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Most of the time, the oldest sibling is the first to marry, and true to that thought, my Aunt Evelyn Byer was the first of my Grandma and Grandpa Byer’s nine children to marry. The love of her life turned out to be George Hushman, a young man who was raised in the children’s home in Casper, Wyoming, after losing both of his parents at a very young age. His mother, Wyoma Woodfork Hushman passed away when George was just 11 years old, and his dad, George Wave Hushman was killed in action during World War II, when George was just 17 years old. Uncle George’s dad was unable to take care of him after his mother died, so at some point he ended up in the children’s home. I’m sure many people would think that his would always be a sad story, but it wasn’t. Uncle George had a friend James Wesley Saint John…who went by Wes. They were good friends, and Uncle George spent a lot of time at his parents house. Wes’ mom, Hettie Saint John became like an adopted mom to Uncle George. She was a very stabilizing influence in his life. As the years went on the two men grew up and went into the service. Unfortunately, only one of them would come back home. Wes was lost at sea in 1944, and they never found out what happened to him. It was a hard loss for Hettie, and for Uncle George.

Uncle George went on to marry my Aunt Evelyn on September 1, 1947. While the sadness of losing his friend and not knowing any of his family lingered, Uncle George was a very happy family man. He and Aunt Evelyn would be blessed with five children, and they would be married for almost 68 years before Aunt Evelyn’s passing in 2015. Uncle George has been in frail health since Aunt Evelyn’s passing, but I know that their time together is still vivid in his mind, because she was the love of his life. I remember so many fun times they had with my parents. they bowled together, double dated, went to dances, and spent time at each others house. They were more that sisters and brothers-in-law, they were best friends. I really miss those good times they had, because w, their kids got to have those good times too. Today is Uncle George’s 92nd birthday. What an amazing milestone that is. Happy birthday Uncle George!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

As with all children, it’s hard to believe that my grand-nephew, Lucas Iverson is 7 years old today. With Lucas, it might be a little harder to believe than most kids, in fact. Lucas was born with Down Syndrome, but that has been the least of his problems. Lucas has been plagued with a number of health problems that have required multiple surgeries. In fact, according to his mom, Cassie Iverson, Lucas has had more surgeries than he has had years. I’m sure there are those who have had more surgeries, but no matter how you look at it, that is a lot of surgeries for a little guy. Since Lucas’ last birthday, he has had to make trips to Children’s Hospital in Aurora, Colorado, every two weeks, with intestinal and immune system issues, typical of Down Syndrome. Now that he has had multiple surgeries, he is better, and they can breathe a little easier where his health is concerned.

Lucas was in Kindergarten this last year, and in their Kindergarten Circus, Lucas got to be a wild cat. I’m not sure how wild is, but I prefer to think of him as a lion, because he is brave and strong…and a fighter. To me that is exactly what Lucas is…a fighter…strong, brave, and fierce. Lucas likes school, with his special needs, he has his own personal teacher. That is really a good thing, and maybe a little unusual in a small town like Powell, Wyoming. Lucas’ parents have considered moving to Colorado or Tennessee, because of so many good opportunities and closer healthcare for Lucas, but the thought of them moving has been a very difficult one for their families, so for now, they will stay in Powell. Of course, the hope is that Lucas will not need any more surgeries in the future. He has really been through enough, if you ask me.

Down Syndrome children often have poor muscle tone, and they have to work very hard to learn to do the things we all take for granted. Right now, in his physical therapy,Lucas is working on jumping. He also loves rolling on the big ball as he phases off with his feet. I think Lucas has one other ace in the hole…his little sister, Zoey, who dearly loves her big brother, and has been instrumental in many of his abilities. She is patient and encouraging, and doesn’t leave him behind, just because he is slower. Zoey is Lucas’ best friend. They love to go camping with their parents, Chris and Cassie. They gt out is the outdoors where they can get some brain boosting and immune system boosting dirt in their hands. Today is Lucas’ 7th birthday. Happy birthday Lucas!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

SweetheartsYesterday, my grand nephew, Jacob Vincent Harmon married the love of his life, Melanie Cossabone in a cozy little setting in front of their families. The wedding was held at the home of the groom’s parents, Chantel and Dave Balcerzak, with a family dinner afterward. Jake and Melanie were both so happy and the ceremony was perfect. It’s hard for me to believe that Jake…my first grand nephew is old enough to be married, but of course at 25 years old, he is. It’s strange how someone can go along and not know that something is missing, until they find that one person who completes them. That is really how it is for Jake and Melanie. They are so perfect for each other, that it is hard to think of one without thinking of the other.

