Every year, my husband, Bob Schulenberg and I spend a week around the Fourth of July hiking in the Black Hills. We have been coming to the Black Hills for about 30 years, and it never gets old. I suppose it might if all we did was the normal touristy things, but when you get back in the wilderness areas of the Black Hills, it really is a whole different world, and it’s ever changing, especially when there is a heavy fire year. Unfortunately, this year seems to have been a fire year, at least in the Wildlife Loop of Custer State Park. The fire started on December 11, 2017, and while the cause of the Legion Lake Fire officially remains under investigation, it is believed to have been a downed power line that sparked the blaze. The wildfire shut down Custer State Park that Monday, and burned an estimated 54,000 acres. It was believed to have started about 7:30 that morning.
The winds didn’t help matters either, gusting to 50 miles per hour. The fire moved along the Centennial Trail toward Star Academy East Campus ad Badger Hole. By Monday afternoon the head of the fire had crossed Heddy Draw and spread to both sides of Barnes Canyon Road. the ponderosa pines in the area were burned to the crown. It was so strange to see the green tops of the trees above the burnt orange lower sections of the trees and the blackened trunks.
Most of the wildlife fared well. The 860 bison that call the park home were left unscathed, but three of the park’s beloved begging burros had to be euthanized after the blaze. That is probably the saddest part of this for me, because we love the burros. They are gentle enough to eat out of your hand, and the love the attention everyone gives them. A few more of the burros still face an unknown fate due to the burns they received. The smell of a campfire that burned too long hung in the dry western South Dakota air for a long time. While we couldn’t smell the scorched trees any more, the scars were still visible everywhere.
The last year has been a whirlwind of change for my daughter, Corrie Petersen. Eight months ago, she left a job that should have had room for advancement, but simply didn’t for her position…it was a dead-end job for Corrie. Never one to give up, Corrie took future in her own hands, with much prayer and guidance from God, she went back to school to obtain the future career that she knew was the calling of her heart…nursing. She began her big job move by going through the CNA training at Shepherd of the Valley nursing home, and once she was a CNA, she began her search for a job change. Upon being hired at Elkhorn Rehabilitation Hospital, she left her dead-end job. Coming from 13 years of taking part in the caregiving process for both sets of her grandparents, Corrie went into the decision to become a nurse, with her eyes wide open. I think that lots of people try going into nursing, only to find that it isn’t for them. Nurses, CNAs, and aides do a lot of personal care tasks that are less than pleasant sometimes. If you don’t have a heart for nursing, it will be a very difficult…but Corrie has a heart for it, and has become a dedicated CNA, who is well on her way to being a nurse. The fall will bring nursing school for Corrie, and she can hardly wait. I am so excited for her.
When we think of job promotions, we don’t generally expect them to happen within the first three months, but that is exactly what happened with Corrie. Since she is a very experienced CNA, even thought she has only been working as a CNA for eight months, Corrie’s supervisors quickly saw the value she brought to their facility, and she has been promoted to lead CNA for her shift, as well as Trainer fit new hires. Both are big honors for a girl who has been on the job less than a year. She is also “laddering up,” which puts her at a higher level of training, making her much more valuable to Elkhorn Rehab Hospital. It is my understanding that they have never had a CNA ladder up, which Corrie was very surprised to find out. So I guess you could say she is making history at work.
Probably the biggest news of the year…and her lifetime, was the addition of their new baby granddaughter on May 30th of this year. Next to motherhood, grandmotherhood is about the greatest experience that comes from getting older. Not that Corrie is old at all, especially when you consider that we, her parents are now great grandparents. This baby is such a sweet, good natured little girl. Corrie and her husband, Kevin enjoy every single minute they get to spend with her. I know they would like to spend lots more time, but her family is a big one, so we all have to share. Corrie is feeling so very blessed these days. Having a grandchild is the greatest thing ever, and for Corrie and Kevin, a granddaughter is amazing, because they never got to have a daughter, and they wanted a girl too. And, to top it off, they get to share a birthday of sorts, because hr granddaughter is one month old today. And in addition, having a job you really love..well, as the saying goes, “find a job you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” Now, I don’t think that Corrie would say that her job isn’t work, but it is work she loves, and that makes all the difference. Today is Corrie’s birthday. Happy birthday Corrie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Captain George Hollins joined the United States Navy when he was just 15 years old, and served during the War of 1812. His was a long and distinguished career, but when the Civil War broke out in 1861, he chose to resign his commission, and offer his services to the Confederacy. After a brief stop in his hometown, Baltimore, Hollins offered his services to the Confederacy and received a commission on June 21, 1861. I suppose that every man had to choose a side in the Civil War, and I’m sure he considered his reasons for choosing the Confederacy to be valid, but many of us would consider his actions to be almost traitorous, were it not for the fact that both sides were the United States…just not so united.
