You know, I used to complain bitterly about walking the kids to the school bus in the dark and the cold. AND we were living so much further south than here (RI and VA) that we didn’t even have the Alberta cold to deal with. But here’s Grandma and Grandpa walking down the hill to help their kids cross the creek with their horses. Grandma was so gutsy. I kind of knew that when I was younger, but the older I get and especially now reading the letters and her stories- there didn’t seem to be anything that she was afraid of. Or at least nothing that she let stop her. That’s true of all of them – just getting to school took courage.
By 1943 when Marshall was old enough to start school, the Clemons Hill School was moved over to a spot south of Harry Copithorne’s – west of Bateman’s. Marshall rode a very fine old character of a horse named “Buck”. Buck could run very fast, could jump quite well, and was especially skilled in looking after himself, which is a good characteristic in a horse. By now Sheila was riding a beautiful little pinto called “Paint”. I remember one morning when the water was running over the ice in the creek and Paint was just terrified to step into the water knowing there was slippery ice underneath. Percy and I were down trying to get Paint to lead the way. We chose a narrow spot between the bank and the island in the creek but Paint still balked. Buck was getting impatient with it all. Finally I caught a glimpse of Buck out of the corner of my eye and he was all hunched up to jump. I yelled to Marshall to hang on just as Buck jumped from the bank to the island. Poor Marshall, I’ll swear he flew away up in the air as far as the reins would let him but seconds later he landed back in the saddle and led the way for Paint to follow across the creek. He and Buck had many escapades that first year at school.
One day when out robbing crows nests he was galloping across a muskeg and Buck stumbled and threw Marshall off onto a broken sliver of a willow. It cut such a gash over his eye and bled so much, the teacher sent someone up to Harry’s to phone me to come and get him right away. It was too muddy for me to get there by car. The men weren’t home. The only saddle horse available was one Chick Coolen had asked Clarence to break for him. It was in the barn and fortunately Clarence had given it a long ride the day before. I was very worried about being unable to ride it, but it didn’t buck when I saddled it and once I was on it I didn’t give it time to think about anything but go. Percy and Clarence came home shortly after and were very worried when they heard what I was riding. Marshall and I were heading home when we met them in a field, driving the Jeep truck. They sneaked up on my horse, grabbing it and ordered me off in no uncertain terms. Poor Marshall got little attention. We decided to doctor it ourselves, as this was the second time he had a wound like this and near the same spot. The other time he was trying to keep up to his dad walking across a corral that had been full of cattle and muddy the day before. The cattle tracks were frozen that cold morning and Marshall had both hands in his pockets and couldn’t save himself. We took him to a doctor and got several stitches in it. This time we teased him and said the doctor would likely only put a zipper in it. But it did leave a scar.