My great grandfather, Cornelius Byer was a kind and a fair man. He was generous and honest. It was these qualities that earned him the respect of the Indian tribes in the Gordon, Nebraska area. Great Grandpa passed away on October 23, 1930, but the celebration of life, really began before the day of the funeral, and even before he passed away. Over the years of his life, my great grandfather became a great friend of the Indians. He was invited to their pow wows, he was asked his opinions on things…and they listened when he spoke. He was helpful to the Indian tribes, and they, in turn treated him with great respect.
The Indians would often show up at his home…something that would most likely panic most people. Most often the women and children would stay outside, while the men went in to visit with Great Grandpa. It was another show of respect. The Indians often camped near the house when the men were visiting. I’m sure it was a very interesting lifestyle for my grandmother.
While all that was interesting, probably the most interesting thing happened as Great Grandpa was dying and after his passing. When he lay dying, the Indians came…long lines of them. Each one, including the women and children, passed by his bed. They spoke words of respect and admiration. I’m sure it took hours, but none were turned away. Great Grandma knew how much they loved him, and how much they needed to say goodbye. I would love to have had the chance to see that scene. These were two groups of people who normally didn’t get along, and yet they showed so much love and respect for one another. There was no warring with, no stealing from, no depriving of one another. There was simply love and respect. I’m sure it made my Great Grandmother Edna (Fishburn) Byer and their children feel very safe over the years.
My grandfather, George Byer arrived at the homestead on October 20, 1930. My grandmother, Hattie Byer stayed home with their newborn daughter, Virginia, who was just 4 months old at the time. Grandpa brought almost 2 year old Evelyn with him. His letter at the time said that all the children were there, or soon would be. Three days later, Great Grandpa Cornelius Byer passed away. I’m so glad my grandpa got to see his dad before he passed. When it was time to have the funeral, they would have to travel into Gordon, Nebraska. We would never think of transporting our own loved one to the funeral, but those were different times. Nevertheless, the Indians would not leave their dear friend to go alone. With the casket in a wagon, and his son driving, Great Grandpa went to his funeral. Little Evelyn sat in the back of the wagon, wide-eyed in wonder as a long line of Indians followed the procession to the cemetery. In death, as in life, their respect for this man, who was my great grandfather, was on display. I can’t think of a greater honor than this. Cornelius Byer was truly loved and respected by all who knew him.
Rain…it waters the earth, and as we all know, without it, we could not survive. Nevertheless, as vital as water is to life on this planet, too much of it can be deadly. People can drink too much water, we can over-water our plants, and too much rain can bring flooding. Such was the case on July 13, 1951. Above-average rainfall began in June and continued through July 13th, dumping well over 25 inches on some areas in eastern Kansas. From July 9th to 13th, nearly 6 inches of rain fell. The Kansas, Neosho, and Verdigris rivers began taking on more water than their normal carrying capacity a couple of days into the storm, but as the rain persisted, flooding began all over the region.
The major towns of Manhattan, Topeka and Lawrence took the biggest hit. As is the case in any area where absorption is hampered by cement and asphalt, the rain could not soak in, and the ground was are already saturated anyway. The rain had nowhere to go, and the area was in trouble. Prior to the July 13 river crest, previous highs were dwarfed by four to nine feet. Two million acres of farmland were lost to the flood, which would trigger a crisis of its own, by a shortage of food. The flooding also caused fires and explosions in refinery oil tanks on the banks of the Kansas River. Passenger trains traveling through the area were stuck for nearly four days. In all, $760 million in damages were caused by the flood, and 500,000 people were left homeless, while 24 people died in the disaster. It was the greatest destruction from flooding in the Midwestern United States up to that time.
A often happen, tragedy brings change. Following the great 1951 flood, a series of reservoirs and levees were constructed all over the area. In 1993, these were credited with minimizing the damage from another record flood. Water is an element that is necessary for life, but lest we forget, water in an overabundance can kill and destroy. People need to pay attention to evacuation warnings, and get out of an area where a flood is eminent. You may lose some things, but if you leave the area, you will most likely to walk away unscathed, and as we know, things can be predicted, and those who head out of unsafe areas will most likely live to tell the tale.
