Monthly Archives: September 2014
I suppose that everyone has an aunt or uncle that they connect with better than some of the others, and while the choice would be really tough for me to make, because I have so many great aunts and uncles, I would, nevertheless have to go with my Uncle Bill Spencer, who is my dad’s brother. Uncle Bill and I have always clicked. I notice many ways that we are alike. It was Uncle Bill that taught me how to play cribbage, and when they came to town, the rest of the family was hard pressed to spend much time with him…unless they wanted to watch us play. It was Uncle Bill who got me interested in coin and stamp collecting. I think I liked pretty much anything he was interested in.
While my interest in those things didn’t last very long, there was something that Uncle Bill got me interested in that has stayed with me for years…genealogy. Uncle Bill has been interested in the family history since he was a little boy. I can’t say that I have been interested in it quite that long, but since my girls were little for sure…and probably a while before that too. So much of what we now have is because of the work that Uncle Bill did over a lifetime. As a kid, I was certain that I hated history of any kind, but as an adult, I discovered just how interesting history can be, especially when you apply it to your own family. Most of the time, we don’t really consider the impact our own family members had on the course of history, but often they had a great impact…somewhere, at some place in time. Uncle Bill looked for the things our family did, and for the impact many of them had in history. That made them seem more real. I have also found out that some of the characters that we studied in history in school, are ancestors of mine, so that makes them even more interesting. Sometimes you just have to look at things differently, to really be able to see them for what they are.
While history and genealogy were something Uncle Bill and I shared, I can’t say that those things were the reason that we connected so well. In fact, I can’t say exactly why we connected so well…only that we did. Sometimes, it isn’t just about things you have in common, but rather about personalities. I think Uncle Bill and I were quite a bit alike in our personalities too. Maybe it was our sense of humor, or maybe our determination, but whatever it was, we always seemed to click, and it was a relationship that I always cherished.
Through the years, we tried to keep in contact with letters, but that was not always easy or successful. Uncle Bill didn’t get on the computer except to log his gun shop inventory, and so letters were just about it for him…especially since phone calls across the country back in the day could be pricey. We had thought about finding a way to play cribbage long distance, but could never get that figured out either. These days, online gaming is pretty easy, and if he had know much about the computer, we could have done it. It makes me sad that we were never able to do so.
When we went to see Uncle Bill on this trip, the Alzheimer’s Disease had taken much of his recent memory from him, but when we told him that we were his brother, Allen’s family, he knew who we were. We talked abut the very distant past…his and his sibling’s childhood, and he remember playing cribbage…I think. Nevertheless, it was not the same. The relationship was locked in the past, where it will most likely remain. I wish I could be close enough to see him a little more often, and maybe we could even give a game of cribbage a try. Though I haven’t seen him nearly as much in the past few years, as I did in my younger years, I find myself missing him terribly.
When my great aunt, Bertha Schumacher Hallgren wrote her journal, she said that, “making a record of the simple, everyday things you see, feel, and hear around you – and passing them on to posterity” would make you famous. It seems such a simple thing, and yet, whether Bertha was famous in her time or not, her journal has definitely been read by many people now, so I guess she was famous with the people who mattered. Aren’t her family members among the most important ones to read her writings. I think they are. Bertha said to write about the simple everyday things. That really is something that can have an impact on the reader.
In her journal, Bertha talks about the first family car. It was brand new, and state of the art…and they paid $650.00 for it. When we buy a new car now, $650.00 seldom covers the monthly payment. The car itself costs upward of $31,000.00, and could cost much more. I realize that wages were much smaller when Bertha was a girl, but I have to wonder if she would just about pass out if she heard the cost of a car now. When people put gasoline in their car in 1925 they paid approximately 20 cents a gallon. These days $3.35 is pretty good for gas prices, and in some places, they pay as much as $4.35. And that is just today. Gas prices have gone up and down, and has been $6.00 a gallon before. I doubt if people from 1925 ever thought we would end up paying that kind money for gasoline today. We, of course, would love to be able to buy gasoline for 20 cents a gallon, but those days are gone forever.
