Yesterday was Chris, my grandson’s first day as a working man. Chris has stepped across the line, from being a boy to being a working man. It is so amazing that he can be one thing one minute and be something else the next. He is 15…almost 16, and he wants to earn money to fix up his car so he is ready to drive when he turns 16. His car is a 1988 Chevrolet Camaro, and he is very proud of it. Yes, it needs a little work, but he and his dad, Kevin will do that together, with a little help from his grandpa, my Bob.
Chris is a hard working young man…something that shows in his football game. He has worked very hard this year to be the best defensive end possible. He loves taking down the big guys and especially the quarterback. He applies himself in the game and the practices. And I know he will apply those same good qualities to his job. His parents have done a great job in raising him. They have taught him the values that will take him far in this life.
They must have been pleased with Chris yesterday because he worked 7 1/2 hours, and he is scheduled to work 4 hours today. I guess they can see the good qualities I can see in my grandson. He is hard working and motivated. I know he will be successful at this job and anything else that he decides to do with his future.
I may sound a little biased and I suppose that is true. I am very proud of my grandson. He is a good kid who stays out of trouble and works hard to reach his goals. He has his eyes on the future that he wants, and he doesn’t mind working hard to make it happen. He listens to instruction and follows the training he is given. Many kids won’t listen, but he isn’t one of those kids. Ok yes, I am proud of him. I can’t help it. Chris, I know you will do great at this job, and they will be glad they hired him. I’m very proud of you Chris!! You will go far!!
Kids, young and old have a fascination with fire trucks. Maybe it is the idea of a real superhero that draws us to them. Or maybe it is the siren that gets our attention. Maybe its the cool truck with all its great equipment. It could be the excitement of the job they do, or the thought of how it must feel to rescue someone from certain death.
No matter what the draw is, it seems to draw us all. When a fire truck goes down the street with lights flashing and sirens blaring, everyone looks and starts wondering what has happened. You scan the sky for smoke and when you see none, you assume it must have been a car accident. Your thoughts wander to the person is serious need of help right now, and inside you say a prayer for their safety.
But for kids, it is the dream of someday being a firefighter…a hero, or super hero. I know of very few little boys who don’t want to be a fireman at sometime in their young life. My grandsons have all talked about ir at one time or another. Girls may not want that so often, but my niece Lindsay went so far as getting a degree in fire science and working for the Forest Service in Hill City, South Dakota for two summers.
The kids get to meet the firefighters at school, and field trips, as well as other events designed to promote safety and awareness, so they get to see how important the job is. In this picture, my grandson Christopher is standing on the seat of the truck. The look on his face shows that he is on cloud nine. He has always likes things mechanical, and the fire truck is the ultimate in gadgetry. Kids today are very used to and comfortable with gadgetry. They thrive on it. The more tech savvy something is, the better. Add that to the whole fireman/firetruck thing and kids are set.
We all look up to the firefighters. They run in to protect and save us when we need them the most. They are our superheroes, and we will always look when they go by, wondering what emergency they are heading to this time. We see them as exciting and brave, courageous and strong. And little kids everywhere looking at them as exactly what they want to be when they grow up.
My niece Susan, is the youngest of three daughters belonging to my sister-in-law Debbie, and my brother-in-law Lynn, and she is a miracle of sorts, in that her life almost never began.
Susan’s older sister, Nancy was born and died on April 7, 1980. She had Potter’s Syndrome, which is basically underdeveloped or non existent kidneys, causing no or little amniotic fluid, underdeveloped lungs, and stiffened joints. Many of these babies are stillborn or die shortly after birth, as was the case with Nancy. It was a devastating loss for our family.
After Nancy’s death, Debbie and Lynn were very nervous about trying for another child. The loss of a child is something that forever changes a person. They didn’t know if the next child would have the same problems or not, but their doctor told them to look at their older daughter. She was perfect. Their chances of having a healthy child were, at the very least, as good as their chances of not having a healthy child. So with faithful hearts and worried minds, they forged ahead, and Susan was conceived.
