Caryn

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As we head into Independence Day 2020, many of us have begun to realize that this year, it’s different. Everything is different. The year, Independence Day has taken on a whole new meaning for me and so many others. For the first time in our nations history, almost everything was shut down. People were quarantined…leaving only the essential workers going to work, and the rest of us staying home, except for food, medicine, and doctor visits. Covid 19 had changed everything.

Spring Break for the schools brought the quarantine, and even if we had no children in school, we felt that change deeply. Everything just…stopped. Restaurants were closed, movies were out, bowling leagues ended early, as did all sports. Once the warmer weather hit, it felt like summer, but it was only May. This would prove to be the longest summer ever…I’m not complaining, mind you. Summer is my favorite time of year. I can’t imagine how awful it would have been, if the quarantine had happened in the Winter, when I wouldn’t have been able to get outside and walk on the trail near my home…especially since I am not into winter sports, and those places would have been closed anyway.

Finally after more than three months of quarantine, the states were allowed to begin reopening. Still, we did not know what the summer would look like. Sports were up in the air, contemplating a shortened season, or as in the case of some, cancelling the 2020 season altogether. Graduations, funerals, birthday gatherings, and holidays were uncertain. Finally, as campgrounds and hotels began to reopen, it looked like summer might be salvaged. Still, several fairs and some 4th of July fireworks thought about, or did cancel. My husband, Bob and I usually go to the Black Hills over the 4th of July, to do some hiking, so this was a concern to us. Finally, word came down that the fireworks display we loved would indeed be held, and that after a 9 year span without fireworks at Mount Rushmore, that display would also take place this year. We were so happy, and booked our motel right away.

As we prepare to watch the fireworks on Independence Day 2020, it comes to mind that Independence Day has taken on a whole new meaning. For a time, we lost our independence, and now we have it back. The feeling reminds me of how the early settlers felt, when England finally gave up and we had won our independence from them. Yes, we still have a ways to go before we will have our country back to normal. During the lock-down, some bad things happened and some people are in an outraged state, but I believe that we will be able to get back to normal through the love of God being shown in our nation. There are those who want to change the root of our nation, but they will not succeed. We are and always will be “One Nation, Under God” and we will have victory over the anarchists. Today, we celebrate the birth of our great nation, the United States of America. It is with a whole new meaning…Freedom Again!! Happy Independence Day everyone, God bless you all, and God bless America!!

My grandnephew, Lucas Iverson, like the rest of the American school children, has had a very unusual school year…one that ended long before it was scheduled to. For most kids, while the missed ending of the school year was not good, for Lucas, it was really more detrimental than the normal student. Down Syndrome means that Lucas needs structure, and for him, that is school. Nevertheless, I think his parents, Cassie and Chris Iverson, did an excellent job of teaching their two children. Because of Lucas’ condition, Cassie and Chris have had to be very “hands on” in his education. Lucas is thriving in his mixed schooling situation, and that is largely to the credit of his parents, who have been teaching their son from his birth, Lucas had some challenges that made early training essential.

I love looking at pictures of the Iverson family. Zoey has been her brother’s champion for the time she was old enough to know her brother was there. She always makes sure that he is included in the activities. It’s not like her parents would leave him out of things, but she has decided that it is her responsibility, so she does her thing. She encourages him to always try harder. She was instrumental in his learning to walk, but more importantly, Zoey has been instrumental in letting people know that her brother can do more than he or anyone else ever thought. Zoey sees an open book where Lucas is concerned. She has no doubt that he can do anything he wants to do. She makes sure he knows that she has confidence in him. She loves him very much.

With schools closed, Lucas and Zoey have been having a sort-of camp/school in their neighborhood. Their mom calls it “Sidewalk School.” It is when the teacher or other volunteer comes to the home of the children, and holds class, outside. These sessions are such a good idea, because so many kids need a measure of student/teacher one-on-one time, and this is a way to do it safely, and effectively. Normally, one-on-one time is a part of the normal class time, but since the school’s are closed, one-on-one time has been thrown out along with the regular class time. I’m just glad that Lucas has so many people in his life, who have picked up the pieces to help him stay on point. Today is Lucas’ birthday. Happy birthday Lucas!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Chelsea Hadlock came into our lives when she met and then married my nephew, Ryan. None of us knew then how much she would change our lives…especially the lives of my sister, Allyn Hadlock; her husband, Chris; and their girls, Jessi, Lindsay, and Kellie. They received something they didn’t know they were missing. It wasn’t really a thing, but rather a person…Chelsea. They received a daughter-in-law/sister-in-law, who is so caring! Chelsea cares about each of them and each baby. She loves this family she has joined, and she goes out of her way to show each of them just how much she loves and cares about them. Chelsea is an excellent mother to her children Ethan and Aurora, a wonderful aunt to Adelaide and Makenzie, and an awesome sister to Jessi, Lindsay, and Kelli, as well as a wonderful daughter-in-law to Allyn and Chris. We are all blessed to have her in our lives!

