When two brothers and their sister live way out in the country with their mom, and their dad is away on the railroad a lot, they have to find things to do to entertain themselves. I have talked to to my dad and my Uncle Bill about their antics with dynamite on the 4th of July and riding trains to school, and fixing the gatepost before their mom got home…another result of dynamite mixing with boys. And I know that my Aunt Ruth loved all animals…especially horses. But how did they feel about each other, and their older sister. I’ve often wondered that, since we didn’t get to see my aunts and uncle very often.

I think there was a very close bond between those three younger children of my grandparents. Their older sister, my Aunt Laura was 10 years older than her little brother, Bill, 12 years older than my dad, and 13 1/2 years older than my Aunt Ruth. Aunt Laura was in many ways a second mother to the younger three children. She was old enough to help with them when they were babies, and babysit them when they were older…not that she was totally able to keep them out of trouble. And by the time they were grown up, my Aunt Laura was married and raising her own family.

Still, I think that the Spencer children were very close. And I think the younger three, at least, shared a love of animals. My dad always loved dogs, and of course, dogs and farms just seem to go together as do dogs and kids, but I think few people loved dogs as much as my Aunt Ruth, unless it is my grandson, Caalab, who seems to have a lot of likes in common with my Aunt Ruth…not so unusual in that I am also a lot like my Aunt Ruth. Horses and farm kids also go together. They are transportation, before they are old enough to drive, and a lot cheaper than a car to run. Plus, there are things you just can’t do very easily with a car, like standing up on it’s hind legs. Yes, I think they had some great times back then.

Those days are long gone now, and my Uncle Bill is the only one left. The years took each of the Spencer kids in different directions, and different places around the country. My Uncle, who was the first real adventurer in the family, ended up back in Superior, Wisconsin, where they all grew up. My Aunt Laura would live several places, but finally settled in Portland, Oregon. Like her older sister, my Aunt Ruth also lived several places, but finally ended up in Newport, Washington. My dad moved around some, until he met my mom and then it was 5 years in Superior, and the rest of his life in Casper, Wyoming. I think that like most siblings, there were times they disagreed, but I do not believe there was ever a time when they didn’t love each other. And, while the years and the miles separated the Spencer kids, they still loved each other very much and spoke through the years, even if they didn’t get to see each other much.

One Response to Miles and Years

  • From my cousin:
    Tim Fredrick – Thank you again for fond memories. One of the things I loved about my grandmother (Laura) is that she too loved animals. She especially understood dogs, and could approach the most fearfully aggressive big dog, and with careful patience g…et it to accept her.

    Dogs sometimes took advantage, though — I remember her two dogs in Casper, a beagle named Cindy, and an irish setter named Penny. While visiting her once, I was talking about how spoiled our own dogs were, freely jumping on the couch or funiture at will. She proudly proclaimed that she had taught Penny and Cindy never to get on the furniture. She was motivated because she always kept an immaculate house. Well, that afternoon she had to run a short errand and I decided to stay at her house with the dogs. The instant the car started up and my Grandmother made it to the end of the driveway, one dog immediatley hopped onto the couch, and the other onto her bed — both curled up, sighed, and relaxed contentedly. Because she was also meticulous about dog grooming, there was never any hair to give away their little secret, but as a young man, I was a witness to the event!

    While the siblings had their conflicts and differences, my Grandmother was always exceedingly grateful that she got to spend the last years of Aunt Ruth’s life with her in Newport, and that she had a good relationship with her brothers when it was her time to leave us.

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