Monthly Archives: September 2013

Yesteryear's FootballAs we start football season, I recalled a picture that I had seen among my mom’s old family pictures. It was a football practice session most likely at a local school. That reminded me of something I had read a while back about the changes in football gear over the years. As we all know, football can be a dangerous game. Sometimes, the players are hurt slightly and sometimes, quite badly. Unfortunately, it was those injuries that have founded the need for better protection, and therefore, better gear. When American football appeared on college campuses in the 1870’s little was known about the brain damage that could occur from some of the impacts that are a natural part of the game.

In those early years, head protection was rarely worn. As far back as the 1900’s, they had the “head harness” which was a soft leather version of today’s helmet, but it was mainly to protect the ears. I suppose it did, but it also made it difficult to hear, so not many players wore them. Newer versions of the helmet appeared as the years went by, featuring holes for the ears, so they could hear the plays and movement around them. They were made out of plastic, and featured a suspension system to keep the helmet from sitting directly on the player’s head. This also provided a little bit of cushion for their head. Of course, we now know that those older versions did not provide enough protection from concussion, Football Todayand the newer versions probably don’t do enough either, but they are much better than their predecessors.

In the early years, players were subjected to ridicule for putting padding in all the necessary areas that we now know need protection. It was treated as…well, wimpy back then. Now plastic is a part of shoulder pads and pants. It isn’t a perfect solution, but the key here is to keep the players in the game, if possible, because we all know that one of the best things about fall is football…to some people anyway.

JoshMy youngest grandchild is turning 15 today. That means that all of my grandchildren will be driving in some capacity. Three have their driver’s license, and now Josh will have his learner’s permit. It’s a very strange feeling when all of your grandchildren are driving. It brings you to a place of wondering where the years have gone, and how they could have gone by so very fast. It seems like only yesterday that my daughters were getting their licenses, and now my last grandchild is taking that step too. Josh has been studying like crazy for his test. Some kids don’t study and some do ok, but Josh doesn’t want to take any chances.

Like his brother, Josh already has a car, or in his case a pickup. He has been making payments to his parents to buy the family’s extra vehicle, and he’s doing a pretty good job making those payments, especially since he doesn’t have a job yet. He has been mowing lawns and other odd jobs to earn money, but now that he is 15, he is hoping to find a real job. I suppose that we will no longer have someone to mow our lawn now…but you never know, perhaps one of our grandsons will take pity on their grandpa and do that job for him.

Josh is a hard working student, and he proudly told me the other day that he has straight A’s. I know it is early in the year, but Josh hates to have grades that are not A’s, so he keep close tabs on his grades. It’s not that school is easy for Josh, because he has to work hard for his grades. He just doesn’t want to find out that he has a lot of catching up to do at the end of the quarter. It is the best way to do things, I’m sure you will agree.

While all of Josh’s accomplishments have made me so very proud of him, the thing about Learner's PermitJosh that has most surprised me is the fact that he has grown so tall and slender. Josh was born 5 weeks prematurely, and spent two weeks in Denver in the neo-natal ICU. When he came home, he set himself to the task of catching up. He ate and ate…even getting a little chunky…until he started to walk, that is. That was the last time he was chunky. Now with the added height, he seems even more slender…but it is just normal for him. He towers over me now, and…yes, he loves that too. So much has changed in Josh’s life, it has been like watching a movie in hyper-speed sometimes. Today is Josh’s birthday. Happy birthday Josh!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!

Construction of the Falls Paper Mill 1907'ishMy Grandma Spencer’s photo album contains a number of pictures from the days when the family lived in International Falls, Minnesota, and worked in the lumber business, and I assume, the paper mill there in town. If the family didn’t work there, then I would assume that she was simply interested in all the changes that were taking place in the area. At that time, the big man around town was a man named Edward Backus, who owned a vast empire of lumber and paper mills. Oddly, he originally got into that business as a young college student in need of money to finish his university program. He took time off from college to earn that money, took a job in the lumber business, and bought into the business, before finally buying out his partners to become the sole owner. He later brought in a partner, William Brooks, and together they incorporated, and their company Backus-Brooks Co. bacame the parent company for for numerous subsidiaries that came into being with developments at International Falls, Fort Frances, Kenora and elsewhere. The little sawmill in Minneapolis that started it all, was Falls Paper Mill in 1910sold in 1906 because by then, the owners were devoting much of their efforts into the developing industry in the north, which is where my grandparents’ families came into the picture, and my interest was founded. As a side note, as far as I can tell, Mr Backus never went back to finish his university program, but then I suppose there wasn’t time for that with everything else that was going on in his life.

