Reminiscences of a Colon Bway (con´t)


chritmas treeWe hope you enjoy Tito Johnson´s memories of Colon as much as we have.  Here is Part II.

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We continued collecting whatever donations dropped in our cigar box, still on the pavement in front of our bench, which increased the closer we got to Christmas day. Any extra cash would go for our midnight ‘old year’s night’ celebration, after which we would head to the Debonair’s dance at the Club Tropical.
Then finally, collecting enough change and Grandfather in the Christmas Spirit, we purchased our big tree at Camp Bierd Commissary for all of $3.50. We picked it up at the back of the building and hoisted it overhead for the trip back to Colon. We looked like those Panama’s marching red ants carrying those over sized leaves on their backs down the trail. We trekked passing the Club House Theater Bldg. on our left to the boundary of the CZ and Colon; then crossed the Panama RR tracks at 14th  St. and Bolivar Ave. with Sterling Garage to our left, into Colon’s 15th St. and Bamboo Lane on our right, and up to Central Ave. We then turned left heading towards our bench on the corner of 12th and Central.

With Hammer, nails, saw in hand, we got to work creating a stand out of two pieces of 2X4 wood crossed +as a base, then using an empty lard can as a receptacle to contain water for moisture; we placed the trunk in it to then hoist the tree upright at the same time nailing counter balancing supporting braces from the trunk to the base. Around the base we had a mixture of white crepe paper encircled by painted white-washed coral stones neatly placed around and decoratively blending to look like snow on the base of the tree.

*Keith (r.i.p.) our resident electrician pried open the lower portion of the lamp post box owned by La Fuerza Y Luz’s , exposing a maze of twisted complex wiring and knowing which ones to extricate cut and splice for our extension while we dug a trench burying the wires in a straight line up to where it connected to the tree.

It was the night before Christmas when we lit-up the stars on our Christmas Tree. Everybody was stirring and we became infected by the mood of the people up and down the strip of Central Ave, as folk from balconies above looked down, and those  in the Park looked up.   It was very tall, very fluffy, fully decorated and very much in competition with the other street corner displays in town. The blinking lights and the multicolored of it was in our opinion the Christmas Spirit itself.  We had the best corner tree in town, we were proud of it and wished everyone passing by a Merry Christmas.

*Keith Williams went on acquiring two engineering degrees at UCLA, Cal. US. Electrical and Mechanical

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3 responses to “Reminiscences of a Colon Bway (con´t)

  1. Thank you for taking us to another time and place. My first tropical Christmas was in Panama. I always wondered how anyone could enjoy Christmas in the tropics and in Panama I found the spirit of Christmas alive and well (with out snow). I have never heard of someone buying a Christmas Tree to put on a street corner but what a great idea! I live in Alaska so I am used to having a white Christmas lol.

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  2. It’s so funny, but my Panama Christmases always involved faux snow as well. Sometimes the tree was “flocked” and always at the Gatun fire station the bomberos would shoot white “snow” suds from the rooftop and we kids would play in it for as long as it lasted. What is it that drove us to approximate a climate so unlike our own, do you think? Really enjoyed your writing!

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    • I don´t know… I find it just as funny. It might be the same kind of cultural quirk that makes Panamanians- and most all people of the tropics- prefer images of snow, frost, snowmen and icy lake scenes to anything tropical on all things Christmas. 🙂

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