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The Foundation for The Gator Nation An Equal Opportunity Institution Samuel Proctor Oral History Program College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Program Director : Dr. Paul Ortiz Office Manager : Tamarra Jenkins Technology Coordinator : Deborah Hendrix 241 Pugh Hall PO Box 115215 Gainesville, FL 32611 352 392 7168 Phone 352 846 1983 Fax The Samuel Proctor Oral History Program (SPOHP) was founded by Dr. Samuel Proctor at the University of Florida in 1967. Its original projects were collections centered around Florida history with the purpose of preserving eyewitness accounts of economic, social, political, religious and intellectual life in Florida and the South In the 45 years since its inception, SPOHP has collected over 5,000 interviews in its archives. Transcribed interviews are available through SPOHP for use by research scholars, students, journalists, and other interested groups. Material is frequently used for theses, dissertations, articles, books, documentaries, museum displays, and a variety of other public uses. As standard oral history practice dictates, SPOHP recommends that researchers refer to both the transcript and audio of an interview when c onducting their work. A selection of interviews are available online here through the UF Digital Collections and the UF Smathers Library system. Oral history interview transcripts available on the UF Digital Collections may be in draft or final format. SP OHP transcribers create interview transcripts by listen ing to the original oral history interview recording and typing a verbatim document of it. The transcript is written with careful attention to reflect original grammar and word choice of each interview ee; subjective or editorial changes are not made to their speech. The draft trans cript can also later undergo a later final edit to ensure accuracy in spelling and format I nterviewees can also provide their own spelling corrections SPOHP transcribers ref er to the Merriam program specific transcribing style guide, accessible For more information about SPOHP, visit http://oral.history.ufl.edu or call the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program office at 352 392 7168. October 2013
PCM 042 Interviewee: Skip Rowly Interviewer: Sarah Blanc Date of Interview: July 7, 2011 B: Hello T oday is July 7, 2011 Zone Mr. Rowly can you start just by telling me some basic information about where you w ere born and when you were born? R: I was born in Coln, R epublic of P anama which w as an American hospital in the R epublic of Panama right on the beach, December the 14 th 1939. I twenty one minutes earlier my sister and I would share the same birthday. Hers is the 13 th I grew up on the Atlantic side, w ent to grade school there and part of junior high. Then my father got transferred w ell actually he quit the Panama Canal and went to work for the n avy. My dad was a sea captain and he had a chance to go back to sea again. So he wanted to keep his experience levels up. So he did that. So then we moved to the Pacific side and when he worked at Rodman Naval S tation we li ved in the town of Cocoli, and we lived there for probably three years ms o menos My mother finally got tired of him going to sea and being away so he decided to quit the navy and come back to the canal S o h e got a job as captain of the C ibola which is a salvage tub in the Gamboa regio n. T hey go all over the Cent ral America replacing b uoys and things like that, navigational aids. We lived in Gamboa for several years and because the high school was so far a way and everything we moved into Balboa actually into Los Rios and stayed until they retired. O f course I graduated from
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 2 high school in 59. T story, but I left it on a y acht. I never did graduate from high school on stage. I took all my test s early beca use I got hired by a man from Washington State t o be a crew member on a yacht, w hich : to go to exotic places on a yacht as a crew member M y dream came true and we got as far as Cao Island in Costa Rica a nd got shipwrecked. I spent five days marooned on a rock. Nobody knew where we were. Nobody even knew we were there. B: Al hold on hold on. R: Ok ay, want me to start over again? [Laughter] B: [Laughter] Okay, well first o f all you have to help me with geography. You said that your father stopped worki ng for the Panama Canal Company, correct? R: M m hm B: So does that mean tha t you had to move out of their sanctioned R: Canal Zone housing. Yes B: y live in the Zone after that point. You moved around in the R: No. Actually we lived in ter house with the more service that you have. S o whe n my dad first started out, all they could get was a twelve family or a four family something like that. And you like you have here T hey were just built with two by
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 3 fours and then diagonal wood and siding. I n the early days we had no air conditioning h ad all scr een windows an had glass win dows too to keep the rain out but you open the windows all the way and just let the breeze blow in Every body had oscillating fans and there in popularity. They were in taverns and bars and things downtown but not in houses. So everybody had oscillating fans. I n earlier years I can remember we had an ic e man come off a block of ice and we o you could always here him coming down the street banging on his crate drum that he had mounted on the back of his car H make a metal rod : DONG! ready for our ice. B: So you ori gin ally went to schools in the Z one r ight? So those were U.S schools? R: Yes. B: Panama schools? R : No B: You continued going to the U.S schools?
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 4 R: Yeah but when you work for the military you have all the privileges of the Canal Zone plus military privileges S o we had them both at that time. B: O bviously y our education was different than Panamanian education. H ow would you say that it differed? R: Well I had never went to a Panamanian school Panamanians who were very wealthy who would pay to have their children come to the American schools because they thought they were better. They teach a lot rabble rousing like there is in the Panama school s hot bed for B: And school s taught in English? R: In the Canal Zone ? B: M m hm R: Oh, yes but they also taught Spanish. You can take a French class if you want. You can tak e a German class if you want. Y ou can speak German. They had various languages you could speak. Everybody normally spoke Spanish. That learned most of my Spanish on the street. To this da y I am not bilingual. speak Spanish now at all because I lived Tallahassee for the last twenty two forgotten a lot of my Spanish, b ut when I was still working down
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 5 could carry on a conversation with anybody no problem. B: Okay so now you have to tell me how you got this job on the ship. R: on a boat. My first one was a t una boat and I shipped out on it for the summer. B: Did you work when you were in school? R: Oh yeah B: [Laughter] R : son Y ou get out there and hustle a job. So ever since I was thirteen or so I had a shoe shine stand a car wash stand. One summer, I was a lifeguard at the pool. Then I shipped out on a t una boat for the whole summer ; then I had another lifeguard job the next year. I worked for a contractor putting Celotex tile in and floor tiles and like that just during the summer times. My senior year I was getting ready to graduate. I came home from church one day and there was a gentleman sitting with my mom in the house there along with Jerry Derrer, anot her Zonian. J erry was an electronic technician a nd this yacht had some electric proble ms with the radios and whatnot. S o they got Jerry to fix it. W hile he was doing that they says do you happen to kno w any young boys that would like to fill in for a crew ? B ecause we
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 6 lost one of our crew members; he had to go back to work in the S tates. And Jerry said Sunday and when my dad and I came home from church this man was there and he was from Washington State He say r you a job. H ow soon can you be ready to go? And I was caught off guard and I was, Uh uh uh uh uh. Looked at m y mom and dad and say you know, is it okay wi th you? O f course I says wel l, let me call Mr. Holtz He was the p rincipal. So I called him and talked to him at home and he said to come in on Monday morning ; he would arrange to have all my tes ts taken in the library that day. So I did. I took all except one test which I had to take Tue sday morning bright and early. M y dad in the meantime went around an d got all the paper work ready. A ll my v isas and departure cards all that stuff I had needed to get in and out of the countr ies. Mr. Holtz handed me my diploma at noontime as they say under the table I never graduated on stage I had graduated from high school and by Tuesday afternoon I was sailing down the channel on a yacht and headed for Astoria, Oregon. T where the boat was going to be housed. It came from St. Petersburg to the canal and it was going up to Astoria Well needless to say we spent the first night in Port Armuelles refueled and whatnot. And the next day we completely went around the p eninsula down there in Panama headed for Puntarenas, Costa Rica. W e pulled in to anchor at Cao Island which i s a really neat little island twelve miles off the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica. A storm came up while we
