As I Remember, Chapter 28

This entry is part 28 of 39 in the series Ted Bio

CHAPTER 28

      All the events in this story, all happened in about one year. For the next five years, we were really busy. We were issued a card from that government. We were now citizens of Nicaragua, plus our own United States. So many things happened down there, that I will tell about some. Just hit some of the high spots.

      We discovered more gold clear across the continent. We come back and built another gold dredge. Hauled it to New Orleans from Portland, Oregon by truck, then by boat the rest of the way. It was put to work on the Wakie-Was river. Then we started a bus line. We got a franchise through Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and down to Panama City. We bought six used Greyhound busses from that company. They were all in excellent shape. Completely reconditioned. At that time Greyhound was converting to large cruisers. Those big double deckers. We bought a couple of them in Portland, two in San Francisco and two in Los Angeles. Greyhound loaned us one of their drivers, also a mechanic, then we took off down through Mexico.

      I could write several chapters on that trip alone. But I won’t. But I will say one thing. By the time we got down there, we were all expert drivers. It was a trip that I will never forget.

      When we finally reached Managua, we were greeted by big bands. We were paraded up and down all the streets. That next day we made the headlines of all the papers. The radio was busy. Connie whose real name was, Adailia Mendez welcomed me back by dedicating a song to me… Sabor A Mi. My favorite. Up until this time, I had spent most of my time at the Gran Hotel. At least while I was in the city. But now that we were in big business with the government and internationally known, the brass thought we should have a nice home. A place that we could entertain. Then they found us one that had just recently become vacant. One of the big shots had lived there for a long time. Then he had gone to Mexico City for his health, to a higher altitude. The Refuge, this place was called. It was about eight miles out of the city. Up a steep winding road to the top of the mountain.

      The estate consisted of about five acres surrounded completely by a high, steel fence. There was a big gate that was always locked. In a little shack beside it, for twenty four hours of the day, stood two armed guards. Soldiers furnished by the army. Also down by the front and rear entrance to the house was another pair. The place was a regular mansion, surrounded by a tropical forest. It had eight or ten bedrooms, several baths, one large enough for several to get in at the same time. Back of the place, was the servants quarters, several small houses, a housekeeper, two maids and gardener went with the place. Looking to the west of us, we could see the Pacific ocean far in the distance. There was always a cool breeze coming from that direction. It was a beautiful sight. And we had quite distinguished neighbors on both sides of us. On our right, was the ambassador from Great Britain. On our left, the Vice President of Nicaragua. Another member of the family.

      We had brought down a Chevy station wagon. We made good use of it. Most every day we went down to the city. Dell and Shirley stayed only for a short time. They wanted to get back to the gold dredge over on the east coast. Bill Gardner, one of our friends that had driven down one of the busses, stayed with me for quite a while. I had brought along my tape recorder and lots of tapes. And boy oh boy did we have some parties at that big house. We got aquatinted with our neighbors on both sides of us. That is the men folks. We never met their women. Don’t know for sure if they had any. But one thing for sure, they liked to play. So did my friend Bill. And it didn’t take him long to find his way around. When we thought it was about time for a party, I would send a note with one of the guards, to both my neighbors. In turn they would invite their friends. Men only. Bill and one of the guys would go to town and pick up a bus load of girls from the city and we would throw a party. Nicaraguan style. One to remember. There are about twelve women to every man in that big city and most of them lookers.

      But it wasn’t all play. We had plenty of troubles. Breaking in drivers that could handle those busses was a problem. A lot of those people could only drive an ox cart. Then that big volcano in Costa Rica blew up. It would make that one in the state of Washington look like some kind of a toy. Down there is volcano country. Also many earthquakes. There is nothing like a good earthquake to get them going.

      Back in the thirties, Managua was completely destroyed when old MOMBO TOMBO blew up and poured molten lava all over it. Usually from any high position, you can see at least four or five of them smoking away. Just waiting for something to get them going. This big one in Costa Rica, was putting down a couple of inches of ash on the city of San Jose every twenty four hours and had been doing this for some time and no relief in sight. Our busses run into that city twice a week. The ash was falling so fast that we had to run with our lights on. Keeping the mess cleaned up was quite a problem. Bull-dozers scraped the stuff off the streets and highways. The water and sewer systems in the city were plugged and contaminated. For miles around the coffee trees were covered completely. It looked like the city was doomed. Also the country. People were leaving by the thousands.

      We wouldn’t have many passengers going in but sure had a full load coming out. And there was lots of looting going on. One day I decided I would go along and take a look for myself. I sat up beside the driver and we took off. We kept those busses real neat and clean. Instead of a big Greyhound on each side, we had a big jaguar. El Tigre lines. We called ourselves. It was late in the evening when we arrived at that once beautiful city. Now it was really a mess. I got me a room at a nearby hotel and went looking for a restaurant. We would be here all night and return tomorrow. I had a couple of drinks and a good meal. Then I headed for my hotel. As I walked slowly down that street through that falling ash I kept looking over my shoulder. A small taxi was creeping up slowly behind me. Then I was in front of my hotel. The big iron sliding gates were closed. I could see the clerk inside. I grabbed those steel bars and rattled the thing. The clerk got up and started toward me. But he was not in time. Three guys jumped out of that taxi and come at me on the run. In the hand of one was a big knife. It was him that I concentrated on. I hit him square in the mouth. He dropped the knife and staggered back. Then fell flat on the cement. Then the other two were on my back. They grabbed my arms and pinned them behind me. Then one reached into my pocket and pulled out my pocket book. The one on the pavement got up and the three of them took off on the run. The taxi had disappeared. And in it’s place, drove up a police car. Two policemen got out and come walking over. The clerk inside had called them. “What’s the trouble?” one of them asked. I told them what had happened. I had been robbed. “Did you see where they went?” one asked. “And can you describe them?” I pointed down the street. “They ran down that way. I am not sure, but I think they went into that last door at the end of the block. They were three young guys. And right now, one of them has a mighty sore mouth. I landed one good one.” The guys nodded. “I think we know where to find them. That place you pointed out down the street, is a hangout for such trash. So if you will come along and identify them, we will put them under arrest.”

      We walked up a long narrow stairway and into a large room. It was bar and several people were standing there. Several painted women, also my three attackers. What made me certain, was the one that had blood all over the front of his shirt and also had a very large set of puffed lips. I pointed to them, “There is the ones.” They were put under arrest and searched. My pocket book which had contained about fifty dollars, was not there. Naturally, they had got rid of it.

      Up at the restaurant, I had just cashed a fifty dollar traveler check to Costa Rican money. This and a little change was what they had got away with. And this was just about the amount of money they had on hand. Equally divided among the three of them. But they had overlooked one thing. My book of traveler checks. It was still be able to pay my way. The two cops took the four of us up to the police station. The sergeant or whatever he was, fingerprinted us all. Then he pushed a paper in front of me. “If you will sign this complaint, we will put them in jail and hold them until they are tried.” I signed the paper. I guess I shouldn’t have. The next thing I knew those three bastards signed a complaint against me, for false arrest. And so, we all ended up in jail. Two or three days later, I was offered a deal. Drop the charges, and the others would do the same. Then we would all be released. I was sure glad to get out of there. It made me appreciate just how much it meant to live in the good old U.S.A.

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