Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



Sunday, December 30, 2018

Together-ness

It’s really nothing new.
Over the holidays, we’ve had many opportunities to ‘gather the troops’, so to speak.
Family get-togethers are a common and pretty much-accepted part of the season of celebration that runs throughout December and into January.
Here in the frozen north, that means massing many, many people into a structure meant to house only a few. Without much chance to escape as temperatures outside dip into the ‘Brrrr’ or ‘cold-enough-to-freeze-your-nose-hairs-stiff’ zones.
Inevitably, altercations happen.
Recently reading my Grandmother Stringam’s journal, I discovered a passage where she quotes Grandfather Stringam’s Uncle, David Coombs. (The Coombs family lived with Grandfather’s family for about a year when Grandpa was a lad of 9.)
“…The little boys have been fighting. Davie (Coombs) claims that Dard (Grandpa) brought on the quarrel, and he tried to defend himself and Dard had the best of it, and on top. Ray struck Dard in the back with a piece of board and Arthur did the same. These proceedings caused me much pain, and also a little scene that transacted on the night of the 10th whilst Davie was scuffling with one of the Stringam girls.
Mary came up to him and commenced to pull at him and he told her to go away and says that he gave her a push and she claims that he bit her, but she commenced to hit him and pull his hair and then they commenced to fight, Davie pushing her down and shaking her.
These scenes and others make me wish that I was back to our home and makes my spirit very sorrowful and causes me much reflection and anxiety…the thing causes me many unhappy hours and I also have to put in practice all my self-control and in turn, I learn a lesson in controlling my temper.
This entry is dated April 11, 1886.
All of these people grew up to be fine, upstanding citizens, becoming parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and so on.
So I guess I won’t worry too much that someone isn’t playing ‘pretend dragons’ just right or that someone else is hogging all the best Lego or Playmobile pieces.
This, too, shall pass.
Right?

Sundays are for my ancestors.
Tell me about yours!

Saturday, December 29, 2018

A Little Progress

One and one-half hours from the Stringam ranch is the city of Lethbridge, Alberta.
When the Stringams really needed to shop, that was the place to go.
There were tons of great stores . . .
Eaton’s.
Woolworth’s.
Kresge’s.
Hoyt’s.
Woolco.
But, if one wanted a bit of adventure, the best was Progress Clothing.
Progress was our favourite place to shop.
It wasn’t what you would call a ‘high-end’ store.
It catered more to the farmers and ranchers in the area.
The people needing sturdy, serviceable, work apparel.
Tough boots.
Heavy leather gloves.
Progress consisted of a long, open room with thick windows facing the street.
Dangling fluorescent light fixtures.
And huge tables set evenly about the old-wood flooring.
Great piles of clothing were stacked on every available surface.
More or less grouped together according to type and size.
Colours were limited. Most articles were blue, green, black or tan.
But choosing pants, shirts or one of the myriad other items that went with working on a ranch was only the first (and less exciting) part.
The true fun of Progress Clothing began when one was holding one’s prospective purchase.
And a salesman approached.
Because the ‘suggested retail price’ on the tag was just that.
A suggestion.
From there, the haggling commenced.
“How much for these pants?”
“The tag says $7.00.”
“But I’m buying four pairs.”
“Hmm . . . okay, $6.00.”
“Really? That’s the best you can do?”
“Hey, I’m trying to feed my family!”
“And I’m trying to feed mine!”
“Okay. Okay. $5.00. But that’s my last offer.”
“$4.50?”
And so it went. It was . . . fun.
If you were lucky, you would pay half of what the original sticker stated . . .
I hadn’t been to Progress in quite a while.
I had discovered some of the specialty ‘Western’ shops.
With their high-priced ‘stylish’ western clothes.
And I had my own money.
And no encumbrances.
Then, shortly after I was married, my Husby (a newly acquired encumbrance) and I, feeling both the need to be economical and the desire for some adventure, stopped at the great old store.
I found a pair of warm, winter boots.
Practical boots.
My Husby held them up to the salesman. “How much?” he asked.
The salesman stared at him.
“How much?” he repeated.
The salesman leaned forward and touched the tag. “$8.00,” he said.
“Will you take six?” my Husby asked.
The salesman frowned. “The tag says $8.00,” he repeated.
“Oh. So . . . $8.00?”
“Yes.”
“Oh.”
The store and the clothes were the same.
And the prices.
But the important stuff was different.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Bad Vacuum

Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Okay, it was . . . weird.
Really weird.
But sometimes, weird has a logical explanation . . .
Darn.
We were visiting with our good friends, Shane and Linda.
They had just finished building their dream home.
The last touches were slowly going in.
Shane had recently installed a new central vacuum system.
It really sucked. (But that was a good thing and has nothing to do with this story . . .)
Shortly after the vacuum was installed, and very late at night, Shane was in the front room doing . . . Shane stuff. Deciding it was time for bed, he stood up and started toward the doorway.
When the vacuum suddenly turned on.
I am not making this up.
The middle of the night. Everyone else in the house was asleep. And the vacuum switched itself on.
Let’s just say it was . . . startling . . . and go from there.
Shane immediately quickened his pace, intent on switching the mechanical demon off before it woke the whole house.
But as he crossed the room, it quit.
The vacuum, I mean.
Huh.
See what I mean? Weird.
After that, it happened several times. Always when someone was in the front room. Usually when they were alone.
This went on for some time.
Then we showed up for a visit.
The four of us were sitting in the front room, catching up.
Shane told us the vacuum story.
Complete with hand gestures.
And the dance.
I frowned thoughtfully. (I do that . . .) “Shane,” I asked, “Where were you standing when the vacuum came on?”
He pointed out an area of the floor.
I crossed over and stepped on it.
The vacuum was suddenly roaring beneath us.
I moved off the spot.
The vacuum quit.
I did it again.
Vacuum on.
Vacuum off.
All three of them were staring at me.
Then Grant smiled. “I think I know what happened.”
The two men went into the basement and poked around, finally discovering a screw, just piercing the wiring. When pressure was applied from above, the connection was completed. The vacuum came on.
When pressure was released, the connection was broken. And the machine switched off.
The ‘haunted’ vacuum was explained.
But you know what?
It was heaps more fun before we figured it out.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

The Booger Man

The boy.
No, that isn't the right finger, either...
In our house, over the holidays, love and goodwill abound.
And so does the food.
And the treats.
Especially the chocolate.
With, sometimes, amusing results . . .
A group of us adults was sitting around the table, intent on a game of cards.
Members of the younger set were dashing in and out, equally intent on activities.
Games.
And treats.
We had just opened a new box of exotic chocolates.
A gift from our dear next-door neighbours.
Five different kinds of luscious, melt-able deliciousness, each in a different (intriguing) shape.
Chocolate mousse.
Crunchy.
Espresso.
Crème Broulee.
And pistachio.
Each more mouth-watering than the last.
Our five-year-old discovered the box and immediately seized it.
“What’s this?!” he said, holding it up.
“Chocolates!” I said. “Really yummy ones!”
“Oooh! What’s this one?!” He jabbed a finger into the chocolate mousse.
“That’s dark chocolate.”
“And this?” Another jab.
“Hey!” his dad said, taking the box. “Don’t touch all of the chocolates with your booger-covered finger!”
Da-ad!” he said, disgusted. “That’s not my booger finger!” He held up his other hand, pointer finger erect. “That one is!”
At least he was honest . . .

Monday, December 24, 2018

Single Mom's Christmas

With apologies to Clement Clarke Moore . . .


On the night before Christmas, long hours ahead
The toddler awake, I’d just got her to bed.
The stockings were hung in a haphazard row,
While Mama assembled new toys just below.

The kids were asleep. Well, except for the last,
Just waiting for morning to get downstairs fast.
I toiled on alone, ‘cause there wasn’t a dad.
I had broken a nail and my language was bad.

Then out on the lawn rose a terrible noise,
A skill that usually my oldest employs.
I flew to the window, and thought as I ran,
‘What's he doing out there, my nine-year-old man?!’

It was bright (as can only the moon on snow be),
And I narrowed my eyes to be able to see.
And what did I glimpse, coming over the way?
But some deer, all in harness, and a stout little sleigh.

With someone in a coat that looked comfy and soft,
And clearly, some magic to keep them aloft.
They flew like a Michael Schumacher on course,
While the driver attempted some will to enforce.

"Now Baby! Now, Jazzi! Now, Frolic and Jolly!
On, Cherub! On, Angel! On, Kitten and Folly!
I need you to get to the rooftop this time!
And a fine, gentle landing would be so sublime!"

