Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Johnny Boy Story

                                                                The Johnny Boy Story
                                                         A true story about importing bananas                                                Written 1/2012 Re Written 10/03/2015 unedited                                                                 
                                                                     Howard Yasgar
      This is a 100 percent true story about my good friend Lou Gladstein of Bridgeport Connecticut. He was known as “Red” to all his friends, and his enemies as well.
      Lou, and I met in 1961, that was when I was 22 years old, and Lou was about 40. When I first met him, I found it difficult to understand exactly how he operated. He was sort of what you would call an entrepreneur of all sorts, the kind of guy that never passed up a good deal, even if it was a little illegal.
      How I met Lou was interesting, when I was going to college I worked part time at Milford Auto Wrecking, while working there, I met one of the entrepreneurial owners named  Lenny, and by knowing Lenny I eventually met another character named Abe.  Abe was an interesting intelligent person and I worked for a while with him, and through him, I met Lou “Red” Gladstein. I think you could best describe all of them as a part of a big network of really strange entrepreneurial guys, but, they were all eventually to become my friends as well as my mentors.
      Lenny was the first in the line of odd balls that I met, he ran the Milford Auto Wrecking yard and was heavily involved in buying and selling stolen cars, which I unwittingly hauled from place to place from him, and h was probably involved in many more illegal things that I didn’t know about. Lenny had eventually conned me into leasing a junk yard in Stamford Connecticut that he really didn’t own, and that’s how I met the real owner Abe, and eventually got involved with him.
      I ran myself ragged working with Abe, and eventually resigned from the company, and that’s when I met Lou “Red Gladstein”.
      Lou was basically a used car dealer, but he was also an entrepreneur. Lou never turned down a good deal, I have to admit he was an inspirational guy to work with, but watching how he operated was a nightmare.
      I think Lou and all of the other guys liked me because I was young, I was energetic, and I enjoyed getting involved in their different deals. They all needed a “Leg man” to work the deals with them, and pick up the pieces when the deal fell through. But I saw them all as smart entrepreneurs, and I was happy to work with them, and learn from them, and eventually become a part of their network.
      Red Gladstein and the Johnny Boy story started this way.
      It was 1962 is when I ran out of energy cleaning up the mess’s Abe always left behind as he moved from deal to deal, so I resigned from his corporation and that meant I became a free agent, so as a free agent I was constantly looking for a way to use the skills I had learned over the years. The only difference being that I wanted to do business in an honest way, which was the complete opposite of what I had learned from dealing with Lenny and Abe.   
      So now, here I was in 1962, my involvement with Abe was done and so was my lease for the automobile wrecking yard in Stamford Connecticut. With the wrecking yard went the used car lot we operated there, so you could say, I was out of a job.
      Over the years the name Lou “Red” Gladstein had popped up, here and there, and it appeared that he knew who I was, that was even though I thought that I had never met him. So one day, when I was on the Connecticut Turnpike on my way to New York City, I went by my old Stamford Connecticut auto wrecking yard just to see what was happening there, and that’s how I first met Red Gladstein. Lou, who was called Red by his friends, had moved into my office, and he was buying and selling used cars.
     When we met that day, we became friends at first sight. He was definitely a character. I knew that because as soon as I walked into my former office, I noticed there was a coin operated telephone hanging on the wall and it had a string hanging out of it. Lou said he had the phone rigged so all the money returned after you made a call.
     Lou was about 5 foot 8 inches tall, a bit over weight, he had a button missing on his slightly stained shirt and he had thinning, light red hair, and lots of freckles. When Lou spoke he always smiled, even when he was serious.
     So after meeting Lou, I saw him as being an opportunity, I saw him to be a sort of entrepreneurial extension course for me, and I started hanging out with him and you could say Lou became my new mentor.
