Happy Returns

Dad and me the fall he returned to Haiti

Over the four years following my parents’ first trip to Haiti in 1984, many changes occurred.  For one, my dad became very interested in learning about shipwrecks and treasure in general. While they continued to run their swimming pool company, my dad knew he eventually wanted to start a shipwreck recovery company and that was his goal and dream. During the summer of 1987, my parents took a hiatus from the swimming pool company to help a friends of theirs run the Crest Motel in Old Orchard Beach, Maine. My dad had acquired his commercial real estate license that winter, and my mom was studying for hers. My parents were always involved with many things, and had many interests that helped them make money. The owner of the Crest Motel wanted to sell it, but agreed to let my parents run it for one more season to see if it could make money. He knew that it would be easier to sell if he could prove to future owners that the motel was a profitable business to run.

From Memorial Day to Labor Day that year, my parents lived in the Crest Motel’s owners quarters, which were very nice and roomy. They were completely booked for that entire three month span, and managed to prove to the owner that his motel would indeed make him money. In August of that season, I was born. My first couple of months were spent living in the very busy motel, while my parents worked to run it. My sister Shannon was 13 then, and also lived there with us. That summer my dad’s brother Matt ran the pool company, and because he was so occupied with the motel and the new baby, my dad did not do much studying or treasure research that summer.

As soon as September came, we moved out of the motel once it was sold to new management. My dad went right back to planning out his future and working on the pool business. Over the next year, he worked to save money for another trip to Haiti. At that point it had been close to three years since he had seen the silver bar. He knew his hiding spot had been a good one, but he worried and wanted to make sure it was still waiting there in the reef. Finally in November 1988 my dad got to return to Haiti, this time with his cousin Mike Petillo, his friend Artie Larin, and another friend who worked on swimming pools with them at the time. My mom did not accompany them, since I was still very young. The swimming pool business was on hiatus for the winter at this point, so it was the perfect time to travel.

My dad was gone for a little over a week, and communication back home was harder back then. Cell phones were not things that most people had (though some people had gigantic car phones!), and the only places that had phones in Haiti then were the resorts. My mom did worry a lot about my dad, especially after the scary incidents that had occurred on their previous trip. She tells me that she had reason to worry, as something awful did happen to my dad on this particular visit. “That was the time when he got bad dive air and during the dive, he got disoriented and swam down, instead of towards the surface of the water.  Artie spotted him and rescued him, and I will always be grateful to him for saving him.  Nevertheless, he was very upbeat upon his return, having found and hidden a different silver bar.” My mom remembers my dad being very excited when he came back. Though it would be another five years before he would be able to start the shipwreck business completely, his excitement was renewed after seeing the second silver bar.

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