Monthly Archives: March 2014

Wedding of Carl and Albertine SchumacherMy great grandmother, Henriette Schumacher came to the United States reluctantly, with her sister, brother-in-law, and their two young children. Henriette’s mother had insisted that she go to help with the children. She was worried about the immigration to a new land so far away, and she figured that if both girls went, they could protect each other, and be company for each other. I think my great great grandmother knew her girls pretty well, and thought that the loneliness might be too much for either of them alone, and so going together would help to alleviate that loneliness. It was in the United States that my great grandmother would meet and marry my great grandfather, and would never again be sorry that she had come here.

When the family moved from Minnesota to North Dakota, they bough some land, and would later move to a better piece of land, with a wonderful artesian well, that worked so well, that it formed a ten acre lake right near the family home. During his courtship of my grandmother, Anna, my grandfather, Allen Luther Spencer stocked the lake with a dozen small catfish from the river. For some years, the catfish were forgotten, until Carl and Henriette’s son, Fred noticed them. My great grandfather, Carl Schumacher built a flat bottomed boat for the three youngest children, who were the only ones living at home then, and they went fishing. By this time, the lake was teeming with catfish, and they practically jumped into the boat voluntarily. Great Grandma Schumacher would fry up those fish, and the family would have a feast. It was catfish that was fed to the threshers when they came too and Aunt Bertie says they tasted so good, that she can  them from memory. Great Grandma rolled them in cornmeal and fried them in country butter, like only she could do. Aunt Bertie said she has never had catfish that could beat her mother’s. Great Grandma Schumacher was also the first one in the whole countryside to make fried chickens from young chickens. Before that everyone used mature chickens, which can be tough, they were stewed with dumplings.

When my great grandmother was in her early fifties, she got rheumatoid arthritis. Before very long, she was unable to do the things she used to do. A very short time later, that she was no longer the person who did the cooking, and while the girls tried to make those Spencer Schumacher Family cover photo2most loved foods taste the same as their mother had done all those years, they could never match the taste. It’s always sad when that happens. You can follow the recipe, but somehow, it just doesn’t taste the same. I think that is because, try as they might, most of those great cooks didn’t use a recipe, and writing it down is really their best guess at the quantities they used, and the person following the recipe is hard pressed to figure out the exact combination. I feel sorry for my aunts, uncle and great grandpa, because they remembered the way things used to be, but knew that they could never be that way again.

Hollywood ProducerWhen my dad was a young man, he decided to leave the cold climate of Wisconsin, and move to sunny California to start a new life. He went to work for Douglas Aircraft, and he did very well there. He probably would have stayed there had World War II not intervened. I sometimes wonder how his life might have been different had he stayed there, or had he gone back there after the war. Would he have met my mom, and if so, would we have all lived in California. I can’t say that I am sorry that his life took the path that it did, because it made him the man who became my dad. His path shaped who he was and who we all became, and that is just fine with me. I don’t think I would have wanted to be anywhere else really, even though I sometimes wish I lived somewhere warm.

Nevertheless, as I look at some of the pictures of him at that time, a thought forms in my mind. My dad looks like a Hollywood Producer…or at least what I picture a Hollywood Producer looking like at that time in history. He is standing next to a modern automobile…at least it was then, and wearing a nice suit…much like I would expect a Hollywood Producer of that era to be wearing. I don’t know what event my dad was going to, or if he was just dressed up so he could get a good picture to show off his car, but I do know that he looked real classy. As I have looked through the old pictures my dad had, the pictures from California were very intriguing to me. California is probably the least like my dad’s personality of any state in the United States. He always liked the mountains and the rural areas of the country. That is something I agree with. I love the mountains, and I don’t like congested areas. So, what had drawn him to California?