     At the time I met Lou, I had also met a nice fellow named Herb Schein, in Ansonia Connecticut. Herb was in the retail tire business selling car tires to the Ansonia locals. Herb had told me he wanted to do something more than just sell tires so we set up a rebuilt automobile inner tube business. It was an idea I had thought about for several years, we would buy hundreds of used automobile inner tubes, test them, paint them and pack them up to be sold as rebuilt inner tubes for half the price of new. (See the rebuilt tube story).The rebuilding of inner tubes soon caught the attention of the LeVine tire company in New Haven Connecticut. They were a big company that bought all kinds of new and used tires, and they were just expanding their operation to Tampa Florida.
     When I met them, they were shipping railroad cars loaded with tires to Tampa. The tires took up a lot of space in the rail cars and they were looking for something they could buy that would fill up the empty spaces, and my rebuilt inner tubes sounded good to them.
     The owner of LeVine Tire Company, said that his son, who had already bought a home on Davis Island, in Tampa, would be driving there the following week, and would I like to drive there with him. He had the idea, of me looking over his operation, and possibly joining up with them. I was curious and had never been to Tampa I agreed, to go there at their expense, and the following week I drove to Tampa with Mr. LeVine’s son.          
      Once I was in Tampa they put me up in a nice local hotel, and they gave me a Volkswagon bus to drive around with. Their operation there was very big, and I saw that they bought lots of military surplus tires as well as monster earthmover equipment tires, they even employed an expert from Holland who was patching up the giant earthmover tires. But the moment I got there, I could feel the tension within the company as everyone thought I was sent there to replace them.     
       After spending several days in Tampa, I decided it was not for me and I decided to leave, but I felt a little guilty considering the expense LeVine tire had spent on me, and I wanted to repay them somehow. While I was thinking about it, they were just building Dale Mabry Highway, and I was driving along marveling at all the construction that was going on. That’s when I saw it, was a giant earthmover tire that someone had stood up and was using as a sign to point to a dump. The tire was about seven feet tall and had a big white arrow painted on it. After haggling with an old black guy sitting in a chair at the dump, I bought the tire. But then I found that it was too big and it wouldn’t fit in the Volkswagen van. I studied the situation and with lots of pieces of rope and wire I hung the tire on the side of the van with the ropes going over the roof and wrapped around the window posts on the opposite side. In those days Tampa was kind of a hick town and no one stopped me driving back to LeVine’s tire company with a monster tire hanging off the van. At the company, I told them that I was giving them the tire in payment for their putting me up for four days and I was leaving. The tire must have been pretty valuable judging from what I heard as everyone there was inspecting it.    
    I returned to my hotel, watched TV and had a good last night’s sleep before deciding what to do next. When I awoke the next morning, I realized that here I was in Tampa, Florida, and I was at loose ends. So I got on the phone and called my good friend Red Gladstein in Stamford Connecticut. I knew Red was a real wheeler dealer, and perhaps he had something for me, while I was still in Tampa.
     Well, I was partially right. Red asked me where I was, and I told him my situation. I told him I was sitting in my hotel room in Tampa Florida looking for something to do. Lou said, he did have some business to attend to in Tampa and he would drive right down from Connecticut and pick me up at the hotel the next day. Red said, “It’s now ten in the morning here, and I can leave for Tampa in about an hour, so I will see you at exactly twelve noon tomorrow at your hotel.
     I knew it was about 1500 miles to drive from Stamford to Tampa, and there was no way Lou could do this trip in twenty four hours, and I told him so. But Lou assured me he would be there to pick me up the next day at twelve noon sharp.
     I quickly mentally calculated that Lou would have to drive about 80 miles an hour nonstop to get to Tampa that fast. So when I hung up, I was thinking that he would be calling me in the morning from some jail in Georgia, where he would have been arrested for speeding.
     The next morning I woke up, dressed and walked outside the hotel into bright Tampa sunshine. I looked across the street from the hotel, and I saw a Royal Castle restaurant, so I walked over to get some breakfast. As I studied the menu and the blond waitress with a deep southern drawl came over and asked if I was ready to order, so I tried to make it simple, ordering two eggs with bacon and toast. “You all, want grits with that she asked.” Hey, I was from New Haven Connecticut, and I thought grits might be some kind of sand paper, but I didn't want to appear stupid, so I said sure I wanted grits.