Susan entered this world on October 28, 1981, a perfectly beautiful little girl. She has a quiet, sweet spirit and a kind and giving way about her that have blessed our family immensely. She is the youngest granddaughter, and was the youngest grandchild for 7 years before her cousin JD would come on the scene. Susan has entertained us with her imagination, bringing her imaginary friends Stubba and his girlfriend Sofie into our lives, like an imaginary Ken and Barbie, who didn’t need their owner to work their arms and legs in order for them to move. She is always willing to help in whatever way she can, and when I think of the fact that, for a time, we almost didn’t get the blessing of Susan, I realize even more, how very blessed we have been by Susie Q. Today is Susan’s 30th birthday, and we rejoice with her. We are very thankful that we have such a wonderful woman in our family. Happy birthday Susan!! We love you!!
When my sister, Cheryl and I were in…oh, probably junior high, she had been up late watching television, when she came in and woke me up, telling me that we were going to watch scary movies. I’m sure it must have been a Friday night, as our parents wouldn’t have allowed us to be up so late on a school night. Of course, gullible me…I got up to watch scary movies with my sister…even though I had to be the biggest chicken on earth at that time in my life.
Little did I know that Cheryl had been up for a while, and apparently something had scared her a little bit too, so she wanted company. Or maybe she just figured she could scare me. I’ve never really decided which it was. That said, we got up and started watching some show…the name of which I don’t recall. After getting to the point of knowing very well, that I would not be able to go back to bed…no matter what, we began to hear some strange sounds.
Cheryl said that she thought Linda Little Trees was outside, because she could hear a voice that sounded like hers, only scary. Now for those of you who don’t know, Linda Little Trees was an Indian squaw on an old Western movie. I’m not sure which one, but I believe it was “Three Guns For Texas” with Shelley Morrison. The parts she played, were in no way scary, but for some reason the lateness of the hour and the show we were watching made whatever it was that we heard seem like some horror version of Linda Little Trees.
In reality, it was a Siamese cat outside that was the real problem. He was making the weird meowing sounds that Siamese cats do, and it sounded like he was saying “Linda Little Trees.” Or at least that was what Cheryl told me, and I was too scared to argue. The next thing we knew someone was walking up on the porch and we heard a thump. Of course, both of us started screaming, and I’m quite sure the paper boy freaked out.
My dad, on the other hand, had had enough. He jumped out of bed, and said, “What is going on out here?” After frantically telling Dad about the whole terrible ordeal, he promptly opened the front door and we all trooped outside to see the cat making the very sound we heard, and the newspaper on the porch. Then he told us to shut the TV off and go to bed.
I still don’t know if Cheryl was as scared as I was that night, or if she was making the whole thing up because her little sister was pretty gullible and it was fun to scare her. All I know is that since Dad said we had to go to bed…I was real glad that it was pretty light at 4:00 in the morning. Otherwise, I know I wouldn’t have been able to sleep a wink.
Years ago, when the different booths at the fair used to give baby chicks or fish as prizes for the different games you could play. My mom and dad were at the fair, and a little boy came up to her and asked if she would take his baby chick, because his mom wouldn’t let him keep it, so mom took it, and decided to raise it in the hope of having eggs. She named our chicken Queenie. We loved Queenie. She was yellow and fuzzy and so soft. Of course, the thrill of having Queenie wore off for us kids pretty fast, and Mom was left to her care.
With dreams of eggs for some time to come, my mom took great care of Queenie. And our little chick thrived on the care. She was probably the only chicken to ever live in a house. Mom kept her in a box in the utility room. She was a household pet…not that everyone liked her. She had a tendency to peck at the little kids, and they somehow didn’t think that was a very good idea. So mom had to keep Queenie away from the kids, and that meant the back yard was off limits sometimes…to the kids.
As Queenie grew, there began to be some…strange occurrences. Sounds that Queenie shouldn’t be making were coming from her. I’m sure many of you know what was going on, but my mom didn’t want to believe that her chicken was really a rooster. Her plans of having eggs were dissolving before her eyes, and try as she might, there was no denying it.
The neighbors started asking about a rooster in the city limits, and of course, mom was told she couldn’t keep him there, so she talked to her sister, my Aunt Dixie, and it was decided that she would take the rooster named Queenie, since she had a place in the country and other chickens.
My mom kept telling herself that Queenie was out at my aunts house, living it up as the King of the chicken coop, but we all knew that Queenie probably ended up as most chickens and roosters do…as fried chicken, or some other such tasty dinner entree, and it’s just as well, because whether we liked Queenie or not…eating him was definitely out of the question. He was a household pet, after all.
