Tuesday, October 31, 2006

"Happy" Hallowe'en?

Just curious. Why do we wish others a happy hallowe'en when the intent is to scare people silly? Unless of course we mean, "crazed" happiness, or deliriousness.

Anyway, I don't think it was on Hallowe'en but
I remember how we scared some of our cousins who were climbing up the ladder inside a grain elevator near our grandparent's house. My mom's parents lived in a little house in the village of Waldheim, SK. We would get together with all the relatives and visit with our cousins while our parents argued politics or cracked jokes as they sipped hot coffee and ate. The house was too small to fit all of us in at once, so as kids we'd find ourselves outside looking for entertainment. My grandparents happened to live on the same street as the grain elevators, so we had an instant playground by running up and down the elevator's approaches and hiding in the openings in and around the elevators. We couldn't go inside but there were ways to climb up the ladders that were placed in between walls. Our parents warned us about how dangerous it could be around these huge buildings, but this one time one of my cousins and I noticed that our other cousins were scaling one of the ladders. We were just starting to change our voices, so my cousin in as low a voice as he could make, yelled "Get down from there!" It worked! They began scampering down real fast. We took off before they could discover who had ordered them down, laughing all the way.
Here's a photo I took of an elevator's approach that reminded me of these times playing near the elevators at Grandpa and Grandma's. I found the sign on the door to be "cute".

Monday, October 30, 2006

Small town, Saskatchewan

Being raised in or near a small town is an experience that is different from the city. Everyone knows each other, everyone's business is their own, alliances form, dislikes can't be avoided. You see each other in the store, at the post office, and in church. The only way to avoid bumping into someone you know is to go to the nearest big city, only to find that other fellow-escapers are there, too, trying not to be noticed.
On the other hand, this sense of community means that people are looking out for you and will look after you in times of need. That to me was the most important advantage of living in a small, tight-knit community.
Here's a photo of small-town Saskatchewan. I took this photo of main street in Zenon Park in June 2003 and thought it represented many other small towns just like it, complete with a grain elevator in the background.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Intriguing sign on elevator

This sign on the side of the Birch Hills, SK elevator advertising a product for grain farmers caught my eye as I was taking pictures of the elevator. The artistry reminded me of the Soviet Union's art that they used to promote nationalistic pride in their workers, in particular. I'm not a trained artist so if someone knows what this type of art is called, I'd appreciate hearing from you.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

A description of how elevators work

I came across a web page that nicely describes how grain elevators function. If you're interested and to save you the leg- (or is it, finger-) work, here's the link:

Video of train passing by Mortlach, SK elevators

As I look around the internet for photos, etc., from Saskatchewan elevators, I'm amazed at how much there is. Someone even has a video on You Tube that shows a train passing by the elevators in Mortlach, SK.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Elevator photo collection online

I just discovered that someone already has collected many elevator photos, not just of Saskatchewan, but across western Canada. I've added 23 of our Saskatchewan grain elevator photos to the site. They are looking for more to add, so if you have any, upload them. No charge and some exposure. Have a look.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Memories of times past on the prairies

The wooden grain elevators that served farmers on the prairies are fast disappearing. Before they're all torn down a photo memory is all we can hope for. We have collected photos from 110 towns and villages and cities in Saskatchewan.
Memories are a wonderful thing, and hopefully these photos and the comments will trigger some for you, too.
What do the wooden grain elevators mean for you?
For me, I see a towering landmark that let's me know well before I arrive that I'm approaching a certain village or town. The flatness of the prairies makes it difficult to see what's ahead unless something stands out. Sometimes it's a water tower, or especially large groves of trees, but the constant "marker" has been the grain elevators with the name of the place printed on it in bold letters. As these elevators are being torn down and replaced with concrete monoliths, the landscape just isn't the same. This may sound nostalgic, but that's the way I see it. I know, a way of life is going, but at what price? Small centres are dwindling away, and farmers have to hire or purchase huge grain trucks to haul the grain to the nearest "inland grain terminal", as they're now called. The smaller communities are now forced to extend themselves out of their natural surroundings and, as a result, become isolated, having lost their common element--the grain elevator.
Taking photographs of these prairie icons is my attempt to keep history alive, to stave off the inevitable, to solidify our fading memories.
Are there others out there who feel the same? Your comments are welcome.