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:
AA00016037:00097


This item is only available as the following downloads:


Full Text











Ruiz, Obdulio; 4th St., Amador Guerrero Ave., House #3026,
Room 20, Colon, R.P.



I arrived in Panama in 1910, I went to Pedro Miguel and
started to work as a laborer (pick and shovel) with one Mr.
Walker; from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 P.M. I lived in the I.C.C.
camp, about 150 men, slept in a canvas bunk, at times I passed
a good night, and other nights the laborers kept useless noise
playing cards, etc. etc.

I worked very hard, and my salary was only 13 cents per
hour, there was a kitchen close by where I took my meals, the
food was fairly good and clean, and I always had a belly-full.
The laborers in general were all well-behaved; of course on
account of. the strict laws and constant vigilance of the police.
officers.

A year later I was transferred to Miraflores as a car-
penter helper; I had an accident whilst working, a piece of
steel fell on my big toe, and was sent to Ancon Hospital,there
I remained three months; thanks to the food and kind help of
the American doctors.

I then returned to Pedro Miguel, and the boss sent me to
a material bodega to work on account of my sickness.

There was plenty of rain in those days, at times I worked
with wet clothes, malaria fever was very common, and several
laborers died; the doctors gave me liquid quinine about three
times a week to stop the fever. In general, I have to thank
the American Government, for I had a clean place to sleep,
fairly good food; and a good hospital to rest when sick and
kind and competent doctors to deal with at all times.

The above-written are my experiences and working and
living condition during those days.

i.espectfully yours,
CBDULIO FPIZ




Full Text
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/AA00016037/00097
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 2014-07-22 TEI auto-generated from digital resource
text
body
div type Main
pb n 1 facs image0024.jpg
Ruiz, Obdulio; 4th St., Amador Guerrero Ave., House #3026,
Room 20, Colon, R.P.
I arrived in Panama in 1910, I went to Pedro Miguel and
started to work as a laborer (pick and shovel) with one Mr.
Walker; from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 P.M. I lived in the I.C.C.
camp, about 150 men, slept in a canvas bunk, at times I passed
a good night, and other nights the laborers kept useless noise
playing cards, etc. etc.
I worked very hard, and my salary was only 13 cents per
hour, there was a kitchen close by where I took my meals, the
food was fairly good and clean, and I always had a belly-full.
The laborers in general were all well-behaved; of course on
account of. the strict laws and constant vigilance of the police.
officers.
A year later I was transferred to Miraflores as a car-
penter helper; I had an accident whilst working, a piece of
steel fell on my big toe, and was sent to Ancon Hospital,there
I remained three months; thanks to the food and kind help of
the American doctors.
I then returned to Pedro Miguel, and the boss sent me to
a material bodega to work on account of my sickness.
There was plenty of rain in those days, at times I worked
with wet clothes, malaria fever was very common, and several
laborers died; the doctors gave me liquid quinine about three
times a week to stop the fever. In general, I have to thank
the American Government, for I had a clean place to sleep,
fairly good food; and a good hospital to rest when sick and
kind and competent doctors to deal with at all times.
The above-written are my experiences and working and
living condition during those days.
i.espectfully yours,
CBDULIO FPIZ


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 EWEGWM40E_7RYQTD INGEST_TIME 2013-07-23T22:01:08Z PACKAGE AA00016037_00097
AGREEMENT_INFO ACCOUNT UF PROJECT UFDC
FILES