Most of the time, when we think of time and distance here on planet earth, we tend to feel like we are just a speck compared to the size of this planet, and I suppose that is true, but sometimes, our connection to one another is, in reality, much closer than we know. My dad, Allen L “Al” Spencer was a top turret gunner on a B-17G Bomber in World War II. He was stationed at Great Ashfield, Suffolk, England. I have always been very proud of my dad’s service, and because of his service, I have also always had an interest in other World War II bases in England.
Yesterday, while researching my husband Bob’s great uncle, Richard F “Frank” Knox for his birthday today, I found myself reading his obituary again, looking for more information on a man I admired. I have always liked Frank very much, but because of the fact that we lived in Wyoming and they lived in Washington, I can’t say that I knew about his everyday life, and I certainly didn’t know about his military career. That said, while I had read the obituary right after his passing July 13, 2017, somehow it didn’t hit me that he was stationed as a communications officer at RAF Horham, Suffolk, England. Of course, my curious mind had to go to Google Earth. I wanted to know if the Air Base was still visible, because most of them have been in one way or another returned to farm land. I did find the base, and while it’s outline isn’t as clearly marked as Great Ashfield is, I could pick out RAF Horham too. After finding the base, I was able to imagine a young Uncle Frank living and working there during the war. To me, that thought was very interesting, but another thing I noticed was the fact that Horham was not that far from Great Ashfield. In fact, my dad and Bob’s Uncle Frank were stationed a mere 22 miles away from each other. It is doubtful that they ever met, and if they did, they probably wouldn’t remember it, because it would be just in passing, but it occurs to me now, that the two men have probably met in Heaven, and they probably had some interesting stories to tell about their time in England.
As big as this old world is, and as unlikely as it seems that two families could have some close connections like this, I find that at least in my life, and my husband’s life, there are some connections, some very near misses, and some interesting encounters. Like my dad, Uncle Frank served out his time in the Army Air Forces right there at RAF Horham, Suffolk, England. I imagine that like my dad, Frank took at least one leave to go and see London, because how could you go to England and not see London. Frank had a successful career in communications and then after his discharge from the service, four years, four months and four days of active duty, separating at war’s end with the rank of major. Frank served with distinction, earning a Bronze Star and the Air Medal, then he continued his military career in the Air Force Reserve. He retired in 1968 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Today would have been Uncle Frank’s 98th birthday, and it is his first in Heaven. Happy birthday in Heaven, Uncle Frank. We love and miss you very much.
Many people say they would hate to be born on a holiday, and for the most part I think I agree, but while it isn’t really a “holiday,” Groundhog Day, for my husband’s grandmother, Vina Hein, was a special day. When she was born on February 2, 1909, Groundhog Day in the United States was a mere 22 years old. There are lots of differing views on how it came to be, but apparently, it is pretty much an American tradition. It is thought to be a spinoff, of sorts, of a tradition that started with the early Christians in Europe, and for centuries the custom was to have the clergy bless candles and distribute them to the people. Even then, it marked a milestone in the winter and the weather that day was important. On old song about the day went thus: If Candlemas be fair and bright, Come, Winter, have another flight; If Candlemas brings clouds and rain, Go Winter, and come not again. It all sounds quite familiar doesn’t it? Of course in the Christian religion, it meant something else. It is half way through winter, and it was also thought to be when Mary’s purification day occurred after Jesus was born.
Nevertheless, leave it to Americans to make their warm weather travel plans based on the machinations of a reticent rodent. Each year, groundhogs around the country…but most notably Punxsutawney Phil of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, are paraded out to predict how many more weeks will transpire before spring is on the way. It’s either six more weeks of winter…as was the case with Punxsutawney Phil this year, or an early spring. It all depends upon whether the groundhog sees his shadow or not. This tradition has been going on since 1887s, despite modest advances in weather prediction since that time…if you think the weatherman knows his business that is.
So, while it was not a major holiday, Grandma Hein’s birthday always had an added little bit of sparkle. If her wish came true, the groundhog would predict an early spring, because after all, who isn’t ready for the beautiful flowers of spring in the dead of winter. Today would have been Grandma Hein’s 109th birthday if she were still here. Grandma, I know that where you are, the Spring flowers are always blooming. Happy birthday in Heaven Grandma. We love and miss you very much.
