Monthly Archives: May 2020
World War II was one time when the United States and Germany were absolutely not friends. The Nazi beliefs and the American beliefs were worlds apart. Nevertheless, not all Germans were Nazis, and hard to believe as that may be, it was true. Never was that more evident that at Castle Itter, a small fortification in Austria used by the SS during World War II as a prison for high profile detainees. On May 6, 1945, with the Third Reich collapsing against the Allied attacks, the German commander of Dachau, Wilhelm Weiter committed suicide. At that point, some of the Waffen SS soldiers retreated, and amid the chaos that followed, the opportunity presented itself, and a Yugoslav freedom fighter, Zvonimir Cuckovic, who was a prisoner at Dachau, escaped and went looking for some Allied troops to rescue the rest of the prisoners.
Hans Fuchs, who was a young student going to school nearby, remembers how Itter Castle was converted into a prison by the Nazis in 1943. He said, “We saw everything from our school window, a double barbed-wire fence…and floodlights so that the whole night was lit up like day.” Itter Castle, is an old castle, dating back to the Middle Ages. It was turned into a sub-unit of the Dachau concentration camp, and used for VIP prisoners, prominent politicians, and military figures that the Nazis wanted to use as bargaining chips. Famous prisoners there included two former prime ministers of France, Edouard Daladier and Paul Reynaud, as well as the elder sister of Gen Charles de Gaulle, Marie-Agnes Cailliau.
Cuckovic’s escape triggered one of the most curious battles of the conflict, but not in the way you might think. After he escaped, Cuckovic found an American armored column and got them to come with him. At the same time a Major Josef Gangl, who was an Austrian in the German Army, and had been collaborating with Austrian resistance in the closing days of the war, also intended to free the castle prisoners, but had decided instead to surrender with his men to the Americans. Gangl hated what was going on and knew that the Nazis were friends to no one. He could no longer stomach what he had been commanded to do. With the arrival of Cuckovic a hasty agreement took place. The major and his Wehrmacht troops would fight alongside the Americans against the SS guards.
The resulting battle of Castle Itter was not a major battle, just an amazing one. The SS faced not only their own countrymen and Americans, complete with a Sherman tank, but there were also Austrian partisans and French prisoners joining in. It was a wonderful show of the unifying effect the Allies had compared to the polarizing effect of the Nazis. The ensuing battle was not big, and in fact, a maximum of just 100 men were involved. Nevertheless, this battle was, without a doubt, vicious. The Sherman tank was destroyed and Major Josef Gangl was killed by a sniper. The thing that made this battle so unique, however, was that it was the only time the American army fought alongside the German army in all of World War II. The SS were handily defeated and quickly surrendered. The rest of the prisoners held at Castle Itter were released unharmed.
There have been times in many wars, when two soldiers made the conscious decision not to engage in battle, allowing both to live to fight another day. I suppose it would not be unheard of to have two opposing soldiers work together to defeat a common enemy, like maybe a bear or other wild animal, but for two army patrols of two opposing sides, to join forces against part of one sides army, is…well, unheard of. The battle at Castle Itter was just such a battle, and it is believed to be the only battle in the war in which Americans and Germans fought as allies.
My niece, Cassie Iverson is a wife and mother of two children. She is also an activist for the causes she believes in. Most of them are causes for the protection of family and children. Cassie and her husband, Chris lived in a rented house while she was pregnant with their first child, their son, Lucas, who was born with Down Syndrome. They found out that the house had black mold, but the landlord wouldn’t do anything about it. Of course, there are no known ties between black mold and Down Syndrome, but there are many health problems that are associated with black mold. At that time, there seemed no way to get the satisfaction she sought from her landlord, so in the end, they move to a better home.
Cassie and Chris have fought through a number of health issued with Lucas, and they are very careful about his treatments. While many people would not agree with them, they are against vaccinations, because they feel that the ingredients in them are more dangerous than the disease the vaccination is trying to prevent. I don’t know which side of the coin my readers are on, and in this case, I have now desire to debate the vaccination issue, but rather I just want to say that it is my belief that each set of parents have the right to make that choice for their children, and that they should feel safe in doing so. I don’t think that anyone should be subject to verbal attacks because they have differing opinions on this or really, any other of the hot button issues. The best thing about our liberties, is that we have the right to chose what is best for our family. The worst thing about our liberties, is that we risk making other people mad.
