2 April 65 : Niagara Falls – and under arrest! : Springfield, Ohio, USA

Friday 2nd of April 1965
Dear family,

We have been working in a place called Springfield, Ohio, all this week. Not a very big place and very little to offer in the way of entertainment.

We were staying at a very plush motel but it had the most ghastly bathroom we have ever seen. It had the most awful colouring and a shower curtain that gave me the creeps. So we immediately phoned up, and taking an attitude like some of the guests we saw at the Eden Roc, demanded that the shower curtain be changed – and sure enough a few minutes later someone came along and changed it!!

We have really got the hang of this way of life now, however we haven’t got around to having the carpets changed because of the colour, but it’s a start!! By the way I don’t think I have told you this, but at all these top class hotels and motels all the sheets and pillowcases are changed daily, which is very nice too.

The latter half of our weekend at Niagara was very pleasant. We went to the Seagram Tower just before dusk and went up. It’s a tower 600 ft high and with a restaurant at the top, and it’s high up overlooking the Falls – and you get a real bird’s-eye view of the Falls. It was just like looking down a giant plug hole.

2 - Niagara Falls Queen Victoria park and Seagram Tower
Tony’s postcard, captioned: Niagara Falls Queen Victoria park and Seagram Tower
2 - Niagara Falls illuminated view American falls taken from Canada
Tony’s postcard captioned on rear: Niagara Falls, illuminated view – American falls taken from Canada.

As it started to get dark they began to switch on the lights which floodlight the Falls at night. They kept changing the colours – reds, blues, mauve, greens, and the whole effect was very beautiful. We were extremely lucky as the weather was perfect for the whole weekend, and also, I think the snow and mountains of ice around the Falls made it look all the more breathtaking.

On Sunday we set off for Ohio and drove through Buffalo and along the shore of Lake Ontario. At 12:30 we stopped for Colin to phone his mother, and he ended up speaking to the whole family Mum, Dad, Sheila and George. I spoke to his mother for a few moments, just long enough to say Happy Birthday.

By the time we had got to Springfield we had travelled 994 miles in a weekend, and didn’t feel particularly tired. Long journeys at high speed don’t seem to affect the car at all.

Do you know that the first service is at 36,000 miles? All Chrysler products ie Chrysler, Dodge, Plymouth, etc, have a 5 year warranty or 50,000 miles – whichever comes first. And this can be passed on to successive owners. This is proof of the sturdiness of American cars.

After last week’s ease and days off, this week has been very hectic and last night we were working until 12:30 in our motel room on a card system for one of our customers. So this afternoon we knocked off early and we drove over here to Indianapolis where we are spending the weekend with our boss and his wife. We are also going to meet some friends of his, one of whom is a television director, which should be quite interesting.

We have decided to have a relaxing weekend as we have been doing a tremendous amount of travelling recently, and although we want to see as much as we can, we don’t want to knock ourselves out in the process.

2- Niagara Falls March 1965 Tony
Tony at Niagara Falls
2- Niagara Falls March 1965 Colin
Colin at Niagara Falls

I had a very unpleasant experience in the week. I was arrested by the police.

I was travelling by myself to Columbus, when I was stopped by a police car. He had in his car a meter which read 57 miles per hour. He had been hiding behind a bridge, and that was the reading as I passed him. The big snag was that I didn’t have my driving licence which apparently is an even bigger offence than speeding.

So I was taken into the police station and they checked on me with the FBI, and also on the owners of the car to see if it was stolen, and then he calmly said I would be held until ‘this week’s Court sessions’ which were to be held that same night in the Mayor’s office. When I protested he said I could be released on a bail of $35.

He said the fine would be $25 for the speeding offence, plus $1 per miles per hour over the limit ($22), plus court costs, plus the no driving licence offence on top of all that.

As you can imagine I was very alarmed and began pleading for mercy on the grounds that I was a foreigner, and began telling fantastic lies, saying I had only been driving here a few days, and that I was a student at Drexell University in Philadelphia, on an exchange scheme, and that I earned very little, and that I had no money on me. I produced $1.58 from my wallet – which actually contained nearly $130.

All this proved useless, and he made all sorts of suggestions for me to get people to wire me the money, and finally handed me the phone and said ‘call your company and get them to wire you the money‘. I refused, saying they would fire me. Anyway to cut a long story short, I persuaded him to give me a warning, and after an hour I was released.

Having spoken to several people since, I’m glad I didn’t hand over any money, as this would have gone into his pocket. During the whole proceedings I was with the one cop – with no witnesses, and this apparently is not usual. Also, apparently I could have offered a bribe with a 95% chance of it being accepted, but a 5% chance of getting another fine for offering it. Apparently in Ohio the motorist’s dilemma is ‘to bribe or not to bribe’.

Anyway, since brushing up on methods of catching speeders, we are now observing the signs rigidly. In Ohio they also catch you for speeding from the air. On the Interstate Highway there are frequently crosses on the roads, at mile intervals, and the police in helicopters time you as you cross them with a stopwatch. If you are speeding they get your number and radio down to the exit points off the highway, where you have to pay. If you have travelled 100 miles before you get off they assume you have been speeding all the way, and fine you accordingly!! We heard of one man who was fined $250.

On Thursday, in a little place called Fairborn, in Ohio, we heard that there were three English fellows working in the town’s foreign car garage. So we went up to see them. One has only been here a week, and one since January, and one just over a year. They are mechanics, and all work on English cars, mainly E-Type Jaguars. The one who has been there a year frequently takes home $1,000 a month, has a $7,000 Chrysler, an Alfa Romeo sports car, and has just bought a house – which he reckons will be paid off in just over 4 years. We also learnt that it is cheaper to buy an E-Type here than in England.
To be continued…

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Worth noting: Tony’s father was a British police inspector, so what he thought of this letter, we can only guess!
Tony’s notes now: This cop was a very unsavoury character. During the whole time I spent in his office, he continually spat into a metal waste paper bin by the side of his chair. It transpired that he had been to England (probably during the war) and had spent time in Plymouth, so I was able to slowly ‘butter him up’ with tales of Plymouth and England, and this resulted in my eventual release.
NB. I would later be arrested again in Los Angeles, California – ironically for going too SLOW on a freeway. That ended up becoming a more serious incident, and was to cause considerable concern…

3 thoughts on “2 April 65 : Niagara Falls – and under arrest! : Springfield, Ohio, USA

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