An interview with the Dolan Family


Material Information

An interview with the Dolan Family
Physical Description:
81 minutes
Dolan Family
Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Panama Canal


General Note:
Bonnie Dairs-Dolan, Edward Dolan, Karen Dolan Bapp
General Note:
Interviewed by Candice Ellis and Amanda Noll

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
PCM 003 Dolan Family 7-1-2010
PCM 003
System ID:

Full Text


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 or call the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program office at 352 392 7168. October 2013


PCM 003 Interviewees: Bonnie Davis Dolan, Karen Dolan Back, Edward Dolan Interviewers: Candice Ellis and Amanda Noll Date: July 1, 2010 CE: N: Amanda Noll. CE: -interviewing families from the Panama Canal Zone. If you guys want to BD: Bonnie Davis Dolan. KD: Karen Dolan Back. ED: And Edward Dolan. CE: You had started telling us that you both were in the Canal Zone, and this is your ED: construction of the canal. So, you go ahead. BD: Well, my grandfather in 190 7 was a veteran of the Spanish American War, and he was hired by President Roosevelt with his job in the Canal Zone as a policeman. He had been writing to my grandmother she was thirteen as a pen pal. He was so excited about the job, and thought if he didn and go down to Panama, he would lose the job, the position would be filled. So


PCM 003; Dolan family; Page 2 again. I have letters, hundreds of their l ove letters. He became a policeman and retired as a district police commander, and he lived there with his wife, my grandmother Laura, and they retired in Gamboa. At that time, in the [19]50s, you were able to retire and stay there. They died, and they wer e buried in the cemetery in Corozl along with other relatives there as well. Their life was very interesting and their love letters are exciting to read. When I grew up, all my relatives lived there. My mother and father were both born in the Canal Zone; my father was born in Coln in Panama, my mother in the Canal Zone. So, we have six generations that lived there, four generations born there. My great canal. So, on my mater nal side my grandfather in 1907 was in the police force, and my great grandfather was in the construction. He was a mason, and he helped build some of the artwork in the administration building. ED: He was an artistic mason. He was an Irish immigrant, bor n in Ireland, came over, met his wife Molly, who was an immigrant from Sweden, and they came to Panama. BD: But going back to my police grandfather, he was on the first police force in the Canal Zone that was developed. My husband closed out, in 1982 he w as working as a police lieutenant, and so he was on the last platoon that closed out the canal, the Canal Zone police. CE:


PCM 003; Dolan family; Page 3 BD: So kind of full KD: Well. I wanted to just expand on what the administration building is that your great grandfather did a lot of the masonry artwork. That was the building where where on the top of the side of a hill that you could see from many different locations, on Ancon Hill. That was kind of the central focal point of the Canal Zone, because up the street from the administration building. N: And does that building still exist? KD: Yes it does. ED: th The building also housed all the bureau directors of the canal. In the Canal Zone, you had the Canal Zone government, which was the administration and authority over the cana l, and then you had the Panama Canal Company. The governor of the Canal Zone had to be a general in the Army Corps of the Engineers. When he came to the Canal Zone and took over that position, he took his uniform off, he dropped the title of general and us ed the title of governor. And he had


PCM 003; Dolan family; Page 5 absolute authority over the Canal Zone; in other words all laws and everything had to be through his authority in there. That was even the military bases. The Canal Zone police, which was a federal police force, had jurisdiction in the entirety of the Canal Zone, even on the military bases, which at times got to be a their base and nobody else, and the Canal Zone police could go on. But the governor would allow the commanders of the military bases to patrol police and administrate their bases in the Canal Zone with his authority, which would get the governor sometimes in trouble, be cause there was a four star general down there that ran the south com, and he was only a two star general. So a four star star general telling him what to do or granting him the authority to do something. So it got touchy at time s for some of the governors; they were in a tight spot. The lieutenant governor of the Canal Zone had to be a colonel in the Army Corps of the Engineers also, and he dropped his title colonel and he was lieutenant governor. Most of the bureau directors wer e also in the military, like the port captains were coast guard, the marine bureau was headed by a navy captain. So you had a lot of military that had positions in the canal. The reasons was is the Corps of Engineers kind of like to maintain because of the canal, the construction and the operation of it, they needed to have the military governor, e tcetera. So it was a unique situation.


