Housing was provided free to gold payroll workers. In 1905, Chief Engineer Stevens appointed Jackson Smith to oversee labor and housing allocation. Jackson’s system allotted one square foot of housing for each dollar earned per month by a gold roll employee. If a man was married, his housing allotment doubled. American bachelors without families were assigned to private rooms in two-story dormitories. In contrast, bachelors on the silver roll were housed in shacks, barracks, or even rail cars.
To keep the gold payroll workers happy and to boost morale social activities were highly encouraged. The Y.M.C.A. club house at Culebra was typical, offering a bowling alley, billiard room, gymnasium, library, and bandstand. The cost of membership was $10 per year. Masons, Knights of Columbus, and a variety of social clubs were active in the Zone. Wives of gold roll workers usually had servants to help with the home and were urged to engage in social activities. Each town had women’s clubs, art and literary societies, and music and drama clubs. In 1907, the Cristobal Woman’s Club resolved “that every club woman in the Canal Zone constitute herself a committee of one to foster favorable instead of adverse criticism of the conditions of the Zone.”