As this day has approached, I have found it very hard to believe that my Uncle Bill Spencer, my dad’s brother, is turning 95 years old today. I remember the uncle from my childhood, full of life, and exciting stories. He was the man who taught me the game of Cribbage and challenged me to try to beat him. He never gave me the game, but rather made it a true victory when I was able to beat him. He never made me feel like a failure when I lost either, but rather told me that every game I played made me a better player, and he was right. I loved the times we had together playing cribbage. It will always be one of my favorite memories of my uncle. Over the years, we tried in vain to figure out a way to play long distance. That was one challenge that beat us. I suppose that in the age of computers, we might have found a way.
Uncle Bill is a unique kind of person, in that he found something he was interested in when he was just an 8 year old boy, and he never lost his passion for it. For Uncle Bill, that passion was for his family genealogy. As a young boy, he saw a little black book his mother was working on. It was a simple record book of the family members she knew of at the time, but for Uncle Bill, it was a challenge. He was hooked, and for as long has his memory lasted, Uncle Bill continued digging for more information. His work would take him on many trips to pour through libraries, county records, state records, and to walk miles and miles of cemeteries. He had a need to find out about his past. He found himself feeling annoyed when people didn’t properly mark photos and documents, with important information, such as who was in the picture, when it was taken, and what was going on. So much information is so easily lost because someone didn’t take a moment to properly document a picture. Since I have looked over all his work, I can understand his frustration, because there are pictures that we know the relationship of, but not the name of the person, and some people we don’t know anything about at all. And no way to find out. History lost…maybe forever.
When my girls, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce were in grade school, they had an assignment concerning their family history. My mom, Collene Spencer said I should get a hold of my Uncle Bill…his reputation as the family historian had preceded him. I called him, and he sent what was needed for their assignments. That was awesome, but it was not the end of the story. With Uncle Bill’s way of peaking my interest, I have picked up the torch and I am running with it. I pray that I can do him proud. Uncle Bill has dementia now, and doesn’t remember that he was working on the family history, Still, I pray that I, and others like me, can carry on his legacy for him, so that history will not be lost in this family. Today is Uncle Bill’s 95th birthday. Happy birthday Uncle Bill!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
I don’t know about you, but as a kid in grade school, recess was maybe the best part of the day…if you could get to the swings faster than anyone else. At the school I went to anyway, the swings were the one playground item everyone wanted to be on, and if you were a little slower getting there, you missed out. That usually meant that the younger students had to find something else to do…until they got older anyway. There was no time limit to be on the swings, but most of the kids were pretty good about swinging for a while and then getting off, but then recess was only 15 minutes long, so how much time did that leave the rest of the kids…not much.
The fight to get to the swings first, and the ultimate lose of that battle for many children, did very little to sway them from trying to get there, however. Every recess, the bell would ring, and the doors to the playground burst open as the kids ran for the swings. Of course, a few tears were inevitable, because there are always the little fights and little ones don’t always lose well, but all in all, they learned pretty quickly that the best solution to the problem, was to practice your running. The faster you are, the more likely you will end up with a swing.
This whole process goes on for a time, and then about 6th grade, which was still in grade school when I was a kid, the kids aren’t so interested in the swings anymore. They have started to mature some and look forward to being more like the kids in junior high, or middle school as it is known today. Playing on the swings was suddenly beneath them. How quickly things change. One year, you are fighting over the swings, and the next you are acting like all those little kids are so far beneath you that it is completely unbelievable.
Now flash forward a few years, and…well, I don’t know about you, but it’s funny how much fun those swings can be when you are on a date with your boyfriend. Of course, anything is romantic when you are on a date, right? In the years I dated my husband, Bob, I can’t count how many times we ended up at the park swinging on the swings like little kids. It seemed so different from those grade school days, somehow. It wasn’t nearly as juvenile as it used to be. Now it was romantic…and fun again.
After reconnecting with so many of my Schumacher cousins on Facebook, Ancestry, and now in person, I have begun to wonder more about the Schumacher ancestry even further back. For a number of years, I have been stuck in the 1800’s on the Schumacher side of the family, just hoping for a break, and I think I may now know why. In researching the name Schumacher, I find that Schumacher or Schuhmacher is an occupational surname. It is, of course, the German word for shoemaker. Both spellings can be used as surnames, with Schumacher being the more common one, however, only the variant with an “h” can also be used as a job description in modern German spelling. That fact is of vital importance to my family’s actual history, and it could be the reason I have hit a wall in my search.
