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PANAMA CANAL MUSEUM
VOLUME 9 ISSUE 1
* American Association
* American Association
for State and Local
* Dun & Bradstreet
* Canal Zone Study
* Council of American
* Florida Association of
* Isthmian Collectors
* Leave a Legacy
* Panama Canal
* Panama National
Institute for Culture
* St. Petersburg
* Seminole Chamber of
* Sociedad de Amigos
del Museo Afro
* World Ocean
Grants and Sponsorships Help Fulfill the Museum's Mission
Over the past year the museum has been the recipient of three grant awards
totaling $27,069 from the Pinellas County Cultural Arts Department. As a result,
we have been able to expand our educational outreach programming to schools and
community organizations. Under the leadership of our Education Curator, Kalika
Novoa, we have been able to reach thousands of young people and seniors in our
community through special PowerPoint programs developed by museum staff and
offered by our trained lecturers.
These grants, along with generous sponsorships from museum members, have
also allowed us to develop the Panama Canal Museum in a Trunk lesson plans and
student activities. The trunks are available to teachers in seven school districts
around the U.S. so that new generations will have the opportunity to discover the
story of the Panama Canal as part of the American legacy to the world. Our staff
will also be conducting a teacher training day in some of the school districts where
the trunks have been placed.
Because these grants require a 50/50 cash match from the museum, donations
from museum members and friends are part of the life blood of the program. Won't
your family, friends or reunion class consider sponsoring a trunk (available for
$1,500) for a school or school district? Please contact Director Elizabeth Neily or
Education Curator Kalika Novoa.
Museum Issues Ten-Year Report
To signal the completion of the first ten years of operations, the museum has
compiled for its membership a ten-year report. The report highlights the significant
achievements and graphically captures some of the most important benchmarks
reflecting the progress that has been made by the museum during that period.
In order to minimize printing costs and postage, the report will be sent in an
upcoming eBlast to all members who have email addresses on file with the museum.
Those members for whom we do not have email addresses may submit a request in
writing or call the museum at (727) 394-9338.
Page 2 Panama Canal]Museum
Message from the President
In 2008, our tenth year of operation, we enjoyed our highest VI
level of income since the museum's inception ($161,927). This
was due, in large part, to a spike in dues and donations, strong
sales in our store and the success of our book of family histories,
the Write of Passage. However, we also experienced our highest .
level of expenses ($162,115), resulting in a very slight loss for
the year. While this loss may or may not signal a downward
trend, there is some cause for concern based on the state of the
economy and the prospect that, even if expenses stay steady,
income from dues, donations, store sales and other sources may
not be as easy to obtain this year as in the past.
One large donation of $25,000, from the Harry and
Mary Egolf Trust, and $17,500 in net proceeds from the
Write of Passage book were critical to our near break-even
result. We cannot always count on large one-time
donations or special fund-raising projects such as those, so we will have to be very prudent this year
in controlling our expenses.
Like many organizations trying to survive in these difficult economic times, the museum faces an
uncertain future; but we hope that the continuous support and generosity of our members will
continue, at least at prior years levels, and we on the board, the staff and volunteers will work even
harder to ensure that this important endeavor stays the course to preserve our American heritage.
We hope you enjoy this Spring issue of the Review in which we highlight the many events, activities
and people that your dues and donations help to support.
THE PANAMA CANAL MUSEUM MISSION AND VISION
The mission of the Panama Canal Museum is to document, interpret and articulate the role of the
United States in the history of Panama, with emphasis on the construction, operation, maintenance
and defense of the Panama Canal and the contributions to its success by people of all nationalities.
The vision of the Panama Canal Museum is to achieve national and international recognition as
the foremost source of historical information uniquely dedicated to documentation of the United
States' participation in the history of Panama.
Page 3 ..... j .Panama Canal Museum-
Board of Trustee Highlights
The Museum's Board of Trustees held its first meeting
of calendar year 2009 in March. The following actions
S The Museum has initiated discussions with the University of Florida regarding the possibility of
entering into a collaborative relationship with that institution. Janet Romero, Associate Director
of Development and Alumni Affairs, University of Florida International Center and Center for
Latin American Studies, briefed the board on the benefits and opportunities of partnering to ensure
the preservation of our collection. The board authorized the president to pursue this initiative with
=> The board received a written report from G. H. Repple Investment Advisor, Fred Bremer,
regarding the museum's investment portfolio. Through investing heavily in bonds, the museum's
investments were not significantly affected by the economic downturn and the portfolio remains
=> The board's strategic plan and major gifts initiative were reviewed as the board prepares to embark
on a significant fund-raising campaign.
S The museum's website upgrade is still in progress and is considered by the board to be a top
priority to get it back on line.
=> The museum's reunion exhibit theme, Flora and Fauna, will highlight the tropical paradise of
Panama and the Canal Zone.
= The Golden Frog 2009 ornament and the Flora and Fauna 2010 calendar were given the green light
by the board.
=> The board heard a report by Barbara Marshall, co-chair of the joint Panama Canal
Society/Panama Canal Museum cultural seminars to be held at the reunion this year.
=> The board authorized a review of the museum's donor recognition program, including a review of
existing categories of donor levels, in order to simplify the Wall of Honor and enhance current
efforts to recognize donors.
