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.
My brother-in-law, Chris Hadlock has had a long and successful career in law enforcement. As a young married man, Chris was working in sales, which as most of us know, is a career that some like and some don’t. Chris was good at it, but the career was not a fulfilling one for him. While they were living in Fort Morgan, Colorado, Chris told my sister, Allyn that he really wasn’t happy doing what he was doing, and simply couldn’t see himself doing it for a long term career. She asked him what he thought he wanted to do, and he told her that while he didn’t think he could be a doctor, he wanted a career in which he could help people. He wanted to be a police officer. I think that prospect really scared my sister at first, and after going on a few ride alongs with my brother-in-law, in which it looked like he might have to pull his gun on someone, I can understand why that could bother my sister. Nevertheless, my brother-in-law was a very capable patrol officer, and with his tall 6’4″ stature, the perpetrators seldom felt inclined to try to go up against him. While some of the shorter officers had to struggle to apprehend a perpetrator, Chris would walk up, and the guy would take one look at him and surrender.
Of course, his height was not the only reason that Chris had no trouble apprehending a suspect, however. He has a very calming nature. Whether he is doing police work, or just calming jangled nerves in a stressful situation, Chris has the unique ability to de-escalate a situation. He has done so on many occasions, both in and out of police work. One occasion I specifically recall was when he went to arrest a man, and when the man opened the door to Chris’ knock, and saw that it was a cop, he tried to shut the door again. Chris simply stuck his Billy Club in the door, and calmly said, you don’t want to do this. The man calmed down, and agreed to go with Chris. He then asked if he could make a phone call first, and because he was cooperative, Chris allowed it, knowing that he would also be allowed a second phone call at the jail. He didn’t have to allow the man to do that, but the arrest went very smoothly and I believe that the main reason is because Chris worked with the man and kept him calm. I also had the opportunity to see police officers who wouldn’t work with a perpetrator, and the whole situation blew up. It’s all in how the officer handles the situation.
These days, with so much turmoil surrounding our police officers, much of which is not their fault, and yet any arrests are looked at as Police Brutality, my brother-in-law is a police officer who brings peace, a sense of calm, and yet justice. Chris has advanced in his career from a Deputy Sheriff, to a City Patrolman, a Sergeant, and now a Lieutenant over the detectives. He has been a training officer, and a hiring officer, and now he is spending several weeks out of this summer a “Leadership in Policing” class. Chris has been an asset to both of the departments he has served in. He is a born leader and we are very proud of him. Today is Chris’ birthday. Happy birthday Chris!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
When we think of the greatest changes the world has been through, many of us think of things like airplanes, automobiles, television, and cell phones. These great inventions were amazing, and they have changed the world as we know it, but there are other events that have had a far greater impact on the world as we know it than these great inventions. Those events were the wars our world has been involved in. I think that when a war ends, many people just want to forget it ever happened, but in reality, that will never happen. There are always lessons to be learned from war.
Wars are fought for many reasons, but often it is because one side has taken the rights of the other side away from them…such as the Civil War, which was fought over slavery. When it was over, the right to own people was gone. Those who would try to own slaves in the future would find that it was illegal. The Revolutionary War ended with the United States becoming a sovereign nation. Wars like World War I and II, were fought to end oppression, and of course, the War on Terrorism, to stop those who would try to control other nations and indeed, the world, through fear. I have to think that the War on Terrorism was one that had the greatest impact on the world.
Since the beginning of the War on Terrorism, much has changed in the area of national security. Our airports are required to scrutinize travelers much more carefully than before. What used to take an hour, now takes as much as two or three. Metal detectors have been installed at all federal buildings. Screening have become normal…the new normal. We don’t like it, but we can’t change it either. Like it or not, it is for our safety. Terrorists don’t care who they hurt, their entire goal of bringing fear on the nations, is all they care about. Because of those people, we have had to change the way we look at…everyone!!
Now, we are in the middle of a new kind of war. It is a type of war on terrorism, but the targets of the attacks are very different. They aren’t going after any particular type of building, a particular size of building, or even a particular country. Nevertheless, their motive is to bring fear and terror to everyone they come in contact with. They are after complete submission. Like it or not, these are wars that had to or have to be won. If they are not, many lives will be lost, and unfortunately many things have to change to win this war.
