hideki-tojoUnderestimating…it can be inconvenient, sad, or devastating…but, it’s always a mistake. On September 24, 1941, the United States was right in the middle of underestimating Japan. Relations between the United States and Japan were deteriorating. Japan had occupied Indo-China and was now implicitly menacing the Philippines, a country the United States was protecting. The American reaction was to seize all Japanese assets in the United States and closed the Panama Canal to any Japanese shipping. Then in September of 1941, Roosevelt issued a statement, which had been drafted by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, that threatened war between the United States and Japan should the Japanese make any further movement in territories in Southeast Asia or the South Pacific.

The Japanese had dominated Japanese foreign affairs for a long time…probably the biggest problem. The US Secretary of State, and Japan’s counterpart were trying to Attack_on_Pearl_Harbor_Japanese_planes_viewease tensions between the two countries, but Hideki Tojo, the minister of war, later to become the prime minister, had not intentions of leaving the territories Japan had captured. He viewed the Americans as a “threat” to his plan, and considered their attempts an ultimatum. So began his plans to strike the first blow in a Japanese-American confrontation…the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

On this day, September 24, 1941, Japanese consul in Hawaii, Nagai Kita was instructed to divide Pearl Harbor into five zones. He was also told to determine the number of warships moored in each zone and report back to Japan. The Japanese did not know that the Americans had intercepted the message. The problem was that it had to be sent back to Washington DC for decrypting. At that time in history, flights from Pearl Harbor 2Hawaii to the mainland were infrequent. Remember that we didn’t have jumbo jets then. Most people traveled by ship, and so did the mail. The coded message was sent by sea, and finally reached the capital, but with staffing shortages, the decrypting was delayed until mid-October. It looked like a discarded plan the Japanese had, and since nothing had happened at Pearl Harbor, apparently the Japanese must have determined that it would not work. It was presumed to be an old message that held no possible importance after so long a time had passed. On December 7, 1941, the Americans would realize just how wrong they had been. With the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the importance of the message and the plan would be revealed.

scan0116scan0057Yesterday, while coming home from a routine trip to see my sister-in-law, Brenda’s doctor in Fort Collins, Colorado, she received a phone call from her cousin, Sheila Cole. We don’t hear from her often, so we were immediately on high alert, and rightfully so. The news was bad…her mother, who is my mother-in-law’s younger sister, Linda Cole had passed away of a heart attack. Linda was the middle of three girls in their family. We were stunned. She was only 68 years old.

The phone call instantly transported my thoughts back about 35 to 40 years, when Bob and I took our girls over to the dinky little town of Kennebec, South Dakota every year to visit their great aunt and uncle, and their cousins. We always had a great time when we went. It wasn’t that we did so very much, while we were there, but we talked and laughed, and just enjoyed each other’s company. When they moved to Winnemucca, Nevada, those visits became fewer and further between, and over the last ten years, we really hadn’t been down there at all. Looking back now, I have to wonder if we would have made the trip, had we known the future. I guess we all have those thoughts when someone passes away. All of the woulda, coulda, shoulda thoughts come to our minds with regret, as we contemplate the loss of that loved one. We felt the same way after her husband, Bobby Cole passed away in May of 2014, but just thought there would be enough time for it later, or hoped that she would make the trip up here for a visit. Whatever the case may be, the time for all that had passed now, and we were simply left with our feelings of shocked disbelief, and a lot of phone calls to make.

Still, my thoughts have persisted. I remembered all the years that Linda and Bobby had spent as part of a square dance club. They made the elaborate costumes that square dancers had always worn, and looked forward to each event. While square dancing was never my thing, I could always see that they totally delighted in it. Later, when they moved to Winnemucca, they both worked in a casino, and could often be found doing a little gambling after work before heading back home. I suppose a lot of people would have wondered if they scan0086scan0105-2ever got in trouble for not coming directly home, but I can say that they didn’t, because they were there together. I guess that was always the most important thing…being together. That’s what marriage is all about. I know that the two years since Bobby’s passing have been lonely ones for Linda. Even though her children, Sheila and Pat talked to her often, it simply isn’t the same as being with your life long soul mate. Now, they are together again, and while our hearts are heavy, I know they are having the time of their lives. Rest in peace Linda. We love you, and miss you already.

