Monthly Archives: June 2016
I am not related to Anne Frank, but her story is one that, while I cannot relate to personally, nevertheless touches me deeply. Anne, like another woman who I have long respected, Corrie ten Boom, went through some of the deepest forms of hatred there can possibly exist in this world. Anne was a Jewish girl, just turning 13 on this day, June 12, 1942, and Corrie ten Boom was a Dutch Christian woman who helped as many Jewish people as she could during the ugliness that was Hitler’s reign, and that would eventually take Anne’s life. The two women never met in person, to my knowledge, but while Anne may never have heard of Corrie, I’m certain that Corrie heard of Anne. The plight of the Jewish people touched Corrie ten Boom deeply too…deeply enough that she and her family risked their lives trying to hide the Jewish people from Hitler’s men, and act that eventually precipitated their capture and imprisonment, because it was against the law to help the Jewish people.
Hitler hated the Jewish people, and in reality, was probably afraid of them…hence his need to rid himself of them. Hitler was insane. During the time that Hitler was taking the Jewish people prisoner, and killing them, a young girl named Anne Frank was turning 13, and was given a diary for her birthday. Having been a young girl with a diary, I can relate to the excitement of getting a diary in which to record your deepest thoughts, hopes, dreams, and secrets. I can also say that at that time, I felt like my life was relatively boring, and so writing in my diary quickly became a chore, and was soon forgotten. I have to wonder if Anne’s diary might have suffered the same fate…had things been different. Most kids get pretty bored with writing down their thoughts everyday, but Anne’s life was about to change forever. She was about to spend the next two years in hiding in a secret room in her father’s office, along with four other families, dependent on loving Christians for their every need.
The Nazis were coming, and they were determined to kill every Jewish person they could. Anne and her family had to go into hiding. And so it was, that a young girl trapped behind a wall that led to a secret room, where silence was essential for survival, began to write down her thoughts and experiences in what would become the most read diary in history. Anne would not live to become an adult, to marry, or to have children, and yet, she would go on to become one of the most well known children in history. My great aunt, Bertha Schumacher Hallgren said that anyone could become a famous writer, if they just wrote about the events of their life, and colored it with some information about the time in history in which they lived. That is exactly what Anne Frank did. I have to think that she assumed that no one would care about her little life spent in hiding, much less about how a 13 year old girl felt about it, but after she died of Typhus in a prison camp called Bergen-Belsen, just one month before the end of the war, they did care. The Christian friends found her diary after their capture, and kept it in the hope of giving it back to her. Her father lived through that horrible time, and the diary was returned to him. He had it published in her honor in 1947. The book was called “The Diary of a Young Girl,” and has been made into a movie too, because in the end, it told the world about a very ugly time in history.
Many people say that we shouldn’t dwell on the past, and to a degree, I can understand their opinion on that, but there is more than one way to dwell on the past. One way is harmful to us, and the other establishes our place in history. To dwell on past mistakes is harmful, of course, because we often sit and regret our past mistakes, but to look back on history or our family lineage, is a different thing altogether. There is a sad side to that too, because many of the people we think about are gone now, and we really wish they weren’t. Parents and grandparents, as well as siblings and cousins too, have passed away, and we are left with their memories, and the desire to see them again.
As I was looking through my Uncle Bill Spencer’s family history information, I came across some really cute pictures of my cousin Jim Spencer, Jimmy to my sisters and me, and Jimbo to his dad. Jimmy was such a character. You almost never saw him without a smile on his face. Jimmy was just that kind of kid. When he smiled, his whole face smiled, and since he found life to be the coolest thing, he smiled and laughed a lot. It was like he had the secret to fun inside himself, and all you had to do was hang out in the general vicinity to have fun too. Jimmy always tried hard to mind his parents, but sometimes I must say that he was cutting it close. It was then that he would use that great smile to his advantage. After all, who could resist that smile. His parents usually melted, and he got away with it.