Whether you agree or not, we need people who will bring to light the other side of the coin, and that is what Cassie does. That takes courage in the current hostile climate in our nation. We face the same issues concerning the current Covid-19 Pandemic. There are so many views that no one knows what to think. That is why, we all have to make our own choices. Today is Cassie’s birthday. Happy birthday Cassie!! I hope you got to do something fun. Have a great day!! We love you!!
As baseball looks at getting started again, it seems like a good to talk about the time when Major League Baseball became Little League Baseball. Ok, not exactly, but nevertheless, little league it was to a certain degree. The year was 1951, and the Saint Louis Browns were sporting their smallest player in history…probably in the history of baseball. His name was Edward Carl “Eddie” Gaedel, and he stood just 3 feet 7 inches tall. He weighed 65 pounds. Gaedel was born on June 8, 1925, in Chicago. He was the second of the three children of Carl and Helen Gaedel. Carl Gaedel was born in Lithuania and immigrated to the United States in 1902, settling in Chicago before starting his family. The family name may have been changed to Gaedel from Gaedele at the time of his immigration.
Gaedel was the smallest player ever to appear in a Major League Baseball game. He gained recognition in the second game of a Saint Louis Browns doubleheader on August 19, 1951. Gaedel’s major league career was shorter than he was in the end. He made a single plate appearance and was walked with four consecutive balls before being replaced by a pinch-runner at first base. Nevertheless, his jersey, bearing the uniform number “?1?8,” is displayed in the Saint Louis Cardinals Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Sometimes, it isn’t the length of the career that matters, But rather it is what makes the career unique that really matters. Never before had the major leagues had such a player. It was like putting a child on the major leagues, except that he could play…at least well enough to be chosen to play on the Saint Louis Browns in the first place. The world will never know if he could have been great, because he only played the one time.
Gaedel was well liked. The Saint Louis Browns owner, Bill Veeck said of Gaedel in his 1962 autobiography said, “He was, by golly, the best darn midget who ever played big-league ball. He was also the only one.” Both statements were true, and Gaedel would go down in history as the midget who combined the Major League with the Little League.
Prior to his career in baseball, and due to his size, Gaedel had worked as a riveter during World War II. He was unique in his job, because he was able to crawl inside the wings of airplanes. He was also a professional performer, belonging to the American Guild of Variety Artists (AGVA). After the war, Gaedel was hired in 1946 by Mercury Records as a mascot to portray the “Mercury Man.” He sported a winged hat similar to the record label’s logo, to promote Mercury recordings. Some of the early Mercury recordings featured a caricature of him as its logo. Then, the Browns’ owner Bill Veeck, who liked a little bit of the outrageous, and a showman who enjoyed staging publicity stunts, found Gaedel through a booking agency. He secretly signed him to the Browns, he was added to the team roster and put in uniform…with the number “?1?8” on the back. The uniform belonged to current Saint Louis Cardinals managing partner and chairman William DeWitt, Jr. who was a 9 year old batboy for the Browns at the time. It may have been a stunt, but it made Eddie Gaedel famous.
Unfortunately, after his baseball career ended, things did not go well for Gaedel. On June 18, 1961, and having just turned 36, an unemployed Gaedel, was at a bowling alley in Chicago. Gaedel was followed home and beaten. His mother discovered Eddie lying dead in his bed. He had bruises about his knees and on the left side of his face. A coroner’s inquest determined that he also had suffered a heart attack. Bob Cain, who’d pitched to Gaedel, was the only Major League Baseball figure to attend the funeral. Gaedel was buried at Saint Mary Catholic Cemetery and Mausoleum in Cook County, Illinois. His tombstone indicates that his family name may actually have been Gaedele, not Gaedel. The person or persons who killed Gaedel were never found. The police speculated that Gaedel, who had become known as a hot-head, probably got into an argument with someone at the bowling alley, and the person followed him and beat him. Because of Gaedel’s reputation, the Chicago Police Department declined to investigate the matter further. It was such a tragic end for a Baseball Hall of Famer.
As New York City grew is size, passing Paris in population and quickly catching up to London by the late 19th century too, it still remained the only city of such size to lack a public library large enough to serve it’s many citizens. It didn’t look like something that was going to change in the near future, but when former New York Governor Samuel J. Tilden died in 1886, he left $2.4 million to the city to “establish and maintain a free library and reading room in the city of New York.”
While it was a wonderful gift, it remain unspent until May 23, 1895, when New York’s two largest libraries…the Astor and Lenox libraries…agreed to combine with the Tilden Trust to form a new entity that would be known as The New York Public Library. I’m not sure why the delay, other than maybe the loss of some of the smaller “neighborhood” libraries. Whatever the case may be, the work finally began on the New York Public Library, and the final structure was spectacular.
