Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

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Daughter of Ishmael by Diane Stringam Tolley

Daughter of Ishmael

by Diane Stringam Tolley

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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Sunday Suit

We are and always have been, a Church attending family.
We love it.
And I was raised to believe that, to show proper respect, we should always go dressed in our best.
And that included our children.
So from their very earliest days, our girls were in dresses.
Hair neatly done.
And our boys in suits and ties.
Sometimes, when we left, our home was in complete disarray.
Okay, often, when we left, our home was in complete disarray.
But we were neat and clean.
Even the youngest of us.
When our oldest boys were born, I made each of them a white shirt and tie and a three-piece suit; jacket, pants and vest.
They looked . . . dressy.
At least I thought so.
The clothes were handed down to our youngest son, who came some years behind.
So, at the age of 14 months, he was dressed for church in a little brown suit and vest, with a white shirt and dark red tie.
He looked like a miniature accountant.
All he needed was the tiny briefcase.
Moving on . . .
During our worship service, he wet his diaper.
And everything else below the waist.
I took him to the Mother's room to make repairs.
Unfortunately, all I had to put him in was a fresh diaper.
The pants would have to go home for cleaning.
Fortunately, all of the upper garments has survived.
Now, my son was dressed in a white shirt and tie. Vest and jacket.
And diaper.
Okay, the accountant image was shot forever.
Or maybe not . . .
We headed back to the chapel.
He, happy to be dry once more.
Me, praying that no one would notice my baby, dressed in a less-than-normal manner.
My prayer wasn't answered.
We quietly opened the door and slipped inside.
So far so good.
We crept towards our bench.
Still well.
I released his little hand to slide into the bench.
And that's when the little cretin saw his opportunity to escape.
Giggling shrilly, he dashed up the aisle towards the front of the chapel.
I started to go after him, but stopped when I realized that the entire congregation was now watching us. I stared after the rapidly retreating shirt, tie, jacket and vest.
And diaper.
Torn between stopping the charge.
And admitting that he was mine.
I should point out here, that our chapel has two aisles, one on either side of the large room, as well as a wide space at the front and back.
My son reached the front and started across towards the other side.
Still shrieking happily.
I studied him, trying to figure out the best and fastest way to knock him into next week stop him.
I realized that when he reached the far side, he only had two options. Go back the way he had come, or start down the far aisle.
I was betting on the latter.
As calmly as I could with the entire congregation now ignoring the struggling speaker and watching the two of us, I walked back up the aisle towards the back of the room. Then began to make my way across, paralleling my son's path.
He turned the corner at the front and started down the far aisle towards the back.
Hah! I knew it!
I cut him off at the pass, scooped him into my arms and disappeared through the far door and into the safe, unpopulated hallway.
Still shrieking.
Him, not me.
Though I was considering it.
I collapsed into a chair.
And sighed weakly.
Mission accomplished.
People thought the whole episode was 'cute' and 'sweet' and 'hilarious'.
They were so understanding.
I and my family however, will never forget.
And now we have a whole new meaning for the words, 'Sunday suit'.


  1. I could see it, I could hear it and I'm still chuckling. Too bad no one took a picture.

  2. I would have loved to of been there.. This has me laughing...

  3. Oh, the wonderful days of toddlers in church! :) Cute story!

  4. Moments like this is why we earn the right to embarrass our kids with they're teenagers--paybacks, baby, paybacks!

  5. hahahaha This was adorable.
    I can just picture him running.


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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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