My cousin, Shirley Cameron is what can only be call a Modern Pioneer Woman. Not many people were living off the grid when she and her parents and brother moved to their mountain top in Washington state. They built 3 cabins. Her brother later moved to town, but her parents, Ruth and Jim, lived there for the rest of Ruth’s life and until fire destroyed their cabin, and Jim, who suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease had to be moved to a nursing home, where he lived out the remainder of his days. That left Shirley and her husband Shorty, and their grandson Tyrel living off the grid on the top of Wolfe Mountain.
After Shorty’s passing, in 2016, Shirley and Tyrel live up there alone. Oh they have neighbors, down the mountain, and Tyrel’s mom lives not too far away, but in town. Shirley and Tyrell just like living in the wilderness far from civilization. I really don’t think Shirley will ever leave her mountain. The views up there are breathtaking, and she gets to see lots of wild animals. Nevertheless, winter can be long and lonely. There are times when getting off the mountain just isn’t going to happen, because the snow is too deep. They have to have enough food to last for a very long time, because running out of food would be bad. There is a well, so water is not a problem, and they use a generator for electricity, so they do have to have enough fuel to run that. Still, summer will come around again, and everything is renewed.
These days, more and more people are living off the grid. It has become almost “fashionable” for people to get away from the city and all of its ties to utilities, phones, and water. With cell phones, people can still be connected to a degree, if they choose to be, but they can also shut it off when they don’t want to be connected. I think Shirley likes to be disconnected sometimes. It gives her time with her own thoughts. Being a modern day pioneer woman is not a way of life for the faint of heart. A person has to be comfortable in their own company. I don’t know if it would be something I could handle, but Shirley has done well with it, and I commend her for it. Today is Shirley’s birthday. Happy birthday Shirley!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My aunt, Deloris Johnson, lovingly know to all of us a Aunt Dee was one of the sweetest, most loving people I know. She could also be very protective of those she cared about too, however. She was very protective of her siblings, when she needed to be, but she really liked teaching them things, or buying them things that would be fun for the whole family. Things like the piano that was in my grandparents house for as long as I can remember. Lots of the kids “played” that piano at one time or another. Of course, none of us took lessons, so when I say “played” the piano, I use the term loosely. Nevertheless, I think Aunt Dee played it pretty well.
She was always helping her younger siblings to try new things. “Flying” in the wind, using a coat for wings, was a favorite for Aunt Dee, and the other children too. My mother, Collene Spencer, younger sister of Aunt Dee told me about how much fun they had when Aunt Dee was involved in the activities. I think it was all about the great imagination Aunt Dee possessed. When one of the kids has enough imagination to create fun situations, everyone involved has a great time. That fun person was Aunt Dee. She was the one that made everyone laugh, and I know that from the time she spent with our family. It was always fun to have Aunt Dee come over to our house. Her sweet smile put a smile on everyone’s face.
When we lost Aunt Dee to brain cancer in 1996, her passing left a hole in our hearts. My mom especially felt it, because they were really close. I can’t begin to imagine how much he passing saddened my mom. I can only say how sad it made me. Today would have been Aunt Dee’s 88th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Aunt Dee. We love and miss you very much.
For people of notoriety, the possibility of a kidnap attempt exists. That possibility became very real to Great Britain’s Princess Anne and her husband, Captain Mark Phillips on March 20, 1974, as they were returning to Buckingham Palace. It was the closest that anyone has come to abducting a member of the British Royal family in modern times.
Princess Anne was just 23 years old at the time. She was a fun-loving royal celebrity of the day. She was a skilled equestrian, who had been named BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 1971, but it was her marriage to a commoner, Captain Mark Phillips that caused a sensation. It is estimated that 500 million watched the ceremony on television. It was a bit unusual for royalty to marry commoners, but as we know, it does happen.
Princess Anne has long been one of the hardest working royals, and still is to this day. On the night of the attempted kidnapping, the couple were returning to Buckingham Palace after a charity film screening. At about 8pm, their chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce was making its way along the Mall when a white Ford Escort suddenly pulled in front and blocked the road. The driver, who was later identified as 26 year old Ian Ball, who was an unemployed laborer suffering from mental illness, jumped out, waving two handguns.
