Bye Bye Phil

Roger Asquith with Phil and Don Everly

Roger Asquith with Phil and Don Everly

The death of Phil Everly, the younger half of the pop rock & roll pioneer duo of brothers, was recently reported in the news. I was fortunate to meet the Everly Bros in a recording studio in Hollywood during an interview for NBC Television. The British fan magazines were eager for news and pix of Don and Phil and I was very pleased to write about them.

Their latest hit recording, Wake Up, Little Susie was playing everywhere across the country and they were in great spirits looking forward to a tour of Europe. In London they would be starring in the most popular television show in the U.K.  SUNDAY NIGHT AT THE PALLADIUM,   following in the  illustrious wake of famous American artistes, like Judy Garland, Liza Minnelli, Bob Hope, Danny Kaye  and a dozen others all of whom praised the warm-hearted response from the always very enthusiastic British audience. Furthermore their televised performance at the Palladium would be watched by over ten million fans in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland and they could be assured of sold out concerts all over the U.K.

Relaxing later in the Green Room , I warmed in the glow of Don and Phil’s  soft Southern accent which came from their early years performing in Nashville, Tennessee . Phil admitted they were both nervous about their upcoming tour of Europe and asked me a lot of questions about London, where they had been told it was always raining. I assured them that sun soon came out and thousands of fans would be there to welcome them.                                                               .

Don was particularly interested in English history and looking forward to visiting some of the famous tourist venues, such as Westminster Abbey and Hampton Court, one of the homes of Henry the Eighth.  I reminded him that it was Henry VIII who ransacked dozens of  English Abbeys  and monasteries because the Pope would not allow him to divorce the first of his six wives. Don was then even more keen to check out the old tyrant.

The Beatles once referred to themselves as “the English Everly Brothers.” and Bob Dylan said, “We owe these guys everything. They started it all.”  Ironically it was Phil who nearly ended it all, when, during an argument on stage at Knott’s Berry Farm in California, he threw down his guitar and walked off the stage, leaving an embarrassed Don to tell the crowd  “The Everly Brothers have just died.”  Fortunately the two brothers got together again in  1983 and three years later they were inducted into Rock ‘n’ Roll hall of Fame  and soon had a hit pop-country record, “Born Yesterday.” R.I.P Phil.


Leave a comment

Filed under Hollywood

Bette Midler and Mae West’s Designer Girdle

Rumor has it the Devine Miss M – Bette Midler, is trying on the legendary Mae West’s designer girdle for an upcoming film biopic. Good Luck! I had my own encounter with the not so devine Miss West and “goodness had nothing to do with it!” 

Mae West 1933

Mae West 1933

MARY JANE WEST was born in Brooklyn in 1893. She was only just over five feet tall and had curves in places where other women never even had places, she also had a wicked sense of humour. It wasn’t exactly what she said that got her thrown in jail, but the way she said it. Her famous quotes have been told over and over again .  “It’s not the men in my life, but the life in my men.”  And there were a lot of men. Mae preferred them to be muscular, she would teach them how to perform. And the reason there have been no “Kiss and Tell” stories from her lovers, is because most of them are on a life-long pension not to spill the beans.

Mae West was one of the highest paid stars in Hollywood and bought square miles of sand and desert which later became the San Fernando Valley. When Joe DeVito, a Hollywood publisher  friend of mine asked me if I’d like to have dinner with Mae West, I thought he was kidding.  “Sure  I would, “ I replied. “I’ll go up and see her anytime.” …but Joe wasn’t kidding. He picked me up early one evening and we drove to a friend of his in the San Fernando Valley who was famous for cooking up gourmet dinners using his home grown organic vegetables. Miss West was notoriously fussy about what or who she ate and organic vegetables served up by a Gourmet chef was one of her favorites.

Since Miss West never smoked cigarettes or drank alcohol, we were all served carrot cocktails while waiting her arrival, enjoying the appetizing aroma wafting in from the kitchen . Suddenly there she  was, no fanfare, no spotlight, the diminutive  Miss West had arrived with Paul, her chauffer and handyman.  Her towering blonde wig and a cascade of curls framed her famous face as she was escorted to a seat at the bar.

