Tag Archives: Joshua-Austin-Reid

We Have Found Each Other!

My newly found cousins Modesta Bert (L) and Iva P. Henry (R) flank me here on our last day together in Panama.

It all started with a simple Google search- a shot in the dark, as my cousin called it.  Iva P. Henry was looking for traces of her long lost family, the side of her family lost in Panama with the arrival of Joshua Austin Reid, my grandfather and, as it turned out, hers as well.  Continue reading

Undercurrents of the Caste System

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

Taking Refuge at my Grandmother’s Feet

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

The Westindian Panamanian Roots- Recalling My Grandfathers

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

Silver Weddings

A West Indian wedding party in Panama, circ 1915.

Silver Weddings of the 30’s and 40’s
Images thanks to Mr. G
eorge W. Westerman

The year 1935 was a year of firsts on the American home front. The first broadcast of “Fibber McGee and Molly” occurred on April 16, and the pop icon Elvis Presley was also born that year. It was also the year that the U.S. Congress accepted FDR’s “New Deal” package.

In Panama, 1935 was the year my parents decided to formalize their romance and get married. It turned out to be quite a shindig, one that many friends and family members would remember for years to come since my father, Cobert did not stint in so far as paying for the best of preparations, attire, food and vehicle transport and church arrangements. In fact, the “Silver” weddings of the 30’s and 40’s were usually elaborate- one might say ostentatious- affairs. Continue reading

A Tribute to a Man of Substance- Epitaph to Joshua Austin Reid

Joshua Austin Reid's "Badge" photo from his work file with the Panama Canal.  It is dated 1919.

Joshua Austin Reid’s “Badge” photo from his work file with the Panama Canal. It is dated 1919.

Like Mr. Joshua Reid there were many more Jamaican bosses, some who had come before him and there would be many others who would follow after his death in 1929. They were men who labored in the complete trust and hope that their labor would be recognized as a contributory factor in the making of the modern country of Panama. Continue reading