Monthly Archives: April 2014
On this, the 130th anniversary of the arrival of my great grandfather, Carl Ludwig Theodor Schumacher in the United States, I have been thinking about how it must have felt for him. He had made the most difficult decision to leave his homeland at the very young age of 25, and board the SS Gellert, leaving from Hamburg, Germany on April 6, 1884 to start a new life, far away from his parents and family in the United States of America. He had been reading letters from his uncle and cousins about how wonderful America was, and in particular, how wonderful Minnesota was, since he was 18, and he had made up his mind to go. He would work seven long years taking care of the horses of a wealthy landowner to earn the $50.00 needed to pay his fare. He knew that travel by ship across the Atlantic could be dangerous, and he might be very homesick for his family, but he was determined to go. He knew, also that it would take years of hard work to build the American Dream that he had in mind for his life. My great grandfather would be successful in building his American Dream, but today my thoughts go not to thinking of his dreams, but rather to how he must have felt as he made such a life change.
A young man of 25 years is really not so grown up that a move half a world away doesn’t feel scary. That kind of a move would be a daunting experience for anyone, no matter how old they are. And then to arrive at a place like Ellis Island, or in my grandfather’s case, Castle Garden, since the Ellis Island facility wasn’t built until 1892…not really knowing what you would be put through before you would be allowed to enter the United States. Many people were required to Americanize their names, so it would be easier for them to fit in…forever altering their identity. That was the case for my great grandfather, when his name was changed from Schuhmacher to Schumacher. Still, the immigrants felt like this was a small sacrifice to make for the gain of the American Dream, and in fact, many immigrants felt like that name change was like a rite of passage into this great country.
Nevertheless, I can’t help but feel that my grandfather must have felt some level of sadness at the change of his name, even though he would use it again when he was married. Still, the census records, and other records show it as Schumacher, thus muddying the waters when it comes to genealogy records. I don’t suppose that was the thing my great grandfather was thinking about as he waited for his turn at Castle Garden on April 21, 1884, but as my mind looks back in time to that day that would end up being so very important to my life, it is something that definitely occurs to me. My great grandfather had been through so much to come to this new land filled with opportunity, and I’m quite certain that the overwhelming changes must have made him quite weary, but as he arrived in Minnesota and began the work of building that dream, I suppose that all of the uncertainty of the journey to get where he was, became simply a distant memory. He was home…the home of his dreams.
Every Easter families gather together to eat a big meal and enjoy each other’s company. Most of us use just about any excuse to have a huge meal filled with all the best dishes we can think of. The meal often consists of ham and brisket at our house. And of course, what Easter dinner would be complete without eggs in some form…usually for breakfast and dinner. All those eggs the kids colored had to be used in some way, after all. In our family, the eggs are called angel eggs, because for obvious reasons, we don’t like the term deviled eggs. I really don’t want the devil involved in anything in my family…even the eggs.
But, more importantly, as Christians, we come together to remember the sacrifice our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ made to save us from our sins. We were in a horrible mess. We had all sinned, and there was no way out of going to Hell…not that we could manage anyway. Nevertheless, God is a loving God, and His children really are His life. He devised a plan to save us from the mess we were in. He sent his son, Jesus, who left His home in Heaven to come to earth, as a man, to live a sinless life, and then to die on the cross anyway, because it was the only way out for us. A sinless man had to die to pay the price for a world of sinners.
I saw a post yesterday on Facebook with the message, “Friday happened, but Sunday is coming.” That is so true. There is nothing we can do about the fact that our sins caused the need for a Saviour, Jesus to come and die to save us. That is in the past, but our future is eternal in Heaven, because of the selfless act of our Saviour. It is God’s love, grace and mercy toward his children that allows us to walk away from the punishment we all deserved, and live forever with Him. We can never thank Him enough for sending His Son. We can never thank Jesus enough for choosing to come and die in our place. All we can do now is rejoice!! Friday happened, but Sunday came three days later, because God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son!! Jesus willingly paid the price, defeated the devil, and the rose again to proclaim that victory!! Sunday is here!! He is risen!!! Jesus is alive!! Rejoice!!