According to my grandparent’s, Carl and Albertine (Henriette) Hensel Schumacher, marriage certificate, Carl’s last name was actually spelled Schuhmacher…the actual job description, as well as an occupational surname. I had long known of the difference in the spelling, because my Uncle Bill Spencer had sent me a copy of the marriage certificate years ago, but I didn’t know the distinction that one letter held. I didn’t know that it changed the name from just a name to an occupation. If, as I suspect, Carl was encouraged to Americanize the spelling when he came to America, then anyone searching for information on Carl Schuhmacher, would most likely hit a wall…just as I have done. Americanizing surnames was a very common practice in early American immigration history, and sometimes the name the person ended up with was nothing like their real name. It is a serious frustration for the family history researcher.
This now causes me to wonder if our family might be related to such notable people as Eugen Schuhmacher (1906–1973), German zoologist and pioneer of animal documentaries, Irma Heijting-Schuhmacher (born 1925), Dutch freestyle swimmer, or John Schuhmacher (born 1955), American football player. Perhaps our search for our roots should be heading in a completely different direction, because unfortunately, no one told the people in the nation these people immigrated from that they should change their name too, so the lineage would be preserved. Perhaps this spelling of the name will open the doors that have for so long been locked. Only time will tell on this matter, as I delve into the research to see where it will lead me. I hope that it will lead me to the next level…the one after Carl’s dad, my 2nd great grandfather, Johann Schuhmacher, and beyond.
It is so hard for me to hit a brick wall in the family history line, because I want so badly to be able to take each line way back. It has become an obsession I suppose, just like it was for Uncle Bill. Once you get started you don’t want to stop until you reach your goal. Ancestral lines can be hard enough to follow, as the records kept were not as good, or have been lost over the years, but when you add the fact that the names were most likely changed, you find yourself hitting the brick wall that I have hit. Just like the grade school child who spells a totally different word for the teacher, you find yourself realizing the importance of one letter.
My grand niece, Jala Satterwhite is growing up so fast. I still picture her as a girl who is her sister, Kaytlyn’s age, but that just isn’t so. This past year, when Jala was in 5th grade, she participated in the science fair, and did a great job. She did her project on salt, which is something I personally like a lot of. Jala has always liked grade school and has done very well in it, but the time has come for her to move on. With her twelfth birthday, comes middle school. She will no longer be one of the big kids on campus, but she will be moving into the world of the older group of kids in school.
We will have to see exactly what that will mean for Jala, because at this point, she is quite proud to call herself a tomboy. Her favorite game is football, and I don’t mean to watch. This last year found Jala playing football with…and besting the boys…at every recess. She is one of the fastest of them all. She likes football so much, that she told everyone that she wanted a football for her birthday, and ended up with three at her party. I guess she is set in that department. With the coming of middle school, comes also co-ed flag football…with Jala on the team. She is so excited about playing on a real team…and not just recess fun. She starts in a couple of weeks, and she can’t wait. Hey, I say go for whatever your heart desires Jala. Those kids need you on their team! They want to win…right!!
The summer found Jala taking swimming lessons…an excellent idea. I think every child needs to know how to swim. Jala excelled at swimming too, passing the hardest level a week faster than was required. She is a great swimmer, but swimming simply cannot compete with football…at least not right now. You never know what the future might bring. She may end up on the swim team someday. As kids grow up, their focus often changes and new ideas present themselves, and before your very eyes, they are a changed person. It’s hard to say what Jala will want to do in the future, because she has so much changing left to do.
Jala has grown in maturity in so many ways. She wanted an iPhone this past year, and while her parents wanted her to have it, they also wanted to teach her about things like responsibility, and making your own way in this world. Of course, Jala isn’t old enough to totally make her own way in this world, but she can learn about earning something she wants, so she will be sure to take care of it when she gets it. That said, her parents decided that if she wanted an iPhone, she should save up for it. A very wise idea. Once you know how expensive it is, and how long it took you to save up for it, you tend to have a greater respect for it…and Jala does. She also loves her iPhone, and did from the moment she got it. I can’t blame her there. The iPhone is the best phone there is, if you ask me. It’s also a great phone for taking all the selfies that Jala likes to take, but then why should she be different than anyone else. Today is Jala’s 12th birthday. Happy birthday Jala!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
When a person thinks about all the friends who have come and gone in their life, they, at some point, reach a place where they can say with relative certainty…this one is my oldest friend. This person is probably not someone with whom they have never had an argument, because when a friendship has passed the test of time, there were likely a few rough spots along the way. Most of us might think our oldest friend is a classmate, maybe from grade school, if we still know any of those, or possibly from high school, because it is possible that we still know many of those people, but I have to think that sometimes we might need to think outside the friendship box a little bit. I have thought back to all my friends over the years, and while I am still friends with a lot of people from high school and even as far back, as grade school, there is someone that I can truly say has always been my friend…from the day I was born. I’m sure that you are getting the idea…yes, it is my older sister, Cheryl.
