History Items of the Canal Zone


Book Two

1. LITTLE TROPICAL AMERICA

Construction Era Conditions

It was on May 1, 1904 that the United States government took possession of the Canal Zone. In terms of changes brought by intervening years that is a long time ago.

In the religious life of that era each of hundreds of sects, like Kipling's cat, walked its wild lone with scarcely a qualm of conscience concerning Christian cooperation. Meanwhile, the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America was but a dream child, born four years later.

In national life none had seriously imagined the United States as a world power. Its population was less than half its present total while the westward flow of ox-drawn caravans remained a sizable trickle. The Alaskan Border dispute was in the process of settlement. Child labor laws were at last being taken seriously, while Maryland had enacted the first workmen's compensation law. Woman's suffrage sentiment had pyramided into a certainty and Carrie Nation was wielding her emphatic hatchet. Alfred Tennyson had been dead but a decade and "Mark Twain" still had six years of his brilliant life ahead. The retailing of sugar at four cents per pound and tea at 25 may indicate something of price levels, while men's woolen suits were $10 each.

The international scene revealed Russia and Japan at war, with the Boer war a very fresh memory. The abolition of serfdom in Russia was eight years ahead as was the founding of China's first Republic.

Perhaps the most amazing evidence of change during the first half of our turbulent century lies in the world of gadgets. In 1904 New York got its first subway ride but waited eight years to exhibit to a gawking world the now dwarfed Woolworth tower. When men and machines were first unloaded at Colon to take over where the French had left off, the Ford Motor Company was a year old, yet it was increasingly common for faithful old Dobbyn to be scared out of his wits by the irregular chug chug of a mechanical marvel and architectural monstrosity that was destined soon to consign him and his dirt roads to oblivion. In Dayton, Ohio two young "impractical idealists were wasting their time," seeking to defy the law of gravity. Guglielmo Marconi had just succeeded in coaxing sound to ride ether waves from one shore of the Atlantic to the other. Edwin S. Porter, chief cameraman of the Edison studio, had fired the imagination of the world, not to mention several keen competitors, by producing The Great Train Robbery, the motion picture screen's first genuine play.

Despite all the technological advances that have been made since the Panama Canal was engineered a half century ago, it remains the world's largest canal, and one of the most modern. That fact is a great tribute to the builders of the world's most widely known engineering project. Legion were the problems that confronted them and there were but few patterns to follow. First there was the chore of establishing the precise evaluation of the assets purchased from the French Canal Company. The tropical diseases which had contributed largely to the failure of the French, had to be prevented by scientific sanitation. It was imperative that a veritable army of workers with know-how and physical stamina be recruited, transported, housed, hospitalized and fed. Giant earth-moving machines had to be designed, constructed and imported. Approximately one-fourth of the total construction force were U.S. Citizens. Some were "Tropical Tramps," moving as their fancy directed from one job to another across Latin America. The majority, however. came directly from the United States, representing every state, with the leading percentage from the Atlantic Coast states. For the first three years men were so definitely in the majority that in 1906, Gorgona, with more than one thousand young bachelors, had only three women of marriageable age! The years have corrected this ratio, but never quite balanced it.

First to come were young men with a sufficiently adventurous spirit to defy the ominous threat of death from yellow fever or a malignant malaria. By 1907 a few families began to arrive. The U.S. citizens were chiefly skilled workers, civil and mechanical engineers, executives, clerks, machinists, boiler-makers, carpenters, plumbers, steam shovel operators, locomotive engineers, physicians, and nurses. The coming of these skilled workers lifted the level of intelligence, education, and culture. Common labor and related unskilled work was done by natives, most of whom hailed from Jamaica or Barbados.

A high standard of morals was not easy to maintain in this far-away land of strange customs and culture. Home, family, church, and other moorings were in the distant background, while prominent in the foreground were Panama's brothels and saloons. Yet despite all obstacles the church was established--spontaneously, wisely, soundly, and within a new organizational and ideological pattern indigenous to the needs of its community.

A Thoughtful Government Helps

During the construction era, employees were to temporary to be expected to import, and support, their own clergy. Hence, in August, 1905, certain Chaplains were brought by the Isthmian Canal Commission. Their stipend, paid by the U.S. Government, was $100 per month. One of these was stationed in each of the principal construction towns, charged with the duty of holding religious services.

