Monthly Archives: May 2016
On June 25, 1950, when North Korea invaded South Korea, my uncle, Larry Byer found himself in the middle of what would become some of the hardest years of his life. Uncle Larry was an Army private during the Korean War. Korea was originally under the rule of the Japanese empire, but when it collapsed after World War II, the country was divided. The United Nations, using the United States as its main force, came to aid of South Korea. China, along with assistance from Soviet Union, came to aid of North Korea. North Korea was unhappy with the division of the country that took place after World War II. The global tensions of the Cold War that developed immediately afterwards didn’t help the situation either. Then the North Korean government decided to get back the area they believed was actually theirs. In reality, Korea isn’t the only country ever to be divided, so had they simply accepted it, the problem might have been resolved right away, but they simply wouldn’t.
I understand why something had to be done with the country of Korea, because they had no government, but it doesn’t seem right to me to divide the country. Nevertheless, it was done that way, and in reality, that area has been volatile since that day. North Korea has tried to take over South Korea. They have also made many threats to the rest of the world. Their leader, Kim Jong-il, and now his son, Kim Jong-un, have both proven to be ruthless, and about half crazy. The rest of the world is constantly trying to decide if we need to go in an blow them up, or try not to make them too angry. Time will tell, and it depends on Kim Jong-un.
This was the world my Uncle Larry found himself in while he was a private in the Army. The North Koreans fought their battles in any underhanded way they could come up with. Their only goal was to win the war. They didn’t of course, and soon, my Uncle Larry came back home. I’m sure he was very happy to be back home. Spending any time in a crazy war like the Korean war would never be ideal in any way. I am just thankful that he made it home. Today is Uncle Larry’s birthday. He would have been 82 years old. Happy birthday in Heaven Uncle Larry. We love and miss you very much.
The oldest child in a family has a very unique position. They are the first experience their parents have at being parents. That first child is subjected to everything from being overprotected from dirt and germs, to having more expected of them than they are really able to live up to at such a young age. Somehow though, they survive first child syndrome. I think that in my sister, Cheryl Masterson’s case, being the first child gave her the ability to be a leader in so many ways. Of course, at home Cheryl was the leader to her little sisters. She helped us to do the things that kids do at certain ages…probably more so me, than our younger sisters, but I know that I always looked up to Cheryl and wanted to be as sophisticated as she was.
Cheryl was always the brave one too. I can think of a number of times, when we heard a noise, and while I would hide, she would jump up and go to investigate. I suppose that could be an age difference, or first child syndrome, or maybe Cheryl was just truly brave, but I know she always seemed to be someone that would do everything necessary to keep her little sisters safe. That had the tendency to give us a sense of security. And the funny thing was that she is only two years older than I am, so it wasn’t like she was an adult. She was just brave, and that made her a role model to the rest of us. Of course, later on, we all learned leadership skills, and bravery too, and while I can’t say for sure that Cheryl taught all that to us…I mean, after all, our parents had something to do with that too…I think she played a key part in it, for me anyway.
I am so proud of all of Cheryl’s accomplishments. She is a legal secretary in a big law firm, and quite possibly it is that experience that has given her an attention to detail. I know how much they depend on her to make sure that all the legal documents needed for a case, are correct and where they need to be, when needed. She has come a long way from the little girl who was living through first child syndrome. She has turned into a wonderfully capable and beautiful woman. I’m proud to call her my sister. Today is Cheryl’s birthday. Happy birthday Cheryl!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
When your children move away, you look forward to every trip they make home. The further the distance from their home to yours, the longer the time between visits. For our daughter, Amy Royce, that means almost a year since she was last in Casper. Bob and I have been out there, but our daughter, Corrie Petersen and her family have not. For them it has been a full year since they saw Amy. Corrie is no stranger to having a loved one living away from home, because her son, Chris Petersen, has been living in Sheridan, Wyoming, going to college for two years now. He graduates this year, but has decided to stay in Sheridan. We miss him very much, and love it every time he comes home…which thankfully, is more often than Amy and her family are able to. Nevertheless, this is the first time in her life that it has been a year since Corrie last saw her sister, and it has been hard. I think that in reality, it doesn’t matter who you are, when your loved one is far away, it is an emotional time.
