21 Dec 64 : Hotel work and Cubans : Miami Beach 

(…continued from the letter of the 18th December 1964, which began as follows….)

The Century Hotel, 140 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach 39, Florida. 

Dear Mum, Dad, Nigel and Carol,

Monday 21st December

Yesterday was our day off, and believe me I needed it having worked two shifts on the trot on Saturday. At 4 o’clock I became, instead of a houseman, a porter, and had to change into an immaculate tropical white uniform with blue epaulettes, looking something like the Admiral of the Fleet.

I spent 8 hours emptying ashtrays and sweeping up dog ends (or more often than not, cigar ends)!!  It’s pretty horrible and degrading, but as Colin said, when we are on our cruise on Saturday, we shall have the last laugh as they will have paid for it.

So we silently suffer but with an inner ‘gloating.’ Roll on Saturday when I go back to being a Playboy again!

Tony in a motel pool, 1964

On my way home from work tonight I saw one of the boats leaving Miami Harbour to start a cruise, and it was all lit up from stern to stern, and with the palm trees and the sun just setting, it looked terrific.

We spent our day off sunbathing and swimming on the beach. It was a glorious day and I (as usual) went a bit mad and ended up getting sunburned – not too much though.

In the afternoon we decided to go on a sightseeing boat trip around Miami Beach (which is an island) but got there too late, so went on a bus tour instead. We saw all the hotels in Millionaires Row, and some are out of this world.

Scan_20171221 (8)
Tony’s photo of Miami Beach

In the evening we went to the pictures. The cinemas in the centre of Miami Beach are very expensive, but the further down town you go, that is towards our end, the cheaper they get. At our end we can go to the cinema and see two good full length film for 25 cents (about 1/9d) And it is always two big films. One reason as to why it is so cheap I think, is because there is there are no staff. All seats are the same price so no usherettes are needed, and all refreshments can be obtained from the machines in the foyer.

Another reason is that the cinemas are always full. This is because (I think) people are sick to death of this awful TV with its non-stop adverts. Consequently, in the cinemas there is no advertising at all, which is a welcome relief. Just two films, one trailer, and that’s it.

We had a letter from Herb and Vi on Saturday telling us that they were leaving that day, so they should be arriving in Miami sometime today (Monday). It will be nice to see them again, as they are very good fun. Herb’s sister and nephew live here in Miami and we spoke to them the other night on the phone.

When I work at night, I work with a Cuban called Eddie, who used to be a TV announcer in Cuba before the trouble. He fled with his family just before the trouble started and is now a part-time radio announcer for a political group which is fighting to free Cuba again, and he broadcasts propaganda and inspirational messages. He’s a sort of Lord Haw-Haw in reverse.

He’s very interesting and has told me a lot about the situation in Cuba. Some of the atrocities being committed there are terrible. It’s difficult to believe it’s only a stone’s throw from here.

Apparently there are now 25,000 Russian troops on the island and they patrol the water around it, and the American planes have photos of six or seven people in boats all having been shot.

The Cubans are refusing to work, and are secretly sabotaging machinery etc, to hamper the Communists, and if they are caught they are shot against a wall.

I feel really sorry for these people, as they are very nice, simple sort of people, and many of them here have all their families still in Cuba.

The American government is terrified of more trouble, and recently they discovered a plot to assassinate Castro. A plane loaded with bombs was ready to take off. It was based in Key West, and the Cubans there were in radio contact with Cuba, and they were carefully following Castro’s movements and were waiting for him to enter a small building, when they planned to bomb it. However the US government discovered the plot and seized the plane.

(NOTE: Despite decades of official denials, it’s now known that the US government were responsible for an estimated 638 assassination schemes / attempts against Castro. You can read more here)  

The hotel is filling up now in readiness for Christmas, and some of the guests are really cantankerous. One woman moved in yesterday, and today demanded that her suite be rearranged to suit her tastes. Also if they don’t like the colour of the carpets they are changed.

Later

I have just been out with Herb and Vi. They phoned me earlier to tell me they had arrived, and half an hour later they were here, and I went out to join them for a meal.

(NOTE: Vi was Tony’s father’s cousin, who had emigrated to America many years before. Herb was her American boyfriend. Tony and Colin loved to spend time with them.) 

Poor Vi was very exhausted after the trip, and also has a bad cold, and kept snapping at poor old Herb, but they both seemed in reasonably good shape.

We went to a restaurant and they gave me our mail, which they have been saving to bring down. There were loads for Colin, and also a parcel for him too (he is at work tonight). I don’t know what his mother finds to write about.

His mother writes on those little single sheet airmail letters, they only cost sixpence, and you can get quite a bit on them if you write small.

I had your letter of the 8th December and was alarmed to hear that Dad has been so ill. It sounds as if whatever he had was awful. However with all the attentive and doting old ladies all around, who seemed to adore him, I’m sure he’ll pull through. I’m sure that even as I write this, Dad, you are well again – I sincerely hope so anyway.

I am very disappointed to hear that you don’t want me to phone. I thought it would be a great surprise for you, and this is why I didn’t tell you that I planned to do this before I left. It has put me in a bit of a spot, as I have now arranged it all, and also I was really looking forward to it very much indeed.

I don’t know what to do now. I even haven’t got the number of Mrs Hince. It seems a bit selfish to tell me not to bother. You seem to forget that although it might upset you a bit (although why I can’t imagine), it will be a great thrill for me to be able to speak to you and Dad and Nigel too. Don’t forget I am alone out here – you are together. So these things mean far more to me than they do to you.

I had a Christmas card from Sheila and George, and also Jenny in London.

Vi said she had had a card from Colin’s parents, which she appreciated very much. Herb and Vi are very anxious to come on the cruise with us, and are going to the travel agents first thing in the morning to try and fix it. If they do it will be great. And I think they will enjoy it too.

I’m sorry to hear that Nigel is causing you worry again. If he wants to earn, he should get out and try it. I didn’t have a brilliant education but it was enough to get me a decent job and decent money.

Since I have been doing these menial, tedious, and horribly boring, repetitious jobs, I more and more value the qualifications I have, which can enable me to get back to a decent job when I should need it. I pity these people who have to do these jobs all their lives because they can’t get anything better. Still, I suppose I could write pages to Nigel – and it wouldn’t make a scrap of difference.

Ah well, it’s time for my turn at the launderette, so that’s all for now.

More news tomorrow.

To be continued…. 

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