Thankfully, Anne’s bodyguard, Inspector James Beaton, and chauffeur Alex Callendar went to disarm him. Both were shot, but miraculously not fatally. A passing tabloid journalist was also shot. Beaton, who got back to his feet and was shot three times during the attack, was later awarded the George Cross. Ball got into the limo and demanded Anne get out, to which she retorted, “Not bloody likely!” Those were bold words for a young woman facing a would be captor. Obviously, Princess Anne was no ordinary young woman.
Into the chaotic scene ran former boxer Ron Russell, who punched Ball in the head and led the Princess to safety as police arrived. Police officer Michael Hills was also shot before Ball was finally tackled to the ground. The assailant was sentenced to life imprisonment and placed in a psychiatric hospital. In Ball’s car, police found handcuffs, tranquillizers and a ransom note addressed to the Queen. In the letter, he demanded that £2 million be paid to the National Health Service. After Anne’s miraculous escape, the royal family’s security was increased to ensure something like that could never happen again.
Saint Patrick’s Day…a day to celebrate being Irish. For me, Saint Patrick’s Day always felt like a borrowed holiday…probably because I don’t live in Ireland. The reality is that while I don’t live in Ireland, I am part Irish…9% to be exact. With the Irish in my family history, I would have expected my percentage to be for that 9%, but the reality is that most families migrated around the world, and while a family might have been in a country for centuries, they may not have originated there. Nevertheless, I had and still have family who live in Ireland, so I guess that makes me enough Irish to make Saint Patrick’s Day as much my day as it is anyone else’s. In reality, it is a day to remember the patron saint of Ireland. Saint Patrick was a missionary who heralded the shift from paganism to Christianity in the fifth century, when he was in his 40s. Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated on what is believed to be the anniversary of his death…March 17.
It is traditional to wear green on Saint Patrick’s Day, but why is that? Legend has it that if you’re wearing the color green, the quintessentially Irish, fairy-like creatures called leprechauns won’t be able to see you. And if they can’t see you, they can’t pinch you. Interestingly, before Saint Patrick’s Day got started, leprechauns were known not for wearing green but red. These days, the leprechauns have begun to outsource pinching to the rest of the world, or maybe we just took it over. Even the Irish flag has green in it. It is deeply symbolic. The green represents the Irish Catholics, the orange represents the Protestants and the white represents peace between the two. The green itself is called “shamrock green.” And speaking of shamrocks, shamrocks are one of the national symbols of Ireland, and not without reason. St. Patrick himself used the green, three-leaf clover to teach the Irish about the Holy Trinity: one for the father; one for the son; and one for the Holy Spirit. The four-leaf clover is just a symbol of good luck, if you believe in luck. Personally, I prefer blessing over luck.
When a large population of the Irish came to the United States in the mid-1800s, they wore the color green (as well as the Irish flag) as a point of national pride, further solidifying the relationship between the color green and the Irish…in the American imagination anyway. But lets face it, it’s really about the kid in all of us. Celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day with pinches and shamrock accessories might seem silly, but it can be a great way to spend a day being a little bit on the goofy side. Friendly pinches of those who are forgetful, and show up with no green, is a great way to spend that one day…often still cold and even snowy, having a little bit of silly fun. And then there is the green beer, the green Chicago river, and the green clothing, hair, and beards of our friends.
Most national days that are designed to celebrate an activity or group, are just another day to most of us, but for me, and for many other family history buffs, Genealogy Day is different. I’m sure everybody has a day of celebration that hits home to them, but I know of so many people who are dedicated to tracing their family history. I’m sure everyone has different reasons for tracing their history…from adoptees finding their parents, to simply wanting to know which historical figures we are related to, many people are curious. Those of us who have begun this journey, find ourselves losing track of time as were research the proof of relationship between us and our ancestors. We get started, and the addiction sets in. It’s like a good book that we simply can’t put down.
