Thursday, February 4, 2016

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 232

Atlas Beer Garden, Panama City, Republic of Panama, ca 1930s

L. Maduro’s black and white photographs of Panama during the construction of the canal (1904-1914), part of the University of Texas Library Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection, are better known perhaps but he also took pictures in later years like the one on this postcard of the Atlas Beer Garden that we can date by the style of the automobiles to probably the 1930s.  If he used a similar identification system as Curtis Teich, then this card was most likely published in 1933 since the number at the bottom right is 3A513 (3 for the year, A for the decade).  Since Maduro’s business was located next to the Central Hotel in Panama City and sold Panama hats, French perfumes, and souvenirs such as postcards.  Maduro must have had a good tourist trade in postcards and other novelties. 

Before the canal was built and the Canal Zone was established all the older towns in the area had private businesses such as grocery stores, cafés, hotels and saloons.  After the construction of the Canal commenced most private enterprises in the Zone were abolished.  The military officers clubs were still able to serve alcoholic beverages but civilian lodges and clubs and bars could not.  The civilians living in the area had to go to private clubs and bars if they wished to drink. 

In the early 1930s there were three breweries in Panama City, Atlas, Balboa, and Milwaukee.  About this same time beer gardens were built that affiliated with the breweries.  The Atlas Beer Garden, shown on the postcard, sold Atlas Beer, the Balboa Garden sold Balboa Beer and El Rancho Garden sold Milwaukee Beer.  One other beer garden in Colon, Bilgrays Beer Garden, was another favorite nightspot for people living in the Canal Zone. 

During World War II enlisted men had to be out of the Panama City by 11 pm and the Atlas Beer Garden was made off limits to them.  Following the end of the war the Atlas Beer Garden was again open to all.  Then in the 1950s the Canal Zone laws pertaining to alcohol were changed so that the fraternal lodges and clubs in the Zone could now have bars that served alcoholic beverages.  That combined with increasing nationalistic tensions with Panama saw the demise of beer garden patronage.  By 1978 only the El Rancho was still in use and that was as a bingo parlor. 

Like several other postcard companies, Maduro had his own logo that appeared on the reverse of the cards.

I. L. Maduro logo

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