To say that they flew like some leaves past the attic,
Would be perfectly true, it was quite that erratic.
I was holding my breath as they shot toward the sky,
And prayed that my windows and roof would survive.

Then finally (thankfully) up on the roof,
The unmistakable sound of twenty-four hoofs.
Then some noise in the chimney I’d not heard before,
And someone emerged, on their knees, on the floor.

The figure was dressed in a warm, sooty coat,
With some Uggs on their feet and scarf 'round their throat.
With toys, books and clothes in a gi-normous sack,
Which they dropped to the floor with the words, “Oh, my back!”.

And then sparkling eyes were directed at me!
From under a hat that was worn with esprit.
I surprisingly saw, not a man, but a miss,
With no beard (though a tweezer would not go amiss).

In white teeth, she had clutched a short pencil end,
And a notebook, she held in one mittened hand.
Her round, wrinkled face shone with laughter and fun,
And I don’t think her happy laugh could be outdone!

She was joyful and glad, and just a bit round,
Her smile made me smile, 'twas so friendly and sound!
She gave me a grin and then winked an eye,
All my fears passed away and I waved them goodbye.

She didn’t say much, simply nodded my way,
And I watched as she worked – like a pudgy ballet.
She finished her job, made a note in her book,
Then nodded and smiled and her exit she took!

I heard her footsteps as she ran to her sleigh,
Heard her call to her team as they all flew away.
Then this sweet woman shouted, as she flew o’er the town,
"Happy Christmas to all, don’t let life get you down!"


Merry Christmas, my friends! And a very Happy New Year!


Mondays do get knocked a lot,
With poetry, we three besought,
To try to make the week begin
With pleasant thoughts--perhaps a grin?
So Jenny and Delores, we,
Have posted poems for you to see.
And now you've seen what we have brought . . .
Did we help?
Or did we not?

Next week is New Year's Eve. It's true!
How this 2018 flew!

So we'll discuss (because we can),
All our 2019 plans!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Rushing for Gold

The California Gold Rush (1848–1855) began on January 24, 1848 when gold was found by James W. Marshall at Sutter's Mill in Coloma, California.
That news would eventually bring 300,000 people to California from the rest of the United States and abroad—driving out the original ‘Native Californians’ and completely altering the landscape.
Gold fever struck hard.
1850.
The California gold rush was in full swing.
So to speak.
My Great, Great Grandfather, George Coleman made a decision. He, too would join the trains of eager gold seekers and make his own way to California.
A determined young man, he did exactly that.
On arrival, he witnessed first-hand the ‘fever’ that affects people seeking after the elusive gold metal. The sacrifice of families and even lives in its pursuit.
So, George, whose motto could easily have been: ‘A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’, decided to take a different course.
Instead of joining the men—and women—sifting frantically through the waters and soils of California, he decided on a more practical avocation.
He would, instead join the ranks of those who supplied necessities to the gold-diggers.
He took a job washing dishes.
Which paid a healthy $15.00 per day.
Many flocked to California during the seven years of the California Gold Rush seeking a fortune.
Great, Great Grandpa George was one of few who found one.



Sundays are for Ancestors!
Tell me about yours . . .

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Surprise!

Been listening to Christmas music all day.
Let the Christmas memories continue!!!
For our first Christmas as newly-weds, I dutifully asked my new Husby what he would like.
I did it sneakily.
I thought.
In July.
His answer?
A router.
Okay, first, I had to surreptitiously find out just what a 'router' was.
I discovered that it had everything to do with home woodworking.
And nothing to do with computers (which at that time in history, really only existed on Star Trek).
The men at the hardware store knew exactly what Husby had been talking about.
And placed before me a perfect example of router-ness.
On sale.
The day was mine!
And soon, so was the router.
Gleefully (real word/emotion) I carried said router triumphantly to the car.
And duly hid it at Husby's parent's place.
Then I waited.
Closer to Christmas, Husby forgot all about the router he had asked for and announced that what he would really like was a deep fryer.
For a few frantic moments, I considered taking the router back and replacing it.
But, reading the receipt, I could see that that possibility had expired.
Rats.
A couple of weeks before Christmas, with a heavy heart, I wrapped his present and placed it under the tree.
Sometime later, he picked it up and shook it.
It rattled.
He smiled.
What he had taken for a 'deep fryer' rattle was, indeed a 'router' rattle, but I said nothing.
And he was happy.
We both waited for Christmas.
Christmas morning, the first gift he went for was his 'deep fryer'.
He was already talking about the fries he would make.
The corn dogs.
Doughnuts.
I held my breath as he tore off the paper.
His mouth dropped open and his face was a perfect picture of surprise as he stared at the router box beneath.
“I totally forgot I asked for this!” he said finally. He opened the box and began removing parts. “I've wanted one of these forever!” He was growing more and more excited.
No more mention was made of a deep fryer.
I heaved a sigh of relief.
That particular gift went on to make tables, cabinets, houses, toys, more tables, and at least one picture frame.
Of far more use than a piece of kitchen equipment.
No matter how many fries it could have made.
I chose . . . well.
I should mention, also, that this was also the only Christmas when I managed to surprise my Husby.
Oh, he tries to 'act' surprised when he unwraps something.
But I know that he knows.
Sigh.
Ha!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Daddy Walking