     It was twelve noon, and I knew that Lou couldn't possibly be there yet, so I waited in my room, reading the local Tampa news. By one in the afternoon, when Lou failed to call, my curiosity got the best of me, and I called the front desk to ask if anyone had left a message for me.
    Yes they said, there was a message from a Mr. Lou Gladstein who had checked in the hotel about an hour ago. Mr. Gladstein was resting in room forty three and I should wake him up at four that afternoon. To this day I don't know how he did it, but he made the trip from Stamford Connecticut to Tampa Florida in exactly twenty four hours, driving a 1958 Ford station wagon.
     At four PM, I went to Lou’s room and woke him up.
     Lou told me that we needed to go to the shipping Port of Tampa, as there was something he needed to see that morning. He was looking for a cargo ship named the “Johnny Boy” that was supposed to have arrived from Argentina that very morning. I didn't want to appear rude so I didn't ask Lou as to why he wanted to see the ship, I knew he would tell me sooner or later.
     When we arrived at the port of Tampa, just as Lou had said, there was a big refrigerated freighter unloading, it was named the “Johnny Boy”. Lou walked over to a pallet to see what the cargo was. I could already see that it said in Spanish “Carne Seco”, or dried beef from Argentina.
      Lou looked up at the freighters bow and said, “That dirty bastard did change the name of my ship.”
I could see Lou was very agitated, as he stormed back to the car with his hands in his pockets. After he settled down he said, “I have to get an attorney in Florida before we head back to Connecticut.”
      I told Lou that the only attorney I knew in Florida was Stanley Haves in Miami, I had met him through my mother. So Lou said, “Let’s head for Miami.”
     Then Lou told me the following story.
     He said, that about three years earlier he had invested several hundred thousand dollars with a partner in New York, together they had purchased a refrigerated freighter, the same one that was now being called the Johnny Boy. Lou said that his partner was involved with a big shipping company in New York and that he, Lou, was sort of an outsider.
     The refrigerated freighter, was suited exactly for what they wanted to do, their intentions were to buy unripe bananas in Panama and ship them to Miami, but right from the start Lou said that he didn’t trust his partner in New York. He had a bad feeling that they wanted to swindle him out of his share of the ship, he said that the group in New York were professionals with lots of connections in the shipping business, and without Lou’s knowledge they had already hired a crew, from Liberia and a Captain from Guyana, never mentioning anything to Lou. Now that the ship was ready Lou knew that it was his job to fly to Panama, where he negotiated with banana brokers to buy a shipload of bananas direct from several plantations that were formerly selling to United Fruit Co. Lou already had a pre-arranged plan to deliver the green bananas to a wholesaler in Miami. The whole deal had been put together in New York, with Lou guaranteeing that he would pay for the bananas by a bank transfer to the Panamanian brokers and then Lou would collect payment from the wholesalers when the bananas arrived in Miami. It was a sweet deal that would make Lou and his New York partner a lot of money, because they were now not only the shipper, but they were the owner of the cargo as well.
      Lou told me that was the reason they needed a refrigerated ship, all bananas are picked green in Panama and must be kept refrigerated in the ships hold so they will not ripen and spoil on the voyage to Miami. He said he had wired the payment to the banana broker in Panama and the ship was loaded with green bananas. But in Panama the brokers recognized the ship Captain and told Lou to watch out for him. It appeared that the Captain they was a known alcoholic from Guyana that Lou’s New York partners had hired very cheap.
     Right from the beginning Lou didn’t like their choice of captain, and Lou felt he was being set up for failure by his New York partners, and he may have been right.
