The Bookseller

Here’s my response to Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt. According to Lexico, a bibliopole is a bookesller, a dealer in rare or used books, and we did have one a few towns away. If you’re interested, read the Fact at the end.

Still there

BIBLIOPOLE

Still there, they say. Rows of shelves full floor to ceiling; more books stacked in the aisles of his store. Next of kin don’t want them. Bibliopole Ralph Crawford has passed on – but he couldn’t take them with him.

Fact:
A rather eccentric older man with poor eyesight and thick-lens glasses, Ralph Crawford was a seller of old and rare books. He moved to a small town in this area from the Maritimes and became a local “character.” He bought an old bank building in Perdue, SK, to be his bookstore, with offices upstairs where he could live, then brought his stock in several semi-trailer loads, set up shelves, and established his store.
Ralph’s store smelled musty and looked somewhat like the illustration above, but he knew his stock and could find subjects and authors for you. He did a lot of mail-order business, I’m told. He lived here maybe fifteen years? I heard Ralph passed away a couple of years ago. His relatives all live on the East coast — so now what does the town do with all those musty old books? Last I heard the question remains unanswered and the books are still there, waiting for someone to air them out and read them.

Big Cake for a Big Man!

FlyLady Marla C has focused on dealing with paper clutter as her “Habit” this month, so I’ve been going through old files. This news clipping was among Mom’s paper stash and I incorporated it with mine when we moved her. It’s an article with a photo of the mammoth cake given to P Burns for his 75th BD.

At 7-ft high, the base 8-ft square, this is one hefty birthday cake!

Rancher, businessman and politician, Burns was born in 1856 to Irish immigrants near Oshawa, Upper Canada — now the province of Ontario. He settled in Manitoba, farmed and started buying beef cattle. Later he moved to Calgary where, in 1890, he built his first slaughterhouse and began supplying beef to the city and surrounding area, also to the miners during the Yukon gold rush days. His business became the well known Burns Meat Company.

In 1901 Burns married Eileen Louisa Francis Anna Ellis, the daughter of a Penticton, BC, rancher. Sadly, the couple had a stormy marriage that ended in separation. Their only son, Patrick Thomas Michael, wasn’t robust in health and was found dead in his bed at the age of thirty, an apparent heart attack.

Called Alberta’s “Cattle King,” Burns was one of the “Big Four” ranchers who founded the Calgary Stampede in 1912. He was a special guest at the Stampede on July 6, 1931, and his 75th birthday party was celebrated with this seven-layer cake weighing 3,000 pounds (1587 kg). The banquet was attended by various VIPs: AB Premier Brownlee; the Lt. Governor of MB, and Prime Minister R B Bennett. The cake was cut into 23,000 pieces and given to residents of Calgary.

When Patrick Burns died, the Alberta government had a real windfall, as the taxes on his estate were enough to eliminate the provincial deficit and balance the province’s budget!

In life Burns was a generous man and in his will he left bequests to the Lacombe Home, the Salvation Army, the local Children’s Shelter, widows and orphans of men in the city’s police force and fire department, the Roman Catholic bishop of Calgary, the Collège Saint-François-Xavier in Edmonton, the Navy League of Canada, the Canadian Red Cross Society, the Junior Red Cross, the British Empire Service League, the Canadian Legion’s tuberculosis section, the 103rd Regiment (Calgary Highlanders), the Boy Scouts Association in Alberta, and the Southern Alberta Pioneers’ and Old Timers’ Association.

Exercise One: The English Bride

This week my husband signed up to do the Your Novel Blueprint course from Jerry Jenkins. Because we’re both writers – and because it costs an arm and a leg – I’m doing the course along with him, sort of. Listening to the instruction videos, as least. The first few are more motivational: carving out the time to write, finding your goal(s), the real reason(s) why you write, committing yourself for the long haul.

