Photo of the Week
January 7, 2017
Well now on to the subject matter that has had me searching high and low on the Internet about this young lady in the photo. Her name is Lona Rathbone and is wearing an athletic outfit with the Canal Zone Troup logo in front. The press write-up on the back of the photo reads: "CHAMPION ALL-AROUND ATHLETE OF CANAL ZONE - Miss Lona Rathbone is one of the greatest athletes of her sex, in the world, if not the greatest. She is a member of the famed "Red, White and Blue" swimming team of Panama Canal Zone, hold the ladies championship of fancy high diving of the Zone. She is proficient also in the standing and running broad jumps and is a member of the Balboa High School relay team. (From Keystone View Co.)
I found this same press photo and write-up in several old U.S. newspapers that have been digitized.
This was quite the write-up for this young lady who was a Freshman at Balboa High School in 1921. Balboa High School was in the old school by the Admin. Building at the time which later would be the elementary school. As my searches increased I visited the University of Florida - George A. Smathers Libraries website that has digital copies of almost all the year books from the Canal Zone. These yearbooks were part of the Panama Canal Museum collection.
I searched through the 1921 Zonian (name of the Balboa High School yearbook) and the search wasn't successful in finding a class photo or any photo of Lona. The 1921 Zonian only had photos of the senior class. There was however quite a few notes and scores in the athletic pages for Lona.
Then I went to the 1922 Zonian and found Lona throughout the year book. I found that she was on the yearbook staff, many notes and scores in the athletic pages, her Sophomore Class group photo (below) and a photo of her on a page titled "School Belles" (below). To be in the center of her class photo and being one of the "School Belles" must have meant Lona was a very popular girl.
UF didn't have a copy of the 1923 year book which is too bad. I did find her name mentioned in the 1923 Caribbean (Cristobal High School Yearbook) in the athletics section.
Then in 1924 which would have been Lona's senior year nothing turned up at all in the search engine nor by going page by page looking. Another too bad as I wonder were Lona went. She possibly left the Canal Zone and moved stateside.
I found and read an article in the July 7, 1922 New Brunswick digitized newspaper that a group of girl athletes from the Canal Zone are on their way to Paris of the International Women's Games which took place on August 29. It reads: The young women are giving exhibition games at Havana and Bermuda and in Spain on the way over. After the games they will tour Germany, England and Scotland and then come to New York about the middle of September. It is planned to have them appear in New York, Boston and Philadelphia.....The Canal Zone team consists of Lona Rathbone, Esther Green and Team chaperones and Homer Baker, physical director in the Canal Zone will manage and coach the team......Miss Rathbone has a record for the 100-yard hurdles and does exceptionally well with the javelin and in the standing broad jump.....there is mention of the other team members records, but I will leave them out.
The last photo below is one I found in my searches of Lona which I think may have been when she was in Paris as it was taken in 1922 at a track and field meet. It is an old French press photo I found on a French research site called Gallica.
So it appears that Lona Rathbone was quite an accomplished young lady and I wish I could find out more about her after her school years.
This has been a great research project that started out with an old photo. More Red, White and Blue Troupe coming next week.
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