grandparents

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094aYears ago, long before refrigeration was safe to use, most people had a more primitive way to keep foods fresh or frozen. I say that this was before refrigeration was safe to use, because mechanical refrigeration was actually invented in 1748 by William Cullen and was demonstrated at the University of Glasgow. This version was not used for any practical purpose, however. In 1805, an American inventor named Oliver Evans designed the first refrigeration machine, and the first person to make a practical refrigerating machine was Jacob Perkins in 1834, using Ether in a vapor compression cycle. American physician, John Gorrie, built a refrigerator based on Oliver Evans’ design in 1844 which he used to make ice to cool the air for his yellow fever patients. German engineer Carl von Linden, patented not a refrigerator but the process of liquefying gas in 1876 that is part of basic refrigeration technology. Refrigerators in the late 1800s and up until 1929 used toxic gasses, such as ammonia, methyl chloride, and sulfur dioxide as refrigerants, which were responsible for several fatal accidents in the 1920s. I suppose the cost and the dangers of these early models were the main reasons that people continued to used the old fashioned version.

The old fashioned way to keep foods fresh or frozen, involved using ice and snow, which they would bring in from the mountains, or use what was on the ground, if it was available. They would dig a cellar in the ground, 087aand line it with wood or straw. Then they packed it with snow and ice, and the food was placed in the cellar. It was this type of refrigeration system that my grandparents, Allen and Anna Spencer, were using at the time my Aunt Laura Fredrick was a very little girl in about 1913. My grandparents were living in a wooded area in northern Minnesota near American Falls. Grandpa was working in the lumber business at that time.

According to my Uncle Bill Spencer, who was their second child, the cellar was probably not needed much in the long winter months, because the house stayed pretty cold up there anyway. I’m sure that they had wood for a fire, but then again, I suppose that everything they burned, was something that could not bring in money. Also, they lived in a log cabin, that was apparently not very well built, or at least the spaces in between the logs were not really well packed with mud to keep the cold winter air on the outside of the house, where it belonged.

I’m not sure how far the cellar was from the house, because, I can’t see the house in the picture, so it might have been a little way from the house, or the picture might have been taken from the house. Either way, getting food from the cellar was a bit of a process, because you don’t want to upset the cooling process by removing the straw too often, as it was part of what kept the ice and snow from melting.

059aI can’t say when my grandparents got their first real refrigerator, but I expect that like many people of that time, they were a little bit leery of the early refrigerators, after hearing about people dying because the gasses leaked out of the unit. I suppose it was the price people paid to be able to use some of the early inventions, but many people felt that the price was too high, so they waited until these new fangled gadgets were proven safe before they took a chance on them. And, I’m sure that like any new thing, they were pretty expensive early on too. The cellar would work just fine for now, and therefore, that is what my grandparents were using at that time in our family history. These days, we would be shocked at such a method of keeping food fresh.

SurroundedBestiesI think it’s a good thing that my niece, Machelle Moore likes to do a lot of outdoor, tomboy kinds of things, because with a husband and two sons, she is pretty much surrounded by those things. Her family loves to go camping and recently purchased her parent’s old travel trailer. They love spending time up in the Big Horn Mountains. The boys get to have lots of time to get out of town and do something different, and for Machelle, that is what it’s all about…spending time with her family and watching her boys grow up. Of course, being married to, Steve, the love of her life is one of the things that is closest to Machelle’s heart, and something that has made her life wonderful for the past fifteen years. Doing things with her three boys is what she most likes to do.

Machelle also likes to get away once in a while and go to Las Vegas with her sister, Susan Griffith or her aunt, Rachel Schulenberg. The fast paced party lifestyle is fun to go participate in once in a while, and since her husband, Steve doesn’t like to rally travel much, he stays home with the boys so she can go and have a good time. She also likes to come to Casper sometimes to visit family members here, and while the boys come with her about half the time, they don’t always. Since she and Rachel were good friends before Rachel married her Uncle Ron, and moved to Casper, it is one way to spend time with her friend.

