Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Been Scammed?

Ever been scammed?
I have.
It's a terrible feeling when you realize what has happened.
But it's nothing new.
Allow me to illustrate:
Gramma and Grampa Berg on their wedding day
My Maternal grandparents emigrated from Sweden.
Grampa came first and started farming/ranching in Idaho.
Gramma followed later and they were married.
A short time afterward, they headed north, enticed by offers of beautiful farm land in Alberta. They settled on a half-section they acquired in the Brooks area.
Soon afterward, they met another couple who had been farming unsuccessfully in the area for some time and were ready for a change.
The man had a scheme.
A sure-fire, can’t-miss scheme.
“Trapping is the answer,” he said knowledgeably  “I’ve done it before. Get yourself a trap line and, in one winter, you can make enough to pay cash for the equipment you will need to farm.”
Grampa was intrigued by the idea.
No stranger to hard work, he was excited by the idea of trading long winter hours for the chance to start his farming operation with such a leg-up. He and Gramma decided they’d do it.
They studied the maps and decided on a tract of land further north of their new home place. A spot near Lac La Biche. They staked out their claim and moved into a small cabin near the train tracks.
Originally, the cabin had been erected for the use of the crew when they were laying said tracks. Their new friends (Remember the guy with the idea? Him.) had used it before.
It was . . . cozy, but it had every amenity. Walls and a roof. And a window and door. It also had a little stone oven that Grampa built. Outside. Gramma would build up a fire, let it burn down, then bake bread by the heat that remained in the stones. Beautiful bread. It was the one perk of living in a tiny cabin at the back of beyond.
Gramma Berg and her bread
For many long winter months, they and their friends/partners lived there and ran the trap line. Gramma’s first son, my uncle Glen, was born there.
They had a measure of success. In fact, by March, they had an abundant supply of furs.
The winter drew to a close. Even in northern Alberta, it does happen . . .
Plans were discussed to take the winter’s catch to the city to trade.
The decision was made that Grampa would stay at the cabin for one more week to take whatever animals he could in those last few days.
His partner would haul their furs to the city to trade.
The partner left.
Grampa caught up with him a week later in the city.
And that’s when things fell apart.
The partner claimed that he had lost their entire catch in the river when his boat swamped.
Their entire catch.
There was nothing Grampa could do.
He loaded up his wife and new son and their few belongings and headed back to his land near Brooks. One wasted, useless winter behind him. And a new farming operation ahead to be started without the leg-up he had counted on.
He did make a success of it and he and Gramma raised eight sons and my mom.
I’m sure the pain of that first set-back was completely overcome in the ensuing years.
That’s what we all count on when the scammers hit.
Sigh.

18 comments:

  1. I can only imagine! I wonder about scammers. DO they wake up in the morning and think "how will I deceive people today"?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly! Makes my yawn and stretch seem so . . . mundane! :)

      Delete
  2. There have always been scammers, but today with a global internet, they are more prevalent. Everything can be gone with a simple click.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The more things change...
    Your poor grandparents - and what a tribute to their tenacity that they not only survived, but thrived.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A set-back to be sure, but they certainly did!

      Delete
  4. Sad to think that even back then there were scam artists.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's funny, but I always think of the olden days as the 'good' olden days. Makes me sad to think that crime and twisted thinking existed back then too. Sigh.

      Delete
  5. I love the resilience of previous generations - I also like that he thought long and hard and weighed up the costs before deciding to go ahead. Scammers today rely on people leaping in because it sounds too good to be true - and we all know how that ends!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep. I doubt he would be caught by any of the 'leap now' scams of today! :)

      Delete
  6. If only scammers would use their intelligence for good, instead of scamming, this world would be a much better place. I can't believe your Gramma cooked outside during the cold winter - such strength!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I often think the same thing. All that energy wasted in trying to cheat people. If only they would channel it toward good . . .
      Oh the strength and tenacity of our forebears! :)

      Delete
  7. Sigh. Scammers. They've been around almost since the days of Adam and Eve. After all this time, they still find gullible people. The more clever ones take people like your grandparents for a ride.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I often wonder if that was the man's goal all along, or if he merely grabbed the opportunity. It's hard to imagine sharing a tiny cabin for a whole winter without realizing, somewhere, that their roommates weren't honest!

      Delete
  8. It's a sad reality but I talk to my kids about this all the time, how to be very careful who they trust and to not let their belongings out of their site. I do worry about them, being away from home and young I think they, again sadly, make good targets.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isn't it sad that the young and the vulnerable aren't seen as people to care especially for, but as targets? It certainly says something about 'civilization', doesn't it?!

      Delete
  9. What a jerk even though it's been so many years. I wonder if his offspring are jerks as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've wondered the same thing. Can one make choices like that only once?

      Delete

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