I don’t know…yet, if my son-in-law, Travis Royce has any connection to the Rolls-Royce families, but since my daughter, Amy Royce, and her husband Travis named their son Caalab Rolles Royce, I have felt a bit of a tie to the Rolls Royce vehicle line. Yes, my grandson’s middle name is spelled differently, but it makes is seem more like a last name and not a physical action. Because of my daughter’s family name, and my grandson’s name, I tend to read a story that is about the Rolls Royce. It just jumps out at me.
The Rolls-Royce cars are…high end elegance. They were first manufactured in 1904 By Henry Royce and Charles Rolls. These were not two men who were friends, and decided to build a car. Henry Royce was fourteen years older that Charles Rolls. He was a big, bearded, solid man, a workaholic and perfectionist, who worked hard for everything he had. As Rolls later said, he was “no ordinary man but a man of exceptional ingenuity and power of overcoming difficulties.” He was of Cambridgeshire farming stock…the son of a struggling miller. He had begun to earn money as a paper boy aged nine, somehow got an education at night school and took an engineering apprenticeship. Then he started an electrical engineering business in Manchester before designing and building his own car. It made an excellent impression for speed and reliability on a keen motorist named Henry Edmunds, who knew Charles Rolls and more or less dragged him to meet Royce in Manchester. The two men became instant partners and agreed to form the Rolls-Royce car company. Rolls was so delighted with Royce’s quiet little two-cylinder car that he borrowed it on the spot, drove it back to London, woke Claude Johnson up in the middle of the night and insisted on giving him a ride in it. By the end of 1904 the first Rolls-Royces were came out, with the now characteristic radiator that would become the world’s best-known symbol of supreme motoring excellence.
The Silver Wraith was the first post-war Rolls-Royce. It was made from 1946 to 1958. It was designed for coachbuilders, and so was only a chassis. It was announced by Rolls-Royce in April 1946 as the 25/30 horsepower replacement for the 1939 Wraith in what had been their 20 horsepower and 20/25 horsepower market sector, that is to say Rolls-Royce’s smaller car. The size was chosen to be in keeping with the mood of post-war austerity. Even very limited production of the chassis of the larger car, the Phantom IV, was not resumed until 1950 and then, officially, only for Heads of State. The car had improvements, such as chromium-plated cylinder bores for the engine; a new more rigid chassis frame to go with new independent front suspension and a new synchromesh gearbox. The chassis now had centralized lubrication. The engine was a straight six-cylinder, which had been briefly made for the aborted by war Bentley Mark V. To this prewar mix Rolls-Royce added chromed bores. Initially, this engine had the Mark V’s capacity of 4,257 cc. It was increased from 1951 to 4,566 cc and in 1955, after the introduction of the Cloud, to 4,887 cc for the remaining Silver Wraiths.
Personally, I would love to find the connection between my grandson and Henry Royce, which I suspect exists. Of course, the whole family would be connected, but Caalab’s connection would be especially cool, because of the tie to his name. When he got old enough to think about cars, he told me that he was going to buy a 97 Rolls Royce for his name and birth year. I suppose he still could, but I think they are getting pretty scarce these days, at least for that specific year. Nevertheless, the Silver Wraith was never something Caalab was interested in, as far as I know.
My husband’s aunt, Margee Kountz is his mother Joann Schulenberg’s youngest sister. When Joann developed Alzheimer’s disease, Margee was a vital part of our team of caregivers for her. Whenever I had to take my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg to the doctor, Margee happily gave of her time to come and sit with her sister. People may not realize just how vital their visits can be. When a family of caregivers are working hard to keep their loved one in good health, the caregivers can find themselves feeling exhausted. That visit, while it make seem such a little thing, allows the caregiver time to get necessary things done, and a little bit of time to take a break from the work, and at least a little bit of the stress of caring for their patient. Caregiving is about love. You do it because to love your patient, but it is not without it’s stresses, worry, and exhaustion. The nice thing about the Respite Care worker is that they are a huge part of the team of people who perform two services…companionship for the patient and time off for the caregiver. They are priceless, and Margee always stepped up to help.
My mother-in-law, Joann passed away on January 4, 2018. We are no longer caregivers or respite care workers. She is at peace, but we are left behind to mourn her loss. For Margee, it means that she is the oldest member of the family…something she did not want to be. Not because of the age, but because it has been so hard for her to say goodbye to her older sisters. I think that in many ways she feels like “the last of one standing,” and that’s not what she ever wanted. I know the feeling. It is not so very much different from being orphaned, which happens to all of us when our parents pass away. Still, we hope our siblings will live, at least, close to as long as we do, because when your parents and your siblings are gone, you feel truly alone. Of course, Margee isn’t really alone. She has her children grand children, and a great grandson too, but there is just a strange feeling that goes along with being the last of the original family.
