Caryn

If holiday travel seems like a nightmare today, it was much worse in 1914. People didn’t travel from place to place in hours, but rather in days. These days, we hop on a plane and before the day is over, we are visiting with family on the other side of the country. When I think of that era, of course, the Titanic comes to mind. People had to pack enough clothes for a year or so, because they couldn’t just go somewhere and stay for a week and then head home again. People had to travel with a purpose.

The same applied to travel on land. During the era of the wagon train, when someone went west, it was to move. All too often people might never see their families again. Of course, with the invention of cars, travel became less time consuming, and people could go to visit family a lot more often. Having family members move away, didn’t mean that they were gone forever and you would never see them again. Trips could easily be made for holidays, new babies, or just to visit.

The railroad modernized travel because unlike the wagon train, the trains could go much faster. Even with cars, the train could get you there faster, because while you could only drive your car so far, the train kept moving throughout the night, often reaching your destination by morning. A trip that once took forty days, could now be taken in just five days. Even wars could be accomplished in a more timely manner…if that could be considered a good thing. When Britain sent out its troops when it declared war and invaded Germany, soldiers would have had to travel up to five days to reach Germany once the declaration of war was announced. Troops from New Zealand and Australia also traveled for several days in order to invade and occupy Samoa and German New Guinea, respectively. If a travelers from the United Kingdom wanted to make a trip to Australia, a former British colony in 1914, the journey would have taken at least a month and or more than 40 days. With trains, planes, and trucks, armies to get to the front much quicker. While this type of improvement is good, I’m not sure it was the type of travel that the inventors intended. Nevertheless, travel has greatly improved over the past 100 years or so, and I wouldn’t ever want to go back to the old ways.

Since moving to Casper a year ago, our family has had the opportunity to finally get to know my nephew, Allen Beach and his wife, Gabby for the first time. For the majority of his life, Allen and his sister, Andrea have lived in several areas of the western United States, so we didn’t see them often. Later, when Allen joined the Navy, he lived in the Washington DC area and also in Japan. All these distances made us almost strangers to our nephew and the bride he met in the service.

Now all that has changed, since Allen and Gabby have moved to his mother and step-father’s place west of Casper, Wyoming. Gabby is getting ready to start nursing school, and with his schooling behind him, Allen has landed a great job at Wyoming Medical Center as department manager over the referral and communications departments. It is a job that Allen has worked hard to prepare for and one that he really loves.

Recently, Allen was instrumental in something that is near and dear to my heart, and one that brings tears to my eyes every time I think about it. Shortly after my husband, Bob had a heart attack, on October 14, 2018, we were able to either meet or friend on Facebook, all of the people who were instrumental in saving his life. Of course, we hugged and thanked them, but I never felt that it was enough for all that they had given me. They took time out of their day to respond to a terrible situation, and as a result, I still have my husband. I can never repay them…we can never repay them. I wanted to do more. I wrote a story, but I had no way to connect it to our angels…until Allen asked me if we would agree to be interview for a story on the hospital’s website. We jumped at the chance, and he arranged it for us. It was a way to tell all those people that they would always be our angels. More importantly, it was a way to tell the world about these amazing people. So many people might not have known about our miracle, if it weren’t for Allen, and we will be forever grateful to him for making the arrangements for us. Allen has such a kind and loving heart, and he will always be a great blessing to us. Having Allen and Gabby here in Casper has been such an amazing blessing in so many ways, and we are so happy that they are here. Today is Allen’s birthday. Happy birthday Allen!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Not everyone can start their new age on the same day as the new year, but my mom, Collene Spencer always could, because she was a New Years Baby. Growing up, it was always normal for our family to have a New Year’s Eve Party. Our dad, Al Spencer was a romantic…at least when it came to Mom. He loved doing things for her, and never really needed any help…not even from his girls, but he did let us help.

While being a New Year’s Baby was Mom’s first claim to fame, it was not the thing most people would remember her for. I think that when asked, most people who knew my mom would have to comment on her never-ending love of God. Not only did she love God, but she wanted to share him with anyone who would listen. Mom wanted every person she knew to be in Heaven when they died. She couldn’t bear the thought that the people she knew and loved would spend eternity in Hell. Of course, not everyone understood Mom’s drive, especially her own girls. We all wanted her not to be so “pushy” when it came to spreading the Gospel. Talking to many people after her passing, we can now see that Mom made an impact. She really did. We were the ones who had no idea what we were doing, at least not when it came to spreading the Gospel to people who were genuinely searching for a way to fill the hole in their lives. Mom has an eye for that, where most people don’t.

