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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Sunday, June 3, 2012

In the Beginning . . . Part 2

Grant's story. Told in my own words . . .

Grant and his 'blonde'.

In Grant's family, dating a blonde was . . . frowned upon.
By the patriarch of the family.
Whenever one of the five sons asked to borrow the car for a date, or otherwise indicated that an activity with a girl was being contemplated, their father would hold up the keys and say,”She's not a blonde, is she?”
Whereupon (good word) the boy would invariably look properly horrified and shake his head.
The keys would be bestowed.
The son would happily go off on his date.
Who probably was blonde . . .
No one knew where this aversion to blondes came from.
Their dad would never tell.
But it was rooted deep.
If you'll pardon the pun.
On occasion, he would threaten to grow out his beard.
Something his wife abhorred.
And she would, in turn threaten to dye her hair blonde.
All discussion ceased.
Moving on . . .
Grant had been serving a mission in Paris, France.
Every week, he received a letter from his family, written by his mother.
When he had been out about six months, one of those letters had included a short note from his father:
“Hi, Grant.
How are you doing?
Hope you're having a great mission.
Love, Dad"
That was it. Short and sweet.
His letters from his mom continued to arrive regularly.
But nothing more from his father until he was about six months from coming home.
“Hi, Grant.
How are you doing?
Hope you're having a great mission.
I have a blonde picked out for you.
Love, Dad”
Grant read this note several times, not believing his eyes.
Surely his father, that dispenser of all knowledge, And allergy-est of blondes extraordinaire, had flipped.
He grabbed a pen.
Letters were hand-written and posted in 1975.
Good to hear from you!
Tell me about this blonde!!!
Love, Grant”
For six months.
Finally, it was time to come home.
Mission accomplished.
So to speak.
As mentioned in my last blog, due to a little mix-up with his flight booking, Grant was forced to take a different flight.
One that dropped him off for a connection in New York City.
The telegram he sent went through to the nearest telegraph office.
In Lethbridge.
Which, for the first time in history, had shut down.
His family, following his original instructions, went to the airport to await his arrival.
He didn't.
Arrive, that is.
After a day of waiting, they returned home.
To make a few frantic, but fruitless phone calls.
Grant's plane touched down in Calgary.
Knowing what a fuss people tended to make of a returning missionary, he waited until he was the last to get off.
And entered a waiting area devoid of . . . waiters.
To say this was a bit of a let-down would have been to put things mildly.
But soon, he was reunited with his family and all was forgotten in the scramble of bringing their missionary home for the first time in two years.
Once in the car, though, he turned to his father.
“So, Dad. Tell me about this blonde.”
His father just grinned.
Grant looked at his mother.
Who shrugged.
Grant had to wait until Church the next week to find out what was going on.
He walked into the building.
A fifty-something woman was standing there, hands on hips, obviously eyeing him.
Politely, he walked over and extended his hand. “Hello, I'm Grant Tolley.”
She grasped his hand and leaned closer. “I wish my daughter, Diane, was here,” she said.
Grant smiled, rather uncomfortably and moved on down the hall.
There, he saw another woman, this one younger and red-headed.
Again, he extended his hand.
She gripped it and leaned in close. “I wish my sister, Diane was here!”
Doesn't this begin to sound like the 'Puss in Boots' story?
“Make way for the Marquis of Carrabbas!”
Just a thought.
Moving on . . .
Diane (me), was in Lethbridge.
I had spent the night with the family of the boy I was currently dating.
Okay, yes, I knew Grant was the one, but that didn't stop me from dating . . .
The next week, again at church, we finally came face-to-face.
We were heading to class and I 'happened to be' following him up the hall.
He pulled aside a curtain and stepped back to let me pass.
“You must be Diane,” he said. 
No, 'I've heard so much about you.' 'So, you're the blonde.'
Just that. “You must be Diane.”
“You must be Grant,” I answered.
He looked exactly like his picture.
And suddenly, in my mind, I heard the words, “That is the man you're going to marry.”
So clearly.
I even glanced around to see who had said it.
Of course, Grant didn't hear it.
He maintains to this day that either his dad or my mom were hiding somewhere in the vicinity and whispering the words into my ear.
We sat together in class that day.
He, more or less still in 'missionary mode' where girls don't exist.
And me, determined that my 'happily ever after' was definitely on it's way.
Which it was.
It took us a while to get to that first date.
It's a must-read and you can find it here.
But the rest, as they say, is history.


  1. Awe Diane, I love it... this is soo cute. David and I already have the great beginning to wonderful love story, now I want the temple marriage with the forever... I just need to keep praying. Awesome story Diane, I love it<3

    1. You're doing it right, Launna! You've found the right guy. Keep on. It will happen. Your own 'happily ever after'! :)

  2. Did you ever find out what the deal was about blondes?

    1. Nope. Never did. He died without telling anyone! But we can speculate . . .

  3. I love when people write out their stories like this!!! this was great and now I have to link over to read the rest. Thanks for adding the pictures too!

    1. Thank you, Holly! And welcome to the neighbourhood! Hope you can stay a while!

  4. You know the part where he lands at the airport and the family isn't there. The writer's of The RM must have taken some notes.

    1. Yep. Think of the worst that could possibly happen to a returned missionary. It did!

  5. And here I was sure the story couldn't get any better! But, it did! Diane, thank you so much for sharing. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the rest of the beginning of your love story (and the one about your first date that I jogged over and took in too!) Which means that, once again, I am leaving your blog SMILING!

    1. Thank you so much, Amy! And thank you, too for taking the time to read about our first date. My Husby-to-be sure had STICKING POWER! I'm so happy I could give you a smile!


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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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