Sunday, January 14, 2007


The Strachans seemed to love this place more than all the others in Swan River; at least there are more photographs and the people seem happier. Or maybe it’s just that the four children are growing up and that the quackgrass business is providing a little more income. The girls by the tree are May and Dolly Allen. People always seem to want to take photos of women standing in front of trees, as though they are dryads of some sort.

In winter the house is not quite so inviting. Is that a flagpole, a lightning rod, or a radio antenna? Perhaps it’s a power pole and they have electricity by this time.

Many, many of the photos of this place feature the porch. Some of the more moving photos are of the family relaxing in the last light after a day in the field. The men have white foreheads and the women look a little flushed from the hot stove.

On this particular occasion, there is a party. The three families present are Henderson (the friends from West Favelle who remained in touch right up until a few years ago when I had a Christmas card from Florence Henderson), Renouf (many French families up this way), and Allen. (Dolly Allen is one of May’s special friends.) The dog is an airedale. In some photos there is another dog, Waggles, a shepherd. This is the only place where dogs are included in the family photos. This photo is a little bit tipsy, but Strachan parties did not include alcohol.

At this point the family is still raising potatoes and onions, using their quackgrass pulling machine on their own fields. In other photos it is clear that Beulah’s goiter has begun to develop and she will be plagued with ill health for a while. Thyroid disorders were not understood to be due to iodine deficiency at that time, but she did evenually find someone who knew how to treat it without surgery.

This is the George Renouf home. They’ve been there long enough to plant trees and make a two-story addition to the house. These trees are not quite a windbreak since they’ve been pruned -- maybe meant more for shade.

Back at Sleepy Hollow, I hasten to point out that this is a staged fight over the “little brown jug.” It shows the pump, the woodpile and what I hope is the woodshed rather than the outhouse.

No comments: