Monthly Archives: January 2016

imageA few months ago, our granddaughter, Shai Royce introduced us to her boyfriend, Zach Magner. It was a little unexpected. We had invited her to breakfast, and she asked if Zach could join us. Of course, we said yes, but I have to admit that my shy side was a little bit uncomfortable. It shouldn’t have been though, because Zach was very easy to get to know, and very easy to like. Of course, for us, the biggest factor when it comes to boyfriends, is how they treat my granddaughter. Granddaughters are always their grandparents’ princesses, and since we only have one granddaughter, she is our only princess. We want her to be treated like the princess she is. Zach made a good impression on us in that regard, so that was impressive.

Zach works in the oil fields as a wireline specialist, and that means long hours sometimes. Nevertheless, he is good at his job and in today’s economy, just having a full time job is a plus. Of course, I can’t say that I’m imagesurprised, because I don’t think my granddaughter would go for someone who doesn’t work as hard or harder than she does. I like that Zach has the same kinds of values that Shai has. Shai is a hard worker too, and so she expects that her man will be the same. I have no doubt that Zach is exactly that.

Zach has been so easy for Bob and me to get to know, and we liked him instantly, and we have now made him a part of our breakfast circle. My daughter, Amy Royce and her husband Travis, Shai’s parents, and her brother, Caalab Royce all liked Zach as well. Shai and Zach had the opportunity to go to spend Thanksgiving with her family, and everyone had a great time. Shai, Zach, and Caalab spent some time in Seattle just touring the area, since Zach had never been there. They even got to ride the Ferris Wheel that we had only looked at when we were there. They had a great imagetime. I can just imagine the view from the top.

Zach is the kind of guy who is always willing to help others. He never refuses if he is available, and sometimes he even does things without being asked, like the time he went to pick up my grand niece, Christina Masterson, so she could come for a visit with Shai, because they are best frineds. He just did it because he knows that they miss each other sometimes, since Christina lives in Colorado and Shai in Wyoming. I think Zach’s thoughtfulness is the thing I like most about him. Being kind and thoughtful says a whole lot about the character of a person. Today is Zach’s birthday. Happy birthday Zach!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

scan0043scan0041For as long as I can remember, my Uncle Bill Spencer was a gun dealer. He went to gun shows, had every kind of gun imaginable, and every accessory for them. Uncle Bill is a patriot, and he hated anything that remotely resembled an infringement on our Constitutional rights…especially the 2nd Amendment. Not only did he sell guns, but he talked to people about the importance of fighting for our Constitutional rights. That’s not surprising really, my dad, aunts, and uncles on both sides of my family, grew up in a time when America was strong and people understood what it took to keep it that way. Of course, there are still patriots today, but there are also far too many Americans who have forgotten the reason behind our freedoms. And that government should not be allowed to infringe upon those rights.

My Uncle Bill, and my dad, Allen Spencer, who was two years younger than his brother, were around guns and dynamite most of their lives. The dynamite shocked me when I first heard about it, but after they finished their story, it all made sense. For anyone who has ever tried to get rid of a tree stump, dynamite makes sense at some point. However, these boys were just a little bit crazy with their dynamite antics, from sinking the gate post while their mom was in town and then fixing it before she got home, to blowing up dynamite to celebrate the fourth of July, I don’t think their mom ever knew what to expect from them. Nevertheless, they were both safety conscious too…even as kids. They knew what could happen if you weren’t safe.