PCM 003; Dolan family; Page 5 KD: And the four necessarily of Panama, per se, of the Canal Zone, he was responsible from a military aspect for all of Latin America, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. So even though the headquarters was located within the Canal Zone, BD: Ed was the main bread winner in the family, but I worked for the mili tary for a while, up in Quarry Heights, and Karen worked for the military. KD: She worked for US Southern Command, which was the four star headquarters. When I went back to Panama as an adult, I worked for them as well for thirteen years. CE: Can you des cribe what you did? BD: It was interesting working at Quarry Heights. I was hired as a clerk stenographer and I had two years of college and I was excited. I bought a car, a little convertible. Quarry Heights was a very secure base. It was on top of Ancon Hill, and you could even see the ships going through the canal. But I worked for J6 was a directorate and I worked for every branch of service. So they had the navy commander, air force, army so it was interesting. There were a few battles that went on h ere and there. It was good experience. Later on I transferred into the transportation branch under the administration of the governor. The name slips me right now. We were under Joe Wood. Anyway, we handled all of the incoming


PCM 003; Dolan family; Page 6 employees that were hired by the canal, and the ones that were leaving, that every two years you were entitled to travel back to your home of record. The government would pay for your way, your family, so every two years we would take a vacation. During the summer months you packed up your kids and they had charter flights or we had the ship that went for a while, the really nice: S.S. Cristobal and the Ancon So there were different w ays of traveling back to the States. At first it was by ship and then later on KD: It was home leave, right? BD: It was home leave. As a little girl growing up, I had not been to the States or visited the States until I was a teenager. So, I was born i n Panama. That was a lot of interesting trips that we made when I was a teenager every two years. Then as a family, when Ed and I were married, we tried to go back every two years. It We try to go back every year. I was going to mention that our family is still all connected with the government. Karen has two brothers, one older, and one younger. She was the middle one. The older one works for the Department of Homeland Security, and he works in Washington D.C. Prior to his promotion to Washington D.C., he was transferred to Panama and he worked at the embassy for five years, he was there. He was able to buy a small little beach house. So we still have residence there, through him. I g ot my Cdula because I was born in Panama, so I am


PCM 003; Dolan family; Page 7 considered dual colonel so we have a lot of conne ctions still with the government. ED: And our youngest son? BD: I said Tim was ED: KD: She said that. ED: Yeah. BD: When we were living in the Canal Zone, the only job that was offered to you was thr ough the government. So my first job was at the high school helping with the books and all. And the next job I had was an usherette at the theatre, and I actually was a government employee with my little flashlight, [laughter] telling people to take their feet off the seats, and making popcorn. Then I moved up from there. Eventually I retired from the government after over thirty years of service. I also worked for Department of Homeland Security here in the states when we moved back. At first Customs, and then it became Department of forwarding. N:


PCM 003; Dolan family; Page PCM 003; Dolan family; Page 8 ED: If we could just go back to the history of h ow we got there and the families, and the uniqueness of what involved there, was that your first down there was your Grandpa Davis. He went down as a policeman, and eventually was in 1910, I think that he went up and married his long pen pal and brought he r down to the Canal Zone, which was still partially jungle and under construction and shock to come down to that. KD: And also, the hospital that I and my brothers were b orn in, my mother was born in, my aunts, cousins, uncles, my grandmother, is called Gorgas Hospital, and Gorgas Hospital was named after an army colonel who was a scientist, and he was the one who invented the cure for malaria. He was sent there because wh en the U.S. took over the building of the canal from the French, it was because so many were dying from malaria. They had that big problem, and he invented the cure, so they named this hospital after him. And later on, after the treaty implementation was u nderway, it became an army hospital, so it was named ED: KD: Yes.


PCM 003; Dolan family; Page 9 ED: He initiated a program of cleaning up the still waters around the area and eliminating the larvae in the water. Growing up in the Canal Zone, we had our mosquitoes and bugs, but here in Florida, I have more; [laughter] a lot more. KD: Like Fort Benning, G eorgia. BD: of side effects from DDT. ED: It gives you grey hair. [laughter] But anyhow, so, he came down, and you kind of briefed over his history. The canal was like a strip 2 54 miles wide, and so it was five miles on either side of the center line, and where it deviated from that was the water of the rivers and the lakes that provided the water for the canal. That went out where the water went back up on the lake and the Canal Zone then went one hundred feet from the mean high water mark. So we had a hundred miles. So you had five hundred square miles of land. That was divided in two, so you had t wo districts: you had the Atlantic, and you had the Pacific. And we commonly referred to those as, the other side. If you lived in Balboa, anybody from Cristbal lived on the other side, vice KD: And those of us that have spouses that are not from there, we just say, when you


PCM 003; Dolan family; Page 10 [laughter] ED: Anyhow, so he started out mainly in the Atlantic side, which is also referred to as the North, because the ships going through the canal travel north and south. So a northbound will be going from the Pacif ic Ocean to the Atlantic, and southbound would be going to the Pacific, which was also unique. If you look at the map, the bend of the canal you wake up in the morning and look out over the Pacific Ocean and watch the sun rise. To get to the United States, driving, from Balboa KD: Which we did. [laughter] ED: -place like that. BD: E: big cultural differences, or was there contention between the different sides? ED: Yes. You ha d the Balboa Bulldogs, which was the Pacific side, and you had the Cristobal Tigers, which was the Atlantic side. Cristobal was blue and gold, Balboa was red and white. So we always had the football games. It was big, big.


