The meal had been Bea’s idea, her way of thanking me for being such good company. It had taken her way back into a part of her that she had thought was lost forever.As I slowly finished my lunch Bea came and sat with me again keeping her hands in her lap, over the apron she wore. It was the first time I had noticed that particular apron and it made me feel special. Continue reading
I was settling down for another one of our chats as Bea said to me, “See Son in our days there was many water holes, where big fish them just was ready to be fished out. So we would plan and make a game out of everything.Going and fishing was like goin an’ wash clothes, an’ we had lot’ a clothes to wash all the time. Continue reading
It was the next morning that I appeared at Bea’s, as promised.As I arrived I went to work right away, feeling that I had better before the sun found out that I was around. Determined to finish the job I had started the day before, I lifted my machete and started to work even before announcing to old Bea that I had arrived. Continue reading
Many Westindian women found honest work following the work camps and washing and cooking for the laborers.
Sadness held us together as Bea continued her story. “All I could do is tell the boys them to take me to see him. ‘Take me to him,’ I said to them. So they take me to look at him an’ I still could not believe that he was dead. They, I mean we, all bury him and had the wake in this same house.” She sensed that I was grieving for her lost lover of yesteryear so she switched the conversation to a more pleasant note. “You should bring your family and stay with me a couple of days,” she said and I found words enough to respond. “I will,” I answered. Continue reading
An early photo of West Indian workers chatting.
In that year of early 1956 when I met Bea, I wasn’t much more than a teenager, an older adolescent. Bea was as an older woman whose age I calculated as being in her early sixties. But she still had that glow of a young woman as her beautiful brown skin did not reveal the wrinkles of old age. Nevertheless she might have been cruising in her early eighties. But it was my first encounter with a woman who had seen the beginnings of the web of railroad tracks laid to be the only transport available in the area and all of it was run by the Chiriqui Land Company. Continue reading
Old photo of West Indian working men doing their own laundry. They were not fortunate enough to have the help of WI women.
As I got back to the work at hand a cool sea breeze reminded me that the surf was a short walk from where I had ended up that morning. Then I looked up and my host had disappeared into the house. Time seemed to fly and my muscles were not yet tired. The sun at that hour of the day had become merciless, however, as I continued to whack away all my troubles thinking, time and again, that I had better just jump on the first ferry and take may sorry self up the line and plead with my boss to give me back my job. Continue reading