Sometimes, I have to wonder how it must feel to be an only child. It’s not that I have ever wanted to be an only child, but rather that I was simply curious about how life was for those who were only children. I have a niece, Toni, who has one son, James, who seems perfectly happy as an only child, and I know several other people, now adults, who are their parents’only children, and are also quite happy with their life. I suppose that you only know your life the way it is, and so what might seem strange to someone else, seems perfectly normal to you. Having grown up with four sisters, I can’t imagine life as an only child, nor can I imagine life with brothers. I think the family dynamic would have been so much different that it would have been nothing like what I grew up with. I guess, each life is what it is supposed to be.
But, what of the only child, who after a number of years, suddenly isn’t an only child anymore? How odd would that be? That is exactly what happened for my Aunt Laura Spencer Fredrick and for my mother-in-law, Joann Knox Schulenberg. Aunt Laura was 10 years old, when she suddenly became a sister to my Uncle Bill, and then my dad 28 months later, and my Aunt Ruth 19 months after that. Aunt Laura adapted very well to all these new siblings, especially Uncle Bill. They became very close, because my grandmother worked at the hotel the family ran, so Aunt Laura was instrumental in raising young Uncle Bill. I don’t know how much her help was needed with my dad, and Aunt Ruth, but my guess is that it was quite a bit, and I’m also quite sure she did a very good job of assisting her mother. Those older children are usually almost an extra parent.
For my mother-in-law, things were a little bit different in that she was an only child until her sister, Linda was born when she was 3 months short of 16 years old, and her sister Margee followed 25 months later. I’m sure that to a degree, she helped her mother out, but since she was in high school, and the family lived in the country, there was a period of time when she often stayed with friends in Colstrip, Montana so she would be able to get to school. By the time Margee arrived, my mother-in-law was dating her future husband, my father-in-law, Walter Schulenberg. They would marry just under 6 months later, and their first child, a daughter they named Marlyce was born just 13 months later, so my mother-in-law was busy with her own family and could no longer be a help to her mother. Most of her life was spent as an only child, even though she no longer was one.
I have to think that life for these two women must have seemed, to a degree anyway, like it was turned upside down. What they had always thought their life was going to be like was now totally different than I t had been before. I wish I could ask them if that had seemed strange to them, or if it just seemed like a normal next phase in their lives. I suppose that helping out with those younger siblings did train them in how to be a mother, which is good for anyone who plans to have kids. Nevertheless, I have to think that it must have seemed odd to go from an only child to a big sister in a few short months. Life takes it’s own twists and turns, and we just have to go with the changes, because that’s what life is all about
It’s funny how some of the most insignificant things can spark a memory of childhood that takes you back decades in an instant. As I was looking through some old pictures, from when I was about 4 months old, I noticed something at the edge of the picture. My sister, Cheryl and I were the main focus of the picture my mom was taking, but she also go a picture of the clothes hanging on the clothesline. Many home still have that clothesline in the back yard. For most of those homes, it is a forgotten relic of many years now in the past. Most people don’t bother hanging their clothes on the line to dry. We have a dryer sitting right next to the washer for that job. Of course, if we want to get that sunshine fresh scent to them, we have to as a chemically infused dryer sheet to the dryer, because otherwise they simply get dry…nothing more.
I remember, as a kid doing chores, that one of those chores was to hang the clothes on the line, and later to bring them in, fold them, and put them away. Of course, the clothes didn’t have that dryer induced softness, and so they might feel a bit scratchy at first, but that sunshine fresh scent was wonderful. It wasn’t the heavily perfumed scent that the dryer sheet produces, but rather the light scent of fresh air. I suppose that if you didn’t pay close attention, you could miss that scent, and therefore would think it was probably just my imagination, but I can say that I hung enough clothes on the clothesline to know what that scent smelled like, and I liked it, even if I didn’t really like the chore of hanging and folding those clothes.
These days, I dry my clothes in the dryer, because quite frankly, like most people I know, I don’t have time to spend hanging those clothes, waiting for them to dry, hoping the wind doesn’t blow them away, and taking them back down, before folding them and putting them away. The modern conveniences of the day win out in this day and age. And in reality, I suppose, seeing the clothes on the line in these pictures didn’t make me want to go hang clothes on the line, but rather it reminded me of the days gone by. The simple days of childhood, when the hardest chore was something like cleaning my room or handing clothes on the clothesline. We were so free then. No real obligations…we didn’t even have a part time job. We were kids, we did kid things, and we were living a carefree kid kind of life.
