Caryn

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The loss of a loved one, at any age is terribly hard, but when the loved one is only 45 years old, it is even harder. My sister-in-law, Rachel (Franklin) Schulenberg was a sweet, kind, and compassionate woman, who was loved by all who knew her. She married my brother-in-law, Ron Schulenberg on June 12, 2010. Rachel was the love of Ron’s life, and she brought with her the family he didn’t have. Rachel’s daughter, Cassie Iverson had married the week before Rachel and Ron, and she and her husband, Chris would remain in Powell to raise their family, as the children Lucas and Zoey came along. Rachel and her sons, Riley and Tucker, moved to Casper where Ron lived. Rachel and Ron met through her best friend, and his niece, Machelle Moore. It was a match made in Heaven and their wedding was the greatest moment of their lives. Another of the greatest moments of their lives, was when Ron adopted her youngest son, Tucker. The other two children were grown, and Tucker’s dad was unable to be a dad to him, and gave up his rights. Tucker became Tucker Schulenberg, and it was a day of celebration for the whole family.

Rachel was a great mom. She wanted nothing more than to see her kids live out their dreams. She was their biggest cheerleader, and also their greatest comfort. She was there for them, no matter how good things were, or how bad things were. Rachel knew that life happens and everyone makes mistakes, but that never changed the way she felt about the people she loved. She was the kind of person who was there to help them pick up the pieces and make the future better. She was also there to rejoice with them when things were great. Rachel was became a grandmother in 2011 and again in 2015, and those were two of the greatest moments of her life. Her grandchildren, Lucas and Zoey made her life complete. Of course, she always wished they lived a little closer, because she didn’t get to see them as much as she would like, but she saw them as much as she could.

Rachel worked at Walmart for the past year and a half, and she was such a blessing there for coworkers and customers alike. My grandson, Chris Petersen and his fiancée, Karen had the great blessing of seeing her there whenever they shopped for groceries. Rachel was quick to help them with anything they needed, and just to visit with them for a few minutes. She would even step away from her breaks, giving up her breaktime to spend a few minutes with them. It was something that very much endeared Rachel to both of them and to their children. She was their aunt, but she was also their friend. I know many other friends, family members, and customers have the same stories of Rachel’s kindness, helpfulness, and her great smile of greeting.

Rachel was Ron’s other half. She completed him, and gave him the happiest ten years of his entire life. Their marriage on June 12, 2010 filled all of us with gladness, because Ron had found his soulmate…and so had Rachel. They were perfect for each other. Their lives had purpose and most of all love. All too soon, their plans to grow old together were taken from them when Rachel was suddenly taken home to Heaven on January 19, 2021. It was far too soon, as passings are. We will all miss her terribly, and we look forward to seeing her in Heaven when we are reunited there. Rest in peace dear sister. We love and miss you very much.

The Third Reich was filled with people who were nothing less than monsters. Klaus Barbie, the former Nazi Gestapo chief of German-occupied Lyon, France, was one of them. As chief of the secret police in Lyon, Barbie sent 7,500 French Jews and French Resistance partisans to concentration camps, and executed some 4,000 others. He, like the other Nazi officers had no compassion…just a heart filled with hatred. Barbie wasn’t happy with just having them killed, he personally tortured and executed many of his prisoners himself. In 1943, he captured Jean Moulin, the leader of the French Resistance, and had him slowly beaten to death. He took pleasure in the suffering of that good man. In 1944, Barbie rounded up 44 young Jewish children and their seven teachers hiding in a boarding house in Izieu and deported them to the Auschwitz extermination camp. Of the 51 people deported, only one teacher survived. In August 1944, as the Germans prepared to retreat from Lyon, he organized one last deportation train that took hundreds of people to the death camps. He didn’t want to “lose” a single one to the liberation.

Like all cowards, Barbie returned to Germany after the war, and began his disguise. He burned off his SS identification tattoo and assumed a new identity. This was planned as the Germans began to realize that they had lost the war. The plan was to smuggle these former SS officers out of the country, so they could “regroup later, and start the Third Reich or a facsimile of it in the future. After the Americans offered him money and protection in exchange for his intelligence services, Barbie surrendered himself to the US Counter-Intelligence Corps (CIC) and engaged in underground anti-communist activity in June 1947. Barbie worked as a US agent in Germany for two years, and the Americans shielded him from French prosecutors trying to track him down. That frustrates me, but I suppose they figured it was the lesser of the two evils. They could go after the “bigger fish” in the organization. In 1949, Barbie and his family were smuggled by the Americans to South America.

