History Items of the Canal Zone

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George Chevalier's Memories of the Panama Canal Zone
cronicled by
Dale C. Clarke from Iguana

General Rambles Oct-Nov, 2003

2003/08/29
This morning about 4AM Ed Nance, a long time resident of Panama and El Valle died. He had been in San Fernando Hospital recovering from surgery 10 days ago. He is survived by his wife Olga Wilson Nance and nephew Norman Lewter (Wilson) and his wife Laurie (Jones) Lewter.

Ed & Olga ran that beautiful Bed & Breakfast on the mountain side overlooking El Valle. The plans for the funeral services have not been announced. Probably next week. Olga's phone number in El Valle is 983-6126. Today she is here in the City. I do not know when she will be returning to El Valle.

Charly Garcia

2003/08/30
Somehow I have failed to read of any description of construction era filtration systems. While very familiar with the Camacho, Rio Grande and Zion Hill Reservoirs that served the Pacific Side towns and having explored the small reservoir at Ft. Sherman I have not seen any mention of what sort of a filtration plant was set up for any of these. I'm sure they were not drinking straight from the holding source. The reservoir at Sherman was up in the woods to the left after passing across the air strip on the way to San Lorenzo. We see photos of these reservoirs and their overflow gates but not much else.
GC

2003/09/01
The other day several responses mentioned possible use of Gatun Lake water but remember that there was basically no water in the lake to tap at that time. The towns were taking water from earthen walled reservoirs that were fed by rivers or rain. Going through my books to see if the water problem and filtration is mentioned.
GC

2003/09/01
On pages 265 and 266 of "The Panama Canal" by Haskin we have our answer to the drinking water of construction towns on the west bank.

He says: No human habitations or trespassing was allowed around the reservoirs. They were examined each month for bacteria etc. When reservoirs are full the excess is drawn from the bottom rather than let an overflow take place. Water for domestic purposes is taken from the top. The water has a somewhat unpleasant taste to people newly arrived on the Isthmus and in some cases serves to disturb the digestive tract, but to the people who become accustomed to it the unpleasant flavor, due to the presence of decayed vegetation is forgotten. The workers on the Canal Zone declare they miss the Panama water when they go back to the States.

Damn am I glad we had the Miraflores Filter Plant by the time I came along. Just one more insight into the life of those who dug that Ditch. That would have made me a complete beer drinker.
GC

2003/09/01
Check Chapter XXXV and XXXVII in the History of the Panama Canal by Bennett. Both chapters are available online at CZBrats in the History section.
Lesley

2003/09/03
In CZBrats History Section under Canal Diggers Wives lies the answer. The water piped in to the quarters was not filtered and was unsafe to drink. The ICC furnished distilled water to each house by a five gallon glass bottle at one per day. Delivered by donkey cart at first and then by truck. If you were having a party and ran out of your days supply neighbors borrowed from each other.
GC

2003/09/03
With the reservoir water unfiltered and the system of cisterns to catch rain water done away with because of mosquito control there were numerous springs about that merchants drew from to peddle water in Panama City.

A big spring was at Paraiso on the west bank and it was here that the Coca Cola Co. built there bottling plant and it ran for a number of years until all private enterprise moved over into the Republic. As a bottle collector if you are lucky you may own a Coke bottle bearing the name of Paraiso on it. Close in to the city there was a good producing spring by the Limits on the Ancon Hill side just before starting up towards Balboa. During WW11 there was Navy run Pro Station located there.
GC

2003/09/08
I was surfing http://gozonian.org last night and this morning and came across a couple of dozen pics of the ruins of Panama Viejo, San Fernando, etc... Anyway does anyone know of more pic of these ruins aside from the ones on Dale's page and where I could find them? I am really anxious to see more. As anyone who has bought my cd's can tell I am really into the ruins in a big way, over half of the pics I took in country are of the ruins.
Thanks.

Have a cool beans day. Ciao!

Sean P. Kelly

2003/09/08
Some months ago I was gently chided that each generation thought theirs was the best. In no way can I say that I feel mine was or is. But my Father's, those who built the Canal and then stayed to get it running right, were the best. May I point out some graphic differences. Goethals and none of his trusty engineers would have been caught having sex in the Admin head office. Yet in my age group we had a very high PC Official getting caught having sex on top of his or her desk during lunch time. This same lover boy was caught having sex on Amador Beach with some Colonels daughter. Lover boy kept his job but the Colonel was shipped back to the States with his errant daughter.

As a kid we had a neighbor who was caught having an affair with another mans wife and he was gone out into history within hours. PC gave the aggrieved wife a job and quarters. In my day dallying couples were left to sort out their own mess. As a kid sexual deviants were also gone within hours if uncovered such as a barber in Balboa and a Sunday School Teacher in Balboa. Now in my generation I don't know what action was taken for I never heard of any and I was in a position to hear since I worked in Police Records.

Dependent children who seriously erred were banished back to the States and if the parents objected they went too. But in my day Corozal Mental Facilities had a host of CZ Brats being straightened out. As a kid job screw ups were escorted to the pier side in Cristobal but in my day they were just shuffled around and buried in some other dept.

Yes, there was a better generation and they built the Panama Canal.
GC

2003/09/08
The Sixties had our share of "deportations" and divorce was still frowned upon and highly discouraged. There was a LOT of alcohol abuse up and down the food-chain which many kids assumed to be "normal." Maybe it was the same disease caught by the overseas British - colonial culture. The courts didn't seem to harshly punish routine offenders. The standard disposition of a single vehicle wreck was "failure to control speed," even though it was alcohol induced. There was a lot of corruption and whitewashing. Scandals did not make the newspapers. Maybe that was a better way to handle those things. Too bad true banishment is no longer a penal option.
Glenn BHS 1969

2003/09/08
Here's an upcoming event in the S. C. upstate for all Zonians in the area:

Charles and Alice Latimer of Greenville, South Carolina wish to host a get-together on September 20th, Saturday, at their home in Greenville. Alice has planned a lovely catered luncheon at $10 a head at noon. They have a swimming pool with dressing rooms (with H&C water laid on as they say in England) so bring swim suits & towels if the weather is good. It is only fair to give them notice because of the caterer, so please let me or Alice know by September 13th, the Saturday before the 20th.

