John Delach

On The Outside Looking In

Month: December, 2016

Trivargo: Beware

When my friend, Joe, asked me for the name of a good resort to take his family on a spring vacation in the Ft. Myers area I quickly thought of South Seas Resort on Captiva Island. After he found a decent deal on Jet Blue airlines’ website and booked it, I gave Joe, and his wife, Barbara, a list of restaurants, etc. on Captiva and neighboring Sanibel. This got me to thinking about our visits to those islands and I decided to see what was available at South Seas in early December.


I had seen TV ads for Trivago proclaiming to be a super site to find the best deals available from an international stable of travel agents. I took a chance and gave them my preferred dates to stay at that resort. One of these travel agents, Hoteling, quickly offered an excellent price of $1,227.35 for a week’s stay which I accepted and Hoteling confirmed to me on April 21.


I then waited for my next statement from Amex that showed this charge had been made against my account by this UK based travel agency. That statement was dated May 6 and upon receiving it I called South Seas directly who confirmed the booking had been made. Satisfied that all was kosher, I booked our own air and rental car independently.


On November 29th, I decided to cross the “t”s and dot the “I”s so I called South Seas to reconfirm. Susan, the agent who answered said: “Sorry, Mr. Delach, but I cannot locate a reservation.”


I didn’t panic as I knew the resort had already confirmed it to me and I asked her to look further. She did then reported: “Found it, but it was cancelled on July 26.”


“By whom?” I responded. She couldn’t tell so I assumed Hoteling. First things first, I asked: “Okay, what do you have available for the period of December 7 to 15”?


She quoted me a rate of about $400 more than I paid which I accepted as my alternative was to tell Mary Ann that we weren’t going which I was not about to do.


I could find little for a way to contact Hoteling but I did find the following US helpline phone number for Trivago: 212-208-1439. When I called it a mechanical voice advised: “The number you have dialed is not in service. Please check the number and try again.” (If you have little to do, call it. You will hear the same message.)


I did locate Trivago’s web address and sent them an urgent request for action. Since this firm is domiciled in Germany, I realized that my plea could not be addressed until at least the next day at the earliest.


James Morrison from Trivago’s user support replied on December 1: “Unfortunately it is with great regret that I inform you that along with their parent company, lowcosttravelgroup(LCTC) ceased trading on 15th July 2016. This is awful news and very unfortunate that it has happened. We are as surprised as anyone.”


Morison did provide the name of the bankruptcy administrators in London  and denied any responsibility whatsoever.


I will not bore you with all that has transpired and continues to transpire since then. Suffice to say, I am not a happy camper.


We made the trip and had a swell time. I did make several attempts to make a case to Morrison to no avail. I did give Morison a parting shot telling him that I can’t wait to see the day when Trivago goes out of business and letting him know I would publish this piece. I did tell him the  working title was: “Trivago: Go to Hell!”


One last note, in the middle of these disappointing exchanges I received a survey from Trivago asking me to rate my experience. Needless to say I gave them a Zero . Zero rating.


Beware of using Trivago.




Triumph and Tragedy

Monday, March 1, 1962 was one of those superb winter days, moderately cold but crisp and clear, the perfect day for a parade. The Daily Mirror’s morning headline commanded:

Go! Go! To See

Glen Today

Their accompanying story began: “The heavens will turn off that chronic drizzle of the past few days for the man who conquered the sky.”
The parade actually honored all seven Mercury astronauts and was conceived following America’s first space flight by Alan Shepheard. But that flight and Gus Grissom’s subsequent success were so brief that the parade was postponed until Glenn made our nation’s first orbital flight. Glenn became an instant hero and his flight was so well-received and applauded by the American public that the parade became known to all as “The Glenn Parade.”


I was as excited as everyone else and decided to see the parade in person. March 1 was also important to me for another reason; I had turned eighteen in February. So, before I made the trip to Manhattan, I first travelled to Jamaica, Queens the location of my local draft board where I registered for the draft and received my Selective Service card. While this card demonstrated that I had fulfilled my civic duty, it also provided proof that I was eighteen and could legally drink in New York.


Armed with my new status I boarded a Manhattan bound Jamaica elevated subway train at the 168 Street Station for the long ride to Lower Broadway.  For the most part this was a monotonous ride as the train meandered through lackluster neighborhoods like Richmond Hill and Woodhaven. It did have a moment though. at one point the el lifted up above the surrounding apartment buildings to clear the Long Island RR’s mainline that crosses beneath it. This rise provided a stunning view of Jamaica Bay, Idlewild (Now JFK) Airport and the Rockaways. I stood up on that clear, cold day to take in the view only to notice a plume of smoke rising high above the bay making me wonder what had caused that to happen?


On reaching Broadway I joined the masses that lined sidewalks five and six deep becoming absorbed by a crowd estimated to be as many as four million strong who stood along the route. I didn’t see very much even with my height advantage so I can’t say that I saw John Glenn but I think I did. I didn’t stay very long but I didn’t feel disappointed either. Everyone was so happy and proud to be there that it felt good to be part of it.


None of us standing there knew that the plume I had seen earlier came from the remains of an American Airlines 707 that had crashed earlier in the morning after taking off from Idlewild. American Flight No. 1, non-stop service from New York to Los Angeles, began its takeoff roll at 10:07 AM, about the same time I arrived at the Selective Service Office.  The airplane carrying a crew of 8 and 87 passengers climbed to 1,600 feet over Jamaica Bay where the flight crew commenced a left turn. At this point something went terribly wrong with the rudder, the moveable part of the tail. The 707 banked beyond 90 degrees, flipped over onto its back and began a terminal dive toward the bay. One minute and 49 seconds after beginning takeoff, the 707 smashed into the bay upside down at an angle of 73 degrees exploding in the shallow waters killing all on board.


