As usual, our parents were taking hours to pack the great, old steamer trunk, a relic of a bygone era when we would have been going down to Montreal from Toronto by steamship, one assumes.
But finally that old trunk was jammed full of two weeks’ worth of clothing for six family members. Then it was ceremoniously heaved up on the roof of our new Ford, and tied down securely for the trip to the World Expo in gay, old Montreal.
The summer vacation was a normal one at first. Lots of squabbling in the back seat, my Dad taking wrong turns, my mother complaining about it. Every once in a while, she would lose her cool and turn around.
She couldn’t really say ‘Don’t make me come back there!’ with any effect, since we were speeding along the roadway to make up for lost time. So she resorted to pinching the insides of our thighs, which could be quite painful.
At times such as these, I used to take particular glee in looking her straight in the eye with no facial expression, as if I were watching TV.
And so it went for hundreds of miles until we crossed the Quebec border and joined the last, mad dash to the fair city.
But now, dear Reader, we interrupt this narrative to go airborne, where veteran Eye in the Sky reporter Len Rowcliffe is in the Radio CJAD 800 chopper with the traffic report.
‘Thanks for the memories, Ross!
‘Well, traffic is brisk along the MacDonald-Cartier Freeway, with families coming from as far away as British Columbia and parts North — all filled with the promise of the celebrated World Exposition in Montreal, the City of Saints!
‘The vehicles are moving along at a good clip, accident-free for once and — but wait! There seems to be some kind of snarl here. We’re going in for a closer look.
‘Yes, I can see it now. One of the cars has a large steamer trunk on the roof and it has opened — clothes flying out and onto the highway in a constant stream…skirts, T-shirts, pants, each one sailing through the air at sixty miles an hour and onto the Freeway!
‘The cars behind it are swerving to avoid them — it’s amazing there hasn’t been an accident…
…the vehicle seems to be pulling over onto the shoulder now…one of the doors is opening and A YOUNG BOY HAS JUMPED OUT OF THE CAR AND IS RUNNING BACK ONTO THE HIGHWAY INTO ONCOMING TRAFFIC.
‘Oh my heavens, he was almost hit that time!
‘He’s avoiding the cars for the moment and picking up underwear, socks, shoes, you name it…and — he’s still at it now, showing some skill as he weaves and dodges in the face of what should be certain death, cars everywhere!
‘Now if this isn’t an unbelievable opening to the World’s Fair...and it’ll go down in the record books! Who in the world would drive down the road at highway speeds without locking the luggage in???’
At this moment, our extended family was listening to the radio, waiting for us to arrive from Toronto and make a grand entrance.
My grandfather looked at my uncle in disbelief.
‘It isn’t…it wouldn’t…it couldn’t really be them…could it?’ he said.