Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



Friday, March 11, 2022

Putting the Feet in Footlights

The talk around our house has been family. And babies.
And that leads me to a story and a suspicion...
Sally ending up in movies really wasn’t a surprise.
The truth is, she had long wanted to be in theatre.
Seriously.
For a while, that’s all she talked about. ‘Hitting the boards’.
Whatever that means.
She was actually cast in a play here in our city.
Once.
Not the lead, but an important part. A governess.
I don’t remember much else about the play itself apart from the fact that she and another woman were in the first scene. Two turn-of-the-century governesses gossiping about the families they worked for during a daily sojourn in a park. Their baby carriages, supposedly complete with quietly sleeping infants, were parked beside them as they gossiped. Behind them were a gazebo, a small garden shed, and notable vegetation. (All great, wooden cutouts realistically painted, BTW.)
Now the theatre Sally’s play was performing in had a unique feature. A moving ‘thrust’ stage.
For any to whom this term is unfamiliar (ie. me) it is a stage that ‘thrusts’ out into the audience. Chairs are arranged to accommodate and the audience members get an up-close-and-personal, three-sided view.
Now what made this theatre truly unique is the fact that this particular thrust stage wasn’t permanently in that position.
No.
It was cranked forward for each performance at the push of a button.
Following the retracting of the great, ponderous stage curtains via another button.
(Bless mechanics and electricity.)
So the proper order for all of this was: first, the curtains. Then, the stage.
And finally, the first line from the two women who had been thrust out with the stage.
For all of the rehearsals and the first four performances, all had gone perfectly.
Perfectly.
I can even remember Sally’s first line: Gertrude (while fanning herself rapidly with a large fan): “I tell you, Hortense, I do not know how much longer I can possibly put up with it!”
‘Hortense’ answered and blah, blah, blah...play.
Then, the fifth performance.
Now you have to know this was a matinee. And though the playbills specifically requested no ‘infants in arms’, there were several.
It made for a restless, rather noisy audience.
By curtain time, the actors and the backstage crew (I was the script girl) were already strung out.
Then what happened…happened. And no it wasn’t someone’s cellphone ringing. (Don’t I wish.)
The stage manager hit the button for the thrust stage first.
Uh-oh.
Said stage was well into its grand entrance before he realized he had forgotten to pull the curtains.
The very, very heavy, capable of sweeping a stage bare (and made that way to cancel noise backstage) curtains.
Already, the sounds of set pieces hitting the wooden planking were loud and…notable.
As well as the shrieks of the two women already in their places in the dark and trying to avoid messy squishiness and/or death.
As the curtains finally opened, one of the props, Sally’s baby carriage—already tipped and threatening disaster—took the final tumble.
Spilling a not-that-real-after-all infant onto the stage.
Where it rolled, like a little flannel-wrapped football, into the audience.
There was a small, dusty pause as audience and actors alike blinked. And actors’ minds began working frantically for ways to salvage…
Almost before the rest of us could draw a breath, Sally had picked up her skirts and leaped down from the stage.
Handing the baby doll to a woman seated on the front row holding her own sleeping infant, Sally said, loudly, “Here’s your baby ma’am. Please take better care.”
Then, scooping up the woman’s own very real baby, she scurried back onstage, righted her carriage, made a show of placing the infant in it, and said her first line.
The woman stood up—I expect she was about to protest the apparent kidnapping of her child—then sat back down.
Maybe she was excited to have said child onstage at such a young age.
Maybe she was just happy to have someone else take it for a while.
The play went well from there on.
As ‘Gertrude’ and ‘Hortense’ continued their scene, black-costumed stagehands efficiently righted set pieces and all was well.
The child was quietly traded back during intermission, none the worse for its sudden drafting into the world of theatre.
Surprisingly—or maybe not so much—Sally got several acting offers thereafter.
All of which she had to turn down because…movies…fame…sigh.
And now the aforementioned suspicion...
I’m telling you all of this because Sally has suddenly started talking about ‘family’ and necessities a family needs like ‘toilet paper’ and…and how good that baby was for her during that play and how much she enjoyed holding it. And aren’t babies nice?!
I know she’s not announcing the pitter-patter of little feet because she, like Mom, has a pretty strong opinion on Marriage First.
But she and Mort have been exchanging significant looks and I know he’s dragged my Peter to the jewelry store on more than one occasion.
The truth is, I think we have a wedding in our future.
Lord help us all…
 
Use Your Words is a writing challenge.
Each month, we submit words and each month, our noble Karen re-distributes. We don’t know where our words went or what will be done with them…
Until now.
We’re as surprised and pleased as you!
This month, my words: football ~ curtains ~ toilet paper ~ cellphone
Came—via Karen—from my wonderful friend Rena at
Thank you, my friend!                             
 