While visiting Bob’s great grandparents in Yakima, Washington in 1976, Grandma Knox showed me a family heirloom of a different type than most, but priceless nevertheless. It was a drawing of a tree, on which the trunk and branches were the names of family members. It was a true family tree. It must have been a copy of several or many that were made and given to family members in the Knox family, because I have since seen it on the Internet. And was able to save a copy on Ancestry.com.
I think about the person who did all that original work. Her name was Hattie Goodman, and she is a relative on Bob’s side of our family. I would have to dig deeper to tell you exactly what the relationship is, but we are related, and on the copy that Grandma had, we know where our family section is. Of course, the tree does not show the names of my children or grandchildren, or even Bob and his parents, but his great grandparents are listed, so we know where we fit. It is an amazing piece of history, painstakingly written down by a woman I would love to have known, because I think she must have really been something!
Bob’s great grandparents are gone now, and I am quite sure his Uncle Frank still has the family tree drawing, as he is one of the last of the brothers born to Bob’s great grandparents, and the healthiest one for sure, making him the best choice to keep it. And he is also the one who would be the most interested in the family history, so he would treasure it.
It is quite a responsibility to be the family historian…and yet quite exciting too. You carry the memories in your head, and you feel the need to get it down on paper, or online these days, so that it can be passed on to generations who would not have known these stories any other way. There are family historians in every family, and you know who you are. The memories live in the filing system in your mind, but they are not content to stay there. They continue to spill out in your writings as a memorial to times past. You feel the need to leave a legacy of the stories of the past, so that future generations will not forget where they came from.
That is where I fit into the family, but I am not alone. Most families have several or sometimes even many people who are interested in those stories from the past. They can sit down and hear a story from the past, and immediately commit it to memory, and turn around and tell it to others to preserve the family history. This stuff just sticks in their memory so easily, and once it is in there, it stays. They are the family historians, and they have an important role in the family. Keeping the past alive for future generations.
When my Aunt Evelyn was a toddler, her parents were trying to teach her how to address different adult family members. Whenever she called an aunt or uncle by their first name, her parents would say, “You must say Uncle Ted or Aunt Gladys.” I’m sure she heard those words many times, as it is hard for a toddler to hear everyone else calling the person by name, and yet they must use something different. It can be a very confusing time for a little kid just trying to learn the ropes.
These days, at least in our family, many of the aunts and uncles go by just their first names, and while some people might think that odd, I am just as comfortable being Caryn as I am Aunt Caryn. We don’t consider it to be any kind of a show of disrespect. But in times past, and in many families today, if the person is an aunt or uncle, you must address them as Aunt this or Uncle that. We do draw the line at grandma and grandpa, and my grandchildren know that while Gma, G, or G-mamma is ok, Caryn is not. I suppose that could be confusing to little kids too, but that is the way it is. Another place where we draw the line is Mommy and Daddy, or Mom and Dad. But for the aunts and uncles we are a little more casual.
Nevertheless, in my Aunt Evelyn’s day and my childhood, the children were taught to use the proper terms of aunt and uncle. So Aunt Evelyn, in her early training days, heard over and over that she must say Uncle Cliff or Aunt Myrtle. And as all little kids do, she worked very hard to try to figure out who was who so her parents, aunts, and uncles would be pleased with her. Children love to get praise from their parents and such.
One day, when my grandmother needed my grandfather for something, all that training came to the point of complete understanding. My grandmother told my Aunt Evelyn to go get her daddy, and quick as a wink, my Aunt Evelyn said, “You must say…Uncle Daddy.”
Yesterday, I talked about a New Years Eve tradition in our family, but the annual height measurement isn’t the only tradition we have on New Years Eve. As I said, we always have a party at my mother’s house for New Years Eve, because New Years Day is her birthday. We always move the kitchen furniture into the living room, and part of the living room furniture into Mom’s bedroom, so that the kitchen can be free of furniture, because part of the party is the dancing. A big part of the party is dancing, and the kitchen floor is the dance floor.
