Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Rum-Running for Amateurs

The Smuggler - and her get-away vehicle.
Before she . . . got away.
Mom was a teetotaler.
I thought I should mention that. It explains so much . . .
Dad had surprised Mom with the trip of a lifetime.
Okay, in the 60’s it was the trip of a lifetime.
Driving down along the scenic 101 through Washington, Oregon, California and into Mexico.
They were going to be gone for weeks.
She was just a bit excited.
They set out.
Visiting every landmark, great and small.
Every roadside exhibit.
Every tree, post and rock along the entire route.
Dad loved to see . . . things.
When they had finally finished with Sea World in San Diego, time was growing short.
They had one day to make a hop into Mexico.
Tijuana was all they would have time for.
They set out.
Crossed the border into Mexico.
And had a day of shopping the family-run stalls and businesses on the streets of Old Mexico.
Mom was in her element.
The sheer amount of purchasable ‘stuff’ was mind numbing.
She set to work with a will.
Picking up such treasures as: Velvet paintings.
Items of leather work.
Jewellery.
And some lovely bottles, encased in clever, hand-woven reed containers.
Happily, she piled her purchases into the back seat of the car and the two of them set off on the long road back to Canada.
Crossing the border from Mexico to the US was a simple matter of declaring that, yes, they had done some shopping and spent ‘X’ amount of dollars/pesos, and no, they weren’t transporting any firearms, tobacco or alcohol.
They continued on.
Back through California, Oregon and Washington.
Seeing whatever sites Dad had missed on their first pass.
There weren’t many.
Finally, they reached the border, again declaring how much they had spent and that they weren’t carrying any firearms, tobacco or alcohol.
The last few miles to the ranch were covered quickly.
Mom had children to see.
And gifts to bestow.
Their homecoming was noisy and enthusiastic.
Mom handed out her purchases.
Brought all the way from Mexico.
Across two borders.
She had purchased one thing for herself.
The three little bottles in their fancy, hand-woven cases.
She arranged them proudly on the mantle above the fireplace.
One larger.
Two smaller.
Perfect.
For many months, they sat there.
In their place of honor.
Then one of my brothers happened to pick one up as he was dusting.
It was full of liquid.
“Mom! What’s in this bottle?”
“Liquid.”
“What kind of liquid?”
“Well . . . just water, I suppose.”
“Huh.” He twisted off the cap.
Let’s just say that, if it was water, the water in Mexico is vastly different than anything that flows in Canada.
“Mom. I hate to tell you this, but this isn’t water!”
Mom appeared. “It isn’t?”
“Umm . . . no.”
“Well what is it then?”
“I think you have three bottles of tequila here.”
Okay, remember the part where I mentioned ‘teetotaler’?
That would apply here.
 “What’s tequila?”
 “It’s a very strong alcoholic drink. From Mexico. With a worm in the bottom.”
“Oh.”
The ‘liquid’ was duly poured out, worm and all, and good old 100 proof ranch sulphur water poured back in.
Mom went back to the kitchen and my brother went back to his dusting.
All was well.
But I can’t help but think about my teetotaling Mom bringing her three bottles of tequila across, not one, but two borders.
It’s always the ones you don’t suspect . . .

19 comments:

  1. Tee hee! What a great story! And...velvet paintings? I hope you still have them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The velvet paintings disappeared along with the downsizing. Too bad. I loved the matador! Sigh.

      Delete
  2. That is an awesome story and sounds like something my mom would do! A similar story…I had a small collection of alcohol bottles they give you on air planes. My parents didn't drink but mom wouldn't throw anything away, not even alcohol. They were boxed up somewhere. One day my ten year old daughter decided to have a yard sale at the end of our driveway. I got a phone call from a neighbor who was laughing so hard I couldn't understand her. It was something about my daughter selling alcohol in a dry county at the end of our driveway!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bwahahahaha! My Mom would be so proud! :)

      Delete
  3. So funny! She obviously had an innocent look!

    Teresa, your story is great, too :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah. Looks can definitely deceive!

      Delete
  4. That is so funny! Can you imagine is she had been caught!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To be caught smuggling alcohol?! She never would have lived it down! She would have fainted dead away!

      Delete
  5. That's so cute, Diane. I can just picture it! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Karen! Moms are a picture, aren't they?

      Delete
  6. So funny! My dad bought a carved owl in Tijuana in the 70's - it's hollow but we can hear something rattling around in there. One of these days we'll break it open - who knows what might be in there!

    ReplyDelete
  7. No alcohol, ha ha!
    I'm told that Tequila makes lovely sunrises....

    ReplyDelete
  8. Our in-laws are moving and thought we'd like the contents of their liquor cabinet, since they don't drink anymore. Judging by the contents of the cabinet, I can actually see why they don't. Lots of stuff apparently purchased for the interesting bottle instead of the contents.

    ReplyDelete
  9. We have done this sort of thing, not thinking that we might be breaking the law but still guilty as could be. It is very hard when states like California makes you eat all your fruit before you can drive into the state. And you can bet I was not throwing it away. I paid good money for that stuff! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My dad stood there and ate four bananas because he wasn't going to let that good fruit go to waste!
      Sometime, I'll tell you about my and my daughter's experience crossing the border!!!

      Delete
  10. The best part is how your mom just poured it out then carried on in the kitchen. Great story

    ReplyDelete

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