History

By the earForms of discipline have changed over the years…from spankings to time out, and we all have our own ideas about what works and what doesn’t. I was looking at some pictures of my father-in-law’s 75th birthday party, when I came across one of his sister and brothers. Esther was the oldest of the three younger children, my father-in-law’s half siblings, and while I’m not sure that she ever felt like she was the boss, she apparently decided that she was going to take her brothers by the ear and straighten them out…probably for picking on her, if I know them.

That picture reminded me of the times, probably more of them than I wanted to think about, whne I was hauled home in such a fashion. During the time that I was growing up, bringing a child home by the ear for the purpose of a spanking, or for washing their mouth out with soap for some serious verbal infraction of the behavioral code we were to live by, was quite common. Of course, the soap was safe to use in the mouth then too. With the chemicals it has now, I wouldn’t chance that today…and I really hated it a lot back then too.

The biggest problem with being dragged home by the ear is the humiliation of it all. First, you are being dragged down the street by your ear. And, if that isn’t bad enough, everyone knows that when you get home, you are going to get a spanking. Talk about humiliating!! You would think a kid would do whatever it took so they would never have to go through that humiliation again. Not necessarily so. We knew better than to cuss as kids…I mean that was like having a death wish, but there were other things, like calling your sister names, and such…not cool and definitely not allowed. That would get you the soap thing!!

I know that everyone feels differently about the forms of discipline that were used in bygone days, but I feel like the way I was disciplined, made me the person I am today. I have no misconceptions about how difficult I was as a child. I was a stubborn child, and it would be my guess that I got more than my fair share of the discipline of the day.

Bob, Jennifer, and baby cowThese days when the fair comes to town, many people think of the rodeo and the petting zoo, but years ago petting zoos didn’t exist. I suppose that might have been because so many people raised their own animals that they didn’t need to go out somewhere to see the farm animals…or at least, many of them didn’t. With the urbanizing of our country, more and more, people don’t get to be around farm animals as much in their everyday lives. I guess that has made us a little nostalgic is some ways. We keep trying to connect to the past in many ways.

I think most little kids these days have been to a petting zoo, but years ago, the petting zoo was out at the barn after the calving was over, and your admission fee was cleaning out that barn. It just didn’t have quite the same effect on a kid, whether they really liked animals or not. Taking care of animals is a messy job, as any rancher or 4-H student can tell you, and not one you usually associate with little girls. Nevertheless, little girls do like babies, and baby cows are very cute.

Personally, I think I would rather go to the petting zoo. We have raised a cow or two in our time living out in the country, and while the baby is cute when you get it, they are messy, and a lot of work. They grow from babyhood very quickly and then they aren’t so cute. They want their grain and they are willing to rush you to get it. Having a cow…sweet as they can be, step on your foot, or accidently kick you while trying to get to that food or Aunt Laura with a baby calfgrain really hurts. Oh, they don’t mean anything by it, but it was not a job I was willing to allow my girls to do,

And the saddest part about raising a cow…the main reason I would rather go to the petting zoo is that once they are grown…they must be butchered. They had been like a pet to us. We had even named them, and then we were expected to eat the meat. It truly got to the point where I could hardly stand to eat it. It’s not that I don’t like beef, because I do. It’s just that I don’t want to know my dinner by name!! No, I’ll buy my beef at the store, and go to a petting zoo, if I really feel the need to get next to nature in that way.

Caryn, Caryl, and CherylMost kids, at some point in the summer vacation, get bored, or hot, or motivated, or something, and they begin to look for new things to do. As little kids, the choice that most often seems to come up is ways to make some money. Enter the Lemonade Stand. You don’t see as many of these as you might have during the years when I was growing up, but every so often, I still see them. My sisters and I were no exception to that rule. Of course, the big motivation to make money was usually so we could walk over to the Ben Franklin Store that Casper had at that time, to buy candy. I think very few kids have ideas that were much different than ours…I mean kids were going to sock that money away for college, right.
Alena and Allyn
It’s funny how motivated kids can be when it come to esrning money to spend on things for themselves, but when it comes to school work, or something like that…forget it. You will have to force them to do that. I guess we all have things that motivate us, and when you are a kid…well you are motivated by kid things. Planning for the future was just not what you had in mind, not that it would help if we did put lemonade money in the bank. I mean, at 5 cents a glass, we might have made a dollar or so, and boy, did you work hard for that dollar. I guess it was a good thing that we still had penny candy and penny gumball machines.
Lemonade Stand
I remember how much fun we had, selling lemonade to anyone who drove by on those hot summer days. We could sell to just about anyone who drove by, because things were different back then. We didn’t even need a parent hanging there with you, to keep you safe. These days you wouldn’t dare leave your kids there alone to sell lemonade. They would be gone when you came back. We lived in a different time. A safer time. We had the run of the block back then, and selling lemonade on the corner was just one of the many fun things we did, things we really enjoyed… like running a lemonade stand.

