Monthly Archives: November 2013

Uncle Bill's return to WisconsinIn 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.
Final Wishes
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.
Grandpa and Aunt Doris
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.

Bob's TrainOnce again, it is here…that big shopping day that always arrives on the Friday after Thanksgiving…Black Friday. Not everyone wants to get up in the wee hours of the morning…ok, the middle of the night…to hit the stores hoping to find the best prices for that special gift you want to buy for those people on your shopping list. It does take a special kind of crazy to do that, and thanks to my sister, Allyn, who got us started on this a number of years ago, Bob and I definitely fit into that category. Allyn’s husband Chris, quite going a long time ago, but Bob likes to go. Hey, don’t laugh…I’m not out there by myself, like a lot of women are…thanks Bob!!

We spend as much time as we can spare combing through the ads, to see what stores we need to go to, and how early, so that we don’t miss out on that perfect item. We try to go to bed early so we can get up about 3:00am, hoping to be at the stores, preferably with a nice hot cup of Cappuccino from Loaf and Jug to wake us up and keep us warm. I don’t ever get all my shopping done on Black Friday, partly because I don’t always have lists from my family, and partly because around 9:00, we are all done with the whole Black Friday Shopping thing, and ready for breakfast. So off we go to hit up Johnny J’s Diner for a real cup of coffee, and a nice hot breakfast.

After breakfast, the day generally finds me taking a nap, because while I am crazy enough to Christmas Pastgo shopping at 4:00 in the morning, I still need my sleep. Bob usually winds up in the garage working on someone’s car, which is nothing unusual for him…and that is another kind of crazy on Black Friday, but whatever he wants to do us fine by me, as long as I get my nap.

Whether you choose to shop at the stores on Black Friday, and the rest of the next month until all your Christmas shopping is done, or get online on Cyber Monday, and have it shipped right to your home, the fact remains that the Christmas season is once again upon us, and time waits for no man. So, I ask you…”Do you Black?”

MachelleMachelle is the third granddaughter of my in-laws, and our niece, of course. She and my girls were all born pretty close together, with Corrie, our oldest, born 1 year and 5 months before Machelle, and our youngest, Amy born 6 months before Machelle. The girls were always close, even though as little ones they obviously fought as often as they played…normal for most kids. Nevertheless, they always had great fun playing together, and spent a week at each other’s house during the summer, after Machelle’s family moved to Thermopolis, Wyoming when she was little. We would send the girls for a week, and then a while later, we would have Machelle for a week. Those were great times for the girls, but by the time the week was over, Debbie and I were ready to have things back to normal.

Machelle was born on her Grandpa Knox’s birthday…the second grandchild to do that, with Corrie arriving on Grandma Knox’s birthday. I will never forget that year, since Bob and I had traveled to visit his Aunt Linda and Uncle Bobby Cole the day after Thanksgiving that year. We found out that Machelle had arrived while we were in Kennebec, South Dakota. Then, on our way back, we ended up driving in a blizzard and were forced to stop near Lusk, Wyoming for about an hour before the roads cleared enough to go on. Not the most pleasant trip home, but I do remember Machelle’s birth very clearly because of it.

Because Machelle’s birthday is the 28th of November, every few years, she gets an extra Happy birthday Machellespecial birthday dinner…like today, because it falls on Thanksgiving. Unlike having your birthday on Christmas, having it on Thanksgiving isn’t so bad, because everyone can be thankful for Machelle and for another year of having this sweet person in our lives. She has been a great help to the family in the years when we were taking care of her Grandma and Grandpa Schulenberg. She never hesitated to do whatever was asked of her, and for my father-in-law, that was an endearing quality. It showed her love for them, and it meant a lot to him. For all that Machelle did, I am very thankful today. Happy birthday Machelle!! Have a wonderful day, and a very happy Thanksgiving too. We are very thankful for you. We love you!!

Thanksgiving DinnerToday, I give thanks to God for all of the wonderful family and friends he has blessed me with. What would life be without all of the wonderful people in my life. This day is not about the turkey and stuffing, or the days off from work, but about all the ways God has blessed and enriched my life. The blessings He has bestowed on me are too numerous to list here, but be assured that they are to the level of overflowing. My extended family has grown exponentially this year, and that has been a blessing beyond words. To all my cousins, the new ones we have found, and those who we have known all along…you are a greater blessing than you will ever know…I love you all.