Because I was born in Superior, Wisconsin, located at the tip of Lake Superior, and across the bridge from Duluth, Minnesota, I am interested in all things that have to do with that area. My family moved to Casper, Wyoming when I was three, so I was not raised in that area, but somehow, it is in my blood. I will always have roots I can feel there. We still have a large number of family members there, and we continue to get to know them more and more due to a trip back there, and continued connections on Facebook. For that family we are very grateful, because they are all amazing.
As I said, I love the area around Lake Superior, and the shipping business that comes through there is an amazing thing to watch. In order for shipping to thrive on Lake Superior, they had to have a way to get the big oar boats and other large ships into the port. In 1892, a contest was held to find a solution for the transportation needs to go from Minnesota Point to the other side of the canal that was dug in 1871. a man named John Low Waddell came up with the winning design for a high rise vertical lift bridge. The city of Duluth was eager to build the bridge, but the War Department didn’t like the design, and so the project was cancelled before it started. It really was an unfortunate mistake.
Later, new plans were drawn up for a structure that would ferry people from one side to the other. This one was designed by Thomas McGilvray, a city engineer. That structure was finished in 1905. The gondola had a capacity of 60 tons and was able to carry 350 people, plus wagons, streetcars, and automobiles. The trip across took about a minutes and the ferry crossed once every five minutes, but as the population grew, the demand for a better way across grew too. They would have to rethink the situation, and amazingly, he firm finally commissioned with designing the new bridge was the descendant of Waddell’s company…the original design winner. The new design, which closely resembles the 1892 concept, is attributed to C.A.P. Turner. I guess they should have used that design in the first place, and it might have saved a lot of money.
Construction began in 1929. They knew that they had to be able to accommodate the tall ships that would pass through. In the new design, the roadway simply lifted in the middle, and after the ship went through it lowered again, becoming a bridge for cars. The design is amazing, and grabs the attention of thousands of people on a regular basis. The new bridge first lifted for a vessel on March 29, 1930. Raising the bridge to its full height of 135 feet takes about a minute. The bridge is raised approximately 5,000 times per year. The bridge span is about 390 feet. As ships pass, there is a customary horn blowing sequence that is copied back. The bridge’s “horn” is actually made up of two Westinghouse Airbrake locomotive horns. Long-short-long-short means to raise the bridge, and Long-short-short is a friendly salute. The onlookers love it, and the crews often wave as well. It is like a parade of ships on a daily basis, and probably the reason that the bridge is so often the subject of pictures of the area. Happy 86th Anniversary to the Duluth Lift Bridge.
Some people just don’t brag about some of the cool things that happen to them, so you have to get your information from their mom or some other little birdie in the family. My niece, Lacey Stevens is one of those people. Lacey is a cosmetologist at Super Cuts, and is usually the top sales person each month. Recently, Matrix held a contest. For those who don’t know, Matrix is a line of hair care products that are exclusive to salons. The contest rules stated that every time a sales person made a $50.00 sale, their name was entered into a drawing. The more $50.00 sales, the more chances to win the prize. As I said, Lacey is a record holding sales person. During the contest period, Lacey qualified five times. The prize was an all expenses paid trip to Orlando, Florida for Matrix Destination 2016, and Lacey was one of only nine winners nationwide. Her hard work paid off in spades…or maybe diamonds, in this case. Lacey was in the winner’s circle.
The trip was this week, and what a time Lacey had. She met a number of celebrity hair stylists including Tabitha Coffey, from Shear Genius and George Papanicholas, who was Britney Spears stylist on tour and had done the Kardashian sisters hair, as well. Of course, it wasn’t all celebrity stylists…even if that is impossible to top. Lacey learned many new things this week. For a hair stylist, one of these events is a chance to get the scoop on all the latest news in hair and hair care.
Of course, the trip wasn’t all about work either. Matrix Destination 2016 put the winners up in the Hyatt Regency Hotel. All told the cost per winner was at least $2000.00. Lacey’s room had a television set built into the mirror in the bathroom. Now there might be some people who have stayed in hotels like this before, but for most of us it’s a rarity…if at all. The view from Lacey’s room was spectacular, and of course she got to do some sightseeing too. I didn’t know that Lacey was into wax museums, but then maybe she knew this one might be better than most. While touring the museum, Lacey came across a statue of Channing Tatum. I suppose that every girl who finds herself standing next to a movie star feels the same excitement…be it wax statue or real person. Lacey is no different, and she just couldn’t resist a picture of herself with Channing…saying she was just hanging out with her boyfriend. My sister Alena Stevens, who is Lacey’s mom, had to wonder what Lacey’s real life boyfriend, Michael Tanner thought of the swooning picture Lacey had taken. I suspect that Michael wasn’t all that worried, I mean after all, Channing couldn’t leave the building or he would melt, that would be…awkward!!