When we look back on the prices of things in history, I think most are likely in proportion with the wages, for the most part. But, when we look at the difference in the prices of things, we seldom think about the wage difference. We just wonder how they expect people to pay such a horrible price for these things. I think it doesn’t occur to us that most likely we are making more money and so the prices of things aren’t really so far out of line with the wages we make. Gas prices, especially hit hard, because the people of the United States are a very mobile people. We like our cars, and we want to be able to go when we want, and where we want. And, sometimes, that price at the pump starts eating into our ability to do that. We get annoyed.
I would love to be able to pay $650.00 for a new car like my great grandfather did years ago, but if you don’t mind, I would like to keep my wages right where they are when I buy that new car. That would make the price of that new car very appealing indeed…just not realistic. Whether we like it or not, the prices of things often have a pretty direct correlation with the wages of the day, and we will have to deal with it.
While we were visiting many of our family members in Superior, Wisconsin and Duluth, Minnesota, our cousin, Bill Spencer surprised us with a copy of a slide show that he had put together for his family. We were so busy while we were there, that there was no time to take a look at the slide show. When I got home, I looked at it briefly, but nothing really in depth. Yesterday, I took another look…a longer look. I had no idea what a gold mine that slide show would turn out to be. As I watched it, I felt like I had been instantly transported back in time. It was so fun to look at those old shots of all of us as kids. It also felt just a little bit lonely when I looked at holiday pictures from the time right after we left Superior. Prior to that, we would have most likely been in some of those pictures, and I’m sure that my cousins would agree with me when I say that feels a little bit sad too.
Cheryl and Pam had always been good friends, and the younger kids naturally partnered with Bill and Jim. That could have left me feeling like a third wheel, but I got along just as well with the younger kids, so it worked out very well. The reality was that I thought the stuff the younger kids were doing was more fun most of the time anyway. Not to say that I wouldn’t have wanted to spend time with Cheryl and Pam, but I was a pretty active kid. and the rough housing that the younger kids and I did was quite appealing to me. In fact, I probably instigated much of it…if not all of it.
I was really into gymnastics, with tumbling being my favorite part of it. My sisters and I used to practice our tumbling on the front lawn, so it stood to reason that we would do that when our cousins were there too. We practiced things like cartwheels, hand springs, and touching our toes to our head…which turned out to be a little difficult for my cousin, Jimmy, try as he might. And believe me, his trying was pretty funny. I don’t know if he really thought that he could pull his legs up to his head with his hands, but believe me, you can’t do it. Either you are limber enough, or you aren’t. It’s as simple as that.
The younger kids would do their best to gang up on me, to prove their superiority…or maybe it was just the mere number of them against me, or maybe they had a little help from Aunt Doris. Whatever the case may be, sometimes I found myself out numbered. Of course, it was all in fun, and we had such a good time when they were here or we were there. Just looking at the picture of the dog pile makes me smile. All I can say, is that I’m glad I didn’t have all those kids on top of me. I would have been squished for sure!! What crazy, fun times those were.
Seeing my cousins this summer, took me back to those carefree days. Sometimes, you get used to being away from those you love, and you somehow don’t realize how much we miss those times, until we go back for a short time. Then, the memories flood back in. You talk for hours about all the old times, and you suddenly realize just how much you have missed those times. Nevertheless, time has marched on, and you can’t go back to when you were young. All you can do is try to keep the memories alive in your memory files, and pull them out once in a while so you can relive those moments. Those days are gone, but the memory lives on to remind you that those were the days, and they were great. Childhood is but a fleeting moment, but those days will always be a part of who we are.
When I look at the man my husband, Bob has become, I can’t help but think back on the young man he was when I first met him, and imagine the boy he used to be. Bob has been and always will be very much into cars. Really, from the time he was young, to the present day. Cars have intrigued him. As a kid, he had lots of model cars. They pretty much dominated his time and his room. Pictures of his collections dominated his photo album too. He put the cars together with much patience and great care. If you have ever looked at a model car, before it was put together, you will know that there is a multitude od tiny pieces that must be glued in and in the proper order for the car to come together and look the way it should. Since I don’t really like to do puzzles, and this seems much like a puzzle to me, I think that putting a model car together would drive me crazy. Nevertheless, it was a pastime that Bob really enjoyed.
