Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



Wednesday, July 6, 2016

While Mama's Away...

Front: My Dad.
Behind: Uncle Bryce of the coal oil.
Ignore the gun...
1921.
Just another year in the life of my grandparents, George and Lovina Stringam.
July had finally come. Snow and blizzards and calving and feed for the cattle and any one of a thousand different winter-time worries were finally over.
For a few months.
The summer-time worries had taken over.
Grandpa and some of the older boys had gone out to the Waterton spread. (The family ranching business had grown to two operations, one in Glenwood and one near Waterton.)
Grandma (pregnant with her tenth child), and her oldest daughter Emily were, with the help of one hired man, ‘holding down the fort’ in Glenwood.
Then, the baby—as babies do—decided to make an entrance.
Which necessitated a quick trip to the hospital.
In 1921, women stayed at the hospital a good deal longer than they do now.
Just FYI.
Granma’s visit turned into a stay of over a week.
In that time, a friend visiting from Utah had elected to help Emily with child care and everything-in-addition-to-childcare.
But when the opportunity to catch a ride home appeared on the horizon, the friend took it.
Thus fourteen-year-old Emily carried on with the care of her younger siblings, cooking for the household, and inside and outside chores by herself.
Yeah, I couldn’t have done it, either.
Things were going surprisingly smoothly.
Then . . .
Eighteen-month-old Bryce decided he wanted a drink of water. Emily, busy in the kitchen, told him she would get it ‘in a moment’.
Bryce wandered into the wash room.
Spying a dipper, the toddler immediately decided not to wait for his sister, but take his thirst into his own hands.
So to speak.
And downed the contents of the dipper.
Coal oil.
Making him instantly one very sick little boy—his stomach and bowels and lungs all infected.
Discovering what had happened, Emily quickly called her neighbour, who just as quickly called the doctor 20 miles away in Cardston.
With instructions from the only GP in the area, the two women did what they could for the little boy and with the help of another neighbour, they nursed him through the night and for the next week.
My Uncle Bryce lived.
And Grandma and her healthy baby girl returned home from the hospital.
All was well.
1921. Just another year in the life of my Grandma and Grandpa Stringam.

7 comments:

  1. I can not imagine the hardships and work! I am a 21st century woman. I say often that I would have been dead and bear bait on the Oregon trail.My recent dental hell situation would have been fatal with infection in the early 20th century. No way was I cut out, mentally or physically to be a pioneer woman.

    ReplyDelete
  2. loved reading about this slice of your personal history. fascinating!

    ReplyDelete
  3. So scary being so far away from help. It's a miracle so many survived. My mother had twins when I was 12 and I was the babysitter. It made it easy for me when I had kids of my own.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Stronger and more resilient that we are today. Much stronger.

    ReplyDelete
  5. They were made of tough stuff, and you've inherited those genes!

    ReplyDelete
  6. What stories come from the past! These are ones that will possibly never happen in this days.

    ReplyDelete

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