in the Canal Zone. I can remember once with my Mother in Law, and when I saw a roach, I simply got up--took off my shoe--and "wham" all done. Then casually sitting back down to finish the conversation we were having. Her eyes were huge, she just didn't know what to think of me.

Christmas lights
That was a highlight of Christmas for me. It was so much fun to see who had the most scenes or the most lights. The Panzers, always had the most. My dad would always try to outdo him, but the other guy would look at ours, and then add more. What fun to see two men act like kids.

Sputnik Bubblegum
Those huge balls of bubble gum. We thought we were eating Russian bubblegum.

Catching lightening bugs
Many hours spent doing that---and the excitement of feeling the buzzing of the bug inside your clasped hands.

School Supplies and School Memories
Opening up our school supplies on the first day of school. Everything came wrapped up in brown paper, and "we" got to open up "our" very own package of goodies. It was like Christmas. I can remember the ink wells on those wooden desks, and the first time I ever got to use that "scratchy" pen--dipping it into the ink--trying not to drip along route to the paper. Being told from the teacher that she knows "exactly" how many scratches are on each desk---that she better not see any initials or drawings "or else----". Also, the "air raid" drills we practiced, due to the threat of Cuba and any other possible wars. We had to learn how to cover our face and neck. The Canal was always a high risk area.

CZ School Shots
I remember the shots that were given at the Balboa Elementary School. It was one thing to have those 2 feet long needles with a square tip on them, and nurse in a tired, bad mood----but, it was standing in that long long line---watching the kids go by you and tell you how much it hurt! So, those people who were in the furthest part of the line, were scared to death before they even got to the nurse. We'd have our arm muscle so flexed that it really did hurt far more than it had to!

Balboa High School
Those flour sack type gym suits that we wore--who the heck designed them? Gym classes at the Balboa Swimming Pool--having to get dressed after being wet, in that humidity, having little time to do so because we had to get back to class which was a bit of a walk.

Army tents and jungle hammocks
Sleeping in those jungle hammocks with mosquito netting that zipped shut--hanging between those outside clothes lines next to your house. That was real fun. Of course, they always had an awful odor. The worst part of doing this was when older kids would come by and cut the ropes hanging the hammock, and boom, down you'd go. Of course, just playing with the zipper getting in and out was fun too. They really felt deluxe to us overall. The tents were also fun to put up---hammering in those spikes--especially during raining season when the ground was so soggy and the spikes just wouldn't stay taunt. Many tents that just wouldn't get taunt--but oh well, we'd make do.

The day the riots began. I was sitting on the front stairs, when I saw hundreds of Panamanian angry people running and yelling as they were going down the stairs of the Administration Building on their way to BHS. I was so scared. That night, the military helicopters flew over our house, with spotlights and loudspeakers stating we were now under military law.

Going to the "section I"
Treasures to be found at the "Section I." All those loose parts to things---a child had a creative mind. Five dollars could buy a lot of stuff.

CheeWees, my favorite snack in the Canal Zone. Delicious, crunchy--unlike any other snack. Inside the brightly colored can, were bumpy, bright yellow, crispy, crunchy, short looking crooked french fries type of cheese snacks. So good. I can remember as a young child trying to open the CheeWees, with that key and my small hands. So often, I would be twisting and twisting, then "spring" and everything would get all messed up and the key would come off and sometimes go sailing off real far, and even sometimes to never be found. My sweet grandmother, Lila Pullen, would comfort me saying it's okay, and she'd get the pliers and finish the job. I remember too how very sharp it was---that dealie that the key twisted off. All those "cheese puff" and stuff here in the US, just doesn't measure up to CheeWees. When you bit into one of the CheeWees, there was "substance and flavor", and lasting satisfaction. What a great memory. Rain
How it would rain on one side of the street, but not the other. Being able to play in the rain as long as it wasn't lightening. Having the mud run between my toes--"squish"---no other feeling quite like that.

El Prado
Watching the men paint the bottoms of the royal palm trees---the trees truly looked royal after that. I can remember whenever I saw a horror movie, how I'd walk down the "middle" of the Prado--feeling safe.

The Fourth Of July parades were great. My favorite part was the Bomberos marching. Then, the finale when the tanks would come by right in front of you---tearing up the street. They made us feel invincible.

Goethals Monument
Putting soapflakes into the monument to create "soapflake" snow. Wading around in the monument. Just soaking your bare feet to cool them off, or clean them off after getting muddy at the playground next to the Elementary School. The yellow flowers we'd hold under our chins--to see if we liked butter--they'd reflect yellow on our chins. The middle part of the flower stained your clothes, so you had to be careful.

© Margarita (Stallworth) Tomlinson
BHS "66"
These are some of my memories--
Recently I was telling my students about the different ways we crossed the Panama Canal when I was little. Many times on the way to and from school, from the West Bank, we had to wait for a boat to pass through the locks before we could cross the canal. One of the older students would announce how many boats were coming and in which direction so we would know how long we had to wait. Many mornings the students would pray that we would "get caught" so they could finish their homework. We hated "getting caught" in the afternoons because it was HOT on that bus in the tropical sun. We rode an large army bus to school. Castio, the man who drove our bus, was not only our bus driver for many years, but was a counselor of sorts (he quietly made adjustments to help many of the students through difficult times at home and at school). He had a way with young people.

I remember begging my Daddy to let us take the ferry to cross the canal instead of going over the swing bridge. Sometimes he would give in if we had time to spare and were going to Ft. Kobbe. I remember that there were two ferries that ran every 15 or 20 minutes or so (I'm not sure of the turn about time, but one never had to wait long to cross). It was fun to see the other ferry pass us going the opposite direction as we crossed over. It made me sad when they discontinued the service. They built the Thatcher Ferry Bridge over that same spot. My students loved hearing about the two different signs that were put on the bridge approaches. For a time the sign on the Panama side read "La Puente de Las Americas". I'm not sure what it is called now, but that bridge changed things forever. The swing bridge stays swung open most of the time and is seldom used.

© Carol Torstenson
CHS "70"
Coco Solo, CZ
There wouldn't be enough time to go through them all. I was born down home in 52 and left in 71. One of my fondest memories was packing up my motorcyle with my diving gear and head out to Galeta Island . That was absolutely the coolest place to dive, swim, just hang out under the bohios. You couldn't ride your bike too much when the red crabs were doing their ritual though!!! Swimmimg and playing down around the Breaker's Club, fishing all aroung that area behind the Elementary School and by the boat ramp pier #1. I've also heard alot of wind in my life but none like the beautiful Tradewinds blowing through the Palms. Coco Solo had a very tiny Club House in the Commissary and we used to terrorize it pretty good on Saturday Matinee days. The Good Life!!! txpanama

© Barb O'Neal Braun
CHS "64"
"Having to walk through that little pool of "stuff" (disinfectant)? before getting into any CZ pool.
The vendors on bikes selling green mangos and those little brown paper packets of course salt out side the bus area at OLD Cristobal High.

The awesome all metal merry-go-round, 12 feet tall, behind Cana Place in Margarita where you could get up enough speed with 20 kids running around it and pushing to make it possible for at least eight kids to be hanging on up top with their full bodies flying out behind them.

Junior high kids having dance parties on someone's pation every other weekend -twisting the night away.

Running to cover your tropical fish bowls/tanks when you hear the DDT truck coming and then running out yourself to play in the fog and chase the truck.

The maid telling your parents you have the devil in you.

The blue crab migrations -- you'd be afraid to walk outside barefoot as they'd be in the carport, just everywhere, with huge claws.

The royal blue butterfly migrations -- amazing.

