Friends

Christmas PastBrenda by the Christmas treeAs I was contemplating the Christmas Day activities to come, my mind wandered back to Christmases of my past. As a child, I remember waking up very early, with struck orders not to go out into the living room until our parents were awake. It seemed like a lifetime before they woke up. It wasn’t, of course, but in my youthful mind, it felt that way nevertheless. Christmas was a day to stay home. After the presents were opened, the cooking began. Of course, the turkey had been cooking for a while by then…another sign that Mom and Dad weren’t really still sleeping when we were trying to wake them up. My sisters and I had the rest of the morning to play with our new toys, and help out in the kitchen. It didn’t matter if it was snowing outside or not, because we had no place to go…the day was ours. I miss those carefree, slowed down, stay-at-home Christmases sometimes.

When I got married, there were suddenly two families to spend Christmas…and every other holiday, with. Things got hectic very fast. We found ourselves running from one house to the other in celebration of the day. Yes, there was plenty of stress, but there really was celebration too, because Christmas is a day of celebration, both in the spiritual and secular versions. Families worked together to make for an easy transition from one house to the other, even though each one wished they could have had a little bit more time with us. Finally, at the end of a very long day, wonderful as it was, we dragged ourselves back home, and figured that there was always tomorrow to stay home and let the kids play with all of their new things.

When our girls got married a whole new facet was added to the Christmas/holiday mix. Not only was there still NativityAmy & Corrie Christmas dollhousemy family and Bob’s, but now we had Kevin’s and Travis’ families. The holidays became almost chaotic. Still, it was about family, and that was what mattered. Our families, their families, one big happy family. What I learned from this time spent reminiscing is that whatever Christmas or the other holidays are to your family, that is the thing that matters, because after the real reason for the Christmas season…the birth of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ…family is the next thing in the line of the most important things in life. Merry Christmas to all of my dear family, and everyone everywhere.

playground-equipment-1900playground-equipment-1910If children today were to see the playground equipment of yesteryear, I wonder if they would want to play on it, thinking it looked intriguing, or if they would simply walk away, saying that it looked boring. I suppose that to them, it probably would be boring. There weren’t any bright colored, shiny things to play on back then, and no mazes to crawl through in search of the prize…the slide at the end. I don’t know if I think that todays playground equipment is better, or worse. Or maybe, it’s just different…more advanced and inventive. I suppose that the playground equipment of earlier years required the child to be more inventive, where today’s maybe doesn’t.

In the 1900s, there were often pipe built structures without paint…not that it seemed to matter to the kids. People have looked back on that equipment and wondered if it was even safe. Well, probably it wasn’t, but when you look at some of the modern day equipment, you wonder the same thing. Kids have been climbing on structures for as long as there have been kids. It’s what they do. If they have nothing to climb on or jump on, they will just jump on the bed. Now tell me you didn’t. I don’t know of one physically capable person who can honestly say they didn’t jump on the bed. In the 1900s, ladders were used to get the kids to the top of the tall structures. I’m sure that was part of the concern, but the rock climbing addition of today, isn’t really any safer, and kids will climb up the outside of a structure whether there is a proper way to get to the top or not. Remember, there isn’t a child alive who hasn’t thought at one point or another, that they were invincible.

Modern playground equipment is often designed as a “fitness” tool. That wasn’t really necessary in years gone by, because there really was no such thing as a “couch potato” then. Kids didn’t have hand held electronic gaming devises to occupy so much of their time, so they went outside and played games. I remember running around the yard until dark, once my homework was done anyway. We never sat still…and that was at home. All we had there was a swing set. The rest was make believe. The school had swings, a slide, and the monkey bars, as playground-equipment-modern-dayplayground-equipment-modernwell as tetherball poles, but no ball if school was out. Still, the school was the place to play…especially in the summer, when playing there didn’t require class time too. While the tall structure with ladders of the 1900s, or even the pole swing of 1910, looked dangerous, my guess would be that there were no more injuries on it than any other type of playground equipment…but, I could be wrong. The way I see it…kids just aren’t notoriously careful.