When I needed someone to confide in…to talk things over with, she was there. We shared all the schoolgirl secrets, like what cute guy we liked and even what teachers we hated. Like all friends, there were the little tiffs, and while they might have seemed huge then, looking back now I know that they were just a blip on the lifelong screen of a friendship that would last forever, and become a cherished relationship in my life. I don’t know if all siblings become friends too, but we definitely did. Cheryl and I were the older of our parents’ 5 daughters, and there were three years between my younger sister, Caryl and me, so the three younger sisters, always seemed so much younger. In fact, we always called them the three little girls. There always seemed to be a natural separation between us, but not a distance…just differences in our ages making for the natural separation. I know I might not be Cheryl’s oldest friend, because she is two years older than I, but then again, I have been her friend longer than most people I can think of, so who knows, I might just be hers too.
When it comes to friends, I can’t think of any with whom I can say that I have so much in common, nor one who I can count on for any need. Cheryl and I have been through so many things together, and she has been a rock through it all. She never likes to promote herself, so I’ll just have to do it for her. Cheryl, you have been there to protect me from enemies, bullies, and monsters…real or imagined. You’ve been there for me to confide in, and you were never judgmental. You backed me when I needed it, and stood by me when I need that, you lifted me up when I was feeling down, and you made me smile with your sweet spirit. You have and always will be my oldest and dearest friend, as well as my dear sister. Life is good. Today is Cheryl’s birthday!! Happy birthday my dear, Cheryl!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you very much!!
Sisters are a unique beings. They can fight, literally like cats and dogs, and everyone would do well to stay out of the way. Still, your sister is always your sister, and you love her no matter what. During some of those peaceful times, when you are getting along, many sisters find that they are able to have some of the most memorable and wonderful times of their lives. It’s in those times that you find yourself sharing your secrets with your sister, because she will always understand what you are going through. In fact, nobody cares more about what you are going through than your sister.
I have always loved those pictures with two little girls, sitting there with their heads together, whispering their secrets to each other. You know they are talking about some little boy that they really like, or even possibly about how funny someone looked in their ridiculous outfit today…I know, gossip. We can think we don’t like gossip all we want to, but the reality is that most of us like to hear the latest gossip. We want to know if that guy in school is about to break up with his girlfriend and hopefully that he likes us. It’s funny how many grade school romances took three or four people to get them off the ground. A friend knows a boy their friend likes, and the friend asks if he said anything about them. Or a friend has to tell that guy that their friend likes him, because obviously he is not observant enough to see those looks she keeps shooting his way…or at least that is the way it seems.
Our quest for secrets often starts as little kids, but it carries on into adulthood. We all seem to want to be the first and only one to know about something exciting. Secrets make us feel important. To be esteemed important enough to know someone’s secrets, is a place of value indeed, and it’s a place we want to be. Of course, to be in that place, we must be able to keep a secret. In the area of gossip, that is a rather odd thing, because someone had to tell the secret first in order for it to be gossip, so I guess that if we are to be a good secret keeper, we will have to put ourselves in a place of not being a gossip. Of course, in the area of keeping secrets, your sister can be a good one for that, because she must remember those cat and dog fights, and might not want to repeat them for not keeping the secret.
Every year when our annual trip to The Black Hills is over, I feel a bit of sadness. I always hate to see it come to a close, but this year is a little different. This year it feels like we are leavig something behind…or rather, someone. My niece, Michelle, who is the daughter of my sister, Alena and her husband, Mike, has moved to Spearfish during the time that Bob and I have been on our vacation. She will be going to college at Black Hills State University in Spearfish for the next two years, so she will live there for at least that long. It’s strange to feel like we left something behind, when we didn’t even see Michelle on this trip, but still that’s how it feels.
