Loss

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My husband’s aunt, Marion Kanta was his dad, Walt Schulenberg’s older sister. It was just the two kids for the first 13 years of her life, and the first 11 years of his life. For much of his early life, Aunt Marion, like many older sisters, was the bossy one. She tried to make sure her little brother did all the things he was supposed to do…or at least, all the things she told him to do. As little brothers would tell you, that bossy big sister thing didn’t really go over very well. Nevertheless, while they did fight sometimes, he did love her. Don’t let that make you think that he never hit his big sister. It’s a sibling thing after all, but boys had to be taught to treat girls like ladies, and so hitting his big sister didn’t go over well with their mother, Vina. So, as time went on, Walt learned to be a nice boy, and not hit his sister.

Of course, as they grew up, all that childish squabbling was behind them, and they became good friends, even though they lived in two different states. Aunt Marion, her husband and 8 children lived in Helena, Montana; and Walt, his wife and 6 children lived in Casper, Wyoming. The families got together as often as they could, but it really was pretty much a couple of times a year. That is often the case when families live so far apart. Nevertheless, it doesn’t diminish the love between siblings.

I remember that whenever we would go to Forsyth, Montana to visit Grandma Hein, Aunt Marion would often come over from Helena for a visit. We enjoyed those visits so much. She was always such a sweet person. There wasn’t even a hint of that bossiness that she was famous for in her youth. I’m not sure her kids would agree, but then it is a mom’s job to be bossy, right. Aunt Marion left us far too soon, when a developed a blood disease in 1999. She was only 72 years old and she was still a very healthy woman in every other way. Today would have been Aunt Marion’s 93rd birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Aunt Marion. We love and miss you very much.

My husband’s grandfather, Robert Knox came from a long line of political figures, but he was not a political man. The ancestors who were political were pretty far in the past. There were also some military connections, which he probably never knew about, other than his own family members who served, like his brother Frank Knox. Grandpa’s life fell between wars, so he was not called to serve in the military.

Truth be told, Grandpa was more of a farmer/rancher type. It was where he felt most at home. I will never forget the early years of my marriage to Bob, when Grandpa would spend hours in the family garden growing tons of vegetables, which the women in the family would can to supply vegetables for the coming year. It made Grandpa feel useful in his retirement years.

I think that one of Grandpa’s greatest joys, however, was the day when his great granddaughter, Machelle Cook Moore was born…on his birthday. It gave them a bond much like the one Grandma Knox had with their first great granddaughter, Corrie Schulenberg Petersen, who was born on Grandma’s birthday. I suppose that continued the Grandma first teasing that had gone on their entire marriage, because Grandma was six months older than Grandpa was, and she enjoyed teasing him. And I’m sure he enjoyed it too over the years, but this idea of having a granddaughter born on his birthday…that was cool.

Grandpa left us in 1985, and we still miss him and Grandma. Today would have been his 112th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Grandpa. I know you and all the family who have gone one before are having a great time. We love and miss you very much.

My husband’s Uncle Eddie Hein was a man of integrity. He worked hard in everything he did. When he decided to take on a job, schooling, family and family projects, or anything he did for other people…he did it with integrity. People always knew they could count on Eddie to be there to help them out of any jam, or just when they need a little bit of assistance. Eddie built the additions to the family home, that gave it enough room for all of them.

Eddie lived most of his life in Forsyth, Montana, with the exception of the years he spent in Casper, Wyoming working at Rocky Mountain Pack and going to night classes at Casper College to get his degree in mechanics; and the years when he was in the US Army, where he served his country during the Vietnam War. He was honorably discharged in 1966. That was when he met his future wife, Pearl Krueger. They got married on July 15, 1967…the happiest day of their lives. Their marriage was blessed with two children, Larry Hein and Kim Arani. They also had three grandchildren, one of whom, Destiny Hein, was born on Eddie’s birthday, giving them a very special bond. They were best friends.