Modern HeadbandFor centuries moms have been trying to find new ways to add bling to their daughters look. Maybe it wasn’t always called bling, but moms of daughters know that if you don’t add bling, everyone thinks you had a son…and there is nothing worse than having people think that your little princess is being mistaken for a prince. It’s really never to early to add bling to your little girl’s look, and the options are endless, but there have been some things that have evolved over the years. One of them is the headband…or bow, as it probably started out to be.

When my girls were babies, they didn’t make headbands for babies. I was told to use corn syrup to hold a little bow on their heads so they looked like girls…not that corn syrup worked, but I gave it a try. I decided to put bonnets on my Hair Bowgirls, because I couldn’t make anything work to keep a bow on their head, until they finally had enough hair to use a teeny rubber band and whatever ribbon was handy…gift wrap worked quite well. Needless to say, they wore bonnets for a long time.

Headbands have changed a lot over the years, and the modern baby headband is probably the most stylish of them all. These days baby girls can wear anything from bows, to flowers, to their parents team colors, but in the twenties, headbands looked a little bit like the sweatband that people used to wear a lot to control sweat on the forehead during workouts. I’m sure the people living in the twenties thought they were very stylish, but to me they looked a bit like a devise used for carrying baskets of food from the market in some of the Middle East countries. The band often has big bows on the sides, and it makes the little girl’s head look huge…but that’s just my opinion.
Twenties Headbands
There is nothing new about headbands and other bling, except the name. I remember putting nail polish on my kids and granddaughter’s nails at a very young age. They loved it. It made them feel pretty, and as all women know, that is the name of the game. I don’t think it is even as important to look pretty to others, as much as it is to feel pretty to ourselves. When you wake up, and nothing works with your look, it makes you feel…well, blah!!! It is a completely unacceptable feeling, and when you add a little bling, it just improves the whole look. And it doesn’t matter if you are 1 month or 80 years old. Girls…very simply…like bling!!

Real CowboysWe have all watched old Western shows, and the cowboys always seem to look very romantic…at least for the period of history they lived in, but the reality was not exactly like that.  Now, I can’t say for sure that none of the cowboys of that day looked like that, but the majority of those men were hard working homesteaders, who lived in an era where there was no running water, and all too often the water they had was needed for crops. The land was hard and dry, and tough to work, because it had never had crops planted in it before. There were rocks to be removed before the land could even be tilled. This was the world our ancestors lived in…if they came out to the wild west, like mine did.

Now don’t get me wrong…they did their best to clean up, when they cleaned up, and they looked real good, but the daily shower that we take for granted, was not possible in those days. Often the same water was used for more than one person, and you had to hope that you weren’t going to be the last one. The cowboys of the old west took a weekly bath and washed their hair every couple of weeks…most of the time…or sometimes anyway. They did not understand hygiene, because no one really knew anything about that then. Off to TownAnd they couldn’t have done much about it if they had, without any running water.

The roads were dirt, the land was dusty, the sun was hot, and the people…well, the people were as clean as they could be under the circumstances, but since the only odor improving items were the perfumes that the women used very sparingly, people just got used to the odors that existed. They were around horses and cows all day, and they had to clean up after those animals. It wasn’t their fault, and there really was nothing that they could have done about it in most cases…it was just the way it really was in the old west, and they were the real cowboys.

Children on old fashioned Merry-Go_RoundIf you were ever a kid, I’m sure you have been on a merry-go-round. Still, I doubt if the one you were on was exactly like this old merry-go-round from days gone by. I have never seen one that had actual chairs on it. I showed the picture to Bob, and he thought you might be able to hang on better. Maybe, but it would not be something I would be willing to test. You see, I hate merry-go-rounds…and any other ride that spins in a circle, usually far too fast, and definitely far too long. Even as a little kid, I got off of the merry-go-round almost as soon as I got on, and I’m quite sure my face had changed from pink to green. I can’t say why that bothers me, but it always has. I can do other rides, like Roller coasters…provided they don’t incorporate spin into the mix, and I can do a ride like the Ferris Wheel, that goes up and over…just not a spinner.

