Author Archives: Roberto Reid

A Career Turn Around

Even today Panama’s Criminal Justice system is under heated scrutiny.  Thank God my dealings with them over my Uncle did not effect my future career goals.

During these crucial times of considering my career options, whether to push to get on the Governor’s list of teacher appointees for the Province of Bocas del Toro or to travel to New York City at my father’s beckoning to obtain employment there, I was asked to do a favor for my Aunt Elsie. Continue reading

The Girl from Bamboo Lane

Dice games were an attraction on Bamboo Lane. Image thanks to Morguefile

While living in Panama City Pug would now show up looking for me accompanied by her “forever friend” I only knew as the Bamboo Lane girl. I strongly suspected that Pug had me set up to have a date with her. Such was the turn of Pug’s mind. She had time for this kind of thing – double dating and looking for romantic adventures- while I was focusing on getting more integrated into my old Panama City neighborhood. Working at the garage did not leave me much time for romancing and possibly getting another girl pregnant. Bamboo Lane in Colon had developed a rather notorious reputation as a hangout for gambling, prostitutes and generally attracting persons of questionable repute, so I didn’t have much confidence in Pug’s new friend. For me, Bamboo Lane was where I could get a quick, cheap haircut or buy a “pantscut” at a reasonable price to have some tailor make me a new pair of pants. Many people who lived there were just trying to survive and make an honest dollar.  Continue reading

Getting My Freedom Back

I was struggling ti get free of this Chinese girl. Image of handcuffs thanks to Morguefile.

I was struggling ti get freedom  from this Chinese girl. Image of handcuffs thanks to Morguefile.

Throughout this time of setting up my garage routine and taking in new customers I never lost sight of regainng my freedom, I had placed Pug- La China- on the back burner. She had, however, been stepping up her visits from Colon to see me to pick up money for herself and the baby. Her attitude hadn’t changed, however. She continued to generate stories about me mistreating her- all lies- just to hold it over my head. Remembering how she had damaged my peaceable relationship with the whole of the Westindian community in Bocas, thus forcing us to leave, I tried to keep her visits as short and cool as possible. I would just hand her some money for the baby on the nights that she did come as I saw her step down from the bus in front of the garage.  Continue reading

An Unopened Letter

I kept the unopened letter in my back pocket. Image from

I kept the unopened letter in my back pocket. Image from

That afternoon I hurried back to my garage, for I thought of never responding to my father or taking him up on anything he had to offer. This resolve not to respond to him set me free forever and I vowed not to open the letter or read it. At that time in our lives I had a bad feeling about allowing that man who called himself my father to dominate any part of my life again. By the time I reached my garage I had stuck the letter in my back pocket unopened and tried to forget it. I had known that man most of my young life and at that moment I rejected the very idea of having his cruel presence in my life ever again.  Continue reading

The Mysterious Letter

Image of mystery letter thanks to

Image of mystery letter thanks to

As  Ma Bea handed me the mystery missive from my father she then continued saying, “You write ya fada chile, For I have this letter a long time and Albert he keep telling me he could not find you no where. You write to ya fada, you hear!” She implored making me become the sole witness to a part of my life that I had sooner forget than rush into. I, however, would listen to that saintly woman, who had witnessed the opening of paths in my life and I would have never disregard what she had been saying to me. Continue reading

A Visit to Old Ma Bea

"Grandma's Hands" by Ernie Barnes and Afro American artist reminds me of Ma Bea. Image

“Grandma’s Hands” by Ernie Barnes and Afro American artist reminds me of Ma Bea. Image

By then all I could remember of Ma Bea was that she was Albert’s mother,” and how she had always said to me, “Albert not home son!” For me she was the only one who could find Albert, or tell him that I had been looking for him. I remembered how I used to pester her about finding Albert to have him look over my art home work before I handed it in to my third year Art professor at Instituto.  Albert Santerbury was my favorite person at the time ever since I could remember being a little tadpole. In fact, he and the rest of my neighbors from San Miguel, were all proud when I attended secondary school at the National Institute, and they especially glowed with pride in our neighborhood when I marched in the large musical band on patriotic holidays. Continue reading