PCM 003; Dolan family; Page 11 Talk about contention. And also, each will say their side was the better side. I started out on the Atlantic side, and I remembered when my father got his job to go to the Pacific, he changed his job, he came and he sat us down. BD: There were nine chil dren in his family. ED: [la ughter] And we were all crying. On the Atlantic side, I knew all of the football players in the high school, when I was in kindergarten. I knew all of the football players on the football team, all the baseball players, the basketball players, all the spor ts. I knew their names, who their girlfriends were, I knew who the I can remember, my older brother and I would be telling my dad, we gotta go to the football, the Tigers are playing tonight! We gotta go to the football game or the basketball game. And, you know, it was a tighter community over there. KD: It was smaller. ED: then you had Diablo, which is another town site, then you had Ancon, and then you had Los Rios, the poor zone, Gamboa, then the military bases. When you got into junior high school and high school, we all went to one school on our side.


PCM 003; Dolan family; Page 12 everybody. BD: We used to ride the train, going back and forth. So once you were in junior h igh, KD: Or, in my generation, when you were like five, you could ride the train with your friends. [laughter] E: So it was very safe? KD: Yes. BD: Very safe. Plus, my fathe r was a conductor on the train. And he was a well paid employee; at that time he earned a very good salary. He died from skin cancer, but he worked for the railroad for thirty years. KD: My older brother used to work with my grandfather on the railroad. T he Miami Herald actually sent a reporter down to the Canal Zone one time and they did a big article on the Miami Herald it was on the front page, called, The Youngest Conductor in the World. It was my brother and my grandfather, my brother was eight, I th ink? BD: Yeah.


PCM 003; Dolan family; Page 13 KD: And my grandfather and him were hanging out on the side of the train, and he would go and check the bathrooms and take the tickets. So they did this big article on him. ED: You have to tell the story. BD: he would be able to walk back and forth from coach to coach, and when you passed over, you were exposed to the elements. You could fall off the train. It was just the iron stairs that came up, so you could hear the linkage of the train it was a co ed thing you could actually watch the tracks through the commode. And so as a little boy, eight years old, that was fun. So he would, he would kind of get lost in there. And this find his grandson. ED: Derailed. BD: Oh, the train had derailed. They got the train back on the tracks and they started up again and no grandson. So my father stopped the train and the engineer got off the train and all the baggage people got off the train and passengers, they were looking fo r Eddie, and all of a sudden Eddie poked his head off the train,


PCM 003; Dolan family; Page 14 you been? He was in the bathroom playing with the toilet, watching the action of the tracks going by. ED: BD: Yeah, and here everyone was off the train looking for him, and he was, what are you doing? KD: My father was born in White Plains, New York, and went to Panama when he was two years old. E: Are there differing sentiments that you guys just witnessed between people who are born there, and then people who were born in the States and moved there? ED: As everywhere you go, when you come in, you work your way into the commun ity and within the people. You make your own way as your personality, three life and then you see the m and you get to know them and you become friends them. BD: ED: This is the highlight of their life, was living in the Canal Zone, being part of it.


PCM 003; Dolan family; Page 15 KD: A lot of people got out of the military and went back to live there because the lifestyle was so wonderful. You had the best of both worlds. BD: was welcome to sit at their t able. They had no air conditioning, and most of us conditioning or television until we were about fourteen, I was fourteen. But his mother, I mean everyone in the neighborhood would love change to change, you know the weather or anything. But the Dolan house had silhouettes of every family. It was black silhouettes of the whol e family, and then it would be, Merry Christmas from the Dolans. And until you saw that, because they lived in a house that was pretty, it was right by the railroad tracks, saw everyone when you drive by, everyone would see their house. So until that came up, then you knew it was Christmas time. Their house was a very warm, close to the Bomberos in Pana ma, and he provided a lot of the old fire trucks to the Panamanian fire department, and they were very close to a lot of the people in Panama. So are we. But still, we still consider Panama, our hearts are still


PCM 003; Dolan family; Page 16 best of both. ED: KD: because his tow There was one small grocery store. His graduating class had, I think, nineteen at same relationship that you have from a small town because in the Canal Zone, you had generation upon generation. My children, one of know any of this, but yet when we come to the Panama Canal Zone reunion, because this is people that know not only me, but know them, know their grandparents, and even though you may have not have personally known the pe the same place, your grandparents knew each other, your parents knew each being from a small town here in the United States. ED: What did Colin tell ya?


