Letters from Isthmian Canal construction workers

MISSING IMAGE

Material Information

Title:
Letters from Isthmian Canal construction workers Contest solicitation, overview and entry requirements
Series Title:
Isthmian Historical Society competition for the best true stories of life and work on the Isthmus of Panama during the construction of the Panama Canal
Physical Description:
Mixed Material
Language:
English
Spanish
Donor:
Afro-Antillean Museum ( donor )
Publisher:
Isthmian Historical Society
Place of Publication:
Panama

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Panama Canal

Notes

Scope and Content:
The Contest: In 1963, as the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Panama Canal drew near, the Isthmian Historical Society decided to make a collection of stories of personal experiences of non-U.S. citizens during Construction Days by means of a contest. This contest was publicized in local newspapers, by notices in the food packages given to Disability Relief recipients, and in newspapers in the Caribbean area. The following letter was sent to a total of 15 newspapers in Jamaica, Barbados, British Honduras, Trinidad, Antigua, St. Vincent, St. Lucia, and Grenada: "The Isthmian Historical Society is trying to collect the personal experiences and viewpoints of those West Indians who served in the labor force that dug the Panama Canal. Very little has been written by them or about them. Soon it will be too late to obtain personal accounts. In the hope of making a permanent record of their experiences during the construction of the Canal, our Society is sponsoring a competition for the best true stories of life and work on the Isthmus of Panama during the construction years. It would be much appreciated if you would assist us in publicizing our competition. I am enclosing a separate sheet with the information for this." The information sheet: "The Isthmian Historical Society announces a competition for the-best true stories of life and work on the Isthmus of Panama during the construction of the Panama Canal. The competition is open to West Indians and other non-U.S. citizens who were on the Isthmus prior to 1915. Entries may be handwritten but must be legible. Anyone who is infirm may have his story written for him by someone else, but in this case it must be stated on the entry that it has been written for him in his own words by someone else. Give name, address, year arrived in Panama, where employed there, and type of work done. All entries must be in the mail by November 1, 1963. The winners will be announced in December. All entries become the property of the Isthmian Historical Society. First prize will be: $50 (U.S.); second prize: $30 (U.S.); third prize: $20 (U.S.)…” Brief notices of the contest were placed in several thousand food packages ("Food for Peace" packages have been distributed monthly by the Panama Canal Company-Canal Zone Government). These notices read: "Competition -- For West Indians & other non-U.S. citizens who worked on the Isthmus before 1915. For the best true stories of life & work on the Isthmus during the Canal construction there will be awarded prizes: 1st PRIZE: $50; … Give year arrived in Panama, kind of work & where, name & address. Write of interesting experiences & people, living & working conditions, etc… The Entries: The majority of the contest entries were handwritten. In some cases the handwriting was difficult to read. In making copies of the entries, it occasionally was necessary to omit an undecipherable word, leaving a blank space to indicate the omission. Although an effort was made to reproduce the letters exactly as they were written, it is probable that there are errors. However, they will detract little from what these Old Timers wanted to say. It should be remembered that these letters were written by individuals who labored on the Isthmus prior to 1915. They are no longer young. Some are handicapped by the infirmities of age: failing eyesight, unsteadv and arthritic hands that find it laborious to form words and sentences, and minds that know what they want to say but communicate it imperfectly. Generally, unfamiliar spellings need only to be sounded and their meaning becomes clear. In cases where the entrants wrote as they speak, there may be dropped "H"8s so that "has" is written "as". Other features of West Indian speech will be noted. As spoken language, there is no English more colorful. Mr. Albert Banister's interesting letter is a good example. The Society is most grateful for all the entries and we regret that there could not be a prize for everyone. Ruth C. Stuhl Competition Editor

Record Information

Source Institution:
Afro-Antillean Museum
Holding Location:
Afro-Antillean Museum
Rights Management:
All rights reserved by the source institution.
System ID:
AA00016037:00069


This item is only available as the following downloads:


Full Text









Lewis, James A. (or S.); 17 St., House 393, Rio Abajo,
Panama, R.P.



This is my story as far as memory goes I was Emigrated
from the Island of Antigua BWI. We came on a Big Steamboat
Called The Solan We land in Chriatbal the let day of May 1906.
We slept in a Big Warehouse that night Of course the American
Government took care of us. The next morning we got breakfast.
Next we was on a Special Train and that Train was etoped at every
Secion or Station from Gatune to Paralso and a certain amount of
men was left at these Stations I was left at a Section called
Cucarach next to Paraiso. When we came off the Train each man
was given a cot to sleep on in the camps that was provided for
us. When you fell sick you have to go the Dispensary in
Paraiso and if you were serious the doctor would send you to
Anoon Hospital; well the name Anoon was changed many many years
ago to Gorgas Hospital.

