Monday, July 23, 2012


THIS IS A BACKYARD STORY ABOUT TWO BROTHERS.  Mark was born in 1941 and Paul was born in 1944.  (I was born in 1939, so I was the "big sister.")  These photos were taken in 1949 - 1950 by our father, Bruce Strachan.

We were a bookish sort of family with a Scots heritage.  This book is about Hopalong Cassidy.  In those post-war years when no one wanted to think about war anymore, but couldn't really stop obsessing, we displaced the action to cowboys.  Actually, these two boys were more into Red Ryder.  Since Paul had bright red hair, he had to be Red Ryder.  So Mark was Little Beaver which he pronounced "'Ittle Beaver."   No one thought it was unusual that Red Rider's sidekick would be a young boy.

Our "Aunt Beck" sent the boys these cowboy outfits.  She spent WWII as an army nurse in Oxford and Rheims, so she was a bit more worldly than some.  The cap postols were the most important parts of the outfits.  It's unknown where Red Ryder's chaps went.

In those days "grab some air" meant swinging as high as it would go and there were no electric clothes dryers.  Yard life was a little tamer in those days, but it was okay if you didn't mind sharing with your shirts.

But sometimes hostilities broke out even between brothers and a small war developed.

Our father said,  "Well, I have a solution for that!" and bought two pairs of boxing gloves.  They needed a lot of practice but taking wild swings used up a lot of energy at bedtime and didn't hurt anyone very much.  Actually, not even my father knew much about boxing.  It just seemed manly.

As time went on, they got used to the gloves, but never really thought of having boxing outfits the way they had had cowboy outfits.

The truly dangerous thing they did was hunting lions.  Dandelions, that is, using the newly invented 2 4-D.  This was also my father's idea.  He grew up on the prairie where war on weeds was the name of the game.  No one knew what 2 4-D could do to a growing boy.  We still don't.

When my father's mother came around, there was no talk of war.  She was against all strife, all disorder, all rebellion, but she was not a church goer.  She admonished these boys not to say "gee" or "golly" because those were short for "God" and therefore the same as swearing.  But I never heard her pray or quote the Bible.  She was pretty much a Prairie Humanist who believed in cooperation and progress.  What we sang was old familiar ballads, like Loch Lomond.

What boys really like is to have a secret life.  No tree in the yard was tall enough to have a proper treehouse, so the brothers improvised.  No one could see them there.

But the war, the war, always haunted them.  Both became US Marines.  Paul was a marksmanship instructor.  Mark played a lot of chess on a troop carrier.  Neither was in combat.

Oh, you take the high road and I'll take the low road, and I'll be in Scotland before ye!

Mark married but had no children.  Paul did not marry but had a daughter.  And now the daughter has had two sons, Tristan and Griffin.   What roads will they take?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Heh, very nice...

What a sweet post.