Monthly Archives: April 2014

Flying U RanchhandsYesterday, I came across some old pictures from my mom’s side of the family, and as I looked at the list Aunt Sandy had given me, I had to do a double take. It wouldn’t seem like it was such a big deal, because it just a picture of some unnamed ranch hands from the Flying U Ranch in Rushville, Nebraska. To someone who didn’t know anything about Rushville, Nebraska, this find would be nothing really, but I do know a little bit about Rushville, Nebraska, although I don’t recall ever having been there. I’m sure that seems odd…I mean, how could I know anything about this place if I haven’t ever been there? I could have studied about it I suppose, but for me, it is more about the people who were there at a certain time in history, than it is about the place itself.

I have long known that some of my dad’s family settled in Rushville, Nebraska. In fact, I have written about them several times. My dad’s Great Aunt Theresa Elizabeth Spencer and her husband, William Jonathan Davis lived most of their married life in Rushville, Nebraska, and had a big ranch there. Several of their children also had ranches in the area. The name of the Davis ranch was Pine Creek, and interestingly enough, it is currently for sale, with Fake Robberyan asking price of $795,000.00, a fact that I found a bit sad, because it is a bit of my family history, and it will soon be owned by someone new, if it wasn’t already.

I haven’t been able to find the Flying U Ranch so far, but I know that it is…or was…in the Rushville, Nebraska area. The Flying U Ranch was not owned by my mom’s family, but it could have been. The couple who owned the ranch was getting older, and they apparently didn’t have children or children who were still living or able to take over the ranch. They really liked my grandfather, George Byer, and they told him that if he would stay there, in Rushville, they would deed the ranch to him upon their deaths. I don’t know if Grandpa didn’t like the area, or if he thought it was too long to wait and not know when he would inherit the ranch, or if he didn’t really like the ranching life, but for whatever reason, he chose not to take them up on that generous offer. I’m sure they were sorry that he didn’t, but I don’t know who they eventually gave the ranch to or if they sold it, but it did not end up in our family.

As for me, the questions that remain, are more along the lines of…Did Grandpa ever regret his decision to pass on the Flying U Ranch?…and Did he know some of the Davis family, thereby tying Ranch hands 2the two sides of my family together long before the marriage of my parents in 1953. He obviously had some great times on the Flying U Ranch…after all, it was there that he and some of the ranch hands took pictures of their staged robbery. They must have enjoyed spending time together just goofing off. I also have to wonder how our lives might have been different, had Grandpa taken on the Flying U ranch? I had never really considered what it might have been like if we had descended from a rancher. I don’t know that I would change anything about my life, even if I could, but it is interesting to look at the possibilities when one reflects on the fact that it really is a small world.

Written by: Brenda Schulenberg

Brenda Lee SchulenbergCaryn became part of our family on March 1, 1975…..almost 40 years ago!!!! I don’t really remember life without Caryn! She has been a major part of our family for so many years now…and I would never want to imagine our family with her not a part of it.

In the early years, Caryn spent most of her time raising her two girls, my nieces, Corrie and Amy. Then, along came her four grandchildren my Great nieces and nephews, Chris, Shai, Caalab and Josh. All of them were true gifts to Caryn. She really enjoys being a Mother and Grandma.

A few years back when Caryn’s Dad, Al Spencer suddenly became very sick she became an instant caregiver to him. She had help from her Mom, Colleen and her sisters Cheryl, Caryl, Alena, and Allyn along with all of their children and grandchildren…it took all of them. They all then became caregivers for Caryn’s Mom, Colleen when she became ill and they are still caring for her and doing a great job of it.

Then as if Caryn didn’t have enough on her plate she became a caregiver to my parents, Walt and Joann Schulenberg. She had help from myself and my siblings, Bob, Jennifer, Debbie, and Ron along with my nieces and nephews, Corrie, Amy, Machelle, Susan, Barry, JD, Eric, Riley, and Tucker, all of my great nieces and nephews and my Aunt Margee Kountz and her Granddaughter Staci. Everyone helped when they could, in any way they could even if it was just to stop by or call for a visit…..but we could not have kept either one of my parents at home as long as we did without Caryn. She was their primary caregiver and didn’t bat an eye about doing it. She is still helping with my Mom by checking on her almost daily out at Shepherd of the Valley Care Center & going to all of her doctor appointments with her and keeping all of us up to date as to how she is doing.