Eddie worked at the Forsyth Standard Station until he was hired at Peabody Coal on May 4th, 1970. He worked for Peabody Coal until 2005, then he went to work for Western Energy Coal Company, retiring in 2010. Eddie was a respected worker at all of his jobs, and I’m sure they were sorry to see him move on to other jobs. Uncle Eddie had a presence that made people feel good. He had a smile that made you smile too. Uncle Eddie was always a working man, and I know it was very hard when he had the stroke that really slowed him down. It was hard on him, Aunt Pearl, their kids, and grandkids. They worried about him and wondered if he was going to come out of this, but he did come out of it. He did walk again, and he was able to walk Kim down the “isle” on the beach, when she and her husband, Mike Arani were married. I suppose that it was his strength to come back from the stroke that made his heart attack, and subsequent passing on October 16, 2019, so hard to believe. I still can’t believe he is gone. Today would have been Uncle Eddie’s 77th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Uncle Eddie. We love and miss you very much.

Probably because of the smaller cost of the materials and the ease of transporting material to the site, there are many earthen dams today. I suppose they were properly packed down, and with the addition of vegetation, they seem to hold up well…for the most part. The Toccoa Falls Dam (later known as the Kelly Barnes Dam) was constructed ninety miles north of Atlanta, Georgia. Toccoa is a Cherokee word meaning beautiful. The dam was built across a canyon in 1887, creating a 55-acre lake 180 feet above the Toccoa Creek.

R A Forrest established the Christian and Missionary Alliance College along the creek below the dam in 1911. It is said that he bought the land for the campus from a banker with the only $10 dollars he had to his name, offering God’s word that he would pay the remaining $24,990 of the purchase price later. I guess that the banker either trusted Forrest’s ability to pay the balance, or decided that a Christian college would a good gift to give, whether Forrest was ever able to pay it off or not.

The Christian and Missionary Alliance College had been on the site for 66 years in 1977. On November 5, 1977, a volunteer fireman inspected the dam and found everything in order. A few hours later, in the early morning of November 6, the dam suddenly gave way. With a great roar, water thundered down the canyon and creek, approaching speeds of 120 miles per hour. Still, the residents of the college had no time to evacuate. Within minutes, the entire community was slammed by a wave of water. One woman, a mother of three daughters, managed to hang onto a roof torn from a building. The wave carried her for thousands of feet. She survived, but her three daughters, were among the 39 people who lost their lives in the flood.

The investigation that followed, cited several possible or probable causes for the disaster. The failure of the dam’s slope may have contributed to weakness in the structure, particularly in the heavy rain of the previous four days. The rain swelled Barnes Lake, which normally held 17,859,600 cubic feet of water, to an estimated 27,442,800 cubic feet of water. When the low-level spillway collapsed, it exacerbated the problem. A 1973 photo showed a 12 foot high, 30 foot wide slide had occurred on the downstream face of the dam, which may have also contributed or foreshadowed the dam failure. Basically, the dam was in poor condition and the design was poor and outdated. It was a disaster waiting to happen.

Today, my little grand niece, Laila Spethman would have turned ten years old…she still has, but all of her birthdays have been sent in Heaven. We only got to have her here for 18 days. While her time here was short, her impact on the lives of her family was huge. Laila was the waited-for girl, in a family with three boys, Xander, Zack, and Isaac. She was also to be the big sister to her parents, Jenny and Steve’s second daughter and rainbow baby, Aleesia. Laila’s homegoing was a sad day for all of us, but we have continued on in the knowledge that Laila is living in Heaven, getting to know her great grandparents, who have gone to Heaven too. She lives on with Jesus in the most beautiful place ever…Heaven.

Of course, the arms of her parents and siblings, as well as other family members, ache to hold Laila, and those empty arms will continue to ache until we get to see her again in Heaven. Laila was and is a beautiful little girl, with a wonderful smile and a kind heart. I know that because she has grown up in Heaven, that she is filled with God’s love and grace, and she gets to spend time in the presence of God. Heaven is never the sad choice, but it is hard on loved ones, because we miss them so much. And in the case of a baby, we wonder each birthday, who they would have been.