Ready for more? 
Here are the links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:
 
Baking In A Tornado  
The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver
Climaxed 
Part-time Working Hockey Mom

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Fair-ly Fraudulent

The criminals are seated second row: Second and fifth from the left.
And they look so innocent . . .
I was so excited.
My cousin/pal, Jody and I were going to have a fair.
During afternoon recess at school. A real fair, with games and prizes.
We had saved our allowances. We had . . . ummm . . . permission . . .
Maybe I should tell you the whole story . . .
Jody was staying with me at the ranch for a few days while her parents were away on holiday.
We had conceived a marvelous scheme while we were supposed to be sleeping. Just before my dad threatened to separate us for the night.
For the record, I don't know why they are called 'sleep overs'. Nothing resembling sleeping ever takes place. But I digress . . .
Jody and I had come up with this amazing idea. We’d hold a fair. With different contests and featuring real, bona-fide prizes of toys or candy. It was the best plan ever! Stupendous! The school would be talking about it for years!
Our plans grew and hatched more plans.
Barnum and Bailey would be put to shame! (I didn't know who they were, but whenever a circus was talked about, they were mentioned, so they must be important.)
There was only one hitch in our marvellous plan. We were eight years old, in grade three, and needed permission to go down town to purchase the necessary candy and prizes.
And my mom refused to give us the necessary legal document.
Pffff . . .
We even provided the statement, already spelled out. All she had to do was sign.
She refused.
Sigh.
For sure, Barnum and Bailey didn't have such complications . . .
We were still puzzling over this difficulty when we got on the bus and sat in front of one of the grade 12 girls. We talked and talked, but no solutions were forthcoming.
The girl leaned over the seat and asked one of us to retrieve a pen she had dropped. I complied, still talking.
She reached out her hand to take the pen.
I paused, looking at her. At her . . . fully-grown hand.
That knew how to write in script.
That couldn't help but fool our teacher.
I smiled.
Later, we skipped happily off the bus, content in the knowledge that the two of us were smarter than our teacher. Than anyone. Than the whole world.
We duly presented the paper, properly signed, to Mrs. Ratcliff. She scanned it.
“Huh. I thought Jody's mom wasn't due home for a few more days.”
“Oh, she's back!” we assured her.
She nodded.
We bounced happily from the room. We had succeeded.
Our fair was underway.
We ran all the way downtown and had a marvelous time blowing our combined $.75 on penny candies and trinkets.
Then, clutching our paper bags of magic, we ran all the way back.
Our fair was a success. We conducted games and races and magnanimously handed out prizes, happily certain we were idolized by every child on the playground.
That everyone wished they were us.
Then, just as the bell rang, Kathy ran up to tell us that we were wanted.
In the principal's office.
We looked at each other. What could possibly have gone wrong? Our plan had been so fool proof.
Slowly, we trudged towards our doom.
“Jody, is your mother home?” The principal was staring at us from under bushy, frowning brows.
I stared at my feet, frozen to the spot.
Jody, just slightly braver than me, managed to shake her head.
“So, where did this note come from?” He waved our masterpiece.
“Ummm . . . Mom signed it before she left?”
The principal shook his head. “I don't think so.”
Sigh. We were caught.
“A girl on Diane's bus signed it.”
“Ah.”
I peeped up at him. Was that a good 'ah'? A 'very clever girls' ah?
He was still frowning.
Obviously not.
I looked at the closet door behind his chair.
Where I knew the strap was kept.
If he made one step towards that closet, I was going to head for the hills.
And I knew where those hills were . . .
He folded his hands together.
“Do you girls know what you did wrong?”
We nodded.
“Do you?”
We nodded again, with a little less certainty.
“This is what is called 'fraud'.”
Fraud? I'd never heard of the word.
“It's like lying.”
Ah. Lying. Now that I knew a lot about . . . from watching my siblings . . . not because I . . . oh, never mind.
“Deceiving someone.”
Another long word I'd never heard of.
“Lying.”
Okay, back on familiar ground.
“You got someone else to sign your mom's name. That is lying. Fraud.”
But she was an adult! my mind screamed. She was big. She could write script.
“You can't have someone else sign in place of your parent unless they are your guardian. Was this girl on the bus your guardian?”
Guardian? I was at sea again, and for someone who had never seen the sea, that was pretty lost. Ummm . . . I'm going to go with 'no'?
“No.”
I was right!
“So what you did was wrong.”
Rats!
Again, my eyes were drawn to that closet door. Not the strap! Not the strap!
He leaned back in his chair.
“I'm going to have to speak to your parents about this.”
I stared at him. Parents? Maybe the strap would be a good idea.
“They will have to take it up with you.”
I thought of my dad finding out. The strap was looking better and better.
“Now I want you to go back to your class and think about this.”
We nodded.
“And never . . . ever . . . bring in a permission form signed by anyone but your parents. And never . . .” his eyes drilled through us . . . “lie to anyone again.”
Again we nodded. Wide-eyed.
Then we escaped.
We were right. The school talked about our fair for weeks afterwards.
They, and we, just didn't remember it for the right reasons.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Heir’s Hair in the Barber’s Chair