     The trip from Panama to Miami was a short one and should have been trouble free, however when the ship arrived in Miami, Lou's partner’s called him from New York, to tell him the captain had already radioed them, and said that the entire banana shipment was over ripe and starting to rot in the ships hold. Lou knew immediately that this meant that the refrigeration on the ship had stopped working during the voyage. The next problem he was faced with was what to do with a ship full of rotten bananas, so Lou took the next flight to Miami to assess the problem.
      Lou already knew it was going to be a financial disaster, there was the cost of the bananas, the docking, the loading, the cost of the captain and crew. Now there was the additional cost of the dockage in Miami, and what about all the rotting bananas.
      Now Lou being a resourceful guy, made arrangements for the ship to leave Miami immediately before any Federal agencies came to inspect the rotting mess and fine him. He also didn't want to have to deal with the Miami Longshoreman's Union regarding the unloading of a stinking rotting cargo. Lou also knew that after unloading the ship in Miami, he would have to dispose of tons of rotten bananas. He would have to pay someone a lot of money to haul them off to a dump. So as soon as the ship was out to sea, Lou had the crew open the hatches and with the shipboard cranes they lifted out all the ripe bananas and illegally dumped them all in the ocean, what Lou was doing, was illegal, and he knew it. Besides that, the captain and crew also didn't want to do it. It was not because it was illegal, but because they didn't want to work like stevedores, it was not their job.
       But now Lou was really pissed off, and he became belligerent, screaming and yelling, the crew finally gave in, unloaded the ship and dumped the bananas into the ocean.
      Then Lou started questioning the Captain and the ships engineer, Lou wanted to know who let the ships refrigeration shut off. This was no joke, and Lou got little satisfaction from the Captain, and he got less from the chief engineer, who now pretended he didn’t speak English. Lou couldn't get a straight answer from anyone, and no one would tell him why the generator that ran the refrigeration had not been restarted, Lou was livid.
      After a lot of yelling and screaming, Lou, and the engineer finally got the generator started up again, as well as the ships refrigeration.
Then Lou made arrangements for the captain to take the ship back to Panama, and Lou flew to New York to discuss the situation with his partner.
      This problem had cost them all a fortune, and Lou was now running out of money, and to make matters worse, his partners in New York blamed him for all the losses, and they wanted him out of the picture. They said Lou was a hot head, and he had now alienated the Captain and crew.
      Lou was mad, he suspected that the Captain and crew had gotten drunk, and when the generator that ran the refrigeration went off, they were all so drunk that they didn't even notice it. He felt that the only solution was for him to fly back to Panama himself, buy another load of bananas, but this time he would stay aboard the ship to make sure the refrigeration remained running until the ship made it to the port in Miami.
      By this time Lou's relationship with the Captain and all the crew members was pretty bad, his cabin was right next to the Captain’s cabin, so Lou could hear their muffled voices through the steel cabin wall. He knew that the Captain, the engineer and the whole crew hated him, but Lou’s attitude was that he owned the ship and they were all working for him, and it was his money that was at stake, not theirs.
     That night, Lou tried to get some sleep but he could hear the party going on in the Captain’s cabin. The partying was loud enough for Lou to hear that everyone was very drunk. He could hear they were all talking in English, but he couldn't make out what they were saying.
       By one in the morning, Lou decided to check on the refrigeration, as he hadn't slept at all, and the party was still going full blast, in the captain’s cabin next to him. He thought he heard his name mentioned, so he took a drinking glass, and put it to the steel wall to listen to what they were saying about him, and he then heard the Captain saying, “We will put that red headed mother fucker in the ocean tonight, I will kill him myself.”
       Lou didn't know what to do, he was scared, and he knew he couldn't fight the whole crew, also he had no weapon to defend himself, so he quietly left his cabin, and went to the engine room, where he was hoping to perhaps find a pistol or other weapon in the ship’s engineer’s quarters.
       That’s when Lou found the refrigeration generator had shut down again, and the engineer whose responsibility it was to keep it running was in the captain’s cabin, drunk.
