Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



Thursday, April 28, 2016

Already Been Chewed

Chris. Taste is everything . . .
1953 BD (Before Diane). 
My parents were travelling and had made a stop in a small town for lunch.
At a tiny hotel restaurant.
They perused (real word) the menu and made selections for themselves and their -then- three children.
They made their order.
And waited.
Suddenly, Mom noticed that my elder sister, Chris, age four or so was chewing happily on something.
She watched her, suspiciously, for a few moments.
Finally, "Chris, what are you chewing?"
My sister looked up at Mom and said, "Gum."
"Oh."
Mom thought about it for a moment.
"Wait a minute. You're chewing on gum?"
"Umm-hmm," Chris said, still chewing.
"I didn't give you any gum." Mom turned to Dad. "Did you give her some gum?"
He shook his head and pulled Jerry out of the sugar bowl. "Enough sugar, son."
"Well where on earth did she get gum?"
"Why don't you ask her?" Dad said. "Jerry, leave the salt and pepper alone."
Mom turned to Chris. "Honey, where did you get the gum?"
Chris slid the wad in her mouth to one side and said, "Here, Mom!"
She pointed . . . under . . . the table.
"There's lots more! You want some?"

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Well-Aged Specimen

Okay. This story is about urine specimens.

Ick.
Those who are faint of heart or easily queasy, stop now.
Stop.
I told you to stop.
You don't listen, do you?!
You asked for it  . . .
In today's world, when a doctor requires a urine specimen, he sends his patient to the 'lab'.
See. Handy and dandy.
Or supplies said patient with a handy, dandy little container.
Complete with antiseptic wipes.
This wasn't always the case. 
Let me tell you about it . . .
My parents had been shopping.
I should probably mention, here, that in the 50s, no one ever locked their cars.This is important.
Moving on . . .
Dad was helping Mom into the car.
A short distance away, a woman was also getting into her car.
A very obviously pregnant woman.
She opened the door. Then gasped and leaned against her car.
Dad hurried over. “Are you all right?”
Then he realized that she was laughing. Really laughing.
“Are you all right?” he asked again.
The woman straightened and wiped her eyes. Then she pointed at the car seat. “The . . . the bottle!” she gasped. Then went into another peal of laughter.
By this time, Mom had joined them.
She and Dad looked at each other and Dad shrugged.
Must be a pregnancy thing.
Finally, the woman calmed somewhat and again, wiped her eyes. She looked at my parents. “I'm on my way to my doctor,” she said.
Okay . . .
She looked back into her car and cleared her throat. “I was supposed to bring in a urine sample.” She pointed into her car. “I left it there.”
My parents glanced at the empty car seat.
The woman looked at them again. “The only empty bottle I could find was a whisky bottle,” she said.
Ah.“You left a urine sample in a whisky bottle on the front seat of your car?” 
Not a drink for the faint of heart.
Dad was catching on fast.
The woman nodded.
“And someone stole it?”
Again she nodded. “They must have.”
Dad started to laugh.
He ushered Mom back to their car and helped her in. Then he got into the car and sat back, still laughing.
“What's so funny?” Mom asked.
“Well, all I can think about is how the thief will discover his mistake!” Dad said. “What if it was some kids! Can't you see it? ”
“This is whisky? What on earth is all the fuss is about!”

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Organized and Fed

Mr. Organized
Dad was a veterinarian.
The only one for several counties.
Well . . . If you didn't count Dr. Brewster, the animal inspector at the Coutts border crossing.
Let me start again . . .
Dad was a veterinarian.
As well as a purebred Polled Hereford breeder.
And always had an office somewhere in our home.
There were the inevitable examination counters.
And a fridge holding such things as penicillin, bottles of 5-way or 8-way or black-leg or rabies vaccines.
And other stuff that I couldn't pronounce.
I should mention, here, that Dad knew what each bottle did.
Probably important for a veterinarian to know.
He also had several large filing cabinets standing about the room.
Full of . . . files.
Dad knew exactly where everything could be found in his office.
He was very organized.
One day, he was working on the registration forms for his new crop of calves.
A time-consuming task that only he could do.
I sauntered in.
Yes. Just like in the old west.
Sauntering on . . .
Daddy looked up from his desk.
“Diane, could you look in that file cabinet over there,” he pointed with his pen, “and get me the 'G' file?”
I turned to the indicated file and pulled open the appropriate drawer. “This one?”
“Yes. Just the 'G' file, please.”
I started to work my way through the alphabet.
There was a large space partway through. I jumped to that.
'J' as it turned out.
“Daddy, did you know that you have a large bag of ju-jubes in your filing cabinet?”
“Yes.”
“Filed under 'J'?”
He looked at me. “Where else would they go?”
Where indeed.
I continued my search.
Huh. Chips under 'C'.
Also chocolate.
I finally found the 'G' file and, pulling it out, handed it to my father.
But then I turned back to the cabinet.
Way too interested to stop now.
“Dad, you have Oreo cookies under 'O'.”
Dad looked up. “Is that where they are?!” he said. “I kept looking for them under 'C'.”
Yep. Filing cabinets and organization.
They go together.
Like files and snack time.
Who knew they could be so similar?

Monday, April 25, 2016

Twice the Fun

And into the next generation . . .
Husby is a book lover.
Always has been.
I am, too, but not to his extent.
I remember, in our lean student days, him walking in the door, happily carrying yet another treasured acquisition. I told him if he dared to bring one more book into the house, I was going to have to boil it for supper.
He just laughed. Completely unrepentant.
Moving forward . . .
We’ve raised readers.
All six of our children love it.
I thought it was because of the hours their father and I spent with this happy pastime.
And it might be.
But last night, I was reminded of something Husby used to say when the kids were small. Something I dubbed his First Rule of Acquisition.
Let me tell you about it . . .
I’ve never been a shopper. Traipsing up and down aisles, looking at ‘stuff’ never appealed.
I’d rather stay with the ‘old and familiar and comfortable’ then look for something ‘new and exciting’.
It’s just me.
But Husby loves to shop. And is gracious enough to haul all-and-sundry around with him.
Yep. Inevitably, when there was shopping to do, we went in a herd.
Mom. Dad.
Six kids. All of whom are very greedy acquisitive observant.
They would see brightly, attractively-packaged toys and immediately want them.
If we’d received a nickel for every time we heard, “Mom? Can I have . . .?” We’d never have had to pay for our shopping.
Ever.
And that’s when their father, genius he, would tell them, “You can choose one toy.”
Their faces would brighten.
“Or two books!”
The thought process reflected in those faces as they turned it over in their minds was almost comical.
And, surprisingly, much of the time, they went for the books.
I thought they were simply cannily maximizing their procurements. (Ooh! Good sentence!)
I didn’t realize that their father was actually training them for a life-long love.
But he was.
And, fortunately, he did.

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