All too often, by the time we think about researching our ancestors, any of our family members who might have any pertinent information are already gone. We find ourselves disgusted that we weren’t interested before that point. Of course, by then it is too late for us, unless someone else took the time to ask the questions, and record the information. That is where the family genealogists come into play. If you are blessed, you have a parent or grandparent that you can ask or who has written it all down for you, so you don’t end up in the sad situation of finding that you are hitting a wall in your research. Those of us who find ourselves in the self-appointed position of being the family historian or family genealogist are not sorry that this is what we do. It is exciting to come across an old picture that we never thought we would find, or a military draft registration card that contains the signature of our ancestor. Those things are like striking it rich in a gold mine.
People are busy, and we just don’t have a lot of time to dig through the past, but every now and then, people who happen to have a bit more time start digging around and sometimes find out the most fascinating facts about where their forefathers came from and what kind of people they were. Most people are a little bit curious, when someone brings the information to their attention, but some simply don’t think they care. I find the latter group to be the most sad. They simply don’t understand that they are missing out…until it’s too late.
Keeping track of one’s family lines has been going on for centuries…hence the wealth of information that is out there, but never has the information been easier to access that it is today. Computers, cell phone apps, digital pictures all make it easier to share what one has with another, without losing the treasure you have. In Western societies, genealogy was especially important to royalty, who used it to decide who was of noble descent and who was not, as well as who had the right to rule which geographical area, but I think everyone wants to kind a link to a royal line. The idea that our grandparents might be royalty is an exciting one…even if our royal family will never know who we are.
Genealogy Day was created in 2013, by Christ Church, United Presbyterian and Methodist in Limerick, Ireland to help celebrate the church’s 200th anniversary. For this day, Christ Church brought together local family history records not only from its own combined churches, but also from the area’s Church of Ireland parishes, including the Religious Society if Friends in Ireland (Quaker) and the Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormon). The people in attendance could then use the amassed marriage and baptism records dating back to the early 1800s, such as Limerick Methodist Registers and Limerick Presbyterian Registers, to find out about their great-great-grandparents. The idea was so popular that it was repeated for the next two consecutive years and has inspired many people to take a look into their family tree to find out a bit more about where they come from. I think that Genealogy Day is a perfect day to dip your toe in the Genealogical waters, and see what you can find out about your own family. You might be surprised.
A few months after my husband, Bob’s uncle Frank Knox passed away, I was having an email conversation with Frank’s son, Greg, and we were discussing some of Frank’s time in the military, when Greg told me about his dad’s time in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The CCC was a public work relief program that operated from 1933 to 1942 in the United States for unemployed, unmarried men. Originally for young men ages 18–25, it was eventually expanded to ages 17–28. Right after Frank graduated from high school in 1937, which was in the middle of the Great Depression, he went to work for a local rancher. He got the job because of his experience in driving a team of horses on a mowing machine and a dump rake, which he learned helping out on his brother, Robert Knox’s sheep ranch. The farmer saw the value in hiring this young man to help with the alfalfa harvest of that season.
Nevertheless, the job was obviously temporary, it was a relief when on July 1, 1937, Frank made the decision to join the CCCs. Frank says that the decision to join the CCCs was purely out of desperation. Frank received his notice and was ordered to train in Miles City, Montana. Frank was stationed in Haugen, Montana attached to the 956 Company which was working in conjunction with the Forest Service. The site was Camp F9 with the forest service. Frank spent 18 months with this company, but was allowed to take 9 months leave in the middle of that service, though he never quite knew how that had been arranged. He went to his Freshman year in college, and then returned to the CCC to complete his 18 months of service. In the CCCs, Frank would make $30 a month, $25 of which would go home to help the family. Because he also received room and board, the $5 spending money he had a month was enough. Franks says he didn’t want for anything, and in fact, gained 15 pounds in those first months. Frank fought several forest fires in his time in the CCCs, but he knew that fire fighting was really not for him. Frank went to work in the kitchen, and then later applied for and received the position of assistant educator, and he was the editor of The Mountain Chieftain the camp newspaper. Frank also taught the Agriculture class to 8th grade boys in the area.
