The Smuggler - and her get-away vehicle.
Before she . . . got away.
Mom was a teetotaler.
I thought I should mention that. It explains so much . . .
Dad had surprised Mom with the trip of a lifetime.
Okay, in the 60’s it was the trip of a lifetime.
Driving down along the scenic 101 through Washington, Oregon, California and into Mexico.
They were going to be gone for weeks.
She was just a bit excited.
They set out.
Visiting every landmark, great and small.
Every roadside exhibit.
Every tree, post and rock along the entire route.
Dad loved to see . . . things.
When they had finally finished with Sea World in San Diego, time was growing short.
They had one day to make a hop into Mexico.
Tijuana was all they would have time for.
They set out.
Crossed the border into Mexico.
And had a day of shopping the family-run stalls and businesses on the streets of Old Mexico.
Mom was in her element.
The sheer amount of purchasable ‘stuff’ was mind numbing.
She set to work with a will.
Picking up such treasures as: Velvet paintings.
Items of leather work.
And some lovely bottles, encased in clever, hand-woven reed containers.
Happily, she piled her purchases into the back seat of the car and the two of them set off on the long road back to Canada.
Crossing the border from Mexico to the US was a simple matter of declaring that, yes, they had done some shopping and spent ‘X’ amount of dollars/pesos, and no, they weren’t transporting any firearms, tobacco or alcohol.
They continued on.
Back through California, Oregon and Washington.
Seeing whatever sites Dad had missed on their first pass.
There weren’t many.
Finally, they reached the border, again declaring how much they had spent and that they weren’t carrying any firearms, tobacco or alcohol.
The last few miles to the ranch were covered quickly.
Mom had children to see.
And gifts to bestow.
Their homecoming was noisy and enthusiastic.
Mom handed out her purchases.
Brought all the way from Mexico.
Across two borders.
She had purchased one thing for herself.
The three little bottles in their fancy, hand-woven cases.
She arranged them proudly on the mantle above the fireplace.
For many months, they sat there.
In their place of honor.
Then one of my brothers happened to pick one up as he was dusting.
It was full of liquid.
“Mom! What’s in this bottle?”
“What kind of liquid?”
“Well . . . just water, I suppose.”
“Huh.” He twisted off the cap.
Let’s just say that, if it was water, the water in Mexico is vastly different than anything that flows in Canada.
“Mom. I hate to tell you this, but this isn’t water!”
Mom appeared. “It isn’t?”
“Umm . . . no.”
“Well what is it then?”
“I think you have three bottles of tequila here.”
Okay, remember the part where I mentioned ‘teetotaler’?
That would apply here.
“It’s a very strong alcoholic drink. From Mexico. With a worm in the bottom.”
The ‘liquid’ was duly poured out, worm and all, and good old 100 proof ranch sulphur water poured back in.
Mom went back to the kitchen and my brother went back to his dusting.
All was well.
But I can’t help but think about my teetotaling Mom bringing her three bottles of tequila across, not one, but two borders.
It’s always the ones you don’t suspect . . .
I'm visiting with Mom's family this weekend. The Bergs.
The most welcoming group of people ever to walk the earth.
I anticipate much story telling and a lot of love and support.
I may not be back tomorrow.
But know I will be happy, basking in the light of kith and kin!
Grandma and Grandpa Berg. About 1958 or 1959.