* Light Sweet Crud - a blog of sorts *

One Line Blogs Is it the smartest page on the Internet?

Internet standards guides written and published at this site

Yellow button When Common Sense Fails - the missing guide to email
Yellow button America's Cherished Myths we all believe that aren't true
Yellow button One of the most popular acronym definition pages in cyberspace, an award winner
Yellow button 21 Clues to the Blues and how ye shall know them
Yellow button The Bill of Rights Updated For Our Time
Yellow button The first and the best insider guide to eBay ever published
Yellow button The Investor's Guide to CNBC - Tips and Traps
Yellow button A rollicking sea tale of the New England coast that really happened
Yellow buttonThe long-awaited index -- all the files on this site  

The Freeware Hall Of Fame

Share on Facebook

My Adventure Smuggling Bibles, etc. for America's Fundamentalist Family

In October, 2010, journalist Jeff Sharlet spoke at the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the Univ. of Virgina. His topic was his specialty, the fundamentalist Christian neo-fascist group called, among other names, "The Fellowship" or "The Family."

Sharlet researched the group for years and is a leading authority. He's written numerous articles about them and two books that came out in 2008 and 2010.

He calls the group "the secret fundamentalism at the heart of American power." They are a Christian version of the Taliban, preaching a dictatorship of Christ (or God, depending on need.)

When I read his first book I learned that the group is responsible for some amazing adventures in my own life, the adventures described below.

Part 0ne where the Family's William C. Jones and I shoot a movie for the US of the entire Revolution Day military parade in Moscow on November 7, 1961, with the blessing of the Russians.

At the Feb. 18, 1960 Presidential Prayer Breakfast. From left, Abraham Vereide, organizer of the Prayer Breakfast movement, President Eisenhower, and William C. Jones, California publisher and host of the breakfast.

Part Two where I make friends with a Russian embassy attache in Helsinki who, after we meet in a coffeeshop a few times and talk of American literature, defects and turns out to be the highest ranking KGB officer and the most important defector of all time, Major Anatoliy Golitsyn.

Part Three where after the Berlin wall goes up splitting east from west, Jones and I take the first photos and movies of the soon to be famous crossing point Checkpoint Charlie, from the forbidden zone in the east.

Part Four where Jones and I have lunch with a German Lutheran pastor who is assisting the Family with Bible smuggling. Although we are under surveillance by the authorities and followed wherever we go, they leave us alone.


In June of 1961 after 6 years as a college undergraduate I flew off to Europe at three minutes past midnight of the first day they boosted summer airfares. I mention that to establish my naivety in international travel. This was my first trip abroad. Mensan intelligence is no substitute for experience. My expensive non-stop Swissair flight to Geneva had only one passenger aboard, me. The stewardesses, as I still call them, removed the arms from my triple seat and I stretched out and slept across the ocean. They woke me around 8 to see the Atlantic breaking on the shores of Portugal as we began our descent.

I went to Geneva to buy a good used Volvo wagon with its large rear entrance,

having been told Geneva was a good place to do that by the son of the European representative for Columbia Pictures. Bob Nathan was a Univ. of Virginia classsmate with homes in Paris and Argentina, so of course I listened to him.

Geneva, it turns out, was the last place to find a Volvo. There were no Volvo dealers in Switzerland. But I saw every bit of Geneva with a cab driver who had a large wen. We drove around used car lots for two days, 16 hours, at a cost in 1961 of $10 + tip per day.

(No surprise that it was cheap. My guidebook was Arthur Fromer's newly published "Europe on 5 Dollars a Day." That goal was easily do-able in 1961.)

Finally I gave up and bought a brand new Simca Aronde sedan for $1600. A French car bought in Switzerland by an American comes tax-free, a huge savings.

The Simca was chosen because it had a huge sunroof covering the entire top of the car. That was important because at Orly airport in Paris my enormous snow white steamer trunk with all my clothes was waiting to be picked up.

Being unable to find a 1950s Volvo wagon with its large rear door, an over-size sunroof was the only entrance to a car large enough for a steamer trunk.