Please be sure that we reply to your message so you know that we got it!

They live in Greenville at 100 Yorkshire Drive 29615-1129

If you know of anyone in your area who would like to attend this, let them know! Please RSVP me or Alice by September 13th, or write for more info and directions. Your family and guests and children are welcome. It is a wonderful opportunity for those in the Piedmont to get together and get to know one another.

Alice has devised a low fat menu with assorted sandwiches as canapes, then baked white chicken casserole, seasoned mashed potatoes, squash casserole, broccoli salad, rolls butter, devilled eggs (ah well, we can do that and skip fats later!), and fresh peach or apple pies, iced tea and coffee. All this for $10 sounds awfully good!

Alice has just written to say: "Some people may want to come early and/or stay late and do some sightseeing and/or shopping around Greenville. We will provide soft drinks and tea, and the rest will be a no-host catering situation at $10 per person ($5 for children).

Since the group from Atlanta will take 2-3 hours to get here, we will begin officially at noon and finish officially at 3 p.m. so people can get here and back without leaving too early or returning too late, but we will welcome people anytime after 9 a.m. and love to have them stay as long in the afternoon as they wish. If people come from farther away we can put up about a half dozen for the night, if they don't mind sharing bathrooms."

This all sounds very enticing and I hope that many of you will be able to attend and perhaps see friends from the Zone you haven't seen in years.

Please write or call for directions to the Latimers

. Linnea is at (deleted for privacy)

Alice is at (deleted for privacy)

Linnea Angermuller

2003/09/11
Our paper had an article about the 200 little statues of liberty that the Boy Scouts gave as gifts to towns from 1949-1951. It mentioned the one in the Canal Zone, which got me wondering where she is now ? When we left in ' 99 she was in Ft.Clayton near Jarman Field. The article is at:

http://www.americanprofile.com .

2003/09/11
I know I was looking for her when I was on Clayton last month but she was nowhere to be seen.
Sean Kelly

Margaret 2003/09/11
Some time ago I spoke with the grand daughter of old Fritz Marti. I told her how my Dad had known him in the old days and when ever I had Pop out to the Gamboa Golf Club for a sandwich and beer out on the porch he would tell me how old Fritz had lived just across the river. I am just finishing my rereading of "Zone Policeman 88" and the author speaks of talking with Old Fritz who he claims was connected to pluviograph work and spoke with a heavy Germanic accent. Long winded but I'll get there, Is this the same Old Fritz Marti my Dad knew and we have his granddaughter some where on line?
GC

2003/09/12
Hi George, Marti's granddaughter lives (or was living) in Florida and has (or had) an impressive website of her own. I believe Grandfather Marti was from France, and a canal construction worker. Didn't get Roosevelt Medal as he wasn't US citizen. His son, Ted, worked on Locks with my Dad. I have photographs of Ted Marti at my dad's retirement party. Ted and my dad were good friends involved in hunting as well as C Z Central Labor Union and International Association of Machinists.

Wish I could recall granddaughter's name. Before marriage it was Jo Marti, she has 2 or 3 grown sons. Discovered Lila Pullen, one of my mother's dearly loved CZ friends, was Jo Marti's maternal grandmother. Betty JoAnn BHS

2003/09/14
To aviation buffs I must recommend the following book: "Doomed At The Start" by William H. Bartsch. It is the very exciting story of American Pursuit Pilots in the Philippines,1941-1942. In Panama we were given the latest planes quite a while before the war started and in good quantity and our pilots received good tropical training. In the PI they started 1941 with old obsolete Boeing P-26's and then they jammed in P35's and at the very end days of peace the P-40's began to arrive. Pilots were straight from flight school sadly short of experience and totally unfamiliar to the type of aircraft they received. They were up against the best Japan had to offer having been veterans for years fighting in China. Obviously the brass were prepared to defend the Canal and to take the loss of the PI. As an aside I mention that Chennault in China asked to be sent P-40 Pilots from Panama as he felt they were the best in that aircraft at that time. 2003/09/19
When Dec 07,1941 came we in Panama were in fairly good shape. We had planes ,ammunition and pilots with a decent amount of training for those days. But even more important was the thinking level of our assigned Brass.

MacCarther was awakened in his Manila Hotel Penthouse at 3:55 AM to be told that Pearl Harbor had been attacked and several hours later that a state of war existed. But the "Boy Wonder of WW1" was in a mental funk and couldn't gear up to the facts even with the Japanese attacking Davao by 6:15 AM. M/G Brereton kept calling MacCarther for clearance to bomb Taiwan with his B-17's. B/G Southerland, Mac's gopher, finally told Brereton ," Don't call us we will call you". By late afternoon it was too late for the airfields were in ruin and the US bomber force destroyed.

Such did we see opening day to the big one. Once the Japanese danger lessened we in the Zone would see the input, to banishment, of numerous assorted foul ups from three stars down. Washington felt we were a safe place to deposit these rejects for they could no longer do the war effort harm. Every known type of idiosyncrasy was present from alcoholism, density between the ears, obnoxious personalities and just plain bad luck. But we had been there when it counted.
GC

2003/09/19
Where the name Darien came from???

From:"Inside Central America" It's people, politics and history BY:

Clifford Krauss

**It was named after the Darien Company, a seventeenth-century Scottish Company that attempted to seize territory from the Spanish crown.

Skeeter

2003/09/19
so much for the historical veracity of Clifford Krauss...

if this were so simple, then where did the "darien company" term come from (which by the way, is not the correct term for that scot company, founded by William Paterson)...

better ask the town council of darien, connecticut...they might have a better answer...

ok, folks, where did the name come from?
John Carlson

2003/09/19
John,
One story is that the Spanish thought they were in or very near China..."Dalian" was a Chinese trading center.
Dave Furlong

2003/09/20
Well now... if you are going to cast aspersions upon someone's veracity.... me thinks you ought to have something to replace it with... or than -> so much for the historical veracity of Clifford Krauss...

