Monthly Archives: August 2016
As I have researched my family history, I have come across a number of World War II draft registration cards for older men. I found that to be very strange. It seemed odd to me that men who were technically too old to serve in battle…at least by military standards, were required to register, and quite possibly be drafted into the war. Some of these men weren’t so very old by today’s standards, such as my great uncle, Friedrich Schumacher, who was 45 at the time of his World War II draft registration, or my grandfather, George Byer, who was 48 at the time of his World War II draft registration, but others, such as my grandfather, Allen Luther Spencer, who was 63 at the time of his World War II registration, were much older. These draft registrations really surprised me. Why would our government need to have these men register?
My curious mind had to know the answer to that question, and so I began to look online to see if anything was said about it at all. Well, it only took looking at three websites to find the answer. I wondered if they were just desperate for soldiers, because as most people know, World War II saw the most American war deaths at 405,399, than any other war in American history. Nevertheless, that was not the reason for the Fourth Registration, which became known as the Old Man’s Draft, because it targeted men between the ages of 45-64 years of age. No, these men were not going to be soldiers who were require to go into battle. This draft registration was intended to provide the government with a register of manpower…men who might be eligible for national service. Help was needed on the home front, and this was a way to ensure that the manpower needed was available. After all, if you are drafted, you are required to serve.
Registration of the Old Man’s Draft began on April 27, 1942 at local draft boards around the country, and like the patriotic citizens they were, my great uncle, and my grandfathers, along with many, many other older men, went to register. The lines were long when the men went in to register, according to the Poughkeepsie Journal, but the biggest regret that was heard among the men waiting there was…that they were too old to fight!! Seriously!! There were no complaints about standing for hours in line, or complaints about having to register at all…just that they would not see battle. These were not warmongers, but rather patriots who wanted to help in whatever way they could, and now Uncle Sam was telling them that their contribution was important. It felt amazing to these men. They were needed!! The biggest complication was that some of the men couldn’t read or write, and some had forgotten things like addresses, telephone numbers, or dates (including the year of birth, which is evident on my grandfather’s card in that his year of birth was listed as 1883, but he was born in 1879). Nevertheless, these men were hopeful that somehow they could be useful in the war effort. I find that completely amazing…especially in light of the lack of patriotism so often seen these days.
My grand nephew, Matthew Masterson is turning 11 years old today. It’s hard for me to believe that Matt is that old already. Nevertheless, while he is growing up, he is still a kid. Matt is the only boy is a family of girls. Now, I’m sure that you are thinking that he is seriously outnumbered, but you would be wrong. Matt can handle his sisters. In fact, Matt has a natural ability to torture his sisters. I have seen this first hand. It’s not that Matt is a terrible kid, but rather that he is a boy, and this is just what boys do to their sisters. But, let someone bother his sisters…they will meet the fury of the tiger, because Matt will protect his sisters…from everyone but himself. Matt isn’t cruel after all. It’s just that no one is allowed to pick on his sisters, but him. Thankfully, they know their brother loves them, and I suppose that gives him just enough of an edge so that he doesn’t find out just how tough girls can be when pushed too far.
Matt is all about sports, like most boys are. Everything from riding his bike using the new ramp his cousin Garrett Stevens made him, to playing football with his cousins. It isn’t every kid that gets to have their own ramp, especially one that would be built as well as Garrett would build it, but Matt does, and he just loves playing on it. But there are a number of other games Matt and his cousins play too.
Apparently, unbeknownst to me, there is a new in game to play , that everyone likes, and Matt is very into it. The game is called Parkour. I had no idea what that was, so I researched it online. Apparently, it is a military style obstacle course competition. I must say it sounds rather interesting, and I can see Matt and his cousins Xander, Zack, and Isaac Spethman playing that. They are like the four musketeers, and they are very inventive.