PCM 003; Dolan family; Page 17 KD: when you were bo BD: I guess because we were surrounded by Costa Rica and Columbia, and the water, the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean that everyo ne helped each other out, everyone knew what was happening. It was a very close knit community whether you were on the Pacific side or the Atlantic side. Coming here I still meet ns we have a lot of Panamanian friends. At first, when the treaty was signed, we were upse Am I jumping ahead? Okay. And so we went through a really difficult transition, you know, leaving there, and never living in the States, and never owning a as fourteen when we left. It was really difficult for Karen and Eddie to leave their friends, and Tim, behind. In retrospect,


PCM 003; Dolan family; Page 18 long way from just a small, undeveloped country, to where now, ED: And the canal is a very difficult operation, not just in the moving of the ships and all that: the maintenance on the canal is unbelievable. That is a maintenance nightmare, and for P anamanians to do maintenance, that was a big fear, you Annually, they have to take gates off repair them, overhaul them, put them back on, overhaul the chambers. You have to keep constantly dredged the canal e doing this, they still gotta maintain all the vehicles, all the boats, the tugboats, the locks, the docks, there, the canal looks just like when we had it, exactly the same The only difference is, the flags on the boat are different. BD: The area around it is different. ED: Oh yeah. BD: o the canal? You have to go. [laughter]


PCM 003; Dolan family; Page 19 E: BD: KD: Another thing too, that historically our family has there, is the annual ocean to ocean Cayuco race, w three day race. A Cayuco of the first races, and my brother a nd I raced. I raced when I was thirteen and we paddle out in the canal and it was still dark and you could see the phosphorus on the water, on the paddles, and we would do this f or a good six months before the BD: It took three days. KD: Three days. You had escort boats, and you would go from one point to one point and then stay the night and then get up at the crack of dawn and go and do the next leg of the race. Then you would go through the locks and hold onto ropes and then you would lower through the locks in these little wooden bo ats. E: Was it two to a boat?


PCM 003; Dolan family; Page 20 KD: Four people in the boats that were competing. Then they had the bigger boats that were in it for fun, which might have like twenty people. BD: One was named Cardiac Arrest. [laughter] KD: Which was like older people that just did it for fun. But the competing boats had four people, and there was all male teams, all female teams, and then there were co eds. BD: You were in Explorers. KD: I was in the Follow Through ED: You had to have joined the scouts, it was the Boy S couts. Boy Scouts of America were the sponsors of it when the U.S. had the canal. Now they have the Regatta de they call it. KD: And now they come from all over the world to race. T E: Do you guys go down for it usually? BD: ED: When our oldest boy, Eddie, lived down there, was working the embassy, he paddled in it five years in a row. Yeah, five?


PCM 003; Dolan family; Page 21 BD: He was there for five years, so I think four years, because one year he did ED: And he paddled in it once before we left down there. He was in a winning boat then and he never could get in the winning boat. They were always second place, for the four years he was there. KD: But the boat he was in when we were there as children was on display in Cocoa Beach in a surf shop, because there was another family, the Grimmison family, that still paddles. They go back and padd ED: It was in a museum. KD: actually. The Due Process is the name of the boat. ED: Frank Townsend, he i department or what not. I think he has his doctorate, he might be Dr. Frank. But anyhow, he wrote a little article for the museum on the Cayuco race. He and I did about two races together in the could get from him and see it, and it gives you a little insight into what it was to go through. BD: The history of it.


PCM 003; Dolan family; Page 22 N: Yeah, you said you were in the first race? ED: I did five races. The first KD: I thought that he said in his story that the first race wa [inaudible 27:32] ED: No, I think it was [19]56. KD: Okay. ED: disappoin the scout master, Mr. Red Townsend, and he got us this boat, it was a river Cayuco it was called a Paniagua much freeboard, but was n arrow and fast. We used that. So he painted it fire engine red, and then he painted in white letters, and the name of the boat was Cjame Si Puede which means catch me if you can. [laughter ] He says, now you better win, and we won two years in a row. But I wanted to go back earlier. We were talking about living down there and people coming in and moving out and how did we feel. One thing was, after leaving the canal, when our career ended do wn there and we had to leave, we came up here. I have always felt different.


PCM 003; Dolan family; Page 23 active duty in the navy and I did twenty isolated from A mericans or being around them. But I feel different. I am different. Zonians. A Zonian is somebody that was either born and or lived in the Canal Zone, was raised in the Canal Zone. It was a derogatory term at first, used against us. When the treaty went, and prior to the treaty, we got a lot of bad press down there. Congress called us gutless sheep. A lot of derogatory terms were used against us. In the treaty they were saying we li ved outlandishly, we abused the Panamanians, they said that we coerced them out of things and we had too many churches in the Canal Zone, we had manicured lawns, and we actually less than the standard government employee BD: But they gave us a differential for living there, which raised that a little bit. KD: Well and all the money All the money that was made with the Panama Cana l went back into the running of the Panama Canal, and paying the employees, and everything that it took to maintain it. And so, it ran itself, kind of. ED: And plus, it paid back the debt of building it. BD: The tolls that were brought in by the shipping by the ships KD: Right, right.


