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John Clark SpareMy great aunt, Mina Albertine Schumacher, who went by Minnie as a child, but Min for most of her adult life, married John Clark Spare in Fargo, North Dakota on January 8, 1921. In the years preceding their marriage, John had enlisted in the North Dakota National Guard, Company B, at the age of 17 years. His company was assigned to the Rio Grande River Patrol on the Mexican border at Mercedes, Texas. Company B was patrolling one day, and John had an empty gun, because at that point, there was not enough ammunition to go around. Basically, the men who had loaded guns would have to cover the ones who did not, in the event of anything illegal happening along the border. I suppose that was the only thing that they could do, but I have to tell you that I would not feel very comfortable being one of those guys who did not have any ammunition at the border between Mexico and the United States. I realize that these days that border is probably more dangerous than it was then, but maybe not. Many of the outlaws from both countries ran to the other country to hide out from the law in their own country.

On that day, John was patrolling near the bridge by the encampment, with his empty gun. Suddenly, a herd of horses was seen thundering toward them. Behind the herd was Pancho Villa and his gang of bandits. The gang was in a gun fight with the men from the Third Cavalry, from whom the gang had stolen the horses. The time had come for the border patrol to do their duty. It would be the job of the ones with the ammunition to engage the enemy and assist the Cavalry. The remainder of the men would need to dive under the bridge for cover. The men immediately prepared to take their necessary positions, and with one accord, all of the men of the border patrol dived under the bridge. Unbeknownst to the men, at least until that moment, they all had unloaded guns!! While that might seem like a funny thing to see all those men diving under that bridge because they did not have the ammunition to fight in the battle that was looming down on them, my guess is that it would also be a horrifying situation to the men hiding under the bridge hoping the battle would continue to go on down the road, and not circle back.

Following his time as part of the border patrol, John was called to the Guard full time, and assigned to guard the Fargo Armory, just as bombs were being placed at strategic points around the country to blow them up if it became necessary. I think it is a bit ironic that on his first assignment, John had no ammunition, and at his second assignment, when he was just going on 19 years of age, he was guarding a building that held larges stores of ammunition. I have to think that he must have thought to himself, “Where was all this ammunition when we were at the border?” John’s company would be taken into the Federal Army as the United States entered World War I. John would later re-enlist and fight in both world wars before he finally decided that he had served his time. I’m sure my Great Aunt Min was glad when he came home for good.

Riley - 7th gradeBoys go through stages of being tough and being sentimental. A boy who plays the tough guy one minute, might turn right around and bring his mom flowers. My nephew, Riley us one of those kids who is tough as nails in many areas of his life. He has practiced the martial arts, played football, and broken at least one bone every year from age three to age twelve. Riley has had a fractured elbow, two fractured wrists, broken thumb, a concussion, both knee patellae highly extended, fractured forearm, two sprained ankles and now a broken coracoids. You would think he would almost be afraid to move for fear of another break, but Riley is proud of every injury he has had. I suppose it all goes back to that country song about “chicks digging scars” that makes it so Footballcool, but it sure doesn’t do anything for his mom’s sanity.

Nevertheless, as tough as Riley is, when it comes to his little brother, Tucker, he has a very big, soft heart. Tucker is his little brother after all, and as such Riley has placed upon himself, the responsibility of being Tucker’s protector. It doesn’t matter if a protector is really needed all the time or not, as far as Riley is concerned, Tucker is his little brother and he is going to do whatever is necessary to keep him safe and to let him know that his big brother loves him very much.

Riley is in junior high…or middle school, as it is called these days, Great Big Brotherand as happens with all young boys, he is changing in many ways, with girls being the most noticeable. This year, as a 7th grader, he has now decided that it is very necessary to buy a young lady at school a rose. And with that, the world has changed for him and his parents. In fact, things will never be the same, but then that is pretty much normal for boys his age. Riley will continue to change in the years to come. Driving, dating, and before long marriage will all find their way into his life. This is just the beginning. Today is Riley’s 13th birthday. He’s a teenager now, folks…look out!! Happy birthday Riley!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Great Great Grandpa Allen SpencerThere are many ways for a family to be spread across the country. Most times, these days anyway, it is a choice to move to a different place or climate, but other times, people move for work or education. People used to leave family and friends to head out west to search for gold or to get a piece of land that they could homestead on. But, sometimes the reasons a family gets spread all over the country are very different, and much more sad.