>

> if this were so simple, then where did the "darien

> company" term come from (which by the way, is not the

> correct term for that scot company, founded by William

> Paterson)..

Don't you think??? So then.... what was the Scottish Co.'s name, etc; etc. John???
vhh

2003/09/20
As a final act the Japanese coerced several captured US Pilots to fly several remaining P-40E's, that the Japanese had discovered hidden in the jungle, to a central Nip Air Base in the PI. The guns and ammo had been removed and they were told that any escape attempt would bring death to all of them. A Japanese Pilot accompanied them in another slow flying plane. The purpose was to ship these aircraft to Japan were they planned to study and compare their flight characteristics with the current Nip Planes. I wonder what would have happened if the US Pilots had refused and how would this have played with today's code of conduct.
GC

2003/09/20
according to simon schama in his book a history of england (2001) the name of the company was william paterson's "company of scotland trading to africa nad the indies". the "isthmus of darien" had already been named.

over 1400 scots had invested 400.000 pounds in the project, the hopes of the entire nation, since england had prohibited their investing in existing enterprises.

so maybe that takes care of one mystery, skeeter, but we still don't know where the name came from in the first place!
Kieth Olsen 2003/09/20
Hi There, I've scanned my Britannicas to shed some light on the origin of the name "Darién." That information appears next. It's then followed by my personal interpretation of the data, followed by message threads previously exploring this interesting issue.

Darién province of eastern Panama and traditional region of the easternmost Isthmus of Panama; the traditional region extends into Antioquia and Chocó departments of northwestern Colombia, around the Gulf of Urabá, and forms the link between Central and South America. A hot, humid area of tropical rain forests, Darién always has been sparsely populated. Darién was first reached in 1501 and was seen by Columbus on his last voyage two years later. The first European settlement in South America, Santa Maria de la Antigua del Darién was attempted in 1510 on the western side of the Gulf of Urabá, From this failing colony Balboa made his famous march to the Pacific in 1513. A few years later some colonists left the Darién settlement to found Panama City; eventually, Santa Maria was abandoned. Another short-lived attempt at colonization was made in the 17th century, when a Scottish trading company founded a settlement about halfway between Portobelo and Cartagena.

Darién province comprises all of eastern Panama except a strip (San Bias) along the Caribbean coast. It is Panama's largest province by area (6,488 sq mi [16,803 sq km]) and its smallest by population; in 1980 it had only 16 people per square mile (6 per square kilometer). The provincial capital and chief town, La Palma, on the Tuira River estuary near the Gulf of San Miguel, remains isolated in spite of air connections with Panama City; it declined in population between 1970 and 1980. In the province plantains, corn (maize), and rice are cultivated, livestock is raised, and lumber is cut and milled. Pop. (1983 est.) 33,961.

Darién, Gulf of, Spanish GOLFO DE DARIEN, triangular southernmost extension of the Caribbean Sea, bounded by Panama on the southwest and by Colombia on the southeast and east. The inner section, called the Gulf of Urabá is a shallow, mangrove-lined arm between Caribana Point and Cape Tiburón, Colombia. The delta of the Atrato River protrudes into the gulf. Farther northwest along the Panama coast of the gulf, Caledonia Bay is the site of remains of a 17th-century Scottish colony (New Caledonia), a shipwreck (the "Olive Branch," sunk 1699), and a fortification (Ft. St. Andrew, in use 1698-1700), all discovered by archaeologists in 1979.

Darien, urban town (township), Fairfield County, southwestern Connecticut, U.S., on Long Island Sound. Originally part of Stamford, the area was settled c. 1641, and a separate community life began in 1773 when the Middlesex Ecclesiastical Society was established, giving the people a degree of independence in matters of religion and education. Middlesex Parish was separated from Stamford and was incorporated as a town in 1820. It included the village of Noroton and was renamed by Thaddeus Bell, who supposedly likened its location to the Darién region in Panama, an area in which local shipowners and merchants had traded. The capture of the town (1781) and of the Rev. Moses Mather, a strong Colonist advocate, by British soldiers and local Tories is depicted in a mural at Mather Junior High School. Darien's oldest house, Weed Homestead, dates from 1680. Pop. (1980) 18,892.

Darien, city, seat (1818) of McIntosh County, southeastern Georgia, U.S., near the mouth of the Altamaha River on the Atlantic coast. The site, near Ft. King George, was settled in 1736 by Scottish Highlanders under John McIntosh Mohr, who called the place New Inverness and established Ft. Darien (named for the location of a former Scottish colony in Panama). After the War of 1812, the demand for lumber from surrounding forest lands caused an economic boom. The Bank of Darien, opened in 1818, became one of the state's largest banks. During the Civil War, the Rev. Mansfield French, known as the "White Jesus," formed a "Gospel Army" of black crusaders who burned the city on July 11, 1863. The economy is now centered on fishing, canning, and pulpwood milling. Inc. town, 1816; city, 1818. Pop, (1980) 1,731.

From my read of the above, I don't see enough information to soundly support any conclusion. To me it APPEARS Darién was the local name for the Darién area. The Scots being the first to establish a permanent settlement associated themselves with the Darién which they called Santa Maria de la Antigua del Darién. Just the way the settlement's name is phrased suggests to me they didn't name it Darién, but more likely they were the first European group to settle there and learn it's local name. However the settlers were Scots and the above name is obviously latinized, perhaps making all of this less than clear.

So to me it appears possible the Scots were the first to learn the areas' name, but it's also possible they named it themselves. It should be pointed out that so far I can find no evidence the Scots take credit for creating the name. My best bet is they were the first to discover what it's local name was and share it with the rest of the world. Whether the Scots created the name or discovered it, at this point I would credit them giving the Darién it's name.

Hal White, BHS 70

2003/09/20
Now there you go! A REAL answer!! And I hauled out my books before going to bed..."Panama and the Canal" by Willis J. Abbot and "America's Triumph at Panama" by Avery - they both talked about the Scottish experiment as being "The Company"

....still no explanation as to why it's called Darien that I can find.
Virginia Hirons

2003/09/20
Hal, Since I took history from the same teacher you had, I can understand your confusion.

