Category Archives: Instituto Nacional de Panamá

Ads Pay Off

This is the popular Chiva stop in front of Casa Muller or Muller Building in the heart of Calidonia in front of El Cruce. Image thanks to La Critica Libre.

A popular Chivita bus driver was my first customer.  So I began to see for myself how the ads pay off.. Image thanks to La Critica Libre.

Once I was back in Panama City some good changes came my way. One morning my uncle Pinky ordered me to follow him, leading me to believe it was for another job and we wound up at a garage and gasoline station owned by the gentlemen who organized the “Dos Pinos” Cooperative, a new and exciting development in Panama as well as the rest of Central America. The Twin Pines or “Dos Pinos” logo blazoned on the front of the station situated right on 12 de Octubre Avenue became familiar and somehow comforting to me..  So I followed along with my uncle. The next week he had more surprises for me. “This is your garage,” he said, “you play with the lift and any other equipment, until you get confident at using them. I have to be at work” He was working as a clerk on Albrook AFB at the time. Continue reading

Micha Bread and Operas

Michita, Panamanian style.

Image thanks to

The days of my early childhood and adolescence in Panama were my days of exposure to popular culture where, from time to time and at government expense, we were offered opportunities to stay after school protected from the streets.

It was also a time for all kids attending public school to shake off inhibitions and pride and accept the offer of the glass of warm oatmeal porridge and a small loaf of micha bread during morning class. I say loaf because in those days the micha was large and generous not the poor excuse of a piece of bread we are sold today.  Continue reading

Honoring The Fiestas Patrias

Cobblestone streets in front of the entrance to Sal Si Puedes in Santana.

That year of 1952 I’d become aware of just how much pleasure the two days of patriotic activity had given me and a real sense of joy for the first time. This was the first time in my life in which I was not only a part of a grand public ceremony but I had also been included in a highly honored civic observance. Continue reading

Earning the Rite of Passage

Images: top; bottom: La Prensa

The act of joining the colorful marching bands of that year of 1952 gave a kid like me access to the needed elements to shine in my world of darkness. This would forever remain “my moment” regardless of whatever else happened in my life. Continue reading

My Life Paraded in Front of Me

El Cruce Building just before it was demolished in June 2009; in my youth it was all one-room rentals for Westindian families

San Ramon Building at the entrance of “M” Street.

The parade route had not left the Calidonia/Wachipali district as fast as we all anticipated, as the marching pace slowed down to a halt. As we stood there marking time we noticed how official functionaries were suddenly ahead of us. It seemed as though it had been planned that way, so that the large contingent of the National Police and Firemen or “red shirts” we all called the Bomberos, was now at rest in the midst of us school children on precisely this point on the parade route.  Continue reading

My Big Chance


I eagerly rushed forward and took the drum from the boy and hooked it onto the belt at my side. Immediately, I was playing the drum as if I had been born with it and soon we were nearing the Encanto Theater near “P” Street, and… there she was. My grandmother stood stoically, not showing any emotion as I proudly, almost arrogantly showed off beating on that snare drum. Continue reading