Last October when I got sick….who did I call 1st? No, not ghost busters….I called Caryn? She convinced me that I needed to get checked out to see what was wrong. She was with me all the way…from going to the hospital, to my rehab at Elkhorn…and then once I was home she would do whatever I needed help with. She even stayed the first two nights at my house because she didn’t want me to be by myself. Caryn and my sister Jennifer….and my entire family, friends and coworkers have all been very supportive during my long recovery & weight loss. I couldn’t have done it without all of them.

I don’t even want to think of what the past several years would have been like for either Caryn’s family or my family if it hadn’t been for Caryn and her dedication of her time and her Caryn - 12-02-2011_editedheart to care for all four aging parents and myself.

We couldn’t have and wouldn’t have wanted to go through any of this without Caryn.

She is one of the best Sisters-in-law (I consider her my Sister) that I could ever ask for and I know that my Parents felt the same way….she was and is one great Daughter-in-law.

Today is Caryn’s birthday and I just want to say Happy Birthday Caryn. We love you and appreciate you very, very much!

Amy's Preeschool program 1980Every child who has been in school, has also been in a school play of one type or another. It is very common, especially in Kindergarten to have a class play. All the kids in the class are so excited as the practice session take place, and they can hardly sit still long enough to get through the necessary studies before it is time for play practice. It doesn’t really matter what part each child is to play…at least not in Kindergarten, because they are usually happy with any part. Often there is a line or two for the child to memorize, and when they say their line, they feel like it was a monumental accomplishment, and really, it was, because they have never done anything quite like that before.

I remember my Kindergarten play vividly…or should I say one part of it. I have no idea what the play was about, nor the part I played in it, but I vividly remember that when the teacher said it was time to line up for practice, I was running to be first in line. I made it too, several times, but it didn’t matter. The teacher always made me move back in the line to about the midway point. I never could figure that out. It seemed very unfair to me that even though I got there first, I was not allowed to keep my place in line. Thankfully the teacher was quite patient, because she had to tell me to move back to that same midway point every day. I suppose that if she had explained to me that there was a certain order that we had to line up in, I might have understood, but she never said that. She simply moved me back. The whole thing really wasn’t my fault either, because after all, when you lined up for anything else, it was first come first in line. So how was I supposed to know that this was different. All I knew was that I wanted to be first in line and the teacher wouldn’t let me. Thankfully, I just did as I was told, and didn’t cry. Now that would have been humiliating!! I don’t know if my teacher understood why she had to tell me over and over to move further back, or if she just thought I was a little ditsy, but she never got mad at me, and remained a favorite teacher throughout the years.Amy's Kindergarten program 1981

I never heard that my girls had such a problem with their pre-school and kindergarten plays, so maybe it was just me being a little ditsy, I don’t really know. What I do know is that I think I prefer being on the audience side of school plays far more than I did as an actress. I guess that means I’ll never be famous, or at least not a famous actress, but I can live with that. Through the years, I have enjoyed watching everything from plays to concerts at the schools…at least as long as they included my daughters or my grandchildren, that is.

The WinnerChris' CamaroWhen a person is a hot car enthusiast with their own hot car, the ultimate thrill is winning a competition. For many car owners, the wait for that first win is a long one, but for my grandson, Chris Petersen, that first win came with his first entry. That is such a rare occurrence, that it really is almost unheard of. So often these car shows are won partly on name recognition, and Chris' First Place Trophya first time competitor doesn’t have that recognition. It didn’t matter in this case. They simply loved Chris’ car!! I can understand that, because his car is awesome. Chris and his dad, my son-in-law, Kevin put a lot of work into this car…even Chris’ little brother, Josh helped a little bit. The resulting car is, as you can see…beautiful.