PCM 003; Dolan family; Page 24 ED: And the police, we gave a ticket out for speeding, for parking, whatever. You went into court and you got a fine for whatever crime you had and you paid your fine. Those monies from the tickets and from the fines in court did not go to the up there. BD: It was a very low crime area. Even though the people in Panama that lived there a rich gringo, but they would not kill you. They might steal your money, but you were gonna survive it. ED: everything. BD: I just want to make a comment before I forget. In one of th e letters that I was grandmother was not receiving letters from him, and worrying about him, and she was very young, and it was a romance that really started with the letters, as pen pals. In one of his letters, he writes, I look so forward to receiving your letters. The women here, the girls here are beautiful, but their skin is too dark for me, so nd Karen and I were talking about trying to put together a book based on this love he worked, one was Bohio


PCM 003; Dolan family; Page 25 ED: Yeah, well a lot of them are underneath the water now in the canal. BD: Yeah, a lot of the towns went underwater when they ED: BD: Construction towns, so when the canal started full swing, all these towns no longer exist, and a lot of artifac ts and things went into the mud, into the water. ED: Empire BD: Colibra? ED: Yeah, Empire. BD: Empire. ED: Empire became part of the military ranges they had for artillery ranges, bombing ranges. Empire was a town used in the construction, and then that closed down and we got the major towns on either side of the canal. BD: a hundred and twenty people here, and after out. How many were in your high school class? ED: BD: Maybe two hundred, at the most, you think?


PCM 003; Dolan family; Page 26 ED: It was over two hundred. KD: I was just going to go into what it was like growing up there. I had to write kind of a story for a group that I was in with my church, and I kind of started with my childhood. The way that I described it, and I tell friends that are not from Panama, my friends that I met after movi ng here to the United States, is life growing up there was States on home leave, we would wake up in the morning, and we would be gone ld either throw a rock at a mango tree, or take a stick, or climb the tree and get the mango and eat it. You could get avocados or bananas ED: Rose apples. KD: Rose apples, different fruits BD: Genips KD: Genips were another type of fruit we would was some of the best water in the world, in terms of the purity and purification naturally from the Chagres River. Then we would come home at th e end of the went through the same thing, my grandmother used to tell the same story. This was generations that just grew up this way. And so, when we moved to the


PCM 003; Dolan family; Page 27 United States, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, well, I grew up running around without shoes too, you know, climbing tre es and playing football in the fields and stuff. Then, when we moved to the United States, it was the same thing: nobody went around barefoot. It was kind of the same dynamic, for me, the experience. BD: I wanted to say that there were two hills that you liked to climb. KD: Right. BD: One hill was where the administration building was located, and they used to get the palm fronds from the trees, and you can tell the story. KD: Yeah, we would slide down them. We would get the dead palm fronds and get, you know, a whole bunch of us, and almost like a sled, but you know a tree branch. BD: A high hill/ KD: Yeah and the hill kind of had slopes, so we would all get on it like a train, and we would slide down it. Or, we would get cardboard, or we would even rid e our bikes. We would kind of go zigzag down the different levels of the hill, and get Panama it rains nine months out of the year. So there were drainage ditches


PCM 003; Dolan family; Page 28 probably six fee t deep, maybe deeper, and we used to use those as waterslides. I told my husband now, if my children were doing what I did, I would have been mortified, because the water would come fast and furious down these huge hills, and the only thing at the end of i t were these metal bars. And I remember our legs would get stuck in there, and all the kids would be pulling us. There were lines of like twenty and thirty kids, and we would all wait, and we would go sliding down these big drainage ditches. [laughter] E: relocate to in the United States? KD: We moved to Jacksonville, Florida. BD: fire chief position. They moved to Jacksonville because an older son went there. N: What year was that in? BD: That was in 1982. KD: Then I moved back in 1994 as an adult, and I worked for the army. B D: out west in Arizona for three years, and then they selected him, and transferred him to Panama because he spoke Karen speaks fluent Spanish, and so does


PCM 003; Dolan family; Page 29 Eddie, and so he work ed there at the embassy for five years under U.S. Customs out of Shea Office. Then they transferred him back to D.C. for right now, but KD: We speak Spanish, because we grew up even though my mother was a secretary at the time, my father was a police officer, we had a maid, we had a gardener, we had a boat, my grandfather had an island. We would go to the beach all the time, so we lived the li fe. We lived an amazing life. You had access to so many things that here, back in the United States, to be able to have all those things you would have had to be pretty wealthy. But because of the nature of being in Panama and a lot of the local Panamanian s that were of the lower income would work as maids or gardeners in the Canal Zone because the Americans paid better than the wealthier Panamanians did. And so the lady that worked for us, Angelica, she was like a second mother. I mean, we still would go b ack and visit her every time we were there. She was part of our family. We were going to bring her to the United States when we moved, but she had gotten married and had a child, and she was actually torn on whether to come with us. But, her husband was th ere. There was that closeness and that connection with learned how to speak the language. ED: When we grew up there


PCM 003; Dolan family; Page 30 BD: Our maids were Jamaican ED: Our maids were of West Indian extraction. The U.S. brought the West Indians to the canal as laborers to build the canal. And they became fantastic employees. BD: And so you speak the Bajan language. E D: Yes, yes. And so they wanted to stay, because they were living better than they would in Jamaica or the other islands. So they worked out a treaty with Panama, and Panama allowed them to come in, in fact told them if they stayed, they could opt to becom e Panamanian citizens. So they came and brought their spouses and children over, and they raised their families there. So doing this, they were on a different wage scale than the U.S. So for additional income, plus those that left the canal and lived in Pa nama, they would come over and hire on as maids with the employees in the Canal Zone. Our maids were of West Indian extraction. BD: Give them your accent. They want to hear your accent. [laughter] ED: e there we learned to have pancake, we have bakes we have bakes with it. And you learn to drink your coffee and put the Carnation canned milk rather than the other milk. You just learned all these mannerisms. In fact, to this day when I go into a store and