The main branch of the library was dedicated in midtown Manhattan sixteen years later to the day. The library is the largest marble structure ever constructed in the United States, is dedicated in New York City. I don’t know much about construction, but it seems to me that marble construction might be harder. The building fills a two-block section of Fifth Avenue between 40th and 42nd Streets, the monumental structure took 14 years to complete at a cost of $9 million. Nevertheless, the day after its dedication, the library opened its doors to the public, and some 40,000 citizens passed through to make use of a collection that already consisted of more than a million books. The people of New York City were excited to have such a wonderful collection of knowledge at their disposal…and for free. In a ceremony presided over by President William Howard Taft, the New York Public Library was dedicated on May 23, 1911. Gifts continues to roll in over the next few decades, and thanks in large part to a $5.2 million gift from steel baron Andrew Carnegie, a system of branch libraries opened throughout New York City, basically giving back some of the neighborhood library feel again. Today, the New York Public Library is visited and used annually by more than 10 million people, and there are currently well over two million cardholders, more than for any other library system in the nation.
My grand nephew, Xander Spethman like most kids this year, had a challenging school year. He had never planned to be homeschooled. He was used to having his friends around him and all the activities at school. He was used to some level of independence that going to high school offered. Then, suddenly he was at home with his siblings. His parents were often at work, so that also left Xander in charge sometimes. In many kids Xander’s age, that many hours with the younger siblings might have made life miserable for all concerned, but Xander is a kind-hearted young man. He loves his siblings, and they look up to him. Xander tried to be a lead-by-example kind of person. That makes for a much more harmonious household, whether the parents are there or not.
Xander and his brother, Zack have become best friends. They share a love of long boarding, and now they go as often as they can. He is also sweet to his other siblings, Isaac, and little Aleesia, who thinks her brothers “hung the moon,” a fact that is obvious by the way she looks at them. Xander is a very loyal person. He is also protective of his family. He is an amazing big brother, who always takes time to help with whatever his little brothers and sister need. Xander has demonstrated many leader qualities, that have been beneficial to his siblings and his friends alike. Xander’s mom, Jenny attributes those attributes to being the oldest child, but I disagree. Being the oldest doesn’t guarantee leadership. Those leadership qualities come from several sources, not the least of which is good parental upbringing. It also comes from something inside a person that says, “This is the right thing to do, and that is not.” It is about being settled in the right things to do, and it’s having a determination to do what is right, even if it is the harder road. Xander has that determination, and his family has become the beneficiary of those good leadership qualities. They are very proud of him.
Xander is a very good example not only to his family, but also to his friends. The leadership qualities Xander displays to his friends, cause many of them to seek him out when they need advise. Unlike many situations where kids are advising kids, which can be catastrophic in their misguided advise, Xander is a very good counselor to his friends. He has a strong sense of right and wrong, and doesn’t like it when he sees anyone being mistreated…a very important quality in a time when “bullying” has become the norm in schools. He always helps anyone who asks and tries to look out for everyone. That is the kind of friend, and brother, everyone is proud to know. Today is Xander’s 17th birthday. Happy birthday Xander!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
In 2013, my sister-in-law, Brenda Schulenberg’s life turned completely around when she lost over 300 pounds, after a near-death, but in her case reversible set of conditions. It was going to be a long road ad would take almost unheard-of willpower to get Brenda to a place of health. She wasn’t sure she could do it, but she knew she must. So began Brenda’s long journey to health. Brenda had never really exercised, at least not for very long, but she knew that had to change, if she was going to survive for very long.
Most people who find themselves in such a grave position, try for a short time, and then give up, thinking that the process is simply beyond their ability. It is just too hard to do, too much to stick to, and too depressing for many people to stick to it. I have watched so many people over the years, who have given up the fight, and ended up losing the battle with weight, and the ensuing health issues. When Brenda began her journey, there were no guarantees. She was going to have to do this, because no one could make her do it. She was really scared. She told me that she had no idea how she was ever going to get where she needed to be. I told her that she was going to do it one step at a time. I think it was at that point, during that talk, that Brenda saw her life in front of her, and the two directions it could go; and she made a choice.