My first and greatest experience was the steam shovel. The
way the engineer worked that lever you should see that long arm
slide out and down coming upwlithe the bucket full or dirt and
rocks and dumps it on the train with flat cars called Ledger
Wood I was operated in Ancon Hospital in the month of June
1906 for hernia. The doctor I think call it enlarge glands he
told me I could not do any hard work for 1 month so I got a
switchman job from thence to a breakman, and then to a fireman
in the Transportation Division Paraiso. There was drilling
gangs and powder gangs The drilling gangs drill the holes in
the earth with diamon or tipod drills. The powder gangs come
and fill the holes with dynamite and ram it and some time the
hole gets hot and explodes I was a breakman whin this happened
on the back of Pedro Miguel We was getting a load of dirt at
the steam shovel and a powder gang was on the other side filling
the holes with dinamite and ruling it Well we 6ot our train
load of.dirt and left the steam shovel in 15 minuits there was
an explosion and that powder gang was blown up On the track
lines you could see parts of mans body Its an awful site to
see.

I was working on the Locks as Carpenter in Gatun. The
great big iron gates that i-as build in the Locks was done by










Lewis, J. A. p.2


contractors named of MoClentic Marshal; accidents were number-
less The walls of the Locks is 75 feet from top to bottom

The dirt and rocks that was taken out of the Canal some of
it was dumped in Balboa and some of it in Laboca'so a part of
La Boca and a part of Balboa is dump land

Fort Amador is dump land A part of the sea was dumped up
and becomes a regular road. Trucks oars train everything
travels on that road to the fort. I worked in Fort Amador in
the year 1937 carpenter.




Full Text
xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8
REPORT xmlns http:www.fcla.edudlsmddaitss xmlns:xsi http:www.w3.org2001XMLSchema-instance xsi:schemaLocation http:www.fcla.edudlsmddaitssdaitssReport.xsd
INGEST IEID ED4NB1RX2_NG13PH INGEST_TIME 2013-07-24T00:04:44Z PACKAGE AA00016037_00069
AGREEMENT_INFO ACCOUNT UF PROJECT UFDC
FILES


xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8 standalone no
TEI xmlns http:www.tei-c.orgns1.0
teiHeader
fileDesc
titleStmt
title Letters from Isthmian Canal construction workers
publicationStmt
date 2014
distributor University of Florida Digital Collections
email ufdc@uflib.ufl.edu
idno http://ufdc.ufl.edu/AA00016037/00069
availability status restricted
p All rights reserved by the source institution.
sourceDesc
biblFull
Letters from Isthmian Canal construction workers
publisher Isthmian Historical Society
pubPlace Panama
All rights reserved by the source institution.
notesStmt
encodingDesc
classDecl
taxonomy xml:id LCSH bibl Library of Congress Subject Headings
profileDesc
langUsage
language ident eng English
spa Spanish
textClass
keywords
list
item Panama Canal
revisionDesc
change when 2014-07-27 TEI auto-generated from digital resource
text
body
div type Main
pb n 1 facs image0166.jpg
Lewis, James A. (or S.); 17 St., House 393, Rio Abajo,
Panama, R.P.
This is my story as far as memory goes I was Emigrated
from the Island of Antigua BWI. We came on a Big Steamboat
Called The Solan We land in Chriatbal the let day of May 1906.
We slept in a Big Warehouse that night Of course the American
Government took care of us. The next morning we got breakfast.
Next we was on a Special Train and that Train was etoped at every
Secion or Station from Gatune to Paralso and a certain amount of
men was left at these Stations I was left at a Section called
Cucarach next to Paraiso. When we came off the Train each man
was given a cot to sleep on in the camps that was provided for
us. When you fell sick you have to go the Dispensary in
Paraiso and if you were serious the doctor would send you to
Anoon Hospital; well the name Anoon was changed many many years
ago to Gorgas Hospital.
My first and greatest experience was the steam shovel. The
way the engineer worked that lever you should see that long arm
slide out and down coming upwlithe the bucket full or dirt and
rocks and dumps it on the train with flat cars called Ledger
Wood I was operated in Ancon Hospital in the month of June
1906 for hernia. The doctor I think call it enlarge glands he
told me I could not do any hard work for 1 month so I got a
switchman job from thence to a breakman, and then to a fireman
in the Transportation Division Paraiso. There was drilling
gangs and powder gangs The drilling gangs drill the holes in
the earth with diamon or tipod drills. The powder gangs come
and fill the holes with dynamite and ram it and some time the
hole gets hot and explodes I was a breakman whin this happened
on the back of Pedro Miguel We was getting a load of dirt at
the steam shovel and a powder gang was on the other side filling
the holes with dinamite and ruling it Well we 6ot our train
load of.dirt and left the steam shovel in 15 minuits there was
an explosion and that powder gang was blown up On the track
lines you could see parts of mans body Its an awful site to
see.
I was working on the Locks as Carpenter in Gatun. The
great big iron gates that i-as build in the Locks was done by
2 image0167.jpg
Lewis, J. A. p.2
contractors named of MoClentic Marshal; accidents were number-
less The walls of the Locks is 75 feet from top to bottom
The dirt and rocks that was taken out of the Canal some of
it was dumped in Balboa and some of it in Laboca'so a part of
La Boca and a part of Balboa is dump land
Fort Amador is dump land A part of the sea was dumped up
and becomes a regular road. Trucks oars train everything
travels on that road to the fort. I worked in Fort Amador in
the year 1937 carpenter.