By request, I'm posting this poem I wrote for Daddy.
This will be my fourth Christmas without him...
My Hero
December. My four-year-old mind was a haze,
I’d been locked in the house as it snowed for three days.
Then quite suddenly, magically, sunlight appeared,
And my Daddy was pulling on snow boots. And gear.

I just couldn’t stand the house one minute more.
I had to get out. I’d help Dad with the chores!
So I zippered and buttoned and pulled on and tied,
Then stood by my Daddy with little-girl pride.

“I’m ready,” I shouted. “Let’s go milk the cows!”
I was set for adventure, quite done with the house.
He smiled and then, turning, stepped into the snow.
And I walked alongside. It seemed quite apropos.

At first the bright sparkles and crisp winter air
Made our walking, adventure, and senses aware.
But then I discovered as most children do,
That snow, though quite pretty, was hard to get through.

I struggled and grunted, broke into a sweat,
Then looked for the barn that we hadn’t reached yet.
My Daddy smiled down at my efforts inept,
“It’d be easier if you tried to step where I step.”

So I did. And my progress was much better then,
Soon we two reached the barn, and the cozy cow pens.
I sat perched on a stool and watched Daddy do chores,
Then followed him home, just like I’d done before.

I learned something that day, as we walked through the yard,
If I stayed in his footsteps, then things weren’t as hard.
His skill and experience, and his guidance, too,
Would make everything easier my whole life through.

Now, to my own kids, when there’s woe to be had
I give bits of advice that I learned from my Dad.
When Life dishes out dollops of good or of ill,
I find that I’m walking in Dad’s footsteps still.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Snowy Paradise

Enjoy it now. It'll be gone tomorrow!
In southern Alberta, where I was raised, snow seldom stayed very long.
Even though it was winter.
Oh, it snowed.
Sometimes a lot.
But then the famous Chinook would blow through, drastically raising temperatures.
And melting said snow.
Let’s face it. When the temperature goes from minus ten (14F) to plus twenty (68F), snow disappears fast.
In a few hours, any accumulation would be limited to the ditches and snowbanks.
So when it snowed, and if one wanted to enjoy it, one had to move quickly.
Just FYI.
On with my story . . .
Someone was out in the yard.
Hollering.
I looked out the window onto a scene of glistening white.
And my oldest brother, Jerry, holding the family toboggan.
Squealing (and I do mean squealing) with eight-year-old delight, I donned snow pants, parka, boots, mittens, scarf and toque (it's a Canadian thing).
Remember what I said about the snow lasting a short time?
I donned them quickly.
In no time I was out with my brother.
All of our siblings joined us.
Well, all but tiny baby, Anita.
She wasn't coming.
Because.
Jerry sat our youngest brother, two-year-old Blair, on the toboggan, then turned and started pulling the sled toward the river.
The Stringam ranch proper had been built in a bend of the south fork of the Milk River. Any sled-able hills were on the opposite bank.
We trudged along behind Jerry and his sled across the frozen river to the hills opposite.
Then, for the next couple of hours, we towed up and slid down.
The older kids choosing the steeper slopes.
The younger crew sticking with the gentle-er.
Our shouts and screams of sheer happiness echoing across the wide, open prairie.
Finally, it was time to head home. Dusk comes quickly in Southern Alberta and, trust me, you really don't want to try to walk home in the dark.
We crossed the river once more and climbed the hill to the house.
To be greeted by the warm, amazing smell of . . . baking.
In the entryway, we peeled off layer after layer, laughing excitedly and telling Mom about our adventure.
She just smiled and nodded.
Then surprised us with warm spudnuts (doughnuts made with mashed potatoes in the batter. Yum…) fresh from the oven, and gallons of hot chocolate.
Sigh.
The very best of days.