Unlike many other people, Brenda never looked back. She followed Weight Watchers, and she started walking. Sometimes it was all she could do to walk a short distance…with her walker. Brenda persevered, before long, she was walking further, and dreaming of riding a bicycle again. Before long her dream of riding a bicycle came true and now she rides 20 miles or more a day, sometimes even in rain or snow, if it’s not too icy. These days many people would call Brenda an exercise fanatic, and they would be right, but if you ask her, she will say that she would rather be an exercise fanatic, than some of the other harmful things she used to be. I agree with her there, but the thing that I am most proud of is the fact that Brenda has never gained the weight back. That is an almost unheard of feat. All the weight loss programs tell you they are going to teach you to keep it off, but if you aren’t willing to fight for this new you, by living an active lifestyle, no amount of dieting will keep that weight off. Exercise is a must…no matter what they tell you. Brenda got that part figured out right away, and that made all the difference. She is now 7 years into her healthy life journey, and the trip is far from over. Today is Brenda’s birthday. Happy birthday Brenda!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
With the 2020 Covid-19 outbreak and subsequent shut down of much of our country, including the schools and many businesses, Americans have faced many challenges…among them, the loss of many sports, at least temporarily. Now, as the country begins the reopening process, sports of all kinds have taken on a different look. Slowly, the summer sports are getting started again. The stands are empty, because social distancing doesn’t permit people to sit so close as they would sit in the stands. The coaches, and reluctantly, the parents decided that it was more important to let the kids play, than to wait until the parents could watch. It has been a similar story in all areas of sports.
For the professional sports, many changes had to be made. A new kind of baseball, Nascar, football, and many other types of sports. Sports had to be reinvented…or a lease the spectator part of sports had to be reinvented. Some sports have missed their opportunity for this year, and they are holding out hope for a real season next year. Even the news was different, because normally after the news and weather, came sports. The sports was still there, but there were no games to recap. We heard instead, about future plans, college draft choices, and the fact that there would be no sports for the time being.
It wasn’t just the professional sports either. Bowling alleys closed weeks before the end of the leagues’ schedules were finished. League officers waited, hoping to get back in time to finish the season, but it was not to be, so reluctantly, they divided the prize money based on the standings at the point when the bowling alleys closed. most prize money was mailed out, but a few waited until this past week so they could meet for the purpose of distributing the funds.
As Memorial Day approaches, it seems that the annual car shows have also fallen victim to the Covid-19 shutdown. That is a sad thing for many people, my husband, Bob being one of them. He practically spends the whole weekend looking at the cars. This time, like so many events this year, will be different. No car shows, little travel, no graduation ceremonies (at least not in the normal sense); just the official end to the school year, since it unofficially ended at spring break…the longest spring break in history. No one failed, and we have no idea how far behind they will be next year, or what returning to school will look like for sure. All we know is that like sports, life reinvented…will go on.
My nephew, Rob Masterson has had what his wife, Dustie recalls as a “not very interesting” year, but as I talked to her, I determined that maybe that analogy wasn’t quite accurate after all. Rob, who is a supervisor in the auto shop and tire sales area of Sam’s Club, has done something that no other employee of that area of Sam’s Club has done so far. Rob became the first Sam’s Club employee, at this location, to complete all of his out of state tire trainings. At his trainings, Rob learned everything anyone could possibility ever want or need to know about tires, and probably more than most of us ever cared to know. Nevertheless, Rob found it quite interesting. He told Dustie that he drove cars with new tires on the front and then another one with them on the back to feel the difference. He got to drive all kinds of tracks on many different vehicles and wheels.
Dustie is sure, and I would agree, that Rob’s favorite training trip was to Las Vegas. The Vegas trip was the final training trip, so Dustie told me that the training was a little more relaxed. I would say so!! According to Dustie, “He got to drive a Ferrari, Lamborghini, and an Alfa Romeo on the last Vegas speedway. He got some video of it. He was driving like a madman!” Not many of us, who are not racing drivers, get the chance to feel what it is like to race on an actual speedway…much less to drive a Ferrari, Lamborghini, or an Alfa Romeo in the manner of a driver in a real race. Rob got that opportunity, and he relished it. I’m sure many men would have.
Work, for Rob, might not have seemed interesting to Dustie either, but for most of us, this year has been quite interesting, indeed. How many years have most workplaces adopted the practice of wearing medical masks. Not many who are not medical workplaces, I would wager. Nevertheless, while at work, and especially while helping customers, masks have become mandatory in many businesses. The jury is still out as to how effective the wearing of masks is, in disease prevention, but for now, this is the situation in which we find ourselves.
