Photo of the Week
January 29, 2017

Continuing with our study of the Red, White and Blue Troupe of the Canal Zone this week. Here is a photo of two of the top male swimmers (Eddie Wood left and Mack Walbridge right) from the Red, White and Blue Troupe posing after the South American Swimming Championship meet. Note the pennant flying above the far side of the car next to the Panama Flag.  This is one of the same pennant that I originally posted a photo of a few weeks ago (click here).  This is and outstanding find.  Also the two swimmers have the RWB large patch on their sweater/jacket.

I went on a Internet search and found this article:

"February 3, 1937 The Wellsboro Gazette from Wellsboro, Pennsylvania  

WALBRIDGE BROKE SWIMMING RECORD. Mack Walbridge, 16, son of Clyde Walbridge, formerly of Wellsboro, broke the 800-meter swimming record in the Canal Zone swimming races at Balboa in 10:47, which is 38 seconds better than the former record. Governor Clarence S. Ridley (1936-1940) of Canal Zone presented him with the championship trophies."

While searching on the Internet to find more information and found an article in the March 1940 Boy's Life Magazine with a photo Walbridge and Wood. (See below) The caption for the photo reads: 

"Good Luck: Says six year old Lorna Walbridge, juvenile star of the Canal Zone Red, White and Blue swimming team, to two teammates, Mack Walbridge and Eddie Wood, leaving for an international meet at Buenos Aires." And there his is, Coach Henry Grieser holding the young Lorna Walbridge.

With that find, I figured the date for the photo above you be taken in 1940. The photo is undated and the location isn't mentioned, but that appears to be a Mango tree in the background and the car appears to be a 1930's Studebaker President.  If Walbridge was 16 in 1937 he would have been 20 in the photo above.

In the Panama Canal Review July 4, 1958 issue there is a tribute article to the Red, White and Blue Troupe.  I have a  copy of this issue in my collection and scanned the undated photo bottom below that shows both these guys sitting on the diving board at Balboa Pool.  The photo has Walbridge on the left, Coach Henry Grieser in the middle and Wood on the right. 

This has been a fun project finding all these photos and information about a very important part of the history of the Canal Zone which is slowly fading away from memory.

More to come next week.






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