Monthly Archives: November 2015
There once was a time when things like duty, sacrifice, and honor meant something. People were thankful for the service of our armed forces, who were willing to give all to ensure the freedoms we have in this nation. Sadly, these days, so many people think that our freedoms are somehow an infringement on the rights of others. They feel like freedom should be controlled by a select few…namely our government. I can’t figure out why they can’t understand that when the government controls your freedoms, you are no longer free. That’s living in a dictatorship, and not in freedom.
For as long as the United States has been able to form it’s own military force, we have been a people who fought for the rights of all people to think, speak, and believe as they choose…whether anyone else agrees with them or not. It was our soldiers who fought to give us those rights, and oddly enough, when people did not have the right to decide how others should think, there was far less hate and racism in this country. I realize that when people are allowed to worship, think, speak, and write as they choose, there will be disagreement with their opinions, and that’s ok. Disagree with me all you like, just don’t try to tell me that I have to think the way you think, and I will show you the same courtesy.
Our military personnel go to war whenever asked, whether it is a holiday or not. They can’t stop defending us and other nations just because it’s Thanksgiving or Christmas. They get up and they fight on. They don’t have the luxury of a 9 to 5 job, but rather must be prepared to battle well into the night and even into the next day, because the enemy doesn’t take a break. There has never really been a time in our history when things were in more turmoil. There are those, even within our own borders who hate this nation and all it stands for. Those people have no honor, no sense of duty or pride in our nation, and they certainly don’t understand the sacrifices our military personnel made to give them the freedom to be so hateful toward those who are just stating their opinion.
Today is Veteran’s Day. It is a day set aside to honor those who have fought for this nation and others. It is a day to remember those who gave their lives that others might live in freedom. In reality, we owe them so much more than we could ever repay, but most of all, we owe them respect. Veteran’s Day is a day to tell our veterans just how much they mean to us. Be sure to thank a veteran today, and to all Veterans, Happy Veterans Day. Thank you for your service. Your sacrifice will never be forgotten.
Any time ammunition, explosives, and bombs are being stored in a smaller space, and handled by multiple people, there is a possibility of disaster. The USS Mount Hood was the lead ship of her class of ammunition ships for the United States Navy in World War II. Her life was short lived. The North Carolina Shipbuilding Company began work on the ship on September 28, 1943, and the intended name of the ship was SS Marco Polo. It was first launched on November 28, 1943, and aquired by the Navy on January 28, 1944. It was commissioned the USS Mount Hood on July 1, 1944. The ship was named after Mount Hood, the volcano in the Cascade Range in Oregon.
Following a short fitting out and shakedown period in the Chesapeake Bay area, the USS Mount Hood reported for duty to ComServFor, Atlantic Fleet on August 5, 1944. She was assigned to carry cargo to the Pacific, and she pulled in to Norfolk, where her holds were loaded. The she was transfered to the Panama Canal as part of Task Group 29.6. She finally ended up Seeadler Harbor at Manus Island of the Admiralty Islands on September 22, 1944. There she was assigned to ComSoWesPac. The ship was to be dispensing ammunition and explosives to ships preparing for the Philippine offensive.
At 8:30am, on November 10, 1944, 17 of USS Mount Hood’s crew members, including Lieutenant Lester H Wallace left the ship to go ashore. At 8:55am, while walking on the beach the men saw a flash and heard two quick explosions. They immediately jumped back in their boat and headed for their ship, only to find that, like volcanoes tend to do, the USS Mount Hood had exploded. There was literally no ship to come back to, and other ships in the area were heavily damaged too. The USS Mount Hood had been anchored in 35 feet of water, and had exploded with an estimated 3,800 tons of ordnance material on board. Mushrooming smoke rose to 7,000 feet, completely obscuring the ship and the surrounding area for approximately 500 yards. It was easy to see where USS Mount Hood had been, because the explosion created a trench in the ocean floor 1,000 feet long, 200 feet wide, and 40 feet deep.The largest remaining piece of the hull was found in the trench and measured about 16 feet by 10 feet. No other remains were found except the fragments which struck the other ships in the area. No human remains were recovered of the 350 men aboard USS Mount Hood or the small boats loading alongside at the time of the explosion.