Once he was in Bolivia, Barbie assumed the name of Klaus Altmann. He settled in Bolivia and continued his work as a US agent. He became a successful businessman and advised the military regimes of Bolivia. In 1971, the oppressive dictator Hugo Banzer Suarez came to power, and Barbie helped him set up brutal internment camps for his many political opponents. During his 32 years in Bolivia, Barbie also served as an officer in the Bolivian secret police, participated in drug-running schemes, and founded a rightist death squad. He regularly traveled to Europe, and even visited France, where he had been tried in absentia in 1952 and 1954 for his war crimes and sentenced to death. He was so bold, thinking that he was invincible, but as it is in most criminals, they get careless. In 1972, the Nazi hunters Serge Klarsfeld and Beatte Kunzel discovered Barbie’s whereabouts in Bolivia, but Banzer Suarez refused to extradite him to France.

In the early 1980s, a liberal Bolivian regime came to power and agreed to extradite Barbie in exchange for French aid. His protection gone, on January 19, 1983, Barbie was arrested. He arrived in France on February 7, 1983. Unfortunately, the statute of limitations had expired on his in-absentia convictions from the 1950s. He was going to have to be tried again. At this point, the United States government formally apologized to France for its conduct in the Barbie case later that year. Even then, because of legal wrangling between the groups representing his victims, the trial was delayed for four years. Finally, on May 11, 1987, the “Butcher of Lyon,” as he was known in France, went on trial for his crimes against humanity. His defense attorneys, three minority lawyers…an Asian, an African, and an Arab, actually made the dramatic case that the French and the Jews were as guilty of crimes against humanity as Barbie or any other Nazi. That was a completely unbelievable atrocity of a defense. Barbie’s lawyers seemed more intent on putting France and Israel on trial than in proving their client’s innocence. Their efforts failed and on July 4, 1987, he was found guilty. For his crimes, the 73-year-old Barbie was sentenced to France’s highest punishment…to spend the rest of his life in prison. He died of cancer in a prison hospital in 1991.

Competition is the driving force behind so many accomplishments, especially world records. On January 18, 1912, after a two-month ordeal, the expedition of British explorer Robert Falcon Scott arrived at the South Pole. Scott was a British naval officer, who began his first Antarctic expedition in 1901 aboard the Discovery. Scott spent three years exploring the area and discovered the Edward VII Peninsula, surveyed the coast of Victoria Land…which were both areas of Antarctica on the Ross Sea, and led limited expeditions into the continent itself.

Soon, skirting the fringes of Antarctica was not enough, and others had taken an interest in the area too. So, in 1911, Scott and Norwegian explorer, Roald Amundsen began an “undeclared” race to the South Pole. While it was “undeclared,” it was no less a competition, and both men knew it. Sailing his ship into Antarctica’s Bay of Whales, Amundsen set up base camp 60 miles closer to the pole than Scott. In October, both explorers set off. Amundsen was using sleigh dogs and Scott used Siberian motor sledges, Siberian ponies, and dogs. Scott’s journey was fraught with mishaps. The motor sleds broke down, the ponies had to be shot, and the dog teams were sent back as Scott and four companions continued on foot. Nothing was going according to plan.

Nevertheless, on January 18, 1912, Scott’s group finally reached the pole…only to find that Amundsen had preceded them by over a month. Amundsen’s expedition won the race to the pole on December 14, 1911. Encountering good weather on their return trip, they safely reached their base camp in late January. For Scott, it was a day of mixed feelings, I’m sure. They made it to the pole, but they came in second. The return trip was not going to be much better, but it had to be made. The weather was exceptionally bad, and two members of the team died on the journey back to their base camp. Scott and the other two survivors were trapped in their tent by a storm, when they were just 11 miles from their base camp. Scott, who kept a journal of the trip, like most explorers did, wrote a final entry in his diary in late March. The frozen bodies of he and his two compatriots were recovered eight months later. It was a sad ending to their horrific trip.

