Perhaps, more accurately, who WAS Belle? She was in Panama, probably married to an American worker, and must have been a special friend of Grandma Hobby because I have two photos of Belle with Linnie Hobby.
This one is labeled, “The Hobbys at Paraiso with Belle.” It’s not clear enough to positively identify anyone, but I think Linnie is wearing white.
This one is labeled “Belle & Linnea Eleanor Hobby, Taboga Island, Bay of Panama, 1912.” I’m quite sure Linnie is on the left as you look at the photo.
Both photos were taken in 1912, but Linnie does not appear pregnant, so they were probably taken early in the year. Linnie’s first child, my mother, was born September 5 that year.
The second photo does tell me that Will and Linnie took some excursions in Panama. A large hotel-style building on Taboga Island was a rest-and-recuperation center for canal workers–white American workers–and became a vacation resort known as Hotel Aspinwall. I assume the Hobbys could have taken a one-day excursion and did not necessarily stay in the hotel, which may not have been on a junior engineer’s budget.
For an informative and personal reminiscence of Hotel Aspinwall and Taboga Island, see Panama History Bits: Taboga, for the island’s history and personal reminiscence of one who’s been there.
Unless some other mention of Belle turns up in my boxes of family letters, I’ll never know whether Linnie and Belle corresponded, or met, after their canal days.