Day Forty-seven January 9, 2018
I am thankful that, for a reason I will never understand, I was allowed to travel to Canada when I was fourteen. For a girl who couldn’t spend the night at a friend’s house unless her parents knew mine being allowed to go on such a trip was a dream.
From age thirteen to seventeen I worked on a farm near my parent’s house. I’d start with picking strawberries after school and on Saturdays in the spring and work through the fall bagging of tobacco to take to market. The farm was primarily a tobacco farm but the owner and his wife also raised produce that they sold to a local grocery store in nearby Winston-Salem. So I learned to plant sweet potato plants (using an old, hand-held tobacco planter), dig potatoes, pull and shuck corn, pick green beans, tomatoes and october beans in addition to all the work involved with the tobacco crop.
But my fourteenth summer heralded a long drought that meant there was little to be done on the farm. When the couple invited me, and another girl who worked for them, to accompany them on a trip to visit relatives in Kingston, Ontario, Canada I just knew my father would say ‘no’. But my parents bought produce from the family I worked for and liked them.
I was allowed to go and since our trip started in the early hours of the morning I spent the night at their house the night before our departure. My bed was the glider on their florida porch – at least that’s what we called it. The concrete floor, brick walls topped by roll-out windows was the coolest place on the hot July night. I couldn’t sleep and walked the dirt roads around the farm feeling a freedom I’d never known.
We drove from North Carolina to Canada, with a couple of stops along the way – the Natural Bridge in Virginia is one that comes to mind. In Canada we stayed with the brother and his family of the man for whom I worked.
I was fascinated by the Thousand Islands Bridge and the photo below is a scan from a post card I kept of it from my visit. I learned to water ski on Lake Ontario, suffering with the worst ear ache ever because the lake temperature was still so cold despite it being late July. We visited Ottawa and the parliament buildings, the St. Lawrence Seaway and Niagara Falls.
A couple of the things struck me while I was there. One was how litter-free the streets were. Back home in the states a campaign was being waged to keep people from throwing their trash out the windows of their cars. It was enchanting to see the pristine streets and parks. The other was how many people rode bicycles and how the streets were designed to encourage them to do so.
We drove through Toronto and into Windsor where we spent the night before driving back into the United States. I remember thinking what a huge difference there was between the lovely little town (at least the way I remember it) and the city of Detroit across the river. It was my first time experiencing my country from a different point of view and it is etched in my mind.
I still have a lovely ‘Eskimo’ doll I purchased in a store in Canada. The cost at the time was $20.00 and I was scolded when I returned home for buying such an expensive doll at my ‘age’.
But I still have that doll and a great deal of fond memories from that trip.