Sometimes, the worst fear is that of the unknown. In 1910, a comet that I’m sure we have all heard of…Halley’s Comet, named after astronomer Edmond Halley, passed by the Earth. The comet only passes by Earth every 76 years or so, but in 1910, they weren’t as sure about this whole comet thing. When the word got out that it was going to buzz the planet, a lot of people were interested. People bought telescopes as it got closer. Everyone wanted to see the comet. Hotels even offered special deals, so people could gather on top of their roofs to watch the meteor pass. These were to ones who weren’t too worried.

Many other people had every doomsday scenario imaginable in their heads. Maybe they thought it was going to hit the Earth and wipe out all humanity. Apparently, a French astronomer named Camille Flammarion believed the comet’s 24-million-mile long tail contained a poisonous cyanogen gas that “would impregnate the atmosphere and possibly snuff out all life on the planet.” When The New York Times did a piece on Flammarion’s apocalyptic theory, some of the other less-trustworthy newspapers ran with the story, and proceeded to create a panic among the people. What had started out as a run on telescopes, ended up in mass panic and people ransacking stores for gas masks. To make matters worse, con men began selling anti-comet pills, and some people worried the comet would “cause the Pacific to change basins with the Atlantic” and turn the world into “one heterogeneous mass of chaotic confusion.” People flocked to the churches to pray, and according to science writer Matt Simon, some people actually sealed up their keyholes to keep poison out of their homes.

In the end, people found that their panic was as unnecessary, and the gas masks were. There was no poison. There were a few people who blamed King Edward VII’s death on the comet, bit there was no evidence of science backing that claim. Interestingly, Mark Twain also passed away as the comet flew overhead. That’s extra weird considering he was born as the comet last flew by, in 1835. Of course, that is just a coincidence, although quite interesting.

Most of us have heard about the bird strike that brought down US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River off Manhattan, after both engines were disabled by a bird strike on January 15, 2009. The birds were just flying along…minding their own business. Then suddenly, there was a plane…right in their path. So my thought is what were the birds thinking in that instant before their death. I don’t mean to sound morbid, but I do believe animals can think, and like humans, they might be thinking, “Oh boy…this is it!!” And it was.

In the world of NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida, birds are a part of the territory too. NASA usually takes their feathered intruders in stride, and in turn, the birds provide an extra level of interest in launch photography. For NASA the bird problem can be largely attributed to the nearby Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge’s 310 species of birds that love to swoop through for a visit. Most of the time it’s no big deal, but when they start poking around during a launch, it can be a bit more problematic.

Many of the bird species are not a problem, but one particular type of bird is causing concern for NASA…vultures. In 2005, they had a bird hit Discovery’s external tank during the launch. A vulture’s average weight ranges from 3 to 5 pounds, so a strike at a critical point on the shuttle…like the nose or wing leading thermal protection panels could cause catastrophic damage to the vehicle. The foam chunk that fatefully struck Columbia’s wing in 2003 weighed only 1.7 pounds. Even with the space shuttle launches cancelled, there are still launches at the Kennedy Space Center, and something needs to be done to protect the astronauts, rockets, and equipment, as well as the birds from the harm that occurs when nature collides with NASA. That said, NASA designed special radar to track any vultures around Launch Pad 39B during the countdown to liftoff of Space Shuttle Discovery on mission STS-121. NASA is also trying to clean up anything, like “roadkill” around Kennedy in an effort to prevent the birds being drawn to the area. They are removing the easy food source that keeps the birds around.

Vultures search for food during the day, often circle high into the Florida sky, floating on the thermal gradients, getting a birds-eye view of food sources. To mitigate the danger, an avian radar system known as “Aircraft Birdstrike Avoidance Radar” has been installed to track their movement around the launch area and relay the data to launch control experts. The system was developed by a company called DeTect of Panama City, Florida, which primarily has served the commercial aviation industry and the military. Hopefully the radar can give the launch team locations in real-time so decisions can be made to avoid bird strikes in the future.

My uncle, Wayne Byer is the younger of my grandparents, George and Hattie Byer’s two sons. He always had a great sense of humor, which is very likely why my mom, Collene (Byer) Spencer and their older brother, Larry Byer all got along so well. They were pretty much three-of-a-kind. They all thought the same things funny, and they didn’t care if they looked silly…it was all part of the humor. In fact, I think the silliness is what really makes humor. People who can’t ne silly, really aren’t funny either.