My grand nephew, James Renville has been working hard, going to college, and living at home with his mom, Toni Chase and step-dad, Dave Chase. It has been a good way to go for James, because he attended Casper College, and his parents live in Casper, so why pay for a dorm or apartment. James and his parents get along very well, so it has worked out nicely. In addition, living at home gives James’ the ability to enjoy the family dog, which he could not have in a dorm or in most apartments. James has always had a dogs, and right now they Biscuit and Cricket, and they would be lonely without James.
James graduated from college in May, with a degree in Communications and Media. I wasn’t sure just exactly what you can do with that degree, so I did a bit of research. Jobs directly related to your degree include: Media planner, Multimedia specialist, Program researcher, broadcasting/film/video, Public relations officer, broadcasting/film/video, Social media manager, Television/film/video producer, and Web content manager…just to name a few. I’m not sure just exactly what James has in mind for his career, but he has time to explore the great possibilities for career ideas.
James may continue his education, but for right now, he’s taking a break from school. He is working at Home Depot right now, and saving his money, because he wants to travel overseas again. James visited the Netherlands a couple of times, where he has a close friend, and that really gave him the travel bug. His job and living at home allows him to put his money into his travel plans. James has big plans for his life, possibly including moving out of Wyoming, but nothing is set in stone right now, so I guess time will tell. Of course, we hope he doesn’t go too far. Still, the future is wide open, and I’m excited to see where it will take him. Today is James’ birthday. Happy birthday James!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My niece, Jessi Sawdon is a woman of many talents. First and foremost, she is a great wife and mother. Her husband Jason is a Wyoming Highway Patrolman, and Jessi make a perfect partner for him in all work related events, as he does for her. Together they have a beautiful little girl named Adelaide. Jessi stays quite busy keeping up with Adelaide, who is a little girl on the go. Adelaide is starting to talk very well, and she had begun to remind her grandparents of her mommy as she was growing up. My sister, Allyn Hadlock, Jessi’s mom tells me that she finds many of the things Adelaide says and does funny, because Adelaide does some of the same things Jessi used to do at that age. If Jessi wants Adelaide to do something she will tell Adelaide, “I’ll do it” and then Adelaide is SURE to do it! We used to use that same reverse psychology on Jessi and she would do what we wanted every time! Ally says it is hilarious! I think that Jessi learned from her parents, and now that knowledge is working for her with Adelaide too, in quite a comical way, I think.
Jessi’s sister, Lindsay says that Jessi is the coordinator of all the things. That made me laugh, because my mind went back to a younger Jessi, as she arranged things with the other children. One time was when she was trying to get her cousin Michelle to cooperate in a picture, and when things didn’t go well, Jessi glared at Michelle. That made a better picture than the planned take Jessi was trying to accomplish. Lindsay told me that Jessi was very good at “coordinating us.” I think I have to agree with Lindsay on that. Lindsay also said “As a sister, she is always good at making you laugh, cheering you up if your down, and just calling to talk. She is the best at movie quotes.”
Jessi takes great pride in her community, and Casper is very blessed to have her promotion it. She has been working with David Street Station, professionally. Jessi is a marketing professional at Hinge Studio Marketing and Communications. She also designs websites and does pictures and videos for the company and their clients. One nice thing for Jessi at this time in her life and career, is the fact that she gets to work from home. The owners of Hinge Studio Marketing and Communications are two friends of Jessi’s. The company is fairly new, but they doing very well and they are already very busy. Aside from being a great marketing professional for the Davis street station, Jessi loves to attend all the fun things going on there, and to make sure everyone knows what’s going on in Casper. She really is an advocate for all things Casper. Yes, they are clients for her work, but they are so much more than that to Jessi. And Jessi always knows what is going on in Casper and she is seriously involved! She loves to shop local, eat local and play local! Jason and Adelaide are frequently with Jessi at events they promote, so it is a fun time for the whole family. today is Jessi’s birthday. Happy birthday Jessi!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
I think that over the years, we have all become used to men going off to war, and leaving their families safely at home, while they fight for the freedom and safety of people all over the world who are unknown to them. It’s a common part of war, and one that most of the time, the average person doesn’t even think about. It’s war after all, sacrifices have to be made. What we don’t always think about…until someone points out the obvious to us…is the families, and especially the children who are waiting for their parent to come home.