When I heard that Chris was going to enter the 2014 Casper Chrome Virtual Car Show, it never occurred to me that he would actually win it. Of course, I knew that his car was winner worthy, but there were 74 other cars entered in the competition. There were a lot of nice cars and yet, when it came right down to it, the winner was my eighteen year old grandson, Chris. My daughter, Corrie and her family were all just floating. It was such an amazing day for them all. The winner was to be announced at a party on Saturday, April 26th, and the winning car was to be put on display at the party, so I’m quite sure that all 75 entrants were on hand. There were a lot of cars with well known owners, and yet the winner was my grandson, Chris. He
will receive some really cool prizes for his win. Of course, he got the trophy, which is huge by the way. He will also receive a custom Grand Champion jacket, a photo session, so he can have some great shots of his awesome car, and a $250.00 gas card, which is an awesome prize by itself. I am so excited to see the jacket and the photos.
Before & After
I’m sure there will be other car show wins in the future for Chris, but there is just nothing that can ever compare to the way a person feels with their first win. You know that you have worked hard on this. You really had no idea what it would take to make this car a winner…and maybe you never even considered that it could be a winner. You just knew that as the changes on the car took place, and it started to become the car of your dreams, you started thinking that maybe…just maybe, it could be a winner…and suddenly, it was. There you are, Chris, in the Winner’s Circle!! A dream come true!! Congratulations Chris!! You worked hard on this, and we are all so very proud of you!!

Hard Working ManMy dad was a hard working man, really from the time he was a kid. He helped out on the farm when he was a young man, then when he moved to California at 17 years of age, he did the work of a grown man, while he was still the age of a boy. That work ethic was something he learned growing up and it never left him. Through World War II and beyond as he moved around the country, while deciding where he wanted to live, he always had a job. He believed that work, any kind of work was a noble undertaking, and he did every job to the best of his ability.

When I was a little girl, he was working at a job that took him out of town sometimes. I really hated that particular job. I didn’t want my daddy to leave to go out of town all the time. It wasn’t that I was so young that I didn’t remember him when he got back, because I did, it was that I missed him so much that I could hardly stand it. I just didn’t think daddies should go out of town. He was supposed to be at home, with his family. I can’t say that the years have changed my opinion on that idea either, although I do understand that sometimes men have to go out of town for work. That is just the way things are sometimes. I just didn’t understand that as a child.

One time after Dad left to go out of town, I got sick. My stomach ached, and I just didn’t feel well, in general. Mom put me to bed and took care of me, as you would expect a mommy to do, and since it was nothing serious, there was no need to go to the doctor. We figured it was just a flu bug, and it would go away in a couple of days…and so it did, but not in the way you would expect. It was the strangest thing, but the minute my daddy got home, everything was fine, and I had not been faking illness either. This was similar, I suppose to being homesick, grandpa spencer050only in reverse. I wanted my daddy home so badly that I felt homesick for him. I was so happy when he came home. Everything was right again. Our family was all together again.

Dad was always the hero to his daughters. We knew that no matter what happened, Dad could fix it. That was just the way it always was. Dad was a problem solver, and his presence in our lives always made us feel stable and complete. We were always Daddy’s Girls…all of us, including Mom. And he always made us feel like we were his princesses. I guess that was why having him gone, out of town for work, or now, in Heaven, makes this world feel like something just isn’t right. And it isn’t, because my daddy isn’t here, and I miss him terribly. Today, my dad would have been 90 years old. Happy birthday in Heaven Dad. We love and miss you very much, and we can’t wait to see you again.

10154541_10151963681442237_1219601367756108202_nMy grand nephew, Zack Spethman, who is the middle son of my niece Jenny and her husband, Steve, is a boy who knows what he wants. He has his own sense of style, and doesn’t like to leave the house until he is satisfied with how he looks…something that will definitely appeal to the ladies as he gets a little older. Ladies can’t resist a tall, dark and handsome, well dressed man, and Zack will fit that bill for sure. Zack likes to wear everything from casual style to suit and tie, so taking him places is an easy thing to do. He is also a very thoughtful boy, and is well mannered. If he were just a little older, I could see Zack really wowing the girls with his thoughtful style. He is a child who likes to hug and do sweet things for those around him.
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Being the middle son, or middle child is something many kids don’t like, but Zack enjoys having an older and a younger brother, and the added bonus of a younger sister to make his life complete. He and his brothers, Xander and Isaac, are all boy for sure, and Zack is very good in sports, and loves most types of sports. He loves to get out and ride his bicycle with his brothers, but doesn’t mind a wrestling match with them either…sometimes even a middle son has to try to prove his superiority. But when it comes to his little sister, Zack knows how to play gently and always treats Aleesia with love and kindness…and protectiveness.
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Zack is a very smart boy and is at the top of his class in school. He enjoys learning, and his curiosity about things around him shows in all his studies. That is something I’m sure his teachers appreciate. Zack, like all of Jenny and Steve’s kids, know how to behave in public. When we are in church on Sundays, you just don’t hear or see them acting up or running around. They are sitting quietly, listening to the pastor or Sunday School teacher speak. Today is Zack’s 9th birthday. I can’t believe he is 9 years old already. Happy birthday Zack!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Aquarium visitBack in 1946, my Aunt Doris and Uncle Bill decided that they were tired of the bitter cold Wisconsin weather, and that they wanted to try a warmer climate. Uncle Bill had built a travel trailer, and they quit their jobs and headed west. It was a bold move to make, because you never knew what the economy was going to be like in California, or any other part of the country for that matter. The depression was over though, and people were hopeful. I’m quite certain that the warm weather must have felt so good to them, and while there they enjoyed many of the sights. They really didn’t plan to ever go back to Wisconsin.

