Anytime you read through a well written family history book, you are bound to find things out about your family members that you never knew…even if you knew them all your life. The big thing is, I guess, that sometimes when things are in the past, they are viewed as ancient history. We all do things when we are young that we don’t continue into adulthood. I knew many things about my Aunt Ruth through the years. She loved animals, gardening, and the mountains of Washington. She was an artist both in paintings and music. She painted a picture of herself that I would have thought was painted by a professional artist…along with other paintings. She could play any instrument that she picked up, as if she had been playing it all her life. She knew things about the weather that surprised me as a child…like the time they were at our house. Aunt Ruth suddenly jumped up and looked out the window. She said there is a tornado somewhere. I thought she saw something, but it was the way the wind suddenly stopped where we were that caused her to think that. I heard later that a small twister was reported on Casper Mountain. I never forgot that she had somehow known.
As I said, I knew Aunt Ruth loved animals, and I had seen pictures of her with several horses. I could tell that she was a pretty good horsewoman. I never had very much to do with horses, so seeing her seated firmly on her horse as he reared up, struck me as an amazing feat. And I knew that the family owned horses, and all the kids, my Aunt Laura, my Uncle Bill, my dad, and Aunt Ruth, road regularly, but never was there any mention of racing except in what I read today. Uncle Bill was describing the scene of one of the pictures he had put in the book, and he said that the horse was Aunt Ruth’s race horse, which she did ride in some races. He doesn’t specify how she did in the races she ran, but if it is like pretty much anything else Aunt Ruth did, she was probably pretty good at it.
I had to wonder why I had never heard about her racing before, and if I was the only one in the family who didn’t know about it? Why was it that Aunt Ruth never talked about racing? I also wondered if it was something that she thought about doing professionally as a young girl, or if it was always just something she did to pass the time and to test her horse. If no one else in the family knew about her racing either, I suppose that it is something that will drift into the unknown past…except for that one little mention of it in Uncle Bill’s family history books.
When I think of my niece, Jessi, I think of someone who loves to laugh. She teases those around her in a good natured way, and gets everyone laughing. She brings joy and happiness right into the room with her when she walks in. It doesn’t matter who is in the room, she finds some way to joke around with them or tease them in some way. I guess that simply makes her part of this family, because with us, teasing is a way of life. I’m quite sure that joy and laughter was a big part of what her husband, Jason first noticed in her. A pretty girl with a bright smile on her face, and joy in her heart…yep, I’ll bet that it made her very hard to resist.
Joy and laughter aren’t the only things of interest to Jessi. She is a great fashionista too…always has been. She enjoys dressing up and being casual too. Jessi has always had her own kind of style. In fact, when she was a little girl, she knew exactly what style she liked. She has always liked boots. She knows how to make them look great and one particular day, she decided that her grandpa’s boots were in perfect style…I think she was right…don’t you?
All kidding aside, Jessi is a wonderful person, who gives of her time and talents whenever there is a need. She is the assistant youth pastor at our church, she helps her grandmothers whenever they need it. She is quick to volunteer in so many areas. She began working in a law office at the age of 17, and has been doing that work ever since, and she is exceptional at it. She is an advocate for the Casper area, and the local library. She pushes for people to buy local, and support our local community. She works tirelessly to drum up support for causes that benefit our local economy and lifestyle. That can be a thankless job, but she does it well, and our community has benefitted much from her efforts. Yes, she was a goofy little kid, and was always kidding around, which is always fun, but I am very proud of the woman she has become. Today is Jessi’s birthday. Happy birthday Jessi!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
While my dad was in England fighting in World War II, his brother and sisters were working in the shipyards helping with the war effort there. On their days off, the workers at the shipyards liked to go and picnic in the area parks or a friends cabin. There was usually a group of young men and women that would go on these picnics, and Aunt Ruth and Uncle Bill were among them. In an effort to make my dad feel like he was a part of things back home, they would send him pictures of the things that were going on with them back home. Dad enjoyed the pictures from home immensely, but that didn’t stop him from being the typical big brother.