I just had to tell one more story about my dad and his nephew...
Don't let the
boy-scout outfit fool you.
By request: The further adventures of Uncle and Nephew . . .

Influencing the young and innocent. Even in families, it's not always a good thing . . .

My Dad was the youngest of eleven children. If anyone asked him if he was related to Owen (his eldest brother) he told them: “DistantlyHe's at one end of the family and I'm at the other.”

When my Dad was nine, said eldest brother lived close by with his family. A wife and their eldest son, two-year-old Brian.
Brian adored his much older uncle.
He toddled along after 'Unca Mark' whenever he could.
Usually a good thing.
Occasionally . . . not.
My Dad had the twice-daily chore of milking the cow.
Brian loved to go along.
Just because.
It was a fun, companionable time for the two boys.
All was well.
One day, Brian's mother sat him in a chair in the kitchen and prepared to give her small son a haircut.
She combed the unruly locks into submission.
"Ouch!" Brian  said.
"Sorry, dear, but you have some tangles."
"Ouch!" Brian said again. "Mo-om!"
"Almost through."
"Ouch!"
Brian glared at his mom. "If you do that again, I'm going to say 'Sunny Beach'!"
His mother stopped combing. "What?"
"I'm going to say 'Sunny Beach'."
"What?" she asked again.
"Suunnny Beeeach," he said slowly and patiently.
Light dawned an her mouth popped open in horror."You mean 'Son of a . . .'" She gripped his small shoulder. "Where did you hear that?!"
He stared at her, not understanding her panic.
She gave his shoulder a little shake. "Where did you hear that?!"
"That's what Unca Mark says when the cow kicks him!"
Two things resulted from that haircut.
1.  Brian actually did get his hair shortened.
2.  "Unca Mark' received a bistering lecture on language and its proper uses.
Oh! And . . .
3.  I just realized that, when it came to cursing and getting after . . . erm . . . someone (see here), my Dad didn't have a leg to stand on.

Monday, March 7, 2022

Smarter Phone

 We make a pair, my phone and me,

We get along (to a degree),

And when it does the things I want,

We sometimes even find detente!

 

But, sadly, I’m not tech adept,

And even when I think I’ve prepped,

I simply cannot get it to,

Perform the way I want. (Boo-hoo!)

 

And nothing makes me crazier.

I’d throw it in the brazier,

Except the darn thing cost a lot,

Let’s face it: I’ve no money pot.

 

And yet, I never leave it home,

I will turn back from where I’d roam,

To have it safely in my purse,

For emergencies…or worse.