Mae West did more than sashay ─ she oozed along like a dainty porcelain dish of strawberry jelly ─ jingling in all the right places. She may have been the most famous person there that evening, but it was the host and his gourmet cuisine that was the star of the show. The famous Mae West could relax and enjoy a sumptuous feast. Nevertheless, she was still charming and talkative.  I was introduced to her as an English journalist who could be trusted to never write anything rude or offensive. The legendary star then relaxed and told us about her first visit to Broadway when she was a teenager. She was with her mother, who was from a Bavarian-German Jewish family and quick to notice her innocent daughter was very interested in the sexy streetwalkers parading up and down the sidewalk in their ostentatious furs and feathers.

Flittchen schlecht,” chastised Mae’s Mom. “They’re street walkers, they make money entertaining men.”  Mae was immediately intrigued by their plunging décolletage and sexy swagger. It was an interesting profession to her, one that the enterprising Miss West would keep simmering on the back burner.

A week later, I got a phone call from Mae’s secretary.  Would I like to visit Miss West at her Penthouse suite on Rossmore Avenue for a cuppa tea and a chat?  Are you kidding?  I was there with Belle’s on (This time she let me wear ‘em) The concierge escorted me to the private elevator and seconds later I was zooming skyward to the Penthouse.  The elevator doors opened and I stepped into a blindingly white room. Everything was snow white ─ the carpet, the chairs and even the grand piano.   A French maid dressed in a black and white showed me to a chair and then disappeared. Suddenly, the air was filled with a strong perfume and I realized Miss West was already in the room. She was dressed in a long white translucent housecoat, posing next to the grand piano. Was she for real?  How did she get there?  Did she silently descend from a cloud, a hole in the white ceiling? I was dumbfounded, lost for words, but she had achieved her goal. I was mesmerized, hypnotized, traumatized ─ so much so I cannot remember much of our conversation except it was about her latest film SEXTETTE.

She drawled on in her sexy come hither voice. I laughed and nodded blindly in agreement. The French maid served tea and Miss West glided around the room as if on wheels, pointing out a ghastly original Picasso, a copy of Michelangelo’s David with his original accoutrement ─ knowing Miss West’s propensity for the well-built muscular male , I was mildly surprised the petite David was still intact and hadn’t  been  transformed  into Hollywood’s  expectation of the modern stud muffin in wide screen Cinemascope.

I realized the visit was over when the concierge appeared at the open elevator.  Miss West offered me her gloved hand and before I got to the elevator she had gone as mysteriously as she arrived. Was it all a dream?  Later that day a Press Kit from the film SEXTETTE was delivered and enclosed an autographed photo of the famous Miss West, but I still wandered around wondering if it was all for real. A few days later I was shocked out of my trance when I read about Mae’s famous morning enemas, claiming they made her skin like silk and  left her “smelling sweet at both ends.”

Without dropping names, I should mention my friend Liberace (I had given him many good write-ups in the magazines I edited) was showing Brian, my younger brother, and I around his mansion in the hills overlooking Sunset Blvd. The piano shaped pool ─ the twenty foot turquoise mosaic tiled bar with miniature grand pianos full of Liberace’s Hot Nuts to nibble on, as well as his crystal piano and gold lacquered pipe organ.

Upstairs in his wildly decorated boudoir was an imported replica of  Marie Antoinette four poster bed.  Adjoining the bedroom was a long closet with racks of his ostentations costumes. Lee even allowed my brother to try on the magnificent white fur coat he wore on the stage in Las Vegas. Brian was a hunky truck driver, but groaned under the weight of the white heavy bearskin and hundreds of rhinestones.

Finally, just as we were leaving, Lee unlocked the door to a secret room in the hall.  It opened up into a cosy and ornate rest room. “This is my friend Mae’s private john,” Lee confided.  It certainly befitted the image of one of Hollywood’s greatest legends. A wash basin with gold plated faucets, a huge gilded mirror and directly over the john was a sparkling Strauss crystal chandelier…which tinkled when she did.

Well folks, you know That’s Hollywood!

