Monthly Archives: February 2014

Chris PetersenChris in bootsYears before you arrived, I already knew that I wanted to be a grandma. It had been so long since this family had a baby in it, and sometimes a mother’s arms long to hold their grandchildren long before they have any. We were so excited when we knew that you were on your way. The waiting seemed endless, but finally the day came when we knew the time of your arrival was here. I loved you from the moment I first saw you, at the very moment of your birth. You were our first grandchild, and you were a boy…something new to Grandpa and me, and a bit of a culture shock as it turned out, but an exciting change for us, nevertheless.

I look back now, on the years that have past and reminisce about how wonderful it was to have you in our lives. You were our smiley boy. You came up with the funniest, most precious faces. You smiled and laughed with your whole face…and you smiled and laughed often. You loved climbing into clothes baskets, after you threw out all the clothes, of course. Your mom might find you hiding under a table, in the closet, or behind the door. Any place would work, just as long as you could pop out and play peek-a-boo. We never knew where you would be the next time, so you kept us on our toes. I loved watching your little face light up, whenever we found your hiding places. You got so excited!! Your goal was always to follow in your daddy’s footsteps…as well as his boots, as often as your got the chance. It didn’t matter to you, where he was going, because that was where you wanted to go too. You two are so much alike. And, I loved the way you made all the animal sounds perfectly. You knew them by heart, and you were so proud of your new found ability.

The years have gone by so fast, and I can’t believe that we have already arrived at your 18th birthday. Soon you will be heading off to Sheridan to go to Culinary School, and before we know it you will we the proud owner of your own restaurant. You have shown such great skill and imagination is your culinary arts, and I can’t say that I am surprised, because you have always be an imaginative guy. We are so proud of all your hard work and we know you will be a great success in the restaurant business. My only regret is that the years have gone by so fast, and your childhood is over now. While you have been excitedly counting down the days, I have found myself trying to put the brakes on the passage of time, but that cannot be done.

To each of us comes one childhood, and when it is over, it is simply over. There is no going back, even though many of us wish we could sometimes. Gone now is the little smiley boy, and in his place stands a man, ready to take on the world. While my heart aches just a little bit, because you are going to be going away to college, I know that I can’t stand in your way. Papa and ChristopherChristopher and meI also know that you will take with you all the memories and the good teachings you have received in your childhood. You make us so proud as you start this new journey, and all I ask is that you don’t forget your way home, because we, your family will be looking forward to each and every time you are back with us. Today is your 18th birthday. Happy birthday Christopher!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you very much!!

Joann's yearbook pictureWe often think we know everything there is to know about a person, but what we don’t know would really surprise us. Recently while going through some old pictures, I came across my mother-in-law’s high school yearbooks, and her old scrap book. What I found in there surprised me very much, but that is not so surprising, since I first met her when she was 43 years old. Nevertheless, I expect that some of the things I found out about her, will surprise even her children, because I know they don’t know most of what I discovered.

For all the years I have known my mother-in-law, she was a homemaker, and pretty much a home body. She liked knitting and crocheting, and had done quite a bit of sewing in her time. She canned vegetables, and had raised many a cow for beef for the family. She loved horses, and as a girl, she would have rather been on a horse than pretty much anywhere else. That is all things we all did know about her. But…in high school, my mother-in-law was quite the joiner. Now that surprised me very much. Joann's Drill Team_0002aHer extra curricular activities included things like office aide and library staff, neither of which would be outside the realm of what I would have expected from her, nor would working on the annual staff or even the school paper, called The Shovel. Any of those things might have been something that I could see her being interested in. Really, other than the horse riding, my mother-in-law had always seemed to me like the quiet type, who didn’t like things that were noisy or too strenuous, so any of these things would fit into my idea box for her personality.