The now legendary Hollywood poster designer Harold Seroy, a close family friend,

(that's my mother as Ava Gardner)

made me a gift of that gorgeous trunk. He and Ethel bought it for a cruse to Aruba in the late 40s, and with no further use for it in 1961, gave it to me to get it out of the attic. It was one of those classic trunks that swings apart horizontally,

revealing drawers on one side and a hanging closet on the other.

Heavy. Even traveling as freight, it cost more than $100 to fly it from New York to Paris, the least costly European destination.

I drove from Geneva to Paris to pick up the trunk and discovered a blunder. With the trunk I had shipped three cartons of brand new sound recording tape worth several hundred dollars. The Orly customs collector wanted a bribe to let the tape into France.

Why the tape? I had worked as a commercial disk jockey and radio station music director in my undergraduate years, and saw the rising popularity of international folk music, especially African. It was my plan to buy the world's best portable tape recorder at the Nagra factory in Lausanne, Switzerland, drive to Africa, and record tribal music.

I'd be safe, right? I had a Walther PPK in my bags, like James Bond.

The Audiotape Company believed in the project enough to donate the tape, probably because my father occasionally handled their legal matters.

Being naive, I refused on middle class principle to pay the bribe and instead, avoided France by trans-shipping the tape to Geneva, which cost more than the bribe but left me pure.

Then with the help of an overhead crane we lowered the white steamer trunk through the sun roof and set it where the back seat of the car had been. Earlier on the streets of Paris I had removed the seat and brought it up to my left bank hotel room.

It was obvious right away that the trunk was too large for my plan, which was to live out of it while I slept in the car. The Simca wasn't large enough. The trunk couldn't swing open once closed, the drawers had no clearance to open, the front seat had no room to recline. Rats.

I wrestled the trunk up through the sunroof and dumped it on the sidewalk alongside a park as an act of charity (it disappeared within minutes) and bought a large frame-less leather bag that served me for the next 45 years.

Nathan family's lived in a splendid apartment a few blocks from the Arc de Triumph. During my visit he said he was going to tiny Juan Les Pins on the Riviera for a vacation. Sounded good to me. I drove back to Geneva to get my tape.

In Switzerland they collect a douane, import duty, on new merchandise you bring in, but refund the money if you take it out of the country within X hours. The problem is, just over the line from Swiss customs where you get the refund is another country's customs shack where they collect -their- import tax.

Using a detailed map, I found a remote Alpine road from Switzerland to France where the two customs shacks were half-a-mile apart. At 2 AM in a downpour I showed up at Swiss customs to get my refund. Then drove over the hill to French customs, stopped the car close to the door so no one would get wet (or get out to look in the trunk) presented my passport with "nothing to declare," and drove my tape into France sans douane.

That proved to be a stupid, pointless, confidence building thing to do.

I headed south to the Riviera and a summer earning a living playing casino baccarat 7 nights a week, swimming a mile in the Mediterranean every day, and getting a crash course in the art of savoire faire.

The casino staff called me "the philosopher" based on my college major, and became ardent friends when, night after night, I tipped the croupiers 10% of every winning round.

They became more than friends the night the cashier accidently cashed my $100 traveler's check as 100 pounds and, when I discovered it hours later, gave it back to the frantic cashier and saved his job.

Perhaps the highlight of the summer was the afternoon I drove Count Basie, one of my idols, from a press conference to his hotel and back when he needed something. Or the week I flew to London at midnight with nothing but a huge sack of dirty laundry, hoping to find a girl whose contact information I didn't know.

As a favor to a friend, this runaway English teen had occupied the 2nd bed in my apartment for 3 or 4 nights and we didn't touch. She went home to London, reality set in, I wanted another chance.

The Brits are so nanny, so organized. In under ten minutes in an airport phone booth I was talking to her step-father. I had called the navy department and said I had a valuable ring belonging to Susan Ford, the step-daughter of a retired naval officer who managed the City of London club, but I didn't know the officer's name. They found him in no time.

