hide and seek

As kids, we have all played hide and seek. It’s a common game, and it’s a lot of fun. At least the version we all played as kids, was a lot of fun. There is a version of hide and seek that was not only “not” fun, it was not a game. It was during World War II, when the Jewish people, and any other race not considered the Aryan race by Adolf Hitler, were forced to go into hiding or face slavery and deportation to the death camps. The only real difference between these two “games” was that one was for fun and one was life and death.

The stories of people who hid out during those tumultuous times, and those who hid them, are too numerous to tell, and the only ones we hear about are those about which someone kept a record, a diary, or lived through the events and was later able to tell the tale, but there are many unsung heroes, whose stories were never told, and yet those they helped will never forget their kindness. These were people from all walks of life, who turned their homes into hiding places by building a wall to make a tiny room, or turned their attics, basements, barns, or sheds into places of refuge for the many persecuted people upon whom Hitler had set his sites. Hiding these people would mean certain death, if they were caught, but they could not live with themselves, if they didn’t help their fellow man. Those in hiding knew that if they weren’t quiet, their host family would be killed right along side of those in hiding. They even managed to keep the babies quiet, some for years. The children seemed to instinctively know that their silence was imperative. And of course, God made a way for it all to work. Children are not instinctively quiet!! And yet these were. The was no coughing, sneezing, whispering, or moving around, when the Gestapo came calling. Those in hiding knew that their hosts were in just as much danger as they were, and they were forever grateful that their host family was willing to help them in their time of great need. Some were caught, and put to death, but many of the Jewish people and the others, managed to stay in hiding for years. Somehow, God made a way for some of the Jewish people, His chosen people, to survive….against all odds.

I can’t imagine finding myself in the position they did…the ones who hid the Jews, or the Jews being hidden. They had done nothing wrong. Their only crime was that they existed, and the only solution, in Hitler’s view, was their annihilation. I can’t imagine being so hated…even in these times of so much hate that we are on today. The people who hid these precious Jews are among the very best people ever to live, and they are owed a debt that can never be repaid. They used their imaginations to create hiding places where none had existed, and then protected their refugees, often with their own lives. It was a dangerous game of hide and seek, and those in hiding would pay for losing with their lives. Losing was simply not an option.

My nephew, Garrett Stevens was a boy who loved kids and family. His cousins were so special to him. Whenever he could, you would find him surrounded by the younger cousins…all begging to swing them around, or chase them, or play hide and seek with them…anything was ok, as long as Garrett was playing. Time passes so quickly, and Garrett’s childhood years are long gone, but not his love of children. Garrett met a wonderful woman a few years ago, named Kayla Smiley, and they were married July 23, 2016. Then, on August 3, 2018, their marriage was blessed with a beautiful little girl named Elliott. I know that for Garrett, not much has changed, at least not where kids are concerned. These days he just has a different child to swing around in circles, to chase around the yard, and to play hide and seek with. Elliott loves her daddy, and hanging out with him. Elliott loves her daddy, and her mommy too, of course. These days, Elliott is Garrett and Kayla’s whole world.

Of course, like many men, Garrett likes to hunt and fish. During the past winter, Garrett and his dad, Mike when ice fishing for the first time. They had a great time, and they were pretty successful too. They liked it so much that they decided to build their own ice fishing hut for next year. Personally, I prefer warm weather, so I doubt I would get excited about ice fishing or and ice fishing hut, but to each his own. Garrett is good at both, and loves doing it. Over the years, he and Mike have had good success in their hunting and fishing endeavors.

Garrett is a welder by trade, and since shortly after moving to Sheridan, he has worked EMIT Technologies. He is very talented, and can fabricate just about anything you are looking for. Garrett takes after his Grandpa Al Spencer in his welding ability. Welding is a talent that is partly learned, and partly inherited, I think. You have to have an inner talent for it, at least if you are going to be good at it. Like the many other talents Garrett has, he is a very talented welder. Today is Garrett’s birthday. Happy birthday Garrett!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Aunt Evelyn HushmanMy mother’s is a large family. There were nine children, and with each new marriage and birth, it grows larger still. At this point, I’m sure the family is well over 300, and all from my grandparents, George and Hattie Byer, but with them, it all started with my Aunt Evelyn. She was their first baby. She was the one who informed my grandmother, when she was asked to go get her daddy, that “You must say Uncle Daddy!” She was the first of the social butterflies in their family, having a circle of friends who did lots of activities, and I’m sure that the younger kids wished they could do that too, but by the time they were of age, things like that weren’t done so much anymore. Fads like that come and go, and unfortunately for the little ones who would have loved to be a part of it, but they just don’t get to. Yes, Aunt Evelyn was the first of her siblings, and that gave her some seniority in the whole getting things by ages thing, but to me, she was just my aunt.