There were 271 men in surrounding ships that were injured, and 82 of nearby Mindanao’s crew were killed. In all, 22 small boats and landing craft were sunk, destroyed, or damaged beyond repair. The exact cause of USS Mount Hood’s explosion was never determined, but since the possibility of enemy action was remote, it was thought that rough handling of some of the explosives during the loading and unloading process was to blame for the disaster. With no survivors and so little of the ship left, I’m sure that the investigation was an impossible task. I do find it ironic that a ship named after a volcano, ended up exploding, and I find the loss of life to be a very sad thing indeed.
When you are a lot like another person, you carry memories of that person around with you. The strange thing about it is that you probably don’t even notice those similarities during that person’s lifetime. Often it is after their death, that suddenly things like their laugh coming out of you, has a tendency to startle you. Something, like being built like that person is always something you knew, and yet, things like looking like that person, may not be something you could see, until you looked at a picture of yourself, and you can totally see that person. I suppose that different hair styles and the use of make up can make a difference in each one’s looks, but eventually, something just stands out, and you know that you are that person’s mini me…even if that person is not your parent, but rather and aunt, as in my case. I never thought of myself as being anyone’s mini me, but in the case of my aunt and me, that is clearly the case.
My Aunt Ruth is the aunt that I really look like, and laugh like, and yet it was after her passing that it suddenly dawned on me that I really do laugh like her. Aunt Ruth had a great sense of humor, and she loved to laugh. She was a woman who had been a lot of places, and that made her seem to me to be very sophisticated, but Aunt Ruth would never have considered herself to be some fancy woman of the world. She had just lived in several places, and that gave her some knowledge of how things worked in some of the glamorous places that I had not been in or at least not very long, but she knew them well.
One of the memories I will always have of Aunt Ruth, is the moccasins she always wore. I don’t know if she loved the Native American culture or if the moccasins were just comfortable, but she loved them. She always wore the ones with the tiny bead work on them, and for some reason, my little girl mind always thought those were special. I’m sure that it was because my Aunt Ruth wore them. When you look up to someone, you really think that everything they do is the coolest thing in the world. Aunt Ruth left us in 1992, and we all miss her very much, but for me, there is the fact that in many way, I am so much like her, and it is like carrying her memory with me. Today would have been Aunt Ruth’s 90th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Aunt Ruth. We love and miss you very much, and can’t wait to see you again.
My mother’s is a large family. There were nine children, and with each new marriage and birth, it grows larger still. At this point, I’m sure the family is well over 300, and all from my grandparents, George and Hattie Byer, but with them, it all started with my Aunt Evelyn. She was their first baby. She was the one who informed my grandmother, when she was asked to go get her daddy, that “You must say Uncle Daddy!” She was the first of the social butterflies in their family, having a circle of friends who did lots of activities, and I’m sure that the younger kids wished they could do that too, but by the time they were of age, things like that weren’t done so much anymore. Fads like that come and go, and unfortunately for the little ones who would have loved to be a part of it, but they just don’t get to. Yes, Aunt Evelyn was the first of her siblings, and that gave her some seniority in the whole getting things by ages thing, but to me, she was just my aunt.
Because of the fact that my mom and Aunt Evelyn had children about the same age, they got together quite a bit. Aunt Evelyn, her husband, my Uncle George Hushman, and my parents went to the military ball together, the fireman’s ball together, and they bowled together. They double dated when my mom and dad were dating, and they spent time at each other’s houses. Because they did, my Aunt Evelyn’s kids, my cousins Susie, George, Shelley, Shannon, and Greg, were some of the best friends my sisters and I had as little kids, and we remain friends to this day, even if we don’t get to see each other as much as we used to.