Lacey is an amazing cosmetologist, and a great sales person too. She has worked hard to get where she is today, and she has earned this awesome trip, and much more. She got back home yesterday, just in time for her birthday. Talk about a great birthday present. I can’t imagine anything more cool…especially when it ends with her coming home to spend her birthday with her family, whom she loves very much. Today is Lacey’s birthday. Happy birthday Lacey!! We are so proud of all you have accomplished, and very happy that you won such an amazing trip. Have a great day!! We love you!!
For most little girls, their daddy is just about the greatest guy on earth. They are their hero, and often the guy they want to marry, or at lease someone just like their daddy. Some kids want to marry their parents, but I don’t recall ever saying that to my dad, but I guess I don’t remember everything I ever said, so I might have. Nevertheless, my sisters and I thought our daddy was a pretty great guy, and we always felt very blessed that he was our daddy.
My sister, Cheryl Masterson had the advantage over the rest of us in that she had more time with Dad than we did, simply because of age. I’m sure that the rest of us probably had the chance to do some of the things Cheryl did too, but maybe we didn’t think of it. I think a lot of kids, boys and girls alike are quite fascinated with the whole process of shaving. I remember watching my dad whip up his lather in a mug that he had, because when he started shaving, there was no such thing as conditioning shaving cream. The men made their own lather from soap in a mug. To us, that was a cool process, and we really didn’t get tired of it. Watching Daddy shave was one of the best things about mornings when we were little. We didn’t always get to watch though, because oftentimes he had to go to work early, and we were still in bed. Nevertheless, when we did get to watch, we might end up with soap on our noses, a common occurrence, and then we would get to help with aftershave, or we might even get some on us…early perfume, and we didn’t even care if it was for men.
Of course, we always knew that our daddy could do anything. Of that fact, there was no doubt. Daddy could give two kids a piggy back ride as easily as he could give one kid a piggy back ride. That was because he could do anything. We always knew that. I think lots of girls think that their daddy can do anything. It’s because we just love our daddies so much, and as far as I’m concerned, my daddy was the best daddy in the whole world. I suppose all kids say that, but I believe that with all my heart.
When I look back on all the wonderful things our dad did for us, I get a sense of just what a saint he was. My sisters and I were always very afraid of moths…even if they were all the way across the room. Dad never got mad, and he never made us kill the moth ourselves. He just took care of it, because his little girls didn’t like them. The same thing applied to spiders, or any other creepy crawly bug. With our dad, we got to be girly girls…even if that seems wimpy to some people. Dad knew we were girly girls, and it didn’t matter, because we where his girly girls…and he was our amazing daddy. Life was great…in fact, it was perfect. It doesn’t get any better. We love you Daddy.
People may think that having children is a way of staying young, or reliving our childhood, but in reality, having children ages the parents. They go from being free from responsibility to being surrounded by responsibilities. Diapers, feedings, and lots of tears give way to school days, after school sports, and homework…which gives way to the terrible teens, dating, and driving. By the time they have graduated and moved out, you tend to feel either old, or overwhelmed at the thought of an empty nest, wondering where all the years have gone. Ok, those years weren’t that bad, but if all that happened in a short time, you would feel completely shell shocked. Being a parent is a big life change. Of course, all too soon, those years are over, and our children are grown up. Suddenly, when we are once again free from responsibility, we just don’t feel the same about it anymore.
Then, just as suddenly our kids bless us with grandchildren, and in the absence of the parental responsibility, we find out that it isn’t our kids that keep us young, but our grandkids. We find ourselves going outside and playing with the kids again, and not just pushing them in the swings. Sometimes we have to wonder what we were thinking. When we try to do cartwheels, or skateboard, or jumping on the trampoline, and realize that maybe we were being young, or maybe we were being foolish. When my grandkids were first getting cell phones, they brought me into the 21st century where a cell phone was not just for talking on, because if I wanted to staying touch with them, I had to text. It was the thing. Thankfully that wasn’t dangerous. Then came Facebook, which I originally got of to keep up with my teenaged grandchildren’s busy lives…I know, I know, my Facebook use has exploded from there…what can I say. The things we do for our grandkids…right. But then, I would do anything for them, and I think they know that. Basically, what I’m saying is that my grandchildren have kept me young. How amazing is that.