Because they have worked so much this year, Rob and Dustie and decided that they owe it to themselves and their children, Raelynn, Matt, and Anna to take some trips this summer. They decided that even though travel is necessarily somewhat limited right now, Wyoming has enough historic and beautiful places to allow them to spend all summer traveling and learning the history right here in their home state. They are planning trips to Devil’s Tower, and Thermopolis for sure, and are looking are several other places too. I’m sure they will have a wonderful summer, for sure. Today is Rob’s birthday. Happy birthday Rob!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My sister, Caryl Reed is a retired Respiratory Therapist. With everything going on, I’m surprised she was not asked to come back for a time, but the hospital where she worked was a smaller hospital, and maybe that made the difference. Still, she did go back to work part-time at Professional Home Oxygen, where she works about 12 hours a week as a tank fill technician. Caryl’s road to respiratory therapy was not an easy one, and at one point got completely railroaded. Caryl was living in Oak Harbor, Washington at the time, and had walked to the school to pick up her daughter, Andrea Spicer. On the way, it began to rain, and she slipped on the wet grass and badly broke her leg. The break required surgery to place pins and screws in her leg. Needless to say the recovery time caused her to completely lose all the time she had put in. If she wanted to be a respiratory therapist, she would have to start all over. It was a devastating blow, but Caryl would not be deterred. She persevered and began again.
During the time that she was trying get things restarted, her life changed in many ways…not the least of which was a move to Rawlins, Wyoming with her new husband, Mike. The Carbon County Memorial Hospital made the decision to put Caryl on in their Respiratory Therapy Department, contingent upon her finishing and passing the necessary tests to receiver her degree and license. It was a good risk for them, as Caryl did finish and pass the tests. She soon became one of their head Respiratory Therapists, and when she retired, they truly hated to see her go, but shift work and long hours on her feet convinced Caryl that it was time. She and her husband, Mike were preparing to go another direction…their eventual move to Casper, after Mike retires. They have been paving the way for that move by buying a beautiful and large piece of land west of the city, and proceeded to build their home there. Caryl hasn’t lived in Casper, for most of her adult life, and we have missed her. We ar all looking forward to having her and Mike living in Casper, where we can all spend more time together again. Of course, she is already enjoying her retirement, and being able to do the things she wants to do, and previously didn’t have the time to do. She had a wonderful career, and it is something she will always be glad she chose to do. Her perseverance just goes to show that even in the face of adversity, we can be victorious if we push forward, and never give up. Today is Caryl’s birthday. Happy birthday Caryl!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My grandson, Caalab Royce met a girl a while back and they have been almost inseparable ever since. Her name is Chloe Foster, and she is as sweet as she can be. These kids are perfect for each other. Both are dedicated to their families and to each other’s family too…and the cool thing is that their families like each other too. It’s always special when you can join two families…because the kids got together. When Caalab met Chloe, his whole life changed. I really didn’t hear about anything else but Chloe, and when we met her, we could see what he saw in her. Her personality was totally infectious, and I enjoyed meeting her very much.
As Chloe’s birthday approached I began to wonder about this girl who holds my grandson’s heart. I knew that she is studying criminal justice in college, and that she is a Christian, which makes me very happy. She has a sweet spirit, which I have seen in the things she posts. Caalab tells me that she has been spending part of the “shelter-at-home” time in which we have all found ourselves, studying the Bible. She is a girl who prays and allows God to lead her in the way she should go. These kinds of things make my heart glad.
Chloe is also a very talented artist. She recently sat down and is just a few hours she had painted a watercolor picture of Bob Marley. Caalab really likes Bob Marley, so he was very impressed with her work. I don’t know too much about Bob Marley, but I know enough to recognize him in her painting. She did a good job. Recently, I friended Chloe’s mom on Facebook, and when looking at her pictures, I saw some of the funnier ways that Chloe uses her artwork…namely, greeting cards. I won’t display them here, but let’s just say she thanked her parents for their part in giving her life…her mom for Chloe’s first home, and her dad for putting her and her brothers, Tyson and Tanner, in the race in the first place. The cards were tastefully done, and very sweet in a funny sort of way, but they told me more about this girl who has loved cows for much of her life. I thought it funny, when my granddaughter, Shai Royce, Caalab’s sister, told me to buy Chloe something with a cow on it for Christmas…now, I can see that Shai knows Chloe pretty well. Shai loves Chloe as much (well almost as much) as Caalab does. As a grandmother, I can say it is heartwarming to know that someone cares so much for my grandson…that she not only holds his heart, but she protects it too. Today is Chloe’s birthday. Happy birthday Chloe!! Have a great day!! We love you!!