Posts Tagged ‘house’
About the time my sister, Cheryl turned 12 and went to junior high school, things started to change around our house. We had always danced in some form in the house, but not much of the dancing that went along with rock music. That year marked the end of the immature child’s play for Cheryl, and the introduction of the teenage world for the rest of us. Cheryl and her friends practiced dancing in our living room every chance they got, and the rest of us tried to follow along. As with most people, there were those of us who had a natural rhythm, and those of us who…just didn’t. Unfortunately, I found myself in the latter category. Maybe I was just in those awkward pre-teen years, or something, I don’t really know, but for whatever reason, I was more the bull in the china closet type of dancer. It wasn’t that I hit anything, but more that my moves were really klutzy and I couldn’t seem to hear the beat or find any semblance of rhythm. I suppose that in time and with a lot of practice, I could have figured it out, but I simply decided that I was probably never going to be much of a dancer, and for many years, I danced only with my sisters in the living room, because I figured that if they laughed at my moves, I could live with that, but if my friends did so, it would be the most humiliating thing that could ever possibly happen, and something I chose not to risk.
I don’t recall just how good my little sisters were, but I remember that Alena has always been a pretty good dancer. She was a lot like Cheryl in that way…just a natural talent for it. Caryl, does real well these days too, and has even taken dancing lessons, so she can do some of the really cool dances from days gone by…like the ballroom type of dancing. I don’t remember just how good Allyn was, but then she was only three years old when we started dancing in the living room, so I’m sure she was uninhibited and we all thought she did just fine…and she seems to do just fine these days too. In a way, my younger sisters might have been given a great advantage with those early dancing days, because they weren’t in the awkward years of growth, and they weren’t self conscious either.
Even though I felt self conscious in those days, I still stuck it out, because it was fun to hang out with Cheryl’s older friends and my sisters, doing something totally goofy…at least in my mind. I don’t remember if Cheryl ever hated having all her younger sisters hanging out in the same space as she and her friends were, but my guess is that she probably did, because having all your little sisters hanging with your friends is always tough when you are a tween or teen. Nevertheless, she was stuck with us…at least for those dance sessions, and it was probably ok with her if we danced with her when her friends weren’t there. Whatever the case may be, I learned pretty much all of the little bit I know of dancing right there in my parents living room, with my sisters, and I learned that dancing isn’t exactly my forte.
Yesterday’s rare tornado on Casper Mountain while not scary, because I didn’t know about it until it was over, did take me back a in time a bit, however. A number of years ago, my Aunt Ruth and Uncle Jim Wolfe were at my mom’s house visiting, we were under a tornado watch. No one was worried about it because it was only a watch, and we didn’t expect anything to come of it. I think we were under the mistaken assumption that we would never have a tornado here…at least I think I was. I’m sure the adults knew that a tornado could happen anywhere, but I was a kid, and I still wanted that cushion of protection. It’s a lot more comfortable to a child to think that these bad things can never come here, and you don’t want your dream world shattered. All too soon you reach an age where you know that storms like these are possible anywhere, and you become watchful, just like my Aunt Ruth was.
As we were visiting, no one was really paying attention to the weather. Suddenly, my Aunt Ruth jumped up and ran to the back door. She looked out the window and said, “There is a tornado somewhere!!” I remember thinking, “No way!! We don’t get those here!!” She insisted that there had been one, but with no way to confirm it right then, they went back to their conversation. I, on the other hand felt a little apprehensive for the rest of the evening. I kept thinking, “Tornados don’t happen here, do they…or do they? Is it save to be here? Should we be going somewhere to hide r something?” Still the adults didn’t seem too concerned, so I went back to what I was doing too, but the memory of that moment has really never left me. I can still vividly see my Aunt Ruth standing at the back door, looking at the sky for clues as to the location of the tornado. I can still hear her voice, clearly saying that there was a tornado somewhere. She was so sure of it
Later that night, as we were watching the news, the weather man said that there had been a tornado on the mountain. I was a little shaken up by that report. The memory of that moment has lived in my memory files for all those years. I don’t know exactly how she knew it that day, but she did. I think I was a little bit in awe of her knowledge of storm systems. I suppose that was because she had been right about it. Now, of course we have things like radar, and rotation patterns to tell us ahead of time that something is coming, but I am here to tell you that those systems don’t always do exactly what they are supposed to do. Yesterday’s tornado on Casper Mountain did not set of any of the warning systems. I wondered how that could be, until I found out that the tornado was called a Land Spout Tornado, and apparently those don’t show a rotation pattern that can be picked up by radar. So even with all the warning systems we have, no system is fool proof, and there can be the rogue storm the goes against everything known to man concerning storms. Still, they happen. I suppose that then the only warning system is a person to can feel the weather, like Aunt Ruth.
Yesterday, after going out to dinner with my mom and my sister, Cheryl, we all decided to go for a drive. My mom has always loved going for drives, whether it is around town or in the country. As we drove, the conversation turned to the little house we lived in when we first moved back to Casper, Wyoming from Superior, Wisconsin, when I was almost three years old. I don’t recall having seen the house since the time we lived there, and of course, I don’t recall very much of our time there, and most of that is probably from home movies I have seen.
Since we were in the area, we decided to drive by. I must say that I was a bit surprised at how small the house was. I suppose it was the size of a small two bedroom apartment, or maybe even a one bedroom apartment. The house is located in the back yard of a larger house, and may have been, at one time, a guest house for the much larger home next door. Right now, it looks like it is being used as a storage shed, which makes me a bit sad, because when I think of all the memories of our little family that those walls have seen, it seems a sad end to a happy home. The white picket fence that made for a nice backdrop for pictures is gone now, the sidewalk and steps are crumbling, and the house is in serious need of a coat of paint…but then it is a shed now, so paint is unlikely.
