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:
AA00016037:00091


This item is only available as the following downloads:


Full Text






Prescod, John F.; (DA4833); Hous 11, F.oom 10; 12 Street;
Rio Abajo F.L., P.P.


I came from Basrbadcos B':,I June 1906 on a boat call the
Solon. They put me off at TabcrniD La. Go to work on the dump
at 10 per hour The boss name ;r. Culter.
1907 was in Obispo cut working at the steam shovel in
rmud and water Cne pair boot last : 6 cne day In the after-
noon walk to the camp bear foot At Obispo boss name Mr.
Billing.
1903 work in the drilling cgan in Empire cut as drill
runner at 10 cent per hour I work in Laccascadas cut Cule-
bra cut Boss name .Ar. Tihitehead Plenty malaria fever Drink
plenty wine tonic Work in all the ctt from 1906 to 1914.
Drill in Obispo cut Boscs ay take machine out lay them down
side the track line Canal finish October month 1908 to of
the worst accidents of the construction period five men were
killed eijht injured w-en a tooth of a shovel working in the
cut near Empire struck the cap of an unexploded charge of
dynamite. Two days later lightning was blamed for setting off
blast in some of the 154 hole which had been packed with dyn-
amite ready for blasting n.e:r Mindi, seven men wer killed
10 others hurt, a id one was missing as the result of this
explosion
Big boil's yTr. Hlac'on w;ay who the hell tell you to put that
machine up there take it down Canal his finish. I say what
the hell I c.m g:olng to do now no money only the pay check
that coming now one man in the gang eating flour dumplin
drop out of cls mouth what sir'. the canal finish I have
no money.
On October 22-1913 Cuc:.racha slide on the east side of
the cut bon;:... lint the Canal Record described as the most
rapid movo.n nt of a: Inrge mass of earth that has yet been
experienced in the exc:-.vo.tion of Culebra cut.
The toe of the olide advanced 75 feet in 0O minutes,
carrying awAy .1ll four of the construstion tracts on the east
side of the cut, thus i ,mobilizing 16 Lidgerwood flatcar two
locomotives :an t.ao stcam novel
At 7:10 A: Ab An. ust 15, 1911 the G.S. Ancon slipped from
its berth Fier 9 in Cristcbz.l to egoin the Canal transit.
Aboard the ship were ro:ue 200 guest Including the iTesident
of l-.nama and quantity of c'-.rgo dor dispatch at Balboa
Nine hours and 00 minutes later the Ancon had reached
the end of the channel at halbon. and the Panama Canal was
officially one to world co i:erce.
May 191-3 was drilling Empire cut in a difficult place
has to tie rope around my waist for safety. Another gang near











Prescod, J/ F. p.2


Culebra cut was drilling 3 hour. Could not set up one
machine due to rock falling down on them. General foremen
came to spot say your ,:ll dout started up yet no boss rock
falling down un us.
Say if I go up ,nd set up a drill God dam it I going
to fire the whole bunch of you I am sorry to say sad acci-
dents occur that wa in L;ay 1913 Rock fall from the bank
knock Mr. Swinehsart do.-wn in the canal liPt him on a flatcar
rush him to Ancon Hosopital dic the sane day.
Maloria fever have me so bad I has to drink plenty of
quine tonic tell I hard singing in my ears murder murder
going to quits drinking quine was getting me deaf.
March 1907 a slid .at Culebra carried away a few houses,
a shop, and the old K.'ashington Hiuuoe. The first death sen-
tence pronounced by LA;:er;'can officials .:as passed on Adolphus
Coulson, a 'east indiean convicted of' poisoning his wife.
Living In camp the man dont like it At 7:00 All the
watchman at the camp say the sick and lame outside some men
take to the bush build zhb shanty out dynamite boxo.
One of men leave the camp go the bush in andinga to
sleep 12 b(clock midni-iht .iloice knock at the roon door open
the door go in you married no come one put yor chose un
to to jail in the morning court h':use at. Empire judge say
you married no air 12 midnight too late to go sir I live
in the camp judge say don't s.ay ca.;p :;ay quarters I go for
my pot The court laught too late for that. 10 aend the
woman $10.00.
I give crc-dit tc; the Ai erican Go :,o war in Culebra out
go to war with the malara fever yellow fever and the mosquit
and bad wator Ilan w,-all: the cut Lo give us quinie tonic to
drink every day.
June 1906 Jolon ".,was: filthy the vt ieet nothing but mud.
Dogie go down to ai:- in ;,ud. Tha-;king you for your consid-
eration excuse the -mritin. nlc^vc my -and dance around.


