Monthly Archives: March 2015
On a trip to San Francisco, my husband, Bob and I took a tour of Alcatraz Prison. I expected it to be a usual touristy place, even though it had been the nation’s end of the line maximum security prison. It was where they sent the most incorrigible inmates. When we arrived, the island known as The Rock or America’s Devil Island to the inmates who did time there, really looked more like an industrial island than a prison, but you could see why it was called The Rock. Of course, that first view of the island was the last time I thought it didn’t look like a prison.
Upon stepping inside, you felt an immediate, almost claustrophobic sensation, and I’m not claustrophobic. The cells were often painted black inside. It was a way of achieving privacy for the inmate. To me it just seemed bleak. I could imagine how it must have been…knowing that you could not leave this dark and ominous place. Alcatraz operated from the mid 1930s to the mid 1960s, and housed over 200 inmates. Well known for it’s brutal conditions, Alcatraz was thought to be inescapable due to the frigid waters of the bay. One group of prisoners either died or proved the rumors wrong, when they escaped and were never heard from again. Their fate is still unknown. The prisoners had to comply with very strict rules, and were required to live in complete silence. The first metal detectors were used at Alcatraz. No wonder the prisoners considered escape, knowing it meant almost certain death. Eventually, the conditions and treatment of the prisoners were deemed cruel and unusual punishment, and on March 21, 1963.
First explored by Juan Manuel de Ayala in 1775, it was originally called Isla de los Alcatraces, which meant Island of the Pelicans. It was sold to the government in 1849. The first lighthouse in California was on Alcatraz. It was once a Civil War fort and then a military prison in 1907. Finally it became the maximum security prison known as The Rock. After it’s closing, a group of Sioux Indians claimed that the island belonged to them due to a 100 year treaty. Those claims were ignored until November of 1969 when a group of Native Americans representing the American Indian Movement, or AIM occupied the island. They stayed until 1971 when they were finally forced off of the island by federal authorities. The next year it was added to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and opened for tourism. It was a very interesting tour to say the least.
Following the first successful airplane flight by the Wright brothers on Dec 17, 1903, the world changed dramatically…as did the way we fought wars. Of course, just because the Kitty Hawk broke free of the gravitational pull of Earth on that day, did not mean that we went straight to jets. Nevertheless, by the 1920s, airplanes were more common. With this change in travel and maneuverability, came the ability to use these new weapons in warfare. While it took time to develop airplanes to the ability needed to use in a war, in all reality, warfare was forever changed on that day.
The United States quickly became interested in aerial warfare, and began work on developing the planes and providing training for the pilots who would fly them. In August of 1910, Jacob Earl Fickel did the first experimenting, with Glenn Curtiss shooting a gun from an airplane. At that time, planes couldn’t easily fly across oceans like they can now, so if they were to be used in warfare, they would have to be transported to the war zone somehow. That brought about the expirements to see if it was practical to take off and land on a ship. I have to wonder just how many failed attempts they had before civilian pilot Eugene Ely successfully took off from a wooden platform installed on the scout cruiser USS Birmingham on November 14, 1910 near Hampton Roads, Virginia. This exceptional pilot successfully took off, and then landed safely on shore a few minutes later. Several months later on January 18, 1911, he also successfully landed on a platform on the USS Pennsylvania in San Francisco harbor.
Now that they knew it could be done, it was time to find a ship to be the carrier full time. Enter the USS Jupiter. The USS Jupiter was a collier ship, which is a bulk cargo ship, from 1913 to 1920. At that point, it was decided that the USS Jupiter would be decommissioned, and converted into the first aircraft carrier in history. Once the work was finished, the USS Jupiter became the USS Langley on April 11, 1920 and was recommissioned as an aircraft carrier on March 20, 1922. Her first executive officer felt right at home on the new ship, because Commander Kenneth Whiting, who was a former submarine commander turned aviator, had been transported to England by the collier Jupiter. Whiting, who earned the title “Father of the Aircraft Carrier,” was the last naval aviator to take training personally from Orville Wright…bringing things full circle so to speak…but the story never really ends does, now does it.
The past few years have brought much change in my Aunt Bonnie McDaniels’ life. About two and a half years ago, her husband, my Uncle Jack McDaniels left us for Heaven. That was the most significant and the saddest change for sure. Uncle Jack had been the love of her life, and his passing marked the end of an era for her. Her children and grandchildren have stepped in to help her cope with the feelings of saddness and loss, but then they were always there for her and Uncle Jack too.
