Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Little Brother

My Blair

Little Brother
The words conjure up so many pictures . . .
A little boy, playing with his father's boots.
Riding King Prancer.
Sliding on his snow saucer.
Getting scraped off his horse.
Getting mad.
Singing on the tractor.
Doing chores.
Becoming my 'twin'.
The stories and memories are endless.
Let me see if I can pick out a few . . .

My sister, Chris and I were riding. And little Blair had come along for the first time.
I should explain, here, that the cliffs surrounding our ranch were heavily seamed, with giant crevasses (is that a word?) leading from the prairie up top to the river's edge. These openings were so steep and sandy that fencing just wasn't possible. Inevitably, the fence that ran along the top of the cliff only made a token gesture of following the radically sloping surfaces to the very bottom of each crevasse (that word, again).
Bottom line? If one wanted to use a crevasse to travel from the top to the river, one had to duck at the appropriate moment.
Chris and I did.
Blair didn't.
There was a gasp. Then the sound of something small hitting the ground. Then a 'whoof!"
We stopped and looked.
Blair was sitting on the ground directly behind his pony, Shammy, staring up at her in surprise.
She had stopped and was looking down at him, equally surprised.
Neither was hurt, more particularly Blair, but we sure thought it was funny.
I guess you had to be there . . .

Blair and I were painting a granary. I was up on the ladder and Blair was painting lower down, his feet happily planted on good old 'terra firma'.
For some reason, we had a long two-by-four leaning up against the granary beside me.
I can't remember what we had been using it for, but, whatever it was, we no longer needed it.
I told Blair I was going to push it down. He nodded and moved to one side.
I pushed the plank.
It followed Blair.
I screamed out at him to run.
He did, darting around the granary and out of my sight.
Unerringly, the plank tilted sideways and followed the curve of the little building.
And Blair.
Slowly, I watched it fall.
It tilted further. Further.
And then hit something.
My brother.
I thought I had killed him. I started down the ladder.
Then he came around the granary, rubbing his head and glaring at me.
"You did that on purpose!"
I really hadn't, but I should have.
Even the Three Stooges couldn't have done it better.

Blair and I were having an argument. Not a usual thing for us.
And at the top of the stairs.
Location is everything.
I don't even remember what the argument was about, only that, for my final statement, I gave him a shove.
And sent him down several steps.
From which he quickly recovered and shot back up the stairs towards me.
I stared at him. When Blair got really, really angry, the veins stood out on the sides of his neck. Huh. I'd never noticed that before. Maybe because he'd never before gotten really, really angry.
I panicked and darted into the nearby bathroom, slamming the door and pulling out all three drawers.
You should know that the bathroom drawers were right next to the door and provided excellent barriers when one wanted to be left alone.
Usually, they worked.
Today, however, Blair was angry enough that he got a butter knife from the kitchen and began working at the drawers through the crack of the door.
Inch by inch, he worked the first drawer shut.
I let him get it closed.
Then, as he started work on the second, I pulled the first one open again.
"Oh, man!" He gave up.
One thing about Blair, he isn't stupid . . .

We were stacking hay. I was on the big stack, Blair was on the tractor, bringing me the stooks.
And singing.
Now a tractor is noisy. Really noisy.
One can't even hear oneself when in close proximity.
But, somehow, the noise of the tractor seems to . . . boost . . . any sounds the driver is making.
To someone standing a bit away, the sound of the engine comes faintly, almost drowned out by the singing of the driver.
At least that is what happened to me.
I was treated to Blair's version of nearly every popular song of the period.
It was totally entertaining.
I guess you have to look for the fun out here . . .

We were getting the cattle ready for our annual production sale.
Blair and I were manning the grooming chute.
One of the prospective buyers walked in with our Dad.
For a few minutes, the two of them stood watching us.
Finally, the buyer turned to Dad, "I didn't know you and Enes had a set of twins."
Blair and I were both white-blonde. With our hair cut in the exact same style (Mom only knew how to cut boy's hair, which was just fine with me . . .) and the same height and virtually the same skinny figure.
I had five more years and a couple of extra curves, but whose going to point that out?
"Ummm . . . twins?"
The man nodded at us.
Dad laughed. "I can see what you mean!"
Within a month, Blair had passed me by on his way up.
But for a little while, I had a twin.

Blair was late for Seminary.
"Diane! Could you please milk the cow?!" as he dashed past.
I stared after him.
"Sorry!" faintly from the opened window as the car went down the drive.
I did milk his cow.
It really wasn't that much of a problem.
In fact . . . don't tell him . . . but I enjoyed it.
And I wish we were back there so I could do it again.

Okay, I have to admit, my little brother isn't so little any more.
I guess 50 years, marriage, fatherhood and a Doctorate in Engineering will change a person.
But I still remember the little boy who loved to play with his Dad's shoes . . .

1 comment:

  1. Great story about a great guy.

    And yes -- "crevasse" is actually a word, and a good one at that!.



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