While I am not the person to ask about how fun a merry-go-round is, I can tell you that there are lots of kids over many years who have had the best of times on the merry-go-round, and the funny thing was that it didn’t do anything fancy. In reality it simply let a child be twirled without the parent having to be dizzy too, another good thing for me, because that was almost as bad as the merry-go-round.

Most people don’t have the issues I do with merry-go-rounds, and for them this would be a lot of fun, and in reality none if these kids are trying to get off of the ride. As a child, I remember all of my cousins running for the merry-go-round at the family picnics. And I know my girls liked them too. And if they could get an adult to push them so that they didn’t have to make it go, they were in 7th Heaven. Of course, the adult usually got worn out pretty quickly, and the kids were on their own again. Nevertheless, kid leg power worked pretty good too, and those who weren’t having to push had a really great time.

I checked into the history of the merry-go-round, or carousel, and was amazed to find out that the earliest known record of a carousel was in 500 AD. I couldn’t believe that. Of course the first one was different than what we see today, and had a very different use. It had baskets suspended from a central pole, and was use to train soldiers for battle. Wow, I guess I can see that, but it’s still very odd. I think I prefer the more modern version, whether it is the simple style in a park, or the one we see at the fair each year, with horses and carts.

Grandpa Byer and his military buddiesWhen men go off to war, their buddies become more than just people they serve with. They are family, and more importantly, they are a life line. These men, often barely more than boys, have to count of their fellow soldiers to have their back…in the deepest sense of the word. If the platoon is attacked, it is going to be the ability of the men in the platoon to act at a moments notice that will often decide their fate. Of course, no one is going to be able to move fast enough to get away from a bomb that has been dropped in most cases. There just isn’t time, but if everyone is alert, many dangers can be seen in time to warn the rest of the platoon. The further back in history the war is, the more the men had to depend on each other to stay alive, because modern equipment has helped to track the approaching enemy these days, but back then it wasn’t available.

My grandpa served in World War I, and while he was a cook and not a fighting soldier, the danger was just as real for him as it was for any other soldier. You can’t be in a war zone, and not be in danger, and quite possibly he had to depend on his fellow soldiers more than someone who was in a fighting position, because he didn’t carry a gun on a regular basis. An attack on the camp would leave these men more vulnerable than men who regularly carry a gun. I’m quite sure that Grandpa and his crew had guns assigned to them, they still didn’t use them as much as other men, as so were not as used to them. They had to know that their platoon members were going to have their back…and they did.

Many men felt such a close tie to their fellow soldiers, that life long friendships were built. RestingTheir comrades were never to be forgotten…whether they made it through the war or not. In fact, often it was those men who did not come home, who were most remembered, because quite often, they gave their life to protect their fellow soldiers. I am thankful for the men who fought with my grandfather, and made a way for him to come home to his family, because without those men, my family and I would not be here today. Their bravery in fighting for their country made our way of life possible in the nation, and brought back to his family, the gentle loving man that was my grandfather. It was the code of all military men and women, then and now. When going into battle, soldiers have always been heard saying, “I’ve got your back.” And they do.

Great Uncle HermanAfter my story a couple of days ago, on logging in the old days, my cousin, Elmer told me a story that our grandma told him years ago. I didn’t know that some of my mom’s family was also in logging. They were loggers in Cascade, Idaho, which is a beautiful area. In figuring the time frame, I would expect that my Great Uncle Herman was a logger in the 1940’s or so. Logging may be something that can be done year round these days, but back then it was more a seasonal thing, and required that the men who worked there find other work in the off season.

According to the Grandma, who is Great Uncle Herman’s sister, he had been hired to dig 
graves in the off season. The ground there is rocky, and in the winter, the ground gets frozen and really hard. Digging graves under those conditions would be quite difficult. Uncle Herman’s boss told him to use a little bit of dynamite to loosen the soil a little bit. I don’t think my uncle had ever been around dynamite much…nor have I, but Elmer figured that a quarter of a stick would have been enough. He didn’t know for sure how much dynamite Uncle Herman used, but apparently the resulting hole was big enough to bury half of the townspeople. The good news was that somehow he didn’t hit any graves in the area, because no body parts were unearthed…thankfully, because I can’t imagine what a scene like that would do to a person.

