Monthly Archives: March 2016
As we sit here, with an early Spring upon us, I find it an odd thing to think about another year that had been rather balmy too. The year was 1888, and things were about to get serious along the northern East Coast. The day began with rain, but as the storm really came at around midnight, the rain turned to snow, and the area began to become a nightmare right before the very eyes of the people in the area. Snowfalls of between 20 to 60 inches were seen in parts of New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. The winds howled…sustained winds of more than 45 miles per hour producing snowdrifts in excess of 50 feet. The area railroads were shut down and people were confined to their houses for up to a week. The difficult thing here is that people didn’t have some of the weather predictors that we have these days, so many of them had no idea what was coming their way, and so had far k=less time to prepare for it.
Areas of northern Vermont received from 20 inches to 30 inches in this storm, with drifts reported from 30 to 40 feet over the tops of houses from New York to New England. There were also reports of drifts covering 3 story houses. The highest drift…52 feet was recorded in Gravesend, New York. A total of 58 inches of snow fell in Saratoga Springs, New York; 48 inches in Albany, New York; 45 inches of snow in New Haven, Connecticut; and 22 inches of snow in New York City. With the snow came severe winds, with gusts up to 80 miles per hour, although the highest official report in New York City was 40 miles per hour, with a 54 miles per hour gust reported at Block Island. Central Park Observatory, in New York City, reported a low temperature of 6 °F, and a high temperature of 9 °F on March 13…the coldest ever for March. These days Winter Storms have names, but they didn’t then. Nevertheless, the storm was named the Great White Hurricane. It paralyzed the East Coast from the Chesapeake Bay to Maine, as well as the Atlantic provinces of Canada. The Telegraph was disabled because of all the downed lines, isolating Montreal and most of the large northeastern United States cities from Washington DC to Boston for days. Following the storm, New York began placing its telegraph and telephone lines underground to prevent destruction. From Chesapeake Bay through the New England area, more than 200 ships were either grounded or wrecked, killing at least 100 seamen.
In New York, all transportation was at a standstill for days, and drifts across the New York–New Haven rail line at Westport, Connecticut took eight days to clear. Partly because of the transportation gridlock, it was decided that they needed a better system, and the first underground subway system in the United States, opened nine years later in Boston. The New York Stock Exchange was closed for two days…something that almost never happens. Firefighters were unable to get to the fires, and property loss just from the fires was estimated at $25 million. Severe flooding occurred after the storm due to melting snow, especially in the Brooklyn area, which was more susceptible to serious flooding. Efforts were made to push the snow into the Atlantic Ocean. More than 400 people died from the storm and the cold that came with it, including 200 in New York City alone. Among them was former United States Senator Roscoe Conkling. The blizzard also resulted in the founding of the Christman Bird and Wildlife Sanctuary located near Delanson, Schenectady County, New York, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.
While it isn’t uncommon never to have met your great grandparents, I nevertheless, find it rather sad. Through my Great Aunt Bertha Schumacher Hallgren’s journal, I have heard so much about my Great Grandparents Schumacher, and in many ways I feel like I have known them all my life. When I look at the picture I have of them hanging on my living room wall, the faces seem familiar and welcoming to me. I feel like I know their personalities, likes and dislikes, and the struggles they had during their lives, and yet, I know the strength they had too, because through it all, they persevered. They raised a wonderful family of strong people who went on to lead successful lives and to raise wonderful children. Of course, the picture I have of them does not show smiling faces, because that was not really done in those days for photographs, but when I look into their eyes, I see a soft gentleness living there…a kindness, because that was the kind of people my great grandparents were. I know that from the words their daughter wroter about them.
I know that my great grandfather loved horses, and worked hard caring for a rich landowner’s horses to earn the money to come to the new world, where he could have land and horses of his own. He had a dream, and he was bound and determined to make his dream come true…and he did. He succeeded so well, in fact, that his family thought he must be rich when he came to see him. I don’t think he considered himself rich, but his family was comfortable, and their needs were met. The children had a carriage to ride to school in, so they didn’t have to trudge three miles to school. The family had a sizeable place, and a number of horses, which shows me that my great grandfather fulfilled his dreams, and was a great provider for his family. He worked hard, and he wouldn’t have had things be any other way. He knew the value of what he had. Family was everything and he felt like his was the best one there ever was.