I didn’t know this before I knew Bob, but the makers of model cars keep a record of sorts on the cars they have made, much like baseball cards or football cards, you can collect them all. And, I think Bob may have done just that when he was a young man. I remember buying some for him in later years, and that is when I discovered that to do so correctly, I needed to know which ones he already had, because duplicates really made no sense…unless a person just wanted to have lots of different colored Mustangs.
These cars were not toys, as I’m sure Bob’s younger siblings and especially his little brother, Ron would find out. As a child who sees a plastic car will tell you…”It looked like a toy to me!” That was usually said after they found themselves in hot water with the model car’s owner. It’s an innocent mistake, when you think about it. All their toys are about that size, so what makes this car so special that it can’t be driven. Well, I suppose the real answer would lie in the fact that the car’s wheels were glued in place…or at least a lot of them were. The fact that the cars wheels would not move might make it difficult to drive it, but that is rarely a deterrent to a kid who wants to look the car over and play with it, but a big brother who threatens to rip your head off, might just make you think twice before you touch one of these priceless treasures…if you want to live, that is.
As the years have passed, Bob’s love of cars has only grown. Nevertheless, these days he has bigger fish to fry than the little model cars he used to love to spend so much time making. Now, real cars dominate his free time. He is constantly working on a car for this person or that person, and once in a while even himself…or me!! He is constantly covered in grease from head to toe. He seldom uses glue to put things back together, but there are times when a repair does call for a sealant or something similar. I suppose that if he had time, he might enjoy putting together model cars again, but thankfully for me, he doesn’t have a lot of time for such things. No, we don’t have model cars lining the headboard of our bed, but that doesn’t mean he likes then any less. And it doesn’t mean that our home is free of them either. While most of them have been given away or stored away in boxes, there is still one model car that gets to live out in the open. In our living room, on a shelf with knick-knacks, sits a model car of one of his favorite kinds…the El Camino. He used to have an one years ago. It is long since gone, but it’s memory lives on in the form of a model car.
There comes a time in the life of your kids, when they just have to spread their wings and fly for a while. Where they go often varies, but the reason is usually the same. They want to be more independent. Some kids, like my dad, Allen Spencer and his brother, Bill Spencer, were intent on making a living. They had decided to follow the harvest and make some good money for the family. They planned to, and did return home in time to help their mom, Anna Spencer with the haying. The main reason the boys set out at eighteen and sixteen was to make extra money, but I have to think they were also feeling like they wanted and needed a little road trip too. They were of an age to be able to go safely, and their mom was agreeable, so off they went. I can’t say that they sewed any wild oats, but it was an opportunity to go the places they wanted to go, and do the things they wanted to do. And it was an opportunity for them to really spread their wings and prove to themselves that they were grown up.
That whole “I’m grown up” idea hasn’t changed much, and it hasn’t gone away. This year I had two of my grandchildren graduate from high school. They have both started to venture out of the safe haven of home now. Chris Petersen went to watch his brother, Josh Petersen’s track meet toward the end of last year, and Shai Royce and her brother, Caalab Royce drove to Denver to visit their grandparents, and have a little fun too. They all had a good time on their road trips, and I’m sure that they felt a little more grown up. The funny thing about teenagers is that after they take a couple of those road trips, or even one, they realize that it’s not such a big deal after all.
After, Chris moved to Sheridan to go to college, that drive home quickly became kind of long and boring. Yes, he comes home, because he misses family, and we miss him, but he’s not so impressed with driving down and back alone…especially going back. I suppose that could be because he knows it will be a while before he sees his family again. When you are going somewhere to have fun and then you’ll be back the next week to stay. It just feels different than when you know it may be months before you see your family again. That feels lonely.
For me…well I’m still trying to get used to the fact that they all have a driver’s license and their own cars…and now they expect me to be ok with letting those little babies go on a trip alone!! Are they crazy? Or, maybe I just sound too much like their mom’s. There will be many more road trips to come in the future, so I might just as well get used to it. I just don’t think that’s possible. The other day, when my granddaughter, Shai called her mom, Amy, who works with me, and asked what there was to do in Deadwood, I started thinking…she doesn’t need to go to Deadwood at her age. Let her go to Thermopolis, if she wants to go somewhere. Shai was only asking the question for a guest at the hotel she works at. Wow…I really need to stress less!!
