People still living can remember “Aunt Kate” resting in the old gossip-centre in the Co-op store.
“Aunt Kate” dressed like a man, talked like a man, and smoked a pipe like a man, thereby scandalizing some of the “well-brought-up” ladies of the community. But let’s put her into the background of her environment.
She was a rancher. She drove and rode horses like a ranch hand. How many working horses were “broke” to lady-like language? They didn’t “speak English” but they did respond to tone. It is hard to put the ring of authority and the fear of the lash into Ladies Aid language like “Please, my dear, do try to go faster” or “Do pull a little harder to get us out of this mud hole!”
No hands were more gentle when coaxing a flicker of life into a tiny premature baby. Nobody was more tender in caring for a wee mite too small or too weak to be carried, except on a pillow. Nobody could be more careful, stoking the fire night and day so that the wee occupant of a shoebox on the oven door could have exactly the right amount of extra heat like that now provided in a hospital “incubator”.
No veterinarian could more firmly suture a gash in a horse or a man. The lash of her tongue was the only anesthetic needed if the latter didn’t “hold still”. If all else failed she could sit upon him firmly and get on with the job!
Some women disapproved of her, some men were afraid of her, but many of both sexes and all ages admired and even loved her.