PANAMA CANAL SOCIETY REUNION LUNCHEON SHOW
25 JULY 2003

Written by Kaye Richey                                    Directed by Bruce Quinn
Artistic Direction: JoAnne Mitchell and Jerry Brees
Stage Manager: Jerry Brees

Narrated by Toni Millard and John Mayles

Performers, in alphabetical order:

Juan Carlos Adames
Steven M. Alper
Adolfo Arias
Melanie Bales
Angela Bomford
John Bowerman
Rudy Crespo
Janelle Davidson
Cristina de la Fuente
Sarah Knapp
Kenn Lantry
JoAnne Mitchell
Dino Nugent
Bob Teta
Faith Varrone
Linda Woodruff Weir
Weulcia Wilkins
Aaron Zebede

Song authors' credits are shown in the Luncheon Program. Accompanists names are shown here in parentheses following the singer or singers names.


BRUCE'S QUINN'S INTRODUCTORY REMARKS:
Thank you, Bill, and good afternoon, all! BILL MCGLAUGHLIN has worked hard to help us organize the show and we are extremely grateful to him; to ALL THE MEMBERS OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS; and to the good people of the Marriott. I am indebted to all our artists and especially to KAYE RICHEY, who wrote the script; To our invaluable accompanists, especially WEULCIA WILKINS, MELANIE BALES, STEVE ALPER and DINO NUGENT; To JOANNE MITCHELL and JERRY BREES, for helping me organize this show. And to RUDY CRESPO , who taped the background music that was played during lunch.

Regrettably, GEORGE CHILDERS has the flu and ERIKA ENDER cannot be with us because of a last minute gig in Spain. We hope you'll like the substitutions we've had to make in the program. George's first song will be replaced with a surprise by WEULCIA WILKINS. JOHN BOWERMAN will sing two of GEORGE'S other songs. To fill in for ERIKA we are delighted to welcome Panamanian jazz singer JANELLE DAVIDSON. Please be advised that in the interest of time we have had to cut some of the numbers listed in the printed program.

BRUCE: I am very extremely pleased to be back with you. When last I was here, in 1995, we presented songs from United Way musicals through the end of the 1980's. As the American Era in Panama was coming to a close, I began to direct more and more in Panama, and there I found some very talented Panamanian musicians, five of whom form part of our group today. Working on the show I was struck by the global nature of our group: in addition to our seven-member Panama team, at one point we had Kaye working on it in Chile, Rudy Crespo and John Bowerman in California, Steve and Sarah Alper in New York, Melanie Bales in Okinawa, Faith Varrone in Philadelphia, and a whole Florida contingent, all tied together by their feelings about Panama. Thank God for e-mail!

This year is the100th anniversary of Panama's independence, and because music is something we have very much in common with our Panamanian friends, we want to spend about an hour and a half or so with you today .....remembering.

"Try to Remember" JUAN CARLOS & KENN (DINO)

BRUCE: And now, our narrators...... as we present 100 YEARS OF MUSIC: Toni Millard and John Mayles.

JOHN: From Shakespeare's Henry V:
".............Pardon, gentles all
The flat unraised spirit that hath dared
On this unworthy scaffold to bring forth
So great an object.....jumping o'er times...
Turning the accomplishment of many years
Into an hour-glass. Be kind,
And eke out our performance with your mind. "

 

1903-1920

TONI: The first Canal workers came to the Isthmus from towns that still had horses and wagons. Telephones were rare, and radio and talking movies were far in the future. In the Zone, for anything beyond walking distance you caught the train. Initially, workers came without their families, and they made their own music, playing piano or guitar from sheet music at the Empire YMCA, or livening up baseball games with a home-grown band. After a year, in order to keep workers from leaving, the Commission decided to provide family housing, schools and commissaries.

JOHN: The 10 years that it took to dig the Canal, from 1904 to 1914, coincided with the rise of the automobile, fundamental changes in American society, and changes in music. Listen to the contrast between the moods of these two songs. The second is a highly sophisticated song written in France after World War One; the first is a simple turn-of-the-century favorite, with some new verses we have added that could have been sung back in 1904.

