Picture a small rural community three miles from the United States border, divided by the treacherous fast moving Detroit river and you have a unique place to be a kid. We were Canadians with a view of America, one mile away.
To us, Americans were very different, they had funny accents and they all had Cadillac’s. We thought all American’s were rich, but of course we only met the ones who were.
There was a mystery across that river for us and we wanted to be a part of it. When I was twelve, I was allowed to go to Detroit and shop with my friend Joyce (14). We would go on the Tunnel bus under the river, then through the U.S Customs.
I am sure they knew we were going shopping! We wore old shoes and clothes. After buying a new outfit and shoes we would make a beeline for the washroom in J.L Hudson’s Dept. store, cut off the tags and throw our old things away.
Then we would have lunch in the store Mezzanine cafeteria. We were so grown up, we even wore hats and gloves. I can’t imagine my grandchildren having such an adventure or even being allowed to.
When we came back through the U.S Customs, they would ask if we had anything to DECLARE and we would lie and say NO. They had to know our shoes were new, I don’t know what we would have done if they had stopped us and made us pay duty.
Even after I moved to the United States I had dreams about going through that tunnel and lying to those customs officers. We were children, naïve and impressionable and I would gaze up at those tall skyscrapers and all the pretty things in the storefronts and I knew someday, I would live in America and I’m so glad I do.