All these things I can get from pictures and from Bertha’s journal, but one of the most profound statements about her dad came when Bertha wrote, “HE LOVED HIS FAMILY!!” Her emphesis was so obvious. She typed it all in capital letters basically to show the world how strongly she felt about that statement. It wasn’t something she felt like she was obligated to write, but was rather, a statement from the heart. I think my grandfather was a kind and gentle man, who lovingly cared for his family, and especially his wife, who had Rheumatoid Artheritis for years. Nevertheless, he carried the load of the family with the help of his children, and that is a man I can’t wait to meet. My grandmother too was the kind of person who dealt with her pain with little complait, and raised a beautiful family in spite of it all. I look forward to the day when we will meet in Heaven, and I can sit down and really get to know these wonderful people.
Anytime humans go to war, the one sure outcome is loss of life. That is just a fact of war. Of all the wars that the United States has been involved in, World War II interests me the most, because of my dad’s involvement, I’m sure. War is a brutal activity, but with the evil in the world, it is sometimes necessary. Evil nations leave us no choice but to step in. Such was that case with World War II, and Japan. On this day, March 9, 1945, the United States warplanes launched a new offensive against Japan. The campaign carried out involved dropping 2,000 tons of incendiary bombs on Tokyo over a two day period. Almost 16 square miles in and around the city were incinerated, and between 80,000 and 130,000 Japanese civilians were killed in the worst firestorm in recorded history.
Early that morning, Air Force crews met on the Mariana Islands of Tinian and Saipan for a briefing. This would be a low level bombing attack on Tokyo beginning in the evening, but this one would be different. The planes would be stripped of all guns except for the tail turret. This would decrease the weight…increasing the speed of each Superfortress bomber. This also increased the bomb load capacity by 65 percent. Now each plane could carry more than seven tons of bombs. The most crucial thing, however, would be speed. If the plane didn’t make it out of the city, the airmen were warned to get to the water as fast as they could, because their very lives depended on it. Staying in the city would mean a fiery death, because they were going to be delivering the biggest firecracker the Japanese have ever seen.
The first location would be the suburb of Shitamachi, which was composed of roughly 750,000 people. The destruction of Shitamachi would destroy the light industries, called “shadow factories,” that produced prefabricated war materials for Japanese aircraft factories. The citizens of Shitamachi never had a chance against the Superfortress B-29 bombers. Their fire brigades were undermanned, poorly trained, and ill equipped. All the people could do was to run from the inferno that the city had become. The planes…334 in all, came in a just 500 feet above the ground. Most of them didn’t make it. Doctors said, “The human carnage was so great that the blood-red mists and stench of burning flesh that wafted up sickened the bomber pilots, forcing them to grab oxygen masks to keep from vomiting.”
The entire raid lasted just a little longer than three hours. When it was over the Sumida River was clogged with bodies of the dead, burned beyond recognition. The sight was beyond anything anyone could have imagined. The loss of American lives was a mere 243 airmen, and these were considered to be acceptable losses. I suppose that these days, such a raid on known civilian targets would be considered unacceptable, but at the time it was considered acceptable, and even necessary. And it was successful, in a horrible sort of way.
It’s funny, how time changes people. When our daughters, Corrie Schulenberg Petersen and Amy Schulenberg Royce, were little, we lived on a place east of Casper. We had a well, septic system, and our home was heated by propane. All that didn’t matter to the girls, and when they were little, they didn’t mind living in the country. I suppose it was just normal, and having all that space was a nice thing for them. They could ride their bicycles all over the place, and there were friends near enough for them to have playmates. For kids with no place to go exactly, the whole thing was just fine. Bob and I liked it too during those years. Of course, when we started bowling…like every day, living in the country wasn’t quite as convenient. We were I town all the time. In fact, my sister, Alena Stevens told me once that we weren’t country people…we were city people who slept in the country. She was right, of course. It wasn’t too long before we began to think about moving to town….but I’m getting a little ahead of myself.