 

And so we struggle on, we two,

At times, I’d make the air turn blue

If cursing was how I expressed,

My discontent or my distress.

 

In reading this, if you’re concerned,

Something significant I’ve learned,

(I think I’ve known it from the start…)

That only one of us is smart.

 

Sigh.

Photo Credit: Karen of bakinginatornado.com
Cause Mondays do get knocked a lot,
With poetry, we all besought
To try to make the week begin
With gentle thoughts,
Perhaps a grin?
So KarenCharlotteMimi, me
Have crafted poems for you to see.
And now you’ve read what we have wrought…
Did we help?
Or did we not?

Next week, if you will join with us,
We'll prove that we have GENIUS!

Thinking of joining us for Poetry Monday?
We'd love to welcome you!
Topics for the next few weeks (with a huge thank-you to Mimi, who comes up with so many of them!)...

Telephone (or Say Hello Day) (March 7) Today!

Genius Day (March 14) 
Celebrating Poetry (March 21) 
Respect Your Cat Day (March 28) (Richard II's 1384 edict forbidding eating them.)
Imperfection (April 4)

Pets (April 11)

Juggling (April 18)

Brothers (April 25)

Babies (May 2)

Music (May 9)

Purple for Peace (May 16)

Turtles (May 23)

Memorial Day (May 30)

Blessed by a Curse

Blessed by a Curse
My very first Medieval Romance!

God's Tree

God's Tree
For the Children

Third in the series

Third in the series
Deborah. Fugitive of Faith

The Long-Awaited Sequel to Daughter of Ishmael

The Long-Awaited Sequel to Daughter of Ishmael
A House Divided is now available at all fine bookstores and on Amazon.com and .ca!

Daughter of Ishmael

Daughter of Ishmael
Now available at Amazon.com and .ca and Chapters.ca and other fine bookstores.

Romance still wins!

Romance still wins!
First romance in a decade!

Hosts: Your Room's Ready

Hosts: Your Room's Ready
A fun romp through the world's most haunted hotel!

Hugs, Delivered.

Compass Book Ratings

Compass Book Ratings

Ghost of the Overlook

Ghost of the Overlook
Need a fright?

My Granddaughter is Carrying on the Legacy!

My Granddaughter is Carrying on the Legacy!
New Tween Novel!

Gnome for Christmas

Gnome for Christmas
The newest in my Christmas Series

SnowMan

SnowMan
A heart warming story of love and sacrifice.

Translate

My novel, Carving Angels

My novel, Carving Angels
Read it! You know you want to!

My Second Novel: Kris Kringle's Magic

My Second Novel: Kris Kringle's Magic
What could be better than a second Christmas story?!

Join me on Maven

Connect with me on Maven

Essence

Essence
A scientist and his son struggle to keep their earth-shattering discovery out of the wrong hands.

Essence: A Second Dose

Essence: A Second Dose
Captured and imprisoned, a scientist and his son use their amazing discovery to foil evil plans.

Looking for a Great Read?

E-Books by Diane Stringam Tolley
Available from Smashwords.com

The Babysitter

The Babysitter
A baby-kidnapping ring has its eye on J'Aime and her tiny niece.

Melissa

Melissa
Haunted by her past, Melissa must carve a future. Without Cain.

Devon

Devon
Following tragedy, Devon retreats to the solitude of the prairie. Until a girl is dropped in his lap.

Pearl, Why You Little...

Pearl, Why You Little...
Everyone should spend a little time with Pearl!

The Marketing Mentress

The Marketing Mentress
Building solid relationships with podcast and LinkedIn marketing

Coffee Row

Coffee Row
My Big Brother's Stories

Better Blogger Network

Semper Fidelis

Semper Fidelis
I've been given an award!!!

The Liebster Award

The Liebster Award
My good friend and Amazing Blogger, Marcia of Menopausal Mother awarded me . . .

Irresistibly Sweet Award

Irresistibly Sweet Award
Delores, my good friend from The Feathered Nest, has nominated me!

Sunshine Award!!!

Sunshine Award!!!
My good friend Red from Oz has nominated me!!!

My very own Humorous Blogger Award From Delores at The Feathered Nest!

Be Courageous!


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