While Margee was a big part of taking care of her sister, and the caregivers who worked during those years, I’m not entirely sure she ever knew just how important she really was. She was, sort of, an unsung hero. I’m sure I could have taken my mother-in-law to my father-in-law’s doctor’s appointments, but it would have been a huge undertaking for one person. Margee took half of that load off of me, and gave my mother-in-law a much needed social session too. She can to visit, and it gave my mother-in-law a new perspective on life. Their conversation stimulated her mind some. They talked about the old days, their kids, all the fun they had. They didn’t share their growing up years, because just six months after Margee was born, my in-laws were married. Nevertheless, there was much to talk about. Each could compare their childhood to the others, maybe. It wouldn’t really matter what they talked about, because after all, the visits were Margee’s gift of love for her sister. And that is what makes respite care priceless. Today is Margee’s birthday. Happy birthday Margee!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My Uncle Bill Spencer discovered genealogy by chance, when he came across a little black book that his mother, Anna Schumacher Spencer had. When he asked about it, she showed it to him. In the book was all she knew about her family’s history. I don’t know if my grandmother had an interest in the family history, but very little time to pursue it, or if it was passed down to her by someone else. Whatever the case may be, Uncle Bill was hooked on the family history from that time forward…an amazing feat for an 8 year old boy. It was a project he spent serious time on for all of his pre-dementia life. The family history and all the possible information were two things that were never far from his thoughts. His mind was obsessed with it.
The Spencer Family History researched by my Uncle Bill without the benefit of modern computer data assistance, spanned some 80+ years. He worked on it because of his own curiosity, at first. He traveled to spend time in court records rooms, searching for clues. He walked countless cemeteries, looking for the graves of his ancestors. He meticulously documented every picture, every find, and every news article he came across. He talked to aunts, uncles, and family friends, and wrote down their stories. He wanted to know everything…not just names and faces, but who these people were, and what their lives were about.
At some point, Uncle Bill’s obsession became Uncle Bill’s gift. He wanted to preserve the Spencer Family History to be passed down to all of the children of his multi-great grandparents. It was his legacy. He had such great love for the past, and really enjoyed researching history and ancestry. And his plan was to get the family history out to as many family members as he could. I have been amazed at how far it has gone across the United States and probably the world. I have come across a number of people who have all or part of Uncle Bill’s history. He made copies of it for anyone who asked, or showed an interest. These were all done by hand. Although, he did use a copier in the later years. His was a work of love for the future generations, who might find an interest someday, even if they didn’t seem interested now. While Uncle Bill’s mission seemed very much like an obsession, it was really a gift obsession. He was obsessed about giving it away. Few people have ever worked a lifetime on a gift that would be given away to people as yet unborn and unknown. It was a gift than was priceless to the receiver. Uncle Bill had given the very best of himself and poured it into the family history, and I for one feel very blessed to receive Uncle Bill’s gift. Today is my Uncle Bill’s 96th birthday. Happy birthday Uncle Bill!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Yesterday, my family lost another of my uncles, when my Uncle Bill Beadle went home to heaven. He has been ill for some time, but that just doesn’t help you to be ready for his home going. Nothing really prepares you for that. He went peacefully in his chair, having slept through the night and awakened in his sleep, got up to watch television. It was there that Aunt Virginia found him when she got up in the morning. Knowing that Uncle Bill went home peacefully, eases my mind a little, but when I think of the many years they have been married, and how sad she is, I am very sad indeed.
My cousin, Elmer Johnson, recalled that Uncle Bill was born up around Worland, Wyoming. He worked in the pipe yards, owned his own rathole drilling business with both sons, Forrest and Steve by his side. Uncle Bill was a great machinist and general all around mechanic. He loved spending time with Steve fishing and he loved to go bird hunting up around Worland. Pheasant and Chukars were his favorites, He liked hunting them, because it was much more exciting, walking the fields with that unexpected bird flying up out of nowhere giving only seconds to make the shot. Uncle Bill always had that cantankerous spirit…in the best ways, and had a way of getting you turned around and talked into doing the right thing if you were headed off course. He enjoyed his pipe, for quite a few years, and his chew. Forrest and Elmer got into that big block of chew when they were kids, didn’t know not to swallow it… well, when they swallowed it, they turned about three shades of green. Elmer tells me that he still can’t deal with chewing tobacco!
