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Reading Comics...was something little kids did in the Old Canal Zone.


Yes, going to Balboa Clubhouse or Diablo Clubhouse or even Cocoli Clubhouse...all the little kids were in search of the latest batch of comic books from the states that had hit the Canal Zone. Back in my day they were only a nickel and pretty thick. Reading Comics and the funny papers was an institution in my day. Oh, sure we had the little warm-up books in Kindergarten like the story of--- Jack and Jill went the hill to fetch a pail of water---" or "Look Jane, see Spot run---" Yea, pretty basic stuff. That and those little blue penmanship books filled with sticks and circles and all kinds of fancy letters. But Comic books were where it was. We all know that it rains a lot in Panama---so, lot of times our mother would keep us inside. If you lived in 12 family tropical housing, you could form your own comic book reading club. Of course we didn't call it that. We would gather at one of our houses and read comic books. We would also swap comic books.


There were a lot of great comic books in my day. But my favorite was "CAPTAIN AMERICA!" You have to remember I grew up during the war years. (WWII) But nobody and I mean nobody messed with Captain America. Some years later some chapters were also produced. These we saw at the Saturday Afternoon Matinee. Now, picture a he-man in tights with muscles bulging all over. Hey he could take care of any trouble a little kid would run into. You got to see Captain America. He was probably 6 feet 5 inches tall--- at least. He wore an outfit that was Red; White and Blue like our flag. He also had a shield that had a large white star on it. He could deflect almost any kind of bullet that was fired at him---especially if some Nazi was firing it at him. He also had two 45's strapped on his waist and he knew how to use them. His comic books were really in demand by this little kid. Of course, we also had Superman, Batman & Robin, The Black Hawks (these guys flew the latest aircraft back in my day---P-38's) Red Ryder & Lil Beaver, Plastic Man and loads of western comic books. But of all these I loved Captain America! Back then nobody was ashamed of being Patriotic. No and most in the Canal Zone did their thing for the war effort. Paper drives, Bottle Collections, Can collections, less sugar and butter and also gas rationing.


But when the sun went down...we all got behind the black fallout curtains. The Canal Zone was pitch black during the war years and everybody carried a weapon. So, us little kids stayed indoors and read comic books. No TV! Some radio but strictly low band stuff...but comic books were everywhere. Wow, if I had only kept a few of those Captain America Comic Books---I would be a millionaire!


Yes, reading comic books was something little kids did a lot of in the old Canal Zone. Some of today's comic books are not as nice as what we read...they deal with adult themes. And they use too much brown, black and gray on the pages. But I guess some people read them. But too bad the Captain America comic books are not still around ---we could really have a regular CZ Brats Swap Meet! Now that would really be fun----especially when it rains.