      Lou tried to restart the refrigeration generator himself, but he couldn't do it, so he picked up a three foot piece of pipe, and he carried it back to his cabin. Once in the cabin he could hear the Captain and the crew were still drinking, but even using the drinking glass against the wall, he couldn't understand very clearly anything they were saying.
      Lou finally made a decision, and walked into the Captain’s cabin and struck the captain hard on the head with the piece of pipe. The captain fell on the floor, and the rest of the crew ran from the room. Lou grabbed the engineer and pushed him with the pipe to the engine room to restart the generator, but one of the crew members went to the radio room and had called the U.S. Coast Guard for assistance.
     By morning they were three or four miles from the Port of Miami when the Coast Guard came aboard and arrested Lou.
      At that point, we were nearing Miami and Lou stopped talking. He didn't seem to want to talk about his arrest, but I gathered that his partner’s in New York had found a way to get Lou's share of the ship. Lou said that the ship was eventually auctioned off on the Miami court house steps and his partner had bought it back for near nothing as they were the only bidder, and Lou was left out in the cold.
      The ship’s Captain survived, but Lou never told me what happened regarding the charges that were brought against him. I know Lou hired the attorney in Miami, and I know that Lou tried several legal maneuvers to get his share of the ship back, and he tried to recover some of his loses, but I don't think he ever succeeded.
      Lou was convinced that his former partners had made sure Lou lost his share of the ship, and he heard the ships name had been changed to “Johnny Boy”, that’s why Lou went to the Port of Tampa, to confirm for himself that it was the same ship.
     I never heard Lou discuss anything to do with the Johnny Boy again, and I never asked him.     

The Haiti Coast Guard Story

                                                  The Haiti Coast Guard Story
                 This is a true story of how I became involved with the Haitian Coast Guard
                                    Written 4/2013 and rewritten 05/03/2016 unedited
                                                           Howard Yasgar

     This true story took place in April, 1970, in Port Au Prince Haiti, and for a long time I couldn’t figure out what had happened, or even why it had happened. It wasn’t until many years later that I was able to find on Google the answers as to what had actually transpired.
     I was introduced to the Country of Haiti by my friend and business associate Lou Gladstein. It was in 1964, when Lou made a deal with the Interior Minister of Haiti to purchase and remove the Haitian railroad, the railroad like everything else in Haiti had been bankrupted by the government and closed down for many years.
     In the agreement, Lou had to give the Minister of the interior two dollars a ton under the table, for Lou it was quite an accomplishment. (See the Haitian Railroad Story).
     My friend Lou, then called me in Miami and requested my assistance in helping him, to dispose of the rail, and by doing so, I ended up learning a lot about Haiti and the island which it shares with the country of the Dominican Republic.
      While I was dealing with the business of assisting Lou in disassembling and selling the railroad, I developed a kind of love for Haiti, and I became involved in several businesses there and then one grand adventure.
      Having to travel back and forth to Haiti because of the railroad project, the first thing that happened was that I started buying and exporting Haitian hand carved wood work. (See the Haiti Woodwork Story), and then, by accident, I became involved in importing primitive native Haitian paintings, I did this long before anyone even wanted one. (See the Haitian Paintings Story).  
      Now comes the grand adventure part of the story. In 1970, I had started to prospect in the interior of Haiti for gold and platinum. I had already set up a small laboratory in Miami that dealt in refining precious metals. However my prospecting in Haiti was really a ruse. It was a ploy we dreamed up to allow me to go into the interior of Haiti without creating any suspicion and search for a treasure that was stolen from Christopher Columbus in 1492.
      My friend Lou had introduced me to Doctor Marc Bulliet, who said he was Haiti’s chief archeologist. He was the one that had first gotten me interested in the hidden gold treasure. In the evenings, he had told us all about Christopher Columbus, how he discovered the island of Hispaniola and Marc had told us about Columbus’s first colony of La Navidad in Haiti. He also had a sample of a piece of gold, a native’s nose plug.  
