Three out of four years, my granddaughter, Shai Royce doesn’t get a real birthday. That’s because her real birthday only happens once every four years. Of course, that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t get a birthday celebration, because she does. Shai’s birthday is as special as she is, and that needs to be celebrated. The funny thing about it is that people don’t know exactly when to do that. Because my grandson, Shai’s cousin Chris Petersen was born the day before she was, we have always celebrated her nano-birthday on March 1, even if it is the wedding anniversary of her grandparents, my husband Bob and me. Chris and Shai are part of a cluster of birthdays and one anniversary, because Chris was born on my mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg’s birthday. Not every Leap Day Baby calls the off years a nano-birthday. In reality, I made that up. You see, the birthday has to exist…right? It is the nano-second between 11:59pm on February 28th and 12:00am on March 1st…hence the nano-birthday. Technically, the Leap Day Baby can celebrate their nano-birthday on February 28, March 1st, or both, and when she turned 4 (16) she was able to get her driver’s license a day early, because that is just how the DMV did it. We have a lot of fun with the Leap Day Birthday/Nano-Birthday that we have, as I think most people who have or know someone who has that birthday do.
Shai is a very social person, and is always the life of the party. She gets that from her dad, Travis Royce. They can both walk into a room and instantly have friends to talk to…even if they didn’t know anyone before. They have simply never met a stranger. Her brother, Caalab is that way too. Her mom is more like her grandma…knowing that it can sometimes get too “peopley” out there. I think Caalab’s girlfriend, Chloe Foster is more my Amy and me, but I could be wrong. It takes all kinds to make life happy, and Shai’s family all live in harmony and get along very well.
Shai is a personal lines account manager at Rice Insurance, LLC, where her mom, Amy also works. They are both well respected in the insurance industry, and I guess I can take a little credit for that, since I gave both of them their start in insurance. Nevertheless, you can hire someone to work in insurance, but you cannot make it their niche. That is something they must decide for themselves, or as is the case with my daughter and granddaughter, have insurance in your blood. It is an industry that has served them both well, and that makes me very happy. Today is Shai’s 25th birthday, or in real years, it’s her 6¼ birthday. She could just be the youngest insurance agent in history, unless there is another Leap Day Baby who is an insurance agent. Happy nano-birthday Shai!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Shortly after our daughter, Amy (Schulenberg) Royce was born, we knew that she was destined to be…little, but only in stature. At just 4 feet 10 inches tall, Amy is quite short, a full 3 inches shorter that her not very tall sister, Corrie (Schulenberg) Petersen. Nevertheless, when it comes to her personality, abilities, intelligence, and her kind heart…she somehow packs a whole lot into that tiny frame. Amy has always lived her life well beyond her size, and nobody ever tried to tell her she couldn’t do something, because she knew that she could do anything she put her mind to.
When Amy met her husband, Travis, she was very quickly sure that this guy was the one who could keep the fun and laughter in her life, and he certainly has done that. His favorite nick name for her is Midget, and I must admit that it fits. Partly because of her size, Travis loves midget wrestling, which has become a thing these days. Who would have known. That’s the thing she loved about him. He could turn most situations into something fun and full of humor.
