Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, January 22, 2016


Five of the six siblings. Husby is the cutie on the far right.
Family travel in the late fifties was . . . interesting.
I don’t know how we survived it.
The kids were herded, en masse, into the back seat of the car and the door was shut.
The youngest invariably rode up front, between Mom and Dad.
No one was buckled in.
The kids rolled around in the back seat like dried peas.
Interaction between the two quadrants of the car was usually accomplished by someone in back standing up and leaning comfortably over the front seat.
As a sop to safety, the driver often extended an arm sideways when braking.
Yep. Interesting.
Six-year-old Husby was travelling with his family.
Mom. Dad. Six kids.
Their sedan was hurtling over paved roads at speeds close to 60 MPH.
They passed a road sign.
Suggested speed – 60 MPH.
“Dad.” Husby was standing up, leaning over the seat. “What does that sign mean?”
His dad glanced at the sign. “That means we’re supposed to travel at sixty miles-per-hour,” he said. He pointed to the speedometer. “See?”
Just then, another car sped past them, obviously going far faster than the ‘suggested’ speed.
“How come that guy is going faster?”
“Because he isn’t obeying the law.”
Things were quiet for a moment. Well, as quiet as a car carrying eight people can be.
Then, “Dad. What happens if you go too fast?”
“The police will pinch you.”
Husby thought about this for a long time. The police will ‘pinch’ you?
Obviously it was something to be avoided and/or feared. Husby had been pinched before. It was momentarily painful, but not terribly so. The police must do something really different to make people afraid of being pinched.
Finally, “Dad? When the police pinch you, do they use pliers?”
A six-year-old mind hard at work . . .

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Drinking Buddies

I’ve never been a drinker.
Even as a teenager.
Okay, yes, I consumed water, fruit juice and far, far too much soda pop.
I went to all of the parties.
And watched my friends drink to inebriation.
But I never had the urge to imbibe myself.
I didn’t have to.
Good friend that he was, Dennis did my drinking for me.
It was his idea.
I could still enjoy every aspect of the party.
Without liquor ever touching my lips.
A true friend.
Enough background . . .
We were at our high school reunion.
There was much talking and laughter and reminiscing.
After dinner, the party started.
Much as it had been in our teenage years, a bonfire had been lit and we all gathered around it clutching our drinks of choice.
Dennis sat down beside me. “I suppose I’ll still have to do your drinking for you?”
I smiled at him. “Oh, yes, Dennis, please.”
A deep sigh. “Fine.”
An hour later, I was walking toward the bar for yet another glass of ‘virgin Caesar’. (And yes, I know it’s just clamato juice. But with a celery stick in it. Yummm.)
I passed Dennis, seated at one of the tables and in the middle of a ‘Dennis’ story.
I put my hand on his shoulder. “How am I doing?” I asked.
He looked at me. “Oh, you’re done,” he said. “You’ve had enough. I cut you off half an hour ago! You just can’t hold your liquor like you used to.”
Good friends.
They do so much for us.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Brain Pain

I’m famous.
Well, at least quoted.
Okay, not famous, but quoted once.
Maybe I should explain . . .
You know those pithy sayings that people spout?
Things like:
The pun is mightier than the word.
The road to success is always under construction.
All my life I've always wanted to be somebody. But I see now I should have been more specific.
When I was a boy I was often told that anybody could become president. I'm beginning to believe it.
I don't suffer from insanity. I enjoy every minute of it.
Attempt to get a new car for your spouse—it'll be a great trade.
I said "no" to drugs, but they just wouldn't listen.
Hypochondria is the only disease I haven't got.
Every day is a gift, that's why they call it the present.
Good judgement comes from experience, and experience ... well, that comes from poor judgement.
Just because your doctor has a name for your condition doesn't mean he knows what it is.
There is always light at the end of the tunnel - if there isn't, it's not a tunnel ...
No pain, no gain.
It was this last that, in 1983, I changed to suit my own purposes. My version: No brain, no pain.
Okay, yes others have said it, but I swear I'd never heard it when I came up with it.
I said it a lot—especially to my kids whenever they bumped or stubbed or fell. 
My saying was picked up.
And repeated . . .
My good friend, Kelly, was preparing chicken for supper. She had bought a whole bird and was busily cutting it into pieces to fry.
This requires a knife—preferably sharp—which she had.
And finesse. Which came and went.
She was ready to separate a wing from the body. Had set the knife just so. And pressed down. Hard.
The knife slipped.
And caught her innocent bystander of a finger instead.
The blade nearly severed it.
Yes, I know. Horrible.
But now comes the part in between the injury and the medical care.
The part where she grabbed her finger in a tight grip and did the dance of pain around the kitchen.
Accompanied by the words: “I have a brain! I have a brain! I have a brain!”
Later, with her poor hand cozily wrapped, she told me, “All I could think was ‘No brain, no pain.”
See? Famous.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Kid Speak

Chris and Jerry. And a less embarrassed Mom.
They have a knack for saying the wrong thing at the right time . . .
Mom and Dad were travelling with Chris and Jerry, my eldest sister and brother, then aged 3 and 2. The little family stopped in at the Palomino restaurant in Forth MacLeod, Alberta (a town about two hours from the ranch).
The stop had been two-fold. A much-requested bathroom break.
And subsequent feeding station.
A table was secured near the restroom door.
The two kids were immediately taken to ensure fulfillment of the first need.
Then resettled at the table as their parents went about satisfying the second.
After their order had been taken, the wait began for the forthcoming delicious food.
With nothing to occupy their attention, Chris and Jerry spent those intervening minutes studying the other people in the busy restaurant.
And missing little.
As they sat there, a young couple came into the restaurant and took the table next to them.
Chris watched as the young man got up, murmured an excuse to his partner and headed for the restroom door.
“Are you going to go potty, too?” she asked.
In her clear, carrying, three-year-old voice.
The restaurant hushed for a moment as all eyes turned to the red-faced young man who ducked quickly through the restroom door. They then turned to the even more red-faced young mother sitting at the table with the tiny broadcaster.
Entertainment and embarrassment all rolled into one neat, cuddly bundle.
Don’t leave home without one . . .

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