24 Dec 64: International calls and ‘English pubs’ : Miami Beach 

This continues the letter dated 18 December 1964, which began

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

Dear Mum, Dad, Nigel and Carol,

Christmas Eve (Thursday 24th)

Well, I have just got back to the hotel after having spoken to you, and I hope you got as great a kick out of it as I did. It’s amazing to think we were about 4,000 miles apart and yet you came across as clear as a bell.

You all sounded great, and I was especially glad to hear Dad, as in the last letter I had he was still ill.

A funny thing happened actually. At 4:15 precisely the local operator in Miami phoned me to say that the New York overseas operator was on the line for me, then the New York operator transferred me to the London overseas operator, who dialled Mrs Hince’s number – and believe it or not, it was engaged!!!

(NOTE: Mrs Hince was Tony’s parents’ neighbour, and she had a home phone, which was a luxury item in those days.)

And I sat here in amazement listening to the engaged tone on Mrs Hince’s phone. So we had to try again 15 minutes later, and that’s when we got through. That’s the last thing in the world I expected to happen.

However it all went off very well, and I was charged for exactly 3 minutes.

Colin’s call came at 4 o’clock and lasted 4 minutes, but they didn’t have a very good line, and they couldn’t hear him too well in Bristol – Colin could hear them clearly.

However we both agreed it was a wonderful 3 minutes, and well worth the money.

When I got back to the hotel I was told I have tomorrow off, so I have just handed in my notice. I shall now be able to spend Christmas Day on the beach.

Colin had today off, and went out with Herb and Vi to the beach on an island called Key Biscayne, and they sunbathed and swam. Last night we met them from work (or they met us) and we drove around Miami with the hood down, which was wonderful.

Scan_20171221 (2)
Tony driving Vi’s convertible


We then went and visited Herb’s sister who is a real character. She has just moved into a new house and the whole place was in absolute chaos, but she didn’t care one bit. We had to dig for chairs to sit down even. Later we all went out for a meal at an ‘English Pub’, which really was like an English pub.

We met some people in the hotel who had heard Colin speaking, and recognised he was English and got chatting. They then said they wanted to meet me so I went down. They were two couples and they were fantastically impressed when they heard of our trip.

They went a bit too far actually (I thought), especially when they said ‘Britain should be proud of you’. I thought Britain wouldn’t be too proud if it saw me sweeping up dog ends!! However, the fact is that they have invited us to dinner on the night we return from the cruise.

We know why all these people are so impressed. It’s because no young Americans work their way around the world. They don’t have to – they simply ask their fathers for the money, or work for a few months, and then go to Europe for a 3 months vacation. This is very common and most young people seem to have been. So in a way we are unique here.

One of these fellows is a vice president of a company, and the other is a lawyer in Los Angeles. He is the personal lawyer of many show business people, including Jimmy Durante. He wants us to call and see him when we are in LA.

We have arranged to go out to have a meal with Herb and Vi tomorrow (Christmas Night) and we thought we would buy them a small gift each to show how much we have appreciated their kindness. They are now even making plans to show Colin’s parents around when they come to New York – but don’t say anything in case it should not be possible.

Talking of presents, as yet I haven’t got you anything, but I will get something for each of you in time, I promise. We have been working such long hours, and then we have to do shopping and cooking etc, etc, that it doesn’t leave much time for anything else. And of course, our sight- seeing takes quite a bit of our time too.

To be continued…

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