Jake and Melanie met through a mutual friend, and they knew that they really liked each other immediately. Before long, they knew it was love. Now they have married, and are ready to start the rest of their lives. They have two sweet little daughters, Alice, who is Melanie’s from a prior relationship, and Izabella who arrived on December 21, 2015, as an early Christmas present to them. Life is perfect for them now, and it is easy for the rest of us to see just how very happy they are.Jake & Melanie Harman

Melanie is a perfect fit in our family too. Many times, family members really don’t like the person their kids choose to marry, but we all love Melanie. She is the perfect mix of funny and sweet, and that is just perfect for Jake, who is a big jokester, with a sweet side of his own. Melanie adds a bit of balance to their lives too. She is always there for Jake. She takes care of their daughters and makes a wonderful home for Jake. That, in itself, makes the rest of the family think that she is very special.

So, yesterday, their wedding day, was the perfect next step for this sweet couple, and we all want to congratulate then and wish them all of God’s greatest blessing, as they start their new life together. I believe they will have the happiest of marriages, blessed in every way, and that they will live happily ever after. Melanie and Jake…you make a beautiful couple. Congratulations!! We are so happy for you!!

Teressa Spencer DavisI have always been one to read the obituaries in the paper. Sometimes, I find that the deceased is someone I know, or that their family is someone that I know. I suppose many people might think it odd that I read the obituaries, but in searching my family tree, I find that they can be a wealth of information into the life of that person. I have been able to clarify children’s names, parents names, and siblings names, just by looking at the obituaries of my ancestors. I have also found out for sure, who their parents and even grandparents were by reading their obituaries. Things like place of birth, and early childhood years and locations are listed there, as well as, careers, hobbies, club memberships, and homestead information, along with place of birth and death, and even burial. It is clearly a wealth of information that, to the genealogist, is pure gold, because so often, information was not well kept. Names were left off, dates, and even who the person was related to. It makes it very difficult to search.

In the case of my 2nd great aunt, Theresa “Tessie” Elizabeth Spencer Davis, I found a wealth of information in her obituary, when I came across it in my Uncle Bill Spencer’s family history information. She was born, the Tessie's Placeseventh child of my 3rd great grandparents, Allen and Lydia Spencer, on October 8, 1864, in Brooklyn, Iowa. Her parents had a family of nine children in total. She married William Jonathan Davis on September 29, 1883, in Webster City, Iowa, and in 1888, She and her family became pioneers, when they moved out west to Nebraska. They first moved to Crookston, later to For Robinson, and in 1892, the homesteaded in Pine Creek, where they lived until their retirement, at which time they moved into Rushville, having given the homestead to their children. William preceded Tessie in death in 1925…so many losses to endure.

Life was never easy for Tessie. she lost siblings, as well as, seven of her eleven children before her own death…many of them young. She was the last of her siblings to pass away, and she outlived her husband by almost twenty years. The obituaries of the past listed even more information. Tessie was Methodist, and she belonged to the American Legion Auxiliary. She also belonged to a group called Royal Neighbors…she was a Tessie & William Davischarter member. And she was a Gold Star Mother, but I’m not sure what that was for sure. The thing that stuck out for me the most, however, was that Tessie was a pioneer. The writer of the obituary said that, “In her passing, another pioneer has gone to the great beyond having courageously and triumphantly overcome the hardships, privations, and trials of the early settler that has made it possible for this generation to live the more modern life such as was not known to the pioneer. She was generous and hospitable, never thinking of herself, but often going out of her way to help a friend.” With everything that I learned about my 2nd great aunt, those words were by far the most amazing. They told of who she really was…deep inside. And Tessie Spencer Davis was simply an amazing woman.

Mom aAs each new month goes by since my mother, Collene Spencer’s passing, I find myself experiencing different feelings…different stages of grief, I suppose. Each day brings with it thoughts of Mom, now with Dad and other family members who have gone before us. They aren’t sad thoughts…exactly, because I know she is not sad, but they are lonely thoughts sometimes, because I miss her. I wish I could call her on the phone, or stop by her house to tell her something new I have discovered, or to ask her a question about something that only she would know the answer to. The last time that happened, a thought came to me that like stages of grief, sadness, or being blue, has many shades.

