Author Archives: Roberto Reid

Milk Not the Best Business

 

Image from Morguefile

Image from Morguefile

My routine on my new job was simple. I would arise early every morning to milk the cows. After filling the gallon bottles, I would then saddle the horse, tie the five bottles on either side of the saddle and then make my way to town. I had been trained by Little Man and a boy younger than myself who also lived at the ranch. Once I arrived in town I would unsaddle the horse, then hide the saddle under some brush and tie up the horse nearby at a small stream so that he could have an abundant supply of water to drink and grass to eat for the day, until I had sold all the milk and was ready to go back up to the ranch on horseback. Continue reading

My Visit to a Bush Farm

 

The kind of farm I dreamed of having.  Image thanks to SoleJourner.

The kind of farm I dreamed of having. Image thanks to SoleJourner.

The dip in the sea had made up for anything I considered wrong with my life then; whatever might have tried to depress me had simply vanished from me. Also, in my routine walk out to the runway spigot to get water, I would also bath there, leaving me renewed and refreshed to continue fetching the much needed potable water. In the meantime, I had heard that Little Man had taken the boat to Colon. I decided to hide from his boss, the Indian guy, not wanting to make any commitments. Though the ride to Baseline was free, I was adverse to wanting to attract any more trouble by going up there with Pug trailing me. Continue reading

My Encounter With Little Man

 

This is an image of the Wesleyan Methodist Church of Bocas Town.  I understand that it still stands.  Image thanks to Señor Antonio Price.

This is a very old image of the Wesleyan Methodist Church of Bocas Town. I understand that it still stands. Image thanks to Señor Antonio Price.  There were many such structures in Bocas Town giving it a Afro Antillean flavor to its unique architectural style.

I’d continued to walk the more than a half mile there and back to our new home with a five gallon bucket of water. By that time of the day I had made about two or three trips fetching water after rowing all that time on the high seas and so, I was understandably tired. I then walked towards the beach to take a refreshing dip. After leaving the beach I ran into a guy I knew from the streets of Colon. I recognized him and we greeted each other. “Hey Little Man!” I said. “Wha’ happening Riri!” he responded and we started walking together just as a chance for me to be entertained with memories of days when we met at dances in Colon. Little Man actually revealed to me that I had been quite popular at the dances and had attracted so many different girls with my dancing abilities. He was anxious, he told me, to leave for Colon soon and so I accompanied him on his trek around town the next day also. Continue reading

The Makings of a Home?

 

Even in the 50's Bocas had a potable water shortage.  Today it is even scarcer and much more expensive.  Image.

Even in the 50’s Bocas had a potable water shortage. Today it is even scarcer and much more expensive. Image.

Upon landing in Bocas Town we pulled the small canoe to shore below the wharf that overlooked the wide Atlantic Ocean and started to unload. Happy was I to see the big fish I had pulled in the night before. I also helped to unload and carry out the beautiful giant conches that I dove for and various loads of charcoal in burlap sacks as I followed the mulatto only to end up at the local Chinamen. We returned to the canoe and unloaded until the last of the load had been secured which, as I soon discovered, had all been purchased by the local Chinaman for his store.  I was still kept in the dark by my half Indian-half black friend as to exactly how much he had earned on all those items, and, to this day, I have never found out. However, my friendship did end that day although later on in the day he looked awfully pleased when he met me at his home. I, in fact, had every intention of paying him rent for the tiny cubicle of a room room we now lived in behind his house. I also happened to meet his family.  But, my whole experience with the mulatto and his meanness of spirit estranged us by then, for I had felt that he had no respect for me as a person or as a man. Continue reading

Dedicated to the Silver Women on Mother’s Day

 

The Clubhouse in Balboa around 1959, manned by a hard working Silver Woman.

The Clubhouse in Balboa around 1959, manned by a hard working Silver Woman.

Taking a well deserved pause from our chronicle we want to share a poetic tribute to our Silver Women on Mother’s Day.  This poem is provided, once again, by our resident poet, Mr. Louis Emanuel and it is especially dear to our hearts. Continue reading

Diving for Conch in Bocas

 

A giant conch like the kind you find in the waters off Bocas.

A giant conch like the kind you find in the waters off Bocas.

We took off rowing and I felt relieved that we were leaving for home. My body had not yet recovered from the battering it received from swinging that ax or from the continual sharpening of the tool with a small file, which was the only time I’d had any rest lately. While heading home my thoughts returned to Pug, my wife and the newborn baby boy. There was absolutely no conversation with my so-called partner for more that an hour during the entire time. Continue reading