Assorted Expeditions
by George Chevalier

These are a sample of some of the trips and expeditions we could get ourselves into in those wonderful far off days. During our Jr. year in BHS eight of us organized a camping trip up to Santa Clara Beach. We assembled our gear and hit the road and by hitch hiking on military vehicles we got there. It was the end part of the dry season, a full moon and we slept in the open on the beach. Bear in mind the War had not been on for very long and military beach patrols would come by and investigate us and our camp fire during the night. Once satisfied but still mystified they would move on to leave us to our beer and bull session. The ultimate price for this expedition was paid by five out of our eight getting malaria.

Another excursion later was a day trip to that famous swimming spot The Crab Hole just outside of Arraign. But this time the plan was to bring in a keg of beer instead of bottles. As you may remember the path through the jungle was long,hilly,narrow and usually muddy making the going dicey at best. The keg was suspended in a blanket and four acted as coolies to transport the heavy damn thing. Well the goal was eventually reached with all concerned bearing the mud and bruises of many slips and falls and the originator of the keg plan had endured a thousand curses. The beer did refresh and the trip out with empty keg was not as traumatic.

I recall that as Seniors. we went to High School games in Cristobal and would spend the night taking in Colon's night life. Someone would rent a room at the Washington Hotel and four or five others would sneak in to sleep on the floor. If you missed out on this you presented your somewhat abused body to the CZ Police Station in Cristobal and asked to use an empty cell. They usually obliged with no repercusions and no charge. The final expedition I recall would occur during vacation from college in the summer of 1948. We would organize a 3 or 4 car safari with trunks loaded with iced down Atlas or Balboa and start over the Trans - Isthmian Highway to Colon. Departing early in the morning with frequent stops for refreshment we finally arrived in Colon and proceeded to our headquarters for the day. This was Bilgrays magnificent Tropical Cafe where we were seated and began to consume what the place was noted for. Less I forget the purpose of these weekly trips,at the start of summer, was to welcome home our buddies returning from college on the weekly PRR Liner. The Tropical Cafe was I believe on Bottle Alley just one block over from Front Steet and one by one we took turns running over to Front Street to see if the ship was in sight outside the breakwater. If not in sight continue refreshing and when finally it is seen we would have time for one more before assembling our reception committee dockside to greet the returnees. Old photos of those trips clearly reflect the difference in appearance between those others waiting on the pier and our gallant crew from the Tropical Cafe.