As kids, we loved going to Aunt Evelyn’s house. She lived right next to the Mills Volunteer Fire Department, and I can’t count the number of times that we were there when the fire alarm went off. I will never forget how loud it was, nor how loud the fire trucks were when they went screaming out those big doors. Not every kid had the opportunity to live right next to that, or even to visit someone who does. It was quite interesting.
Many was the time when we went to Aunt Evelyn’s house and played hide and seek, or went down to the school to play on all the playground equipment there. There was never a dull moment when we went to Aunt Evelyn’s house. Of course, I’m sure that her kids always thought it more fun to come to our house, but that would just have to be their memory.
We lost Aunt Evelyn on May 4, 2015, and I still find it hard to believe that she is gone. Today, she would have been 87 years old. Happy birthday in Heaven, Aunt Evelyn. We love and miss you very much, and can’t wait to see you again.
At some point in every life, there comes a need for X-rays. It might be a broken bone, as it was this time for me, when I broke my shoulder three weeks ago, or it might be at the dentist, as he looks for cavities in your teeth, but I think pretty much everyone has an X-ray at some point. This process is so common, that most of us give it little or no thought, but prior to November 8, 1895, X-rays didn’t exist. It was on this day in 1895…120 years ago, that physicist Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen became the first person to observe X-rays. This was a huge scientific advancement that would ultimately benefit a variety of fields, but most of all medicine, by making the hidden things visible. Before the discovery of X-ray, broken bones, tumors, and the location of bullets were all diagnosed by physical examination and a doctor’s best guess. It’s no wonder so many people didn’t survive their injuries or illnesses.
When I broke my shoulder, having the X-rays was something I really gave no thought to, other than sitting there with my shoulder hurting while the technicians did their jobs. Of course, looking at the X-rays of my broken shoulder was interesting. I suppose that comes from my caregiver side. Since taking care of my parents and in-laws, I can honestly say that I have looked at more X-rays than I can count. Each one held an interest to me. It cleared up the mystery of what was wrong with my loved one, and now myself. I have to think too, that were it not for the ability to do X-rays, my surgery to put a plate and nine screws in my shoulder bone, would not have been possible, or at least not easy to do. I’m sure that my prognosis would have been much different. X-rays have made so many things possible, and they aren’t even limited to the medical field. They have helped in many fields. Other than medicine, the other original use for X rays was in studying the inner structure of materials. By firing a beam of X rays at a crystal, the atoms scatter the beam in a very precise way, casting a kind of shadow of the crystal’s interior pattern from which you can measure the distance between one atom and nearby atoms. X-rays are used in airports to look into carry on items to ensure the safety of the passengers on the flight. The criminal justice system has used dental and other X-rays for some time to identify unknown crime victims. X-rays are being used to identify the elements of paintings done by the masters to find out what kind of pigment was used. They help to determine the age of paintings, whether they are genuine or copies and how the pigments change over time. X-rays have improved the work of so many people, by making the hidden things visible.
Röntgen’s discovery of the X-ray was really by accident. He was in his lab in Wurzburg, Germany, where he was testing whether cathode rays could pass through glass when he noticed a glow coming from a nearby chemically coated screen. Because he really didn’t know exactly what kind of rays these were, he called them X-rays. I have often wondered just why they were called X-rays. Now I know. It was all because X means unknown. It’s almost funny to call something unknown, when it reveals the hidden things, making them known. No matter what it is called, it is, nevertheless, an amazing find and an amazing advancement in the medical field, and so many others too.
