Eric ParmelyIt seems that little boys are always getting into some form of mischief. That is not to say that little girls don’t do so as well, but this story is about two little boys and a certain episode of mischief that was never forgotten. My nephew, Eric Parmely and my first cousin once removed, Brian Kountz were second cousins, and sometimes they played together, because they were so close in age. As little boys, your first friends are often your cousins, and that was the case with these boys. These two little boys seemed to get along real well, so it was nice for both of them to get to play together.

On this particular day, they were at Eric’s house with my sister-in-law, Jennifer, who is Eric’s mom, watching them. The boys, being 5 years old were old enough to play outside without much supervision…or so Jennifer thought. She was checking in them often, but as most of us know, kids can get into lots of mischief in a matter of minutes. The boys decided that they needed to go for a walk, but they forgot to check with Jennifer first. That was their first mistake. Their second was a little bit more alarming to Jennifer, and Sandi, Brian’s mom, when she found out.

For any of you who do not know it, 2nd Street in Casper, Wyoming is a really busy street. The thought of two 5 year old boys crossing 2nd Street unsupervised to go to Kmart is…alarming to say the least…especially when they have never done it with supervision. Kids don’t often even think of Brian Kountzusing the cross walk, especially when they are only 5 years old. When Jennifer realized they were gone, she panicked. When she located the boys, she wasn’t sure whether she should laugh, cry, or beat them half to death. My guess is that she opted for a little laughing and crying…accompanied by a little yelling, of course.

The boys lived through the experience, both the crossing the of the street and being found by Jennifer, and I’m sure they learned a valuable lesson in the process. Never leave the house without telling your mom or aunt where you are going…at least when you are just 5 years old…or until you are 18 years old. It’s whole lot safer that way.

Benjamin F DeGood & Mary Martha Nickell DeGood family Taken at Humansville, Missouri 1891aI have often wondered why people didn’t smile in pictures taken many years ago. It didn’t really make sense to me, because it seems that most people were happy with their lives. So why not show that they were happy in the pictures that were taken to remember them. Weren’t these pictures were intended to show their descendants who they were and tell a little bit about their lives? I always thought that it was a bit sad that there were so few smiles. And I have wondered why people didn’t tell their kids to smile, but upon further thought, and a look at the picture of my in-laws with all the grandchildren they had at that time, I think maybe I now have a little bit better understanding of it. Maybe it wasn’t totally intended at all, or maybe it was. I suppose we will never know.

I was there when these newer pictures were taken, of course, so I know for sure what was going on. We had taken pictures of several families, and multiple other group shots. We had been through the fidgety kids, the bouts of tears, the laughing at the ones in tears, and we were past nap time for some of these kids. We did our very best to get them to smile for the camera, and most of the time they did pretty good. Nevertheless, by the time we got to this picture, we were pretty much over the picture taking, and no one was doing any smiling. Sometimes there is just simply nothing you can do about a bad picture, except to chalk it up to experience, and move on. You can hope that the next time pictures are taken, everyone will be in a better mood, but quite likely you will find that there will be at least one or two who will feel the same way next time as they did this time.Tired of Posing

Looking back in those old pictures, I thought maybe it wasn’t a matter of collectively deciding not to smile. Maybe they had work to be done on the farm, and they didn’t really want to be there taking pictures. Or maybe they just hated being all dressed up in their Sunday best on a week day, or maybe the kids were fussy and needed a nap, and maybe they were just tired. I mean, after all, everything was a lot harder then. They didn’t have the modern conveniences we have today. Maybe they were just too tired to smile!

Allen-and-Ruth-Spencer-with-dogKids always seem to do things in grand style. They never start out small and work their way up once they have some experience under their belt. It doesn’t seem to matter what it is, they always do things in a big way. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the things they are doing will not be done well, just that they might be over-done to a degree.

My Uncle Bill and my dad were pretty handy with tools and building things, so when they set themselves to the task of building a home for their dog Shep, they felt confident that they knew what they were doing and that they could do a good job. They loved Shep and they wanted him to have a good home to live in. In their minds, maybe Shep was a bigger dog than he was in reality or maybe they just wanted his home to be roomy enough for him to be comfortable. Or, it could have simply been a matter of their calculations being a little bit off…Uncle Bill doesn’t really clarify that. Nevertheless, when the house was built, it was…well, grand!! It wasn’t that they lined it with gold or anything, but it definitely had a vaulted ceiling.

When their mother, my grandmother saw the dog house, she got such a kick out of it that he dubbed it the two story dog house. When you look at it, she was right. It looked like it had a loft in the upper area. Of course, in reality, Shep had a smaller dog house that looked really big on the inside. If any of the kids had wanted to spend the night out there with the dog, they probably could have stood up inside.

Looking back as young men, I’m sure they have all had a good laugh a time or two about that old dog house. These days, they would never have wasted the wood on such an extravagant dog house, especially since all that open space probably provided less warmth than a smaller dog house might have, but they were little boys, trying to do a good thing for their beloved dog. I am equally sure that Shep appreciated their efforts, and never told them about it…if the house felt cold due to the extra space.

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