Hollins devised a plan to capture a commercial vessel that was bringing supplies to the Union Army. Then they planned to use that ship to lure other Union ships into Confederate service. Soon after, Hollins met up with Richard Thomas Zarvona, a fellow Marylander and former student at West Point. Zarvona was an adventurer who had fought with pirates in China and revolutionaries in Italy. He seemed the perfect co-conspirator for this project. They devised a plan to capture the Saint Nicholas. Then it would be the decoy they used to force other Yankee ships into Confederate service. Zarvona went to Baltimore,where he recruited a band of pirates, who boarded the Saint Nicholas as paying passengers on June 28, 1862. Using the name Madame La Force, Zarvona disguised himself as a flirtatious French woman. Hollins boarded the Saint Nicholas at its first stop.
A while later the band of co-conspirators went to the “French woman’s” cabin. Inside, they armed themselves and came back out on the deck to surprise the crew. After capturing the crew, Hollins took control of the ship. At this point, the purpose of their mission began. They had planned to capture a Union gunboat, the Pawnee, but it was called away. Instead, the Saint Nicholas and its pirate crew came upon a ship loaded with Brazilian coffee, and two more ships, carrying loads of ice and coal. Both ships quickly fell to the Saint Nicholas. For his actions, Hollins received a promotion to commodore and was sent to New Orleans to command the naval forces there at the end of July. On July 8, he would try another daring mission, to capture the Columbia, a sister ship of the Saint Nicholas, but the captain of the Saint Nicholas was on board the Columbia, on his way home after being released by the Confederate authorities. He recognized the men and they were arrested. It was the end of his tirade.
Like many kids his age, my grand-nephew, Topher Spicer is a gamer. Video games are high on his priority lit, like they are for just about any kid. And, these kids are so good at them. While I am a techie, I do not play the games, so I’m sure that Topher would whoop on me real bad, if I tried to compete with his abilities. When a child applies himself to something, he gets good at it, and that is what Topher has done. Gaming is not the only activity Topher likes to do, however. He loves to run around and play with his friend, Marcus. With them, roughhousing is the order of the day. Topher is also a part of a group of friends that he enjoys hanging out with. They do a variety of activities together, and really get along.
In middle school last year, Topher decided to take up swimming, and he found that he really enjoys it. He plans to participate in swimming again in the coming school year. He did very well with it. With continued practice, I know that he could become a competitive swimmer in high school, and maybe even letter in it. Topher likes school, and that is a really good thing. If a kid likes school, they will go far in whatever they choose to do.
Topher and his mom, my niece, Andrea Spicer is not just his mom, she is his best friend. Topher has very strong protective instincts, and like any child should, he wants to stand up for and protect his mom. He loves his mom, very much, but there are some things a guy can’t talk to his mom about. For those things, Topher turns to family friend, Nikki Vigil. He trusts her with the things that he needs some advise on, and that makes his mom happy, since he is too shy to talk to her about these things. Nevertheless, there are a number of things that he and his mom like to do together…such as watching the cooking competition shows…especially the on with Gordon Ramsey. Topher’s mom loves to cook, and is a chef by trade, so it stands to reason that they would like to watch cooking shows, but then I do too, so I totally get it.
It’s hard for me to believe that Topher is getting so grown up. Every time I see him, he is more and more grown up. He has grown into a fine young man, and he makes his family very proud. Today is Topher’s 13th birthday. Happy birthday Topher!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
For all of his life, Butch Hein, my husband, Bob’s uncle, was a cattle man. His dad, Walt Hein had a ranch, and it was his desire that one of his sons would takeover the business. Butch was the one that was interested in ranching, so he did. I don’t know all the details of their agreement, but I believe that everything went into Butch’s name years before Walt died. Butch has been raising cattle for as long as I have known him, and the beef he raised was amazing. He has made a great living as a rancher, and now his son, Scott and his family are a part of the business too.