As far as school sports go, Matt’s favorites right now are soccer and basketball, but he really likes any sport that he can play that gives him that adrenaline rush that he craves. I think that is a common thing, and anyone who has done one sport or another, just because it feels exciting to do it, can understand that. Today is Matt’s birthday. Happy birthday Matt!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My great grand niece, Alice Green is a delightful little girl with a variety of things that capture her interest. As a little girl of just four years, life is just now unfolding for Alice, and she finds most of it exciting. This past year found Alice attending preschool. Alice totally blossomed during her time in preschool. She loves to count, and making new friends is a big plus too. I think sending Alice to preschool might have been hard on her mom, Melanie Harman though. It’s hard to let your little one head out into the world, I know, because it was hard for me. You just can’t believe that they are old enough to go somewhere without you, but Alice showed her mom that she was ready, and preschool has been great fun for Alice.
This last year also found Alice getting ready for some big changes in her life. Her mom married my grand nephew, Jake Harman, and they gave Alice something she has totally loved…her little sister, Izabella. Alice loves being a big sister. I think having a sibling is something Alice has wanted for quite some time. She mostly likes to entertain her little sister, but there will come a day, when Alice is more than just a playmate for Izabella. Older sisters are the role model for their younger sisters. They are looked at for everything from fashion style to makeup to boys. It’s a big job, but I think Alice will be up to the task.
In fact, Alice has been practicing her superhero skills already. She absolutely loves Superman. Alice doesn’t care about being Superman’s girlfriend either, because in reality, while Lois Lane was pretty and all, she was not the superhero…Superman was. That just isn’t what Alice has in mind. She wants to be superman. I suppose that some people would say that she can’t, but in years gone by, girls weren’t allowed to play certain sports, and now they can. So, I can say if Alice wants to be Superman, I think she can do it. Today is Alice’s 4th birthday…one she shares with her new grandpa, Dave Balcerzak, and Alice thinks that’s just perfect. Happy birthday Alice!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
These days, most people find themselves leading busy lives, but I doubt if many have had the kind of year, or actually year and a half that my nephew Dave Balcerzak, and my niece Chantel…his wife have had. Dave and Chantel are empty nesters now, because all their kids have moved out, but to make matters worse…they are between nests!! That’s not a bad thing, because they are in the process of buying a house. The bad part is packing, patching walls from nail holes, and cleaning their current place so they are ready to move into the new place in early September. Nevertheless, they are so very excited about buying this house. It is a dream come true for them, so all their hard work now will eventually be totally worth it. Dave is practically like a kid in a candy store. He keeps calling Chantel on the phone, just to tell her…”I bought you a house!!” That is pretty typical of Dave anyway, because Chantel is his princess, and he loves showing her just how much he loves her.
As if moving wasn’t enough to keep these two busy, they will have three weddings that hey have planned, paid for, and helped with in 16 months. The final one takes place in October, and then they will have one daughter left to eventually plan a wedding for. Their little family is growing by leaps and bounds, and they couldn’t be happier. They are grandparents for the first time now. Alice, who shares Dave’s birthday, thinks he hung the moon, and now her little sister, Izabella has him wrapped around her baby finger too. Dave is reveling in the pleasure of being grandpa, and the girls are very blessed too. And the fact that they are girls…well, that pretty much sunk Dave’s resistance ship right away. He would love them if they were boys too, but he is a sucker for those little girls. Sorry Dave…but it’s the truth.
Yes, it’s been a busy year for Dave and Chantel, and life just gets better and better every day, and add to that, any work they decide to do to the new house, and you have a recipe for a busy year to come. Let’s face facts here too…you always change something. Nevertheless, that work becomes very rewarding when it’s on your own house. I know that they are going to have a great time building a new life in their new home, with lots of precious moments there with the kids and grandkids. The possibilities are endless. Today is Dave’s birthday. Happy birthday Dave!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My nephew, JD Parmely is a single guy who mostly just loves cars, working on cars, and driving cars. For the most part it’s all about the cars for JD. But there is one more…well, really two things that are even more important to JD than his cars. I never thought I would see the day that happened. I think anyone who knows the Parmely family can guess what is more important to JD than cars. Yes…his nieces Reagan and Hattie. JD has always loved kids, and had a great time playing with his younger cousins, but no cousin can hold his heart like his nieces do.