So many things can change in such a short time. Parents get older, and their health fades, and before long, you find yourself needed back home. That was the situation they soon found themselves in, and with some regret, they headed back home. Sometimes, that is the way things have to be. They were in a position to help out and others weren’t. It’s is strange, nevertheless, how quickly you can long for home, once you have made up your mind to go. I think it is harder Ocean Walksometimes on the women to be so far from parents too, because they are a little more sentimental usually.

Still, I have to think that the adventure they had while they were in California and the west coast must have been something they cherished for many years. They got to hold a seal at an aquarium, and stroll along the beach, soaking up the California sun. They saw the Redwood trees, and the rocky coast of Oregon. The memories must have been awesome, because they were free to pick up and go where they chose to each day. Of course, that is never something you can do for very long…at least not until retirement age, but for a while, they got to enjoy that carefree life, and the beauty of the west coast. Today is my Aunt Doris’ 90th birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Doris!! You are still just as beautiful today as you were back then. Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!

The MusiciansMany years ago, radios were not as common, and could not be used outside the home, so when families would gather together for a dinner or dance, music by radio was not really an option. I think people probably learned to play instruments so they could entertain themselves and others. Music has been a part of my family’s heritage for a far back as I have been able to trace, but it has taken many different twists and turns. This picture is one of my Uncle Bill’s favorites. He calls it “The Musicians”, which is exactly what it is, but it was named with a little mix of respect and sentiment that said what a special thing Uncle Bill thought the little group was. My grandfather Dad near Whitefish, MThad taught each of his kids to play the violin, so they knew what it took to play music. It took a lot of practice and if you were going to play at dances and such, you had to pack all of your equipment and go to where the dance was and play, often late, then pack up and go home…all in a covered wagon way back then.

Nevertheless, even with all of the work and such, musicians who really loved what they did, made the sacrifice, and the rest of the people were glad, because a good band can be hard to find. Barn dances, square dances, and other such functions would not be the same without the musicians who made them possible. Those barn dances were the thing that the people looked forward to all week, or sometimes all month. It was like out going to a show these days. If you didn’t get to go, and it was planned, you were really bummed out.
Uncle Bill playing the guitar 
I remember taking square dancing in school, and how much we hated that, but to those people, it was the latest thing. When you think about it, square dancing probably was the start of the line dancing of today, just like the music was the beginning of some of the music of today…at least the country music. It’s funny how much music has changed over the years, and yet really the musicians have not changed all that much…other than in looks. They still devote a lot of time to practice and work really hard to perfect their art. Whether it is country, contemporary, or even rock, being a good musician takes a lot of dedication in order to become great.

Bob's momMy mother-in-law has had Alzheimer’s for ten years now. As most of you know, Alzheimer’s Disease steals the memories of it’s victim…especially the most recent ones. I have not always been one to feel like every part of recent memory loss is the most horrible thing that could happen. The main reason I feel this way, is that people who don’t remember that a loved one has died, never have to mourn their loss…unless people remind them. My mother-in-law talks about her husband, my father-in-law, Walter Schulenberg, now in Heaven for almost a year, in the same way as she does her daughter, my sister-in-law, Marlyce, and her parents, Robert and Nettie Knox, who have all been gone now since the 1980’s. To her, they are all still here, and she will see them later in the day. I can’t think of a better way to feel.