In like manner the Commission met the need for wholesome, health-giving recreation by erecting and maintaining appropriate buildings, with the Young Men's

Christian Association providing the professional operative staff. By July 1, 1906, such institutions had been opened in Cristobal, Culebra, Empire, and Gorgona, and later, as need arose, in other communities. They readily became the social centers housing libraries, soda fountains, lounges, debating societies, amateur dramatics, dances, pool, basketball and other diversions, including professional entertainers from the states.

The first meetings of religious groups were in Post Offices, Mess Halls, school buildings, or whatever possible. It was an amusing seight to see a 200 pound man "poured" into a study desk designed for a fifth grade youngster. In 1907 the Isthmian Canal Commission began to construct in Ancon, Balboa, Corozal, Cristobal, Culebra, Gatun, Gorgona, Empire, Las Cascadas and Paraiso, buildings designed to meet the needs both of churches and lodges. They were popularly known as the "I.C.C. Chapels." If people were sufficiently eager for religious expression to ignore impediments and inconveniences, the Government's agents were quick to sense the need of adequate places for religious worship and activities. "Note" I.C.C. means "Isthmian Canal Commission."

Introducing Some Interesting Indians

The other missionary objective of the Union Churches centers on the San Blas Islands which dot the blue, blue waters of the tropical Caribbean east of the Canal Zone. These are islands which, for uniqueness and utopian appeal, offer serious competition to those of fame and fable in the South Seas. This coral archipelago begins about one hundred miles east of Colon, and stretches almost to Colombia, Its four hundred islands range in diameter from a few hundred yards to a quarter of a mile. One the mainland of Panama, usually about a half mile away by cayuca, the native inhabitants have small farms on which are grown corn, a few vegetables, and tropical fruits. There they shoot their game, wash their clothing in the clear streams that emerge from the jungle, and take back to their island homes fresh drinking water. The dugout canoe (cayuca) is the only means of transportation.

The Rev. Leon S. DeSmidt, while pastor of Gatun Union Church, made an on-the-spot study of these strange, primitive, lovable, wholesome islanders. He has recorded in his Among the San Blas Indians of Panama many of their customs, manners, and beliefs. Some of the following introductions to these folks who are served by the Union Church-aided missionaries, was gleaned from Mr. DeSmidt's interesting little volume.

The first European to see the Pacific Ocean, Vasco Nunez de Balboa, wedded a daughter of one of the San Blas coast chieftains. In lineage these Tule Indians, as they are sometimes called, are a branch of the Cuna Tribe. For two centuries they successfully denied hospitality to white men. This aversion began with slave traders early in the sixteenth century. It was intensified by the ruthless seekers after gold who tortured, roasted, hanged, and enslaved vast numbers of the once-trusting Latin American tribes of Indians. During this brutal era, the San Blas inhabitants fled to the impenetrable jungle of nearby mainland. There food scarcities and lethal-disease-carrying mosquitoes became defensive cohorts against the intruders.

The island of Ailigandi, center of the missionary work, illustrates something of the amazing density of population on the fifty of these tiny islands that are inhabited. With an area equal to three normal blocks, Ailigandi has something over 1200 people. With thatched roof houses, often less than three feet apart, there is a critical fire-potential. This danger is intensified by a perpetual wood fire on the dirt floor of every kitchen,, whose smoke must find its way through the thatch above. The village officials successfully counter this hazard by decreeing that he whose carelessness causes his neighbor's house to burn is legally liable to be cast to his death into the conflagration. Sanitation is another problem inherent in such a population density. Garbage disposal is simplified by the kitchen fire and the family pig, which in turn is led periodically to the near-by ocean. There the human being goes for the same purpose. The modern multiple-bathtubbed North American, rating himself out in front in personal cleanliness, is far-outscrubbed by the San Blas native, who takes at least three baths per day, and washes his wardrobe daily.

Long before her white sister caught on, the San Blas senora was enhancing her facial beauty with rouge and framing it with necklaces of shells, fish bones, monkey teeth, or coins. Indeed, in the matter of improving upon nature's esthetic endowments, she also has a long lead (it is hoped!) over her faced, feminine relative, in nose ornamentation. This rather flat feature of her physiognomy is accented by a brown dye extending well into her forehead, and is pierced by a sizable gold ring that rides on her upper lip. Her large disk-like gold earrings constitute a drain on the family exchequer large enough to send male members of the household to Colon for lucrative employment for many months. Small boys frequently go about the island without clothing, even to school and church, but never the little girls or adults. Very appropriately, San Blas has been called a "photographer's paradise" because of its unique physical characteristics and the colorful costumes of the natives, particularly the women in their richly appliqued blouses (or molas), multicolored sarongs, and scarlet headpieces.