Butch has been a single dad,for a years now, since his beloved Bonnie died of cancer when their son Scott was just a toddler. those were rough years, but Butch was a great dad to Scott, and now that Scott is grown, Butch’s family has grown by four, with Scott’s wife, Terri, and their children, Laura, Carson, and Lindsey. While those early years were hard, the blessings that have come to Butch now have brought the joy back to his life. I just wish Bonnie could have seen how wonderful her family turned out. She would be so proud.
Butch still works hard on the ranch, but these days, he has lots of help There is something to be said for growing your own ranch hands. His son, his son’s wife, and his grandchildren are all a great help to him. After all the years as a single dad, I’m glad that he has the wonderful blessing of a sweet family. Today is Butch’s birthday. Happy birthday Butch!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Few things change a person quite as much as a baby. It has been nearly a month since my great granddaughter made her entrance into the world. I have watched as my grandson, Chris Petersen and his fiancée, Karen changed right before my eyes. They went from being carefree kids, to new parents…just like that. It’s hard to believe that they are parents now. They have crossed a bridge, of sorts, and their lives will never be the same. Time has flown so quickly…as time always does. Before we know it their baby girl will be one year old, then Kindergarten, high school graduation, marriage, and babies of her own, but lets try not to get ahead of ourselves. Time will take care of that on it’s own.
Their baby is a sweet-natured little girl, who really doesn’t cry much unless she is hungry, and even then, she will wait patiently for her dinner, if she has visitors. She wasn’t a real fan of her first bath, but her second bath was much more enjoyable. Who knows, maybe she will be a swimmer. She also seems to really like to think things through. I like to say that she is a concentrator, just like her great grandma…me. I think this baby girl is going to be very smart, and able to analyze the situation before she makes decisions. I suppose it’s a bit early to tell, but I’m going to take some great grandma privilege here and say what I think she will be. Karen and Chris are adapting well to parenthood, and working through the short nights. They are both so in love with their precious girl, that nothing else matters.
Adding a new baby to our family has been the biggest change in more than 22 years…when my great granddaughter’s daddy arrived. Babies change so many things, and our family was quickly beginning to change. Within two and a half years, we had three more babies in our family. Our world would never be the same, and for that we were very happy. It wasn’t that our family wasn’t great, but now it was even better, because it had been almost 21 years since our family had changed in such a big way…when we had our own daughter…her grandma, Corrie Petersen. Babies are such a great blessing, and as each first child arrives, a big change happens…because there are suddenly parents, where once two kids stood.
Most safety measures have come from disasters caused by a lack of safety measures. The Hawk’s Nest Tunnel disaster was no different. But sometimes, the safety measures were known and readily available, but were not used, often to save time or money, and always in blatant disregard for the lives of the workers. On March 30, 1930, construction began on the Hawk’s Nest Tunnel. The tunnel was supposed to be a good thing, and in the end, it was, but the necessary measures were not used to keep the workers safe, and the time they spent in the tunnel turned out to be deadly.
This tunnel would be used to divert much of the flow of the New River from the Hawk’s Nest Dam under Gauley Mountain, located about 3 miles away, to a hydro-electric plant at the other end. As construction proceeded, it was discovered that the rock they were cutting had a high silica content. Silica was used in steel making. It seemed like a win-win situation, but not for the 3,000 mostly African-American migrant workers from the south. Rhinehart and Dennis, a company from Charlottesville, Virginia, was awarded the contract. While the management, who visited the tunnel periodically, wore masks and breathing equipment, the workers were not given such equipment. Drilling should have been done using water, but it was not. They were trying to save time and money. The workers were exposed to the silica dust and developed a lung disease called silicosis, for which there is no cure.
This deliberate disregard for safety caused some of the workers to become sick and die from silicosis within a year. There were only 109 admitted deaths, but a Congressional hearing conducted later determined that there were actually 476 deaths attributed to the project. Since that time, some sources have said the number could actually be as high as 700 to 1,000 deaths. This takes into account the workers that could have had minimal exposure to the silica but were affected by it later in life.