Machelle always liked to come to Casper to visit though. When she came down with her mom, Debbie Cook, to visit her grandparents. As a little girl, she always seemed especially excited to come and spend time with them. As they grew older, she would come and cut their hair for them. She was their personal hair stylist, and that is Sistersscan0001not an easy thing to have these days, but nevertheless, they had their own personal hair stylist…their granddaughter, Machelle. I suppose that the fact that she loved them with all her heart, did have something to do with that privilege. Machelle would do just about anything for her grandparents. And that has endeared her to many of us in the family. Machelle is simply a good hearted person, and the kind of friend you want to have. Today is Machelle’s birthday. Happy birthday Machelle!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Sandy ByerSo many of us would love to know more about our family and the stories from the past, but by the time we realize that we are interested in those stories, the people who could tell us about them are gone, and it is too late. I feel very blessed that my grandparents had nine children, all spaced roughly 2 years apart. My aunt, Sandy Pattan was the youngest of those children. While the older children lived some things that Aunt Sandy was to young to have lived, she was nevertheless, not to young to have heard all the stories, and she was just curious enough to be a willing listener. While her older siblings were growing up and doing all the things a kid sister finds very cool, Aunt Sandy was watching with curiosity. She wanted to grow up just like her sisters, and she loved watching her brothers’ antics, as well as, their kindnesses. She also watched her parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents…and she listened to the stories that were told.Sandra Nannette Byer

Flash forward to today, and to her niece…me, who is curious about all those events from the past. I have asked other family members about those events, and received a little bit of information, but my Aunt Sandy has an amazing mind. Not to brag…but I think I take after her in that area. Once a story is told to her…she stores in I her memory files for all time, and she can pull it out and accurately pass on the details to those around her, who want to know, and are blessed enough to realize that she is an such amazing store of information. There is just no need to be in the dark about our family history, because if the information is out there, Aunt Sandy probably has it.

Aunt Sandy retired a while back, and is busy with a lot of projects, but she has it in her heart to put some of Aunt Sandy nowthis information on paper, so that it can be passed on to other interested family members. I really hope she does that, because it is so easy for those stories to get lost and forgotten in time. Those who remember them pass away, and if they didn’t tell others the stories, they are lost. Aunt Sandy has a real talent for remembering the events as they happened, and for telling them in a way that makes them interesting to the listener. I have very much enjoyed listening to her accounts of the events of her life, and the ones that shaped it…as well as mine, and the rest of the family. Next time you get an opportunity, I strongly recommend that you take the time to talk to her about your history. You will be amazed at what you might find out. Today is Aunt Sandy’s birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Sandy!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Hattie ParmelyNew babies are always so very special, but when the baby is your baby or your little sister, it is even more special. That’s how is was for my grand niece, Reagan Parmely yesterday morning, when she got to meet her new little sister, Hattie Joy for the first time. Reagan and Hattie are the daughters of my nephew, Eric and his wife, Ashley Parmely. To Reagan, her little sister, Hattie is absolutely the best baby in the world…because she belongs to Reagan…forever!! She will have to share her a little bit with her mom and dad… and, grandparents and all that, but I have a feeling that they will soon be told that Hattie belongs to Reagan. Hattie is a pretty little girl with lots of dark hair…much like her sister was when she was born. In fact, when I looked back at the first picture I have of little Reagan, I found that you could easily mistake them for the same baby. I seriously doubt if anyone will have trouble realizing that these two girls are sisters, because the Parmely girls are little look alikes…at least for now.Reagan and Hattie

Hattie made her entrance very early on September 20, 2014, arriving at 4:06am and weighing in at 7 pounds even. Hopefully she won’t be so used to keeping her parents up all night, that it becomes a lifelong habit. I’m sure her parents will not appreciate spending all their nights trying to get their little Hattie to sleep…and later, well Hattie, there will be curfews and other such rules that you will be expected to live by…like it or not. I suppose we don’t need to jump the gun just yet. You are, after all, only one day old, so there will be time to learn all about that whole rule thing…and, I’m sure your big sister, Reagan will be happy to teach you the ropes, and how to get around the rules. Of course, you might find out that Reagan has a little bit different take on the Reagan's little sisterrules than your parents do…one that slants more in her direction, as the official big sister. Nevertheless, hang in there and you will find that she will be your biggest ally.

Sisters have a way of sticking together through the years, and while they may fight with each other, they are usually best friends forever. Friends may come and go, but your sister will always be your sister. You, Hattie Joy, are so blessed to have a great big sister, and yet Reagan is so blessed to have you. Being sisters is one of life’s greatest blessings. You will share so much through the years. Your years are not so far apart that you won’t go through the boy-crazy, teenage years together…among other things. Being sisters…well, it doesn’t get any cooler than that.

