was a "military brat" in a career U. S. Navy family so I lived in different
places and visited many exotic countries. After I was born, we had three
tours of duty in the Panama Canal Zone, at different stages in my life,
with my father retiring there and going to work for the Panama Canal Company.
On our first tour of duty, I was a toddler at
Lacona, Rodman, and the mascot of the fire station. During our
tour, I attended Ft. Kobbe Elementary since we
(my little sister and I posing here in our tumba hombres*....a plainer
version of a pollera) were again stationed at Rodman Naval Base (15th Naval
District). I'll never forget our young native housekeeper, Melita, who
smoked her cigarettes with the lit end INSIDE her mouth! I've since found
out that this was not uncommon among some native tribes although I do not
know if she was a member of one. The third time (after a two-year tour
Turkey-located in the epicenter of the devastating August 17, 1999
earthquake) we were transferred in 1960 to Coco Solo on the Atlantic side
of the Canal Zone where my father was stationed with the Navy Security
Group Activity at
Island (this is a photo of the later site--my father was stationed
at the original site a few miles further down the road to what was referred
to as "The Point").
of my high school years (9th - 12th) at Cristobal High School were spent
living in Coco Solo (facing Colon, which was across the bay)--making it
the first time I went to one school for more than two years. After
graduation, I attended Canal Zone college for one semester then enlisted
for a tour of duty in the U. S. Navy where I was stationed in VA. After
my discharge, I returned to Panama and to college for another semester.
Colon, on the Atlantic side, and Panama City, on the Pacific side, are
the two cities where I spent a good deal of my free time. I have so many
wonderful memories that will be with me forever. In my heart, Panama
will always be my first home. For more information on a beautiful
country with wonderful people and customs, its politics, and good food,
please check out this online English - Panamanian newspaper--it's very
informative: The Panama News.
- The pollera costume is differentiated from it's plainer cousin, the "tumba
hombre" which, instead of tembleques, is worn with a straw hat that includes
a small colorful pom-pom in front.