It is rather strange for me to think of my dad living in California. It seems so out of character Al Spencer by the Oceanfor him, except for the ocean and the Redwoods, both of which he always loved. Other than that, he never was the California type. Nevertheless, California might have been very different then, but I just don’t think it fit his personality. Still, he was a young man then, and I’m sure he was trying out new things, to see who he was and where he wanted to be. Nevertheless, I can’t imagine my dad doing anything but the work he did. During the years he was growing up, he and his brother liked to build things, so mechanical things were more their style, and that along with the welding he learned back then, were his life’s work. He definitely isn’t a Hollywood Producer type, but as they say, “He sure did clean up nice!”

Aunt Dixie, Aunt Sandy, Aunt Bonnie_editedSometimes in families, there can be enough years in between the oldest child and the youngest child, that it is almost like having two or more families. My parents family was that way to a degree. My sister Cheryl and I were the oldest, 2 years apart, and 3 years after I was born, came my three little sisters, 2 years apart each. It wasn’t so much that there was such a difference, but it was enough of a difference so that Cheryl and I always called our younger sisters the three little girls…and so did our parentsMy friend, Ambra, has a similar situation with her family, and she calls the youngest children, the littles, which I think is very cute. My mother’s family had nine children, and to a degree, at least while they were growing up, there seemed to be three families. The oldest three girls, my mom and her brothers, and the youngest three girls….and my Aunt Bonnie was the oldest of the youngest.

Being the oldest, even if it is only the oldest of the youngest kids, puts that child in a place of being looked up to. You are the cool one, and for girls, always the prettier, more sophisticated one…even if that’s not really so, because all my aunts are very pretty. Nevertheless, it always seems that way. I think I can understand why Aunt Dixie and Aunt Sandy would look up to Aunt Bonne, because she has always been a sweetheart. Her kindness is well known in the family, and the many times she has given a gift that was so priceless, in the form of the most beautiful wedding cakes and she wouldn’t take money for them…that’s priceless, and it will never be forgotten. and it has endeared her to all the family. But it wasn’t just what she could do for you that made Aunt Bonnie so wonderful. There was so much more.

For many years she took care of her husband, my Uncle Jack’s mom, and then she took care of Uncle Jack too. She made the Aunt Bonnieyears of their lives wonderful, happy times, and in the last years, she brought comfort. Not everyone can be a caregiver, and having been one myself, I can tell you that it is a hard job, but you do it for love. And that is why Aunt Bonnie was a caregiver. She showed such great strength for so long, she fought hard, doing all she could to hold death at bay, and when death came, she like all caregivers was not ready. Nevertheless, death came and her life was forever changed. But Aunt Bonnie is strong, and while nothing will ever be the same, she carries Uncle Jack with her wherever she goes, and with great strength, she goes forward. Just like he would want her to do…and lives life. Today is Aunt Bonnie’s birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Bonnie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

The Zoo 2Most kids love to go to the zoo, and it is a special treat if they have to go to some other town to go, such as visiting relatives. I don’t recall going to the zoo as a kid, but I’m sure we must have. I remember taking my girls to the zoo in Denver, and they loved it. These days the zoo usually even includes the aquatic area. You can go and spend the whole day there.

Back when my Aunt Laura was a little girl, the zoo was very different than it is now, but the draw was the same. When a child can find themselves so close to wild animals, it is as much a rush as it is for adults. For Aunt Laura, this was a red letter day. I think it was for my grandmother as well, because she wanted pictures to remember the event. I have to wonder what a zoo looked like back then…was it primitive, with just fenced areas around the animals’ habitats, or was that just what the particular area they were at when the picture was taken. My guess is that no matter what it looked like, my Aunt Laura was beside herself with excitement to be going. I know that is how I would have felt at her age. I can imagine how wonderful the day was for a little girl. Strolling along in the sunshine with her mom, looking at all the different animals. It must have been almost like a class field trip for her, except that she was not in The Zoo 1school.

These days, the zoo is pretty much a common thing. Most people have been to one at some time in their lives. But back then, not so much. For my Aunt Laura, it was a day she would always remember, and I think it felt that way for her mother too. It appears to have been a ladies day out with family, and that probably made it even more special. Nevertheless, the most special thing to any kid is going to be the animals. There is always time to be excited about being with relatives, after all. But the Zoo…well, that’s the coolest thing ever!!