Allen Luther SpencerAllen Luther Spencer graveWhile in Wisconsin to visit relatives, we stopped at the graves of my grandparents, my dad’s parents. It was very strange to be standing in the very spot where they lie resting…to be so close to their physical beings. I never knew my grandparents. Grandpa died before my parents were married, and Grandma when I was six months old. I always had only one set of grandparents, and I always felt like something was missing. My friends had two sets of grandparents, or at least they had known their grandparents, before they had passed away. But I didn’t. That always felt strange to me, and maybe a little bit lonely. I only had a picture or two, and the memory of seeing my grandmother in old home movies.

In studying the family history my Uncle Bill put together, as well as the pictures taken by my grandparents and their families, I am starting to put together a picture of what they might have been like. While they had the chance to experience some of the more modern things, like cars and television, they also knew of times when the only mode of transportation was horse and buggy, and radio was the entertainment of the day. They were pioneers of sorts, traveling to places around the nation to follow their dreams. They lived in the freezing Northwoods of Minnesota, and the sweltering heat of Texas, but Superior, Wisconsin was, I think, the place where their hearts lived. I believe it was for them, the place they would always call home.

It’s hard for me to picture my grandfather and my Great Uncle Albert setting off to the Northwoods area of Minnesota to make their fortune trapping for the winter. Of course, like most of this type of adventure, while they had success in trapping, they also almost froze to death. My mind can picture these two young men huddled in their blankets near a dwindling fire, trying to look tough to their partner, but finally both had to give up and say, “I quit!!” They would head in to town to find jobs elsewhere, finally settling on the lumber industry. While the work might have been harder and still very cold, it was very likely much warmer at night.

As to my grandmother, who always seemed so tough and capable. She ran a farm and raised four children…often alone, because my grandfather worked for the railroad all week. She made hay, planted a garden, purchased groceries and other supplies for her family and managed to keep her kids out of any real trouble. She lived in the woods, on a farm, and even ran a hotel. She traveled to several areas of the country with her husband and kids, and yet I can see in her face, the gentle and loving mother that she was to her children. I know that she was, because her children always loved and respected her so much. They would rush home from out of town jobs at the end of the summer to help with the haying, and when my dad was in the war, he would do whatever it took to protect the feelings of his mother. He did his level best to keep her from worrying, whether that was possible or not.

My grandparents on my mom’s side were always known to me and I felt the love they had for me. They were sweet, kind, and always glad to see us, but the grandparents on my dad’s side always seemed sort of larger than life. My mom’s parents lived in the same times as my dad’s parents, but since they also lived in modern Anna Spencer graveAnna L Spencertimes, I could see what modern conveniences they had. So it really didn’t seem like they had lived it the old western times, like my dad’s parents had. It didn’t really seem like my mom’s parents could have understood what it was like, but they did. I guess it’s similar to a teenager thinking that their parents can’t possibly know what they are going through…like they were never teenagers. I have discovered that both sets of my grandparents were multi-talented people, who lived in several eras of history, and I believe that in reality, they are all larger than life…or maybe they just lived to the best of their ability.

Baby Shower HelperFrom the time he was just a little boy, my nephew, JD Parmely loved little kids. He got so excited whenever he knew he was getting a new cousin. He wanted to be involved in everything, from the baby shower, to holding the baby, to playing with the kids as they grew. Sometimes, it’s a big help to have JD take over the entertainment of all the little kids…at least until they start making too much noise or rough housing too much. I suppose that is because JD is, in reality, a big kid himself. In a lot of ways, I think he has decided that growing up is overrated, and sometimes I have to agree with him. Plus, he has lots of uncles who have never really grown up either, so he is in good company in that department. I promise you, that his Uncle Bob has never really grown up either…not one bit, in fact.

One of the coolest things to happen in JD’s recent life is the family addition of his niece, Reagan Parmely, who is his brother, Eric and his wife, Ashley’s daughter. He and Reagan get along famously, because both of them like to play. JD has the energy to chase Reagan wherever she decides to go, and for her, that is lots of fun. And now that Reagan is getting a new sister or brother in September, JD will soon have a new little one to play with. At this point, JD really has no desire to get married and have kids of his own, but he is having a great time with his cousins and niece. I guess it pays to be a kid at heart, because all the kids want to hang out with you…and that is exactly what has happened to JD. My grandchildren felt the same way when they were little. JD was the fun guy at all the family gatherings.