A little addendum:
I still go sledding. And there is still hot chocolate and doughnuts in the program.
But, as when I was eight, I choose the gentle-er slopes.
Full circle.

And for those interested, Mom's Spudnut recipe:
1 Tablespoon Yeast
1/2 Cup Warm Water
1/2 Teaspoon Sugar
Soak for five minutes.

1 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/3 Cup Shortening
2 Cups Scalded (and cooled to warm) Milk
1 Cup Mashed Potatoes
2 Eggs (slightly beaten)
Mix these six ingredients.
Add Yeast mixture.
Add 6 to 7 Cups Flour
Knead--Allow to raise--knead--Roll out and cut--Allow to raise
Deep Fry
Dip in granulated sugar, or glaze with thin icing

Add Grandchildren...

Monday, December 17, 2018

The Holiday in the Romance

If one believes the songs they sing, then Love at Christmas, it’s the thing,
And all one needs, to happy be, is someone special ‘neath that tree.
The mistletoe and wondrous gifts, to give your special one a lift.
In cold and snow, the winter walks; by firelight, the special talks,
The billing, cooing—sappiness, and plans for future happiness,
‘Tis wonderful and sweet, it’s true, when couples start to bill and coo,
But tell me just exactly what’s expected after all the glut,
Tell me, will the magic stay? Even after Christmas day?
It has been done, I’ve heard it said. When planning for the days ahead,
If both remember what was great, about those special Christmas dates,
And try and keep the magic there together year by year by year!
And one last thing before I go, but something about which you should know:
"Don't make love by the garden gate, love is blind but the neighbours ain't."



Mondays do get knocked a lot,
With poetry, we three besought,
To try to make the week begin
With pleasant thoughts--perhaps a grin?
So Jenny and Delores, we,
Have posted poems for you to see.
And now you've seen what we have brought . . .
Did we help?
Or did we not?

Next week, 'cause Christmas Eve is here,
We'll talk about THAT time of year!

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Grandpa Edward

Today’s story is a tragedy.
As often happened in the early days of the pioneers . . .

I love the stories of my pioneer ancestors.
The things they accomplished under often harrowing circumstances. Stories of strength, patience.
Perseverance.
But their stories very often end tragically--including that of my Great-Great-Great Grandfather, Edward Tuttle.
Edward had been a baker in the town of Nauvoo, Illinois.
But when (over religious differences) he and his people were driven out in the mid-1840s, they settled in a place called Winter Quarters, Nebraska. Living, at first, in a dugout, they later moved to a small, hastily-finished house with makeshift cupboards on the wall. Cupboards that will play a significant role later . . .
In true ‘pioneer’ fashion, they carried on. Edward worked a lot with the livestock. A very necessary skill at a time when your animals could mean your survival.
Or something very different . . .
You have to know that Bulls (male cattle) can be particularly cantankerous. Living in close proximity with humans, they have more deaths to their credit than grizzly bears.
True fact.
One day, while he was working with the community’s cattle, Edward was badly gored in the abdomen by a particularly vicious specimen of the breed.
Unlike many others who had been similarly injured, he survived.
Though in considerable pain, he began to heal. A slow process.
One day in mid-August, 1847, while still in a rather delicate condition, Edward insisted on being up and around, though not capable of moving very fast.
Remember when I mentioned the cupboards and the fact that they were ‘make-shift’? That becomes significant now . . .
One of the cupboards started pulling away from the wall. Instinctively, Edward tried to catch it.
His action re-opened his terrible wound.
This second injury proved fatal.
He was buried there in Winter Quarters on August 17, 1847.
I’m grateful for every single one of the men and women who has gone before me.
Though often tragic, their experiences are inspiring.
I would love to have their strength and perseverance.
Though maybe not those actual experiences . . .

Sunday's are for ancestors. Tell me about yours!