One time my dad heard that Uncle Bill was going to be in Rapid City for a gun show. Dad had been growing a beard for a centennial, and so didn’t look exactly like himself. We showed up at the gun show without telling him we were coming. Mom and Dad sent us girls ahead to just look around Uncle Bill’s table. Dad’s plan scan0067scan0066worked. When Uncle Bill finally realized who we were, he was both pleased and stunned. It was such a great prank to pull on him, and he was totally fooled. Then we had a wonderful visit with him afterward. Uncle Bill has always been so special to me, and I missed him a lot. I think we had a lot in common. Our interests run along the same lines, and that made our visits special, and our partings tough. I’m thankful that we still have Uncle Bill in our lives, but I wish we could see him more often. Today is Uncle Bill’s 94th birthday. Happy birthday Uncle Bill!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

007b1 Mina SchumacherMy great aunt, Mina Schumacher Spare really was a remarkable person. I wish I could say that I knew that first hand, but while she was still alive when I was born, I don’t recall if I ever met her. Nevertheless, from her sister, Bertha’s writings, I feel as though I knew her well. Mina was a woman who could see that the world was changing. She knew that women would soon have more of an active role in business, and so she decided that her training should be more that just a teaching certificate, and she encouraged her two younger sisters, Bertha and Elsa to get the same education, which they did. Her wisdom in the choice of training she should have, was what landed her jobs that men had usually held, and she was better at it than they were. Of course, Mina was a smart girl, and that was a rarity at that time. Or perhaps there were other smart girls, but they didn’t let anyone know about it. In many ways, I find that sad. I am not a feminist, and I don’t agree with most of what they do, but I’d think a woman who is smart should be allowed to use her abilities in whatever way she chooses.

Mina’s first position was as a Steno-bookkeeper, and she worked office jobs from that time until her retirement with the possible exception of the years when her little daughter, Pauline was born, and then until she went to school. Mina finally retired in 1956, at her husband, John’s insistence. She fought him on the idea of retirement, but once she actually retired, she thoroughly enjoyed herself. Her husband, John joined her in retirement in 1963, and they moved to Boulder, Colorado to be closer to their daughter, Pauline (Paula) and her family. Their retired freedom was now ahead of them, but in reality, the time for blissful freedom would be short. Like her mother, Mina had Rheumatoid Arthritis. Mina passed away September 30, 1970, just seven short years after John retired.

After Mina’s passing, Bertha and Elsa had also moved to Boulder, and actually lived right next door to John, but years later, when John spoke of the anguish he felt after Mina’s passing, they were shocked. These were things John had kept to himself all that time. When he finally spoke of it, John said, “I would never have amounted to John Clark Sparea ‘darn’ if it hadn’t been for Min.” And years later, in 1981, he said, “For the first four years after she was gone, I thought sometimes I couldn’t stand it. I would stay down stairs, where there were no memories. Upstairs I would see her everywhere.” You see, Mina was unable to navigate the stairs the last two years of her life. All her things were upstairs in the end. John’s heart was so in tuned to Mina’s, that he felt like he was left just half a man without her presence. I know many people feel like they almost can’t take it when their spouse passes away, but somehow, for John, it seemed more truth that just a feeling. Nevertheless, John knew that Mina wouldn’t have wanted him to just lay down and die, so he went on to live a full life. He passed away in 1986, and went to join his beloved Min. On their grave are these fitting words, Together Forever.

buffalosoldiersWhen I think of the Cavalry, I think of the Old West. The idea of men heading off to war mounted on horses, in today’s world seems completely crazy. In reality, it was precarious enough in the days of the Cowboys and Indians, but even more so with guided missiles, tanks, roadside bombs, and suitcase bombs…just to name a few. I realize that those weapons have evolved slowly, but the Cavalry probably rode horses well past the point when it was safe for them to do so. Nevertheless, the reality is that many of the men had no desire to give up their horse for the alternative in 1941, but that was what they were told to do, and so they did…many with tearful sadness to show for it. They followed their orders, with minimal grumbling, because things like that could get a guy in trouble. Still, the goodbyes were tearful, even if the tears had to be held until the soldier was alone.

Of course, we know, as did they, that the weapons that were being lobbed at them were far more sophisticated than they had been in the early years, but they had come to trust their horse to get them out of the place that found themselves in. In reality, that was becoming harder and harder for the horse. Remember that any weapon that was lobbed at the rider, was also lobbed at the horse. It was hard to hit one and miss the other. A tank on the other hand was often invincible against many of the weapons back when the tank was invented. It was in the best interest of the soldier to give up his mount, but it was fully understood that it was also one of the hardest things they would ever have to do.