My great grandfather’s family traveled by covered wagon to Wisconsin in 1879. The rest of the family lived in Iowa, so it is my assumption that my great grandfather and his wife, my great grandmother moved in the months following their marriage. My grandfather was actually born in that covered wagon, in Eu Clair, Wisconsin. That said, he was already out of the home when the moves of the rest of his family took place.

My great great grandfather passed away in Webster City, Iowa on January 13, 1883, at the young age of 56 years. His loss would be devastating to the family. As often happened in those years, with the loss of the bread winner, the children had to be farmed out to the relatives. Such was the case in my great great grandmother’s family. Her family would never be the same. Her oldest daughter, Ida, who was also married and wasliving in Washington state, took her younger brother, Allen to live with her family. Her daughter Teressa went to live in Rushville, Nebraska. She and her sons, Luther and Cornealius went to live in Oklahoma.

With travel being more difficult, I don’t know if my great great grandmother ever saw some of her kids again, and if she did, I’m sure it was not often. She would live out her life in Lydia Quackenbush Potts SpencerOklahoma, with her son Luther and his family, and would live to the good old age of 75, on April 6, 1906. While her life was long, especially for that time period, I still have to wonder if it was also filled with a great degree of sadness and loneliness since so many of her children lived so far away. Because women didn’t have the ability to make enough money to properly raise a family in those days, they had little choice but to depend on the charity of family members to make it. These days are different, of course, and many women have been single moms and fared very well. Still, I think it took a great amount of courage to send her children to live with family, not knowing how they would do in life. I’m sure it took a great deal of worry too.

imageI went over to my mom’s house yesterday, for the first time since the recent snow storm that has simply devastated the area trees. Her front yard weathered the storm very well, in fact, only a couple of small branches fell there at all. Her back yard was a very different matter. The apple tree that I remember my parents planting years ago, had two trunks. It split right between them, taking half down to one side and the other half down to the other side…a total loss. Another tree dropped a huge branch…miraculously missing the entire fence that it laid down right next to. There are branches all over the yard, but it was the tree on the other side of Mom’s yard that hurt the most to look at.

It wasn’t that the tree on the other side had lost more branches than any other tree. It might have or it might not have, but that simply wasn’t my problem. My problem was that imagethe tree on the east side of Mom’s yard was the one we used to climb as kids. Not all of us climbed it, but I spent countless hours up in that tree, as did some of my sisters. My kids and the children of my sisters climbed that old tree too.

For me that tree holds so many memories. We always pretended that it was a tree house, even though it never had a floor or anything like that. I suppose it was a bit like the movie, “Anne Of Green Gables” when she decided to climb up and sleep in a cherry tree. She didn’t do it, but rather had imagined to do it. Anne was a very imaginative child, and in some ways I see myself as being a lot like her. Up there in that old Chinese Elm tree, I spent countless hours just thinking…imagining. I loved it up there, because it was cool there in the shade and you could feel a bit like a bird, up there off of the ground that held most average people down. I felt free…not that I wasn’t imagefree, but this was a different kind of freedom that only a person, who has climbed up to sit in a tree high above the ground, will ever understand.

So many memories lived up in that old tree, and now the branches we sat in are gone. Yes, the memories will always be there, but no new ones can be created on those branches that have fallen, and that makes me very sad. I haven’t thought about climbing that old tree for many years now, and most likely would never attempt it, but just knowing that those old branches were there, was comforting somehow. And now that feeling is lost, and that…is very sad.

Hattie-Goodman-Family-Tree01A while back I discovered, or should I say, connected the Susan Spencer in Bob’s family tree to my family tree, thereby confirming the cousinship that I suspected between Bob and me. Recently, as I was looking again at the beautiful family tree that Hattie Goodman, who was an ancestor of Bob’s mother’s family, put together and I had seen so many years ago, I started thinking about some of the other implications of that connection…specifically regarding my family, and more specifically my sisters, nieces, and nephews.

So often, we go through life separating, or keeping our families straight by catagorizing them as our family and our in-laws. Then we look at the families of our siblings, and catagorize them Our Familyas friends or our sibling’s family. And most of the time that works well, but in my situation, and that of my family…on both sides, it ended up being a little different.

I have to wonder if my sisters have considered the fact, that if Bob is my 10th cousin twice removed, he is also their 10th cousin twice removed. Now, that is interesting enough, but go one step further. If Bob is our 10th cousin twice removed, then his sisters and brother are also our 10th cousins twice removed…and to top it off, our kids are 10th cousins 3 times removed to Bob and his siblings. Ok, if you find that to be a little odd, then consider imagethis. My girls are 10th cousins 3 times removed…to their dad!!! Now, that is totally mind blowing, but truth nevertheless!!