Sawdon-web-bannerPeople’s lives change at least a little bit every day, but not every birthday brings the kind of changes that this one brought for my nephew, Jason Sawdon. Of course the changes didn’t happen on his birthday either, but it’s a big change nevertheless. You see, the last birthday Jason had, he was not a daddy. This year is totally different, and he hasn’t been a daddy for very long either. That amazing, exciting day happened on August 25, 2016…less than a month ago. He and my niece, Jessi are still trying to wrap their minds around parenthood. Not being parents, as in how to do so, but being parents, as in she’s really here. It’s really true. And they are having just the best time being daddy and mommy.

Jason and JessiJason has been a Wyoming Highway Patrolman for some time now, and he is very good at his job…even becoming Trooper of the Year for 2015. Jason is a great trooper, but for him, nothing compares to how good he feels about being a husband and daddy. Like most daddies…especially daddies of daughters, I have a feeling that Jason is already living his life wrapped around his daughter, Adelaide’s baby finger. The funny thing about these daddies…they don’t really care if that’s where they live. They love that little girl so much.

img_5013I have always loved that person Jason is. He has a great smile, and he loves his girls…Jessi, Adelaide, and their boxer dog, Daisy. Jason is currently surrounded by women, and I don’t think he minds that one bit. In fact, I think Jason is loving have his girls around him. He is the kind of guy who knows how to make his girls feel special. I particularly recall a cake sale, when he wouldn’t let Jessi’s cake be sold for less than $100.00. That would just never do. Of course, Jessi is a great cook, but Jason wanted everyone to know the value of his wife’s cake. If he could have done priceless, I think he would have. That’s what he thinks of all his girls. It’s all a part of who Jason is. He is very thankful for all the blessings he has received, and he thinks his whole life is pretty priceless.

b-29_superfortress__fullSince my dad was in the Army Air Forces in World War II, the B-17 is a plane that I have researched, watched documentaries and movies about, and toured. The B-17 was called the Flying Fortress, and my dad always said that it was a very safe plane. Nevertheless, as much as I love the B-17 Bomber, there are other war planes that were also stars of World War II. Sometimes, I think that I forget about all those others planes.

One of those planes, the B-29 Superfortress actually made its debut flight in Seattle Washington on this day, September 21, 1942. The B-29 was the largest bomber used in World War II, by any nation. The B-29 was the brain child of General Hap Arnold, back in 1939. Arnold worried that a German victory in Europe would mean the United States would have no bases on the eastern side of the Atlantic from which to counterattack. They needed a plane that could travel faster, farther, and higher than anything that was available then. Taking on the challenge, Boeing set out to create such a plane.

The plane they came up with was amazing. It could carry loads that were nearly its own weight and at altitudes history_b_29_raid_against_japan_speech_sf_still_624x352of 30,000 to 40,000 feet. The plane boasted a pilot console in the rear of the plane, capable of running the plane in the event the front pilot was knocked out of commission. It also had the first radar bombing system of any US bomber. While the Superfortress first took flight on September 21, 1942, it would not make its bombing debut until June 5, 1944, in a battle against Bangkok, as the Allies prepared to liberate Burma from the hands of the Japanese. Then a little over a week later, it was used against mainland Japan on June 14, when 60 B-29s based in Chengtu, China were used to bomb an iron and steel works factory on Honshu Island. It wasn’t exactly a successful mission, but it did boost the morale of the Americans.

The United States recaptured the Marianas Islands in the South Pacific, because they were the perfect location for air bases for the new B-29s to strike mainland Japan on a consistent basis. When the bases were up and b-29-bomb-runrunning, they were used to coordinate a series of bombing raids against Tokyo. While the B-29s were capable of precision bombing at high altitudes, they began dropping incendiary devices from a mere 5,000 feet, firebombing the Japanese capital attempting to break the will of the Axis power. One raid, in March 1945, killed more than 80,000 people. But for the Superfortress, the most famous use would happen in August. It was the only plane capable of delivering a 10,000 pound bomb…the atomic bomb. The Enola Gay took off on August 6th and the Bock’s Car took off on August 9th both from the Marianas, and flew into history. Of course, we all hope that such a bomb run would never be necessary again, but if it had been, it was good to know it was available.

img_4981img_5007Kids grow up so quickly, and it often seems like the ones who have an older sibling grow up faster. Such is the case with my grand niece, Hattie Joy Parmely. Hattie is turning two years old today, but with the help of her sister, Reagan Parmely, she just seems older than two. When I think of a two year old, I think of a child who is trying to learn to pedal a tricycle, but instead, Hattie rides a Strider. Now for those of you who don’t know, that is a bicycle with no pedals. Instead of pedaling, the rider uses their feet to basically run the bicycle down the road. I realize that this method is not like riding a bicycle exactly, but it does take a degree of coordination, and Hattie has mastered it very well.