> The board heard reports on educational outreach, grants, fundraising cruises, the Write of Passage
book project, the museum store, membership and operational and administrative actions.
=> The board authorized the treasurer to begin negotiations to seek an extension of the museum's
4 Panama Canal Musm
.....*'" f-. f.-. .;:. :*.-': ."'. Wi. ",_
Museum Activities at the Panama Canal Society Reunion
The Panama Canal Museum always needs volunteers, but especially at the annual Panama
Canal Society Reunion, being held this year July 1st-5th at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in
Orlando. While you work in the museum's exhibit room (Gatlin A2-A3) or at a vending table in
the vendors' room, there will be others on duty to help with anything that needs doing. Most who
help have such a good time they request to work every year. Please let us know if you can be one of
our volunteers this year.
Museum Exhibit Brings Back Memories of "Paradise"
Remember all the beautiful flowers growing
right outside your door in the Canal Zone?
Remember all the fruits and vegetables
available just down the street at the Chinese
Gardens? No gardening tools or supplies, but
still we had beautiful colors, shapes, and
varieties all year round. Flowering trees and
orchids, colorful foliage and stand-alone
flowers, fence climbers and bushes; they were
all visible from the comfort of our homes.
As pretty as these were to our eyes, they
attracted the eyes of butterflies as well. Every
bit as colorful and almost as varied as the
flowers, "nature's angels" fluttered about our
Canal Zone homes and gardens. You can see
examples of all these and more in the Panama
Canal Museum exhibit at this year's Society
"Jungle Jon" will be displaying a portion of
his vast butterfly collection in the exhibit room
as well. Everybody has seen and
admired the Royal Blues but
have you ever seen the "Royal
Whites?" They will be on
display. Ever see a half male,
half female butterfly? It will be
on display. Want to see a
"Balboa High School" and
"Cristobal High School"
butterfly? See (and buy!) one
Remember Cristobal High School Coach
Palumbo's insect collection? A portion of his
"Jungle Critters" collection will be on display as
a tribute to his love of nature and skill at
presenting jungle science to his students.
Coconut and rhino beetles, tarantulas and
water bugs, grasshoppers and poison dart frogs;
you'll see them all.
And speaking of frogs, wait 'till you see our
display of Panama's golden frog. It will
complement the cultural seminar, led by
Dustin Smith, on the international effort to
save this and other amphibians.
We had fun in the jungles catching those
bugs, butterflies and other critters; but we had
fun in other ways too. Take a look back in time
with us and view pictures of the "good old days"
and the things we did and places we went to for
fun in the sun in the Zone.
Square trees and golden
frogs, giant bugs and beautiful
butterflies, flowering plants and
hanging orchids, black sand
beaches and blue marlin fishing;
all lend themselves to an exotic,
romantic, beautiful place we
once called home-the Panama
Canal Zone. Come visit the
museum exhibit and see our
tribute to a place we once called
Museum Activities at the Panama Canal Society Reunion
Silent Auction Tradition Continues
The museum will once again be holding a silent auction Thursday through Saturday at the reunion. Stop
by the Museum Exhibit Room to view and bid on the treasures until just before 5:00 PM on Saturday, when the
bidding stops and top bidders can claim and pay for their items. Paintings; old books; gift certificates; bateas;
and all kinds of Panama Canal, Canal Zone, and Panama memorabilia will be waiting to tempt you! If you
have some treasures to donate for the auction, please contact the museum.
Joint Panama Canal Society/Panama Canal Museum
Wekiwa 4-5, Level 2)
Friday, July 3rd, 2-4 p.m.
The Conservation of Golden Frogs and
Other Amphibians of Panama
Featured Speaker: Dustin Smith,
Zoological Supervisor of Amazon and
Beyond, Miami MetroZoo
Currently, there are approximately 200 species of
amphibians found in Panama. Unfortunately, their
populations are declining at a rapid rate. Many of
these species, like the Panamanian golden frog, are
found nowhere else in the world. During Dustin
Smith's recent trips to Panama, he has searched for
and found facilities in Panama willing to dedicate
land, time, and money to conserve these important
amphibians. More recently, as a deadly fungus
spreads through the land, numerous golden frogs
have been saved (www.projectgoldenfrog.org) and
delivered to the Panama facilities for conservation.
Dustin Smith will share highlights from his recent
trips with photos and video regarding the amphibian
decline and will also share his findings about other
interesting species of fauna that are found in
Saturday, July 4th, 2-3:30 p.m.
Write of Passage: Stories of the American
Era of the Panama Canal
Featured Speakers: Panama Canal
Come hear some of the 106 family histories
contained in this wonderful collection of personal
reflections of life in Panama and the former Canal
Zone during the American Era of the Panama
Canal from 1904 to 1999. Many of the stories
document early Panama Canal construction day
work, life and family experiences, and more than 40
of the Write of Passage stories reference a Roosevelt
Medal recipient. There are many family photos
contained in the book along with a 30-page
pictorial journey through the many decades of the
American Era and a special section that honors the
Roosevelt Medal holders and descendants
mentioned throughout the book. Speakers sharing
a glimpse of their family life at this cultural seminar
are unnamed at the time of this writing and will be
introduced during the seminar. You will surely
step back in time and reminisce!
