Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Monday, April 2, 2012

"Sing it, Sam"

Oh, please! Not that song again!

I grew up on a large old Southern Alberta ranch.
Among cattle, horses and hired men.
I loved it.
I spent many happy hours riding (or sleeping) on the horses.
Chasing the barn cats.
Catching mice.
Wandering through the corrals and feed lots.
Or my favourite, watching the hired men.
It was while doing the last, that I received both my nickname and my signature song.
Let me tell you about it . . .
The Stringam Ranch generally employed six or more hired men.
They worked hard.
Wrangling cattle.
Breaking horses.
Doing one of the myriad tasks that were ranching.
But, inevitably, each job included one extra task.
Watching over Diane.
I don't want to say that I was always under foot but . . .
Okay. I was always under foot.
When they were in the corral with the horses, I was perched on the fence.
When they were milking the cows, I was sitting on one of the empty stools.
When they were hauling hay, I was in the cab of the truck, nose pressed against the back window.
Yep. If anything was happening, you can bet Diane was in the middle of it.
I should point out, here, that these men were good men.
Hard working.
A bit rough around the edges.
But that I never heard one curse word from any of them.
Looking back, I'm sure they knew these words.
They just never used them around me.
Believe me, I would have repeated anything I heard.
Moving on . . .
It must have been a trifle . . . inconvenient . . . having the boss' four-year-old daughter always under foot.
They never complained.
In fact, they even had a nickname for me.
Which I loved.
And gave me my very own song, “Danny Boy”.
Which I didn't.
I'm not sure who was the first to discover this song.
Or my aversion to it.
But the word quickly spread.
Soon, whenever I would appear, someone would begin singing, “Oh, Danny boy! The pipes, the pipes are calling . . .”
Whereupon (good word) I would cover both of my ears and scream, “Noooooo!”
Then run away.
It was magical.
Not one word need be said.
And they could continue their work in peace.
Moving forward thirty years.
When my youngest son, Tristan was born, he was our 'Little Warty Boy'.
I'm not sure who came up with this.
Or why.
He didn't have warts or anything.
It just seemed to fit.
He even got a song. (Sung to the tune of 'Surfer Girl')
“Little tiny warty boy,
Fills my heart with so much joy.
Do you love me,
Little Warty Boy?”
We sang this for years.
Until he was about four and abruptly developed an aversion to it.
Suddenly, he began covering his ears and screaming, “Noooooo!” whenever someone started singing.
I felt his pain.


  1. Funny about the kid tipping point. My sister, five years younger than the youngest and ten years younger then me, was called Babe. Logical. One day, in the middle of a grocery store aisle, she responded to be so addressed: Don't Call Me Babe Anymore!" at the top of her lungs. And no one ever did.

    1. Yep. There's something about a child screaming out in the middle of a very public place that causes it to remain engrained in your memory. :)

  2. Danny Boy is one of my all time favourites and now every time I hear it I'm going to laugh and no one will know why.

  3. I love that song DANNY BOY but I never liked Bing Crosby
    That was funny they called you Danny Boy maybe cause you did follow them from glen to glen and down the mountain side
    Its you must go and I must bide But come back when summers in the meadow . Danny boy - I love you so.
    You must have been cute as the dickens :)

    1. I never even thought of it that way!!! I did follow them from glen to glen. That is so cute! Thank you!

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