Monthly Archives: October 2014
Long before our nation would find itself fighting to keep the right to bear arms, and long before people felt a serious need to teach their kids about guns at an early age, my Uncle Jim Wolfe was teaching his then two year old daughter, my cousin Shirley how to handle a gun. Much of her memory of that early time came from pictures of the process, but sadly those pictures were lost in a fire, and so live only in Shirley’s memory now. She remembers the picture showing a two year old Shirley standing in front of her dad, who squatted down to better match her size, and he was helping her hold the gun. I’m sure he began teaching her to shoot it then or very shortly thereafter, because from her earliest memory clear through adulthood, she remembers guns being a part of her life. By the time Shirley was old enough to hunt, she was an excellent shot, and the two of them very much enjoyed hunting together.
Hunting was not the only sport they enjoyed together though. Uncle Jim loved to fish, and taught Shirley to fish, build a campfire, and keep it going. Cooking those fish was a skill learned from her mother, however. Aunt Ruth had a way of cooking fish that was a family favorite, and if you wanted the whole family to like the fish, that was how you cooked them.
Shirley tells me that her dad taught her how to ride a horse, which surprised me a little, because her mom was an excellent horsewoman, who had even raced some. The she said that her mom helped with that, and it all made sense. If Shirley is anything like me, and most kids for that matter, she tended to learn easier from one parent than from the other. It doesn’t mean that you don’t love them the same, but your learning style just seems to fit better with one than it does the other. As for Shirley, she got the best training that both could give and ended up being a pretty good horsewoman herself.
Uncle Jim and Shirley were in many ways, inseparable. She would do whatever he was doing, just to spend more time with her dad. That is the way many girls are…daddy’s girls, and since I was much the same myself, I can totally understand. They worked on cars together, much like my daughter, Amy Royce, but the big difference there is that Shirley really got into it and loved doing it, while Amy just loved to watch her daddy.
Uncle Jim told Shirley that he knew the girl he would marry, long before he met her, because he kept dreaming of her. He just couldn’t see her face. When he came home from the war, he went to Twin Falls, Idaho, because he knew some people there. It so happened that the people he knew were Aunt Ruth’s cousins, who introduced them. He recognized Aunt Ruth before she even turned around. She was the woman in his dreams. It was love at first sight, and the rest is history. They were married for 46½ years before she passed away. Their love was meant to be.
Uncle Jim taught Shirley to dance by letting her stand on his feet, something I remember doing with my dad, although not to learn to dance. For Shirley though, the love of dancing continued all her life. She even danced on his feet while he was dancing with her mom…now that is a sight I would like to have seen. Shirley’s memories of her dad could go on and on, because they are far too numerous to name here, but suffice it to say that he was in every way, her hero. He made her life and the lives of the family, mine included, loads of fun. As his life wound down, I know it was hard for Shirley to see him in the weakened, forgetful state he was in, but she can always take comfort in the fact that his was a life well lived, and he is now in Heaven dancing with the girl of his dreams again…but waiting for that little one who likes to dance on his feet.
I love that I have connected with so many family members over the past few years. It seems like each connection brings another connection, and then it keeps blossoming into more and more connections. Yesterday, I got an email from my cousin, Tracey Schumacher Inglimo, telling me of some information she came across in FamilySearch.Org. Some of it I already had, but there was quite a bit of it that I didn’t. It was like opening an early Christmas present. It was given to me for no reason other than to further the family tree for all of us. I seriously can’t tell you how big a blessing Tracey has become, and she continues to grow more and more important to my life every day. It was the connection with her that started all the open doors in the Schumacher family in the first place. From there, the Schumacher side of the family has grown to the point where I’m not sure just how many we know…and that is awesome!!