Panama Canal Museum
Page 6 Panama Canal Museum
Museum Activities at the Panama Canal Society Reunion
Shop at the Museum's Vending Tables
Again this year, the Panama Canal Museum will be offering the high quality items that have become a
mainstay of our vending tables at the reunion. Some of the new items, like our 2009 golden frog collectible
ornament, and 2010 flora and fauna calendar, will carry out the flora and fauna theme of one of our exhibits
this year. Last year's plush golden frogs will return, and we'll also have a 500-piece Panamanian golden frog
jigsaw puzzle. We hope to have copies of our most recent bestseller, Write of Passage: Stories of the American
Era of the Panama Canal, containing the fascinating family stories of a number of our Zonian friends. We'll
also have our prize-winning cookbook-Opening the Gates to Canal Cuisine-as well as some other recently
published books, including The Canal Builders: Making America's Empire at the Panama Canal, by Julie
Greene, and Seaway to the Future: American Social Visions and the Construction of the Panama Canal, by
Alexander Missal. The popular Panama Fever, by Matthew Parker, is now available in paperback. Bateas,
mugs, tumblers, coasters, maps, hats, t-shirts-these are a few more of our "favorite things" we want you to be
sure to check out!
The Panama Canal Museum has compiled a large library of yearbooks from the
Canal Zone and DoDDS-Panama schools. The collection interests visitors who
attended these schools and their descendants. Others use the books for research,
planning class reunions, or obtaining photographs. Thank you to all who have
helped us build this collection and to those who may be able to help us now.
As with most of our library, we are hoping to obtain three copies of each book.
We could use donations of the following books to enable us to have at least one
copy of each yearbook:
Conquistador (Canal Zone Junior College, Canal Zone College, Panama Canal
College): 1950, 1951, and from 1972.
El Pacifico (Paraiso High School): 1962-1964, 1966
Zonian (Balboa High School): 1916-1919, 1923, 1937, 1965, 1988, 1999
Cougar's Pride (Curundu Junior High School, Curundu Middle School): 1975, 1977, 1980, 1992, 1997, 1998
Yearbooks from any of the elementary or Latin American schools; Canal Zone High School Gatun
Board Mebe Prfl Bob Zumbado: ~WrTR ~T
Robert F. Zumbado, born in San Jose, Costa
Rica, in 1936, lived in the Canal Zone from 1944 to
1955. His mother, Margaret Clark Wallace, worked
at the U.S. Embassy in Panama and his stepfather,
Alan S. Wallace, retired as a Panama Canal pilot in
1956. Bob, a 1955 graduate of Balboa High School
and The University of Florida in 1960, is a retired
U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant colonel and is
currently the Panama Canal Museum's exhibit
committee chairman. He has two daughters, Sandra
Z. Herbert, a special education teacher in Huber
Heights, OH, and Deborah L. Zumbado, the
controller for Surgical Information Systems in
In support of a dream of BHS '55 classmates and
lifelong friends, Chuck Hummer and Joe Wood, and
a small band of other loyal Zonians, Bob became a
founding member of the museum in July 1998.
Following the example of Lew Taber at the first
founder's meeting, Bob pledged $1,000 to help jump
start the museum project and has continued to be a
generous donor. Over the last ten years Bob has
handcrafted many wooden chivitas and Panama
clocks which, through raffling and auctioning, have
added to the museum's treasury. Other products of
Bob's handiwork are pedestals, display cases and
rolling carts upon which are mounted many of the
museum's artifacts on display. When asked, Bob said
that the thing for which he's most thankful to the
museum is the opportunity to establish and display
the Military Honor Roll to recognize and thank
Zonians for their military service to the country
Bob Zumbado is shown holding two items he has made for past
museum auctions and raffles: a clock in the shape of the isthmus of
Panama and a chiva.
during the American Era of the Panama Canal, 1904-
More than his own efforts in support of the
museum, Bob takes pride in the accomplishments of
his wife, Marguerite Neal Zumbado, BHS '54, and
good friend, Paul Glassburn, BHS '55, both of whom
he brought into the museum knowing they would
work tirelessly for the cause. Marguerite has
managed the silent auction for the last three years,
making it a major fund raising event and laying the
ground work for its continued success with a written
operating guide for future auctions. Paul, in addition
to serving as the museum's treasurer for seven years,
has played a major role in every facet of onsite
museum operations as well as Panama Canal
Museum reunion operations. Bob's biggest wish is
that all former Zonians would step forward and join
the museum to commemorate and preserve the rich
history of the United States in the Panama Canal.
The title of the Jozef J. Goethals book recently donated to the Panama Canal Museum is:
Goethals: 880-1900; The Story of the Goethals Story
An error in the title of the book appeared in the Fall/Winter issue of The Panama Canal Museum Review.
Voute Profil PeggyHf
Peggy's active affiliation with the Panama Canal
Museum began in 2006 when she organized a fund
raiser on Florida's east coast, now known as Space
Coast Bunco. She joined the
museum staff in the fall of 2007 as
editor of the Musings and the
following year accepted the
challenge of producing the
museum's biannual issue of the
Panama Canal Museum Review.
