Posts Tagged ‘house’
Farm work in years gone by, was a much harder job than it is these days, but with the invention of machinery, things got easier. Still, most people couldn’t afford to own those machines in the early years, so they either did the work by hand, or hired the threshers to come and do it. Soon, most farmers were hiring the threshers to come. It was a lucrative business for someone who had enough money to buy a machine…or better yet, several. I know that those members of my family, who were farmers, did hire the threshers, or else, they had enough money to buy their own machines, but I have to think that most people in those early years did not think the machine was a good value, if a man was going to just use it on their own farm, so the work was mostly hired out.
When the threshers were scheduled to come to your farm, it was a big day. The women would get up early and start cooking for the men, who would be very hungry by lunch time. This was heavy work, even with the help of the machinery. Nevertheless, everyone was excited when the threshers came…from the adults to the little kids. I’m sure that being able to watch the big machines working was a novel thing in those early years, and nobody wanted to miss out. Not only that, but everyone wanted to get their picture taken with the workers too, so that they could say they had been there when they were working. It was almost like having a celebrity visit your house, I suppose. It is a day like no other in the year. Everyone wants to be in on all the excitement, and it’s hard to keep the little kids out of the way. Nevertheless, they had to stay out of the way, because the huge machines were also dangerous and could easily kill a small child.
With the excitement, however, comes hard work. When the threshers are done. The grain had to be bagged for storage or sale, and the straw stacked for use in the barns. Nevertheless, it took a lot less workers to harvest the crops, and many farm laborers were not happy about that, because they faced the loss of their jobs. I suppose that with every bit of progress designed to make our lives easier, comes the possibility of job loss. Every time a machine takes over the hard labor, a worker becomes unnecessary. People have to adapt and change, educating themselves to run the equipment so they can move into a job that takes more skill, and thus creates job security. I know that for the farmer, the machines were the best thing to come along. The wages they didn’t have to pay out to the laborers added up to pure profit for them, even with the cost of the threshers. It was a new era, and things would never be the same again.
When my daughter, Corrie and her husband, Kevin were dating, there came a day when Corrie was at her Grandma Schulenberg’s house to visit. Kevin came by, and they were sitting on the front porch talking. Corrie was sixteen years old at the time, and Kevin was nineteen. It was a nice day, and they were just enjoying each other’s company, when her grandma came out of the house and said that they were going grocery shopping, and asked if Corrie wanted to go along or stay there at the house. Corrie said that they would just stay at the house. Well, apparently that was the wrong answer, because her Grandma said, “No, you are going with us!” That was the end of the story. Corrie went grocery shopping and Kevin went home.
Corrie’s grandma grew up in a different era. Not the one where dates had to have a chaperone, but you didn’t leave a young couple at a house by themselves. I’m not sure what they thought was different about a house as opposed to a car, or any other place where kids could be alone, but she apparently felt that it was her job to make sure nothing happened. Corrie was old enough to drive, and had driven herself over to their house, so she could have just locked the house and told them to go home, but that didn’t seem appropriate to her, so she made Corrie go grocery shopping, and the kids dutifully obeyed her. If you had ever been grocery shopping with my mother-in-law, you know would that it is a three or four hour ordeal, and Corrie left her car at their house, so she was stuck. I went shopping with her once, and that was enough for me, but that is another story.
The kids never told me about that occurrence, until we were coming back from visiting her in the nursing home a couple of days ago. My mother-in-law had been talking about Kevin a few days earlier, and with his job, it wasn’t easy for him to get the time to go out there with us, but on this day, he was able to come. With her Alzheimer’s Disease, I wanted to make sure that he understood that even though she had been talking about him, she still might not recognize him. When we got there, I asked her if she knew who all her visitors were, and she looked at him and said, “Yes, Kevin.” Kevin has been in the family longer than any of her other grandchildren-in-law, but I was still surprised. I guess that his respectful handling of that awkward moment twenty two years or so ago, made a good impression on her…that and all the other nice things about Kevin.
My father-in-law, Walter Schulenberg could build almost anything, and so it was that when the family moved 12 miles north of Casper he built the house they owned, as well as the big garage on the place they had lived prior to that. After they moved to a house on McKinley Street in Casper in May of 1989, he decided that he wanted to give the front of the house a little face lift. He had always liked the look of natural stone, so that was what he did to the lower half of the house. While I was watching the work on their house progress, I found myself thinking, “How does he know how to do all this stuff?” It looked amazing when he got it done.