I had the hots for her of course, not jewelry, but I didn't think Whitehall would cooperate for that.

Something else I learned is that the cost of laundry in London is staggering. Getting the bundle washed and ironed cost more than the roundtrip airfare from Nice to London.

Does life get any better than being 24 and taking a pretty teen to lunch in a private dining room in one of London's top restaurants?

Back at the Casino, the last two nights of baccarat restored every dime my lavish summer had cost. I headed back to Switzerland for 20 September orchestra concerts in Montreux and a meeting with Kudelski, inventor of the world's greatest portable tape recorder.

On the way north, looking to take roads off the beaten path, the Alpine climb through a pass called the Col de L'Iseran looked interesting on my 1961 Foldex map of France. I still have the map and it still looks like a road is there. But its not. After a few hours driving steadily upwards, the paved road narrows to dirt, then to a bicycling and walking path across a 40% slope. You back the car up several miles before turning around is possible, then retrace the drive back down the hill.

You stop to enjoy the beautiful mountain pasture and all the rocks deposited by glacier. Then the hissing begins, like a horde of locusts, and you wonder if this could be rattlesnake country. Does Europe have rattlesnakes? At the foot of the hill is a religious order and you stop in. There they say you were standing at the side of the largest colony of rattlers in all Europe. Perhaps by now they posted a sign.

Not international enough? How about this.

All summer long the sun baked the Audiotape in the car trunk. Now it's time to transport the tape out of France and back to Switzerland. The direct route doesn't look promising for smuggling, but a detour through Italy does. It also takes me through both the grande and petit St. Bernard passes, a tourist coup.

Atop the petit St. Bernard, the Italian border agent is ready to let me pass without inspection if I give "his cousins" a ride down the hill to Aosta. One cousin is a knock-out teen with a great build; the other looks like the Incredible Hulk's pale big sister. They squeeze into the front seat and as I swing the wheel this way and that through the mountain curves, my right arm can't help doing a number on a firm, young breast thrust out against it. And when the teen begins to pant and writhe, I realize the "cousins" are two Italian whores setting me up.

Sorry, no time for a drink in Aosta. Drop the girls and flee.

Amazingly, no one at the grande St. Bernard pass opens the trunk. I learn later that cars coming from Italy commonly have contraband to benefit the Swiss. Useful to know.

Under the bridge in Lausanne, the Polish taylor dis-assembles every seam of my new velvet opera coat with a promise of custom fit. Thanks to his expertise, the coat continues to fit through 30 years of body changes.

He tells me things I need to know about Nagra inventor Kudelski, a fellow Polish refugee with whom I later spend the entire afternoon listening to Bach organ music on massive Voice of the Theater speakers. I decide against investing in the mono Nagra, darling of the European movie colony, and await the stereo version now on the drawing board. We part at 5, Kudelski leaving for a party at which he looks forward to meeting Europe's leading movie sex symbol, Brigitte Bardot. No, I can't tag along.

I put the cartons of tape into a storage warehouse near Montreux.

In October I'm walking down Kungsgatan (King Street), the main drag in Stockholm, and see two people bending under the hood of a car that won't start. One speaks English in the unmistakable voice of Richard Fahey, a prep school classmate I haven't seen since ninth grade when his brother, Hal, was convicted of painting swastikas on a synagogue. (Years later the US Supreme Court disallowed the search that convicted him.)

Dick is leaving for a week's tourist trip to Moscow the next day, so we pick up two of the scores of pretty teeny bopper tarts walking the streets, and party all night. (Later they come down with STDs but we do not.)

After he hops the ferry to Helsinki I stop by a travel agency and buy into a group tour to Moscow and Leningrad for the first week of November. Fahey fails to return on the ferry when he's supposed to, so I continue to meet each boat until he shows up. We see the tarts once more. Then with only a week before my tour is to leave Stockholm for Russia, I decide to meet the group in Finland, driving to Helsinki via Norway and the Arctic Circle.