When we think of hurricanes, we think of the ocean, but on November 7, 1913, there was a storm over the Great Lakes that would go down in United States history as the largest inland maritime disaster, in terms of number of ships lost. The storm was nicknamed the White Hurricane. The storm system brought blizzard conditions to areas all around the Great Lakes, with hurricane force winds. The nature of the storm was unique and powerful, and caught even the most seasoned captain by surprise. Two low pressure centers merged and rapidly intensified over the Lake Huron, with periods of storm-force winds occurring over a four day period. Surrounding ports signaled it was a level-four storm, but for some vessels, it was already too late. Major ship wrecks took place on all the Great Lakes except for Lake Ontario. Vessels at that time could withstand 90 mile per hour winds and 35 foot waves, but it was the whiteout conditions and accumulation of ice on the ships that turned an already dangerous situation into a deadly one. Ship captains were unable to maintain navigation, resulting in 12 shipwrecks, 19 ships stranded, and an estimated 250 lives lost. On land, 24 inches of snow shut down traffic and communication, causing millions of dollars in damage.
The storm took place before the time when weather forecasters had the luxury of computer models, the detailed surface and upper air observations, weather satellites, or radar needed to make the most accurate predictions. Had weather forecasters then been able to access modern forecasting equipment, they may have been able to determine the likely development of this type of storm system in advance, as they did with Superstorm Sandy in 2012. As part of the forecast for Sandy forecasters were able to predict storm force winds over the lower Great Lakes five days in advance. The technology and forecast models available to forecasters today led to a more accurate forecast which saved mariners, recreational boaters, and businesses millions, as they were able to make preparations in advance of Sandy’s storm force winds and near 20 foot waves.
One hundred years later, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in the Great Lakes is commemorating the Storm of 1913, not only for the pivotal role it played in the history of the Great Lakes, but also for its enduring influence. Modern systems of shipping communication, weather prediction, and storm preparedness have all been fundamentally shaped by the events of November 1913. It’s strange to think that one storm could make such a lasting impact on so many systems, but then it is the need for something better that spurs great inventive minds to invent a solution to a serious problem.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration plays a major role in protecting maritime relics of the past. Included are many of the ships lost in 1913. They have remained preserved deep below the surface of the Great Lakes. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary is a 48-square-mile area of protected territory with one of America’s best preserved and nationally significant collections of shipwrecks. Located in northwestern Lake Huron, Thunder Bay is adjacent to one of the most treacherous stretches of water within the Great Lakes system. Unpredictable weather, murky fog banks, sudden gales, and rocky shoals earned the area the name “Shipwreck Alley.” To date, more than 50 shipwrecks have been discovered within the sanctuary including the Isaac M. Scott, a 504 foot steel freighter lost in the storm of 1913.
This storm holds an interest for me, because at that time in history, my grandparents, Allen and Anna Spencer were living in the Great Lakes area. My grandfather was not part of the crew of any ship, and so any effect to them would have come in the form of very deep snow. My Aunt Laura would have been just 16 months old at the time. I’m sure that the thought of being stranded in her home, was not a pleasant one for my grandmother, considering Aunt Laura’s very young age, but they survived the White Hurricane, as did most other people, at least those on land anyway. It still seems incredible to me that a storm of that magnitude could have brewed in an inland setting, but then anyone who knows the Great Lakes will tell you that they are so big that they might just as well be considered a sea. The November Gales have long been known as killers, especially over Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes. I’m glad that modern weather forecasting equipment had at least lessened the possibility of ships and lives being lost in the Great Lakes, as well as the oceans.
Little kids are really natural born showoffs. The minute they do something that everyone laughs about, they will start doing it over and over again. They love the attention. I guess in most ways they are not a lot different than their adult counterparts. Their play doesn’t even have to be necessarily funny, just cute. Anything that causes their parents to take a picture or laugh is worth doing again. Of course, sometimes, this is how bad habits get started. What seemed cute for a little kid to say or do when they are very small, isn’t always so cute as they get older. We all know that we should not encourage bad habits, but when your kids are little, everything…good or bad, is kind of cute, so we often allow the things we shouldn’t.
I suppose parents should think about that before making a big deal out of some of the things kids do, but that isn’t very often how things go. Sometimes those laughs just happen, and before you know it, you are trying to break that bad habit. Ah, the joys of parenting. One bad decision leads to months of undoing. Still, at the time, you have to admit…it was funny. Little kids are usually so full of energy, joy, giggles, and fun, that it’s like having your very own comedy show in your living room. You find yourself sitting there being entertained for hours.
