Tag Archives: Susu

Susú Messenger Boy and Slave

I wholeheartedly support the strong anti-child labor movement in the world as we must put an end to the attitude of adults who feel they can take advantage of the vulnerability of children.

Presently, I’d gone back to doing what I knew best to do which was helping my grandmother, but I got the impression that I was beginning to feel too comfortable being around my grandmother and her adult female friends and associates, especially running Susú. It was a time that, at every turn it seemed, I’d become so trained by my grandmother that I was feeling taken for granted. I was not only the general handyman to her but to every one of her friends. Continue reading

Susú, the System of the Poor

The original and historical main branch of El Banco Nacional of Panama. It remains a prime example of the art deco architectural style.


Although times had changed and the barrios were becoming more populated and in need of goods and services, some institutions just could or would not keep up. Such was the case with the banks and it looks like we’re seeing it all over again today. At this time in the Panama of the Silver barrios there were no banks available for the ladies on my Susú route. Continue reading

Del Marie

I had known that the poorer barrios of Panama City were bilingual and even trilingual but I had no idea to what extent until I got really involved with my grandmother’s schemes to keep some money in her possession even after she retired from working in Ancon Laundry. My treks for Mamí would take me further and further out into, what was then, the outlying areas like the new barrios of Rio Abajo, Pueblo Nuevo and the emerging barrio of Juan Diaz which had previously been almost virgin forest- a bush as we called these areas in those days.  Continue reading

Susú and the Old Silver Barrios

Calidonia 1940

This photo of a street in Calidonia
about 1940 was taken just before the Americans
with their crews of Westindian men paved
it. Image thanks to Afropanavisions.com


Once I went to live with my paternal grandmother I gradually started becoming acquainted with the popular barrios of the city due to my direct involvement with her penchant for gambling. Amongst the many games of chance on her list of favorites there was one she referred to as “Susú,” and the officially sanctioned “Loteria” or, in her Westindian lexicon “Latry.” By the time I reached sixth grade I would have gotten to know all the barrios where Westindians lived in the City of Panama just doing the rounds for my grandmother since her involvements in these strange convolutions of the games of chance were extensive and intricate. Continue reading

My First Bout of Street Fighting

Stanley "Rocky" McKay who was a mere child when he started boxing.  This 1950 photo he was a very young kid boxer.

Stanley “Rocky” McKay who was a mere child when he started boxing. In this 1950 photo he was a very young kid boxer.

My father, as I mentioned before, had always loved birds and I remember he had even installed a pigeon coop somewhere. However, during this time his mania about hunting included large wild birds, the beautiful tropical Pheasant that abounded in Panama, even when he brought them home riddled with brass shotgun pellets. Continue reading