Bob and Caryn - the early yearsAs a teenager, riding the strip in the evenings of the early 1970s, a favorite place to stop was A & W. The food there was great, but the Root Beer Floats were fantastic. In fact, A & W was famous for their Root Beer Floats. My husband, Bob and I used to go there often, and it was a favorite of his little brother Ron’s too. It never occurred to me in those days, just where Root Beer came from, or who invented it. I didn’t really care. I just knew I liked it, and even though I no longer drink pop, I do like an occasional Root Beer Float.

But…where did Root Beer come from? Well, on this day, May 16, 1866, Charles Elmer Hires first came out with an early version of commercially prepared root beer. Hires was a Quaker pharmacist from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania…his version of Root Beer became famous. I’m sure you’ve heard of Hires Root Beer. It was named after Charles Hires, but it was not the Root Beer that I grew up loving. Maybe that is because, as far as I know, A & W Root Beer was the first make a Root Beer Float. Of course, I could be wrong too.

In the days of Hires’ childhood, children were allowed to work, and at age twelve he had a job as a drugstore boy. Then at age sixteen he moved to Philadelphia and worked in a Pharmacy. He saved his money and when he had earned about $400, he started his own drugstore. Things were different then, and that was possible for a young man to do, o he did it. Nevertheless, he had that entrepreneurial spirit, and maybe that is why he was able to come up with something new.

There are those who say that he learned about root beer on his honeymoon in New Jersey, where the woman who ran the hotel served a herb tea known as “root tea” made from assorted roots. It is said that Hires thought Root Beer Floatthat “root beer” would be more appealing to the working class. He originally packaged the mixture in boxes and sold it to housewives and proprietors of soda fountains. They needed to mix in water, sugar, and yeast. I suppose that after a while that got to be too much work, and eventually it came processed and in bottles. The funny this is that Root Beer was slow to catch on until Reverend Dr Russell Conwell told Hires to present the drink as “the temperance drink” and the greatest health-giving beverage in the world.” Hires was active in the temperance movement, and some say that he wanted root beer to be an alternative to alcohol. I can’t say that he was successful in that respect, because I don’t know anyone who would drink Root Beer instead of beer, unless they already didn’t drink.

Christopher in clothes basketChris in bootsA little boy I once knew, who is no longer little, is graduating from college today. How can it be? The years have literally flown by. He was the child who first made me a grandmother. My little Christopher Todd Petersen, who arrived on his great grandmother, Joann Schulenberg’s birthday, changed my world…adding such a wonderful new dimension to it. My heart was filled with joy.

Chris had such a cute smile, and he made the cutest faces. He soon wowed us with his ability to make all the animal sounds on demand, and made us laugh as he emptied out any box or basket of its contents so he could climb in a sit a while. He was all boy…and the culture shock I had never experienced before, because I had daughters…well, believe me when I say, “Boys are very different from girls!!” I don’t mean just physically, but in every aspect of their being, from the physical…to their personalities. Nevertheless, having three grandsons and one granddaughter has been one of the most rewarding parts of my life, a blessing beyond words.
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Fast forward now, a little over twenty years, and suddenly that little boy is graduating from college. His dream is to own his own restaurant, and who knows, maybe even a chain of them. He is graduating as one of the top of his class from the Culinary School at Sheridan College. Even that seems like it flew by. Literally, it seems like yesterday that he headed off to college, calling home often to tell everyone just how homesick he was, and now he emerges…a man, with a degree. He is a chef…not a cook…a chef, with all the respect that goes along with that title. He has made good friends in Sheridan, and for now, has decided to stay there to live and work in a fine dining restaurant called Open Range which is located in the historic Sheridan Inn. Chris loves working there and tells us his coworkers are great.