The first days after her passing, or the passing of my dad, Allen Spencer, or my father-in-law, Walt Allen L SpencerSchulenberg, were dark days emotionally. I would be hard pressed to find a shade of blue that is dark enough, without having it turn black. Those days were so very painful. Every time I looked at the things I have of theirs, I felt lonely. I would much rather have them here than to have their things. My shades of blue must be worked through on my own. These are not steps anyone can take for me. The days when I think of them in Heaven, celebrating with God, are definitely powder blue days. It is a blue so pale that I can almost see right into Heaven. It’s a blue that is so close to white that it’s almost not blue either. All that remains of the blue is just a hint. The other days all fall into some other shade of blue, as I work through my feelings, and sometimes I slip from lighter blue to darker blue, a relapse I suppose. I know that whether people think of these days as shades of blue or not, they have the feelings I have, nevertheless.

Dad SchulenbergWe all experience shades of blue in life. Whether it’s the loss of a loved one, the end of a friendship, the loss of a pet or job, a child moving away or going to college…the reasons are pretty endless. Nevertheless, as we walk through our daily lives, our shades of blue will vary from darkest blue to lightest powder blue. All we can do is to hang on tight to those we love during the darkest blues, and hang on tight to those we love during the lightest powder blue times too, because it is the ones we love who will help us through, and it’s the ones we love who make life worth living in the first place. While my mom has been in Heaven now for five months, and my dad and father-in-law even longer, I know they are happy…so how can I be blue for them? My shades of blue are for me alone.

37318_1282517634721_2551061_n[1]66008_1427715420448_3098557_nThat my niece, Chelsea Hadlock is a fashionista is a fact that no one will dispute. She has a style that is all her own, and it’s a style that a lot of girls wish they could pull off too. Yet, Chelsea does it with ease. She doesn’t mind a look that makes her stand out in a crowd. In fact, she thrives in just such a setting. When I was thinking about today’s story, I decided to enlist the help of a little birdy who knew Chelsea well…her friend, Sydney Hanson. Sydney told me about the Theme Party Queen. You see, our Chelsea loves to dress up, and I’m not just talking about in the latest style. Chelsea has a great imagination, and probably would have fit in quite well at the Masquerade Balls of yesteryear. Sydney tells me that she and Chelsea met after they graduated from high school, and in their before kids days, Chelsea was the one who went all…and I do mean all out for the theme parties they both attended. I have always known that Halloween is Chelsea’s favorite holiday, but I wasn’t aware that it is all about the costumes. I have to wonder if Chelsea just loves escaping to that imaginary, fantasy world the runs 10676195_10202953479705529_3463465173877702689_n[1]around in her mind and imagination.

I’ve noticed that imagination in different areas of Chelsea’s life as well. Her Christmas tree always has a theme. She owns several sets of ornaments. I suppose people might think that strange, but Chelsea always has a beautiful Christmas tree…so think what you want to, but I think it’s cool. As to birthday parties…well, Chelsea really shines here. Her children, Ethan and Aurora will be the envy of all their friends…if they aren’t already. Chelsea is a great mom, but when she was pregnant with Ethan, she was convinced that he was a girl. Thankfully she found out before he was born or he would have come home to a pink princess themed room, for sure. Chelsea and her mom, Debbie Moss were about half scared at the thought of her having a son. It was like…what are we going to do with a boy. Now, I can relate to that, because having two daughters of my own, the three grandsons I have were a real culture shock too. Nevertheless, like me, Chelsea stepped into that role of the mother of a son, with ease and style. I would have expected nothing less. She still got her girl, and Aurora is a girly girl if there ever was one. So they are two of a kind, and both are fashionistas. I love the outfits Chelsea comes up with for them…often matching or almost matching…there’s that theme party queen again.

There is, however, one thing that I have never seen, and Sydney says Chelsea never does. That is to wear sweatpants out in public. I suppose they are not stylish enough, and we all know that Chelsea is all about style. Hadlocks 20141798869_10201526072461240_972577765_naNow, I know that lots of people have worn sweat out in public…me included, but you have to admit that it isn’t a fashion statement. In fact, you are probably feeling the least good about yourself when you wear them. I know that’s what it was for me. Or maybe you are just a person who likes sweats for the comfort. Either way, they are not fashionista wear, nor are they the kind of thing you would ever see on a Theme Party Queen. Today is Chelsea’s birthday. Happy birthday Chelsea!! Always stay the beautiful girl, inside and out, that you are today. Have a great day!! We love you!!