As I said, my grandmother had numerous pictures of a paper mill, in several stages of its construction. This got me started wondering if that paper mill still existed. I began my search looking for paper mills in International Falls, and came up with a current paper mill owned by Boise Cascade…a name most of us know quite well, which came back into the news just recently when they announced the layoff of 265 workers on May 2, 2013. They plan to stay open, but will focus on the successful lines of their production, and close out two unsuccessful lines. I wondered if this paper mill could have started with the one my grandmother’s pictures to me so much about.
Boise Cascade Paper Mill today
In my research, I found not only the information on Mr Backus, but a picture of his paper mill…Falls Paper Mill…and it was indeed the one in my grandmother’s album. So, not only does the paper mill still exist, it is still in use today. So many buildings that were built in the early 1900’s are crumbling or have been demolished, but this building is still there, still standing, and still useful, although it appears that there have been some improvements and buildings added to it and around it. I guess that goes to show that good workmanship will stand the test of time.

The moment beforeYou never know what babies have on their minds. They sit and watch as the world goes by around them.  While others get in on all the fun, babies are just stuck, sitting in a high chair, stroller, or in their mommy’s arms. Always held onto, and very seldom free to run with the rest of the crowd.

My grand niece, Aleesia is one of just such a baby. At a little over 1 year in age, she still gets carried much of the time, and she doesn’t find that a bad thing…usually. There are times when she wants to get down and do her own thing, but when she is not at the house, there are fewer opportunities for her to have that freedom she wants. And with 3 brothers and her mom and dad, she gets held a lot even at home…as it should be. Still, her brothers get to go and do so many things that she does not, and that fact does not go un-noticed by our little Aleesia.

Sometimes, when her brothers are goofing off together, she begins to feel left out, and And then...sister mischiefthat…is totally unacceptable. After watching her brothers talking, playing and laughing for a while, Aleesia decides that it is time for them to remember that she is there as well, and they just need to pay attention to her too. In a recent picture shoot, while the family was on an outing, my niece Liz, Aleesia’s aunt, was taking pictures of just Jenny and the kids. They were doing a group pose, and the boys were having a good time joking and laughing amongst themselves, when Aleesia decided that they had ignored her long enough.

Jenny was holding Aleesia in the picture, and Liz…who must have seen what was about to happen…just kept shooting. Aleesia decided that the best way to get her brothers’ attention and get in on the fun, was to reach down and grab Isaac’s hair. I had to wonder how she even managed to get a hold of it at all, because it isn’t very long, but she did. Now, her other brothers thought the whole thing Saving Isaacwas hilarious, and Isaac wasn’t upset by it either, because those boys think their sister is the greatest thing since sliced bread, but it was a bit if a shock to Isaac, nevertheless. And, a person can only take so much hair pulling, so Isaac had to defend his hair, and disengage his little sister’s fingers from it, but since Liz was still snapping those pictures, I was able to see the whole thing play out almost like a movie. And since I’m sure Isaac got to keep his hair in the end, I got to see the totally humorous side of the situation, when little sister got into mischief.

Grandpa Byer's Military PhotoMany members of my family have fought in the many wars that have taken place in this world’s history…most of them I probably know nothing about. Wars, while usually necessary in order keep our nation secure; take a heavy toll on its youth. Of course, in years gone by, women were not placed in combat positions. That is no longer the case. Now women are among those war dead, just like men are.

The weapons of warfare have become more and more deadly over the years, but I can’t say that there were more war dead because of that. War dead numbers seem to fluctuate with the war, and with the willingness to die, on the part of both sides. Sometimes however, something is invented, and then improved to save lives. Such was the case with the tank. On September 6, 1915, the tank, nicknamed Little Willie rolled off of the assembly line in England. That first tank was less than well received. It was slow…maxing out at 2 miles per hour. It weighed 14 tons, and kept getting stuck in the trenches. Nevertheless, it was important, since wars had moved into that type of fighting. Trench warfare often made soldiers sitting ducks…both the ones in the trenches, and the ones coming up on the trenches. The plan was to make a vehicle that could go cross country, and into the trenches with relative safety.