Grandma ByerSince it is Saint Patrick’s Day, I decided to explore the Irish connection in our family. One of the main connections to Ireland that our family has comes from the Pattan family. I believe that the Shaw family who married into the Pattan family to become my ancestors, also came from Ireland, but I have no concrete information to corroborate my beliefs, as of right now.  The Pattan name has changed over the years, and might be spelled Patton, Patten, or Pattan, as ours is. We have a number of Georges in our family, but I have found no connection to General George Patton, as of yet….not that it would surprise me if I did. Our family in America began, when John Pattan come over to the United States from Ireland in the early 1800’s, and the family has grown by leaps and Grandma Byer kissing the Blarney Stonebounds since that time.

Before her death, my grandmother, Harriet Pattan Byer, and some of her siblings made the trip to Ireland to see the country of their ancestors, and hopefully to be able to connect with some of the family that might be still living over there. I don’t recall if they found any family or not, but I do know that they had a wonderful time. They explored the castles in the area…sometimes I wish we had castles. They kissed the Blarney Stone, which is a block of carboniferous limestone built into the battlements of Blarney Castle, and a must when visiting Ireland. They went out by the sea and into the towns, and they have a marvelous time.Blarney Castle

I suspect that most of us have some Irish background, but many people may not know it. It seems to me that a lot of people have immigrated from Ireland over the years, and if that is the case, there are probably very few families who don’t have a least a little bit of the Irish in them, but then that could be a lot of blarney too. Nevertheless, Irish or not, most of us like to celebrate the wearin’ of the green every year when Saint Patty’s Day rolls around. So, whether you drink green beer or eat corned beef and cabbage, or simply wear green so you don’t get pinched, happy Saint Patrick’s Day to you all!!


Little FamilyWhen my nephew, Eric was a baby, Amy, my daughter babysat for his parents quite a lot. Because Eric’s mom, my sister-in-law, Jennifer is a nurse, she worked shiftwork, so often Amy would stay the night, and then on Sunday mornings, Eric, and his older brother, JD would come to church with us. Eric was such a cuddly baby, and since I didn’t get to hold him as often as Amy, I would usually let Amy keep JD entertained, so he would play quietly under her watchful eye, and I would hold Eric. As I said, Eric was a cuddly baby, and he would simply snuggle up in my arms and go right to sleep. It had been a long time since my girls were little, so holding a baby for an hour while he slept was something I hadn’t had the privilege of doing for a while, and it was really a Funny facestreat every week. It became, another reason to look forward to Sunday mornings.

When Amy became old enough to have a job, her babysitting days ended. Jennifer started working more day shifts, and my sister-in-law, Brenda stayed with the boys whenever Jennifer worked nights, just as she had when Amy was too young to stay at the house alone. I saw less and less of Eric and JD. It’s a natural change, and one that I found a bit sad. Babies just don’t stay babies long enough…a fact that Eric is learning for himself now. Eric is a grown man now, married, daddy to his little girl, Reagan, and he is going to be a daddy again in September. I’m sure he, like every other parent in history, just can’t believe how quickly his little girl is growing up. By the time his second child arrives, Reagan - 11 months oldReagan will be almost two years old. I’m sure that is unbelievable to Eric and his wife, Ashley.