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 7 were down eating dinner and, I mean, it just blew up all of a sudden and parted B: And how many days had you been working on this R: This was my probably my third or maybe my fourth day on the yacht and we got shipwrecked. The yacht was drifting now and it went into the rocks and the very first thin g the captain of boat heard was, zing, like that when the propeller hit the mped up there, got the engine started, was all bent and busted up. So now we had to use the starboard engine and it hav e the power. So we backed off the reef the best we could, turned it around the best we could and start heading for the mainland which was twelve miles away. We found out very short order that we were taking on water fast. So we were sawing off pegs from b room handles and everything else and stuffing into little holes with rags try ing to stop the water flow. But w time, underneath the engine that had been busted, there was a hole there about a foot in diameter and water was pouring into the engine room. We had no to go because it was just nothing but l ava rock all around the island. So they sent me up the top si de and I manned the spotlight. B s gett ing dark and I put the spotlight on searched around. I found a piece of white sand up there a little
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 8 speck of sand and I yelled down to the captain below I says, there it is captain! t. But on the one engine only about half power, we had we very little maneuverability and not a lot o f power. T he waves were kind of coming off our port quarter which is kind of the stern on the port side We just bounced and bounced around and finally w e just lifted up and the next time we sat down we were square on top of a rock. There it is: it stowed the hole in the bottom of the boat right through the keel and But it was just still bouncing up and down with the wa ves because the storm had come up and the waves were real big. So off the boat onto the island. T hey drew straws and I think it was automatically I was going to be ch osen because I was the youngest. I was nineteen and I could swim. I was a swimmer from Panama. So they put rope around my waist and made me swim through the surf and through the rocks and tie this line around a big tree that we saw on the bank. So I did that. I decided, thank goodness, to swim breast s troke sticking my hands down there jus t wait ing till I hit sand and that was it. And so I did that. So we got a line tied to the tree and tightened it up between the boat and we hand over hand brought ourselves to shore. And the n we also had to bring the lifeboat, all our cargo and everythi ng. So we went back and put everything on the lifeboat that was now bouncing
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 9 around on water and hand over hand took that into the bea ch too and brought all we could. C to do anything else. My mom and dad had given me a brand spanking new thirty five millimeter camera and I I was waiting till I had some time while I was traveling. I was gonna read the instructions how to work it and all that stuff. Well submerged real hard but it got wet S o I go that out and I dried it the best I could with whatever we had available to dry it with. I just fumbled around with it. I loaded the film in it and I started taking slides. I took a whole roll of slides of this whole incident which I have in a slideshow at home. I did that several years later on a cruise when I w as a lecturer on a cruise ship and the y thoroughly enjoyed it. But, yeah, I had whol e pictures of the ya cht breaking up from the sides. It started out being till feet long at the most. We spent five days on there watching this boat break up. We had one of the fuel containers for that We had a fifty five ga llon dr um. We broke the top off, and it took a long time but finally got a fire started on a diesel drum which is hard to do. Diesel fuel does not light like gasoline. So we finally got it lit and started smoking which is what we wanted it to do. We had a big bl ack smoke going up there hoping th some attention. A couple airplanes flew over that were in route someplace els e and they were kind of high. But everybody goes crazy waving a t it. W nd you say oh how dumb that is. We did it.
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 10 B: [Laughter ] why R: Well B: Was it dark? R: No it was broad daylight then. B: It was daylight? R: Oh, yeah. We lock. B: Did the rain stop by the time you got the fire started? R: Well it rained every day. No, well but it rained every day. Once that diesel fire got going the r ain didn no see ums we nicknamed no see um plenty bite um and the mosquitos, the next morning we just spent the night on the rock is all we did. We were freezing, shaking; And the suitcase and everything do anything in the xt morning when the sun came up, we noticed that the foredeck o f the yacht had broken off. I t was just kind of in on the beach. Well the four of us managed to horse it around and set it up on so me rocks. These men had bought five cases of Johnny Walker B lack sco tch when they were in Panama. I was too young to drink, so we had these five cases of scotch propped up on one corner we put this deck on. We had the other corner
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 11 deck in the rock and another one on a limb of a tree. W e just had this thing perched there. When the tide came in it would come in actually under our floor. When it would go out, we would have fifty foot of beach. And [laughter] we had a lot of tide there, b W e brought some cushions in from the deck chairs and things like that and started sleeping in them. We slug a tarpaulin over a branch that happened to be hanging out So we had a little bit of a roof that was still lea king when it rained hard but at least it kept the sun off us and everything else. T hen we just started looking around E use. We found all kinds of cans, no labels. B: On this beach? R: No, from the boat. B: Oh from the boat? R: Broke out of the boat, all the canned goods. The only one I could recognize was a tuna the carrots s no label on it. B: Did you have a can opener? [ Laughter ]
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 12 R: No we had these little ones that the military uses, those kind of things like that. But we managed to just eat out of cans. We managed to make a little bit of a fork type thing out of a branc h and hang it close to the fire, so it at least w ould heat cans up but it was just warm it up a little bit W e could do that. E very one of the dishes believe it or not from the yacht never got broken. T hey were all laying down in the sand under the rocks under the k eel. When the bo ttom broke through everything just fell out the bottom. Also, then the next night, the stern of the boat st arted to break off. I t had V drive engine s it used to be originally when it was built it was an air sea rescue like a P T boat something l ike that. It had a planing hull with the Allison engines in it It could go fast when it was designed but then it had been reconve rted into a civilian yacht. T i t was a slower boat now. B ut it had V drives : t he engines were mounted facing forward and t hen it went into a gear box and the props came out of that. So the props sat right under the engines. Well it had the bottles of CO2 up there for engine room fires, had this great big probably four foot high bottles The second night w hen the engine room broke off the who le stern of the boat broke off the head broke off the bottle of CO2 and it just looked like a rocket straight up. W e were asleep when it happened and we woke up know what was happening, saw this thing going up here. Holy smokes! What a beautiful sight that was. It was gonna come up down where? [ Laughter ] So i t fell
