The trip to
became an annual pilgrimage for my family. I remember the car rides to and from the track. I remember passing through the obscure border crossing at Montreal ; there were a few houses nearby, a building with a couple Canadian border agents and another with the American agents, nothing else. I remember my mother telling the same story of how her grandmother and grandfather left Trout River, New York Quebec to start a new life in northern as we passed through their old hometown. My brother and I would interrupt her midway through the story we’d heard countless times with embellished tales of my great-grandparents’ harrowing journey out of St. Martine, New York State Quebec to a new life thirty miles away in . We even took to calling the little town “our homeland” and “the old country.” Mom did not appreciate our humor. Malone, New York
I remember the subway ride from the parking lot in the outskirts of
Montreal to the racetrack on the island in the middle of the St. L. If we were late and the cars were already on the track we’d run to the subway, dragging l awrence River awn chairs, sunscreen, rain gear and coolers. It was torture knowing the cars were out and we weren’t there to see them. I remember my mother complaining that her “short legs” (she was 5’ but my brother and I teased her claiming she was 4’12”) couldn’t keep up with my father’s near sprint speed. I remember the Metro ride in jammed packed subway cars with passengers decked out in their favorite team gear. It was all so exciting!
And, of course, I remember the races. I’ve seen many grand prix since that first one in Montreal. But looking back I remember the moments with my family. As an adult, I have a better appreciation of what it took to get a family of four there with a single income. It was too expensive to stay in a hotel, too expensive to buy lunch at the track, andtoo expensive to keep hydrated with beer, water and soda. We managed, though. Mom packed lunches and snacks. We lugged coolers of beer (lots of beer) and soda. And we drove back and forth, all three days. Dad allowed us one souvenir. I still have most of them.
Shawn Herne is the Chief Curator for the Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation, Inc.