Chapter Fourteen

U.S.A. & Canada

 

When I arrived home, Spider and Laura were waiting for me. Spider wanted me to teach him how to make nail jewellery. Since he had the accident, he was disabled and he went on to say that many of his pack of Hells Angels were similarly disabled from bike accidents. He said that I would be doing him a great favour if I would go to the USA and teach them. I thought that it was a good idea and Laura and Anna seemed to be getting on together and so we agreed to join them in Miami.

We had to apply for tourist Visas to enter the USA and that was a problem. The U.S. embassy would not grant me a Visa as I had a conviction for possession of drugs. But where there’s a will there’s a way.

Now a short digression from the story, to the present time:-

“Survival” was badly damaged on the reef. As the tide came in she swung too much on her front anchors. There must have been a solid metal post under the water. Maybe previously there had been a marker on top of it warning vessels of the shallows. The metal bar pierced a perfectly round hole in the hull about the size of a silver half-crown piece. We did not know about it until several hours later when we noticed the water coming up through the floorboards. All the under deck compartments were totally flooded. I put on my diving gear and left Luz and Helmut pumping the water out as I dived underneath to block the hole. I used an underwater epoxy resin. The hole is now repaired but there is still a slight leak which I will repair properly the next time that I slip the boat.

Now to return to the story:-

I bought two air tickets to Canada, making sure that the plane would stop at J.F.K. International Airport in New York. I found out that the plane would stop for one hour to re-fuel and that the transit passengers would be allowed off the plane into the transit lounge.

Tony my old pal was now the manager of a Travel Agency. He told me that it would be easy to get out of the transit lounge and into a taxi. All I had to do was have some business cards printed introducing me as the owner of a Travel Agency. Anna could pose as my personal secretary and he added, if there is the slightest chance that it doesn’t work, then go to Rochdale Students Centre in Toronto, Canada where we could buy Canadian student cards. This would make entry to the USA easy by just catching a bus to Niagara Falls and then walking in to the USA.

I had some cards made and Anna and I caught the plane wearing our oldest clothes. We put on make-up so that we looked like two ageing people. In our hand baggage we carried our tools and clothes. On arrival we joined the hundreds of other people in the transit lounge and then we went to the bathrooms to change into executive and secretary. We had no trouble passing through. The security man on the door even opened the door for us as I presented my card announcing me as the chairman of ‘Cloud Flights’. We immediately caught a Greyhound bus to Miami and embarked on a trip that took several days. We enjoyed seeing the countryside and the changing faces of the Yanks.

We phoned Spider & Laura on arrival and they picked us up from the bus station and took us to their small house which was situated in the ‘boondocks’. This means on the outskirts of a town. The small house stood in its own grounds but once there we always had to rely on Spider to take us anywhere in his car. There was also a constant problem with mosquitoes as the house was built on the edge of the mangrove swamps.

Spider took me out quite often to visit his friends but he always preferred to leave the girls at home. After a few days about 25 Angels came to Spider’s house to meet the English teacher – myself. I spent the day teaching them to bend nails. Whilst I was there, the telephone must have rung about twelve times. Laura would always answer the phone and the Spider and she would disappear for a while.

I soon found out from Anna that Laura was a prostitute and that the people on the phone were her clients. It seems that Laura was also trying to persuade Anna to join her in the profession. On hearing this, I told Spider that it was better if Anna and I went to stay at a small hotel in town. On hearing this, Spider got so angry that he locked himself in the bedroom with Laura and beat her up. I learned that some months later, Laura had died.

Anna and I made our way to Coconut Drive, Miami where there was a park with musicians, clowns, fire eaters, tightrope walkers – in fact a play area. I sat down in the shade of a tree and I made some jewellery. Within a few hours we were befriended by an older couple. They introduced themselves as Mr. and Mrs. Antonio Puccio. He was a jewellery manufacturer and had several shops around America. That night we went to their house. They were obviously very rich, their house was more like a mansion. Antonio was the first person to use the lost wax, or cire perdue, process of centrifugal casting to make jewellery. He had learned the technique as a dentist and sold his jewellery as hand-sculptured originals. His customers, which included Jackie Kennedy and others, were the wealthy class. They genuinely believed and paid for those so-called miniature gold and precious-stoned handmade creations. But as Puccio was the first to use the process, how were the customers to know that those originals were first made in wax then cast in a rubber mould which Puccio kept for further use. Anna and I stayed in their house for several months and I was making designs for Puccio in miniature gold nails that he had cast in his machine.