Amy first began working in the insurance industry at the young age of 15, when she worked in the office I worked in doing filing, phones, and typing. I was just trying to help her get a job as a kid, who knew that it would be the beginning of a future lifelong career for her. During her teen years, she needed more hours than we could give her, so she went to work in fast food, and then on to daycare, the hotel industry, and an office job in an industrial training facility. Then her journey came full circle, when she was hired in the insurance office I was working at then…The Stengel Agency. It was there that she got licenses, and became an excellent insurance agent. When her family decided to move to Washington state, her insurance background netted her several job offers. Now things have come full circle again…so to speak, because her daughter, Shai Royce, who also worked with us at The Stengel Agency, is now working at the same agency that Amy, her mom, works at now…Rice Insurance, and they are both very excited about that. Sometimes it is all in who you know, but I think insurance is in their blood, because if you can’t understand insurance, you will never be a good agent. They both understand insurance, just like their mom and grandma…me. Today is Amy’s birthday, and I am very excited for this new aspect of her life…sharing a career with her daughter and friend. Not bad for a midget!! Happy birthday Amy!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Recently, while watching a couple of television shows, I noticed that the latest term for retirement is Second Act, and I found that term to be rather interesting at this particular time in my own life. As my retirement neared, I began to make some mental notes about what I wanted it to look like. Of course, the obvious things came to mind…the trips we want to take, the work around the house that has been put off for far too long, and yes, sleeping in a little bit, but what else did I want this time in my life to be about. Of course, there is also the increased amounts of time to spend with family. Trips to Bellingham, Washington to visit our daughter, Amy Royce and her family, Travis, Shai, and Caalab, and to meet Shai’s guy, Jordan Chapman and Caalab’s girl, Chloe Foster, are definitely on the list. More time to spend with our daughter Corrie’s family, Kevin, Chris and his girl, and Josh, who live right here in Casper, but with all of us being so busy, we don’t see them as often as we would like. And of course to visit with our great granddaughter, is a high priority too. She is growing up so fast, and I don’t want to miss out.
As a blogger, the obvious next step is continued writing, and I will be blogging and advertising for my work alma mater…The Stengel Agency, and I am really happy to be staying close to everyone there, because they have been a huge part of my life for as much as 22 years, depending on the person. My life has been richly blessed by each and every person I worked with at The Stengel Agency, as well as their family members, who have become a part of my family too. My retirement will always include them, because they are of vital importance to me. Insurance has been a vital part of my life for 30 years now, since I first became an agent with the Don Foster Agency, before moving to The Stengel Agency in 1996. I would say that I am dating myself, but I think the word retirement has already done that, so the number of years as an insurance agent makes now really difference in that respect. Insurance has been good to me, even though it was not the career I had expected to have. Insurance made sense to me from the start.
As a writer, I have always been interested in writing a book. I guess we will see where that idea takes me, because I have no idea what I would like to write about…for a book anyway. Nevertheless, I’m sure it will come to me, because I have had no trouble coming up with story ideas in the past, so the future will simply bring with it longer story ideas. I’m sure that our travels will also help with writing ideas. Hiking the many beautiful trails we have in this country cane be very inspiring, whether I’m writing about nature hikes or World War II. And, speaking of hiking, that is going to be a big part of my Second Act. The weekends never seemed long enough to get out and hike the mountain trails on Casper Mountain, but with the whole day, every day off, I think we might be able to squeeze them in once a week, at least. There are so many things that have been going through my mind as the day approached, and now that it’s here, I guess the time has come to begin. I’m still not totally sure what my own Second Act will look like, but I’m excited to begin to find out. I’m ready for anything!! So, let the adventures begin!!
Several hundred people were employed by the Virginia Rubber and Tire Company in Saint Albans, West Virginia, on January 13, 1924. The business, located on 41 acres of land along the Kanawha River across from the present-day Ordnance Park (ca. 1941)…and before MacCorkle Avenue, was thriving in 1924. Established in 1920, it was only four years old. Unfortunately, the Virginia Rubber and Tire Company, was destined not to reach it’s fifth year. That fateful January day in 1924, brought with it a fire that destroyed the company, causing damage totaling $500,000.
While I was unable to find much information as to the time and cause of the fire, it is noted that only about 10 percent of the tire stock was saved, and the rest was burned. That isn’t really surprising, since rubber tires are highly flammable. Unfortunately, it also doesn’t appear that all of the loss was covered by the company’s insurance. As an insurance agent, I can say that a property loss that was not completely covered by insurance could only mean that the company was underinsured, leaving gaps in the coverage. What is known about the loss is that the unpaid portion was enough to ensure that the company could never open their doors again. That meant that several hundred people were out of a job, and while they didn’t know it, the Great Depression was coming up quickly. I’m sure they all had jobs before that time, but it was quite likely that they would lose their jobs when that time came.
The good news about the fire was that it took no lives. The only loss was to the property. Nevertheless, the town would never be quite the same again. Other businesses would grow up where the rubber company had once been, but mostly it would be remembered as the site of Morgan’s Plantation Kitchen, originally established in 1846. I supposed the site went back to it’s former identity. Still, the total loss of the Virginia Rubber and Tire Company, manufacturer of tires, tubes, toy balloons, balls, and rubber dolls, would not be forgotten.