Recently, we came across some previously undeveloped photographs from my childhood, and I found that I was quite the showoff. I never really thought of myself that way, because I am rather shy, but I guess I wasn’t when I was a little girl. I may not have ever been the class clown in school, but I clowned around quite a bit at home. I’m sure my parents didn’t think it was especially unusual, but the pictures surprised me. And there are more of them than I put up here too. I was apparently very goofy…or so the pictures tell me.
It is kind of a sad thing that we are so free and uninhibited as children, and then as adults, we are almost afraid to be silly. I know we can’t always be goofy as adults, but so many of us don’t ever act silly. We worry about looking stupid or having someone make fun of us. Of course, I’m sure that all starts in our teen years, when we are all very uncomfortable with pretty much everything about ourselves. Nevertheless, for many of us, it continues on into adulthood too. I suppose that in reality, those carefree days of youth will always fade into the responsibility days of adulthood, and we will, for the most part, never really be able to relive the funny, goofy, carefree days, when clowning around came as naturally to us as breathing did. I guess that’s why we were little showoffs.
My cousin, Gene Fredrick was a man of many talents. He was the oldest of his parents’ two sons. His parents were Fritz Fredrick and Laura Spencer Fredrick, my aunt. As a boy, Gene was the helpful older brother, helping his mommy with his little brother, Dennis, who was always known to my sisters and me as Denny. Following their parents’ divorce, my Aunt Laura brought her sons to Casper, Wyoming to live near her sister, Ruth Spencer Wolfe, and her husband Jim, who were living there at the time. Casper was also where my parents would settle in 1959, and that meant that my family got to see our cousins, Gene and Denny Fredrick and Shirley, Larry, and Terry Wolfe quite a bit. Those were great times.
Of course, Gene and Denny were the oldest cousins, and so they married and while they both still lived in Casper, we got to see their children too. Gene and his wife Paula had two sons, Tim and Shawn, and Denny and his wife, Sandy had a son named David. Later they both moved away, so we didn’t get to see them very much. I’ve always felt sad that we lost touch, and I am grateful that we have Facebook now, and that has given us a way to reconnect.
Gene was always a soft spoken man, who shared so much of himself with his sons. He loved to make furniture, and was very talented at it. He also connected with our Uncle Bill, who has always loved the family history, but didn’t have the equipment or know how to scan pictures, or a computer to research people or organize the information. Gene became Uncle Bill’s right hand man, helping to get the family history in the organized condition I found it when my cousin Bill sent it to me to allow me to scan it. I can honestly say that we all owe Gene a debt of gratitude for all the help he gave Uncle Bill.
Gene taught his sons anything they were interested in. Tim tells about the years when he started becoming interested in photography. They set up a dark room, and Tim learned photography. I don’t know if Gene already knew how to develop pictures before, but they worked it together. Tim tells of making new prints from the old damaged ones. I think that Gene was an amazing man. Today would have been 76 years old today. Happy birthday in Heaven, Gene. We are all in your debt. We love and miss you.
When a parent loses a child, of any age, each birthday becomes a time to ponder on what might have been, if the child had lived. For so many parents, there are no answers. Their child is gone, and they have no way to gauge where they would be now or what they would be doing. There is just the emptiness of loss that is left, and wondering what might have been.
No new child can replace another child that has passed, but for my niece Jenny Spethman and her husband Steve, the fact that they had a rainbow baby, who was a girl named Aleesia Juliette, in some ways has helped a little bit. They have been able to envision what their little Laila Elizabeth would have been like at these ages. Of course, as I said, that does not replace Laila, and she is missed every single day, but God gave them Aleesia to cheer their broken hearts, at least a little bit.