Whilst I was staying at their house I saw him loading some small scrap pieces and filings of gold into shotgun cartridges. I found out later that Antonio was shooting the cartridges into open land and then charging people for the privilege and rights to search for gold using metal detectors on his land. One day Antonio told us that he had bought us the next house and a car. He wanted me to sign a five-year contract to work for him as a designer. Anna and I thought it was a wonderful opportunity but on arrival at his lawyer’s office, they found out that we did not have entry visas. We decided to go to Canada and apply for visas as it was generally agreed that the embassy in Toronto would not check my record.

We bought a ticket from Miami to Toronto, even though we still had our return ticket; we decided not to use it just in case it would create problems. On arrival in Toronto, it was freezing cold so we found ourselves an hotel. The next day we went to apply for our visitor’s visas at the American Embassy. We filled in the required forms and after waiting for about only 4 minutes, we were refused the visas. It seems that we had been classified as illegal immigrants. They had us by the - - - - -!!

We considered re-entering the States via Niagara Falls but decided against it because we would still be in the same position. We decided to return to England using our original return tickets. On presenting our tickets at the Air Canada desk in the airport, we seemed to create some sort of a commotion. The girl at the desk seemed embarrassed and told us that we must wait as there was an irregularity in our tickets.

A few hours later, the manager arrived and informed me that we had cost the company $10,000 fine for losing two transit passengers. He explained that this was a fixed fine that the various airline companies agreed to pay to the U.S. Government if they were instrumental in helping illegal aliens to enter the USA. He went on to say that our return tickets were null and void and that we would have to buy new ones. I suspected that if we bought new ones they would not let us fly and besides I did not want to throw away any more money. I told the manager that we were totally broke and could not even afford to stay another night in our hotel. He replied by telling me that he could do nothing about it, he said he had his orders to obey. I felt sure that eventually the company would have to honour the return ticket if we stayed in front of their desk and looked forlorn enough.

Just across the hall from the desk there were some long seats and so we made our temporary home there. Anna used the bathroom to do our laundry and then hung our things to dry on the back of the seats. At first the airport security came to tell us that we could not do that. Anna said that she was pregnant and that because the company would not let us fly, she had no clean clothes and no money to send her clothes to the laundry. The security men left us to it; there was really not much that they could do. They certainly could not throw us out into the freezing cold because technically speaking we did have return tickets and were awaiting a flight when and if Air Canada accepted their obligations. As night drew near, I pulled the seats together to form a double bed and one of the girls in the cafeteria brought us a blanket. We went to sleep totally oblivious to the throng of passengers milling about us as they arrived and departed on their flights.

The next day, I got out my tools and set up shop; that is I sat making jewellery and displaying it. Once again the security man arrived to advise us that we could not sell goods in the airport lounge. I thanked him for his advice and explained that I was only passing time amusing myself and that the jewellery on display was for me to see so that I could better the models. I likened my pastime to that of an artist painting a picture for himself. If the passing people wanted to stop and look then why try to stop them? I made a small hand written sign in front of him saying:-

‘Air Canada refuses to allow us to use our return ticket. We have no money to return home so we are stranded. I am now crafting horse shoe nails into jewellery which I cannot sell – but we can accept donations’.

The poor security man could do no more. We were within the law; the sign said it all. Not many people stopped to look at our goods but those that did always left us with some money and I would give them in return a present of one of my creations.

The Air Canada staff were really beginning to feel guilty by now. Hundreds of people must have asked them why they would not allow us to fly. Six days later a plane arrived carrying the entire Canadian Philharmonic Orchestra. The leader of the orchestra was extremely interested in hearing our story which he thought was highly amusing. He asked me to give him 23 pendants for the orchestra and at the same time he slipped me £150. He went on to say that he knew one of the top men in the airline and that he would have a word with him for us.

The next night, one of the airline staff came to us and told us to follow him to a waiting jet. The plane was full apart from two first class seats. As the plane levelled off after its take off, the pilot came on the intercom and welcomed two special people -Clive & Anna -. He went on to say that the company offered us a complimentary bottle of champagne. We enjoyed our friendly flight and champagne but never found out who was really responsible for helping us. If he or she ever reads this, then thanks.