Jimmy loved the ice. I think he probably waited all summer for winter to come so that he could be out on it. He didn’t even need skates either. Like the kids who didn’t have skates, he just took a run at the ice and slid across it. When four year old little Jimmy would come home from the vacant lot across the street from their house, where he had been “skating,” his dad would ask if he had been out skating, and he would say, “No, I was swiding on my boots!” I’m not sure if he was just clarifying, or if he was getting out of trouble with that one, but he got away with it either way. I really miss my cousin Jimmy, and I think about him often…especially when I see the picture of him peeking out of his parents bedroom at about two years old. Love you Jimmy.
Yesterday in Casper, Wyoming, the Burlington Northern San Francisco Railway hosted a very special event. It was a train ride for the area’s first responders and their family’s. What an amazing thing to do for those people who are out there every day, often putting their lives on the line, to save those in need. My brother-in-law, Chris Hadlock is one of those first responders, as is his son-in-law, Jason Sawdon. Chris is a Lieutenant with the Casper Police Department and Jason is a patrolman with the Wyoming Highway Patrol, and I happen to know that they have been the first responders to some pretty awful crash scenes, and I hate to even think of some of the things they have seen. Nevertheless, when they show up at the scene, people feel comforted. Help has arrived, and they are glad.
The event, hosted by BNSF Railway, was to honor the police and fire departments in the city. These people the ones we count on to come to the rescue no matter what the situation, and many people would not be here today, were it not for those first responders. The train ride left from Casper, and went out just past the Dave Johnston Power Plant outside of Glenrock. Chris and Jason were able to bring their family members on the trip, so my sister, Allyn Hadlock; niece, Jessi Sawdon; niece Kellie Hadlock; nephew Ryan Hadlock, his wife Chelsea and their children Ethan and Aurora all got to go along. Allyn told me that the passenger cars were beautiful and comfortable, and they had snacks like hot dogs, chips, and drinks. There was also a souvenier shop, so they all bought BNSF drinking cups. She told me that there were a total of at least 15 cars full of people, and they all had a wonderful time. For my niece Jessi, the trip held a special memory. Her grandpa, my dad, Allen Spencer used to take her out to see the Amtrak trains in Fort Morgan, Colorado, when she lived there as a child. He and her grandma, my mom, Collene Spencer would have loved this for sure.
“BNSF’s First Responder Express is a signature program recognizing the broad service and accomplishments of these very special community contributors.” according to Joe Faust, regional director of public affairs. I think it is an awesome way to honor a group of people who are so often overlooked until we need them that is, and even then, many people almost look at them in the same way as they would a sales person…like it’s just a job. It really isn’t just a job. These people really care about helping others, and they are willing to put their life on the line to save the life of another person. I think the First Responder Express program is a wonderful thing for BNSF Railway to do, and I personally want to thank all the first responders for their service to their communities. And to our first responders, Chris Hadlock and Jason Sawdon…thank you both for all you do. Your service to this community is an amazing blessing. We love you both!!
It’s hard to come into a family as the newest member, but sometimes, as in the case of my future niece, Kayla Smiley…soon to be Stevens, that new family member just fits in perfectly. Kayla met my nephew Garrett Stevens when his sister, Lacey introduced them. I never really thought of Lacey as a matchmaker, but in this case, she hit a homerun. Garret and Kayla practically fell in love at first sight. They dated for a several years, and will tie the knot this summer. My sister, Alena Stevens and her husband, Mike, couldn’t be happier. Kayla will be their first in-law child, and they are looking forward to the many new things in the future that come with having a daughter-in-law…namely grandchildren, of course, but also just having her be a part of their family. She has really endeared herself to them.
Kayla and Garrett might have married sooner, but she was concentrating on her studies. She is now a social worker, and she graduated Phi-Alpha Honor Society with an associates in social work. She worked very hard to get where she is, and while I’m sure that she enjoyed her studies, but I think she is feeling ready to be done now too. For Kayla there is still one more year to receive her Masters degree, but the time has come for the two of them to go on together. The next year will be filled with studies and with life. And of course, we are all looking forward to the children they will have in the years to come, but for now, we are just happy to welcome her into our family.
