The Big Sandy Mountaineer -

Sintaluta Continued from last week

 

September 15, 2021



When I return to Saskatchewan, I enjoy the peace and privacy of my backyard. Most houses in Sintaluta have large backyards with beautiful gardens. Mine is huge, with bushes and large trees surrounding it and a willow plop right in the middle. In nice weather, it’s wonderful to sit out there in the morning, having my breakfast in my PJ’s cocooned by nature. Friends who come to visit enjoy a picnic under my willow tree. It’s like having your own park. The dogs and I go for walks down my street and then down a rural lane. I am a block from farmland and usually see no more than one person on my walks. We are surrounded by undulating acres of superb farmland. There is not a season I don’t enjoy there. Friends question me living there, but I try to tell them that it is just right. I don’t want the city anymore; I have lived in cities.

When I first moved in, I lived next door to Eileen Willoughby. Shortly before I moved in, she had just lost her husband and confessed to finding the hardest hours after supper. So, we began our evening visits. I would take baking over, and she would take baking out of her fridge or cupboard, and we would share over a pot of tea. I told her of two sets of grandparents farming in the area in the 1800s and early 1900s., the Campbells and Gillespies. She would take out her huge area maps, big enough that we would spread them over her living room floor. We would pore over them, and she would figure out where different homesteads had been, including my grandparents’. Winter came, and I crunched through the dark and the snow some evenings for our “ tea party.” Eileen told me many stories of the area, as she had been raised there. We planned to tour around once the nice weather came. A year or two passed, and one of us was always busy or away. Finally, summer came when all fell into place, and we set off. (Me driving and Eileen directing me.) We saw where she had raised her children and where schools used to be. I heard stories about picnics, Girl Guide gatherings, and many stories about people who had lived there but were now gone, some with family still living. I saw where she was raised as a girl. It was a lovely house with a porch that someone with the land had bought. Sadly, the house was let go, and it pained her to see it empty and worn down. We went through the cemetery, and she told me about each person and what they had been to the community. This day was my window into the past of Sintaluta, with someone who had been there herself. It meant a lot to me, and I think Eileen enjoyed it too. Eileen is in a care home now and has memory problems, but I won’t forget our tour or how she made the past community come alive.

Besides facts, I think it’s important to remember these were people not that different from us of this day and age. I read two stories I thought I would share that bring the past’s humorous side to light. The first is called The Goggle Eyed Dog. reported in the Canadian Press. A farmer, Harold Wilson, was out on his tractor. The tractor hit a rock, and Harold was injured, unable to escape the circling tractor. His dog was the only help available. Harold attached his goggles onto the dog. Unlike most canines, the goggles were not rubbed off, but instead, his faithful companion barreled on home wearing the goggles!. Harold’s wife, seeing the dog, knew something was wrong. Harold was rescued and made a full recovery! Talk about man’s best friend!

I want to share the second incident was written by Frank Suffesick and included in the “big red book.” Jim Stewart was the station agent. He’d had the local boys molest his outhouse last Hallowe’en. Jim told the boys he was standing guard at his outhouse with his Winchester automatic loaded with rocks, and God help those attacking his outhouse~! Of course, this caused the boys to desire very much to “molest” the outhouse yet again. They persuaded Tommy Blenkin to distract Jim with word of a shipment gone missing. Once Jim disappeared to the station, the boys, in high spirits, raced towards the forbidden outhouse. What grief awaited them!! Jim had had extra water added to the sewage and had covered it with lathes, brown paper, and sawdust. The boys returned home stronger smelling than when they left, trying to explain to parents, and Jim had a big chuckle, holding onto his stomach in his glee!!!

Now you know a bit of my home away from home! Lots of similarities to Big Sandy and yet differences too!

 
 

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