One of the perks of being an archivist is that sometimes you trip across something that takes your breath away. Because I work for a private K-12 school celebrating its 75th anniversary, most of my archives consist of photos, negatives, personal papers of the founders and early teachers and school memorabilia over the years. I digitize as I go along. Though I find my work extremely absorbing (I love it!) and often tedious, it fits my personality because basically I'm a story teller.
This extremely worn photo was packed in a box of an early teaching couple's travels to Europe when they retired in the 1960s, letters and memorabilia regarding this trip, and some of her curriculum guides from the years she taught science. The European trip was a gift that the then parents gave to them. But, tucked in was this gem, obviously from a much earlier period.
On the back it says, "Red Star Line Photo, made on S.S. Belgenland 1928 cruise and furnished without charge. Credit as above in captions will be appreciated." Handwritten on the back was, "Belgenland cars at ruins, Old Panama, Dec. 25, 1928."
Wow, my mind kicked into gear. Were they on their honeymoon trip? Also in the collection of the school are many old letters between the two from 1922-1925 when she was in college in New York and he was working as a news reporter in California.
But, more it was the cars that grabbed me. I don't know much about vintage cars but these cars look mighty appealing to me. The Panama Canal was completed in 1914 so this was undoubtedly an exciting venture as the S.S. Belgenland went through the locks.
On Central America.com it says, "About two miles from the center of Panama City are found the ruins of the first capital, known as Old Panama or Panama La Vieja, founded in 1519. Fragments of walls and arches stand in an open park, recalling the splendor of the Spaniard's first settlement on the Pacific Ocean. From here, expeditions were mounted to conquer the Inca Empire of South America. All of the wealth from Peru, Chile and California flowed to Spain through Old Panama Not surprisingly, the enormous quantities of gold attracted pirates like sharks to Panama's waters. When Henry Morgan looted the city in 1671, Panama's governor ordered the powder magazine burned and the whole city went up in flames. The capital was moved two miles to the west, and present-day Panama City was founded in 1673. The most impressive structures remaining are the cathedral, with a massive bell-tower, and the Bishop's House. In front of the ruins, alongside the ocean, is an artisan's market, full of native crafts, and a small restaurant with a fine view out to a bay where Spanish galleons and pirate ships once lifted sail."
Travel Images.com produced this modern photo of the same ruins. Ah, the romantic in me wishes I could travel back in time and see the history played out.