The Stowaway

Illegal Immigration 1931

Stowaway 4 16 1931

Stows Away in Box To Enter America

He tried to come to America in a box of hats, but now he has to go back to France. Louis Chianese nailed himself carefully in a wooden box, with biscuits, chocolate and water. On the outside was printed the legend that the box contained hats for a New York department store. Young Louis stood it for two days in the hold of the liner Lafayette – that was enough. He fired two revolver shots and was quickly released. Here he is on deck of the ship in New York, box and all. He says he will never try it again. – Associated Press Photo 4-16-31

20-year-old Louis Chianese said to his parents before leaving home without their knowledge, “I will go to America even if I have to go in a box!” His parents probably did not take him literally, but the box Chianese ended up in measured 7 by 2 by 3 feet. When the box was initially delivered to the pier in Havre, France, it was placed upside down.  Chianese said, “I thought my head was going to burst.” He almost accidentally burned himself to death when he struck a match inside the box to consult his watch to check the time. The box caught fire. Luckily he was able to extinguish the fire.

According to follow-up news reports, Chianese was actually in the box five days, not two, and it was his parents who alerted the shipping company to search for their son after he had been missing for days. The tip off was they received a packing and shipping bill for the box.

After he was returned to France, Chianese ended up in  a slightly larger confined space – he was sentenced to 15 days in prison.

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