The pictures that immediately came to my mind when I heard this story is the look that must have appeared on my uncle’s face when he saw what the dynamite had done. I also thought about the noise the blast made, and the fact that this mistake was not going to be able to be kept to himself. Not only would his boss know about it, but the whole town was going to know about it. Of course, Uncle Herman lost his job that day, and went on to do other off season work…probably a lot less exciting, but maybe less dangerous for everyone concerned. Nevertheless, I have no doubt that every time that incident came up in Uncle Herman’s mind or in the conversation that was going on, he couldn’t help but laugh at the very absurdity of the situation. I know Elmer and I have laughed about it repeatedly since we heard the story.

Lumber Steam LoaderFor a number of years some of my dad’s family worked in the lumber business like so many other people from the area near International Falls, Minnesota and northern Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin. Much of the lumber was then sent to the Sawmill and Paper mill in International Falls. The year was somewhere around 1912, and the equipment used was not like what is used in the lumber business of today. After the logs were dragged or “skidded” to the railroad, they were loaded on to the rail cars by a Yarder. A Yarder was a machine that traveled on railroads knows as “dummy lines” to the site where the logs were to be loaded. These machines appeared to be large and cumbersome, they were in reality, workhorses that could handle big jobs. Once the logs were hooked to the cables, the log could be skidded at a rate of 1000 feet per minute…making work around the machines, rather dangerous. Once the log was near the rail car, men and machines had to work together using cables and poles to load the logs onto the railroad car. Once again, this put the men in harm’s way. If a log slipped, it was very likely that it was going to hit someone, resulting in death or at the very least, serious injury.

I’m not sure what my dad’s family member’s jobs were in that industry, but that would have been around the time they were working in that industry. Logging has always been a dangerous industry to be in anyway, due to the large trees falling. You can’t always predict exactly where they are going to fall, although they know more about that these days than they used to. Still, the thought of a log being pulled from one point to another at the rate of 1,000 feet a minute and having someone in the way of that…makes me cringe!!

When I was watching some of the old home movies from Bob’s family, I saw that some of them were in that same industry for a time. There was a stark difference in the way trees imagewere moved from place to place. The Harvester was able to go up into the area where the trees were being cut, and bring them down to the loader. The loader being on wheels, with a Diesel engine, was them able to lift the logs onto the trucks, without the need to “skid” them closer. No one needed to be around to work cables or anything else to get the logs on the truck. It made for a much safer situation for everyone concerned. Of course, every invention that we now had, came from a need seen by someone in the past, so I guess we have those loggers in the old days to thank for the safer conditions we now have. I’m just thankful that my ancestors lived through the time they spent in that industry.

 

Bob, Ron & 67 MustangWhile brothers have long been known to be best buddies, and most get along pretty well as kids, it seems like that isn’t always the case when a number of years separate the two. Bob was fourteen years old when his only brother came on the scene. Sisters had dominated his life from his birth in 1954 to the birth of his brother, Ron in 1968…four sisters, to be exact. I’m sure a brother was a welcome change, still fourteen years is a great distance to overcome when it comes to being best buddies. Ron wouldn’t even be someone Bob could play with much before Bob was sixteen, and then driving and going out with friends and girlfriends would be more the things on Bob’s mind.

In most cases, all the things a teenager wants to do, when they get to the point of driving, put a quick end to the time they want to spend with their little brothers and sisters. That was not the case with Bob…at least not where his little brother was concerned. They had always been close, and still are today. Bob has always had a way with kids, and his little brother was no different, and once he is friends with someone, it takes a lot to change that. And Bob doesn’t care about their age. His little brother has always been special to him. It has always been a special relationship.

I will never forget some of the dates Bob and I went on…with his six year old brother. It was not what I would have ever expected, but found to be very sweet. Sometimes, it isn’t the normal things about a person that make the person, but rather the unusual things they do that can endear them to you…sometimes forever, as is the case with Bob and me. He just had a special quality, a kindness to others. I could tell that he could no more have hurt his brother’s feelings than he could grow wings and fly, a trait I’m sure my brother-in-law also appreciated as well.

Of course, as with any boy or man, the car they drive is a big deal, and for these brothers, cars were something they had in common, and still do. It was a bonding thing for both of them. Maybe that is why they were such good friends, and still are today.

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