Monthly Archives: September 2013
Since I began writing stories about my family, I have come to have a greater appreciation for old pictures than I ever had before. Every picture has a story to tell. Every one is like a priceless gold treasure. When I hear of pictures being lost in some way, I feel that loss very deeply, because so often, they cannot be replaced. That is what happened to a vast collection of pictures that had belonged to my Aunt Ruth and Uncle Jim. When Aunt Ruth passed away in May of 1992, Uncle Jim continued to reside in their home until it was destroyed by a fire…taking with it all of the pictures they had collected over the years, including all of the childhood pictures of my cousins, Shirley, Larry, and Terry. Larry had passed away in 1976, so they had so few of him anyway, and now all that remained were the pictures Shirley and Terry had, and that was not many.
When we re-connected with Shirley a while back, she asked if we had any pictures of them as children, and we have looked through what we had…again, not many. I felt very sad for her, because it was almost like tearing her childhood out of her past and throwing it away. Since then my heart has me trying to replace at least a few of the pictures she once had. It has not been an easy task, but last night while at my mom’s house, my sister, Cheryl, Mom, and I went through a box of things, that included a few pictures. I was so excited when a couple of pictures turned up of Shirley’s family. I couldn’t wait to get them too her, and I really hope that she doesn’t have these yet, because that will make the find even sweeter.
The more I look through the pictures that make up my past and those of my family members, the more I realize the value of those pictures. So many people don’t have those old family pictures and if they do, they don’t know who they are or what they were like, unless they happened to have someone like my Uncle Bill, who was meticulous in recording the past. He spent much of his life talking to people who knew our ancestors so that he could document as much information as he could. His work, like the old pictures are more than valuable…they are pure gold.
I was a little girl, when the original Kmart in Casper was built. We lived less than a block from the site, and very much enjoyed watching the construction as it progressed. It was very exciting for my sisters and me…at least the ones who were old enough to be able to play outside. Little did I know then, that the construction site was going to be a bit of a problem for me. It had been raining for a couple of days, but I still wanted to go over that weekend and see what had been accomplished. It so happened that I had just gotten a pair of penny loafers, a shoe which was very popular at that time, and one that I had wanted very badly. I was just a kid, and I never gave thought to the rain in relation to a construction site that we girls had been accessing through the alley at the end of the street. Since they had been doing a lot of digging, there were piles of dirt next to that alley…add rain to that dirt and…yes, you get mud.
A kid doesn’t think of boots…especially in the summer time. I simply waded through all that mud in my new penny loafers….and it was probably knee deep. As much as I dislike mud and dirt these days, I really have to wonder why that mud didn’t bother me. I guess I was on a quest to discover how the construction was going. Needless to say, I went bravely on my quest through the mud to see the new Kmart building. In my recollection, the building was coming along just fine, but my muddy legs were getting uncomfortable, so I headed home…yes, back through the mud.
My mom was not particularly happy with me when I got home that day, and the day that followed was not better, but rather worse. After cleaning me up, she did the best she could with my new shoes, and while they looked pretty good, the next day would bring a problem that I will never forget as long as I live. My super cool, brand new, beautiful Penny Loafers had shrunk, and they no longer fit me. They were made of leather, and I had no idea that they would shrink. I was devastated to say the very least. I assume that my sister, Caryl had a super cool, brand new but slightly used, beautiful pair of Penny Loafers after that.
In years gone by, most farmer’s children worked on the farms of their parents. Many still do, but the way they worked has change quite a bit. Back in the old west and beyond, the fields were plowed on foot using team of horses or oxen to assist in pulling the plow through the hard ground. It has hard work, and usually resulted in the blistering of hands that were not used to it. In those days, the women didn’t usually work the farms, unless there simply was no other choice, and women with calloused hands were looked down upon and thought to be…well, not really a true lady…at least, not by Eastern standards. They just didn’t understand what it took to build the West. Many times, people moved out West with the promise of a homestead, and 5 years to prove the land. Money was scarce, and you did what you had to do…including setting your children to the task of helping out on the farm.
It is my opinion that the way things were done in the old West better trained the children for adulthood. I have watched so many kids go through life without having to shoulder any responsibility, and then continue on in life in the same way. Some becoming “professional students” so that they won’t have to get a job, while their parents pay their way. It’s a sad, sad situation, and one the parents find themselves having trouble getting out of.