As I said, some of the information was information that I already had, but some of it was new to me. One of the things I found most exciting is that Tracey had found, what I now believe to be the long lost picture of Christian Schumacher, who is my great great uncle, and the brother of my great grandfather, Carl Schumacher. According to my great aunt, Bertha Schumacher Hallgren, “Christian was a soldier (he joined very young, perhaps 20), straight and tall when he stood in his uniform, the photo of which Elsa and I used to love to look at when we were small. He served in the first World War, having stayed in the reserves throughout the years, and fighting men became so few in the closing years of the conflict that Germany had to call up all the reserves, regardless of age. When the Russians entered Poland, he was captured and never heard from again. He had married a Polish girl and lived just inside the border of the two countries, operating a wholesale grocery business. They never had children and she did not continue writing after this tragedy.”
It is my hope that the picture Tracey found online is the same one Aunt Bertha mentioned in her story. It had seemed all but lost, and to find it among the things Tracey had found excited me beyond measure, as I know it will for all the other family members who have been hoping to see it. It is exactly what was described to me, and I know that there are others in the family who have seen it, so I hope they will be able to confirm that is the one they had seen.
I have found, as I have taken this journey of discovery to find other family members and more information on our history, that two heads…or ten, are better than one. They are far better, in fact. We all tend to look different places, and look for different information, and yet before you know it, the information found by one turns out to be the information that someone else was searching for. I guess I would have to say that my main reason for connecting with family is the family…for sure, but finding out so much more about the family is definitely a plus. So, today I want to thank Tracey for giving me and the rest of the family such an amazing gift. We all love you very much!!
My Uncle Jim Richards has always been a soft spoken man. To me he always seemed shy, and maybe he is, but over the last year, have come across information that has made me realize that while he might have been shy, he was also a very strong man…a man of deep convictions, who valued has family and took care of them when they needed it the most. I can’t imagine growing up without my dad, and yet when Uncle Jim’s dad died, an eight year old Uncle Jim stepped up to the plate, and did his very best to fill the shoes his dad had left behind. I’m sure that at first the whole head of the household thing seemed almost cute to his mom, but as the years went on, and he continued to show a leadership ability far beyond his years, his mother learned to depend on this son who was the man of the house before he was even old enough to be a man. He proved himself to be the person everyone could count on.
Just a year before his dad’s passing, while the nation was in the middle of World War II, Uncle Jim found himself the younger brother of a war hero who had been killed in action while storming the beaches of Normandy, France…his brother, Dale Richards. There was not much that a young boy of seven years could do to ease the pain his parents felt, and there was not enough money to bring his brother home, so he was buried in Normandy along with many other war dead. I can’t imagine the pain that must have inflicted on the family, and how one seven year old boy felt helpless to stop the hurting that had come upon his family. Then to add to the pain, his dad passed away just one year later. The sadness must have been overwhelming for them. I think too, that it probably shaped Uncle Jim’s life into the kind of life it was…one of close family ties, and helping each other whenever possible.
I don’t know if Uncle Jim will ever be able to go over to France and visit the grave of his war hero brother, but after hearing about the facts surrounding the loss of his brother, I set out to find out what I could. I didn’t have very much to go on…just his name, but before long, with the help of Aunt Sandy Pattan, Ancestry.com and Findagrave.com, I found what I was looking for…the location of the grave of Dale Richards, and even better, a picture of his grave. At the family Christmas party, I was able to give that picture to Uncle Jim. It was an emotional moment for his whole family, and I was so happy to be able to give him that gift, because he was such a sweet man who had done so much for so many others, asking nothing for himself. The picture will never replace the loss of his brother and dad all those years ago, but for the man that had become my uncle, I hope it was a comfort, because his brother’s grave is in a beautiful, well kept honorable place, and I’m sure that is just what Uncle Jim would want for his brother.
Uncle Jim will always be a quiet, soft spoken man, who carries a big load on his shoulders. It’s not that his life these days is so hard, but rather that he is the family patriarch…a lot like my dad was. The family looks to him for leadership, guidance, and emotional support. When things go wrong, he shows them the way to go, and when all is well, they all share in the joy of it together. Today is a day of joy. Today is Uncle Jim’s birthday. Happy birthday Uncle Jim!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!
