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