The Islander's diet is limited largely to plantains, rice, tropical fruit, and fish. The women masticate corn into a mush whereupon it is spit into a pot and boiled. This allegedly nutritive drink helps sustain the farm laborers, or a family when on a long trip. It is also the first food offered a guest or a convalescent.

Through its Congress, each village enjoys much freedom in self-government . The sessions of this body follow a pattern not unlike the New England Town Meeting, and may be held nightly for a period when the villagers are concerned with an important issue. The Chiefs, of whom there is a first, second, and third, are chosen by popular vote; they remain in office as long as their service is satisfactory. During the meetings in "Congress Hall" these distinguished officials occupy hammocks! The new Constitution of Panama grants San Blas a representation in the National Government and the right of male suffrage. A Governor, or "Intendente," is headquartered at Porvenir. Recently he has been provided with and Indian Counsellor, who seeks to acquaint him with the collective wishes of the Islanders. Until the recent initiation of air service, and occasional cocoanut boat provided their lone contact with civilization. This breaking of old isolations will help to make the San Blas increasingly less a land of yesterday; with the new era, however, there will come the type of moral and economic crises that always accompany the transition of a primitive people from a simple, to a complex, way of life. Such a change accentuates the importance of the guiding, friendly hand of Christian missionaries.

Balboa, Canal Zone

Balboa, Canal Zone was once my home and I lived there from the time I was born until the time I retired in 1973. Since the United States Government gave away my home to the Government of Panama it is now called Balboa, Republic of Panama. So sad and I wonder how one would feel if they the United States Government gave away their home say St. Petersburg, FL. I wonder?

The name originally borne by the town of Balboa was La Boca (the mouth). This name was applied to an early hamlet along a trail that is nobody knows how old. It connected Panama City with interior trading settlements. This village sprawled near the mouth of the Rio Grande; a river that largely lost its identity when much of its channel was utilized by the Canal's builders. The proximity of this native village to the area selected for the Pacific terminal city of the Canal may have been an influence in reapplying the old name. Its use continued until April 30, 1909, when, at the suggestion of the Peruvian Minister to Panama, the name Balboa, was adopted.

This choice of name was appropriate, since Vasco Nunez de Balboa was the first European to see the Pacific Ocean. While accomplishing the amazing feat of dragging the bisected hulls of his ships from the Atlantic to the Pacific, Balboa is believed to have been the first to conceive the idea of an Isthmian canal. Indeed it was but half a decade thereafter, in 1623, that Balboa's king, Charles V of Spain, initiated a movement vaguely designed to construct such a canal. The King's ambitions were not realized, but in 1534, some 380 years before the Canal was opened, an actual survey of the terrain was made by Spain. In a beautiful section of Panama City, beside the "South Sea," as Balboa called the Pacific, there was erected in his memory, in 1925, one of the finest statues in all the world. Atop a huge globe stands the giant bronze figure of this farmer, colonizer, explorer, and discoverer. Supporting the globe and encircling it, hand in hand, are reliefs representing the four great races of mankind. The pedestal bears the seals of all Latin American nations.

For countless centuries, the Pacific pounded the foot of Ancon Hill, which at high tide was virtually an island. Balboa's "Flats" and other low-lying areas of this now trim community were tidal marshes, or were entirely inundated. Much of the Curundu and Albrook Field areas were popular beaches. Facetiously known as the world's largest "floating" air field, Albrook Field would promptly revert to a marsh, without its extensive and efficient drainage facilities. The edge of Sosa Hill, a hundred feet from the Balboa Union Church, was once a shore line. It is estimated that the Canal excavation of dirt and rock would fill enough railroad cars to encircle the globe four times. It would be sufficient to construct 63 of Cheops' pyramids, whose bases when joined would extend from New York's Battery Park to Harlem. Some disposition had to be made of this 163,000,000 cubic yards of earth. Nearby were the marshes at the Pacific entrance to the Canal, so...

