For the over 45 years that I have known my husband’s aunt, Margee Kountz, I have understood that she is the rock of her family. I say that I understood it, because over the years I have watched as different events have unfolded within her family, and it is Margee who always steps in to hold the family together. Margee was a single mom for most of her children, Dan and Sandy’s lives. Her children and grandchildren, and now great grandchildren have always been the joy of her life. Margee’s life has not been without loss…a daughter-in-law and a grandson, plus her parents, and both of her sisters. Margee is the last one of her generation in her family who is still living.
Margee stepped in to help raise her son’s two children, and to give them a stable life. She also helped to raise her daughter’s three children. I learned when I had my own grandchildren that with working parents, it takes a village to raise a child. Our kids need “involved” grandparents, and I can’t think of a greater blessing for a grandparent than spending time with their amazing grandkids. Margee has been a great help to her kids and grandkids, and they are very close to Margee, even as adults.
These days, the grandkids are the ones to help Margee. As her health isn’t as good as it was, she sometimes needs help with things. Because of the close relationship the grandkids have had with Margee, they are happy to help her. They love her after all, and anyone who knows Margee, and what a loving and caring person she is, can see exactly why they love her. Margee is the person who would give you her last nickel, if you needed it.
For as long as I have known her, I have felt very blessed by her. From her cake decorating years, during which we could count on the best looking cakes for parties, to her willingness to help with any event that was being held, made her a valued member of our family…and one we never want to be without. Today is Margee’s birthday. Happy birthday Margee!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Since both of my dads, Al Spencer (my dad) and Walt Schulenberg (my father-in-law) are in Heaven now, I don’t have a dad on Earth to celebrate with, but my husband, Bob Schulenberg is still with us…eight months after suffering a heart attack, and receiving miracle care and a miracle healing, and for that, my family and I rejoice and praise God, every day. This year could have been very different, and yet God stepped in and made a way for us. That is my biggest reason to celebrate this Father’s Day. Every day beyond October 14, 2018, is a gift. A precious gift from God. So to my husband, I wish a very special Father’s Day. I am so thankful that you are still with us.
The example my dad and my father-in-law set for their children is one of kindness and love. It is an example that we all try to follow, because they were both great family leaders. They were hard working, and took care of their families so that they never wanted for anything. Having a great dad is not automatic…unfortunately. As the saying goes, “Any man can be a father, but it takes someone very special to be a dad.” It takes someone very special to be there through thick and thin…when their children are being good and when they are being bad. Children need to know that no matter what mistakes they make, their parents will always love and support them as they work through life’s ups and downs. Growing up is hard, and we don’t always make that journey smoothly. It is a road often filled with big rock and pot holes. We stumble along, and if there is no one there to pick us up and put us back on out feet, things don’t always go very well. I am so thankful for my two dads, who were good dads to me and my siblings, and well as Bob and his siblings. I firmly believe that it was because of them that Bob and I became the parents we are.
I also feel very blessed that my daughters, Corrie and Amy have been blessed with the wonderful husbands they have. Kevin and Travis are the kid of dads I would have wanted for my girls and their children, if I could have picked. Thankfully, God chose these men for my girls, and I an very proud of the families they have raised. Their homes are filled with love and much laughter, as well and encouragement and forgiveness. Their children know that their parents are there for them, no matter what. Now the next generation are coming into the age to have kids, beginning with Corrie and Kevin’s son, Chris, who is taking the lessons he learned from his parents, and applying them to his own daughter. Chris is a great dad, and I know that he will raise great kids. Happy Father’s Day to my guys, and all the dads out there!!
The current generation of kids probably have no idea what a phone booth is, besides maybe a place for Superman to change into his costume. From the time phones first became something that was provided to the public for a fee, phone booths became a common sight on city streets. Then in the 1950s, a new fad began. Much like the fad of stuffing as many people as possible into a car, people decided to stuff as many people as possible into a phone booth. My guess is that like most of these strange fads, this one too, was practiced mostly by young people.
