Book Hippo

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Old Age

My holidays were successful. I had a great Christmas and New Years. Now I'm looking forward to my birthday in February. I've always liked my birthday because it's Groundhog's Day, so I feel like the whole world is doing something on my birthday.

I'll be fifty-four and I suppose I'll have to start getting used to not having the memory I used to have. Just the other day I was trying to remember as much as I could about Expo '67 and couldn't come up with much.

My dad saved for it. We would spend three weeks in Montreal, traveling from BC on the train. I do remember kids telling me to avoid the hamburgers. It was rumored that the meat was actually 50% sawdust. People wanted to walk home with me after school and I had to do a lot of homework and extra tests just so I wouldn't miss any schoolwork.

I can also recall being at my grandparents house to say good-bye before we left.

"When will it be time to go?"

"In half-an-hour."

Two minutes later.

"Is it half-an-hour yet?"

And so on. But finally we were on the train. It would have been dark and I suppose we went to bed as soon as they let the berths down. I don't recall that part. I suppose it would be the next day when we went over the Rockies. We were going through Banff and there were animals all over the place. On the train, a ski team was in the same car as us.

Someone on the train. "Look. Look. There's a moose."

Another person on the train. "Look. Look. There's a deer."

Member of ski team. "Look. Look. There's a volkswagen." He pointed at a Beetle as we all laughed. The cook had a sense of humor, too. Once when all the passengers were crowded on the right side of the train looking at some animal, he came up and announced, "The driver wants some of you to move to the other side because the train is in danger of tipping over."

I went to move but my mother assured me it was a joke. The rest of the train ride is a blur.

In Montreal, we were staying with my cousins. My mom's sister and her husband. They picked us up in their station wagon, a huge car. After a few minutes my father said to my uncle who was driving.

"You're going in the wrong direction. You're headed to the States."

My uncle assured him he was wrong but my dad kept at him. Finally we passed under a highway sign: to the USA. My uncle shut off all his car lights. Cars racing past us. We couldn't be seen. Then just a I thought we were going to get hit, he made an illegal U-turn and we were going the right way. They don't make stuff up about Quebec drivers.

I don't remember my cousins house but I do remember taking a plastic clock for my collection of stuffed animals. I remember getting my Expo 'passport' stamped at each embassy. I refused to go into the Greek embassy because of all the naked statues. It's funny what we're like as children. The American embassy was a Buckmeister Fuller geodesic dome. For most people it was 'the belle of the ball' but I found technology to be boring as a child as wanted to leave.

We rode La Flume. A plastic log that went on the watercourse and a plane ride which terrified me. And a waitress dropped a whole tray of dishes on the floor in a restaurant. A photographer took my picture as me and my mom walked by. We bought the picture. That's all I can call to mind of my childhood adventure.

I do, though, recall on the train back. I threw up and couldn't wake my mom so had to call a steward to help me. The next day a nun asked me if I felt better. I didn't answer so she said it in French. I still didn't answer so she repeated it in English and then I answered. I still don't know how she knew I'd been sick. I remember her sweetness and concern.

I don't know what to do to bring back memories like this, I just hope that as I age I don't forget the nun.


  1. You have lovely memories, even if you think some are fragments. I wonder, when we age if the old memories become clearer as the new ones fade. Of course you being still so young, it will take a long time before you find out.

  2. Being a tad ahead of you, I was a teenager for Expo 67.We stayed outside of town and rode the subway in which, on it's own was a marvel for a rural kid. I was nervous about visiting the Russian pavillion because I had been raised with the notion that Russians were nasty, dangerous people who carried guns and shot people for no reason. Imagine my surprise when a cute little blond hostess in a neat grey suit smiled at me. Expo was indeed a wonderful experience.
    Randall Lang