Chelsea is super creative. She loves to go to garage sales to see what treasures she can find. You and I might see junk at garage sales, but Chelsea sees furniture and other items that are just waiting to have someone bring out their true beauty. Chelsea is just the person to do so too. She might find a piece of furniture for $5.00, and when she is done, it looks like something out of a magazine. She’s also really thoughtful. If she’s out shopping and she sees something that reminds her of you or of a story or inside joke, she’ll pick it up.

Chelsea has been taking her designs to the various Comic Con events too. She sells them there, and does very well on her trips. She makes all her costumes for the event too. She designs the dresses, cuts the fabric, and sews the entire costume. I know lots of people make clothes, but not many design them too. Chelsea is a very capable designer, who can make her designs into a reality. Now that’s talent.

Chelsea and Ryan bought the house Ryan grew up in from his parents, Allyn and Chris, who had built a house on Chris’ parents land after their passing. They house was filled with all the memories of the Hadlock children’s childhood years. While they love those old memories, they also need to make new memories for their family. Chelsea has been busy adding her personal touches to make the house their own home. The kids all say that the house doesn’t seem like the same house at all. She is adding her own decorations and furniture layout designs. Ryan’s sisters say, We only knew that house as ours growing up, so it’s fun to see them put their touch on things. We love to see how excited she gets and the ideas she has for their home.” Today is Chelsea’s birthday. Happy birthday Chelsea!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Sometimes an evil leader can come in and before anyone realizes it, the danger that came in with him is real. Unfortunately, not every elected leader is a good one, and when an elected leader, begins to do things like taking away the guns of the people and undermining the police, you find out just how bad they really are. Hitler was that kind of elected leader, and worse. By May of 1934, Hitler had been the chancellor of Germany for 16 months, and the dictator for 14 months. Less than a month after Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany, he calls on elements of the Nazi party to act as auxiliary police. The SS (Schutzstaffel), initially Hitler’s bodyguards, and the SA (Sturmabteilung, the German Assault Division), who were the street fighters or Storm Troopers of the Nazi party, now operated as the private army of the Nazi party. SS chief Heinrich Himmler also turned the regular (nonparty) police forces into an instrument of terror. He helped forge the powerful Secret State Police (Geheime Staatspolizei), or Gestapo. These non-uniformed police used ruthless and cruel methods throughout Germany to identify and arrest political opponents and others who refused to obey laws and policies of the Nazi regime. It had taken less than a year to change everything for the people of Germany, who no longer had a say in their own lives.

While he had control, it was still not enough for the insane chancellor. Hitler, as we all know, would go on to annihilate millions of the Jewish people, as well as anyone else he considered an “undesirable” person. While I’m sure the leaders of the German government considered themselves safe, they would find out just how wrong they were on the Night of the Long Knives…also known as a Blood Purge, or putsch in German. By definition, a blood purge is “the elimination en masse by massacre or execution of individuals considered to constitute an untrustworthy or undesirable element within a party or movement. the elimination en masse by massacre or execution of individuals considered to constitute an untrustworthy or undesirable element within a party.” Hitler had decided that some of his own leaders, his trusted associates, could not be trusted. Maybe he was right, but he didn’t really have proof of his doubts. Nevertheless, He decided that there needed to be a blood purge and the Night of the Long Knives was born.

On June 30, 1934, it began, and continued on until July 2, 1934. During the purge of the Night of the Long Knives (Nacht der langen Messer) Hitler and the Nazi regime used the Schutzstaffel (SS) to deal with the perceived problem of Ernst Röhm and his Sturmabteilung (SA) brownshirts (the original Nazi paramilitary organization). The first thing Hitler did was to take out…or defund the police. Believe it or not, that took out the last protection of the people. He also took out past opponents of the party, thinking that they might organize against them. It is estimated that at least 85 people were murdered, but many historians think that the death toll was likely in the hundreds. Most of those killed were members of the SA, other victims included close associates of Vice Chancellor Franz von Papen, several Reichswehr (German Army) generals…one of whom, Kurt von Schleicher, was formerly the Chancellor of Germany. Hitler also took out their associates. Gregor Strasser, Hitler’s former competitor for control of the Nazi Party was the next to go. At least one person was killed in a case of mistaken identity, sadly, and several innocent victims were simply killed because they “knew too much.” The Night of the Long Knives…was Hitler’s insane revenge on anyone who dared to oppose him, or even to appear to oppose him.