Safely tucked away, in a closet in the basement of my home, sits a red box. It is a homemade hope chest, built by my dad, when I was a little girl. Dad built two of them, one for my sister, Cheryl and one for me. This was long before hope chests became popular again, or maybe they always were, and I just didn’t know it then. I loved that little hope chest. I suppose some people would have thought it plain, but it held a very special meaning to me. My daddy had made it for me, and told me that it was to keep my treasures in. The original paddle lock was lost long ago, and replaced with a new one. I have lost the key to that one, so now a bobby pin has to suffice. It really wouldn’t matter if it was unlocked, I suppose, because to most people it’s contents have no real value. It holds no gold, silver, or diamonds…just the treasures from my past.
When I opened it last night…the first time in a long time, I saw my girlhood treasures, like souvenirs from trips taken as a child, my first wrist watch, and cameo soaps I got from…who knows where. I saw my high school diploma, and my husband Bob’s, both in pristine condition. There were treasures from my children’s lives, like perfect attendance awards from church and preschool, pictures of our family at that time, cards sent to me on special occasions, and baby cigars from a number of different births…I don’t suppose anyone would want to smoke those now. There was a baby blanket I had been given, and high school pictures of my sisters and sisters-in-law. There are three model cars…remnants of Bob’s past, and a multitude of key chains from his years of collecting them. If you looked at these items, I suppose most people would think many of them to be worthless, but to me, they are treasures…they are my past.
I realize that I am a sentimental person, and that I save things with sentimental value. I have accepted this about myself. I know that many people don’t like to save things. They don’t like the clutter, and I do admit that it can create clutter. But, I don’t really want my world to be so free of my past, that it seems sterile. This isn’t an operating room, after all, it’s my life, and my memories. I like most of my past, not to mention, my family’s past, and I want to be able to see and remember it. That is simply who I am. I can think of so many fun times in my past…camping trips with my parents and sisters, hiking with Bob, vacations with our kids, just to mention a few. In my opinion, I have lead a very nice life, and I want to always remember that. As I looked through the contents of my hope chest, my mind drifted back to a time when my family was young. The years have gone by so fast. It made me feel a little bit sad.
The contents of my hope chest have changed over the years, as my hopes and dreams have changed. As a little girl, I had the trinkets of a little girl in there, and as I grew, the things in my hope chest grew to take in my new self. Once I was married, the hope chest became a memory chest, instead of a hope chest. which was designed to collect the things a girl would need for her wedding and marriage. I think I like the latest job my hope chest has, because memories come from a life filled with good things. And maybe that is a fitting end for a hope chest, because it does start out as the hopes and dreams of a girl, and ends up with the memories of a life well lived.
I am always surprised somehow, when a side of the family tree takes an unexpected turn. I remember years ago, talking to Bob’s grandma, Vina Leary Schulenberg Hein about her family. She had never mentioned her mother much, but I knew that she loved her dad, Chester Marion Leary and her brother, Kirby Leary very much. The events of our past can shape our views of people…sometimes forever. The reasons people do things are not always clear, and sometimes may never be known. That said, Grandma told me that her mother had left when she was a young girl. That meant that her life changed overnight. Childhood was over to a degree, because she had to help out around the house. Her dad loved her and her brother very much, and did his very best for them.
I suppose that because I was asking her about her mom, she didn’t exactly go into detail about what happened afterward. While looking through Ancestry, yesterday, I clicked on a hit for Chester Leary that took me to FindAGrave.com. I didn’t have a picture of Chester’s grave yet, so I wanted to get that. As I looked at his memorial, some of which I had seen before, because I had added the picture of him, I glanced to the relationship information, and saw that there was a child listed there that did not match what I knew of the family. I clicked on the link for Ruth Leary Dilley, and it stated that indeed Chester was her father, but her mother was Marie, not Viola, who I knew to be Chester’s wife.