However, as you note, the Spanish settlement "Santa Maria de la Antigua del Darién" was named in 1510, and the Scots' company's "short-lived attempt as colonization was made in the 17th century." That's the period from 1601 to 1700, and the Scots' experience started in 1698, or 188 years after Darien was named (roughly as long ago as our own War of 1812 is to us).

So far, I'll stick with the Dalian, China theory. It's based on the same poor knowledge of geography that named the Indies and the Indians. (Note that I won't argue against a local place name which might have reminded the Spanish about China.v Dave Furlong

2003/09/20
In the book; "The Early Spanish Main" by Carl Ortwin Sauer he brings out that the Spanish founded Santa Maria La Antigua on what had been the Indian Village of Darien. He constantly refers to activity emanating in exploration as from the original settlement of Darien. So if known as Darien then I think we can assume the Indians had so named it such and in time the whole region became known as Darien not just the original village.
GC

2003/09/20
Thank heavens you looked that up, George, that is the exact book I would look in and just too lazy to get up and find it! I had a whole college course on that book!

I Googled and the first hit I got was a Baby Names site that lists:

Darien
Greek: Wealthy. Spanish: A place name

So there we have it. Perhaps some wealthy Greek lived in Spain?

~~ Linnea, lazy about a peek in Darien

2003/09/21
After many years I have begun to read this book by Rex Beach for the 2nd. time. I don't recall seeing it mentioned in recent years old book sales. I must admit that the lack of political correctness in dialog is loudly evident. I believe the historical writers of those days were apt to be less bitingly critical in their subject material but the writers of fiction could and did blast away. With many reflective chuckles I am enjoying the book.
GC

2003/09/21
The New York Times has run a story of how Nathan Hale was captured by the British while spying for Washington. An old letter seems to identify the famous Major Robert Rogers as the one who trapped Hale into talking and then had him arrested. The Brits hung Hale on 22 Sept. 1776 in NYC. Following the French and Indian War Rogers went to England in hopes of advancing his career. He returned to America after the revolution began and sought service with Washington's forces but old George didn't trust his allegiance and had him arrested. Rogers escaped custody in 1776 and aligned himself with the British Forces in NYC. It is now reported that he lured Hale into telling him what he Hale was doing and then arrested him. It seems strange that Hale would not have know of Rogers and also his status as an escapee from Washington's forces. All this maybe true but I feel that more proof is needed to be certain. Rogers formed up a Loyalist Regiment but was later relieved of command and he died penniless in England in 1795.
GC

2003/09/22
My first house was just in on the right side of Severn Rd. Road ended and there were two big tanks in the field going down to the YC. Then 6 mo. later we moved to large four family quarters on David Rd. Later some pilots brought down mobile homes which were set up going down to the YC. Factual -Not opinion.
GC

2003/09/23
George, where was the Coco Solo Yacht Club? I don't recall a Yacht Club in Coco Solo while I lived there 1958-1966.
Tula

2003/09/23
This installation had a number of slips and piers where private boats were moored. It was fenced in for privacy and I believe most of the boats belonged to PC Pilots. There was no clubhouse as I recall so social activity other than sailing would have been minimal. I do recall there was a lot of money represented by the craft I saw there. In 1974 as we were leaving to live in Balboa some of the pilots were having beautiful manufactured homes shipped down from the States and setting them up down close to the YC. They had permission but I recall at the time I thought it was an expensive gamble. To verify what I am saying I recommend contacting Jim Hotsko who should remember as I do.
GC

2003/09/25
When we lived in Coco Solo on David Road in large quarters we would often walk down and look over the old Navy Breakers Club. An abandoned shell of a bldg and overrun with stray cats that were every where. I recall being fascinated by a small enclosed swimming pool facing the bay. It's walls had numerous small openings to let in the desired sea water. But it also at that time was letting in small barracudas that after dining on the fish inside could no longer make it back out and and so remained for us to ogle at. My youngest daughter adopted one of those wild kittens and we had a hell of a job domesticating it for we already had two grown Siamese and two grown Basenji dogs in our house. It took nearly two years for this cat to become civilized but anyway she was my daughters pride and joy and returned with us to the States later and lived to a ripe old age.
GC

2003/09/25
I don't believe much has ever been said about this subject but I will start. During the early and middle 1930's there was a gulf of difference between civilian kids on the Zone and the military dependence kids. The military kids were bused in and while we sat and learned together and played intramural sports together that was basically all the social contact there was. When school and sports was over for the day the M/Kids boarded their buses and returned to their real world. There was virtually no social mixing and in their own ranks their caste system was at work between enlisted and officers kids.

This division did not apply to the children of civilian military employees who lived on those military bases. Those many from Quarry Heights and Amador because of their more or less permanent stationing mixed in well with CZ dependents. The short three year tour of military no doubt fostered this division and following the school day's activities we never saw them again until the next school day.

Returning to Panama as a serviceman in June 1968 and then as a PC Civilian in 1972 I could see that things had greatly changed and I and my dependents enjoyed both worlds where I had not in my early days. In telling this it has not been my intention to speak of issues that may have been responsible for these actions or lack of action. Merely to tell you that was how it was once upon a time.
GC

2003/09/26
Here are three tales that made their way through the hunters ranks and produced much speculation at the time.

#1 It seems a service man was skin diving at San Lorenzo and he gaspingly surfaced onto a shore side rock and laid his bundle of gold coins before him. He was shocked when a Guardia National Soldier standing close by informed him that his treasure was going to be confiscated for the Republic. The soldier still panting from his exertions grabbed up his goodies and with one swing of his arm flung them out over the water. Confronting the Guardia he is reported to have said;"If you want them then you dive for them"

#2 A service man living at one of the Atlantic Side bases had proudly boasted of his large hoard of recovered treasure. The story goes that he was summarily called in front of his Commanding Officer where a Guardia Officer was present and told to hand over all he had recovered to the Guardia representative. It is said that fearing a penalty he did give up his treasure.