My husband’s grandmother, Nettie Knox liked the unique things that made up her life. She was six months older than Grandpa Robert Knox, and she liked that. When her birthday came around, she would tease him that she was now older and wiser than he was. It was a bit unusual for the wife to be older than the husband in those days. In fact, more common was for the husband to be a number of years older than the wife, sometimes as much as twenty years older, so for Grandma to be the older, was quirky, but she relished the idea. It was a part of her uniqueness.

The birth of Grandma’s first great grandchild, my daughter, Corrie Petersen, was one of the most exciting events to happen in her life. She was beyond excited. She told me immediately when she walked into my hospital room to meet her great granddaughter. They both loved the special connection they shared. Birthdays were celebrated together, along with pictures for each year…a treasured remembrance of the bond they shared. It was something that Grandma knew was unusual, even when the third great grandchild was born of her husband’s birthday. They both now had an unusual treasure, and that made it even greater. It was a beautiful and unique gift to each of them.

Grandma never wanted to just like everyone else. I think she liked feeling like she was one of a kind, and that she definitely was. It wasn’t that she tried to be a rebel or a spectacle, but just that she always showed everyone love and kindness. I think she passed that to Corrie and the rest of the family too. Grandma loved being a mom, grandma, and great grandma. She felt like it made her life complete. I remember always thinking, when Grandma Knox came to my mind, that she was really just so sweet. She hated conflict which reminds me of my youngest daughter, Amy Royce. Grandma wanted everything in her world to be peaceful and happy, and that’s a good way to be. Today would have been Grandma’s 112th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Grandma Knox. We love and miss you very much.

My oldest daughter, Corrie Petersen is one of the hardest working people I know. She works full time as a CNA at Wyoming Medical Center, while going to nursing school. The hours are long, in both of her ventures. She works nights on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday on the surgical floor of the hospital. The life of a CNA is always a busy one. Anyone who has been in the hospital can tell you that they run to call lights, help patients with all their personal needs, help patients with their mobility exercises, help in taking vitals, and so much more. It all adds up to twelve hours on your feet, with a small window of time to sit while charting and such. When she isn’t working or catching a few winks of sleep, Corrie’s time is spent studying, at least during the school year. She studies or goes to class or clinicals many hours a week. It’s really like having two full-time jobs.

Of course, Corrie is all about her family too. She is a wife to Kevin, mom to sons, Chris (and his fiancée) and Josh, and grandma to her little granddaughter. She is also a fur mommy to dogs, Dottie, Izzy, Bella, and to their cat, Zoe. Now the dogs love Corrie but she doesn’t have much time to play, so they really hang with Kevin more. Zoe, on the other hand, wants Corrie’s attention whenever she sits down. Zoe doesn’t understand studying, and whenever Corrie isn’t spending enough time to suit Zoe, she just decides to sit in the middle of Corrie’s book or computer, as if to say, “It’s my turn!! Pay attention to me!!” Corrie tells me that Zoe is her study partner, but I don’t think they were getting much studying done.

Corrie’s life is so busy, and sometimes I don’t know how she manages. She truly gets up in the morning, and runs all day and into the late night, then falls into bed and tries to unwind and sleep. It’s hard to unwind for Corrie, sometimes, because her mind is busy planning out the next day. Still, once in a while, Corrie finds a little bit of time to rest. She told me that she always takes her breaks at work, because she knows she needs that little bit of downtime to properly care for her patients, and I totally agree. A healthcare worker has to take care of themselves too, because if they get sick or exhausted, they are no help to their patients either. Corrie’s work life is all about the people she takes care of. When she went into this field, we talked about the fact that a CNA is often the person the patient sees the most, and so is the one who can effectively change the course of their patients day. A smile, a kind word, and a gentle touch can take a day filed with pain and upset, and change it to a day that is filled with sunshine. That is the ultimate goal for Corrie…bringing the sunshine. Today is Corrie’s birthday. Happy birthday Corrie…you passed your sister again!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