People could let such relationships get to be more of a big deal than they really are, if they aren’t careful, as was the case, when it came out that Prince William and Princess Kate are actually cousins. If you think about it, since we all came from Adam and Eve, I suppose that we are all cousins or some other relationship, so we might just as well get over the stigma that we have attached to that. In reality, we are all just one big happy faimly.

Horsing AroundNo matter how hard a worker someone is, there are simply times when you have to cut loose and horse around a bit. It breaks up the monotony of life. Does it look goofy to have a couple of grown men acting so silly…yes, but that still doesn’t mean that they won’t do it. The old saying, “all work and no play makes John a very dull boy” really does apply. Without a little humor in life, not only would we be dull, but life would be dull and boring. I like to think that most people choose to be happy, and maybe that is why they do goofy things. I know that isn’t the case for everybody, but most people seem to want to be happy and find things to smile about.

The men, from my mom’s side of the family, seemed to have a special knack for doing goofy things, like shaving someone’s face while they are laying on the ground looking like they are injured, or staging a fake robbery for the new camera. I have thought about them often, because they seemed be people with a great sense of humor. When you think about it, that is probably what made them such a great family. It never mattered if they had all kinds of money or things, because they always had love and laughter. Maybe that is what is wrong with so many families these days. They take everything so seriously, that they forget to laugh or play. I’d rather be from a family that teases each other unmercifully, than from one that never teases, but that’s just me.

Horsing around has changed over the years. Very few men would be riding each other like a horse these days, but that doesn’t say that they are above piggy back rides, or even wrestling. Of course, much of the horsing around these days is done on dirt bikes, bicycles, skateboards, motorcycles, or even snowmobiles. A little mud or a little snow, and you’re all set for a great time.

CCI06282012_00082aAs a kid, I remember that when my parents were kissing and we were around to see it, my sisters and I always chanted, “Mommy and Daddy are kissing! Mommy and Daddy are kissing!” It was just a fun way of teasing them…not that it bothered them any. They loved having us chanting and teasing them. I suppose that in some families, there is less demonsterative behaviour, but in our house, hugging and kissing was the norm…and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Kids, for generations, have felt many different things when it comes to romance. They might be laughing about a couple kissing, because they are a little embarrassed, or it could be because they are sure that one of the people kissing are going to end up with cooties, which one depends on whether the watcher is a girl or a boy. Of course, they will outgrow those feelings and they they will be the ones being laughed at, teased, and watched. It is just the nature of the romance business.

And for as long as kids have been making fun of couples in love, people have been trying to capture those moments in one way or another…whether it be on canvas or on film. And for equally as long, those couples have been chasing, yelling at, and telling on the offending youngsters, begging their parents to intervene, and save them from the horrible humiliation of their younger siblings and their friends. Of course, most of their parents just don’t take the matter a seriously as the romantic couple would like…mostly because they have been there and the understand that a little teasing really isn’t the end of the world their children believe it to be. They also understand that in a few years the tables will turn and it will be that younger sibling who will be right there telling on another younger sibling…or possibly that older sibling getting even with them…something older siblings aren’t above either.

Jaydn 9 years oldMy grand niece, Jaydn, who is the daughter of my niece Amanda and her boyfriend, Sean, is learning to ride horses. She reminds me of her grandmother, my sister Caryl, who is actually her step-grandmother, but I guess she must have had a little bit of influence on Jaydn or something, because they both seem to like the same things. Caryl and her husband Mike, who is Jaydn’s grandpa, just bought a place outside of Casper to retire on…and have a couple of horses, so Jaydn will have a great place to come and ride. For now, she is learning the ropes, and seems to be a very brave little girl, because she has already been thrown, and decided that riding was more important than worrying about the possibility of being thrown again. So, she got up, dusted herself off, and got right back on. That makes me and the rest of her family very proud of her.

For Jaydn, it is simply life as usual, because she is quite the adventurer. She likes most things out doors, and has even tried down hill skiing…which is something her Great Aunt Caryn will leave to other people. I’m not totally scared, I just don’t like the cold much, but Jaydn likes all the outdoor activities she can get. Caryl and Mike also have a cabin out at Seminole Reservoir and Jaydn likes going out there as well. She likes to be outside so much, in fact, that I simply don’t know how she will be able to go back to school, when it starts. She couldn’t possibly have time, I don’t think, but the law requires, so off to school she will go, and the horses will have to wait until she gets out.

