Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, July 29, 2016

Singing While We Camp

With grandchildren
Our family was camping.
With our good friends, the Boyd family.
Something we have done every year.
For the past 28 years.
Rain or shine.
Usually rain.
It involves work.
Setting up trailers and tents for nearly thirty people inevitably includes some sort of exertion.
 1.  There is the usual ‘tarp wars’.
Won by whichever family can set up the best, tightest, most wrinkle-free campsite covering.
 2.  The leveling of the tents/trailers.
Highly important if some members of the tribe are susceptible to the headache inevitably brought on by sleeping with one’s head tilted below one’s feet.
 3.  And the choosing of the ‘Boydolley’ camp song.
This is very important. It has to be the most aggravating, annoying, ‘stick in your head’ song imaginable.
We’ve had such treasures as: ‘Oh, How I Love to Stand’.
And: ‘Hi! My Name is Joe!’
Plus the ever-popular: ‘Ninety-Nine Bottles of Non-Alcoholic Beverage on the Wall’.
And who can forget: ‘Jon Jonson’?
Seriously, who can forget it . . .?
And then there was the year that the Grandkids were finally old enough to get involved.
And vote.
What did they choose?
What classic would take its rightful place in history?
Was it something momentous?
It was ‘Slithery Dee’.
The classic song featuring a monster that comes out of the sea and eats everyone.
Perfect camp fare.
For a family camped beside a lake.
Moving on . . .
There were various versions.
Depending largely on the age and capability of the singer.
Megan, the eldest could sing it quite well, “Oh, Slithery-Dee!”
Right behind her was Kyra, “Oh, Swivery-Dee!”
And then there was the youngest talker, Odin, “Oh, Dee-Dee-Dee-Dee!”
They sang it by the hour.
And I do mean By. The. Hour.
Until . . . THE EVENT.
It was early afternoon.
Lunch had just finished.
Grandma (me) was lying on the bed in our tent trailer, telling stories to as many of the grandkids as would lie there and listen.
At nearest count – several.
Then they asked to sing ‘Slithery-Dee’.
I complied.
We were just getting through the first verse, wherein (good word) Megan had been eaten, when we were interrupted.
I should tell you, here, that our little tent trailer consists of a central square block.
With three wings/beds.
Each wing is covered by the main canvas, which hooks under said wing.
Canvas that can be . . . un-hooked.
Without the person, or persons, on the wing knowing anything about it.
Back to my story . . .
Where were we?
Oh, yes.
End of the first verse.
Unbeknownst (another good word!) to us, my Husby had unhooked the canvas immediately below us.
Just as we started to sing, “Oh, Slithery-Dee!”, a hand and arm reached up through the wall of the trailer and grabbed the nearest grandchild.
Who promptly screamed.
Inciting an immediate riot.
Grandma and grandchildren boiled out of the trailer like angry bees.
Realizing what had happened, we started to laugh.
Then we fed Grandpa.
To Slithery Dee.


  1. I can't even imagine a camping trip with your family. I mean, it of course is story-worthy!

    1. You know how the Boy Scout Motto is: BePrepared?
      Well the Tolley motto is: Be Prepared for Anything!

  2. Sounds like a big time was had by all!

  3. Grandpa is a keeper. I hope Slithery Dee repented and disgorged (another good word) him to join the fun.

  4. you have SO many great stories - I'd love to have the family memories that you do :)

  5. What a great story! Those grandkids are lucky :)


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