Phone booth stuffing first gained popularity outside the United States, but once it arrived stateside, in spring 1959, kids couldn’t help but join in. Basically, people would cram their bodies into the narrow spaces like sardines in a can. Some adopted other methods, such as stacking themselves horizontally. Just imagine being the guy on the bottom of the stack. All I can say is, “Hurry up, because I can’t breathe!!”
As with so many other crazy fad, phone booth stuffing became something to set a world record for. People began trying to outdo the prior record. The word record for phone-booth stuffing came in March 1959, when 25 people in South Africa piled into a booth. I can’t imagine how they could possibly fit 25 people in a phone booth, but while they were all in there, the phone rang. Of course, nobody answered the phone, because nobody could move enough to reach it. Sadly, the trend died by the end of 1959. Of course, that doesn’t mean that some of the other stuffing trends didn’t continue. I think people are still stuffing as many people as they can into a car. I just hope they don’t try to drive that way.
The Spencer ancestry is riddled with names that have been passed down from generation to generation. So much so, in fact, that it can get confusing when researching one’s ancestry. Common names are William, Robert, Thomas, John, Allen, and Christopher. My dad’s family was no different than any other of the Spencer families. The boys in the family were William, named after his grandfather, William, who had a great grandfather named William, and many more I’m sure. My dad was Allen, who was named after his dad Allen, who was named after his grandfather Allen. And many of the children also used those same names, so there were cousins named William and Allen too. Most of the time it only created problems with the ancestry, mail, school things, and such, but when a man named Ethan Allen Spencer (relation, I’m sure, but just how I don’t know) decided that he needed a little bit of excitement in his life, he decided to go from a law-abiding farm family background to becoming a bank and train robber. Ethan Allen “Al” Spencer was born the day after Christmas in 1887 near Lenepah in Nowata County. He came from a law-abiding farm family. He married and soon was the father of a baby girl. So, why would he abandon all that to become a criminal.
“Al” Spencer became a criminal as the era of horseback riding was coming to an end, and modern motorized criminals were just getting started. That fact, made Spencer an almost forgotten outlaw. Spencer began his career in crime by getting caught stealing cattle in his early 30s. Then in 1919, he and two men burglarized a clothing store in Neodesha, Kansas. Detectives recovered most of the stolen property and arrested Spencer in La Junta, Colorado. The Kansas court convicted and sentenced him to five years in prison. Then the Oklahoma authorities gained custody of Spencer so they could try him on charges of cattle theft. Spencer pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three to 10 years in the Oklahoma penitentiary at McAlester. He began serving his sentence in March 1920. If you ask me, he should have stuck to farming, because he wasn’t very good at crime. Spencer became friends with another convict named Henry Wells and learned a great deal about crime…becoming better, I suppose…at least as long has Wells was with him. In the 1920s, it was not unusual for Oklahoma governors to grant convicts a leave of absence from prison…even some convicted of major crimes. Spencer was given leave on July 26, 1921, to attend to “some family business” supposedly. He returned to McAlester a month later and became a trustee and was trained to be an electrician. Early in 1922, he was assigned to do electrical work outside the prison in someone’s home. He completed the work, but then he packed up his tools and didn’t return to the prison.
Within a month, Spencer had hooked up with Silas Meigs, who had escaped in a similar fashion from the prison. The pair robbed the American National Bank at Pawhuska, making a “major” haul of $147. Soon the two men robbed a bank at Broken Bow, and this one netted a little more profit. They escaped with between $7,000 and $8,500. They forced a motorist to take them three miles north of town where they had left two horses. The robbers rode away. A few days later Meigs was killed in a gun battle with lawmen northwest of Bartlesville, where he had gone to visit his brother. Spencer remained hidden in the Osage Hills, a vast stretch of country with timber, rocky canyons and thickets of almost impenetrable scrub oak. Friends and relatives brought him food. Spencer later joined up with Henry Wells and two other criminals and robbed a bank at Pineville in southwest Missouri. Spencer soon hopped a freight train bound for Oklahoma. Spencer found three other men to help him burglarize a store in Ochelata south of Bartlesville. They were surprised by the town’s night marshal who was shot and killed before the outlaws fled in a car. On June 16, Spencer and another man robbed the Elgin State Bank in Chautauqua County, Kansas. They fled with about $2,000 in cash and $20,000 in bonds.