#3 It seems an old man in Panama on his death bed advised his heirs to seek a treasure buried in the Big Tree Area of Howard Field. He claimed an ancestor who had lived there many years ago had stumbled into a dirt cave in, while going to his out house one night, which later revealed a treasure chest of gold. Fearful it would be confiscated he covered it up and drew a map showing it's location and planned to wait until times were better. Now this was carried to the Torrijos Administration and Omar informed the Air Force that they would be coming with earth removal equipment to excavate in the Big Tree Area. Over Air Force objections Omar's crews arrived and the digging began. A certain Sgt. lived in quarters close by and was an avid and knowledgeable bottle collector who, in common practice of the day , had lined his large window with many of his prize bottles for all to see. Standing with other dignitaries in front of his house was Dr. Reina Torres Arrauz head of Panama's Antiquity Dept. Turning to the Sgt. she asked him if that was his apartment. When he answered yes she told him that next and shortly she would be coming to confiscate his bottles. If I remember correctly he was so shook he packed up his bottles and shipped them out to the States. This last is a true story that I can verify having seen the work of excavation in progress and I knew the Sgt. Omar's digging turned up nothing and we returned to concerned times as treasure hunters.
GC

2003/09/26
I knew there had to be substance to many of the stories we heard. Unless the law has changed only pre-colombian material can be recovered from you by the complaining country. Of course being in their country does change the complexion a bit.
GC

2003/09/27
As a kid we had been used to the Army rank pins that were fastened to each shoulder but suddenly with the start of WW11 the pins were taken from the shoulder and only one was placed on the mans collar. It seems like we were flooded overnight with 2nd. Lt's. and those old shoulder gold bars glaringly stood out as grotesquely too big for collar wearing. It was some months before an adequate supply of reduced size bars were available and the presentation became bearable. The Eng. Corps scrambled to hire drivers for their staff cars before enough enlisted drivers were made available. To my disappointment I was just shy license age so missed out on that exiting deal but many an older Zone boy was a temporary hire during those build up days.

In the sound department I can still hear the drone of Robert Montgomery's PT Boats floating in from their training base on Taboga. Since they used the same Allison engine as the P-40 you had the impression that a flight of those aircraft was soon to be seen overhead. With so much going on of interest to a young mind it was no wonder the Gates of BHS nearly caught me as they slammed shut on my graduating class. Bud Kelleher claims I was the next to last scholastically to get out that day but then I never paid attention to such minor things in my young life.
GC

2003/10/05
George,
I used to pan for gold when I was hunting and was stopped twice and my weekend panning results, about one half ounce, taken by a Guardia Nacional. They quoted some law about taxation... I told the local authority the first time and was told that they should not have taken it but to have brought me AND the gold to the authority... The second time I told another Guardia, a sergeant, what I had been told. He laughed and threatened to take my shotgun as well -- but I suspect he didn't know if it was loaded and I had it draped over my arm... I turned in the name he had on his uniform and was told no such Guardia existed. I avoided them like the plague after that and even helped the Indians set deadfalls and traps for them...

Regards
Dale

2003/10/09
For all you Anglo-Saxons who were raised in the beliefs of the Anglophile side of history I challenge you to read this book "Rise of the Spanish American Empire" by Salvador de Madariaga. The author will show you that Spanish colonial rule in the Americas was not always brutal and tyrannical. You will see the Inquisition compared to what was happening in other countries as well as as startling comparisons of cultural, trade, sanitation of cities and education as well as the treatment of slaves. Heavy reading but well worth it in the end.
GC

2003/10/11
We have talked about the traditional hazing know as the Scoby Cutting of hair but as I recall there was another session of hazing associated with introduction into the boys "B"Club for athletic accomplishment. Usually held at the Gym and was all kept secret but was reported to be fairly rough. Anyway all of that would have been outlawed in today's world. I believe that the girls had the equivalent and wasn't it known as the "G"club?
GC

2003/10/12
A memory from the past popped up in my head. During the very early 1930's my Parents went off for a long weekend and a friends daughter from Cristobal came over to Balboa to baby sit my Sister and me. Some time later the Zone was shocked when that girl while learning to fly was killed in a crash at France Field. I had forgotten that civilians had been allowed to fly there at that time. Not at Albrook just France Field and of course there was no Howard at that time. And so I wonder if that was the only tragedy to civilians at France and did it have any change to permissions to use the facility.
GC

2003/10/12
I recall now why the crash that killed the Cristobal Girl caused such a stir at the time. It seems she undershot the sod field and hit the beach bank and the plane burst into flames. By the time the field apparatus got there they had burned up. I was curious if the aftermath to this may have been no more civilian private flying off of France Field.
GC

2003/10/12
Lesley -
I vividly remember looking out the window of our house one morning at France Field and watching a military plane short on the approach land in the water. The plane sunk like a rock. I was yelling at my Dad to look, but by the time he got to the window nothing was visible. He left for work and sure enough it was the talk of the office!! Must have been 1948 or early 49. 2003/10/12
I was never at ease in working in water that had ocean access. Especially a river mouth such as the Chagres which is a giant supermarket for all size of fish. My Sister had shamed me for years and I finally began to snorkel in the shallow water but could never get over my fears. So one day I decided to use my brains and I took an air mattress, a giant sieve fastened to a long pole and my snorkel mask and tube and launched myself into the Chagres. It worked like a charm with the snorkel bit allowing you to keep your head over the mattress end and under water looking down. Then when a goody was seen I scooped it up with the sieve on the long pole. What passed under my mattress might still pucker me up but I did feel safer and it was the only way I would go into water over 3 foot deep. I tramped the jungle but that water route left me with great respect for those who reside there.
GC