For her, it isn’t the middle of life memories that are missing, but rather, the recent memories, and the very distant past that elude her to a degree. For me, those are the ones that make me a bit sad. She doesn’t remember new family members, from marriages, or births of new great grandchildren. You can tell her who they are, and within five minutes, you have to tell her again. It isn’t an annoying thing, but rather a bit sad. As to her distant memories, she never really was one to relive her past a lot, so it is not unthinkable that she might not really remember those, but as a writer of moments past, that feels like a real loss to me.

Recently, while watching a television show, I got an idea. One of the characters had Alzheimer’s Disease, and couldn’t remember all the people he had helped in his career, until the other characters put together a DVD of all the people that the Alzheimer’s victim couldn’t remember. I started thinking about what a great idea that was. Maybe there was a way to give some of the forgotten memories back to my mother-in-law. The only problem I could see was that she would never be able to run a DVD player, and the staff was too busy to plug a DVD in for her all the time. It’s just too easy to forget, and then she never gets to see it.

Then it hit me. There is a way to get a great collection of pictures together, that she will be able to see every day, and no one will have to plug it in or turn it on for her. I started looking online for what I needed, and I found the perfect item. It was a 19 inch digital picture frame that has a built in timer to turn it on and off. I was so excited. We, the family bought the frame, and I have been loading pictures onto it. It now has about 2,000 pictures from different parts of her life, for her to look at when she is in her room at the nursing home. And there is still room for more. And no one has to run it. It has a timer, so it will run from 7:00 in the morning to 9:00 in the evening. Whenever she is in her room, it will be running, until bedtime.
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Bob and I took the frame out to her on Saturday, and set it up. She really liked it. I was so excited about that. As I told her about some of the pictures, she looked on with great interest. Then came the moment when she knew the person in the picture, and finally the moment when she told me the name of one of her childhood horses…Star!! I was soooo excited!! I know that as she watches the frame, she will remember things about her past, at least for a little while. The digital picture frame has become the talk of the nursing home. All the nurses and aids rave about what a good idea it was. I’m just so happy that we are giving her memories back to her.

Delores Fern Byer JohnsonMy Aunt Deloris…Aunt Dee to all of her nieces and nephews, was such a happy person. It never seemed to matter what might be going on in her life. She didn’t allow her happiness to depend on whether or not everything was perfect in her day. In fact, I truly don’t remember a time when I saw my Aunt Dee, that she was not smiling. That is a very special thing to say about a person, because not all of us can be known for our smile or our happy personality. I never knew my aunt as a young girl, because she was already a grown woman with children of her own by the time I came on the scene. Nevertheless, I have been looking at pictures of her in her younger days, and I think she was always that way. She loved people, especially her family, and just being alive.

I have to think, however, Virginia, Harriet, George, Evelyn,Delores, Collene, Larry, and Wayne editedthat Aunt Dee might have been a little bit shy when she was a girl. At lease that is how she looked to me. As I look at the family pictures she is in, I noticed that her demeanor seems to be happy, but just a little bit timid. Maybe it was just her being humble minded, which is never a bad thing, and really, an endearing trait to have.  I don’t think Aunt Dee ever thought of herself as anyone special, but I did. I loved having her come over to our house, because she was always like a ray of sunshine. She never had an attitude of greatness, which in my opinion just goes to show how great she really was…she just didn’t seem to know that. How could that be? I mean, we could all see it, but she could not. It was just her way. Hers was a behind the scenes greatness.

Nevertheless, if you asked all the people who knew her, I’ll bet that every one of them could Deloris Fern Byer (2)tell you about some of the many special things she did for people…like the piano she bought for the family, and teaching her siblings to dance, or my mom to fly…at least as much as you could using the wind and your coat as wings. She was a friend you wanted to call yours. She was such a kindhearted woman, and yet she took no credit for what she did for people. She was more the Wind Beneath Your Wings kind of gal. I will always remember her sweet smiling face. Aunt Dee left us on October 6, 1996, when Brain Cancer stole her sweet smile from us. Today would have been Aunt Dee’s 82nd birthday!! Happy birthday in Heaven Aunt Dee!! We love and miss you always.