Any man who has kids knows how quickly those kids steal your heart, but girls have a tendency to wrap their daddies around their little finger pretty quickly. While JD doesn’t have kids of his own, he has found out how quickly two little girls can have a major effect on one uncle. A man spends his whole life learning to be a strong man. Nothing is supposed to have an effect on them…right? Wrong!! Enter two little girls, whose smiles can melt your heart in a second. Add to it the fact that these two little girls like some of the same things the uncle does, such as cars and motorcycles, and the fact that they don’t mind getting dirty on the trails they hike, and you find yourself with every ingredient necessary to steal a heart. And that is exactly what those two little girls did.
JD still loves his cars, motorcycles, and mechanical work, and he loves working on the house he bought from his grandparents, but none of these things will ever take the place of those little nieces…and I think JD is totally ok with that. Being uncle to Reagan and Hattie is the highlight of his life. But then he always was a kid at heart. Today is JD’s birthday. Happy birthday JD!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Before Bob and I were even married, I knew that he was related to one of our presidents…namely James Knox Polk. Since then, I have found that we are actually related to several presidents, but James K Polk remains the one with whom the link seems the most obvious. Still, while I knew of the relationship, there were things about him that I didn’t know. One of the most notable being his connection to the Smithsonian Institution. In 1829, one James Smithson died in Italy, and while most people would not think that would have impacted the United States of America, it actually did. So, who was Smithson anyway. Smithson had been a fellow of the venerable Royal Society of London from the age of 22, publishing numerous scientific papers on mineral composition, geology, and chemistry. In 1802, he overturned popular scientific opinion by proving that zinc carbonates were true carbonate minerals, and one type of zinc carbonate was later named Smithsonite in his honor.
James Smithson’s will had one odd footnote to it, that in the end, would change everything. Smithson didn’t have much family, in fact, he had just one nephew at the time of his passing. His entire estate was willed to that nephew, with one condition attached to it. If his nephew should die without children, the entire estate was to go to “the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an Establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” Smithson’s curious bequest to a country that he had never visited garnered significant attention on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. James Smithson was a scientist, who wasn’t well known, but he apparently had a dream for the United States…a country that somehow held his interest. Six years after his death, his nephew, Henry James Hungerford, indeed died without children, and on July 1, 1836, the United States Congress authorized acceptance of Smithson’s gift. President Andrew Jackson sent diplomat Richard Rush to England to negotiate for transfer of the funds, and two years later Rush set sail for home with 11 boxes containing a total of 104,960 gold sovereigns, 8 shillings, and 7 pence, as well as Smithson’s mineral collection, library, scientific notes, and personal effects. After the gold was melted down, it amounted to a fortune worth well over $500,000.
The money was sent to the United States with Smithson’s instructions for its use. It might have seemed like a simple request at the time of the will’s writing, but in the end, the money would sit in the bank waiting for a decade. The reason…a debate on how to use the money. Apparently, even though instructions for the money’s use were given, they did leave a few of the details up to the United States government. Finally, on this day August 10, 1846 James K Polk signed the Smithsonian Institution Act into law. After considering a series of recommendations, including the creation of a national university, a public library, or an astronomical observatory, Congress agreed that the bequest would support the creation of a museum, a library, and a program of research, publication, and collection in the sciences, arts, and history.