"Red River Valley" WEULCIA (MELANIE)
(Added verses by Kaye Richey in BOLD)

From this valley they say you are going
We will miss your bright eyes and sweet smile
For they say you are taking the sunshine
That has brightened our pathway a while

Come and sit by my side if you love me
Do not hasten to bid me adieu
But remember the Red River Valley
And the maiden who loves you so true

Write me then/ when you get/ to Cristobal
Tell me all/ what you do/ 'n what you see
I know that/ you love your/old-steam sho-vel
But please save/ a little lo-ove/ for me.

Tell the fore/man ne-ver/ to scold you
Don't let those old mosqui-itos/ bite.
You can think/ o-of work/ all day lo-ong.
But please/ think of me/ thru the night!

Come and sit by my side if you love me
Do not hasten to bid me adieu
But remember the Red River Valley
And the maiden who is waiting for you

You can always be last to the clubhouse
And last leaving work, rain or shine
But when you can send for your loved ones
PleasePleasePlease/ be the first one in line!


"My Man" JO ANNE (MELANIE)

JOHN: In 1918, with the War over and the Canal beginning to change world trade patterns, the Republic of Panama was only 15 years old. But its music, the cumbias and decimas of the interior, was more than two centuries old. New composers-- and the addition of the accordion and other instruments-- built on this traditional music without overwhelming it. For carnival that year of 1918, the owners of "un toldo", an open air dance hall, commissioned an advertising jingle. Its authors expected it to last only that carnival season. The name of the toldo to be advertised? El Tambor de la Alegria!

"El Tambor de la Alegria" CRISTINA & PANAMA TEAM (DINO)

 

1920-1930

TONI: In Panama City in the 1920's, the population was growing. Daily life in Panama City still centered around Santa Ana Plaza but this decade saw the construction of La Exposición, a whole new neighborhood stretching from Caledonia along Avenida Justo Arosemena out into the unpopulated "monte". People ridiculed the government for building a hospital so far away- it was Santo Tomas hospital.

JOHN: In the Canal Zone the 1920's were especially memorable because the Canal was thriving, workers didn't pay the new income taxes, and as for Prohibition--- Ron Carta Vieja, Agewood, and Cerveza Atlas were all to be found ..... just across the street. Musically, more changes. Listen here to a typical song from an early 1920's Broadway review that mixed songs and Vaudeville acts, followed by the nightclub-flavored music of the Gershwins from the mid- 1920's and finally a tune from 1927's "Showboat", as the integration of drama and music gave birth to a new form: musical comedy.

"Lullaby of Broadway" BOB (WEULCIA)
"Someone to Watch Over Me" LINDA (WEULCIA)
"Life Upon the Wicked Stage" FAITH (WEULCIA)

 

1930-1940

TONI: In the 1930's, radio and sound movies came in. In Panama, radio stations Radio Tembleque and La Voz del Istmo opened, featuring music from Cuba and Mexico, and the US Army opened a radio station at Albrook. In 1935, Your Hit Parade started on radio. At the movies, Fred Astaire was dancing to Cole Porter's music and Gene Autry was singing to his horse, which was a good time to go get some juju beans. Some of you may remember fending off bats at the old Gamboa theater while others remember the Balboa theater with its roll-down shades to shut out the daylight.

JOHN: As the 30's were ending, a project was begun to build a third set of locks should the other locks be bombed. The towns of Diablo and Margarita were built. War broke out in Europe in September, 1939 but the United States remained at peace two more years. The big band sound became popular and jitterbugging was the rage. And the Andrews Sisters brought the sound of sisterly harmony.

"Chattanooga Choo Choo" SARAH/MELANIE/JO ANNE (STEVE)

 

1940-1945

TONI: As the 1940's began, Panama ceded Punta Paitilla to the United States for the construction of an air field, and provided anti-aircraft sites all over the Isthmus. The swing bridg e at Miraflores came into operation and the United States built the Transisthmian highway, the first road to link Panama City to the Atlantic Side since the Las Cruces Trail.

JOHN: With the war, thousands of troops arrived in Panama to man anti-aircraft guns and coast artillery, and to lay mines at the Canal entrances. Barrage balloons anchored by steel cables floated above the locks to prevent low level bombing attacks. The Zone was under strict blackout restrictions at night, but Panama was not, and many a young person went down town to see the bright lights by going to such dimly lit spots as the Atlas Beer Gardens and the El Rancho off of 4th of July Avenue; Kelly's Ritz and Happyland on Central Avenue; Pete's Catalina and the Yacht Club along the beach in San Francisco; and the Strangers Club and Bilgray's in Colon.