As the girls became teenagers, and began driving and dating, the whole thing about living in the country…well, the girls didn’t like it so much anymore. The long distance to town became an annoyance to them, and in the Winter months, the roads…which were awful, made for a treacherous drive both morning and night. Their boyfriends weren’t too keen on coming all the way out there to pick them up, but I must say, that Corrie’s husband, Kevin was a pretty good sport about it. Still with both future husbands, there were many times when dates took place after the girls got off work, and that meant that they had to drive themselves home afterward. I think it was about the time that the girls started driving, that I began to see that living in the country was not always sunshine and wide open spaces. There was a lot of dangers that my girls had to face on those drives home, and I don’t think I would have survived those years, had it not been for prayer and God’s angels to watch over my babies. We had taught them how to drive, and what to do to be safe, but when you turn your girl loose to drive home at midnight, you need the angels out there with them. That’s all there is to it.
Then came the time when we decided that country living wasn’t all it had been cracked up to be when the girls were little. Unfortunately for Corrie, the final decision to move to town came after her marriage…much to her dismay. And in reality, it came only eight months before Amy’s marriage to Travis. Once we moved to town, I found myself really back in my element again, because I had been raised in Casper, after all. Bob was raised in the country, but he adapted to living in town like a man who had never lived a day of his life in the country. Corrie and Kevin live in Casper too, as did Amy and Travis before their move to Washington. Now, strangely, as they have purchased their home in Ferndale, Washington…or should I say ten minutes outside Ferndale, Amy and Travis…or at least Amy, has come full circle, and is living in the country again. Travis, like me, was raised in the city. Nevertheless, they will quickly get a handle on the whole country living thing…complete with a well, septic system, and propane. How strange is that?
Before women could vote, the first lady in our White House was primarily there to handle the household staff, entertainment, and just look pretty beside her husband…the President. Of course, this was during the age when it was thought that women simply couldn’t handle the serious political information that it took to run a country. These days, women would howl in protest at the thought of being placed in the pretty, but incapable box. In reality, the women back then didn’t like it much either, but it seemed that there was nothing they could do about it…at least, not at the time. Still, even though women were not allowed to vote or have a political voice, there were men who valued the opinions and insights of their wives. One of those men was President John Adams. I suppose that Abigail Adams could have had one of those amazing minds, and that would seem to be the case from the different topics of discussion between John Adams and his wife, but the sequence of events that took place on this day March 7, 1777, is nothing short of amazing.
While John, who was at the time, a Continental Congressman, was in Philadelphia with the Continental Congress, and Abigail was in Braintree, Massachusetts at the family farm, he wrote her three letters, and received two letters that she had written in February. The correspondence between the two, was quite remarkable, and in all numbered 1,160 letters. They covered topics ranging from politics to military strategy, and from household economy to family health. John could see the value of his wife’s mind in all his life’s work, but probably the most in his presidency…other than family, that is. In many ways, it is sad to think that the minds of so many amazing women have gone untapped when it comes to the political arena. Of course, not all minds, male or female, intelligent or not so intelligent, can be said to have a good grasp of the important things necessary to run a nation, and keep it from derailing…as we have seen in recent years. Our nation needs people who understand how a Constitutional Republic works…and sadly, many don’t. But John Adams knew how important our Constitution was and always would be…as did his wife, Abigail. John was probably on the forefront of modern thought, in that he saw in his wife the ability to think politically, militarily, economically, as well as all of the thoughts any wife and mother has for her family. John and Abigail were not alone either. They were among the few people of that time, who saw women as intellectual and emotional equals.
In his letter, John mentioned that he felt saddened by the move of the capital to Baltimore, saying “This City is a dull Place, in Comparason [sic] of what it was. More than one half the Inhabitants have removed to the Country, as it was their Wisdom to do—the Remainder are chiefly Quakers as dull as Beetles. From these neither good is to be expected nor Evil to be apprehended. They are a kind of neutral Tribe, or the Race of the insipids. By contrast, Adams described the Loyalists, who prepared their Minds and Bodies, Houses and Cellars, to receive General William Howe should he attack, as a Pack of sordid Scoundrels male and female.” Abigail had written the letters he received on this day, in February, in which she spoke of the difficulty of corresponding during war, but also spoke of the lack of military fervor demonstrated by the New Englanders around her. I’m sure there was a weariness among the people. She wrote that she awaited greater patriotism, greater prosperity and future correspondence from her beloved husband to his devoted Portia, a nickname John had give her likely in reference to the intelligent and devoted heroine of Shakespeare’s Portia in The Merchant of Venice. These words and the respect her husband had for his wife and her mind were very unusual in a time when women were placed in the pretty, but incapable box.