PCM 042; Rowly; Page.13 down into water we never did find it B ut we found things for several days. F in ally on the last day B: How many days has this been now? R: Five days. We spent five days on the rock. B: And how many of you were there? R: Four I was the youngest. A cayuco ca me around on the island on the fourth day. This guy lish and no one spoke Spanish except me, so I was able to converse with him and tell him that we were shipwrecked. Of course it was obvious T here was the boat all wrecked in front of us. I told him you can have anything you want just get us off this is land. So he took us. We had our li feboat with a lot more motors. So we were able to get with him; he pulled his cayuco to the beach and he told us to come on get in the boat. He took us around the island to the lighthouse w as there. I mean it was a lighthouse on the other side of the islan d. What we had done is walked well I walked one way and an other guy walked another way but we which is where the lighthouse was. We got so far I s aid o we never found the lighthouse. So he took us over there and they lived there raising pigs and chickens and things like that. So we started going back and gettin g all the stuff we had, the scotch and all that stuff, w hat
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 14 radio gear that we could use, salvage and all that. Started bringing it back and forth. He wanted to ride with us all the time and he was helping us load the boat and all that stuff. So every tim bit of scotch. T his little nat ive guy got absolutely drunk. H e was standing up on the bow of the b oat with a painter in his hand painter is the bow rope standing there just w ith the breeze in hi s face. A nother guy kind of half looped too driving the boat with the outboard engine, h g and coming up to the beach. [Laughter] getting bigger and bigger. Slow down slow down slow down! Ran right up on the beach W hen that boat come to a kind of a sudden stop that little native guy went, shrew! like a rocket right off the front. H e hit the deck and sand and rocks and beaches and start tumbling. He got all cut up and beat up wi th t he sand and everything. His lady littl e woman there came down with a broom handle and start beating him to death and yelling at him in Spanish and cussing him out and ev rying to ge t away from her. W looked at us. Whelp re getting out of here! [Laughter]. But we got that settled, taken care of and everything. But then that night there was another yacht came out and ancho red in front of the lighthouse. H e paddled out in his cayuco to find it nd brought the owner ashore which happened to be Grant Foster, the builder of the Pan American highway. He was out ther e for a weekend of fishing. H e brought him a shor e and he met us and he said
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 15 you back to Golfito on my way back Y ou guys relax the way back, he pulled in there close and we all got o n and went back to Golfito. W survivors so w hey paid for that. Then he flew us to San Jose. It took us three weeks i n San Jose to get all our paper work, visas, pass ports, and all that stuff back. S o we just stayed at the Europa H otel courtesy of the American Embassy as stranded survivors. They gave us clothes to wear and everything else. That was kind of neat. San Jose is a beautiful place for a young man. B: [Laughter]. So through the whole ordeal, you were pretty sure that whol e time that you were gonna be okay? R: No. B: No? So did you R: W ell I have to admit as a nineteen year old boy I was in tears a couple times r again. Of course being nineteen, I was missing and that and these guys were saying, boy d lady huh? [Laughter]. B: Right, right. So one of the stranded people was the owner of the yacht?
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 16 R: Nope. B: No the owne R: Nope. B: So it was just the crew? R: I had met the owner later on. The guy that hired me called me up after we got back to Panama. Now in the Canal Zone you have summer jobs for American citizens but you have to put your applicat ion in before school s out and all that stuff and get a job. You also have summer c ollege ; i t starts the summe r T Apprentice pro a pprentice you take the test and you can get an apprenticeship. Well, being that I was away o when I got back all the jobs were taken for the su mmer. T he school had already started, t he apprentice program had already started there twiddling my thumbs. I I was just a drag on my parent s economy. So Neil called me from Washington S tate and he says, what are you doing? I said job? I says, nope how would you like to come work up here in Washington State ? Well I perked up like Garfield the Cat and says, yes. So I told my dad, Neil just offered I says, doing what? He says, w ng from sun up to sun down.
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 17 O f course in Panama the sun comes up at six and go es down at 6:30 plus or minus twenty minutes all during the year depending where the sun is, north or south of the equato r I though t well al l right that up in Washington State the sun comes up at 4:30 in the morning and goes O f course Washington State i s beautiful. Oh country. I loved it up there. B ut that job w as driving a truck for a wheat farmer that was harvesting wheat. I worked twenty one days total and I drove a truck for a while and then he put me in the combine. I drove an eighteen foot swath conditioning and all that chaff was going down your back and throat making you itch and all that stuff during the day. T hen I asked him if I can go back on a truck because driving that combine was a bit much, for me anyhow. So I w ent back driving the truck. W hat we do is take all the wheat from the combine and load it in the truck and I take the truck down to the silo dump it in the silo come back up. T hen I drive right alongside the combine as it s unloading. That way you never stop; you just keep on going. T hey had two trucks to catch these and thing like that. Well after twenty one days of brutal hot sun, working all day, long hours, getting little sleep as they call us. I asked John for a day off. I says, I like to have Sunday off to go to church. I really had I just wanted to stay home and sleep. Well he saw through my little lie ther e and so he fired me. I even know I was fired: h
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 18 real nice about it. So I slept on Sunday morning and Neil ake me up. I was laying in the basement in their house. I said I have to go to work today have t ause she had been born and raised there and she knows the cycle of wheat harvesting. So she called John on the phone and John says I t lazy. I just wanted a day off. So Billie came back and says do yo u know that you just got fired? Of course my jaw dropped. thousand miles away from home, no money, no car, nothing. [Laughter]. What am I gonna do? B: t stranded on an island though [laughter]. R: B Neil gave me a job. He had ordered a swimming pool to be built and I worked as a swim ming pool helper. I helped dig the ditch and the ho le and all that stuff. Put the lining in. When that job finished, there was no more pools being ord ered into the summer; in Washington Stat e need for a swimming pool in the fall or in th e winter. So then he says, wel l, come on down to my place. He owned the largest mobile crane construction company in the Pacific N orthwest. This is Neil Lampson C onstruction. You can look it up in the dictionary or in the encyclopedia. He said come on down I can put you to
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 19 work down there doing something. So I went down there and my first job was to sort out nuts and bolts and screws from this big long cabinet there and just g et them all straightened out. I got that all done. Then I was kind of the guy tha t me a big old crescent wrench. get a big old crescent wrench, b ring it back to him. We were working on the diesel trucks, the cranes, a nd things like t hat, the big eighteen r. That was kind of hard labor, heavy labor. I was spoiled rotten but I was getting used to it and getting with the program. They let me operate the cra ne a little bit around the back yards there, lifting pallets of this, pallets of that and everything. I figured this is going to work out for me if I stay here. I got to start out at the bottom and do the digger wo rk. T hen I could go on and start raising up and get a nice job sometime. I saw it in my dream coming but working there and I had no money to buy clothes. I was still paying back my airplane ticket to Neil have to pay him back. So out of every payc house. I had one shelf in the refrigerator to put my milk, my cere al, my peanut butter and jelly stuff like that. d have to walk to work a mile and it started getting cold up there. I was freezing and these guys were loaning me their jackets and everything. I looked like sad sack because these guys were six foot five foot five. W hen I put their coat on
