Excerpt from Greenwich Meridian Memoir


Into the U.S. on Halloween, 1970

By mom Ella

On Oct. 30, 1970, we headed for Winnipeg into the province of Manitoba to pick up the U.S. visa and continued the road trip to the unknown. On the Canadian border with the U.S., I hesitated and cried that I did not want to go anywhere, because I could still return back to Czechoslovakia until Dec. 31, 1970 before the expiration of the exit visa. However, my husband talked me into it, stating that I should at least try it and that the USA has more people than Canada and that I might like it. The reality was far from it.

We crossed the border at North Dakota on Oct. 31, 1970. I remember that evening driving through towns and villages where we saw kids trick or treating. The kids were also carrying lit lanterns at the time and I felt sorry for my own children because they couldn’t go, that they didn’t have a home and that they didn’t even know what to expect at the next stop.

We drove through the deserted autumn regions of South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas.  When we entered Oklahoma, it was warmer, and cotton was harvested in the fields. That was already the neighboring state to Texas.

               The next day we crossed the border to Texas and watched for Hawkins with the tension and suspense of a cheap action movie. We envisioned a city, but it was a village, so small that we missed it and drove right through it.

At that moment, I knew I was in trouble.

When we turned around, we noticed the sign Hawkins, population 848. At that moment, I realized this was not going to be a place for me. Even back home, I did not like villages and solitary places with only three houses.

In Europe, universities were always located in big cities. We both studied in Brno which is a major city with population of 300,000. Hawkins shocked us.

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