August 23, 2010

Canadian Border Crossings

Yesterday we flew back from Vancouver where we spent the past several days for Esperando’s work. The weather was beautiful and we ate at some really great restaurants.

Esperando tried to check us in online, but for some peculiar reason he couldn’t acquire my boarding pass. Our flight didn’t leave until 4 pm, so we waited around for one last lunch at our new favorite sushi restaurant Oysi Oysi. I am on a lowfat diet and Esperando is on the Atkins diet—Japanese food works really well for us as we can both have the raw fish and salads. The wait staff is super friendly. We ate there 5 days in a row we liked it so well.

Oysi Oysi means yummy, yummy in Japanese.

We decided to get to the airport a little early—it was Sunday and not much was open downtown. We tried to check in at the United kiosk at the airport, but again my boarding pass wouldn’t pop up. We had to get the agent to print it out for us. I guess we were just too dumb. When I finally got my boarding pass I had the dreaded four S’s on it, which meant I had been singled out for a special random security check. Lucky me. In the past when this has happened (and I seem to have had more than my fair share of times), Esperando has been excluded. But somehow in the intervening months since the last time, he was glued to my fate for better or worse. Those security guys probably felt sorry for the left out spouses and have decided the more the merrier.

When you get the four S's the wisest course of action is just to turn around and go back home.

Now we shunted off into the special high security section. Before we passed through your standard metal detector the security guy advised us we would be searched on the other side and had the option of a hand pat-down or the much maligned Whole Body Imaging Scan. On the other side we passed into the control of two guards who asked us whether we wanted to be frisked or scanned. We both elected to be scanned which took about 5 seconds. I hope those guys were blinded by my Medusa-type fat middle-aged body, serves them right I say! After that we came back to the table holding our computers, purse, backpack, shoes and wraps. A guy took our boarding passes and proceeded to check each item out with the explosive swab test, not allowing us to handle anything until it was checked, determined to be free of explosive residue, and then individually handed back over to us, a process that took about 15 minutes. We had to open our computers to show that they were not bombs and they if they had been we would have been the ones to have been blown away first.

Now Esperando and I went to a lot of trouble when we lived in Canada several years ago to drive an hour away to the U.S. border to apply for Nexus cards so could be deemed reliably trustworthy individuals who would sell all their children to the government for slave labor if we ever broke any kind of law here or in Canada. Having a Nexus card meant we could avoid waiting in long lines at immigration after gettng off the plane. We had to answer all kinds of detailed questions about our life history and residences, stuff you hope you will always remember but are afraid you will forget as your brain ages. You get a secret password that you better write down as it is super complicated—and woe to you when you can’t remember your security questions. It makes me tremble even now to think of getting on line with them. If you fail to get everything right, after the third time your access to their website is locked down permanently. Having gone through the whole rigamarole and having cards issued we thought we were now cool dudes. However the dreaded four S’s supercedes any previous cool dude status and we were next hauled off to a place that was actually labeled 'Detention Area for Baggage and Individuals' while our bags were retrieved so they could be hand inspected. Cops with guns on their hips cruised around in case anyone tried to make a break for it.

We were now seated in a room of equally criminally minded people who sat cooling their heels while their bags were likewise retrieved. We were all guilty until proven innocent.  A new couple came in and sat by us. They had been through this before and missed their flight one time because it took so long to be processed. The woman stated that the government had to keep doing this to, "keep us good and scared." Esperando and I had lots of time to wait and weren't in danger of missing our flight, but it was annoying to be treated like a criminal. Somehow our bags were not cooperating with a positive attitude, refusing to be found and since they couldn’t find them we were stuck. Finally after what seemed like forever our bags decided to make an appearance. Lots of other people had come and gone. Our bags were re-processed through the X-ray machine. We were asked if we had anything we wanted to declare, why we had come to Canada and how long we had stayed? I tell you they don't want us or our money there really. The government already has its own citizens paying for everything through the nose, why would they want Americans to come in and throw a few bucks around and lighten the load? I tell you next time you will have to drag me kicking and screaming into Canada. This time they have finally convinced me that I do not belong there, even if my forebears did land there 300 years ago, at least they had the sense to leave.

This was just a random check, but those security people are so hostile they make you feel guilty for everything you ever did in your entire life while you sit waiting. The have no sense of humor. The only thing I know for sure you must tolerate their hostility without cracking and making a snippy remark, or they will hound you across the border forever. We know—we have friends who are in that boat, too.

