Image is of the Mechanics Lodge posing for a group picture with their families. About 1912 at Isla Colon. Just as in Colon and Panama City the Lodges made up a very important part of the life of the West Indian Panamanian society. Image thanks to Sr. José Price.
These were the times of the Panamanian presidency of Ernesto de la Guardia, Jr., while we remained in Baseline, today known as the area of Changuinola in Bocas del Toro Province. However, today I would probably not recognize that same Changinola River area I got to know the first day I ventured up there to seek work back in 1956. But, it was an area that my co-workers and I would get to know as home and we shared many adventures together as plantation laborers just as my West Indian forefathers had done years before. At this point in my life, now with a new baby and a wife in tow, I was ready to depart from this tainted land for me, swearing that I would never go back. Nevertheless, I started meeting new friends. Continue reading
During this time that I had some money stashed away in my pocket, that I had been keeping for our upkeep for another couple of weeks. I had considered using it for leaving Bocas to return to Colon and, from there, getting lost somewhere in Panama City. On second thought, however, I thought it better to wait until the newborn baby was older before forcing us to travel.
I also decided not to spend any more money on purchasing things to make us a home since I foresaw that Pug and I would each one go our separate ways. The fact was that I did not see in her a readiness to grow up and I was still angry about how things had turned out between us. I lived in constant uncertainty as to what other commitments she had made with people that would force me to be in front of the Corregidor again. Continue reading
The baby was received in grand style. Image thanks to dekart.biz
“Hey Reid the boss want to see you!” one of the guys said. It seemed as though everyone I met that evening had been told to let me know that the Boss wanted to see me. And so, before I appeared at the evening meal I stopped at his house and knocked on the door. Even before he opened the door completely he was, like a happy grandfather, telling me, “It’s a boy and the muchacha is doing well also!” “Thank you Señor for everything,” I said barely believing my ears. “I am going to see if I can bring them home tonight,” I promised. “You take a few days off and stay with your family,” said the boss in an affectionate tone. Continue reading
Image from TheSilverPen.com
As was his custom, the Big Boss would come into the office and usually not talk to me. At first, I was put off by this although I didn’t show it. However, I had seen how envious the other men who had been with him longer would get and it was wise for me to remain reserved and go along with my benefactor to keep the peace in the office. He was right in his attitude and showing much more experience with these matters of interpersonal relations on the job than me. I would stop to pray daily to continue in doing the best I could on the job. Continue reading
Sixteen Tons album cover. Image thanks to wikipedia.
Suspicion followed me at home in Bocas Town for my recent habit of trying to stash away some money every week in order to have enough cash to contribute to Pug’s upkeep. Her Aunt and the rest of her family were imagining all sorts of things I figured , that I was doing with my money as there was a lot of prostitution going on in Baseline catering to the workforce. Continue reading
The hulk of one of the Chiriqui Land Company railroad cars. Image thanks to our friends at ferrolatino
Although the rest of that first day was uneventful, the two of us, as partners, started enjoying working as a team all morning and during the afternoon. Once the concrete slabs were in place we had time to enjoy each other’s company. The foreman would briefly appear and then leave after he saw us shoveling and digging as expert workmen.
By then part of the evening was spent digging our first hole which was approximately six feet deep, six feet long and three feet across. As we dug, we wondered about what was to be buried in that hole. Soon, as the day reached its end, our friendly coworkers whom we hadn’t seen eye to eye yet suddenly shouted, “You two better get ready to get going because the truck will be here soon!” Continue reading