This is Rio Abajo today, an important part of the
Silver People Trail. Image thanks to Peter Hahndorf on flickr.
Ancon Hill as viewed from the back of what was
once the Ancon Laundry where my grandmother
worked for over 20 years. Today the building is
the headquarters of the DIJ (Dirección de Investigación
Judicial (the investigation arm of the police). You can just
about make out the Panamanian flag flying at the top in
the upper left hand corner of the photo.
Chorrillo, that part of the old sector of Panama City, had its colored community, having been a gateway to Calidonia and its colored communities of Guachipali, Marañon, and San Miguel with its view of Ancon Hill and the sea, and the beaches in the nearby upscale Bella Vista District with shade trees lining the streets and avenues. The beaches that ran all the way to Old Panama- Casco Viejo– were up until then clean enough for families and young boys to use as the neighborhood swimming holes that boys would remember for the rest of their lives. Continue reading
I dared to dream about entering and
actually finishing high school but my path
seemed littered with obstacles. Image.
In my last two years in primary school I had made no plans for attending secondary school; that is until 1950 when my experience with Teacher Ana Sanchez when we were out canvassing for the school fair and she opened up a window for me to even contemplate such a notion. I had not considered it possible to continue studying into secondary school given my family circumstances but Teacher Ana virtually lit up the fire in me with an assurance that my father had spoken to her about sending for me someday. Continue reading
This is how my grandmother seemed to me, ghostly-
there but not for me-
and certainly no bulwark against the hostilities of life.
While sitting in class I couldn’t help but reflect on how I was surrounded by extremes especially at home- indifference on the one hand and a battering reaction to my person on the other. Continue reading
La Boca Ferry circ. 1947. Image thanks to CZimages.com
A cuartillo or “cuatí.” A cuartillo or a “cuatí” as the Westindians used to call it. It was a half of a Panamanian nickle (medio de un real de Balboa) which could buy you a portion of rice, flour, sugar etc., at the neighborhood Chinito.
At ten years of age everything I heard concerning the Westindians was of importance to me and was stored in my memory for the day in which I could put it all in a book. Or so I childishly and naively thought. However, I would have to await the advent of the technological age way into the dawning hours of our 21st century before these stories would ever get to be read in print, thanks to the Internet. Continue reading
I rather enjoyed washing my
grandmother’s feet not only to
see the completely relaxed look on
her face but to set the ambience for her to
talk about our family.
The emotional scars were becoming fetid by then, and it seemed like there would be no end in sight to the beatings and emotional rejection. Some kind of cure for those childhood physical and emotional ills would almost never come during those years when we most needed to see it. Dreams of being adopted by other families would haunt me so much that the urge to run away was always present. However, the hated days spent in Spanish school would make Teacher Thomas’ Westindian School look more and more enticing, although it was still located not far from where we were living. Continue reading
Casino and Hotel Venetto
There is a building boom going on in
Panama and they can thank my
pioneering grandparents, The Silver People,
for it. Top photo is just one example of the
mushrooming new skyscrapers, banks,
shopping malls, hotels, casinos etc., that are
going up faster than anyone can keep track.
Bottom photo is a view of the new and changing
Panama City skyline as seen from the walls
of the French Embassy in old San Felipe (Casco Viejo).
I’ll never tire of saying it but I’ve always believed that we Westindian Panamanians are a very unique people. Of such strong mettle we the Silver Men, the Panamanian Westindian, have evolved. Continue reading