PCM 003; Dolan family; Page 31 coming out of your voice. And they look at me, where are you from? [laughter] BD: I have to add something here. Not only did we learn how to cook Jamaican style foods, Latin foods, we still to this day our favorite foods are arroz con pollo sancocho empanadas we make empa nadas cerviche we brought here. When KD: times with his career in the military. He makes some of the best arroz con po llo in arroz con pollo ED: The empanadas this is a little interesting story we grew up with our emp anadas a meat pie. So when we left and we come back to Panama, all of a sudden they our empanadas anymore. Yhey only had the Panamanian style KD: The fried ones. ED: researching it and I found out wherever the Jamaicans go, they take the patty


PCM 003; Dolan family; Page 32 KD: Jamaican beef patty. ED: Ours was a version of the Jamaican beef patty. See, the Jamaican will put the turmeric in it that makes it yellow, are we to do that? And they kind of come square. KD: ED: and everybody was saying, no this is the Jamaican patty, and that was the Jamaican influence. KD: But it was so common, like in our school, when I went to junior high school, w e ate those. That was the first time we had a cafeteria, because in elementary BD: You went home. KD: Well at the junior high school, at the cafeteria, they had machines that had empanadas. Kind of like, you would get a hamburger or maybe a hot dog here in school cafeteria machines, or something. They had the Jamaican beef the empanadas were in there, and foods like that. N: That sounds better than American food. [laughter] KD: So it was just n ormal food, like a hamburger.


PCM 003; Dolan family; Page 33 BD: that this originated from their family. But it somehow became one of our when we meat, like ground round, the white egg noodles, like a spaghetti sauce, olives, and lots of ga rlic and onions and cheese KD: Kind of like a quicker version of lasagna. BD: Yeah. And Johnny Marzetti, where he was from, or how that name KD: His mother is probably the creator of the recipe, or his wife. [laughter] BD: Zonian culture. ED: As a kid growing up, you would be involved in different sporting and scouting activities. There was a lot of activities for kids, and then, like a t the end of the Cayuco and in the baseball season, dinners. Well, the dinners would either be fried fish dow


PCM 003; Dolan family; Page PCM 003; Dolan family; Page 34 BD: came on. KD: And during the summers that we would stay in Panama in the Canal Zone, I remember my the states for home leave, or you were staying. So if you were staying, your friends and you would get together and you would sign up through the school system for the summer programs. I did a rchery, tennis, swimming, gymnastics, kickball, tetherball ED: Dodge ball. KD: Ping pong, dodge ball, square dancing. You were gone in the morning, you would take your lunch or you would go to the cafeteria or something, whatever for lunch BD: Or eat KD: different places where you would take the bus that cost you could take the expensive bus that was ten cents, which was the big orange old school bus, or you could take the cheaper bus, which was a falling apart jalopy bus that had these dangling bottles and the chiva music and stuff, and if you had five cents y


PCM 003; Dolan family; Page 35 mother with young children and the summertime comes here, I keep looking for t dynamic. You have to pay for these programs, you have to take your children, be there with your children, unless you can build enough of a dynamic raising children now. probably not just a Canal Zone things, because my husband shares some of the same stories growing up, the freedoms that he had. BD: ED : You were in elementary school. BD: Go to school, walk to school. I was going to say something about feeling special; you were saying you were feeling different. ED: Yeah. BD: at slogan, the land divided, the world united, when they built the canal. We had every culture because of all the people that came to build the canal. Every culture in almost in the entire world lived there and the stronger countries, like China, Africa, Spain, those countries were highly there were a lot of people, so their food and their ways were strong influences on our lives. So we were


PCM 003; Dolan family; Page 36 introduced to so many wonderful peop le by living there, and so you do feel have stories to tell, whether you were from the Canal Zone or not. KD: And most importantly, our loyalty and our hearts, we are Ameri can. We were in the Fourth of July parade every year. It was a very American community within had the pride of being an American. We grew up with American traditions, with Ameri can values, just everything that goes along with being American, but we were also exposed to these other cultural influences which were so important in shaping who we became in life. BD: As a family, one of our home leaves, we decided to drive to the Stat es. Karen was a little thing. KD: Three. BD: Three years old. But we packed up, we bought a camper, and we drove from Panama to the U.S., and then we shipped the camper back on the S.S. Cristobal ing a lot of firearms KD: We were in the bicentennial parade. It was 1976, which was the two hundredth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, the establishment of America.