J C-AN I 'pE, fSCCD




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 ESU0ZHMDY_XBLQYD INGEST_TIME 2013-07-23T21:27:29Z PACKAGE AA00016037_00091
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/AA00016037/00091
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 2014-01-21 TEI auto-generated from digital resource
text
body
div type Main
pb n 1 facs image0013.jpg
Prescod, John F.; (DA4833); Hous 11, F.oom 10; 12 Street;
Rio Abajo F.L., P.P.
I came from Basrbadcos B':,I June 1906 on a boat call the
Solon. They put me off at TabcrniD La. Go to work on the dump
at 10 per hour The boss name ;r. Culter.
1907 was in Obispo cut working at the steam shovel in
rmud and water Cne pair boot last : 6 cne day In the after-
noon walk to the camp bear foot At Obispo boss name Mr.
Billing.
1903 work in the drilling cgan in Empire cut as drill
runner at 10 cent per hour I work in Laccascadas cut Cule-
bra cut Boss name .Ar. Tihitehead Plenty malaria fever Drink
plenty wine tonic Work in all the ctt from 1906 to 1914.
Drill in Obispo cut Boscs ay take machine out lay them down
side the track line Canal finish October month 1908 to of
the worst accidents of the construction period five men were
killed eijht injured w-en a tooth of a shovel working in the
cut near Empire struck the cap of an unexploded charge of
dynamite. Two days later lightning was blamed for setting off
blast in some of the 154 hole which had been packed with dyn-
amite ready for blasting n.e:r Mindi, seven men wer killed
10 others hurt, a id one was missing as the result of this
explosion
Big boil's yTr. Hlac'on w;ay who the hell tell you to put that
machine up there take it down Canal his finish. I say what
the hell I c.m g:olng to do now no money only the pay check
that coming now one man in the gang eating flour dumplin
drop out of cls mouth what sir'. the canal finish I have
no money.
On October 22-1913 Cuc:.racha slide on the east side of
the cut bon;:... lint the Canal Record described as the most
rapid movo.n nt of a: Inrge mass of earth that has yet been
experienced in the exc:-.vo.tion of Culebra cut.
The toe of the olide advanced 75 feet in 0O minutes,
carrying awAy .1ll four of the construstion tracts on the east
side of the cut, thus i ,mobilizing 16 Lidgerwood flatcar two
locomotives :an t.ao stcam novel
At 7:10 A: Ab An. ust 15, 1911 the G.S. Ancon slipped from
its berth Fier 9 in Cristcbz.l to egoin the Canal transit.
Aboard the ship were ro:ue 200 guest Including the iTesident
of l-.nama and quantity of c'-.rgo dor dispatch at Balboa
Nine hours and 00 minutes later the Ancon had reached
the end of the channel at halbon. and the Panama Canal was
officially one to world co i:erce.
May 191-3 was drilling Empire cut in a difficult place
has to tie rope around my waist for safety. Another gang near
2 image0014.jpg
Prescod, J/ F. p.2
Culebra cut was drilling 3 hour. Could not set up one
machine due to rock falling down on them. General foremen
came to spot say your ,:ll dout started up yet no boss rock
falling down un us.
Say if I go up ,nd set up a drill God dam it I going
to fire the whole bunch of you I am sorry to say sad acci-
dents occur that wa in L;ay 1913 Rock fall from the bank
knock Mr. Swinehsart do.-wn in the canal liPt him on a flatcar
rush him to Ancon Hosopital dic the sane day.
Maloria fever have me so bad I has to drink plenty of
quine tonic tell I hard singing in my ears murder murder
going to quits drinking quine was getting me deaf.
March 1907 a slid .at Culebra carried away a few houses,
a shop, and the old K.'ashington Hiuuoe. The first death sen-
tence pronounced by LA;:er;'can officials .:as passed on Adolphus
Coulson, a 'east indiean convicted of' poisoning his wife.
Living In camp the man dont like it At 7:00 All the
watchman at the camp say the sick and lame outside some men
take to the bush build zhb shanty out dynamite boxo.
One of men leave the camp go the bush in andinga to
sleep 12 b(clock midni-iht .iloice knock at the roon door open
the door go in you married no come one put yor chose un
to to jail in the morning court h':use at. Empire judge say
you married no air 12 midnight too late to go sir I live
in the camp judge say don't s.ay ca.;p :;ay quarters I go for
my pot The court laught too late for that. 10 aend the
woman $10.00.
I give crc-dit tc; the Ai erican Go :,o war in Culebra out
go to war with the malara fever yellow fever and the mosquit
and bad wator Ilan w,-all: the cut Lo give us quinie tonic to
drink every day.
June 1906 Jolon ".,was: filthy the vt ieet nothing but mud.
Dogie go down to ai:- in ;,ud. Tha-;king you for your consid-
eration excuse the -mritin. nlc^vc my -and dance around.
J C-AN I 'pE, fSCCD