Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Saturday, March 21, 2020

An Education

School is memorable for so many reasons.
Friends. Enemies. Sports.
Life lessons.
The occasional chance bit of 'learning' that slips in and the teacher(s) who accidentally accomplish it . . .
In Lethbridge, Alberta in the early ‘40s, there a great teacher.
Young and energetic, he was one of those inspiring men with the enthusiasm and determination needed to pour knowledge into thirty-plus mostly-resistant heads.
One of which was my dad’s.
Every day, this teacher would painstakingly write out his lessons—filling the blackboard.
Then, just before the end of the period arrived, just as painstakingly review everything he had struggled so hard to put down.
And, every day, he would begin said review with these words: “Class? Watch the board while I go through it.”
Now, admittedly, to him, these words were supposed to suggest exactly what he said. The review was about to begin.
To his students, something far different was understood.
And they waited, day after day, for it to happen.
But never, in all the years this man taught my dad did he actually go through the board.
Because that would have been an education.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Watching the Cow

Don’t ask me how he got it,
(I don’t know anyway!)
But Bill Jones owned a golden watch,
‘Twas with him every day.

Then, one sad day, he lost it,
Out, somewhere in the plain.
Mid grazing cows and antelope,
And miles of golden grain.

For hours his household hunted,
(It was that dear, you see),
But none could catch one glint of gold,
Though all searched carefully.

The watch was not recovered,
And years all passed away,
At times, Ol’ Jones still pondered hard
‘Bout where it went that day.

Then, one day, took to market,
A grand old ‘herbivore’,
It was her time, the poor old dear,
To serve the carnivores.

The butcher soon discovered,
(With meat before him spread),
A glint of gold in the old girl’s gut,
(She’d clearly been well fed.)

The watch had been discovered,
And this I must admit:
Restored to the old farmer there,
When it’d be cleaned a bit.

Now the part that’s hard to ‘swallow’,
Is this part coming now . . .
For the golden watch was running true!
After years inside the cow.

Now how could this one object,
So miraculously found,
Survived the years down deep inside,
While keeping itself wound?

The experts speculated,
Their investigations done.
That the churning of the stomach there,
Had made the gold watch run.

Well, now you’ve heard the story,
As Dad told it to me,
Of farmer, cow and running watch,
Do you--like me--believe?

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Doing the Swing

Photo Credit
Dances are fun.
Even for the unenlightened (ie. non-dancer).
In my Dad’s younger days, dancing was one of few forms of entertainment.
Alongside books (Google it) and games.
Let’s face it. It was the 1930s. Electricity was just out of the gate. Radio was the sought-after-but-not-yet-universally-available ‘new’ home amusement and only Jules Verne or H.G. Wells had any conception of electronic devices.
Soooo . . . dances.
Dad went to a lot of them. Some at his school, but most in the basement of the local church.
Taught basic steps by his Sunday School teacher, he tried to wow the ladies in his adolescent circle. In those days, it wasn’t really a necessity. Everyone danced with everyone, regardless of danceability or social prowess.
One evening, his future brother-in-law, Ken, was one of the dancers.
A Virginia Reel was introduced.
I should probably mention, if you are not already aware, that the Virginia Reel is a fun, old-time dance that involves a lot of swinging. And/or whooping.
Usually at the same time.
But occasionally for different reasons . . .
Ken’s partner was a woman of . . . well, let’s just say she was large and leave it at that.
Ken was a stick of a man. Tall and slender.
The two had been doing well to this point in the dance. Then came the swing.
Hooking elbows in the tried and true technique, they started in.
Now, normally, there is no cause for alarm during this manoeuvre.
The partners simply swing around and return to their usual positions.
Except when there is . . . enthusiasm.
And a difference in weights.
As they swung, Ken felt himself being lifted right off his feet.
In a blind panic, he let go.
The woman went down on her . . . erm . . . posterior, and slid ten feet across the dusty, waxed floor; sweeping a nice, clean path two feet wide.
The dancers froze.
Then the whole room erupted into laughter.
The whole room.
Dancers and slider.
Say what you will about dancing.
Even for the non-participant, it has entertainment potential.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Six Forty-One’s

There are many negatives swirling about concerning the Covid-19 Pandemic. And we are right to be concerned. But I was determined to find something positive. And I did. From a woman quarantined with her housing complex in the storm center, Wuhan.

In their pre-pandemic days, she and her husband, schoolteachers, would dart off in the early morning to work. Their children were dropped into the arms of day care workers. Evenings were more bustle. Occasionally they would manage an evening meal together.

Now every day is spent together. They play games together. Eat meals together. Talk. And listen. For the first time, they are getting to know each other. This, to her, is the great blessing of the Pandemic. Time with her family.

Their complex surrounds a large, beautiful courtyard. The formerly great empty space is now filled with people. Neighbours who care for each other. She walks circuits of the courtyard with a next-door neighbour she hadn’t even met . . . before . . .

Every day, the people in her complex order their groceries from nearby stores. The boxes are quietly delivered to the courtyard and the workers quickly disappear. But it doesn’t matter if they have no outside contact. Because they have inside friends.

Even though there is much worldwide fear and uncertainty in our present circumstances, this woman has shown me that we can find the positives in any situation. Even the scariest ones. We just have to slow down and look for them.

Words Counters is a word challenge. Each of us in submits a number, which is then assigned to another in the group. It’s totally challenging. And totally fun!
My number this month, 41, came from my good friend Mimi. Thank you so much!
Want some more Word Counters?

Monday, March 16, 2020


Things are fairly upside down right now with fear and confusion everywhere.
My blog will continue to post only cheer.
I hope it helps!

This week's poetry topic?
Thank you, Jenny!

We hear talk of ‘tainted’ money,
Earned illegally,
Through sales of illicit things,
Or gamb'ling cheerily,
But a friend of mine has said it right,
A man who’s sure and tough,
“Tainted money?” he guffawed,
“There jus ‘taint’ ne'er enough!”

Cause Mondays do get knocked a lot,
With poetry, we all besought
To try to make the week begin…
With pleasant thoughts,
Perhaps a grin?
So, all of us, together, we
Have crafted poems for you to see.
And now you’ve read what we have wrought…
Did we help?
Or did we not?

A lot of us are feeling blue,
And so we’ll try to cheer a few,
We’ll give that ol’ despair a shove…
Next week: Pets, I’ve Known and Loved.

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