I’m sure the designers were very disappointed, but they didn’t give up. They went to work to improve this valuable piece of military equipment. The next model…Big Willie debuted a year later, and while it still needed improving, people could now see how important the vehicle would become in response to the trench warfare of World War I. The tank was in existence when my grandfather was drafted into World War I, but I don’t know if he ever had the opportunity to see one or ride in one. I can’t say if the tank changed the way that World War I was going, but it has definitely made a difference in the wars since that time.

The tank has come a long way since those days…including the name. It was never in the plan to call this piece of equipment a tank. They had planned to make a landboat, and organized a Landships Committee to begin development. It was vital that they keep the vehicle a secret from enemies, so workers were apparently told that they were building a machine to carry water on the battlefield. Some say that the tank resembled water tanks. Whatever the case may be, the new vehicles were shipped in crates labeled “tank” and the name stuck.

Eddie & PearlThe first time I met the Montana branch of Bob’s family, I felt more than just a little overwhelmed. I was shy, and it seemed like there were a lot of them. In reality, there weren’t that many people, it was just me and my jangled nerves. One of the things I remember most about that first trip to Montana was Bob’s Aunt Pearl. Pearl is the kind of person who is always happy…or it seems like that to me. Every time we went to Montana, she welcomed us with open arms, a big smile, and her woderful hospitality. Pearl is one of those people who are the perfect hostess. She wants to make sure that you have everything you need, and that makes you always feel very welcome in her home.

Needless to say, that first trip to Montana went very well, in spite of my nerves. Pearl played a big part in that successful trip. It’s nice to find such a friendly face in a place where you don’t know too many people…especially if you are as shy as I was. Shyness can be quite painful, and there isn’t a lot that can be done to alleviate it, but a smile truly goes a very long way toward doing just that. Pearl endeared herself to me on that first visit, Pearl Heinand I was one grateful girl.

Pearl has not change much over the years. We don’t get to see her as much these days, since Grandma and Grandpa passed away, and we don’t go to Montana as often as we used to. I keep in touch with her mostly by texting these days, and I am very grateful for that technology. It keeps people in touch, even if they don’t get on the computer, and especially on Facebook. Maybe one of these days her grandchildren will even get her into that. I look forward to it. Today is Pearl’s birthday. Happy birthday Pearl!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Caryn and Bob share a laughBob and I went out to see his mom at the nursing home tonight. We had been out of town for the long weekend, and so had not seen her in several days. It is my usual practice to ask her if she knows who we are, and if she does, I know it’s a pretty good day. Then we can keep the conversation a little lighter. Tonight I told her that Bob and I had gone to Denver for the weekend, and that he picked on my all weekend. As usual for he, she gave him a “you’re a bad boy” look. I told her that I brought him out to see her so she could straighten him out for me. She wasn’t sure how I expected her to do that until I reminded her of something she used to say quite a bit, and not so many years ago.

She would say it whenever Bob was being particularly “bratty” or picking on someone such as his wife, who we all know would never be picking on him, because I’m just not that kind of person. Oh ok…so maybe I am, but we all know that when it comes to a choice between a poor little picked on girl and a big strong bratty guy, the girl will win every time. That was kind of the world Bob grew up in, and it isn’t likely to change now.
Joann Schulenberg, Marlyce, Debbie, and Robert - 1958
Whenever Bob was teasing me, she would tell me that she “should have given him a few more spankings” and then maybe he would behave better. It was a standing joke between us, because we both knew that Bob was a good man, and his teasing was all in fun, and something he and I both did. In fact, I was teasing him when I asked her to make him behave. The one thing that comment always did was to put a smile on everyone’s face. In my mind I could picture young Bob teasing one of his sisters…usually Jennifer, and my mother-in-law pretty much at her wits end, and Bob getting that one spanking that might have made the difference between the teasing, funny guy I know and love, and a more serious version that I know would never be a better version. I guess that when it comes down to it, I’m glad she didn’t spank him a few more times.

Corrie and Kevin Petersen Wedding Day July 17, 1993Kevin 1Kevin, my son-in-law has always loved working on cars. Shortly after their marriage…in fact, on their honeymoon a kid ran into Corrie and Kevin in a parking lot. They were devastated. They had a very nice car and Kevin really loved that car. The kid’s insurance paid to fix it, of course, but Kevin just couldn’t let someone else work on his car. That car was his baby…or at least his second baby. Corrie would tell you that she was his first baby, and that is just the way it is.

When my oldest grandson hit driving age, he wanted a great car…of course, what 16 year old boy doesn’t. Still, most kids don’t really have the money for a new car. So they started looking and found several…and in fact, Chris owned several before he was 16, but when he turned 16, he had his Camaro. It started out white…and pretty rough, but true to form, Kevin set himself to the task of helping his son have the great car he wanted.