I can’t believe our little miss Jaydn is already 9 years old. I remember when she was born…like yesterday!!! She should not be the grown up girl she is already. Time goes by way too fast, especially where these kids are concerned. Today is Jaydn’s birthday. Happy birthday Jaydn!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!

Thanksgiving DinnerTimes have changed as far as what is considered the normal family dinner, but whatever your family does, this is a daily trsdition. Some families opt for the sit down family style dinner, where everyone is at the table, and you eat together. As a kid and still sometimes, such as lunch at my mom’s house, this was how we ate. The meal was prepared and when it was ready, we all came to the table, prayed over our food, and ate together. We always had good conversation, and an ocassional debate between my dad and me, and when everyone was finished eating, we gave thanks for the meal, and left the table to begin the clean up. It was a dinner tradition that has largely become a thing of the past for most families, including my own for the most part. It is mostly because people don’t have time enough to sit for an hour or more to eat and talk about their day…a sad fact that has come about because of our hectic lifestyles.

As families grow, sometimes they simply outgrow the table, or at least they do if friends and family come over for holiday dinners and such. At this time you have to be a little bit Aunt Dixie, Aunt Sandy, Aunt Bonnie_editedinnovative in order to make things go smoothly at dinnertime. It was at this point that many families adopted the idea of the kid’s table. The kid’s table is just what it sounds like. It is usually a coffee table or other small, and usually too low for the adults to possibly be comfortable, table that the kids can adapt to easily. The cool thing is that, for a little while anyway…until the kids decide that they don’t really want to be considered the kids anymore, and they want to be at the adults table, this set up allows the adults to talk easily, and without all the noise that always resides at the kid’s table. It can, however,  be a big problem, when the kids want to move up, because they can’t really add to the conversation in exactly the way they thought, so it just creates problems. Sometimes…if you ask me, the kids don’t know how cool it is to be at the kid’s table. Some even opt to go back there…shock!!

Of course, as many of us know, sometimes it is almost impossible to have any kind of a sit down dinner at all. The kids are rushing out to work and dates, and there is always some game or show on television. For many people, they have to get to the gym, or in our case, our on the trail for a walk…after visiting my mother-in-law at the nursing home, of course. Collene on Thanksgivig_editedThere is just so much to do and so little time. For Bob and me, that often means eating separately, and on the run. Since he gets off earlier than I do, he has already eaten, so we can rush to the nursing home and back in time to walk. I might have a sandwich in the car on the way to the nursing home, I know it’s odd, but it works for us these days. And on the opposite side of that coin, is the kid who gets off work after dinner is already over. There is just no choice but to check out the table to see what might be left over, in the hope that they don’t have to make something for themselves. The traditional family dinner is probably a thing of the past for most of us, and has been replaced by a new tradition…whatever works for your family.

Masters DegreeCollege graduation means the end of all the years of schooling, and the beginning of the rest of your life. Now it’s time to set out set out and find that perfect job to get your career moving in the right direction. That’s supposed to be the next step right? Right, but what about when there is something else that steps in and demands all the attention first. My niece, Lindsay graduated from South Dakota State University on Saturday, with a Masters Degree in Exercise Science. There are so many things she can do at this point. She once told me about all the possibilities, which were widely varied. She will have the ability to go into a wide range of careers…just from one degree. I am very proud of Lindsay’s accomplishments.
The Happy Couple
Lindsay’s graduation day was a wonderful event that took a tiny, unexpected turn. In front of her family, all of whom were very pleased, Lindsay’s boyfriend, Shannon asked for her hand in marriage. It is a rare event, when the future bride’s family gets to witness the proposal, but this was to be one of those special proposals. I can imagine how my future nephew’s heart was pounding, because even though they have been dating for a long time now, this is a big step, and he wanted it to be perfect. He wanted to ask Lindsay in exactly the right way…the perfect proposal. When Lindsay said yes…Shannon’s heart was really pounding, but then, that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be.
The Ring
Lindsay’s college graduation party was transformed from a graduation party to a very special graduation/engagement party. The celebration that followed was made extra special because while graduation is the end of schooling and the beginning of life; engagements are always the beginning of something. It is the beginning of a new life…one as a couple instead of an individual. Their love is now moving on to the next level…the happily ever after level. The journey ahead is yet to be planned. Like the wedding day, it is theirs to build into the perfect life for them. Congratulations of your engagement,Lindsay and Shannon!! May God richly bless your life together. We love you very much!!

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