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Expensive. But Cheap

That day.
Missing: The pants
My siblings and I loved to ski.
Our Dad had introduced us to it the winter I turned eight and it had become a . . . habit.
Well, actually more of a fixation, but we'll go with habit.
We went every chance we could get.
And scoured the catalogs for new and wonderful accessories for our grand passion.
I had just made my first official 'ski' purchase.
New ski pants.
They were expensive.
But gorgeous.
Dark brown.
Perfect fit.
I was going to wow everyone on that hill! I couldn't do it with my skiing. This was the next best thing.
I should explain, here, that ski pants in the 60s weren't the stretchable remarkable cloth that we have now.
In fact, they were distinctly . . . un-stretchable.
Something which will figure largely in my story later.
But they had little side zippers at the ankles and dark elastics that slid under your foot.
They were nifty (real word).
Happily, I donned them and my brother and I were off.
Now, I should explain, here, that Big Mountain in Whitefish Montana was a wonderful place to ski.
There were numerous slopes.
Each with its own particular brand of ski tow.
I always chose the expert slope.
Not that I could actually ski the expert slope.
For two other reasons.
  1. It had a ski trail that wound around behind and through the wonderful forest, and
  2. The trail came out at the top of the Intermediate slope, allowing the skier to then ski to the bottom. Oh. And . . .
  3. Be comparatively unharmed.
It was the best of all worlds.
I made my first run to the top of the expert slope.
Disembarked. Well, slid off the chairlift into a heap. But to one side, away from the traffic.
An important point.
I got my limbs more-or-less together and headed for the mouth of the trail.
It was stunningly beautiful.
The sun was shining.
There had just been a fresh fall of snow - over a foot of sparkling, fluffy whiteness blanketed the landscape.
I took a deep, satisfying breath of the spicy air, slid onto the trail and for the next 20 minutes, was in heaven.
Finally, the trail ended.
I slid quickly out onto the slope only to discover that it hadn't yet been touched by . . . anything.
It was still in it's pristine, just-been-snowed-on condition.
Breathtakingly beautiful.
It took me a few moments to discover that this could also present a problem.
Let me explain . . .
The trail I had been on had been fairly packed and my skis were still on that level.
They hadn't yet adjusted to the extra foot of fluffy snow.
I was sliding along with everything below my knees hidden in the fresh stuff.
For a second, it was fun.
Then, it wasn't. 
I hit something.
I never discovered what it was. Rock. Lump of ice. Tree stump. Yesterday's skier.
Whatever.
It stopped me.
Instantly.
And I wasn't prepared.
My body, already bent forward in my best 'snowplow' position, bent further. In fact, I whacked my forehead painfully on my knees.
Something I wish I could do today.
But I digress . . .
My glasses popped off into the deep snow.
Oh, rats.
I rubbed my head and scrabbled around in the snow, finally, triumphantly, extracting my glasses.
Then I straightened. And felt a draft.
Oh-oh.
Remember what I had said about my ski pants being not stretchy?
This would be where that fact comes into play.
When my body had done its 'fold-in-half' trick, it proved to be something my new pants had been completely unprepared for.
They split from waistband to waistband, right along the crotch.
I was now effectively wearing two pant legs.
Held up with a narrow strip of cloth at the top.
I definitely needed a longer coat.
Or a loincloth.
And this was the first run of the day.
Sigh.
I made the run down the slope as carefully and unobtrusively as possible, then sneaked to the car and my suitcase.
The change from my new, albeit flimsy, ski pants to my usual jeans was accomplished in a minimum of time and a maximum of scrambling. In the wide rear seat.
I mean the wide rear seat.
Not the wide rear seat.
Never mind . . .
And I was back on the slope.
For the first few runs, I carefully peered at people to see if anyone recognized me as the almost-pantless girl who had been on the slope a short time earlier.
But, as no one seemed to be paying much attention to me, I finally relaxed.
I learned something that day.
Expensive can sometimes mean cheap.
It just costs more.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Left Hanging