While Dad was in England, letters from home were like a lifeline. Those men were lonely and homesick. They depended on those letters from family and friends to help them get through that time of uncertainty and the ugliness of war. I have been reading his letters home for some time now, and while some of the letters reveal the loneliness that can only be seen if you read between the lines, others are more about having a little fun teasing his siblings, and especially his little sister, Ruth. Of course, you’ll have to admit, that she really walked right into it, but like any 18 year old girl, she probably didn’t realize what would come back to her.
Aunt Ruth wrote a letter to my dad, her brother, Allen, told him a little bit about this boy named Selmer that she obviously liked, and included a picture of Selmer kissing her. Well, my dad couldn’t let that one slide. This was his little sister, and she was growing up too fast for his liking. And who was this guy kissing her anyway? Dad remarked on how unusual the guy’s name was, and teased his sister about whether the guy was kissing her or looking at her locket, pretty much settling on the former thought. He teased her about the fact that she had apparently been telling him that she didn’t have any boyfriends, but clearly she did. And then, out came the big brother in my dad, when he told his little sister that this guy had “all the earmarks of a wolf” as far as he could see.
Now, all the rest of the teasing aside, I had to laugh at that part of the letter. A wolf!! I know that many people wouldn’t really understand the significance of that remark, but we…in this family…totally get it. It was almost as if my dad was predicting the future. Did Aunt Ruth marry Selmer? No, she didn’t! The prediction that my dad spoke, without realizing it, had more to do with the word than the man. You see, when my Aunt Ruth did get married, it was to a man named Lester (Jim) Wolfe!! So, while Selmer didn’t turn out to be the wolf my dad predicted, I guess my Uncle Jim Wolfe did, and that wolf literally swept my Aunt Ruth off her feet.
It seems that with any gathering you have with a bunch of people, at some point, the men gather in their group and the women in theirs. That way the men can talk cars, crops, trains, or whatever else men find to talk about, that women would find quite boring. The men would be just as bored with girl talk, so it is really to everyone’s advantage. There is still one little problem though…the kids. You would think that they would just go play, thereby keeping themselves occupied and out of everybody’s hair, but just like the younger sibling, these kids, as often as not, tend to want to be right in the middle of the conversation…with the adults. It isn’t that these men are necessarily discussing something that the children shouldn’t be hearing, but often just that it is a little bit above their heads, and most kids tend to ask a multitude of questions.
Quite likely the men tried to get this little boy to go play, but then he either went crying to his mom or he just got into mischief and so she sent him to sit with the men. It was probably what he wanted to do anyway. Hanging with the little kids…or especially the women…would be a horrible thing to have to do. I suppose he figured that it was worth the risk of getting a spanking to have his mother send him to sit with the men…especially since his dad would not be too likely to go against what his mother said, when she said that he was to watch him.
I also noticed that the men were not looking at him like they were ready to “kill” either, so my guess would be that he figured he had better behave himself so he could stay there. A little boy being as quiet as a church mouse is less likely to get into trouble in a place he can’t just leave either, because now that his mother told his dad to keep an eye on him, he has to stay put. That could get ugly if he caused problems. So my guess is that he just sat quietly and listened to the guy things the men were talking about, and probably learned a few things, if he paid close attention.
For as long as I have known my husband, Bob, he has been working on cars in his spare time. Now that is a lot of years, and a lot of cars, considering that I met him in late 1973, and we were married March 1, 1975. Bob, his dad, and his brother, Ron have always been like that. Then when their dad couldn’t work on his cars anymore, Bob and Ron took over. When their dad wanted a new box on his pickup, they went to work to get it done for him. It didn’t really matter what his vehicle or anyone else’s vehicle needed, between the two of them, they could get it done. It’s always been that way.