2003/10/12
When I first went on with Pan Canal I had the Bldg. Equip. Repair Section on the Atlantic Side and would have breakfast every morning at the Margarita Clubhouse. To wit a cheese omelet and toast. I had known the Manager Phil Bauman from BHS and Phil was not very aggressive and so his #2 , A Mrs. Pierpoint really ran things and she and I didn't really get along. I think it stemmed from her refusal to bring me the vending machine keys to those Coco Solo Sandwich Machines that were broke one rainy day and it was going on rush time in the cafeteria and I wanted to get things back on line to feed all you starving darlings. Anyway she said she would not come forth in the rain even though I told her I had done so. It was frosty relations after that as my old buddy Sonny Revet will attest to for Sonny was the one bright spot in that Clubhouse setup. I still recall being wet and frustrated at my inability to do my job and being my first with PC it mattered a great deal. Too bad I couldn't blame her for the night attendant spraying the toasters for roaches with DDT which for quite awhile influenced the flavor of my morning toast.
GC

2003/10/13
I guess all the quarters I lived in seemed to be in keeping with the times. When born and as a young boy I lived in Ancon in a two bedroom cottage that had been moved over from a west bank construction town. It was laid out well and seemed to do the job although termite ridden wood was at times replaced. The four family concrete jobs on Tavernilla Street seemed spacious and airy although I had wished we were higher up the hill to get a better breeze. The wooden cottages on Morgan were much nicer than the first one in Ancon. As originally built after the Quarry on Ancon Hill quit it enabled the old railroad spur line that serviced the quarry to be made into Morgan Ave. Much later at Coco Solo in the old enlisted quarters just inside by the commissary we had the top two bedroom apts. My teen age kids took advantage of us as they occupied the one apt. alone for my wife and I had the other apt. Then to the move to the big officers qtrs. in Coco Solo which we enjoyed but found them a little too big for us by then. Then back to Balboa and four family concrete on San Pablo St. followed by a much newer four bedroom duplex in La Boca. Was never actively aware of mold on the houses themselves but did see my shoes suffer some and roaches were always a problem in any house. Not to forget scorpions before air conditioning sealed you up. Was tagged by them on Tavernilla St and Morgan Ave while growing up.

The worst were the old wooden sub-standard jobs at Cocoli that the Air Force put us in for six months as they had been built for the 3rd. Locks people just prior to 1941 and the wiring would not support air conditioners and so were banned. Also Fer-de Lance in the foundation shrubbery.
GC

2003/10/13
Dale C. Clarke -
One hearsay and two real life fish stories for you all...

I was told a story about a sailor who was dropped over the rail in a bosons chair on the Atlantic side near the dry-docks. He was doing scraping and painting when he noticed some really big fish swimming down by the waterline. He hollered at the Chief to pull him up because he thought they were Barracuda. The Chief figured to play with the sailor a bit and dipped him in the water and bounced him up and down just above the water... You guessed it, a 5 footer jumped up and bot his foot off just below the middle of the calf. The teller said the entire side of the ship was sprayed with the sailors blood.

I was snorkeling at Pinas point (I think -- it was where ever the shelled the reef) when the military started shelling or bombing on the reef...They blew a whistle on shore but we never heard it -- we sure did hear the concussions of the explosions though. I used a twin rubber Arbalette spear gun for 20-30 pound grouper and figured I'd go up to the mouth of the Chagres near Fort San Lorenzo to look for loose treasure... The storms broke off sections of the reef and you sometimes we found gold and silver coins left over from Morgan's sunken treasure ship. Everyone was too scared to go into the water for fear of Barracuda and sharks so if it didn't wash up it just lay there.That day it had rained heavy up the river so there was mud and muck coming down the river and the water was really murky. I was in the channel deep when a sixth sense reminded me that scavengers feed on debris washing down river and I was in the current -- I looked up and was raising my spear gun just as a huge shadow crossed my faceplate field of vision -- finger depressed -- the spear launched and there was no tug as the spear hit the end of the line so I had hit something -- then a quick short jerk. I pulled in the line to reload as I swam backwards toward shore. I got to the spear and impaled on the end was something like a teacup saucer or beer coaster which I pulled of and stuck in my bag before reloading. It turned out to be Tarpon scales almost 3 inches in diameter. I had hit him and the twin rubber power that often went clean through a shark was stopped by the scales!. I never went in there when the water was murky.

I was snorkeling under the patrol boat house across from the pilot shack at the mine dock near the first island on the end of the causeway. I saw big grouper grab a corbina I had a bead on. Though I knew it was a BIG fish I also knew when I aimed carefully I usually killed what I hit with the heavy rubbers. Unfortunately he darted to grab another fish just as I loosed the spear and I missed his pectoral nerves and hit his side mass. It was a Jew fish and weighed 425 pounds. I had learned not to tie my self to the gun but the thing dragged me so fast I couldn't get my hand out of the loop at the handle. He immediately dragged me into a concrete piling and dislocated my elbow. With my arm paralyzed I was being pulled through open water toward the end of the mine dock. I found out a reason not to wear your knife on your ankle -- being dragged you can't pull your foot up high enough to reach it. He turned in the front at a depth of about 20 feet and I was running out of breath. I bumped against two of the OLD pilings under the mine dock before I saw one coming and wrapped the parachute cord around it. Covered with barnacles it snapped off and began to lean but it slowed the Jew fish who was weakening anyway. I got the loop off my arm and wrapped it and the gun on the broken piling not sure or really caring if it held. I went for air! After my pump slowed, and with one arm working, I dived down to find him dead... I got the captain of the pilot launch to tow it down to the BYC float for me which is how I found out its weight. I wore thermal long underwear to dive to keep from being stung by "stuff" and that had saved my skin. The shirt was shreds from the barnacles.

I learned not to tie things to my hand by throwing a cast net tied to my wrist over a manta ray. Great ride, sharp knife, still alive... ((-: Never did learn NOT to go out alone however...

Regards
Dale

2003/10/14
I remember well how the schools of young barracuda would chase schools of skipjack towards the beach over our heads, through our legs and past us in all directions while we were snorkeling. They were voracious buggers and one day my diving partner had his cheap mask ripped off by an over eager barracuda that assumed the shiny metal clasp on his mask strap was edible. I believe better masks did not have shiny buttons. Any way you were a fool to wear your wedding band or a flashy diving watch. Those young barracuda would chase the jack up onto the beach where the the jack did a u-turn back into the water but the barracuda wasn't able to turn so tightly and slithered along the beach a bit before getting back into his element.
GC

2003/10/14
Does any one remember the old Chinaman who would come along in Ancon on Tivoli Ave. selling vegetables. He wore a very large woven Chinese hat that you see pictures of coolies wearing. He carried the vegetables in two large flat baskets suspended from each end of a long pole that he balanced on his shoulder. I remember my Mother calling him "Han Hop".

