The Panama Canal Review . . . October 5, 1951

. . . but we do have a lot of things that bring a lot of people to the Clubhouse day after day, year after year, and at all hours of the day and night. In fact, at Diablo Clubhouse, we have just about everything there is at any Canal Clubhouse, and more, because we have the big boss, too.


*There is food. That's in our cafeteria section. There you get the good solid variety that you want at mealtime or the sodas and sundaes or cokes or what-have-you for the calories in between.

*Then there are all kinds of things to buy. They're in our merchandise section. People go there for a new lipstick, a cigar, a candy bar, a New York Times, a roll of film, a phonograph record and all kinds of things like that.

*And there's a theater. If you're interested in statistics, it has 450 seats. If you're interested in movies, it has them too, - the common garden variety Hollywood productions most of the time, the "arty" variety on the last Thursday of the month, chiller-mystery-horror shows at 10:30 o'clock one Friday night a month . . . and sometimes, dramatic productions, by Isthmians for Isthmians and their mutual entertainment.

*The ballroom on the second floor brings a lot of people to the Clubhouse, too. They gather there for meetings, bingo, dinner dances, and banquets, and all kinds of things people find to get together for.

*A dance floor and a juke box draw the just-beyond-small-fry crowd through a red door to (what do you know?) the "Red Door," a new and special little gathering place where people sometimes have small informal parties.

*There's an eight-lane bowling alley accredited by the American Bowling Congress, and bowled on by many a local league.

*We even have a Library in the building, a new branch of the Panama Canal Library.

*Some people who are run down at the heels come to the Clubhouse because it has a shoe shop.

*Others who want a new suit or their pants pressed come to see our tailor.

*Grown-up girls who want a new dress or drapes to match the new slip covers talk their problems over with the seamstress.

*Lots of ladies come regularly for their wave sets and manicures. They go to the Beauty Shop.

*Employees of the offices of the General Manager of the Clubhouse Division, and the General Manager too - that's Wilson Crook - arrive every morning bright and early and stay here all day because that's where they work on the second floor of the building.

*Motion picture equipment from theaters all over the Isthmus is brought here every now and then because here's where it is fixed - in the motion picture equipment maintainer shop on the first floor of the building.

We don't say the place is just like Grand Central Station - because we don't have any trains. But, we repeat, we do have a lot of things that bring a lot of people to the Diablo Clubhouse day after day, year after year, and at all hours of the day and night.

And that's just the way we like it.

Why don't you come, too?


Well, Diablo Clubhouse has changed quite a bit since the above story was written.  We all have our memories of this venerable institution, as it was the one place in the Canal Zone that was open twenty-four hours.  The movie theater where we all gathered for the Owl Show is still standing, but no more movies are being shown there.  The upstairs that used to house the Boy Scout Office and the ballroom (remember being at the theater and hearing the square dance music and foot stomping obliterating the movie sound?) are long gone.  It is now the office for applying for drivers' licenses. Mr. Duke's Barbershop is long gone; as are the tailor, the seamstress, the beauty shop, the bowling alley, and everything else that was once part of this  institution.

However, the building still stands, which is a miracle when you think about how old it is.   The Clubhouse now houses a Mini-Mart with a variety of groceries.  I noticed that they exclusively stock Pepsi and not Coca-Cola.  The residents of Diablo need to rise up in arms about this oversight!!  There is a small cafeteria selling hot meals along with very inferior empanadas -- gone are the glory days of the fried corvina, french fries with gravy, and superb empanadas.

September 12, 1999

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