In one exercise we were to imagine someone – I’ll call him Joe – getting off a bus. Who is Joe anyway? Where’s he coming from? Is this his final destination? Is he going to visit someone, or some place? Is he running away from something, or someone? Is someone meeting him here? Who is the most important person in Joe’s life, and why isn’t that person with him? As he looks around, what expression is Joe wearing? Many questions for us to answer, constructing a scene. Then the story: what trouble will Joe have to face now? How will he react, or deal with the trouble?

I really enjoyed this exercise, and soon had a tale-in-the-making…

The English Bride

As the train pulled into town, Annie’s eyes swept up and down the single street. Howard had warned her that Fox Bluff was a small place, but could anyone actually call this a town? It wasn’t a quarter the size of her English village, and they’d all thought that was tiny.

Bone-weary after four days and nights of trundling across this vast country, Annie was ready to throw herself down and kiss the solid earth. She stepped off the train ready for a hot bath and a good meal. She was anxious to go home – their home! – and begin their new life together. For the last hour she’d held his picture in her hand, trying to recall every detail about this handsome soldier she’d been married to for three weeks.

But where was he? She’d expected he’d be here on the platform, anxious to see her again.

Annie walked up and down the platform to get her bearings, waiting for Howard. A few minutes later she grabbed her two suitcases, now sitting beside the train baggage car, and entered the depot. She approached the wicket and spoke to the agent. “Excuse me, sir. I’m Mrs Howard Hendry. I was expecting him to meet me here. Has he been?”

He gave her a puzzled look. “Has he been what?” Then the light dawned. “Oh, you must be Howard’s English woman.”

Annie bristled. “I’m Howard’s wife. He was to meet me here.”

His eyebrows rose. “Well, Mrs Hendry, you may have a little wait, unless you want to walk out there. It’s haying time, you see, and the men don’t take time off for just anything.”

“For just any…” Annie closed her mouth. Least said soonest mended. She looked down at her two heavy suitcases. She was not about to set out walking across this dusty country carrying those. “Is there a tea room here in town where I can wait? I’m sure he’ll be here soon.”

“Tea room! This isn’t England, lady.” His tone softened. “There’s a few tables down at the hotel and you could probably get a cup of tea. Mabel may even have a bit of baking on hand, if you’re hungry.”

At this point in my tale Annie’s trouble is still small-ish. Howard could still show up any minute. So I’ll send her another big problem…

Annie spotted a fly-specked mirror and decided she’d better tuck in straggles of hair before heading for the hotel. She was straightening her hat when two women rushed into the station. Probably mother and daughter. Possibly her new neighbours? Annie would have greeted them but they never glanced her way.

“Millie here needs a ticket to Donahue,” the older woman said. “She’s off to teach school. Frank’s putting her luggage on the platform.”

“Teaching school, eh? Well, good for you, Millie.” The agent wrote out the ticket. “Here you are. One ticket to Donahue for the new schoolmarm. Hope you like your new job and don’t get too many rowdies to wrestle down.”

Her mother paid for the ticket and handed it to Millie. “It’ll be better than sitting at home pining over that lost beau. He’s not worth it.”

“Oh, mother! I wasn’t pining.”

“Yes, you were! And when I see Howard again, I’m going to give him a piece of my mind, that’s for sure. We all knew he’d pop the question after he got home…and then that English floozy got her clutches in him.”

Annie froze. Her Howard? Surely not.

The mother turned to the station agent again. “I’ve heard say those English girls just hung around our army base bold as brass, begging our boys to marry them so they could get away from all that war mess. Can you imagine?”

The agent waggled his bushy brows and swung his gaze meaningfully toward Annie. “Now, Selma, best not believe everything that’s said. You know how some folks exaggerate.”

Millie sighed. “He probably forgot all about me once he got over there with those stylish English girls with their peaches & cream complexion and all. I hope you’ll snub her good and proper when she gets here, Mom.”

“I’m sure every woman in town will snub her good and proper. They all know you and Howard Hendry had an understanding.”

The agent cleared his voice in a gravelly sort of warning that finally caught the older woman’s attention. Annie saw him arch his brows and shoot a meaningful look in her direction.