Mom was always a great mother, who really wanted nothing more than to be a stay at home mom, but when needs arose, she would never leave her precious “Al” to carry that extra load alone. Dad sometimes worked long hours to make ends meet, and when we were young girls, daycare would have cost a lot of money. Then when we were old enough, Mom went to work at Kmart. Mom could run circles around anyone at the store. We would walk over to take breaks with Mom, and we couldn’t keep up with her either. Mom was an amazing woman who always live her life being true to herself, her family, and most of all to her God. Today would have been Mom’s 83rd birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Mom. Have an amazing day with all the family who are there, and with Jesus!! We love and miss you every day!!

One of the funniest parts of a movie or television program is the bloopers…the many takes that were completely blown. We have all laughed at the hilarity of it all. Well, in my years of writing, I can tell you that movies and television programs aren’t the only places that one finds bloopers. Normally, I proofread my stories before I post them, and I usually catch most errors. Nevertheless, like most editors, it pays to have a backup plan. For me, that backup plan is some of my readers. My sister, Cheryl Masterson is my main backup proofreader, and she has picked up some doozies!!

From botched math, resulting in the wrong age being listed for one of the subjects, such as saying that my Uncle George was 94, when in reality he was 92, to botched spellcheck resulting in a totally wrong word in a sentence making it say something completely wrong and usually goofy, Cheryl has seen it all. She caught one the other day, where I called my Aunt Evelyn…Aunt Evenly. Invariably, I will get a text telling me that I have a blooper in my story. I am grateful that Cheryl usually reads my story pretty quickly after I post it, meaning that a minimal number of people have seen that embarrassing blooper. Nevertheless, some have seen it and I’m sure they laughed about some of them. Sometimes it isn’t really a blooper, but rather calling something a name that could embarrass the subject. Such was the case with a story about my great grand niece who loves lip balm. It was ok to call it lip balm, until I said it belonged to her daddy. After that I was informed that it was chap stick, because men would never use lip balm. Hahahahaha!! Needless to say, my sister missed that one, but her daughter Chantel Balcerzak and grandson, Jake Harman certainly didn’t.

Every year I have bloopers in my stories. It is inevitable, l suppose. Then, a few days ago Cheryl suggested that I should write a story about the bloopers. I must say that I was intrigued with the idea. Of course, if I am to continue a yearly blooper story, I will have to keep better track of the many bloopers for the year. Whether I am able to relay them all to my readers or not, I know that for those who catch them, and for me, the bloopers do add a little laughter to my blogs and my days.

There are many ways to get hurt, but one of the most dangerous is the stampede. Caused by people pushing the people in front of them. It can lead to serious crush injuries. In December of 1991, at a City College gymnasium in New York, New York, a benefit basketball game was being held to benefit AIDS education. In a zealous attempt to bring in as much money as possible, the facility was jammed with as many as 2,000 people over capacity. To make matters worse, a group of gate-crashers tried to push their way into the already overcrowded gymnasium. Thus sparked a stampede that crushed hundreds of ticketholders at the bottom of a basement staircase. Most of the injuries happened near the door to an underground gym that was packed with thousands of spectators.

The problem with this type of situation is the the people in front get pressed tightly between a wall, and the people behind them. Chief medical examiner, Charles Hirsch said, “the eight people killed all were asphyxiated…squeezed front to back…in the stairwell.” The victims included three women and five men and ranged in age from 16 to 28…Sonia Williams 20, Leonard Nelson 17, Dirk Swain 20, Charise Noel, Jubal Rainey 15, Yul Dargan 24, and Darren Brown 29, were among the dead. Videotape shot from the bleachers revealed a seriously overcrowded gymnasium…at least 2,000 people more than its legal capacity of 2,730 and that tickets were still being sold at the door. “It was oversold,” said Mayor David Dinkins.

