Monthly Archives: March 2014
My niece, Liz has always been a sports fan…and a bit of a tomboy. The only pictures we really have of her in a dress were when she was very little. She always had strong ideas about what she wanted to do and where she wanted to go. Oh, she hadn’t chosen her career path when she was little, but at that time she had strong ideas about what sports she liked and what teams she liked. Sports was always something she shared with her grandpa, my dad, Allen Spencer. They were both Broncos fans, for football, and Yankees fans, for baseball. That love of those teams, and their love of talking about sports never changed. They could talk about it for hours. It was a special bond that was cherished by both of them.
As Liz grew, she started thinking about what career she wanted to pursue, and after considering several things, she settled on teaching. It was the perfect choice, because Liz really is a gifted teacher. It isn’t every teacher, who can have a friendship with her students, that lasts well beyond graduation. They know that she is a friend they can trust and respect. She works with many of her students closely, because she is the journalism teacher. She and her students publish the school newspaper, the Kelly Kall, and she also heads up the annual staff. She is also the photographer for the paper and the annual. With all that, Liz gets to know many of the students and the school organizations. It makes her one of the well known teachers too.
One thing that doesn’t make her stand out as a teacher, however, is her height. Very few teachers, or people for that matter are as short as Liz. Unfortunately for Liz, she comes from a family of short people, so there wasn’t much chance that she would become a tall person. When she began her teaching career, most of her students thought she was a new student. I’m sure that is something she will deal with for a while, because she can still pass for a student. I have looked at some of the pictures of Liz with special students, and she is always the shorter one, but in last year’s graduation, Liz was finally able to see eye to eye with one of her students. Seriously…how cool is that? Maybe she will look like the teacher someday after all. Today is Liz’s birthday. Happy birthday Liz!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
So often we think that toddlers don’t have the ability to remember things that happened when they were so very small, but the mind is an incredible thing. If our toddler’s mind has deemed something as important enough to remember, we will remember it for the rest of our lives. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of sitting with my mom, Aunt Sandy, and my sister, Cheryl at my mom’s house, while we scanned some pictures, and talked about family history. We talked of many different family stories, but one that stood out in my mind was Aunt Sandy’s account of the entrance of my grandparents’ first grandchild, my cousin, Susie. For any grandparent, the moment when you actually become a grandparent for the first time is amazing…a moment you will never forget. But, what of the small children? Most of us assume that there really won’t be small children to consider when it is the first grandchild, but sometimes, the aunts and uncles are barely toddlers themselves. Such was the case with Aunt Sandy when Susie was born.
When she became an aunt, my Aunt Sandy was just three years old…too young to really remember much about it, right? Wrong! This would be an event that Aunt Sandy’s three year old mind knew was a life changing event. She was never going to be the same after that November day…she wasn’t just a little girl now…she was an aunt. I can’t say for sure that Aunt Sandy knew what being and aunt really meant, or that she understood that there was a new baby in the family now…at least, not at first. Then came the moment when the baby was to be brought over to meet her family.
The house was filled with all the family members. That wasn’t such an unusual thing for my grandparents’ home, so it probably didn’t seem like anything new to Aunt Sandy. Then my Aunt Evelyn and Uncle George brought the baby into the house. Everyone gathered around the new little family. There were the usual ooo’s and ahh’s, as everyone vied for a position where they could get a good look at the baby. But, standing in the back of the crowd, momentarily forgotten in all the excitement, stood my Aunt Sandy, her eyes as big as silver dollars, as she took in this incredible scene. Her little three year old toddler mind was trying to figure out what all this meant, because it didn’t take an adult to know that everything in her world had changed…she knew it, she just didn’t really know how much it had changed.
Feeling maybe just a little bit nervous about all this activity, Aunt Sandy went up to her mom, and put her little hand out and touched her mom. Grandma turned around, perhaps realizing for the first time that the prior youngest person in the family had been momentarily forgotten in all the excitement. As she looked down at her youngest daughter, her youngest child, she knew just what was needed. She said to Aunt Sandy, “Do you want to see the baby?” Aunt Sandy nodded, Grandma picked her up, and she was able to get her first look at the baby that had changed her life forever…the baby that had made her an aunt. She now knew that something amazing had happened in her family, and this was a moment she would remember for the rest of her life.