Last year, JD bought his first house. It had belonged to his grandparents, and in my opinion, Helping Reagan with her cupcakethe house had felt so lonely. I was so glad that he bought the house, because a home should be lived in, not sitting empty. When JD moved in, there was activity there again. I can’t say if the house feels any less lonely, because those walls can’t talk to me, but I am pretty sure the garage has never felt better. JD loves to work on his multiple vehicles, and therefore, spends hours in the garage…even into the wee hours of the morning, sometimes. JD would have to be called a Vehicle Fanatic, because his must own twelve or fourteen of them. It’s just what he does. And that’s ok. If he enjoys it, he should do it. It’s what makes JD…well, JD!! Today is JD’s birthday. Happy birthday JD!! Have a great day. Don’t work too hard on your cars, and try to get some sleep!! We love you!!

Andrea Renae Beach editedWhen my niece, Andrea was a little girl, she was so cheerful. She loved to laugh and joke. She loved it when her grandparents and other family members came to visit her family in Washington. She would always get so excited when company was there. When my sisters and I went to visit Caryl and her family one year, when Warren, Andrea’s dad was on sea duty in the Navy, the house became wall to wall beds, and Andrea was so excited to come out in the mornings and greet everyone. The day seemed perfect to her, because there were so many aunts in the house. I suppose having a lot of aunts in your house at one time might mean lots of attention, and really, what kid doesn’t want lots of attention. And what better kind of attention is there than the special attention of having four aunts in your house at one time. Of course, Andrea did have to go to school for part of that visit, but she did get to spend a lot of time with us. We all had such a good time.

It was always hard for Andrea when family had to leave to go home. She didn’t get to see any of us much, and that was really hard. Of course, we knew how she felt, because we felt the same way every time Andrea’s family had to go home after a visit. It is a tearing situation. Loving family members from afar creates a lonely kind of a feeling. Holidays are smaller affairs, because you live too far away to be there with the rest of the family very much. That was hard for Andrea, because she heard about all the fun the rest of the cousins had at the big gatherings. Of course, she knew that it could not be helped, and that her family loves her, but it is still hard for a little girl to understand why they can’t come for Christmas every year. Still, her parents made their holidays fun too, and made their own traditions. That’s how it works when you live far away from family. And those traditions are just as fun as the ones the rest of the family has, just different…just your own.

I think living far away from family, can often bring you very close to your siblings. Andrea and Andrea & Topherher younger brother, Allen have always been good friends. Oh they had their little tiffs, just like any other siblings, but they grew close over the years. With Allen in the Navy and stationed in Japan now, I’m sure that Andrea feels a twinge of loneliness whenever her brother comes to mind, but she will always know that no matter how far apart they are, he will always be her brother, and he will always love her. New traditions are always a part of life, and now with her son, Topher to think about, I’m sure Andrea is making her own traditions to build memories for him. Today is Andrea’s birthday. Though she is still a ways away I hope that she knows that we are thinking of her today and hoping it is a great day. Happy birthday Andrea!! We love you!!

Allyn HadlockInto each life, comes change. It is the one constant. My sister, Allyn’s life is no different. Allyn is my youngest sister, and within the last 6 years, the road of her life has taken many twists and turns, as does every life. One of the biggest changes, however is the empty nest. Allyn’s transformation to empty nester began with the marriage of her son Ryan to his wife, Chelsea.  Then, just nine short months later, Allyn and her husband Chris, became grandparents when their first grandchild, Ethan Christopher was born. Before long, Ethan was followed by his little sister, Aurora Briann. Allyn was now a grandmother of two, and she is loving every minute of being a grandmother…something any grandparent can totally relate to.

During this time, Jessi had moved out, and Lindsay was away at college, so all they had was their youngest daughter, Kellie at home. I’m sure the house fell pretty big in those days, but it wasn’t an empty nest yet. Through those years, the three girls might have move out and comeback home a couple of times, and I’m sure that felt kind of nice to Allyn and Chris, but then came the day, a year and a half ago, when their daughter, Jessi would get married to Jason, and she would permanently move out. Lindsay was living and going to college in Brookings South Dakota by then, and Kellie took over Jessie’s rented house, making Allyn and Chris officially empty nesters.

Of course, with all that change takes away from a person, it also adds to the person. Not only did Allyn and Chris now have a daughter-in-law and a son-in-law, and the two grandchildren, but this was also about the time that the grandchildren started to be old enough to spend the night with Grandma and Grandpa…thus alleviating the loneliness that often accompanies the empty nest. It is really the biggest blessing of having grandchildren, as any grandparent will tell you. Your children’s children can fill that void left in your life when your children move out. And their parents don’t mind the free babysitting service either. Now, in just 4 days, Allyn’s daughter, Lindsay will marry Shannon in Florida, where they are moving. Her husband to be was just hired at Florida International University in Miami. While I know that Allyn is very happy for her daughter and soon to be son-in-law, I also know that she will Hadlock familymiss them very much, as it will be harder for them to run home for a weekend visit.