When illness strikes, and overcoming it seems impossible, many people just give up and give in. Their lives go from being mostly self sufficient, to disabled. They look at the problem, and see it as being far too big to conquer…so why even bother. Eventually they are on oxygen and in a wheelchair. It is a bleak future, and one no one really wants to live. Nevertheless, it is how most people handle a situation where their daily habits have lead them down a path of self destruction. I know that the situation I have described sounds like I am speaking ill of someone who is disabled, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
That is the situation my sister-in-law, Brenda Schulenberg found herself in one year ago today. Years of stress, too many working hours, helping in the care of her aging parents, and finally the passing of her dad, my father-in-law, Walter Schulenberg, had lead to unhealthy eating and weight gain, complicated by depression, sleep apnea, congestive heart failure and cellulitis. It was a recipe for a downward depression spiral, but for my sister-in-law it was the beginning of a journey that would find her one half of herself just one short year later.
When this journey began, Brenda was worried that she would never make it. Her goals felt like the impossible dream. She felt like she had so far to go, and she knew that she was exhausted before she even took that first step. But somewhere…deep inside, she discovered a strength she never knew that she had. A determination to beat this thing against all the odds. Brenda didn’t know how she was going to get this done, or how long it would take, but she knew that she did not want to spend the rest of her life on the sidelines.
Brenda’s journey began with a hospital stay at Wyoming Medical Center, and was followed by a stay at Elkhorn Rehab Hospital. She checked into the hospital on October 18, 2013, and checked out of Elkhorn Rehab Hospital on November 11, 2013. The girl who went into the hospital seemed defeated and scared, but the girl who came out of the hospital was determined and excited about the future. There were still things to worry about, because lets face it, Congestive Heart Failure sounds scary, but throughout this last year, she has had so much good news. She has found that her condition is completely reversible, if she loses weight and exercises. For her, the good news is that she was already planning to do just that, and she is very determined. She watches shows like “The Biggest Loser” and “Extreme Weight Loss” and listened to “Half Size Me” to keep herself inspired, and she has had steady success. She still feels like she has a long way to go, but she knows that she will make it…because she has decided that failure is not an option. She is taking her life back, not giving up or giving in.
Today marks the one year anniversary of the beginning of Brenda’s journey, and what a year it has been! Brenda has seen her heath improve by leaps and bounds, and she has been told that her health issues can be completely reversed. She has stuck with her diet and exercise programs, adding classes and hiking to her list of likes, and now she is feeling so much better, that she is doing things with friends, like a painting class, the movies, and dinner out. I have never seen her so happy. And as to her goal for this first year. Yes, she has achieved that too. Brenda is truly half the girl she used to be…she weighs half of what she did when this journey started. I am so proud of her. Today we will take a Victory Hike on the Garden Creek Trail, to celebrate a year of multiple successes. It isn’t the end of a journey, but rather the start of the next leg of that journey. I firmly believe that Brenda’s life can take her wherever she wants to go. Your future is yours to decide. You can do whatever you want to do. Here’s to the future, Brenda, and here’s to you!!
As the 25th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake arrives, I am reminded of the time spent watching the footage of the aftermath. At that time, I had never been to California, and so I didn’t quite understand what I was seeing…but my parents knew. They had been there several times. They kept saying that a lot of people were probably dead on the Oakland Bay Bridge. As I looked at the pictures, and heard the reporter mistakenly describe the bridge, as simply collapsed, so I just didn’t get it. My parents kept saying, “That is a double road…don’t they understand that?” I guess they didn’t…and I didn’t either. They finally told me that it was a double deck bridge. Then I got it…in every sickening detail, I got it. People were trapped under tons of metal and concrete. Maybe their cars could have saved them, but it was doubtful. That was just too much weight. In the end, only one person was killed on the Oakland Bay bridge, because it was closed for retrofitting. The people on The Nimitz Expressway…also a double deck bridge, at the Cypress Street Viaduct, were not so lucky. That bridge also collapsed and when it did, it killed 42 of the total of 67 people killed in the Earthquake.
The day was October 17, 1989, the first game of the World Series was being played right there in San Francisco at Candlestick Park between the two local teams…The Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants. The people in the area were very excited and baseball was the only thing on their minds. The game was to start at 5:30pm, but that was not to be. The earthquake rated a magnitude 7.1 struck at 5:04pm. Game day would have to wait. Today, it was all hands on deck. And the first question on everyone’s mind was, “Is my family safe?” In that moment, all thought of baseball stopped, and everyone’s mind was on finding the victims…and, hopefully finding them alive.