Leave a comment

Filed under Hollywood

The Hollywood Smooch

The official army definition of a kiss:  “An application at headquarters for a job at base”

Jaybne Mansfield and her Cat

Jaybne Mansfield and her Cat

After an energetic tongue  lashing, denture rattling , sweaty entanglement on a bed the two actors are still locked in a passionate embrace until the director calls CUT.   When the camera stops rolling are the actors  expected to do the same?  If they do, it’s like an unfinished symphony – a book with no ending − the sizzle without  the steak. Do they both leap off the bed like they have  been reading a book or, like Antonio and Angelina,  go ahead and finish what they had started in the film.  Did Burt and Deborah really untangle themselves when the director yelled CUT after their steamy sex scene in FROM HERE TO ENTERNITY?  Did they just rinse off the wet sand, grab a cool drink and learn the next few lines?  It’s not easy, getting back to normal, little wonder the men all grab the nearest towel or robe .

I was on the set at Warner’s when they were filming CAMELOT and we had to wait fifteen minutes while the two stars were bonking like bronco’s in the dressing room – nine months later there was proof  they were not  just playing a game of scrabble.

But not all kisses are for real.  At many Hollywood premieres, a quick peck on the cheek is done for the benefit of the paparazzi. Some stars just politely shake hands and smile, but quite often would rather throttle each other with their bare hands.

One MGM publicist − who reportedly had a large collection of  Joan Crawford’s  (C.F.M.P)   high heel shoes  − always greeted  female stars arriving at studio parties by placing his hand on their derriere, playing his game of grab ass  while propelling them into the party. Most stars ignored the familiarity, but not JAYNE MANSFIELD  she turned around and slugged him and her little dog nearly took his leg off.  She may have been known as a dumb blonde in Tinseltown, but not in real life. Jayne was smart with an above average I.Q.  Her father was a successful attorney and she graduated from the University of Dallas with Honors. She was also a brilliant concert pianist who expected to be treated with respect. I took many pix of her and was often invited to one of her private parties at the huge pink mansion on Sunset Boulevard  where she and husband Mickey Hargity entertained their real friends.

CONNIE STEVENS was another star who attended Hollywood parties and was married to Eddie Fisher who, according the Elizabeth Taylor, was a very passionate kisser.  Connie was usually very gracious but not the day I went to Warner’s to interview her on the set of Palm Springs Weekend. There were no quick pecks on the cheek or  a polite handshake, she actually slammed her dressing room door in my face. ROBERT CONRAD , her co-star explained  there has been an unholy row on the set that morning and Connie walked off in tears. She later apologized when I met her again at a baseball game in San  Diego with the Young Hollywood Baseball Team yakking away in Italian with FRANKIE AVALON  after the game.  She and fledgling actress SUE LYON the team’s mascot ,  eagerly entered the steamy locker room to ogle the winners wallowing in in the soapy hot water.

I always wondered where the Continental habit of kissing a women’s hand  was invented?  In a Jam factory?  In the kitchen after she finished baking a cake. Or did the kisser want to take a better look at her diamond ring?.  I doubt if a polite kiss on the hand  brings on moist armpits and sweaty palms,  instead  the recipient is likely to wonder when she last washed her hands, or had a manicure.   

In some  porno movies, the so called kissing in more like a human bulldozer performing a tonsillectomy.  I’ve never been on the set while they were shooting  porno movie. Does the director yell CUT and expect the couples to uncouple and fix their sweaty make-up?  If the male porno stars are all professionals, why do they sometimes need a fluffer? (This is fully explained in my new book  THAT’S HOLLYWOOD plus a lot more of what goes on when the camera isn’t rolling  especially in the handy dandy dressing rooms during the infamous Lunch Breaks. Wow!)

So who has the honor of being named the best smoochers in Hollywood? You’re going to be in for a big surprise. It’s two men.      

 Here’s the official list. 

 The top 10 best screen kisses of all time:
1. Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain
2. Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard in Breakfast at Tiffany’s
3. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in Mr. and Mrs. Smith
4. Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh in Gone With The Wind
5. Sarah Michelle Gellar and Selma Blair in Cruel Intentions
6. Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster in From Here To Eternity
7. Al Pacino and John Cazale in Godfather
8. Colin Firth and Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jones’ Diary
9. Toby Maguire and Kirsten Dunst in Spiderman

 So  Walt Disney’s smooching poochies in THE LADY AND THE TRAMP  never made the list. Perhaps it’s because they never know which end to start!.

Leave a comment

Filed under Hollywood

Uplifting Natives

Some of the adventures I had whilst working as a Radio Officer and Purser on various oil tankers didn’t always end like the Cuban Trader. I well remember a much more pleasant trip while working on the S.S IRVINGDALE a small Canadian oil tanker delivering to various oil ports in the Maritime Provinces, but once in a while we sailed off to the former fleshpots of the infamous Pirates of Caribbean.

