Do you remember the old Canal Zone?
by Louis J. Barbier, BHS 1957

If you remember............then you remember where riots were unthinkable or just did not happen in the old Canal Zone.

Where you left your front door open and if anybody dropped by while you were gone, they would always leave a note. Where socialism was a dirty word even in the old Canal Zone.......where everybody was so proud of their town site and neighborhood that nobody would think of trashing it. Where the American Flag was a sacred symbol and each school day would start with an "Pledge Allegiance to the Flag."

Where everybody was proud to be an American living in the Canal Zone. Where you were tickled to death as a little kid to receive a small sack of marbles, Duncan YO-YO, and a Babe Ruth Chocolate bar as gifts on your birthday. Where you were not afraid to go out at night. Where the "Tell-a-Mom" net was the fastest communication net in the Canal Zone. Ask anybody??? Better yet ask your Mom!

Where you did not pay any personal Income Taxes. Where sales taxes were unheard of and everybody carried an ID card in order to make purchases. The Canal Zone was not perfect but nobody complained. Everybody agreed that to live in the tropics was a hardship that many could not endure. Where when a crime was committed in the Canal Zone, there would be a quick fair trial and if found would land in Gamboa Pen in a heartbeat. Where boys were boys and girls were girls. And they dressed in such away that you could tell the difference. Where Mothers were so concern that you always looked your best and did not go to school looking like a bum. Where the clergy really talked about religion. And making a mission was something that really made you think really hard on the here after. Where we all had time for sing-along......."like row-row-your boat gently down the stream." Where Red & White or Blue & Gold or Green & White were colors of your favorite Football Teams. Where you would not dream of starting the day without a hot cup of Cafe Duran and a Diablo Clubhouse Empanada. Where going into the Army or the Navy was the thing to do after high school. And everybody was so proud that you were doing it! Where when you always dreamed that the Canal Zone would always be there. Where a Sunday afternoon always included supper at the Balboa Yacht Club. In the Canal Zone things were not always perfect. But people expected less and valued what they had more. Where going fishing was something to do everyday. Where the next side was only a little over an hour away. And Coal-on was the place to go to buy a really hot lucky chance ticket!....Yes, Mon. And you could go coast to coast on the safest railroad in the world. Where the Panama Canal was the center of our lives. We were always wondering where all the ships were going..........where a ride on a local chiva was another daily adventure. Where people talked and also listen without having the TV on as a witness to our earthy conversations. Where you were not made to feel guilty by talking in West Indian Dialect. Where going to the states on home leave meant flying a Pan American Airways Clipper. Where the Canal Zone Government stood up for Americans. And the government of Washington did the same. Where you always felt really safe in the Canal Zone, knowing that all your friends were on the force. Yes, the CZPD were always walking the beat somewhere in the old Canal Zone, regardless of the hour. Where you weren’t embarrassed of your love for a lost paradise. One of the greatest secrets in the whole world. Where being a Canal Zone Brat meant that you were something special. It also meant that nobody and I mean nobody could make you feel bad about that fact. Where the Canal Zone, as well as the United States of America was filled with the brave, the proud, and the hardest working people in the world. Where 4th of July always meant a parade down Balboa Avenue pass the YMCA. And there would be lots of flag waving and cheering as the troops passed in review. Where the sounds and echoes of the 105 howitzers going off seem to go on forever as a Tribute and salute to every state of the union. Where every armed forces unit, civic group, high school, and others in the Canal Zone marched in the high noon sun. Where when the drums would beat your feet would start to dance. Where only those in a complete body cast would sit on the sidelines. And where when the high school coach spoke... everybody would listen................

So, listen up, and it doesn’t get any better than this.......yes, those happy days of long ago in the Canal Zone.......A place where the sky kisses the beaches with its tropical breezes and a life that was a bit easy, rather plain and not too complicated, but everybody had so much fun! The Canal Zone a place that the world forgot but we will always remember with fond memories..........