We are hard pressed to remember why or who labeled the geographic groupings of ‘Gyambo’ residential buildings such as ‘Sugar Bowl’and ‘Dust Bowl’. We know that the latest group of buildings were named “38th Parallel” to designate the line of separation between ‘White/US rate Gamboa’ and ‘local rate/Black Gamboa”( Adopted from the Korean “38th Parallel”, the line of demarcation between North and South Korea ). Later designations such as “Church Square and “Front Square” were used to name sports teams involved in hometown competition.
This photo circa mid-1970’s, captures a view on what could be called ‘Gyambo’s main street’; officially known as MacFarlane Parkway. It is a time period when the original buildings were being demolished. Newer designed residential quarters were being built to replace the original structures . Note that the first two residential buildings on the right are more modern in design than the original ‘residential quarters in front (Building # 306). This structure was a typical Gyambo/Sugar Bowl residential building. Each of these buildings contained twelve living quarters/apartments that housed Local Rate Panama Canal Company employees and their dependent families. Open spaces below these buildings provided inviting play areas for children, sheltered clothes lines for drying laundry as well as work space for carpenters, auto mechanics and other hobbyists to enjoy working. Cards, Dice games and Domino games also made good use of this recreational space. Please direct your attention to the single story building furthest to the upper right. This was the medical health dispensary where most medical and dental needs were addressed. The dispensary had a dedicated staff of one doctor, one nurse, one receptionist, one dentist and a dental assistant. Together they provided health services to all Gamboa Canal Zone, Panama Canal employees- residents of Gamboa. This public health medical facility provided health care in segregated areas within the building. One section serviced ‘U.S raters’ while ‘Local raters’ were attended to in the other area. There was a covered carport at the left side of the building with an ambulance and a driver on stand-by duty. Patients requiring acute or longer term medical care were transported to Gorgas Hospital.
Gamboa residents viewing this photo might remember that the town’s fire station (not visible) was located right of the dispensary .
The streetlight seen here served as a ‘community time piece’. When lit, it was time for all youngsters to be in their homes. ’Lamp posts’, as we called them, also served as gathering places for adolescent males to engage in social banter as well as highly intellectual exchanges.
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