Remembering how fussy the Zone was about animals kept in your yard I wonder how come the resident in the house behind ours kept a young native deer tied up as a pet in their back yard. I recall I tried to pet it once and it reared up and bopped me in the head with a front hoof.

A real treat was to walk with my Mother up to where the bird lady lived near where Sacred Heart Chapel was to later go in just below the Hospital and she had a very large private aviary in her yard. To get invited in to see all those birds up close was a thrill for a small lad.

Just thought of a paradox when in Ancon they closed the old wooden Clubhouse and converted the Restaurant to Clubhouse plus while in Balboa they closed the Restaurant and kept the old wooden Cluhouse.

Does any one else remember going to Kindergarten at St.Lukes Cathedral and I believe a Mrs. Yost ran it. I have seen an early photo of that group and know that many are still around.

I noticed where Charly Lebrun submitted a 1935 photo of the Atlas Baseball Team taken at Balboa Stadium and he couldn't identify very many . I did notice an older Kunkle and of course our home run king George Tarflinger. I'm sure there are some Corrigans, Deslondes and Curtis's in that photo also. Photo is in the latest Canal Record.
GC

2003/10/16
Searching through my cobwebs I realized how lucky we had been as to the PRR. We really rode in exceptional class during the 1920-30's for our coaches were built of solid mahogany locally in our shops and proudly bore the plaques that so stated this fact. Our seats were of the finest woven reeds and were well suited to no air conditioning and they retained there shape to remain comfortable. We enjoyed watching the conductor come through our car and light the coaches lamps which gave a soft mellow illumination. To be able to hear and most of all to smell the outdoors as you glided along was a big part of the trip. Being able to stick your head out of the window to give sign signals to your buddies in several cars back of you.

But then the big heads decided to modernize and so they bought outdated left over rolling stock from US Stateside lines. Ugly in their metal skins and plastic seat covers which reacted badly to our local heat conditions. We were expected to be thrilled by the fact that many were air conditioned but something nagged at you till it dawned as to what you had really lost and now existed in memory only. In those final days as I frequently traveled back and forth my day dreaming thoughts were of the past glory of the PRR and it's part in our growing up.
GC

2003/10/16
Virginia Hirons -
Do you know I never rode in one of the AC closed window coaches! One time it was so packed in "2nd" class I could only find a seat opposite the bathroom [a window bench actually] the conductor tried to talk me into going into the "comfortable AC" coaches.... and was a tad miffed when I said thanks but no thanks. With the best scenery in the world and a warm breeze blowing in your face - going into a closed up environment had no appeal for me.
Skeeter

2003/10/16
When speaking of known hits in the waters of the Chagres I only recall two that were in essence verified. One was a man fishing in the surf on the Yankee Chagres side when he was hit and lost a leg to an unknown aquatic assailant. The other ended better when a skin diver in the deeper waters of the harbor mouth had a large shark come down on him from overhead and attempted to swallow his head and shoulders. When the fish clamped down his teeth made unpleasant contact with the divers air tanks thereby causing the fish to reject the whole project and swim away. If that had been me and my heart had let me recover I would have never entered those waters again. There may be other tales but those are the only two that I remember.

As an additional note you would find that Spanish Colonial silver coins found in those waters were invariably lower in value, to collectors, from the pitting action induced by salt water. Those found up on Madden with fresh water exposure were usually perfectly preserved and hence of greater value in today's world.
GC

2003/10/18
When snorkeling in the mouth of the Chagres as I would be carefully fanning the loose sand down to the hard pan in looking for coins and jewelry there would be a small 3 or 4 inch fish hovering close to my fanning right hand. It would patiently follow me along the bottom. Then I would lift a rock to see what might lie under it and a smaller fat little fish would dart out and seek refuge under an adjacent rock. My follower would leap to hover over that new rock and it seems I heard a little voice ask me to please lift this rock for me. I would whisk it up and my little buddy would swiftly catch and gobble up the little fat one. It seems he was never sated in his hunger unless he was being replaced by brethren and I had failed to note the change. I found myself so engrossed in this ritual that I was ignoring my real purpose in being there but it was interesting.
GC

2003/10/19
I was an indifferent student in BHS and my college wasn't much better but being raised in the CZ before television and very little short wave radio we heavily patronized the library. I usually carry a book with me so as to not waste time while waiting for something else to happen. While all this may heighten your intellectual level it doesn't add to your wallet. Have no talent for the great novel so must rely on life's little adventures.
GC

----- Original Message -----
From: Elisa Malo-Williams, B.S.
To: chevy43bhs@msn.com ; Iguana
Cc: PanamaVets@yahoogroups.com
Sent: Saturday, October 18, 2003 10:18 PM
Subject: Re: Aiding Nature

Hi GC.....

I enjoy reading your submissions so much! Thanks for sharing your experiences with us. Were you a writer in your former years? I always look forward to reading your entries.