I can’t say that I knew anyone who lived through the earthquake, nor anyone who died in it, but rather what I felt was how it impacted my parents at that time. I also felt that same impact on me when I visited San Francisco a few years later. I don’t think you can know an area where people were killed in an earthquake, or even visit that place and not feel something…not if you knew or remember the disaster that happened in that place. San Francisco is a beautiful place, with so much to see, but it is also a sad place where, over the years, the San Andreas fault has exploded over and over again, leaving in its wake, the bodies of its victims…and the shattered lives of their families. I suppose there are people who can go there, and give no thought to that historical fact, but I am not one of those people. I think there are places when the memories of tragedies in the past lingers in an almost physical way. The ground becomes almost hallowed, deserving of respect for those who died there. Lives with so much promise, people with so much to live for, were wiped out in just 15 seconds…the 15 seconds that the earthquake was happening. That was all it took…just 15 seconds, and they were gone. That was 25 years ago today, and when I think of all the contributions those people could have made to the world, it makes me very sad indeed.
For many people, today might not necessarily mark anything so special, but for my husband, Bob Schulenberg, this is a good day. He was just a little boy of four years and three months, and didn’t know a thing about this at the time, and probably wouldn’t have cared if he had known, but down the road twelve years or so, he would have cared. Even when he did care, he wouldn’t have known the exact date or anything. I know, you wonder what in the world I am talking about. Well, it’s the El Camino. I just found out that the car Bob always wanted was first introduced on this day, October 16, 1958.
For a four year old Bob, that day held no significance, and even now, he doesn’t know that this is the 56th anniversary of the El Camino…but he soon will. I don’t recall just how long we owned our El Camino, but it was a long time, and it was definitely Bob’s vehicle. The seat would not go far enough forward for me to easily drive it, so I only did so when it was absolutely necessary. Needless to say, while it was one of Bob’s favorite cars, it really wasn’t mine. I don’t like to have my driving experience be a lot of work for me.
At the time of its introduction by Chevrolet, the El Camino was considered a car-truck hybrid vehicle. That is rather comical to me. A hybrid!! Really!! It was apparently inspired by the Ford Ranchero which had been on the market for two years at the time of the El Camino’s debut. They said it “rides and handles like a convertible, yet hauls and hustles like the workingest thing on wheels.” It may have been a good hauler, but in my opinion, it was nothing like a convertible, and I’ve had one, so I do know.
The El Camino didn’t really catch on, and the model built on an Impala chassis was discontinued in 1960. It was re-introduced in 1964 on the Chevelle frame, and in 1968 they upgraded to the SS version which made it a sport truck. With these changes, the El Camino became one of the iconic muscle cars of the late 1960s and 1970s. It seems every guy wanted one of the newest models. I guess you had to be a guy to appreciate it so much. The El Camino was dropped permanently in 1987, and while Pontiac thought about re-introducing it in 2008, their financial difficulties cause that to be dropped from the plan in 2009.
I’m glad Bob got to have the car-truck of his dreams, even if it wasn’t my very favorite, but I can’t say that I was sorry when he sold it. It had done its duty, and served its purpose, but it was time for him to have a real truck. I can’t say I like driving his pickup either, but as long as he’s happy with it, I’m happy too. Here’s to the El Camino…1970s muscle car, and the car of a little boy’s dreams.
I’ll admit it, I’ve never liked change. I like being in my comfort zone, where I know the way things are going to play out. Having those I love grow up and live their own lives makes me feel pretty lonely. My grandkids are all grown up now, and busily working and going to school, and I don’t get to see as much of them, because they have things to do…their own lives to live. It’s easy for them to think, “I’ll go see Grandma tomorrow…or the next day.” But then something comes up and they are off in another direction again. It’s not that they never come to see me, it’s just that life has them running here and there, and the time they get to spend with me is far more limited than it used to be. That is change…having your kids and grandkids grow up and start their own lives. I don’t like it much. No, the kids and grandkids aren’t ignoring me, and seeing less of them isn’t something they are doing intentionally. They aren’t mad at me…just busy.