A Roosevelt Medal holder
descendant, Peggy was born in
Gorgas Hospital, Ancon, Canal
Zone, on October 19, 1950, to Hugh
and Anne Edwards Hale. As a child .
she lived in the Canal area towns of -' -. '
Gamboa, Diablo, La Boca and '
Margarita. She is a third generation
graduate of Cristobal High School; after graduating
in 1968, she attended Drake College in Fort
Lauderdale, FL, and Canal Zone College. In 1970 she
married Dennis Huff; they have one daughter, Diana
R. Grimison, and four grandchildren. As a housewife
and mother, Peggy enjoyed boating, bowling, and
volunteering in the community. She was active in the
Canal Zone civic council and scouting and was a
certified coach in the junior bowling program. She
received an associate of science degree from Panama
Canal College in 1984. In 1989, Peggy was a crew
member in the "Ultimate Most," which took first
place in the patch boat category in the ocean-to-
ocean cayuco race.
Peggy's professional career began in 1984 with
the Civil Engineering Squadron at Howard AFB. In
1988 she transferred to the Army where she worked
briefly for the maintenance division at Corozal before
being awarded a Department of Defense budget
analyst internship. As a journeyman analyst she
worked for United States Army South, specializing in
U.S. National Guard, Army Reserve and joint service
nation building training exercises in Central and
South America, managing budgets
in excess of six million dollars. As a
member of the USARSO Civil
Military Operations staff, she
organized fund raisers for
humanitarian relief programs in the
interior of Panama. Peggy especially
enjoyed flying in military helicopters
into areas where no roads existed to
deliver food, school supplies, sports
equipment and white elephant items
.. to needy interior families. She
7. terminated her government career
,- .- when U.S. forces left Panama.
Peggy and Dennis moved to
Merritt Island, FL, in 1999. She joined the Merritt
Island Woman's Club when she saw the club's "Keep
Brevard Beautiful" sign on the side of the road; she
participates with the club in "trash bash" events
throughout the county and is the club's treasurer.
She enjoys gourmet cooking, bowls and is a member
of two quilt guilds. As an EduQuilter, she was a
sewing buddy for a fifth grade class of beginning
quilters; especially rewarding was the enthusiasm
shown by the young men in the class. She donates
isolette quilts to neonatal units in Brevard County
hospitals and lap quilts to the Brevard Hospice
program. Peggy has won three blue ribbons in the
Florida Federation of Women's Clubs annual arts
competition for her needlework items.
Peggy enjoys the time that she has spent as a
Panama Canal Museum volunteer; especially her
involvement with the museum's book project, Write
of Passage, and to sponsoring the annual Space Coast
Bunco fund raiser.
,Panama Canal Museum
- -.. . :* :'* ._ ,; .. . ; -. -. "_ : i, -
Roosevelt Medal Descendants Show Up All Over the U.S.
The Williamsburg Farmer's Market in Williamsburg,
VA, was the recent meeting place for Pat Steiner Kearns,
Vice President, Panama Canal Museum, a volunteer at the
weekly farmer's market, and Fritz Wildt, a vendor, who
sells excellent bison meat he raises on his farm in Virginia.
Pat and Fritz began discussing Panama Canal
construction after Pat, a Roosevelt Medal holder
descendant, told Fritz that she would be attending a
Panama Canal Museum meeting the following week.
Fritz asked about the museum, telling Pat that he had an
uncle who worked on building the Canal. Within a few
weeks, Fritz brought a recently acquired medal to the
market to show Pat and see if it was an authentic
Roosevelt Medal. Fritz had recently inherited an old
chest of drawers from his aunt, and within the chest of
drawers he found the medal he is showing Pat in the
It was difficult to read but it was indeed a Roosevelt
Medal, No. 6997, and had been given to George C.
Thurgood for two years of service. George was married
to Agnes Travers (Fritz's aunt). Agnes was a member of
the Panama Canal Society for years and continued
membership when she lived in the U.S. After some
discussion, Pat provided Fritz with the name and address
of Dorn Thomas, our museum trustee who does extensive
research for members and produces the Roosevelt Medal
certificates we sell to family members. Dorn has been
very involved for years on this project, and his work is
appreciated by thousands of descendants of construction
The Roosevelt Medal was issued as a result of an
executive order dated June 23, 1907, by President
Theodore Roosevelt. It recognizes service by American
citizens on the canal project who completed at least two
years of satisfactory continuous service with the canal
construction force, including the Panama Railroad
Company, between May 4, 1904, and December 31, 1914.
Artist F.B. Millet, who died in the sinking of the RMS
Titanic, designed the Roosevelt Medal. It was struck in
bronze at the U.S. Mint, Philadelphia, PA, from dies
prepared by Victor B. Brenner of New York City. The
U.S. Congress approved a special appropriation to mint
Pat Steiner Kearns & Fritz Wildt with Roosevelt Medal.
the Roosevelt Medal. Of the 7,423 emblems struck, 7,391
were issued; the others were kept in reserve as
replacements for originals lost by the holders.
An inch and one-half in diameter, the obverse of the
medal features a reproduction of a three-quarter bust of
President Roosevelt, sculptured by Millet, with the
inscription around the border: "FOR TWO YEARS
CONTINUOUS SERVICE ON THE PANAMA CANAL."
On the reverse there is a bird's-eye view of Gaillard Cut,
with steamers passing between Gold Hill and Contractor's
Hill. The now familiar Canal Zone motto "THE LAND
DIVIDED, THE WORLD UNITED" is inscribed on the
horizon. The legend "Presented by the President of the
United States" is around the border, and on the bottom
the coat of arms of the Republic of Panama and the name
of the recipient are imprinted.