Well, of course, after Viola left Chester, he did remarry. I wondered why that was not mentioned when I spoke to Grandma Hein all those years ago. Since Grandma was listed as one of Ruth’s sisters, they must have had a relationship. It was so strange to me. I suppose that Grandma thought that all I was interested in was what happened to her mother, which wasn’t exactly right, but maybe the whole situation with her mother was still a touchy area, and she didn’t think about the woman, Marie Behrendt who had become her step mother. Marie was quite a bit younger than Chester…seventeen years, in fact…so Grandma Hein was fourteen years of age when they married, and Marie was only six years older that she was, so maybe she didn’t really feel like a mother to her, and maybe not even a friend really. Nevertheless, the half sisters who were born to that second marriage certainly felt like Grandma Hein was their sister, since they listed her as Ruth’s sister. Grandma Hein was just seventeen years old when she married her first husband, Bob’s grandfather, Andrew Schulenberg, so it could be that she wasn’t really around her dad’s new wife long enough to feel like she was her mother either.
Whatever the reason, I certainly did not know about the twist the family history was about to take. Of course, I know that marriages fail and people remarry, but it just seems odd that when asked about her side of the family, Grandma Hein mentioned only the things that she had felt so negative about, and not the aftermath. I have found some of the Dilley children, and plan to attempt to contact them to see what they know of things. Once again, time will tell as to whether or not I am able to learn much more about this step grandmother and half aunts that we have through my husband, Bob’s grandmother’s family. Once again, the story continues to evolve.
Because he passed away in 1953 at the young age of just 43 years. I never had the opportunity to know my Great Uncle Cliff. My mom tells me that he was well liked. She said he liked to make people laugh, and always had a good joke to tell. That made him someone people liked to be around. He loved stopping by his brother’s house after work. He would leave a few snacks in his lunch pail for all the little kids to raid. Of course, that made him a big hit with my mom and her siblings.
Uncle Cliff was quite a character. He loved to pick on his mom some. When he was younger, and still living at home. He had a job, and his job required that he work a half day on Saturday. Sometimes he would not come right home after work, because he knew his mother would think he was out drinking. Grandma was mad, and indeed thought he was drinking. She decided to write a big “D” on calendar…for drunk. I guess she was hoping to shame him into not doing such things. He did it to tease her, because he wasn’t drinking at all, and the big “D” on the calendar only served as a source of humor for him.
Uncle Cliff married Marie Settell on July 28, 1940, and on their wedding night, the family gave them a real Shivaree. Now for those of you who don’t know, a Shivaree is a mock serenade with kettles, pans, horns, and other noisemakers given for a newly married couple. As sometimes happens in these event, things can get out of hand, resulting in the bride being stolen from the groom for a time, and Uncle Cliff was very worried that they would steal his bride. I suppose that once he realized they weren’t going to do that, he might have thought it was a sweet thing to do, but by that time the Shivaree was over, so he couldn’t relax and enjoy it.
When the United States joined World War II, Uncle Cliff was drafted into the Navy on August 18, 1945, at the age of 36 years. He had only been married five years at that time, and they had already had some sadness in the loss of their first child, Clifford Jr in 1941. I can only imagine how hard it would be to send your husband into war, when you had only been married for five years. But then, many woman have had to do this over the years. They and their marriage would survive the war, and they would have three surviving children, Joy, Gordon, and Judy and a number of grandchildren, but unfortunately, Uncle Cliff would never get to meet them.
Coming home from the war would not bring the best of news. I’m not sure just how long after coming home, but Uncle Cliff had some health issues, and he unfortunately put off taking care of them, In the end, it would be cancer that would take his life at the far too young age of 43. Uncle Cliff has always seemed to be a bit of a mystery to me…like an great uncle who I knew should have known, but somehow didn’t. He was a missing part of the family. He was my Grandpa Byer’s youngest sibling, and since I knew my grandpa, who was the third from the oldest of the nine children, why wouldn’t I know his youngest brother. Oh, I know that isn’t such an oddity, because a lot of people die at a young age, but it seemed strange to me at the time.
Five years after Uncle Cliff’s passing, Marie would again find love, even though I’m sure she thought it would never happen. She married Walter Oddsey (Johnny) Skaggs. Marie and Johnny were both well liked by the Byer family, and while they moved to California, they kept in touch with them through the years.
My niece, Jessi, thinks her husband, Jason Sawdon is a lot like her grandpa, my dad, Allen Spencer. Both of these men have made the choice, for as much as it is possible, to buy American made. Their reasons might be slightly different, but buying American made is very important to the American economy. It helps keep American people working, and that is important to all of us in this country. For Jason, who moved here to Wyoming from Michigan, it is especially important to buy American cars, and he isn’t alone in that either. My dad felt that way, as does my husband, Bob.