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 20 hands coming through the sleeves. I looked like sad sack walking up and down the street like a homeless guy. I walked to work and every now and then on themselves a cou ple of Ol ympia or Rainier beers; Raini er is what they normally got. I was to o young to go in a bar; I was nineteen They would come out: here So I would sit out there in the corner and d rink a beer [Laughter] and then one of them would probably take me home that day. I got done payi ng my rent and paying back Neil and I bou ght a few groceries every things lik e that, bread for lunch. I had five dollars left to last me next week. I met a guy up th ere that ultimately joined the navy with me. H e had a car and we in the trun k except him. His brother in law would buy him a c ase of beer and give it to him. S in the drive split the prices up. Then we could watch a drive in movie. could do it and that was my entertainment. Then I was walking down the street one day and I was with my friend and saw a sign flipping in the breeze says join the n a vy and go south for the winter. I says that sounds like a darn good idea. I wa lked in and asked the recruiter, what I gotta do and he told me. He gave me some books to look a t over the we ekend and whatnot. I went home, back to the house, d join the n anti
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 21 military, never have been, for me. All of a sudden, best option I can see. B: And what year was this? R: 1959 Same year I graduated. So on October the 14 th I joined the n avy and got sent to San Diego boot camp. That started a whole new venture in my life. I mean my life has been one adventure after anothe r. I have had more adventures well I still have two things to dream about. I want to go around the H orn on a sailing ship lik e my dad did, my grandfather, and my great which is why my name is Skip: Skipper. My dad though t I was going to become a sea captain too T sea for a living. I became a commercial pilot flying. B: You had a pretty bad first run in with going to sea. R: Yeah. No well was neat. That was nice. But I ea sick. I love boats. I still, to this day, lo a commercial pilot. B: Oh what was your second thing? B efore
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 22 R: Okay, the second thing is to go down to Cape Town or Australia, either one, and go down in a shark cage and confront a great white shark. B: [Laughter] that i s a good one. R: thing I wanted to do. I already flew a P 51 Mustang which was my dream plane. I loved that plane and all my life I wanted to fly a Must ang and I finally got to do it. S o that was one of my dreams. B: u checked a lot off of it then? R: Well my bucket list only got two things remaining in it now. B: [Laughter.] So how did training go? R: Boot camp? Oh boot c a rmy because I [laughter] want to be having to march all day doing that stuff. Bu t I got done with boot camp and most everybody out of boot camp it. You get out of boot camp and you report to some ship somewhere. My whole company got schools. W hen they asked me, I had been up to here with high chool student, scholasti c wise. I said want to go to school. I want to just join the navy and go to sea, see the world. Well, they sent to me to school. A t first I kind of resented it but then I got over to
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 23 J acksonville and I had to go to aviation electrician school. I went there. I went to s choo l and graduated from there. T hen my class all went to anti submarine warfare school. They had to study up in Norfolk. So I had to report there to learn how to operate al l the equipment that airplanes use to find submarines. Th en I was transferred back to Jacksonville again, the VP 30 which is a rag program they call it, a flight trai ning program for the P2V N eptunes which is a submarine hunter. burning jets mounted outside of the main recips on the wings with wing tips and search light and all that on the starboard w ing. But then I joined my squadr on VP have to go near a ship and it was a great life being a n Airedale in the navy. I got, actually flight crew. I logged seventeen hundred hours of flight time on a P2 V looking for submarines and I found a lot of Russian submarines. We tracked em. B: How di d you feel the first time y ou actually got to fly a plane? R: The first time that I flew one? B: Yeah. R: Nervous. fly the plane in the n avy. I was the B: You had to learn how to, right?
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 24 R: No, no B: Oh earn how to? R: No B: So you just had to lea rn how to operate the submarine finding R : I did get to fly a P2 V. We w the operation is called anym eah we were there and our pilot was a very nice guy. He said, I want every one of you guys to know how to fly this plane and bring it home should the pilot and co pilot get sick, and the navig ator or we get shot at and g et wounded or something like that. So he let us all fly the plane. Just straight and level, make some turns and banks on different sites. I got to make an approach into Rosy Roads to make a landing and I was very, very nervous. I mean I was extremely nervo us. Of course I had to co pilot on my side, he was helping me out. He was doing half the flying but I was actually he was just following me through but he could stop me anytime and de of that airplane I just hit that deck so hard and bounced. B: They let you land it? R: Yeah. Then he took over. As soon I bounced the ground, he took over to recover he o he took over and I never got to fl y it
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 25 again. I mean, none of us did. That was the only time we ever had a shot at it. But I got a taste in my mouth of flying. I said, d arn that was that love that! I want to do this. So I had saved all my money. I had a lot, going home all t he time. I was in the service. When I got home I started my apprenticeship. I went to college for a year. I was gonna be an electrical engineer. B: Where? R: In Canal Zone, Canal Zone Col lege. I went there for a year a nd I woke up finally. I was in my second year actually and I told my dad. I said D fly. I want to work with my hands I was an electrician, I fixed a lot of airplanes, keep them going I want to do that. So I dropped out of college just before my second and took the apprenticeship exam and passed it and became an electrical apprentice on the locks I started there and one day I was walking down the wall in Gat n Locks which is exactly north and south and I heard this air craft coming behind me down the c enter wall, heading fr om the south going back to the V I could tell by th e sound of those engines, having had so many years of having those things droning in my ears. I turned around and sure enoug h it was P2V. It just got my heart stirred up again. it I miss flying. So I started taking flying lessons out at t he little airport. I soloed in eight h ours, got my private pilot in forty hours. I kept flying and
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 2 6 building some time but I wanted to become a commercial pilot by now. So I did. I quit the Panama Canal just before my apprenticeship ended again I went to t he States, went to flig ht school and got my commercial, multi engine and my i nstrument rating. I was all set to become an airlin e pilot. I went to interviews and five five. H e says sorry about that. We ou talk abo ut the biggest disappointment of airline s were hi ring with two hundred hours with a multiengine and instrument rating which I had. But I was competing with Vietnam unwinding and things like that and there was j ust more people coming back with multi turbine time have any t urbine time a jet engine. I had recips reciprocating engines, propeller driven airplanes. s all I had flown, was propeller driven. So I had no jet time and these guys all had multi jet time so I could either. T hey had thousands of hours by now being in the military. So I was barking up a bad tree. So I went out, got a job at Honeywell; I was a repairman for all the electrical stuff and I got riffed from that job. When Vietnam was winding down, all the things were starting to dry up a little bit s o I had no seniority, I got riffed I took the test to become an air traffic controller, passed it and got hired, and I became an air traffic con trol ler in Jacksonville Center. M y c ommercial license and my instrument rating got me that job cause you needed that or four years in college. S o I had the license. So I worked as an air traffic controller for
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 2 7 four years: four years in Jax Center, one year in Puerto Rico. I transferred down to a tower and we were in Puerto Rico and my wife hated Pue rto Rico. B: You lived in Jacksonville? R: Well no. We were in Jacksonville and got transferred to Puerto Rico and down to Ponce in the south coast, small little airport. B: R: Is that? Oh, ok ay, I was in Mercedita Airport. Are you familiar with that one? Mercedita? B: time. R: Well I was an air traffic controller there and my wife hated Puerto Rico so bad. We were living in the traile rs out there at Fort A llen which were beat up and rat infeste d and everything like that. M We had one three year old girl, s he was pregnant when she went down and she had to go back to S tates and have the baby because she refused t o have it in Puerto Rico. So then she brought the baby back after it was born and still was miserable. I asked my b oss for a transfer back to the S t year contract son year c year. We got a year to go.