For now, summer is here, and for Kayla and Garrett, that means camping. After my mom, Garrett’s grandmother passed away last year, Garrett and Kayla inherited the travel trailer Mom and Dad had. They have been working on getting it ready and they using it to go out and enjoy nature. They both really love camping, and that camper has been a wonderful blessing to them, and we have all been glad to see it staying in the family and being used. I know that the future will be bright for Kayla and Garrett, and we can’t wait for her to be a part of the family. Today is Kayla’s birthday. Happy birthday Kayla!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
When watching the old western television shows, we are told of the conflicts with the Indians, and how dangerous it was for the settlers to come out to the West, but rarely do we relate that to members of our own family…although I do not know why exactly. For any of us who can trace our roots back to people who moved out west in the 1800s or before, the risk of conflicts with the Indians is a very real part of our family’s past. For the Knox family, of whom my husband, Bob Schulenberg is a member, whether they know it or not, the Indian conflicts became a very real tragedy at one point. Bob’s 6th Great grandmother, Jean Gracey Knox had a brother named Patrick Gracey. Patrick immigrated to America with Jean and her husband, John. After the immigrated, Patrick met and married Rebecca Barnett, and possibly later married a second time to a woman named Hall. Patrick raised a large family, and one of his daughters, whose name is unknown, was scalped by the Indians, along with her baby. I realize that many people were scalped by the Indians, and that there might have been a number of them who were related to my family or to Bob’s, but it somehow seems a little more real and quite unsettling when you know for sure that one of your relatives lost their life this way.
The scalp of the enemy was considered a trophy to the Indians. The more scalps, the better the status as a warrior. I suppose that many people would almost look at it as being similar to a serial killer, and maybe in some ways it was, but the Indians were so mad at the White Man for taking land that they felt belonged to them. I suppose it did, but then why couldn’t we all live together in peace. After all, America was and still is considered the melting pot, because we have taken immigrants from many countries to build this nation. Nevertheless, we were not always welcome here, and often it was our own fault for breaking the treaties we put in place.
Still, I cannot imagine a society in which it was acceptable to scalp a person. I suppose though, that the Indian culture wasn’t really a society in the same sense of the world that we think of society. Their beliefs and their practices were much different that those of the White Man. That is part of the reason we considered them savages, but in their eyes, they were brave, and they were fighting for their rights. It was a way of life. It was a necessary evil…at least in their eyes. It was as simple as that.
Until my daughter, Amy Royce and her family moved to the Seattle area last year, it never occurred to me to wonder how Seattle might have received its name. It had always been Seattle. It seemed like an interesting name, but that was really all it was to me. Nevertheless, whether you know the story or not, the name is not simply interesting. Seattle was actually named after an Indian chief named Seathl. He was the chief of the Duwamish and Suquamish tribes who lived around the Pacific Coast bay that is called the Puget Sound today. He was born about 1780 or 1790, the son of a Suquamish father and a Duwamish mother, a lineage that gave him influence in both tribes.
In the early 1850s, there were small groups of Euro-Americans who started settling along the banks of the Puget Sound. Chief Seathl welcomed these new neighbors, and was known to treat them with kindness. In 1853, the settlers moved to a site on Elliot Bay and established a permanent town there. Since Chief Seathl had been so nice to them, they named the town after him. I can’t say why the different in the spelling, but to this day it is called Seattle. The site was picked because of the beautiful forest on the bluff behind the new village.
When the California Gold Rush hit, there came with it, a huge need for timber, and soon most of the villagers were at work cutting the trees and “skidding” them down a long chute to a newly constructed sawmill. The chute became known as “skid road.” Eventually, it became the main street in Seattle…and it kept its original name. When the Seattle business district later moved north, the area became a haven for drunks and derelicts. Consequently, “skid road” or “skid row” became lingo for the dilapidated area of any town. In fact, I don’t know of a big city that doesn’t have a “skid row” somewhere in it.
Many of the Indians in the area were hostile toward the settlers, and war broke out in 1855, but Chief Seathl argued that resistance to the settlers would only get more people killed. After a time, the other Indians agreed, and the war ended in 1856. Chief Seathl tried to learn the ways of the white man, rather than fight them. Jesuit missionaries introduced him to Catholicism, and he became a devout believer. Many of the people of Seattle respected Chief Seathl and his religion, and they became Catholics too. Then, just thirteen years after the settlers founded the city of Seattle, Chief Seathl died in on June 7, 1866 at the age of 77 or 86 depending on the year of birth that people accept as correct. In a strange tradition, to provide Chief Seattle with a pre-payment for the difficulties he would face in the afterlife, the people of Seattle levied a small tax on themselves to use the chief’s name.