Panama Canal Museum
Red, White and Blue Champions
In January of this year, the museum received a letter from
Jeanne Stough, asking if it could locate a documentary film that
was made by a Hollywood film crew that went to Panama in the
late 1930's. The film showcased Henry J. Grieser's Red, White
and Blue Troupe-the world famous swimming teams from the
Canal Zone that entertained troops and VIP's who visited
Panama prior to WWII. Previous efforts over the years to obtain
a copy of this film never produced results.
Jeanne remembers seeing the film and mentioned that it
featured troupe members diving off the booms of the giant
cranes and off the locks walls in the Canal. Upon receipt of this
request, the museum team sprang into action and, after some
extensive and dedicated research, beginning with Google and
following up with the Library of Congress, UCLA's Television
and Film Archive and Paramount Pictures, the film was finally
The Library of Congress was the first to respond. It did not
have the film, but sent us the Dialogue of the Red, White and
Blue Champions, produced in 1938 by Grantland Rice for his
GRS Sportlights Series. It is reprinted in this issue for the
enjoyment of our readers. The Library stated that the actual film
is housed in the UCLA Television and Film Archive.
We then contacted the Archive and were told that while
they do have the film, Paramount Pictures owns the copyright
and would have to give UCLA permission to reproduce it.
Assuming permission is granted, the film would have to be
transferred from film to tape at a cost of $400 plus dubbing
charges. At the time of this writing, Paramount had not yet
responded. However, unbeknownst to Jeanne Stough and the
Museum, Jeanne's cousin, Jim Kenealy, after learning of its
whereabouts, surprised everyone by obtaining a copy of the film
from UCLA! A great ending to the saga of the missing film, and
we are grateful to Jim for making this happen.
Jeanne, whose sisters, Babe and Sissy, were members of the
troupe, says, "I swam in many of Coach Grieser's formations,
but was never good enough to be awarded that prized RW&B
patch." Some of the members of the RW&B Troupe, including
many who appeared in the film, were Eddie and Jim Albin;
Willie Allen; Ted Bailey; Wallace Baldwin; Ruth and Kelly
Bauman; Roy Boggs; Elaine Bohan; Dollie Bowen; Alice
Brayton; Henry and Mateel Brewerton; Jim Bunker; Bill
Burge; Caleb Clement; Tom Connors; Al Cooper; Mike
Dailey; Jim DesLondes; Paul Disharoon; David "Dabby"
Dixon; James Dodson; Rita Driscoll; Helen and Marni
Dryden; Virginia "Tede" and Lorna Duff; Roy Dwelle; Clyde
Ellis; Florence Ferguson; Marguerite (Babe) and Marilyn
(Sissy) Flynn; Genevieve Foley; John Foley; Alan Ford; Helen
Fuller; Mary Alice Garcia; Issy Gibson; Betty Golden; Larry
Golden; Harry Granberry; William H. Grant; Pete Green;
Richard "Dick" Grimison; Betty Haldeman; Gayle Haldeman;
George Haldeman; Joyce Haldeman; Tharon Haldeman; Bill
Hall; Hayden Hern; Elizabeth Hirsh; June Holcomb; Bill
Hollowell; Vera Howell; Audrey Hudson; Helene Hudson;
Vonna Hambelton Huldtquist; Jack Humphrey; Ellen Foley
Husum; P. Bill Hutchings; Roberta "Bobby" Jacques; Charles
Jackson; Thomas Jacome; Jim Kenealy; Dot Kalar Kennedy;
Angela Klemmer; Anna Knapp; Mary Leach; Pat Leach;
Barbara LeBrun; Mary Jo Lowe; Joe Ludlum; Libby Lundy;
Opal Lundy; Alma Mann; Billie Bowen Martin; Emily
McGahhey; Adrienne Muller; Earl Mullins; Bob O'Donnell;
Evelyn Pearl; Clarence Peterson; Lucille Pierce; Howard
Ploesell; Norine Rathgeber; Helen Reynolds; Jeanne Rocker;
Tom Roth; August "Augie" Schwindeman; Bert Shelton;
Virginia Stamme; Betty Brooks Stergion; Ed Sullivan; Alice
Taber; Cito Towery; Henrietta Wilson Trickk; Emma
VanClief; Helen Van Clief; Frances Farrell Viglielmo; Harry
Walbridge; Jack and Mack Walbridge; Phydillis Walbridge;
Bill Wedwaldt; George Whaler; Peggy White; Gene White;
Eddie Wood; Carol Russon Wright; Andy Van Siclen; Peggy
White; Frances Brown Whitlock; Mary Sullivan Young; Billy,
Phyllis and Isabelle Zemer.
Over the years other Canal Zone swimmers and divers were
part of Coach Grieser's teams: Richard DeTore, the father of
museum trustee Gerry DeTore, who celebrates his 100th
birthday in August, remembers swimming with Eddie Wood
and against Johnnie Weismuller. He was on a relay team of
Red, White and Blue Troupe members that lost an exhibition
race to "Tarzan," who swam all four legs himself
Perhaps the most famous of the troupe members was Alan
Ford, who will always be known as the swimmer who finally
broke Weismuller's 16 year-old record in the 100 yard freestyle,
clocking 50.6 to Weismuller's 51 flat. Thirteen months later, on
March 18, 1944, Ford gained immortality by becoming the first
man in the world to swim 100 yards in under 50 seconds.