For the last year or so, they have been remodeling the home that they bought as a fixer upper, and it is looking beautiful. Before long, they will be decorating the new nursery for baby number two. It’s a good thing that they are already in remodel mode, because this is just another step in a their plan, and they will take it in stride just like they did with Reagan, and in September, they will be a family of four. Today is Eric’s birthday. Happy birthday Eric!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Kellie Hadlock (2)My niece, Kellie is one of the happiest, most positive people I have ever met…in fact, I can’t recall a time when she wasn’t happy. Kellie is one of those people who look for happiness where ever she goes, and when you look for happiness, I believe you will always find it. She doesn’t let the little problems in life get her down. Many of us could learn something from Kellie’s happiness, because it isn’t that no negative things ever happens in her life, but rather what she chooses to do with it that makes her life happy. I love to hear Kellie laugh, because when she does, you are about to laugh too. That’s just the way it is. You can’t be around Kellie when she is laughing and not laugh too. Her laugh is the most contagious laugh I have ever heard.
Petey
Kellie is such a free spirit. She knows what she likes, and that’s what she does. Her home reflects her brightly colored tastes. Nothing dreary can exist in Kellie’s place, because that just doesn’t fit in her joy, joy, joy…down in my heart style. If you go to Kellie’s house, you will find it bright and cheery…just like her, but be aware that she has a bird. I don’t know how much Petey is loose in the house, but I think that if Kellie is there, Petey is free to roam. And maybe Petey isn’t the kind of bird who likes to dive bomb people, but many birds are. I do know that Petey likes to nap on Kellie’s shoulder. Why should he be different? Lots of people love to be around Kellie…so you can’t blame him.

Family is the biggest thing in Kellie’s life. She is very close to her parents, my sister, Allyn and Kellie and the kidsher husband Chris, sisters, Jessi and Lindsay, sister-in-law, Chelsea, brother, Ryan, brothers-in-law, Jason and Shannon, and of course, her nephew, Ethan, and niece, Aurora. She loves taking pictures with all of them, to keep as memories of the great times they have had. She loves spending time up on the mountain at her parents place there, just hanging around by the campfire. In Kellie’s life, the only thing more important than her family is her Lord. Kellie loves music ministry, and is an amazing singer, and forever an uplifting person. We are all very blessed to have Kellie in our lives. Today is Kellie’s birthday. Happy birthday Kellie!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!

CampingMany people can’t wait for summer, so they can go camping. As kids, my sisters and I loved it. It didn’t matter if we were sleeping in a camper or on the ground, as long as Dad was willing to put another log on the fire to keep the bears away…which is what we thought would work…and it probably did no good, but we were girls…what did we know.  All we cared about was that we were traveling and had no school, and we got to see new places and do fun new things. Of course, one of the things we always liked was the campfire at  night. The smell of the burning wood, roasting marshmallows, looking at the stars, and just enjoying the warmth radiating from the fire, made the evening so fun and relaxing. Those were times we enjoyed so much, and times that I miss sometimes. Around the campfireIt’s funny, because I’m not much of a camper these days, although I love to go hiking. It’s just that at night, I kind of like a nice soft bed and a room without bugs and cold air. I do still love to sit around the fire though.

Kids, especially love to be around the campfire. They want to add wood to it, stir it and everything that they are so sure is important to having a campfire. I love to watch little kids around the campfire, they just get so excited…but then which one of us isn’t a kid at heart when it comes to campfires. These days you can even buy a little fire pit to have in the back yard, so your can enjoy those fires whenever you feel like it. It’s not exactly like camping, but it gives you a little bit of that feel…or whets your appetite for summer…or at least summertime things.
Camping in Ethan's bedroom
Sleeping in a sleeping bag these days isn’t my favorite thing to do, but then it does remind most people of camping out. Some people love it so much that they can’t wait for summer to go camping. It is a matter of have sleeping bag, will camp. For those people, and my grand nephew, Ethan and grand niece, Aurora certainly qualify in this category, it simply doesn’t matter where you camp out. The campground, the back yard, or even Ethan’s bedroom will do, as long as you are sleeping in a sleeping bag, and not in your bed. I don’t know how much sleep Ethan and Aurora got on this little camping trip, but they definitely had a great time.

Daddy's GirlsWhether a man wants a daughter or a son, really doesn’t matter when that baby arrives, because he sees that little life, and in an instant he knows his whole world just changed. That’s how it was with Bob. His girls were his world. He had so many plans…all the things he was going to teach them…and it didn’t matter to him that they weren’t sons. He planned to train them to be good mechanics. He is still working on that today…and still no more successful at it than he was years ago. Girls seldom make good mechanics, and that was a hard concept for Bob to grasp…he was hoping to train them to love mechanics.

