Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Summer in a Quonset Summer's End

Settled. Finally.

As the summer progressed, new items were hauled into the quonset from the old ranch.
Our summer home began to look more and more like the back yard of a junk dealer.
Soon there was only a foot path past the 'clinic' to the 'living area'.
We had to do more and higher leaping over this and jumping over that to find items that we wanted. But we finally became so efficient at finding things we almost knew which box contained what.
It was like watching a movie to see all the different expressions of our clients as we met them at the door.
I often wonder what went though their minds as they drove up to the quonset and faced that huge sliding door with the shingle hooked to the latch which said: Dr. Mark Stringam. Veterinary Office.
They always knocked and waited. So if they felt a little over-whelmed, they at least had a little more time to assemble their mixed feelings and shattered thoughts.
A quick survey never failed to bring a look of shocked amazement.
It usually took a few seconds to pull themselves together.
"Everything is sure handy, isn't it?"
"Imagine! Everything you own right here!"
"Sure is cozy in here!"
We had set up our clinic in a corner of the quonset next to the double doors.
And right next to our 'living room'.
Our examining table was three boards on two saw horses.
Clients brought their animals to be examined and we dispensed drugs right there.
One day, we had just managed to straighten the bed covers when we heard a car drive up.
A friend knocked, and then brought in his dog for a distemper shot.
Before we could guess the animal's intentions, he had made a bee-line for the corner of our couch, lifted a leg, and sprayed all over it.
Our friend was so horrified, he apologized for his dog every time he saw us for months afterward.

But all good things must come to an end.
An early snow storm was predicted.
The quonset was chilly in the 'warmer' summer months. What would it be like with the world around it encased in ice?
Sub zero.
And that would just be a start.
There was only one solution. We had to move into our unfinished house.
Throughout the day, with the clouds piling up on the horizon and looking more and more threatening, I carried loads of household goods from the quonset to the car and then drove them across to the house.
It was hard, tiring work, but one look at the horizon would always serve to steel my muscles and lengthen my stride.
By evening, we had a cozy set up in the basement, with a tidy fire crackling in the new fireplace and stuff sitting or hanging everywhere.
We could hardly move!
But at least we were warm!
The promised storm swept over us, howling in frustration as it flew past the windows and chimney, trying to find a crack.
But the house was solidly built and we stayed warm and comfortable inside.
Imagining what life would be like back in the quonset on this night.
For the children, this was just another phase of the adventure.
For me, it was a glimmer of hope that one day, soon, I would again have running water and flush toilets.
And a bath tub!
Sheer luxury!

6 comments:

  1. Your Mom must have been excited to actually get into the house at last, even if it was just the basement. What an adventure you all had.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Your post script is as anticipated as your mom's chapters have been.

    ReplyDelete
  3. What nice memories it makes though
    I have the same kind when we built my Dad's houses.
    He loved banging nails lol
    And then once everything is finished boy, how much more meaningful it is to move in.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I just can't imagine. I bet your mom felt just a pioneer woman. She took it all in stride too... I can tell by what she wrote. You are blessed to have such a woman for your mother. :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. What an adventure! I love stuff like this.

    My brother currently lives in a "pole barn" while he finishes his house. He's got less than a month before the cold starts to kick in!

    Pearl

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank goodness you had somewhere warm to go before the storm:) Like Ginger said your MOM must have felt like a pioneer woman she had tremendous inner strength:)

    ReplyDelete

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Diane was born and raised on one of the last of the great old Southern Alberta ranches. A way of life that is fast disappearing now. Through her memories and stories, she keeps it alive. And even, at times, accurate . . .

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