For any of us who have been away from family for an extended period of time, it’s easy to understand just how badly you can miss someone you love, but war is different. When your child moves away, you miss them, but you know you can go see them soon. When you loved one goes off to war in a country where the fighting is heavy, and bombs are dropping everywhere…not only can you not go visit them whenever you want to, but you live with the knowledge that at any moment, they could be killed in action. And they are living with that knowledge too. It makes the time and distance seem much longer and much further than it really is.
While we might be able to fathom the pain of missing a family member, I think we find it even harder to grasp the complete and utter shocked sense of relief that these family members feel when they are reunited with their loved one again. The children are especially heart wrenching…or is it heart warming. It doesn’t really matter which it is, because no one watching it does so without tears. It’s just impossible. When a German World War II prisoner, was released by the Soviet Union, and is reunited with his daughter, she cannot control her emotions. She had not seen her father since she was one year old, and she is about 5 years old. A mom who spent 7 months in Iraq, cannot contain herself when she sees her daughter again. An officer’s son breaks down because he wasn’t sure he would ever see his daddy again. These are the moments most of us never got to see, but now with the internet,we have the chance to look into the lives of those who serve our nation, fight our battles, and protect our world. It is in those moments that we realize what really happens when those who serve are reunited with their loved ones again.
Imagine being a mail carrier between 1863 and 1922. I’m sure that you are wondering why those dates would be so important. Well, they really are. In 1863, the United States Postal Service began what they called Free City Delivery. This service brought about the beginning of home delivery of the mail, at least in the cities. I suppose it also brought on the need for the mail carrier. What it didn’t bring with it was a large degree of efficiency. The mail carrier was required to go to the door of the patron receiving mail, and knock. Then they waited patiently for someone to answer the door to take the mail. That is about the strangest idea to me. The person would either need to be home every day at the time the mail carrier was supposed to be there, or somehow know the date something was coming…an impossible task in those days, or have someone else there to watch for the carrier. It was estimated that the carriers lost over 1.5 hours a day, waiting on the patrons to come to the door.
As early as 1880, the post office began to suggest that people put a letter box on their door, so that the mail could be left at the house, even if no one was home. The Post Office wanted wall-mounted mailboxes to the outside of the houses instead of mail slots. They wanted them to be mounted at the height of a standing man. The plan was that the carrier would not have to bend over to deposit mail, and the outgoing mail would stay dry. People are notoriously slow to accept change, and I’m sure this situation was no different.
By 1916, with little change in the situation, the post office began working on a plan to achieve the compliance they needed. The deadline was set. The homes were to have a letter box by March 20, 1922. After that date, the mail would be held at the post office, if no letter box was in place. As we look back now, it seems strange to think that anyone would fight the letter box plan. It’s such a simple way to get your mail, and it does not involve a daily trip to the post office. I can’t imagine why anyone would want the hassle that not having a mail box at your home would bring. I think they probably felt same way after they had one for a while.
With the decline of the oil business, comes the inevitable change of the face of oil companies. In Wyoming, that decline means layoffs and transfers to many of the people who worked for the oil companies. I really don’t know of a family that hasn’t been affected by the decline. Our family has experienced layoffs, and as in the case of my nephew, Eric Parmely, a job that is saved, by way of Texas. Eric and his wife, Ashley aren’t moving to Texas, but his job will take him to Texas for two weeks and then home for a week. I think the week at home will be really nice, but it comes at the expense of the two weeks in Texas. I know that this has been a hard change to swallow for Eric, his wife, Ashley, and their girls, Reagan and Hattie.
