which, in that moment, was called The Isthmian Scout Council
which later changed to The Canal Zone Council and later on would
evolve into the International Boy Scouts Canal Zone.
Both priceless images can be found at
My previous posts were intended to give a glimpse of the childhood activity of Scouting which, I was sure, would have benefited not only me but my family and community for a life time. I can also assure anyone that I know not where I got those ideas from. However, the analysis by proven mental health professionals would be as much accepted as any one of us as humble pundits of today.
It has been our hope that our work for the Silver People Chronicle these past two years has focused needed attention on the Silver People in general and has gained the attention of those of us who are descendants of Black English Speaking people in particular- immigrants of the West Indies who had their humble beginnings on the historic Panama Canal Zone. We hope and pray that the coming year will preserve us in the vibrancy of Spirit and permit us to gain the attention of persons all over God’s Universe. We mean to prove to all students and teachers in all schools from preschoolers to the loftiest universities that Black History still holds an irresistible interest for all people.
The mission is yet to be completed but we are thankful for the reports and comments we have received thus far from our loyal readers, those who have been following us on this journey. It is on this special tour that we hope to continue being your tour-guides as we explore the country and region of the Panama that our forefathers saw and experienced. It has been a special place for us, not only because it is our place of birth but it is also that place that has molded that unique character we have inherited as the Silver People of Panama.
When I was assigned to write articles about Scouting amongst the Silver People of Panama, it became necessary for me to return to the archives of the Panama Tribune for additional information. My trepidation was such that I considered very carefully handling such a vulnerable source of information. This fragile resource, one which I have always considered as undeniable proof that we have been a vital and respected part of the Panamanian community, remains on library shelves in the most precarious of conditions.
It would most assuredly be a great concern to any respectable researcher who would hold in panic the thought of handling these very delicate, crumbling leaves of a bygone day knowing that the sources he dares to handle, in an age of digitalization, would be saved by our modern technology forever.
At any rate, I’ve ascertained that my limited experience with Scouting in the year of 1942 made me a witness to part of the early stages of Scouting, if not some of its worst and declining years amongst the Silver People of Panama. My continued investigation, however, enabled me to discover the work of Mr. Ivanhoe Phipps who came to Panama in 1929 from Jamaica to work as a linotypist for the Panama Star and Herald.
Mr. Phipps had been working until then for the Kingston Daily Gleaner and was welcomed by his close friend and fellow Scouting brother, Sydney Young, who founded the Panama Tribune the year before. The Panama Tribune newspaper welcomed Phipps as a highly valued newcomer and member of the Silver community, as well as an eager supporter of the Scouting movement.
Now, the year 1929 happened to be a key year for me since it was the year in which my paternal side of the family tree suffered its greatest loss in the death of my grandfather Joshua Austin Reid. As I’ve related in previous posts, he was a devoted father and servant to the people of the Black Canal Zone. He had served all of his young life, some twenty three years, as, first, an employee down in the infernal pits of the digs and the cuts, and then served as Dispensary Director at Paraiso on the Silver Canal Zone from about 1914 until his sudden death on the job in 1929.
It is reported that by 1923 there were eight Baden-Powel Boy Scout troops amongst British West Indians in Panama alone. Mr. Sydney Young who was a former Jamaican born troop leader remained faithful to scouting and made sure that a weekly report of Scouting activity was published on page 14 of the Tribune. “Scouts Corner,” however, never revived Scouting to the satisfaction of Mr. Young after the W.W.II events in Panama. The pages of the Panama Tribune, nevertheless, continued their special column in the hopes of locating readers in all parts of the globe and the overlapping geographies of the British Empire.
He hoped that the “World brotherhood of fellow Scouts” would include the Westindian Dispersion in Panama and Central America as a vital part of the Westindian cultural heritage. If such positive traits can be fostered as the ones that promote service to country and community activism, which we can safely say has made a difference in the fight against racial injustice, then my own life story has been molded by the attendance to just one night of Cub Scout meeting at the Jamaican Society Hall in Calidonia.
This story will continue.