I think a lot of people really liked the work he did…especially he brother, Butch Hein. Butch liked it so much in fact, that my in-laws made a special trip up to Forsyth, Montana, where Butch lives, so they could do the same kind of thing to Butch’s house. The rocks around Forsyth are quite different form the ones we have here, so Butch’s house looked very natural to the area. I assumed that the quarry, or wherever they got those rocks, must have been local, but I can’t say for sure. All I know is that any rock work he did, always looked great.
That is the kind of man my father-in-law was…always ready to lend a helping hand when it was needed. Whether it was a car that needed work, a new sink installed, or just somebody to sit at the house so a repairman or carpet layer could come when the homeowner needed to be at work, he did whatever was needed. His family has always come first, whether it was his wife and kids, or his in-laws, or his parents and siblings…they came first…and second to that, his friends. Isn’t that the kind of people you want in your life? I know it is for me.
Even during his retirement years, when he spent some time in Arizona, the people around him found out just what a talented man he was. I guess that wherever you can find or buy rocks, you can have rockwork to dress up your home, and it didn’t take very long before my father-in-law found rockwork jobs to occupy him in all his spare time. He was always a bit of a workaholic, and sitting around was not really his style. He wanted to be busy, and I suppose that is what kept him young for as long as it did. He wanted to be creative, and so he found people to put him to work…so much for retirement. He was too busy lending a helping hand.
Uncle Bill always had some new iron in the fire. He has many interests and talents. Uncle Bill, who’s full name is William Malrose Spencer II, was named after his grandfather, William Malrose Spencer I. To Uncle Bill, the single most important accomplishment of his lifetime, is the incredible family history he has dedicated his life to documenting. Uncle Bill started the family history as a young boy of only 8 years. He never quit thinking about the family history after that, even after dementia clouded his ability to process the information he found like he used to do.
Recently, I came across another accomplishment of Uncle Bill’s…one I would never have expected. While looking at his Family History Journals, I found a picture of a house, and I wondered what significance this house might have to have found a place in the family history. Nevertheless, Uncle Bill clearly thought it belonged. The building of the house began in 1948, and continued to it’s completion in 1951. Why would a house take so long to build? The answer explains it quite well. My Uncle Bill, whose nickname is Willie, singlehandedly built the house. The only work he did not do was the wiring and plumbing. The concrete for the sidewalk and steps, was mixed in a 3 x 4 foot plank box, with a hoe. Having done a little concrete mixing with a hoe, I can attest to how difficult that is to get right, or maybe that’s just me…techy yes, builder…not so much. During that time, Uncle Bill was living in Casper, and wanted something to do in his spare time. Building a house seemed to fit the bill nicely. I know that is an odd hobby, but it was the one he chose.
Sometimes, people come into our lives in odd ways. One night while Uncle Bill was digging a trench from the bathroom to the sewer line, it was late and dark. He had a light cord out there, so he could see. Suddenly someone yelled, “What are you digging down there…a grave??” The voice came from a young man named Mark Knittle and Uncle Bill liked his sense of humor immediately. They became lifelong friends, and kept in contact for many years. So, what of the house that Willie built…well, it still stands today and it’s in very good shape. Not much has changed about the house at 1228 S Jackson Street, other than the color of the paint. I tried to locate Mark Knittle, but the Mark Knittle who lives in Casper at this time, is apparently no relation. I found that rather sad, because I had hoped to tell a little more about their friendship. Today is my Uncle Bill’s 92nd birthday. He is doing quite well in most ways, and loves having visitors. Happy birthday Uncle Bill!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Most of us today think very little about the place we were born, except the city and state, of course. That is because most of us are born in hospitals, these days, and while we may know about those, they carry little value, except the name itself. It isn’t a place we go to see out of curiosity, or a place that we generally have a picture of, because it just isn’t that big a part of our life history. I found this picture recently, and for me, it will now always carry a great value and significance in my life history. No, it isn’t the place where I was born. My own birth took place at Saint Joseph’s Hospital, in Superior, Wisconsin. That is all I know of the place, and it has never been something that carried any great importance to me to see. No, this is the house where my dad was born…a home birth.