God's Blessings to you and your family,

Elisa Malo

2003/10/19
I vividly remember after the sinking of the USS Panay by the Japanese how we exchanged looks with the crewmen of the Japanese freighters transiting the Canal and stopping for a while at Balboa. We smugly noted that they all seemed to be short, bandy legged and wore glasses because of their poor eyesight. Standing pier side and looking up there was no smiling and field glasses were very evident as they eye balled the aerial activity of Albrook Field. So it was years of nurturing these mythical beliefs that we at last found ourselves faced off with them in 1941. Of course we knew their aircraft were really copies of western machines and that they had physical abnormalities that made them poor pilots and those defective eyes only enhanced our position. With a rude shock we found their aircraft better than ours in the early days and their navy pilots were better trained and had lots of combat time from China. The so called physical abnormalities did not exist and only their stubborn following of "The Book" gave us an advantage with their slowness to improvise. But all this was years ahead as we kids gazed up at the Nips in derision as we postulated on their inferiority.
GC

2003/10/21
On the Camino Real just north of where the Chagres River comes into Madden Lake lies the site of San Juan. The ruins and location of it's church could still be seen in the 1970's. Just below the church spot there was a shade tree that we always ate our lunch under. On this location we would find a large number of 1/2 real coins year after year from the 1600's mostly. And so we wondered if this unusual amount of small coins was generated by parishioner's donations when the plate was passed and then in time lost by the resident priests. Money was scarce and so a small coin would have been appropriate. OR!!! Since so many people were buried here we wondered if these had in reality been buried with the deceased by placing the coins over their eyes as payment to the boatman who would take them across the River Styx. For human remains were found in abundance along with the coins. I confess to being tender about touching those fragments of bone for I wondered as to how the owner had died and could, just could , some microbe still be present. There never was much but small fragments. Lest I omit it there was also an abundance of crosses and crucifix's, usually of silver, as well as other religious medallions being unearthed as well. Yes the Church of San Juan had been a busy place in it's day.
GC

2003/10/24
As I was looking through old CZ photos I paused on some of the old construction day clubhouse at Gatun and my mind twirled me back through the years. It was the very early 1930's and PC decided to give the Pacific Side Boy Scouts a treat. As a young Tenderfoot I and others boarded the PC Ship "Favorite" at Balboa and spent a leisurely morning transiting the Canal on a beautiful day. We docked at the navigation aids pier in Gatun and all walked up the hill to the old original clubhouse where we spent the afternoon using the recreational facilities. Then late afternoon we walked back down the hill to the railroad station and caught the PRR Passenger Train home to Balboa. One more great memory to savor. I have never counted or kept tract of the PC's benevolence but do wonder if our age group was a bit more fortunate than those who followed later.

Another flash back in time is that of the old US Army Hq.s, located in an old wooden bldg., on the north side of Roosevelt Ave. down where the school wood shop would be located later. This arrangement would produce some thunderous response when Military Brass would arrive at the Balboa RR Station. The roar of those welcoming Pack 75's that were drawn up in the space facing the station would rattle a few windows in the Admin Bldg. But then in time it all moved up to Quarry Heights.

When the great US Navy Fleets came to Panama for their war games and thousands of sailors were given shore leave at one time to visit Panama City. Shocking sights for young eyes were every where. Standing in front of the Balboa Clubhouse and watching the parade of taxis and carametas pass by headed for the dock areas loaded with every manner of drunken sailor. Most shocking were those half dressed and those fully undressed and as such standing, reeling and shouting as they passed us. Our eyes bugged for these were like scenes from another world.
GC

##May we hear what others have dreamed of regarding growing up in the old Canal Zone##

2003/11/1
May we hear what others have dreamed of regarding growing up in the old Canal Zone. Of all the things in my life I found with great regularity that my dreaming mind would invariably produce the same series of dreams regarding my life on the Zone. After WW11 and with me moving about world wide for so many years I found I never had dreams of things to eat or school activities or friends from Zone days. NO!!! It was always the same as in my sleep I was sailing again on PRR Ships to and from NYC. There were many variations such as passing through islands where you looked down and could see the ocean bottom passing by or stopping at islands along the way that we had never done in reality. Ships layouts would vary at times but they were always PRR and the destinations were always the same. The arrivals at either end would be excitingly detailed in those dreams.

Looking back now it seems so strange since this was only one feature to life on the Zone and yet I never recall ever having dreams of those many other aspects of Zone Life. When I finally returned to the Zone in 1968 those dreams came to an end and have never repeated. Only in day dreams do I think now of them and all the other facets are now included as to places, the food , and the people I have known. I guess this is a sign of advancing old age but that doesn't quite fit those one sided earlier dreams.

GC

2003/11/2
As a young boy there used to be an eating place popular among Americans that was up in the general vicinity of Campana Mtn. It was on the right side going north and sort of up on a small ridge. I don't recall if they furnished lodgings but they had a well laid out recreational yard that we kids enjoyed. As I remember eating out side under bohios was done in good weather. Arroz con Pollo was our family's favorite. I have a feeling that it was operated by European Immigrants to Panama and I believe gone during the War years.

GC

2003/11/2
Radio before the armed forces station. In BHS with summer job money I bought a very expensive portable radio that was the smallest in size being sold at that time. Trying to beat the heat and sleep at night I would flop on the porch couch and listen to my radio faintly bringing in the big name bands playing at the major US Dance Band Stands. There were several in the NY and Jersey area, Chicago Area and also I believe in New Orleans. Don't recall their names but the music was first class. Every week the National Marimba Band of Guatemala would broadcast and it was a favorite of mine. And once a week there was the music of Hawaii broadcast by Webley Edwards and I believe played over a local station in Panama City from a recording. As a professional school teacher for many years my Mother had taught for two years under a Government contract with the Kamehameha Schools on Oahu and Kauai. !920-22 and she saw Hawaii at it's most interesting best and as such had filled me with tales of that wonderful place hence Webley Edward's music had me on cloud nine. Listening to the sound of the surf transposed me to another world for a while.

GC

2003/11/2
I was recalling to mind the number of young people that had been evacuated to the relative safety of Panama with the advent of WW11. Some were from the Dutch East Indies and some from the Dutch West Indies and several of these were in my class of BHS43. One refugee was a Eugene Thomas who had been evacuated from Auckland, New Zealand and was a very popular classmate in BHS43. He seems to have faded away after the war and I assume he may have gone back to NZ and we have long wondered about him. The oil company families in the Dutch West Indies were in particular concerned about their children with so much aggressive U-Boat activity around Aruba and Curacao. There were two in my class from that location. With the callousness of youth I don't believe we thought much about their being uprooted . GC 2003/11/2
Well growing up in Paraiso CZ was really an experience to me. To this day I still have very similar dreams of my home town and they are all very beautiful. Hopefully when I go back to visit, the new look won't have a negative effect on my dreams.

dave


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