The kids in the old West understood that their help was needed or the family was not going to make it. School became a luxury and one that often ended after the eighth grade, if not before. Their time was needed elsewhere. Things have changed dramatically since then. Farm equipment has made the work on the farm much easier, and the children aren’t needed to the degree that they used to be. That is a good thing in that more kids finish school.They also have time to just be kids these days. I’m still not sure which is better…or maybe there is no better…just different.
Tonight was our second night of bowling, and as is normal for this time of year, there were a number of people who weren’t there. I guess bowling just can’t hold a candle to the hunt. Of course, lots of people love to hunt, but it always sticks in my mind that it is men for the most part. I remember as a little kid, that my parents both went hunting, and there was an antelope bust mounted and hung in our living room for all of my childhood. In fact, I’ll bet it is still up in my mom’s attic…somewhere. We got to go hunting with them on time as little kids. I don’t remember much about it, except that it was cold and boring. I guess that must just be because I was seeing the whole thing through the eyes of a little girl. After that we stayed with grandma while they went hunting, and that was usually a better option…unless I managed to get myself in trouble…never a good thing with my grandma.
Hunting has been a tradition in many families since time began I suppose. Of course the main purpose is to provide food for the family, but there is more to it than that. For many men, it is a time shared with the guys they hang out with, while their wives stay home. And while the guys are hanging out in the woods for a week, believe me, the wives are not at home pining away. They are having some nice me time at home and with their friends. Oh, I know that doesn’t apply to every woman, because I know several that like to go hunting.
One girl I know who would like to go hunting is my niece Jenny. She and her family love to go out and shoot their guns, and recently her oldest son, Xander passed his hunter safety course, so this would be the first time he would actually get to hunt. They were all looking forward to the trip, when Xander told his mom that he doesn’t want her to go hunting with them this time, because it is a boys trip. Whether she is a hunter or not, on this hunt, being a girl is apparently very uncool.
Eighteen years ago today, my youngest daughter, Amy married her best friend, Travis. It’s strange to think that your children have been married for many years now. It forces you to realize that they aren’t kids anymore. Oh, you know it…really, but the very fact that they could have been married for eighteen years or more…well, time just goes by so fast. Still, time has gone by, and they are so suited to each other. They have the same interests, likes, and dislikes. They think a lot alike. And as the years go by, I see that more and more. People do that. They become more and more like the person they love and spend their life with.
Amy and Travis love to ride their motorcycle and take trips to Deadwood with friends. They are also into Blues music, and they like to go to the Wyoming Blues and Jazz Society sessions. They even names their second dog…you guessed it, Blues. Their lives have centered around music and jokes, both of which Travis is very good at. His quick wit brings laughter to most gatherings they are at. They love to get together with family and friends, especially if they can barbeque. They have also started making wine, but unfortunately, they will not be able to have some of their own wine on their anniversary.
With all that they have in common and that they agree on, you would think that all would be bliss, but there is one thing that they simply do not agree on…football. Oh, they both love football, but they each root for arch rival teams. Amy goes for the Packers and Travis goes for the Bears. It is a constant battle in their house during football season…no, not a real battle, but a football battle for sure, with each one cutting down the other’s team. These football battles don’t interfere with their relationship, much like Bob attending Natrona County High School and me going to the rival Kelly Walsh High School. You just have to take the teasing in stride…especially when your team loses.
Their marriage has been blessed with two wonderful children, Shai and Caalab, who are also a great blessing to me and their grandpa. The years have flown by so fast. It seems like only yesterday that they were getting married. I remember the ceremony clearly, even though it was eighteen years ago. Today is Amy and Travis’ eighteenth anniversary…eighteen years and counting. Happy anniversary Amy and Travis!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you very much!!
Most people think of Prince Harry as a playboy, and to a degree I suppose they are right, but there is a side of him that most people never see. Prince Harry has a heart for the children who, sadly, have been orphaned by the AIDS pandemic in Lesotho. He has visited the small African nation several times since 2006 when he set up Sentebale with the help of his good friend Prince Seeiso of Lesotho, who is the younger brother of the king of the small African nation of Lesotho. I had the opportunity to watch a segment a while back about the prince and his charity, and I was very impressed with the love he had for those children…and the love they had for him. He was not aloof with them at all, which is what most of us would expect from royalty, or any politician. His interactions with these children was honest, open, and sincere, unlike so many who lightly shake the hand of their admirers, or politely kiss their babies. No, he showed a love and respect for them that was so obviously real, and in turn, they came out in droves to see the person they loved back. I was very moved by that segment, and I’m quite sure I’m not really doing my feelings justice, because it was so amazing.