Playing Yankees vs Rebels, or cowboys and Indians, or just good guys -- bad guys, in the tall sawgrass in that giant field in the middle of Margarita. These games would go on for days on end. There was no TV and it wasn't missed.

Water-skiing on the Chagres with the Gilleys.

Going fishing with Poss Parker, on the breakwall, on reefs, down the coast on the boat -- wonderful.

Sliding down any hill on cardboard or a palm frond.

The most incredible Easter sunrise services of anywhere else in the world."

© Liz VanZandt
I remember eating slices of pina until your mouth was full of canker sores. Or spending my entire allowance on tomatoes from the Chinese gardens and devouring one after the other. The stalk of bananas which cost 50 cents which hung outside the house in the laundry area.

Swimming in the drainage ditches in Curundu.

Girl Scout meetings in those old buildings just before entering Curundu. The squabbles between the leaders ended with us having no troop and disbanding.

A bunch of us catching the bus to go to a movie in Balboa. The bus meandered all through Albrook, a couple of stops by the gate at Ft. Clayton before turning around, crossi

The cool breezes coming through the windows in the sanctuary at Balboa Union Church. The pie socials on the grounds outside the church. Singing Christmas carols on the steps at night, holding candles, while Mrs. Thibideau played the church organ to accompany us. Potluck dinners in the church.

Going with my mother down into Panama City either to the open market down by the sea wall or stopping at that place when you could buy fresh made ice cream--two flavors--coconut or pineapple. Best tasting ice cream.

My mother bargaining in the Hindu markets with the man who always sang out, "Making friends! Losing money!"

My dad all for driving over to the Canal where we were allowed to stand right next to the locks and watch them fill up with water. Watching the ships going through. Wondering about them. Where they had come from and where they were heading. The ships that came into Balboa. The battleship U.S.S. Iowa. Being allowed to go on board. Also the aircraft carrier Roosevelt which barely squeeked through the canal. Standing on the elevator which lifted planes up top.

Standing in front of the Balboa Post Office waiting to see Queen Elizabeth drive by.

Picnics on Sosa Hill. Sunday afternoon concerts in the parks in Albrook, Amador, etc. Bear claws bought at the Balboa Clubhouse on a Saturday night for tomorrow's breakfast.

The woman who had a small shop out by the Balboa pool. She sewed and did alterations.

Walking barefoot everywhere and not worrying about stinger grass, lizards, snakes or anything. Walking along the sea wall in Panama City.

Trips to El Valle, Pononome, Fort San Lorenzo. Spending the day at Hotel Washington.

Buying jumpropes and doing DoubleDutch.

Trips to Barra Colorado Island before the Girl Scout troop disbanded.

Trips to Santa Clara, Toboga Island.

Dinner at the club in Amador.

© Ernest S Laurenzi III (Mike)
CHS "86"

"No Other"

Where the trade winds blow and the square trees grew Life moved slow, this was the life I knew I was just a young boy, when I arrived at this land Because of what I learned is for who, and what, I am

There were happy times, sad times, and adventures all so many I lived at Coco Solo and Gatun... once Zonian Cities Times were different, when I was there, this is true But, no other place or land will do

Panama is the place that means so much to me Can you see the pride deep inside me? Stronger than any ocean, river, lake, or stream Even today I remember all my dreams For the short time that I lived there, and did reside I'm darn proud that I lived on the Atlantic Side

My life might have been different, and I will share this with you That is if my Father took the job offered by CT Askew My Father went to Panama with a friend And was offered a job, and he declined it back then If he took this job back in the 60's I might have been born and lived in a Pacific Side City I know my pride would be the same For no matter what the name of the city The country has the same name

I don't get hung up on what might have been Because when I lived in Panama, I had great friends

Things worked out in one way or another Panama is where I call home And in my heart there is no other

© Ernest S Laurenzi III (Mike)
CHS "86"
"For All I Am (Who I Am) Is Because Of Panama"

Panama had a funny way of shaking you ... to reality. Sometimes this was good ... and other times..... a numbing sensation. But, when things slowly pass ... and time to reflect on what things had happen. It made me realize how precious life is. Everything thing that we do ... friends that we make ... things we see ... and times were share ... are all precious. These times should be remembered, both good and bad. For all that we do and see, become a part of us. And a lesson that I learned in Panama. "Enjoy what you have today, because tomorrow it might be gone."

Sometimes life and things changes so quickly. But, if we don't take time to enjoy what we have today ... then we might lose it. And never take the time to fully enjoy what we had. Good times are great ... bad times usually are the tuffest of the lessons, of life. With both they keep us at an even keel. To be thankful of the good times, and learn from the bad. I will always be grateful for my time in Panama. "For all I am (who I am) is because of Panama."

© Patricia Smith
My father was with the American Embassy and we lived on the Panama side. Being Americans, however, did afford Zone and base privileges. My very first memories were of the Tivoli Hotel and the the Balboa cafeteria. Oddly enough, these two places are also my last memories. Well into a 5 year tour of duty, the Panamanian revolt in '64 took place. My family was eating lunch when our neighbor, Senator Tribaldos, hid us in his home for safety reasons. The Embassy sent a convoy later that afternoon to pick us up and transport us to Ft. Clayton. We spent the night on the gymnasium floor, later with several other gracious zonians (willing to put people up in their homes) and finally back to the Tivoli. In the early morning hours of Feb. '64, we were evacuated to Miami, never to return to Panama. Panama was the last country where I lived with my whole family for an extended time. Little did I realized that it was "the best of times and the worst of times". It truly lives in memory as a Paradise Lost.

© John Bateman
BHS "61"
Do you remember a neighbor, Curty Schwarzrock? I may asked you this before--don't recall. You know, DDT! He lived in the house facing the back of the post office parking lot, first or second from the Prado, first right after passing the PO. He dated Marlynn Anderson in HS, and was in my '61 class and a baseball team mate since LL, thru Fastlich teenage, in BHS, and CZJC & CZC. His mom's name was Mazie, and Eddie Napoleon is his uncle. She was a regular bingo player. She drove a '56 blue and white Bellaire Chevy. His dad, called Rock, was killed yrs ago--not sure how, but it was just Curty and his mom. What wonderful people, and what a talent was he in baseball, golf and school--honor student.

© Mary (Torstenson) Gruman
CHS "66"
Diablo: These were the first houses I lived in on the Zone..very old with layers of lead paint which would pop off with the humidity. (I got lead poisoning from eating the chips as an infant.)

In the flats, I remember "Margaret (?)" Birthday party. I was about 3 years old, and this party was for the older kids (5 or 6)...I cried until I got "invited" for cake. Did not understand birthday parties. It was set up in the carport under the house (12-family on Halstead Street), I think.

Then, we moved to the house that was just off the sidewalk that ran straight out the front of Diablo Elementary School, and about 1 block away from the fenced in playground. I remember the Hellmund Twins, Marcia and Linda, and the first day of school. They had never been separated, and they were both in different classes and crying loudly! I remember Miss Withers (1st grade teacher) and how very mean she was. She kept giving away my raincoat (those vinyl pale blue or translucent clear ones) which had my name in nail polish across the back in 2 inch letters).

We had a wonderful maid named Beatrix, and she was my first dance instructor. She was always singing and dancing with me.
We moved into a large 2 story house after my sister was born, it was two stories and still had the carport under it! It was right next to a steep hill that had a 18 inch drain pipe which I tried to crawl through, and got seriously stuck in! This house had a wonderful "L" shaped bathtub which was more than wonderful for soaping up and sliding down into the tub...made quite the mess!

