by FC Miller, Profiles Threat CounterMeasures Group
(From the Informed Source Newsletter, published by Profiles Threat Countermeasures Group.)
Every professional goes through his share of frustrations and discouragements.
Sometimes, we think were the only ones going through them, but were
wrong. Discouragements are part of life, and we have to deal with them. We sometimes
get "suckered punched" by Madison Avenues portrayal of "other"
lives filled with ease, glamour and success, but those "images" are
as phony as a lead nickel! Within the profession, there are guys who struggle
because they have the business acumen of a mango, or have physical challenges.
Forget the "public relations images" we sometimes stumble over, and
let me introduce you to a disappointment and challenge "over-comer,"
a Private Investigator whos been called one of the worlds greatest PIs.
Excerpting from a commentary:
"In becoming the worlds best-known private investigator, Jay J. Armes
has amassed wealth, possessions, fame, and the kind of lifestyle that goes with
them. He has a beautiful wife, fine, healthy kids, satisfied clients in every
corner of the world, and a job he loves to do, but nobody handed them to him
on a plate. He started way down at the bottom of the pile, and to get where
he is, he had to climb faster and harder, and fight tougher than most - because
he is, in the most literal sense of the words, a self-made man, and has become
what he is in spite of a truly incredible handicap. He has no hands."
Excerpting Jay J. Armes:
"You could look upon my hooks as a handicap, I suppose, although I never
do, not anymore. To me, theyre an inspiration, but I wont pretend
it was always like that. You cant imagine what its like to be a
teenager with no hands; its sheer, unadulterated hell. When they first
fitted hooks to my arms, I remember thinking that everyone was going to stare
at me as if I was some sort of freak, and it frightened me. It took me a long
while to get used to it. But I did; you have to. Its a long way from easy,
I was born Julian Armas. I had two brothers and two sisters, and my father
worked in a grocery store. We lived in Yselta (Texas) and we werent rich
and we werent poor, just everyday normal. I was an ambitious kid,
and I wanted to get ahead. I knew the only way to do that was to be like Avis
and try harder. By the time I was 11 years old, I had four jobs. I delivered
the morning papers on my bicycle, getting up at 4:30 am, then rush to bottle-feed
sixty calves for a local farmer before I went to school. After school was out,
Id deliver the afternoon papers and then bottle-feed my "babies"
After supper, I had a job down at the local movie house where I doubled as
an usher and ticket collector. I didnt have any clear idea of what I was
going to be or anything, I learned how to take care of myself very early. One
of my less savory sidelines was a loansharking operation I ran in school. Id
loan quarters to the other kids at the beginning of the week, and collect fifty
cents at the weekend when they got their pocket money. Sometimes theyd
renege, and Id have to whip them to get paid.
I nearly got thrown out of school when the principal found out what was going
on. He made me promise to quit loaning money in school, and I did. I always
keep my promises. I started up again on a street corner opposite the entrance
to the school, and settled any differences after school hours. By the time I
was 12, I had a firm ambition. I wanted to be a doctor. I had a doctor friend,
and he answered all my questions patiently, loaned me books, encouraged my interest.
I had dreams of myself in white mask and gown, a regular Dr. Kildare. Then all
those dreams were shattered, literally blown to bits.
When Jay J. Armes was 12 years old:
"I remember it all so well. It was a sleepy May evening, and I was playing
in my backyard with an older boy that I knew. He was about 18 then. Dickie even
had his own car, which was a great source of envy among us other kids, although
it probably saved my life. That evening, Dickie had gotten hold of a box of
railroad torpedoes, and bought them to our house. We got an icepick and pried the box open. Inside were some containers. I took one of them out, and tore off the seal. It exploded in my hands. The effect was exactly the same as if I had detonated a stick of dynamite, and the next thing I remember is being face down near a tree about 20 feet away. I was trying to get hold of the trunk of the tree to get to my feet. I couldnt get a grip. It didnt occur to me that I no longer had any hands.
