The bear stories!! I can’t imagine how scary it would have been to be the girl, and how funny it would have been to be Uncle Clarence. A couple of years ago in the fall we thought we saw something weird dart out of our yard. My girl offered to go over and look in the snow to see what tracks were there. As she had boots and I only had shoes I agreed. She grabbed Bear her dog and I stood on the driveway and watched them go across the yard. She stopped by the crabapple tree beside the cottage for a very long time and just stood there. Finally I yelled at her to keep moving and look at the damn tracks or come inside but I didn’t want to stand there all day. She looked, didn’t see much of anything and came back inside. Bear the dog stayed outside and barked at that crabapple tree for a good 45 minutes. Finally I went outside to tell him to shut up, and in that small moment where I distracted him, a huge cinnamon coloured bear dropped off the cottage roof, down the tree where the girl had been standing and took off out of the yard. There is never a dull moment out here!
Annie decided to take a business course in Calgary and do secretarial work in there. She continued to keep the big house as her country residence and as we were in a very small house, Clarence slept over there but otherwise lived with us.
One day, Percy’s brother George rode upon a fresh kill, the carcass of a yearling. George was used to the ways of the wild and he very carefully concealed a huge bear trap in a natural windfall of logs. He succeeded in trapping him and shooting the monster dead at first shot. He was a seven foot, seven hundred lb male grizzly.
Talking about bears, Percy nearly shot Clarence one thinking he was a bear. I had a girl working for me who had lived all her life on the prairies. She hated trees and got the creeps when she had to walk under one. Of course the boys delighted in spinning tall terrifying yarns to her and this evening she had waked down to visit a girl at Jack Copithorne’s. It was almost dark when she hurried home and Clarence and another boy put fur robes over themselves and hid under some brush about half way down the hill and jumped out behind her. Percy and I were sitting quietly in the kitchen when she hit the back door. If it had been more fragile she would have come right through the door. We were very concerned when we saw her white face and when she finally was able to speak we had our own doubts about it being a bear, but we hadn’t been told about the trick. Percy grabbed his shot gun and went out and shot it off in the air anyway, just to satisfy everyone. I guess those two boys never dusted up the hill so fast in all their life, expecting maybe another shot.
We finally dug a ditch to Annie’s house and got the water in in 1938. Just a cold tap in the kitchen and a slop bucket beside the sink for a year of so. Then we dug a septic tank east of the house and put in bathroom fixtures and hot and cold water. That lightened the work a lot but we were still very very crowded, especially at meal time. Finally the men had time to dismantle an old house in the area and build a lean to over the kitchen door where we put a big table and used it as a dining room, down three steps from the kitchen.
About then we got a battery set radio. It was wonderful to get the world news every day but becoming very disturbing to hear it. Then one day in the fall of 1939 the news that we were all dreading to hear, came over the air. We were at war! It really shook us, more than we ever expected it to. The happy care-free talk at mealtime was changed a lot. The whole outlook of our operation as a ranch changed…