Monthly Archives: May 2015
My dear grandson, Caalab, today marks the beginning of a completely new life for you. Your graduation is just the first step into that life. You are no longer a child, but a high school graduate. Your hard work has paid off, and all the requirements for graduation have been met. Your public school career is over now, and your future is up to you. That is hard for me to believe, because to me you will always be that little boy who was so quick to smile, and always had some new joke to tell or a new trick to show me. While the joking and trickery continue to this day, the little boy is gone, and before me now stands a man, strong and tall, with a heart of gold. I love the man you have become. You are so caring. You give thought to those around you, and you always try to please others. You think of others long before you think of yourself…a good trait in many ways. Still, I miss that little boy that you were…the one who always had his hand in my hair. I will always have that picture of you in my memory files…twisting my hair or batting it, but never pulling it, because you were always careful not to hurt me.
It is a long road from pre-school to high school graduation, and that makes it extra special. When you started your school career, it seemed like it would be a long time before graduation, but in reality, the time slips by so quickly. Now, all those years are behind you, and you are looking toward a whole new life. Your journey is going to take you far away, and that is really hard for me, but I know that this is your dream career. Music has been your life for as long as I can remember, and yet it was a bit of a surprise to hear that you want to build guitars. It shouldn’t have been I suppose. It really was the next logical step, and I know that you will be great at it. Still, you are leaving and you won’t be able to come home for a weekend here and there. The next time I see you, you will be changed in many ways. You will have spent time in a bigger city, and broadened your horizons. Your life journey will be much different than what I had expected, but that is because your dreams are uniquely yours…and no one else’s. You have to follow your heart and live your dreams…you have to be true to yourself, and be who you were born to be. And I know that you will be very successful at it, because you are an amazing young man.
When it comes to my babies, my heart just can’t seem to understand the whole saying goodbye thing, and that makes this so very hard. Nevertheless, I would ever want to hold you back. You will go forward and you will be successful at all you do, wherever life takes you. Still, I want you to always remember where you came from. Remember the good moral values you have been taught, and always keep God first place in your life, because it was God who made you and gave you the skills you have. As you go through life, you will come to realize more and more that every skill you have came from Him to make you into the wonderful man you have become. I know that your new life will be filled with excitement and interesting new things, so all I can ask is that you remember to call your grandparents once in a while, because we will miss you very much, so don’t forget the way home. Words cannot fully express just how proud we are of you. We love you so much. Congratulations on your high school graduation, my dear grandson, Caalab. Way to go!!
I was talking with my nephew, Steve Spethman the other day, when he mentioned that he knew very little about his grandfather, Fredrick Albert Spethman. Being a genealogy buff, I simply could not resist the challenge that presented. He had a picture of his grandfather, and knew that he had died in Oregon, and his grandmother’s first name, Joanne. He also knew his great grandfathers name, Patrick Spethman, as his own son, Xander Patrick was named after that grandfather. And he knew his great grandmother’s name, Meta Spethman. It was enough. I was able to find his grandparents’ marriage certificate and a little bit more information, including an index concerning his World War II service. The rest will come as it always does, as other people add what they know to what I have found out. Once this kind of search gets started, it always has a way of growing.
That information was exciting for me, as Steve is pretty special to me, but then I got a big surprise. Steve’s 3rd great grandfather, Johann Joachim Daniel Spethmann, who Americanized his name to John, was born in Oldenburg, Germany. To many people I don’t suppose that this information would be so interesting, but my husband, Bob Schulenberg’s family has a long history in Oldenburg. It dates back beyond the time of Steve’s grandfather’s birth, and the Schulenberg family is still there today. I’m not saying that the Spethmann family and the Schulenberg family are related, although it is entirely possible, but considering the fact that Oldenburg wasn’t that large a town back then, it is quite likely that they knew each other. Maybe, they were even friends.
I realize that if you go back far enough, you will find that we are all related, as we all came from Adam and Eve, but as time has progressed, it is harder and harder to come up with the exact connections that exist between each of us. I have been able to find connections for Bob and me, on two sides of his family to one of mine. We are 10th cousins on one side and 12th cousins on another. That is such a strange thought to me, and now to find such a close connection with Steve’s family has added another interesting twist to the family history, and one that I am eager to explore. Time will tell if we are related in a way that can easily be figured…such as a marriage, and if it is the case, my guess is that I will stumble on that information, as I have in so many others, when I least expect to find such a connection. Nevertheless, finding this or any other information to add to the family history is always an exciting day, and in this case, it all started with the discovery of a common birthplace.