Lots of kids like to climb, but I’m not sure I have seen too many that can climb a stack of hay bails. Granted, once again, Hattie had the help of her big sister, Reagan, and in the end just a little push from her mommy, Ashley Parmely. Reagan didn’t initially realize that Hattie needed help, but Hattie let her know…in no uncertain terms, saying, “Reagie, help me!! Help me Reagie!!” And of course, Reagan did help her. Very soon Hattie was up on that bale of hay, right beside her big sister, because, while she is only two, that does not mean she can’t do the things her big sister does…just watch her, if you don’t believe it.

Hattie and her family live in the country, and they have lots of animals to take care of. Hattie and Reagan aren’t one bit scared of the animals, and in fact I think they think of them more as their babies. So while most little girls are playing with dolls, these girls are playing with goats, chickens, and horses. They help to care for img_4977img_4976them, and get to ride the horses, and eventually they will learn the ropes even more, although, cleaning up after them might not be the thrill of their days. Still, as the saying goes, “It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it.” And as kids get older, they learn all the ropes of having animals.

Hattie looks so much like her daddy, Eric Parmely, and we all thought her sister Reagan did too, but as Reagan has grown, she has started to look more like her mommy. I suppose that time will tell, as to whether or not Hattie will start to take on more of her mommy’s features. We will just have to wait and see what the future brings. Today is Hattie’s 2nd birthday. Happy birthday Hattie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

h__nelson_jackson_vermont_physicianI think that most of us have engaged in a wager or two…probably more in fact. For most of us gambling brings little or no gain, and instead, usually loss. That is what it would bring for Horatio Nelson Jackson, as he, to his own folly, accepted a $50.00 bar bet, back in 1903. At that time, there were roads for the cars that were coming out, but they were…well, rough, and that’s an understatement. Unpaved dirt roads are notoriously dusty, rutted, and muddy in the rain. Most people, at that time, considered the automobile a passing novelty, too unreliable to survive a trip across America, but Jackson argued that they were wrong. As often happens in these barroom discussions, someone called Jackson out on his theory. He bet Jackson that he could not drive a car from San Francisco, California to New York City, New York in 90 days. Jackson accepted the challenge.

Jackson asked Sewall Crocker to accompany him on the trip. Crocker was a 22 year old former bicycle racer and a gasoline engine mechanic. Jackson was a doctor who had given up his medical practice after a bout of tuberculosis. At this point, he was looking for adventure. Crocker suggested that the former physician purchase a used 20 horsepower Winton touring car for the treacherous journey, so Jackson did, and named it the “Vermont.” Then on May 23, 1903, the two men hopped in and headed east. They had packed sleeping bags, food, and other camping supplies. Previous cross country trips had all ended in failure, and it was likely that this one would suffer a similar fate, but this was to be the first successful cross country road trip.

Horatio Jackson had little driving experience, and no mechanical knowledge, but he had his wife’s inherited fortune, and apparently that was burning a hole in he pockets. The roads he was to be on had no road signs, 1903_winton_touring_carthere was no GPS, and more importantly, there were no gas stations…plus the fact that automobiles were prone to breakdowns. The Vermont was no different, the first pit stop was just 15 miles into the trip when they blew a tire. There would be many others. Nevertheless, Jackson would win his bar bet and the $50.00 when he rolled into New York City. The mud caked Vermont, crawled down Manhattan’s deserted Fifth Avenue at 4:30 am on Sunday, July 26. The approximately 4,500 mile journey had taken 63 days, 12 hours and 30 minutes, amazing considering all the problems. So what then was the road trip folly? Just this…Jackson had won his wager with nearly a month to spare, but it cost him $8,000 in the process. I guess he could always say he made the trip.

Spencer FamilyWhen we think of Blended Families, we think of two people who have both been divorced, who have children, that marry each other, and become a blended family. That is one type of blended family for sure, just like the old movie, “Yours, Mine, and Ours.” But in reality, every family is a blended family. I suppose people, who have never been divorced, would argue that point with me, but it is true nevertheless. If you think about it there is no other way to have families, except blending.