I have often wondered why people didn’t smile in pictures taken many years ago. It didn’t really make sense to me, because it seems that most people were happy with their lives. So why not show that they were happy in the pictures that were taken to remember them. Weren’t these pictures were intended to show their descendants who they were and tell a little bit about their lives? I always thought that it was a bit sad that there were so few smiles. And I have wondered why people didn’t tell their kids to smile, but upon further thought, and a look at the picture of my in-laws with all the grandchildren they had at that time, I think maybe I now have a little bit better understanding of it. Maybe it wasn’t totally intended at all, or maybe it was. I suppose we will never know.
I was there when these newer pictures were taken, of course, so I know for sure what was going on. We had taken pictures of several families, and multiple other group shots. We had been through the fidgety kids, the bouts of tears, the laughing at the ones in tears, and we were past nap time for some of these kids. We did our very best to get them to smile for the camera, and most of the time they did pretty good. Nevertheless, by the time we got to this picture, we were pretty much over the picture taking, and no one was doing any smiling. Sometimes there is just simply nothing you can do about a bad picture, except to chalk it up to experience, and move on. You can hope that the next time pictures are taken, everyone will be in a better mood, but quite likely you will find that there will be at least one or two who will feel the same way next time as they did this time.
Looking back in those old pictures, I thought maybe it wasn’t a matter of collectively deciding not to smile. Maybe they had work to be done on the farm, and they didn’t really want to be there taking pictures. Or maybe they just hated being all dressed up in their Sunday best on a week day, or maybe the kids were fussy and needed a nap, and maybe they were just tired. I mean, after all, everything was a lot harder then. They didn’t have the modern conveniences we have today. Maybe they were just too tired to smile!
Since I was a kid, my eyes have been very sensitive to bright sunlight. I learned to wear sunglasses at a rather young age and as an adult, I continue to wear them. Looking back, I recall a time when my Mom had a really bad headache, and I gave her my sunglasses. Her headache went away. That was proof positive to me that some people are more light sensitive than others, because I know a lot of people who never bother with sunglasses, while others must have them.
Kids are no different, of course, they just have a way of showing it that is a little bit more funny, like the time our family took a trip through Beartooth Pass. It was a beautiful, crisp, sunny day, and we stopped at the top. As you all know, picture taking in sunglasses is not the way to see the face of the subject. Nevertheless, picture taking without the needed sunglasses, is not always easy…nor does it always have the desired outcome. Still, it can be quite funny. I have looked at this picture many times, but never really paid close attention to Amy’s face in it. She, on the other hand, caught it the minute I showed it to her. There she was, face all scrunched up in a serious squint, while Corrie and I managed to keep our eyes open. Her comment to the whole thing was, “It was just too bright, I guess.” And so it was. Looking at the beautiful view with the sun at our backs worked very well, but facing into the bright sunlight for the picture…not so much.
Bob had the same problem when he was a little kid, and his mom was taking a picture of him and his two older sisters, Marlyce and Debbie. While the girls had no easy time of keeping their eyes open, Bob found it to be an impossible task. Nevertheless, he did manage a smile, even with his scrunched up eyes. Really, I think those scrunched up smiles are just a cute as they can be, and it shows that the child is really trying to smile, but some things, like opening your eyes in the bright sunlight, are just impossible. And most of us can totally relate, because it always seems to me that the minute they get the pose right, someone isn’t looking at the camera, or smiling, or their hair is in their face. By the time everyone is ready, your eyes are watering, and your are having trouble seeing anything, because of the bright sunlight that has been shining in your eyes for far too long.
Babies are by far the funniest though, because you can’t convince them to keep looking at you, and they don’t mind letting you know just what they think of you making them look into the bright sunlight. Nevertheless, they will look over at you again, every time you call their name, and then look away immediately. That was Bob’s little sister, Jennifer’s problem in this picture. She tried several times to look at the camera, as is evidenced by the fact that there are several pictures taken at the same time, but she was doomed to fail, or simply close her eyes, because it was just too bright outside that day. It’s funny, when you think about it, that we always try to take pictures where the subject is facing into the sun, but mostly all we get are scrunched up faces. Maybe we should opt for a spot that is just a little less bright. Hmmmmmm!!