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 28 She says, ok ay, eaving with or without you. T I went ba ck and saw my boss again. I said, this is getting serious b oss. My wife ha s got her bags packed an lose my happy home for this job. I need to get ba ck to the S tates. He S tates for another year. With that I took my name badge off and threw it down on his de sk and I says, I quit! Now you got to send me home and I kind of h ad stuck my chest out. I guess I told him t ype of thing Well they came and packed me up and I had my date to get on that airplane. all leaving Puert o Rico and I just broke down like a little baby and cried. I said, girl for a woman. I says, jiminy Christmas, why States. I got two kids, a wife, no home, no job. The only thing I got is money in the bank. I just cried all the way back to Miami. I was miserable. If I had a gun I had probably shot myself, I was so miserable. B: That was a pretty extreme ultimatum. R: It was. I mean that was a bad day. So then I got back to Jacksonville and I had so we moved to St. Petersburg and I moved in w ith my mom and dad again. [Laughter] A gain. I moved in with t hem. I was living at home when I got married and t I moved in with them and they liked the grandkids But then I got a job
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 29 working at Sears selling hardware and that was a do nothi ng job. No pay hardly to speak of, Panama Can al as an electrician on the locks. A ll the exp erience I had working at Honeywell and General T elephone I had worked for a while all qua lified for time. I went back and got hired in the Gat n started my apprenticeship and got done with that and came t o the S tates and few other odds and ends. Here I am. I ill I retired. I worked on the l ocks. I promoted up the line from el ectrician to electrical lead er to junior control h ouse to j unior l ockmaster senior control house, senior l ockmaster t a permanent senior l ockmaster; it because I have a bad hip. the wall all th at much. But I retired as that and my high three was in that. So w hen the treaty went through, questions you have here. I was just against it. So I figured, I stayed there ten years after the treat y went into effect. It had a twenty year transition period I stayed ten yea rs and deci d had a lon g one. So that gave me almost twenty seven years of government service and I could take the retirement on an earl y retirement due to the treaty. So I took that op tion, moved to Tallahassee. M y wife was wo rking for the army; s he had priority placement transfer rights which I did not have. I was either early retirement or, if I transferred to a stateside have to stay and work my full thirty five years or whatever it was.
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 30 B: So her job transferred her to Tallahassee? R: M m hm. And I just retired then and B: R: little odds and ends. Now my wife just retired a month ago so she has over thi rty he was working with the government. B: And your wife is from Panama too? R: No. Well see when I was going to flight school. Right after I got out of flight school, waiting for the FAA to hi re me, I went to work at Honeyw ell as a maintenance man I met my wife at Honeywell, w e star ted dating and got married. T hen we moved to Jacksonville when I b ecame an air traffic controller; then we went to Puerto three years now. B: So do you go back very oft en? R: Oh ny times since I retired. For twelve years I Going to work one day in the QE2 he Queen Elizabeth II was coming through and when that big ship and clo se quarters and everything else. They like to see it. So I put in to work and I was working the afternoon sh ift. I was in Mi raflores
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 31 L ake heading south. I was trying to find a parking place because the parking lo t was full, and I had a big red pickup truck. I pulled in to the parking lot and I saw everything was full so I kind of just poke coming o ut, g etting relieved already, g etting in their car and going. And finally a guy I could get his parking space. So he was trying to pull out and I was in his way and there was a BMW behind me with a guy wearing a pink leisure suit and Ray Ban never forget that. Had his hand on his wheel I signaled outside of the car. I said back up. He back up. I says, b ack bumper but I never hit him. T hen this guy was able to get his car out and he went about his business and I was able to get my car into the parking lot and he zoomed on down the end B y that time another person had just walked down there and he was getting in his car so he parked way down there. Came running down the parking lot, turned around and was walking backwards but he was bouncing me with me and he was yelling at me in Spanish that this is no longer American territory. gringo get out of here. Get out! This is my home now not yours.
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 32 Panamanian as y Zone. Still American territory blah blah blah blah. I finally got to the gate. He wanted me to hi I finally got to the gate and I told the American security g uar d, get this so and so off my tail end. Well he immediately reached over, picked up the phone and called the Carcel Modelo and notified them to come get me and arrest me. He was a G uardia B: I was about to say, who the hell was this? R: Just a pompous person and he thought So, because I insulted his m other, by calling him an S.O.B., I was arrested for insulting his mother. So they arrested me and took me out of the control h ouse in handcuffs, t ook me down to the Carcel Modelo and I spent the night down there. T Vio Andy Rivera. this weekend. He came an sat with me in the jail all night just to make sure that he was a witness that b eat me with rubber hoses and things like that. T hen my brother in law, whose also here this week, Colonel Stevenson, he came in and also spent some time with me and just kept me cool, calm, and collected and everything I was nervous and upset and t icked off and ready to tear the world apart. They pulled my passport and I was under house ad to call in sick every night, lost a whole week of work. I had to go to night court every nigh t and I would get dismissed before my case got brought up. T he very last night, the
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 33 G uardia shows up in his uniform with all kinds of e paulets; go t all kinds of doo dads on. H e was a big shot in the Guardia Nacional So, he shows up there and the y call me up for the case. U p to then the judge had never spoke a word of English. All the cases that were there in front of him were all in Spanish. Suddenly he speaks to me in English and he speaks better English than I do. He was absolutely perfectly spok en. He was educated in Yale I think. So, he my temper so quickly and this and that and everything else. I said yes sir yes sir yes sir. Then he looked at the Guardia N aci onal who was standing there like, oh man I just won this war. H e dressed him down worse than me: just because a Guardia and a major and a national guard does not give you the right to go picking on peo ple and doing what you did. I of this ruckus with him insulted your mother blah blah blah blah. You can see this guy just collapsing within himself. I just knew, oh my God is going to be out for blood now. So when I got home that night I told my wife, because they n has to do is start cr go [inaudible 49:38] there was going to be guys looking for that red truck. I took my wife car. They ed that a week or two later t hereabouts, his brother got kille d on a bridge, going across the isthmus. His attention now
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 34 was to find the bus driver wh o ran his brother off the road. S the hook now completely. But want list or hit list in the airport to go to jail y family, I So, I said, the only thing to do is put in for a priority placement check Bev o is retir e. So, she did and boom, almost instantly had a job for her in Tallahassee as a secretary for the entire southeast district of the air force. So, she took that and had to be up there right away. So, I put in my retiremen t papers this was in Sept ember. She put in for hers in September. She had to report the day after B: Of which year? R: Of 88 and I moved to Tallahassee, sight unseen. Although, I knew Tallahassee from the air because when I was an air traffic controller, Tallahassee was one of my sectors. So, I knew all the holding positions, the radios, the n there twenty two years and we kind a like it. B: R: cold there in the winter. The first year we were there, it has never snowed since. We moved up I retired the end of 88, so I was there for all of 89.
