Lets All Go to the Beach
When I was a kid living in Cocoli, I would always love to hear my Dad
say, Lets all go to the beach.
There were many beautiful beaches a short driving distance away. Some had black sand
that you had to run for miles with the Aya-aya-aya to get to the water. Others had pristine white sand that the water had
raked in its passing. Others yet were rocky and deserted that you felt like Robinson Cruiso. But regardless, going to the
beach was a real treat.
We would pack-up all kinds of eats and soft drinks like if we would be gone for a week. We
would put on our trunks under our clothes and everybody would pile into the old black 1953 Buick Roadmaster Coupe V-8 with
the neat bombsight hood ornament.
My Dad would sometimes let me drive it. I would just aim the bombsight down the
road and floor the accelerator from time to time. It was Bowwow climbing hills. But down the other side it would go like
the wind. It was really comfortable riding in this powerful V-8 automobile. We had gotten the Buick on a great deal from some
Fort Clayton GIs who were transferring back to the states. From the very first day it was an auto mechanics dream. I would
often see my Dad after work making some adjustments to the engine or working on the brakes to get the most out of the Buick.
It was a fantastic car. It was as big as a house and when you sat in the back seat you disappeared from view. It was fantastic
for riding around the Canal Zone. The Buick was a regular workhorse when going to the Balboa Commissary. You could haul a
ton of foodstuff in the trunk.
This model Buick had a grill that was out of sight. It was all chrome and look like
the choppers from Jaws. It sparkled with chrome all around. In addition it had skirts on the rear fenders. This gave it a
wide look from the rear. It was quite sporty with large white-wall tires. The tires were really impressive, but a job to keep
clean. And our Buick had a spotlight mounted on the drivers side. This neat little accessory was great for driving on the
causeway at night to shake-up the parkers.
One of the things we really enjoyed doing was loading the Buick up with
all our friends and go to the Drive-Inn on Balboa Avenue. We could squeeze 6 or 7 in the back seat, 4 or 5 in the front seat,
and maybe 2 or 3 in the trunk. On car night we would get everybody in for $1.50. Yes, what a blast when we found our parking
spot right in front of the concession stand and everybody would pile out to see the movie. That was before drive-in movies
became XXX-rated. But who went to see the movie?
We would go for the action! There were waiters that took your order
from yucca sticks, empanadas, hamburgesas, carne en palito, fried chicken, cokes, hi-spot, rum & cokes and cerveza. Yea,
I could never figure that one out. A person could get bombed at the drive-inn and leave the family bus there and take a Chiva
home or have a designated driver before they became a way of life.
If I drove, I would usually have only one drink
because driving the Buick Roadmaster met total concentration or you might run into something. The Buick had a tendency to
pull to the left when barreling down the road at 35 MPH. When you applied the brakes, it pulled to the right. There was very
little play in the wheel, which was good. Of course I had a speed-turning crystal knob on the wheel that I used to full advantage
when I was parked and with the engine-off.
After the drive-in movie we would cruise around looking for action. We
would go out to the causeway and use our spotlight to full advantage. We would also take K-9 Road to Contractors Hill to watch
the canal races. Since we always had our bathing suits with us, it wouldnt take long and somebody would say, Lets go to the
I awake with the dawn
Memories tumble from my past
What to do or not