"He never wrote me to congratulate me or made an effort to
meet me," Ford said in an interview last year with Bruce Wigo,
the chief executive of the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
"The only time I spoke to him since meeting him in the Canal
Zone when I was a kid was when I was inducted in 1966. When
I was introduced, someone let out a loud 'Boo!' It was
Weismuller. Everyone laughed when they saw who it was. But
I'm not sure he was joking."
Ford passed away on November 3, 2008.
Donors who have made gifts to the museum as a tribute to
his memory include 222 Slim's, Margaret Bivin, Michael and
Katharine Bowlus, Constance Breidenbach, Thomas and
Marie Cruisinberry, George and Nancy Ehrman, Malcolm and
Marilyn Foster, Catherine and Ronald Gogas, Walter and
Louise Griggs, Arthur and Ruth Haas, Roy and Dot Kennedy,
Marjorie McNair, Gertrude Miegel, Carroll and Virginia
Wilson, and Virginia Yeager.
The museum is interested in knowing the names of any
other members of the Red, White and Blue Troupe. Any
information you may have will be greatly appreciated.
Photographs are also welcome as we try to capture the history of
this magnificent group of Canal Zone swimmers.
Dialogue: Red, White and Blue Champions
MAY 23, 1938
Hello everyone. This is Ted Husing away down in
Panama where we proudly present the famed Red, White and
Blue aquatic troupe of the Canal Zone. A most unique
organization of swimming and diving stars developed by their
noted coach and director Henry Greiser. First we take the
small tots all under six years of age. Sons and daughters from
Army, Navy and civilian homes in the Panama Canal Zone.
Coach Greiser banishes water fear by having them splash their
faces, blow bubbles and stick their hands under water and
soon they have unconsciously learned the first requisite of a
good swimmer-proper water breathing. There are two
reasons for the splendid showing of these amphibians in the
Canal Zone. The abundance of year round warm water and
their remarkable coach who for twenty years has been taking
kiddies right from the nursery to the diving board.
Here comes three year old Dabby Dixon, master of fancy
and assorted leaps. He has his own ideas and his own
springboard. What a man! Good splashing Dabby. Young
man I think you're going places. Those older girls of five and
six are much further advanced. That's a nice somersault!
Don't push sister. Jump! These kids are supervised and
watched but not instructed. They build up their own
confidence. With this confidence and spirit a coach can turn
out champions in factory lots. Just like a lot of water bugs and
they help each other to the ladder. A double dive is tried. Not
bad for six year olds. From so much swimming they take on
the characteristics of a lot of frogs. When eight years of age
they're ready for the higher platform and what's more they
love it. Nice dive kiddies-thanks! Now for the older boys
and girls who use the entire Panama Canal for their
swimming and diving playground.
The spillwater over Madden Dam is a pleasing place to
start the day. The famous Culebra Cut which was dug
through the continental divide, the backbone connecting
North and South America. When a giant ocean liner passes
through these youngsters like a lot of porpoises, love to
measure strokes with the seagoing greyhound. Uncle Sam has
huge cranes, derricks and dredges always available for any
emergency to keep the canal open. This million dollar crane
makes a perfect diving platform with elevations varying from
forty to sixty feet. Not much like the old swimming hole but
for that matter these youngsters are not like the boys and girls
of Grandma's day-they're twentieth Century dolphins and
mermaids. Real aquatic stars. Not a pay load but a pretty
shovelful. The giant bucket can scoop twenty-five tons at a
time from the bottom, which is sixty feet below the surface. It
is always ready-team up-to dig in where some new
landslide may endanger blocking the channel. The water
nymphs seem never to tire trying old dives from new places.
The fascination of watching the ships go thru the locks is
no novelty to these girls. They have different ideas. A cruise
ship means fun so they scamper along the side of the locks to
where a boat is tied up and then by mass attack overcome
some good-natured ship's officer and get a hitch-hike thru the
canal. It's not the boat ride the girls want but a little water fun
in the ship's swimming pool. Sort of a busman's holiday. As
this South American liner passes from the West Coast to the
East Coast the girls folic and amuse the passengers.
The chambers of the giant Pedro Miguel locks make a
perfect swimming pool. A great spot for practicing team
swimming with a 1000 yard straightaway and a width of 110
feet. They won't scrape bottom as it's eighty feet deep. The
twin brothers, Jack and Mack Wallbridge, are the troupe's
fastest swimmers. These lads are only in their teens but you're
going to hear a lot more about these speedboys because
they're coming champions. It makes little difference which
wins because you couldn't tell them apart anyhow. The
powerful electric mules that haul the giant liners thru the
locks make perfect moving platforms. Looks like a lot of
sport. Atop the rivet-studded gate of Pedro Miguel Lock.