Eric and Ashley live in the country, where they have chickens, goats, rabbits, and next door, at her parents house, horses. They are all totally in their element there. Of course, Ashley was raised there, so being around the animals is second nature to her. The girls also take to it like little pros, and the animals love them all. Eric and Ashley’s parents, Albert and Kari Eighmy did all the remodeling of their fixer upper home. They wouldn’t let Ashley be there, because she was pregnant, but Eric’s mom, Jennifer Parmely, who loves to clean, came and cleaned up all the construction dust, and they have a beautiful home now…all the more reason not to move to Texas. Eric has become quite handy with the things he makes. If Ashley shows him something she wants, he can probably pull it off. A good example of that is the bedroom set he made for his girls. It is the perfect setup for two little girls, and I know that they will love it for a long time. Eric is getting…or maybe he always was…very handy at building things. His work is beautiful and solid. The workmanship of the things he makes is amazing. I think that if he wanted to, he could sell his work and make money at it…but that is another story.
Eric is a family man. His wife and daughters mean the world to him. Eric wants nothing more than to be at home with them, or spend time with them doing just about anything they want to do. They love being outdoors, and it doesn’t matter what season it is. Eric will make things fun for his girls. That is the sign of a good husband and dad. Today is Eric’s birthday. Happy birthday Eric!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Things were quite different in the 1800s, as most of you know, but sometimes I wonder if we really understand how different they were. In about 1876 or so, my great grandmother, Henriette Schumacher, a girl of about 16 years, was sent by her widowed mother, with her sister to America. Her sister’s husband wanted to immigrate there, and since they had two little daughters, and Great Grandma’s mother was worried about her daughter going so far without help, she decided that since Henriette was not married she should go too. For their mother, there seemed to be safety in numbers, so it had to be better to send two girls instead of just one. I really can’t imagine the heartache she must have felt at that time. When my own daughter, Amy Royce moved to Washington state, I thought my heart would break…and yet I knew I would see her again, and that communication for us would be fairly easy. For my 2nd great grandmother, things were different. She didn’t know if she would see her daughters again, and I have no way to confirm that she did.
Still, many people were leaving the old country, in search of a dream life somewhere else. In that way, not much has changed at all. People still move from place to place, and sometimes country to country in search of some exciting new dream life. Some find what they are looking for, and others find out that what they were searching for was right there in front of them all along, so they return to their home. For my great grandmother, there didn’t seem to be much of a dream life waiting for her. She had a boyfriend back home, but things weren’t serous I suppose, because he didn’t follow her, and they never married. I think that for Great Grandma, Germany was comfortable. It was her home, and all she really knew. She didn’t have the wanderlust that her brother-in-law had. She couldn’t see that a life in America would be any better than the one she had in Germany, close to her family and friends. Nevertheless, go she must, so she said goodbye to all she knew, and headed off with her sister’s family to America.
In the end, she would find that her destiny was in America. It was there that she met my great grandfather, Carl Schumacher, who had immigrated a few years earlier. Their chance meeting when he stepped in for a baptismal sponsor who was unable to attend the baptism of Henriette’s sister’s daughter, brought Carl he woman he would fall so completely in love with, that they would marry just a year later. I’m sure at that point, Henriette thought back to her prior boyfriend, and decided that their romance was a silly schoolgirl crush. Whoever he was, he could never have measured up to the man Carl was. Henriette wasn’t the same either. She was a world traveler now. She had lived in a wild new country. She had left home, grown up quickly, and had a degree of independence that her old beau would not have understood. Her world was different…things were different…she was different. He would never have been her choice now. Sometimes that is just how it goes. Our lives take turns that we didn’t plan on, and suddenly things are different. Then we have to live our life in the new reality that we live in. I’m sure that is how her mother felt too.
Today, my grandson Chris Petersen heads back to Sheridan for his final semester of college. It has been a long two year road, and hard on all of us, but we are proud of what he has done. Nevertheless, while he has been here over a month, it seems like he just got here. Time flies by so quickly, and somehow along the way, this one or that one of your kids and grandkids seem to fly away. Some literally!! As each one goes, you are left to wonder what the draw of that place is, or sometimes, like with Chris, you know that it is not that place, but rather the dream. You know that they have to follow their dream, and you truly want them to be happy…even if that takes them far away from you.
