Oh Boy it’s Snowing

Chicago, Illinois
Christmas 1978

Shortly two customs agents came over and asked me to step aside and wait. They then proceeded to search my bag really well. It didn’t take too long because it was just a single small red daypack and it didn’t have much in it. Tropical clothes, which was all I had, don’t take up too much room. Then they searched me. No one told me what was happening until another agent came in and said that there was a 3 1/2 year old warrant out for my arrest for auto theft. He said it was probably nothing.

“Usually these things are taken off the computer every year, but yours seems to still be on.” he kept a straight calm almost nice expression on his face as he continued, “It’s probably an error, but we need to check it out.”

For the next few hours they tried unsuccessfully to find out some more information on it. The same nice man later told me that they could not find out anything, so they were going to have to turn me over to the Dade County Police. The handcuffs, he assured me, were just a requirement.

Everyone was very nice to me, but none the less I began to feel very foolish in my outfit. I asked if maybe they would let me change. They wouldn’t. I think he said it was some stupid rule. The Dade County Police were also very nice. We had a pleasant conversation while they transported me from the airport to the jail. I had to be locked in the back, they said, because of regulations you know.

Once there, I pleaded again with them to let me change into some more suitable jail clothes, but to no avail. I was taken into a room by two nice detectives who then carefully explained the situation to me.


“You see, we don’t want you. It’s Illinois where the warrant was issued. But we have to hold you for them. Right now you have two choices according to law. Either you can decide that you will go back voluntarily. In which case we can only hold you for 20 days. Or,” he added, “you can say you won’t go voluntarily in which case by law we can only hold you for a maximum of 60 days.”

My first view of TV in many years was in the Dade County Jail

I couldn’t believe my ears. I was numb. I was in shock. “20 days! 60 days!,” I shouted. “Who is this? What’s is this all about?”

The two agents kept their composure and further explained that they didn’t know any more than that, but that they would have to hold me until Illinois responded.”

“Meanwhile,” he added with a pleasant smile, “We will have to process you.”

Which is just what they did. They escorted me to a holding cell filled with many other gentlemen. At first no one seemed to pay the least little notice of me. I laid down on one of the empty metal benches and tried to watch television. You see it was my first look at it for quite some time. It even managed to take my mind off of my problems until some big burly guy walked over and stood between me and the screen. He didn’t say anything to me but just kept on talking to his friends.

“Boy, I can’t wait till lights out,” he said using an accentuated pleasant, almost sweet tone. “That’s when all kind of things can happen to new meat. “Hey, Joe it’s almost lights out time already isn’t it?” I was no fool. I instantly knew he was talking about me. The conversation went back and forth across the room. I stared straight ahead at he screen, even though it was still blocked by Convict No. 1. After a while he took notice of this fact and leaned down and said in that same pretend kind of gentle voice, “Oh, excuse me am I blocking the TV?”

Anyway. I won’t bore you anymore with the particulars They are not pretty, but then not devastating either.. The next morning they released me. I was in such a state of shock that I spent the next 2 weeks just laying on the beach in the Florida Keys before making finally making my way to my family and the snowy north–Chicago.

I was certainly not in the tropics anymore!

Merry F**kin’ Christmas to Me!