Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



All of My Friends

Friday, November 28, 2014

To Gramma's House

Gramma and Grampa Stringam
Beginning with Remembrance Day, going through Thanksgiving and into Christmas, the season of ‘family’ and ‘togetherness’ is upon us.
The best part of the year.
However, in 1912, ‘going to visit the family’ took on a whole new meaning.
Let me tell you about it . . .
My Gramma and Grampa Stringam, with their (then) three children, moved to southern Alberta in 1910, leaving their extended family behind them in Utah.
They settled in Glenwood and started to farm.
Outwardly, all was well.
Inwardly, one of them missed her mother.
Finally, after two years of pining and tears, the decision was made for an extended visit.
Gramma and her (by then) four children packed up and, kissing Grampa goodbye, boarded the train for Salt Lake.
The trip there was fairly uneventful, the highlight - seeing the sprinkler system in the Salt Lake depot.
But what came afterward . . . wasn’t.
Uneventful, that is.
Gramma and the kids climbed aboard another train for Salina and then the mail stagecoach from there over the mountain to Thurber and Teasdale.
A short hop by today’s automobile.
A considerably healthy prospect for the white-top mail buggy of the early 1900’s.
In the rain.
On one particularly steep pass, soaked through and tired, the team of horses gave out. Despite considerable encouragement, they refused to move one more step up the mountain, choosing, in typical balky-horse fashion, to back up instead.
They succeeded in backing the coach until they, quite literally, ran out of mountain. When the driver finally got them stopped, the vehicle’s wheels were hanging right out over the edge of the canyon.
Gramma and the kids were frantically extricated and gratefully took shelter under a large spruce, where they turned, as they had been taught, to prayer.
While they were thus engaged, the driver tried – unsuccessfully - to remedy the situation. The wagon remained hanging over the edge of the cliff.
A rather precarious position.
Meanwhile the little family under the tree had finished praying. And it was as that exact moment that a second white-topped buggy came up over the hill.
A buggy that was empty, save for the driver, a local real estate agent. Who, to the little family huddled under the tree, suddenly took on the aspect of a saviour.
The man stopped and surveyed the situation, then climbed down and, using a knife, cut the traces holding the horses to the buggy and led the animals to safety.
The mail man thanked him, threw his mail bags over one horse and mounted the other, and rode on over the mountain, abandoning his little group of paying passengers without a backward look.
On the side of a mountain. In the rain.
Don’t you hate days like that?
Fortunately, the real estate man was very kind and loaded Gramma and her kids into his buggy and delivered them safely to the nearest village.
The rest of the trip was fairly uneventful.
Let’s face it. After this experience, most events would pale by comparison.
Gramma and her brood got their visit.
And, for generations to come, a story to tell.

26 comments:

  1. Wow, what a great story! I can see it as though it were a movie, Diane. Amazing.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Karen! Yeah. Gramma pretty much had my attention at 'train'! :)

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  2. Isn't it amazing how our ancestors managed in difficult circumstances? And also how our own existence is a bit of a miracle considering the close calls they had!

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    Replies
    1. Exactly! Disasters. Plagues. Accidents. Mishaps. And yet someone survived because - here I am! :)

      Delete
  3. I'm guessing that this is a much better story for her family to tell later than it was for your ancestors to live through.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wow....we don't realize what a grand adventure it was to leave home for anything over a 20 mile distance. It took a lot of guts for a woman to travel like that with her children.

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    Replies
    1. Totally! I forgot to mention the ages of her children. The oldest was 4 or 5. The youngest an infant!

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  5. It's interesting to know that when Grandma went back to visit, she was enthusiastically welcomed back. However when Grandma hinted that she'd like to stay, her mother told her: 'You married him; you belong with him!' Grandma went back to Glenwood and the next time they went back to Utah, they were together, family in tow.

    Some motherly advice that would be helpful today.

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  6. That is an awesome family story. It was a scary one but prayers were obviously answered.
    Thanks for sharing this one and blessings for you!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, LeAnn!
      My favourite kind of story!

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  7. What a powerful message about family and prayer. Thank you Diane!

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    Replies
    1. So glad you enjoyed it, Mary! Thank you!

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  8. Your life history is riveting and this story is just one of the many examples. "Rather precarious," indeed!

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    Replies
    1. Ah, the joy of the understatement! Or, in this case, the under(carriage) statement . . .

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  9. Surely this is a site well worth seeing.

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  10. WOW! Now THAT is a legend worthy Thanksgiving story!

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  11. That was a crazy story! Can you just imgine the fear! That's definitely holding on by the seat of your pants!

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    Replies
    1. I think I would have just fainted dead away! They would have had to haul me out like the luggage . . .

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  12. For a moment I had an awful visual of the wagon going down and taking the horses with it. now I'm wondering why the mailman didn't think to cut the traces, or ask the real estate agent to help try and pull the wagon back up. I'm glad that real estate agent came along though, because..here you are!

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    Replies
    1. I sort of gather from the story that the mailman wasn't the brightest bulb in the chandelier. So many things they could have tried. And saved the wagon. I guess because it wasn't his personally . . .
      I'm eternally grateful for that real estate agent!

      Delete
  13. I am not sure how appropriate this is as I am brand new to reaching out to people I have never met through social media other than my FB page. Any advice you have for me would be greatly appreciated.. I am trying to contact all of the people who commented on Cathy Chester’s wonderful post about Full Circle Equine Rehabilitation Center to do three things: 1) say how happy I am that you love horses too, 2) thank you for your kind words and 3) ask for any advice you may have to get the word out about FCERC so we can reach out to more horses and people.
    I thank you for the gift of your time to help our circle grow and I encourage you to be sure and spend some time with a horse just for the joy of it.
    Both you and the horse will be the better for it.

    Best wishes to you and yours,

    Cris Pemberton
    Giving Tuesday Partner
    Fullcirclerescue.org​​

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually, Cris, this is totally appropriate. There is nothing more effective than visiting other sites and commenting. Then the people come back to you. They follow your links. Yours is a worthwhile program. A needed one. Good luck!

      Delete

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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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