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"The day I met Lucho Azcarraga and"


There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.

--- Unknown


Let me first say this is a true story---having said that let me get you there---it was an early dry season day about almost 1000. I had been working in Panama on this Escape about 4 months. The year was 1968. I was working with AFFES-Panama as a local buyer of things that where "Typico" Panama. I was very nervous having set up a Lucho Azcarraga signing of his music in the main PX at Fort Clayton. We had loads of his records on hand. Hundreds---it was the time of the 33-1/3 vinyl LP's. I had set up nice displays through out the store and a special signing table for when Senor Lucho Azcarraga would arrive. Again, I was nervous---I said that didn't I? Well, about 0900 my boss and General Manager asked me if everything was ready? I answered yes but I thought I would disappear for a while because if he saw me again, he would ask me, "Are we all set?" Well it was now 0930 and I decided to go outside and take a walk around the parade grounds at Fort Clayton. I was wearing a white Pana-brisa Guayabera---but I was full of nervous energy.


When I got downstairs I notice a large blue Buick parked on the side of the building. At first I didn't see who was at the wheel. I'm near sighted so I squinted some more--- Wow! What a surprise. I ran over to the car. Here was Lucho Azcarraga in the flesh. We had talked on the telephone about having a promotion of his music in the PX. He was very enthusiastic about the idea. He had just changed record companies. I had seen this gran musician from a far but never formally met him. So, when I got to the car I said, "Welcome, Senor Lucho Azcarraga, my name is Louie or Luis--- "He didn't let me finish when he said, "Somos tu Cayo!" That means something special to Panamenos. It means we had something really in common by having the same first name. We talked some and got a bit acquainted. I said I had seen him play at various dances in the Canal Zone. Our BHS Prom at the Tivoli Guest House. The Army & Navy Club at Fort Amador and other places. And I really love your music, Senor Azcarraga! Well, he says, "Lucho, you can call me Lucho." And he gave me one of his trademark smiles.


The next thing I notice was his automobile was loaded with boxes of LP's of his music. He noticed that I was looking at all these records and he says, "Lucho, not to worry, we can never have too much merchandise. Remember---we can't sell out of an empty wagon." Well, I told him that I had set up a nice place for him in the PX and we were really going to sell loads of his music! Well, He got out of the car and he too was wearing a long sleeve Pana-brisa Guayabera. I signaled one of the San Blas that I knew to get some people to help me with the records. Well, Lucho said, "Here are the keys, Lucho, you can get them later. It is not good if the records sit too long in the sun."


In a short time we were entering the PX. I introduce him to my boss. I got the rest of the records out of the car. Made some other displays. Got two cups of Cafe Duran. One I gave to Lucho and the other was for me. We started to play his music and listen to the cash register ring. Lucho seem to be in his element signing away and talking to every customer, as they were the most important person on earth. That is something I will always remember. Lucho had this special gift. He not only played a great organ but he could make you feel like, "Mi casa es su Casa!" It was a fun day. I will never forget it.


Yes, it was the day I really met Lucho Azcarraga, we talked and really had a great cup of Cafe Duran. Years later I was really sadden with his passing--- I was back in the states then. Even today, I still play his music.


I always say if you want to put yourself in the mood and do a little Panama Dreaming---put on some fantastic Lucho Azcarraga organ music--- ou will be half way to Panama already!