Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



Thursday, May 31, 2018

Booted

Baby brother . . . being entertained
My father (herinafter known as 'Dad') was a rancher.
He had been born that way.
In his twenties, he added the title of 'Veterinarian' to that.
But he was first and foremost, a rancher.
As a rancher, his wardrobe seldom varied.
Heavy work pants.
And boots.
Which were so much more than mere footwear.
Dad's boots were, in fact, the signal that opened and closed the work day.
As well as a source of entertainment.
On several levels.
Dad's boots were - because he had 'special' feet – special.
They were heavy.
And specifically designed to compensate for his long, narrow, profoundly flat extremities.
They laced up the front.
And fit . . . well.
They were the favourite entertainment for my baby brother.
When he was . . . umm . . . a baby.
A source of laughter for us kids when we'd try them on.
Then attempt to walk.
Usually covered in mud and manure during the day's labours, then scrupulously cleaned before being brought into the house.
With Dad's pocket knife. (But that is yet another story.)
In short, they were a part of my Dad.
An important part.
Dad always donned them himself.
Said donning, after breakfast, was always the signal that visiting was over and the workday starting.
But Dad never, ever took his boots off by himself.
In fact, the removal of Dad's boots was quite a process.
And a family tradition.
Let me describe . . .
Dad would take his seat in his usual comfy recliner.
And his numerous children would scatter, suddenly recalling activities that needed immediate attention.
Somewhere else.
But there was always a laggard.
Someone who was the slowest to react.
Dad would pin them to their chair with a look.
Then silently hold out a foot.
Reluctantly, the child would assume the position.
Facing away from Dad and bent forward, clutching said boot between their knees with both hands.
Dad would then put his other foot on his helper's backside and start pushing.
His boot would be quickly and efficiently . . . removed.
And dropped on the floor.
The process was repeated with the second boot.
The footwear was then gathered.
And set aside.
Only then was the slave helper, released.
Mission accomplished.
As mentioned, this procedure signalled the end of the work day.
Odd, isn't it, that a humble pair of boots would assume such proportion in our daily life?
But they did.
In his later years, Dad had given up boots.
Shoes replaced his slippers when he was going outside.
And, like his slippers, they slipped on and off easily.
I was watching him one day as he sat down.
Stared at the footwear he pulled on.
And remembered.

4 comments:

  1. What a mental picture this made me draw!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Another great story told with love and attention to detail. Can just see the goings-on.

    ReplyDelete
  3. So sweet. I don't know how you come up with such great stories everyday, but you do. Such talent.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Powerful memories. Powerful and poignant.

    ReplyDelete

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