As I said, we have all been looking forward to having Amy home for a week. She has made the trip for my grandson, her nephew, Chris Petersen’s college graduation, so it is time to celebrate both events. She will also be visiting with her friends here in town too, and I know that they are all excited about that. Her event calendar is very full already, and finding time to squeeze everything in gets more complicated by the minute, but…Amy’s coming home…so we will deal with the rest. A complicated schedule is minor in the grand scheme of things, and I suppose I do have to share her with her friends…at lease a little bit.
I think that the person who has probably had the most difficult time…here anyway, is my granddaughter, Shai. Yes, she has been to Washington to see her family several times, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are so far away, and she misses them so much. Shai and I work together, and I have walked up to her desk several times to find her wiping away a tear. It broke my heart, because I can’t stand to see one of my kids or grandkids hurting so much. Of course, with her move to Washington coming up quickly, those tears of missing her family will be gone, and while I will miss her terribly, I know in my heart that is is best for her, so I’ll be happy for her. And in reality, while my kids and grandkids might move away, I know that they know the way back home, so they will all be coming home now and then.
Yesterday in church, my pastor said something about big bear hugs, talking about him, his brothers, or his kids doing that very thing. My mind quickly flew back in time to when one or the other of my kids or grandkids used to give me one of those big bear hugs…usually accompanied by a kiss, that sometimes ended up being more like a lip lock. It was really their way of showing the depth of their love for me…kind of like the old saying…I love you this much, with arms spread wide, except that those arms were locked around you, or more likely, around your face. The thought warmed my heart, because of course, for now, those days are gone. The kids and grandkids are all grown, up, and while I still get a kiss and a hug, they aren’t usually the lip lock/bear hug kind. They are a little too refined for that now, and in some ways, that makes me a little bit sad. Those years fly by so fast, and yet at the time, we seem to have the idea that they will be little for a really long time. It isn’t until they grow up, move out, and sometimes, move away, that we realize just how much we will miss those days during which they were little and their love for us was shown in a very exuberant way.
My thoughts drifted back to when my daughter, Amy Royce used to take a strong hold of my face and give me a kiss that practically made her whole body shake, and to when her son, Caalab used to hug me so hard that, even though he was a little guy, I’m not sure I could have pulled away. They both live so far away now, that I see them, maybe a couple of times a year, so even if they were of a mind to hand out a bear hug, they would be too far away for me to receive it. I suppose they would feel kind of funny about that now anyway, but they certainly didn’t back then…especially Caalab. He was the kind of kid who didn’t care who saw that he loved his grandma, or his mom, or anyone else that he cared about. He would hug them anyway…that great big bear hug. A hug that locked you in his strong arms, and didn’t let you go until he was ready, but while there was some teasing, just to show how strong he was, it was all in good natured fun, and tempered with the love that always existed for his grandma, mom, sister, or anyone else he loved.
I find that I miss those childhood years a whole lot, both with my girls and my grandchildren. Nevertheless, they must grow up, and make their own way in this world. Their plans, dreams, and choices will be different than mine, but that does not make them wrong. It has to be their life…lived their way. They know where I am, and that I will always be here for them. I’m so proud of each and every one of them, but I must admit that I do miss those bear hugs and lip locks.
When I was a girl growing up, Mother’s Day always had a special meaning. We didn’t plan other activities for that day, because it belonged to Mom alone. It was a day that we spent honoring that special woman who gave us life, nurtured us from birth to adulthood, and guided us through all the crazy emotions that went along with being girls, especially in those horrible teenaged years. She made life fun, taught us to do chores and to be responsible people, and she filled our lives with singing and sunshine. With all that she did for us, it seemed only fitting that there should be a day dedicated to her alone, and we tried very hard to make it awesome for her. It was her day to be the Queen of the castle.