The crash of American Flight No. 1 was the largest single-plane domestic air tragedy up to that time and forced next morning’s newspapers to come to terms with all that had happened on March 1…


The headline on the Daily News read:



95 Die in Jet; Busman Strike;

Millions Share Glenn Triumph


The Daily Mirror stayed the course with:




The only notation, a box at the bottom right-hand corner of the first page noted:


95 Die Here In

Worst Air Crash


The New York Times went with twin banner headlines separated by a single column story about the Fifth Avenue Coach Company strike.  The left side banner headline covered three columns and read:






The right side headline covered four columns and read:






Finally, the New York Herald Tribune separated the stories top to bottom of the front page with:


Triumph – The New York Way 


TRAGEDY – End of Flight 1


The top of Page 1 began with this overview:


“Man reaches for the stars but he stands upon the earth. And his fallibilities and failings go hand in hand with his capability and achievements. Yesterday this city honored a space hero – even while stunned by a great air disaster. Today it still feels the pride in John Glenn – and it mourns the ninety-five who died at Idlewild.


We may be sure that there will also be other tragedies from the mines below the earth to the skies above it. But we know, too, that man will persevere and prevail and progress, for he knows no other way.”


Ralph Branca Remembrance: Peter King

(A day late as I was in transit on Wednesday.)

I asked my friend, Peter King, his permission to share his thoughts about, Ralph Branca, an iconic pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers, our team when we were growing up. Pete wrote this piece last month following Branca’s death on November 23 at the age of 90.   

Yesterday I attended the wake and funeral of my good friend and All-Time Brooklyn Dodger pitching great Ralph Branca, who died last week at the age of 90. The funeral Mass was celebrated at the Church of the Resurrection in Rye up in Westchester. The night before I went to Ralph’s wake at a funeral home just a few blocks from the Church. Both times I was with Fordham Track Coach Tom Dewey, who grew up on St. John’s Place about 10 blocks from fabled Ebbets Field and had the dubious distinction of being my classmate at Brooklyn Prep. Tom and I and my brother Kevin used to travel several times a year to the Westchester Country Club to have lunch with Ralph and his wonderful wife Ann and an assemblage of their good and interesting friends. Though Ralph never sought center stage at these gatherings, he was the one we wanted to regale us with his terrific stories about baseball and life in the late 1940’s and early ’50’s–Baseball’s Golden Age. I just wish we had installed a hidden camera to have a permanent record of those remarkable lunches.

Hundreds turned out for the wake and the funeral. There were the movers and shakers from the sports world like Joe Torre, Yankee GM Brian Cashman, Giants owner John Mara and former Mets star and Brooklyn native Lee Mazilli. And writers Bill Madden from the Daily News and Phil Mushnick from the Post and Mad Dog Russo from MLB. And there were the many friends and regular people including employees from the country club where Ralph and Ann lived. All there to pay their respects to a great guy and share their stories of his thoughtfulness and generosity. Each mourner was greeted by Ralph’s son-in-law Bobby Valentine who stood at the coffin for three hours and Ann who sat just to the side of Bobby and warmly acknowledged seemingly everyone by name. Total class.

The next morning as people arrived for the funeral, they quickly went into the Church to avoid the torrential downpour and gathered just inside the rear door, sharing more Ralph stories and what a great career he had before he suffered a severe back injury when he was just 26. How he won 21 regular season games plus getting a World Series victory against the Yankees when he was only 21. How he was a 3 time All-Star and had 76 career wins by the time he was only 25. And how he had done so much for retired ball players who were down on their luck. Then it was time for the Mass to begin. I was asked to be an Honorary Pallbearer and follow Ralph’s coffin up the aisle. That truly was a great honor. (Though I was half afraid that if I was out of step, Ralph would awaken long enough to blast me with one of his trademark sarcasms!) The Mass was beautiful and moving. Most moving was the magnificent eulogy by Bobby Valentine who captured the essence of Ralph Branca — the ball player and the man. As the Mass ended and the congregants sang God Bless America, Ralph’s coffin was carried down the center aisle and through the Church door to the waiting hearse for his life’s final journey to Gate of Heaven cemetery where we all paid our last respects. Then it was back to the Westchester Country Club where we had enjoyed those memorable lunches. As she had always done, Ann had scrupulously arranged everything and made sure that this reception would do Ralph justice. It was quiet but joyous. A wonderful send off to a great, great friend. Ralph Branca RIP.

FDR’s Day of Infamy Speech

Seventy-five years ago tomorrow, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt went before a joint session of Congress requesting that a declaration of war be issued against the Empire of Japan following the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor.  Set out below in its entirety is his so called “Day of Infamy” speech.


Mr. Vice President, and Mr. Speaker, and Members of the Senate and House of Representatives:

Yesterday, December 7, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that Nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its Government and the Emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American Island of Oahu, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and his colleagues delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time the Japanese Government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for a continued peace.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.


Yesterday the Japanese Government also launched an attack against Malaya.

Last night Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.

Last night Japanese forces attacked Guam.

Last night Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Island.

Last night Japanese forces attacked Wake Island. And this morning the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of the Nation.

As Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense.

But always will our whole Nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory. I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our own interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces – with the unbounding determination of our people – we will gain the inevitable triumph – so help us God.

I ask that Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.

On this, the 75th of the anniversary of that awful day, we should give pause to remember all of our citizens who were caught up in the Second World War, those who perished, our friends and family members who answered the call and especially our surviving veterans. They are our link to history; they are our national treasure.

 God bless them one and all and God bless the United States of America.