Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



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Daughter of Ishmael by Diane Stringam Tolley

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by Diane Stringam Tolley

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Going Home


On our way to the ranch. Five siblings, three nephews and one niece.
During our travels earlier this summer, my Husby, siblings and I took the opportunity of visiting the 'Old Ranch'.
The ranch, nestled in a crook of the south fork of the Milk River that is the basis and background to so many of my memories.
Most of what was there before is gone - lost in a terrible grass fire that swept much of the area three years ago.
The barn, scene of so many adventures has been reduced to a cracked sheet of cement.
The only reminder of the extensive corrals are the slabs that held waterers and feed troughs.
Outbuildings - feed storage, small barns, tool sheds - all have disappeared.
We wandered about - even climbing to the top of the 'old machinery hill' - so named because that's where we parked the old machinery.
Okay, so creative, we weren't.
Someone else's machinery was parked there.
We did find a great old gate - a friend that we had all swung on whenever Dad couldn't see us . . .
We paced around, remembering stories and experiences that were generated by what had once stood there.
Then we walked over to the ranch house. The lone survivor of the conflagration.
And received a true shock. The house is sound. Sturdy.
And in most respects, exactly as it was when I last set foot in it over forty years ago.
The fixtures, walls, ceilings, even the arborite in the bathrooms were the same.
The very same.
When my parents built the house, they had installed fine mahogany panelling in the front room and Dad's office.
Light switches were modern, gold coloured, wedge-shaped marvels.
And the bathroom was equipped with green fixtures. Not the olive green of the seventies, but a mint green of the early sixties.
Progressive.
And still there.
We wandered through, exclaiming over new discoveries in every room.
The words, "Oh, I remember this!" echoed continually.
One could almost picture Mom taking something out of the oven and Dad sitting in his easy chair, boots off, waiting for dinner. Or the family gathered in the front room, eagerly anticipating the Sunday night lineup of TV programs. Or the sound of the milk separator signalling that outside chores had been finished for the day.
Oh, there were some changes. The floor coverings had gone to laminate from carpet and lino and the great mantel and fireplace that had dominated that front room had vanished.
But, after witnessing the devastation in the barn yard, seeing the sameness indoors was a great joy.
And a relief.
Some things still do exist.
Reminders of that childhood from which my siblings and I sprang.
It really happened.

The river today.
Nephew, Josh on the fence that surrounds the house and yard. Needs paint, but still the same.

12 comments:

  1. Like a time capsule! Amazing. And wonderful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It totally, was, Jenny! Perfectly preserved!

      Delete
  2. Oooohhhh, I wish I could've been there with you! It's too bad about the farmyard, but to see that house...!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Bittersweet - with a lot of sweetness. How wonderful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Like stumbling upon a little, hidden treasure. Well, a big, hidden treasure! :)

      Delete
  4. How wonderful to find the house almost exactly the same! Shame to lose the big fireplace though. Is anyone living in it? the house I mean, not the fireplace.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha! Yes. There were people living there. They were somewhat hoarders, but the house was still there to see!

      Delete
  5. I'm so glad the house was still there and so unchanged and undamaged. It must have been like stepping back in time. I felt like I was walking through it with you :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It totally was a step back in time, Leanne! Things I'd forgotten I even remembered. I was so excited over each new discovery that I didn't even think to take any pictures!

      Delete
  6. Dad talked about that place many times before his passing. When his siblings decided to parcel out the ranch and dissolve the company, it took a big chunk of Dad's heart with it. Dad clearly loved that ranch. I envision him going through the Veil. He passes under the arched sign over the cattle guard, heads down the tree-lined lane, past the massive lilac hedge, and sees the old ranch house. He's home.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I can only imagine the joy you felt when you stepped back in time for just a few moments and thought of things long forgotten!

    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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