Time changes all things, and in time, my sisters and I grew up, married, and had children of our own. Mother’s day had to change along with the changing times. The way we felt about our mom, Collene Byer Spencer, had not changed, but now we had a mother-in-law too, mine was Joann Knox Schulenberg, and we, ourselves were mothers. Now, Mother’s Day had to be divided between the, now two moms that we had, and our own family. Mother’s Day had taken on a completely new look. It was almost like having three versions of the day.
In the early years of my daughters’ lives, the girls simply went with us to the two celebrations, and our own celebration happened usually in the early morning before church. Time, however, stepped in again, and before I knew it, my girls were married with children of their own. Mother’s Day morphed again. As a family, we went to breakfast before church, and the rest of the day was again divided between the two moms. We had to turn our girls loose to have their day with their families too, and for me, that was probably the hardest part of those Mother’s Day years, but the hardest was yet to come, and I just didn’t know it yet.
These days, my Morphing Mother’s Day had taken its biggest change to date. My mom lives in Heaven now, so I can only have Mother’s Day with her in my heart. That is very hard for me, because I really miss her so much. Mother’s Day for my mom this year will be a matter of keeping on the sunny side, because that is what she always told us to do. It is the only gift I can give her now. Our family will go to breakfast, which is our tradition, but we will be missing my daughter, Amy, her husband, Travis, and their son, Caalab, who live in Ferndale, Washington now. We will also be missing Chris, our daughter, Corrie and her husband, Kevin’s son, who lives in Sheridan. We will only have two grandchildren, Shai and Josh, one daughter, Corrie, and one son-in-law, Kevin. It will be a bit harder for all of us, because we will each be missing someone. Later in the day, Bob and I will go visit his mother in the nursing home. There isn’t anything that we can give her, except our visit. On Sunday nights, the nursing home holds an ice cream social, and we always take her, so that will be her Mother’s Day treat. We are thankful that we still have her with us, because having no mom on Mother’s Day would be the final morph stage, and would bring with it the next wave of sadness…when all of our parents live in Heaven, but I’ll think about that another day. To all the moms out there, I wish you a Happy Mother’s Day, in whatever tradition you have for the day.
When the United States entered World War II, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, we were a nation with a score to settle. The Japanese had killed our people, and we vowed to make them pay. In addition to that, the Nazis were killing the Jewish people, and they had to be stopped. Their cruel killing of so many people in their gas chambers could not be tolerated. Revenge against the Japanese would have to wait for now, because the Nazi cruelty could no longer be kept hidden.
On of the biggest battles fought on German soil was the Battle of Berlin. It was fought over the course of a couple of years, and Britain’s Royal Air Force had been badly beaten by the Germans. Then when the United States joined in, things began to take a turn for the better. On May 7, 1944, the United States 8th Air Force sent 1500 bombers in to attack Berlin. More were sent the next day. The headlines were exuberant. Headlines like Berlin “Condemned to Death”, U.S. Planes Blast Berlin Twice, Capital Lies In Stark Ruins, and Berlin Again Plastered By Yank Fliers, were splattered across the papers. It was the ultimate attack on the heart of Nazi Germany from the Mighty 8th Air Force. I think everyone knew that Hitler’s days in power were numbered. It was true. The Nazis surrendered unconditionally a year later.
My dad was a Top Turret Gunner and Flight Engineer on a B-17G Bomber at this time, and while I don’t know if Dad took part in this attack, I can say that it is entirely possible. My dad didn’t talk about his war days much…most men from that era didn’t. I have to think that it was hard to remember those missions, because no matter how distanced you were from your target, you were still very aware that people were dying because of the bombs you were dropping. Sure, they were the enemy, and you were doing your job, but the were also humans. I think, if it were me, I would rather have to kill in the way my dad did…not looking into the eyes of the person you are about to kill, and in some attacks, the people didn’t have any idea that they were about to die. They, like my dad, were just doing their jobs. Still, they were soldiers under a cruel dictator, with no choice but to obey orders. Nevertheless, sad as it was for those people to die, I am very proud of my dad’s service. And if he was in this battle, then I am proud of that too.
