Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



Saturday, December 27, 2014

One Hot Fire

It’s the Christmas break and I’m enjoying the break from teaching.
So, what could be better than a story about teaching . . .
Grandma Stringam. A few years after this story . . .

It was 1903 and my Grandma Stringam, just turned eighteen, was asked to teach school in Aldrich, Utah, forty-five miles from her home town of Teasdale.
Possessing only a grade eight education, she felt ill-equipped for such a task and hesitated to accept, but the family who had approached her were insistent, even going so far as to secure a special teaching permit.
Suddenly, she was a teacher.
Her fourteen students from grades one to six - some of whom were even taller than she was - gave her numerous experiences in her little one-room school house.
This is one . . .
In March, the weather was still quite chilly and she had a lively little fire going in the fireplace. Class had just been called to order and she was busily putting work on the board.
Suddenly a shot rang out.
The bullet took the corners of fourteen pages off the reader held by her first-grader, then ricocheted and parted the teacher’s hair before burying itself in the blackboard behind her head.
For a few moments, all was quiet in the room. Then, realizing that someone had to have tossed a bullet into the fire, she scanned the rows of children until she spotted the one with the most frightened look on his face.
She glared at him. “Arthur! Come up here!”
“I didn’t do that!” he said, refusing to get out of his chair.
Again, she asked him to come up.
Again, he refused. “I had fourteen bullets in my pockets when I came to school this morning and I can show you all fourteen!”
She had him turn out his pockets. Sure enough, there were only thirteen.
“That’s all right,” she said. “Give me those bullets and come with me. I’m going to take you home to your parents.”
She told the rest of the class to keep on with their work and she took Arthur home. Handing the bullets to his mother, she said, “I want to see the school board before this boy comes back to school. He can’t come back until I do.”
Arthur never returned.
A few days later, she spotted him out on the hillside, cleaning out a ditch. Punishment meted out by his father for a boy who wouldn’t behave in class.
Grandma wasn't tall. 
But she certainly had, for want of a better term, control.
When I grow up, I want to be just like her!

17 comments:

  1. You had to be tough stuff to teach in those days.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I want to be just like her, too!

    I do believe you bear quite a resemblance to her, don't you?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heehee! You've made my day! I admire her so much!

      Delete
  3. The good ol' days where the trouble you got into at school was nothing compared to what was waiting for you at home.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Your family is full of so many wonderful characters!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Another amazing story! It's always fun to read a family history type story; loved this one!
    Blessings!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Your Grandma was a savvy little teacher! I'm so glad no one was hurt when that bullet went off.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If she had just been a couple of inches taller . . .

      Delete
  7. Wow, what a great role model! Terrific story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think she was amazing, Kim! Thank you!

      Delete
  8. Your grandmother is a wealth of interesting stories. I think I sniff a book in here somewhere that you need to write…..

    ReplyDelete
  9. I love how this story has been preserved by your family Diane, and now retold by you. I am so in awe of those pioneer women, and all that they did.

    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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