Jason likes to keep busy on his days off, and he is pretty handy too. He built Jessi a garden, fixed their porch, and rewired the dash of his truck. In Jessi’s book, that makes him a Jack Of All Trades, and I would have to agree. Since Jason is a guy who likes to tease, and he’s pretty good at mechanics, he decided to tell a bunch of his friends that he was a NAPA certified mechanic. They believed him for a number of years, and then, one time they went into NAPA looking for parts, and told the counter clerk that Jason was NAPA certified. The person looked at them funny and said that there was no such thing. I’m sure they felt a little gullible for having believed Jason for so long. I have to think that Jason must be pretty patient with his jokes, if he would wait years to get that ultimate laugh. In the end though, it was Jessi who got the final say on that joke. It was when she was helping her aunt go through some things that had belonged to her Grandpa Hadlock, and she came across a NAPA Certified Certificate, so apparently you used to be able to get NAPA certified. They had a good laugh over that one.
That had to be a rare moment for Jessi, because as she will tell you, she is pretty gullible too, and Jason is usually the one to pull one over on her. He often tells her things that she initially believes, and then after giving it some thought, she realizes that what he said is impossible. I’m sure that when she confronts Jason, he gets a great laugh out of that. Jason is always tricking people in funny ways, and in that too, I can see how he reminds Jessi of her grandpa. But, one thing that Jason can’t hide is just how much he loves Jessi. Anyone could see that on his face the first time they saw them together. And of course, Jessi feels the same way about him. I have seen a lot of couples get together in our family, and some stand out as being extra special in my mind. Jason and Jessi were one of those couples. One of their wedding pictures best shows what I, and everyone else, could so clearly see.
Jason loves his nieces and nephew, and enjoys spending time with them and they think he is the greatest too. Having such a great sense of humor makes Jason a great playmate for the kids. He has lots of energy and doesn’t mind playing their games. They in turn flock to him. It is the reward of having an inner child I think, and it is what makes Jason a perfect fit to our family. Today is Jason’s birthday. Happy birthday Jason!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
New babies are always so very special, but when the baby is your baby or your little sister, it is even more special. That’s how is was for my grand niece, Reagan Parmely yesterday morning, when she got to meet her new little sister, Hattie Joy for the first time. Reagan and Hattie are the daughters of my nephew, Eric and his wife, Ashley Parmely. To Reagan, her little sister, Hattie is absolutely the best baby in the world…because she belongs to Reagan…forever!! She will have to share her a little bit with her mom and dad… and, grandparents and all that, but I have a feeling that they will soon be told that Hattie belongs to Reagan. Hattie is a pretty little girl with lots of dark hair…much like her sister was when she was born. In fact, when I looked back at the first picture I have of little Reagan, I found that you could easily mistake them for the same baby. I seriously doubt if anyone will have trouble realizing that these two girls are sisters, because the Parmely girls are little look alikes…at least for now.
Hattie made her entrance very early on September 20, 2014, arriving at 4:06am and weighing in at 7 pounds even. Hopefully she won’t be so used to keeping her parents up all night, that it becomes a lifelong habit. I’m sure her parents will not appreciate spending all their nights trying to get their little Hattie to sleep…and later, well Hattie, there will be curfews and other such rules that you will be expected to live by…like it or not. I suppose we don’t need to jump the gun just yet. You are, after all, only one day old, so there will be time to learn all about that whole rule thing…and, I’m sure your big sister, Reagan will be happy to teach you the ropes, and how to get around the rules. Of course, you might find out that Reagan has a little bit different take on the rules than your parents do…one that slants more in her direction, as the official big sister. Nevertheless, hang in there and you will find that she will be your biggest ally.
Sisters have a way of sticking together through the years, and while they may fight with each other, they are usually best friends forever. Friends may come and go, but your sister will always be your sister. You, Hattie Joy, are so blessed to have a great big sister, and yet Reagan is so blessed to have you. Being sisters is one of life’s greatest blessings. You will share so much through the years. Your years are not so far apart that you won’t go through the boy-crazy, teenage years together…among other things. Being sisters…well, it doesn’t get any cooler than that.