Like all good things…our Anniversary Weekend has come to an end. That’s that bad thing about long weekends, holidays, and vacations…they end way too soon. It doesn’t matter how much you like your job, we all hate to see the weekend come to an end. It’s no different for me, and I find myself a little sad that the annual trip Bob and I take to Thermopolis to celebrate our anniversary is over. When we go to Thermopolis, we don’t go to the pools in town, but rather just enjoy the hot tub at the motel. We don’t go there to be around a lot of people, but rather just to be with each other.
This year’s trip was extra nice, because the temperatures were in the sixties. The early Spring was evident everywhere. The geese don’t really leave…at least I don’t think they do…because with all the warm water, staying warm is easy. Nevertheless, the birds were all everywhere, twittering and being all lovey…sure signs of impending Spring. The fishermen were out in force, and enjoying the warm weather to get back out there and enjoy a favorite sport.
Since we don’t fish, Bob and I were able to get out and do our favorite sport too. There is such a lovely river trail at the edge of the motel property, and it runs all the way up to the hot springs and pools, making for the perfect walk. For us though, this was the celebration of 41 years of marriage, and that makes it an amazing trip for us. It’s our time to disconnect from everyday life, and just enjoy each other’s company…almost like a second honeymoon that you take year after year.
Sadly, this weekend trip like all other good things must come to an end, but as we head home, it is with a renewed relationship. That’s one of the beautiful things about these mini honeymoons, we come home more in love than when we left, if that is even possible. Bob has been such a blessing in my life, and of all the good things that have to come to an end, I’m thankful that we have not, because he is the love of my life, my soulmate, and my one and only. I had a wonderful weekend, Honey. I love you!!
This past week, my grandsons, Chris Petersen and Caalab Royce, both made flying trips into Casper. Chris drove from Sheridan to celebrate his birthday, by driving with his mom, my daughter, Corrie Petersen and his brother, Josh to Fort Collins the next morning because his dad, my son-in-law, Kevin Petersen had taken his dad there for surgery. Kevin hated missing Chris’ birthday, but there seemed to be no other way…until Chris made that flying trip down from Sheridan. Caalab made his flying trip because of a birthday to…his sister, Shai’s. Caalab couldn’t stand the thought of his sister having her birthday without someone in her immediate family there. I was so proud of both of these boys, because the both have such thoughtful hearts.
If there is one thing I don’t like about having grown children and grandchildren, it is that they get so busy, and sometimes move so far away that they can’t come and visit their mom/grandma quite as often, and those flying trips seem to become the normal course of events. Still, each one has to live their life in the way the choose. I’m learning that more and more, and I know it will become more and more the future, whether my family lives near me or not. For me now, the thing to do is to cherish each and every flying trip as it comes along…especially the surprise ones, like the trip my grandson, Caalab made this time.
In reality, I’m sure there will be a number of flying trips I will take to visit my kids and grandkids too. You can’t go to another state for a week, see all the sights, spend time with your kids and grandkids, and not have it be a flying trip. Those trips are filled with running here and there moments, because you want to do everything you can in the time you have, so you can make memories of the events that will last until you see your loved one again.
My grandson, Chris had to head back to Sheridan on Tuesday, and my grandson Caalab flies back to Bellingham, Washington late today. I’m sad that they were such quick trips, but I am so thankful that I got to see my two precious grandsons, who don’t live in Casper. And every time those who live away, head back home, I find myself feeling thankful for those who still live here. It keeps loneliness at bay.
In some ways, I think my sister-in-law, Rachel Franklin Schulenberg, is a lot like me. She has a nostalgic side when it comes to things of the past, as do I. I think we both wish time wouldn’t go by so fast, or that our children and grandchildren wouldn’t grow up so fast. I suppose that is harder when you have family who live somewhere else, as both Rachel and I do. You just miss them so much when you can’t see them often.
Rachel is a strong Christian, who has the heart of a giver. She tries to be helpful to all who need her help. That is such a great trait to have. So many people these days think only of themselves, but not so Rachel. I’m sure that is partly why she has a number of very good friends. People tend to want to be around people who aren’t selfish. I agree with that. Those are the kinds of people I want to be around too.
