Home > 1, Music > Book 4. and Book 1. The Boy Who Stowed-away, all the way to Baltimore.

Book 4. and Book 1. The Boy Who Stowed-away, all the way to Baltimore.

 Book 4. and Book 1. The Boy Who Stowed-away, all the way to Baltimore.

I’m heading back to the states today and I am somewhat anxious. I Know that I’m singing well, and I know that the individual songs and spoken word pieces included in the one man presentation of the “Virgin islands Songs” are good, and further that the presentation (or show) itself is good. However, I have never been able to successfully manage the management of the business of any or all of, this, that, them, or those things.

 I have made a commitment to do better (to do what better? to do everything better) and I am committed to the bitter or, lets say, better end. Why? Because as my hero Popeye sez, “I yam whats I yam” And, if it’s yams we gots, then it’s yams we gets to bring to market. We shall see what we shall see.

My comrades from the MAAC collective ah..ah.. I mean friends from the MAAC (Middletown Area Arts Collective). Have said that they will be meeting me, I hope that there is no last minute email change of plans because there is no email in the present configuration of things, as all systems are go and our electricals have fallen away…the next number in the countdown is “giddyup!

And giddyup we did, over to the airport, where all Airlines computers were down…and every untrained trainee was called in to do things they knew not how. I will leave the clever caustics to the 1000 or so other folks who swore vengeance and worse and simply say “Oy vey Caraho!”

As the soup (or mess) tumbled, I surfaced for a moment and found myself in the airport terminal at Isla Verde, Puerto Rico for the first time in many years. I began to think back on how it used to be.

Me mind seized on one transiting in particular, one fine early evening where in I arrived at Isla Verde, as a 16 year old stowaway from St. Thomas.

Like everyone else I was required to change planes here if I wished to continue on beyond… There were a number of things about that trip that were out of the ordinary among them the fact, the happy fact that I was not weighed down by any luggage whatsoever, or required to stand in any lines and interact with overwhelmed airlines personnel. Instead, I spent my time in a warm and hilarious conversation (en espaniol) with a wonderful “Jibaro” gentleman with a bottle of Don Q in his hand.

He was on his way to “New York” for the very first time, and was happy to have someone to talk and share his rum with, and I was happy to listen and refuel.

I was 16,  fully ignited, and had been burning incandescently forty-five minutes earlier, when I had walked off Lindbergh beach, jumped the airport fence in St. Thomas, and stepped on to Caribair flight number “who the heck knows”. I sat down next to a beautiful teenage tourista girl, let her know that I was stowing away and that she was now a co-conspirator to high adventure down in the Bongo Isles.

 In her defense, I will say that I was quite a pretty fellow in those days, and the process of reconciling such a pretty young man-child with bizarre behavior in the extreme, generally takes more than the thirty minutes required to fly from St. Thomas to Puerto Rico.

It is likely, even probable, that at precisely thirty one minutes she would have leapt up from her seat screaming and imploring all the other passengers and crew to “For Gods sakes grab this kid and tie him up for his own safety, American Civilization and the future of Rock and Roll” but fortunately for me, American Civilization and Rock and Roll, we had a good tailwind.

Once in Puerto Rico (in spite of the strong and dangerous environmental toxins continually kabooming in my brain) I had the gentlemanly good sense to bow graciously and step aside allowing her to run to the waiting arms of her family, out of my teenage reality and back into her own.

I of course now had to improvise and implement my next action, but first I had to figger out what it would be.

When I realized that I had successfully stowed away to Puerto Rico (Something that every pair of eyes that ever watched a beautiful DC 3 sweeping up up up into the air banking over the sea bound for where ever they wished to be, had wished to do) I heard the stillest smallest voice say “Hey, What the heck is the que pasa that’s goin on?” I answered it saying “Don’t worry about a thing, I’m going to the states to see my father and make Rock And Roll records”

But, first how to do it and first, first, the Don Q.

In those days the terminal was a wonderfully open-air tropical affair that I was very familiar with. There was one long main “ticketing floor” running east to west, where all the airlines had their counters. I was partial to Pan American, having flown with “the world’s most experienced Airline” many times, but was no stranger to Eastern either, in any case, I sussed out the sitch, and discovered that there was a stairway out to the tarmac where the big transcontinental boys were being prepared for their next hop. When I got out there, one of them was all lit up and appeared to be more ready than the others,  I walked up the loading stairs through the empty interior and to the lavatory  (coming down the aisle) on the left. In ten minutes they began to load the plane and twenty minutes after that, we started rolling.

I was congratulating my self on arranging my own trip to Miami, when the overhead cheerfully welcomed everyone aboard Eastern Airlines flight number “who the heck knows” to Baltimore and Philadelphia,

After takeoff, I stepped out of my private compartment and took a seat next to a grown up gent that I knew (by sight only) from St. Thomas. I told him what I was up to, and he seemed somewhat shocked and frightened. I dismissed him as square and unadventurous even though he did buy me a drink.

I closed my eyes and before you know it we were landing in Baltimore. An interesting element that I hadn’t considered was that it was winter, and I was wearing white dungarees and a bright flowery Island shirt open to my belt buckle, the elementary element came to my consciousness when I got a blast of winter wind upon disembarking at Friendship Airport.

By now I had decided that, I would tell the good folks at travelers aid (in Spanglish) that I had gotten on the wrong plane in San Juan, and would they be kind enough to redirect me to Miami which was after all, as anyone could see by my clothing, my intended destination. I felt confident that my idea was working until I was nabbed by the Baltimore Police who happened to be at the airport  looking high and low for a teenage boy, who had escaped from a local “Juvie” facility.

In any case, or rather to avoid serving out his sentence for Lord knows what and how long I was able to convince them that I actually wasn’t from these parts and didn’t know a thing about zip guns, rumbles and hotrods. Unfortunately, to prove it, the clever devils insisted I give them the name and phone number of my poor dear put upon, poor dear Mudder dear.

Ah my poor dear Mudder dear, good lord awmighty I burdened her aplenty…and though she would often look directly at me and say “Bonehead, I want you to know that I have ESP” for some reason  she wasn’t quite able (from only two thousand five hundred miles away) to pick up on and grok my whole convoluted spanglish confabulations with out the benefit of having spoken to me, and consequently, inadvertently let slip that No, I wasn’t the son of a wealthy Castiliano, traveling unaccompanied for the first time to “La Florida” unaccustomed to attending to trifles beneath him, including such things as  airline tickets, identification and the sundry mundane like.

Ah well, Travelers Aid was kind enough to put me up in the YMCA over night, where I was able to jive a gent into getting me a six pack of beer and a newspaper which was full of advertisements for Rock and Roll Shows all over the Baltimore, Washington D.C. Area. Loud Beautiful ads jam packed with excitement. Ads that I read and looked at over and over all night long.

In the Morning, before I could do even a single interview with LIFE or LOOK magazine about my adventure and to launch my career, the Baltimore Police and Travelers Aid put me on a plane back to the Islands. 

Ah well I’d just have to settle for the attention and admiration generated by my peers for “The boy who stowed away. Not once but twice, all the way to Baltimore”

Ah my poor Mudder Dear…  

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