The first Canal installations at Balboa were the Marine shops, originally designed to rebuild some of the inherited French Canal Company dredges, and other heavy machinery. Then came the terminal docks which through the years have been expanded into something enormous, as have the fuelling stations and the Dry Dock that serves ships up to 1,000 feet in length. More recent decades have brought over a half dozen military posts, whose permanent buildings and spacious acreages might be taken for University campuses. Gorgas Hospital, the medical mecca of the tropics, will upon the completion of the new wings now under construction, be capable of housing 1150 patients. The Health Department's personnel, living in the Balboa area inclusive of 59 doctors, 163 nurses, 132 technicians, and the rest totals 390. With the Canal Zone government the divisional headquarters of the Canal, and the Panama Railroad centered on the Pacific side, a splendid community of nearly 10,000 U.S. citizens live within seven minutes drive of the Balboa Union Church. This total is exclusive of military personnel, but it includes civilians employed by the military.

Margarita

Among the new townsites, Margarita is one of the most promising in the matter of growth and probable permanency. It bids fair to become the major population center for Zonians on the Atlantic end of the Canal. The housing is all of recent construction.

The name of this thriving community was probably appropriated from the Margarita Florist Gardens, whose ancient building stands near the Town's present entrance, at the forks of the old road leading to Gatun. During the years that this area appeared on official maps as a part of Mount Hope, and long before the town was dreamed of, Mrs. Benjamin O. Hodges cultivated and sold flowers there. The name of her floral establishment came from the adjacent "Margarita Crossing" that bridges the old Diversion Canal.

As one sees the shining new Clubhouse, Post Office, Commissary, swimming pool, residential sections, and even the Margarita Hospital, it is not easy to believe that only a few short years ago the area was a prosaic hog farm, operated by the U.S. Government.

Howard Clarke and his family lived in this town from 1950 until he retired and left for good to live in the United States.

Columbus Arrives

The names of the Atlantic terminal cities long will help perpetuate the memory of Christopher Columbus--and properly so. On his fourth voyage, while searching Carribean shores for a strait leading to the Indies, the explorer cast anchor at the mouth of the Chagres, in the very shadow of the giant cliff that upshoulders the romantic ruins of Fort San Lorenzo. That was on Christmas Day, 1502. The strait he sought did not exist; yet his four small, wormeaten, tattered ships lay, prophetically, at the mouth of the river whose waters, only four swift centuries later, were to form the crossroads of the world's marine traffic, and through the constructive genius of a vas nation whose birth none had even envisioned.

On the same voyage he passed Manzanillo Island. The entrancing bay in which it stood, now known as Limon Bay, was first charted as the Bay of Naos, and later was called Navy Bay. On its shores are modern Cristobal, in the Canal Zone, and Colon, in the Republic of Panama. At first this community bore the name Aspinwall, after William Aspinwall, leader of the American Company that constructed the Panama Railroad. This name lingered so stubbornly in popular usage that finally Colombia, of which Panama was then a Province, refused to deliver mail addressed to Aspinwall, on the grounds that officially there was no such place. The French Canal Company had a sizable construction town on the present site of Old Cristobal which they called Cristopho Colombo, the Spanish version of which is Cristobal Colon. That spelling of the famous explorer's name represented his preference. The baptismal spelling, however, was Cristoforo Colombo. For mysterious reasons historians have chosen to use the name by which he is universally known.

One Hundred Years Ago

Porto Bello (Beautiful port) so named by Columbus, had, since his day, been Panama's chief Atlantic port. The plan to make it the Atlantic terminus of the Panama Railroad was thwarted by New York profiteers, who purchased strategic lots and placed unreasonable prices on them. So it came to pass that the 1850 Manzanillo Island was selected as both the construction center and the Atlantic extremity of this unique railroad which is so deeply rooted both in the history and the current fortunes of Colon and Cristobal. For almost a century the freight and passenger trains of this railroad have shrieked from one ocean to another in some eighty-five minutes. Prior to that transportation era the fastest and most popular trans-Isthmaian travel method was by river boat from the mouth of the Chagres to Cruces where the mule trains started along wild jungle trails for Panama City. It was in 1835 that Henry Clay publicly urged the construction of an ocean to ocean railroad in Panama. Something of its need, not to mention the need for a Canal, is indicated by the fact that in 1843 some 32 ships operated between Panama City and the Pacific coast, with half that number on the shorter run from Colon to certain North American Atlantic ports. With R.R. tickets selling at 50 cents per mile and freight tariffs at similar altitudes, the $7,000,000 invested was recovered with amazing rapidity, and soon the dividends grew fat. yet the traveler did not complain--when questing gold, men minimize costs. Moreover the voyage to California, via Cape Horn, was over 7 ,000 miles farther, extremely hazardous and expensive.