When Frank was released from the CCCs, he moved back to his parents home, now in Ellensburg, Washington, where he began his college career at Central Washington College of Education. Frank didn’t know that he was a born teacher, and so he went to college and earned a Bachelors Degree in electrical engineering from Washington State College, now Washington State University, in the spring of 1948. He had a job lined up with the Clark County Public Utility District in Vancouver, Washington, but the Vanport Flood on the lower Columbia River wiped out the new post-war housing in the Portland area, causing the job offer to be withdrawn. Frank was offered an instructor’s position in the electrical engineering department at Washington State College, and thus began his 37 year career at Washington State University. Frank was an amazing man, and very smart. It was a pleasure knowing him. Today would have been Great Uncle Frank’s 99th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Uncle Frank. We love and miss you very much.
This past summer, my sister, Cheryl Masterson; my cousin, Pam Wendling; and I went to visit Pam’s dad, our Uncle Bill Spencer at the nursing home where he lives. Uncle Bill has dementia, probably Alzheimer’s disease, and so how the visits go, depends on the kind of day he is having. The day of our visit was a really good day. Uncle Bill may not have known who we all were, and even some details about our lives, but he had some funny stories to tell us…one of which was how his brother, our dad, Allen Spencer had never gotten married!! That one was new to my sister and me, who are the eldest of Dad’s five daughters with his wife, our mom, Collene Byer Spencer. I guess Uncle Bill’s mind went back to the pre-Collene era of Dad’s life.
Uncle Bill also told us about the days on the family farm. I think my sister and I always thought of it as a small little patch of land…maybe 5 acres or so, but Uncle Bill told us that the farm was actually 80 acres. The farm was big enough to grow enough vegetables to sell them exclusively to Stokely Foods Inc. Stokely foods is a large company and it was founded on August 18, 1943, later merged with Van Camp’s, and then sold the Stokely brand to Seneca Foods in 1985, and the Van Camp’s brand to ConAgra in 1995. I guess you could say that the Spencer farm got in on the ground floor of Stokely Foods, Inc. This was really interesting to us, because it was confirmed by Uncle Bill’s cousin, Les Schumacher. I suppose Cheryl and I should have assumed that the farm was bigger than we thought, because they grew hay, and it took days to get it all stacked, but when you didn’t grow up on a farm, I guess you don’t really have a good way to gauge such things. I think we should have had some inkling, however, because the pictures we have seen should have told the tale…to some degree at least.
As our visit with Uncle Bill came to a close, we found ourselves very sad about the speed with which the time had passed. We don’t get to see him very much, and he is such a precious person in our lives. He was really in rare form, laughing and smiling a lot. There were no awkward moments when no one knew what to say, and Uncle Bill carried much of the conversation, which was absolutely wonderful. Our only regret is that we can’t get up there to see him more often. Today is Uncle Bill’s 97th birthday. That’s amazing…97 and going strong. Happy 97th birthday Uncle Bill!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My husband’s aunt, Esther Hein lives in Oregon, and it’s not always easy for her to get back home to Forsyth, Montana to visit her brothers, Eddie and Butch Hein, who live there with their families. Last January she made the trip, and once she was there, she might have found herself wondering if January was the best time to have done that. Montana gets quite a bit of snow, and last January was no exception. They got a large amount of snow, and Esther found herself shoveling the sidewalks and not really getting anywhere with removing all the snow. In the end, they spent a lot of time indoors, but it was a very nice visit anyway.
Things got a little tough for Esther this past fall, when he got Shingles. If you have never dealt with Shingles, or had them yourself, you have no idea how bad they really are. my husband had them in February of 2013, and they were awful.They itch and burn at the same time. They leave scars that never seem to completely go away. Some people get physically ill, and unfortunately, Esther was one of those. She was really sick for a while, and that can take a long time to come back from. I’m sure she was weak for a while.
As winter approached, Esther began to feel better, and was able to go on the family’s annual trip to the Diamond Lake Resort to go snow shoeing. I’m sure that with how she had been feeling, she wasn’t sure she would feel up to going this year, but I’m glad she did. Esther likes to stay in good shape. It is important for all of us. She has taken up water exercise. There is an aquatic open pool near her home and she has been going there three times a week to do open end exercises. Esther loves going, and says that she feels so much better these days.
