Gamboa News

[an error occurred while processing this directive] visitors since 07/05/2003.

Life on the Isthmus

chronicled by
Skip Rowley

Just reading all the bochincha gets me laughing and remembering some of stuff that the cobwebs have pluged up. How I loved living there even for only about 3 1/2 years or so. Sea Scouts was the big thing then and thanks to Steve Herring, I learned to water ski there.

As I read on, I see names that I had forgotten over the years. I'm glad to see that the guys remember Mr. Biava. I can still see him at Scout awards etc. His first namd was "Vincent". I would have to agree that there wasn't a better man alive than Mr. Biava. He was the epitome of what a leader of young men should be. A super great person. Also the cop that Butch Hope mentioned was "Fred Saunders", and when I knew him, he drove the most beautiful Pink and Charcoal "55" Chevy Convertable. I don't know why he moved, but we moved into his house up on Snob hill right next door to Dick Gramlich.

I just thought I'd add that little trivia info. See what I mean? Every time I read something that someone has said it triggers some more info' that just leaps out of my clogged up brain. What would a guy do with out his memories? We all can surely feel sorry for kids that were raised in the mundane states.

The many hours that we all used to sit on the corner at Campbells house and BS, play kick the can, and in general just lead a care free life. Living in the Canal Zone and more especially in towns like Cocoli, Gamboa, and Gatun, were all different but equal in adventures and excitement. If I had to live my life over again, or yet, if I could, I would opt to due it the same way.

Unlike a lot of the kids there, I lived on both sides of the Isthmus. Margarita was full of memories in a lot of different aspects. Swimming for Coach Palumbo in CJHS, and being on the rifle team with Mr. Gibson was a plus in my life. Fishing at the Spinning Club or down the Chagres River or Boy Scout camping out at Pina Beach was was a experience never to forget.

Living in Cocoli and having a paper route which covered all of Cocoli, Rousseau, NAD and half of Rodman was a working experience never to forget. Packing Groceries in the old Cocoli Commissary was unheard of in other towns, but not in Cocoli. Never made a lot of money doing that but it kept us guys in 22 amunition and allowed us to keep shooting at the Range, and even allowed me to buy my new 22 model 513T rifle. To this day, Don Keller and I are the best of friends. He lives in Huntsville and is married to Beverly George from Gatun.

Gamboa was like nothing you can explain. We lived a different life style out there mainly due to the fact that we were so isolated from the rest of the CZ. Friends I made in all these towns are friends that I will have untill the day I die. I wouldn't have it any other way. Like the song says, "I'm stuck in the fifties again. Bringing so many old friends back together again is without a doubt, one of the highlights of the day for me.

My folks moved to Gamboa sometime in early 55, while I was attending a military school in Pennsylvania. I got home in June of 55 at the tender age of 15. What an adventure I have had over the past 47 years. By the way, I just talked to Diane Hearne tonight on the phone. She lives in Jacksonville. The last time I saw her was at her home in JAX back in1960. She was a newly wed and had me over for dinner. Us tender young sailors always appreciated a home cooked meal back then.


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