Because of the fact that my mom and Aunt Evelyn had children about the same age, they got together quite a bit. Aunt Evelyn, her husband, my Uncle George Hushman, and my parents went to the military ball together, the fireman’s ball together, and they bowled together. They double dated when my mom and dad were dating, and they spent time at each other’s houses. Because they did, my Aunt Evelyn’s kids, my cousins Susie, George, Shelley, Shannon, and Greg, were some of the best friends my sisters and I had as little kids, and we remain friends to this day, even if we don’t get to see each other as much as we used to.

As kids, we loved going to Aunt Evelyn’s house. She lived right next to the Mills Volunteer Fire Department, and I can’t count the number of times that we were there when the fire alarm went off. I will never forget how loud Uncle George, Aunt Evelyn, Mom, & Dad at the Military Ballit was, nor how loud the fire trucks were when they went screaming out those big doors. Not every kid had the opportunity to live right next to that, or even to visit someone who does. It was quite interesting.

Many was the time when we went to Aunt Evelyn’s house and played hide and seek, or went down to the school to play on all the playground equipment there. There was never a dull moment when we went to Aunt Evelyn’s house. Of course, I’m sure that her kids always thought it more fun to come to our house, but that would just have to be their memory.

We lost Aunt Evelyn on May 4, 2015, and I still find it hard to believe that she is gone. Today, she would have been 87 years old. Happy birthday in Heaven, Aunt Evelyn. We love and miss you very much, and can’t wait to see you again.

Little kids are so curious. They are always checking out hidden spaces or hiding places to see what might be there. What we completely disregard, holds a special place of interest for them. It’s funny that you can have a toy right beside them, and they are more interested in the box, or what is under the table next to the toy. Maybe it is about places they can fit in, or maybe it is about Peek-A-Boo.

Kids learn the little games so quickly. Of course, Peek-A-Boo is a game that teaches the little ones that you will come back to them, if you have to leave for a time. They don’t know that is what they are learning, but it really is. Trust is such an important part of being a baby. They have to feel ok about the person holding them, and that is not always easy, because sometimes the person holding a baby is not much bigger that the baby is. Babies love that strong secure feeling that usually comes from being held close by an adult, who knows what they are doing.

When you think about it, placing yourself completely in the hands of someone else would be hard. That is obvious in the way that a baby will immediately cry when moved from the secure arms of an adult into the uncertain arms of a sibling that is about 2 years older that they are themselves. I guess I wouldn’t feel so safe in that situation either. But, with just a little support from Mommy or Daddy, being held by a young sibling suddenly isn’t so scary.

Kids do learn very quickly that their parents can be trusted to take care of them, and that it’s ok to go hide, because Mommy and Daddy will be there when they come out from under the table, out of the box, or when they take their hand away from their eyes. It’s all part of learning to live in this world, and for the most part, the games are about having fun, while learning. What baby doesn’t giggle with delight when they peek out from under that table to see the smiling face of their mommy or daddy? It’s a learning game, and one they all love to play.

When I was a kid, the summertime would bring hours of playing outdoors. All the neighborhood kids would be involved. We didn’t watch a lot of television, and video games didn’t exist. We used our imaginations, coming up with crazy games like “ditch it” in which we would all play in the yard, until a car came up the street. The first person to see it would yell “ditch it” and everyone would drop on the grass. This game was always played after dark, so the cars couldn’t “see” us when we dropped to the ground. The idea was that the cars were obviously the “bad guys” and we were the “good guys”. Of course, we had no idea what the “bad guys” had done, because we had never really thought the game through to figure that out.

We would play “hide and seek” for hours on end. When you live in a neighborhood fille with kids, there were always enough kids to make the game interesting. An unusual thing in our neighborhood, was an unusual amount of families with all girls. There must have been 4 or 5 families with all girls, and at least 3 more with mostly girls, so we had plenty of people to play house, jacks, jump rope, and other girl games. The kids simply dominated the block all summer.

Because we lived in a different time, you could play outside well after dark, and your parents didn’t have to give it a second thought. We were usually allowed to play outside until 9:00 pm to 10:00 pm. There just wasn’t anything to worry about. When I think back on that time, I feel sad, in a way, because our children today can’t safely play outside late at night, because you just don’t know who is out there.

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