Today, the Smithsonian is composed of 19 museums and galleries including the recently announced National Museum of African American History and Culture, nine research facilities throughout the United States and the world, and the national zoo. Besides the original Smithsonian Institution Building, popularly known as the Castle, visitors to Washington DC, tour the National Museum of Natural History, which houses the natural science collections, the National Zoological Park, and the National Portrait Gallery. The National Museum of American History houses the original Star-Spangled Banner and other artifacts of United States history. The National Air and Space Museum has the distinction of being the most visited museum in the world, exhibiting such marvels of aviation and space history as the Wright brothers’ plane and Freedom 7, the space capsule that took the first American into space. John Smithson, the Smithsonian Institution’s great benefactor, is interred in a tomb in the Smithsonian Building. It has been a pretty amazing use of that money. I think James Smithson would be pleased.
If there is one way to describe my grand niece, Katie Balcerzak, it would have to be that she is all about the kids. For a while she was a pre-school teacher, and in many ways I think that was her dream job. It takes a very special person to teach school, whether it is pre-school, high school, or home school. Kids can be a handful, whether they are your own or someone else’s, and not everyone can take on the task of teaching these young minds the things necessary to succeed in this life. Katie and her husband, my grand nephew, Keifer Balcerzak don’t have any kids yet, but I can see them having several some day. Right now Katie has to settle for loving on the children of friends and family.
Katie has a great sense of humor, as anyone who has ever looked at some of her posts can see. Katie’s humorous side didn’t really surprise me nearly as much as some of her other interests did, however. Being a history buff, I have gotten used to the idea that I may be an odd duck, especially when compared to people younger than me, but Katie likes the history channel, and some of the political ideas that I have are her ideas too, but I won’t go into those here, because this is a birthday post, and not a political debate. She likes country music, which makes her ok in my book too, because I guess, like my parents expected, I outgrew rock music, and traded it in for country music along time ago. I would rather listen to music I can sing along with.
Katie is the kind of person who makes friends to last a lifetime, and she has friends from as far back as her Kindergarten years. These are close friends too, not just Facebook friends. That is the kind of friend everyone wants to have…whether they realize it now or not, because friends that last a lifetime are true friends, who will walk with you through all of life’s trials and all of life’s rewards, and let’s face it, we could all use more of that kind of friend in our lives. Today is Katie’s birthday. Happy birthday Katie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Years ago, when my sister, Caryl Reed lived in the Seattle, Washington area, I remember thinking how strange the names of some of the places were. Now that my daughter, Amy Royce and her family live in northern Washington, the names of those places have come to my attention again. It’s not that the names are all so very odd, but rather that I have a curiosity about how things and places got their names. Places like Whidbey Island, and Puget Sound are just not your typical Indian names like so much of the area, such as Snoqualmie Pass, Issaquah, or Puyallup, which all have Indian meanings. So, how did these other places get their names. Well yesterday, part of the mystery was solved for me. I’m sure some people know what I found out, but surprisingly it may not be as many people from Washington state as you might think.
The islands of the coast of Washington, which extend for a number of miles inland, have always been of great interest to explorers. Waterways with islands must always lead to passages, right? Well, maybe not. There was an explorer named Joseph Whidbey who led an expedition that embarked on August 8, 1794 to look for a Northwest Passage near Juneau, Alaska. Whidbey’s goal was to locate the passage known today as the Inside Passage to Juneau. He found the passage, but felt that since it was inaccessible most of the year, due to ice in the area, it would not really serve any useful purpose. Of course, as anyone who has cruised to Alaska knows, that passage has become a very useful waterway, especially in the tourism business. Whidbey had also accompanied Lieutenant Peter Puget in small boats in 1792, to explore what is now known as the Puget Sound. On June 2nd of that trip, the men discovered Deception Pass, which was so named because the explorers erroneously thought that Whidbey Island was a peninsula, until the pass proved otherwise. The excursion was part of the Vancouver Expedition, headed up by Captain George Vancouver, who also named Whidbey Island in Joseph Whidbey’s honor.