My mom loved being the middle sister, in the middle of the two brothers, mostly because the boys made it fun. Of course, they were all kids, so sometimes that meant they got into mischief. The three of them…well, I can imagine they drove Grandma crazy sometimes. I never really thought of my mom as a tomboy, but I think she might have been. I’ll bet she did everything she could to keep up with her brothers. I think they were probably protective of her too. Still, like most siblings, who are close…I’m sure they picked on Mom a lot. It was just past of being the three-of-a-kind.

Uncle Wayne’s sense of humor, and his friendly ways, endeared him to so many people. My sisters remember that Uncle Wayne was well known and liked by the ladies who worked in the cafeteria at East Junior High School. That information and the fact that we were related gave my sisters a few good lunchtime perks, like the best desserts and dishes. Uncle Wayne was very well liked by everyone, and I’m sure there were other nieces and nephews, as well as his three sons, Tim, Keith, and Cliff. Anyone with a true tie to him was looked at as privileged. I never had to ride the bus to school, but I can just imagine what the drive was like. There are bus drivers who are crabby, and then there are bus drivers who are fun. I can totally imagine how much fun it was to be on Uncle Wayne’s bus. I would imagine that as long as you stayed seated and didn’t cause trouble, the ride could be filled with a lot of laughs. A bus driver like that makes me wish I did have to ride a bus…well, sometimes. Today is Uncle Wayne’s 83rd birthday. Happy birthday Uncle Wayne!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

I have always loved watching birds in flight, especially when they are playing as they fly. They swoop, dive, and chase each other across the sky. We used to have pigeons downtown that played like that, but now they have moved near, or rather right over the trail I like to walk on. Since I don’t go downtown much, you can imagine how delighted I am that they have moved. Pigeons, while fun to watch truly have nothing on the Common Starling when it comes to play. The first time I saw a group of starlings in flight, I was stunned. They moved as one, swooping and diving. It looked like a cloud in the sky, but the cloud would have to be alive, which of course, it was, but not in the way you might think. The cloud was the birds, and their dance is beautiful. It was almost surreal, but it was very real.

This group “dance” is actually called a murmuration, and it doesn’t happen every day. Starling murmurations only happen when the birds start to roost…as early as September in some places, and as late as the end of November elsewhere, with more birds joining the nightly displays during this time. Starlings usually perform their aerial acrobatics at dusk, just above their communal roosting sites before they bed down for the night. I suppose it is a joyful display, because they are preparing to have their young. That is not the only reason starlings murmurate, however. Murmuration can also be used as a defense mechanism. The idea for defense is that as a closely packed flock, can appear to it’s enemies as being much larger than any single bird could possibility appear. Grouping together in the sky does offer protection from predators like peregrine falcons, but the birds also murmurate to keep warm and exchange information on feeding sites. It’s like a natural version of social networking, I guess…with the exception of no computer.

The Starling prefers to nest in sheltered spots, away from predators, but that is not always possible. Often they nest in “woodlands, but reedbeds, cliffs, buildings and industrial structures are also used. During the day however, they form daytime roosts at exposed places such as treetops, where the birds have good all-round visibility.” They need to be able to keep a watch to protect themselves from prey. The habits of birds has always been interesting, but the Starling is perhaps the most interesting of all the birds I’ve seen.

I have never been caught up in a serious earthquake, and I don’t think I want to, but stories of survival in an earthquake, are always filled with hope. Earthquakes remain the one natural disaster that the scientists can’t successfully predict. They may make the attempt, but any earthquake that comes on or near the date predicted, is coincidental. They might come close one time, but totally miss it the next. Earthquakes simply confound the scientists. The Avezzano Earthquake near Avezzano, Italy was no exception.

At 7:49am on January 13, 1915, the people in the Marsica area, a suburb of Avezzano, were going about their day…business as usual, but at 7:50am everything changed. It was a clear, cold morning, after a hard winter night during which the Northern wind blew through the area with a display of crazy violence from dusk until dawn. One survivor had been running errands, and when he came back, he found his brother and cousin sitting by the fireplace, while his mother was busy preparing milk and coffee for her two boys. The younger brother would be heading to school after breakfast, but 15 minutes later at 7:50am, the earth started to rumble around them.