He is living his dream. He has been very blessed to be able to work in such a restaurant before his degree work is even complete, and today Open Range becomes very blessed to have a chef working for them who has earned his degree, and brings with him the prestige that his degree carries with it. With his skill level imageimageand attention to detail, Chris will be bringing with him a level of recognition that Open Range can be proud of. It is a win-win situation for both of them. Chris has really taken to the style of creativity that is vital to fine dining, and he will be showing that great skill level to the people who live in and visit Sheridan in the future. Congratulations Chris!! Your hard work has paid off. We, your family and friends are so very proud of all your accomplishments. We wish you God’s very best in all your future endeavors!! We love you very much!!

Dad in uniformWhen the United States entered World War II, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, we were a nation with a score to settle. The Japanese had killed our people, and we vowed to make them pay. In addition to that, the Nazis were killing the Jewish people, and they had to be stopped. Their cruel killing of so many people in their gas chambers could not be tolerated. Revenge against the Japanese would have to wait for now, because the Nazi cruelty could no longer be kept hidden.

On of the biggest battles fought on German soil was the Battle of Berlin. It was fought over the course of a couple of years, and Britain’s Royal Air Force had been badly beaten by the Germans. Then when the United States joined in, things began to take a 8th Air Forceturn for the better. On May 7, 1944, the United States 8th Air Force sent 1500 bombers in to attack Berlin. More were sent the next day. The headlines were exuberant. Headlines like Berlin “Condemned to Death”, U.S. Planes Blast Berlin Twice, Capital Lies In Stark Ruins, and Berlin Again Plastered By Yank Fliers, were splattered across the papers. It was the ultimate attack on the heart of Nazi Germany from the Mighty 8th Air Force. I think everyone knew that Hitler’s days in power were numbered. It was true. The Nazis surrendered unconditionally a year later.

My dad was a Top Turret Gunner and Flight Engineer on a B-17G Bomber at this time, and while I don’t know if Dad took part in this attack, I can say that it is entirely possible. My dad didn’t talk about his war days much…most men from that era didn’t. I Dad with B-17G Bomberhave to think that it was hard to remember those missions, because no matter how distanced you were from your target, you were still very aware that people were dying because of the bombs you were dropping. Sure, they were the enemy, and you were doing your job, but the were also humans. I think, if it were me, I would rather have to kill in the way my dad did…not looking into the eyes of the person you are about to kill, and in some attacks, the people didn’t have any idea that they were about to die. They, like my dad, were just doing their jobs. Still, they were soldiers under a cruel dictator, with no choice but to obey orders. Nevertheless, sad as it was for those people to die, I am very proud of my dad’s service. And if he was in this battle, then I am proud of that too.

11138583_10205158822163710_7811955475298618260_nWe have all heard of the World’s Fair, and I think most of us know about the big push between nations to have it held in their country. After World War II, the United States didn’t get to host the World’s Fair until April 21, 1962. I think that most of us knows of the Seattle Space Needle, and I think that most adults know that it was a part of the World’s Fair, also known as the Century 21 Exposition. The fair ran from April 21, 1962 to October 21, 1962, in Seattle, Washington, of course.

Nearly 10 million people attended the fair in Seattle that year. So many World’s Fairs did not make a profit, but unlike the other world’s fairs of that era, Century 21 did make a profit. After the expedition, Seattle Space Needlewas left with a fairground and many public buildings and public works. It really revitalized Seattle’s economic and cultural life. The Space Needle was built there, of course, and the Alweg monorail, as well as several sports venues…Washington State Coliseum, now Key Arena and performing arts buildings…the Playhouse, now the Cornish Playhouse. Many of these have been remodeled or replaced now, but the whole area started around the World’s Fair. The Space Needle was built to withstand wind speeds of 200 mph, double the requirements in the building code of 1962. An earthquake registering 6.8 on the Richter scale jolted the Needle enough in 2001 for water to slosh out of the toilets in the restrooms. The Space Needle will not sustain serious 11036888_10205159004168260_7395084702609884511_nstructural damage during earthquakes of magnitudes below 9. I think it is an amazing structure.