With all the twist and turns on Allyn’s life’s road have changed her life dramatically they have also enriched it. Before long there will be new grandbabies and one more wedding, and I know that Allyn is looking forward to each of them, as their time arrives, because as we all know a growing family is always a great blessing. Today is Allyn’s birthday. Happy birthday Allyn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Pearl Spencer 2Sometimes, it seems, people are dealt a very sad hand in life. Such was the case for my 1st cousin once removed, Pearl Ethyl Spencer. She was the daughter on my Great Uncle Clifford Herbert Spencer and his wife at the time, Annie Mae Jordan. As sometimes happens in marriage, Clifford and Annie divorced when Pearl was just a baby, and he moved to Rushville, Nebraska, where he would remarry, to a woman named Hanna (who went by Anna, making the records somewhat confusing), have 3 more children, and live out the rest of his life. To my knowledge he either saw very little of, or nothing more of, his daughter Pearl. Then, when Pearl was still very young, her mother, Annie passed away, leaving Pearl a virtual orphan. My Great Aunt Bertha always said, “Poor Pearl, she was so terribly alone!” Pearl must have had some contact with her grandparents, my Great Grandpa William MPearl Spencer 1alrose Spencer I and Grandma Viola Fuller Spencer, because Aunt Bertha Spencer Hummer knew enough about her to say that her childhood was very lonely.

Pearl grew up and married Claude Lawrence Coleman, and together they had six children, before he too would leave her around 1941. I’m sure that by this time, her children were a blessing to her, and she was no longer as lonely, but Claude’s decision to leave the family must have struck quite a blow to poor Pearl. It was about this time that Pearl and her children came to live with my Grandma, Anna Schumacher Spencer, who was her great aunt. The two families became as one, living and working together during those hard times following divorce and during World War II. They were really a big help to my grandmother, since my dad was serving in the Army Air Forces in England, My Aunt Laura was married and on her own, and Uncle Bill lived in Superior, but worked in the shipyards. Aunt Ruth was still living at home, and prior to this time, they ran the farm together, but it was hard work, and I’m sure the extra help was Claude Colemanvery nice.

Pearl’s son Claude was a hard working boy, who worked side by side with my grandmother on the farm, and his sisters helped out where needed too. Pearl’s life took many sad and difficult turns, but she raised very nice children. In later years, my Uncle Bill lost touch with Pearl, and to my knowledge never saw her again, but he reconnected with Claude in the late 1990’s, and in 2000, he sent him copies of the only pictures he had of his mother, Pearl. While the letter telling of Pearls history is a sad one, I’m sure that Claude was very pleased to get the two pictures of his mom.

Really old glassesFor those of us who have worn glasses, it is easy to look back at those old pictures with those old funky glasses and think to ourselves, “What was I thinking when I picked those out??” It doesn’t matter how old we are now, the glasses we picked out a few years ago, are totally outdated by the time we think to look back on the pictures taken with them on. I know that styles change, and at the time we got the glasses, they were probably very much in style, but years later, we can only laugh at how funny they looked on us.

When we look back on the really old pictures, like when our parents and grandparents were young, we have the opportunity to have a pretty good laugh at their expense, because those glasses were really old fashioned. Of course, we do need to be a little bit careful, because just remember that our children and grandchildren will someday be looking at our old pictures with those funky glasses, and having a good laugh at our expense. I suppose we just have to be good natured about it, because it is a fact of life that we will all be considered old fashioned at some point in our lives.

When I was a kid in 4th grade, I got my first pair of glasses. While they were not the cat eye type, they were a royal blue color. I thought they were so cool at the time, but imagine how much they clashed with a lot of the clothes I wore. It didn’t matter to me, they were the coolest glasses ever in my 9 year old mind. I think my mom even tried to talk me into something else, but I would have none of it. I wore those glasses much longer than I would have liked, but you can’t just switch back and forth, especially as a little kid. imageBuying several pairs of glasses for a kid who might just as easily lose them, simply makes no sense.

Then, there was my let’s make those glasses as small as you can stage…never mind the fact that they were black, so you weren’t hiding the glasses at all. I really wanted contact lenses by that time, but my eye doctor didn’t think they would work for me. They probably would have, because they did just a few years later, but that was how it went. So there I was wearing another funky pair of glasses for far longer than I wanted to, and more often than not, removing them before any pictures could be taken.

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