Exactly how many banks were robbed by Ethan Allen “Al” Spencer during the eighteen months following his escape is not known. Evidence suggests he probably robbed at least 20 banks in Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas. The end of his crime spree came on a Saturday evening, September 15, 1923, when he was shot and killed. There is, however, debate on just how he was killed. U.S. Marshal Alva McDonald, a veteran lawman and personal friend of Teddy Roosevelt, claimed he and other lawmen shot Spencer just south of Caney, Kansas. Another account reported that Spencer was killed about five miles north of Coffeyville, Kansas. The third account came from outlaw Henry Wells’ autobiography. Wells claims that Stanley Snyder, a friend of Spencer’s, killed the outlaw with a shotgun while Spencer was eating supper. Some friend he must have been, but then I guess there is no honor among thieves. Al Spencer’s outlaw days were over, nevertheless, and a new breed of bad men soon took his place using only automobiles. Spencer was the last major Oklahoma outlaw to use horses in his crimes.
When a name is passed down from generation to generation dating back to the 1400s or even further back, it is often not easy to say just how that name got started, but once in a great while, we are able to find out for sure, because prior to a certain point, that name did not appear. Such is the case with my dad’s name in his family line. I have searched the family history pretty extensively, and while I could be mistaken, I don’t think that I am…for this part of the line anyway. My dad’s name is Allen Spencer, as was his dad’s and great grandfather’s. The name, Allen was first introduced with my dad’s great grandfather…as near as I can tell. It did not come from his parents, but rather from his grandparents. I’m sure that at this point, your are confused, so let me clarify this.
My fourth great grandfather, William Spencer, who was born on July 22, 1745, married a woman named Mercy Allen sometime before 1790. The exact date is unknown, but the only child anyone seems to know about, Christopher was born in 1790. Christopher Spencer was my third great grandfather, and the father of the first recorded Allen Spencer…who was, of course named after his grandmother…Mercy Allen. From that point on there would be an Allen from each generation, with only one exception that I am aware of…my sister, Allyn who would have been Allen, had she been a boy. Since she was not, my parents did the closest name they could…Allyn. Having all daughters, I’m sure you would expect that the Allen Spencer line would end with my parents, but it did not, because my sister, Caryl, upon the birth of her son, named him Allen Spencer Beach…thereby continuing the tradition. With the great care that was taken to continue the Allen Spencer name throughout the generations, I have to say that they succeeded…albeit with a little bit of creativity. While I don’t always think of my sister as being an Allen, she did go to school with a boy named Allyn, who was in fact called Allen. It is all in where you place the accent. We always pronounced hers like Lynn, with an A in front. It really had to be continued…it’s tradition. And it is my hope that my nephew, Allen will continue the tradition, or that someone else in the family will do so, because it seems a shame to let it end now.
The rather funny thing about the name, Allen being a last name is that my dad always joked with us when we or anyone else named their kids a name that could have been a last name. Names like Ryan, Garrett, and Kellie, while maybe not spelled exactly like the last name they came from, were nevertheless, originally last names. It’s funny that Dad teased about those names, saying they were last names, but didn’t make the same connection with his own name. I’m sure that was because he knew that it had been his dad’s and great grandfather’s name too. Still, like it or not, Dad’s name was originally the last name of his third great grandmother. Sorry to say it, Dad…but, that was once a last name!!
As each generation in a family looks at the addition of a new generation, I have to wonder what is going through their minds, and if it’s the same as mine…amazement at where the family is now. I remember seeing my daughters and my grandchildren for the first time, and I know that I was thinking just how amazing it was that they were here, and they were mine. You have a tendency to marvel at how beautiful they are and that they descended from you. Every grandparent is excited about those little grandbabies, but you don’t always get a picture of the exact look that expressed just how blessed a grandparent is feeling.
Nevertheless, that rare shot was what we accidently got, when my husband, Bob’s great grandfather first met his great great granddaughters, Corrie and Amy. The loving look on his face as he held Amy simply said it all. He was feeling so blessed to be able to see this next generation of his lineage. Many people never see their great great grandchildren…they don’t always live long enough, so he was very blessed. He was blessed in his life…living to be 93 years old. It was only a couple of months later that a fall would break his hip and the shock would end his life. That made his chance to meet his great great granddaughters that much more special, whether he knew it or not at the time.
