Object of the Day

Santa Clara Beach

Both postcards show Kodachrome photographs of Santa Clara Beach, Panama.

2013.11.33_0001 2013.11.32_0001


These are great images of Santa Clara Beach, however, the record lacks much information beyond the title shown here.  Is there any additional information we should add to their records?


  • bkarrer2013

    these are postcards from the late 1950s with their characteristic rounded corners. They are part of a long series numbered C-xxxx by Leon Greene under a variety of names as enumerated on his cards. Many were sold even in later years of the Canal Zone at the Curundu Photo Shop. Bob Karrer


    From: The Panama Canal Museum Collection at UF [mailto:comment-reply@wordpress.com] Sent: Tuesday, April 15, 2014 12:48 PM To: bkarrer@comcast.net Subject: [New post] Santa Clara Beach

    ufpcmcollection posted: “Both postcards show Kodachrome photographs of Santa Clara Beach, Panama. This are great images of Santa Clara Beach, however, the record lacks much information beyond the title shown here. Is there any additional information we should a”

  • Fred Sill

    Since travel to the USA wasn’t a possibility during World War II, many of the Canal Zone kids (me included) would go Santa Clara beach with their parents for the summer school holidays. There were private homes and bungalows which could be rented. The social center for the community was “The Casino”, a roadhouse on the highway leading from Panama City towards Costa Rica, and very popular not only with the Zonians for its food, drink, and juke box, but also servicemen stationed at the Rio Hato airbase, located about four miles down the highway. Another popular beach community at the time was (and still is), Gorgona, located about 20 miles closer to Panama City.

    The hostess/manager of The Casino was Betty Webster. Once met, never forgotten.)

      • Fred Sill

        Hi, Alyssum….

        How nice to hear from someone related to Betty Webster!

        Betty was a longtime pal of my dad, probably going back to the 1930s. My guess is that he may have met her through his friend Nelson Rounsevell, who was was a friend of her husband (Webster?). Nelson was a local journalist/writer, who was the editor of the leading English language newspaper, “The Panama American”.

        By the time I arrived on the scene in Santa Clara (circa 1940) Nelson, and Betty, and (I think) Betty’s husband — whom I never saw — were living a little way down a driveway, across the Panamerican Highway (two lanes at the time) from the “Casino”. It was four interconnected bungalows circling a center patio. I especially remember the peacocks. Betty gave me one of the tail feathers, which I treasured.

        During the war years, 1941-1945, Betty was very much the hostess at the Casino, which was the favorite hangout for officers and airmen from the nearby Rio Hato airbase, plus any Zonian and Panamanian families who were in the area . My dad said that Betty was Panama’s own “Texas Guinan” — the famous speakeasy hostess during prohibition days who’d greet customers with “Hello Sucker”.

        Betty is so much part of my memories of that time. I’m sorry to say that I never saw her after leaving Panama to study in the States. When my job brought me back there many years later, I asked about Betty, and was told that the Casino was a sad shadow of its former days, and that Betty, who was very infirm, would occasionally appear there in the mornings, accompanied by her brother. I told myself “someday…”, but the truth is that I was afraid that she wouldn’t have any idea who I was, and I wanted to remember her as I had known her.

        (I have a couple of anecdotes, but will save them for later. If you’re interested.)

        In the meantime, best regards from “Copacabana Beach”. (Betty would approve.)


  • John Homer

    I was stationed at Howard AFB 1978-80 and was fortunate to meet Betty a good of Hazel “MOM” Duval that lived in Nuevo Gorgona. I understood these two women were the pioneers of Nuevo Gorgona and Santa Clara back in the 40’s. I took Mom Duval to see Betty one day and had a great time hearing some of their great stories. Always wanted to go back and see these beaches again. I didn’t realize there was so much history with Betty Webster.

  • Enrique Zarak

    Betty Webster went to Panama Canal Zone as a Gorgas nurse, got married with Webster the owner of Santa Clara beach proyect. She was a close friend of Jade Rhodora (Lou Elma Smith) an exotic stripper dancer during the years of 1931 – 1960 perfoming the exotic dance called “The Beauty and the Beast”. Jade had a house at front beach in Santa Clara Beach. She was working during the WW II at the Kelly’s Ritz Club in Panama City.

  • Carol Grench

    Many families went to Santa Clara on a regular basis. My grandmother took my mother when she was a child in the 40s. We went in the 60s. The Philips Cottages were the place we stayed. They are now Las Serenas. We stayed there when my daughter got married in Panama in 2012. The beach was wonderful. The fishermen fished out the area twice a day. We got to see their catch, which sometimes included small sharks. The fishermen would sell us langoustines (Chinese lobsters) for 25 cents each. We rode the small Panamanian horses on the beach. It was an idillic place for our family.

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