Tag Archives: Silver Roll

Our Saints and Ancestors

The levitation of St. Martin de Porres. Image thanks to bylovealone.

Ancient graves of our Silver ancestors at Silver Corozal Cemetery in Ancón.

We want to exhort all of the Westindian community historically recognized as the original and de facto residents of the City of Colon and areas of Panama City and Bocas del Toro to make a special effort to honor their ancestors today, El Día de los Muertos.

In addition to being the main workers and builders of the first intercontinental railway in the americas, The Panama Railroad (1849-1855), they also sacrificed life and limb, en masse, to prosper the building of the Panama Canal on both instances of the French and American govenments and from both terminal cities of Colon and Panama. 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

The Life of Panama’s Adolescents in 1950

In this photo we see the Westindian old timers
on the Silver Roll Relief and Disability
lines in the Zone in order to pick up their $25 a month
pension check. Image thanks to czimages.com

The decade of the 1950’s would become historic times- an epoch that particularly Panamanian historians would be reticent to tread upon, especially touching the subject of our people. They were times when the whole machinery of governments would see in an undefined populace such as the Panamanian Westindians fair game for unleashing its harshest sting, especially the disdain of their ruling class. In a country such as Panama, bounded by no less than five borders, its people still sought to define itself. Continue reading

A Tribute to Alfred E. Osborne

Alfred E. Osborne. Image thanks to Afropanavisions.com

Venerable Teacher Osborne, father of Alfred E. Osborne, left his Island home of Antigua, when his son Alfred E. was only three years of age. He arrived in Panama in the year of 1911 and most assuredly met my grandfather Mr. Joshua A. Reid, the Dispensary Director of Silver Paraiso Township. Mr. Reid had left his beloved Island of Jamaica in 1906 to get work on the construction of the “Big Ditch” which would later turn into the Panama Canal. The elder Teacher Osborne then labored at the segregated Canal Zone Silver Schools until he achieved the rank of Principal. Continue reading

The Sacrifice of Silver Families- A Bitter Cup

A Bitter Cup

The deleterious effects of a segregated work environment would invariably exact its toll on the emotional climate of the Silver workers’ home front. What had become a bounty to Gold Roll families would become a great sacrifice for Silver families and the dynamics of the entire picture would not be so clearly perceived until the works in the Great Ditch had come under control. Continue reading

Social Control and Coping Mechanisms for the Silver Roll

The chain link fence around the “American Cemetery” in Corozal today is
reminiscent of the chain link fence of the Canal Zone

As our history of the Silver People unfolds these crucial times would become marked by a first generation of Westindian youth that would seek to develop their own coping mechanisms for the progressively tighter and systematic forces of social control imposed by the Canal Zone authorities. Since they had been born into a system that rejected them from birth to the grave they found some creative as well as direct and indirect ways of countering these negative forces in their lives. Many countered, if they could, by simply refusing to work on the Canal Zone. Continue reading