I remember when Michelle was born. She was a teeny little girl with beautiful eyes. She loved to laugh and made everyone around her smile. With every smile, her eyes danced and her whole face lit up. Michelle was one of those bubbly people who was a lot of fun in any crowd…and yet she was not the type of person to be conceited in any way, and hurting anyone’s feelings was just not her style.
Michelle has always had an artistic flair, and it is that ability that has prompoted this move. She wants to teach art, and to get her degree she must switch from Casper College to a University, in order to get the rest of the needed credits. I believe she will make an excellent teacher…or an amazing artist…if that is what she chooses to do, but the thing that I find very odd, is that she should still be this little girl in grade school. Where have the years gone? Michelle simply should not be old enough to be living on her own…in a different state!! But, she is and all those little girl days are over for her.
Yes, as Bob and I head home from our vacation, it feels like we are leaving someone behind. That’s because we are. It is little Michelle, who is not so little anymore. She didn’t come over with us, but nevertheless, she is staying behind in The Black Hills to live, work, go to college, and start living her own dreams. For many of us, it is a sad day, because we won’t be able to see her smiling face as much as we used to. For her, it is a bittersweet day, because while she wants to chase her own dreams, she will also feel the twinges of homesickness for a while, and she will miss her family…sometimes terribly. But, she will be fine. She will get used to being away, and the homesickness will ease. All we can ask is that she remembers that we love her, and that she remembers the way home.
Yesterday I attended the funeral of my 4th and 6th grade teacher. She was my absolute favorite teacher in grade school, and I had the distinct pleasure and was greatly blessed to get her as my teacher for 2 years, because she switched from 4th to 6th grades the year I got to 6th grade. The strange thing was that I didn’t know she was the same teacher…at least until that first day, because since her first husband had died, she had remarried. So the first time I had her, she was Mrs Clark, and the second time I had her, she was Mrs Lloyd. Her name didn’t matter to me, all I cared about was the fact that I got to have my beloved teacher for yet another year. Nevertheless, I still had trouble remembering that she was Mrs Lloyd now.
While Mrs Lloyd’s name gave me trouble, I had no trouble loving my teacher. She was like everyone’s second mom. The things she said to you were genuine…straight from her heart. She always looked for the best in her students, and she expected to find good traits in each and every one of her students. Because of her faith in her students, as well as her genuine love for each one, we all tried our very hardest to make her proud of us, and because of her encouragement, we knew that we could do whatever we set our mind to. Mrs Clark-Lloyd made us feel like there was nothing we couldn’t do.
The years since I was in 4th or 6th grade have passed quickly by, but my memories of my favorite grade school teacher have never faded. I could see her face in my memory all those years. I think we all have one or more teachers who inspired us to do our very best, and their lessons don’t fade as the years go by. Mrs Clark-Lloyd was one of those great teachers. Over the years, this tiny woman always seemed larger than life to me. She was like an angel of the human kind, who’s faith in God inspired her to instill faith in her students…faith in God and themselves.
I was looking through some of my mom’s old grade school pictures, and the names on the back. I find myself amazed at the number of names that are familiar to me for one reason or another. I have lived most of my life right here in Casper, having moved here when I was 3. My mom has also lived here most of her life, with the exception of the first 6 years of her marriage, so I guess it stands to reason that there might be a name or two from her classmates that might have stayed on in Casper.
It was just somewhat unexpected I guess, although I don’t know why. Some names, of course, were common enough so that I wasn’t absolutely sure, but many were names I had heard…from my friends. One is the mother of a girl who was my best friend in junior high. Another was the mother of someone who was a client of mine a few years ago. Another was the same last name as a mortal enemy, later turned friend from junior high. And there was one who was related to someone I bowled with.
A name that really amazed me, although it probably shouldn’t have is most likely the daughter of a man who developed part of this town, because there is a street named after her, and again the name is not a common name and the street carries both her first and last name, so what are the odds that she isn’t the same girl? Pretty slim I’d say.
As I looked at the faces…kind of searching for a face that looked like one I use to know…it occurred to me that I was really looking at something very special. I was looking at the past, and the past had met my past, and who knows, maybe that past might just meet the future, because who knows how many of the children of those kids have stayed on here in Casper. It is totally possible that while the names might change due to marriage, many of the families remain the same, and my children’s children might go to school with the great grandchildren of classmates of my mom’s…as the past meets the future.
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!