Rachel is mother to Cassie, Riley, and Tucker, and grandma to Lucas and Zoey. Her children and grandchildren are precious to her. All of them, except Tucker live in Powell, Wyoming, so she doesn’t get to see them nearly as often as she would like to. I think that has to be the hardest think for a mother or grandmother. You miss them terribly when you don’t see them, and you are torn at the end of every visit, because it will be a while before you see them again. Yes, phones and Internet make it easier to be apart, but they don’t compare to being with your child or grandchild. Nevertheless, not everyone wants to live in the same place, and as they grow up, children have to decide for themselves…at least that’s what Rachel and I keep telling ourselves. Maybe someday our minds will take hold of that thought, but I seriously doubt it. In the meantime, I guess we will just have to continue to cultivate our nostalgic side. Today is Rachel’s birthday. Happy birthday Rachel!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
With age comes privilege, and in this case, that means a later bedtime. No, my grand niece, Kaytlyn isn’t becoming an adult, or even a teenager…she is turning eight…and for her that means having the privilege of a later bedtime. I suppose to many people that wouldn’t seem like such a big deal, but to an eight year old, that is very cool. Kaytlyn has been waiting for this day for a while now. Finally she is going to get to start doing some of the things her big sister, Jala has been able to do for years now. As we all know, a child’s bedtime is key to doing well in school, and Kaytlyn loves school. She is very smart, and her teachers tell her parents so every year. Like most kids, Kaytlyn’s future plans have changed several times, but right now, she thinks she might want to be a veterinarian, so she can help animals. Kaytlyn loves animals…especially her hampster.
There are still a few years for Kaytlyn to decide what she wants to do with her life, for sure, and for now she really just enjoys being a kid. Like most kids, she is into video games, and from what I am hearing these days, Minecraft seems to be the game of choice among the kids. Video games are something I have never really been able to get into, but the kids sure love them. Kaytlyn also likes to ride her bike, her four wheeler, and go camping. Her parents, Susan and Josh bought a new to them trailer this year, and the family is looking forward to going camping every couple of weeks this summer. While camping is something Kaytlyn loves, that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t like winter, because like most kids, she does. Sledding is probably a big part of the fun of winter for her. Maybe I should try that…or not!!
Kaytlyn is a very social person, and very much enjoys texting her friends from her iPod, when she isn’t hanging out with them that is. She has a great sense of humor, and likes to keep her friends and family entertained with her goofiness. I really can’t think of a trait that is better for a person to have, than a great sense of humor. A person like that is able to bring joy to everyone they know. Today is Kaytlyn’s 8th birthday. Happy birthday Kaytlyn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
As people moved West, in search of the wide open spaces, they were leaving the hustle and bustle of the big cities behind…in search of not only a better life, but maybe for the quiet life too. The East was crowded, and loud, and those people who were ready for something different, decided to make the trip out West, where there were still wide open spaces. The funny thing was that they didn’t even have to go all the way to the West coast to be west of where they were. Many families made it as far as what we would call the Midwest, but that was good enough. There was plenty of land to spread out on and it was available. And so the country began to grow. It really was inevitable anyway, whether it happened then or later. As people grow up and have families, the population grows. It just doesn’t take long to overpopulate a small area. There are few options left, the best one being for some people to move away.
I understand how they feel. While I have had my time living in the country, and I would not go back again, I am also drawn to the wide open spaces…or at least the long trails. It is such a great feeling to be able get away from it all, and just listen to the quiet for a while. Of course, the quiet is never totally quiet, but rather is has many sounds in it, like the birds chirping, the breeze blowing, bugs making their sounds, or a creek bubbling along. Nevertheless, quiet or not, it’s different, and that makes it the kind of peaceful sounds you need. And for me, a few days hiking on a long trail through the mountains and forests, is just what I need to renew my sense of balance and peace. Does that mean that I would love to have been one of the pioneers who went out West to find a better life…no, I don’t think so. Life was hard for the pioneers. In reality, they paid dearly for the quiet life. There were no stores, or at least, not many. Water was scarce. They have to grow food. They worked hard…from morning to night. Yes, it was the quiet life, but it wasn’t easy…and that’s for sure.