      My having the refinery in Miami, as well as my natural interest in the gold of the early Spaniards and Christopher Columbus, prompted me to keep pushing Marc for more information. Until one day Marc told us that he had a map showing the treasure location. Mark said that due to Haiti being a small country everyone always knew what you were doing, so getting involved with any kind of gold treasure, would immediately get everyone’s attention, and could quite possibly get you killed. Especially if you actually found gold and someone that was well connected with the corrupt government wanted to get it from you.    
     It was all so intriguing that the idea of making believe we were prospectors would allow us to go into the interior of Haiti and not create any suspicion of what our real intentions were.
     Mark at the time was some kind of Haitian government employee and quite possibly a CIA asset in Haiti, so he wouldn’t go. My highly overweight friend Lou said that because I was young, I should go after the gold which was supposed to be in the Central Plateau area of Haiti. Well traveling into the interior of a primitive voodoo country by myself didn’t really appeal to me, but finding gold treasure did. So I invited a Miami friend named Paul Sherwood to join with me in the search. Paul had never been to Haiti or ever done anything unusual in his entire life so he thought treasure hunting would be great fun.
     Doctor Mark Bulliet was right, Haiti being a small country, made this kind of treasure hunt a very dangerous proposition, and while we all tried to do our best to keep the treasure hunt a secret, we found that there are no secrets ever kept in Haiti, and we began to suspect that some very undesirable people knew what we were doing, and we were scared that someone would try and kill us to get the gold. We also all knew Haiti was a black country, and we were white boys from Miami and thus we were considered unusual to the locals, because of that everyone had their eye on us, and we knew it. Everyone in the country was always watching us, we just didn’t know the extent of who was watching us, or their motivations.
     From my dealing with Lou Gladstein and the railroad project, I already knew that everyone in the government was corrupt, and there was no hope of utilizing anyone for any kind of protection as everyone had their hand out for something, and no one could be trusted. At the time, Haiti was run by a dictator named Papa Doc Duvalier and he had his own private army of thugs called the TonTon Macoute, they would have liked nothing better than to eliminate us if they found out that we had something like gold.
     Papa Doc, had been elected President in 1957, and then he ran the country as a dictatorship for 14 years. I knew from conversations with my Haitian friends, that most people living in the country were really afraid of him. They said he was involved in all kinds of bribery and extortion and had over the years killed about thirty thousand Haitian people. Some were supposedly killed in Voodoo rituals in the basement of the palace.  Papa Doc ran the country strictly by Voodoo law and only left the palace on the twenty second day of each month according to Voodoo practice. By the time I had arrived in Haiti, Papa Doc had survived six attempts to either kill him or remove him from office, however somehow he had survived them all. Don’t ask me how, but somehow I became involved with two plots to depose him.
     By the time I arrived in 1964, I knew that Papa Doc through his cronies or the TonTon Macoute controlled a lot of the business in the country, they were extracting so much money from them that they eventually bankrupted most them and that included the railroad, electric and telephone systems.
      By April of 1970, my good friend Paul Sherwood was no longer my good friend, we had just returned from our treasure hunt that had taken us into the interior of Haiti. The hunt, while being successful had also become very scary. We had attempted from the start to keep everything a secret. What had happened was that before we found the treasure, I was checking out Marc’s story, and I must have spoken to the wrong people.
Because of that, our discovery leaked out and that’s what led to this story of what happened to me and my experience with the Haitian Coast Guard in April of 1971.
     Because of the scary experience in the interior, my ex good friend Paul had decided to fly out of Haiti, and back to Miami. He didn’t even want his share of the treasure, I think he was scared and his nerves were shot. I myself, had nearly died from cyanide poisoning in the interior and I was still sick when all of the following happened.
     After Paul left Haiti, I returned to the Castle Haiti Hotel to try and recuperate. I was sitting by the pool still pretty sick from the cyanide poisoning. I had asked my driver Toni Richmond to spend the day resting with me just in case something happened.
