Saturday, July 14, 2007

quatorze juillet chez friedlander

a ford cortina estate mkv

i think i posted about dear old odh197k a year ago or so. my favourite car *sigh*. she looked like the one in the picture, except that she was burgundy.

anyway, i was just remembering that bastille day is one of those days in our family when we know there is no point even trying to go anywhere in the car because something bad will happen. more than three times it has happened on family holidays either in france or on our way there or back. take, for example, one time in belgium. it is 14th july. we are in our car. we are having trouble with our car. everything is closed. few people are around. we finally find a person. this person does not understand my mother's french (which is quite good, actually). this person speaks walloon. my mother tries german (which she speaks extremely well). the person still harbours grudges with regard to world war two. the conversation does not go well.

that is all i remember, but i know we did get where we were going in the end. the main problem with a national holiday is that everything is closed so if you need help it is hard to find. i suspect it is not so problematic these days with the advent of cellphones.

the scariest problem we had was once in the '70's when trying to go from holland to germany or vice versa. it was just my mother and we two girls. we were in no man's land when they took away our passports. for second generation holocaust survivors this is particularly terrifying. we had to wait for hours. it turned out that my mother looked like one of the baader-meinhof terrorists, who were known to use children as a cover. after checking us out and finding us innocent (and handing back the passports), we were promptly informed that our tyres were illegal in some way and we would have to buy some new ones and, o so conveniently, there was a tyre place right there. after paying an exorbitant price for those tyres, we were finally allowed to cross the border.

i must try to remember these things and acknowledge how much better life is these days next time they take away my toothpaste and tweezers (i still dream of hijacking a plane with the immortal words "take me to cuba or i shall pluck your eyebrows!").

ps a note from my mother regarding this post: "There were two different trips. On the first we were constantly crossing the French-German border and were usually stopped for the reason you mentioned. On the second, we were crossing from Holland into Germany and stopped because of the tyres - the tread was below the legal minimum. It must have been 1968, because of my heightened awareness of the removal of the passport."

to quote the chicken lady from the kids in the hall: "memories, they keep coming back to me like ... memories."

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