|Gramma and Grampa Stringam|
Beginning with Remembrance Day, going through Thanksgiving and into Christmas, the season of ‘family’ and ‘togetherness’ is upon us.
The best part of the year.
However, in 1912, ‘going to visit the family’ took on a whole new meaning.
Let me tell you about it . . .
My Gramma and Grampa Stringam, with their (then) three children, moved to southern Alberta in 1910, leaving their extended family behind them in Utah.
They settled in Glenwood and started to farm.
Outwardly, all was well.
Inwardly, one of them missed her mother.
Finally, after two years of pining and tears, the decision was made for an extended visit.
Gramma and her (by then) four children packed up and, kissing Grampa goodbye, boarded the train for Salt Lake.
The trip there was fairly uneventful, the highlight - seeing the sprinkler system in the Salt Lake depot.
But what came afterward . . . wasn’t.
Uneventful, that is.
Gramma and the kids climbed aboard another train for Salina and then the mail stagecoach from there over the mountain to Thurber and Teasdale.
A short hop by today’s automobile.
A considerably healthy prospect for the white-top mail buggy of the early 1900’s.
In the rain.
On one particularly steep pass, soaked through and tired, the team of horses gave out. Despite considerable encouragement, they refused to move one more step up the mountain, choosing, in typical balky-horse fashion, to back up instead.
They succeeded in backing the coach until they, quite literally, ran out of mountain. When the driver finally got them stopped, the vehicle’s wheels were hanging right out over the edge of the canyon.
Gramma and the kids were frantically extricated and gratefully took shelter under a large spruce, where they turned, as they had been taught, to prayer.
While they were thus engaged, the driver tried – unsuccessfully - to remedy the situation. The wagon remained hanging over the edge of the cliff.
A rather precarious position.
Meanwhile the little family under the tree had finished praying. And it was as that exact moment that a second white-topped buggy came up over the hill.
A buggy that was empty, save for the driver, a local real estate agent. Who, to the little family huddled under the tree, suddenly took on the aspect of a saviour.
The man stopped and surveyed the situation, then climbed down and, using a knife, cut the traces holding the horses to the buggy and led the animals to safety.
The mail man thanked him, threw his mail bags over one horse and mounted the other, and rode on over the mountain, abandoning his little group of paying passengers without a backward look.
On the side of a mountain. In the rain.
Don’t you hate days like that?
Fortunately, the real estate man was very kind and loaded Gramma and her kids into his buggy and delivered them safely to the nearest village.
The rest of the trip was fairly uneventful.
Let’s face it. After this experience, most events would pale by comparison.
Gramma and her brood got their visit.
And, for generations to come, a story to tell.