High up in the Big Horn Mountains, about 23 miles from Buffalo, Wyoming, rest the remains of a B-17F-55-DL Flying Fortress, serial number 42-3399, nicknamed “Scharazad.” The highest peak in the Big Horn Range is Cloud Peak, at an elevation of 12,840 feet. After the crash of the bomber, the next peak over, the one on which the bomber rests was renamed Bomber Mountain. The plane is still there today, but the bodies of the crew, William R Ronaghan (pilot), Anthony J Tilotta (co-pilot), Leonard H Phillips (navigator), Charles H Suppes (bombardier), James A Hinds (aircraft engineer), Ferguson T Bell Jr (radio operator), Lee ‘Vaughn’ Miller (assistant aircraft engineer), Charles E Newburn Jr (assistant radio operator), Jake F Penick (aircraft gunner), Lewis M Shepard (assistant aircraft gunner), were recovered from the crash site and given a proper burial.

On June 28, 1943, the B-17F “Scharazad” left Pendleton, Oregon to join a bomber group headed to Europe during World War II. Around midnight, Captain Ronaghan radioed that their position was near Powder River, Wyoming. That was the last transmission, and they were never heard from again. The Army launched multiple search campaigns to find the missing plane among the mountains, but modern search aids like GPS were not available until the 1960s, and planes can be difficult to find in mountainous terrain anyway, due to trees and grasses blending with the green tones of the plane.

It would take two long years for the families of these fallen men to have closure, and it came by chance, really. On August 12, 1945, two cowboys spotted the shiny aluminum from the wreckage and discovered all ten crew members deceased. For two years the paint color had allowed the plane to be hidden on the mountain, but as time, and the elements, went on, the paint wore off, and the shining aluminum allowed the plane to be located. The mountain was named “Bomber Mountain” in their memory. I can’t imagine the pain of loss the families of the crew must have felt knowing that their loved one had died, but to have no real idea what happened for two long years…must have been very hard to bear. Knowing where it all happened, while not removing the pain, at least brings peace.

Our Uncle Butch Hein is a rancher in Forsyth, Montana. He has been raising cattle there for most of his life. Butch is the youngest on my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg’s siblings. Butch was the only one of the kids that was really ever interested in carrying on the work of his dad. Now, Butch is continuing the tradition of the family business in his son, Scott. The two of them run the ranch together and they are very successful. It feels good for a man to watch the business he has built, grow into something he can share with his son. A man’s life’s work should go forward to his kids, if at all possible.

Butch has just the one son, Scott, but Scott and his wife, Terri have blessed him with three grandchildren; Laura, who just completed college with a teaching degree; Carson, who graduated from high school a year ago, and is going straight into ranching; and Lindsey, who will soon be attending Montana State University. The grandkids have all been such a blessing to Butch. Since Butches wife and Scott’s mom, Bonnie, died when Scott was very young, it is so good for Butch to have his son’s family close by.

Butch stays active, but these days, I’m sure Scott carries more of the load. Butch has had several surgeries on his back, because the life of a rancher isn’t an easy one. It takes a toll on the body. Still, Butch doesn’t look his 75 years at all. Many people would hope that they could look as good when they are 75. Butch is well liked around Forsyth, Montana where he lives, and has rancher friends who help with things that Butch and Scott need. Things like moving cattle from one range to another require a number of people to help, so friends are essential. I’m glad Butch has a good network of people to help him out and to fill his life with love. Today is Butch’s 75th birthday. Happy birthday Butch!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand nephew, Topher Spicer just finished his first year of high school…strange as it might have been. Never before has there been such an unusual ending to a school year, and all because of the Covid-19 virus. We experienced the never-ending spring break, home schooling in families that didn’t intend to home school, and online classes for all grades. Some kids did well, while others struggled with this new reality education. Topher did well. He likes school and learning, and finished his first year of high school with all A’s and B’s. It was something to be proud of.

Topher also had an interesting year, in that he got a job…his first job. Most kids tend to go into retail or fast food for their first job, but Topher managed to land a really interesting job. It has me very impressed. He is working as a tour guide for The Wyoming Frontier Prison. The prison opened in 1901 and could accommodate 104 prisoners. At that time there was no running water, electricity, and very inadequate heating. The 104 cells were in what is now Cell Block A. An addition completed in 1904 added 32 cells. A second addition, adding Cell Block B in 1950, helped alleviate overcrowding. Cell Block C was added in 1966, with 30 cells for the most serious cases. The prison closed in 1987 and became a historic site in 1988…setting the stage for Topher’s first job. Topher, being the innovative guy he is, loves his job, and enjoys making people laugh at the witty things he has come up with for some of the historical information. Many people find history boring, but Topher helps them understand how things were in a very different era, and makes it interesting while he’s at it…now that’s something to be proud of.