I remember when my girls were little. They would come home from school, and we would be together as a family. Oh sure, we didn’t spend every moment that they were home together. They went outside to play, or played in their rooms, or went to a friend’s house, and maybe I took those moments for granted…like we all do, but I cherished those moments, nevertheless. Family has always been important to me, and I don’t like to have those close days end. And yet, it is inevitable…for every family. We go from seeing our parents every day to seeing them once a week, and sometimes longer than that. Kids head off to college and the relationship changes to one of calling, texting, Facebook, and Skype…and we are thankful for those things, because that old long distance calling was expensive and you couldn’t do that several times a day.
Life gets that way for everyone at some point. We all have our own schedules and responsibilities. I remember my dad saying something similar to me. In fact, what he said was, “You need to come over hand have lunch with us once a week, so we can see you!” Dad never was one to mince words exactly. If you needed to do something, you just needed to do it, and he didn’t mind telling you about it. It wasn’t that he was mad at us, because he wasn’t. He just wanted us to know that he loved his family and wanted to be around them. He knew we were busy, as we all worked, but he decided that we could take one lunch hour to spend with our parents…and he was right. I mean, we had to eat anyway. It has worked well for us, and even though Dad is in Heaven now, we still have lunch with Mom once a week, and I have dinner once a week too. It’s just important to do these things to stay close. And after all, wasn’t that what Dad was after anyway…being able to stay close to his family. We must cherish those moments, because all too soon, they are gone.
Last Sunday, while on a trip to Hot Springs, South Dakota to hike the Mickelson Trail, Bob and I found ourselves sidelined due to rain. We sat around the hotel for several hours…until Bob decided that he had cabin fever. So we decided to go for a drive. I had driven this road on my trip to Wisconsin with my mom and sister, Cheryl. The road took us out the east side of Hot Springs, and then toward Rapid City. We went a ways and then turned toward Custer. The drive was beautiful with all the fall colors. It would eventually connect us with Custer State Park, but since we weren’t going to the Needles or the Wildlife Loop, we didn’t have to pay the fee.
As I said, the drive was nice, even in the rain and the scenery was beautiful, but one thing we started to notice…over and over, was a lot of turkeys. It felt like we had stumbled upon Turkey Central. They were in the farmers fields, by the side of the road, and even walking down the road. And they weren’t one bit afraid of our car either. In fact, they completely ignored us and our car. They moved only when they wanted to move. It occurs to me that these turkeys are quite used to all this traffic, and they might even like it. It also occurs to me that these turkeys are most likely bound for Thanksgiving and Christmas tables in the area. As we drove, we slowly went beyond all the turkeys, but it was too late by then, because I had already decided that we had just traveled through Turkey Central. It was as if they owned that stretch of road…or at least thought they did.
The rest of our drive was fairly void of wildlife, and I went back to looking at the beautiful colors. My only wish would be that our area might have a few more red fall colors than it currently has…and that there might be a few more of the various kinds of wildlife. We did happen to see a few buffalo, but they were on someone’s ranch, so I suppose they aren’t wild…not that I intend to find out. For me, the turkeys were really the highlight of the drive. They just acted so bold and brave…never even taking notice of us at all. I think it was a very interesting drive through Turkey Central, indeed.
My nephew, Ryan Hadlock has always been full of mischief and tom foolery, following in the footsteps of his dad, but beyond that, Ryan has become a great husband and dad. He has been in love with his wife, Chelsea since the moment he first saw her, I think. Once they started dating, it was all over for Ryan, and that was not a bad thing. He has never given any thought to changing that fact…not for one second. I seriously can’t imaging him with anyone else. Theirs is a match made in heaven. Their personalities fit together perfectly, as do their interests. As a dad, Ryan has proven himself to be such a natural with the kids. He and Chelsea are great parents, and the kids are sweet and well behaved. I guess that sometimes with nephews and nieces, you find yourself somehow not realizing that they have become adults while you weren’t looking. Then they have kids and suddenly, you get it.