For many of the years of our marriage, we didn’t have a garage for Bob to work in, so we went to his parents house so he could work on the cars he was working on. That meant a lot of time spent at their house, which they enjoyed, but it also meant a lot of time spent away from our house. We made it work, and the girls just learned to do their homework wherever we were that night. Still, it’s hard to be away from home all the time like that. In January of 1995, we bought a house in Casper. It didn’t have a garage either, but we built an oversized double garage in the back yard. Bob finally had a place to work on cars, and we could be at home. That didn’t really matter too much to the girls, because they were grown up and married by then or shortly after we moved to town, but it did mean that I could be home at night while he worked on those cars. Ron also built a big shop on the land he had purchased north of Casper, so they didn’t have to spend quite as much time in their dad’s garage. I suppose that for my in-laws, that wasn’t the happiest day of their lives, because they had really enjoyed having their family around them, but they also understood that the guys also needed to have time at home.
Bob and Ron still spend a lot of time working on cars, so I suppose that a lot of people would think that not too much has changed, and they would be right. The guys might work half the evening on a car, coming in only to have dinner. I suppose that some wives might find that annoying, but the way I see it, they could be hanging out with their buddies, sitting in a bar or something, but they’re not. They might be always working on a car in the garage, but the good thing is that we know where to find them.
In the months since connecting with so many of my cousins on the Schumacher side of the family, we have found out that one of the original six children of Carl and Albertine Schumacher was not represented among the cousins. I set out with renewed determination to see if I could find out more than the little bit of information we had, which is that Mina Schumacher married John Spare, and they had one daughter, Pauline Jessie Spare. Someone thought that Pauline had two daughters and two sons. That was pretty much the extent of our knowledge of Mina’s family. Then I came across a tree on Ancestry.com that had a little bit more information. I found out at that time, that very sadly, Pauline had passed away in June of 2013. That information left me feeling both sadness, and great loss, because we had been so close to finding her and yet, we were so far. We were too late to have the chance to know Pauline.
I felt like I was stuck. I went back to the family tree that I had found on Pauline, and looked at the name of the owner…Julie Carlberg. We had thought that Pauline’s children were John, Lisa, Kristin, and Timothy, but when I looked at the home person on this tree, it was the daughter of Pauline. I wondered if Lisa, whose middle initial is J might be this Julie. I sent a message through Ancestry to Julie, but then I noticed that she had not been on in a couple of months. Then, I decided to look on Facebook, and I found her there, but she doesn’t get on there much either. Nevertheless, through a combination of these two places and the information I found there, I was able to Google her and found a work email…which is where I hit the jackpot!!!
I sent her an email on Monday night, and could hardly wait until Tuesday to see if she would respond…which she did. I am very excited to say that the cousin search just took a great big upward turn. Not only did I find Pauline, who went by Paula, but I found her four children, Lisa and her children, Jenny and James; John, his wife Diane, and their daughters, Allison and Abigail; Kristen and her sons, Jonathan and Timothy (yes there is a Timothy in the bunch, just not a son, but a grandson); and of course, Julie, her husband Andrew, and their three children Kevin, David, and Kendra. Julie was able to confirm that a picture of a little girl, who after a little thought I had suspected might be Pauline, was indeed Pauline, and that a large copy of this picture had hung in Pauline’s room. I also received a much more updated picture of Pauline, along with Julie and her daughter, Kendra. So now I believe that our family is much closer to coming full circle from complete disconnect to very connected, and I am very excited about getting to know these newly found cousins. This has been such a wonderful journey, and I thank God for each and every one of the precious cousins that He has now connected.
Travel these days is so common that we really don’t give it much thought at all, but travel or moving in days gone by, was a very different matter, or perhaps it is just that some things worry people of different ages more that other people, or shall we say older people. I was reading a story written by my cousin Raymon Dunahee, who is my Grandpa Spencer’s sister, Alice’s son. The story begins, “I slept soundly (I guess we all did) all night and woke up the next morning to find that I was still all there. If anything had carried us off during the night they brought us back before morning.” When I read that, it reminded me of some of the camping trips my family took when we were kids, and my sisters and I kept waking my dad up so he could put another log on the fire to keep the bears away…like that would have made any difference. As I read through the thoughts of a little boy as he embarked of an unknown, and maybe a little scary future, my thoughts turned to how different travel was back then.