The young school teacher hitch-hiking home to Oslo speaks good English and fills me in on contemporary Norway. I hate to see her go but time is short. The only road north is gravel, daylight is from ten to two, nights sleeping in the car are in the low 20s, and the trip takes far longer than anticipated.

We drive so far north that we reach Lapland north of Sweden, beyond the Arctic Circle where Norway touches Finland, before turning south to Helsinki.The tour is to leave Helsinki by train at noon Sunday. I'm 10 miles north of the city on Friday at 4 pm when I remember I have no visa for the USSR. In 1961 these visas take three weeks.

Using a phone booth, I call the Russian embassy in Helsinki and, when an English speaker takes the phone, explain the situation. He says come by the embassy at 10 Saturday morning to talk.

Ivan Klimov

answers the door. I explain the need for an instant visa. He takes my passport and returns a few minutes later stamped with all the documents needed.

He asks me to call him when I get back to discuss my impressions of his country. He's disappointed that I do not personally know Jack Kerouac, his favorite contemporary writer.

The tour director is stunned when I show up. She has no train accommodation for me, so I fend for myself on a crowded train. An attractive, interesting looking woman beckoned me into a compartment. Her English is good. She's a pianist, a former Russian musical prodigy who was shipped out of Leningrad as a little girl on the last train before the Germans laid siege in September, 1941. Her father still lives in Leningrad.

After 20 years, this is Lydia's first trip back to see him. Her father has never met her husband, Sten Warthel, or her young sons Piklos and Plotrik. Lydia fears the Soviets may detain her as a national treasure who fled without permission. Stalin might have done that, but would Khrushchev?

We arrange to meet a week later at the Leningrad railway station. If she fails to show up, I am the link to her family.

Several days later the five Americans on the tour are coming back to the hotel from dinner, staggering across Red Square singing "Home on the Range" as we pass the Kremlin. We are Heber Clewett, an expatriate Armenian from California who has been working his way through European capitals as a commercial artist for 20 years; two young Catholic virgin girls from Missoula, Montana, out to see the world, and the son of a Los Angeles insurance broker having his fling around the world before settling down to a life selling insurance.

And me. And its me, no one else, that a well-dressed American walks up to and asks if I will help him tomorrow to film the annual day-long Revolution Day military parade. "I need help keeping 4 Bolex cameras loaded with film. It's ok, the Russians gave permission."

He gives me a pass he says will get me through the numerous police lines, and goes off.

Later I learn I have just met William C. Jones, California book publisher, member of the Billy Graham Foundation board of directors, host of the annual Presidential Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC, and high ranking member of the fundamentalist Family trying to rule the world that Jeff Sharlet will publish a book about 47 years later.

Jones with vice president Richard Nixon, later a President who did things "the Family way."

Vodka goes right through me and I spent the entire night in the bathroom. Yes, we can sleep sitting down. A 6 AM knock started the day, and by 7:30 I'm testing the police lines with the pass. It works. I pass through umpteen lines and reach Jones's hotel at the end of a huge square separated from Red Square by a building. The parade is to go through the two squares, passing on both sides of the building, and merging while approaching the 4 balconies on which Jones has set up his Bolex electric movie cameras.

There's nothing clandestine going on. It's obvious Jones is making a film approved by the USSR.

After a crash course in film changing on a Bolex, we spend the day filming intercontinental ballistic missiles, armament of every description, and well over a million marchers from throughout Asia in exotic costumes. Jones provides sandwiches.

Being badly hung-over and not fit for conversation, I ask only one question during the day. "Who is this for?" Jones says he's making the movie with Soviet permission for an international fellowship group. He mentions either Kiwanis or Rotary, I forget which.

At the close of the parade I leave with Jones's business card in my pocket. Since lost, as was the pass. From memory it said W. C. Jones Publishing xxxx S. La Brea Blvd, Los Angeles, Calif.

We are to meet again.

On Sunday Lydia Warthel is at the Leningrad railway station so all is well. Her dad gave her 50 rubles. The Warthels, both part-time music teachers in public schools and trying to make it as concert pianists, need the money but rubles are worth only a fraction of their value outside the USSR. To protect the worth of dad's gift, I spend her 50 rubles on gifts for my family, and promise to give her the value in Kroner when we return to Stockholm.