Another change that has impacted Aunt Bonnie’s life recently is the fact that the bridge that she used to get to town whenever she went was burned down when someone set off fireworks on it’s wooden surface. I couldn’t believe that the state would not rebuild that bridge, because it made life very inconvenient for a number of people. For a long time, to go to town, Aunt Bonnie had to take the back roads and let me tell you, it is a much longer drive. Of course, the biggest concern was the ability to evacuate in the event of a fire. That made me want to keep Aunt Bonnie in prayer for protection every day. After a time, and probably many complaints, the bridge was rebuilt, but I’ll still keep her in prayer.
These days, Aunt Bonnie is beginning to branch out some, and that makes me very happy for her. Recently, her family took the opportunity to go to Artisan Alley, and spend the evening painting. Artisan Alley is a newer place in Casper, where you can take a group of people in and paint…with a little instruction, thankfully. They also have wine if you want it. I have not been there yet, but everyone I have talked to who has said it is a lot of fun. Looking at Aunt Bonnie, who looks more and more like her mother every day, I can see that she enjoyed herself immensely. I am always glad when the children step in and take their widowed parent to do things. It keeps their parent young, and it will always be a blessing for the children too.
From what I’m told, the family had such a good time painting, that the next planned adventure is going to be pottery. My Aunt Bonnie has long been a bit of the artist in the family. Her cakes are famous around here, and even beyond our town. That said, I think she will really excel at these new artistic ventures, and who knows, maybe she will take up the arts on her own time. Famous artists don’t necessarily have to start out young. There is always time to start something new. Today is Aunt Bonnie’s birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Bonnie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
When I think about the time that our grandparents lived in, my thoughts go back to a more slow paced world. Yes, the people worked hard and long hours, but they didn’t rush off to the gym, the movies, constant sporting events, and many of the other things that we do today. I know of a number of people who have something going on every night. There is so little of what I would consider family time that we have gotten to the point where we don’t even realize we are missing it. We have mistakenly counted sporting events, concerts, plays, and other school activities as family time, when in reality, our child is out on the court or on stage, and not with us at all, so it’s not exactly family time.
It used to be that families ate dinner around the table, and talked about their day. I think that makes for being able to know each other better. These days, if people do eat together, they do it in front of the television set…just as often as not. Instead of spending time together, they are just sitting together. I find that I am guilty of this one quite a bit, and while my kids are grown and on their own, spending time actually talking with my husband would be good. We do like to take walks in the evening, so we talk then, and I guess that makes up for some of the time in front of the television set during dinner.
Still, not too many years ago, people did things much differently. Instead of driving a car to town alone, they walked in groups. That allowed for time to enjoy each other’s company. Instead of going to movies with friends, people took walks with their friends. Maybe it was just that their options were more limited, and maybe they felt like it was a boring time, but I suspect that they didn’t, because they didn’t know any different.
Of course, there were also the different times people got together to do things like quilting, sewing, and socials, often held on the front porch of the house, so maybe people of times past had just as many events that took them away from family. I guess it’s possible that we just think that things were so much different in times past, but I don’t think so. Even just as far back as my childhood, dinner was eaten aroung the table. I don’t know what ever happened to that, but I think it’s just a little bit sad for sure.
Many holidays get their start on the birth or death of someone famous or very special, and Saint Patrick’s Day is no exception. It was the day that Saint Patrick died in Saul, Ireland. I’m sure that wasn’t surprising to anyone. So, the question then becomes, who was Saint Patrick, and why is he being honored?
Saint Patrick was a Christian missionary, bishop, and apostle of Ireland, but that in and of itself was not what made him famous. He lived in a time in history when little would be known of a person’s life if no one took the time to write things down. The Internet, Facebook, and Twitter were far off in the very distant future, so people wrote letters and kept journals. Saint Patrick wrote a book that he titled, “Confessio”, during his last year of life, and it is from these writings that we know what we know of him.
Saint Patrick was born in Great Britain probably in Scotland, to a wealthy Christian family of Roman citizenship. At the age of about 16 years, he was captured be Irish marauders and made to be a slave. For the next six years he worked as a herder in Ireland. Due to the long lonely days, far from family and other human companionship, he drew closer and closer to God for comfort. After hearing a voice in a dream one night, he escaped and found passage on a ship that took him back to Great Britain and his family. Once he was back with his family, he had another dream. In the dream someone named Victoricus gave him a letter entitled “The Voice of the Irish.” He felt like the Irishmen were pleading with him to go back to Ireland.