The stampede pushed most of the victims down the stairs, squeezed them through a doorway and onto the gym floor. They tripped and fell over others waiting there, only to be crushed themselves by the next human wave. “It was a cone effect,” said ambulance worker Sy Collins. “The door opens and there were bodies on the floor and people were just running over them.” Bodies piled up as many as six high. The 29 people who sustained crushing injuries included five Emergency Medical Service staffers, some of whom were mauled as the crowd fought over their services.

According to authorities and witnesses, by late afternoon thousands of people had lined up outside the City College gym in upper Manhattan for what was billed as the “Heavy D and Puff Daddy Celebrity Charity Basketball Game” to benefit AIDS education. The teams were to be captained by Heavy D and Puff Daddy, both rap stars. A recorded telephone message told callers that all of the $12 advance tickets had been sold, but that tickets could be bought at the door for $20. Chief of Patrol Mario Salvaggi said the school’s security director called the police before the game and asked for help because the event was sold out. Police who arrived at 5:00 p.m. found a crowd of between 500 and 700 were milling around outside on Convent Avenue. The game was scheduled to start at 6:00 p.m., and the doors opened at 5:00 p.m. Ticketholders passed through a glass door at street level, walked down a 12 foot wide staircase, and passed through a single metal door into the gym. By 7:00 p.m., the game still had not started, and people out on the street began pushing to get inside. A locked glass door was smashed, and people rushed into the gym building. Randy Jones, 30, of the Bronx who was standing inside the door to the gym, said that a woman collecting money at the door got up, took a can holding the night’s receipts, ran into the gym and closed the metal doors behind her, leaving the crowd up in the stairwell. Eventually event organizers began letting people from the stairwell into the gym, but only a few at a time, Jones said. Finally people from the stairs began streaming into the gym, colliding with scores standing inside the door. Soon the floor was covered with injured people. 

We hear many things about the different Indian Wars and battles. We also know that many of these wars were unnecessary, and were largely due to broken treaties that were made between the White Man and the Indians. Because the population of the United States was inevitable, I don’t know how we could have possibly left so much land exclusively for the use if the Indians, but there must have been better ways to work this out. Nevertheless, once a population explosion starts, it is impossible to stop it.

Of further concern to the government were the spiritual beliefs of the Indians. Throughout 1890, the United States government worried about the increasing influence at Pine Ridge of the Ghost Dance spiritual movement. The movement taught that the Indians had been defeated and confined to reservations because they had angered the gods by abandoning their traditional customs. This movement prompted many Sioux Indians to believed that if they practiced the Ghost Dance and rejected the ways of the white man, the gods would create the world anew and destroy all non-believers, including non-Indians.

The situation escalated when on December 15, 1890, reservation police tried to arrest Sitting Bull, the famous Sioux chief, because they mistakenly believed he was a Ghost Dancer. In the process of his arrest, they killed him, thereby increasing the tensions at Pine Ridge. Then, on December 29, the U.S. Army’s 7th Cavalry surrounded a band of Ghost Dancers under Big Foot, a Lakota Sioux chief, near Wounded Knee Creek. They demanded the Indians surrender their weapons. Immediately, a fight broke out between an Indian and a U.S. soldier. A shot was fired, but it’s unclear who fired first. A brutal massacre followed, in which it’s estimated that between 150 and 300 Indians were killed, nearly half of them women and children. The cavalry lost 25 men. The conflict at Wounded Knee was originally referred to as a battle, but in reality it was a tragic and avoidable massacre. Surrounded by heavily armed troops, it’s unlikely that Big Foot’s band would have intentionally started a fight. Some historians speculate that the soldiers of the 7th Cavalry were deliberately taking revenge for the regiment’s defeat at Little Bighorn in 1876. Whatever the motives, the massacre ended the Ghost Dance movement and was the last major battle in America’s deadly war against the Plains Indians.

Earthquakes can happen anywhere, but there are areas that are more prone to earthquakes than other areas. When we think about that, we think of Alaska, California, or Japan, all of which experience daily earthquakes. Of course, there are many other places that get a lot of earthquakes. One such place is in Italy. The area around Sicily and Calabria are known as la terra ballerina, “the dancing land,” for the periodic seismic activity that strikes the region. I would have thought that with 12,000 earthquakes a year in Alaska, or 10,000 earthquakes a year in California, or 1,500 earthquakes in Japan, that any of these places would be called “the dancing land” before the area of Sicily and Calabria, which doesn’t have nearly as many.