Since my daughter, Amy Royce and her family have moved to northern Washington, we have had the opportunity to visit the area and the Space Needle. I had been there before, but my husband, Bob had not. It doesn’t matter how many times you go up in the Space Needle, because each time is spectacular. The view is amazing, and since you can walk all the way around it, you have a different view on each side. The area is beautiful to be sure. I don’t know how often Amy and her family will get down there, now that they have moved to the Bellingham/Ferndale area, but I don’t think I would live that close without taking a trip to see a little bit of history once in a while.

1901177_1471143999768586_1314387885_nThere comes a time in every child’s life, when they hit that magical age…the age when they can drive by themselves. For my nephew, Weston Moore, that day has arrived. Of course, each child has to pass the driving test, and most of them do. They are so anxious to be independent, that they study as hard as they can, because they want that license. Having your own license means that you don’t have to be driven around by your parents anymore. It means that you can get a job and have your own money. It means that when you take a girl on a date, you can drive. Of course, it also means that your parents will ask you to drive your younger brother around, or go to the store, or 11892064_973495936035064_875279534068125191_nrun some other errands. It is just part of the territory. Weston has reached that age. I’m sure that he can’t wait to go and get his license. It is an exciting day for him. For the rest of us…well, that remains to be seen.

Weston is my niece Machelle Cook Moore, and her husband, Steve’s son, and like most kids his age, Weston likes to hang out with his friends, play video games, and of course, he likes girls. He likes going to dances, and is enjoying high school. Still, like most kids, he can’t wait for summer…but then I think we all feel that way. Summer for Weston brings camping in the Big Horns with his family and cousins. Weston also helps out his grandparents with their lawn and such. Now that he has turned 16, I wonder if he will still be able to do 11253_1533940126822306_7776747781160954750_nthat. If he gets a job, he may not have time to mow the lawn as often. I suppose that job will be passed down to his little brother, Easton. Time will tell.

Weston is a great young man, and I am amazed that he is 16 years old already. The years have flown by so quickly. Before long, he will be graduating from high school and going on to college, or a career, and then marriage and children of his own. I know we will be shocked at how quickly the time flew by then too. Nevertheless, that day is down the road a little bit yet. Today is Weston’s 16th birthday. Happy birthday Weston!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

DebbieMy sister-in-law, Debbie Schulenberg Cook, is a woman of many talents. Over the years she has made clothing for her girls, Machelle Cook Moore and Susan Cook Griffith, including Machelle’s wedding dress. She made lots of other clothes for them through the years too. One thing that I never really had the patience for, was sewing, but Debbie was quite good at it. She sewed most of her own clothes too. I always thought it would be nice to be able to do that, but it just wasn’t going to be something I would master, and my shoulders just couldn’t stand the aching I got when I sewed, so it was what it was.
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Debbie took up cross stitch, and made many pretty things to give away and sell at the craft fairs that she, my sister-in-law, Brenda, and my parents-in-law used to participate in. Now cross stitch was something I could sink my teeth into, but I didn’t ever get involved in the craft fairs, because by then, Bob and I were bowling seven days a week…fanatical, absolutely. Nevertheless, they all did pretty well with the craft fairs, and very much anticipated each one with joy. I know that the people who bought the items they sold were very pleased with them, but I think the gifts she made especially for one family member or another were the very best, because of all the love that went into them. Something that is made with love is always a keepsake.

scan0078 (4) After her dad’s passing, almost three years ago, and after we had to place her mother in a nursing home due to Alzheimer’s Disease, we decided to take the clothes that didn’t go to the nursing home, and any material he mom had left, and make quilts for everyone. Debbie single handedly took on the task of making quilts for the grandchildren. It was a huge undertaking, because there are eight grandchildren, and ten great grandchildren. Debbie did a wonderful job on those quilts, and they are something the grandchildren and great grandchildren will treasure forever, because the are from their grandparents clothing, and made with love for them by Debbie. It just doesn’t get any better than that. Today is Debbie’s birthday. Happy birthday Debbie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Carol Carlson with Uncle Bill 3When someone has Alzheimer’s Disease, or any form of Dementia for that matter, their family and friends know that there will be moments of clarity, amid many days in the fog. Those are the precious moments. Such was the case a few years ago, when my first cousin once removed, Carol Schumacher Carlson and some of her kids went to visit my Uncle Bill Spencer, who is Carol’s cousin. I’m not sure how long it had been since Uncle Bill had seen Carol, but it was one of those wonderful days. He looked at her and said, “Well, Carol, how have you been?” It was such a sweet moment for both of them. I’m sure that Carol expected that her cousin would have no idea who she was, but he knew her.