I think every grandparent feels that deep sense of great blessing when they see those babies for the first time, but so often it doesn’t show in a picture of such a loving look. This picture has become very precious to me for that very reason. I only had the opportunity to meet Bob’s great grandfather the one time, before his passing. We had planned a trip to Yakima, Washington to visit with them again, in September of that year, but he passed away in August. We made the trip to see Bob’s great grandmother, but I always felt sad that his great grandfather was not there for the visit. Mostly, I was sorry that he was gone so soon after meeting him. The picture of him was one of the few I have now. Having met him, I can say that he was a gentle hearted man who loved his family. I really think that he felt such a deep sense of accomplishment that his family had grown so much, and that he got to see it before he left this world. I was glad that we were able to give him his great great granddaughters before he passed away. I think it meant so much to him.
As my life moves forward into the next phases, I am beginning to look forward to the day when I will have great grandchildren too. It could be down the road a ways, but with two grandchildren out of high school now, it could be right around the corner. I don’t mean to say that I am pushing the grandkids, but I look forward to that special day whenever it happens to arrive. Babies and grandbabies are a great blessing, and I know that whenever my great grandchildren start arriving, I will feel just like Bob’s great grandfather did, so amazed at where the family is now.
When we look back over the years of a family history, we have a tendency to look at the family icons…the ones who, at least in our generation started it all. Often all of the great grandparents have passed on now, and so it is the grandparents that you look at, thinking, “Look what you two started!” From two people, this family has multiplied to seventy one people, with one more due in late September, and of course, if you look back to great grandparents, the number goes up exponentially. Love starts a marriage, and then adds children, who grow up, marry and have children, who continue the whole process. I have to wonder if my husband, Bob’s grandparents, Robert and Nettie (Noyes) Knox had any idea how much their family would grow over the years. I don’t think any married couple really does, until they look back at their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren…often in awe of how many there are.
Grandma and Grandpa Knox would be celebrating their 85th anniversary this year, if they were still alive, but of course, they are not, so we will remember it for them. Grandpa Knox passed away on December 17, 1985, at the age of 76 years, and Grandma Knox passed away on July 29, 1990, at the age of 82. They celebrated 56 anniversaries together before Grandpa’s passing, and they experienced many different eras in our nations history. They lived through the Great Depression…a time which would bring them to very much distrust the banking system. Grandma often carried large sums of money in her purse, much to the concern of her family, but no one ever robbed her, so I guess the money was just as safe with her as it was the bank. They farmed the land they lived on, raised sheep and cattle on the ranches they worked on, and helped out their oldest daughter, Joann on her place in Casper, Wyoming, while living on the land they had too. They lived a full life surrounded by their grandchildren and great grandchildren, two of whom would be born on their respective birthdays. Life doesn’t get much better than that.
When they left us, it was a loss that was felt very deeply throughout the family. They had always been there, and it was inconceivable to think that they were actually gone. It felt like they were taken too soon, even though they lived longer than many people had the chance to do. We miss them still…especially their granddaughters, Corrie and Machelle, who were born on their birthdays. Today would have been Grandma and Grandpa Knox’s 85th anniversary. We wish they were still here to celebrate it. We love and miss you both.
I don’t know about your family, but in mine and in Bob’s, the women seemed to wear curlers in pictures a lot. The funny thing about that is that the ones wearing curlers in pictures have short hair, which would dry very quickly. So it would seem that there would be little need for wearing curlers all day, and yet here they were in picture after picture. It’s almost as if the curlers are a way to keep their hair under control for a while, much like people with long hair might wear a bun. Curlers in your picture seems to be something rather unique to my mother’s and grandmother’s generations. I know that my sisters and I would not have been caught dead outside the house with curlers in our hair…at least when we were old enough to have a say.
