Sunday, January 11, 2009

We Get Letters

You regular readers will remember Harley, who, some time ago sent us some reminisces of her trips to France. She wrote us again and told the story of her trip, when she was just 15, to Mexico City. She's a gracious lady and a wonderful writer. So here goes.....

Dear Doug and Nancy,

I enjoyed Part I of Doug’s high school Mexican adventures. As it happens, I had some as well. My sister Angelette graduated from Mexico City College and married an American and settled down for a time in Mexico City, before moving to the jungles of Yucatan, then to New Orleans, and finally to northern British Columbia, where she has resided for the past 20 years.

Angelette and Mike had a baby boy in February of 1956, although we didn’t get word of his arrival until late May, when I was a few months shy of 16. My mother’s previous experience with mailing gifts to Mexico had been very unsuccessful. The packages tended to arrive, if at all, between six months and a year after being mailed and the contents were always missing the most desirable items. Hence, one of my first great adventures.

After hearing about the birth of the little boy, my mother declared that her first grandchild needed a layette and other essential equipment, such as a hand operated food grinder for making baby food. Since she knew that the child would be walking before it arrived if she mailed it, she said to me, "Harley, why don’t you take the things to Mexico City that your sister needs?" Not yet sixteen and completely undeterred by any misgivings, I called a similarly disposed friend, Martha Ann, and invited her to join me on the journey as soon as school was out. She got her parents’ permission and we started getting ready.

Since my parents did not do for their six children what they could do for themselves, it never occurred to me to ask advice in planning the trip. So, one steaming hot June morning, Martha Ann (still my dear friend) and I set out for Mexico from Jackson, Mississippi, on an un-air-conditioned local (I didn’t know there were such things as expresses) Trailways bus that stopped every time someone waved at it from Jackson to Laredo, Texas.

I have no memory of being disgustingly dirty and smelly, but it must have been so after our 30 hour trip on narrow country roads to Texas. (This was before any big highways.) I do remember that Martha Ann and I bathed in the wash basins in the bus station in Laredo. There, we meandered across the border, a casual affair, and boarded the Aztec Rose, a train which was replaced a few years later by a new model that did not break down every hour or two. 802 miles later we pulled into Mexico City and found our way to my sister’s apartment. She was quite surprised to find us at her door since there had been no way to give her the wonderful news of our coming. At least, we assumed it was wonderful. Anyway, she acted glad to see us.
Martha Ann and I spent about two weeks in Mexico wandering about, seeing Mexico City with my sister and also taking local buses to such great places as Cuernavaca and Taxco and being treated wonderfully by the local citizenry. Once, we missed the last bus out of Taxco to Mexico City and had to hire a decrepit taxi to catch up with the bus. He drove at breakneck speed, around mountainous curves with no regard for which side he passed on-coming cars. Martha Ann still gets queasy when we recall that journey.

We had a lovely time with Angelette and her little family, which included a precious small dog named "Dinky" who bounced upwards one foot for every foot forward that he took. Once he bounced right down into a big hole in the road and had to be rescued, undeterred, by a nearby workman, who kissed him before returning him to us. At that age, long before I was a mother or grandmother, I was much more entranced by the dog than by my cute little nephew, who was a few months older than my parents had been told, my sister having been married only the previous August. I brought some photos of him to my parents, including one of the baby practically sitting up. My father, a physician, said, "Hmmm, remarkably advanced for six weeks of age." Nothing more was ever said.

Being gently raised young ladies, Martha Ann and I, unlike Doug, drank no beer in Mexico. Maybe a little tequila just once. Maybe.

My word, I did not intend to go on like this. Thank you for your wonderful blog. I have loved Doug’s stories of Yellowstone, which has reportedly been doing some extra shaking lately. How about some tales from you, Nancy?

Happy New Year! Harley

1 comment:

Linda said...

I concur with Harley - let's hear some stories from Nancy! I love ALL of Doug's stories, but I feel like I'm getting to know you guys through your blog, and want to know Nancy better. Plus, I know she's a good writer, because she left part of a journal behind when you moved, and I shamelessly read it. Speak, Nancy! As if I, whom you don't even know, should be telling you what to do with your blog!