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 35 since and my kids had never seen snow before, so they were going out making snow angels and everything else. B: So you moved back to Panama when Noriega was ruling? R: no even up to talk about it yet. It hink of his name. The general who was the dictato r of the time B: It starts with a T R: Who? B: It starts with a T right R: did t his treaty, and Jimmy C arter in his wisdom gave the Panama Canal away. A multi trillion dolla r enterprise, gave it away lock, stock, and been happy about that. That was a big mistake I think. The United States is gonna be paying for it. B: Still, you think? In what way? R: In order to give it away it was custom United States we already bought new locomotives and new all sorts of things so they would get a nice brand new
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 36 building th you go down to Panama now, they built the new museum at the Mira Flores locks. Basically, you walk in there and you say the French started to build the Panama Canal back in the 1800s. Ultimately, Panama owns it. Nothing about the United States built it and ran it for ninety years. No way! United States is B: So how many years have you been coming to this reunion? R: Oh this is lost track n ow probably my fortieth consecutive reunion. B: Wow. Okay [laughter]. R: I come every year. B: In my last interview, the gentleman I spoke to has the complete opposite view of you about the treaty. So, is that really a contentious issue? R: Yes, it was. Do wn there, there was those that were for the treaty and those that were against the treaty. B: What about at these reunions? Does that come up? R: together now. But, no, even my brother in law is pro treaty. He thought it was a g ood idea and I will admit that if we we re gonna keep the Panama Canal, we would have to spend a lot of money on it because concrete hardens to a certain
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 37 crete maintenance going on there. Ships hit the wall daily and you see a cloud of smoke where the concrete goes into dust. Locomotives had to be maintained. The rising sim valves are all worn and they would have to be repaired and overhauled and all this s tuff. S o, an expensive maintenance program. But, the Panama Canal actually paid for itself and ev ery year would put minimum of twenty million dollars in the U.S. Treasury. And they were self insured. If they had an accident on the ship, Panama Canal paid the tab or whatever the case was, if it was our fault. And they would still do that, and the tolls were cheap. I and ninety cents for a long ton or something like that. Nowa days, Panama has raised the toll so much that a lot of ships are thinking maybe orn o r do that around North America up through the Northwest Passage, in the summertime when you can do that ll, it got to the point s and some of those big ships like that. The Valdez the one that had the oil wreck B: Barges? R: No, that big tanker up in Alaska that hit the reef here many years ago? Exxon Valdez Those sh ips cannot go through the canal; So, they anchor way offshore sixty miles offshore and then use overseas tankers to go through the canal. They go southbound and ballast which is empty fill up tap
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 38 alongside that tanker out there, fill up with oil, come back through the canal refineries. And then they go back down. They shuttle back and forth between the canal canal so much new set of locks which are the y, home. By giving away the canal, a lot of us called us people like Hong Kong residents. They had a 99 year lease and they had their own little communities year lease. We had a treaty that was in perpetuity, which means f orever. Jimmy Carter disregarded that an give it away lock, stock, and barrel. Lock, stock, and new barrel! New stock! But that was it. B: Did you get to witness any of the riots when the treaty was passed? R: Yes, in 64, I was involved, kinda part l y on that one there. I wa s trying to defend a flag in Coc o S o lo, but I was working in Gatn L ocks at that time. And we got overtaken. Some of us got beat up by the Panamanians. Same thing happened in Balboa, a litt it in the newspapers, but there was in Panama. The kids were rabble rousers in the colleges. Not the big adults, no the fifty year old adults. It was the kids. And when somebo dy got hurt, the adults
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 39 would come down there and complain more. But, yeah, that riot was something els nal Zone, but you had to be careful where you went because you never knew who came across the border. There was no fences; anybody could drive in and out of Panama and the Canal Zone. The Panamanians always said we were a foreign country right in the middl anything that says sthmus to get from one part of Panama to the other part of Panama. There was no problem with that. We had maid service. A lot Panamanians worked in the Canal Zone. They came in every day. They drove the ir cars in there and parked there commissary privileges, because it was like the military they have P.X. privileges en it was one of those deals that if I worked for the Canal Zone government, I got free rent and electricity and my next door neighbor stayed at a duplex house. They worked for the military, they would get P.X. privilege. T hey have t o pay the rent and elec tricity, but they get P.X. privileges and all that stuff. So it was a big dryer off of my electricity since its free and you go to buy all my food at P.X., the commissary. So not quite as often as people think. B: I would definitely take advantage of that. [Laughter]
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 40 R: But then, yeah, those are the kinds of things we had to put up with in the Ca nal Zone. And t hen, of course, during the treating, they says that anybody that started working as of today does not have U. S. repatriation rights. I f you got hired from the S tates, your free ho me leave took you back to that s tate Well a lot of us when I started out, I was born and raised in Panama. I t until I quit and went to the S tates and I came back that I had that. Now, I ha d Florida for home of hire. I was born and raised there and all that the re in the military and say, man, in atriation rights now B: R: go. We had a schools. Great sporting events: I was a swimmer and a shooter. I excelled in hip. I was treated in the B: Oh, I see! [L aughter] Very cool.