Then, my idea of just who she was, took a major hit. The scrapbook showed pictures of her as a member of the school drill team…the baton twirlers, as many of us would know them. I thought, “Wow!! That just doesn’t seem like her at all!!” To add to my surprise, I found that she was also a member of the pep club!! You can’t even get her interested in Joann's Drill Team_0001watching a football game today, so what was this all about? After this, I wasn’t totally surprised to find that she was on the basketball team, but since she as not been very athletic in all the years I have known her…not even wanting to go for a walk, I must say, it was hard to imagine her being out on the basketball court.

By now, my whole view of the person my mother-in-law used to be has been completely shattered, so I began to be prepared for more surprises to come, and she did not let me down in that area either. Since I have never heard my mother-in-law sing, my next big shocker was to find that she was a member of the Glee Club…who would have thought that?? But, it doesn’t stop there. She was also a member of the Dramatics Club. Imagine that, my mother-in-law the actress. I simply cannot imagine her being in a play, but apparently she was. And lest we leave out perhaps one of the most shocking Joann's yearbook picture_0001things, I was informed that she was into school politics!! In fact, she was it’s leader, being duly elected Senior Class President of the Class of 1949 at Colstrip High School in Colstrip, Montana. She has never been interested in politics that I can recall, and mostly wouldn’t even discuss it much.

I’m sure you think that you have heard all the things about my mother-in-law’s high school years that there could possibly be to tell, but you would be wrong, because the thing that shocked me the most, whether it should have or not, was the fact that while my mother-in-law has never gone by anything but Joann in all the years I have known her, apparently there was a time when she was…Annie. I wouldn’t have believed it myself, but it is there in black and white in her yearbook. Today is my mother-in-law’s 83rd birthday!! Happy birthday…Annie! Have a great day!! We love you!!

What is going on hereI have heard quite often about a trip that my great grandfather, Carl Schumacher took back to the old country…Germany. As far as I know it was the only trip he ever took back there to see his family and also spend some time with my great grandmother, Henriette’s family. The trip was taken in 1907, when my Great Aunt Bertie was just 8 years old. Grandpa wanted to show his family that he was doing well, as was his family, and show them his family, since they had never met them. He had a picture that was taken in front of the house with the women standing there, and the 14 horses they owned at the time along side. The men were holding the horses, and at the end of the line was Albert “trying to hold down” his horse, Beauty, which only he and Mina dared to ride. As it turned out, his family thought that his family must be rich, to own so many horses. They thought it was the right decision to move to America. They must have thought it was easy to get rich in America, when in reality, they weren’t wealthy. The family had what they had because of hard work and a little frugality.
Dolls from Germany
In all, my great grandfather would spend three months in Germany. That is a long time to be away from his family, but it made perfect sense, because getting there was not a quick trip in itself. Traveling by ship both ways was a slow mode of travel, so it made no sense to go if you weren’t going to stay a while. Upon his return, my Great Aunt Bertie went off by herself for a few minutes. She needed to cry a little for the joy of having him back. But while she needed a little cry to release the pent up loneliness she had been feeling, she was also very excited about the things he brought with him. The family back in Germany wanted to send some gifts back for the family with him, and they were magnificent. While Bertie only tells of the things she and Elsa received, I can imagine that the gifts for the rest of the family were equally magnificent.

Nevertheless, everyone was excited about the dolls that were sent for Bertie and Elsa. The dolls were three feet tall with human hair. They were beautifully dressed in pale blue dresses made by a dressmaker in Germany. They had little cloth bracelets of lace at their wrists, and their hands moved separately from the arms. The dresses were trimmed everywhere with tucks and lace of pale blue. On their feet were baby stockings and real leather slippers. The dolls were so big that Bertie and Elsa really couldn’t easily play with them, so they were given Two Dollsa special place in the parlor, where everyone could see and enjoy their beauty. When Bertie and Elsa moved to Colorado, many years later, they were unable to take the dolls with them, so they donated the dolls to a Crippled Children’s Home near Jamestown, North Dakota. The dolls were completely renovated and beautifully dressed, and were locked in a glass case for viewing only.