It’s hard for me to think about D-Day, without wondering what things were going through my dad, Allen Spencer’s mind on that day. Each branch of the military had their own part to play and each was in much danger. I suppose it’s possible that the men on the ground were in the most danger, but in reality, anyone who was involved that day faced grave danger. Soldiers could be shot and killed, ships could be sunk, and planes could be shot down. No matter how the attack came, death was often the result, and in battle it was inevitable.
My dad was a young man of just 20 years. That is the age of my two oldest grandchildren, and I simply cannot imagine either of them being in that position. Of course, they could handle it, because twenty year olds have been fighting wars for as long as wars have been fought. It is me, and my mind, that can’t wrap itself around the idea of them being in an airplane providing air support over a battlefield. For my dad, every mission held an adrenalin rush, a degree of excitement, and a large degree of dread, mixed with the need to push back fear. Flying in the B-17G Bomber was an exciting thing for him, but unfortunately it had to be mixed with the reality of the fact that those bombs were killing people…even if they were the enemy. They often had no say in the matter, they were an enemy of the Allied Forces simply because they lived in the country they did.
The air war was vastly different from the ground war, but that didn’t make either more of less dangerous. The Luftwaffe was not widely used on D-Day, but did come racing in over the following days. The weather was bad that first day, and that was definitely to the advantage of the Allied troops. Nevertheless, there were German forces involved, and without air support, they could not have pulled off the victory they did at Normandy. The planes that were there to provide air support, were basically magnets for the Luftwaffe, and any other enemy forces on the ground. Flying over Normandy was not a task to be taken lightly. Their job was to keep the bombers, tanks, and other soldiers off of the ground troops. The men risked their lives every second that they were in the air. The men on the ground were so vulnerable, and it was imperative that they have good air cover to keep as much enemy fire off of them as possible. It was very clear that without the air support, D-Day would not have been possible.
I am very proud of the part my dad played in D-Day, as I am of men like my Uncle Jim Wolfe, who was one of those men on the ground on that fateful day. Their job was a very dangerous one, and many of them would not see the sun set that night, but they had a job to do, and so they went out to battle for the freedom of those who were oppressed by the evil that was Hitler. It is a battle we will never forget, nor will we forget the men who fought there, especially those who gave all.
It seems that for every day, there is a designation…some more significant than others, but each with it’s designation nevertheless. Today is National Attitude Day, and while I think some of the designated days are silly and some downright ridiculous, some of them are designed to make you think a little. National Attitude Day is one of the latter. People so often allow negativity to dominate their lives, but think about the people in your life who are always happy and who always have a good attitude. Those are the people you want to have in your life, because they make you smile just to think about them. Those people have just as many problems as the people you know who are always negative. They just don’t let their problems determine their attitude.
My mother was one of those people who refused to let her problems determine her attitude. She would just start singing…usually something like “Keep on the Sunny Side” or “Let a Smile be your Umbrella.” Of course, as kids, we didn’t always appreciate her attitude…especially when we felt like it meant that she didn’t understand that we had a problem and we weren’t happy about it. She did understand though, and that was why she started singing. She knew that if she could get us singing too, we would feel better. That’s the thing about a good attitude…it makes you feel better, even if you have problems. That is something I find myself missing very much about my mom…her attitude. She used to do the funniest things in an effort to get all of us laughing, especially if we were fighting, and believe me when I say that five girls can fight…everything from an argument to a hair pulling fight. Mom sometimes got so frustrated with a fight that she would clear an area of a room out and tell us to fight. Of course, that usually made us all laugh, so the fight would be over. A very wise woman, my mom!!