In my family, starting with my four sisters and me, we all started out as Spencer girls, but we did not carry that name into adulthood. We now have the names Masterson, Schulenberg, Reed, Stevens, and Hadlock. We also have Beach, Harman, Balcerzak, Davidson, Cossabone, Chase, Renville, Reynolds, Thompson, Spethman, Petersen, Royce, Spicer, Franco-Arizola, Smiley, Sawdon, Carroll, and Moore, and that is just on my side of my family, and just so far. On Bob’s side, the Schulenberg kids have added, Cook, Spencer, Parmely, Franklin, Petersen, Royce, Moore, Griffith, Wages, Eighmy, Birky, and Iverson. If that isn’t family blending…well, I don’t know what is. I just don’t think that type of blending is what people had in mind when they talk about blended families, but this type of family blending takes place far more often that the other type. It happens with every marriage.

scan0081Bob and I have laughed about the fact that after years of being married, we now find out that we are distant cousins, but when you think about it, with all of the blending going on in this world, what is the likelihood that we would never marry a distant cousin. Pretty slim I’d say. In fact, I think that if I looked back in the ancestry of any random couple, I would find a cousinship somewhere back there. Of course, I wouldn’t even have to look very far, because the whole thing started with Adam and Eve, so since we are all related back there, is just stands to reason that the connections on the way back to Adam and Eve would also have connections. So, the next time you think about a blended family, you might think of your own family blending.

George Washingtonthomas-jeffersonOver the years, my family and I have spent many vacations and weekend trips, especially the 4th of July, in the Black Hills of South Dakota. We love the area, and it’s close enough to home to get there even for a three day weekend. Bob and I mostly love to hike the many trails there, as opposed to the tourist attractions, since we have been there many times. Nevertheless, there are a few places that we usually go and things we usually do, like the 1880 Train, Keystone, and of course, Mount Rushmore. Being patriots, Bob and I are very much impressed by the carvings on Mount Rushmore. I think most people know that four United States Presidents, who were instrumental in making this country great, are carved in the granite face of the mountain. If you go there, you will see, President George Washington, President Thomas Jefferson, President Theodore Roosevelt, and President Abraham Lincoln, looking out across the land, making a majestic tribute to these men and to our nation as a whole. These four presidents were chosen because they represent the first 130 years of American history well. These presidents were selected by Borglum because of their role in preserving the Republic and expanding its territory. I can’t go there, or even drive by the monument, without feeling a deep sense of pride Mount Rushmoreand awe. It’s almost like you can feel history when you are there.

On March 5, 1925, the Governor of South Dakota, Carl Gunderson signed the Mount Harney bill, which would allow the carving of a monument in Custer State Park. The mountain was chosen as the sight for the carvings by Gutzon Borglum, the artist in charge of the project, and really the visionary of what it would become. It was dedicated on October 1, 1925, as the sight for the carving that South Dakota state historian Doane Robinson first dreamed of seeing in the Black Hills, back in 1923. On October 7, 1927, the actual carving began. The project took 14 years and 400 men to complete the carving of the mountain. The conditions were harsh and dangerous, yet no one died during the project. Over 90% of Mount Rushmore was carved using dynamite. That is probably one of the facts about Rushmore that most people find most intriguing. The blasts removed approximately 450,000 tons of rock. If you walk on the President’s Trail, you can still see the drill marks used for the dynamite. The fine details were finished with jackhammers and hand chisels. It really isn’t what you would have expected at all.

George Washington was dedicated on July 4, 1930. Then work began on Thomas Jefferson, but many people thought it was Martha Washington for a time…a drawback of an artists work being done so much in the theodore-rooseveltAbe Lincolnpublic eye. Thomas Jefferson was dedicated on August 30, 1936. Abraham Lincoln was dedicated on this day, September 17, 1937, and Theodore Roosevelt was dedicated on July 2, 1939. The Hall of Records was never finished because of dangerous working conditions. Gutzon Borglum died suddenly on March 6, 1942, and the work on the mountain was finished by his son, Lincoln Borglum. With the onset of the US involvement in World War II, the mountain was declared complete on October 31, 1941. So ended the work on the mountain, and I really never get tired of hearing the story.

12042965_10206350174732130_43899556622801737_na13690579_10208540203336126_3086425729592877936_nNo wedding brings with it the guarantee of a lifelong marriage. That is up to the couple who are in the marriage, and it takes two people to make a successful marriage. The years fly by, things in the couple’s life change, and sometimes people decide to move to a new place. It may not be the way other people expected their life to go, but as long as the couple agrees on the new journey, it will work out to bring a beautiful life. I have had to be one of those parents who saw the life of her daughter and her family in a very different way than it turned out to be, and sometimes that is hard for me, because I miss them very much, but they are so happy living in northwestern Washington state, that I can’t help but feel happy for them.

