Sunday, July 1, 2012

Niagara Falls, Ontario by Margaret Ullrich, part 7, Transplanting

July 1 is a cosmic convergence moving day for me.

On July 1, 1952, Pop, Ma, Uncle Charlie and I moved from Corona to College Point.
Pop had bought a storefront duplex.
We were moving into a two bedroom apartment.
I actually remember walking through the side door, through the hall, to the entrance to our apartment's kitchen.
I was twenty six months old.
The hall and the kitchen were dark.
The kitchen's door faced the door which was the back entrance to the store.
The window was about three feet from the apartment building next door.
We could look into our neighbor's living room.
And they could look into our kitchen.

After we arrived in Corona in August, 1950, we lived in Uncle Tony's two bedroom apartment.
Along with his wife and three children.
I had shared my cousin's crib.
She was a month younger than I was.
Now I would have my own crib.
In the bedroom I'd be sharing with Uncle Charlie.

Fourteen years later we moved into a three bedroom apartment in a new duplex Pop built on what had once been his garden.
Charlie had married.
But now our family included my sister, my brother and Ma's mother.
I lived in College Point for almost twenty years.

On July 1, 1988, Paul and I moved to our present home in Winnipeg.
A single family dwelling.
The kitchen window faces our back yard.
The stores are two blocks away.

On July 1, 1972, Paul and I were experiencing our first full day in Canada.

First order of business was getting our car repaired.
The mechanic was very helpful, in his way.
He said we could save five dollars by not replacing the antifreeze.
Nope, some water and pump lube would do the trick.

Now, we were from New York.
We could smell a basic street hustler a mile away.
But what did we know about cars?
We'd always commuted by bus and train.
We'd just gotten our driver's licenses a few months earlier.
If the professional mechanic said pump lube was good enough, well he would know.
He was doing us a favor, saving us money.
I know... We were as dumb as that farmer buying a burger in Batavia.

After the repair, we went to Niagara Falls and acted like tourists.
We tried some authentic Canadian cuisine.
No, not poutine.
We went to The Red Barn and ordered a Big Barney.
The bun was cut in thirds and two thin burgers had been inserted in between.
What did we know?  Canadian cuisine.
We walked the length of the wax museums and shops.
Then we went to the Falls.

We entered a small cave.
The staff handed us huge black raincoats.
Then we walked towards the opening which faced the Falls.
We looked up at the falling water.
We got wet.
Water entered our orifices.
As if it were part of a tradition, we wives faced our husbands and spat out the water.
Maybe it was a good luck charm for our marriages.

It was still early so we went back to the stores. 
Bought a few souvenirs.
Paul bought some fudge.
Whoever heard of making fudge from maple syrup?

The Falls at night was foggy, like something in London.
They looked nothing like the postcard I'd bought.
We couldn't see anything through the mist.
So much for the multi-colored Niagara Falls experience.

Yes, it was the holiday weekend.
No Vacancy signs popped up like dandelions.
We were so glad we'd arrived the day before.

Today, July 1, 2012, Paul and I spent the day at Riding Mountain Park.
We've been going there for 32 years.

I first went there for a writers' retreat.
I had rented a one room cabin.
A whole house just for me.

Over the years we have often gone to Riding Mountain during the summer.
We've stayed in motels, cabins and tents.
It's all good.

Going from point A to point B on July 1 is just something I do.
I guess there are worse holiday traditions.

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