Los Rios: We moved into the duplex(6235 Boqueron Street) when Carol was 18 months old. There were no trees in Los Rios, as it was a "new town". We lived across the street from the Sadlers (Pallie and Marion) and next door to the Bouchet's (Chickie and Buddy), and right next door to the Stewart's (Janet and Johnny).

There was no Los Rios Elementary School then...but there was the most wonderful dirt pile (in the dry season) and mud hole (in rainy season) right back of our house. Red clay mud which seemed to stain everything. Bobby Jeffries lived on the corner, and used to join me in the mud!

Then, we moved to 9301 Pequeni Place. (The Ashby's moved into our house on Boqueron) I was now 6 years old. My Mom would take us roller skating every week...(I still remember the CocoCola Machine..cost a dime!...and we had to share!) We stayed in Los Rios until I was 8. I loved the huge Mango Tree (that was probably taken down for the school)..there I learned how to climb trees. And, I would spend hours on the playground and the "monkey bars".

Margarita: We went to the States one summer without Dad, when we came back, he had moved us into a tiny 2-bedroom; 4-family...8102 Hevea Place..in Margarita! I was in 4th grade, and knew no one! Our house was on the top of a huge hill which was great to ride bikes down...first kid I met was David Coffey, but he could never play much because he was always "practicing the piano".

Coco Solo: By 5th grade, we moved again to another "new" town: 226-B Holland Court in Coco Solo. [ My mother enjoyed moving, I did neglect to mention that we also lived in Gamboa...that was before Los Rios, but I can't remember "where in Gamboa".]

On the Pacific Side, my Dad had sailboats, then motor boats. We spent every possible chance either deep-sea fishing or exploring all over Panama. I was trained by my parents (when I was 5 or 6) to spot orchids high in the trees in the jungle. (My Mom had a huge orchid collection).

When we moved to the Atlantic Side, the interests changed somewhat: Camping with the Girl Scouts; High School; and boyfriends. I discovered I really enjoyed snorkeling, and would go out to Galeta Island whenever possible.

I miss the balmy warm trade winds blowing through the palm trees on a clear moonlit night...looking up at the night sky and seeing the Southern Cross; the howler monkeys at night; the strong sweet musty smell of the jungle when you are on the Highway in the "Forest Preserve" coming "home" from Tocumen.

I loved snorkling at Pina Beach; jungle riding in my Dad's car (a big no-no); golfing early on Saturday morning at Brazos Brook Country Club; mud ball fights under the house with the neighbor kids; the Christmas Tree Wars, and the Christmas Tree Burn (even GETTING the Christmas Tree was exciting!)

The food...doesn't matter where..it was generally always good. The matinees for a quarter in Margarita...(the price went up to 50 cents in Coco Solo)...stickers, stinky beans, icecream beans, hot-beans,doodle-bugs, giant grasshoppers, rhino beetles, butterflies of every sort, bats hanging on the handrail in the hallway; squid and fish and things from the sea in the backyard after the ditch flooded with a good downpour.

I loved the rainy season and the streets flooding in 15 minutes; the whole town looking like it was on only one level because the water was so high; the grass cutters coming through like "the military" and quickly mowing all thge grass and moving on to the next area; the DDT trucks, and holding our breath, or trying to until it was "all gone"; the horns, whistles, hoots, and hollers for supper or "get in" by all the parents for their kids; Christmas Candle light service at Margarita Union Church..and trying to get the candle home still lit; Halloween which started at dark (6:30pm) and went until the candy ran out..or the TV went off (10:30pm).

The Coconut guys getting angry at us for stealing one coconut. They would chase us with machete waving; getting sugar cane back of Mahongy on Ft. Randolph (restricted) and trying not to get caught. [Giving a fake name if we did get caught] Buying oranges and grapefruit by the gunny-sack load for $3.00 a gunny-sack; guinips; mangos; star fruit; papaya; black palm nuts; lobster; grouper; redsnapper; corvina; snook.

Most of all, the people and the music...cantina music or Lucho's music...I miss it all....great smells (from the jungle to the grass burning) and bad smells (Mindy Dairy and the Cement plant)...all of it, I miss.

© Susan Alves
Here are just a few of the many memories I have--
"Memories of the Canal Zone"

We lived in 3 homes when I was growing up, one in the Flats, a wooden 4 family, One on La Boca Rd next St. Mary's Roman Catholic church and the last in LaBoca, next to the Lawyer family, across the street from the Fosters, &Rileys. In the flats, I was very little. I remember the big birthday parties my Mother had for me outside with so many friends, Lynn Deganare, Bradleys and Kats, Zemers,are just a few. I remember taking dancing, ballet and tap with Connie Zemer and Barbara Hopkins. I loved it. I remember in 2nd grade I was going to be the lead and my appendicts burst, I had surgery and was in the hospital for a long time. I stop taking dancing after that. On La Boca Rd, we used to slide down the hill on big card board pieces, climb on trees and swing from the big banyon tree in the back. We camped out with the Crowells, Fosters, Flumachs, Hannas, Tom Stoakley used to come over and play. We played kick ball, hide and seek up. We played jungle up in Sosa Hill. My Dad had a boxer, Duchess that used to attend church at St mary. She used to go down to the court house and sit in front of the judge's bench.

We used to go skating at the skating rink, ride bikes down tavernilla with our feet on the handle bars and hands in the air. I walked to school with Margie Malone, she was a good friend of mine then. I remember my Dad teaching bike safety. I always thought it was neat because he was My Dad. We went to Amador beach every weekend as a family. I loved going out to the beach.

When we moved to La Boca, we lived in a duplex. Bobby Lawyer's room was next to mine, he played his drums all the time (I am sure to annoy me). I took dancing from Harned and Dunn, that was wonderful. I was involved in Rainbows, and made special friends with so many girls there, Pam Michel,one of my dearest friends. The fun we had with the DeMolays, teen clubs, The Beldens. I remember in 11 th grade, falling down a flight of stairs in school and being in casts for 6 weeks and spending a lot of lonely time in bed. I remember being excited about going to Girls State. In addition to the wonderful memories of high school there were some real hard times. My Mother became ill and I spent a lot of time taking over responsibilities at home. I remember staying with my 2 younger sisters while my Parents went to the States and how scared I was.

Amador beach, at night was always beautiful. Sometimes when I am driving at night and see lights off in the distance, I catch my breath and for a second I am back there. I remember finding solitude there when in Dec 1968 my Mother died and I was so devasted. The ocean and beach have a soothing affect on me. (Perhaps because I am a Pisces)

I remember being so shy. I remember how all the boys were afraid of Sgt Alves and the Sgt Alves I knew was the gentle, kindest man. I always got in trouble at school for socializing and all I had to do was cry and my Dad would melt. I remember growing up, coming back, marrying Bill Hunter and living in Albrook as a military spouse. Having 2 beautiful sons in Gorgas Hospital and then leaving July 1976.

I remember in 1993 using all the $$ my Dad had left to me when he died in January 1993 to take my 2 sons, Ryan Hunter and William Hunter back to Panama so they would know where they came from . The trip to San Blas, the trip in the Canal and finally getting on the plane at Tocumen and as we took off, Will saying, Mom are you going to cry? To which I said, no I am going home. That chapter in my life was closed and I could never go back. The wonderful memories, some shared here and so many more kept in my heart to treasure.

I have learned that as my life has changed from a young girl growing up inthe Canal Zone, to a wife and Mother and now as a woman, single again, no longer anyone's daughter, still a Mother, I have much to look forward to in the future.