     Tony Richmond who was my driver was also my friend, my translator and my assistant in Haiti, I thought that I could always count on him to tell me what was going on there,  he knew just about everyone and he always had his ear to the ground if something bad was going on. I think there was very little going on in Port Au Prince that Toni Richmond didn’t know about. We were just thinking about ordering lunch from a waiter, when a young uniformed Coast Guardsman came up to me and asked if I was Howard Yasgar. He was not only impeccably dressed in his uniform but he was acting very formal, standing there with his dress hat under his arm. He said that Colonel Octave Cayard the commander of the Coast Guard requests a meeting with you this afternoon sir. Can you be at the Coast Guard Station at exactly half past two? “Yes” I replied.
     The Coast guard fellow left and I turned to Toni and asked him who the hell was
Colonel Cayard, and what the hell does he want with me? I could see beads of sweat forming on Toni’s upper lip. He said, Colonel Cayard is the head of the Haitian Coast Guard and he is part of the inner circle of advisors to the president.
     I knew that the Haitian Coast Guard complex was located on the South Road in Port Au Prince, it was just a couple of miles down the road from my favorite restaurant, so I asked Toni if he would take me to the meeting with the  Colonel.  Toni said “No.”  It was the first time Toni ever had said no to me, so I asked him why? “He said I don’t want my car to be seen there.” That’s when it hit me that Toni possibly knew more than he was telling me. What could be the reason Toni didn’t want his car to be seen at the Coast Guard Station, I couldn’t imagine.
      Finally after a little prodding, Toni agreed to drop me off in a wooded area several hundred yards before the Coast Guard Station, and he said he would come back to pick me up there in about an hour.
      At exactly two PM, Toni dropped me off on the road where he said he would, and I walked to the Coast Guard station. The station was a big modern building with glass doors and marble tiled foyer with a lone secretary sitting at a desk at the far end.
       When I walked to her desk I could hear the echo of my steps. I told her who I was and that I had an appointment with the Colonel. She directed me to colonel Cayard’s office. His door was open and I walked in his office. The Colonel was behind his desk in full uniform with all his medals and ribbons on his uniform. He had gold braid everywhere. He stood and with his hand out, told me to take a chair and bring it up to his desk, he was all smiles, but I had a bad feeling.
     “How is your prospecting going” he asked me in perfect English? I told him that I had a lot of samples that I was taking back to Miami for testing. I was watching his facial expressions, and I wondered if he knew the real reason Paul and I gone into the interior?
     Did he know about the gold? I had an uneasy feeling because his facial expressions were just too friendly, like fake. Then the Colonel got right to the point. He said, “I have large land holdings in the Central Plateau area of Haiti. And there have been recent rumors that gold has been discovered there, gold that is on my property and belongs to me. Do you have any information regarding the removal of gold from my property? Obviously he knew something, so I tried to change the conversation. I said, that I would be happy to prospect his property the next time I returned to Haiti. I asked him exactly where his property was. He said, “My ranch is the Central Plateau of Haiti. Once he said that, I knew that he already knew we had found the gold, and I started getting concerned as to what he was going to do next, I knew that he wanted the gold we had discovered.
    The Colonel looked at me sternly and said, “I would like you to be my guest and go with my men to my property now, to look for the gold.” I certainly didn’t like the tone of his voice or the conversation. I said, Colonel Cayard, I am very interested in searching your property for treasure, but right now I am pretty sick from cyanide poisoning and I have to return to Miami as I need medical treatment. I promise that I will contact you on my next trip to Haiti, and I will search your property for gold.  I could see the Colonel didn’t like my answer, I had a real bad feeling about where the conversation was going and I knew the Colonel could arrest me if he wanted to, his men could easily torture me until I told them where the gold was. So I sat there, expecting him at any moment to call his men into the office. Now there was no question the Colonel knew something, I could feel it, and I was starting to get scared. But as the Colonel talked to me, I could tell he was distracted by something, he kept glancing at his telephone.