We were not in search of the gold in treasure ships, but the black gold stored in the smaller oil ports, many of them too small to accommodate the giant oil tankers. Often there were no modern loading facilities, just a couple of flexible pipes from the oil storage tanks into the middle of a small bay, where we dropped anchor and dragged the pipes from the sea bed and connected them to the ship. A quick blast on the ship’s siren signalled the shore crew to open the valves and start filling up the ship.

It was a slow process filling the tanks, but it gave the crew plenty time to relax, enjoy the sunshine and swim in the cool waters of the bay. Usually we were surrounded by native rafts and young boys selling fresh fruit and vegetables while their fathers were clearing away a path through the jungle for more oil pipes. Some of the native boys actually used the scrambling net to climb on board.

I remember one young lad named Pedro who spoke very good English and begged me for some of colourful magazines to take home to his Mom. In the evening the beach was alive with native girls dancing the hula hula and plying the willing crew with native moonshine and jungle juice. Alas I had to stay sober and make sure all the seamen were accounted for the next morning.

Pedro, the young lad, insisted I meet his mother, a jovial woman of about fifty. Being the mother of about ten kids, she no longer had the energy to join the dancing girls on the beach but had a whale of time checking out the advertisements in the magazine, especially a full page color picture of a slender young blonde modelling the latest brassiere. “You can bring back for my mother?” questioned Pedro, grinning. He tore out the page and handed it to me.

I thought about Pedro’s request when we returned to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Since we would be returning to the island again I decided to check out what was available in the local lingerie store. When I showed the assistants the now tattered pictures of the blonde modelling the uplifting brassiere, the gals behind the counter started sniggering.

“It’s for a native woman in Colombia,” I explained, gesturing with my hands about the size she would require. When they were finally convinced I was for real and not some wandering pervert, they decided a Double D Cup would be the size and as an added favour, they gift wrapped it with a pink ribbon.

Back in Cartagena, Pedro was the first one to scramble aboard. His eyes were as big as saucers, when I showed him the package. He thanked me again and again and begged me to accompany him on his bamboo raft back to shore. I remember the crew lining the deck rail watching me hanging on for dear life as the little raft bobbed up and down until it finally scraped onto the beach.

Pedro lived in the middle of the village where most of the huts were made from bamboo poles and banana leaves on the roof. His mother was cooking some kind of stew in a large iron pot on an ancient wood burning stove when we entered. For a few seconds she stared at me holding out the colourful gift wrapped present, then began to wail with excitement, finally hugging me to her monstrous bosom. Suddenly her large family of youngsters came running into the hut from every direction and joined in the celebrations. At first she was reluctant to tear open the pretty package and carefully undid the wrapping, finally holding up the pink silky bra like some movie star clutching an Oscar. Her family cheered and laughed as their mother coaxed her enormous breasts into the cups, and strapped on the bra. Minutes later she marched outside where a crowd of bare breasted native women had gathered to join in the parade through the village.

Pedro looked at me and grinned. “Gracias, Senor Sparks,” he said. “My mother is mucho pleased. What they call it in America?”
“It’s called a Cowboy Bra…”
“A cowboy bra,” repeated Pedro. “Why cowboy bra?”
“Because, my dear friend, it rounds ‘em up and heads ‘em out.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Cuban Trader, Sparks

Selby Bit – Spain Arrival

A little blurb of Selby.