My cousins, Bill and Emily Egan had a baby girl on March 12, 2014. Rylie Katherine Egan was about a month early, but she is doing better than great. Since that day, they have been impressing us with their little beauty…especially with her unique ability to hold the cutest poses…and all, apparently unassisted. She is a teeny little princess of a girl, who is quite obviously the apple of her parents’ eyes, and who could blame them, because she is just so precious.
It’s funny how such a teeny little girl can wrap you around her teeny little finger so quickly, but that is exactly what I see happening to her parents. I’m sure that anyone who knows them is seeing the same thing. That’s just the way she is. She changed everything with her cute little smile and her eyes that say “I love you mommy and daddy.” There is simply no doubt that this baby girl has stolen her parents’ hearts, and has no intention of returning them.
Her parents simply don’t stand a chance against her little girl charms, and believe me, those little girls learn how to pour on the charm pretty early on. It’s just instinctive. All they have to do is flutter their little eyelashes, especially to their daddy and it’s all over. Daddy is going to give in every time. At some point, I think, the parents of little girls…ok, and boys too…find themselves thinking, “What happened to me? I used to be the person who got annoyed at all the loud play, and giggling associated with little kids, and suddenly, it doesn’t bother me one bit!! What has this little girl done to me?” Well, I’ll tell you. She changed everything!!
You used to be independent, and maybe even a little selfish…going to all the best hangouts…but, suddenly all you want to do is stay home and cuddle with that precious baby. She can ask you anything, and you will bend over backward to do what she wants, and when you do have to say “No” and you see that little lip stick out, and those eyes fill up with tears, you feel like the meanest person in the world, even though you know it is necessary and for her own good. It’s just that it breaks your heart to have to see her cry.
And when she comes running in with that first scrape from falling down, all you can think of is how to make her little life all better. Now wonder we do things like kiss it to make it better! There might even be times when you wish you could rush certain things along, like walking without falling down, or talking so she can tell you what is wrong, but seriously…don’t rush things, because before you know it, she is grown up. She will always be your precious little baby…your first child…and the apple of your eye, but she will grow up quickly, so slow down and enjoy every moment to the fullest before she changes everything again.
Not everyone who belongs in a family history is a family member. It seems fitting to me to talk about the Hoover family, because they played a rather large part in our family’s history, and therefore were as close as family. In her young years, my great aunt, Bertha Matilda Spencer and her mother did not get along. The situation continued to be a problem for some time, and at some point it became intolerable.
I don’t know how old Bertha was when she went to live with the Hoover family, or if it was her decision or her mother’s, but she never lived at home again. Many people might think that hers was a horribly sad and lonely life after that, but to me she looked genuinely happy. That makes me think that possibly her move to the Hoover home was something that was by mutual agreement, between her and her mom, but I still have to wonder if the whole situation made my great great grandfather rather sad. I don’t know about Great Great Grandma, but the rest of the family, it seems, was very close to the Hoovers…leading me to think that they missed their sister very much. Because the Hoover family was so close to his, my grandfather remained friends with them for the rest of his life, even having his picture taken with two of the Hoover boys, Ed and Joe, two years before his death.
Mr Hoover’s name was France, and while he was a farmer by trade, he also had the ability to repair and maybe even make shoes for his family. I suppose a lot of families learned trades to help save their families money, but shoemaking is something that seems such a strange hobby these days. Of course, for France Hoover, it was not a hobby, it was a necessity. His family needed shoes, and to purchase them was expensive. I found these pictures to be very interesting, as I thought about how the shoes were made or repaired in those days. They were all hand crafted, unlike the shoes of today that are mass produced by machines. The shoes were made out of leather, while most shoes today are made out of synthetic materials. I have a feeling those shoes lasted much longer than our shoes today do too.