© George Chevalier
BHS "43"
This memory jogger is aimed primarily at the boys. We often talk longingly of when we went barefoot and then came Jr.Hi. and with embarrasment we began wearing shoes for most of the day. This then introduced us to the excruciating need to rip off those shoes and scratch with vigor between ones toes. I recall the Friday night movies in Balboa with whole rows of guys furiously digging at their toes.

Then came entrance into Hi Sch. and suddenly those boxer type shorts were passe and to be cool you had to use jockey shorts. Jock itch and ringworm were in heaven for with air circulation cut off they thrived. At first we were too embarrased to openly scratch but soon we were forced to dig for some sort of relief even if the girls were noticing.

I remember the Commy made some ointments reputed to help. One of which was called Dhobie Itch Ointment and it stung like hell. You could apply yourself to the frontal area but those huge ringworm circles on your buns were impossible to reach without help. In privacy I enlisted my Mothers help. I would drop my pants and bend over while she applied that devils mix. I resorted to having a large fan blowing on the afflicted area during treatment but my yowels reverberated around the neighborhood.

With more effective medicines and a return to boxer shorts the problem was eventually brought under control but it still lurks out there waiting to pounce on the unwary.

In all fairness we must revere the bad along with the good memories.HA! G.C.

© Margarita (Stallworth) Tomlinson
BHS "66"
I read over your memories earlier and thought of some comments to add to the memories you already have listed. Remember, the T.V. only had one English channel...I remember watching Golf because that was what was on and there wasn't anything else on in English. Remember the channel always went off with the "Star Spangled Banner" (I believe that was the song) followed by the test pattern. I hated for it to go off when I was baby-sitting...the house got too quiet. Remember when they finally brought in Soap Operas and alternated which ones they would show. They would show one for several months, then show another. People who had gone to "The States" would come back and catch their friends up on what was happening on their favorite Soap.

In your C.Z. Shot section...Remember the TB shots on our forearm. The circle of prick marks...having the place checked days later to see if you had T.B.

Remember Miss Hardin the girls' "Gym" teacher. Remember the 6 Weeks that we had Field Hockey. It's a wonder we didn't do REAL damage to ourselves. Let's see - we had a six weeks of Basketball, one of Bowling, one of Swimming, one of Gymnastics, one of Field Hockey and was the other Health? I can't remember.

In the P.E. uniforms...remember that Nancy Tinkler was one of the few who could do justice to those "Bloomers". Remember digging through the freshly laundered ones to try to find one that would fit you, with good elastic in the legs, and still had all the snaps.

© Bea "Reyes" Gunn
Hi - I remember my Dad taking my sister and me to the Thatcher Ferry for a ride across and back. We must have been about 8 or 9 years old. Since we didn't have a car we would ride a bus, then sit and wait for the ferry and we would be one of the walk-ons. I can't remember too well but I know we had something on the other side (Arraijan side) to eat. It might have been raspado with condensed milk on top (one of our favorites)!!.

At that time, we lived in Calle Domingo Diaz off 4th of July Avenue. Morrison's was on the next street up. Carmen Bright, Sonia Bright and family lived behind us at one time and Lilia Flores and family lived across the street from us. I remember going over to the llanito across the street (across from Ancon Post office) and play on the teeter totter there. Oh, those great memories.

© Dale C. Clarke
BHS "63"
On the interior side of Thatcher ferry there was a place just before you got to the ferry on the left hand side that made rattan baskets and furniture... I used to go down there and watch them until my dad honked the horn calling me to go across on the ferry.

The Panamanian paperboys would wait to sell the papers to the people waiting for the ferry. They would all lean their sweaty backs on the last car in line. I used to keep my dads car spotless and would go home with white salt splotches from these kids. I decided to end this habit. I went to automobile row to Slims junk yard and got an old Model T coil and hooked it up to the electrical system in my dad's car with a switch. Next time I had a crowd of paperboys resting I flipped the switch and the reflex "blew" them clean off the road into the saw grass. All my friends alternated putting the rig in their car until there was not one paperboy who trusted the cars not to shock the caca outa them... Problem solved! :-))

Living in Rodman we would bet on Thatcher or Miraflores... Miraflores was quicker if the ship didn't have the bridge open. The ferry didn't run after 10 pm at night so Miraflores it was... The steel grates and railroad irons made the bridge a real hazard for us scooter and bike riders in rainy season.

On the La Boca side there was a guy who sold live shrimp, 12 for one dollar. If he didn't have them the closed place was Old Panama. I used to order 5 dozen and take the out to the mine dock for the crowd to buy.

© Paul Fiori "Mouse"
BHS "76"
We had a maid/nanny named Matilda and she was from St. Johns Island. I would watch her wrap her bandana in the morning and would just love going on a chiva with her to the mercado downtown. Ah the baths we kids would get in the square concrete laundry tub out back being rinsed with a coffee can and Lava soap. She took no bull from us kids either. She was around for a long time and had stories that would never end. She raised my dad and his brothers and then us. Bless her for indeed she is in heaven!

© Bea Behan
I remember......

Catching poly wogs in a jar in the ditch by fifth street in Curundu.

Riding my bicycle "fast as the wind" with playing cards clothespinned in the spokes.

Paying 15 cents to go to the Saturday matinee at the Curundu theater.

Seeing orchids growing wild in the interior.

Sitting in mango trees and eating myself sick.

Walking on the beach and not seeing another soul for miles.

Sitting on the rocks at the Causeway and meditating before I knew what meditating was.

Driving along a road with nothing but bush on both sides and suddenly see an enormous billboard advertising "KLIM".

Always having fresh flowers to pick.

Weren't we lucky?.........Bea Behan

© Bea "Reyes" Gunn
I remember skating down the 4th of July sidewalk from the Instituto Nacional all the way to Calle Domingo Diaz, where I lived. That street was one block down from Morrison's. It's a miracle I didn't break my neck. I think all the kids got skates for Christmas as you will see umpteen kids on skates on Christmas day. I also used to skate at Ancon Post Office (inside). It was mighty slippery, but fun.

I also remember living on the third floor of this apartment building on Calle Domingo Diaz and my mother sending a bucket down to vendors what were selling tamales for Christmas.

Also, my brother's giving my mother a Christmas present of comparsas singing down on the street for her. Gosh, I really wish we were back to those times again. Age of innocense, playing marbles, racing toothpicks on the streets on the rain gutters after a good rain, the bomberos releasing the water from the fire hydrants and us splashing around. Skating in Ancon gym. Well, that's enough reminiscing.

I lived in Panama until I was 14 so a lot of my memories are my happenings in Panama, then we moved to Balboa, Curundu, Diablo, etc.

© George Chevalier
BHS "43"
If you answer yes to these you have a few years on you.....

Did you get to partake of the venison BBQ's done at Far Fan Beach for the Union Church each year by Mr. Holcomb from the San Juan Hunt Club?

Did you ever splurge and treat your date to a gormet meal in the "Bell Tower" of the El Rancho Garden?

Did you ever do the whole night and watch the sun rise over Panama City from the bar?
Did you ever play drop the dime to see who pays for the round. Taking a glass of water,dampen the sides and spread a paper napkin across the top and place a dime in the center. Now each one burns a hole around the dime with your cigarette and the one who's hole caused the dime to fall loses?

Did you ever have a bowl of chili at the outside bohios of the Atlas Garden before calling it a night to head home?

Did you ever go see and oogle Jade Rodora doing her Beauty and the Beast Act? It was known locally as the rape of the ape.

Did you ever park with a date on Miraflores Hill and the next day go with her to the Balboa Pool where every one laughed at how you both were covered by mosquito bites? At Easter time did you ever camp out on the sabanas near Penonome,Chitre and Santiago? Sleeping on cots,gazing in wonder at so many celestial bodies, and listening to the yodel calls of native horsemen seeking companionship with other riders as they wound their way home after a big night in town.

