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
This is how Escuela Artes y Oficio
looked back then, before 1952.
Image thanks to their facebook page.
I guess my timing or approach was faulty, however, and for a youngster like me, who promised to become an intellectual, my attempt to get into night school was completely thwarted. The ploy of disguising myself as a day worker, hoping perhaps to pass for an older youth did not work for me that unforgettable night I spent my last dime on bus fare to get to Artes y Oficio vocational school. Continue reading
This is a rather tourist like shot of
Bocas del Toro. Image.
It was the year 1950 and the seemingly endless year of 1949 had passed with many political happenings that I would remember all my life. I would usually end my days at the dental clinic where I had been drawn to in order to stay off the streets. It might have been the place that I would end up spending my summer as that year closed on my adolescent activities. Continue reading
A West Indian wedding party in Panama, circ 1915.
Silver Weddings of the 30’s and 40’s
Images thanks to Mr. George 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
Posted in Silver People of Panama, West Indian Panamanians
Tagged barracks, canal-zone, Empire, Fanny-Reid, housing, Joshua-Austin-Reid, marriage, marriage-license, paraiso-cz, silver-weddings, weddings
In 1996 Nabisco dropped the cracker
and then revived it in 1997 in the face of a
concerted campaign from consumers.
A real Westindian 4th of July “Picnic”
in the community
of Gorgona (earlY photo)
courtesy of czimages.com
By the 1930’s and 40’s the US Interoceanic Canal Commission (ICC) would, once again in history and with the able assistance of Black Westindian labor, effectively transform the bankrupt economy of the U.S.A. into the booming advertising centered economy that would eventually emerge during the 1950’s and 1960’s; and they would achieve this from an obscure corner of the world called Panama. Continue reading
Image was taken from a colorized postcard of an early ambulance from Ancon Hospital. The white man was a policeman and the body that is being transported in the ambulance was probably a recently deceased Silver worker. My grandfather, Joshua Austin Reid, as Dispensary Director, often sent the ambulances he supervised on mortuary calls.sent the ambulances he supervised on mortuary calls.
Joshua Austin Reid’s “Badge” photo from his work file with the Panama Canal. It is dated 1919.
Probably no one will remember Mr. Joshua Austin Reid and his exploits as I would; no, not even his beloved wife. My grandmother, Fanny, was able to arrive in Panama and enjoy life without fear of dying in her sleep for herself and, later on, her children in large part thanks to the monumental clean up and construction exploits of men like grandfather Joshua. Continue reading