The Hawk’s Nest Tunnel is still in use today, diverting water from the New River to produce hydro-electricity for the Alloy plant. Silicosis has been designated an occupational disease. Now compensation for workers affected by it is available. Unfortunately, the tunnel workers at Hawk’s Nest were not protected by these laws. This project is considered to be one of the worst industrial disasters in American history. The tunnel did its job, and continues to do so. I just wish it hadn’t cost so many lives to make the tunnel. It should not have had to come at such a great price.
My grandson, Caalab Royce is an adventurous kind of guy. He is willing to try just about any new thing…provided it’s legal and not too dangerous, of course. Caalab likes most types of games, but these days, he is into Midnight Laser Tag. He has done paintball as well, but compared to paintball, laser tag doesn’t hurt because it uses no physical projectiles. If I were going to play that game, I think I would like laser tag much better. Laser Tag is one of those games that don’t require a special facility, but rather just the right equipment. Caalab and his friends play the game outside…usually at midnight, because that’s when they get off work. He has always been a night owl, so it’s the perfect time of day for him…just don’t try to wake him up very early the next morning.
Caalab has always been good at games, and at most sports. He has played softball off and on through the years, but this year, he is actually his team’s coach…and a player. Caalab has an unusual “style”in baseball, for lack of a better word. Caalab is right handed, but he bats left handed. He wasn’t really a good hitter, until his mom, my daughter, Amy Royce realized that he was awkward when he batted right handed. The improvement was instantaneous when he switched. I’m sure that he will be a great coach, although at the age these players are, I doubt he fill find anyone who would benefit from a batting hand change. That happens more when you are a kid. Nevertheless, I now that Caalab will have some great tips for his team members.
Caalab took up bowling with his family a couple of years ago, and has done quite well. Like softball, Caalab’s bowling is unusual, bit just like his dad, Travis Royce’s bowling. They don’t use the finger holes, but rather palm the ball. The result is a pretty serious curve. The thing about this type of curve is that most people can’t control it very well, but Caalab and Travis have both figured it out. This was Caalab’s second year of bowling, and he is doing very well. Early in the season…October 10th, to be exact, Caalab got his first 200 game. It was a 203. And he didn’t stop there, he got several more throughout the season. He is turning into quite the bowler. Maybe he takes after his grandparents, my husband, Bob and me. I know that he will have many more to come, because he is just pretty good at sports.
Today is Caalab’s 21st birthday. I can’t believe that he could already be 21 years old. I know that his parents are planning to take him out to the local casino to do a little gambling, and of course, for that traditional first legal drink. It is going to be a great time for sure, and I hope he really enjoys himself, and of course, “Win BIG, Caalab!! I hope you hit the jackpot. I’m glad you aren’t driving home, however!!” Happy birthday Caalab!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
When we think of the Old West, the Pioneer movement, the Gold Rush, and generally, the settling of the United States, our minds immediately go to the brave men who fought the Indians, ran the wagon trains, weathered the harsh winters looking for their fortunes, and fought in the wars to make this a free nation, but seldom do we think of the anonymous heroes of that time…the women. There is a saying, “Behind every great man there’s a great woman.” that saying is one reference to the many women who have set aside their own comforts to support their man in the goals and dreams he has. In many ways that saying is the picture of the Pioneer woman, but it actually leaves something out. Just because her man did not become famous, doesn’t mean that the woman was any less behind him, supporting him in all he did.
Pioneer women were there, on the home front, working hard all day trying to keep their house clean in a rugged windswept frontier. Her floors were often made of dirt, and yet she swept them. The water came from a well, or a nearby creek, and she had to haul it into the house, because her man was off hunting to bring in food for the family. The house was crudely constructed with logs and often had a sod roof, and she was right there working like a man beside her husband to get that house built. She watched over the children, and kept them safe from the many perils that were a daily encounter. From snakes, to bears, to mountain lions, to Indians, she did what she needed to, even to the point of handling a gun as well as her husband did. And yet, history looked at her as the weaker part of the partnership, the one who needed to be sheltered and protected. History looked at her as if she could not even bear to hear about certain things, because they might be too upsetting to her. In reality, they had vastly underestimated their women.