PCM 003; Dolan family; Page 37 My mom and I wore the bonnets and the long dresses, and my dad had the wig and the big long bayonet type gun. My brothers we all dressed up, and we had big floats. We had a parade that went from the town of Gamb oa, which was halfway between the Atlantic side and the Pacific side. So the parade went from the town of Gamboa all the way down into the town of Balboa, which was right on the city limits of Panama on the Pacific side. It was a huge h ow many of course, my memory might be a little bit there were a lot of floats, a lot of people involved. ED: KD: We were in a float. Everybody was involved; everybody was a part of it. When I was in Girl Scouts we would march in the parade and there were always parades Just every American holiday, everybody was out in full force. There were ery year in January after Christmas holiday. People would go around and collect real Christmas trees, and all the different little townships would have Christmas tree burns. People would come and bring food and drinks and chairs, and the kids would run aro und and play, and the fire department would monitor it, because they would put all the Christmas trees on the big pile, and they would have this huge Christmas tree bonfire. You looked forward to Christmas, but then you looked forward to the bonfire tree b urn afterwards.


PCM 003; Dolan family; Page 38 ED: Somebody would direct them to keep it going. KD: In the town that my parents li ve in here in Florida, in DeLand, not too far from where I live, some friends of theirs live on a large piece, twenty acres, piece of land. They started doing this, and people were coming from different parts of the state that grew up in the Canal Zone, an d would bring their trees, and they were doing this tree burn. The local fire department came a couple of times to monitor them BD: Yeah, they were supposed to notify them. KD: ause the forest burns. It was too much of a risk. People were coming from four and five hours away to go to this tree burn. BD: How much time do we have left? Are we running out? [break in interview] BD: I would like to add just one thing about coming here. When Joe Wood asks us if we would be part of the interview, I said definitely yes, because to keep this alive and to be able to somehow pass onto other generations what we experienced, at living where you could see ships from all over the world


PCM 003; Dolan family; Page 39 passing through the canal, when you were going to work or going to school or playing outside in your yard. Not that you took it for granted, but it was just part of your life. Being in the Cayuco race, they would paddle right next to this navy battleship, or the love boat going through with passengers, or the Queen Elizabeth There they were, these little wooden boats that just would hold four people. They would make the boats and the paddles, and originally you would get an Indian to actually take a big tree log and carve your boat and they would take it and fine tune it and shave it down. This is how these boats were made. ED: Well when I went through, the only thing you could repair the boat with was tin able to wax it, you could smooth and finish the hull out. KD: ED: Yeah, and they cut most of the wood away and they put canvas and paint the canvas and make it lighter. BD: One thing that you left out was when you were in the Boy Scouts, you used to go up by the Chagres River, and he would wear the well now, they call them thongs, like the Indians. You would spend what, weeks up there at a time living in the jungle? Ed was a lifeguard in high school, a very strong swimmer. You spent a lot of time in the jungle.


PCM 003; Dolan family; Page 40 KD: The last question on here says, how did you interface with the U.S. Military and the Panamanian people, and how important was the Panamanian culture in our circle, because most families that ended up in the Canal Zone were there because of the U.S. military in some way, shape, or form. A lot of them we nt to the country in the military and then either went back to live because they loved it and they worked for the federal government, or whatever those dynamics were. I now am forty two years old, my husband is a colonel in the U.S. Army, we live on Fort B another colonel, his father was a four star general in charge of U.S. Southern Command in Panama. So, the dynamics and the influence of the Canal Zone are still in my daily life; we still talk about it. We talk about his childhood when he was she married a service member and she lives right down the street from me on the U.S. Military on Fort Benning, Georgia. So the dyn amics are still there and


PCM 003; Dolan family; Page 41 ED: but he was a captain i n a volunteer fire department in New York. So he and his brother saw the need for fireman. It was advertised in the Canal Zone, so they applied. They went down there as part of the war effort. They went down in early [19]42. In 1944, my mother, older broth er, and I, we went down. And we flew down there in the China Clipper It took us over a month and a half to get down there because the plane would take off, we would be flying to Panama, and then the engine would have problems. They would turn around and g o back, because anyhow, we eventually made it. Then after the war, my father and his brother e war effort. BD: have scares that maybe an unidentified plane would fly near the canal and so we o the bomb shelter and stay there for the rest of the night. I can remember, because that was such a frightening thing to experience ED: g through that had war damage, like aircraft carriers. The Franklin came through, and it was just a mess, a real big mess. My father took my older brother and I out by the beach in Coln, and we


PCM 003; Dolan family; Page 42 watched a ship go through the breakwater wall, and they had a submarine net and they had a boat that would lower the net, let them out, and there was a minefield. We saw the ship go out, we were sitting there, all of a sudden we then th ere was another explosion, and we saw some boats going, planes took off and everything. A little bit later, that ship came back in; it had holes on both sides. It had been torpedoed just outside. So the war was right outside of us there, and we found out l ater the plan: Japan was going to bomb the canal. They had submarines bringing planes over to bomb it. We had over five hundred thousand servicemen in the Canal Zone during the war. Every hill had an anti aircraft gun sight on it. So military was just ever ywhere. We grew up with the military everywhere. BD: school. [laughter] If you went to the junior college there, that was acceptable. KD: It later became acceptable. My generation, a lot of them are military kids. It changed. ED: She was rat bait! BD: E: Not at all. This has been fantastic. Thank you guys so much.