As little girls, my sisters and I would get very excited when our different grown cousins, aunts, or uncles would come over. Like all little kids, we would want to hang out with the adults, and tell them about everything we knew…or could dream up. I think this is as common among kids, as breathing is. Maybe it is about someone new to listen to your stories or maybe it’s that everyone in the household has already heard them, so they don’t want to listen again…or maybe it’s just that you like the person who has showed up. Whatever the reason, you just can’t seem to hold yourself back…or at least that was how it was when I was a kid.
Now, fast forward about 50 years. A couple of days ago, I had to take some groceries to my nieces house for my grandson’s graduation party, which she is graciously holding at her home for my daughter. I had called to let them know I was coming, and they were on a walk, so when I got there, I just waited in my car. Pretty quickly, two of my grand nephews, Xander and Isaac came running up to my car. They had run ahead, obviously excited that I was there. Xander is twelve now, and so was a little better able to contain his excitement, but Isaac being only eight, was not able to do so as easily. While Xander ran back to let his parents know I was there, Isaac decided that he could bring everything up to the porch. He proudly carried five bags at once, and the bags were up on the porch in no time.
After his parents got back to the house, we were inside talking, and the kids, including Zack and Aleesia, all wanted to tell me or show me things. They were so excited to have me there. I was suddenly taken back those 50 plus years, to my own childhood, and I could so completely relate to how they were feeling. I could tell that their parents, Jenny and Steve Spethman, were thinking that they should stop the kids from chattering, but for me, it was really cute. I guess that it gave me a picture of what my sisters and I had looked like to our family members all those years ago. I don’t think they were ever irritated with us. They just knew that we loved them very much. As I recall, they always listened to our stories and made us feel like we belonged…never acting like we should just go play. I thought that now, I was that aunt that all the little ones were so excited to see and talk to. It made me smile, because it was such a special place to be.
Whenever a big train wreck, plane crash, ship sinking, or other major accident occurs, someone must investigate. Depending on what happened, it can be someone like the NTSB, or in some cases, as in the Titanic sinking, it can go as high as the Senate. Of course, answers need to be found, so that corrections in procedure can be made.
In the case of the Titanic, the accident was brought before the Senate Commerce Committee. I think most of us know the story of the Titanic well, given the movies and documentaries that have come out about it. The official final report, however, went into much more detail than most people know about, and more than I can go into here. I think most of us know that the ship was not sufficiently run through the test trials to properly break in the engines. Nevertheless, the Titanic was run at full speed through trecherous waters, without regard for the damage that could have come to pass.
In addition to this problem, it was noted that many of the crew members did not join the ship until just a few hours before it sailed, and the only drill carried out, consisted of lowering just two lifeboats on the starboard side into the water. There was no boat list designating the stations members of the crew were posted to until several days after sailing. This left the crew in ignorance of their stations until the following Friday morning. Of course, as we all know, there were not enough lifeboats on the ship, because it was thought to clutter the deck, and to be unnecessary. In reality there were only boats enough for only 1,176 of the 2,228 people on board…and of those, only 710 survived, meaning that lifeboats were lowered only partially loaded. Had the Titanic been loaded to full capacity, which was 3,339 passengers and crew, there would have only been room for a third of the people on the lifeboats. and as was the case of only loading the lifeboats half full, 2,629 people would have died.
It was the conclusion of the Senate Commerce Committee, that there were several areas of gross negligence on the part of White Star Line and the crew of the Titanic. In fact the committee was actually appalled, as it should have been. They called the Titanic, and unnecessary tragedy. Improperly trained crew and improper procedures, can be a deadly mix, and as was the case with Titanic, death is what ensued. Many laws have changed as a result of the hearings, but I have to wonder why it takes such a devastating accident to bring about a proper, concervative apporoach to the handling of many areas of transportation, construction, and work ethic. To me, it seems a little late to try to put proper safety methods in place when the ship has already sunk, but then I guess it does protect those who will come after.