For most of his life in the United States, my great grandfather, Cornelius Byer, was friends with the Indians. He and my grandfather, George Byer were invited to Pow Wows with the Indians, and many of them came to their home bearing gifts and just to visit. That wasn’t the normal course of events in those days, however. For many of the people that the Indians dubbed, The White Man, crossing paths with the Indians meant death. Many of the Indians were considered criminals. They were locked away in prison or, if they were lucky, the reservations. The reservations weren’t great, but they were better than prisons…I suppose.
Crazy Horse has a serious score to settle with The White Man. The government wasn’t suppose to let the settlers into the Dakotas. Then explorers went in anyway, and found gold. Of course, the government reneged on the deal, and The White Man came flooding into the Dakotas. In reality, it was going to be inevitable. A some point, the United States and her people were going to grow to a place whereby they would need more room. Eventually someone was bound to find the Dakotas, and especially one of my favorite places, The Black Hills. This was the area of the United States where the Lakota Sioux and Crazy Horse lived.
The breaking of the treaty to keep the Dakota Territory in the hands of the Lakota Sioux brought the government into a war with the Lakota Sioux and with Crazy Horse. Crazy Horse would lead the Lakota Sioux to victory in The Battle of the Little Big Horn. After that battle, Crazy Horse was a wanted man, and the cavalry would stop at nothing to find him. After the Battle of the Little Big Horn, on June 25, 1876, it was inevitable that Crazy Horse would one day have to surrender. That day came on May 6, 1877, when Crazy Horse, He Dog, Little Big Man, Iron Crow, and several others surrendered themselves to First Lieutenant William P Clark. For the next four months Crazy Horse resided in his village near the Red Cloud Agency, but Red Cloud and Spotted Tail became jealous of the attention the Army gave to Crazy Horse. They had adopted many of the White Man’s ways, and when they heard a rumor that Crazy Horse was planning to slip away, and go back to their old ways. Crazy Horse had actually agreed to fight on the side of the White Man, but his words were misinterpreted, and on the morning of September 4, 1877, just four months after his surrender, the Army attacked Crazy Horse’s village. Crazy Horse agreed to accompany Lieutenant Jesse Lee back to Fort Robinson, there Lieutenant Lee was told to turn him over to the Officer of the Day. He didn’t want to, but he did. As he was taken into custody, Crazy Horse struggles and was stabbed with a bayonet by one of the members of the guard. He died later that night. It was a sad case of misunderstanding, and it cost him his life.
It is so hard for me to believe that as of today, it has been three years since Walter Schulenberg, my father-in-law, left us to go to Heaven. For 38 years he had been such an integral part of my life. From the first time I met him, he made me feel welcome. It was as if I had been a part of this family all my life. My father-in-law had such a gentle, kind way about him. I really don’t think that there was a single person that ever considered him anything but a friend. He just wasn’t the kind of man to create enemies…just more and more friends. His laugh alone was a friend making machine.
My father-in-law worked assorted jobs over the years, but his last job before retiring was with Casper College, where he was officially in maintanence, but in reality he was a jack of all trades. I have to think that one of the jobs he did at the College, if you could call it a job, was to drive the bus for the T-Birds. He went on a number of trips with them, and saw some great places. He got to see the ocean again. It was not the first time by any means, but he did love the ocean, and really enjoyed walking in the sand with his bare feet, something you seldom saw anywhere else. He almost always had shoes on.
