Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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Daughter of Ishmael by Diane Stringam Tolley

Daughter of Ishmael

by Diane Stringam Tolley

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Monday, December 15, 2014

My Automobile Heritage

My Dad, aged three.
And yes, that is a gun. Don't ask.
Okay, I admit it, I have had a few . . . misunderstandings . . . with the family car.
One where I hit the ditch. (Only my pride and my Dad’s $400.00 deductible suffered.)
One where I backed into the tractor. (Who needs a fender?)
Another when I filled the gas engine with diesel. (Oops.)
And one where I ran into the carport. (Repeatedly.)
The hardest thing about each of these was the actual ‘Telling-of-the-Dad’.
Actually, with that last one, I didn’t have to tell him because he appeared. In his jammies.
Now that’s a sight I’ll never forget.
Ever.
Moving on . . .
Last night I was visiting with my Dad.
And discovered, to my everlasting joy, that he had also had his share of automobile . . . mishaps.
The first when he was just a little gaffer (his words).
Gleefully, I tell you about it . . .
He and his mother were on their way to Cardston.
A town approximately 34 km (21 miles) from their home in Glenwood.
His mother drove.
Little Mark divided his time between playing about on the floor and looking out of the window.
It was 1928. Seatbelts hadn’t been invented yet.
They crossed the river and little Mark was interested to see a couple of young men sharing a picnic lunch beside the gently-flowing water near the road.
Their car passed the young men and started to climb the hill.
And that’s where it stopped.
The car, I mean.
Dead.
His mother slammed on the brakes to keep the vehicle from rolling backwards and sent her young son back to the two young men to elicit aid.
Putting his own spin on things, little Mark, sure that his mother was in dire circumstance and picturing all sorts of disasters if the car rolled backward on the road, fairly flew to get help.
Almost incoherent in his appeal, he finally managed to convey the gravity of the situation and said aid was immediately procured. (Ooh! What big words I’m using today!)
The young men hurried to the rescue.
Within seconds of their arrival, they ascertained that the engine was being starved of fuel.
Now, a little background. The elderly car which little Mark and his mother were driving had its gas tank up front, under the windshield. Perfectly situated to gravity feed fuel to the engine, but not really the best position for safety.
Or, as it turns out, for a little boy’s inquisitive fingers.
The gas line snaked down to the floor and from there to the engine. And, somewhere on that line, was a little pet valve.
That turned easily.
Back to my story . . .
One of the young men followed the line with his eyes. “Hey! The valve’s been shut off!” He immediately effected ‘repairs’. “I wonder how that could have happened?”
Mark's mother’s eyes went to her small son, who had suddenly become very, very quiet.
The young men started the car and the trips to and from were accomplished without further incident.
My point is this: All right, nothing was actually ‘damaged’ in this story. And repairs were minimal and complete. But you have to admit it’s proof that my dad and cars have a history. And that he has done things that caused some automobile – and driver – grief.
It’s a leap, but it’s all I have.
I’m taking it.

16 comments:

  1. Maybe that's why seat belts were invented... and I thought it was in case of an accident!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh, I love stories about *other* people doing foolish things...because they divert attention from my own bloopers. :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hee hee! I can imagine your glee on hearing this story!

    Also, yet another example of the gumption of our lady ancestors ... driving a car in 1928 was not like it is now. I wonder just how many gals would have made that drive alone with a young son?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is the same woman who hung off the side of a cliff in her wagon. Gumption? In spades!

      Delete
  4. We take the smallest of things when trying to bring our parents down to our own level....I know.....I've done it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh how I love your stories and this was a awesome one. My problem is now I have to confess to my husband when I have a little fender bender and that is not fun. He's always kind; but I feel terrible.
    Blessings for this one!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep. That is the hardest part!
      And thank you, LeAnn!

      Delete
  6. What a wonderful story. It reminds me of a story about my dad - who wrecked a TRAIN when he was in college. No one was hurt, although he was fired from his job of moving train cars, which had been provided by his father. Might need to blog about that!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I definitely have to hear that one! :)

      Delete
  7. Here's the good thing--you know that your own driving won't get worse with age--you already went through it! I always love your stories of a world I can only imagine. But I imagine it well, thanks to your vivid descriptions! And don't I live that dad story!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I like how you think! And here I was worried that, with my record, there was nowhere to go but down!

      Delete
  8. I've heard stories of my mum's driving. She was never taught how and never held a licence......

    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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