Some challenges are tougher than others, and the challenge to connect San Francisco with Marin County, California rates right up there among the most difficult…at least in 1937. I’m sure there have been bigger challenges since then and even before then, but I think that building what was the longest suspension bridge in the world in 1937 had to be really difficult. The bridge, which was built between January 1933 and May 1937, was to be 4,200 feet long. Its location was probably the biggest challenge the builders faced. The bridge is very close to the San Andreas Fault, which runs north and south directly through the San Francisco area. The bridge had to be built in such a way as to ensure its stability in the event of an earthquake. While earthquakes can happen anywhere in the world, it is such a strange idea to me to build something that depends on solid ground, on a known fault. Nevertheless, the bridge still stands today, and there have been many earthquakes in that area.
The second challenge the builders faced was the tumultuous waters the bridge had to span. The dangers that presented for the underwater construction were grave. The construction teams started their work on the peninsulas, building out over the wind-whipped waters of the San Francisco Bay. With labor and 70,000 tons of steel, they built arms that reached out to each other over the straits, getting closer by the day. Given the strait’s precarious mixture of violent winds, swirling currents, and thick fogs, many thought such a bridge couldn’t be built. Nevertheless, the builders have prevailed against the challenges they faced, because the bridge was completed successfully. In all, eleven men would lose their lives during construction, ten of them on February 17, 1937 when a section of scaffold carrying twelve men fell through the safety net.
I think the biggest challenge, that did not involve the elements, was a city who was skeptical and many people who were simply against a bridge across the San Francisco Bay. Nevertheless, Joseph Strauss, the engineer fought for 16 years to convince the people that the bridge was an amazing idea. He was a very proud man when he, on opening day, triumphantly exclaimed, “The bridge which could not and should not be built, which the War Department would not permit, which the rocky foundation of the pier base would not support, which would have no traffic to justify it, which would ruin the beauty of the Golden Gate, which could not be completed within my costs estimate of $27,165,000, stands before you in all its majestic splendor, in complete refutation of every attack made upon it.”
And so it was that the seemingly impossible was accomplished. The bridge was set to open on May 27, 1937, and by 6:00am, 18,000 people were lined up on both the San Francisco and the Marin county sides. In all, about 200,000 people showed up that day. At the appointed hour, a foghorn blew, and the toll gates opened. The earliest arrivals would have the distinction of being among the first to cross. Many offices, schools, and stores closed to attend the great event. The day was designated Pedestrian Day. The next day, he bridge opened to vehicle traffic. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt proclaimed the bridge open to the world. By the end of that day, 32,000 vehicles had paid the tolls and crossed the historic bridge. In the 70 plus years it has been open, it is estimated that nearly 2 billion vehicles have crossed the bridge. The Golden Gate Bridge and the views it holds are beautiful, and I am happy to have been one of those people to have crossed it.
Many times, possibly to take the people’s minds off of long wars, presidents have worked to change some things back home. Sometimes that is a bad thing, and sometimes, as is the case on this day in 1864, it is a good thing. Abraham Lincoln was anxious to create new territories where people could settle during the Civil War, so on May 26, 1864, he signed an act establishing the Montana Territory. Abraham Lincoln had hoped to lift the spirits of the war weary, and open up the territory for gold exploration, but unfortunately the region was pretty unstable, so it didn’t do much to help the nation…at least not right away. In fact, it was so bad, that Sidney Edgerton, the territory’s first governor, fled after suffering through months of Indian raids. Some people probably thought of him as somewhat cowardly, but I think that months of Indian raids would make a man think that maybe he should get out before his number was up.
I’m sure we would all have to agree that now, Montana is a key part of the nation…especially in the area of agriculture, just not back then. Nevertheless, this new territory belonged to the United States, for better or worse. Montana Territory in the 19th century was home to the Sioux, the Blackfoot, the Shoshone, the Arapaho, the Cheyenne, the Kutenai and the Flathead Indians. That had to be a large number of Indians…and all were feeling like you were invaders in their territory…which you probably were. They decided that the best course of action was to raid your place, steal what they wanted, and kill those they needed to. It would make for a dangerous place to be.
Montana Territory came into United States possession as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Within a couple of years, there were explorers, including Lewis and Clark, who were the first known explorers of European origin to pass through the region on their way to the Pacific Ocean. Still, the area remained pretty much untouched, until gold was discovered in the 1850s. That discovery brought people to mining camps such as those at Bannack and Virginia City, Montana, finally bringing growth to the territory. There are several members of my family, and of my husband, Bob Schulenberg’s family who came to Montana in those days. I’m not sure if they were there to hunt for gold, or just to get land, but they lived there for many years, and many of them still do to this day. I’m sure it was that territorial growth that brought the area to the attention of Abraham Lincoln when he decided that making the area an official territory was in the nations best interest at the time. While it would be another 25 years before Montana would official become the 41st state in the Union, I have to think it was worth waiting for. Montana is a beautiful state, and while their winters are a little more extreme than I would be comfortable with, I do love to visit there.
