Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

My Hiding Place


See? Really old! And mysterious!

On the Stringam ranch, we had an old garage.
Really old.
Grampa Stringam old.
It was long and single storied with white, stucco siding and very small windows.
At the north end, there was the big garage door.
Opening into a large, dark room that smelled of old oil and farm cats.
Cut into the thick planks of the floor of that room, was the heavy trap door to the root cellar, described here.
But the root cellar only took up half of the 'basement'.
The other half was a strange stable.
Really strange.
The entire room was deeply covered with straw. And had solid wooden dividers, forming tie stalls, though there was no where in the stone walls to actually tie anything.
And there were no mangers if one did manage to . . . tie . . . anything.
The weirdest thing about this stable was access.
The only entrance/exit was a small window high up in the south wall of the garage.
I often wondered how one could get any animals down there.
Someone didn't plan that very well . . .
No wonder the straw was clean, even though it wasn't fresh.
The small window, however, made an eminently suitable entrance/exit for children.
Like me.
And their toys.
Like mine.
It was my secret place.
My hiding place.
Where no one could find me.
All right, I admit that it was only about forty feet from the front door of the house. Well within hollering distance.
And that when my Mom wanted me, all she had to do was shout.
But I felt secret.
Hidden.
The single window had no covering, so, during the day, the room was brightly lit. And there was no danger that one could be shut into darkness by a heavy door.
One could slide in through the window, toys and all, drop into the thick straw, and spend hours in one's own little sunlit, straw-filled world.
Perfection.
It became the place where I parked anything I didn't want the other kids to get into.
And where I hid the stuff wasn't supposed to get into. (I once lugged in an entire boxful of old pamphlets and envelopes and stationary that Dad had tossed out. I know. Kids . . .)
I played happily for months in my secret stable.
Finally, I asked Dad what had happened to the door.
He stared at me, puzzled.
I explained that I had to crawl into the little stable through the window. What happened to the door?
He laughed. “That's no stable, Diane. That's the old ice house.”
Ah. Everything was explained.
Not.
“Um. What's an ice house?
Dad tried to explain to me that every winter, the men would go down to the river which just happened to flow right past the garage, and cut great chunks of ice.
Then the ice would be hauled up to the ice house and passed through the little window to someone waiting inside.
The straw was to keep it cold.
Weird.
I suspected that he was pulling my leg because I had played down there for months and I hadn't seen one bit of ice.
“Why would they do that?”
“Well, they needed the ice to keep food cold.”
“Why didn't they use the freezer?”
“They didn't have freezers.”
I stared at him. How could anyone survive without a freezer?
“They didn't even have a fridge.”
Okay, now I knew he was just making stuff up.
Everyone had a fridge.
Some people, like us, had two.
I shook my head. “Dad. Dad. Dad. That's just silly.”
And I went back to my playing.
But you know something?
He was right.
Sometimes dads are.

14 comments:

  1. Great post! I haven't "stopped by" in ages, but saw this pop up on Google and thought I'd visit. All kids need a hideaway. I had one in our downstairs closet that we used for a pantry. I would spend hours in there snuggled up reading with my cat.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can see it! All snuggly and safe . . .

      Delete
  2. Replies
    1. And hiding out where no one will find you!

      Delete
  3. What a great safe place to play...all secret and hidden like....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And forty feet from Mom if anything goes wrong . . .

      Delete
  4. Dads are sometimes right???!? When did that start happening??

    Anonymous Husby/Father Figure

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's an illusion . . . You're dreaming . . . Go back to sleeeeep . . .

      Delete
  5. Your stories are so much fun to read, Diane. I can so clearly see a little girl mystified by that information!

    It appears that Anonymous Husby/Father Figure has not reached the age of being respected by his offspring yet - only another thirty years to go, don't give up now! LOL

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She totally was!
      Pfff . . . Anonymous Husby/Father figures . . .

      Delete
  6. I've read about such ice storage in novels of yesteryear, but never before known anyone who actually had such storage on their property. We had an ice chest when I was very young, before mum bought a refrigerator, the ice was delivered once a week in large blocks by a man in a truck lined with some sort of metal, he'd grab a block of ice with very large pincers and drop it into the top of the ice chest.
    What a fabulous place for a child to hide away and play!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dad says we got our first 'fridge' just two years before I was born, so the ice house was only recently obsolete in my day. But I loved it in there!

      Delete
  7. Every child should have an ice house/hiding place like that, you lucky woman you.

    I don't my father ever really listened to my ramblings. He just said "mmmm" Again you lucky woman, you, eh.

    ReplyDelete

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