Troop F stationed at Douglas, Wyoming would be one of the last troops to be required to give up their horses. Their horses were stunning black Morgan horses, and this troop was proud of their horses, and their duties. One duty of which they were especially proud was when they escorted the Governor at state events. The riders were in their dress white uniforms, and even the horses were dressed up in white. The horses were so proud of their duties, and they knew them better than the rookies who were riding them. When the men presented their army-horses-mules_lastcav_01_700shining sabers, the horses would prance sideways in an elaborate display of discipline. For the men who worked with the beautiful horses daily, the thought of never mounting up again was…well, devastating.

Nevertheless, in the end, the men lost their horses to the modern world and modern machines. While it was not the preferred situation, the men knew that times were changing and they would either have to change with the times, or become dinosaurs of the past. I suppose that most of them would continue on, because that is what soldiers do. They came to serve their country, and they would not let their final dismount be their final act in the service.

Corrie with ChristopherKevin, & ChristopherToday, my grandson Chris Petersen heads back to Sheridan for his final semester of college. It has been a long two year road, and hard on all of us, but we are proud of what he has done. Nevertheless, while he has been here over a month, it seems like he just got here. Time flies by so quickly, and somehow along the way, this one or that one of your kids and grandkids seem to fly away. Some literally!! As each one goes, you are left to wonder what the draw of that place is, or sometimes, like with Chris, you know that it is not that place, but rather the dream. You know that they have to follow their dream, and you truly want them to be happy…even if that takes them far away from you.

The reality is that the future of our children is not ours to set. It is theirs. All their lives, you watch carefully, noting their talents and abilities, and wondering where their future lies. I think that for most parents, the hope is that their kids future wont take them too far away, because while we have been watching their little lives as they grew, our hearts just never planned for that moment when they would tell us that their future plans and our idea of their future plans are simply not the same. As they leave, you feel like your heart is being torn from your chest. You fell like the tears will never stop, and in reality, sometimes…when you least expect it…when you thought you were finally ok, those wretched tears come rushing back to you again.

As Chris leaves, I think about the fact that once again, half of my children and grandchildren don’t live nearby. It makes me feel lonely. For Chris, the homesickness will flood in, because he is once again alone there, without his family, with whom he is very close. I know he would rather stay here, but he can’t. And with job placement looming ahead, we know that the distance will grow. I want Chris to go where they place him, because it is a once in a lifetime experience. He won’t have to stay there permanently. I know that his ultimate dream lies in a different place, closer to home, if not right here in Casper. But, dreams can change. He may like the place where his job placement takes him. He may choose to stay there, or go somewhere else. And if he does, we will be ok here. We will miss him terribly, and we will notice that empty chair where he should be, but we will know that he is off following his dream…like other family members before him…and we will adjust.

Chris PetersenChris & Josh before VegasChange is a part of life, whether we like it or not. Our children, once grown, are not children anymore. They are adults with the right to make their own choices. We can’t live their lives for them. We are their past in a way, even though we will always be there for them, and they can always call our home their home. We are home base, but the world is out there. It is theirs to see and explore. So as each one leaves, all I can think is…and off you go. Remember where you came from, walk with God, don’t forget the way home, and while we miss you, we’ll be alright…right here, holding down the fort.

A B-52D Stratofortress from the 93rd Bombardment Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., drops bombs. B-52Ds were modified in 1966 to carry 108, 500-lb bombs while the normal conventional payload before was only 51. (Historical U.S. Air Force photo)Because our world seems always to be at war, it is an unfortunate reality that bombs will exist…some legal, made for our military to keep us safe, some legal to blow up things for construction and other things, and of course some illegal, meant to bring terror and destruction. When I think about most bombs, the word terror definitely comes to the surface…be the bomb legal or not. Never is that more of a thought that when I think about the possibility of a bomb being lost, especially due to a plane crash. During the Cold War, as a means of maintaining first-strike capability, United States bombers carrying nuclear weapons circled the earth constantly…for decades. We just never knew when we could be attacked. We had to be…always ready.

