A Tocayo to Make One Proud

This is a vintage photo of Juan Franco Race Track
in Panama in 1953. Image thanks to La Critica

Time and chance would allow us, all of the Roberto Reid’s inhabiting the Republic of Panama- and there are many- to live out a dramatic and historic period steeping our youth in the essence of our proud heritage. Although life’s journey would carry us through different paths, we as descendants of the Silver People of the Republic of Panama, would do our very best to survive despite the many disenchantments we would encounter until we’d have reached the age of retirement.

In the meantime, however, Providence would offer a surprise for me, a life gift in which I would find myself forced to make contact with the real Roberto “Bobby” Reid, my tocayo who had always caused my classmates and other people in my Barrio to take notice of me. Although Bobby and I would never meet in our youth and I would know nothing about his remarkable boyhood career as one of Panama’s star jockeys, in our mature years we would make that crucial connection.

Upon receiving a response from him after contacting him through his photography web site I would have become another one of his many admirers. More than meeting all my expectations, it humbled me immensely to also call myself one of the descendants of the Silver People of the Republic of Panama. By then, all the rumors and stories surrounding his name that I had grown up with would turn into one of the most interesting success stories I have ever heard.

As I continue with my story, or rather Bobby’s story, I cannot help but feel blessed to have been associated, even indirectly, with Roberto “Bobby” Reid who is today a retired urologist and pursuing those activities that he has wanted to pursue all his life. As we started to read the series of responses to the questionnaire he agreed to answer for us the former jockey turned doctor became larger than life and a true descendant of the Silver People in every sense of the word. I could only start to grasp the full meaning of what he has accomplished both in the field of horse racing, especially in the racist atmosphere of the Panama we all still love, and as a student and licensed physician in the United States.

For a background on the exciting history of horse racing in Panama go here and here.

This story will continue.

One response to “A Tocayo to Make One Proud

  1. Magnificent, and should be taught in school from kindergarden age & throughtout college, not to mention the church. We are all human beings and need to be empowered with the reality of life. Bless your soul and keep doing the work you are doing.