Dad with B-17G BomberMany times I have written about my Dad’s time in the war, and what he went through, but I’m not sure I truly understood what he went through. Dad never talked about the war much, and maybe that led us to believe that what he went through wasn’t so bad for him. In reality, I don’t think I knew much about Dad’s service time at all. My nephew loaned me a movie called Fortress, and I was very interested in watching it. I don’t know what I expected it to be, but it was not. Everything on the B-17 happened so very fast.

While the movie was quite graphic, and not one that some people would like to watch, it was based on a true story and it gave me a very different perspective about what it was like to fly in a B-17 Bomber. I knew that the life of a ball turret gunner in combat was a mere twenty minutes, and I knew that during the time Dad was on the B-17, there was at least one ball turret gunner who was killed. They tried to save him, but it was not to be. In an instant it was over.
Flak seen from inside of B-17 Bomber
The Flying Fortress, as the B-17 Bomber was called, was one of the safer parts of the war, but that meant nothing when you are flying to a bomb drop and the enemy doesn’t want you to make it. The movie brought home just how hard it was to really spot the enemy planes. They would say that the enemy was right there, and I found myself thinking, “Where?” Then suddenly there they were, and the men on the plane had been firing for several seconds already. It felt like trying to explain how to spot the enemy, and by the time you get the word “well” out, you have already been hit.

While any gunner position was dangerous, I was struck by how exposed the waist gunners were. In case you don’t know, the waist gunners are the guys that shoot out the side doors of the plane. The doors are open, leaving them with very little protection. They had to be on their toes, because the enemy was shooting for their gun, and if they weren’t paying attention, they were shot before they got a second chance to pay attention. That made things really hard, because they also felt a close commraderie with their partner, the other waist Dad looking at B-17G Bombergunner, and if their partner got shot, it was hard to stay on task…but that was hard for any one of the men on the plane.

Watching the men they worked with every day, get shot and killed became a normal thing. Being normal and being able to cope, are two very different things. These men had to hold it together, while quietly falling apart inside. They knew their friend was dead, and yet they had to do their job. They couldn’t grieve. They couldn’t stop. They had to push that picture of their dead friend way back inside themselves, and do their job. Lives depended on it…including their own. I knew that my dad was on a B-17, but until I watched that movie, I really didn’t understand all of what that meant.

Pam & Aunt DorisWhen my mom, Collene Byer Spencer was married and moved to Superior, Wisconsin to live, she was a young woman, who for the first time in her life lived far away from her large family. I think that must have been so hard for her. She was used to living in a house with her parents, sisters, and brothers, and now it was just her and my dad, Allen Spencer. Of course, that was all she needed in most ways, but a girl needs friends too. For Mom, finding Aunt Doris Spencer there, meant a friendship, as well as a sister-in-law. The two liked each other immediately, and became instant friends. They did everything they could together.

While both of them were slender women, they always felt the need to diet. If they gained a pound, it was a big problem…I guess some things never change. Like all dieters, hunger pangs are always the worst part of dieting, so to aid in the dieting, Aunt Doris decided that each of them could have a single Puffed Wheat cereal piece to hold them over on one occasion. I’m sure this sounds crazy, but it does fit into the mentality of a dieter…and all of you who have ever dieted would be dishonest if you didn’t agree. When we look at things now, we know that like all dieters, this idea would pass as an impossible way to diet, but they tried it anyway. Whenever I hear the story of their diet antics, I have to giggle, because I can picture either one of them doing the funny things they did. They almost seemed like girlhood friends from junior high school, except they didn’t know each other then. They were just a lot alike.

They shared so much in those years, motherhood, sisterhood, and friendship. For my mom, it was like going to a scary new place and finding a bit of sunshine in the middle of the clouds of loneliness. It wasn’t like Mom was drowning in loneliness, but she really needed someone to share all of her girl talk with…someone to spend some of her spare time with, and since they lived just across the backyard fence from each other, someone to Aunt Doris & Momtalk to while the children played or napped. Aunt Doris was a friend sent by God to help my mom through the transition, and to be there for her through the years.