PCM 003; Dolan family; Page 43 BD: KD: what I was going to bring up: I just us Zonians or do most people have three or four hundred mutual friends? [laughter] When you click on a friend, you got three or four hundred mutu al friends. E: BD: You would have a great time. We could take you to all the best restaurants. grandfather went down, ir favorite You go in, the same tables, everything is the same. The pizza, the price is the same. When we used to be going down there as a family, he still has his littl e KD: He opened up a new one, which is BD: He did, yeah, better side, but he still has the old one. One year I went down to work at the embassy for Customs, T.D.Y., temporary duty assignment. Karen cam


PCM 003; Dolan family; Page 44 KD: Well, let me paint the picture. Operation Just Cause, which is what went in and about June or Ju ly of 1990 that she was down there working, so there were still bomb holes, and the remnants from the war were still very visible. BD: I went down to help put the office back together because the marines had moved into the embassy and all the U.S. Customs files had been transferred to Miami. They moved them back after the war and they needed personnel down there to help put the office back together. So I was there for forty five days, and I told my family, now is the time to come down to see Panama, to vis it and everything. There were still the military patrolling the Canal Zone, but I want to tell the night that you went to The Napoli. I just heard the story after. KD: We had just arrived, so what we would typically do, we would get there and go straight to Napoli Pizza, because that was where everybody wanted to go. But now, the area where the original Napoli was in was in a very bad area, a lot of drugs, crack addicts, streetwalkers. The area had totally changed. It had been bombed and everything else during the war. We still wanted to go there because wear your jewelry. So my sister in law my brother and her were not married yet, this was the trip he was going to propose to her on she had never been to Panama, had no idea. So we took her there,


PCM 003; Dolan family; Page 45 hear the gunfire the pizza off the table and eating it under the tables. We go running inside the restaurant; my sister in telling my brother, what did you bring me to? I take her and we go into the bathroom and I tell her, get on the toilet, stand up on the toilet so nobody can see your f know where the men went or whatever, we just ran into the bathroom. Probably sitting in the restaurant eating. [laughter] So finally we came out and there was no more gunfire. It was a teenager, some young juvenile robbing a taxi, so the security guard wa s shooting at him. But just shooting out in the open, like the Wild Wild West. That was very different from what growing up was like. ED: that really makes you a Zonian, and th


PCM 003; Dolan family; Page 46 lived. [laughter] KD: f a sudden you come upon black sand. I can remember my friends and I, we literally one time, there were three of us. We it was scalding us. We saw a paper plate that was t rash and we grabbed the paper plate, and I was the tallest so they climbed my friends climbed on top of each other, then they got on my back and then I stood on the paper plate, and un a little bit, stand on the paper plate, until we could get to either the water if we went to the water or where we went to but off the black sand because it was scalding us. [laughter] BD: One of the things I just want to mention real quick because I know our time is up, but living down there with disturbances in Panama City was a common thing. So of the U.S. Embassy. Say okay, well we want to go shopping or we want to go issues that the people in Panama felt there was a lot of


PCM 003; Dolan family; Page 47 KD: Anti Americ an. BD: One of my good friends lost an eye because he got caught in one of the they were in a movie, and came out and there were riots. We lived our life off and on with things like that, so you took it seriously, you just stayed away. But it was a common would riot over some issue. ED: But that was mainly in the mid to late influence came in. The politicians would fire up the people. KD: But eve n when I lived there as an adult I was Christmas shopping on this one road that was called Avenida Central, and you could get stuff like jeans for a dollar. It was this place where you would get all these deals. All of the sudden, this lady in a store goes you need to in Spanish she was telling me to come in here, come in here, and she put me in a dressing room and there was this martyrs group that was marching, it was the anniversary of Just Cause. They were doing a big demonstration coming down this main shopping area. Because I looked American, she was worried and concerned for me so she pulled me into her store and put me in the dressing room until they went on by. BD: One of our very close friends, we grew up together, their children, our children. Ou r friend, Candy, was shot and killed right at the invasion when they first went


PCM 003; Dolan family; Page 48 in. They were driving home late at night. It was 1:00, from a Christmas party, and two people stepped out of the bushes by Albrook Air Force Base, and they shot at the car and she was hit and died almost instantly. There were a lot of other Americans killed as well during that time. It was a sad time for everyone. Panamanians were killed as well. ED: KD: know, thought he was going to come home for dinner that night, but never came home for dinner. Was on a plane going to Panama. Lots of stories. E: Thank you guys so much for you r time. N: I wish we had more time to hear all your stories. Audit edit by: Jessica Taylor, January 8, 2014

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