The Oldest Kobbe Kid ?

I might be the oldest Kobbe kid. My name is Jean R. Moss.
Here is what I recall from 1941 when I was four years old and my 101 year old mother also contributed to this story.
My father, Gus Russel, was hired to go to Panama by Tucker, McClure and Thompson-Markham as an electrician in 1941.
I think that was the time the Fort was being constructed, but I could be wrong about that.
We sailed to Panama on the Braga, a freighter I believe, in February.

The Braga

Braga 1941 Sailings.jpg
Braga sailings 1940-1941

Jean on the Braga Feb 1941.jpg
Jean on the freighter Braga Feb 1941

You’ll see a photo of me in the swimming pool with the Captain.
He rigged up the pool just for me and wouldn’t let anyone else use it according to my mother.
Jean and The Captain in swimming pool on the freighter Braga Feb 1941.jpg
Jean and The Captain in “swimming pool”

I vaguely remember going through the locks.

I have some vivid memories of the fort and beyond, although a four-year-olds memories may not be all that accurate.

My father’s boss was Al Gettman, also a friend. Al, his wife and two children were at the fort the same time we were.
My mother tells me that we first stayed, with the Gettman’s, in an abandoned house close to the base until our living quarters were finished.
I have a hard time believing that it was abandoned, but I do picture a rather large two story house. Anyway it seemed large to a four year old.
Soon after, we moved into base housing which were duplexes or triplexes.
I think that rats were prevelant because my father rigged up an electrical device around the outside of the house to keep them out. It was only activated at night.

I recall that there was a Bar close by and I remember a man coming to an area outside the Bar with what I think was a sloth around a pole.

It rained every aftrnoon, it seemed to me, and the rain was warm. I told everyone that it was hot rain.

We often went to Farfan Beach. The thing I rememer most was that the tide went out very far and I could walk for a long way on wet sand.

I have a black and white photo of me sitting in a banana leaf at the top of a small rise probably across from our living quarters.
I slid down the “hill” in it and that was the MOST fun.
Jean on her banana leaf boat.jpg
Jean on her banana leaf boat.

My mother also labeled a photo “Big Tree Ranch”, but I had no idea what that was; now I do know it was the Big Tree Housing area.
Marilyn and Jimmie G and Jean Big Tree.jpg
Marilyn and Jimmie G and Jean Big Tree

Their Native Playmates.jpg
Jimmy and Marilyn Gettman and me with a group of Panamanian children

There must have been a school on the base and, if there was, Jimmy Gettman may have attended it. Or maybe that was later when the base was completed.
I also have another photo of me with a girl about my age named Arlene.

Panama 1941
Jean and Arlene Easter Morning Panama 1941.jpg
Jean and Arlene Easter Morning

Jean in her bath Panama 1941.jpg
Jean in her bat

My mother wrote her name in the old black photo album, but I have no memory of her.
And I don’t really remember the Gettman children much either, although I must have played with Marilyn because she was about a year younger than me.
Jimmy was older, probably seven. We had a playhouse made of a large wooden packing crate.

Jean in Panama May 1941

My mother and I returned to Los Angeles in July of 1941. She said that she hated living in Panama, but my father had to stay on to fulfill his contract.
It may have been for a year, but I don’t know for sure.
We sailed on the SS Grant. The SS Grant had a swimming pool and I have several photos of me in it and I included one of them.

SS Grant

So, those are my memories and they are good ones--yes, living in Panama was a happy time for me.

Jean at the Presen

Jean’s daughter and Jean’s husband

Jean Moss 2013