One indication of the lure of California's glittering gold was the plan of Rufus Porter to construct a steam-driven air craft capable of carrying 100 passengers from New York to California in three days at $200 each-including board! The engine and passenger compartments were to be supported by a cigar-shaped gas baloon. Even though the project never got further than the drafting board Mr. Porter actually received over 200 bonafide bookings. April first, 1849 was the sailing date named. Engineers, scientists and the general public were universally cynical concerning the affair. The enthusiasm of those wanting California's gold continued-even after the project had collapsed.

When in 1904 the Isthmian Canal Commission's regime began, Colon, despite its halo of romance, was in fact, a small disease-ridden swamp-surrounded port. Speedily the Commission drained the entire area, and, by means of huge fills, lifted the town above the marshes. Indeed, filling the vast mangrove swamp, near modern Mount Hope converted the island of Manzanillo into a peninsula. But the Commission faced problems more stubborn than sanitation. Colon was both an international port and the center of five extensive, cruel, desperate years of railroad construction; years that measured out death to hundreds of trained engineers and to literally thousands of common laborers, brought from many parts of the world. Always when human life becomes cheap, moral standards drop, hence Colon's reputation as the most ill-famed town of all the Americas.

The middle of the 19th century saw hundreds of adventurous North Americans, headed for California gold fields, preferring the route through Panama to that of the long, expensive and danger-filled overland journey by stage coach, or ox caravan. One of these men, Mr. Charles. C. Clement, author of the following letter, was the great-grandfather of two current Union Church members: Mr. Caleb Clement, Gatun and Virginia Clement, now Mrs. Wesley Townsend, of Balboa. The latter procured this letter for us from her aunt, Mrs. Percy Dawe (Ruth Clement).

Barque Susan at Sea, May 12, 1850

"Dear Mother:-

"You will no doubt think it strange to receive another letter from me in Panama...strange indeed are the circumstances which cause it.

"After leaving Chagres we proceeded up the river in the boat I told you of, about thirty-five miles, and a more beautiful scenery I never beheld in my life; trees covered with blossoms, high mountains completely covered with huge trees, and then again there would be a gentle sloping bank covered with a grass and a native hut or two where the traveller can stop for a cup of coffee and a bite to eat, for which he pays two dimes or more, according to his appetite. Many of the large trees were covered with a vine resembling in the distance the swan plant. So completely were they covered that I could not see a line of the tree, not even a twig...

"March 29 we arrived at Gorgona about nine in the morning, another native settlement about half way to Panama. Here I expected to find a number of our boat companions who started about four miles below here to walk. They did not arrive until two o'clock, having been lost in the woods all that time. We staid over night and started early the next morning for Panama; walked through in one day, a distance of from 25 to 30 miles, over the roughest road I ever saw. Ever and anon there is a carcass of a dead mule whose cruel master had loaded until he could not stand under it. I should think that more than 50 were lying along on either side of the path, for it is nothing more than a mule path worn down in some places the depth of from six to eight feet...

"We arrived at Panama City in the evening pretty well tired out, as you may well suppose, took lodgings at the Western Hotel (kept by the same man who used to keep the Pawtucket Gardens in Dracut, afterwards kept a liquor store under the Museum. I can't remember his name now). Slept soundly all night, was awake early on Sunday morn by the clanging of the bells; and such a noise as those cracked bells made I never heard.

"You wished me to write you particularly about Panama; I will try. First of all it is the Devil's own place, half of the city now in complete ruins, the other half but partially repaired by a few Yankees who have settled here to pick the pockets of the travellers who pass this way. But as a business place; if you will bring a lot of liquors, and laces, sugars and provisions, and a conscience as elastic as a woman's garter, you may do well. But to do an honest and honorable business is out of the question. Suffice it to say their churches, their faith and their city are alike fast falling into disrepute and ruin.... Their faith is the least regarded of any Catholic country I ever heard of, and well it may be, when Priests will go to a Cock Fight of a Sunday afternoon and bet their money, lose it, and then bet their very shoe buckles, ornaments and clothing. Deliver me from such a Sodom.

"On arriving here I found that the Columbus would not arrive short of six or eight weeks, and as the bonus on an early steamer ticket to California was from a hundred to a hundred and fifty dollars, I found it necessary to stay, or go as a sailor. It being rather sticky I concluded that the latter would be the better course. Accordingly I went on board the Barque Susan on April 6. Then commenced my disasters.

