Cities with names like La Boca, Balboa, Cristobal, Ancon, Curundu, Diablo, and so many more—
Traveling either 10 miles wide or 50 miles across, made up the Canal Zone, going from Pacific to Atlantic shore.
Rainy season, nine months of the year---
Squeezing mud through your bare toes, or playing in the "puddles", until lightning came too near.
Mangos, picked at "just the right time"---
Depending on when picked, tasting sweet as a peach, or sour like a lime.
Mercury droplets on the Prado sidewalks, "sparkling" from the heat of the sun---
Pretending the droplets were diamonds, was always a lot of fun.
Going to the Balboa Theater, which was always kept super cool from the tropical weather that was always so humid and hot---
Popcorn that with genuine "real" butter, and the bags filled to the top.
Going to the Clubhouse, to buy the latest "45" records, comics, and to see "who else" is there---
Eating fantastic foods with portions to your desire, or just having french fries with gravy, for you and your friend to share.
Going to the restaurants in Panama, such as the Napoli, with a date---
Eating shrimp pizza with lots and lots of cheese, that tasted really great.
Or, perhaps going to the Panama Hilton Hotel, to listen to that great organ play---
Having a "tropical itch" drink, then longer, wanting to stay.
Carnival, polleras, montunos, and dancing the "la tamburito"--
Parties and festivities, with music from the famous "Lucho".
The Prado was such a beautiful area, with rows and rows of palm trees that had their lower stems painted white---
Truly, a beautiful area, looking "royal" during the day, and brightly lit up at night.
So many kinds of animals—from sloths, hawks, snakes, alligators, and so very many more---
All available to "freely" touch, instead of where most people elsewhere view only behind a locked zoo door.
From Balboa Elementary School to BHS, then attending college in La Boca---
Then off to the United States to further our education, often flying on the airline named La Copa.
There was an old metal dungeon located near the Balboa Elementary School---
Playing next to it pretending we were pirates, was always really "cool".
Sliding down the sculptured steep slopes of the Administration Building, on cardboard pieces, as fast as we could go---
That was the closest thing a Canal Zone kid could compare, to a kid in the U.S. with his metal sled on snow.
Halloween night was always special, dressing up as anything you’d like to be, and out the door you’d go---
But there was always a "yearly" prankster who would put soap flakes into the Goethals monument, that would soon create "soapflake snow".
The ships brought us "Christmas", waiting in long, long, long lines, hoping to get a good tree—
The smell of all those pines, without them Christmas just wouldn’t be.
The best time after Christmas, was when families gathered with their trees---
A truly huge bonfire was made, a memory of this, I’ll always "see".
Ginnups, those green fruit balls, that as you bite them open the seed was coated with a creamy gelled-like substance that was so delicious to be sucked---
Or to enjoy a ripe banana hanging from its stalk on a rope in your basement, just waiting to be plucked.
Standing in the "middle section" of the Miraflores Swing Bridge, watching the ships go by---
When a huge ship entered the locks of the Panama Canal, within me, always created an emotional "high".
Morgan Gardens, a yearly event with games, treats, and flowers to be enjoyed---
Riding on the Panama Railroad with " special" hourly trips, that were deployed.
Gorgas Hospital, was where many of us "Zonians" were born.
BHS or CHS was where we graduated depending on which side of the Isthmus we lived.
Working for the Panama Canal Company, or many of us went off to college in the United States.
No matter where we "ended up", a "Zonian" we shall always be—
In our "hearts and memory".
© Snow W. Frost
This poem is dedicated to all "Zonians".
******Special thanks to Dino Barkema, Joe Duvall, and Bob Askew for inspiration.