Our country has been involved in so many wars in its relatively short history, protecting both our freedom and many other countries from the oppression imposed by so many evil dictators and nations. Some people don’t think the United States should be the guardian of the nations, but when push comes to shove, the United States is always the one they call to come in and save them. In all reality, the only countries who wish we would just stay out of things, are the ones who have overstepped their boundaries, and are trying to do evil in the helpless nations they have occupied.
Of course, no military machine can function without the sacrifice in time and lives of people. Military men and women who are willing to make that sacrifice are a rare breed indeed. True, in years past there was a draft, but even then, there were those who volunteered, like my dad and many others. They saw a need, and knew that they had to answer the call to duty.
Over the course of the major wars the United States has been involved in beginning at World War I, we have lost a total of 619,300 men and women. That is an astounding number of people. Fighting evil is a costly business, both in money, and more importantly in the lives we have lost. Nevertheless, if we allow evil to prevail, we are in a far worse position. That is something every soldier knows all too well. It is what brings them to the point of making the decision to serve…to fight, and give their lives if necessary. It isn’t that they don’t know what they are getting into, because they do. They know that as a soldier, they will be taking the ultimate chance with their life, and they know that they may lose their life. And yet they serve. That is the picture of a true hero.
There are those who condemn our soldiers for their sacrifice, those who protest, and scream hate at them, but what they don’t really understand is that their very right to protest, scream, and even hate, comes from the fight our soldiers have waged to protect that very freedom. It is a tough job, and often thankless, but they fight because they can see what is right and what is wrong. It is wrong for anyone to steal the freedoms of another human being, and it is wrong for them to try to force their will on others. Soldiers have the vision to see this, and even when hate is aimed at them, they will fight for the rights of those who hate. Yes, soldiers are a rare breed, and they are heroes. They deserve our respect, and they deserve the honor and respect that this day is all about. Happy Memorial Day!! Be sure to thank a Veteran today.
Since her son, Lucas is a little older now, my niece, Cassie Iverson is looking to a secondary career to make a little money, and have a little bit of fun while doing it. I don’t care if you are a mother on one or ten, there are simply times when you need to have a little bit of time with adults…having conversations that don’t involve toys and playgrounds. For Cassie, that meant becoming a Wine Aficionado at Traveling Vineyard. Now lots of people can be wine fans, so in that way, Cassie was not much different from a lot of other people I know, but not many of them host wine tasting parties. I think this is a relatively new type of party, but for a wine connoisseur, I’m sure this type of party would be great. And everyone is looking for something new, so this might be a great way to test drive new wines.
While Cassie does have this new career, I’m not too sure exactly how much time she has to devote to that right now. You see, Cassie has been building act two of her most important career…motherhood. Cassie loves being a mom to her son, Lucas. Now, she and her husband, Chris Iverson, are expecting a second addition to their little family…a baby girl, due in late July. I think new babies are so exciting, and I love to hear of a new baby coming, so news of this little grand niece is awesome. I know that Lucas is going to love being a big brother, and their family will take on a new color…pink. For quite a while now, Cassie has been outnumbered in a house full of men, but now the playing field is going to be evened out a bit. I am so excited for them as they start this new journey. It’s going to be an amazing blessing for them.
Life’s road takes many turns, and goes around many curves. Many of them are happy turns in the road, and among those, babies rank right up there on top. Cassie and Chris are such great parents, and in my opinion, their children are quite blessed to have them in their lives. They are very hands on with their care and teaching of Lucas, and I know they will be with his sister too. Lucas has been the number one priority in their lives, and I know this new little girl will find that the same goes for her too. Today is Cassie’s birthday. Happy birthday Cassie!! We can’t wait to see your new baby girl. Have a great day!! We love you!!
Growing up, our house was often filled with country music. Some of it my sisters and I liked, and some we didn’t. We were, after all, a part of the Rock and Roll era. Of those songs, I really liked the ones that told a story the best…still do in fact, especially when it concerns historical events. One song that we heard many times was called, “Sink the Bismarck” by Johnny Horton. It was a song with words that were easy to learn, and I quickly knew it by heart. I’ve never forgotten that song. At the time the words really meant nothing to me, but I’m sure they meant something to my dad.