One of the things bought at the railway station is a balalaika for my brother

which years later comes unglued. Another is a guitar for me which for some reason the Russians drastically under price. I have no talent for the guitar and have wasted years trying.

The Americans, rather than return to Stockholm, linger for a week in Helsinki as guests of Clewett, an amiable, amusing, talented host who died in the early 90s in Torremolinos from kidney disease. A week is more than enough time to enjoy all the charms Helsinki can provide, where the government puts an outrageous tax on table wine so there are no good restaurants.

I call Ivan Klimov, my Russian embassy friend, and we meet for coffee a few times. He is fixated on American literature of the Beat Generation. As I am returning to Sweden he asks me to write a "news article" about what's going on in Stockholm and bring it back to him, for which I will be well paid.

In Stockholm I contact the Wartels, come over for lunch, and am invited to stay with them, sleeping on a sofa. We have a great time together. I spend nearly three months there, during which I return to Helsinki for another visit with Clewett and Klimov. The Russian tries to hire me for some vague job, but by 1961 everyone knew that soviet agents try to ensnare foreigners, so I decline. I'm no Lee Oswald with inside spook connections. I'm just an ordinary chump looking after himself.

A few weeks later Klimov goes to the American Embassy in Helsinki and defects. His real name is Anatoliy Golitsyn. The man who bought me coffee and chatted about Beat literature is a major in the KGB, and he is the highest ranking Russian agent ever to defect, before or since.

The web has plenty of info on the major. See researcher Edward J. Epstein's "Through the Looking Glass" and this chapter on James Jesus Angelton who worked closely with Golitsy after the defection.

I fly back to Stockholm via Pan American and settle in for the Christmas season, with a job hauling package sacks at the Stockholm 5 post office for $1.50 an hour. With less than a day before my 3-month Scandinavian visa must be renewed in early January, I decline the permanent PO job the postmaster offers ($1.75 an hour) and catch the ferry to East Germany.

Under the rules I have 24 hours in East Germany to reach my declared destination, Berlin. I zigzag south for sight-seeing and arrive late. The young border guard is attracted to the guitar and shows off his prowess before waving me into Berlin where in a few months I go broke. While I do, I make a reputation for myself with the border police as a drug smuggler.

Not drugs as we think of them, but medicine. East Germany has a serious bacterial gastroenteritis epidemic called the ruhr and a shortage of medicine. They'll take it any way they can get it including the black market. I drive through Checkpoint Charlie several days every week with my innocuous Swiss license plates. They assume the best and my car gets VIP hands-off treatment in and out on the east side and the west.

Alas, I have no connections to buy or sell medicine. I'm doing this for the hell of it. Remember Italy? One never knows.

President Kennedy's brother, Bobby, comes to Berlin to show solidarity with the city that was divided by a wall overnight just a few months before. I join the press corp for his visit wearing dark glasses due to an eye infection, a Russian ushanka fur hat with ear flaps, and a Harris Tweed overcoat with collar turned up against Berlin's icy wind.

A giant US Marine stays by my side at all times.

For the rest of my life I will wonder who the woman on the press bus was who blurted out, "Gaston Coblentz, you slay me."

Youngest Presidential brother Ted Kennedy shows up unexpectedly and joins the tour. As we visit the studios of a US propaganda radio station in Berlin, Teddy and I chat, leaving the Marine perplexed. I knew Ted slightly when he was in law school.

Being down and out means knowing people in low places, and someone asks me to smuggle his cousin out of East Berlin. She fits on the trunk, and I drive her to a debriefing station in the west zone.

Sven Shenkin from the northernmost town in Norway cuts an odd figure, very tall and skinny, dressed in a thick knitted wool suit, wearing a 12" hunting knife. We beg money on street corners to later buy coffee while we play chess in a restaurant at a window table. The management feeds us lunch every day for this colorful floor show.

