As I walked to school I had started to experience for the second time in my life something I felt every kid I was seeing that morning felt deeply in the pit of his stomach. I walked briskly noticing the early morning crowd of kids dressed mostly in white uniforms as I had done the year before, some of them members of the various schools in the area. We were all to gather at our respective schools to organize ourselves in readiness for the big parade.
Personally I was worried about not being able to show off my prowess with the drums early in the parade since I was sure I wouldn’t get a crack at my own drum that morning because the veteran drummers would have first pick and first opportunity to shine.
The early morning coolness kept me awake and was perfect for keeping me from perspiring and presenting an unfashionable, sweaty appearance. Suddenly my mind went back to our practice sessions at school of the different drum rolls, moves that were etched in my memory.
Reaching school that morning I arrived in time for the march we had to make down to the practically brand new municipal Parque Porras on Avenida Peru. Even today, Parque Porras is the central meeting ground for patriotic activity as well as political rallies and popular demonstrations. It was named in honor of Belisario Porras, three time president of Panama.
We marched all the way down from the National Institute about 1½ mile to the spot where the rest of the schools would be mustering for that day’s parade. Of course, as was the tradition, The National Institute would be at the head of the parade since it was the first and most revered secondary school of the Republic. When we arrived we had time to rest from the warm-up march before the day’s procession was ready to begin.
As we stood there the veteran drummers began practicing drum rolls I had never before heard on those snare drums. The noise was deafening but almost pleasant as I stood there in the back of the drum section with my only partner, the other rookie drummer.
My only other worry was how I would engineer things so that my grandmother would be able to see me playing one of those drums in that day’s parade.
This story will continue.