My daughter, Amy Royce and her husband, Travis were married almost 20 years when they decided to pack up and move. They had spent the first 20 years of their marriage here in Casper, Wyoming, and I will be forever grateful to them for doing that, because it gave us the chance to really know their children, Shai and Caalab, and to spend time with all of them. I think that, while it is always hard to have your grandchildren living far away, it is easier when they were close while they were growing up, so they know their grandparents and how much we love them.

Amy has always loved the rain and the beach, and since she visited the Pacific Northwest as a Senior Trip, she has been in love with that area. The funny thing is that since she and Travis moved there, we have had more rain than we used to. These days, Amy and I have sort of a standing joke going. When it rains here, I sent her a text telling her it’s an Amy Day, to which she answers…”Send some my way.” Trying to be cooperative, I tell her that I will, but since it will have to get to her by way of Florida and Japan, it could take a while. Funny thing about that…Amy loves rain so much that she didn’t even care how long it took, just that it was on it’s way.
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Amy and Travis are so happy living in their new home and their new state, that I can’t help but be happy for them too. Of course, I wish I had the ability to beam myself over there more often, but I don’t so Facebook, telephone, Snapchat, and texting are the modes of communication for now. I’m just happy that they love living in their beautiful area. Today is Amy and Travis 21st Wedding Anniversary. The years surely do fly by. Happy Anniversary Amy and Travis!! We love you!!

imageWhen someone becomes a police officer, they begin a career of service to their community. They run in when others are running out. They face the guns pointed at them, instead of hiding under a desk, like many of us would do. Still, all that does not really determine what kind of a police officer they will become. When my brother-in-law, Chris Hadlock, and my sister, Allyn were living in Fort Morgan, Colorado, Chris was in sales, but he knew that that was not what he wanted to do with his life. He told Allyn that he just didn’t want to do sales anymore. It wasn’t rewarding. He said that he didn’t think he could be a doctor, but he wanted to help people…he wanted to be a police officer. After the initial shock, and yes to a degree fear, wore off, Allyn agreed that it was what he needed to do. So began a long and rewarding career in law enforcement.

Chris became a deputy sheriff in 1990, when he joined the Natrona County Sheriff’s Department. After a time, he had the opportunity to join the Casper Police Department, and in 1997, he became a patrolman with the CPD. Chris loved his career. He was in his element and he was very good at what he did. I had the opportunity on several occasions, to ride along with him, and I watched as he was able to quickly de-escalate a situation, and in the end, the person he was arresting was not only cooperative, but in some cases, thanked him for making the arrest as painless as possible. Now, as we all know, not every situation works out that well, but those that did were truly amazing. Over the years, Chris has imagetested for and been promoted to Sergeant and then, Lieutenant, which is the rank he currently holds. He has been a hiring and training officer, shift supervisor, and is currently over Investigations, Victim Services, Operations Support Team, and Property Evidence.

Last night, the culmination of all his years of service, was recognized by the Wyoming Peace Officers Association at their annual banquet, held in Cheyenne, Wyoming. We, his family are so proud to announce that Chris Hadlock was awarded the Wyoming Peace Officer of the Year award. To receive this award, the candidate must be nominated. Chris was the nominee for the Casper Police Department, and based on his long standing law enforcement career and his continual service to the public, first as a deputy and then as a police officer, Chris won the award. He and Allyn had their picture taken with the Governor of Wyoming, Matt Meade, and the president of the Wyoming Peace Officers Association, Tom Stoker. Chris also received an engraved plaque, and will be receiving an engraved revolver. Then, in May, he and Allyn will travel to Washington DC for National Police Week. They will attend the National Peace Officers Memorial Service which commemorates fallen officers.
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Chris says that this is such an honor, and he feels very humbled by it. We can’t think of anyone who could possibly deserve it more. Once the decision was made to become a police officer, Chris never looked back. It was his dream career and he would never think of doing anything else. For him, it isn’t just a career. It goes back to that original desire, “I want to help people.” A police officer has parts of his job that are necessary, but not really fun, such as issuing citations, but when you are the first on the scene at an accident, and someone is in serious need, and you save a life…it just doesn’t get better than that. When you are instrumental in getting people out of a dangerous situation, and lives are saved…that’s what it’s all about. That is what Chris meant when he said he wanted to help people, and that is what he has done. Congratulations to Lieutenant Christopher Hadlock, Wyoming’s Peace Officer of the Year!! We are so very proud of you!! Thank you for your years of service!!

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