This holds back a fifty foot wall of water measuring four
million cubic feet. It makes a perfect platform for the divers
of the troupe. Where could you beat this? The gate is steady
as a rock-fifty feet of air to fly through and sixty feet of water
before you strike bottom. Now a perfect jack-knife dive. A
one and a half takes more than ability. It takes a whale of a lot
Here's a pretty mermaid in a pretty back flip. A twin
swan by two daring misses. We repeat in slow motion and
look at their shadows on the lock. It looks mighty high but it's
too late to change your minds girls-you'd better go on. Only
high school girls but at fancy diving they are post graduates.
Flight diving in the beautiful now modernistic pool of the
Panama government. A flight execution of the difficult one
and a half. Almost every celebrity who has ever visited
Panama has been entertained by this remarkable troupe of
aquatic youngsters. Wouldn't you be? Their swan song is the
swan dive. So long girls-see you at the next Olympics.
On February 25, 2009, the Panama Canal Museum presented a Museum in a Trunk to the
Hillsborough, FL, school district. The trunk was placed at Liberty Middle School, which has a strong
social studies department. The District's social studies supervisor, Martha Ford, who made the site
selection, lived in the Canal Zone, attended Balboa
Elementary, and even participated in the cayuco races.
Additionally, James Ammirati, the principal of Liberty
S- Middle School, is the son of Frank Ammirati, who grew up
Lin the Canal Zone. James's mother also happens to be a
principal in the Hillsborough County School District.
Kalika Novoa, Education Curator, and Elizabeth Neilly,
Director, made the presentation to the school. They were
Pictured left to right: Phil Cagno, Liberty Middle School Social Studies delightfully surprised with the presence of two eighth grade
Department Head; Kalika Novoa, Panama Canal Museum Education classes led by U.S. history teacher, Simon Meshbesher.
Curator; James Ammirati, Liberty Middle School Principal; and Martha
Ford, Hillsborough County Schools Social Studies Supervisor. Kalika talked to the students about the contents of the trunk
and how to use them. Then the students gathered to have their picture taken holding items from the
trunk that interested them.
The trunk sponsor was an anonymous donor to the Panama Canal Museum.
Change Made in 2010 Panama Canal Museum Cruise Plans
Plans for the 2010 museum fundraising cruise to the Caribbean
and Panama have changed-for the better, of course! The original -
plans were canceled by the cruise line, and now we will be cruising on
Celebrity's new ship, Equinox (scheduled to debut in August 2009).
Fine dining, magnificent venues, spacious staterooms, and award-
winning service are promised on this 11-night cruise, which leaves
from Fort Lauderdale on January 25, 2010. A special excursion is being planned in Panama. We hope
you'll study the flyer enclosed in our spring mailing and join us for this memorable cruise. For every
cabin we reserve, Travel Leaders will donate $100 to the Panama Canal Museum. Please call the
museum or Travel Leaders (1-888-652-1365) for more information.
Museum Receives Original Al Sprague Painting
Recently, the Panama Canal Museum received a donation of an Al Sprague original painting of the
Tivoli Hotel. Although the museum has a number of his prints, receiving an original painting is very
When the donor, Katherine Lessiack, of
Kerrville, TX, gave the painting to the museum,
she related how she and her husband, the late
Robert Lessiack, happened to have that painting.
It originally hung in the Washington, DC, office of
the Panama Canal Company, which was
responsible for representing the Canal's interests
in legislative, financial and political matters in
dealings with Congress, the White House, the State
Department, the Pentagon and other U.S.
agencies. Bob's work as budget officer for the
Panama Canal Company in the Canal Zone would
take him to Washington on business once or twice a year. While there, he would visit the PCC
Washington office and always admire the Al Sprague painting of the Tivoli Hotel.
In 1975, as Bob was about to retire as deputy comptroller with 30 years of PCC service, he went to
work at his office at the Administration Building in Balboa Heights and was greeted by Bitsy Frensley
Atkinson, telling him that she was glad he was there as Hazel Murdock, the assistant to the secretary
(Merrill Whitman) at the Washington office, had arranged to call him when he was expected to be in
the office. The call came through, and Hazel told Bob that since he had always been so interested in
and appreciative of the Al Sprague painting of the Tivoli Hotel there in the Washington office, she was
going to give it to him as a retirement present. Because Bob and Katherine (who also worked for the
Panama Canal Company doing budget and other work for the Personnel Bureau and Executive
Planning Staff) were still planning where they would settle after retirement, it was about a year later
that the painting was sent from Washington, DC, to their home in Kerrville, Texas.
Unfortunately, Bob passed away in 1983, but the painting remained there in their home with
Katherine until just a few months ago. At that time Katherine decided: "The best place for the
painting is at the Panama Canal Museum." All who have seen the painting since its arrival at the
museum agree wholeheartedly with her good judgment! Thank you so much, Katherine, for donating
the painting and telling us a little of its history.
Attendees Enjoy Museum's Annual Pot Luck Luncheon
grandchildren and Diane
children with their friend:
Kristle, Tim, and
Michelle Pearson with
Nick Dowell. They were a
wonderful help with
anything that needed
Treasurer Paul Glassburn and Frank Leves, a recent spon-
sor of a Panama Canal Museum in a Trunk, look pleased
with the state of the museum--or maybe it's the delicious
luncheon that spurred the smiles!
Barbara Peterson, the
museum's Secretary, giving out
tickets for the drawings.
Cheryl Peterson Russell and her sister, Jayne Peterson
Owens, have a chance to visit with Marian Evans
Blair, whom they knew in the Canal Zone years ago.