Did you ever enjoy a Chinese meal in that little 2nd story restaurant deep in Sal-si -puedes?. Chicken[Iguana] Chow mein of course.

Did you ever have the pleasure of quaffing the coldest beer in town at the Hotel Central after having walked all the way from "J"St.? Stand outside the Quarry Heights Theater and watch the movies through the large screen side?

Did you ever experience the powerful emotion of peace and quiet while a patient in the old Gorgas Hospital as you stood at the top of the stairs where the Gorgas plaque was while looking out over the lights of Panama City?

As a young aviation fan and very taken by the stories of aerial daring do over the Western Front did you do the monthly trek to Oller's Kiosk, at the Balboa RR Station, to buy the latest issue of "G-8 And His Battle Aces"? For some reason it was not sold in the Clubhouse? Did you ever wash your coveralls in 100 octane avgas and wonder why you had skin problems later?

In BHS when first learning social drinking did you ever spill a Sloe Gin Fizz[RED] down the front of your white Tux jacket.? For a beginner they tasted mild and sweet but one experience was enough so CC and Ginger didn't look as bad when fingers slipped.

smell of that Gardenia Coursage you gave your first true love, for the prom at the Tivoli, still waff back in your memory?........G.C.

© Robin E. Harrison Walker
(In response to George Chevalier's posting above....)

Ah George, the corsage. Yes. Did you ever put a gardenia in blue or red ink and see what happened? Always have a gardenia plant even up here in the north. I love the fragrance.

Ever go to Morgan's Gardens for the St. Luke Carnival?

Do you remember clothesline rope and smell of drying clothes? Remember the maids draping stuff over bushes to dry or bleach them in the sun?

Remember maid's rooms?

Remember smelling rain. I vividly remember sleeping on the porch at 717 B Prado and hearing and smelling a downpour late at night.

I also later remember my sister Christine sleep/talking to me> Wow, was that funny! I remember being in my cousin Joan's wedding at Union Church to Francis Conover. I was about fifteen or sixteen and looked so grown up back then. Also skinny. (that's a dream of the past).

Do you remember getting the nylon net in color of your choice, the taffeta and thread and then going to the "dressmaker" behind the Balboa Pool? She had a collection of various things relating either to the Royalty of England and also the Dionne Quints (which were about six at the time).

I remember the OLD Balboa Theater and the open lattice-work for ventilation. My Granddaddy was projectionist. He also called Bingo numbers upstairs in the clubhouse. I remember going with my Grandmother and to this day, have her bingo buttons in a chamois bag. I remember hoping he would call my number because he was my grandfather.

I remember getting my first permanent upstairs in the Balboa Clubhouse. I remember Klim Shakes and cherry cokes with some wise-acre guy flicking his cigarette ashes in it to make "Spanish fly" whatever that was. It didn't work.

I remember the strong smell of chlorine in both the pool and also the Balboa girl's locker room and that long pool of stinky chlorine water. I remember getting those flour sack gym suits and hating them as the shoulder buttons were invariably missing or slipped open. This was in the days BEFORE Dr. Ben Casey made the open shoulder look popular on TV. (You younger kids wouldn't remember the early TV).

I remember Movietone News and watching film from the "front" and seeing the displaced persons. I remember realizing I could READ by being able to read the captions under them

I remember bouncing balls and singalongs in the movies, and short subjects (a thing of the past in movies now). I remember Saturday morning matinees for fifteen cents and watching marathon cartoon showings. I remember the Balboa Cry Room...always good to neck in....

I remember ushers with flashlights, cheap cigarettes, CC and Ginger or Scotch and Ginger (which I still drink much to the chagrin of the purists).

I remember Danny G renting a huge 12 cylinder Lincoln just so he could impress me. then turning back the odometer before turning it back in.

I remember Grace Joustra, Joanie Read and myself chasing all over Balboa in Grace's Nash Rambler (with the reclining seats). I remember my first Sci Fi Movie, "From the Earth to the Moon", I remember seeing my only movie on a base, "The Thing" at Amador. I remember Joanie's MG midget. Both these girls were class of '54, one year ahead of me, but my very best friends.

I remember scavenger hunts and Rainbow Girls rummage sales in Laboca. "Miss, could you set that aside for me?"

I remember only one earthquake when I was around thirteen. It cracked the wall of the admin. building a little.

I remember shifting manually and hating it. Hating driving and failing the test twice.............

© Jim E Phelan
This is a joke regarding:
"When they were building the "new" Gorgas Hospital"....
When some doctors were told to contribute to the construction of a new wing at Gorgas Hospital, the allergists voted to scratch it; the dermatologists preferred no rash moves; the gastroenterologists had a gut feeling about it; the microsurgeons were thinking along the same vein; the neurologists thought the administration "had a lot of nerve"; the obstetricians stated they were laboring under a misconception; the ophthalmologists considered the idea short-sighted; the orthopedists issued a joint resolution; the parasitologists said, "Well, if you encyst"; the pathologists yelled, "Over my dead body!"; the pediatricians said, "Grow up!"; the proctologists said, "We are in arrears"; the psychiatrists thought it was madness; and finally, the surgeons decided to wash their hands of the whole thing. The radiologists could see right through it; the internists thought it was a hard pill to swallow; the plastic surgeons said, "This puts a whole new face on the matter"; the podiatrists thought it was a big step forward; the physiotherapists thought they were being manipulated; the urologists felt the scheme wouldn't hold water; the anesthesiologists thought the whole idea was a gas; the cardiologists didn't have the heart to say no; and the otologists were deaf to the idea. Needless to say, the idea of contributing to a new wing didn't fly!

© Dennis Tully
I am from the Atlantic Side and one of few but we had some good time too. I was the marbles champ on 6th Street in Margarita. I also played Mumbly Peg quite a bit. Terry Conley and I played a variation of the knife between the legs and it was with those big darts with the metal points. I had one stuck in my leg more than once.

We also thought nothing of going around barefoot in the stickers. They are killers now. OUch!!!! Roller skating was a blast. You never knew what was coming. There was an old grade school by the gym we would skate and ride bikes under. We came together more than once. Never did seem to bother us.

We would also build race boards with skate wheels or baby buggy wheels. Of course the only way they stopped was to hit something or run off into the grass where it stopped but you didn't. Oh, those were the days. How about playing Prince Valiant and riding under a tree and grabbing hold of the branch. That did not work to well sometimes.

I also remember all the good times going into the jungle. We would watch the military have their manuvers and they would never know we were there. We could also drink the water and not have it affect us. Both my parents got typhoid fever from Andy's farm and spent Christmas in the hospital. The Shipley's were suppose to take care of us. That did not work out to well. I do remember Julia Shipley very very well.

Well enough of memory lane for now from the Atlantic Side. I really enjoy hearing all of the memories whichever side they are from. Have a very happy Holiday Season.
Dennis Tully, Sr.
Old Cristobal
New Cristobal
France Field
Now Bartow,FL

© Bea Reyes/Gunn
I remember skating down the 4th of July sidewalk from the Instituto Nacional all the way to Calle Domingo Diaz, where I lived. That street was one block down from Morrison's. It's a miracle I didn't break my neck. I think all the kids got skates for Christmas as you will see umpteen kids on skates on Christmas day. I also used to skate at Ancon Post Office (inside). It was mighty slippery, but fun.

I also remember living on the third floor of this apartment building on Calle Domingo Diaz and my mother sending a bucket down to vendors what were selling tamales for Christmas.