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 4 1 R: But it wa there was no drugs down there, back in even remember what. T here was no real big thing. Have a party and play the stereo late at night occasiona lly out on the cut, kids would have a beer party. Well, of course, the cops pretty well knew it was s and whoever was [Break in interview] B: [L ing that I keep hearing is that while life in the Canal Zone was really nice and cushy and tropical paradise R: Oh, it was. B: If you messed up, you were gone. R: f you did something really bad got drunk and wrecked a car and hurt somebody bad or you stole something out of the commissary, big tim e you were caught doing it, s job was at maybe your parents would get booted out the kids were
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 42 always kinda well behaved do that or B: Or no Christmas presents. R: one of the hot pranks we did is, [laughter] there was a guy down there that some ch. He had a little Croz A nd he went to the movies one night. We all got together and lifted his car up and propped it up against the wall by the bowling alley. Just stood it on its skizit And he come out of ne! Someone stole his car! Well, he got to looking around and, is that your car? there? ing, pfft, la ughing. B: R: And we did stupid little things l ike that. Of course, later on, w t down, if you want. H volved in putting it up there, b you take it down. So a couple of others voluntee red to help take it down for him B: aughter]
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 43 R: But he got the word, he got the message anyhow. T middle of the night. They come out the next morning look for garbage cans and in the flagpole When they get ready to put the American flag up in the morning, like that. B: Yeah, so you could get away with that kind of thing. R: Yeah. Oh, another one was putting soa p in the monument the Goethals Monument. Take a box of T ide B: Is that his name? R: after Halloween and, soap suds. Y or all the soap suds in it. You put a being pumped around and around and getting bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger. Those are the kind of things we did for pranks. Nothing ever seriously damage d It cost money to empty it out and clean it up and do it again, but nothing major, you know? B: Right. Innocent.
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 44 R: But you could go waterskiing on Christmas day in the lake, n o problem. There was waterskiing eve rywhere. People who lived in Panama were generally pretty good skiers and pretty good swimmers The contests we used to have: how many pl aces can you swim in in one day? And we take a count. You drive t o the Atlantic side, which is fifty miles away. You go swimming in the Atlantic swim in G atn Lake. Then, you go to Gulic k Pool, you go to Davis Po ol, you go to Washington Hotel p ool, and you go to Coco Sol o P ool. Then you drive across the i sthmus to Gamboa you go swimming in Gamboa Pool, the Chagres River, and the lake right there in front of Gamboa. Then you go into Balboa, stop off at Clayton and go to Clayton Pool. You go to Albrook Pool, you go to Balboa Pool. Then you drive across, you go to Rod en P oo l. Well, you can swim in Pedro Miguel Lake, also. And then you go swimming off the end of the locks there in the south end of Mira Flores locks. And you go out t o the causeway and go swimming in Amador Beach And you count all those, how many times you di d that, and you did it in one day. B: And when you say pool, are these natural water formations? R: Yeah. There was a couple of ponds around there too, the Gamboa Waterfall. You could swim there, too, if you want. I mean, these places you could actually go in, and dive in and swim around, come out, get in your car, go someplace else and do the same thing. And so, it became kind of an event on Saturdays, how many you could do in day
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 45 B: You could marathon it. R: Depending on how fast your car wa s or how well you traverse the isthmus. Driving across the i sth mus even though it was only fifty miles it was always a, oh my god, I gotta go to Balboa tomorrow, or Cristobal, as if it was a major job. Here, people drive a hundred miles and think nothing of it. But, yo through all the little tiny towns. A in the middle of the road, or whatever. I tell you what. If I had to do my life over again, I would opt to do it exactly what I did. I had a great life in the Canal Zone. I was sorry to see it end. I know the rest of us here but maybe once a year now because some of us live in Washington S tate, or Oregon, not everybody comes every year. So, if you come every year, you see all your buddies, all your friends, all the parents you used to know, and all the girls that you used to date. Y ou tr he world. You were born in the S tates right? B: Yeah, I w as born in south Florida. R: South Florida, see.
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 46 B: R: y I was born in the Canal Zone. M B: laughter]. R: Well both my daughters are born in Florida: one in Jacksonville, one in St. Pete. But, I took them back to the Canal Zone when they were babies, so they grew up in B: Where in Jacksonville did you live? R: I lived in San Mateo, when I was a n air traffic controller. Then, I lived in Clearwate r and my wife lived in St. Pete when we got married. Then, we bought a house in Seminole. We moved to Jacksonville, then went to school in Oklahoma. Go to air traffic control school out there and back to Jac ksonville. Then, Puerto Rico. We travelled around; been to where it is right now, in Panama hands, there instead of moving to the S place right there and cause it was beautiful. I just loved the country The people up in the country up in the interior They really are. Th go home. Leave your money. But, I loved Panama. I
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 47 tours on cruise ships as a lecturer because of my experience living down there and working on the locks. I can go through the locks and tell them. They always but you on top of the ship there and have a bunch of people around me. everything else. He just gives a history of Panama I give them the history of Panama. I give the history of the San Blas Indians, and r of the locks. I have slides, d o all the slide presentations for everything I a fantastic thing to talk about and I could ad lib on Panama hour after hour after hour. And they only give me so much time to do my lecture for that day. Then, I walk the decks and people come u p to me and says, that was interesting this morning. C an you tell me more about the so and so blah blah B: R: Oh yeah! I mean, I was a great place, it was. The old Canal Zone, it was unbeatable. If you hang around and talk to some of thes all pretty much the same way. The treaty was pro bably pro and con on a lot of people.
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 48 B: Yeah. N o matter how much people are going to disagree on that, everyone up. R: all ab out. Even the old people I here, they used to come all the ti me. And even when we came here and I was in my fifties and I would see some pa rent, I would call them Mister and Missus so and comfortable calling you and so to me o r whatever. My godmother, finally s he just died last year. But I think the year before last, I called her Maria n to her face. I f elt funny doing it. I said Maria was in her eighties or older I guess. She was probably close to ninety. She jus t s that that way. Today we re still Mr. and Mrs. Deacons or Mister and Missus so and so, you know Whoever. Mr. and Mrs. Wood. B: They can still ground you [laughter]. R: Yeah. Until they tell me otherwise, I call them by Mister and Missus.