Last year on Labor Day weekend, which just happened to include Kevin’s birthday, he was busy painting his son’s Camaro orange…even though he told Chris that the orange he wanted was too expensive and it would have to be yellow. I’m quite sure Chris dreaded that thought. Kevin is such a teaser. Nevertheless, Chris got his orange Camaro, and his dad did the work. It is beautiful.

Then, Chris wanted a bigger engine, and once again, Kevin took on the task of helping his son achieve his dreams. They have spent countless hours in the garage working on that car. It isn’t done yet and I have no doubt that they will be working on it today, once again on Kevin’s birthday, unless Chris is working that is.
Kevin 3Kevin 2
My grandson, Josh will be 15 in a few days, so I know Kevin will finish up with one son, and start working on cars with his other son. It is a never ending story, and Kevin wouldn’t want it any other way…except maybe to add a little fishing with his boys to it. Today is Kevin’s birthday. Happy birthday Kevin!! Have a wonderful day…and try not to work too hard!! We love you!!

My PonyWhen I was a little girl, I had a rocking horse. I loved my rocking horse, and that was putting it mildly. I was a wild little rider. I wanted to gallup, and there was simply no other way to ride a horse, as far as I was concerned anyway. We had hardwood floors in our house, and the place where my horse sat…well, it had permanent ruts. I’m sure it must have had to be replaced after we moved out…unless there was a historian there who liked the Oregon Trail Ruts and decided that maybe I had my own version. I didn’t think there was anyone who loved riding a rocking horse more than me or even as much…until now.

My nephew, Barry had a rocking horse too, and I think he was practicing bronc busting skills. When I came across this picture of him on his horse, I thought, “That boy is a lot like his aunt.” Of course, I am his aunt by marriage, and not blood, so that can’t really be the case, but he did remind me of me, nevertheless. Barry and I are among the few kids who just can’t take a nice little ride on a rocking horse. That is just a little bit too tame for us. I don’t think either of us feel that way about just everything, but there was a time when we felt that way about our rocking horse. Kids scan0087have so much energy when they are little. They just explode into with it. Nothing holds them back.

To us, that ricking horse was alive!! We could feel the power under us, just like the cowboys did in the old west. We were going places…I don’t know where, but we were going places and no one was going to be able to keep up with us. I still have my rocking horse, and he has been put out to pasture, because after all, he is about 55 years old or more. He has served me well, and I still love him. Barry and I are both grown now, and neither of us rides horses. If we did though, I suppose that we would have to gallup.

Chris senior pictureThere comes a time in the late summer and early fall of each year when all the high school seniors are busy getting their Senior Pictures taken. They are excitedly planning the clothes they will wear and the settings they will choose. There are so many great places around town to have pictures taken. The ideas for poses are as endless as their imaginations. These days the senior picture accentuates the personality of the senior and not just the same old thing. When my generation got senior pictures taken, they were pretty much all the same. They were taken in a studio, and most of them were just a glorified version of the traditional school picture. The main difference was the fact that they could edit out your zits. You might wear special clothing, but the picture did not look that much different than the school pictures. But, that was the past…

This year, I will have two grandchildren who will graduate from high school. Christopher will graduate from Kelly Walsh High School and Shai will graduate from Natrona County High School. They have both had their senior pictures taken, and they are all so good it will be very hard to choose the one I like best for each of them. I have chosen two that I like for this story, but I can’t say for sure that they will be my final favorite. More likely, I will have several favorites, and I’m sure I’ll have to have several different ones for different places at work and home.

Choosing a photographer is just as hard as choosing the setting and clothes, and I think that the photographers they chose were both amazing. Each one has their own style and their work was great. Christopher’s pictures were done by my niece, Liz Masterson, who is the Journalism teacher at Kelly Walsh, and has produced the year book for the last several years, as well as taken all of the pictures for it. Shai’s pictures were taken by Jessica Coleman at Poetic Images Photography. I am Shai's senior pictureextremely happy with both photographers, and I think they both have a great future ahead of them.

I can’t believe that two of my grandchildren are going to graduate this year. It seems like only yesterday that they were born. How can they possibly be in their last year of high school? I know that the years ahead will be great for both of them. I can’t wait to see where their next journeys will take them. I am so proud of both of them. They are both amazing people. Chris and Shai, I hope your senior year is totally amazing!! I love you both so much.

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