I have to wonder if my great aunts were a little sad when the donated their dolls, for while they were children anymore, the dolls were such a special gift, and had come from so far and with so much love that it must have been like leaving a little bit of their hearts behind too. Still, they must have brought much joy and happiness to the children who got to look at them.

Grandpa and Grandma Byer as a young coupleMy grandma, Harriet “Hattie” Byer was never a very big person in stature, but when it came to being the boss, she was a giant. Grandma was a loving person and very kindhearted. She would never let anyone go hungry, and often had several extra mouths at the supper table. No one could ever figure out just how she managed to always have enough food for all of her family, and yet still have plenty for extras, even when she didn’t know they were coming. Yes, when it came to the kitchen, Grandma was the Queen!!

Grandma was pretty easy going, but when one of her kids crossed the line, they found out exactly who was the boss. Grandma’s short stature in no way diminished her ability to discipline her children or grandchildren if they had dared to cross her much…like the time she was giving my Uncle Larry a spanking, and my mother dared to interfere. There was no doubt in my mother’s mind that her mother seemed giant like…or at the very least, had giant like strength when she grabbed her by the hair, jerking her back to receive her own spanking for sticking her nose in where it did not belong. And then there was the time that an adult Aunt Bonnie, dared to suggest that grandma couldn’t take her down now, because she was too big for her mother to handle. Grandma immediately reached over and grabbed Aunt Bonnie’s feet and pulled them right out from under her, depositing her, with mouth wide open, on the floor. Aunt Bonnie found out what a giant her mom was too.

More than one of the grandchildren have learned the hard way, that Grandma ruled like a Big George Pattan & Grandma Byergiant. I remember getting crossways with her myself, one time when my mom and dad were hunting. Grandma was babysitting my sisters and me. I don’t remember what it was I did now, but I do remember that I knew I was in the wrong, and I remember that when Grandma was done with me, I had no doubt in my mind that she was a giant of a woman. It wasn’t that she beat the daylights out of me, because I don’t recall that she even spanked me. She simply let me know that she was in charge, and I had better not forget it. Grandma stood 5′ in her tall days, and about 4’10’ after she began to shrink, but when it came to being in charge, Grandma was a giant of a woman. Today would have been Grandma’s 105th birthday. Happy birthday Grandma!! We love you!!!

BrendaEvery woman can relate to being taken for a ride by a mechanic who took advantage of her lack of knowledge about the automobile, but most of us would hope that the mechanic that took advantage wasn’t related, and certainly wouldn’t expect that it would be their brother. Nevertheless, when that brother is of the type to take great pleasure in teasing his sisters, everything is fair game…and there are no rules. It is every sibling for themselves. Over the course of the years when my husband, Bob’s brother, Ron was too young to help out with the cars, Bob was the family mechanic, and he enjoyed it very much.

He was also a big clown, and he thoroughly enjoyed picking on his sisters. One time his sister, Brenda wanted him to fix her turn signal. She wasn’t sure what was wrong with it, and so she asked her mechanic for his opinion. He told her that it could be low on blinker fluid, and made arrangements to have her come to our house so he could check it for her. She was happy with that, but when she told someone else that she had to get her blinker fluid checked…well, let the laughter begin. Brenda didn’t live that one down for quite a while, and in fact, it was a standing joke for years. Of course, Brenda was a good sport about it, even making the joke herself on many occasions. So now you know that if your turn signal doesn’t work, forget fuses, it is most likely the blinker fluid.

Of course, Bob just wanted to see if he could pull one over on his sister, and unlike scamming mechanics, he would never have charged her for checking the blinker fluid, but there are many women that haven’t had such an honest, though quite bratty mechanic. I have to wonder how many women have actually paid someone to check their blinker fluid…or is my husband the only brat who would prey on his gullible sister with such a crazy repair idea. I’m sure that here are a number of scamming mechanic stories out there, and that is a sad thing, but my mechanic might tease his women clients, but would never rip them off.

