Gitmo Fourteen

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: War and Military  |  House: Booksie Classic

Sending messages to Brigade 2506, Bay of Pigs

Charley Fourteen

Amigo Mio

Part of training me to be more responsible, Dad came up with an idea. Out of the blue he asked me,”How would I like to raise pigeons?”

 I jumped at the chance, “Oh, Dad yes, please, please.”

Soon we were back at the Hobby Shop building a coop on stilts. After we got it home we found a secluded space in the front yard near the cliff above Public Works to put it. Using chicken wire, we built a small fence to surround it and cover the top. We fastened empty beer cans partially filled with rocks to the side of the pen to make a noise. Safe and sound from invading hawks and prowlers.

One evening before dark, the landscaping crew stopped by our house. A crew of men were lying leisurely in the rear of a big flat bed truck except for one tall, gangling looking guy. He looked like he needed a shave. He approached me with a big toothy grin, waving with one arm and carrying a large wicker basket in the other.

 “Ola, Amigo,” he said in a friendly way.

My Espanol was very limited at the time but I knew that amigo meant friend. If this tall dark fellow with a pencil thin mustachio on his lip wanted to be my friend, that was alright with me. 

He reached into his pocket and brought two brightly covered candies wrapped in cellophane. “Cooban candee!” he said. I didn’t see my brothers so I guessed it was just for me.

I was curious to see what was in the basket. Oh, what a surprise. The basket was filled with solid white pigeons.

I counted 9 white pigeons. One King pigeon and 8 females. For me? My new friend didn’t seem to speak Inglise. He asked me, “Donde esta tu Papa?” I knew he wanted Dad. Dad didn’t speak any Spanish at all that I knew of but I went to get him anyway.

Dad told me later that my amigo lived with his brother near the stables at the far western end of the base, near the gate. Dad always called him Birdman. His brother lived in a small shack on stilts built on the side of the hill near the horse stables. I remember it had palm fronds for a roof and glassless windows. No screens either. As a hobby he raised chickens, goats and different types of fowl. His brother ran the stables. They were able to come and go, off and on base.

On Saturday evenings the Filipinos that lived catty cornered across the street, would have an outdoor bar b ques, loud music and cockfights. Amigo would show up sometimes with a rooster. There was always a loud ruckus depending on who won or who lost. That’s where Dad met Amigo and made a deal to purchase some pigeons.

It wasn’t long that I started to have baby chicks, then were fledglings running around. So many, I lost count.

One day I noticed that not all of my pigeons were solid white. There were different colored strangers now and then. Blues, grays, and fawn colored. I wondered where they were coming from.

One night soon after dark, my dog Tippy started making a ruckus.Thinking it was one of the Filipinos trying to steal some of my birds, I turned Tippy loose. The commotion was enough to wake the dead. Between Tippy growling and someone screaming and hollering for help in Espanol, it was deafening. Dad broke out his comshawed flashlight, grabbed a machete and approached cautiously to see what the clamor was all about.

(Comshaw is when you use government supplies for personal use. Since we were military dependents living on a restricted military base, we just figured that everything was put there for our use.)

In the glare of the flashlight, we could see that the door to the pigeon pen was opened. Standing in the doorway with a pleading look in his eyes was my amigo. My dog Tippy was latched on to his crotch, his eyes rolled back in his head, hanging on for dear life.   Mike I am  laughing hysterically!!

Tippy was a Staffordshire terrier, like a medium sized bulldog. Once he got a grip he would just close his eyes and shake his head from side to side like he was trying kill something. Using the flat side of the machete, Dad swatted Tippy in the privates, hoping he would turn loose. It worked, sort of. He got another grip somewhere else. This time it was a pant’s leg.  Oh!!  I am out of control laughing. I can just see this!!

At first I thought we had caught my new found friend stealing our birds. Dad acted like he was the one embarrassed about it though. He laughed and tried to smooth things out.

Mi amigo regained his composure. It was good to see his friendly grin. I can remember him saying my dog was a “mucho hombre.” Out came the big hand with more “Cooban Candy.” 

He and Dad had a secret plan behind my back. Dad was a Naval Intelligence Officer. Before the Bay of Pigs, the Navy needed a way to communicate with the Cuban Rebels, Brigade 2506. He used my pigeon coop as a cover to house homing pigeons that would carry messages to the guerillas. Amigo used the gate back and forth to the base frequently. He was always searched going off base but never coming back. Knowing this, he smuggled the homing pigeons to our house and kept them for future use in our pen.

So that’s where all the multicolored pigeons were coming from. I was hoping they didn’t notice that I sold two of the darker ones to the Filipinos. Fifty cents apiece.

One day Amigo was stopped from bringing the birds back and forth. He just played it off, promised not to do it any more. He was Catholic. You know how it goes, better to pray for forgiveness than to ask for permission.

One night while we were at the movies some large iguanas raided our chicken coup looking for eggs. They tore the pen up pretty bad. I could tell what it was by the tracks in the sand and the marks they left from dragging their tails.

That weekend we roasted squab on the grill and sold the rest to the Filipinos

Submitted: April 16, 2021

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