“In one direction of the Prado, was the Clubhouse,
a fine place to eat…
Or swim at the pool, buy a comic,
or go to the movies for a treat.”
Snow W. Frost
In the immediate background of Steven’s Circle, sits the Balboa Clubhouse, long a landmark and gathering place for Panama Canal Zone inhabitants who lived in the large apartment complexes between it and the “Admin Building,” as locals sometimes referred to it.
Every town in the former Panama Canal Zone had a clubhouse. There was Balboa, Gamboa, Cocoli, Ancon, Pedro Miguel, Margarita, and Diablo.
While at Balboa High School, many students did lunch at the Balboa Clubhouse in the back, near the doors that led to the swimming pool. The Clubhouse was also the site for some heavy-duty studying or cramming for semester final exams. In some clubhouses, like the one at Cocoli, the old folks played Bingo.
The Clubhouses served the Canal Zone inhabitants well. They were community centers, study halls, home away from home, and a place where everybody knew each others names like the theme from Cheers.
The Clubhouse was part of the human fabric interwoven so closely that made the Panama Canal Zone the place to live for most Zonians. It was the perfect water hole in the area. When you evoke the Balboa Clubhouse, your eyes get moist and it’s not because of a sudden gust of wind, mind you. Absolutely no doubts about it, the Balboa Clubhouse was the place to be.
In an effort to capture the current situation of this historic Balboa landmark, I took a couple of pictures of it last Sunday, March 22, 2009. This is what I saw. Here we go.
If you want to find out how the Balboa Clubhouse looked way back in the fifties, kindly click here for an aerial photo of the building taken on December 27, 1950. Happy memories and Good Day.