Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



Tuesday, January 1, 2019

That Night

It will always be THAT New Year's...

To celebrate the squeaky-clean beginning of yet another year, I'm going to regale you with the tale of our most memorable New Year's Eve.
It's a heart-stopper. 
Really . . .
We spent the evening, much like millions of other people, happily celebrating with friends.
Eating wonderful food that someone else prepared. (My personal favourite.)
Playing games: Charades. Word scramble. Card contests.
And visiting.
Sometime after midnight, we senior citizens called it a successful, wonderful night and left for our respective homes.
Husby and I were safely in bed by 2:00 AM.
All was well.
All was not to remain well.
Just as we were both deeply asleep, someone pounded on our front door.
Pounded.
In my half-awakened state, it sounded frantic to me.
Frightened.
Panicky.
“Grant! Something's wrong!” I screamed, leaping from the bed and switching on lights as I sped down the hall.
Mentally, as I ran, I tallied where my kids and grandkids were. Who had stayed in for the evening and who might still be out.
One family, I knew, had taken their little girls to a friends' party.
They could conceivably still be out.
What's wrong? What's wrong?
I reached the front door, heart racing and breathing heavily.
I peeked out.
No one.
I opened the door.
The front step was echoingly empty.
I stepped out and peered around.
No one.
The night was quiet.
The street deserted.
Nothing moved.
I came back inside and shut the door.
Then I peeked out again.
What on earth...?
By this time, my Husby was also up.
Doing a circuit of the windows and doors.
No one.
We looked at each other.
Did another circuit.
Still no one.
Puzzled, I headed back to bed while Husby locked up again.
He soon joined me and almost immediately dropped back to sleep.
I didn't.
For the next two hours, heart still racing, my mind spun through every terrible, horrible thing that could ever befall a family that (at the time) numbered twenty-five.
It was a long night.
We survived it.
None of the terrible, awful things happened.
I know, because this crazy mom/grandma phoned everyone as soon as it was light this morning.
Two facts remain.
  1. Someone pounded on our door last night. The reasons remain obscure.
  2. Somewhere in our bed is my Husby's liver, scared out of him when I screamed.
Happy New Year.

To my friends: I will be away for most of January. 
Picture me snorkeling or lying on the beach in St. Vincent. 
Cause that's where Husby is taking me.
Mmmmmm...
I will be back periodically, depending on connectivity, but poetry Monday (which I totally missed yesterday) will be suspended.
Happy January! See you in February!
I'll miss you!

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?

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Diane was born and raised on one of the last of the great old Southern Alberta ranches. A way of life that is fast disappearing now. Through her memories and stories, she keeps it alive. And even, at times, accurate . . .

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