The problem with planes carrying bombs and in the air constantly, is the possibility of crashes. My thought, when a bomber crashes, is what happens to the bomb. In all reality, it’s a good question. There have been about three dozen accidents in which bombers either crashed or caught fire on the runway, resulting in nuclear contamination from a damaged or destroyed bomb and/or the loss of a nuclear weapon. We don’t often hear about these…especially when they happen in the United States, but let one happen in another country, and it’s a different story. When one of these bombs was lost, it was called a Broken Arrow, mainly to avoid panic, I’m sure. One of the only Broken Arrows to receive widespread publicity occurred on January 17, 1966. A B-52 bomber crashed into a KC-135 jet tanker over Spain.

The bomber was on route to its base in North Carolina, when the crash occurred dropping three 70 kiloton hydrogen bombs near the town of Palomares and one in the sea. The KC-135 was attempting to refuel the B-52, when the B-52 collided with the fueling boom. The fuel was ignited and the KC-135 blew up, killing its crew. Four of the seven crew members of the B-52 managed to parachute to safety…the rest were lost. The bombs were not armed, but with the first two, the explosive material exploded on impact, forming craters and scattering radioactive plutonium over the fields of Palomares. One bomb landed in a dry riverbed and remained intact, and the fourth landed in the sea. No one knew for sure where it was. The cleanup was massive.

Locating the bomb that had fallen into the sea took a bit longer. The Navy used an IBM computer, and experts tried to calculate where the bomb might have landed. They were very handicapped because of the size of the h-bomb 2impact area. Finally, a Spanish fisherman gave an eyewitness account that proved to be so accurate that on March 15th, with a much smaller search area, a submarine spotted the bomb. The bomb was recovered on April 7th, damaged but intact, and everyone breathed a sigh of relief. This particular accident was widely reported, because it was on foreign soil. It makes me wonder why there is so little reporting on American soil Broken Arrows. To this day, two hydrogen bombs and a uranium core lie in yet undetermined locations in the Wassaw Sound off Georgia, in the Puget Sound off Washington, and in swamplands near Goldsboro, North Carolina. I suppose some people knew of these lost bombs before, but I did not…until now.

Aunt Laure and the deerAunt Laura and the OstrichFamilies have long loved to visit places like museums and zoos. It give them a chance to have an outing with the kids whereby they are out of the house, and yet learning something too. My grandmother, Anna Schumacher Spencer was no exception to that rule. For the first ten years of her eldest child, my Aunt Laura Spencer Fredrick’s life, Grandma didn’t have any other children. I’ve never known just why that was. The family history doesn’t tell of miscarriages or lost babies, but until my Uncle Bill Spencer came along, ten years after his sister, Laura, and then was quickly followed by brother, Allen Spencer (my dad), and then Aunt Ruth Spencer Wolfe, that was simply the case. Grandma and Aunt Laura were very close, and did lots of things together. The pictures of that time frame show visits with family, time spent picking flowers, and a trip to the zoo, which brings me to my story.

As I said, Grandma was very close with her daughter, and took lots of pictures of her and with her. Because of that closeness, she didn’t pay as much attention to the things or animals around Aunt Laura, but rather paid attention to Aunt Laura in the photo. It really was a matter of what subject she felt was the most important in the picture…obviously for Grandma that was Aunt Laura. She wanted to be able to tell of all the events of Aunt Laura’s young life, and Grandma did a great job of that.