Home births didn’t used to be such a novelty, in fact the very opposite was true. Women saw no need to rush off to the hospital to give birth to their children during the time when my dad was born. And yet, it is that relative novelty that exists today concerning home births, that made me look twice at the information my Uncle Bill had attached to this picture. While my dad was not the only one of my grandparents children to be born at home, he was the only one to be born in this house.
After I read that this house was where my dad was born, I just felt an immediate connection to it. I could picture my dad…the baby, crying for the first time and then being handed to his mother so he could eat his first meal. I could picture him learning to sit, stand, and walk in this house. I could picture his siblings, Laura and William taking turns holding the new baby, and Laura helping her mother to care for her new baby brother. Aunt Laura had been such a great held with my Uncle Bill’s care when he was little, and how much she liked that job, as told by Uncle Bill, so I can imagine that she cared for my dad in much the same way.
I don’t know how long they lived in this house for sure, but I do know that it carried many precious memories of happy times. It is a house that my Uncle Bill spoke of often, and there are a number of pictures taken at this house too. Stories of their times playing with the Zenith Coaster wagon that is pictured in front of the house, also graced the pages of the family history, as very important pictures for Uncle Bill, He and my dad had many great times in that old wagon, and as an added blessing, their sister, Laura was there to pull them around in it, so they didn’t have to do a thing but sit back and enjoy the ride. I think I can see exactly why the house meant so much to the family.
As I was helping my sister-in-law, Brenda and my daughter, Corrie with some projects around Brenda’s house today, we started talking about Christmas Eve, which is always held at Brenda’s house. The talk was really about planning for the upcoming holiday, but my thoughts drifted back to Christmas Eve celebrations, as well as other holiday celebrations, of years gone by. This is a year of firsts for our family. Since my father-in-law’s passing on May 5th, we are facing the first Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and every other holiday without his presence. My mother-in-law is still with us, but with Alzheimer’s Disease, she cannot live alone, so she is in a nursing home. She is quite happy there, but since she hasn’t walked since March, bringing her over to celebrate with us is just not feasible. She doesn’t know what day it is anyway, so she doesn’t miss the holidays. The sad thing about our situation is that with her in the nursing home, and my father-in-law in Heaven, we are almost going through that year of firsts with both of them at the same time.
As I took the trash out when we were finished with our project, I looked at Brenda’s patio, which had often been the place for family barbeques in the summertime, the sad and lonely feeling that had been there throughout our conversation, persisted. Anyone who has lost a parent understands quite well just how hard that year of firsts is. The traditions that had been a part of life for so long that they were taken for granted, must now be completely re-worked to reflect the changed family unit, and no matter what you do, there is always and will always be a hole in them…that empty place that belongs to that loved one who is now gone. Yes, you move on and make new traditions, be they never really feel quite right, somehow. You keep thinking that maybe next year it will feel normal, or at least not feel like something is missing, but it just doesn’t. The subsequent years of holidays are joyous, just like before, but with a little hint of loneliness, that never goes away.
As a look at the old pictures of holidays from years gone by, I can’t help but shed a tear, because those days are gone forever. I think one of the hardest things about the circle of life is the changing face of tradition. I love tradition…families gathering to celebrate holidays in the way that their families did, and the way their children’s families probably will. Unfortunately, change is inevitable, and traditions will change…as loved ones pass, children marry, and babies arrive, but some changes feel good, while others feel forced…and laden with a hint of loneliness.
Bob’s Uncle Eddie is the fourth child of his Grandma Hein. He is Bob’s dad’s younger brother. Eddie is the kind of person you can always count on to help you if you need it. When my father-in-law was building his house, Eddie even took a vacation to come and help him work on it. Most people really don’t like working vacations, although many of us have taken them. I suppose that like many of us who have taken working vacations, Eddie wanted to help, and so was willing to sacrifice his own down time to make life easier for someone else. Really though, that is just how Eddie is. He has always been a hard worker, and has always been willing to lend a helping hand to anyone in need…not just family. And Eddie is very handy too. He has done quite a bit of building on his own property, so he knows the ropes, and is a really good man to have on the job…especially since most of the help my father-in-law had was his kids, his son-in-law, Lynn, and his daughter-in-law…me. None of us had ever done much building, so we were kind of like the little kid trying to be a great assistant, and mostly getting in the way. Well, maybe not as bad as all that, but not the kind of real help my father-in-law really needed either.
