Saturday, July 26, 2014

Greff Fabrics Blues, 1971 (xxiii)

Besides spending the last months of 1971 working at Greff Fabric, I also left the United States for the first time one weekend in the Fall of 1971, when I hopped on a Greyhound bus at the New York Port Authority's terminal, which was heading for Montreal on a Saturday.

I can't recall much of what happened on the bus ride, except for the fact that when the bus arrived at the U.S.-Canadian border, the Canadian border patrol guards didn't like my hippie/freak looks and assumed I was trying to smuggle some drugs into Canada.

So when the Greyhound bus was stopped at the border and the Canadian border patrol guards got on the bus to examine its passengers, I was the only passenger that was ordered to leave the bus. And, once I was outside, the Canadian border patrol guards asked me to empty my pockets and searched me, to see if I was personally carrying any drugs--after I told them I was traveling with no knapsack or any baggage. They also apparently checked my name against whatever list they consulted, before allowing me to return to the Greyhound bus and enter Canada.

Once out of the United States, off the Greyhound bs and inside Montreal's Greyhound bus station, I initially felt good about, for the first time, being in a country which was not directly governed by the Republican Nixon administration's government. And since I hadn't studied any French in either junior high school, high school or college, I did feel that being in Quebec was being in a foreign country, since everyone there was speaking a language I did not understand. And when I walked outside the Greyhound bus station, I, coincidentally, encountered a march of about 150 supporters of Quebec independence and Quebecois nationalists that looked impressive.

But after I had walked around Montreal for about an hour, the sun began to set and it began to get dark. So I randomly walked to one of the cheap hotels near the bus station and asked if if had a vacant room for the night. Although the clerk at the front desk of the first place I went to looked  suspiciously at me because I had no luggage and looked like a long-haired hippie/freak from the USA, once I agreed to pay for the room for the night in advance and in cash, he gave me the key to one of his vacant rooms and I quickly undressed and fell asleep on the bed.

Waking up early the next morning, I spent most of the day continuing to randomly walk around Montreal's streets and eventually found myself in Mount Royal Park, looking down from its heights on the city streets below. Then, noting that it was now going to be the time for one of the last Sunday afternoon buses that would take me back to New York City to leave, I hurried back down the hill to the Montreal bus station; and I eventually arrived at New York City's Port Authority bus station very late Saturday night.

Visiting Montreal for a day had been interesting. But it also made me realize that--unless I learned some French first--it would likely not be that easy for me to survive as an exile in Montreal in the 1970s.  So living in the USA where it was still easier for me to find at least some kind of menial clerical work when I needed bread seemed to remain a much more realistic economic option than trying to figure out a way to eventually move to a French-speaking Quebec that then seemed on the road to eventually political independence and national liberation, and full national self-determination.