Also, my brother's giving my mother a Christmas present of comparsas singing down on the street for her. Gosh, I really wish we were back to those times again. Age of innocens, playing marbles, racing toothpicks on the streets on the rain gutters after a good rain, the bomberos releasing the water from the fire hydrants and us splashing around. Skating in Ancon gym. Well, that's enough reminiscing. (lived in Panama until I was 14 so a lot of my memories are my happenings in Panama, then we moved to Balboa, Curundu, Diablo, etc.)

© George Chevalier
Skating at the Admin in Balboa...

From the early 1930's until after WW11 started one of our greatest pleasures was rollerskating around the three sides of the Admin Bldg. We did not use the vehicle entrance side where the covered entrance arch was. This was a ritual Friday night affair during the dry season and school year. Starting at dusk and continuing up to around 11PM as I remember. Older skaters would start those ultra long crack the whip lines and us younger types would be hanging on for dear life to the rear and hope we didn't get projected airborne out over those steps and down that long bank to the school and Prado level. It was also common for lover boys to sneak off to the balcony porches of the bldg with their girls. I really wasn't into that for the skating absorbed me entirely[of course].

We enjoyed watching the Army Air Corps fighter planes passing at eye level by us on that side of the Admin as they were landing. I recall we would pause to watch as we dreamed of being a Richenbacker,Richtofen or a Billy Bishop. In the bright moonlit dry season sky we could clearly see the single stripe around the fuselages of the two flight leaders as well as the double stripe of the Sq. Cmdr. Then dreams over it was back to daring do on the skates.

With the wartime changes and the introduction to beer and girls in our final years in BHS we saw skating disappear from our social agenda. When I finally returned to the Zone in 1968 I don't recall any Admin skating and so some of you may be able to tell me when that great pastime faded out of the CZ scene at least as far as the Admin location.

I know that by 1968 my kids did not have the freedom of movement that I had growing up on the Zone. Fencing and guards as well as prohibited signs seemed to be every where. No more hiking up Sosa Hill, Balboa Docks bared you from sight seeing as we had freely done on our bicycles with those daring chicken rides across the dry dock gate looking down at the empty dry dock with all the water pumped out. No more going down on the flight line at Albrook and having the crew chiefs let you sit in the cockpits of those bi-plane fighters as you would dream of Dawn Patrol over the Western Front.

I know other fads of interest claimed the attention of my kids but I kind of think my young world was the better.

© Dennis Tully
I remember going to the movies in Margarita and Coco Solo in later years. Liked to watch Commando Cody or Captain Video. Had great cowboy movies and some do remember the Durango Kid who was my favorite.

I saw War of the Worlds around "53." There also was a movie that starred Anne Margaret where she wore a bathing suit when she was in the witness chair in the courtroom. Don't remember the movie but watched it twice just to see her again. She became my idol after that and has been since.

It was nice to go to a movie for 15cents and take popcorn and soda for another 10 to 15 cents. You had world news, coming attractions, sometimes a cartoon and also a serial, then the movie. Boy, those were the days.....

© George Chevalier

Ancon Clubhouses.....
The first was a huge two story wooden bldg. located behind the Ancon Commy fronting on Mamei Place. It caught fire and burned to the ground one evening in 1924 and my Dad said the glow was seen for miles and of course people flocked to the site the next day to oogle the ruins.

The seconed was another two story wooden bldg that fronted Ancon Blvd. and had Frangipani St. on it's right side. It had all the usual features with barber shop,icecream parlor and a small theater attached to it's rear side. Meanwhile up on Frangipani St to the right of the commy was the Ancon Restaurant. In time the 2nd clubhouse lost it's icecream parlor as this was added to the restaurant which incidently was identicle to the one in Balboa and Cristobal. With the tearing down of #2 the barber shop and pool hall were moved into the restaurant which was Ancon clubhouse #3 and served until it became an office bldg in the final days.

All the original clubhouses had ice cream parlors only. Meal services were in the three look a alike restaurants of Balboa,Ancon and Cristobal. In Balboa the restaurant became the Police Station and food service was moved into the clubhouse. In Cristobal the old wooden clubhouse was torn down and the restaurant bldg. had all. In Ancon things were also moved into the restaurant and only the little attached theater was still operational in the old wooden bldg. I recall in Ancon the empty space was used by other organizations for their activity such as Boy Scouts etc. I believe the Balboa Clubhouse had waiters when it first moved in from the restaurant but then it went to a cafeteria type line.

© Dennis Tully
I was born in Margarita, Canal Zone in 1946. We lived in Old Cristobal at the time. Never heard anyone complain about living quarter. Lived in New Cristobal in a cottage and the same. We had a lot of fun there as kids. I especially remember running away from home with Patty Seaman and getting stuck in an elevator that was across from the post office. It housed the rainbow girls and the masonic lodge. Lots of memories and none unpleasant. We moved to Margarita and lived in an up and down on Cottage Place and loved that place. Now windows just big screens. Never did have a/c. Did not miss it either. Spent a lot of time in the jungle camping and enjoying. Misquitos and sand fleas did not bother me or my friends. Move to France Field and same there. Loved the weather and the climate. Only time I did not like it was when we had to leave in December of "61." Wish we could have stayed but things don't work out that way. Never been back but still would love to even though everything I knew of is gone. Still love the place though and there is no place like home. Panama is my home no matter who gave it away legal or illegal. It is a home I will always love and cherish as with the memories. Without them we have nothing. I wish I could have stayed longer. I left all my friends there. Never really made many here as a total different atmoshphere.

How many others remember everything so well and housing did not bother them. Just living and growing up there was special. Nothing and no one can deter that. Thank you Panama for those memories......Dennis
Old Cristobal
New Crisobal
France Field

© William J. Baldwin "BJ"
I grew up in Gatun....

Walked the tracks to the Gatun yaught club and would stop at the boathouse for a swim ....
Swam in Stilson's pond many a time.. sat on the culvert eatin piva/mangoes and fished...
You could see the pond from the Gatun club house...
I remember the large 2 story boat mansion that was moored in Gatun lake next to Stilson's pond...
Used to climb up and dive off into the lake...
I remember the boathouse in somewhat of a shambles..and thinking this is really a treasure....
This was in the mid 50's to early 60"s I don't remember when it was ever removed etc etc.. I do remember missing it...
Thought of the boathouse as a landmark....

© William P. McLaughlin
Gorgona is probably my most favorite construction town. Maybe because I have walked the streets, sat on the foundations of the old buildings, looked into the graves and dug old bottle dumps on that great old island.

Gorgona today is divided into 3 different islands, but with careful study of the old topographical maps and photos, you can just about identify exactly what building was what. The old rail line ran just behind the main island. This exact rail line was part of the original 1855 Panama Railroad bed.

Gorgona goes back to the times of the Spanish and their hard crossing of the isthmus. During the rainy season, when the rapids between Gorgona and the town of Cruces were impossible to pass via dug out, they would get out at the town of Gorgona (probably just bohio type dueling at this time) and take the Gorgona trail over to Cruces and the pick up on the Las Cruces trail.

There is a ton of history about Gorgona. I loved to explore the islands and find great old relics and bottles. Dredging Division was clearing the island in the late 70's and hit a rather large horde of old coins. WOW...people went ape....I am sure there is still much treasure on those great old islands the once made up one of the oldest and most important towns of Panama's history.