As we talked about the way that such an early memory could stay with a person, I could see on Aunt Sandy’s face, that the picture of that day was very clearly imprinted in her mind. It was almost as if she was that three year old toddler again, standing in back of the crowd of family members wondering what was going on. That earliest memory had so completely imprinted itself on her mind that she could still see it as if she was back there again.
Bob and I went to the Wyoming Cavalry indoor football game last night, and there are media events at different times in the game, with things like a three person in one triple bag sack race, and kids on a bouncy ball. They asked the fans if these things took them back a few years, and that started me thinking about the things I did as a kid. One thing that came to mind was the skateboard. It was my generation who had the privilege of riding the skateboard first, and while we were first, we certainly didn’t take that ride to the skill level of the subsequent generations. I was thrilled when I could stand on the thing and ride. The thought of taking it on a railing, or up a ramp, or flipping it in the air and landing back on it, never crossed my mind…or the minds of the rest of my generation for that matter.
Nevertheless, at some point in time, some kid who thought that the old style tame skateboarding was way too tame for them, decided to step it up a bit, and something new and exciting was created from a fad that probably would have died a miserably quick death otherwise. Soon the kids were doing all kinds of tricks, and spending hours each day trying to perfect something that would let them outshine their friends. Of course, there were the normal, and not so normal injuries that went along with such endeavors, but that didn’t stop the kids from working hard to create the next big thing on a skateboard. They flew along curbs and railings, flipped their boards several times in the air and managed to land right back on the board. They held competitions…just for fun, at first, but these days they compete for money, titles, trophies. Every skateboarder wants to be dubbed the King of Skateboarding. They even came out with video games on skateboarding, which my grandsons absolutely loved.
Even the boards have changed from the clunky ones we had when I was a kid, that were really just skates with a board attached, and had very little maneuverability, to one that had just one wheel on each end, and twisted in the middle, to the long board that my grandsons liked, which probably mimics a surf board without the water, to many more that I have no clue about, much less how they work. I suppose that as long as we have kids who are willing to push the envelope in the world of skateboarding, we will have manufacturers who will make the designs they need to accomplish their unique skill set, thereby continuing to take skateboarding to the next level and beyond. While I enjoy watching the amazing tricks these people can perform, I think I will just stay on my own two feet, because at least that way, I won’t kill myself.
Every family has it strange characters. For mine it would have to be my great great grandfather, David Martin Pattan. Some might have called him eccentric, or even crazy , but no one really knows exactly why he did the things he did…or, as is the case for some parts of his life, why he did the things he did…over and again.
After David’s parents died on Ohio, which is where David was born in about 1828, he moved to Illinois and settled in Knox County near Gibson. He met and married my great great grandmother, Elizabeth Ellen Shuck on December 25, 1856 in Knoxville, Illinois. Together they had six sons and four daughters. As I look at the marriage certificate, I looks like his last name was spelled Patten and Elizabeth’s was spelled Shuck. We have always spelled his Pattan and hers Schuck.
During the Civil War, he enlisted in Company H 102nd Illinois Volunteer Infantry on August 8, 1862, a little less than a year after his third son, Joseph was born. He was discharged on October 1, 1863, just 3 days before Joseph’s third birthday. At his discharge his had a disease of the larynx and bronchia that caused him not to be able to speak louder that a whisper for two months. He then enlisted in Company D36 Illinois Volunteer Infantry on September 27, 1864. It is unknown if he just forgot that he had already served, or if he just felt that his services were needed again. He was shot in the right arm, just above the elbow, in the Battle of Lookout Mountain in Tennessee on November 29, 1864. He spent the next five weeks in a hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio. Upon his discharge, he was sent back to his unit. He was discharged on May 20, 1865 with 1/2 disability.
After David’s discharges from his times in the infantry, he and Elizabeth had their remaining seven children. At some point after the birth of their twins in 1876, David went to town and didn’t come back. He was gone for seventeen years. Then, one day in town, David’s son George, my grandfather, saw him in town. The sheriff was about to arrest him, when George offered to take him home. I guess he must have been drinking or causing some other such mischief that didn’t necessarily warrant jail time. Once home, they found out that he had been married to another woman and they had a son and a daughter, both of whom were named the same names as a son and daughter with Elizabeth. This leads me to wonder if something had happened seventeen years earlier that caused him not to remember the first marriage. That family died in a flash flood, so maybe that was why he was back. I have heard that he was married one more time…again without the benefit of a divorce, and when the third wife tried to collect his pension, she was denied because they weren’t legally married. No children were born to that union.
