Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



Sunday, July 23, 2017

That Summer: Part Two

In the summer of 1968, my parents sold our home ranch out on the south fork of the Milk River, and bought another place nearer to town.
There were myriad challenges.
But the most important was that it was bare land.
Absolutely everything needed to be built.
Construction was immediately started on a new home, and at the same time, on several barns, corrals and outbuildings.
The ranch buildings arose much more quickly than the house.
And that left us in a further dilemma.
Where to live.
The people who had purchased the ranch were justifiably anxious to take possession and our new house was far from completion.
My parents decided to move us into the newly-completed, steel-ribbed quonset.
It was an adventure.
And it's told here by my mother, Enes, from her journals.
(If you missed part one, you can find it here.)

Home!
I drove right into the quonset and parked close to the living room area.
My thoughtful husband had already arranged the living room furniture in an orderly manner - complete with end tables on each side of the sectional couch.
It looked . . . inviting.
I wanted to drop my weary bones into the nearest chair!
However, there was no time.
Everything else there was chaos. Packing crates, boxes, and furniture everywhere.
Doc was busy setting up beds and improving bedrooms with dressers and wardrobe cases for partitions.
The electrician had been busy and two deep freezers were already humming their normal tune whilst preserving the family food.
My stove was being set up in the kitchen area east of the living room space, and it was comforting to know that I would be able to use most of the electrical conveniences I enjoyed.
Two tables were set up in the kitchen - one to be used as a work table and the other for eating our meals.
A set of steel shelves had been erected beside the tables for storing dishes, bowls, kettles and all my baking and cooking materials.
We had found an old cutlery drawer and it came in very handy when it came time to sort all the various kitchen tools.
I covered most of the articles on these shelves with tea towels. We discovered, with some annoyance, that the cement dust settled everywhere.
No amount of sweeping seemed to solve this problem.
In fact, I think it aggravated it!
We covered most of our furniture with grey flannelette sheets and old bed spreads. They stood like great, hooded monsters in the fading light.
It was nearly time to have our evening meal and the thought of food was farthest from my mind.
Our children were dancing about the crates and boxes in gleeful abandon and I hated to intrude upon this carefree joy with restrictions.
Luckily, I didn't have to.
A dear, sympathetic neighbour brought in a hot, steaming casserole of peppered steak and a crisp green salad. (I shall always have a soft spot for hot, peppered steak and a thoughtful friend.)
We suddenly discovered that we were not only hungry, but ravenous.
Just to smell this delicious food set our taste buds to dancing. We set the table quickly and all sat down together to share a moment of thankfulness and enjoy this wonderful food.
It had been a long day, this 23 of June. A warm, sunny day after the refreshing rain of the night before.
It was a day full of sound and activity, of confusion and frustration.
A day ending one segment of our lives and beginning a new one in a long chain of segments - each one an event that would shatter, frustrate or console us as we met new challenges.

17 comments:

  1. It sounds quite convenient to be able to park your car right in your living space ... but I'm thinking that all the other inconveniences kind of cancelled that out ...

    But your mom's story shows that with ingenuity and determination we can make the most of a situation. That's an important point.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ingenuity and determination. Those are the qualities I most remember in my Mom. And her sense of humour!

      Delete
  2. Happy memories for you kids. It can't have been easy though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true, Treey! Mom must have worked like a trooper the whole time. I only remember the fun! ;)

      Delete
  3. She could really bring an event to life on paper could't she?

    ReplyDelete
  4. I remember when neighbours brought casseroles round to new arrivals or when times were tough. And mourn that this age seems to have passed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I remember my Mom doing it. She was always taking a casserole somewhere to someone. You're right. It doesn't seem to happen often now . ..

      Delete
  5. Your Mom's story, in part, interests me because I lived, with my husband, for almost four years in a one room pole barn. We had electricity and running water but no "facilities". But it wasn't with six children. I can't wait for further installments - thank you for posting this!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd love the hear about it, Alana! Ah, but you've had the minimalist experience! Kids or no kids, you totally understand!

      Delete
  6. That truly was an adventure. Maybe a little overshadowed by the summer before when my older brother and I spent the haying season living in the bunkhouse. I'll always remember hordes of flies and the overwhelming smell of long-stale cigarette smoke. Longest, hottest summer of my life....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Okay, I totally didn't know about that. Yikes! You probably thought it would be an adventure starting out . . .

      Delete
  7. I look forward to reading more of your mother's journals! She paints a heartfelt picture.... Very special

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Her journals are amazing! Sooo glad I have them. And can share . . .

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  8. Replies
    1. Exactly right. I only remember the fun, though!

      Delete
  9. That Summer has 66 ratings and 10 reviews. Tink Magoo is bad at reviews said: Bloody hell! How am I supposed to cope with that. No No No. I'll beg if...
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