As I read through the rest of his story, and the continuing mishaps they had, I could see why he felt a little apprehensive about things. The vehicle they were traveling in had a couple of “bum casings” and he was concerned that if the roads got bad at all they might end up stuck in a very desolate place. They were trying to make Kalispell, Montana that day, and they still had a hundred and twenty five miles to go. They were in the mountains when the rear tire blew. The spare was not good either, so they limped along the six miles to the next town and got a new tire. It was another forty miles to Kalispell, but they made it without further mishap and bought another tire there. The trip to Kalispell was a side trip to visit his grandparents before they went on to their final destination…Twin Falls, Idaho. During the visit with his grandparents, they decided to go on to Twin Falls, Idaho with them. The rest of the trip was filled with similar troubles and I’m sure that Raymon wondered if they would make it at all, and if he even wanted to go to this place when it seemed that everything was against their move as it was.
Then, to add to Raymon’s concerns, their trip started to become very slow going…not because of car problems, but because of fish problems. It’s hard to imagine that fish could cause such big problems, but they can for a boy who is really ready to get where they are going. It seems that over the next three days, they family only made twelve miles!! “How could that be?” you ask. Well, they were traveling in an area where there were lots of mountain streams, and every time they came upon another stream, the men wanted to stop and fish!! I don’t think they caught very many fish, but according to Raymon, there were plenty of mosquitoes, and he was really ready to be away from them. I’m sure he was thinking, “Let’s just go!!” And there was no reason to even ask, “Are we there yet?” because you have to be moving for that question to even make sense. In the end, they did make it to Twin Falls, Idaho, where they lived out their days.
As kids, my sisters and I all had long hair. My dad always loved long hair, and never wanted any of us to cut it. Today, my sister, Cheryl and I are the only ones with hair that is very long. Neither of us can bear to cut it. I don’t know if it is because Dad always liked it, or if we just can’t imagine ourselves in shorter hair. Maybe it is a little of both. I think that people tend to like hair styles that are similar to what they grew up with, but not always, I suppose…after all my three younger sisters no longer have long hair. I suppose all little girls want to be beautiful, and our hair is a big part of that. Whether our hair is long or short, curly or straight, it is like a crowning glory to our look. We hate bad hair days, because we just don’t feel like we look our best. And of course, wind is the worst enemy a great hair style can have. You can’t put enough hairspray in your hair to fight of a windy day and the wind can make long hair stand straight up if you don’t hold it down.
I think my dad may have liked long hair in the beginning, because his sister, Laura always had long hair as a child. their mother was so proud of her daughter’s long curls, and she worked very hard on getting them just right for her. That kind of care can make a little boy, who is twelve years younger than his big sister, think that hair is very important…even if he doesn’t realize it. Curls have gone in and out of style, and these days women wear their long hair both ways. Cheryl likes her hair curled, but my hair has a tendency to get frizzy and tangle easily, so I straighten mine. I have natural curl, but it isn’t beautiful, with great curls, but rather an errant wave here and there. Ugh!! But Aunt Laura’s long curls were beautiful, and more in style today than people would expect. They reminded me of a long haired Shirley Temple look. You could tell that Aunt Laura liked her long hair too. She always had pretty bows in it as a child, and in the picture where she was showing off her curls, she seemed very proud of them, and her mom was really proud of it too.
Another funny thing about long hair is how it acts when you flip it out of your way. My grandson, Josh and I were putting up my Christmas tree on Saturday. As I bent over to get another ornament for the tree, my hair got in my way, so I flipped it out of the way. Josh started laughing. I asked what was so funny, and he told me that my hair had landed on the tree, and it was still there. It wasn’t the first time my hair had landed somewhere it didn’t belong. Bob and I were at Mount Rushmore on the 4th of July one year. It was very crowded. I flipped my hair back, and got this…feeling. I turned around to see the woman behind me touching her nose, and saying, “She hit me with her hair!” I was horrified. I immediately apologized, saying that sometimes I didn’t realize how far my hair reached. She was gracious, and the situation passed, but it was not forgotten…by me. Long hair can be beautiful, but it can also be a little hard to control sometimes. And that can be comical too.
