Four days before our scheduled departure, I received a bombshell! The airline manager phoned me on Thursday night, Tammuz 15 (June 29) from London to inform me that the flight to New York would have to be canceled. A travel agent had informed (reported) to the Air Authority in London that we were not a bona fide group. We had accepted passengers who were not members of Lubavitch or had not been members for at least six months. This was all nonsense. These travel agents were annoyed that we had potentially started a new era - chartered flights from Manchester to New York - and were frightened that these would interfere with, or actually ruin, their regular business. They decided to put an end to this new type of traffic in its infancy. They therefore made this false accusation at the very last moment, giving us no time to appeal.

This was a shocking blow, especially after all our hard work and after the minutest details had been arranged and settled. I immediately telephoned the Rebbe in Brooklyn and received his reassuring message that I need not worry, “everything would be all right. We are awaiting your arrival with keen and pleasurable anticipation.” I confess, ashamed, that I lacked faith. How could I not worry when so much was at stake? Plus, I did not relish the idea of informing my eager passengers that they had better start to unpack their suitcases.

There were two courses of action open to me: 1) discover who the travel agents were and persuade them to retract their accusations, and 2) prove to the air authority that we were a bona fide group.

Course number one was doomed to failure; but I did try. I appealed to the boss of the travel agency for my sake, for the sake of the 118 passengers, for the sake of the hundreds of friends and relatives who were awaiting our arrival and lastly, for the sake of the £4,200 which we would be collectively losing. The boss just laughed and said that we deserved it for interfering in their business. He was a hard nut and I could not crack it. We therefore concentrated on course number two.

We spent all day on Friday contacting the passengers by phone or telegram and asked them to be at my house on Sunday and bring with them all their old membership forms. We had prepared a new certificate that they would all sign then. Once I had these in my possession I was to telephone the Flying Tiger manager, Mr. Clark, who would contact the air authority and hopefully receive permission to fly to New York.

We spent a hectic, worrisome and uneasy weekend, trying to straighten out these difficulties. On Sunday, everyone was at my home and completed the necessary forms. I had telephoned Mr. Clark, but the flight was still in the balance. We still had to wait for “developments.”

The day before we were due to leave, on Monday Tammuz 19 (July 3), the Manchester Evening Chronicle printed a half-page article about our proposed trip and our difficulties. This was headed by a screaming headline “£35 NEW YORK TRIP IS IN DANGER.”

Lubavitch certainly had plenty of publicity that week. Tension was high and my poor passengers were on the phone to me every minute of the day. Was the trip on or was it off? They had heard a rumor... somebody had told them this - and that. All I could say was “the arrangements still stand” and until they actually heard from MY office they must carry out the instructions already issued to them. Even Halberstadt, the caterer, drove me crazy. If the trip was off - what would he do with the meat - alright he know the answer to that one - PICKLE IT - but what about the plastic cutlery. He would have enough to last him for 20 years.