Esther has long been a crafty person, and she has plans to make some quilts this next year. When you don’t feel well, you can’t do justice to your hobbies. Esther is an artist,and in the past has don’t quite a bit of painting. I’m just thankful that her hobbies have not had to be laid aside. Today is Esther’s 78th birthday. Happy birthday Esther!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
The Christmas season is always exciting, for old and young alike, and Christmas Eve is often a very hard day to settle down for. The reasons for the excitement vary. They are usually centered around the Christmas holiday, but not always. For my mother’s family, Christmas Eve holds an extra special significance because it was also their parents, wedding anniversary. Grandma Hattie and Grandpa George Byer were married on December 24, 1927. I always wondered why people would pick a holiday to get married on, but in times past, it was somewhat common. People could not easily get all their family members into town for a wedding, but people were often already getting together for a holiday. Of course, weddings weren’t often the great big affair that they can be these days either. Often the bride simply wore her Sunday dress, and carried a bouquet of wild flowers. I suppose it would be similar to the weddings held at the justice of the peace these days.
The reasons for the date and the simplicity of a wedding really didn’t make much difference, especially concerning my grandparents, because they were very much in love all of the years of their married lives together. I still remember all the times that Grandpa looked at Grandma with total love in his eyes. Grandma always knew that Grandpa loved her very much. Their marriage was blessed with nine children, four of whom are now in Heaven with them. They also have five sons-in-law and several grandchildren and great grandchildren in Heaven with them too. I would imagine that all of them are having a wonderful time there, because there are no tears and no sadness there. Of course, we here, who are left behind miss all of them terribly, and can’t wait to see them again.
Grandpa was a hard worker, who held many jobs in his lifetime. He was always a very respected worker. They knew he could be counted on to be there and to do his job well. Grandma was always a stay-at-home mom, who never learned to drive a car. It was just something she saw no need for. She worked in the home, and she cooked…man could she cook!! And there was always plenty of food on her table…no matter how many extras might show up. No one was turned away, and Grandma’s table was famous in this area. Today would have been my grandparents’ 91st anniversary. Happy anniversary in Heaven, Grandma and Grandpa. We love and miss you both very much.
Most of the time, the oldest sibling is the first to marry, and true to that thought, my Aunt Evelyn Byer was the first of my Grandma and Grandpa Byer’s nine children to marry. The love of her life turned out to be George Hushman, a young man who was raised in the children’s home in Casper, Wyoming, after losing both of his parents at a very young age. His mother, Wyoma Woodfork Hushman passed away when George was just 11 years old, and his dad, George Wave Hushman was killed in action during World War II, when George was just 17 years old. Uncle George’s dad was unable to take care of him after his mother died, so at some point he ended up in the children’s home. I’m sure many people would think that his would always be a sad story, but it wasn’t. Uncle George had a friend James Wesley Saint John…who went by Wes. They were good friends, and Uncle George spent a lot of time at his parents house. Wes’ mom, Hettie Saint John became like an adopted mom to Uncle George. She was a very stabilizing influence in his life. As the years went on the two men grew up and went into the service. Unfortunately, only one of them would come back home. Wes was lost at sea in 1944, and they never found out what happened to him. It was a hard loss for Hettie, and for Uncle George.
Uncle George went on to marry my Aunt Evelyn on September 1, 1947. While the sadness of losing his friend and not knowing any of his family lingered, Uncle George was a very happy family man. He and Aunt Evelyn would be blessed with five children, and they would be married for almost 68 years before Aunt Evelyn’s passing in 2015. Uncle George has been in frail health since Aunt Evelyn’s passing, but I know that their time together is still vivid in his mind, because she was the love of his life. I remember so many fun times they had with my parents. they bowled together, double dated, went to dances, and spent time at each others house. They were more that sisters and brothers-in-law, they were best friends. I really miss those good times they had, because w, their kids got to have those good times too. Today is Uncle George’s 92nd birthday. What an amazing milestone that is. Happy birthday Uncle George!! Have a great day!! We love you!!