My sisters, Cheryl Masterson, Caryl Reed, Alena Stevens, Allyn Hadlock, and I were reminiscing last night about all the wonderful years since Uncle Bill joined our family. We all agreed that Uncle Bill had an incredible smile, complete with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes. He loved to tease the kids, and we all loved to be teased. Then he would laugh with his infectious laugh, and we all had a thoroughly great time. Uncle Bill was really not serious very much, at least not around us, or most of the kids. It just wasn’t a real part of his nature, unless you were heading for trouble…then he would get serious, but not in a mean way. Rather, as Elmer said, “He had a way of getting you turned around and talked into doing the right thing if you were headed off course.” And it happened before you even knew it was happening. That was Uncle Bill, and we will miss him very much. Rest in peace Uncle Bill. We love you.
Being the youngest of my grandparents, George and Hattie Byer’s three middle children, might possibly afford my Uncle Wayne Byer a small amount of innocence in the antics the three of them pulled, but if you know Uncle Wayne, you would be hard pressed to buy into that idea, because the three of them, Uncle Larry Byer, the oldest; my mother, Collene Spencer, the middle child; and Uncle Wayne were pretty much equally to blame. I really think they drove my grandmother half crazy. What one didn’t pull, another did. They would defend each other to the end…or until Grandma got a hold of them, then all bets were off.
They all three had a great sense of humor, but sometimes I think that Uncle Wayne had the best one…or maybe it was that he just had a way of connecting with the kids in the family. That could easily be it, but he was definitely a big part of the three “partners in crime” that was my mom and her two brothers. I know that all kids can be a trial for parents, but I have a feeling that these three might have really tried my grandmother’s patience, and as if that wasn’t enough, there were six other children in the house too. There was lots of talent, from singing, to dancing, but partners in crime took the cake in the antics department.
Of course, by the time I met my Uncle Wayne, he was a grown man, who’s oldest son was just two years younger than I was. All the older kids knew about it, but as the younger ones came along, we were always treated to Uncle Wayne’s signature prank…for lack of a better word. He would pop out his dentures, and encourage us to try…which we, of course did, without success. Uncle Wayne’s laugh was infectious. He just had a way of getting all of the kids laughing too. Everyone of the kids loved the uncles. They were really kids at heart…all their lives, and Uncle Wayne, being the only one left has carried on the tradition quite well. He’s a real kick. Today is my Uncle Wayne’s 80th birthday!! Happy birthday Uncle Wayne!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
The Ambrotype (from the Ancient Greek words for immortal or impression) or Amphitype, also known as a collodion positive in England, is a positive photograph on glass made by a variant of the wet plate collodion process. Like a print on paper, it is viewed by reflected light. Like the Daguerreotype, which it replaced, and like the prints produced by a Polaroid camera, each is a unique original that could only be duplicated by using a camera to copy it.
The Ambrotype was introduced in the 1850s. Then, during the 1860s it was replaced by the tintype, a similar photograph on thin black-lacquered iron, hard to distinguish from an Ambrotype, if under glass. It is quite the process. One side of a clean glass plate was coated with a thin layer of iodized collodion; which is a flammable, syrupy solution of pyroxylin (also known as “nitrocellulose,” “cellulose nitrate,” “flash paper,” and “gun cotton”) in ether and alcohol. The glass is then dipped in a silver nitrate solution. The plate was exposed in the camera while still wet. Exposure times varied from five to sixty seconds or more depending on the brightness of the lighting and the speed of the camera lens. The plate was then developed and fixed. The resulting negative, when viewed by reflected light against a black background, appears to be a positive image: the clear areas look black, and the exposed, opaque areas appear relatively light. This effect was integrated by backing the plate with black velvet; by taking the picture on a plate made of dark reddish-colored glass (the result was called a ruby Ambrotype); or by coating one side of the plate with black varnish. Either the emulsion side or the bare side could be coated: if the bare side was blackened, the thickness of the glass added a sense of depth to the image. In either case, another plate of glass was put over the fragile emulsion side to protect it, and the whole was mounted in a metal frame and kept in a protective case. In some instances the protective glass was cemented directly to the emulsion, generally with a balsam resin. This protected the image well but tended to darken it. Ambrotypes were sometimes hand-tinted; untinted ambrotypes are monochrome, gray or tan in their lightest areas.