In 433, he returned to Ireland, after studying to become an ordained Christian minister and started preaching the Gospel. Thousands of Irishmen were converted to Christianity and many churches were built all around Ireland. After 40 years of devoting his life to God and His work, Saint Patrick died on March 17, 461, in the town of Saul, Ireland, which is where he built his first church.
Since his passing, many legends have grown up about him. He was made the patron saint of Ireland, and people say that he baptised hundreds of people in a single day. He is also said to have used a three-leaf clover, which became the famous shamrock to describe the Holy Trinity. He is portrayed as trampling snakes because it is said that he had driven them out of Ireland. The Irish observe the day of his passing as a national holiday, attending church in the mornig and celebrating with food and drink in the afternoon. Later the rest of the world jumped on board, and the first Saint Patrick’s Day parade was celebrated in the United States, and involved Irish soldiers serving in the English military marching through the streets of New York City in 1762. The parades became a show of unity and strength for the Irish-American immigrants and the party went global in 1995 when the Irish government started a campaign to matket Saint Patrick’s Day as a way of driving tourists to Ireland. Today, March 17th is still celebrated by millions of people, many of whom probably have no idea what this man stood for. It’s something to think about for sure. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!!
When my nephew, Eric Parmely was born, my daughter, Amy Royce was babysitting for his mom, my sister-in-law, Jennifer Parmely. It was not uncommon for Eric to go to church with us on Sunday mornings. Once there, in true baby fashion, he would snuggle up in my arms and go right to sleep. It was such a sweet time. It had been a while since I had a baby, and the hour or so that I held Eric while Amy took care of his older brother, JD was very special to me, as I know it was to Amy. There is nothing quite like holding a sleeping baby.
Babies grow up so fast, and before you know it these babies have babies of their own. Eric is no different. Over the past few years, he has married his beautiful wife, Ashley, and the have welcomed two little daughters…Reagan Kaylynn in 2012 and Hattie Joy in 2014. Eric’s family is truly his life. He is a very dedicated husband and father, who works hard and then comes home to spend time with his girls. Eric always wanted daughters, so he is really on cloud nine.
When he isn’t spending time with them, he is spending it working on remodeling their home. Anyone who has ever done that before, knows he has a big job to finish. The home was purchased as a fixer-upper, and since the purchase, they have been working with her dad to make some major changes in the house. It is growing more and more beautiful every day. I had never been in it until this past summer when they held a baby shower in anticipation of Hattie Joy’s arrival, but I had seen pictures before the changes, and I was impressed. They also showed pictures during the renovations, and the transformation was stunning. This will truly be a home they can live in for the rest of their lives, and it’s next door to her parents and their horses, which they love.
When you think of your kids, grandkids, and even nieces and nephews, growing up and becoming responsible adults, it is really hard to picture. So often, it seems impossible to think that they would be capable of doing all the normal adult responsible things that they are suddenly doing, like raising a family, and remodeling a house. They will always seem like little kids in your mind, which usually refuses to allow the thought of moving from that little baby that you remember to the man you see before now. Nevertheless, my nephew, Eric Parmely is no longer a baby or even a little boy, but rather a man with two babies of his own. Time waits for no man, and if you blink, much will change…as if you have suddenly gone through a time portal. I guess that is just how it goes when you are looking at the changes from a boy to a man. Today is Eric’s birthday. Happy birthday Eric!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My niece, Kellie Hadlock is well known for several things…inspirational sayings, her singing, and her laughter. Anyone who knows Kellie has experienced all three of those things where Kellie is concerned. On Facebook, you can plan on experiencing her brand of inspiration…which all has to do with God. Kellie feels God’s love and guidance so deeply, and she wants everyone to know what a great God He is. Kellie loves being a part of music ministry, and sharing the love of God with so many friends. Kellie doesn’t just post inspiring Christian posts though…she lives every one of them. They are all a part of walking in love and that is what Kellie is all about.
