Thursday, June 09, 2011

Chicken Smuggling.

During my youth(25 to 31) my Father moved the family to Sarnia Ontario Canada. When I say family, I mean Mom and Dad. We all sort of popped in on occasion. Mom was not certain she wanted to go and be a “Landed Immigrant” or that she wanted to move us there. She was well practiced at following my father around the world as he enjoyed new adventures with Dow Chemical. She was a bit resistant and told him she would move if they could find a house on Lake Huron. Since they seldom become available she was certain they could continue to live in sunny warm Walnut Creek California.

Under the heading of be careful what you wish for: a house on Lake Huron became available. It was beautiful, built on an acre, overlooking Lake Huron. Now as a typical American, I did not understand how “Great” the Great Lakes are!.They are sort of like the Grand Canyon and take your breath away. I became even more impressed when they froze and the wind gods decided to blow. The pile of broken lake ice that created small mountains in less than 24 hours were more than 25 feet high was even more impressive. But then let’s not forget the amount of leaves that must be raked in the fall on an acre of land for a house on a lake. Big, all I remember about Canada was how Big everything was. Big trees, big storms, big wind, big snow big leaves, big lake. . And big prices on chickens

After arrival in Canada everyone settled in. Dad was working, mom was being mom. She was adjusting to the seasons and loving the amount of flowers she was able to buy to plant at the big new house. She loved the neighbors, and the flea markets, interesting auctions and the shops where Dad could buy beautiful suits. They explored the whole of Ontario. It was a bit of heaven with a couple of twists. God always makes you appreciate the good things by throwing in reality.

Beautiful Trees = Lots of Leaves

Lovely warm Summers = Snow and gale force winds that will blow a favorite pet away

Warm summer swimming in the summer=impassible yet impressive ice

Lovely fresh vegetable and produce at the market=the world’s most expensive chickens.



It was not the fact our cat would not eat Canadian cat food that caused my mother to resort to crime, it was the chickens.

In Port Huron a mere 3 miles over the bridge and one stop at the boarder chickens sold for 39 cents a pound. In Canada the chickens were $2.50 a pound. Poultry had a strong support in Canada and it was expensive. Even with the exchange rate, it was too much for my mother to bear. So she resorted to smuggling. What could any self respecting thrifty raised in America housewife during the depression do but smuggle Chickens into Canada. What was the worst that could happen, she would lose her cheap chicken. Her husband could lose his work visa and they would be deported. The chickens only were only 39 cents a pound. Of course she had to be a chicken smuggler.

Mom went to the U.S. about once a week or so. She always stopped on the way back and would pick up a hot bird or two or three or four. On one occasion she was traveling with my very proper but practical elderly Grandmother. Grandmother wore rather loose dresses and mom took the opportunity to bring back a couple extra because they could be nestled close to Grandmother concealed by her dress. Mom tucked them in and they headed over the border.

Grandma was fidgety, Mom was calm. She was using her 70+ mother to smuggle birds. What would be upsetting or concerning about that? The border guards are smart. They have a sixth sense They questioned my Mom who denied anything but Purina Cat chow resting on my Grandmother’s wheel chair. He looked at my Grandmother and asked and she simply shook her head all the time looking guilty and holding her breath. I am sure he did not ask her to exit the vehicle because he could see the wheel chair in the back of the car and the cat chow. He looked at her suspiciously but then what could these ladies ever do? He let them through knowing something was up but not sure what it was nor would he ever. The chickens were safe. Grandmother aged a few months but the family was safe until the next trip.

Mom never did get caught.