Now, don’t get the idea that Eddie is all work and no play, because you would be wrong. Eddie has a great laugh, and he uses it often. He loves to joke around, and loves to tease his nieces and nephews. Bob was one who got to get in on that teasing whenever he was in Forsyth, Montana, where Eddie lives. Bob especially got teased as a teenager, because like most teenagers, he liked to have his hair long. Well, of course, his parents hated that, and his Uncle Eddie tried to be helpful, by offering to shave Bob’s head. He wouldn’t have really done it, and Bob knew that. They were just playing, but it’s hard not to cringe just a little…even if you knew they wouldn’t do it. I guess it’s a good thing for Bob, that his uncle liked him. Today is Eddie’s birthday. Happy birthday Eddie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Every year on October 31st, kids all over the country take to the streets, knocking on doors to collect a bounty of candy…whether they need it or not. My kids and grandkids are all beyond the trick or treat stage now, but that doesn’t stop some of them from dressing up for work and parties they have been invited to. My nieces and nephews have a great time each year, and the costumes are as varied as the imaginations of the people wearing them. My niece Jenny and her husband Steve always have a party on Halloween, so that all the family can gather and enjoy each other’s company. Jenny and Steve have come up with a variety of costumes over the years…from Indians to cowboy and dance hall girl. And then there’s my niece, Kellie, who uses the workplace to create a costume…I guess writing insurance for Progressive has it’s perks…I should have thought of that, since my daughter Amy and I write for Progressive too. My granddaughter, Shai has told me that she is planning to dress up for work tonight too, at Outback Steakhouse. I think she should go as a Bloomin’ Onion, but I don’t expect her to take my advice.
When I was a kid, Halloween was pretty much a kids game, and while Dad always took us trick or treating, the night belonged to us. My parents never dressed up, nor did any other adults I knew. We didn’t bother with a little Jack-O-Lantern basket for our candy, because that didn’t hold enough…just take a pillow case. It was sure to be full by the time you got home. Dad was always a good sport, taking us out as long as we could stand it, which was quite a while if the night wasn’t too cold. We didn’t go to places like the mall…we didn’t have one anyway…or other businesses, because there was very little worry about tainted candy. It was just a very different time. These days people must be much more careful, and maybe that is why there are more parties, and less trick or treating.
Halloween will always be a kids game, I suppose, but these days it’s not just for kids, and the people I am around that dress up are not kids…or maybe they are. They say some people never grow up, and it could be that the ones that dress up just have a little bit of a kid still living on the inside of them. Here’s to childhood, and never growing old!! Happy Halloween everyone!!
Today’s 8″ to 10″ of snow and still falling, takes me back to the severe storms we got when I was a kid. I remember one in particular in about 1972 or 1973, where the snow was taller than my little niece, Chantel, who was about 1 or 2 at the time. I don’t know for sure where that picture is, but I can picture it in my head. As I recall, it was almost taller than my dad, who was squatted down next to her in the picture.
Of course, like today there was no school and no unnecessary travel in the area, and about the only people moving were those with snowmobiles. The main difference then is that we had power at our house, which I do not have today. Thankfully I have one of those Olde Brooklyn Lanterns, or I would be sitting here in relative darkness, since it is still pretty early in the morning. I’ve read that many businesses are closing due to the weather and due to the “no unnecessary travel” warning, because of trees down and power outages, caused by power lines down.
Occasionally, I hear the cracking of branches in the trees. Because so many still have most of their leaves, they are very vulnerable. That makes me sad, especially since one of the trees we have been nurturing from the day it sprouted…a volunteer from one of our neighbor’s trees…is among those trees that have lost branches. My daughter, Amy’s trees have also lost branches. So far my daughter, Corrie’s trees are ok. The streets look like a war zone, and of course, we have made national news with our freak storm. It is so early in the year for so much snow to hit here… but not impossible as you can see.
What makes this feel so bad, however, is the loss of so many trees. The skyline has changed in many ways. When I look across the street from my house, many of the trees are much shorter. It is hard to tell at this moment if they are just bent or if they are broken, but I know that many are broken. It is simply heartbreaking. So many years put into growing those trees, and now they are gone, and there is no guarantee that they will come back. With God’s help we will persevere and we will nurture those trees that make it, back to health. Freak storms are a part of life, I just hate the look of the war zone that they leave behind them.