The Bismarck was a German battleship. It was the first of two Bismarck class battleships built for Nazi Germany’s Kriegsmarine. Its sister ship was the Tirpitz. The two ships were the largest battleships ever built by Germany, and two of the largest built by any European power. The Bismarck was named for Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, the primary force behind the unification of Germany in 1871. It was commissioned on August 24, 1940. These ships had huge guns…according to the song, “guns as big as steers and shells as big as trees.” The Bismarck had been dubbed the “Terror of the Sea.” The British generals had heard all about this ship, and there was serious cause for concern, because it could do horrible damage.
At this point in World War II, the only way move through the war zone with relative safety was to be on a U-Boat. In May 1941, the Bismarck was ordered to break out into the Atlantic. Once it was safely in the open ocean, it would be very hard to track. Then it could wreak havoc on the Allied ships. The British heard of the plans, and sent the battle cruiser Hood and the battleship Prince of Wales in hot pursuit. They caught up to the Bismarck near Iceland and a battle ensued. The Bismarck sunk the battle cruiser Hood…it would be the only ship it would ever sink. The Hood was hit, exploded, and sank, taking with it all but three of the 1,421 crewmen. The Bismarck was hit but escaped. Nevertheless, it was leaking fuel and so it fled trying for occupied France. It was spotted by British aircraft and crippled. On May 27, three warships descended on it and sunk it.
Just as the song had said, “We gotta sink the Bismarck ’cause the world depends on us.” The British navy knew that this ship had to go, because if it was left alone, it would be repaired and it would once again wreak havoc on the Allied ships. The song has always remained in my head, but once I knew about the ships and the real battle that had taken place, it meant something to me, just like it had always meant something to my dad. I knew of the sacrifices, the lives lost, and the ship lost. This song was not just about some long ago battle that the world has forgotten, but rather it is about one battle in a war that can never be forgotten. And a war that would eventually draw my dad and many of my uncles into it before it was over, because the world depended on them too.
As I was looking through my Uncle Bill Spencer’s family history account, I can across a Princess named, Joan of Acre. I wondered if this was a mistake on my uncle’s part or within some of the research that was out there, I wondered if they had indeed meant Joan of Arc. Joan of Arc, however, was a completely different person. The name was close enough that I thought maybe it was an error, but it wasn’t. Joan of Arc was born in 1412, and died on May 30, 1431, while Joan of Acre was born on April 1272 and died on April 23, 1307. Joan of Acre was an English princess, a daughter of King Edward I of England and Queen Eleanor of Castile. The name “Acre” comes from her birthplace in the Holy Land while her parents were on a crusade. Joan had sixteen full siblings, only five of which survived to adulthood, and at least three half siblings.
The Princess was married twice. Her first husband was Gilbert de Clare who was the 7th Earl of Gloucester, was one of the most powerful nobles in her father’s kingdom. They married on April 30, 1290, and their short marriage produced four children…Gilbert de Clare, Eleanor de Clare, Margaret de Clare, Elizabeth de Clare. He passed away just about five years after their marriage, leaving her to raise the young children…a totally different thing than these days, given her stature and all the help she would have had. Her second husband was Sir Ralph de Monthermer who a squire in her household. She married him in secret in 1297, probably due to the fact that he would not have been a suitable match in those days…sad to think about really. I never could understand the whole purpose behind stature or other arranged marriages, but times were different, and I can’t say that our current divorce rate speaks well for making our own choices either. The marriage didn’t remain a secret for long however, because they had four children as well…Mary de Monthermer, Joan de Monthermer, Thomas de Monthermer, Edward de Monthermer. After the marriage, her father, who was not happy about the marriage, nevertheless, gave in and her husband was given the same titles that her first husband had held.
History does not record the cause of Joan’s death on April 23, 1307, but many suspect that it was in childbirth. She was best known for her rebellious second marriage, as it was pretty much an unheard of event at that time. Joan’s father died just four months after she did, Joan’s widower, Ralph de Monthermer, lost the title of Earl of Gloucester soon after the deaths of his wife and father-in-law. The earldom of Gloucester was given to Joan’s son from her first marriage, Gilbert, who was its rightful holder. Monthermer continued to hold a nominal earldom in Scotland, which had been conferred on him by Edward I, until his death. While that may have stung a little, I have to think that her second husband loved her more than the titles.