That is the case with Laila. We wonder who she would have been at 10 years old. Would she have been like her mom…very stylish and sweet? Would she be like her little sister…a girly girl, mixed with a little bit tomboy…the result of having three older brothers? She may have become a little bit of both. No matter who she would have become, we would have loved to watch her grow up, and we would have loved her very much. We will miss her until the day we see her again in Heaven. Laila left us for Heaven on November 22, 2010, and we were all very sad, but she is very happy in her Heavenly home. Today would have been Laila’s 10th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Laila. We love and miss you very much.

Rain…most often a welcome sight, especially during the hot summer months, and sometimes early fall months too. The Casper, Wyoming area is not one to get a lot of rain, however. Nevertheless, the rain had been coming down heavily for a week, that late September of 1923. In fact there had been three straight days of downpour. The railroad personnel were keeping a close eye on the rivers, creeks, and bridges. They were concerned, but did not expect the volatile, and possibly catastrophic situation that could be heading their way. Cole Creek was reported to have less than 16 inches of rainwater in its bed and by 8pm on September 27th, and the bridge was believed secure. Hours later, the water level would reportedly rise two feet in half an hour.

On September 27, 1923, The Chicago Burlington and Quincy Number 30 passenger train left Casper for Denver at approximately 8:30pm with approximately 60-70 passengers on board. the exact number is unknown. The train reached Cole Creek by 9:15pm and approached the Cole Creek bridge shortly after. Unexpectedly, Number 30 attempted to slow, and eventually braked upon realizing the usually dry gully below was now a torrent of rushing water and vision was severely limited. It is unknown if the rushing water was unnerving or if they saw something of the impending disaster through the rain, but they did attempt to slow down. Unfortunately, the bridge’s trestle had already been washed out or badly weakened. The realization of the situation came too late for the crew of CBQ number 30.

The 100-ton locomotive engine and first five, of seven train cars plummeted into the sand and water below. Most of the passengers were in two of these cars. Ans the cars hit, metal crunched, windows and doors burst under flood of water, steam from the engine scalded passengers and worse, and it would take more than an hour for help to arrive, especially when the first call to the Casper dispatcher’s office didn’t come for 45 minutes. From that point, the city sprang into action. Emergency news alerts calling for doctors and volunteers flashed across movie screens in town. The residents first thought it was a refinery disaster…which was much more expected here than a train wreck. Instead, however, they were faced with the greatest train wreck in Wyoming’s history, as it would come to be known.

Try as they might, rescue crews could do very little until the following morning. At first, bodies were found washed down the North Platte River for hundreds of yards, but they would eventually reach miles down the river. The massive recovery efforts would continue for weeks. The cleanup ended October 15, still daily reports were provided by local newspapers and radio. There were still people missing, but winter was upon them, and anyone who lives near the Platte River, or it’s tributaries, knows that once the ice sets in, bodies remain hidden beneath the surface.

The body of the train’s conductor, Guy Goff, was found seven months later, in May 1924, washed down the North Platte. Engineer, Ed Spangler, was discovered in January of the following year. In all, the cost of the wreck totaled close to a million dollars and 31 deaths are reported, although the final number remains uncertain because of the discrepancy in passenger numbers. The day after the wreck, a nine-year-old boy was seen searching for days for his father at the wreck site. No confirmation was received that the man was ever found.

Following the horrific attacks on our country on September 11, 2001, all planes were told to land at the nearest possible airport immediately. Before long, there were no planes in United States airspace, other than military planes. The feeling was an eerie one. Maybe other people considered the international flights, but for some odd reason, I did not until I read a book called, “When The World Came To Town.” When the United States closed its airspace that day, it left literally thousands of people out over the oceans with nowhere to go…almost. Those that had not passed the point of no return, most likely turned around, but there were many planes that had to go on. Nevertheless, they could not land in the United States, so our neighbors in Canada came to the rescue.

