Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Free Cotton Candy!

A reprint for those who expressed concern . . .

My Very Short Life as an Entrepreneur

You think these beds look nice . . .
You should see what's underneath!

The world was a magical place!
I was rich beyond my wildest dreams!
And the treasure trove I had just discovered had been right under my bed the whole time.
Who knew?!
Maybe I should back up a bit . . .
My Mom and Dad had taken us kids to The Fair.
Mostly so we could see the cattle competitions, I admit, but eventually, to take in the sights and sounds and tastes of the midway.
First, came the sounds.
And once I got used to the fact that all of the shouting and screams I could hear were actually people having fun, I was able to relax a little.
And take in the sights.
That was a lot for my four-year-old eyes to take in.
There were rides.
Merry-go-rounds, roller coasters, Ferris wheels and tilt-a-whirls.
The haunted house. The pirate's den.
And sideshows.
The alligator man and the girl who turned into an ape.
And then there was food.
I had been too frightened to be coaxed onto any of the rides.
Apart from the merry-go-round.
A quirk that exists to this very day.
But I didn't have to be convinced to try the food.
A foot-long hot dog, heavy with ketchup and mustard. A cob of corn, dripping butter. Several donuts. An ice cream cone.
I was certain that I had never had so much fun in my life.
Or eaten as well.
But the best was yet to come.
Something that I never could have imagined.
A treat that was fluffy and melty and oh, so good.
Cotton candy!
The Fair had just become the most amazing experience of my entire four years.
A memory that I treasured long, long into the future.
Or at least three weeks into the future.
I was looking for one of my toys.
It wasn't in sight.
I decided to look in places that weren't in sight.
Under the bed.
There, I made the most remarkable discovery.
Cotton candy.
Just laying there!
I picked it up.
It was definitely cotton candy.
I set it on the bed and bent over, looking for more.
I don't want to suggest here, that my Mom didn't keep a clean house.
She did.
It's just that a husband, six kids, a couple of dogs, a two-acre garden and several hired men can make it difficult for one to get to the hidden surfaces in one's home.
Enough said.
I scrabbled around under all of the beds in the house and managed to come up with a small mound of the magical substance.
Wow! I could sell this to the kids in the neighbourhood.
The ones to whom, like me, The Fair was a sweet and delightful, though distant, memory.
I began counting pennies in my head.
I carried my treasure out to my Mom.
"Look what I found!" I said.
"Oh!" Mom said. She was as pleased as I was, obviously. "Where did you find that?"
"Under my bed. And Jerry's bed. And George's bed. And . . ."
"Never mind," Mom said. "Here. Let me take care of it." She reached for it.
I snatched it away. Was she crazy? Did she really think that I would just hand her my treasure?
She looked at me.
"Diane, what are you going to do with that?"
"I'm taking it outside to sell to the other kids."
"You're going to sell it."
She was crazy. Couldn't she see the windfall that I held in my two little hands?
"Diane, what do you think that is?"
"Candy floss," I told her. I frowned. What did she think it was?
"Maybe you should taste it," she said.
No problem. I selected a choice bit and pushed it into my mouth.
Okay, first off, this didn't melt like the 'fair' type.
And second . . . ick!
I spit it out.
Mom laughed. "Diane, those are dust bunnies."
I stared at her. Then at my treasure.
No way those were bunnies.
"That's what they're called," she explained. "They're just dirt that has blown into a clump under the bed."
Well, whose idea was that?
Disgusted, I handed her my treasure to dispose of.
I learned some things that day:
  1. Things found under the bed are usually there for a reason.
  2. And not a good one.
  3. If your going to make money, salesmanship scores over taste.
  4. In fact, forget taste all together.


  1. What a little entrepreneur you were. Hmmmm....dust bunnies flavoured with jello powder and that magic substance...nah...someone probably already thought of it.

  2. I have a reaction like that with the real stuff. I never cared for cotton candy.

  3. LOL!! I can hardly believe your mom invited you to taste it! Poor you!

  4. Oh, I am smiling on this one. What an adorable story; thanks for sharing it. It was a very fun read.

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  6. It's an easy enough mistake for a four year old. It looks so similar, just a different colour and not sparkly.
    We call our cotton candy fairy floss here in Oz.


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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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