TONI: Thousands and thousands more G.I.'s passing through Panama on their way to an uncertain fate in the Pacific carried away fond memories of Panama, and one of those fond memories was of a young organist named .....Lucho Azcarraga. And here is one of Lucho's favorites:

"La Reina Roja" AARON, with special musical intro by Dino Nugent (DINO)

TONI: The War was a time of bad news, anxiety and the separation of soldiers and their families, and the music of the period reflected those feelings and the longings for the war to be over.

"Every Time We Say Goodbye" JOHN B. (MELANIE)
"I'll Be Seeing You" WEULCIA (MELANIE)


1945-1955

JOHN: August 14, 1945. At last, the War was over. Millions had died, and unfortunately, more would die in Korea, in Viet Nam and in other wars. We ask you to stand and observe a moment of silence for those who died in war, as well as for all those in our memories who are no longer with us. .................. May God bless them.

The world began to rebuild. The University of Panama was established. Easier air travel brought more tourism to Panama. The main airport was moved from Albrook to Tocumen, and the El Panama Hotel opened. Income taxes became applicable in the Zone and we lost the use of coupon books for buying in the commissaries. In 1953, as Panama celebrated its 50th anniversary, Via Argentina had a house or two on it but was still mostly "monte".

TONI: The Remon-Eisenhower treaty of 1955 brought the closing of commissaries serving the Canal's Panamanian employees and the transfer of many supply functions to Panama. The dairy at Mindi was closed and the Supply Division no longer made its own Menticol, that fragrant cooling alcohol rub! To cool us instead, air conditioning was coming in to fundamentally change, for better or for worse, our open windows and our open way of life. Similarly, the music of that time had an openness and simplicity that we would later miss.

"How Could You Believe Me" JOHN B. & JOANNE (MELANIE)
"Panama Viejo" CRISTINA (DINO)
"I'm Looking Over a 4-Leaf Clover" U.S. TEAM (WEULCIA)

 

1955-1960

JOHN: The year 1955 will always be remembered as the year when all kinds of new music burst from obscurity to national prominence: First there was Perez Prado's "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White", a cha-cha-cha that zoomed to number one on the Hit Parade. That same year the movie "Blackboard Jungle" introduced Bill Haley's "Rock Around the Clock" and it went to number one. As if these two new sounds weren't enough, Elvis! The Platters! Buddy Holly! Chubby Checkers! All came on the scene. And you were there!!

"Rock Around the Clock" COMPANY (MELANIE)
"Love Me Tender" KENN (WEULCIA)
"Love Potion No. 9" BOB (WEULCIA)

 

1960-1970

TONI: During the 1960's international banks began to recognize the value of Panama's stability and its use of the dollar, and started to open branches in Panama. Over in Margarita the cost of a hamburger at the Knights of Columbus stayed the same for a long long time, but as we got older the size of the burger appeared to our eyes to shrink and shrink and shrink. Can anyone from the Atlantic Side confirm that impression?

JOHN: In Curundu, running behind the bug spray truck was a little kid's idea of a big time, while the older kids enjoyed birthday parties at the skating rink in Balboa. The Civil Affairs Building not only had the first electric eye operated door on the Isthmus, it also had a Drive-In with hot fudge sundaes that were out of this world! And after the Owl Show the high school kids and grownups went to the Diablo Clubhouse for a clubhouse empanada........ or a late night snack of french fries with gravy. ..............Bug spray .....and french fries with gravy..... It's a wonder any of us survived!

But how could we not survive? Our parents loved us, kids took care of each other, and it was always summer!

TONI: It was summer even at Christmas time, and somewhere around this time a tradition began of the community Christmas tree burn, which led to collecting and then hiding trees so other kids wouldn't steal them. "How many of you ever stooped so low as to steal some other kid's Christmas tree?"

