Category Archives: Silver and Gold Roll

The Silver and Gold Roll system was the segregationist system imported by the Americans during the beginning of the Panama Rail Road construction (1850-1855), later continued during the Panama Canal construction (1904-1914). It not only employed separate and unequal payroll systems, but governed every phase of life of the separate black and white workers. It was finally phased out during the 1960’s.

Mashup

My beloved Auntie Berenice Charles, 1912-2005

My beloved Auntie Berenice Charles, 1912-2005

Although passed on to Glory now since 2005, my beloved Auntie Berenice, who worked on the Panama Canal Zone as a maid and, finally, a cook, all her life, never leaves my side at my writing desk. It was from her that I learned about the Westindians of Panama and grew to love and understand our English patois.  Continue reading

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The Panamanian Retirees’ Breakfast Club

To our esteemed friends and compatriots in Panama and the United States: we have published images from this “Journal” of activities amongst our various generations as a compliment to the “Panamanian Retirees’ Breakfast Club” hoping that other similar groups would leave their mark for the coming generations as we have done now for the past seven years. It was several years ago, when we were starting this work as a collection of blog sites, following them up with Facebook groups, that friends brought up what we thought were good points as we were going over the lives of our childhood buddies. Some of our friends are still with us and some- too many- have gone on to a better life. Continue reading

White Gold, W.B. Garvey’s Jewel

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With Christmas around the corner, we wanted to give W.B. Garvey’s remarkable new novel the review it truly deserves especially for those of you who are looking to treat yourselves, or those important people on your holiday gift list, to a literary feast. Continue reading

Repatriates’ Tales- Part 1

This couple's photo was taken on the day of their repatriation back to St. Lucia from Panama

This couple’s photo was taken on the day of their repatriation back to St. Lucia from Panama. Image The Panama Canal Review, Nov. 1950

Until just recently I was under the misguided assumption that most repatriates from Panama back to their island homelands were met with a warm and welcoming reception from family and childhood friends. In conversing with several of our seniors, however, I was chillingly set straight. Most repatriates from the Panama Canal Zone and or the urban centers of Panama City and Colon were usually met with hostility, disdain, hatred and, worse of all, envy. Continue reading

Gamboa Road Gang Revisited

A 1915 photo of Gamboa Penitentiary or, Stockade, as it was called then.  It only changed slightly later on when Lester Greaves was incarcerated for a 50 year sentence.

A 1915 photo of Gamboa Penitentiary or  Stockade, as it was called then. It only changed slightly later on when Lester Greaves was incarcerated for a 50 year sentence.

Gamboa Road Gang, 2004 edition.  Check it out at goodreads.com

Gamboa Road Gang, 2004 edition. Check it out at goodreads.com

Lester Leon Greaves today at 88 years of age.  Image thanks to Jesus Simmons, writer for Día a Día.

Lester Leon Greaves today at 88 years of age. Image thanks to Jesus Simmons, writer for Día a Día.

As we approach the month of February, set aside in North America as Black Studies month, it is a perfect time to reflect on a character from the now very popular novel in Panama by Joaquín Beleño, Gamboa Road Gang, or Los Forzados de Gamboa.

We  covered the basis and main character of this extraordinary novel in our article describing The Panama Canal Zone Police but, we were only recently updated on the life of the central character, Ata. Ata was based on a real man, a young black West Indian man whose greatest mistake, according to Jesús Simmons, the journalist who interviewed him recently, was to fall in love with a white American girl. This man was Lester Leon Greaves. Continue reading