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Mrs. Smyth, first grade teacher and ‘playwright’ produced and directed this first grader’s play in the ‘Gyambo Gym’. There were many community school plays produced and attended by a full ‘Gym/house’ throughout the year. At times they involved cast representing all grade levels and their families as well. Those skilled as artist helped produced the background sceneries, upper classes students assisted in mounting them on the Gym wall and playing the role as proctors. Elementary school parents contributed to designing, sewing and fitting costumes for the ‘actors’. These productions included elocutions by members at all grade levels, performances by the school chorus, particularly in celebration of Panamanian National and Christmas holidays. Upper class artists would paint the sceneries. Performers dreaded making any missteps least they would become targets of life long teasing by their cohorts.

Other than Joyce Holness, seen at far right, do you recognize any of the other actors in this scene?

Please share your memories and stories of school plays performed in the Gym in the ‘open space*’ segment.


This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. jahfin@hotmail.com

    Front row is Joyce Holness, Janet Barber, Myrna Wade, Ramona Cox. Back row is unknown, Lesma Prescott, Leatha James, unknown. Those in the picture are Flowers, dancing to a Waltz of the Flowers. We were 7 years old and first graders. Not seen is Horatius Scott who was the farmer. Reva Richards who was the farmers wife. Lorraine Dunn who was the caterpillar, who turned into a beautiful butterfly. For many of us, this was our first exposure to Classical Music and Tchaicovsky. Our costumes were made of crepe paper and this production was such a hit that it was performed more than once. Icelyn Smythe produced most, if not all of the plays in Gyambo. She was a very dedicated teacher, who devoted her time, effort and talent to our Gyambo community. RIP ICY.

    1. Ricardo Butch Millett

      Wow! This is AMAZING!
      Your comments, memories are vivid and brings the time period and people into sharp context. We could not identify the people, the play, the event, the costumes to the level of specificity that you did. This is exactly the kind of fleshing out of the ‘story’ that we hoped to elicit. Thanks so much! But please share your name with us (could not decipher it from the email address).

    2. yolanda holness clark

      jahfin who commented above is my sister Joyce Holness Findlay who is the flower at the far right of this picture. I remember watching this play which was performed in our gym. I can still hear the music of these dancing flowers after all these years. The backkground was created by Victor Smythe–brother of our first grade teacher Icelyn Smythe–whose brother Dan Smythe later married my sister Gloria Holness Smythe.

  2. Reva Richards Marcellin

    Really going back in time after how many years? As Joyce Holness Findlay noted, this was our first exposure to not only classical music, but a production by first graders (amateur actors/actresses), and did we do a GRAND job then. Also missing from the Country Garden photo based on today’s recollection are: Faye Thorne and Antonio Clarke who were the blue jays, Alexander Battlefield – bumble bee and Estella White – flower. May still have forgotten one other flower that is still unknown. We will always remember our first grade teacher, Ms. Smythe, who was just one of the most caring and devoted teacher to all her students in the 50’s.
    Other elementary teachers that impacted us during that era were: The Thompson’s (twins), Mr. Louis Walker, Ms. Watkis, Mr. Osborne, Mr. Bryce, Mr. Knowles, Mr. Grant, Mr. McDougal and Ms. Piper. Notwithstanding, I cannot end this without paying tribute to Mr. Morgan, Principal. The manner in which he inflicted corporal punishment with his heavy, sturdy, black leather belt was always a point of discussion, whenever classmates got together to reminiscence about our elementary days in Santa Cruz…
    Finally, I would like to commend and say “kudos” to the Committee for a job so well done, and more more so, for taking the time to give us a written and cohesive history of the one forgotten “Silver Town” of Gamboa, (with the one way bridge) which is back on the map for many to see and read about. THANK YOU!!!

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