There were only a couple of places that planes en route to the east coast of the United States could land. One of them was Gander, Newfoundland…a small town of 9,561 people in 2001…and nearby communities like Gambo, Lewisporte, Appleton and Norris Arm. When the US airports shut down, it left 38 planes and 6,500 people who were heading west over the Atlantic, with very few options. Enter Gander, Newfoundland. Gander airport received those 38 planes, and opened everything in their town to those 6,500 people and a couple of dogs. The passengers were mostly in shock…both because of what had just happened, and because all the people of Gander simply dropped everything to personally take care of the stunned passengers.

At the time, the school bus drivers were on strike. As if they were one person, they all laid down their picket signs and went to drive their unexpected guests around…not just from the airport, but anywhere they needed or wanted to go. Pharmacists filled prescriptions for free. Shop owners declined payment for goods sold to the passengers. The arena at the Gander Community Centre became a giant walk-in fridge for food donations. The people brought their best dishes…comfort food for the passengers, all of whom were feeling, like every United States citizen was feeling…nauseous, anxious, and scared. If people began to cry, someone was there to comfort them and allow them to talk it out. People opened their homes, allowing people to stay with them, and others to shower in their homes. Homes were not locked. They were opened to the people from the planes…at all hours. If people just needed to get out of the community center, someone took them wherever they wanted to go…even just for a drive.

The tarmac at Gander International Airport quickly became a parking lot. There were planes everywhere. I don’t think a plane could take off, if they wanted to, but then, nobody was really going anywhere. The United States was in a “holding pattern,” and for Gander, the same applied, to a degree. They were busy helping their unexpected guests to feel more comfortable, and less anxious, if that was possible. Nevertheless, the passengers were not bored. The townspeople entertained them with music, tours, a church service, and even a birthday party for a passenger with a birthday. The townspeople took the passengers to Walmart to get them the clothing and other necessities they had to leave in the cargo hold of the plane. Whatever they wanted or needed, they were supplied with. The people of Gander did it all, and asked for nothing in return. All that is great, but the truly wonderful thing that the people of Gander, Gambo, Lewisporte, Appleton and Norris Arm did for the stranded passengers, was to offer friendship…a friendship that has endured through the 19 years since that fateful day.

My grandson, Josh Petersen is such a hard working young man. He has two jobs, totaling up to at least 12 hours a day. I don’t know how he does it, and still maintains his good disposition. He has always been an easy going guy though…not a lot of things get him upset. If you do cross that line, however…look out. Still, even if he yells at you, he never holds a grudge, so you are forgiven almost immediately…and as Grandma, I never get yelled at, haha!! To be honest he doesn’t yell at his parents either.

A couple of years ago, Josh became an uncle to a sweet little girl, and will be uncle to a sweet little boy in November. It was one of the greatest moments in his life. He loves being uncle, even though he doesn’t get to see his niece too often, because he works so many hours. Josh has always loved kids, and animals. He has a number of fur babies, and recently lost his oldest dog, Molly, who was also his constant companion whenever he wasn’t working. Molly was a Dachshund, and Molly was his girl. He loved her very much. She was originally purchased by his parents for the family, but from the beginning, Molly was Josh’s dog. Animals are like that. They pick out the “human” they want to belong to, and there is little you can do to change their mind. Molly picked Josh, and the rest is history.

Josh was one of many essential workers during the Covid-19 pandemic. He works at Sanford’s Grub and Pub at night, and All Out Fire during the day. Both were considered essential jobs. It helped in the job situation, but while many of us were hanging out at home, watching television, he was still hard at it. Josh is such a trustworthy guy. He originally started working at Sanford’s when he was 15 years old. They didn’t normally hire kids at that age, but they “took a chance” on him, and they have never been sorry. He has worked there longer than anyone else, including the managers, and he is the current kitchen manager. At just 22, that is a pretty good accomplishment.