The Ambrotype was based on the wet plate collodion process invented by Frederick Scott Archer. Ambrotypes were deliberately underexposed negatives made by that process and optimized for viewing as positives instead. In the United States, ambrotypes first came into use in the early 1850s. In 1854, James Ambrose Cutting of Boston took out several patents relating to the process. He may be responsible for coining the term “Ambrotype.” Ambrotypes were much less expensive to produce than daguerreotypes, the medium that predominated when they were introduced, and did not have the bright mirror-like metallic surface that could make daguerreotypes troublesome to view and which some people disliked. An Ambrotype, however, appeared dull and drab when compared with the brilliance of a well-made and properly viewed daguerreotype. It’s amazing to me that photography could be so complicated…especially when you think that these days, everything is digital, and errors can easily be fixed with Photoshop.
Some talents can be learned, but some tend to be things that you are just born with. I was watching a program the other day, and this couple was looking at a place to buy, and the husband mentioned that they could have a garden, and his wife said…”You can have a garden!!” He said, “Oh, because of your brown thumb.” I immediately thought of myself. A gardener I am not…and that is a fact. My husband’s aunt, Esther Hein, however, really likes to plant flowers and nurture them along. It is something that she has a talent for. I wish I did, but I was not born with that talent.
Aunt Esther also is a gifted artist and quilter. I have one of her paintings, and I really love it. Her quilting is well known, as is some of her sewing. She has made curtains and other such things for my father-in-law’s house, and I always liked knowing that those things came from Esther, with love. She made on particularly beautiful quilt for my father-in-law, that he loved so very much. It was always on their bed, and he was always extra careful to make sure that it was never harmed. Quilting is a beautiful art form, for those who are skilled enough to master it. Esther is, and again, I am not.
She also makes out a family calendar every year, with birthdays, death dates, and anniversary dates on it. It is an act of love that she has done for many years for her family members. I remember looking at the calendar she sent to my father-in-law every year. The calendar had birthday and death date of people long passed, and was a great ancestry tool, as well as a way to keep up with important dates, and remember those long passed. Esther is active in her church, and loves the Lord, and she loves to play with her dogs, go camping, and snow shoeing, as well as traveling. We don’t get to see Esther as much as we would like, and we hope that maybe one of these days, her travels with bring her to Wyoming again. Of course, I suppose we should make our travels include Oregon too. Today is Esther’s birthday. Happy birthday Esther!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Albert Einstein has always been one of my favorite historic figures, so I decided to look for more information on him. I was surprised about some of the things I found out. Albert Einstein was born in Ulm, Germany in 1879, to parents Hermann Einstein and Pauline Einstein. Albert had a large head at the time he was born, so large, in fact that it startled his mother and grandmother when they saw him for the first time. The “fat” head slowly receded and turned into a normal size. Strangely, the head containing the brain of an amazing historic genius, was not so perfect at birth. Einstein did not speak until the age of three, odd for a genius. He revealed this fact about himself in his biography. Today there is a term, “Einstein Syndrome,” which was coined by Dr. Thomas Sowell, to describe exceptionally bright people whose speech is delayed. Einstein spent his teenage years in Munich, where his family operated an electrical equipment business. Galileo Galilei was Einstein’s favorite scientist.
Albert Einstein’s lifelong love of science and math is no big secret, and in fact is what made him famous, that and his well know genius. That said, I was stunned to find out that his teachers did not consider him a good student, and they refused to recommend him for further employment. It is said that at 16, Einstein failed an exam that would have allowed him train to become an electrical engineer. One of the things I found to be the most interesting is that Albert Einstein had a poor memory. He could not remember names, dates or phone numbers. I heard that he didn’t see the need to remember what he could have written down. Maybe this was why it needed to be written down. Most people know that he was given the Nobel Prize in 1921. It was the Nobel Prize in Physics that was awarded to Albert Einstein “for his services to Theoretical Physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect.” But, Einstein had a funny side too, and would have fit right in with the kids of today…at least in his picture taking. I really it wasn’t a selfie, but as selfies go, it fit right in with that the kids of today are doing, and apparently he though it was just as funny as they do. He was sure pleased with this one.
One of the most interesting things I found out was that Einstein was offered the opportunity to become president of Israel after the its first president died in 1952. Einstein politely refused the offer, saying that he did not have the natural aptitude and experience to deal with people properly. He said that he could only understand a little of science and none of human nature. A little of science!!! Really!! I suppose that a genius would know and realize that just like the Bible, our understanding of science has only scratched the surface. Sadly, Albert Einstein had a “practical” view, if you will, of human life. He could have lived longer than he did. But, before he died, doctors suggested surgery to Einstein, because he suffered from a burst blood vessel. However, Einstein refused, stating, “It is tasteless to prolong life artificially.” I don’t understand why he ended such brilliance by refusing an operation that could save him. I find that very sad.