Bob always was and always will be a great kidder, and his favorite targets are his family members. No one is immune…they are all fair game. He has even done it to me, although I had been married Bob and Caryn - the early yearsto him for a few years by then, so I was a little more wise to his tricks, when he tried to convince me that the kick in the seat of the pants feeling my car was giving me was all in my head and not the U-Joint that it really was. I got even though, we were going out with some friends, and we went in our car, and the car did the same thing, and I said, “There!! Did you guys feel that?” Well, Bob was stuck, and sheepishly admitted that it was the U-Joint, and he was going to fix it, but I wasn’t going to let it go at that. I told our friends that he had been trying to convince me for a couple of weeks, that there was nothing wrong, and it was all in my head. As Bob, looking like the cat that ate the canary, grinned at us, we all got a laugh at his expense for once.

226670_523457917716613_960621479_nMy grand niece, Christina Masterson is a very soft hearted person. For her, probably the worst thing that can happen is that something she says or does might hurt the feelings of another person. She wants everyone around her to be happy and so, sadness is hard for her to take. She will try her very best to bring joy to those around her. That is probably one of the main reasons why her siblings love her so much. Christina has a special bond with her younger brother, Brycen and her younger sister, Raelynn. Maybe that bond is because they are of similar personalities, and so have more in common,  or maybe they are opposites, and that’s why it works. Whatever it is,  those younger siblings think she is pretty cool, and she thinks they are too. Nevertheless, she is loved by all her siblings, and she loves them…unconditionally. There is nothing they could do to lose that love.

Maybe being around younger sisters has had some effect on Christina, because she loves Hello Kitty, and even asked for Hello Kitty toys for Christmas. So, her mom got her the whole kitchen set…the toaster, microwave, pancake maker, mixer, and crock pot. While it is a little 1455116_597509333644804_406315947_nfunny that a 17 years old girl would want Hello Kitty toys, it could get precarious if she tried to use these appliances in her own home when she gets married someday. She has a tendency to be goofy, so Hello Kitty isn’t totally outside the realm of possibilities.

Christina and her cousin, my granddaughter, Shai have been the best of friends almost since they were born, 5 days apart. They spend a lot of time together, and love to talk to each other in weird voices…almost like a secret language. From the beginning, they just clicked. Now they are almost attached at the hip. They even worked at the same place for a while. That happens sometimes…cousins become almost inseparable friends…for life. Looking forward, I can’t say they will always spend as much time with each other, but I do know that no matter where they go or what they do, Christina and Shai will always love each other very much.

Christina has always been a very giving person. She has a real heart for the homeless and needy. She has been known to buy gas for someone who really needs it. Maybe she got that way, because she watched her mom give their last 5 dollars to a family in need when they were stranded, and they didn’t have very much themselves then. Christina likes to buy Christmas 1538734_642735059122231_1522864099_npresents for people who aren’t going to get any gifts otherwise. She is a very caring person, and it shows in everything she does for others.

Christina is a very strong, brave girl, and she doesn’t let things get her down. Life isn’t always easy for any of us, and it can get pretty daunting, but Christina faces each new challenge with dignity and grace, and that is the best any of us can do. I know that the great traits Christina has will take her wherever she wants to go in life. Today is Christina’s 18th birthday. Happy birthday Christina!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Jennifer, Ron, and BrendaAny time you have two girls whose mom gives birth to a baby brother, you have two little mothers in training. They want to be involved in everything, even if they are only 5 and 7 years older than the baby brother. In fact, that might even make it more likely that they will try to show off their skills. Smaller sisters might not give much thought to a baby brother, but when they start thinking they are big now, they want everyone to know it. And for that little brother…well, he can plan on a lot of years of being bossed around by those sweet, innocent looking little bossy mommies in training. This was the world my brother-in-law, Ron Schulenberg was born into. Oh, those first couple of years were probably great, being cuddled and pampered by his big sisters, who just loved the baby, but then, he became a toddler, and the terrible twos came about, and suddenly those nice big sisters were just as bossy as they could be.