Prince Harry walked through their villages, and gathered information on what they needed an how they were doing. He took the time to speak to the children…to find out what their interests were…and what they needed, worried about, and indeed, feared. These children had no parents, and those caring for them, while loving people, are often stretched to their limits in time to spend with each individual child, so to have a Prince from England come and take the time to spend with them…personally…well, it must have seemed surreal to them, and yet, here he was, and it wasn’t the first time. He named is charity Sentebale for a reason. Sentebale means “forget-me-not” in the language of the Lesotho people. It is the word they use when bidding farewell, so that they will remember those who have left their presence for a time. He wanted them to know that he was not going to forget about them. And he has not.
Prince Harry is my 19th cousin on my dad’s side of the family, so what he does interests me, whether it interests other people or not, but even those who aren’t particularly interested in the Royals, must admit, that Prince Harry’s work on this charity and the others he is also a part of with his brother and sister-in-law, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, make him more than many people thought him to be. And to top it off…he’s an uncle now, to little Prince George. Today is my cousin, Prince Harry’s birthday. Happy birthday Prince Harry!! I hope you have a wonderful day!!
I have been intently watching the flooding this past week in Colorado, and especially Boulder, which is very near where my cousin Tim and his family live. Rain has poured into the state, and the flooding rivals the July 31, 1976 Big Thompson flood in many areas. In that flood, 12 to 14 inches of rain fell in 4 hours, flooding the canyon…144 people lost their lives, and 150 were injured. So far in this flood, only 4 people have died, thankfully, and hopefully that will be all, but only time will tell. Roads have been washed out, and I-25 is under water in some areas, causing it’s closure along with the closure of many other roads. Neighbors have stepped up to help save the homes of other people, some of whom they don’t even know, and often working for hours without even being asked. It has been a real show of the human spirit and its ability to care for those in need. Outside help is probably scarce, because no one can get there, leaving them somewhat isolated, except for helicopters that have been able to come in from other areas. Schools are closed, and many people have been told not to attempt to go to work. Two people were stranded in the mountains in whiteout conditions, because rescue resources were limited. They were rescued after 48 hours in the storm. Tim told me that the barrel they have in their back yard, to measure the rain, shows 10 inches over 3 days, with most of it coming over a 12 hour period. The huge snow storm in the mountains could cause continuing problems if it begins to melt.
This flood also reminded me of an old photograph in my grandmother’s album. I’m not sure where this taken, but it does appear that they had quite a bit of water. Sadly, in those days, homes weren’t sealed as well, and so I’m sure there was extensive damage. Add to that, the fact that they didn’t have some of the clean up tools and chemicals to prevent mold, and you have a recipe for a big mess. They also didn’t have warning systems to tell them of the possiblity of a flash flood, and there were may people who lost their lives in those situations. The things that have not changed over the years are the incredible human spirit and peoples’ will to survive. Neighbors will continue to help their neighbors, and people will fight to survive and rebuild their lives after each new disaster hits them. Floods are one of the most dangerous situations people can be in, and I am thankful that we have resources today to help more and more of them survive that danger. I will continue to pray for all those people who’s lives have been touched by the 2013 Colorado floods.
When I picked my grandson, Josh up from Kelly Walsh High School the other day, we drove past the area where they are tearing up the old teacher’s parking lot for the school renovation project that is going on in several schools around town. Josh said, “When I look at that, it makes me sad?” He hated seeing the school he had known change. I found that a little surprising, in that this is Josh’s first year at Kelly Walsh, but when I thought about the fact that Josh’s older brother Chris has gone there for 3 years, it made sense that he would think of this school as a place he knew well. We continued down 12th Street, and past the swimming pool and he mentioned the building that was the entrance to the pool, and it really hit me.