Selma spun around. “You! You’re the one that stole our Howard.”

Annie flushed. She summoned all her courage for a response. “Yes, I’m the ‘English floozy’ Howard married. And no, we certainly did not hang around the base and beg the Canadians to marry us. I was working in a shop the soldiers came into now and then. Howard and I fell in love. That’s all.”

“Oh, for sure,” Selma retorted. “Why, you’re not half as pretty as our Millie here. I can’t believe he’d take you in her place without a little…coercion.”

Annie’s eyes stung. Millie was a pretty girl; she could see that. She knew she’d be called “plain” by comparison. Still… Her temper rose. “Howard married me because he loves me,” she said firmly. “Besides, so many men were killed in the war. You had no idea if he’d even come back to marry your daughter.”

The station agent intervened before any more could be said. “Selma, if Millie wants to get on that train before it pulls out, she’d better hustle along.”

Her mother took Millie’s arm and guided her toward the door, adding a loud comment in parting. “Well , Millie, you can be thankful for one thing: you won’t have Eloise Hendry as your mother-in-law.”

More of Montréal

I’m having fun recalling things about Montréal. Hope you these linguistic trials give you a smile.

French 1 newbie
Je suis née…
not je suis nue!

La rivière march?
Well my dictionary says
marcher means to run

Centre d’achats
sounds like sang de chat.
My tutor shrieks

Sound bites…
“Did you hate your supper?”
“No, I liked it!”

Notes for non-francophones:
Né (M) née (F) means born; nu (M) and nue (F) means nude.

Marcher means to walk like a person walks, or to run like a machine/car would run. La rivière coule, meaning flows. (Better as la rivière s’écoule.) Le camion (truck) s’écoule would get you a chuckle, too, I think.

Centre d’achats is a shopping center; sang de chat means cat’s blood. Yes, my tutor did shriek a bit over that one. 🙂

Francophones have trouble getting the right vowels, too, at times, plus they tend to tack on an “h” now and then. The hair is cool this evening. I hate pizza for supper. Did you hate some, too? Or leave it off, like Cockneys. ‘ave you seen ‘im today?

Dictionaries can bring such chaos. I corrected a French-to-English translator who used remove the apple heart, meaning core, because in the dictionary celery had a heart, so the apple must, too. Our word “fit” can mean like a garment fits, but also someone had a seizure. That has brought some intriguing translation woes.

Memories of Montréal

For some reason this morning I started to think about the four years we lived in Montréal, riding the subway, visiting the Old Port, the street musicians. Here are a few memories…

Old Port buskers
captivating Andes flutes
drummer a beat behind

stilt man
steps up his McGill tuition
future architect

subway guitar player
revs up as we pass
notes in his case

“just a dollar madam
milk for my little girl”
here’s hoping

dusty old derelict
his haunting “Oh Danny Boy”
pulls out tears and toonies

shivering beggar
on a downtown street
I donate my lunch

Latino singer
my silly feet start dancing
“ba ba bamba”

Image: efes — Pixabay

Hot & Hazy Haiku

Here on the Canadian prairies the weather is a favorite conversation-opener. As one book character puts it, “There’s so much of it about.” And our beloved Saskatchewan is the driest province in Canada — overall and especially some years.

It’s not the coldest part of the country, obviously; the far north holds that honor. Still, a week of -40 C/F at the end of December is the norm. My husband recalls back in the 50s seeing the temp dip to -50 F in south-central SK. According to one book of SK trivia, our provincial record is -56.7 C — that’s -70 F — at Prince Albert in 1893.

Our summer so far has consisted of a few really warm days and a lot of moderate one, for which we’re very thankful when we read about heat waves elsewhere. We’ve had more rain this summer than in the past couple of summers, which means the crops are looking great.

And now a couple of weather-ish haiku verses I hope you’ll enjoy:

Image by M Ameen — Pixabay
gray dawn
all the way to the sun
trying...trying

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

sizzling day
some kid has to try
asphalt eggs
Image by Richard Eisenmenger — Pixabay