Selby_Cover_web_corner_1 “Grabbing my dust covered suitcases I walked the few yards to the RENFE Station where an escalator quietly conveyed me down to the platform beneath the street. Here modern electric trains ran between the cities of Malaga and Fuengirola every half hour entertaining their passengers with a background of classical music while they enjoyed the view of the various beaches en route. It was only a couple Euros to Fuengirola on the train ─ a taxi would have been at least fifty or more.
After 30 minutes enjoying the view and listening to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake wafting from the overhead speakers, we arrived in the bustling city of Fuengirola. This modern beach town in the middle of the Costa del Sol is a Mecca for tourists who travel from all over Europe on a budget ─ a polyglot of humanity attracted by the comparative low cost of hotels, restaurants, cheap booze and plenty of sunshine. They all swarm onto the sandy beaches joining the semi-nude sun worshippers with their arses in the sand and their nipples to the sky. Nobody gives a shit what’s hanging out while toasting their buns and stuffing themselves at the dozens of fast food counters along the beach.
In the evening they spend their Euros, Dollars and Pounds at the hundreds of bars and restaurants jostling for customers in every nook and cranny along the sea front.
The Casa Grande Pension where I had reserved a room was within walking distance of the subway station, but my suitcases were heavy. While wondering what to do I was approached by a shifty looking young man, his face grinning at me like we were old friends.
“Hiya,” he yelled. “Me name’s Skeets. You want some help carrying them cases?” he asked.
“I certainly would. It’s only to the Casa Grande just across the street.” He smiled, picked up both cases like they were full of feathers and headed across the street to the Pension.
The Casa Grande Pension was a typical old Spanish white stucco covered building decorated outside by scores of wire baskets filled with brightly colored flowers hanging from the windows and balconies. The owner had just finished watering them and stood outside admiring his handiwork. He wished me Buenos Dias and followed me inside where Skeets was waiting for me at the reception counter.
“You don’t know how grateful I am,” I said, taking out my wallet and handing him my last ten-dollar bill. “I have very little Spanish money, but I hope you can change this.”
“Course I can. Look Mate, if you needs me help as a guide, I knows all the right places. I told ya me name’s Skeets and I’ll come back and see ya later on,” he replied in a broad cockney accent. He then vanished into the street as quickly as he had appeared.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Dame Elizabeth Taylor

Playing “grab ass” with a real Hollywood Dame

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton - breakfast with Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton on set of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf

I sent a letter of congratulations when Elizabeth Taylor was named a Dame Commander of the Britsh Empire in 2000, and told her she deserved it. Not only for her acting ability but for her unstinting generosity to hundreds of desperately sick children all over the world, and her unselfish work in raising money for AIDS charities. She wrote back and thanked me, enclosing an autographed photograph of herself cuddling her little dog, Sugar. I’d like to show it here, but some bugger pinched it. Instead there is a picture I took of Elizabeth (She HATED being called Liz) and Richard Burton on the set of Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf. 

A few photographers, including me, were invited to “Breakfast with the Burtons” then watch them rehearsing a scene from the film. After a scrambled eggs and champagne, we were soon clicking away with our cameras while Richard and Elizabeth fought and argued rehearsing a scene from Virginia Woolf.  It was acting. It wasn’t real and yet weeks later many magazines ran articles LIZ AND RICHARD… KNOCK DOWN BATTLES − splashing pix of them fighting all over the papers.  There was no mention the pix were taken on the set at Warner Bros. It was lies, and the photographers had been treated to a champagne breakfast.

Unfortunately, Elizabeth  had to endure bad publicity all her life because it sells magazines. From age 12, when she first starred in National Velvet, she has been on the cover of more magazines than any other star. Why? − because Elizabeth Taylor sold magazines − her marriages − ex husbands − her jewelry.  Her so-called affairs all made juicy headlines − but quite often the reports are wrong, or wildly exaggerated. Elizabeth Taylor may be a Dame, but she’s no lady, and I mean that in the nicest way. Elizabeth was a REAL woman − loving, caring, bitchy , she smoked, swore,  drank booze  with no holier-than- thou attitude. All her life she had been followed by leeches cashing in on her rich lifestyle and the paparazzi close behind waiting to catch her off guard, sneezing, smoking, yelling, crying. Who could she trust? Certainly not ex-husband Eddie Fisher who wrote endlessly about their sex life complete with intimate pictures.  Would YOU want your bedroom secrets headlines in the national papers? And not just once, but all the time?