That is what my cousins, Terry and Shannon Limmer have found out too. With grandchildren from wagon to bicycle age, they have re-experienced all of those life events that kids go through. One day, Terry got the idea to see if he could still ride a bike. Supposedly, it’s something you never forget how to do, right. The biggest problem I can see here is that Terry is pretty tall, and his granddaughter, Trinity’s bicycle is pretty little, since Trinity and her twin brother, Triston Patsie are just 9 years old. Nevertheless, Terry proved that he’s not old. He’s still got it, and that includes a bicycle that is far too little for his tall frame. Shannon also proves to the kids that she can still play, and she can either pull or be pulled in their wagon. Their play with the kids is that of adults going through a second childhood. It’s what we do for our grandchildren, because our grandchildren help us to be young again.
Many people, myself included, believe that our country was founded and populated in an effort to escape religious persecution. Looking back on several branches of my family tree, as well as that of my husband, I see the personal accounts of a number of people who dealt with persecution first hand. People such as my Aunt Bertha Schumacher Hallgren, who makes not of it in her journals when she speaks of her father, my great grandfather, Carl Schumacher’s return trip to Germany to visit family members who were still living there. During that time, the German government was doing it’s very best to force people to deny the very existence of God on any level, and their lack of any need for a god to lean and rely on. So often, I think of religious persecution, such as we have in the United States today, as being a problem of the current times. I suppose that is because it feel very personal to me at this time in history, but in reality, I suppose it is nothing new. In fact, the Bible says that there is no new thing under the sun.
When my great grandfather made the trip back to his homeland, he had plenty of time. His visit was extended for several months. It was most likely during that time that he became more and more convinced that his move to the United States was the right one for him. While he was free, or at least relatively so, to practice his faith in his own way, there was, nevertheless, a number of incidences whereby doing so could be frowned upon to say the very least. That fact would not be something that would deter my grandfather from standing on his faith, and it would renew his love for his new country, and his reasons for coming here to it.
I have run across many other ancestors, particularly on the Knox side of the family who suffered persecution from people in their homeland over their choice of religious beliefs. It’s strange to think that when someone receives a revelation concerning God’s word, that they are immediately looked upon as severely brain damaged. Why is it that people would assume that we humans, with our small minds would somehow have the capacity to know everything God intended for us to know…that there couldn’t possibly be anything else for us to learn from His word. And yet, that is exactly what we do. That is why our forefathers left the old world, and came to America in the first place. The churches they were forced to be a part of, or the removal of any kind of religion from their lives had left them with no choice but to leave the country they have called home all their lives, and move to an unknown world.
I don’t know how many immigrants arrived here as a result of religious persecution, but I do know that our nation has somehow lost sight of why we first began to exist. There are so many religions in the world today…especially Christians and Jews who are bring brutally persecuted right now. I still believe in freedom of religion. I may not agree with some of the religions in the world, but each person should have the right to believe as they choose. And no one should ever have to pay for their beliefs with their lives. I know that this world will probably not change that until Jesus returns, and I think that is very sad.
As Christmas arrives, I am reminded of so many Christmases from the past. As a kid, I think the earliest memory I have of Christmas was the big celebration we always had when decorating the tree. The day we decorated the tree became a family party. We made snacks and played Christmas music. We sang Christmas carols, laughed, and munched. We always had a real tree in those days, because artificial trees didn’t exist, as far as I know. That meant that the first part of the evening was spent with my dad cutting the trunk of the tree to remove any unneeded height. The fragrance of the spruce tree filled the air. It was an incredible scent, and one that I still love to this day. The real tree lives in the past for my family now, and I can’t say that I’m totally sorry about that, because they are messy, and a fire hazard. I will take the trade off, and the fragrance of the spruce tree will have to live in my memory files.
Christmas eve was another family night, with singing, and of course, the one gift that we got to open that night…our new pajamas. I’m sure that was to add a nice fresh touch to the Christmas morning pictures, but it didn’t matter, because we loved getting those pajamas…and the excitement if opening just one gift on Christmas Eve was what it was all about anyway. These days with my children grown up, I’m not the one to give pajamas, although, we did it when our girls were little. Now they always know that at Grandma’s house, they will receive an ornament, so what is the mystery in that. Well, it is what kind of ornament, of course. I try very hard to be creative with those, and I think I did great this year. We had gone to Alaska on a cruise this past summer, and the kids all received an Alaskan ornament. I was so excited about those, that I had to get one of my own.