As we drove away, I couldn’t get the little house out of my mind. It seemed such a sad, lonely little place. There were no children’s toys, or laughing voices. In fact, there was no signs of life at all. It is included in the yard of the larger house, which is very well taken care of, but it sits like a forgotten ghost, desolate and forlorn. I wished for a moment that I could go in and look around the little house, but I’m sure it would have been more disappointment, and less memories these days. It wouldn’t surprise me to drive by there and see it torn down someday, because it really is in sad shape and probably a hazard, were it not fenced off from the outside world, and certainly not a place of interest to anyone, except the three women who were taking a drive down memory lane.
So often we think that toddlers don’t have the ability to remember things that happened when they were so very small, but the mind is an incredible thing. If our toddler’s mind has deemed something as important enough to remember, we will remember it for the rest of our lives. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of sitting with my mom, Aunt Sandy, and my sister, Cheryl at my mom’s house, while we scanned some pictures, and talked about family history. We talked of many different family stories, but one that stood out in my mind was Aunt Sandy’s account of the entrance of my grandparents’ first grandchild, my cousin, Susie. For any grandparent, the moment when you actually become a grandparent for the first time is amazing…a moment you will never forget. But, what of the small children? Most of us assume that there really won’t be small children to consider when it is the first grandchild, but sometimes, the aunts and uncles are barely toddlers themselves. Such was the case with Aunt Sandy when Susie was born.
When she became an aunt, my Aunt Sandy was just three years old…too young to really remember much about it, right? Wrong! This would be an event that Aunt Sandy’s three year old mind knew was a life changing event. She was never going to be the same after that November day…she wasn’t just a little girl now…she was an aunt. I can’t say for sure that Aunt Sandy knew what being and aunt really meant, or that she understood that there was a new baby in the family now…at least, not at first. Then came the moment when the baby was to be brought over to meet her family.
The house was filled with all the family members. That wasn’t such an unusual thing for my grandparents’ home, so it probably didn’t seem like anything new to Aunt Sandy. Then my Aunt Evelyn and Uncle George brought the baby into the house. Everyone gathered around the new little family. There were the usual ooo’s and ahh’s, as everyone vied for a position where they could get a good look at the baby. But, standing in the back of the crowd, momentarily forgotten in all the excitement, stood my Aunt Sandy, her eyes as big as silver dollars, as she took in this incredible scene. Her little three year old toddler mind was trying to figure out what all this meant, because it didn’t take an adult to know that everything in her world had changed…she knew it, she just didn’t really know how much it had changed.
Feeling maybe just a little bit nervous about all this activity, Aunt Sandy went up to her mom, and put her little hand out and touched her mom. Grandma turned around, perhaps realizing for the first time that the prior youngest person in the family had been momentarily forgotten in all the excitement. As she looked down at her youngest daughter, her youngest child, she knew just what was needed. She said to Aunt Sandy, “Do you want to see the baby?” Aunt Sandy nodded, Grandma picked her up, and she was able to get her first look at the baby that had changed her life forever…the baby that had made her an aunt. She now knew that something amazing had happened in her family, and this was a moment she would remember for the rest of her life.
As we talked about the way that such an early memory could stay with a person, I could see on Aunt Sandy’s face, that the picture of that day was very clearly imprinted in her mind. It was almost as if she was that three year old toddler again, standing in back of the crowd of family members wondering what was going on. That earliest memory had so completely imprinted itself on her mind that she could still see it as if she was back there again.
My niece, Kellie is one of the happiest, most positive people I have ever met…in fact, I can’t recall a time when she wasn’t happy. Kellie is one of those people who look for happiness where ever she goes, and when you look for happiness, I believe you will always find it. She doesn’t let the little problems in life get her down. Many of us could learn something from Kellie’s happiness, because it isn’t that no negative things ever happens in her life, but rather what she chooses to do with it that makes her life happy. I love to hear Kellie laugh, because when she does, you are about to laugh too. That’s just the way it is. You can’t be around Kellie when she is laughing and not laugh too. Her laugh is the most contagious laugh I have ever heard.
Kellie is such a free spirit. She knows what she likes, and that’s what she does. Her home reflects her brightly colored tastes. Nothing dreary can exist in Kellie’s place, because that just doesn’t fit in her joy, joy, joy…down in my heart style. If you go to Kellie’s house, you will find it bright and cheery…just like her, but be aware that she has a bird. I don’t know how much Petey is loose in the house, but I think that if Kellie is there, Petey is free to roam. And maybe Petey isn’t the kind of bird who likes to dive bomb people, but many birds are. I do know that Petey likes to nap on Kellie’s shoulder. Why should he be different? Lots of people love to be around Kellie…so you can’t blame him.
Family is the biggest thing in Kellie’s life. She is very close to her parents, my sister, Allyn and her husband Chris, sisters, Jessi and Lindsay, sister-in-law, Chelsea, brother, Ryan, brothers-in-law, Jason and Shannon, and of course, her nephew, Ethan, and niece, Aurora. She loves taking pictures with all of them, to keep as memories of the great times they have had. She loves spending time up on the mountain at her parents place there, just hanging around by the campfire. In Kellie’s life, the only thing more important than her family is her Lord. Kellie loves music ministry, and is an amazing singer, and forever an uplifting person. We are all very blessed to have Kellie in our lives. Today is Kellie’s birthday. Happy birthday Kellie!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!
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!!