My mangled hands were squirting blood like two water hoses. I looked around
and saw Dickie running out of the yard. I thought he was running to get help
and ran after in him. In fact, he was running in sheer terror. "Dickie!"
I shouted in anguish. "Get the car, get the car!" He turned around
and looked at me. I must have looked like Satan coming up out of hell.
Dickie ran to the car and yanked the door open for me. He couldnt look
at my arms. The pain was coming in sweeping waves. I remember that my blood
was squirting so strongly that the windshield become slick and opaque with it,
and Dickie couldnt see to drive. He had to wipe the glass clean with his
hands. By the time we got to the doctors, Dickie was soaked in my blood
as well. At the hospital, the doctor told my father that there was no way they
could save my hands.
So they did what they had to do, and I began to realize what had happened to
me. I wanted to die. I didnt want to do anything. I just lay on my side
and stared at the wall and thought black, black thoughts. "Why me?"
I kept thinking. "Why me?" Tears of self-pity would fill my eyes I
loathed my own ruined body.
Then one day I realized how totally selfish I was being. I suddenly realized
that I wasnt really saying "Why me?" at all. What I was saying
was "Why not somebody else?" It was as if someone somewhere had heard
my question and told me the answer: "Why not you?" At that moment,
the effect was miraculous. I quit feeling sorry for myself. Ive never
felt sorry for myself since that day, never felt that I got a rawer deal than the next
man. And I vowed that I wasnt going to be just as good as Id been
before the accident. I was going to be even better.
I had to learn everything from scratch. All of a sudden, something as commonplace
as tying a shoelace became a major engineering feat. I had to be stubborn and
refuse to go to the rehabilitation center; I simply wouldnt think of myself
as handicapped, needing help. I was going to do it all my way. My way turned
out to be the hard way; thats the way I did it. When I got through, I
could do a lot more without hands than I had ever done when I had them.
As I said, you could look upon the fact that I have hooks instead of hands
as a handicap, but I dont. You are only handicapped if you think you are.
Ive spent a lifetime observing people, and I know now, that they set their
own limitations, create their own inhibitions. Yet a man can be anything he
wants to be, do anything he wants to do, so long as he has a star to steer by.
I make no secret of the fact that in my case it is Jesus Christ. Im not
proselytizing; I just believe.
When I got started in this business, there were 18 detective agencies in the
El Paso area alone. I knew what most people thought of the private investigator.
They called him a snoop, a shamus, a gumshoe, a peeper, a dock, and they used
the words derogatively, were ashamed if they had to buy his services. I wanted
to change all that.
"His hooks are not just substitute hands. They are, first of all, tools.
And after that, weapons. Its only when you see Jay Armes practicing karate
or unarmed combat that you realize those ordinarily innocuous hooks are, in
fact, lethal. He is hitting that practice bag with fifteen pounds of stainless
steel, propelled by the full force of arms and shoulders fully three times as
strong as those of the average man. He can lift sharp-edged heavy metal objects
which would take off the fingers of another man. Once, he even stopped a dangerous
machine by simply jamming his hook into it.
Think of all the things that burn, bruise, break, tear, slice, shred, or mangle
the human hand. Armes is impervious to practically all of them. Having hooks
instead of hands poses one obvious disadvantage-the man who wears them is hardly
inconspicuous, something an investigator often has to be. To offset this, Armes
went to the most famous of all the Hollywood makeup men, and gave him a specification:
"make a pair of cosmetic "hands" so realistic that even someone
sitting next to me wont be able to tell they are artificial." He
wears them for "dress" occasions, and for disguise and undercover
work, but for everyday, he prefers the hooks. He knows what he can do with them."
Jay J. has been though all the usual ups and down of the profession - dismal
failures and impressive successes. He once used the music from the television
show Dragnet as background for a radio commercial promoting his Private Investigator
business. According to Arms, "I used his music and followed it with the
sound of a womans scream and then her voice saying, "Who are you?
Who are you?" There would be the sound of footsteps, the crash of breaking
glass, another scream. Then the announcer would say, "If this is your problem,
if your privacy has been invaded, your safety threatened, your loved ones frightened,
call The Investigators! Night or day, call the Investigators! Let your problem
be their problem!"