JOHN: In 1962 the bridge over the Canal was opened, and whether you call it the Thatcher Ferry Bridge or the Bridge of the Americas, it eliminated the wait for the ferry or the Miraflores swing bridge. Perhaps even more than the flag riots of January 9, 1964, the opening of the bridge connecting Panama City to the interior was the beginning of the end for the Canal Zone because it gave Panama a new sense of itself as a nation. The coming of new awareness, and the resulting discontent with the status quo, marked the 1960's in the United States also, with hippies and flower children. Although these changes were felt to a much lesser extent on the Isthmus, in teen circles the Beatles and soul music were very much on our minds.

BEATLES MEDLEY
"A Hard Day's Night" BOB (WEULCIA)
"Hey, Jude" JOHN B. (MELANIE)
"Let It Be" AARON (DINO)

SUPREMES MEDLEY
"Baby Love" FAITH (WEULCIA)
"My World is Empty w/o You, Babe" MELANIE (WEULCIA)
"Stop! In the Name of Love" LINDA (WEULCIA)

"If You Go to San Francisco" RUDY (WEULCIA)
"Aquarius" MELANIE & CO. (WEULCIA)

 

1970-1990

TONI: In the 70's change was in the wind in the Canal Zone as Treaty negotiations went on. The Tivoli closed, the SS Cristobal took its last trip to New Orleans, and over in Colon Bilgray's Bar closed after fifty years. The Teen Club became The Gap, an old train car was converted into The Pub, new places like The Unicorn opened in Panama, and the Yacht Club and the causeway ....... stayed just the way we liked them. The Viet Nam War expanded and then gradually lost the support of the people.

JOHN: The 1980's brought major changes as the Treaty transferred jurisdiction to Panama, transferred control of the operation of the schools and the hospitals to the Army, and phased out the Canal Zone Police. But until the last days of the 1980's Panama's government was in the hands of Noriega, and ten years of opportunities went begging until civilian rule could be restored and begin to lay solid foundations for a Panama with a bright future.

TONI: Musical theater also contributed heavily to our memories, and we are pleased beyond imagining to bring you three artists whose work we thought we might never see again, whose appearances on Isthmian stages helped bring professional caliber to our amateur theater. First, from "My Fair Lady", John Mayles as Professor Henry Higgins reveals a less crusty side of himself when he learns that his star pupil, Eliza Doolittle, is engaged to be married.

"I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face" JOHN MAYLES (MELANIE)

TONI: And here, after 38 years, in a scene from the 1965 production of "The King and I", are Angela Bomford as Anna and Adolfo Arias as the King.

"Shall We Dance?" ANGELA (DINO)
"The King's Monologue" ADOLFO (DINO)

"My Heart Will Go On" FAITH (WEULCIA)

JOHN: The transfer of the schools to the Department of Defense in 1979 ended a system that began in 1905, and was a major shift away from the life we knew. Our school years mark us indelibly, and the Canal Zone Schools left us with memories of teachers and memories of our fellow students. Many of us have memories of our music classes with Victor Herr, Ed Carwithin, Carl Chapman or Bert Thompson and memories of drama classes under Don Musselman, or Richard Bach at Cristobal, or Dave Lommen, or Jane Gruver, or Rick Johnson, or even of Subert Turbyfill from the 40's and 50's, an English teacher who, as a labor of love, put on plays in the high school study hall.

TONI: One or two of you may remember also the football jamborees at Cristobal, the Pacific Siders going over on the train, the Tigers against the Red Machine (if your name started A through K) and the College Green Devils against the Bulldogs (if your name started with L through Z), and then everybody played everybody else.

JOHN: To help us remember those school years, Sarah Knapp and her husband Steve Alper have worked hard to put something together that will have you on your feet:

"School Song Medley"(Arrangement by Steven Alper) SARAH (STEVE)

 

1990 - 2003

TONI: Over the last 15 or 20 years, radio, TV, the Walkman and the Internet have made music available worldwide, blurring national differences, but even so, music today in Panama still has a strong local flavor, like the brother and sister duo of Sammy and Sandra, and accordionists Yin Carrizo and Osvaldo Ayala, who all attract large crowds wherever they appear.

JOHN: Internationally, Ruben Blades is a major singer/songwriter/movie star. Dino Nugent, playing with us today, was the pianist and arranger for Ruben's album, "Rosa de los Vientos", and shared in its Grammy honors. Omar Alfanno, lead singer for the group Son by Four, wrote their huge international hit, "A Puro Dolor", and Erika Ender is a singer-songwriter whose song "Candela"-- recorded by Chayanne-- was named Best Latin Pop Song of the Year in April 2002. She has also written songs for Son by Four, including the Spanglish lyrics to "A Puro Dolor", which you will hear at the very end of this next series of songs from this new wave of talented Panamanian musicians.