As Uncle Bill began going through all the pictures and writing up the family history, he came across many pictures that rather frustrated him. That’s where his opinion on the pictures Grandma had taken came out. It wasn’t that Uncle Bill didn’t like the pictures of his sister, because he did…they were very close as children. The problem for him occurred with the picture of his sister, Laure standing by a cannon. Needless to say, I have to agree with Uncle Bill to a large degree. While the pictures of Aunt Laura with the zoo animals are great, I didn’t know what the cannon was at all, until Uncle Bill clarified that for me. Instead of taking the picture with a side view of the cannon, Grandma has taken it with a back view. It was pretty much impossible to know what it was without being told or maybe having a background that clarified it for you. Uncle Bill was rather annoyed, and commented on the picture with, “Come on Mom!”

That picture wasn’t the only one that Uncle Bill was upset with either. Another picture that was very good, but was not taken by Grandma, irritated him nevertheless. It was a picture marked only as, “Mother’s niece.” I’m Albertine's nieceAunt Laura and the Cannonsure that, like most people, Grandma figured that she would always know who it was, but what she wasn’t thinking about was that the rest of the people, who would someday look at the picture, would never know who it was. Again, it was a matter of what Grandma saw as important and what Uncle Bill saw as important. Sadly, Grandma is gone now, so we cannot ask who this niece might have been. She didn’t mean to do these things to upset her son, of course, it was just that what she saw and what he saw as important, were two very different things. And in this case, quite upsetting to my uncle.

Uncle WayneIt’s hard for me to think of my Uncle Wayne Byer without thinking of my mom, Collene Byer Spencer, and my Uncle Larry Byer, because they were like the three musketeers of that generation. If one was getting in trouble, you could assume that the other two weren’t far behind. It’s not that they were troublemakers, because they weren’t. It was that these were the only boys in the family, and my mom was the one sister who fell between them in the family line. That meant that where the boys went, and what they did, my mom wasn’t far behind. She wanted to be right in the middle of everything they were doing.

Mom always thought the world of all her siblings, but her brothers were a combination of superheroes and partners in crime, though no crimes were ever committed…unless you count the antics that Mom and her brothersgot all three into trouble with their mom. Grandma and Grandpa raise their kids to be responsible adults and good citizens. They taught them well. They all turned out to be amazing people, but no childhood is without mischief, and the Byer kids were no different. Anytime you have nine kids, you have nine imaginations to come up with something new to get into trouble with.

While boys can be mischievous, they can do some of the nicest things too. My mom has told me about several things her brothers did for her. Besides being her best friends, they did nice little things like buying her a set of salt and pepper shakers that she had admired…just because she liked them. That act was more than just doing something nice, it showed that they were listening to her. I think that has always endeared them to my mom. So often in life, we go through situations where we don’t feel like anyone is listening to us at all, but then when someone picks up on something we said and does something so nice with it, your realize that they really were Collene, Larry, and Waynelistening to you, and that they wanted to show you how much they care about you. What better way for brothers to be toward their sister?

Uncle Wayne has always been one to pay attention to those around him. He loves entertaining the children that are around him, and especially loves making them laugh. He has a great laugh, and that makes everyone laugh. His sense of humor and ability to tell jokes is awesome. In all, he is a great guy to have around. I don’t get to see him as much these days, as in the past, but when I do see him, it is always a good time. Today is Uncle Wayne’s 78th birthday. Happy birthday Uncle Wayne!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

scan0023When I was a little girl, we had a rocking pony. Most families with little ones did. It was a great entertainment item. I don’t know how my sisters felt about that pony, or if they ever had a chance to ride it if I was around, because I loved that pony!! According to my mom, it was the most important toy I had. I rode it everyday…sometimes all day…or at lease until my mom said I had to take a nap, eat dinner, or go somewhere. Otherwise, that pony was my baby. I might have agreed to leave the pony if we could play with kittens or something like that, because I loved kittens too. You see, there were important things in life, but some things are just more important. That pony and kittens…in my life, those things were just more important.

