Saturday, December 23, 2006


Wallace A. Johnson MBA
Apollo Project Test Pilot

CDR Spaceship DEWAJ
Senior Navigator Test Pilot

You know, there are cigars and then there are cigars! I mean REAL cigars. I have never smoked, but I did go thorough a pipe smoking phase way back in 1946 that lasted three months I think. The darn thing was more trouble than it was worth, and like one of our presidents, I never inhaled either. All l have to do is put a cigarette in my mouth and without inhaling at all, I start levitating and in no time I’m higher than a kite in a brisk wind. Now, why am I digressing from my journal which on the last account was way back in 1939?

Well let me explain. As you know, I grew up as a young boy in Havana, Cuba. As I was saying, there are cigars and then there are REAL cigars. I’m not a smoker, but I know a real cigar when the aroma of one comes across my sensitive olfactory nerves. And unless you have had someone light up a real Cuban, hand rolled cigar, and caught a whiff of it, you won’t know what I’m talking about. Just ask any current resident of Miami who is a Cuban and he will immediately tell you that the only cigar that is a REAL cigar is one that is hand rolled from leaves that are grown on the Island of Cuba. And although illegal to currently bring to the states, it is said that our own president Kennedy, who knew a good cigar, would on occasion fill the oval office of the White House with the aroma of his Cuban cigars. I wonder how he got them. But again, I digress.

Delivering my newspapers in Houston, Texas gave me the opportunity to meet some rather interesting characters. One was a swarthy plump gentleman to whom I would personally hand the newspaper I delivered at his address. Sitting in front of his business establishment, (A used car lot), he would rock back and forth in his rocking chair, every afternoon waiting for me to arrive, all the while, blowing smoke rings that emanated from the biggest cigar I have ever seen in my life. Not only was it big, you could tell that it was not a cigar that came from some assembly line by the hundreds, but rather a cigar that was hand rolled for sure. A perfect example of a hand made Cuban cigar. There is nothing worse than second hand smoke as far as I’m concerned. Smoking is a filthy habit I’m glad I didn’t get hooked on. But, I have to admit, provided that it doesn’t hit you full force, there is something about a Cuban cigar that’s different. And l can understand why there are private haunts where gentlemen meet to this day in their exclusive clubs with their own private humidors which contain of all things illegal Cuban cigars. They say rank has its privilege and so does money, which I guess explains a lot, from President Kennedy on down. Anyway, I would hand him the paper and he would blow me a perfect smoke ring. Quid Pro Quo I guess. This was a routine that followed day after day come rain or shine. He seemed like a nice enough guy but all the time I sort of felt that he was just a little different. I wasn’t too worldly for my age when it came to know human character perhaps, but I wasn’t stupid either, and for some reason I just didn’t feel comfortable when I was in his presence. He was too slick I thought. And now that I look back on it, he reminds me of that old character actor Edward G. Robinson, voice and all. But I was too young to fully grasp the meaning of the whole thing, and on one particular day, he asked me to come back to his place of business, because he wanted me to do him a favor. Upon completion of my appointed rounds with the newspaper route, I returned to him as he asked.

The favor he was asking was that I take a package about the size of a shoe box to an address in an area of Houston which was crime ridden and harbored some rather unsavory characters. My instructions were to deliver the package to a person in the hotel, whereupon he was to call the cigar smoker that I had arrived with the package, and he then would then pay me $5.00. Now $5.00 in 1939 was big money and although at the time I was too naïve to realize that something wasn’t just right, accepted the money gladly, but I knew that the people who lived in this hotel weren’t exactly the kind of people I should have anything to do with. There were Chinese and Latino men there and it smelled to high heaven of marijuana and liquor, accompanied by a pungent odor which I have only smelled in the orient which I now believe was opium. Suffice it to say, that when the cigar smoker asked my once again to be his errand boy, I declined saying I was told by my parents not to go into that part of Houston, he didn’t press the issue, and I was glad.

That $5.00 was easy money to come by, but like all easy money, there were strings attached, and I wonder to this day just what was in that box. I now know I was being used as a bag lady. Was it narcotics I was transporting? Or cash for dope, I don’t know, but in retrospect, I shudder at the thought of the real mess I could have been getting myself into. I know this; whatever was in that box was illegal as Hell. I want to think that it might have been a box of Cuban cigars, but I know better. You see, I know what a Real Cuban cigar smells like.


At 23 December, 2006, Blogger ednurs said...

Smart boy,even then. It sounds more dangerous than getting squished between two cars....what an interesting life you've anxiously waiting the next chaper. Merry Christmas and have a wonderful new year. My year has been the better for reading your, to alert the other gerbils for the new chapter...


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