I first met Ron, when his older brother, Bob and I started dating, and I can tell you that Ron always seemed to find himself in the wrong place, at the wrong time, doing the wrong thing…especially where his older sisters, Jennifer and Brenda were concerned, and older sisters, Marlyce and Debbie agreed. Boys will be boys, but I guarantee that their older sisters are not amused by that fact. I can remember Jennifer and Brenda telling Ron to “knock it off, and behave himself” more than times than I can count. Here he was, just trying to show off for company, and what do those darned big sisters do…well, they just go off and embarrass a guy!! Thankfully, though there were also good times, when they would do things with him and life would be great again, or he might have just had to not like his sisters at all.

It was also a good thing for Ron, that he had a big brother, among those four big sisters, who didn’t mind hanging out with his little brother, even on a date. I suppose it was a matter of Bob having had to live with two older sisters all his life and two younger ones for quite a while. Bob knew what sisters were like, and he had to take sides with his little brother…guys have to stick together…right? I mean, it was four to two, and those were tough odds. And for Ron, the added insult of always being the baby brother, even when he was a great big 5 year old…well, Four sisters and Two Macho Brothersyou get the picture.

The good news is that Ron grew up, and as most siblings, with age comes friendship. His sisters found out how handy he was to have around…especially when they needed a helping hand with things. Ron is a great mechanic, and he’s pretty handy with most carpentry tools too, so anytime someone needs something built, he can usually get it done. He will always be their baby brother, but we all agree that he isn’t a baby anymore…in fact the youngest is the tallest!! Maybe that was for self defense, who knows. Today is Ron’s birthday!! Happy birthday Ron!! We love you!!

DebbieWhen I was seventeen, I got a job at Kmart. It was not in the most exciting department for a seventeen year old, but in the end it worked out ok. I was in the Millinery Department, which is, for those of you who don’t know, handbags, gloves, scarves, and wigs. Like I said, real exciting. Most of the time, the hours dragged on and on because of the boredom.

Part of my job that winter was to straighten my glove display over by the delicatessen. It was there that I met my future sister-in-law, Debbie. She worked in the delicatessen, and often worked the same shifts I did. We talked a little bit whenever I went over to straighten the display…which, in the winter, could be a couple of times a shift.

Before long, we were good friends. I could say that it was through Debbie that I met my husband, Bob, but that wouldn’t be exactly right. Bob and his friend, Paul both asked me out…after trashing me display just to get my attention, but I turned Paul, who had asked first, down, because I liked Bob. Then, when Bob asked me out, I had to turn him down too, because I had other plans that night. Bob thought I didn’t like him either, and didn’t ask me out again…for a long time, even though they still came up and trashed me display. I guess he couldn’t stay away, because he liked me too. I didn’t know what to do next, so I talked to Debbie. I told her that I really liked Bob, and that I really had turned him down because I had other plans, not because I didn’t like him.Debbie, Lynn, Caryn, & Bob

In the end, it took a lot of talking on Debbie’s part to convince Bob to ask me again. It was obvious that he liked me too, but he honestly thought he had been rejected. So I guess you would have say that Debbie was instrumental in getting us together. When she got married, I was her maid of honor, and then when we got married, she was mine. After all, would we have even been getting married if she hadn’t been Bob’s older sister, who didn’t mind being bossy and telling him to try again. Today is Debbie’s birthday. Happy birthday Debbie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

John Clark SpareMy Great Uncle John Clark Spare, who was my Great Aunt Mina Schumacher’s husband, had a lengthy career in the Army, that began when he enlisted in the North Dakota National Guard on June 30, 1916 at the tender young age of 17 years. At that time he was assigned to the Rio Grande River Border Patrol along the United States-Mexican Border, at Mercedes, Texas.  In all, he served off and on from 1916 to 1943. When he wasn’t off fighting in wars, he was able to receive training in the Highway Engineering branch of Civil Engineering at Iowa State College. Following his education, he was assigned to field work, which is where I believe he began his initial association with the Indian tribes in the area, and would eventually change his life forever.