I am especially thankful that all of my family members are healthy again, and those who haven’t been are getting better and better every day. Being in good health is vital to life, and so I give thanks to God for good health for me and all my loved ones.

I thank God that in a time of recession, all of my family members have jobs. We don’t think too much about jobs, until the economy goes bad, and then that is a very important part of our thoughts, but God has protected our jobs, and blessed us all financially.

On this wonderful holiday, it is my hope that all of my friends and family are as blessed as my family and I have been. Praise God for all His goodness, grace, and mercy in our lives. Happy Thanksgiving to all!!

The MoviesRemember the last time you went to the movies? There might have been a line as you went in, but with the ability to get movies right at home on the television, the lines were probably not like they used to be. I remember going to the movies when we stood in line, outside…for over an hour to get inside. In the wintertime, that was brutal, but you did it, because you really wanted to see the movie. Of course, when I was a kid, and we went to the movies, the theater was packed with kids, planning to see the latest Disney film, and the minute the lights went out, the crowd could no longer contain their excitement, so they broke out in loud screaming. It was simply the excitement that could no longer be contained inside, coming out in the form of a scream.

Now, take a trip back in time with me to a time when movies were very new. The novelty had not worn off, as it has today. Not everyone had seen a moving picture show. Even as kids, filled with excitement at the latest movie, we would never have been able to understand the level of excitement that came from seeing those first moving picture shows. I suppose there were people that felt like this new form of entertainment was not a good thing, but most felt like it was something exciting that they wanted to be a part of. I seriously doubt that they could have had any idea what an enormous impact those first moving picture shows would have on mankind.

Today, we have much more than moving picture shows, and television…which exist in almost every home in America, brings us much more than entertainment. We can turn on our TV and we are instantly connected to weather warnings, breaking news, politics, and yes, even entertainment. We can tune into learning channels that teach us about everything from animals to languages to space, and we can even watch programs from our favorite religious leaders and in my case, even our church, which broadcasts its Sunday morning service all over Wyoming, for people who can’t get to church, or don’t have a church in their small town.

So much has changed in our world since that first moving picture show, and while, we still go to the movies, the lines are rarely that long. That is quite possibly because the show is often shown at several theaters, with several showings a day, including afternoon showings. Many people don’t even go to the movies at all, choosing instead to wait for the movie to come out on television or DVD. And these days, we have the even further choice of watching television or movies on our PC, laptop, tablet, or even our cell phone. Whatever way we choose to enjoy this type of entertainment, it all started with the moving picture show.

Beyer Crest GermanyIn the middle of the 18th century, Germany was a country that had been floundering due to European politics for more than a hundred years.  At that time, France, England, and Spain largely had control of the continent because of their military might. The German states, on the other hand, were left to their own devices, and each leader was running his state for his own gain, without concern for the people or the nation as a whole. As a result of all the political greed, Germany was a nation that was going to quickly go under or eventually succumb to the greed around it and become an evil dictatorship, and no help was coming. It was in this Germany, at this time in history that my 6th Great Grandfather, Philipp Beyer (a name that would later be Americanized to Byer) and his wife, my 6th Great Grandmother Maria, were a young couple with a small son…my 5th Great Grandfather, Johann Beyer.

Germany was quickly becoming a place that was either going to fall apart or be controlled Cornelius George Byerby it’s own evil leaders. Either way, Germany had become a place where my 6th Great Grandparents could no longer afford to raise their family, so they made the decision to immigrate to Russia, which at that time in history was a better choice. I can’t even imagine how they must have felt, as they were leaving the country they loved, and moving to an unknown situation in an unknown country. Russia must have ended up being a good decision, because the family would live there for the next five generations, before my Great Grandfather, Cornelius George Byer, would make the decision in 1874 to immigrate to America, once again in search of a better life and to get away from a government that was quickly becoming extremely evil.