Topher is comfortable in his own company. He is an only child, and always finds ways to occupy his mind. He and his mom, my niece, Andrea Spicer, are good friends, and even into his teenage years, they get along very well. Topher is her right-hand man, helping her with things she needs and doing it without complaint…ok, not too much anyway. Topher plans to spend high school building up his art and theatre credits, and then he is considering going to the University of Wyoming, or possibly to South Dakota. I know that whatever Topher decides to do, he will excel at it and continue to make his family proud. Today is Topher’s 15th birthday. Happy birthday Topher!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

In a time when so much in our world is chaotic and serious, today seems like a good time to explore the lighter side of life. We have all seen the different feats performed for the Guinness Book of World Records. There are many people who attempt and fail to break the world record, and that is sad, because they have worked so hard to set it up, and it would probably take a long time to set it up again. Still, if a world record was easy to obtain, it wouldn’t really be so special.

In the latter part of the nineteenth century, and long before the August 27, 1955 first publication of the Guinness Book of World Records, a local baker named Sylvain Dornon decided that he was going to make his mark on history. He decided that he was going to a bygone Landaise tradition of walking on stilts. Dornon was a baker in Arcachon, and I’m not sure what made him decide to take on such a feat, when he already had a decent business that needed his attention. Nevertheless, Dornon, who was born in 1858 in Salles, to the east of Arcachon and at the northern tip of the Landes, was fascinated with stilts. Normally, the use of stilts, or “échasses” as they were called, were primarily used by shepherds, because they were an easy way of maneuvering through marshy land and as a means of extending their field of vision when watching over their flock of sheep. Messengers and postmen, keen on time-saving and maintaining a steady step used stilts too, but as the wetlands became drier, the use of stilts began to die out. Dornon hated to see that period end, and decided to do something about it.

In the beginning of his quest, Dornon organized demonstrations and performances. In true street entertainment style, spectators were invited to make generous donations at the end of the show. The concept proved successful, but Dornon felt he and his stilts deserved greater exposure. So, he kicked things into high gear, in September of 1889, he travelled to Paris for the Exposition Universelle, and there, he walked up the steps to the second level of the Eiffel Tower. The stunt made Dornon almost a household word, for a while.

Dornon was inspired by the publicity he received, and by the tales of eccentric Russians travelling on foot from the western frontier of their country to France. He set himself a goal to stilt-walk all the way from Paris to Moscow, planning his arrival to coincide with a Franco-Russian exhibition being held there in May 1891. The trip would not be a free way to travel, so he set about securing financial backing from the magazine L’Illustration, began making two new pairs of stilts: one set measured 44 inches long and weighed about 7 pounds. The second, longer pair was 70 inches long, and was sent to Moscow, along with trunks of clothes.

Dornon was dressed in full Landais shepherd clothing…including goat-skin coat and beret, carrying a bag containing maps, a few spare clothes and a loaded gun…for safety. He was dressed in the authentic attire for the period he was portraying. Dornon set out from Place de la Concorde in Paris on March 12th 1891, surrounded by a 2,000-strong crowd of enthusiastic supporters! He walked an average of 37 miles a day, which I find amazing, considering that I walk an average of 15 miles a day, and I think that is an accomplishment. Even harsh weather conditions and poor road surfaces, didn’t slow him down. Dornon cruised through Reims, Sedan, Luxembourg, Koblenz, Berlin, Wilna and on to Moscow. He was joined periodically by walkers and cyclists for stretches of the route. Progress was also sometimes hindered by uncooperative policemen or children who would throw stones at him, not to mention downright hostile observers, notably in Germany where the sight of a Frenchman on stilts did not systematically prove popular. There always has to be someone to ruin things. Still, Dornon never failed to find a local who had heard of his venture or a hotel bed to sleep in.

After 58 days and 1786 miles, Dornon arrived in Moscow preceded by a police cortege. He was hailed by a crowd chanting “Vive la France!” and treated to a champagne reception, although the staff at the French exhibition weren’t too impressed. Dornon wasn’t allowed to stilt-walk at the event and wasn’t even given a courtesy ticket…nice, he had to pay to get into his own reception. When the festivities were over, he boarded a train for the much-shorter trip home, where he went back to his job as a baker.

He still liked to take part in races and dance performances throughout the region up until his death in 1900 aged just 42. Dornon did leave a legacy…that of reviving a Landaise tradition which had already died out, and the concept he developed lives on to this day, with many échassier folk dance troupes continuing to entertain the masses.

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