Nevertheless, there are ways in which Ryan has not, and probably will never grow up. That is the same way in which his dad will never grow up. Ryan, like his dad, my brother-in-law, Chris Hadlock, loves to pick on the girls…and in a family with plenty of them, the guys have a lot of us to choose from. But then…why choose. I think they just figure that having a lot of girls in the family means having multiple targets for their antics. Now, with Ryan’s son, Ethan watching his every move, he is teaching the next generation all about the art of picking on the girls. Oh, trust me when I say that it is all in good fun and is taken as such, but nevertheless, they love picking on the girls. They pull your hair and then pretend that it wasn’t them. They tickle and tease, startle you and chase you to gat the chance to tickle you. They will never grow up, nor will they get tired of picking on us. And then to top it off, they teach the next generation the art of picking on the girls.
Nevertheless, when I think of Ryan, I can think of a nicer, more giving man. He would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. He has grown into a very special man, one that I have a lot of respect for. He works hard, and takes good care of his family. Yes, he is teaching the next generation the fine art of picking on the girls, but then we wouldn’t have any fun if he didn’t. Ours is a family who loves to have fun and teasing is a big part of that too. But, beyond all that there is a strong family bond that will always be there. Ryan and Chelsea are teaching their children, Ethan and Rory, all about that strong bond, helping and caring, having good values, and how to have fun as family too. Today is Ryan’s birthday. I am so proud of the man you have become. Happy birthday Ryan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
After reconnecting with so many of my Schumacher cousins on Facebook, Ancestry, and now in person, I have begun to wonder more about the Schumacher ancestry even further back. For a number of years, I have been stuck in the 1800’s on the Schumacher side of the family, just hoping for a break, and I think I may now know why. In researching the name Schumacher, I find that Schumacher or Schuhmacher is an occupational surname. It is, of course, the German word for shoemaker. Both spellings can be used as surnames, with Schumacher being the more common one, however, only the variant with an “h” can also be used as a job description in modern German spelling. That fact is of vital importance to my family’s actual history, and it could be the reason I have hit a wall in my search.
According to my grandparent’s, Carl and Albertine (Henriette) Hensel Schumacher, marriage certificate, Carl’s last name was actually spelled Schuhmacher…the actual job description, as well as an occupational surname. I had long known of the difference in the spelling, because my Uncle Bill Spencer had sent me a copy of the marriage certificate years ago, but I didn’t know the distinction that one letter held. I didn’t know that it changed the name from just a name to an occupation. If, as I suspect, Carl was encouraged to Americanize the spelling when he came to America, then anyone searching for information on Carl Schuhmacher, would most likely hit a wall…just as I have done. Americanizing surnames was a very common practice in early American immigration history, and sometimes the name the person ended up with was nothing like their real name. It is a serious frustration for the family history researcher.
This now causes me to wonder if our family might be related to such notable people as Eugen Schuhmacher (1906–1973), German zoologist and pioneer of animal documentaries, Irma Heijting-Schuhmacher (born 1925), Dutch freestyle swimmer, or John Schuhmacher (born 1955), American football player. Perhaps our search for our roots should be heading in a completely different direction, because unfortunately, no one told the people in the nation these people immigrated from that they should change their name too, so the lineage would be preserved. Perhaps this spelling of the name will open the doors that have for so long been locked. Only time will tell on this matter, as I delve into the research to see where it will lead me. I hope that it will lead me to the next level…the one after Carl’s dad, my 2nd great grandfather, Johann Schuhmacher, and beyond.
It is so hard for me to hit a brick wall in the family history line, because I want so badly to be able to take each line way back. It has become an obsession I suppose, just like it was for Uncle Bill. Once you get started you don’t want to stop until you reach your goal. Ancestral lines can be hard enough to follow, as the records kept were not as good, or have been lost over the years, but when you add the fact that the names were most likely changed, you find yourself hitting the brick wall that I have hit. Just like the grade school child who spells a totally different word for the teacher, you find yourself realizing the importance of one letter.