Kellie’s training in music started very young. In fact, I don’t know of any time when she didn’t sing. Kellie’s mom, my sister, Allyn Hadlock is reminded of the first time they took a bicycle ride together as a family. Little Kellie was on the smallest bicycle, and it required that she pedal the entire way. Normally a small child would complain the entire time, but that was not the case with Kellie. Kellie’s bicycle was much smaller than all the others, so as she rode her bicycle, she had to pedal the entire time in order to keep up with the rest of her family. Nevertheless, Kellie didn’t cry or complain, but rather, she sang the entire bike ride. This is just the way Kellie was, and still is to this day. Music is so important to her, and she fills her life, and the lives of all around her with song, and lighthearted joy.
Kellie has been a giggle box from practically the day she was born. When she isn’t singing, she is most likely laughing. Now, her laughter has been known to get her in trouble sometimes. In school, Kellie’s giggling had a tendency to be considered disruptive by the teachers. Whenever she would start giggling and the other kids would follow suit, the teacher would say, “Kellie!! Stop laughing!!” One day when the inevitable giggling started, her teacher followed it with the usual, “Kellie!! Stop laughing!!” The room immediately got quiet, and then someone spoke up and said, “Kellie isn’t here today!!” Well, you can imaging the shocked look on the teacher’s face. And the laughter that followed. Truly, Kellie was never a troublemaker. She was simply such a happy person that she couldn’t help herself.
Kellie has always had such s sweet disposition, and that is what makes everyone like her. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t laugh when Kellie laughs. Who doesn’t feel like singing, when Kellie sings, or feel inspired by the wonderful things she posts on Facebook. Kellie truly is a one of a kind type of person, and one I’m proud to call my niece. Today is Kellie’s 25th birthday. Remember to always keep singing and laughing…we all love it when you do. Happy birthday Kellie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Going through your parents things after they have passed away, is one of the hardest and most time consuming things you will ever do. It is also one of the most rewarding. With the passing of our mother last month, my sisters and I now beginning the task of going through the treasures of their lifetime. Their house has been in our family for about 56 years, and in that time they gathered many things. Of course, like every long term household, there were things to be thrown away, but I think what really surprised us was that there were many things that we didn’t want to throw away. In reality, they really kept only the really good things…the treasures of a lifetime filled with love, laughter, and happiness.
There were treasures of our dad’s military days, including old newspapers from World War II, Dad’s soldier’s handbook, pilots manuals, and a training manual from his flight engineer training. There were baby clothes he had worn, as well as his Christian books. Treasures from their Silver and Gold Wedding Anniversaries, and souvenirs they had collected over the years. And there were pictures…lots and lots of pictures There were pictures from our childhood, pictures from his war years, pictures from Mom’s younger years, and Dad’s younger years…so many pictures. Of course, those will be scanned so that we can all have copies of them, and then we will divide them up. We didn’t even have much time to really look at them, but we could tell that they are treasures, because they are the stories of many lifetimes.
I don’t think that any of us could really fully comprehend all of what we had in front of us, but as time goes on, we will really realize what gifts we have been given. These were the things that our parents loved. They were the things that they searched for. Especially the souvenirs, because Mom and Dad loved to travel, and they loved to have mementos of those trips. They traveled to so many places. They truly, really lived, and the things they kept were the things that reminded them of all the wonderful times they had on those trips…their treasured memories.
I’m sure that as time goes on, there will be many stories to tell about all they things they have done in their amazing lives, but that will be a story for another day. For now, the biggest story of the day is the discovery of these, the many treasures of two lives so very well lived. Nothing held them back. They did the things they wanted to do. In fact, it never occurred to them to think they could do anything they wanted to do. They just went out and did the things they wanted to do. They built a beautiful lifetime, and then left us the treasures of that lifetime.
My great grandfather, Cornelius Byer was a friend of the Indians at a time in history, when that was rather uncommon. During his lifetime, the White Man was well known for backing out on treaties as the need or desire for more land warranted, resulting in the pushing back of the Indians further and further off of the land they had been promised. This of course eventually resulted in the placement of the Indians onto reservations, many of which still exist to this day. It also cause much contention between the Indians and the White Man, and of course, the Indian Wars. At that time and even beyond, many Indians did not trust the White Man, even after peace came about, however my great grandfather was a man they not only trusted, but indeed, loved and respected. Over the years, the family would see many times when the Indians would show up at the house, with their whole families in tow. The women and children always waited outside while the men went in to visit with Grandpa about whatever it was they had come for. For the children, I suppose all this seemed normal, but when we look at it in light of history, it seems strange to think of the Indians having such trust and respect for any White Man, and therefore strange to think that they came to the house, and that they were welcomed into it. Nevertheless, this is what happened, and Great Grandpa Byer went to their villages as well.