The Northwest passage did exist, but it would not be Joseph Whidbey, Peter Puget, or George Vancouver who would find it, and it would be a number of years before it was discovered at all. In the end, one Robert McClure discovered the passage in 1850, and Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen who would first navigate it with a small expedition in 1903 to 1906. The passage was unusable until about 2009 when Artic ice which had prevented regular marine shipping throughout most of the year melted some, moving back to open more waterways for the shipping industry. For me, this was interesting information, because my curious mind wonders about these things like just where did that name come from.
Seldom does it seem like a person is truly the light of someone else’s life, but that is how my grand niece, Melanie Harman seemed to be for my grand nephew, Jake Harman, the first time I met her. I have to think Jake, while not old by any stretch of the imagination, thought that he would never meet that special someone who would truly complete him. It’s hard to imagine how a person can feel when they honestly think they will be alone in this life. We knew that Jake felt that way…not because he said it, but because it showed in how he was. That always made me sad, because I knew that Jake had something special to give to that person who could see something special in him, and it was hard to see that there didn’t seem to be someone out there who could see that.
Then Melanie came alone, and suddenly, Jake was complete. Melanie is such a sweet, loving girl, and when he is with her, Jake just blossoms. I suppose that sounds odd, in light of the fact that he is a man, but men can blossom too. They suddenly become the person that God had in mind for them to be. Melanie was truly a gift to Jake, from God, to bless his life in every way. Melanie brought with her, a daughter, Alice, who simply adores Jake, and now together, they have another daughter, Izabella, who is Jake’s mini-me. Life is suddenly good for both Jake and Melanie, and it will only get better and better every day, week, month, and year they spend together. Their love for each other is simply beautiful.
Melanie is loved by everyone in the family, and everyone who knows her. It’s easy to see that her special kind of personality has been such a sweet blessing for Jake, and that endears her to all of us. Jake has never been happier, and Melanie is the reason. She is an excellent mom to the girls, and they are so blessed to have her for their mom. Melanie couldn’t fit in this family any better, if she tried. Today is Melanie’s birthday. Happy birthday Melanie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My brother-in-law, Mike Reed is a man of many talents. His wood working talents are known to many people, and those who have been blessed to have some of his work can attest to that. Mike makes all kinds of furniture, from tables to beds, and everything in between. Mike’s work is detailed and beautiful. His talents especially lean toward the rustic, and that also shows in work they are having done at their ranch west of Casper. Mike is having a barn remodeled into…well clearly not your everyday variety of barn. Mike is an avid hunter, and this “barn” will become a beautiful showcase for his hunting trophies, and an entertainment space for barbeques and such. Mike and my sister, Caryl love to have people out to the ranch…especially their kids and grandkids. They keep horses there and the horses are great fun for them and the family to ride, as well as entertaining to watch.
Last year, Mike and Caryl took their kids and grandkids on a wonderful trip to Miami, along with a cruise. They all had a great time, and it was really the trip of a lifetime for all of them. once your kids are grown up, you don’t often get to take vacations together anymore. Everyone has their own lives, schedules, and ideas, so coordinating such an event takes a lot work, and a lot of planning. Nevertheless, they pulled it off, and had a great time doing it. I’m not sure if this was when Mike caught his amazing swordfish or not, but it definitely is a trophy piece.
Mike has been a part of our family since he married my sister, Caryl in 2002. It was a blending of two families, that was a blessing to all. Mike is kind-hearted and generous. And he makes my sister so happy. It doesn’t get any better than that. Theirs has been and will continue to be a life filled with adventure, because that is the kind of guy Mike is. It’s strange to think that Mike and Caryl have been married for 14 years, but on the other hand, it’s like he’s always been a part of our family. You can tell when someone is a great fit, by how right it feels to have them there. Mike is helpful and capable, and always willing to be the jack of all trades when needed. We can’t thank him enough. Today is Mike’s birthday. Happy birthday Mike!! Have a great day!! We love you!!