John O. Collins writes in his book, "The Panama Guide" 1912:

Gorgona bears the name given by Pizarro to an island off the coast of Columbia, near Buenaventura, because he found around it such treacherous currents. It may be that this name was adopted arbitrarily, or that the Chagres River travelers found in the river at this place some eddies that reminded them of the currents at Gorgona Island. Of this place Otis says: "The native town of Gorgona was noted in the earlier days of the river travel as the place were wet and jaded traveler was accustomed to worry out the night on a rawhide, exposed to the insects and the rain, and in the morning if he was fortunate regale himself on jerked beef and plantains. In the French time large shops were situated here, at the point where the American shops now are, known as Bas Matachin.

Gorgona should not be classed with Gatun and Bohio as a purely jungle hamlet, because it appears to have been a settlement of some size long before the railroad was built. It was one of the places at which the river travelers stopped for the nigh, and all about it were cultivated farms. At the time of the first Canal Zone census in 1908 its inhabitants numbered 1,065 whites, 1,646 blacks, and 39 Chinese a total of 2,750. The population has increased owing to the expansion of work in the shops. The site of the shops and the lower parts of the village will be covered by water of Gatun Lake, and therefore, the shops will be moved in about a year to the site reserved for the permanent marine shops in Balboa.

"Gorgona" means - sea fan

© John V. Brown
BHS 56

As a former CZP, I can remember when working by the Ancon laundry, the number of people that poured out of Panama City to work in the Canal Zone. I was told more than 14,000 a day came into the CZ to work. About the same number of ships that transitted the Canal each year. Many Panamanians had good jobs, a solid retirement system and good medical care. To make this more evident, all one had to do is walk around in the various parking lots at the Admin. Bldg. and notice the RP license plates.

The US presence in Panama gave Panama a good economy, not to mention a safe harbor from certain thugs in the Deni and the PNG. The CZ was that safe place to run when things got out of hand in Panama. Now all this gone. Thanks to Jimmy, Fidel and the liberal left in our government. If any nation has sawed on the wrong side of the tree limb, it is Panama.

Don't get me wrong, I hope Panama will have great success in the future. But like most small nations, their chances for success are very slim. Tourism and the rain forest are Panamas greatest treasures. Panama has to change it culture before it will succeed...no more drugs and thugs and no more deforestation with little education. Keep in mind, if the forest goes, so does the Canal. And if the Canal goes, Panama becomes just another banana Republic that sells drugs.

© Kenneth Willis, Jr.

Ken Willis, Jr. is my name...I grew up on the Atlantic side (the good side).

Brazos golf course is the only place I know of where you can loose a ball, tee and club all in the same shot. (Club handle was slippery after it rained while on the 2nd hole). Lost them all on the 18'th tee.

Who can forget "Shark" rock.

The Christmas parade in the band float singing and playing music. and the tree burning ceremony. Santa's sleigh on wheels.

And what about Ginnupps? (spelling) You know, those little slimy seeds that tasted so good.

B,I,S badges at the pools.

And those wonderful empanadas from the school lunch lines.

The joining of Rainbow High and CHS and the new friends made because of it.

Puddle surfing on a piece of plywood.

I really miss the flocks of parrots flying overhead.

Oh yea, the military maneuvers we had at Fort Randolph after it closed.

© Ken Johnson

I am 75 years old and was stationed at Fort Amador in 1946. I worked with cleaning, loading, planting, and controlling harbour mines in the bay of Panama. I was assigned to the 4th Coast Artillery, Battery D.

I shoveled TNT into mine cases with a brass shovel. I worked in the underground casemate on Naos Island and I worked on both the L Boat that planted distribution boxes for the mine fields and also on a mine planter. While in Panama, I spent a day on an island next to Toboga I think the name of the island is Taboguelia (probably wrong spelling) We had artillery pieces on the island. I was there on a work detail to clean a barge. There was a motley crew of about 6 men on the island, who as far as I could tell were assigned there to keep them out of trouble on the mainland. There was a road that went to the top of the island and the men had a truck which for intertainment, drove to the top and drove down as fast as they could without going off the road. One day in l946, I was in Panama City and when I got back to Amador, I found the sickest bunch I have ever seen. They had been sent to Tobago to help clean up after an airplane wreck.

I contracted diptheria while there. I had been on a USO tour to Chorea Falls where I went swimming. After a month of wrong diagnosis, I was sent to Gorgas Hospital where an older doctor diagnosed and treated me.

I loved to go down the causeway from Amador to the beach. It was such a beautiful place. I would like to see all that again.

P.S. While there I was a member of an honor guard for General Eisenhower at Albrook Field and stood in-ranks-inspection at Amador. I visit his burial place in Abilene which is 40 miles from my present home.

© Jerry Loberg

I really enjoyed reading all the experiences that people had in Panama. Please add me to your list... I arrived in Panama in August of 1974. My first experience was trying to get my vehicle passed, as I had to live on the economy. I had to have my vehicle inspected and had to get a Pasae Salvo Stamp. Since I couldn't speak Spanish I had to find someone who did. I was able to find a young lad who helped me out. Well my vehicle passed and I got my paper work stamped and was issued my license plates beginning with the number 10. I was now part of the 10th Province. My job was in the Canal Zone. I was the Commissary Officer for the US Air Force at Corozol. I lived in downtown Panama, off Via Espania. Six months later, I was assigned to Howard AFB in the Canal Zone. I can still remember travelling over the Bridge of The Americas. The things that I remember most about my two years in Panama were: The National Lottery, seeing the Ruins made by Henry Morgan the Pirate, the Carnival, Gatun Lake, the Hotel Washington on the Atlantic Side. Meeting so many Panamanian People, getting robbed twice. Watching the US Forces Southern Command TV Channel, especially showing: T. Hewitt Edward. " The Cat Burgler". Going to El Viae and buying bannanas for the commissary. Going to the San Blas Islands and visiting with the little people and buying some of their wares. I can remember them telling me that our actor John Wayne spent many hours on San Blass. I can even remember the snakes, the tarantulas and the sloths. And I guess my final rememberance was: The Hail & Fairwell. Of course, one will NEVER forget the Panama Canal. Oh, I even caught a Black Marlin. My best wishes to the golden frogs and to the monks at the church with the "golden altar" God Bless... Jerry Loberg

© Anita Cole

My parents and I moved to the Zone in 1958 a few months before my 4th birthday. I left in 1972 to go to FSU, and my parents left when my dad retired in 1977. I only went home 3 Christmases and 2 summers before they left, so I haven't seen the place for over 30 years now.

When we first moved there, my mother's mother came with us. Both my parents and she owned very similar Plymouth cars with the fins. My parent's car was powder blue and hers was a pastel green color. She managed to put hers in the huge ditch that was by the side of a curve in the road between Curundu (where we lived) and Albroook. I was in the car with her when she did it. In spite of her telling me not to leave, I ran up the side of the ditch and went to the Hall's house, because they lived near the ditch and I knew them so that I could get someone to come see about helping her out of the ditch, because she was too big for me to get her up and out of there. Peggy Hall and I were big friends for a while. I don't remember who got my grandmother out, but I do remember that my dad was muttering for months afterward about what it had cost him to pay for the crane it took to get her car out of the ditch. After a few more incidents of bad driving, my parents took her keys away, which left them glaring at each other for months.

We lived in Curundu Heights aka Christmas Heights. Every year my dad and various people we had coming to do things (the car wash guy, the lawn man) would be out putting up the decorations which were mandatory if you lived on our block. They were quite heavy since they were made out of plywood. People from all over the Pacific side would come and drive up and around the circle at the top of our hill and back down the hill to look at everything you put up. The Army Core of Engineers would bring a big crane to string up large outdoor lights on the tall evergreen tree in the center of the circle. Some of the people had motorized parts that moved the plywood in some way. My dad after a bit, figured out a way to motorize the legs of Santa's 8 reindeer he had hung between our 2 paraguas. Every year we had something different, but most of it would be the same as the year before. Since it was the tropics, the plywood didn't last more than 5 years before it had to be replaced, and my dad didn't like remaking the same thing, so when something fell apart, we got something different. I believe a lot of it he bought from other people who were leaving the Canal Zone, rather than making it himself. Our neighbor, Mr. Bright, would dress up like Santa Claus for the people. Our block was featured in Popular Mechanics one year, and everybody was thrilled over that. His son Bill Bright graduated with me at BHS. I heard he went on to run to become president of Panama.