We started getting up to two hundred telephone calls a month, and more work
than we could handle. I took on additional agents, and set about writing another
set of radio commercials, this time with business backgrounds - a boss finding
a shortage but unable to trace the miscreants, a store suffering from heavy
theft, but not catching shoplifters, and so on. Same exhortation at the end
of each one. In a matter of months, we were handling every kind of investigation
Armes then advanced into competitor intelligence, missing persons cases, etc.
His missing persons work took him to Christian Brando, the missing son of actor
Marlon Brando, which was so highly publicized it projected him to world headlines
and world fame. His other clients over the years have included King Faisal,
Elizabeth Taylor and husband Richard Burton, actor Richard Widmark, and Howard
Armes says of the highly publicized Brando case, "I think there must have
been a representative of every newspaper in the world at those hearings. The
case, and my part in it, made world news, but back home in El Paso, they had
some trouble accepting that Jay J. Armes, who was being called the worlds
best private detective" was the same Jay Armes everyone in town knew. You know what they say about prophets being without honor in their own town. I found it was that way for me. "Jay Armes, the worlds greatest private Eye?" theyd say. "How can that be? He grew up right here in El Paso. How did he get to be the worlds greatest private investigator?" Ill tell you this much, it wasnt easy. Theres a song that says that the best things in life are free, but Ive found that most of the worthwhile things are earned by the application of either sweat, time, money or blood. Most of the capers Ive handled have involved the
first three. Once in a while it was all four."
"When I graduated from high school, I went out to California, quite certain
that I was going to become a movie star. I was mad about languages, and found
I had the natural flair of the mimic. I studied as many languages as I could:
German, Italian, French, even Chinese, and I continued with the law studies
I had begun in high school. I learned to type by the hunt and peck system, and
got up to 60 words a minute. All through my life, I have seen people putting
off doing the things they want to do, and it exasperates me, as does having
people make me promises they dont or cant keep, appointments they
turn up late for, or not at all. The most souldestroying moments of my life
are the ones when I am idle. I cant unwind. I never learned how. From
boyhood, I had conditioned my mind and body that way. Now I cant do anything
The hardest thing at first, is to let people know that you are there, and that
youre willing to work harder for them than anyone else. When I got started,
I pounded the streets, going from door to door like a carbon paper salesman,
doing it the only way I knew how, the hard way. I set up an office with a secretary
and wrote letters to every attorney within a hundred miles. I hired ten agents,
all expolicemen, and sat back waiting for the work to start pouring in. Nothing
happened. There I was with an overhead that would have crippled Lockheed, ten
agents eating me out of house and home, and I wasnt being asked to find
a missing dog.
Then I hit upon a system that worked. I would go downtown each night and morning,
and pick up the newspapers hot off the press. Then, everything that had to do
with a crime was clipped, and I do mean everything, the whole enchilada. These
cuttings became the foundation of a potential case file. I would send a letter
to anyone who had been the victim of a crime, whatever it was, saying that Jay
J. Armes was there to help them. I found then, and I still find, that if I talked
to people personally, they retained me. There were more than a few who did a
double take when they saw that I had hooks instead of hands, They would sit
down in my office, plainly wondering if I was competent to handle their problem.
I told them I guaranteed results. If I took on a case, I would stay on it all
the way down the line. From that day to this, Ive stuck to that rule.
Thats why Ive never had an unsolved case.
(photo credits-Tony Korody/Sygma)
Armes is very creative, a regular "Inspector Gadget" with countless
innovations in his artificial hands. Examples? Among other things, he can turn
the hooks into a powerful electromagnet, use a diamond tip attachment which
transforms one caliper into a highly eficient glasscutter, and another turns
the hooks into heavy guage wirecutters. For all this, "Armes has a touch
so delicate, he can pick up a cube of Jell-O without crushing it." Armes
is also a crack shot with every kind of weapon.
This article is reprinted with permission from Informed Source Newsletter at www.profiles-threat.com.
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