During the party, various people, young and old, get out there and dance. We play a variety of music, from rock to country, so everyone has the kind of music they want to dance to. Some of the cutest dances, as everyone knows, are the ones the little kids do. And, when we aren’t dancing, we are eating the delicious food that each family brings to add to the celebration, and there’s plenty of room to talk about all the good times and the many memories our family has been blessed to share with each other. The party spreads from the living room to the back yard, and even the front yard when midnight rolls around and it’s time to bring in the new year with the beating of the pans, and firecrackers…but that is another story.
And, there is one tradition that, while it doesn’t happen every year, is really cool…when we can talk him into it. My brother-in-law, Mike Stevens, has the ability to do a dance that we fondly call The Rubber Knee. I would love to tell you how he does this dance, but I’m not even sure Mike knows how he does it. The Rubber Knee is an Elvis Presley type of dance move that requires the dancer to have the ability to almost dislocate his knee…not really, but it sure looks like it. And try as we might, there has never been another family member that can duplicate The Rubber Knee. It is a dance that is unique to it’s owner. Mike is a great dancer, and that particular dance will always be remembered as something that had to be done before it could really seem like New Years Eve to our family.
It has been a long standing tradition to have a New Years Eve Party at my mother’s house because her birthday is on New Years Day. Another long standing tradition was the annual checking of all the grandchildren’s heights. Each child got to get their mark, and when we were all done, everyone looked to see how much everyone had grown…or in some cases in our family, not grown. After a while, the adults wanted in too, so we all got measured. My brother-in-law, Chris was and is the reigning King of Height in our family, but for a while there we weren’t so sure. It appeared that his son Ryan might have a chance to pass Chris up, but in the end, that did not happen.
We have a wide range of heights in our family…and I’m talking about the adults. From little Siara, who at nearly 18 years of age, comes screaming in at 4’9″, to Chris who stands 6’4″. And our family isn’t small in numbers either with 57 current members, so that door got pretty crowded after a while, and the prior years weren’t erased, so everyone could see how far they had come in a year.
Some of us just knew that we would be neither a contender for the tallest or the shortest member, but would fall somewhere in the middle. We have had several of the little girls vying for the shortest girl. Chantel, Amy, Siara, Christina, and Shai all come in under 5′. We have several girls in the barely 5′ range, those being, Cheryl, Corrie, Liz, and Jenny. The rest of us fall somewhere in between 5’2″ and 5’11” until you get to some of the guys. Some of them fall in the 6′ and above range, with Ryan at 6’3″ and his dad, Chris at 6’4″.
We all looked at the door off and on, because it was a novelty item. It held so many years of growth for so many people. It isn’t often that you can look back at a glance…at least not for most of us. Most parents keep track of how tall their kids are for a while, but after a time, they forget, and skip a year here and there, until finally they give up all together. Our tradition was remembered, because one or more of the kids always brought it up on New Years Eve.
When my girls were little and in grade school, I used to volunteer to do throat cultures at the school they attended. Throat cultures aren’t done anymore, so for those who don’t know, it was and still is a way to test for strep throat, but it isn’t done in the schools anymore. Anyway, every Monday morning I went into town and my friend Pat Neville and I made the rounds at the school, swabbing throats.
Now my last name is not the easiest name to learn for little kids, and even most adults have trouble with it. So I was not surprised when on one particular Monday morning, when I came into the nurse’s office to get my throat culture cart set up, and two little kindergarten girls had a little trouble with my name.
As I entered the nurse’s office, there were two little girls sitting on the bed waiting for the nurse to come in. I don’t know if one was hurt or what, but that didn’t end up being the most important part of my story.I thought they knew me from throat cultures, because they started talking to me like they recognized me, and I guess they did…sort of.
The first little girl asked, “Are you Amy’s mom?” My first thought was ok, now I have been relegated to being just my kid’s mom, but that thought didn’t last very long, because the other little girl asked, “Amy who?” Then, everything became very clear. The problem wasn’t that they didn’t know my name, or that I was just somebody’s mom. It was my name.
That fact was made perfectly clear when, in answer to her friend’s question, the first little girl said, “You know…Amy Sugarberry!!! Inside I laughed and laughed, because I figured that if someone were going to butcher our last name, that was the best way to do it. With the last name of Schulenberg, I had heard every possible way to butcher my name, but this was by far the sweetest!