After we moved to Casper, Wyoming, the two kept in touch. Even after Aunt Doris, and her husband, my Uncle Bill divorced, Mom and Aunt Doris remained friends. They wrote letters and called each other sometimes, but didn’t get to see each other for years. Then last year, my sister, Cheryl and I took Mom for a visit. It was a wonderful reunion for both of them, and we were so glad we took Mom, since it was the last time before she passed. She got to see her forever friend one more time. Today is Aunt Doris’ 91st birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Doris!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Cornelius George ByerMy great grandfather, Cornelius Byer was a friend of the Indians at a time in history, when that was rather uncommon. During his lifetime, the White Man was well known for backing out on treaties as the need or desire for more land warranted, resulting in the pushing back of the Indians further and further off of the land they had been promised. This of course eventually resulted in the placement of the Indians onto reservations, many of which still exist to this day. It also cause much contention between the Indians and the White Man, and of course, the Indian Wars. At that time and even beyond, many Indians did not trust the White Man, even after peace came about, however my great grandfather was a man they not only trusted, but indeed, loved and respected. Over the years, the family would see many times when the Indians would show up at the house, with their whole families in tow. The women and children always waited outside while the men went in to visit with Grandpa about whatever it was they had come for. For the children, I suppose all this seemed normal, but when we look at it in light of history, it seems strange to think of the Indians having such trust and respect for any White Man, and therefore strange to think that they came to the house, and that they were welcomed into it. Nevertheless, this is what happened, and Great Grandpa Byer went to their villages as well.Pow Wow 2

On one such visit to the Indian village of Chief Red Cloud, my grandfather, George Byer was allowed to go along. He recalled that when they entered the tent, Chief Red Cloud was sitting by a fire wrapped in his robe or blanket. Apparently it was customary in this case for him to have little or nothing on underneath that, so I almost have to wonder if it was a sweat lodge or something. Either way, that is what my grandfather recalled as a young boy of about ten years. His dad had gone to visit Red Cloud about something, and in during the visit, the peace pipe was passed around. When it was handed to my grandfather, he was allowed to take it and that resulted in his smoking the peace pipe for the first time as a very young boy, who was apparently considered man enough to do so by the Indians. I doubt if many of us can say, in this day and age, that they know someone who smoked a peace pipe before, but that is the truth.
Grandma and Grandpa Byer
My great grandpa was so greatly respected that not only was he asked to smoke the peace pipe with them, but when he was dying, a rather amazing thing happened. Because he had been their friend, the Indians came to pay their respects. As they had before, they brought their families, but this time the families did not stay outside. The braves came in to shake Great Grandpa’s hand, as did their wives, and their children. Every single one of them shook his hand…from the oldest to the youngest. It was such a moving show of respect for him, and one that was almost never afforded to a White Man. But then, Great Grandpa Cornelius Byer was their friend, and that made him more than just any other White Man. He was like a brother to them.

Rachel and RonAround 6 years ago, my brother-in-law, Ron Schulenberg began making these mysterious bi-weekly or even more often, trips to Powell, Wyoming to spend time with his sister, Debbie Cook and her family. Ron had gone up there before, but never to the constant degree that these trips were quickly becoming. That was what made the trips so mysterious…but not for long. Pretty soon, it became quite obvious to anyone who looked at Ron, that he was quickly falling in love with a girl he met in Powell…with a little help from his nieces, Machelle Moore and Susan Griffith. Ron’s new girlfriend, Rachel Franklin had been a friend of the girls from their high school days, so they decided to do a little bit of match making. Little did they know that would lead to a beautiful friendship and later a companionship to last for the rest of Ron and Rachel’s lives. And little did they think that their friend was now going to also be their aunt.

Flash forward now five years, and you will find a couple who are very good together. Where once there had been two people who had been burned by love…two people who were lonely and incomplete…now you find two people who complete each other. Ron had spent a number of years feeling alone and incomplete, and Rachel makes him happy. He has someone to make his house a home…to make it a warm and welcoming place to be. Bachelor pads are ok, when a guy is young, but after a while, they need a woman’s touch. That was really where Ron found himself when he met Rachel. And I believe that Rachel was at the point of needing a man in her life too. There is simply a completeness that comes when you are with the right companion.
Rachel
Since her marriage Rachel has become a grandmother to Lucas Iverson, her daughter Cassie and son-in-law, Chris Iverson’s son. That was a very exciting time in her life. Of course, her two boys, Riley Birky, who isn’t so little anymore, and Tucker Birky, who is growing up fast too, keep her very busy. Riley is into sports, and I’m sure Tucker is not far behind him. Rachel works for a local eye doctor, and really enjoys her job, and the new friends it has brought with it. I’m sure the move from Powell to Casper, Wyoming was a little intimidating, because she really knew very few people, but she has made the transition well, and is quite happy in her new life. Today is Rachel’s birthday…the Big 4-0!! Happy birthday Rachel!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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