People don’t like to see a person with a bad attitude. They take one look at your face, and if you have a sour look on it, they start doing everything they can to make you smile. As a teenager, I used to just hate that. I tended to be a concentrator, and so often had a frown on my fact…probably not the best way to go through my young life, but it is what it is. I can’t tell you how often people tried to tell me to smile…while I did, I was also annoyed. I look back now and realize they were trying to do the same thing my mom was…get me back on the sunny side of life.
Henry Ford has long been credited for building the first automobile, but what I find interesting and even a little bit funny, is the fact that in reality, that first vehicle, introduced on this day, June 4, 1896, was called a Quadricycle, and in reality was far more like the modern day 4 wheeler ATV than it was an automobile. When we think of an automobile, even the early models, we think of a vehicle with a top over it, or really an automobile body over it. Such was not the case with Ford’s first design. He was more interested in making a vehicle that ran…and ran fast…than in a way to protect the passengers from the elements. I suppose that since people were used to riding in wagons or carriages, having a cover over the Quadricycle wasn’t the most important thing on the wish list. Of course, when it came to capabilities, the Quadricycle was nothing like the modern day ATV, but then the original cars were not capable of going as fast or as far as the modern day automobiles either.
Henry Ford didn’t start out as an inventor, but was actually working as the chief engineer for the main plant of the Edison Illuminating Company when he began working on the Quadricycle. He was on call at all hours, because they had to ensure that Detroit had electrical service 24 hours a day. His flexible schedule gave Ford the freedom needed to experiment with his pet project, which was building a horseless carriage with a gasoline powered engine. Ford had seen an article on the subject gasoline powered motors in a November 1895 issue of American Machinist magazine, and his obsession with the gasoline engine was born. Then, the following March, another Detroit engineer named Charles King introduced his hand built wooden vehicle with a four cylinder engine, beating Ford out by about three months. His vehicle was able to travel up to five miles per hour, fueling Ford’s desire to build a lighter and faster gasoline powered vehicle.
As great as Ford was at building his Quadricycle, which would travel at speeds of about 20 miles per hour, it is doubtful that Ford could have ever been hailed as a great designer of garages. As he and his crew went to push the Quadricycle out of the back yard shed they had built it in, they discovered that it was too wide to fit through the door. Not willing to wait another minute, Ford grabbed an axe, and smashed the brick wall away to allow the Quadricycle to be pushed out. Then as a friend rode his bicycle down the street to warn the people of the vehicle that was to follow, Ford drive his Quadricycle for the first time. I find it odd that while Charles King actually built that first vehicle, he was never really credited with doing so, and Ford went on to build many of them, and as we all know, to become quite famous doing so.
Sometimes, when I look at the younger versions of my parents’ pictures, I find that I can see the promise of the future in their eyes. Their young faces reflect the plans they have in mind for where they are going, and how their lives will play out. Some of those plans will come to fruition, and others will not…or maybe those that didn’t, were later deemed not important. Plans and dreams change as time goes on. I suppose that no one really knows how they want every part of their life to go, but as a young married couple, most people have definite ideas of what direction they expect their lives to go.
I wish I had thought to ask my parents about the plans and dreams that were dropped from sight, if they had any regrets, and if they feel like their life is better or worse due to the changed plans and dreams. I don’t really think my parents would have felt that their lives were worse for not having fulfilled some of the dreams they had as young people, but it’s hard to say for sure. I know that there are some times that I look back on a few things I had planned, and wonder if I would have been happier if I had done those things. Of course, after that moment, I look at the life I have and I think, “No, I wouldn’t have it any other way.” Even the sad things, are the way they should be.
Young couples tend to have lofty goals and big dreams, and then life gets in the way. There isn’t always time to do some of the things you thought you would. I suppose that is often because the dreams of your children come first, and you always think that you will do those other things later on…when the kids are grown up. Of course, then the grandchildren come on the scene. Before you know it, the plans and dreams you had are so far from your mind that you barely think about them anymore. I suppose you could think of them with regret then, but I don’t think most of us do, because there is always the promise of the future. As long as we are alive, we have the option to dream new dreams, or fulfill the old ones. Life is filled with possibilities, even if some of them seem to be out of reach for now. With the promise of the future comes the reality that the possibilities are endless, if we don’t give up, or change our minds.