As time went by, Bob did start to get an inkling, that maybe his little girls weren’t going to be mechanics. I suppose it was because they were a little more on the lines of girly girls. Oh don’t get me wrong, they could play hard with the best of tomboys, but mechanical…not so much. Of course, they excel in so many other things, that you just can fault them for the mechanical thing. Nevertheless, he still expected them to get their cars to him to work on if they needed to, and not wait until they broke down to get it to him. There is nothing worse than having to fix extra things that could have been prevented, had they been done earlier.

Children seldom turn out exactly as we expect, mostly because we often try to show them the things we like to do. That doesn’t mean that they will like those things too, and quite often, they just don’t. Sometimes they end up in the same profession that we are, like my daughter, Amy and me…both insurance agents, but just as often, they take a totally different path in life, like our daughter, Corrie, who is an operations administrator for a major energy company. It’s Daddy's Girls 2all part of being human. Each of us is wired differently, and suited to certain work. All work is honorable, so the work we choose doesn’t matter.

As with most parents, we are proud of our children no matter what they did or didn’t do in their lives, but I can honestly say that both of our girls have far exceeded our hopes for their lives. As for Bob, well those girls wrapped him around their baby finger the moment he saw them, and he has never left that place since. All they have to do is bat their eyes at him and say, “I love you Daddy”, and his heart melts, and they get whatever they wanted. Bob just doesn’t have a chance when it comes to Daddy’s Girls!!

Annie, Anna, & LauraFor some time now, I have been trying to find any information on the family of my Great Grandma Henriette Hensel Schumacher. The pictures we have of Grandma’s immediate family, which includes my grandmother, Anna Schumacher Spencer, always seem to include two cousins. We know that their names are Anna Schubring and Laura Kurth. We don’t know if those are maiden names or married names, and that makes this harder. Recently, I found a picture of a family, and I believe that the oldest girl is Laura Kurth. The other girls did not exactly look like Anna Schubring, but I thought that possibly this family was my great grandmother’s sisters family. She was the sister that my grandmother came to America with, and since her first husband died, and she remarried and had more children, That could explain the difference in the two girls features.

Last night I stumbled upon a little bit more information. The girls are not sisters, or even half sisters, as I had originally thought they might be. My sister, Cheryl thought that the father in the family picture looked a bit like our Great Grandfather Carl Schumacher, and thought he could be his brother. I now believe that she is right in that. What I found is a page from my Uncle Bill’s family history, but it wasn’t with the rest of his history books…it was in some pictures he had sent to my cousin, Tracey Schumacher-Inglimo’s family. This picture tells us that Anna Schubring is the daughter of one of Great Grandma Henriette Hensel Schumacher’s sister and that she came from Canada. Anna could possibly be the daughter of the sister that my great grandmother came to America with, whose husband died a short time later, and she remarried and had more children. Having a step father could also be part of the reason that Anna spent so much time with her Aunt Henriette’s family. Sometimes the step parent situation doesn’t work out so well for some of the children. If Anna is that child, then she has a sibling that would be from that first marriage too, but we don’t really have any information on that.

Laura Kurth is also a cousin, but on the Schumacher side, so Cheryl is probably right in that she thought the father in the family picture looked like our great grandfather, Carl Schumacher’s side of the family. Cheryl also thought that Anna looked older than Laura, so she might be correct in that too. Laura’s family lived in the Mazeppa, Minnesota area, which might explain why she spent a lot of time with her Aunt Henriette and Uncle Carl’s family…not 034ato mention that she and my grandma, Anna Schumacher Spencer were fairly close in age. I am also assuming that Kurth was Laura’s married name, and that her dad was the Schumacher brother, but I could be mistaken in that too, and it could be that her mother was the blood relation to my great grandfather. I may never find out for sure just how these cousins fit into our family, but I will most likely not stop looking until I do find out. Nevertheless, these pictures lad me to believe that my great grandparents were very close to their siblings, even if there is a sense of mystery to my family and their elusive ancestors too.