It is a sad thing when a government becomes so evil that you feel like you must immigrate to another country in order to save your children from the tyranny of your own country. Like it or not, that is what many people had to do and still have to do in order to protect Grave of Cornelius George Byertheir children. The move to America would be the best thing my great grandfather ever did. Once here, they were able to get a homestead that belonged to them, and was not subject to confiscation by an evil government, and more importantly, their children could not be taken away by the government to be raised as it saw fit, and become as evil as it was. It does make me very thankful that my grandfathers were wise enough to know when it was time to simply cut your losses, and get out…before their evil government made it impossible to leave.

scan0041 (4)Little boys want so much to be just like their daddy. They want to do whatever their daddy is doing. Most times they aren’t much help until they are older, but if their dads don’t let them help when they are little, they most likely won’t want to when they are older. It is a challenge for those dads to find suitable jobs for those little boys though. Sometimes all they can do is point to a tool so they can get it for them. It would be much easier for that dad to do the job himself, but that would break his little boy’s heart, and he can’t have that. Of course, as those little boys eventually learn the ropes, and they can become pretty good hands, if they still want to help by that time. A kid with a little training, can learn to figure out complex problems, but a kid with no training, will have a much harder time. So, a good dad will let their little boys help out so they can learn, even scan0061 (4)if it would be easier to do it themselves, and even if their little man gets annoying at times.

Bob’s dad, my father-in-law, had two sons, and while I can’t say how Bob was as a helper when he was as a little guy, I do remember that Ron, while probably the same as Bob, was a bit of a trial. The men needed to get things done, and yet here was Ron…wanting to help. Bob was born 14 years before Ron, so by this time he and his dad worked very well together. Ron just wanted to be like his dad and his big brother. They tried to let him help as much as possible, but some of the work they were doing was too dangerous for Ron, and some of it was too complex. I’m sure it was frustrating for Ron, and the times I witnessed, I think it probably hurt his feelings some too. That made me feel bad, but then scan0004 (2)his dad would find a job to do that Ron was able to help with, and that made things a whole lot better.

As the years went by, both of the boys became their dad’s right hand man, excelling in different kinds of work at different times in his life. He very seldom had to hire work done, because if he couldn’t do it, his boys probably could. In fact, the three of them, along with grandsons Barry, JD, and Eric were usually more than enough to get any job done. Yes, even if training the littlest helpers can be frustrating at times, it usually ends up being the best move you can make.

Uncle Bill near Whitefish, MTDuring the Depression years, many people were looking for work…any kind of work, because jobs were scarce, and money even more so. Many men were forced to leave their wives and young children to run the farms, so they could go out, sometimes several states away to look for work. It wasn’t just the husbands either. Many times, as in the case of my dad and my Uncle Bill, it was the sons who had to go find jobs too, because the family was simply not going to make ends meet if they didn’t. So it was that Dad and Uncle Bill set out for the Whitefish, Montana area to look for work. This trip would be quite an experience for the two brothers, who were in their teens at the time. It is my guess that my dad would have been around 15 years and Uncle Bill 17 years old at this time, but I could be off by a year or two. It doesn’t matter, because they were, nevertheless young.

They got to Fosston, Minnesota that first night…taking it easy on Uncle Bill’s old Plymouth, and arriving about 8:30pm. They tried to find a room to rent for the night, but there were Dad near Whitefish, MTnone, and then someone said they could sleep at the jail, so they went to check it out. They were allowed to spend the night there, after showing identification, being searched, and leaving all their belongings except their clothes in the office. I’m sure they were really wondering if they would turn them loose the next morning, after such an ordeal, but while the beds were not the most comfortable, they had a place to sleep. Needless to say, they left Fosston the next morning, and headed to Osnabruck, North Dakota the next day, where they found work unloading bags of cement from a rail road box car. By the end of the day, they were exhausted and pretty certain that they couldn’t have lifted one more bag…no matter how much money was offered. They found a man and his son who had a threshing machine and several farms lined out to do threshing for, but not enough help, so they worked for him until continued rain ended the threshing for the year.