Kelly Walsh High School has been a part of my life since I was a kid. It first opened in 1965, when I was just 9 years old. It wasn’t long after that that my sisters and I began going to Kelly Walsh High School to go swimming, almost every weekday in the summer. We walked past Pineview School to 8th Street, turned on Sally Lane, crossed the foot bridge to Forest Drive, went up to 12th Street and up to Kelly Walsh pool. It was so much fun to go swimming there every summer, and now the building is gone and the pool will follow. All those years of that pool being such a huge part of my summer…and now it will be gone.
So many changes are about to occur to the school where I spent my high school years. When the work is done, I don’t know if I will even recognize it. After my graduation, my sisters attended there, and then my older sister’s older children, and then when my girls started high school it was at Kelly Walsh, and once again I spent time there. Now, two of my grandsons are there and I am spending time there again. Kelly Walsh High School will always be a part of my life it seems, but it will not always be the school it was. I know it will be a better school when they are done, and I know it is a necessary change, but it still makes me sad too.
I first met Anthony at a family Christmas party. My cousins were taking in foster children, and this tiny little baby with loads of dark hair was one of those children. The difference between this baby and any other foster children they had, is that they fell in love with this one…in fact, we all did. Soon Anthony was a part of their family and ours. He had joined a rather large family, with over 250 people all living here in Casper…and that was back then, we are much larger today. Thankfully for Anthony, he didn’t have the chance to feel overwhelmed by that, because coming in as a newborn, it was all just natural to him. It was all he ever knew.
As things go in big families, there were times when we didn’t see much of the cousins and their children, and the bigger a family gets, the harder it is to get together. Such was the case with Anthony and me. Then one day when I was attending grandparents’ day at my grandson, Caalab’s class, and Caalab was showing me his desk, I passed by a desk with the name tag, Anthony McDaniels on it. I quickly looked around and sure enough, there was Anthony, in my grandson’s class. I told Caalab that Anthony was his cousin, and he said with a smile, “He is?” I told him to tell Anthony that they were cousins, and when he did, Anthony said, “No, we aren’t” When Caalab told me that, I said, “Tell Anthony to ask his mother about it?” Well, the very next day, Anthony came to school all smiles and told Caalab that they were, indeed, cousins. They were both excited about that then. I don’t think they had classes together after that year, but they always knew that they were cousins.
Anthony has grown into a terrific young man, who is an asset to our family. He is full of fun and always smiling. Anthony is a man who does his own thing, like wearing a suit to school sometimes, and asking others to join him. At a time when most kids are dressing down, he dresses up, and that is very cool. People have to be comfortable enough in their own skin to do what they like, even if they do it alone. Way to go Anthony!! Today is Anthony’s birthday!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!
Twelve years ago today, our world was changed forever. In my remembrance and that of all living Americans, there has never been never been such an attack…here, on American soil…until September 11, 2001. That day will live in the memories of all the American people who were old enough to remember it, and any who have been told very much about it since. I have to wonder about the people born since that time. Will they understand what that day is all about? Or will they simply see it in the way most of us see things like the Civil War or the American Revolutionary War? Both were events that took place here in America so very long ago, fought on American soil, and yet, they seem more like a storybook event than a real event that is such a big part of our history. I don’t know how that could have been changed in the years following those wars, but with our technology, we should be able to keep the memory of the terrorist attacks in the front of our children’s thoughts, so that as they grow, we don’t lose sight of what the evil in this world can bring about.
I did not know anyone who lost their life on 9-11, but I did know someone who could have been in the middle of that whole thing. My daughter’s friend, Carina, who has been like a third daughter to me since they were in Kindergarten, was a flight attendant during that time with Continental Airlines, based out of New Jersey. She was sick that day, and so was not flying. That did not alleviate her parents’ concerns, because they didn’t know that she was not flying and they couldn’t get a hold of her, because she had turned her phone off. When we knew that she was safe, we all gave a sigh of relief. It is a feeling of relief that we will never forget.
Now twelve years later we are again remembering a horrible terrorist attack against our nation, this time in Benghazi. Our government became too complacent about our safety both here and abroad, and again…people died…on a day when we should have been watchful!!! It is an atrocity!! When will we learn that we cannot forget. There is so much evil in this world and we must remain watchful, or we will be attacked again. Today, I pay tribute to those lost in all of these attacks, and to those who gave their lives trying to help others. Rest in peace.