"Historia de Un Amor" JUAN CARLOS (DINO)
"A Puro Dolor" JANELLE & COMPANY (DINO)

 

Finale

TONI: : So now we come to the final portion of our program, starting with four top favorites of the century.

"Too Young" KENN & FAITH (WEULCIA)
"The Way We Were" LINDA (WEULCIA)
"Oh, Pretty Woman" BOB (WEULCIA)
"Yesterday" JANELLE & PANAMA TEAM (DINO)

SALUTE TO PANAMA

JOHN: As we close our program, we send our best wishes to the Panamanian people as they celebrate 100 years of self-government, and more than 500 years of history as a welcoming bridge for migration and trade. We wish them a dynamic and prosperous future. We wish them well... not as strangers but as friends who share their love of Panama, who share with them so many things: the tropical rains, La Tuli Vieja, the bugs that got squashed in our shoes, the land crabs on the Atlantic Side, the lottery that disappointed us week after week, and the politicians that disappointed us year after year.

TONI: The coffee, the corvina, the concolon;
seviche, sancocho, sopa borracha;
ginups, Chinese plums, ice cream beans;
avocados, patacones, papayas, platanos fritos;
las chichas: chicha de naranja, chichéme, chicha de avena, chicha de arroz con piña;
ropa vieja, carne en palito, filete a la parmesana;
carimañolas, yuca, platanos en tentación;
arroz con pollo, arroz con guandú, arroz con coco;
oranges from Cerro Campana, bollos from Chorrera, quesos Chela;
Michas.... con mantequilla
Pipas with a straw.....
Raspados with red syrup and lots of condensed milk on the top....
and .......the feel of mango juice running down your elbow.

JOHN: We miss the freshness of the mornings and the black clouds in the afternoons; the coolness of a bohio on a sunny day, the warm breeze at night along Boulevard Balboa; the hundred shades of green and the bright blooms of the guayacans and the bougainvilla; the fragrance of wood smoke from cooking fires in the interior and the way that sounds travel in the El Valle nights. The boat ride to Taboga and the road to Santa Clara. The sound of palm fronds scraping against each other. The noise along Central Avenue and the quiet hospitality of the people in the interior. We miss the language: "Parada!" "Oye!" "He don't reach yet." "Luchando, luchando!" "Mi amor."

And we miss the people. Although we know that much has changed, every one of these sights and sounds and tastes and fragrances has stayed the same, especially the people, and we wish them our best.

The Panamanian poet Ricardo Miro, in his poem "Patria" suggests that Panama was made so small... so that it could be....... carried in the heart. We know that that is so; we carry it in our hearts, and it warms us, because it is, after all, always summer there.


"Always Summer" SARAH (STEVE)
lyrics by Mary Knapp, music by Steven M. Alper

There's a sky-blue land where oceans kiss
And the big ships pass right through the grass
on their way to anywhere.
There's a magic land where birds are green
And I can't forget, I can't forget
it was always summer there

Always summer there,
Always summer there,
Always summer there,
Always summer there

Sand as white as silk and black as jet
The kiss of sun ­ I feel it yet.
The pearly moon above the palm;
A holiday that lasts 'til dawn.

Adios, tierra de mi corazón
Cuando recuerdo los dias allá
Yo recuerdo dias de felicidad
Adios, tierra de mi corazón

Jasmine sweet in the velvet air
How I wish that I was there
Passing many happy hours.
The stars were close, the world was ours.

Adios, tierra de mi corazón
Cuando recuerdo los dias allá
Yo recuerdo dias de felicidad
Adios, tierra de mi corazón

I wore red hibiscus in my hair
We were young; it was always summer there

Adios, tierra de mi corazón
Adios, tierra de mi corazón
Adios, tierra de mi corazón

Adios,

Adios Panama.


"Himno Nacional de Panamá" CRISTINA & TEAM (DINO)

"The Star Spangled Banner" ALL (WEULCIA & MELANIE)

END