Montreal and the “illegal Alien”
Somebody should have shot me :-) I was a Staff Sergeant with less than four years in the Air Force. I had returned from an eighteen month gig in Vietnam and no smarter than I was the day I graduated from High School. Wiser perhaps, more world wise too be sure, but smarter? I think not J I was also still single and hung out with a crazy crowd at my new assignment at Plattsburg AFB in upstate New York. Oh, I also owned the 1970 Motor Trend Car of the Year, the awesome Ford GT Torino fastback. I had a LOT of friends in P-burg, mostly other single Airmen living in the enlisted quarters for the squadron I had been assigned to, mostly because they didn’t own an automobile :-) Need a ride? Knutson will take us.
I was a LONG way from home and no where close to where I wanted to be and some married “lifers” took me under their wing and tried to put me on the straight and narrow path. We went fishing, had a beer after work at the NCO Club, I baby sat their kids when they went honky tonkin’ with their spouses. Anita and Fred, Mike and Nancy, John and Mary, and others I now just can’t remember their names. It was a long time ago in a world far, far away. Oh I met some eligible girls up there, but they all wanted a solid commitment and I was not ready for that, so the baby sitting, beer drinking and fishing were largely my social life at the time.
One evening as I pulled CQ, Charge of Quarters for you non military reading this, I watched a drunken procession stream through the barracks doors at about two AM, all residents of the barracks. One, Steve Cornish, plunked himself down in the chair in the CQ office and wanted to know what the sarge had been up to that evening. He was an Airman First Class, a two striper a bit younger than I. We talked for about half hour before he excused himself and stumbled off to bed.
He told me they had all been to Montreal that night and it was a fun city. French Canadian women abounded and were not shy with American GI’s. The city was one huge underground Mall with shops, places to eat, gin mills with live entertainment and he always came back to the girls. Good old Steve, a young GI with women on the brain, he could hurt himself :-) I filed that away and continued with the fire watch CQ duty the remainder of the night.
Two weeks later I was coerced into entering the Drag Races up in Napierville up route 87 into Canada. I crossed the border and we collected donations so I could pay the entry fee, I had no idea what class the car would be as it was a limited production run Ford produced so they could use it in NASCAR, not drag racing. It was unusual as it had a 429 Hemi. It was a go getter, but sure not a Funny Car by a long shot.
I entered and Race Officials inspected the car. I was asked if I put any modifications on to increase horsepower or traction. Oops! I showed the officials the trunk where I had several fifty pound sand bags because there was no weight in the back and horsepower to weight ratio was a bit on the intimidating side. One guy thought that would allow a classification, but when the rule book was closely checked, it turned out I was a new class of Stock without modifications and no other car at the track, even handicapped up or down, could make the same horse to weight, so I ran alone. I made three passes and was expected to put on a good show. I wish I would have saved all that stuff because I seem to remember my best Trap speed was 131+ miles per hour. Not bad for an old Ford.
We had fun that day, drank too much beer in Canada and escaped getting tagged DWI on the way back to P-burg. I was still young and dumb :-(
Johnson, Cornish, and Kelly finally convinced me that Montreal was not much further than Napierville and I committed to a Friday night run to the big city, what an idiot! We left right after work and soon where processing through Customs, 4 “Ugly Americans,” :-( We arrive Montreal and head for the underground. I gotta say it was very nice and nearly as I’d been told, nightclubs, shops, gin mills, live entertainment, women and places to eat. I had my Seiko and periodically checked to make certain Kelly did not go AWOL as he worked the swing shift the next day and the rest of us had commitments as well. At around 3 AM I called a halt and rounded all up for the trip back home. Funny thing though as we now had an extra passenger in the back seat and she could speak little or no English, She did giggle a lot though. I asked who she was with and Johnson piped up it was his date and she wanted to come see where he lived. Oh shit I thought and headed for the border.
Just south of Napierville I noticed some red overheads spring to life in my rear view. I looked at the speedometer and realized it was me that held the oncoming RCMP’s attention. I yelled into the back seat for someone to check the French Canuk’s ID and tell me how old she was. Getting a little smarter anyway :-) I pressed the throttle to the floor and the 429 sprang to life. Johnson finally got her ID and told me she was seventeen. I did the math and realized there was some unlucky guy in the car who would spend time in jail in Canada for the drunken minor sweetie in the backseat and that someone was probably the command pilot of this about to be rocket.
We were fast approaching the border crossing so I flicked off all lights, running well over a hundred and forty with nothing but the moon to light the road. I made that last bend in the road and saw the two border stations, Canadian and American. The Canadian Border Patrol cars were parked to the right side of the roadway and American to the left. It was four lane highway so for the Canuks to chase, they would have to pursue beyond their jurisdiction into New York and for the Americans to give chase they had to cross the centerline berm to get down 87 into New York. I think I’ve gotcha, I thought and continued, lights out to the border at well over a hundred and forty. The spoilers and air dams of the Torino were gluing me to the road, I could feel it.
I swept through the Canadian side and quickly noted about a dozen people headed for those parked cars. It looked like a Lemans Start. I roared past the American side split seconds later and they had the same reaction. I was well over two miles into New York by the time I saw a single headlight with the red overheads flashing. I doubt they even knew what color or make the car was. I continued, lights out at high speed towards Plattsburg. There was one off ramp from 87 I knew of that put me on a course to another road I could use to get to the first Plattsburg off ramp of 87 coming from the north. I eased off the gas, slowed and took it. About thirty minutes later I pulled into the barracks parking lot. The 429 crackling from heat and the Illegal Alien still giggling in the back seat. The Ugly American, heavy sigh :-(
Johnson wanted to use my car to get her home to Canada. I carefully explained to Johnson the likelihood of that ever happening. It is funny we didn’t get killed. Border ‘security’ still stinks :-)