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“Crossings”

by Norma Elia Cantú

Author Norma Elia Cantú and her family have crossed the US-Mexico border many times to visit their relatives.

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Bueli and Mami and Papi crossed the bridge on foot from one Laredo to the other; they took turns carrying me, or maybe only pushing my blue stroller. Chirinola, our dog, came too, papers and all. It was 1948. For Bueli the move brought back memories, mental photographs gone now, except for the stories she told: how in 1935 she and Maurilio, my Texas-born grandfather, and their two young daughters packed all their belongings and drove their pickup truck down from San Antonio. They felt lucky; most deportees left with nothing but the clothes on their back—sent in packed trains to the border on the way to Mexico, even those who were U.S. citizens. She told of crossing from one Laredo to the other and losing everything—Buelito’s pride and joy, a black Ford pickup truck and all their belongings—to the corrupt customs officials at the border. Tia Nicha still talks of how weeks later she saw a little girl wearing her dress-a mint green dress she’d hemmed herself with pastel blue thread, a memorable dress so unlike the ugly, drab, navy-blue uniforms of Sacred Heart Elementary School. But there was nothing to be done, except cry and go on. And in 1948 crossing meant coming home, but not quite.