Since today would have been Laila Elizabeth’s fifth birthday, they know that like Aleesia, Laila would have been going to pre-school, and learning all the exciting things that there are to see and do in this wonderful world that God created. She would have been a girly girl, like her sister, and they can envision the two of them giggling and laughing as they play their many little girl games. It’s easy to picture them both dancing around the room together, and yet chasing after their big brothers, Xander, Zack, and Isaac, because no little girl can be the little sister of three older brothers and not be a tiny bit tomboy. Laila would have been the princess of the house, just as her little sister, Aleesia is, and of course, she would be the boss of the boys like Aleesia is too, because those boys just think their sister hung the moon.
None of these things make this day, Laila’s 5th birthday an easier day to take, nor with they help with the day she went to Heaven, November 22, but in some ways, they do give a glimpse into what might have been. And if Jenny and Steve are able to use their imagination a little bit, I’m sure they can picture their little Princess Laila and their little Princess Aleesia playing together. They know too, that they will see Laila again when we all join her in Heaven, and I know that they know that her great grandparents, are all getting to know her right now, but the heart doesn’t understand those things any more than the little kids do. Their hearts just want her back, because thinking about what might have been isn’t the same as havimg her here at all, in fact, it is the hardest thing a parent will ever have to do.
Today is Princess Laila Elzabeth Spethman’s 5th birthday. She knows we love her, miss her, and can’t wait to see her again, and we know that she is happily playing in Heaven and having a wonderful day. You live in our hearts until we see you again. Happy birthday in Heaven Princess Laila!! Have a wonderful birthday!! We love and miss you very much!! Hugs and kisses baby girl.
Because of my broken shoulder, and the fact that I am still taking an average on one pain pill a day, I can’t drive. My boss, Jim Stengel has been picking me up for work every day, and since I am back to work all day, and I can’t drive, I decided to take a walk during lunch. The cemetery is near my office, and so was a logical choice for a destination. As I walked, I took pictures of a large number of graves, because I am a member of the Find A Grave site that sets up memorials for people who have passed away, so their loved ones can add the information to family trees. That part of my walk was something that made me feel like I had accomplished something good, but it was something that happened a little later in the walk that I found to be so sweet that I had to share it.
During my walk, I stopped by my parents’ graves. I took a picture there, just because I often do. Maybe it’s to keep them close in my memory. I can’t really say. Then I straightened some of the flowers we have on their graves, and when I looked down, I noticed a nickel on the base of the headstone. There was no doubt in my mind where that nickel came from, because my niece Jenny Spethman, and her husband Steve often bring their children by to visit the grave of their baby sister, Laila, which is close by my parents’ grave. They never fail to stop at their great grandparents’ grave too. They loved them so much.
In the five years since their sister’s passing, Jenny and Steve’s children have come to the grave often, and since it is so close, they visit my parents’ graves too. During that time, I have seen so many gifts they have left for their great grandparents, whom they loved very much. They have left rocks, toy guns, cars, and now a nickel. There were many others too. They give the best of themselves. The things that mean the most to them, are the things that they want to share with their great grandparents. Our is a close family, and the great grandchildren were very close with their great grandparents. Loss is hard on everyone, but for the little kids, it is so much to accept. They often don’t exactly understand what happened…even when they know what death is, they still wonder when their loved one is coming home. Eventually they learn, especially when death becomes such a glaring reality, like the passing of their baby sister. Still, in their trusting heart, they know that their God has their loved ones, safe in His loving arms. To leave a gift on the headstone is another form of trust. They trust that God will tell their loved on about the gift they left, and about the love they feel for their loved one…forever.
Some would call that childlike innocence, believing in fairy tales, or even a child’s imagination, but I say that it is the faith of a child…unmarred by so many years of being told that God doesn’t do much in this day and age, that miracles are a thing of the past, or that we are on our own here. They are so close to God, that the world hasn’t had time to muddy the waters of their faith. They simply believe that their loving God cares about every little thing in their life, including the gift they wanted to give their great grandparents. Their faith is not spoiled by this world. They simply know that their God will tell their loved on that they love them…always and forever. That is the faith of a child, and it was so sweet for me to see. And all it took was a nickel left on a headstone.