All those Wonderful Stories

The $75,000 Brown Paper Bag

By Joseph Stachon, Captain

A most unforgettable TAL captain was Ran Reid, a transplanted Texan known for his dry sense of humor. Reid had been flying construction workers between Guam and Manila during the fall of 1948. On November 7, just as he prepared to leave the blocks at Guam to return to Oakland, the station manager ran out to hand the purser a paper sack he said contained $75,000. The money was to be delivered to Oakland for the November 10 payroll.

 

During climb-out from Guam, the purser insisted that Reid be the one to take the money to Oakland, but as there was no paper work to go with it, and because he hadn't counted it, Captain Reid told the purser to take the responsibility and deliver the money himself.

"During our three-day layover in Honolulu, the purser ate and slept with that paper sack, still not opening it or counting the money," said Reid. "No one wanted to associate with him because of that large amount of cash, so he must've figured it to be a bag full of trouble. During our flight from Honolulu to Oakland, unknown to any of us, the purser threw the sack behind the reserve oil tank under the lower bunk, and on our arrival at Oakland at 4 a.m., he left the plane in a hurry.


"Well, after a thirteen hour flight, I didn't feel like filling out my expense report to account for my $1,500 advance, which was all spent but $22 anyhow, so I headed home to go to bed. "I'd just gone to sleep when

Miss Hawaii and TAL Captain Ran Reid

Sherwood Nichols (TAL’s Vice President/Director) banged on the front door. He said he was sorry to have to wake me but, ahem, he needed that money to meet the payroll. Well, I got hot under the collar and told him it was all gone but $22. Then, when I saw his face go pale and his jaw drop about nine inches, I hollered, `well, my crew had to eat, you know!'

 

"Nichols then realized that we were talking about two different bags of money. I was referring to my expense money, and he was looking for the $75,000. 1 told him that the purser had it, and should have turned it in. And Nichols headed back to the field.

 

"Well, in the meantime a maintenance man had removed the auxiliary oil tank, found the paper sack and, thinking it was somebody's lunch, put it on a desk, but no one knew that at the time.

 

"The purser couldn't be located until twelve hours later, so it was eight o'clock that night before the paper sack was tracked down and someone from the payroll department sent to the hangar to retrieve it. The entire $75,000 was present and accounted for."