I don’t know if my great great grandfather was just a man who liked to marry different women, or if there was truly something mentally wrong with him. I have found out that his name was spelled every way you can possibly spell Pattan…Patton, Patten…and that for a time at least, he went by the alias, David Martin Berry. Berry was his mother’s maiden name, so I guess that worked. I have to wonder if he used the other names so that he could keep the wives straight…again, if he mentally knew that he was married. The research on his marriages is complicated due to these differences in names, but I have to wonder if the third wife, at least, went by berry, because that name is listed on the pension request, probably to avoid paying out twice. Whatever the reasons were for his double military service, and his three marriages, my great great grandmother took him back, and in the end cared for him until his dying day. They are buried together in Little York Cemetery in Warren Illinois.
Not every family member comes into the family by birth or directly by marriage, sometimes they come into a family by way of a blended family. That is the case with my niece, Amanda. She is the daughter of my sister Caryl’s second husband, Mike Reed. Amanda was a blond 16 year old girl just starting into the pre-adult years. She is the same age as my niece, Andrea, who is Caryl’s daughter, so they would now have two 16 year old girls in the household. All I can say to that is…ouch!! All of the emotions of two 16 year old girls would be more than anyone should have to get used to all of a sudden, but that was the situation Caryl and Mike found themselves in, when they combined their two families to make one.
Since my daughters are 11 months apart, I knew what it was going to be like for them. For one month of every year Corrie and Amy are the same age too. The difference is that I was able to move into the horrible teens slowly, and easing into the changes the girls would go through. I can’t imagine doing those years without that prior preparation. The girls got along pretty well…most of the time, and the first year didn’t seem to be too bad. I knew that if they could live through that first year, the rest would be progressively easier, and they were.
Amanda is still the same blond girl, but now, she has a little girl of her own. She is a wonderful mother, who, along with her significant other, Sean has raised a wonderful little girl named Jaydn, who is just as sweet as she can be. We don’t get to see them as much as we would like, because they live in Rawlins, but when we do see them, it is always a pleasure.
You never really know how loved ones will come into your life. As circumstances change, so do the people in your life, and while not every blended family works out so well, Caryl and Mike’s did, and we have been very blessed because it did. We have new family members that we would not have had any other way. I feel very blessed to have Amanda as a part of our family, as well as Sean, Jaydn, and of course, Mike too. Today is Amanda’s birthday. Happy birthday Amanda!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
As Spring approached each year, my Great Aunt Bertha Schumacher seemed to blossom right along with it. Her favorite flower was the Crocus, and while I can agree that they are beautiful, the fact that they last for such a short time, makes them a flower that I hadn’t really considered as a favorite, or even given much thought to once they had faded away for another year. Nevertheless, for Bertha, Spring was a time to feel alive again. The long winter was finally over, and she and her sister, Elsa reveled in the beauty of the flowers, as they drove their horse and buggy to school in the mornings. Bertha called the drive to school, one of her wildest joys, because the Crocuses were so abundant in the fields along the road. The view must have been amazing!
The Crocuses she would see around Boulder, Colorado later in life grew much taller in the mountains there, but on the prairie, they grew in sheets, and they were magnificent. I can only imagine how amazing they must have looked along the road as the girls went to school. It would be enough to give you a horrible case of Spring Fever when you got to school, and had to try to apply yourself to your studies. The only time I can remember seeing flowers that dominated a field was when my sisters and I visited our sister Caryl in Bremerton, Washington and we took a drive up to Bellingham for the Tulip Festival. That was magnificent, so I can somewhat relate to Bertha’s feelings on so many flowers in one place.
Another of Bertha’s favorite flowers was the wild Tiger Lily, which grew in “unbelievable abundance” in the lake country near their home in the Fargo, North Dakota area. The wild Tiger Lilies grew only where the ground had not been “turned by a plow” and in the 27 years the family lived there, they saw them completely disappear. The family occasionally saw the wild Tiger Lilies when they were driving home from Minnesota. They were always so tired, and then they would come up over a hill, and there would be a whole field of them., They got so excited. They stopped to pick some of them, and then go to enjoy them for days.
