Treasurer of the USA

by Bruce Burnham from New Limerick, ME
Apr 5, 14

Years ago I was a U. S. Border Inspector at the Houlton, Maine crossing – opposite Woodstock, New Brunswick. One of the old time Canadian officers had the habit of walking down to our side to fill an old rum bottle at our water fountain. He claimed our well water tasted better. He was full of stories of his time working for Canada Customs, including many tales of prohibition days in the USA.

One day we were discussing documents used to prove citizenship when he relayed the following story. It took place, he said, in the 1930s or 1940s in the days before drug and alien smuggling when the night shift was generally staffed by one man valiantly trying to keep awake for the eight hours of darkness. Some of us were successful.

He told me about one morning around 3am - an old man stopped at the Woodstock port of entry seeking admission to Canada. He was scruffy and unshaven, driving a muddy old Model A Ford bearing New Brunswick license plates. He claimed to be vacationing at a camp on the Miramichi River. He said he had borrowed the car from the camp owner to drive to Houlton, Maine, on business the day before. My friend was naturally suspicious considering the gentleman's appearance and his Canadian plates. To make matters worse, this old man claimed to have forgotten his wallet at the camp. He had no identification whatsoever.

The officer told the man he could not enter the country. The old man then asked if the Customs Inspector had an American dollar bill. The Customs Inspector admitted to having one but that he wouldn’t provide it to him. 

But the old guy didn’t want the bill. Instead he asked for paper and pencil and signed his name.  

He gave it to the inspector and asked him to compare his signature with the one on the dollar bill. It was a perfect match. The old coot was the Treasurer of the United States. The inspector waved him through and he continued on to the salmon camp on the river.
They remained friends for many years.