Friday, April 2, 2010


Once again the time divides between work and play.

This is a four-family party: Henderson, Renauf, Allen, and Strachan at the Strachan's Sleepy Hollow farm. Judging from the shadows and the attire of the guests, these photos were taken about the same time. If we knew which way the house faced, we could guess the time of day, but my guess is that the photographer got busy after the midday meal and, since the women are present with aprons removed, after the dishes were done. There seems to have been a slight change in the angle of the porch foundation, a tilt that might suggest tipsiness except that I happen to know this was a passel of teetotallers, partly due to the sad fate of one of Beulah's brothers, who went off to the Phillippine war and came back a drunk. Today we'd probably talk post-traumatic stress syndrome. In the more tilted photo, my father is on the right hand end of the stairs with the two dogs. In the less tilted it is Glenn who's on the left side of the stairs. The women have clustered on the right side with May on the left hand end and Beulah, her mother, doing her best to hide because of her goiter. When building a porch railing, special care should be taken to make it sturdy, since there are always people who love to sit on top of it!

The album caption is "Our fields after clearing out the quack grass." Note that the potatoes are blooming. No mention of how it happened, but maybe this is when the Strachans made contact with the Kovar Kwackgrass puller, an ag machinery product from the US. They became the dealers. Kovar sent the components and the Strachans assembled and delivered them. This triggered a few years of prosperity for the family. This may have been a publicity photo.

This photo is an actual post card with writing on the back. The album caption says, "Uncle Thomas has a potato field near Wessington Springs, S. Dak." I suspect it is inserted here to compare with the Swan River photo.

The postcard is addressed to "Mr. S. S. Strachan, Minitonas, Manitoba, Canada." The stamp is 1 cent. Sender is at Wessington Springs, S.D. on October 1, 1923.

The message is: "How are you all. We are all well and have a new boy a little over a week old. Eugene is in the picture. Janet is a big girl now. Am raising spuds again. They are certified Ohios. Note the high pressure sprayer. The yield where the picture was taken was 40 -50 bu. Ivan & Max are helping harvest it most all the time. Write, Thomas."

So this is a birth announcement. Eugene, standing in the path of the team, was here in Valier at the time of 9/11. He was an airplane mechanic on New Guinea during WWII and was immediately ready to put on his uniform and defend America, though he was in his eighties. He was here to look at this very album and others for the compendium of genealogy he made for those of his relatives who were interested, including myself. In his eighties, he complained of backache which turned out to be stomach cancer. Now he's passed on. The new baby was Marvin.

Thomas was my grandfather Sam's youngest brother, the only one of the sibs to be born in the U.S. After decades of not finding his niche, he finally became an expert on prairie forbs and grasses and served as a county ag agent the rest of his life. His herbicide sprayer would replace the mechanical removal of weeds, which might have been the reason Kovar was looking for a market in Canada.

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