At the potluck luncheon, Gerry DeTore, Dick Cunningham, Paul
Glassburn, and Mario Calleja adjourn to Mario's trailer for a few
minutes to discuss plans for making it easier to load, transport,
and unload everything the museum takes to the Reunion each year
in the trailer. The modular units Mario is planning intrigued the
others, and more good ideas surfaced in the discussion.
Mickey Walker Fitzgerald, Emily Bliss, Carole Walker Miller, and Kathy Egolf
are pleased with the special presentation of a Panama Canal Society Roosevelt
Medal pin that they arranged for the museum to present to Mickey and Carol's
Aunt Emily. Emily is the widow of Curtis Bliss, who was the son of Roosevelt
Medal holder, Gerald DeLeo Bliss, Sr., Postmaster in the Canal Zone, 1905-1934.
February 14, the day of the potluck lunch, was also Curt and Emily's anniversary,
and the date that Curt passed away in 2005. At the luncheon Mickey, Emily, and
Carole each told a bit of their family history as part of the Write of Passage
Faith Brundage, Muriel Whitman, Frank Scruggs, and Director
Elizabeth Neily pause for the photographer.
Space Coast Panazonians Sponsor Annual Museum Fund Raiser
Space Coast Bunco, an annual fund raiser for the Panama
Canal Museum, was held at the Dog 'n Bone Pub in Cocoa
Village, FL, on April 18th. Thirty-six players attended and
enjoyed an afternoon of fast paced competition. Five new
players joined the group-Amber Lugering, Bob and Jeanne
Rupp, Judi McCollough, and Suzie Burke. Eight players
were recognized as original group members, having attended -
every year since the group began playing in 2006.
This year's Space Coast Panazonian donation to the
museum puts their total at over $3,300; they are in their third Pictured above: Suzie Burke, Jim Reid, Amber Lugering, Melinda
Niemeyer, Wanda Ewell, Pam Reid, Joan McCollough, Judi
transit on the Museum's Wall of Honor. McCollough, Kay Hamilton and Christina Volonnino.
A sandwich sale, sponsored by PALS (Panama Amigos Lending Support), was held in conjunction with
Space Coast Bunco IV, to support the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life.
SCB IV champions are Nikki Meyer, Connie Stoakley,
Sheryl Alberga and Jeanne Rupp. Runners-up were Pam and
Jim Reid, Wanda Ewell and Peggy Huff. Bunco awards went
to Louise Hunt, Nikki Meyer, Janet Watkins, Leanne
Watkins, Bob Rupp, Richard Lemon, Suzie Burke and Jim
Reid. Winning the award for traveling the farthest to attend
the event was museum volunteer Judi McCollough. The
50/50 opportunity drawing was won by Suzie Burke. Door
prizes donated by Joe and Bev Wood, Kathy Egolf, and an
Nikki Meyer, Connie Stoakley, Sheryl Alberga, Jeanne Rupp anonymous donor were won by Judi McCollough, Leanne
Watkins, Amber Lugering, Suzie Burke, Edie Willoughby and Jerri Farnsworth.
Richard Lemon (left), owner of the Dog 'n Bone Pub and our event
host, waits his turn while Jim Reid (right) counts the scoring dice for
Judi McCollough, Tinker Cooper and Sue Fisher
Space Coast Bunco V is scheduled for April 17, 2010
Joan De Grummond
Tina Cartotto Ressa
Ormond Beach, Florida
Mickey Walker Fitzgerald
Barbara Egolf Dedeaux
Tampa Bay, Florida
Dan & Pat Nellis
chdarwin9581 @toast net
Gdavis l @comcast.net
Marilynn Abreau Stevens
Collections Committee Request
The museum's collection has
experienced such growth in the first ten
years of our operation that storage space
is now at a premium. Consequently, we
are asking that donations to the
collection be limited to historically
significant items, such as artifacts from
the construction period, original
documents, unique photos, hardware
manufactured exclusively for canal
operations, rare publications, etc. If in
doubt about an item's historical value
when you are considering donating one
or more to the museum, please contact
the museum with a brief description of
the items you'd like to donate.
PANAMA CANAL MUSEUM
7985 113th Street, Suite 100
Seminole, Florida 33772
Monday-Saturday 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
This newsletter is published by the Panama Canal Museum for
its members, donors and benefactors. Additional copies can be
obtained by writing or mailing the Museum. The Museum is
staffed by a museum director, two part-time clerical assistants
and volunteers who graciously donate their time and skills to
carry on the work of the Museum. We acknowledge and thank
our many benefactors, donors, volunteers and friends who
continue to assist this important project.
Board of Trustees
Charles W. Hummer, Jr
Joseph J. Wood
Patricia Steiner Kearns
Executive Vice President
Katherine E. Egolf
Barbara D. Peterson
Paul D. Glassburn
Buildings & Facilities
Robert F. Zumbado
Finance & Development
J. Patrick Coffey
Richard D. Morgan
Frank Stevens Hawks
Robert J. Karrer, Jr.
Paul Morgan, Ph.D.
J. Dorn Thomas
Board of Advisors
Robert K. Dawson
William R. Gianelli
Thomas R. Goethals
Walter P. Leber
D. P. McAuliffe