On one such visit to the Indian village of Chief Red Cloud, my grandfather, George Byer was allowed to go along. He recalled that when they entered the tent, Chief Red Cloud was sitting by a fire wrapped in his robe or blanket. Apparently it was customary in this case for him to have little or nothing on underneath that, so I almost have to wonder if it was a sweat lodge or something. Either way, that is what my grandfather recalled as a young boy of about ten years. His dad had gone to visit Red Cloud about something, and in during the visit, the peace pipe was passed around. When it was handed to my grandfather, he was allowed to take it and that resulted in his smoking the peace pipe for the first time as a very young boy, who was apparently considered man enough to do so by the Indians. I doubt if many of us can say, in this day and age, that they know someone who smoked a peace pipe before, but that is the truth.
My great grandpa was so greatly respected that not only was he asked to smoke the peace pipe with them, but when he was dying, a rather amazing thing happened. Because he had been their friend, the Indians came to pay their respects. As they had before, they brought their families, but this time the families did not stay outside. The braves came in to shake Great Grandpa’s hand, as did their wives, and their children. Every single one of them shook his hand…from the oldest to the youngest. It was such a moving show of respect for him, and one that was almost never afforded to a White Man. But then, Great Grandpa Cornelius Byer was their friend, and that made him more than just any other White Man. He was like a brother to them.
Each of us looks back on our life at one point or another, to reflect on all that has transpired, and the roads traveled to get to the point at which we have arrived. One of the things that often becomes the subject of such reflection, is just how we knew that our parents loved us. Sometimes people mistakenly talk about all the things their parents have given them. Of course, these people are usually teenagers, who have gone beyond the innocent understanding that love isn’t about things, but have not yet reached the point of adulthood, when they will understand that it is often the life lessons taught rather than the gifts received that they value the most.
In reading my Great Aunt Bertha Hallgren’s journal, I noted that one of the ways she felt the love her father had for her was that he made sure that they were in school, except when they were ill. Even though they lived further away than any of the other children at the school, their attendance was the best by far. The children were wrapped tightly in warm blankets for the journey on those cold North Dakota winter days, but they were in school nevertheless. Great Grandpa Carl Schumacher knew the importance of an education, and was determined that his children would have one. Whenever I hear of a student who wishes their parents wouldn’t make them go to school, I am reminded first that they are very young and naïve, and second that they will someday feel differently about that whole situation.
I know of many parents who have given their children a car and other such expensive gifts, and people seem to feel like they must love them very much. I suppose that could be true, but at the same time, the child has been cheated out of an important life lesson…earning the things you want. When my girls were preparing to drive, I told them that they would need a car, a driver’s license, gasoline, insurance, and a job to pay for all that. I suppose that there were people who saw that as mean on my part, but it is one of the life lessons that my girls look back on fondly. They never felt cheated, they felt empowered. That was the gift they were given, and to this day, they are both strong, capable women, who have raised their children in much the same way. I’m not saying anything against parents who did give their kids a car and such, but rather that this was the standard we chose to give our children. I’m also sure that parents who gave their children a car have taught them other life lessons that their children look back on when they reflect on the love their parents have for them. That is the privilege each parent has…to raise their children in the way that they see fit.
I look back on my own parents, and the standards they set for us, with a sense of pride, because they were great parents. We were never given a car…probably, that is why I did things as I did, but we were give much love, and guidance. We had chores to do, and we helped with cooking. We can all cook and keep house to this day too. We didn’t get to eat out all the time, so when we did, it was a special treat, but I never felt like that I was cheated in any way. My parents showed their love in so many other ways. They raised us to be respectful, and as a result, respected. They showed us love, no matter what, and as a result, we know how to show love…no matter what. They showed us that just as God forgives us for our sins, we need to be forgiving of others and especially not to let the sun go down on your anger. They showed us unconditional love. We knew that nothing we did was going to lose us the love of our parents. Oddly, that made us try harder to do good…or maybe that was their plan all along. Looking back on those times makes me realize that the best way to show you love your child is to live it. Teach them values mixed with compassion, and they will try their hardest to live up to the standards you set for them. That is a real show of love.