Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



Friday, February 1, 2013

Putting the 'Ghost' in Ghost Town


My Dad is ill. I am going to stay with him for a while . . .
A repost . . .

Vacation.
The best of times.
The worst of times.
My parents had decided that our family needed to visit Montana.
And, more specifically, the Ghost Town of Virginia City in Montana.
It sounded . . . Old Western.
To those of us from the ranch, that translated to mean – exotic.
We led a small life, I admit it.
I don't remember much about the 'getting there'.
I was four.
It was long.
And sleepy.
Suddenly, I was stumbling along wooden slats with my Mom.
Then being carried by said Mom.
We were in an old fashioned, western town with boardwalks and hitching posts. There were even a couple of watering troughs.
But no horses. I noticed that straight off.
We went into the museum.
I should explain, here, that there are two different kinds of museums.
The slick, professional, institutional showcase of fact.
And the humble, heart-felt, community tribute to history or 'collection of stuff out of Gramma's wash shed'.
(Because my husby is an historian, we've seen many, many examples of each kind.)
Moving on . . .
Virginia City's museum was the warm, homespun type.
Long glass-topped tables filled with . . . curiosities. Those little, wondrous items which fill the local citizen's heart with awe and amazement.
But really don't have a global impact.
I stared obligingly at antiquated pieces of equipment and tools. Signs and billboards of past eras. Household paraphernalia. 
Oh, and the preserved bodies of two-headed lambs and calves and kittens. 
While my family wandered around, I stood nose to nose with one or another of these amazing specimens.
While they exclaimed about 'memories' I pointed out numbers of eyes and ears.
It was a fascinating visit.
But it ended all too soon.
And suddenly we were back outside on the boardwalk.
We moved to the next building, a drug store.
It certainly didn't look like the one in Milk River.
But I was willing to give it a shot.
I followed Mom inside and wandered up the first aisle.
Stuff.
Boring.
Maybe if Mom picked me up again . . . things always looked more interesting when she carried me.
I help up my arms.
She obliged.
I was right. It was a bit better from up here.
We wandered through the store.
At the back, against the wall stood a large, wooden cabinet.
With one door.
Which was closed.
I stared at it as we grew closer.
It seemed . . . mysterious.
Okay, I admit, I didn't know what the word mysterious meant.
But the mere mention of the word sounded . . . mysterious.
Mom stopped beside the cabinet, which had the only closed door in the entire place.
I stared hard at that door. What secrets did it hide?
Candy? Toys? Maybe another two-headed kitten?
I looked at Mom. “Open it, Mom! Open it!”
“Well I don't think I should,” she said uncertainly, glancing over at the proprietor.
He merely smiled and nodded.
“Open it, Mom! Please?!”
“Well, It's probably storage or something.”
“Open it! Open it!”
“Well, I guess it's all right.” Another glance at the proprietor.
“Open it! Open it!”
Her hand reached out and grasped the knob.
I held my breath. What were we going to see?
Something magical?
Something wildly exciting?
Something . . .
The door swung back with an appropriately spooky 'screech'.
Hanging quietly within was a skeleton.
Human.
“Ai-Yi-Yi-Yi-Yi! Close it! Close it! Close it!” I hid my face in Mom's shoulder.
Mom must have swung it shut.
I didn't see.
And I missed quite a bit of the rest of the Ghost Town of Virginia City, glued as I was to her shoulder.
But that was all right.
I had already seen the ghost . . .

16 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thank you so much GGH52! 'm just happy to be here and doing something!

      Delete
  2. Must have been the ghost of Peg Leg Pete. Hope your Dad is better soon....he has the best nurse that's for sure.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Something is definitely missing from those bones! And thank you, Delores! We've been telling each other stories . . .

      Delete
  3. Hoping for a quick recovery for your dad, Diane.

    Enjoyed this post ... your four year old self sounds like a cutie.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Jenny! My four year old self got into a lot of mischief. I remember her so clearly . . .

      Delete
  4. Your dad is lucky to have you. Just as I am sure you feel the same way about him. ; )

    Hope your dad feels better soon! Enjoy your time together.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do!!! Thank you! We're telling eachother stories!

      Delete
  5. Moms like to pull that sort of prank.

    Will be praying for your family and your dad.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My mom definitely was!!! Thank you, Susan!

      Delete
  6. Gramma's wash shed! I remember our outside laundry, big old shed with a copper to boil water and big cement tubs. I remember most mum's scrubbing board, one of those rippled glass boards in a wooden frame; you soaped up the clothes and scrubbed them up and down the ripples, then wrung them out and dumped them in the rinsing tub, then wrung again and dumped them in the second rinsing tub. mum was so glad when we finally got a washing machine!
    I hope your Dad is feeling better soon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a wonderful memory! thank you for sharing it with us! And thank you for your good wishes.

      Delete
  7. Hope your Dad gets better soon.

    Really enjoying reading your memories - life through the eyes of a four year old is always excpetional.

    Kate x
    http://www.kateathome.com/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Kate! I'm sure enjoying being here with him! I love my four year old memories!

      Delete

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