Sven goes into East Berlin and fails to return. He sold his knife and was arrested when trying to convert east marks to west. That's a jail-able offense so I go to the police on his behalf. In a massive stone police station from the Nazi days four of us meet in a windowless room: a police officer, a translator, me, and a very large, silent man who is not introduced. I plead Sven's case. They say they never heard of him. On the way back to CP Charlie I pick him up. The cops released him while I was there, but took his money.

His even more stupid Canadian girl friend gives her passport to an east Berliner who tries to use it to get out, and is caught. The Canadian tells the border police her passport was lost and they jail her. I report this to a contact at the Canadian Embassy who does me a good turn in exchange by revealing a big secret no one is supposed to know: later today, Feb. 10, the US and USSR are going to exchange two important spies on a bridge outside Berlin.

Lee Harvey Oswald's first victim, U-2 Pilot Gary Francis Powers, and Col. Rudolf Abel are going home, and the press doesn't know.

I borrow a camera and rush out to the Glienicke Bridge but the police have it road-blocked miles away. I've probably scooped every reporter in the world and can't get the picture that makes it a salable story.

Till Fichter from Stuttgart, a student at the Free University, gives me a place to sleep and an introduction to Berlin's wicked night life. W.C. Jones ought to see this. Maybe Billy Graham will march here with a crusade. I was unaware he held a Berlin crusade the year before and the Family had established contacts. I write Jones with an offer to show him around and he responds immediately, asking to be picked up at the airport. My last money goes into the gas tank and a hotel room to get cleaned up.

Jones buys me breakfast and asks to be taken to East Berlin. He puts two suitcases in the trunk and we drive over. A hundred yards inside Checkpoint Charlie in the east zone, Jones directs me to a parking lot of a modest building, six or eight stories. He removes the cases from the trunk and we enter by a rear door and take an elevator to the top floor.

There's a room with a red light outside, the indication of a darkroom. Jones barges in. No one is there. He hands me a camera and asks for pictures of Checkpoint Charlie from the east side. While I shoot stills, he shoots movies.

We pack and leave, but there are two men in lab coats in the elevator. Jones tells them in English that he's looking for the manager. They do not understand and take us to an office on the ground floor and a woman behind a desk. She's the editor of a national magazine with offices there. Evidently Jones knew that. He's cool. Jones gives her one of his pens and says he's a magazine publisher who wants to tour the building. She makes an appointment for the next morning and we leave.

Instead of scurrying back to the west, Jones gives me an address in East Berlin to drive to. It's a Lutheran preacher whose wife has lunch for us. Afterwards we drive to his church, a beautiful old stone structure with lovely gardens. We are followed there by a black sedan. Jones and the preacher discuss the Bibles he is illegally supplying, but its not clear which country they're going to.

We're followed back to the checkpoint but have no problem departing the east zone or entering the west.

Jones and I have dinner. He's an incredibly unflappable man with cool nerves, as befits someone trusted with organizing a Presidential Prayer Breakfast. Alas, with a little alcohol in him he's a horses ass on social issues. Like the rest of his fundamentalist fraternity, he gets his orders from god and allows for no other side to his half-baked, dogmatic, fixed convictions.

By the time coffee comes I can't stand him, and send him off on a tour of Berlin's nightclubs with friends who can hold their liquor.

The next day I drive him to the airport and let him know I'm broke. He gives me $50 which pays for my hotel and a tank of gas. I worry that my welcome behind the iron curtain might be wearing thin, and use the opportunity to leave Berlin and race across East Germany to the West.

A few years later in 1964 when being debriefed by two FBI agents, they seem interested only in Golitsyn, not Jones. But a mysterious one paragraph story appears a few days later on the back page of my small town daily on Saturday saying California publisher W.C. Jones has been arrested in the USSR and charged with smuggling bibles. If that's bait, I ignore it. Sorry, not my line of work anymore. I've got smaller fish to fry.

Nether is it my concern when Billy Graham holds a revival in Berlin in 1966.

That's more background than most people will want, but I thought you'd like to see it.