Roddy McDowall, the London born actor was Elizabeth’s trusted friend for over sixty years. They became firm friends when filming the Lassie pictures at MGM.  When Elizabeth  needed a true friend, Roddy was there for her, sharing her secret joys and sorrows, his was a trusted shoulder to cry on. He knew all the Hollywood Divas and their intimate secrets but not a word to the press. When he died, there was no glitzy funeral. He knew if there had been, the ceremony would be crawling with paparazzi − zooming on his grieving friends, Elizabeth, Lauren Bacall, Liza and half the stars in Hollywood. Instead, Roddy McDowall’s body was secretly cremated, his ashes scattered at sea. Elizabeth and his friends held a private memorial service at her home, and there were no photographers. Roddy’s mother introduced me to him and he introduced me to Elizabeth. I was the manager of a gourmet shop in Hollywood where Mrs. McDowall, a lovely Scottish lady, was a regular customer. British imports like Cadbury’s chocolate biscuits quickly sold out, so I always kept some aside for Mrs. McDowall. I had no idea who her son was, but he always sent his thanks for biscuits. Later, at a party I saw him with his mother and realized who he was. She introduced us and we became good friends.

Roddy told Elizabeth I could be trusted, even though I wrote for magazines. Never bite the hand that feeds you, was my motto, although I never made a lot of money in Hollywood, I gained many interesting friends. Elvis was one of them. Unfortunately today many lurid exposes of the stars are published, telling all their secrets.  One event I never wrote about happened at a star-studded cocktail party at Warner Bros at a party for the film The Phynx. Elizabeth was there, drinking, laughing telling jokes when Dorothy Lamour sashayed by, fortunately not wearing her skintight sarong. Suddenly Elizabeth leaned forward and smacked Dorothy on her undulating ass. It was a real SMACK and Dotty was mad. She turned around and glared at us all, madder than a wet hen. Immediately Elizabeth pointed at ME. Red faced and flustered, I tried to defend myself while Elizabeth disappeared into the crowd, hysterical with laughter…

Weeks later, at Director’s Guild, I was asked to save the end row seat for Elizabeth who was late. As soon as she entered the theatre I stood up and she sat down, quietly thanking me for keeping her seat. …at the cocktail party after the film, she glared at me. “Thank you for the seat Roger,” she groaned.  “All through the movie, the young guy  in the next seat was trying to grab my ass.”  “Great!” I replied. “D’you want me to find out who it was?”  We both laughed, hysterically.

That’s the Elizabeth Taylor I knew…

1 Comment

Filed under Hollywood

The Berlin Wall

East Germans on the Cuban Trader

Berlin Wall

Berlin Wall

David Hasselhof, who is very popular in Germany for his singing and Baywatch seems to be in constant reruns there (I think the German’s just fancy all those scenes of sunny beaches) is trying to save a remaining mural covered portion of the Berlin Wall which a developer wants to knock down to build luxury housing. Mr Hasselhof, who gained part of his fame in Germany for singing a hit song there “Looking for Freedom” while performing on top of the wall in 1989, which some Germans credit in part for the fall of the wall, would like to see this portion preserved as a memorial. As a reminder, the Berlin Wall was constructed in 1961 to separate East Berlin from the west and at one point consisted of almost 80 miles of barbed wire topped concrete encircling the west side of Berlin during the socialist/communist regime. 

But before there was an actual wall, the east and west zones were divided more simply by barbed wire and guard posts, but like the impetus in the US now to “build a fence”, the desire of East German’s to escape to more freedom in the west mounted to a desperate flood. In my time on the Cuban Trader, if heard many of these stories. Young Helmut was shot by the Russian guards while scrambling under the barbed wire. Helmut got thru but his younger brother got caught in the wire concertina coils and the guards dragged him back into East Berlin. Helmet never saw his brother again.   

The crew of the ship were mixed Polish and Germans from East Germany. Many had crossed to West Berlin where there were recruiting agencies for the Liberian ships…usually jobs any experienced seamen wouldn’t take… I took the job because it was almost triple the wages I was getting and in any case Officers were well paid and certainly treated a lot better.

The recruitment agencies in West Berlin usually promised these ignorant, desperate youths all kinds of perks, showing them pix of luxury passenger cruise ships, then signed them for two or three years  (without passports) shipping them like cattle to the Dutch West Indies…Curacao near the Panama Canal. Then, any ship, especially Liberian or Monrovian (flying flags of convenience because they ignored the basic safety rules of the sea) which needed a crew member, radioed to the “Office” in Curacao and they would bring out the seaman on a launch. Many of the crew jumped ship and disappeared, especially in South America. The American ports were always very vigilant and rarely let them onto the dock. They had no passports, no I.D. and usually no money. To paraphrase a line from “Around The World in 80 Days” “You like America, but you have no money, America no like you…”

Leave a comment

Filed under Cuban Trader