Few relationships are like that of two little sisters. They love each other from the moment the youngest arrives…well most of the time. That first year of the younger sister’s life, will determine if she is a pain in the neck, or cool enough to take what her big sister can dish out. It will also determine just how much she is willing to put up with, before she takes matters into her own hands. It is a learning process for both sisters. Most generally, sisters will end up being friends for life, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a few bumps in the road. My own sisters and I are good friends, but that doesn’t mean that the years we spent sharing our childhood home were smooth as silk, because they weren’t. We are five different people with five different personalities, and that is bound to cause clashes every now and then.
The same is the case for my sisters-in-law, Jennifer and Brenda. Jennifer had been the baby of the family for two years when Brenda came along. With three older siblings bossing her around with all their no no’s, Jennifer was very excited to have a younger sister, who wouldn’t be the boss of her. Maybe they could even be best friends. And, things were going along well…most of the time. Jennifer loved her little sister very much. It was almost like having a real life doll when she was a baby, and then later, she had a friend who liked to play the same games she did. It was much better than having a little brother, in her mind, because boys just want to play dumb cars, and not dolls. Jennifer hugged Brenda often, and life was good.
Nevertheless, Brenda was her own person too, and she didn’t always want to do things Jennifer’s way. They have two very different personalities, and what one finds funny the other might not. And, as with most little girls, they can both get annoyed when their friend starts feeling too much like a frenemy. No one likes being laughed at, even if that isn’t really what was happening. Sometimes it might have been just a matter of something striking Brenda funny, and Jennifer didn’t agree. That was all it took. Jennifer was…less than amused with this little sister…who she loved very much. That didn’t excuse Brenda’s laughter about something that Jennifer didn’t think was funny. With that one little giggle came a totally new situation. They were now definitely frenemies, and Jennifer was sure that things would never be the same again. Thankfully, the whole situation was a fleeting moment in their childhood years, and they would go on to be friends again…until the next little clash, that is.
In June of 1946, my Uncle Bill and Aunt Doris left Wisconsin, for points west. He had no intention of moving back to Wisconsin at that time. They weren’t sure where they wanted to settle, so they tried Idaho, Oregon, California, and Wyoming. Uncle Bill would have loved to stay in California…he said the warm weather suited him. Aunt Doris was homesick, and wanted to be nearer to her family. I can’t say for sure if it was totally Aunt Doris being homesick, or if it was my grandfather becoming ill, with the cancer that would eventually end his life, or a mixture of both. Uncle Bill has indicated the possibility of both being the reason for their return. It doesn’t really matter, but it is my opinion that Uncle Bill could not let his dad go through cancer by himself. I can relate to that quality in him, because I think I inherited it to a degree.
We never really know what events will transpire to change the course of our lives in an instant. We might be just living our lives, making plans for the future, or raising our kids, and then very suddenly we find ourselves in a position to step in when we are needed desperately. It is what we do with that call of duty that can make the difference between life and death for the person in need. Uncle Bill could not stay in Wyoming, where he was at that time, and simply let his dad handle the most horrible experience of his life without the benefit of help from family. He and his wife, my Aunt Doris headed home to Wisconsin, arriving in June of 1950. It was a decision he would never regret, nor did he ever decide to move away from Wisconsin again.
I think we eventually end up where we are supposed to be. Some of us move away from our childhood hometown, never to live there again, while others, like me, never live anywhere but in our childhood hometown, and still others like Uncle Bill, move away, and eventually move back for one reason or another, and never leave again. There must be something that either draws them away or back, or causes them to stay and never move away at all. I suppose the reasons vary as much as the people themselves, and sometimes there seems to be no real reason at all. They just end up in the place that draws them to it. I believe it is that we are in the place where God wants us to be.