Christmas day always brought excitement and awe. It didn’t matter what you got, it was just so exciting to open the long anticipated gifts to see what you got. It always seemed that at this time of year, people were listening carefully so they could hear what you wanted, and then they headed out to get it and surprise you with it. My favorite years were the ones where we got something extra special for my parents. It was amazing to surprise them with something they never expected that we could afford…like the toaster we got them when I was the only one with a job. The rest of the gifts were hand made. They were so shocked. Then there was the year that we were sending them on an Alaskan cruise for their 50th wedding anniversary. We got them a video camera for the trip. They were so excited. Yep, I think the best Christmases are the ones where you give amazing gifts. It is about giving rather than receiving. I guess that was how God felt too. After all, He gave us the greatest gift of all…Jesus. And that is the greatest Throwback Christmas of them all. Merry Christmas everyone and may the greatest blessings God has to offer be yours this Christmas and all year long.
In times past, many people sent out Christmas cards. It was simply a part of the season. You always had to make sure you got them in the mail as early as possible, or they didn’t arrive in time for Christmas. As a young newlywed, I tried really hard to get that tradition started, but it seemed like I always got cards from people that I didn’t expect and then they didn’t get one from me, or the time to mail them was long gone before I could even wrap my mind around the fact that the Christmas season was once again upon us. Most often, it was all I could do to get my Christmas shopping done…much less send out Christmas cards. It just seemed a lost cause, and like most lost causes, it went the way of the wind early on in my marriage. With two kids to take care of, there just didn’t seem to be enough hours in the day for such an extra.
Christmas cards used to be something most people did. It was tradition, passed on from parent to child. My Aunt Jeanette Byer has always had her act together on the Christmas card thing, and every year…like clock work, I get a card from her right about this time. Yes, it came yesterday, so that is what prompted this story. When I get her card, and think about just how sweet she is to always think of me and so many other people at this time of year, I start to think that I really should send her a card back, and if I ever got that done, Aunt Jeanette would probably faint, because it has not happened at this point. I also got one from my cousin, Shirley Cameron last year, and of course, it was too late to send one back by then, but it did show me just how sweet my cousin, Shirley is, and it is my hope that she knows just how much I love her, even in the absence of a Christmas card.
As the years have gone by, I have started receiving fewer and fewer Christmas cards, and while it could be because I never get any sent out, I have a feeling that fewer and fewer people send them out anymore. With the closer connections we have through Facebook, and the ability to send out e-cards, I think the practice of sending out Christmas cards is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Modern technology has a way of doing that, and while modern technology is vital to our way of life, maybe it is a little bit sad to see traditions like letters and Christmas cards go by the wayside. I know my Uncle Bill Spencer would feel that way, because he loved letters. He wanted the handwriting of the individual to have as a keepsake for all time. I can understand that now, where I could not before. Every time I see Uncle Bill’s handwriting, I know it instantly. I have seen it so often that it is as much him as he is. That is a tribute to the amount of writing he did on the family history all these years.
My dad loved Christmastime. As a Christian, it marks the birth of our Lord and Saviour, so it is a day that is important to us. I know that every time I see my dad’s handwriting, it makes my heart jump a little bit. It is like a connection to him that lives on here, even though he lives in Heaven now. For that love of handwriting, I have to thank my Uncle Bill, because it was he who first pointed out its importance. I came across a Christmas card sent home to Uncle Bill, from my dad during World War II, while he was in training in Salt Lake City, Utah. It was among the things that my grandmother kept, and then gave back to him later on, and while the only handwriting on it is simply my dad’s name, I know that the card was among the things that were dear to his brother’s heart, because it was sent to him from his brother, Allen Spencer, who was spending Christmas far from family in 1943. I’m sure that it was a lonely time for both of them, because they were very close, and it was a way for my dad to reach out across the miles and let his brother know, that he loved him. I guess that is really what Christmas cards, or any other cards are all about. Christmas is simply a season for showing your love, whether you mail a card, write a letter, send an e-card, or make an announcement on Facebook. It’s all about showing your love.