He was the kind of man who would go out of his way to help others, and did his best not to ask for anythng in return. Nevertheless, in his last few years, he and my mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg needed help. He had Emphesyma and she had Alzheimer’s disease. The family stepped in to help, and I had the ability to be the main caregiver. I say ability, but in reality, it was a blessing to me. We became so close over those last years, and it is a time that, even though it was the ending days of his life, I still cherish. I wish those hadn’t been the last years of his life, but I am thankful for the close relationship my being over at their house so much created. He said I was a blessing to him, but I think it was the other way around. Dad, I can’t believe you have been gone for three years already. We love and miss you very much.
In the United States, 9-11 has become synonymous with the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the downed plane in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. It is a day that we all look back to a day when, by a horrific act of terrorism, thousands of people died. As a collective people, we vowed never to forget. As United States citizens, however, we seldom give any serious thought to such days of rememberance in other countries. I suppose that is natural to a degree, but sometimes there are events in history that are so horrible that we can’t forget them. Such is the case with the Holocaust and the horrific treatment of the Jewish people at that time.
During the Holocaust years, Nazi Germany murdered six million Jews. The Nazi persecution of the Jews began in 1933, but the mass murder was committed during World War II, over a period of just four and a half years. Most of the murders took place between April and November of 1942. In just 250 days in which they murdered about two and a half million Jews. They had no real criteria for who lived and who died, except the ability to work. The killing only slowed down only when they began to run out of Jews to kill. The murders finally stopped when the Allies defeated them.
The Jewish people had now way to escape. They had been captured, dragged from their homes, and taken by railroad in cattle cars to camps like Auschwitz, where the men were separated from the women and children, many of whom were killed right away, while the men were made to be slave labor…for as long as their strength held out. Once they were no longer useful, they were sent to the gas chamber. Being Jewish was considered a crime, punishable by death. There was no need for a trial in the eyes of the Nazis. If you were Jewish, you had to die. It was a horrible time in Jewish history, and it wasn’t the first time. It was just the most recent time in history. The Jewish people, like the people of the United States, had a need to remember the lost. A need to vow never to forget. That day is today. Yom Ha’Shoah, which means Holocaust Day, begins and sunset. In honor of those lost Jewish people, I will remember.
My son-in-law, Travis Royce loves to mow the lawn. He always has. When he first told us that, we were surprised. I had never met anyone who truthfully enjoyed mowing the lawn. He used to mow our lawn when they lived in an apartment, just so he could have a lawn to mow. I think one of the things he never really liked about Wyoming was the shorter lawn growing season, because unlike mowing the lawn…he hates shoveling snow. I can’t really say that I blame him there, but I can’t see myself ever enjoying the job of lawn mowing. When Amy and Travis bought a house here in Casper, Travis finally got to mow his own lawn, but it was a small yard, and it didn’t take very long, so he didn’t really get to mow as much as he wanted.
After their move to Ferndale, Washington, Travis finally got the yard of his dreams…and it came with a riding lawn mower. Travis was in Seventh Heaven. As the kids put it, they bought a riding lawnmower, and while they overpaid for the lawnmower, they did ok in that the house and yard came as a part of the deal. Now Travis can finally be mow happy. I have only seen their new yard in pictures, but I do know that it is really a big yard. There are some beautiful trees there, and yet the yard is open and spaceous…and that is just the pictures I’ve seen, without the perspective of seeing it in person. I am looking forward to going for a visit, so I can see this amazing riding lawnmower that is apparently made of gold, because it cost a lot of money, and came with a free house and yard. What more could you ask for?
Of course, as happy as his riding lawnmower has made Travis, he simply can’t mow the lawn all the time, or it would quickly be mowed down to dirt, so he and Amy had to figure out something else to do too. They came up with the idea, along with their friends, Burt and Amy, to play darts via Skype. If course, they can’t both shoot for the same dart board, but with Skype, they can each see how the other side is doing. As is common in these couples matches, it was guys against girls. I would love to say that the girls won, but unfortunately, that would be a lie…they lost. Nevertheless, it was an innovative way to play long distance darts, and girls…I think you need to practice up and call for a rematch, and show those guys how it’s really done!! Today is Travis’ birthday. Happy birthday Travis!! Have a great day!! We love you!!