The reality is that the future of our children is not ours to set. It is theirs. All their lives, you watch carefully, noting their talents and abilities, and wondering where their future lies. I think that for most parents, the hope is that their kids future wont take them too far away, because while we have been watching their little lives as they grew, our hearts just never planned for that moment when they would tell us that their future plans and our idea of their future plans are simply not the same. As they leave, you feel like your heart is being torn from your chest. You fell like the tears will never stop, and in reality, sometimes…when you least expect it…when you thought you were finally ok, those wretched tears come rushing back to you again.
As Chris leaves, I think about the fact that once again, half of my children and grandchildren don’t live nearby. It makes me feel lonely. For Chris, the homesickness will flood in, because he is once again alone there, without his family, with whom he is very close. I know he would rather stay here, but he can’t. And with job placement looming ahead, we know that the distance will grow. I want Chris to go where they place him, because it is a once in a lifetime experience. He won’t have to stay there permanently. I know that his ultimate dream lies in a different place, closer to home, if not right here in Casper. But, dreams can change. He may like the place where his job placement takes him. He may choose to stay there, or go somewhere else. And if he does, we will be ok here. We will miss him terribly, and we will notice that empty chair where he should be, but we will know that he is off following his dream…like other family members before him…and we will adjust.
Change is a part of life, whether we like it or not. Our children, once grown, are not children anymore. They are adults with the right to make their own choices. We can’t live their lives for them. We are their past in a way, even though we will always be there for them, and they can always call our home their home. We are home base, but the world is out there. It is theirs to see and explore. So as each one leaves, all I can think is…and off you go. Remember where you came from, walk with God, don’t forget the way home, and while we miss you, we’ll be alright…right here, holding down the fort.
It seems impossible that eight years could have passed since my dad left us for Heaven, but that is exactly what today brings to my memory. I can still vividly picture my dad in every area of their home. I can hear his voice…his sense of humor…his teasing….and his words of wisdom over the years of my life. Dad was always the head of our family, and his girls looked to him in so many situations. Dad was very outnumbered, since our family consisted of Dad, Mom, and five daughters, but while he may have had to wait for us to get ready to go somewhere, or to get into the bathroom, or live with our drama, and have to be the rescuer from the millers and other bugs, dad took it all in stride. Looking back now, I realize what a saint my dad was. He took everything in stride, and we always felt like Daddy’s little princesses. He always made his girls feel so special.
In reality, my dad was one of the most patient men I have ever known. When Mom would get frustrated with our bickering, a bad progress report, or some other offence her daughters had managed to frustrate her with, she would finally tell us to “Wait until your dad gets home!!” The funny thing about that threat is that in all the years of my life, I can only recall a few spankings from my dad…in fact I can probably count them on one hand. Dad usually chose to discuss the matter with us and explain the reasons why we did not want to do that again. The spanking was a last resort, and one we didn’t want to repeat. Nevertheless, in frustration, the threat of the “wrath of Dad” was the threat of choice for Mom…and we were always very wary of it too. You didn’t know if this particular infraction of the rules might be the one that got you that spanking, or if you would be met with Dad’s infinite mercy…you alwys prayed for that mercy.
Looking back now, I think what a blessing it would be today to hear those words from Mom…”Wait until your dad gets home!!” I would even be ok with the fact that Mom was furious, and with the possibility of that dreaded spanking from dad…if only I could hear those words and know that Dad would be home that evening. Of course, I would be too old to spank these days…not that he couldn’t do it if necessary, but I might even be so inclined to irritate my mom, if I could hear her voice again, and if it would bring Dad home again, but that is not to be. They are both in Heaven now, without the naughty things their daughters did as children. Nevertheless, I have to wonder if every once in a while, their memory files bring some of those crazy moments of life that having five daughters brought. I wish they were both here now, but I am thankful to know where they are, and that I will see them again. I suppose now that they say, “Wait until our girls come home!!” And we are waiting too. I love and miss you both, Mom and Dad!!