     I was expecting the worst, but all of a sudden the Colonel stood up, he reached over and shook my hand, I stood, said good bye and quickly left his office. I then walked out of the Coast Guard Building into the hot Haitian sunshine. I was glad to be alive, and I couldn’t help but wonder how the Colonel knew what we did, even Toni didn’t know we had found the gold. Perhaps the Colonel was just guessing and hoping that I would say something. I walked down the road to where I could see Toni’s car waiting for me.
     I told Toni that the Colonel wanted me to prospect his ranch. Toni said, “What ranch, the colonel doesn’t have any ranch”. He then drove me back to hotel Castle Haiti. The next day Friday, April 17, 1971, Toni took me to the airport and I flew home to Miami.        
     On Tuesday April 21, 1971, just four days after my meeting with Colonel Cayard, I picked up the Miami Herald, and the top news story was, Haitian Coast Guard Colonel Octave Cayard fires cannon on the presidential palace in an attempted coup in Haiti.
     The story said the following, Colonel Octave Cayard, Commander of the Haitian Coast Guard had taken the Haitian Coast Guard Vessel number C-10 out into the bay of Port Au Prince and then he fired three rounds, one of which hit the palace. His first shot went over the palace, killing a civilian women, His second shot hit a mausoleum, and they said everyone knew the third shot would be right on target, and it was, hitting the west wing of the palace. The Haitian army then fired back with a 105 MM howitzer, and the shell hit the water near the ship, then, minutes later a Haitian Air force plane made a pass at the ship strafing it with bullets.
      Colonel Cayard and the ship then quickly headed for open sea and towards the island of Puerto Rico, where the Colonel claimed political asylum. All of the crew members of the Coast Guard ship C-10, who were acting under Cayard’s orders requested to be returned to Haiti.
      What was unknown to the newspapers at the time was that while the ship and the Colonel were on the way to Puerto Rico, the Haitian Government had wired the United States requesting that it sink the ship.
      As I read this, I couldn’t believe all this was caused by Colonel Cayard. I was just sitting at his desk only four days earlier, how could this be possible? Did my friend Toni suspect that something was up with the Colonel and that’s why he didn’t want his car seen in front of the Coast Guard Station. Well it was years later, before all the information became public and I was to learn what really had happened.
    At the time, the president Papa Doc, had been very ill with heart problems, so several of his enemies thought it was a good time to take advantage of the situation and get rid of him. It also appears that several military generals were in on the plot, and some of them had spoken to Colonel Cayard, but the Colonel had not agreed to take part in the coup.  Then Papa Doc had gotten wind of the conspiracy, and had ordered all the generals to be arrested, as well as two Coast Guard officers that he thought were also involved.
     Because Colonel Cayard was a close friend of Papa Doc he was called in for a strategy meeting on the evening of April 20, 1970. At the meeting Colonel Cayard said nothing to Papa Doc about the possible conspiracy, but he knew that when the Coast Guard officers were eventually questioned his name would come up. So by April 21, Colonel Cayard realized that he would probably be arrested. So he thought that by firing on the capital, he could force “Papa Doc” to leave it, and everything would be resolved in somewhat peaceful manner.  So he actually called the palace thirty minutes ahead of time to warn them that he would be firing the ships cannon on them.
     I read where Colonel Cayard, applied for political asylum and now lives in Miami Florida. Knowing he was in ill health, on Feb of 1971 Papa Doc held a plebiscite and appointed his son Jean Claude Duvalier as his successor. Toni and I were there to see it and watch Papa Doc and Jean Claude come out on the palace balcony to the cheers of thousands of Haitian peasants, who had been trucked in for the occasion. Then on April 22, 1971 it was reported that “Papa Doc” had died, and his son Jean Claude took over the presidency and he and his wife continued plundering Haiti.
     It should be of interest that “Papa Doc” died on April 18 1971, however April 22, is an important day in the Voodoo religion, so he had his death  announced on April 22, not April 18.