Nevertheless, the name was given and it stuck. While it may not have as many, the ones that hit there seem to be especially devastating. In 1693, 60,000 people were killed in southern Sicily by an earthquake, and in 1783 most of the Tyrrenian coast of Calabria was leveled by a massive earthquake that killed 50,000. The quake of 1908 was particularly costly in terms of human life because it struck at at dawn, catching most people at home in bed rather than in the relative safety of the streets or fields. The December 28, 1908 earthquake which struck at 5:20am was the most destructive earthquake in recorded European history strikes the Straits of Messina in southern Italy. The cities of Messina in Sicily and Reggio di Calabria on the Italian mainland were leveled by the devastating quake. The earthquake and tsunami it caused killed an estimated 100,000 people. The main shock registered an estimated 7.5 magnitude on the Richter scale. It caused a devastating tsunami with 40-foot waves that washed over coastal towns and cities. The two major cities on either side of the Messina Straits–Messina and Reggio di Calabria, had about 90 percent of their buildings destroyed. The quake cut telegraph lines and damaged railway lines, seriously slowing down the relief efforts. To make matters worse, many of the remaining buildings were destroyed by hundreds of smaller tremors over subsequent days. These tremors injured or killed rescuers. On December 30, King Victor Emmanuel III arrived aboard the battleship Napoli to inspect the devastation.

To make matters worse, a steady rain fell on the ruined cities, forcing the dazed and injured survivors, clad only in their nightclothes, to take shelter in caves, grottoes, and impromptu shacks built out of materials salvaged from the collapsed buildings. Veteran sailors could barely recognize the shoreline because long stretches of the coast had sunk several feet into the Messina Strait. The devastation was horrific. After all that, I can see why it is called la terra ballerina, “the dancing land.”

My husband’s aunt, Esther Hein lives in Oregon, and it’s not always easy for her to get back home to Forsyth, Montana to visit her brothers, Eddie and Butch Hein, who live there with their families. Last January she made the trip, and once she was there, she might have found herself wondering if January was the best time to have done that. Montana gets quite a bit of snow, and last January was no exception. They got a large amount of snow, and Esther found herself shoveling the sidewalks and not really getting anywhere with removing all the snow.  In the end, they spent a lot of time indoors, but it was a very nice visit anyway.

Things got a little tough for Esther this past fall, when he got Shingles. If you have never dealt with Shingles, or had them yourself, you have no idea how bad they really are. my husband had them in February of 2013, and they were awful.They itch and burn at the same time. They leave scars that never seem to completely go away. Some people get physically ill, and unfortunately, Esther was one of those. She was really sick for a while, and that can take a long time to come back from.  I’m sure she was weak for a while.

As winter approached, Esther began to feel better, and was able to go on the family’s annual trip to the Diamond Lake Resort to go snow shoeing. I’m sure that with how she had been feeling, she wasn’t sure she would feel up to going this year, but I’m glad she did. Esther likes to stay in good shape. It is important for all of us. She has taken up water exercise. There is an aquatic open pool near her home and she has been going there three times a week to do open end exercises. Esther loves going, and says that she feels so much better these days.

Esther has long been a crafty person, and she has plans  to make some quilts this next year. When you don’t feel well, you can’t do justice to your hobbies. Esther is an artist,and in the past has don’t quite a bit of painting. I’m just thankful that her hobbies have not had to be laid aside. Today is Esther’s 78th birthday. Happy birthday Esther!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

There is a tradition in England and a few other nations like Canada and Ireland, that takes place the day after Christmas, called Boxing Day. It is an odd name for a holiday, but I think the purpose of the holiday far outweighs the name of the holiday. People might argue the original purpose of the holiday, but the most straightforward answer as to what it is about would be that, “We are a little greedy here in the England and Ireland in wanting a more extended holiday. It is not enough for us to have only Christmas Day celebrations, we have added to this another event called Boxing Day.” That might be one part of the picture, but the full answer is not that simple. But firstly, it has nothing to do with the sport of boxing.