I went to Diablo Elementary for kindergarten, but then my parents put me in El Colegio Episcopal for first grade. Arturo Mueller who went to BHS and graduated with me was there, as was Gary Hall. I attended that school through third grade before my parents decided Panama was too dangerous for me to be going there every day and transfered me back to Diablo Elementary. Because of the way the school years ran differently, I ended up repeating a big chunk of the third grade and cut up terribly because of how bored I was. Since my mother had wanted them to put me in the fourth grade even though by the rules I was too young for it, she was very unsympathetic to the school whenever they would call to complain about how bad I was being. My female neighbor friends were almost all older than me, like Martha Stanley. If my mother had gotten her way, Martha and I would have been in the same class.

By the time I was through 6th grade, Curundu Junior High School had been built on what had been the Christmas tree bon-fire site. When they cleared the area to start construction, they found a boa that took 6 men to hold it stretched out. I was in the first class that went there all 3 years. We had a lot of bomb scares and the administration used them to search our lockers for contraband. Standing out in the hot sun for an hour was not my idea of fun, since I came dressed for the frigid AC they had going on inside there. Then I went to BHS, class of 1972. I was in the student government, the chorus, the band and Thespians. I did the Zonian one year, selling ads for it. I got 8 of the 12 ads for that year. My best friend those years was Kim Cheney, who I would love to hear from now. Somehow, when she left the Canal Zone I lost touch with her, and it is a shame. During those years we went on a lot of double dates with the MP's from Fort Clayton and spent a lot of time bowling with them at Fort Clayton. Debbie Chapman is who introduced us to the MP's to begin with, and she married one of them. What I remember about being in Girl Scouts is selling those white and green calendars that were printed locally that had the Girl Scout logo on them, and lots of lines for writing your important reminders for each date. They were 50 cents each, and really a bargain. My friends and I had a very long route for Halloween and at each stop, in addition to getting candy, I would hold up my UNICEF box to collect for them and then I would remind the people that I'd be back in a few weeks to sell them a calendar. These days, no one would let their kid walk around collecting that kind of money in a pack of 3 to 5 kids none over the age of 14 (about then is when you were considered too old for trick or treat). I don't think I ever came home with less than $125 and one year I had $295 almost all in change. No one ever tried to steal the money, it never occurred to anyone to do it. Once I had the calendars, I would retrace my Halloween route with the calendars. I usually managed to sell 150 of them. Because the calendars were bulky, instead of making me walk the whole way like I had done for Halloween, my mother would drive me to the various apartments and multifamily houses so I could take a big stack of calendars. Then I'd climb up and down the stairs knocking on doors and selling the calendars.

I also remember participating in the Canal Zone Library's summer reading program. Every year the grand prize for reading 50 books over the summer was a trip through Gatun Lake. Every year, the trip would give you another chance to hear the history of how the canal was built and how many people died building it. When I was in high school, I helped as a volunteer at the Fort Clayton library with their summer reading program, which had the very same grand prize -- a trip through Gatun Lake.

My mother, Betty Cole, was also a figure of interest while she lived in the Canal Zone. She worked as the librarian at Barro Colorodo for 3 years before the huge commute every day wore her out. To get to work there, she drove to the train station, took the train to a boat dock out on Gatun Lake, took the waiting boat to the island and then climbed 100 steps to the library. She took me with her a few times when school was out. The howler monkeys made a huge racket almost all day there. My dad wanted her to stop working anyhow, so she did. She took up bowling in a big way and served as league secretary for numerous leagues. She also was a Junior Bowling Coach and was a Girl Scout leader for a while. She also volunteered for the Red Cross, a practice she continued when my parents moved to Florida. She did disaster planning (aka hurricane drills) for Charlotte County for several years, and when she had to slow down, was that chapter's weekend Military phone contact. She would be the person to call to alert service men of deaths in their family and to arrange for compassionate leave for them to go to the funeral. It was only the last 6 years of her life that she was not working as a volunteer in some capacity. Hurricane Charley damaged her house and she injured herself trying to clean up the mess. She died the following year. My dad, Harry Cole, was an Elk and joined the Power Squadron so he could sail around the world when he retired. He built two different boats. The first one looked like a fat surf board with a sail stuck on it; the second one was a small cabin cruiser that had a motor and a sail. He sold both of them for more than it cost him to make them in terms of the materials, but probably at bargain prices if you factored in all his labor. Unfortunately, my dad retired at the age of 56 because he was already sick and he never did get to sail around the world. His lifetime habit of chain smoking gave him emphysema and he died in 1982.

We went to St. Luke's Cathedral, the Episcopal Church there. Both my mother and I sang in the choirs. Prince Philip came through the Canal Zone twice while we were there and attended church at St. Luke's both times. They had him sit with the choir in the front and read the bible reading for that Sunday each time. That had him marching just ahead of the choir in the procession going in. The first time he came, as one of the 2 shortest people in the choir, I was just behind him with a lady who was spotty in her attendance, but who had made a point of rehearsing with the choir for that week to be sure she got to see Prince Philip when she came. Huge crowds of people were in and around the church. Prince Phiip said, "Is it always this crowded"? and she said, "Oh, yes." I muttered, "yeah, every time Prince Philip is here." He laughed and then it was time to march in. Prince Philip has a very good memory, because the second time he came, he remembered all this, and said to me, "I see that you are right, it is this crowded every time I come." Because, of course, people were once again packed in and around the cathedral to get a look at him.

I also remember the riots. When the worst of it broke out, I was at the cathedral for a choir practice. The cathedral was right on the border between the Canal Zone and Panama. The hall we used for Sunday school and the grassy hill behind it were prime locations for viewing the Carnival parade every year. Panamanians were shooting randomly into Ancon, which panicked everybody, because the bullets were wizzing by us. I am pretty sure the shooters were just trying to scare us, (and they succeeded in doing that) because with all the shooting, if they had been trying to hit someone, they would have managed to wound at least one of us. We all got into our cars and drove away from the border.

Anita Cole BHS 1972

© Paul T. Mudge
Saw your presentation and thought I would contribute.

We lived at Curundu Heights. Dad was USAF at Quarry Heights and Albrook.

Right up the hill from our place (504 Curundu Heights) was a “heavy duty” bomb shelter made of several feet thick concrete with grass growing on the roof. A bus stop had been placed in front of it but, us kids used to sneak in there to practice “smoking.” I never liked the smoking so when we left there, I quit trying to “get the habit.”

I learned later from Frank Mayo and some other former Balboa High School class mates that the shelters had turned into havens for dope addicts and other nefarious folks since the Zone was handed back to Panama by our illustrious president “Jiminy” Carter.

I saw photos of our house and all the windows and doors had “burglar bars” on them; something we never entertained being on Albrook property.

My sister was in the first BHS class to graduate in the “new” Balboa Theater.

Paul T. Mudge, J.D., M.S., Ph.D.

Remember the CZ matches?

***Do you have a memory of the Canal Zone that you would like to share? Please write to me, wonderlandwebsite@gmail.com, and I'll be pleased to add your entry.

CZ Memories

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