Causeway Stories -- #6

Roderick Macdonell, BHS '63

One of my most vivid memories of the causeway involved someone being shot!!  It was around 1966 or 1967.  As I recall, it was a pleasant dry season Sunday afternoon.  A group of us were gathered on the small beach on Perico Island which faced Panama City.  The group consisted of the usual mix of "cool" people and oddballs, brought together to enjoy the simple pleasures of drink and companionship and to mourn the end of another weekend.   One of the members of the group was a guy whose nickname was "Little Joe".  Little Joe was a charismatic and popular figure within our circle.   He had come to Panama, as I recall, as a member of the military.  During his tour of duty, his military obligation ended and he separated from the service.  He liked the place so well that he stayed on.  Little Joe was a charter member of a group which makes any Curundu resident swell with pride, Curundu's greatest cultural achievement: "Scum Row".  For those of you who may not remember, "Scum Row" was the name given to a group of squalid wooden bachelor quarters on a dead end street adjacent to the Curundu Clubhouse.  These quarters were occupied by army civilian employees who had taken a name that was intended as a put down and evolved it into a counter culture version of a country club.  They had theme jackets and all kinds of other cool stuff.  But I digress ...On this particular afternoon, Little Joe was demonstrating the marksmanship abilities that had made him such a valuable member of the armed forces.  He was trying to shoot seagulls out of the air with a cheap and trashy single shot 22 caliber pistol.  I recall noticing that the direction in which he was firing was directly toward Panama City.  I don't recall if Little Joe brought down any birds, but I think not. Little Joe had developed a great fondness for his adopted home and he strived in his own small way to do his part in helping the economy.  On this particular day, his economic aid was directly benefiting the Panamanian breweries. He was in perfect form for shooting, seeing double, and thus allowing him twice as many opportunities for a "hit".  At some point during the afternoon, Little Joe found that he was having difficulty walking.  Ordinarily this would not have troubled him since this is one of the normal side effects of consuming beer on a warm afternoon.   He was, however, deeply troubled by the fact that he was leaving a bloody footprint with each step.  Little Joe had accidentaly shot himself in the foot without realizing it.  Several members of his social caste hastily transported him off to Gorgas Hospital for treatment of his injury and I left to return to my spacious quarters in Williamson Place.  The doctors who treated Little Joe reported the matter to the police and shortly thereafter, Little Joe had a deeply serious conversation with Judge Demming.  Judge Demming ordered the pistol to be immediately destroyed and placed other sanctions on Little Joe.  The seagulls were grateful and I felt just a little safer.

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Update: October 4, 1998
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