It didn’t matter that it was 1915, because there are no warning systems for earthquakes in this day and age either. The only thing that might have made a difference would have been buildings that were more earthquake proof. Still, it seems that deaths during earthquakes can happen even if the buildings are earthquake proof. The magnitude 6.7 earthquake destroyed the city. Often we think of an earthquake that brings that much destruction being of far greater magnitude than a 6.7 and maybe the stability of the buildings was the problem. People woke up with debris on them, finding it hard to breathe. Families were ripped apart. Some lived and some died. The city and the surrounding area was in mourning.

When the people came outside, a terrifying sight greeted them. There was a huge greyish cloud that was hanging over the suburbs. The city below the cloud was flattened. The air was filled with the acrid smell of old plaster, and the screams and cries of people who were trapped or had found their loved ones deceased. The city was in despair. Death was everywhere. Beloved, historic buildings were gone…many of which had been thought to be indestructible. The total loss of life in the 1915 Avezzano earthquake was 30,000 people. The financial loss was $60 million.

Our enemies really depend on the war we are in. In World War II, Russia was on the side of the United States. While they might not have really been our ally, they weren’t really our enemy either, so I guess they were our “frienemy.” In reality, they were in just as much danger as any other member of the Allies. Germany had made a deal with them, but then invaded them anyway. World War II was a fear-filled time. It was a hard-fought war, against terrible enemies. There were times that it looked like Hitler would win, but in the end, he did not, and as far as history knows, he committed suicide, along with his wife, Eve Braun Hitler, who married him the day before.

The people of the Soviet Union heard on the radio on May 9, 1945, at 1:10am, that Nazi Germany had signed the act of unconditional surrender. That surrender ended the USSR’s fight on the Eastern Front of World War II, or the Great Patriotic War as the Soviets called it. That war had been devastating consequences…according to official data, the state lost more than 26 million people. It was a great day for Russia and for the world. Hitler was dead, and the world could move forward and begin to heal. It was truly a rare case of an indestructible victory over its worst enemy, and the people of the state began a traditional method of celebration…drinking vodka and toasting to their victory.

The party began that day, May 9, 1945, and continued without ceasing for about 22 hours. People were so excitedly celebrating that they really didn’t think about their condition. They went outside in their pajamas, embraced, and wept with happiness. They didn’t care if they were in their pajamas, they were elated, and they partied. In fact, even non-drinkers began to drink. The party came to a screeching halt 22 hours later when the wartime deficiency of vodka, led to a unique situation. The party was in full swing, and when Joseph Stalin stepped up to address the nation in honor of the victory, the population had drunk all the vodka reserves in the country. I don’t think people really cared at that point what they toasted with. They would gladly lift a glass of water to cheer the victory. Nevertheless, how often does an entire nation run out of liquor…unless the nation is in prohibition, that is?

As with anyone, there were many sides to my uncle, Bill Beadle. It really depended on who you were and what you were looking for in a friendship/relationship with him as to what you ultimately found in him. That is exactly why people say, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Of course, Uncle Bill would laugh at that statement. I doubt if he, like most men, don’t think of themselves in the “beauty” arena, but there are many beautiful people, who are men. I always remember Uncle Bill as being a humorous person. He liked to joke around, and many of the kids were able to witness his funny side. I think that is the main reason that when his mind started to slip and he didn’t come to family events anymore, it was just so sad.

Uncle Bill led a busy life for most of his life. He worked for years in pipe yards, and later had his own rathole drilling company with his sons, Forrest and Steve. He was an excellent machinist and mechanic. He could fix just about anything. Nevertheless, his favorite pastime was hunting and fishing with his son, Steve. He had always loved the outdoors, and going out in it. I think, like most outdoorsmen, Uncle Bill just felt like he could breathe outside, like he was free. Since he was born and raised in Wyoming, I’m sure he knew many of the best places to go camping, hunting, and fishing. That would make for some great memories for him and his family.

Uncle Bill took his position in the family seriously, and not just with his own kids, but any of the nieces or nephews found themselves heading in the wrong direction, and Uncle Bill heard about it, he took it upon himself to “sit them down” for a heart to heart talk. I think that just knowing that he cared about the direction they were heading made them decide to do the right thing. That is a great legacy to have. Today would have been Uncle Bill’s 92nd birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Uncle Bill!! We love and miss you very much.

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