One of the luckiest things that ever happened to me was finding a deal on a nearly new 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air. An ad in the local classifieds said "Take over the payments." The owner was a young sailor who had just been reassigned to overseas duty. He couldn't take the car with him, he had no family with which to leave it, and returning it to the dealer would have cost him money.
All I had to do was fill out a simple form for the bank and I was able to take over the sailor's original sales contract. Also, back in those days, you didn't have to pay sales tax on the transaction as you do now. So I ended up with a 3-month-old 4-door sedan with less than 10,000 miles on it—and didn't have to put up a dime. I felt like I was in new car heaven.
Anyway, shortly after getting the car I quit Cornet and sold Rasco on the idea of hiring me to set up a screen printing operation for them. Well, I was so pleased with my success at creating this job for myself that I thought I'd be able to do something similar in Puerto Rico.
Why Puerto Rico? Well, I've always been enamored of things Latin American, and had hoped to one day be able to live in a Spanish Speaking country. Also, I had read that there was a lot of new development going on in Puerto Rico and that new businesses were popping up all over the place, due in part to the favorable treatment they got from US tax laws.
Beyond that, I had no steady girl friend to keep me in California—so I put everything I owned in the Bel Air and off I went. I left the car stored in Miami, and flew to San Juan to look around and size things up.
Well, the second night I was there I decided to look for a place to go dancing, and soon found a night club that catered to locals, rather than to the tourist trade.
As was often the case in my "younger dancing days," I soon found myself being looked over by some local ladies—because of my obviously gringo appearance. Three of them were sitting in a booth on the other side of the room, and I was wondering which one I should ask to dance.
Well, the decision was made for me when one of them walked over and sat down at my table.
"So where you from?" she asked, giving me a quizzical look. I told her, and she continued with, "So what you doing here?" When I told her what I had in mind she asked, "So why you come to this night club? You're looking for a woman—right?"
"Well," I replied, "I did hope to meet somebody to dance with."
"Okay," she said. "Let's dance."
So we did.
Well, we danced and had a few drinks, and the evening seemed to be going well. But there was an air of possessiveness about Marta that was beginning to make me uneasy.
Finally, she said, "Okay—time to go."
"Go?" I asked. "Go where?"