However that may have happened, John did end up being considered a person the tribes would listen to, and because of that, he was invited on November 11, 1936 to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation near Cannonball to give a speech at the American Legion Post Rally. Later that day, an Indian named White Eagle told him that an old Indian named Walking Cloud liked his speech very much and wanted to meet him. As it turned out, Walking Cloud had recently lost his son. He wanted to adopt John in his place…quite an honor. Over the remainder of that year and into the next, Walking Cloud and his wife, Mary visited the Spare home frequently. I would guess that they were getting to know each other better.

The ceremony was set for July 4, 1937 at Cannonball, during the first celebration of the Sundance since it was abolished in 1892 because the government felt the ritual was too torturous. For those who don’t know, the ritual entailed raising a huge pole with leather thongs tied to the top…two for each dancer. Incisions were made in two places on the braves chests and the ends of the thongs knotted into them. The dancers then danced around the pole until the thongs ripped from their chest, as a way of displaying their bravery. The Sundance was able to be revived in 1937, because most of the older Indians had died, and the younger ones weren’t very interested in having the torturous dance kept as part of the ceremony after all Chief Walking Cloudthat time.

John Clark Spare was made Walking Cloud’s son during that ceremony, and given a Chief’s headdress made with genuine eagle feathers, which would be impossible now. Attached to the headdress was a long trailer of brilliant feathers running from the base of the neck to the ground. Trailers were worn by chiefs only on special occasions, Mary had fashioned breeches and a coat of pure white leather for him. Her work was exquisite, especially the bead work that covered most of the garment. After his adoption, John studied Indian lore more than before, and the collecting of Indian artifacts became his beloved hobby.

You Stepped On My ToeFor all of their childhood years, my daughter Amy just wanted to be different than her big sister, Corrie. Corrie played the violin, so Amy wanted to play the clarinet. If Corrie wanted to watch Bugs Bunny, Amy wanted to watch Mickey Mouse. It wasn’t like they fought about things, because mostly they didn’t. The girls got along very well, and were always good friends. Amy just didn’t want to be mini-me to her big sister. I suppose that because they were born so close together…just eleven months apart…they seemed to be the same age by the time they could both walk. Corrie had the distinction of being the big sister, and everyone knew it, because Amy forgot to grow. At just 4’10 (which is hard for me to say, because we always thought it was 4’11, until her husband, Travis proved us wrong), there was little doubt in anyone’s mind that she was the youngest. Of course, they would have thought that if she had been the oldest too, so I guess, for Corrie’s sake it was a good thing that the shorter child was also the younger child.

For Amy, who never really felt like she was the younger child…but rather felt like they should be equal, there always seemed to be something to prove. It wasn’t exactly like a competition, but rather an opposition. She didn’t want to compete to be the best at the same things Corrie was doing, she just wanted to be her own person. That is why, no matter what the situation was, Amy wanted to do the opposite of Corrie. If Amy couldn’t be the oldest, she would have to be the opposite. There were the natural things that worked out in Amy’s favor too…being shorter, being blond while her sister was brunette, even needing glasses for distance vision, while Corrie needed them for near vision. Yes, these two daughters of mine were as opposite and opposite could possibly be.

You would naturally think that there would be nothing but fighting in our household, with all this I want to be different than her opposition going on, and sometimes you would be right. My big sisThe argument was mostly with their mother though. I saw nothing wrong with both girls playing the violin, but that couldn’t have been further from the truth, and Amy quickly informed me of the error of my ways. I would have even dressed them alike, but that was also a no no! So, I learned to see these two little people, as two very different individuals…not a bad thing I suppose. And, while Amy did everything in her power to show her individuality, she loved her big sister. And, every so often, I would catch a little look…usually so subtle that it went unnoticed until years later in a picture, that told me that while Amy didn’t want to be mini-me to Corrie, she thought her big sister was pretty great, nevertheless.