History Items of the Canal Zone

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

The Thorns of Paradise

As a child we ran barefoot most of the time and it seems I only put on shoes to go to Sunday School or when we had house guests. The price paid was the constant stubbing or puncturing of your bare feet by a host of hostile elements just waiting for you to pass. Then came the 7th grade in Jr.Hi. and for the first time I started to feel the twinges of embarrasment as I stared down at my bare feet aware that many around me were now wearing shoes. Since attention to females was growing I realized I must change my ways. So on went the shoes basically full time and shortly a new and unpleasant monster had risen it's head. For now we were experiencing foot itch and as I recall the Commy sold a Mt.Hope product they called Dhoby Itch Cream and it stunk and burned like hell on toes that had been rubbed raw. I vivedly remember the Friday Night Movies and how the itch was so fierce that I would pull off my shoes and just scratch much to the displeasure of those siting near me. Yes wearing shoes full time in Panama had a price to pay and eventually usage of foot powder seemed to bring things under some semblance of control. But the only true relief was a move to a Northern Climate.

The next thorn is of a more delicate nature so please be understanding. Prior to BHS most of us wore boxer shorts as underwear and being non clinging or tight it afforded some degree of cross ventillation. But then the latest rage in mens wear hit the scene; Jockey Shorts, which of course were form fitting and tight thereby blocking off any hope of real ventillation. We all conformed for you would have been ridiculed in Gym Class to be seen wearing those passe boxer shorts. It was inevitable that sitting naked on those Gym Bench's in the dressing room that we acquired Jock Itch. If left untreated this usually evolved into Ring Worm which is not really a worm but a skin problem. You of course became a social disgrace if you didn't control it for standing in a public place furiously scratching ones crotch was considered uncouth. Once again resorting to Commy salves we attempted to halt this affliction. At one time mine spread to include the cheeks of my rear end and I had to enlist my Mother's help. I would turn on a large cooling fan,drop my pants and bend over with my butt facing the fan and my poor Mother would paint the afflicted area with that horrible Commy Salve. My howls reverberated out over Balboa. With entrance into the service the ring worm problem disappeared but then we were wearing boxer shorts again. Powder continues to fight foot itch here in Florida.

Didn't mean to offend anyone but felt you might like to hear of a few of our thorns in Paradise.


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