Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



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by Diane Stringam Tolley

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Monday, June 23, 2014

Waving

Ready to head to town!
The Stringam Ranch was twenty miles from the Town of Milk River.
For the first ten miles out of town, you were passing through other ranch properties.
So your chances of meeting another motorist were pretty good.
After that, there was just one destination.
The Stringam Ranch.
Any traffic that came out that far needed emergency veterinarian assistance.
Or knew the family. And the spread that appeared around mealtimes.
This is a long-winded way of telling you that, on any given trip into town, Dad knew every single driver that we passed.
A cloud of dust would appear on the horizon, growing larger. Finally a small dark spot could be detected, right at the base of said cloud.
The speck grew larger.
And larger.
Finally became recognizable as a vehicle.
Dad would slow down and pull over to the right side of the road.
Because lines hadn’t been introduced into our part of the country.
And who could paint a line on dirt anyway?
Moving on . . .
The other driver would also slow and pull to his right.
The two would give each other a friendly wave.
And continue on.
Whereupon (good word) I would bob up out of wherever.
“Dad! Who was that?”
“That was Mr. Angel.”
“Oh.”
I would disappear again.
Another vehicle.
Another wave.
Me bobbing up.
“Dad! Who was that?”
“Mr. and Mrs. Lindeman.”
“Oh.”
As we grew closer to town, the vehicles were more numerous.
“Dad! Who was that?”
“Mrs. Swanson.”
“Oh.”
I should mention that there was one vehicle that recognized. Even as a four-year-old.
It was an old car, driven very, very slowly.
I don’t remember what year or model though my brother, George, will.
It was driven by a hat.
I am not kidding.
A hat.
A nice men’s hat.
I would stare in astonishment as this particular, peculiar vehicle drove past.
Yep.
Just a hat.
It was the one time during our entire trip that I wouldn’t bother my dad.
Because I knew who that hat was.
It was Grampa Balog.
After it passed, I would slump down on the seat.
Why couldn’t have a hat for a Grampa?
A hat that could drive cars.
Some kids have all the luck.
Moving ahead many years . . .
Yesterday, I was driving with one of my grandkids.
One of the hundred-or-so cars that we passed was driven by someone I knew.
I waved.
“Gramma! Who was that?”
And I was instantly transported back fifty-plus years.
I was four years old again.
And my Dad knew everyone on the road.

14 comments:

  1. That's a great memory. My husband had an aunt who would have been a driving hat if she had worn one. She sat on cushions and could barely see over the steering wheel.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She and Grampa Balog would have made a good team!

      Delete
  2. Reminds me of Miami Beach--headless cars. Just hands on the wheel.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yikes! All of those Grampa Balogs driving around . . .

      Delete
  3. What a great memory from your childhood. My mother in law was a hat - if I was driving behind her, it looked like a ghost was in charge of the car!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heehee! A ghost! Now I could definitely gotten behind that! :)

      Delete
  4. In Montana, the rural way to wave while driving is to continue to grip the steering wheel at the top, and just lift a finger or two of that hand. I have adopted this custom - because I am incapable of recognizing a vehicle (even my own when driven by my children!) until after it has gone by. Using this subtle wave, I can acknowledge practically everyone I pass, but quickly turn it into a different motion, if I realize I don't know them!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Alberta and Montana are so similar! The semi-committed wave. I remember it! And I'm just like you! I can't recognize anyone till they've passed me. I blame it on the fact that most of the cars look alike these days . . .

      Delete
    2. I remember lots of people waving with just a finger. Then, years later, about the time I started college, people starting waving with a more prominent finger. I either wave with the finger(s) off the wheel although there are times I wave the way most friendly/familiar people do. Then I like to wave at someone I don't even know. I enjoy their reaction: 'Just who the devil is that?'

      Delete
  5. What a great memory. My aunt lived in the country and they knew everyone going down their road as well.
    I would love to see the hat that drove..Thanks for sharing

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I stared at it really hard when we went past, because I couldn't believe that it really was a hat that could drive! And never saw anything that indicated there may be a person under it. Not once!

      Delete
  6. "Why couldn't I have a hat for a Grampa?" Hee hee hee! Love that line!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Giggling here at cars driven by hats!
    Out here in Australia when I was a kid the finger wave was done by just about everybody out on the highway and even more so in rural areas. Anyone who didn't wave was considered a snob. It didn't matter if you knew the other driver or not, it was a silent G'Day.When finger-waving a semi trailer, the driver would sometimes blow his horn as acknowledgement especially if there were kids in the car.

    ReplyDelete
  8. What great memories you have Diane! I bet living life with a vet was always full of excitement. My dad was a preacher and an EMT (would be a paramedic now I guess). he always knew everyone. It didn't occur until I was much older that he was saving people every which way!

    ReplyDelete

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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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