My days at trying to become a “Real Colon Boy” would make all the goings on at Abel Bravo fascinating and dazzling. I settled down to days filled with normal school work, finally.
But my relationship with my new girl friend and my collection of new street friends who seemed to be over joyed to have me around as one of their regular friends buoyed my once depressed spirit. I was now captured and claimed by this school and by the teen crowd as one of them. But, I was also claimed by China as her steady boyfriend and for once I started to feel like I was “home.”
My evenings after school, however, were totally committed to the Abel Bravo Choir, run by Profesor Carlos Grant. Even the fact that I had no real place to study could not dampen my joy as a member of Professor Grant’s “Choir” and our practice sessions had taken on great important for me.
I really admired Profesor Grant and I clearly remember the first time he brought to school a long-playing recording (LP) of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. It had been a first time and a privilege for me personally, to be in any choir at all and to be listening to how close we came to sounding like that impressionable group of people who sang somewhere in the United States.
From that moment I took everything related to the choir very seriously in my life. Aside from it being a privilege and a wholly pleasurable activity, I felt like something Holy had taken hold of me, although I was one of about seven or eight boys to be part of the baritone/bass section of the Choir.
The baritone/bass section might not have been deemed as important as, say, the tenor, soprano or mezzo-soprano, but Profesor had to correct them often and he gave our section the feeling that we were just as important. On one occasion, he stopped to correct the tenor section but he looked straight at me and said, “Reid how does your baritone/bass part go?” and before the organist could play it for us I had sung it out in my baritone. The Profesor said, “That’s it, that’s it!” leaving me breathless.
I was proud to say the least, and humbled, what with me coming from a household that didn`t even have a Holy Bible in the home. If I could describe my feelings then, I could truly say I was exultant and honored to be able to sing the choral masses we had been practising day after day. It was not only a sense of pride but, I was filled with respect for Profesor Carlos Grant, probably the best choirmaster that ever lived who came from the artistic roots of Panama, San Felipe. Even today, I remain amazed of that man and I’m respectful of his memory, a man who single-handedly took on a large group of students and molded them into superb singers, meeting with the top musicians from Panama and arranging concerts with large orchestras.
Even such mundane moments as when I was in the shower at home became valuable opportunities for me to show off singing our chorales out loud on saturday mornings. I would try to sound like the tenors and to do the bass section so sure that we had come to sound like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. But, singing that Latin “Pater Omnipotente,” made me feel as though I was emotionally really bringing home a high spiritual mood into my home.
That had been my over all feeling especially after we were invited to sing a high mass at the Colon Catholic Cathedral. As the choir, we were required to sit high up in the special pew section, as the church began to fill up. It gave us the feeling of being the stars or angels elevated up in the air as we all stayed up singing what we had practiced for so many days at school with Prof. Carlos Grant.
This story continues.