The only spring plant that Bertha thought was a worthy rival to the crocuses and lilies, was her mother’s strawberry plants. the strawberries were planted at the edge of the garden so they could be easily picked, and often the early ones were picked and eaten long before the main harvest. The strawberries grew so large that they could not hide among the leaves and were easy to see. Of course, as with any garden, there was weeding to do, but nobody seemed to mind, because as they worked, they were reminded of the luscious harvest to come. Great Aunt Bertha, and her sister, Elsa loved to garden in her later years too, and tried to transplant some of the wild Tiger Lilies and the wild Crocuses into their own garden in Boulder, but they just wouldn’t grow. I guess that some flowers will only grow where they choose, and not where we wish they would…unfortunately.
At bowling last night, I was reminded of the early years of bowling for us and our kids. Bob and I started bowling when our girls, Corrie and Amy were three and two years old. Since we enjoyed bowling so much, we knew they would too, so we started them on a bowling league at Sunrise Lanes when they were six and five years old. The league was short on coaches, so I took the class to become a coach, and I became the coach of the younger children on the league. After a couple of years, the league at Sunrise Lanes dwindled down to just a few, and the league at Eagle Bowl needed bowlers and a coach, so we made the move to Eagle Bowl. Little did we know that the move to Eagle Bowl would change so many things, not only for us and our girls, but really for my whole family. Connections were made that we would cherish for the rest of our lives.
As it turned out, one team that really needed bowlers was two little girls…sisters, named Jaime and Jackie Morton. They were about the same age as Corrie and Amy, and they got along well. The four girls bowled together for a number of years, and then my nephew, Barry Schulenberg decided to bowl on the league. I told Donna, Jaime and Jackie’s mom, that Corrie and Amy were going to bowl with their cousins that year. She seemed disappointed, but asked if I had a team for Jaime and Jackie. I told her, “Yes, they are bowling with Corrie and Amy.” Confused now, she said, “I thought they were going to bowl with their cousins.” When I told her they were, she was completely baffled, and with good reason.
I finally had to break down and tell her something about her daughters that she didn’t know. Seriously, how often can someone else tell you something about your young daughters that you didn’t know. Nevertheless, I was able to do just that, because when I had mentioned Ted and Donna Morton to my mom, she was surprised, and she told me who they were. I explained to Donna that Corrie and Amy were Jaime and Jackie’s cousins. She was shocked, until I explained that her husband, Ted’s grandmother Gladys Pattan Byer Cooper, was my grandmother, Harriet Pattan Byer’s sister. Not only that, but Ted’s grandfather, Theodore Byer was my grandfather, George Byer’s brother, making us double second cousins, because my grandmother and her sister had married my grandfather and his brother. That made our girls double third cousins. So while the girls did bowl with my nephew, Barry, who was their cousin, that year, we all found out that they had been bowling with cousins all along.
My grand nephew, Weston is the oldest son of my niece, Machelle Moore, and her husband Steve. Coming from a family of tall people, Weston is a tall, broad shouldered kid…the exact kind of kid a football coach likes to have when it comes to defending the quarterback. When Weston was in Casper last weekend to celebrate his great grandmother’s birthday, I had a chance to visit with him for a while. The first thing he told me about was that he plays football, and that he likes the game. Of course, games are a big part of Weston’s life…like most kids his age, and many adults. Computer games have taken the lead over any other type of game for most people. Whether you play on the internet against other people, or on the computer, by yourself. It seems to be the wave of the future…and one I have pretty much shunned. Weston, on the other hand has embraced it, and is from what I hear pretty good at the games.
Like most boys his age, Weston is into cars. He can’t drive yet, of course, but he is checking out all the possibilities when it comes to the type of ride he will choose. He is now just one year away from getting that all important permit that will put his parents nerves on edge…for a while at least. Checking out Weston’s Facebook page, you would find monster truck type vehicles, as well as the muscle car type. That is so typical of so many guys. The ride is what it’s all about. I mean, a bicycle is simply not a chick magnet!! If a guy wants to attract the girls, he is going to have to have a car the girls want to ride in.
Like many people from Wyoming, Weston likes the great outdoors. Hunting, fishing, and camping are among the awesome things to do here, and Weston has a great time doing all three, especially when he gets to go with his friend and now cousin, Riley. The boys don’t get to see each other very much since Riley’s move to Casper, but whenever they are together, they are sill best friends. They like to do the same things, and play many of the same games. I’m sure the move has been a little hard on them, because they were such good friends, so I am happy that the are both on Facebook now, so they can keep in touch again. Today is Weston’s 14th birthday. Happy birthday Weston!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Our family has always been very close. We spend holidays together, birthdays together, go to church together, and often just get together, so it is not surprising that we have had several of the kids over the years who, as cousins, are also friends. My daughter, Amy was always good friends with Cheryl’s daughter, Jenny. Cheryl’s daughter Liz spends time with Allyn’s daughters, Jessi, Lindsay, and Kellie. Allyn’s daughter, Lindsay has always been good friends with Alena’s daughter, Michelle, and Allyn’s daughter Kellie has always been good friends with Alena’s son, Garrett.