Carol Carlson with Uncle Bill 2I have had those moments when I have been so pleased that the person I’m talking to, knows me and times when they didn’t. I can tell you that the times they know you are far better…but you don’t get to choose those moments. It’s just not up to you, nor is it up to the Alzheimer’s patient. It just is what it is. You have to treasure the moments of clarity, and deal with the fog, because the patient has no control of it. Believe me, if they could control it, they would. No one wants to lose their memory. Everyone treasures those memories, and when they start to fade, it is sad for them…at least until they just don’t remember them anymore. At some point, it becomes more sad for the visitors than it is for the patient, because they no longer remember that they forgot.

I am so glad that my Uncle Bill and cousin Carol had such a nice visit, and that my Uncle Bill was having a 384188_2661409807172_728643262_ngreat moment of clarity, because the visit meant so much to both of them. Carol suffers from Dementia as well, and while neither probably remembers the visit now, the rest of us could tell that it was a very special moment. Sometimes, without even realizing it, kids can do something so special for their parents that, whether the parents remembers it forever or not, makes no difference, because the other people who witness it or see pictures of it, can see just what an amazing moment it really was. This was one of those amazing moments that will live in my memory files forever. I think Carol’s kids are all pretty amazing. They love Carol, and see to her needs in such wonderful ways. I love each and every one of them.

 

Anna Louise Spencerimg392Autographing a yearbook, or in the past, an autograph book is a tradition that really never goes away. The school year…or a certain period in a person’s life is coming to an end. Friends want to be remembered and people want to remember their friends, so they write something in their yearbook that they hope will sound profound, sophisticated, grown up, or at the very least, not sound too stupid. It doesn’t matter that you know the annual yearbook signing is coming, when the moment arrives, you find yourself on the spot again. Do you write a poem? Do you say something goofy? Or, do you say something with deep feeling, knowing that you may not see these people much anymore…if at all? Of course, it depends on who you are speaking too. Goofy works for the class clown, and profound might be great for the valedictorian, and if these are your good friends, you might write something with a little more feeling, but if the classmates are little more than acquaintances, what do you want to say to them? I suppose that is more when the poem or saying of the day comes into play. I mean, you are on the spot, and you can’t take all day.

Still, there are times when the poem of the day says exactly what you are feeling, like the friends of my grandmother’s and my dad’s who had hoped that they would not be forgotten as the years passed. In reality, I think most of us remember most of our classmates, whether it’s is just their face, or even their name, but that doesn’t mean that we spend a lot of time with them over the years, unless they were really a good friend. Nevertheless, there were very few classmates who completely faded into obscurity to the point that we don’t even remember that they were classmates at all, and sometimes classmates come back into our lives to a degree, as is the case with people we reconnect with on Facebook or in some other online form of social media. That still doesn’t mean that the friendship has been completely rekindled, but rather that curiosity came into play a little bit, for a little while.

The main reason for autographs, I think, is to make a way to remember a time in our lives that we really can’t visit again. Even with class reunions and such, you really don’t go back to that time exactly. You and your classmates might talk a little bit about what you did in school, and a lot about what everyone is doing now, but Allen Spencer as a boyimg487at some point, there just isn’t that much to talk about anymore. Your lives have taken different directions, and you have very little in common. That’s probably why class reunions last for just a weekend, because if they were longer, no one would go. There just isn’t a weeks worth of conversations, unless you continued on as friends after your school days were over, And then you wouldn’t need a class reunion to get you together so you could catch up at all. I guess that’s why I think class reunions put you on the spot all over again.

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