The scene. Sigh.
It was a Saturday afternoon at the movies.
Two sisters happily sitting, munching popcorn and ooh-ing and ah-ing over Ryan Reynolds.
What could possibly go wrong?
Maybe I should start at the beginning . . .
Mom was having a group of friends in for tea and—in her words—a good gossip.
Sally and I had been happily internet surfing and largely staying out of Mom’s way.
But Mom seemed especially anxious to have us out of the house. Something about really needing some time with women her own age.
Weird.
So she gave us money and sent us off to the movie.
Oh, Sally and I weren’t complaining.
Not really.
I mean . . . Ryan Reynolds.
So we gathered up our coats (it is December) and headed over to the Bijou.
Now a word here about our community’s theatre. It’s old.
Really old.
Built in the late 1800’s for real, live theatrics, it has a genuine stage, thick, velvet curtains, a floor that slopes from back to front and a balcony overhanging the audience for . . . more audience. It is considered the hallowed hall of memory nestled in the quiet center of our sleepy little town.
Sometime in the 1920s, some town bright light conceived the notion of opening up a little hole in a rear wall to poke a projector through and the movie industry was born.
The old projector is still there, sitting in lonely glory in a far corner, shrouded with a great dust cloth. Whilst the more modern replacement has taken place of importance.
I know all this because I used to date the projector man. A beanpole slender boy with a shock of red hair named Billy.
The boy is named Billy. Not the hair. I thought I should clarify.
Ahem . . .
Sooo . . . Saturday. Me and Sally.
And Ryan Reynolds.
Things were going well.
The audience wasn’t huge, but it was enthusiastic. Mostly kids about Sally’s and my age.
My sister and I were sitting in our favourite spot—the front of the upper balcony. Where we could survey the people below, haughtily aloof.
Well, I was going for haughty aloof-ness.
Sally was pretty much just going for the popcorn and the little cylinder of M & M’s that came with her ‘theatre meal’.
A couple of Sally’s friends were sitting below us. Just down the row from them, I spotted a couple of Billy’s friends, Tim and Michael. So the girls’ reluctance to come up and sit with us became suddenly apparent.
Sally had been munching happily for several minutes, her eyes glued to the screen.
“Pssst! Sally!” someone whisper-shouted from below.
“Shhhh!” someone else said.
Sally leaned forward, still chewing. “Huh?”
“Give us some of your M & M’s! My lid wasn’t on and ours fell over and spilled all over the floor!”
“Shhh!” someone said again.
I shuddered to think of what might be on a floor that had been collecting candy and sodas and who-knows-what-else in its 140-year history. I heard that a group of people studying the building went into the basement and found actual stalactites of solidified sugar (from spilled drinks) hanging beneath the stage.
True story.
But I digress . . .
Eyes still on the screen, Sally reached blindly for her M & M’s and tossed them over the rail.
“Hey!” I shouted. “Those were mine!”
“Shhh!” someone said.
Sally clapped a hand over her mouth. “Oops.”
Now you have to know that a normal person would simply acknowledge their mistake and offer to replace.
Not Sally. In the next breath, she had launched herself over the balcony after the airborne candies.
Now she must have realized, partway over, that it's quite a distance to the main floor. Because somewhere in midflight, she managed to reach out and grab the decorative rail fastened to the outer edge of the balcony.
A girl screamed, “Somebody fell out of the balcony!”
“Shhh!” someone else said.
There was a sudden hubbub as the house lights came on.
All eyes were on Sally, hanging from the railing like a limp acrobat on a dead trapeze.
I probably don’t have to tell you that, amid people grabbing Sally’s wrists to keep her from falling, the arrival of the local firemen (fortunately, housed immediately next to the Bijou.) and the dragging in of ladders and rescue equipment, the movie pretty much got forgotten.
No one seemed to mind.
I mean, how can you top that?
It was like a scene out of some fantastical storybook.
Of course, Sally was forbidden from ever setting foot in the balcony again—something we both knew she’d never obey—and sent home.
The two of us arrived in the middle of Mom’s tea party and Sally immediately disappeared.
Mom slowly rose to her feet. “What happened?” she asked a bit breathlessly.
I started to explain. I could almost see Mom’s gossipy friends’ ears growing longer.
Mom noticed it, too. She waved a hand. “Never mind. Just tell Sally I’ll be up later to murder her.”
She didn’t. I thought I’d tell you so you wouldn’t worry.
Yep. Sally lived . . . to make the front page of the local paper.
Again.
  

Each month, Karen of Baking in a Tornado collects and then distributes words.
And we, her enthusiastic followers, craft something meaningful entertaining ambitious from said words.
This month, my words wereacrobat ~ cylinder ~ memory ~ online ~ storybook
And were submitted by my friend, Rena at https://theblogging911.com/blog
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