Category Archives: History of the Panama Canal Zone

The Inauguration of the Panama Canal in Pictures

Today, August 15, 2013, marks the 99th anniversary of the inauguration of the Panama Canal on August 15, 1914 . We thought you might enjoy a gallery of images, mainly provided by the Library of Congress, related to this momentous event so many years ago that changed the lives of people all over the world and became a boon to international commerce and travel.   We hope you enjoy the pictures.

My Chance Now!

This is an image from 1937 of some motorized Canal Zone Policemen.  I was grateful for the cop's intervention that day in front of the Commissary. Image thanks to

This is an image from 1937 of some motorized Canal Zone Policemen. I was grateful for the cop’s intervention that day in front of the Commissary. Image thanks to

Yes, they had closed in on me that night at the commissary until a Canal Zone policeman, who had overheard their taunts and all the commotion said, “Get out of here and leave that boy alone!” This was one time that I had been really glad to see a zone police officer because his instinct had immediately told him that they were about to attack me and steal all the groceries my Aunt had bought from the commissary leaving all of her packages strewn all over the sidewalk. Continue reading

The Children Martyrs of Panama

Image thanks to our friends at Telemetro.

Image thanks to our friends at Telemetro.

Every year in Panama our calendar begins with the commemoration of one of the most significant historical events of the twentieth century, The Day of the Martyrs of January 9, 1964. According to some historians and to those participants who survived the patriotic manifestation, the events of that fateful day created a ‘horizon of expectation’ that culminated in the country’s decolonization, territorial integration and the reversion of the Panama Canal to Panamanian hands in 1999. Continue reading

Patriots of the Nation

Not as widely known Colon also had its martyrs.

We insist that the youngsters who were martyred on January 9, 1964 were not delinquents, nor rabble rousers nor vagabonds as many would have the world believe in an effort to blot out their memory. Continue reading

And During Christmas Time… Sorrel!

Sorrel in its resplendant beauty with the traditional piece of ginger to prepare the drink.

Raspadura, or unrefined sugar cakes with its
very own Panamanian flavor.

At last it is Christmas season and the thousands of sacks containing agricultural products in the farmer’s market (Abasto) have turned a seasonal red with the production of Sorrel or saril (pronounced sah-ríl), as it has come to be known amongst the Spanish speaking people here! It is the principal raw material for the preparation of our traditional Christmas fruit drink. Known in Puerto Rico, Mexico and other parts of Central America as Jamaica, this plant/flower is planted here in Panama on June 24, the day of the patron saint San Juan Bautista and harvested in early December just in time for Holiday festivities. Continue reading

The Early West Indian English Schools Part I

English School in San Miguel.  I believe that is Teacher Reid in the back.

English School in San Miguel circa 1935. I believe that is Teacher Reid in the back. Image thanks to

Alfred E. Osborne

Alfred E. Osborne.  Image thanks to

The founders of the first schools that I’d ever heard of were the Westindian teachers or, as they were sometimes referred to, the Teachers. By the time I came of age to begin going to school in the early 1940’s and started dealing with a childhood fraught with much sadness, these teachers had taken on a special meaning.  West Indian teachers were the initiators of not only the first West Indian English Schools but schools of any kind in a small nation like Panama which was almost devoid of institutions of learning in the first fifty years of its history as a Republic. Continue reading