Boxing Day is a national Bank Holiday. It is a day to spend with family and friends and to eat up all the leftovers of Christmas Day, but there is more to it than that. The origins of the day are filled with history and tradition. People have long disputed the origins of the name Boxing Day. The name is actually a reference to holiday gifts. A “Christmas Box” in Britain is a name for a Christmas present. Boxing Day was traditionally a day off for the servants and the day when they received a “Christmas Box” from the master. The servants would also go home on Boxing Day to give “Christmas Boxes” to their families.

Traditionally, a box to collect money for the poor was placed in churches on Christmas day. The boxes were opened the next day…Boxing Day. The name refers to a nautical tradition. Great sailing ships when setting sail would have a sealed box containing money on board for good luck. Were the voyage a success, the box was given to a priest, opened at Christmas and the contents then given to the poor. Boxing Day is the 26th December is a national holiday in England and Ireland.

Boxing Day is a time to spend with family or friends, but usually not those seen on Christmas Day itself. In recent times, the day has begun to include many sports. Horse racing is particularly popular with meets all over the country. Many top football teams also play on Boxing Day. Boxing Day is a time when the British show their eccentric side by taking part in all kinds of silly activities. Bizarre traditions include swimming the icy cold English Channel, fun runs, and charity events. Until 2004, Boxing Day hunts were a traditional part of the day, but the ban on fox hunting has put an end to this in its usual sense. Hunters will still gather dressed resplendently in red hunting coats to the sound of the hunting horn. But, since it is now forbidden to chase the fox with dogs, they now follow artificially laid trails.

Another “sport” to emerge in recent years is shopping. Sadly, what was once a day of relaxation and family time sees the start of the sales. Sales used to start in January, post-New Year, but the desire to grab a bargain and for shops to off-load stock means many now begin on Boxing Day. This tradition makes me especially sad, because it is like Black Friday. By moving Black Friday shopping to Thanksgiving, and now post Christmas sales to Boxing Day, have soured many people to shopping on these days, and the whole purpose is defeated.

In Ireland, Boxing Day is also known as “Saint Stephen’s Day” named after the Saint stoned to death for believing in Jesus. In Ireland on Boxing, there was once a barbaric act carried out by the so-called “Wren Boys.” These boys would dress up and go out, and stone wren birds to death then carry their catch around the town knocking on doors and asking for money, the stoning representing what had happened to Saint Stephen. This terrible tradition has now stopped, thank goodness, but the Wrens Boys still dress up. Now, instead they parade around town and collect money for charity. I’m thankful that such a barbaric tradition, has now taken on a new look, and is now used for good.

When most people think of Christmas, their minds think of Santa Clause, turkey dinners, and weeks of preparatory shopping, and yes those things are a part of Christmas for most people, but there is a far more important reason for the Christmas season…the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, the Lord. Yes, I am aware that we don’t know the exact date of our Saviour’s birth, and many are quite certain that it was nowhere near December 25th, and in reality, not in winter. To most Christians, however, those minor details don’t matter, because we are talking about our Lord. It’s ok to celebrate Jesus anytime.

Most Christians think of gift giving as being symbolic of the greatest gift ever given…Jesus who came to earth to save us from our sin filled world by dying on the cross so that we would be able to go Heaven. Of course, no gift we could ever give could measure up to the gift Jesus gave us, but we can celebrate Jesus by having a giving spirit. After all, that is what Jesus was all about. I don’t mean presents, but rather the ultimate gift, the greatest love ever given…”For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16. What great gift could there ever be than to give His life so that we could live, and what greater reason could there ever be to celebrate Jesus. The date error, if there is one, makes no difference…just God’s love.

Christmas means different things to different people, of course, but I think that the most important thing is to make sure that we don’t lose sight of the real reason for the season…the birth of the Saviour of the world. Before Jesus came,we had no hope. We were lost, and going to Hell. After Jesus lived, died, and rose again, everything changed and hope returned. For Christians, there is nothing more important. Jesus is our advocate with the Father. He is the the true meaning o grace. His git to us…salvation, was not something we could ever earn. we were lost and all hope was gone. Then Jesus was born, and we had a reason to celebrate again. Happy birthday Jesus, and Merry Christmas everyone.

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