I wrote better back when I was paid to. This is one of my newspaper columns from 1969 which covered a later part of the trip.



The train screeched to a stop at the Bulgarian border at seven minutes to midnight. Two Bulgarian guards examined passports in the second-class compartment. They had rubber stamps in their hands and guns on their hips. When they left the train, I was with them.

Under guard, I slept in an army barracks alongside the tracks. Shortly after 5 a.m. a guard woke me and said I was free and could leave on the next train.

The midnight Simplon-Orient Express I was taken off was bound for Munich, Germany. The train I later boarded at 6 a.m. went to Vienna, Austria. So did I. If I didn't know anyone in Vienna in 1962 it mattered little. I didn't know anyone in Munich either.

The way some men like money and others crave political power, the way some want large homes and others a close family, I lust for travel.

It has consumed my imagination since I grew an imagination. When I was able to travel I bit off the sights, the sounds, the memories and the mileage in huge chunks and when I can go again I'll bite as much.

Being yanked off the train from Istanbul, Turkey, to West Europe because I had no visa to pass through Bulgaria was, while not the high point of the rail trip, certainly the high point of the night.

The feather bed the Bulgarians provided was one of the softest I've known anywhere. I regretted being granted a visa and freed before I'd had my fill of the thing.

Istanbul is the city at the far end of the West, the city straddling the far edge of Europe and the near edge of Asia. The Simplon-Orient Express terminates there after the cross-Europe run from Paris.

To travel to Asia by rail, car, cycle, or thumb it's necessary to ferry across the Bosporus, a narrow strait separating European Istanbul from Asiatic Istanbul.

This short passage can be the most emotion-charged water crossing on earth for a westener going east or an easterner going west.

If you're fortunate enough to have the wanderlust, your first walk on the unpaved sands of Asia will have you as fascinated with your footprints there as Neil Armstrong was with his on the moon.

The hotel across from the European railway station in Istanbul has fleas in the toilets and roaches in the rooms. Once away from the station one finds Hiltons and other such delights but few Turks stay at the Hilton.

One Turk I came to know hung around outside the Hilton and near the American Express bank. This friendly fellow, who once worked at a Norfolk shipyard and spoke excellent English, was in the trade of money changing.

His black market activities made him subject to long-term and drastic legal penalties if discovered, so he and his brother, a deaf mute King Kong, were wary as could be, under their circumstances.

No reporter can resist learning about the nether side of the business world and I arranged to know the brothers pretty well by passing a hot $100 traveler's check to them to cash. As the Begger's Opera taught us, "for once do something bad and you'll survive."

This did not make us pals. My outstanding memory is sitting in the rear seat of a 1950 Buick Roadmaster parked in an alley while the mute Kong points his pistol at my head.

The brother from Norfolk is around the corner asking at a Turkish newspaper if they ever heard of Rey Barry. If they have, I will be killed because the brothers suspect me of researching a story on the black market in Istanbul for the Associated Press.

Fortunately I was a stranger in Turkey, knew no one in the press there, and the AP had turned me down when I tried to upgrade my Virginia State Police press card for one of theirs.

I didn't spend much time in Istanbul after that but I like to think it was wanderlust that made me catch a westbound train two days later.

It was a fortunate train, it turned out. The midday sun blazed as we crossed from Turkey to Greece, blazing down also on a shimmering shepherdess with long, blond hair tumbling over her shoulders.

Behind the broadest smile I've ever seen she had teeth like brightly lighted snow, and with passion, with joy and with open frenzy she waved to that passing train as if her heart might burst.

Waving there she was the embodiment of every breathtaking vista I'd ever seen and I felt like screaming "Stop the train. Stop life. We found it."

But the train didn't stop, not until we reached Bulgaria and I couldn't continue because I had no visa.


"Stop Life" Copyright 1969 by Rey Barry

To return to the FreeHOF Home Page click here
The name Freeware Hall of Fame is Service Marked by Rey Barry (rey at cstone.net)
All rights reserved. Page created November 2010
Last touched August 16, 2020