Shoes then were not designed for looks so much, but rather they were made in a practical fashion, which would have saddened me, because I love my high heels, and I love different designs and colors. Shoes of yesteryear were quite different, and I’m sure the shoemakers would have thought of me as being half crazy. Maybe I am, but I would be in good company, I think, because there are a whole bunch of us high heel fanatics in this world. These are just different times than those were, and since they most likely had just one pair of shoes, compared to my 50 or more, theirs had to be built to last. While France Hoover was not related to me, I still find him to be an interesting character from the past. Some things he did the old fashioned way, like making and repairing shoes, and some things like cars and tractors, he had to have the latest innovations available. I suppose it just depends on where your priorities are, really, and I’m quite certain that mine are vastly different than France Hoover’s were.
My dad always had a great sense of humor, and I have often heard about some of the mischievous antics he and his brother, my Uncle Bill pulled. Things like setting dynamite off on a gate post, and sinking it down several inches, making it impossible to close the gate until they managed to pull the post back up…and before their mother got home from town, so she didn’t get mad at them, or setting off fireworks at the crack of dawn on the 4th of July, were pretty common types of mischief for them. There was also, the things my dad did to get things going, like leaning back on his chair until he fell over…to much giggling from his siblings, I have no doubt.
He was always a lot of fun to be around when we were kids, too. He and I used to have fake boxing matches, which he would usually win, of course. He loved to tease his girls, and when he pulled one over on you, he just laughed and laughed. You couldn’t help but laugh right along with him, because his laugh was so filled with delight at his ability to pull one over on you…and believe me, he had that ability.
Of course, every person has things they have kept secret, especially from their kids. You know, things you don’t want them to do, but that you did. It’s like the old saying. “Do as I say, not as I do.” Well, my dad was no different, I guess, because it appears to me that when all the other students in his class were posed obediently for the class picture, there was one cut up in the crew…you guessed it, my dad. Apparently, he just couldn’t resist acting goofy for the shot, and back then, there was no way to know it had happened until it was developed. Then, there is no way to fix it.
I can’t say that I am totally surprised at the antics of my dad. It is pretty much his character. Still, I can’t say that I ever thought of him as the class clown type. He always expected his girls to behave in school, church, or any other public gathering. There was a time to good off, and a time to behave. Nevertheless, here was my dad, being the only kid in the class to be making the goofy face in the picture. It makes me wonder just how many times my grandmother had a visit from the teacher, telling her about her wayward son, who was acting out in class….again!
My sister-in-law, Jennifer Parmely, loves to hike. That is something Bob and I can totally relate to. There is just something wonderful about being on a trail in the woods, listening to the birds singing and seeing the beauty of the green trees. Most hikers like to find trails wherever they travel, and Jennifer, Bob and I are no exception. Jennifer has hiked many of the usual places around Casper, like the Bridle Trail on the mountain, and of course, the Platte River Parkway, but she has also hiked places in Colorado, and as far away as New Zealand. Now that would be my kind of hiking trip to take.
Jennifer’s love of hiking came about when she decided to get into better shape, and it is really all part of a package of things she does to stay in great shape. She skis, runs, hikes, and bikes for exercise. With a broad range of activities that she likes, she doesn’t have to go to the gym to workout, although she might do that too, for all I know. Many people would call Jennifer an exercise fanatic, and I suppose they would be right, but if you want to be in good shape, you have to do what it takes to get to that place.
Jennifer is an Obstetrics Nurse, working with mothers in labor, and in the nursery with their babies. It is a job that started when she became a candy stripper at the young age of 17 years, and one that she does very well. My girls, Corrie and Amy, and I have been very glad to have her there when the time came for their babies to arrive. She is very good at her job, and has a very calming effect on a young mother who is a little apprehensive about the impending birth of their child. Having a baby is no easy task, and when you have a nurse there who is so confident and capable, it makes the process much easier. Her hours are long, but the nice thing is that she doesn’t have to work as many days a week to get her hours in…something all of us might have liked to do, at one time or another.
Then, as if her life isn’t packed full of activities, Jennifer also takes piano lessons, and spends time practicing the piano. I suppose you would call this a well rounded life, and of course, you would be right. I think her activity filled life really started when she decided to get into shape all those years ago. You can’t have such a busy life, if you are too tired to get out there and just do it. Jennifer has proven that if you are determined, you can get back to good shape and you can do all the activities you want to. You just have to go for it. Today is Jennifer’s birthday, Happy birthday Jennifer!! Have a great day!! We love you!!