When the men got hurt, and the garden needed to be cared for, the women would till the ground…fighting with the tiller behind a horse, and winning the battle. These women took care of the house, the children, the sick or injured husband, and the garden or other crops, all without batting an eye. These women knew all about the hardships of frontier living, and when the going got tough, they didn’t turn and run back east. When the Indians attacked, they stayed and fought with their men. They could not afford to hide in a cellar, their hands were needed to hold a gun. They even faced the Indians alone, when their men were away, becoming excellent negotiators, who were able to make a trade of their wares that, in the end saved their own lives and the lives of their families. They were determined to make this new frontier work, and for the most part, they did it all without making a name for themselves. Sometimes, when we look up ancestors in historic archives, these women are either listed only as Mrs, acknowledging only the husband’s name, or they were listed only as the wife of their husband. Their true identity sometimes remains forever a mystery, and yet, they were heroes…but, they were anonymous heroes. The great men they stood behind, thereby making these men successful, may have been heroes of the frontier, and their name may have been one that every history book told us all about, but their wives, who worked quietly beside them, remained unknown. We knew about the exploits of the men, the towns they founded, the travels they made exploring ever westward, but the women who were there with them, cooking the meals while the men talked, cleaning up afterward alone, delivering their babies often with only the help of their husband, carrying a baby, while weeding a garden, and feeding their family before themselves, going hungry, if necessary, to make sure the family was taken care of…these women rarely made the history books. Their job must have seemed to mundane to be considered adventurous, but without their contribution, this nation would not have become the great Republic that it is.
Tornado warnings and warning sirens are things that just about every person knows about these days, but in 1944, they weren’t available at all. It wasn’t that no one had thought about a tornado warning system, but rather that they had and they decided against it,and so nothing was developed. If you’re like me, you wonder why anyone would think it a bad idea to warn people about the possibility of a tornado, but that was exactly what happened. According to a report titled “The History (and Future) of Tornado Warning Dissemination in the United States” by Timothy A. Coleman, Kevin R. Knupp, James Spann, J. B. Elliott, and Brian E. Peters, “Despite promising research on the conditions that are favorable for tornadoes in the 1880s by John P. Finley, a general consensus was reached among scientists in the 1880s and 1890s that tornado forecasts and warnings would cause more harm than good. A ban was placed on the issuance of tornado warnings from 1887, when the U.S. Army Signal Corps handled weather forecasts, until 1938, when the civilian U.S. Weather Bureau (USWB) finally lifted the ban.” Even after the an was lifted, warnings were pretty primitive. Modern tornado warning really took off and began to develop in 1948…too late for the people of West Virginia and Pennsylvania on June 23, 1944.
On that June 23rd in 1944, a series of tornadoes across West Virginia and Pennsylvania kill more than 150 people. Most of the twisters were classified as F3, but the most deadly one was an F4 on the Fujita scale, meaning it was a devastating tornado, with winds in excess of 207 miles per hour. The afternoon was very hot, when atmospheric conditions suddenly changed and the tornadoes began to form in Maryland. At about 5:30 pm, an F3 tornado, with winds between 158 and 206 miles per hour, struck in western Pennsylvania. That storm killed two people. Just Forty-five minutes later, a very large twister began in West Virginia, and moved into Pennsylvania. It then tracked back to West Virginia. By the time this F4 tornado ended, it had killed 151 people and leveled hundreds of homes. Another tornado struck that afternoon at a YMCA camp in Washington, Pennsylvania. A letter written by a camper was later found 100 miles away. Area Coal-mining towns were also hit hard on June 23rd. There were some reports that a couple of tornadoes actually crossed the Appalachian mountain range, going up one side and coming down the other…a very rare event with any mountain. Finally, about 10 pm, the remarkable series of twisters finally ended, after the last one hit in Tucker County, West Virginia. In all, the storms caused the destruction of thousands of structures and millions of dollars in damages, and that was just the monetary losses.
While there isn’t much that can be done to spare property in the path of tornadoes, an early warning, and the appropriate action taken, can save the lives of hundreds of people. Sadly, early warnings were not available to save the 153 people killed in the tornado outbreak of June 23, 1944. They were still in the works, because of all the years wasted when scientists decided it was not in the public’s best interest to know about tornadoes. I’m really thankful that the ban was lifted and we have these necessary warnings these days.