I met Milton Gore my first year out of NC State in Raleigh NC. His brother lived across the street and knew I played music. So when Milton came to town, Cutliff brought him around to check us out. Milton and I hit it off as pals and musicians and we began a long friendship that is still alive and wholesome to this day ( as of 2013). We are now very different people with very different world views, but our love of music and our love for each other has somehow kept our friendship alive. And I'm glad for that.

The first time we left NC and headed to Colorado (believe it or not, we did this twice) we took his Galaxie 500. My job was to build a trailer to haul our stuff. His was to get the car. We did our best....

After weeks of planning, we packed everything up, including my skinny black lab Pud (who had full run of the back seat on top of the guitars cases) and headed out early one morning about 4 in the afternoon. We got about a block before I realized we had a problem. What a screech!!!

The muffler had been dragging so Milton wired it up to the chassis with a coat hanger. Unfortunately, he wrapped the coat hanger around the drive shaft. Good musician. Bad mechanic.

And about that time I realized we had a few other obvious problems too. One of the back doors would not stay shut (threatening the immediate ejection of my beloved pooch) and both spare tires had nowhere to be stowed. So I grabbed my dog's never-to-be-used 50 foot dog chain and wrapped it completely around the car. It held the muffler up, the door shut, and the two spare tires on the roof.

Down the road we went... all the way to Colorado. No shit.



 My sister, Beth, has a funny story about deodorant... I'll tell it for her:

She and a friend were coming back from the stables in Pedro Miguel one day. My mother was driving. As you can imagine, horses plus hot weather had the car smelling pretty ripe, but my mother was somehow able to fine-tune her smelling. She knew right away that the bulk of the odor was coming from Beth's friend sitting behind her in the car.

My mother politely says, 'Oh my, someone's deodorant is failing today.' To which my sister's friend immediately answered, 'Well, it can't be mine. I don't use any!!'



My father was a quiet nut. His sense of humor was very dry, but he kept everyone in suspense in that regard. Here is a short story from one of his co-workers in the Customs Division:

Thanks for your great music, Mark!

By the way, I lived right down the street from you in LaBoca... I remember you coming into the office sometimes. Your Dad was a great boss. I do remember one time when he was having trouble with kidney stones, that he came back from the bathroom and told me to open my hand, and he dropped a spiney stone in my hand LOL.... That was your Dad!!!!
Marcia Cicero



I had an older Jamaican fisherman friend I met as a boy in La Boca. We lived right at the mouth of the Panama Canal and before the bridge was built, there was only a ferry to get across the canal. It was called 'Thatcher's Ferry' and the bridge was called the 'Thatcher Ferry Bridge', until it was later changed to 'Bridge of the Americas'.

I watched them build the bridge as a boy, and built forts with the wood they dropped into the canal that would then float up for us to plunder. Many times, large pulleys were attached to the lumber, which I figured out how to use in the making of these cool forts all along the semi-abandoned banks of the canal near La Boca.

I also used to shoot arrows right over the heads of Panamanians walking the bridge sidewalk. The arrows would come back down on the other side and stick in the college field next to my neighborhood where we would go get them and do it again. I learned a lot of Panamanian cuss words that way. 

My friends's name was Cosman Price, and he was a character. Very tall, dark skin, big smile, huge nostrils. I would look up into his face and see teeth and nostrils. Strong man too. He had a boat at the old ferry that he made his living with fishing. He and the others (Marcos, Frederick, et al) would hide their gear in the sawgrass down at the old Ferry landing. Many fishermen still use that place to harbor their log fishing 'cayucas' to this day.

I befriended Cos and brought him into our yard to meet my dad one day. I was probably ten years old or so. My dad took a liking to him too, and soon worked out a deal where Cos would leave his gear at our house safe and sound, and sleep at my dad's hunting kennel in Cardenas during the day, cleaning the dog pens as well. Pop got Cos a very coveted Commissary Card and next thing I knew, we were all in business. Even my mom fell into it when Cos started bringing her red snapper and lobsters for dirt cheap. We were all very good to each other.

After my mother Fran Darden died the year they were to retire in 1976, my father Curt Darden left the Canal Zone. Jim O'Donnell then began helping Cos, even giving him a room in his Zonian house in the "maid's quaters". I will tell more stories about Cos in the days to come. He was a terrific person. I will never forget him.



One day I came out onto the back porch of our home at 977-A Verde Street in La Boca to find my father having a conversation with Cos. My dad was about a foot shorter than Cos, so that put me about two feet shorter. Both of us looked up his enormous nostrils everytime we spoke to him, but his smile and accent quickly took us to another place. My dad asked him if he had any girlfriends. Cos, smiled his big smile and said in his 'tick' Jamaican accent, "Not right now, Mr. Darden... but when I was a few mango seasons younger, I was a power to be reckonded with in the femine world..."

ps: You have to pretend you are listening to a real Jamaican when you read that line...



Bobby was my fishing pal from La Boca, but he was not always faithful. He used to go fishing with Cos until the wee hours of the morning out in the canal, catching corbina and snook and snapper by the pound. He'd give them to Cos and Cos would sell them to my mother and other lucky ladies in the neighorhood.

Bobby could have been a straight A student but he loved fishing too much. Nevertheless, he became a helicopter mechanic and was always super smart with machines. He died at the early age of 53 of an accidental poisoning of novacaine while having a yearly dental checkup.

Please see my video called 'Fishing With Bobby Whitehead' which should be out soon if not already. Very moving song.

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