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 49 B: f ormality person. R: Unlike where I live right now, in Tallahassee. I have two little girls living next door ip. I said if you insist on calling me Skip, call me Mr. Skip. So, then, one day she came out and up, Skippy! Starts tugging on my pants, Skippy! I said my name is not Skippy, to you. Never. You call me Mr. talked to me in the last week [laughter]. B: R: Oh, yeah, how my mom and dad started out down there. My grandmother on my s side lived in Alabama. My mothe r was born in Birmingham, but my grandfather had died. So, my grandmother went to Panama because her sister was down there. She called her this i s before the canal even opened and did Alabama, so she says yes. So, she farmed my mother off to another lady and she went down there to Panama and got a job as a telephone operator. Telephones were brand new, switchboard operator type of stuff. She had four years of service. She finally came back to the S tates and got my mother and took her back down there along with her sister and brother. They stayed there and, of
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 50 course, they grew up there. Our mom was a champion swimmer. She beat Johnny Weissmuller swimming and he was an Olympic gold medal ist. My mother belonged to the Red, White, and Blue Troop, which is a very famous swimming group in Panama, with Henry Gries er. They used to dive and swim off the locks all the time. Well, she grew up there and w ent to high school down there. Just a normal regular life, Zonians. My dad had been born out in Quahog, Long Island. from a seagoing family. His dad was a sea captain and his grandfather was a sea captain, and his great uncle was a sea captain and everything like that. They were all in wh aling ships and all that stuff out of New was marked to go to sea. He went to maritime school in New York, where his school Island. So, every and go back down again and they could go eat breakfast. That was their exercise for the morning. And they go to class and they went t o sea on a wooden s ailing ship, a square rigger in Newport. And they went around the world on that ship, come up and he said he used to g o to sea when it was iron men and wooden ships. Went around the H or n on that ship, foul weather and everything else. Well, he came through a little bit later on as he got a job as a third mate, second mate, and then first mate, and he eventually got a job as captain. He came through the canal a couple of times. One partic ular time, the engineer on the ship he was at had
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 51 been here before, had dated my aunt, things he says, I got to go to port. And my dad says, hey, does she have a sister? She just ha ppens to have a sister My dad, he was introduced to my strangest drawn bug ging. She says my dad always had roving fingers and so she took her brother with her the next time my uncle Landon just to make sure my dad d of dated on and off a little bit there. Of course, he was going to sea and back and forth a couple times over a couple years. He back, will you marry me now? So he got off the ship down there and got another ship that took him to Los Angeles and then got off that ship in Los Angeles as an officer and got on the ship coming through the canal. And he got off the ship and he came to the canal here t, so he worked in the abattoir which is a slaughterhouse. And he was a sea captain, with Then, he got a job from there bec ause there any jobs being vacant at the time. Then a job came open for the signal station s in the cut. I n those days, before radios and everything, s hips had no co mmunication with one another except they could see
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 52 what was hanging in the cones or th e balls hanging in the signal stations up in supposed to be, three cones in a line or two cones or one cone or ba lls. S ame thing. Black balls or white balls, either one, had a code So, you could read those and tell you couple years, and then a tugboat job came open. And he got on the tug s and worked his way up the line and became senior captain of the tugs in the Atlantic s when he quit and went to the n avy and became captain of a ship. Then, he came back and he was captain of a [inaudible 1:17:21 ]. He stayed there, was the cap tain of another tug until he retired. My dad was senior captain on the tugs in the Canal Zone for many years. He was one of the very few tugboat pilo ts down there, captains. He actually went on the pilot force for like a year and a half. One of his good fr iends was a pilot and he brought him on board tugboats he worked around the clock; four to twelve, eight to four, and twelve to eight. But, he could look at his calendar and s ay, ok ay, with someone at like a S hrine function or a Masonic function or a picnicker or something like that that was supposed to go on. Whereas a pil that, because you never knew when you were gonna work. You take a ship to and you get eight hours off, maybe sixteen hours off.
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 53 pilots. So, you get called in on short notice and this and that and everything else he went back on the tugs and stayed there. Besides that, back in those days, the difference in pay betw een a senior tugboat captain and a pilot was peanuts. Later on, when I retired, the pay differential between a tugboat captain and a pilot was [whis tles] night and day. E veryone wanted to be a pilot because the money was fantastic and the ships were gettin g bigger and bigger and bigger and tougher to put through. Sometime em throu gh. The operation of the locks you gotta go see it to believe it. I unbelievable thing. It works like because they are a fantastic place. My first day of my apprenticeship I walked in there and I went and I had seen the locks all my life, b er been down in the bowels of them before. And I walked in there and took me down in the tunnels. I I knew they were there, know what they looked like or what they did. And I walked in and I went, I can believe all this, man. And then they took me up in the con trol house where they operated and opened all the gates and everything like that. And my jaw dropped. b. This is complicated I was just as much in the state of awe the day I retired as I was the day I went there because that place just never failed to amaze me. It worked like clockwork. Just so neat. A s long as those thi ngs went fine, they went fine. Of c ourse
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 54 went haywire. Yo u know, you slam a gate, bend a strut arm, or something like that. Then, you gotta t ake this chamber out of service, take the whole lane out of service, while you repair that strut arm. Put a new one in, all that stuff. You gotta equalize the water so you could move the gates. B: Someone figured it out. R: Oh yeah. I mean, I did it. I was at work in overhauls. I had to drain the chamber many times. I had to fill th e chamber back up from scratch, which is very delicate. Whe n the chamber is empty totally empty open the valve helter skelter. Y ou gotta open it just a couple inches because you got thousands and thousands and thousands of pounds of pressure coming through there. And if you let it all go through at one time, t really will. So, you gotta let it go in until you get enough water in there to put some weight on that floor. Then, you can open it some more and get some more weight on it. Finally, you get it where y ou can open up all the valves. And so you an electrician first and fix all the equipment. Then you ult imately become a if I fix it I get put in the control house as an operator. And then from there, you go to a lockmaster junior, locks
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 55 Oh, it B: And how many years did you actually work in the Canal Zone ? B ecau se you had a lot of w ork abroad. R: In the Canal Zone itself, I had five years of air traffic control, I had four years of military, and then the rest of it was on the canal. Oh and I had just under twenty B: Excellent. Is there anything else that we shou ld have on the record? R: I read through this here. The condition like on housing? I already t old about that. T hey were not much in the way of housing. You had to have seniority to get a better house. High school, college, best place in the world t o grow up. Swimming and skiing Hobbies. Honeywell? B: I got these from there was a little convention earlier and that was filled out. I R: We worked in aerospace, Honeywell, over in St. Petersburg. B: R: R ight. Yeah. And World War II, I was in the Cuban blockade when I was flying so I got veteran status for that. Yeah, flying in the navy got me interested in flying
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 56 got several thous Puerto Rico as an air traffic controller, but I sold it when I left. Flew the islands things like that. Now, I just putts around in my yard. Do light woodworking light l putts around with it that wound up growing up there, school, went to college in the States, got a job in the S tates, never went back. An d they com e to the reunions and, boy I s Zone. Just re was anything there for me. Mm hm, there was. But, they all love place to grow up and live. B: R: Yeah. It was paradise. I fe el sorry for you people in the S [Laughter] Not q ever want to live if I was a young kid. I wish to h raised my kids down there. W knit family, all of us people. E who you are in the Zone, y ou might be
PCM 042; Rowly; Page 57 three or four years behind me in school and might have known your older brother or we can sit with B: Same places, same people. Yeah. Well, thank you for doing thi s interview. You were full of information. R: Been my pleasure. B: And we will definitely send you over a copy of it for your personal enjoyment. R: Are you going to edit it out or is it just B: We just get it all transcribed and then we send you a copy i n case you want to check for factual information. R: B: Transcribed by: Austyn Sze mpruch and Raina Shipman, January 31, 2014 Audit edited by: Jessica Taylor February 5, 2014