Mom liked to take pictures of her girls, especially when we were all dressed up in the frilly dresses she liked to dress us in. Usually this was not a problem. Like most kids, we liked having our picture taken, but if we were very near my pony…I could be easily distracted. The lure of a ride on my pony was so strong. The pony was so much fun. I rode it hard. I never rocked the horse, I galloped. The pony and I rode so hard that the base came off the floor and eventually put ruts in the wood. How could pictures possibly live up to that? They couldn’t in my book. That pony was the coolest toy ever!!

I don’t recall my thoughts from those rides, but I have a pretty good idea that I was thinking of galloping along the prairie in the wind…or maybe all I thought of was how it felt while I was riding that horse…as fast as I could scan0161ago. Whenever I was on that pony, speed was all that mattered. It made riding hard to resist. It was also hard to think about silly things like getting a picture taken. I have to wonder if my parents got frustrated with me sometimes, or if they simply understood.

Sometimes, Mom and Dad lost the battle for the photo, where I was concerned, because while my sister, Cheryl Masterson always posed nicely for the pictures they wanted to taken, sometimes, I just couldn’t be bothered, because my pony and I had places to go, people to see, and things to do. As I said, some things are just more important that other things. That was my pony…the most important thing in my little world, so Cheryl was in the picture and I was in the background.

Wyatt  EarpGrowing up, my sisters and I watched lots of westerns. It wasn’t so strange really, because westerns were the in thing back then. Everyone loved watching them. One show I remember watching was The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. It all seemed like it took place so long ago, and to many people I guess it was. Still, when you think of the fact that Wyatt Earp, a frontiersman, marshal and gambler, who got into a feud in Tombstone, Arizona, that led to the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral passed away quietly in Los Angeles on January 13, 1929, it doesn’t seem so long ago anymore. I guess that in Wyatt Earp’s case, old gunfighters never die, they just lose their fight. Wyatt Earp was born on March 19, 1848, and that seems long ago. The gunfight took place on October 26, 1881…and Wyatt Earp survived. He had led such a wild life, that the thought of him ending up dying quietly in Los Angeles seemed…well, just too tame, and just too much a part of modern times to be right. Nevertheless, it was right. He did live in modern times, and in fact was a friend of John Wayne’s.

I’m not sure why that whole scenario struck me as odd. Wyatt Earp was 80 years old at the time of his passing…not an overly excessive amount of years…average, in fact. Since he was born in 1848, his passing in ok corral1929 would be right. I guess that the thing that seemed strange to me was the fact that when Wyatt Earp passed away, my own dad was five years old. Yes, he was an old man, and my dad a young boy, but for those five years, their life spans occupied the same space in history. And yet, my dad’s life had no connection to the time of Wyatt Earp, or to the man that he was.

Wyatt Earp was a boy in search of adventure, and ran away from home twice after the Civil War broke out when he was 13. He went to join up with his two older brothers, Virgil and James. Each time he ran away, he was caught before he could reach the battlefield, and he was sent back home. Finally, at the age of 17, he left for good. His family had moved from the Illinois farm to California, but Wyatt wanted adventure, so he headed out to seek his own idea of life. He worked many different jobs, most notably as a lawman, and of course, a gambler. Life was not kind to Wyatt Earp. At a point when he was finally ready to settle down with the woman he loved, he married Urilla Sutherland, the daughter of the local hotel owner. The couple married about 1870, built a house in town, and were excitedly awaiting the birth of their first child. Then, life hit him with it’s most last_phot_of_Wyatt(1)cruel blow. Within a year of their marriage Urilla contracted Typhus and died, along with their unborn child. Wyatt went off the deep end and became wild again. Eventually, he would be suspected of killing one of the suspects in his brother, Morgan’s death.

Unfortunately…or maybe fortunately, the west began to settle down. Wyatt was getting older. He settled in Los Angeles and hoped to have the Old West and his own legacy portrayed in film, but Hollywood wasn’t interested until after his death. I suppose it was then that Westerns moved into the forefront of television and movies. Westerns would then have a long run of popularity in the homes of many people…ours included.