What always struck me as funny is the fact that whenever Mom had curlers in her hair, and the event was special enough for pictures, it seemed like Mom’s intention was to look good for the event that was upcoming. So, it always made me wonder why she left them on for the event itself. Of course, they never left the curlers in for the really special events, like church, weddings, or funerals, it was just the casual, special events that seemed to allow for curlers in the picture. There again, I would never show up for those events in curlers either, and knowing my sisters as I do, I know they wouldn’t either. It’s kind of like going out without your make up…it just isn’t done.
Nevertheless, that was a different generation. I’d like to say it was a different time, but my mom still might wear curlers in a picture, and think nothing of it. I suppose Bob’s mom might too, if she didn’t have a perm now. To that I say, to each his own, but you will never catch me in a picture with curlers in my hair.
Bob and I grew up during the hippy years of the mid-1970’s. All the guys wanted to have long hair. Bob’s hair was, by no means, as long as many other guys had, but it was quite a bit longer than he had while he was living at home. Like most parents, he was told to keep it short, while he was living at home. So when he graduated, he moved into his own place, and grew his hair longer…much to the irritation of his mom. I met Bob about 6 months after he had moved out on his own, so his hair was already longer.
Bob and his family had always had a great relationship with their family who lived in Forsyth, Montana, which is where Bob’s family came from. The family would go up there to visit at least once a year, and Bob didn’t change that tradition when he moved out. His uncles weren’t so much older than he was that they really seemed like uncles exactly, so he got along with them very well. After Bob moved out, he would go to Forsyth just to hang out with uncles, and visit his grandma. Eddie, at 11 years older and Butch, at 9 years older were, nevertheless, the older generation. When Bob was 19, Eddie was 30, and Butch was 28. They pretty much sided with Bob’s parents when it came to the length of a man’s hair.
The older generation took great pleasure in teasing Bob about his hair. I’m sure that he heard things like “you look like a girl” or “shaggy dog.” I’m also sure he was repeatedly told to get a hair cut. Of course, like most kids in the hippy generation, those comments had no real effect on him. Nevertheless, I’m sure Eddie got Bob’s attention when he decided to tell Bob, “We can fix that right now!!” Then, he proceeded to attack Bob, or rather, Bob’s hair with an unplugged electric hair trimmer. Eddie would never really cut Bob’s hair, and I’m pretty sure Bob knew that too, but in the moment, maybe he wondered just a little bit, while genuinely hoping that the trimmer wasn’t plugged in.
My mom was the middle child in a family of nine children. With a brother on each side of her and three sisters on each end of the family. As with many big families, the different age groups tend to do things together. That’s how it was in our family. We had the older two girls, and the three little girls. It was the same way with my mom’s family. Grandma and Grandpa had the three big girls, my mom and the boys, and the three little girls. Each age group seems to have their own groups pictures to further accentuate the fact that the other children are really almost in a different generation than these children, even though there are only about two years in between each of the children.
My mom’s little sisters, Bonnie, Dixie, and Sandy, were the three little girls in the family. The older siblings were regularly treated to the goofy games the three little girls liked to play. From little tea parties with their niece Susie, to dress up moments, possibly before school, the little girls kept things lively for the rest of the family. As we grow up, it’s easy to forget the fun little girl things in life, because we are so busy trying to be big. The grown up responsibilities of life come on us so quickly, that is is a shame to lose those days of freedom and wonder-lust so soon, but that is what we usually do. We are in such a hurry to grow up as kids, and then as adults, we wish we could go back. For a large family, however, there is that unique ability to look backward in time a moment, without friends treating us like we just reverted to babyhood, and remember the fun times we had, and the goofy things we did as little kids. It is a true blessing, if we take that opportunity and our loss, if we do not.
These three, my youngest aunts, have not always seemed like aunts to me, after all, they are only 15, 13, and 11 years older than I am. It seems like aunts and uncles should be so much older, really. I mean, Aunt Sandy and I were both in school at the same time. Nevertheless, they were my aunts, and the three little girls in their family, and they have always been a blessing in the lives of all of us. They kept the family younger, longer. They blessed us with their laughter and antics. And now, they are able to tell us more of the family home life stories, that we can’t get from the older children in the family, because they had already married and moved out. I, for one, hope to be able to hear lots more of those stories for many years to come.