Josh may not have lots of free time, but he has good friends that he enjoys hanging out with…people he has known for years. Josh is a loyal friend too, and he is the kind of guy who will give you the shirt off his back, if you needed it. It doesn’t matter what the hour, if he can help, he will help. That’s just the way Josh is. Today is Josh’s 22nd birthday. Happy birthday Josh!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My husband, Bob Schulenberg’s aunt, Pearl Hein has always felt like a kindred spirit to me. Our lives have taken some of the same turns and in many ways that makes us feel connected. Pearl spend a number of years taking care of her aging parents, and when her husband, Bob’s Uncle Ed had a stroke, Pearl stepped in again to nurse him back to health. As we both know, you can only prolong life for your loved one. Everyone dies at some point, and no matter how young or how old they are, we just aren’t ready for them to go when they do. Each of us knows that we would have continued to fight for their lives with all we had. We weren’t ready to let them go. We couldn’t understand why. Did we do something wrong? Did we miss something? We will never know, of course, but we will always have regrets…mainly the regret that they aren’t here with us anymore. Of course, we know that Heaven is far greater for all of them, but we miss them terribly, and it is so hard to move forward in our daily lives.

Pearl’s dad, Merle Krueger passed away in 2002 at 97; her mom, Minnie (McCain) Krueger passed away in 2004 at 89; Uncle Ed passed way on October 16, 2019 at 76; and sadly Pearl’s son Larry passed away passed away just 3 months after his dad on January 30, 2020. It has been a really hard year for Pearl, and moving forward is not easy, but it is my hope that today, her birthday can become a new start…or at least a new normal. Pearl has always been such a loving and giving person, and she deserves to be happy too. There are so many people who love her, and I pray she will find joy in her friendships. Pearl and I have another thing in common…we are both Christians. We both believe that there is life after death, and that our loved ones are waiting for us to join them in Heaven someday.

Pearl has spent much of her life in service to others, and I know that many people are thankful to have known her. Pearl met many of her friends in the years she spent working at the IGA grocery store in Forsyth, Montana. She was an indispensable employee, and when she retired to take care of Ed, they weren’t sure how they were going to function without her. I remember that whenever we would come into town, we always knew where to find Pearl, and when we went into the store, they only had to hear that we were looking for Pearl, and they were certain of who we meant. Everyone knows, and loves Pearl. She is just the kind of person you are drawn to. Today is Pearl’s birthday. Happy birthday Pearl!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg was a hard working, but gentle and loving man. His family was everything to him. His job often took out of town on road construction. He was often gone for long periods of time on jobs. My father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg was a hard working, but gentle and loving man. His family was everything to him. His job often took out of town on road construction. He was often gone for long periods of time on jobs. When they could, the family would go along, such as the summer the company was working in Point of Rocks, Wyoming. For those who don’t know it, there is nothing to do in Point of Rocks. It is a small town in Sweetwater county that sports a permanent population of three. During the year there are many temporary residents throughout the year, but that does not count in the census.

During the summer that my husband, Bob’s family lived there while my father-in-law worked in the area, Bob was a bored kid. Here he was living in Podunk, with nothing to do, and mostly just his sisters and a couple of other kids to hang out with. There was a highlight to the day…when the trains came through. The trains were on the opposite side of the interstate, so it was safe for Bob to run down the street and count the cars on the train. It was a pathetic attempt at fun, but the reward was great…the family got to see his dad every day, and not just on weekends for one day. It was worth it to all of them.

My father-in-law had made the decision to be with the family as much as he possibly could. I’m not sure if his decision was before or after another incident I had heard of. When my sister-in-law, Brenda was about six months old, my father-in-law was out of town a lot. He came home on the weekends, and sometimes not even that often. It was hard on the family, but they were making due…most of them anyway. Brenda was a happy baby, and was known to laugh and smile at her family all the time. One particular weekend, my father-in-law came home, and Brenda took one look at him and started screaming and crying. It was at about the time when babies start to dislike strangers, but that didn’t matter to my father-in-law. He just knew he shouldn’t be a stranger to his own child. Nevertheless, Brenda didn’t stop crying until he left to go back to work. As for my father-in-law…he went back to wok and gave his notice. He knew he could find another job, but he refused to see his little girl upset, because she didn’t know her daddy. He made sure that he worked where he could be home at night, even if he had to go to work ar 3:00 in the morning in order to be home in the evening. He was always a dad first. Today would have been my father-in-law’s 91st birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Dad. We love and miss you very much.

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