Our West Indian forefathers predominated as the bulk of the work force on th Panama Rairoad and the Canal. Image from 1910 is from the Dickinson Library.
The inscription on this Panama Railroad Tie reads “A Life for Each Tie PANAMA.” Most of those lives were West Indian. Image thanks to www.panamarailroad.org
The train ride was quiet and made me remember my grandfather, Seymour, who had been employed as a blacksmith on the Panama Railroad in the City of Colon not too far from where we all lived. By then I had little to distract me on that ride but it had calmed me down, until the train pulled into “Darien Station.” I then recognized that we were passing the Silver town of Paraiso where we stopped only briefly since only a few souls ventured to get off. But the stop made me think of my French grandparents, the Juliens. Continue reading
For me the resulting experiences of those days that had just passed me by had left questions that the weekend moments of reflections would help to fill in. But it had not been as cut and dry for me being only an adolescent boy still intrigued by those expressions of kindness towards me. In the meantime, I was more than puzzled at the way things had turned out for me at school. I only hoped and prayed that the time left for me would favor me as well in that month of the final year at primary school. Continue reading
Image thanks to classroomclipart.com
The people we will refer to as the Afro-Hispanics have been identified by Panamanian historians as Afro-Coloniales, those individuals of African racial descent of Spanish cultural heritage. We will later discover that these Afro-Coloniales, unlike their English speaking counterparts from the West Indies, never really experienced the full brunt of the Canal Zone Silver Roll system, rather they remained in the background for decades. Continue reading
The French hoped to duplicate what they had built at Suez.
The French purchased the Panama Railroad from the Yankees in 1881 at the start of their operations on the Isthmus of Panama. The railway, was after all, key in accomplishing their engineering ambition, which was to duplicate the feat of building a canal like the Suez Canal in Egypt. To all the engineers concerned if the railroad was not purchased, then construction of the new canal would be unthinkable. Continue reading