As the kids grew up, got married, and had kids of their own, the trend continued. Alena’s daughter, Lacey was very close friends with Cheryl’s granddaughter Siara, and Cheryl’s granddaughter, Christina has always been good friends with my granddaughter, Shai. That is just the way our family has always been, and probably always will be. It certainly isn’t a bad thing to be friends with your cousins. My sisters and I have been friends with all our cousins at one time or another, hanging out with some of them more than we did our friends sometimes. I can’t imagine not knowing my cousins well, and I think every other person in our family would feel the same way I do.
Last night, we were at one of those get togethers at my sister Allyn’s house, and everyone was having a great time. It was a time to share thoughts about the past and catch up on everyone’s lives. Allyn’s daughter, Lindsay was in town on one of her last visits before she moves to Florida, so it was a special time to visit with her. We got to look at her wedding pictures, and talk about her plans for her new life down in the Miami area, where her new husband, Shannon is a coach at Florida International University in Miami. We will miss them very much when they move, but it is the best thing for them, as this job is such a great opportunity.
As I was sitting there, watching the whole scene and listening to the stories, I began to notice something taking place that had nothing to do with the adults at the party. There at the coffee table in front of my chair, was Allyn’s granddaughter Aurora, and Cheryl’s granddaughter, Aleesia, having a little connection of their own. They were drinking out of their sippy cups, and Aurora pointed to the coffee table so that Aleesia would set her cup down beside Aurora’s cup. Then, as often happens, Aleesia picked up Aurora’s cup and took a drink. Aurora didn’t get upset at all. Then Aleesia gave it back and they both picked up their cups and wandered of into the kitchen for a cookie. A few minutes later they were back…still together, and they decided to look at the movies Allyn had. They were showing us which ones they liked, and pronouncing the names…which came out funny sounding. Aurora even made the face that is on one of the movies.
It occurred to me that while it was pretty early in their lives, and things could change, doubtful as that may be, these two little girls were lining right up with the rest of the family. They enjoyed each other’s company. They liked to do the same things. They were well able to share with each other. Yes…it became very clear to me that I was looking at cousin friends…the next generation.
A couple of years ago, I friended Mindy and Missy Grosvenor on Facebook. They are my first cousins once removed, but I didn’t know them very well, because I didn’t see them very often. Over the past couple of years, however, the relationship I have with the twins has completely changed. I have been treated to their special kind of humor and their wonderful personalities. The girls love kids, and they work in their mom’s daycare, babysitting, among others, their nieces and nephew…the children of their sister, Melodie and her husband, Brian. These girls have such a sweetness about them, that I can imagine that they are wonderful with the children. The girls are very kindhearted, and they have a great sense of humor. While they are a little shy, they get over that once they get to know you…and since I’m shy too, I can fully relate to shyness. Nevertheless, I doubt that they are shy around the children.
When they aren’t taking care of children, Mindy and Missy like to spend time at the mall, shopping and people watching, which is a pastime many of us like. You can get great fashion ideas, as well as seeing bad fashion things to laugh about, at the mall, and then find the very store to buy what you saw. Of course, there are very few places where you can go and have your face painted, but Mindy and Missy are young at heart, so they found a place recently, and had beautiful butterflies painted on their cheek. I like butterflies too, so I especially like that. The girls like to go to the movies too, and my mom; sister, Cheryl; niece, Jessi; and I recently ran into them when we were all going to see “The Christmas Candle” at Studio City. We all enjoyed the movie very much, and it was very nice to see the girls.
Missy and Mindy are the first of several sets of twins in our family, and so were a novelty for a while. It would be a number of years before another set of twins arrived. I always thought twins was such a cool thing…like twice as nice, I guess. I often thought it would have been cool to have a set of my own, but that was not to be, so I’m glad that I have been able to get to know these girls. That way I can share in the whole twin thing…a little bit anyway. Today is Mindy and Missy’s birthday. Happy birthday girls!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!