August 1, 2010

Family Memoirs

Confederation Bridge traveling north to New Brunswick

When we went to visit our friends in Prince Edward Island last week instead of taking the ferry back to Nova Scotia to go to the airport in Halifax, we drove back over the Confederation Bridge which crosses the Northumberland Strait to connect PEI to New Brunswick. The bridge is 8 miles long, the longest in the world crossing ice-covered water (although being mid-summer it wasn’t icy), and endures as one of Canada’s top engineering achievements of the 20th century.

Watch out for mooses crossing the road!

My mother has always told me that some of our ancestors came from New Brunswick. In fact, they reputedly left American soil during the Revolution because they wanted to remain Loyalists. The truth of the matter is that many of them landed in New Brunswick to start with. When we started driving it began to rain pretty good, and once we crossed into New Brunswick it was pouring down steadily making the dark gloomy piney forests bordering the road look primitive, vaporish and threatening, so the opposite of tidy manicured Prince Edward Island. Here and there on the highway signs warning of wildlife crossings featured the black silhouette of a moose. I wondered what life was like back in the 1700’s when my forebears lived in that God forsaken place. And then, I thought maybe it would have been the same in Maine where other family settled back then. Rushing into my mind came the silly little tune that I learned long ago when I was 12 and taking piano lessons. It goes like this: “Hear the Indians in the forest, creeping, creeping. They will not disturb you if you are sleeping, sleeping.” The thought of the woods being full of Indians sort of made my scalp prickle, and it didn't sound like a very comforting lullaby.

Historic American Buildings Survey Print of Old Photo Showing Remains of Junkins Garrison (Built about 1700 in Maine.) The Tozier Garrison may have been something like this.

As we drove along I googled “Richard Tozier” on my Blackberry whose name I knew as one of my ancestors. He lived in Salmon Falls, Maine and was murdered by the Indians there in 1675 during the French and Indian wars. My mother has a copy of a pencil drawing of Tozier Garrison, a blockhouse that he constructed after one Indian attack. It was in country just such as this that he lived and died. His story has always captured my imagination, and the account goes like this:

“September 24th, 1675, the Indians first attacked the settlements near Saco, and then proceeded towards the Piscataqua River, intending to make an assault upon any defenseless place. The first place to be assailed was the dwelling house of Mr. Richard Tozier. It was situated one hundred and fifty rods above the mills and garrison at Salmon Falls. Tozier and sixteen men in the neighborhood had gone with Wincoln, captain of the town company, to defend or relieve the distressed inhabitants of Saco, and left his household unguarded, consisting of fifteen persons, all women and children. The attack was led on by Andrew, of Saco, and Hopehood, of Kennebec, two of the bravest warriors in their tribes. A girl of eighteen discovered their approach, shut and stood against the door until the others escaped to the next house, which was better secured. The Indians chopped the door to pieces, knocked her down, leaving her for dead and pursued the rest. Two children who could not get over the fence were captured. The unknown heroine recovered.

In October the garrison was attacked again. A letter addressed to two gentlemen at Dover communicates the distress of that place. 'To Richard Waldron and Lieutenant Coffin: These are to inform you that the Indians are just now engaging us with at least one hundred men and have already slain four of our men, Richard Tozier, James Berry, Isaac Bottes and Tozier's son, and burned Benoni Hodsdon's house. Sirs, if ever you have any love for us, show yourselves with men to help us, or else we are in great danger of being slain, unless our God wonderfully appears for our deliverance. They that cannot fight let them pray.'

Richard's son Richard, Jr., was captured, but returned after some Months Restraint.' Lieutenant Roger Plaisted, one of the signers of the above letter, was killed in the attempt to rescue his friend's body. Richard Tozier, Jr. returning from captivity, inherited the house and lands of his father where he lived many years with his wife, Elizabeth. Tradition gives two Canadian captivities to Richard and three to Elizabeth his wife.

It is said that the Indians came once while she was boiling (lye) soap and she, throwing it upon them, caused their retreat. Again, dressed in man's clothes with gun in hand she acted as sentry while the men were in the fields. Of her last capture the Genealogy says that when Richard saw the Indians coming he told his wife she must do the best she could; he preferred death to another captivity. If she were taken he would redeem her if he lived. So covering himself with a feather bed he ran out of the back door to the frozen river. The ice was thin and he broke through. The Indians seeing the hole and the bed believed him drowned and did not follow. They pillaged and burned the house, carrying off Elizabeth and all its inmates. Meantime Tozier was watching from the river's bank."

Hear the Indians in the forest, creeping, creeping . . .