Then, they decided to get out of North Dakota, and headed for Whitefish, Montana where they worked in the lumber business for a company called Kinshella Lumber, in the Near Whitefish, MTbeautiful mountains outside Whitefish. That area was one that they found to be a great place for adventure, and they spent a lot of time driving in the mountains when they were working. It was a time they would remember fondly, until October arrived, bringing with it some very cold weather. By this time, both boys were pretty much done with this trip, so they set out for home, with enough money to make another payment on the farm. They had an interesting adventure, to say the least, but I’m sure that grandma’s good cooking and their own beds were calling their names, and as Uncle Bill said, there was wood to be cut up for the stove.

The house my dad was born inMost of us today think very little about the place we were born, except the city and state, of course. That is because most of us are born in hospitals, these days, and while we may know about those, they carry little value, except the name itself. It isn’t a place we go to see out of curiosity, or a place that we generally have a picture of, because it just isn’t that big a part of our life history. I found this picture recently, and for me, it will now always carry a great value and significance in my life history. No, it isn’t the place where I was born. My own birth took place at Saint Joseph’s Hospital, in Superior, Wisconsin. That is all I know of the place, and it has never been something that carried any great importance to me to see. No, this is the house where my dad was born…a home birth.

Home births didn’t used to be such a novelty, in fact the very opposite was true. Women saw no need to rush off to the hospital to give birth to their children during the time when my dad was born. And yet, it is that relative novelty that exists today concerning home births, that made me look twice at the information my Uncle Bill had attached to this picture. While my dad was not the only one of my grandparents children to be born at home, he was the only one to be born in this house.

After I read that this house was where my dad was born, I just felt an immediate connection to it. I could picture my dad…the baby, crying for the first time and then being handed to his mother so he could eat his first meal. I could picture him learning to sit, stand, and walk in this house. I could picture his siblings, Laura and William taking turns holding the new baby, and Laura helping her mother to care for her new baby brother. Aunt Laura had been such a great held with my Uncle Bill’s care when he was little, and how much she liked that job, as told by Uncle Bill, so I can imagine that she cared for my dad in much the same way.
Dad and Uncle Bill
I don’t know how long they lived in this house for sure, but I do know that it carried many precious memories of happy times. It is a house that my Uncle Bill spoke of often, and there are a number of pictures taken at this house too. Stories of their times playing with the Zenith Coaster wagon that is pictured in front of the house, also graced the pages of the family history, as very important pictures for Uncle Bill, He and my dad had many great times in that old wagon, and as an added blessing, their sister, Laura was there to pull them around in it, so they didn’t have to do a thing but sit back and enjoy the ride. I think I can see exactly why the house meant so much to the family.

Luckenbach babyKelli is my nephew’s wife, and has been a part of our family for almost 10 years now. She has always liked the idea of living in the country and raising donkeys, but lately she is focusing her interests on country music and traveling to concerts. Kelli has a blog, called Thoughts From A Gypsy Soul, and she writes about her travels, and her latest favorite songs. Check it out if you get a chance.

I think Kelli is right when she calls herself a Gypsy Soul, because she really wants to live somewhere in the South, probably Texas. Some people just don’t like the cold weather of the north, and Kelli is one of those people. I don’t know if her dreams will ever be realized, because, somehow we seem to end up where we are supposed to in life, I think, but time will tell how this turns out for Kelli.

Kelli is a kind soul too. During my sister-in-law, Brenda’s recent hospitalization, that lasted about a month, Kelli was a regular visitor. Her smiling face brightened Brenda’s days, and mine too. Whenever we were there together, we shared many laughs, and it was a lot of fun. Kelli has a great laugh…it’s fun to be around her when she is laughing a lot.
Remember the Alamo
Kelli has a fascination with celebrities, and the royal family in particular. She would love to be related to them, and recently with the connection I made to the Schulenberg family to the Spencer family, she can now say that she is a cousin of Princess Diana and the rest of the current royal family, so that dream has finally been realized. I am still looking for a connection from her own side of the family, but haven’t found one as yet. Maybe, I will soon. Kelli hails from Reading, Michigan, and my family came from the Great Lakes area too, so you just never know. Today is Kelli’s birthday. Happy birthday Kelli!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!