The letter gave in some detail the fortunes of the ocean voyage. On the 15th day out the Captain rationed a maximum of three pints of water daily to each sailor, due to an alleged shortage. Three days later he reversed the course of the ship, heading it for a South American port, due, he said to a lack of food. Before arriving anywhere, however, the Captain again changed his mind and set the ship's course towards Mexico, and finally started back to Panama.

"May 6 was a disastrous day. The sun beat down hot and the air was still and sultry. Not a breath of motion was perceptible. The sails flapped about lazily at the rock of the vessel, and huge whales rolled themselves half out of the water and spouted as if to raise some motion, the porpoises rolled, the dolphins bared their backs of gold. There seemed to be a feeling of languor and depression on all sides, and thus the day passed. I had just laid down to sleep on deck as the cry passed around-'Man overboard'! All rushed to the stern where he was, and, as I laid nearby, I was the first there. Ropes, boxes, buckets and oars were thrown to him, but in spite of every effort to save him he sank to rise no more. Not seeing the Captain on deck, the Mate sent to the cabin for him; but judge the astonishment to find it swimming in blood and no captain. He had cut his throat with a razor lying nearby, and then crept through the window into the water. This explained all his previous conduct. He was evidently crazy, and from hints thrown out at various times there is no doubt he did the best possible thing for his passengers. He intended running us into port somewhere and leave us to make our way as best we could. He even hinted once at running the ship aground, or sinking her."

The letter continued with matters of family interest and finally offered this admonition:

"If any of your acquaintances are starting for California tell them...they had better join a company in crossing the Isthmus as there are many murders there now!"

Home of the Dredging Division

One of the unpredictables in constructing the Panama Canal was the degree of sliding that would take place in the cuts. Where there was a bed-rock base, calculations could be made with fair precision. But volcanic soil, when mixed with loose rock and reduced heavy tropical rainfall to the consistency of thick bread dough and under tremendous pressure, was sure to bulge the Canal's banks. How much, and precisely where, could be only partially computed. The rest was a guess. There was, however, no guess about the imperative necessity for immediate action in clearing the channel after the slides came. That meant the maintenance of a force small enough for economy in routine dredging operations, and large enough for efficiency when the slide-created crises came. Also, there must be the world's best dredging equipment. But even these indispensables, together with a know-how that had grown through the years, were not enough; the personnel and equipment must be strategically located. Paraiso was not the right place. Subsequently Mr. John G. Claybourn, famous as the Superintendent of the Dredging Division, persuaded the powers-that-be, both in the Zone and in Washington, to establish as a dredging center a new town on the east side of the Canal, near the big Culebra cut and not too far from the lineal center of the Canal. It was constructed during the years 1935 and 1936, and was named "Gamboa" probably for Don Famon Gamboa, Panama's President in 1858. There the mighty Chagres, principal feeder of Lake Gatun, whose waters fill the huge locks chambers, is lost in the vast reservoir lake it helps to create. Far removed from the noise and bustle that characterizes the Canal's terminal communities, Gamboa is a quiet, highly desirable residential center of some 700 North Americans. As in all other Canal communities the U.S. Government maintains schools, a Clubhouse, Commissary, Post Office, Playgrounds Swimming Pool and Motion picture Theatre. during the second World War, nearby military installations brought service men to the community. But there was not enough to warrant the erection of a building by the United Service Organizations to serve the social needs of military personnel. In order to give these lads a welcome and provide for them a touch of civilian life, the enterprising leaders of the progressive town erected a liberal sized hall complete with stage and kitchen equipment. This building is known as the Civic Center.

I , Howard Clarke worked as a Motion Picture operator and Manager of the Gamboa Clubhouse for a number of years. And had lots of fun in that "sleepy" town. This was the time when I worked for the Bureau of Clubs and Playgrounds and my boss was Paul Kline. His office was in Balboa, Canal Zone in the Balboa Clubhouse. He never did any supervising to any of the many moving picture operators he had. This was before I transferred to the Mechanical Division as a Rigger Learner. And so it goes.

These snippets were taken from "Christian Cooperation at the World's Crossroads", written by Robert H. Rolofson. From the year 1914 to April 1950, and I lived through these wonderful times.

Howard Linden Clarke, Jr.


 
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Author Dale C. Clarke.
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Revised: August 16, 2000.