My niece, Kellie Hadlock was practically born laughing, or to be more correct, giggling…and she hasn’t stopped since. Kellie was always happy, and simply couldn’t ever imagine going through life any other way. She loves a good joke, and sees humor in just about every situation. She can’t imagine going through her life without daily laughter, and we can’t imagine it either, because Kellie wouldn’t be Kellie without her giggles. They make her who she is.
Kellie became a successful insurance agent a few years ago, and was then given the opportunity to work in the insurance department of a title agency, which she has found to be very much to her liking. She has become a great asset to American Title Agency, where she now works, and her whole family is very happy for her. While insurance at a title agency is Kellie’s career, it is no her life. Her life belongs to God and praising Him in song.
Kellie is one of the lead singers at our church, Word Christian Fellowship. Kellie has a beautiful voice, and when it is paired with her love of the Lord, the songs take on an air of the angelic. That’s Kellie’s voice…just beautiful!! Of course, Kellie’s beautiful voice comes from her beautiful spirit. I have continued to be so proud of how she has grown in her music ministry. She wanted to go into music ministry on a full time basis, but God has not moved her in that direction at this time. I think it is likely because she would probably have to travel to do that full-time, and while that would be fun for a time, Kellie is very much a family person, and I don’t know how she would do with that in the long term.
Kellie loves being an aunt to her nephew, Ethan Hadlock and nieces, Aurora Hadlock, Adelaide Sawdon, and Mackenzie Moore, and it would be very hard to be far away from them all the time. She already has to be far away form Mackenzie, who lives in North Carolina, and that is really hard for the whole family. So it would be really hard to live far away form all of them. Kellie is also very close with her mom and dad, Allyn and Chris Hadlock, and loves spending time with them, especially at their place on Casper Mountain. In fact, I thing that is where she uses up many of her awesome giggles. The family loves to get together and laugh, sing, and just enjoy each others company. It’s a great life. Today is Kellie’s birthday. Happy birthday Kellie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
When a river is as wide as the Mississippi, and traveling through so many states, often through flat land, the potential for flooding always exists. I know that many people who live along the Mighty Mississippi, would never consider living anywhere else. They love that old river, and having been there myself, I can certainly understand why. The river views are beautiful. Still, the yearly potential for flooding is something that might put many people off, when it comes to living on the shores of that river. Of course, people can get flood insurance, and indeed, most banks would require it for properties along that river, but the possessions lost in floods, not to mention the time it takes to rebuild the homes, and especially the lives lost in floods, make living on the shores of the Mississippi something that I would probably not decide to do.
The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 was the most destructive river flood in the history of the United States, with 27,000 square miles inundated up to a depth of 30 feet. To try to prevent future floods, the federal government built the world’s longest system of levees and floodways. Of the more than 630,000 people affected by the flood, 94% lived in the states of Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana, most in the Mississippi Delta. By August 1927, the flood subsided. Hundreds of thousands of people had been made homeless and displaced…properties, livestock and crops were destroyed. Some people left the area, because they did not have the money, or the stomach for living in an area where their homes could so easily be wiped out. Still, the draw of the beautiful Mississippi kept many people there, determined to rebuild their lives. Of course, the flood didn’t only affect the people living along the Mississippi. Lost crops affected many people in the United States. It was a disaster of epic proportions.
Then came the floods of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers in 1993, also known as the Great Flood of 1993. This is one that many of us alive today remember, mostly because we were old enough to remember, but also because the television and newspapers were filled with the stories of destruction. The flood was among the most costly and devastating to ever occur in the United States, with $15 billion in damages. The damage area was more than 745 miles in length and 435 miles in width, totaling about 320,000 square miles. Within this zone, the flooded area totaled around 30,000 square miles and was the worst such US disaster since the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, as far as duration, area flooded, persons displaced, crop and property damage, and number of record river levels. In some ways, the 1993 flood even surpassed the 1927 flood, which was, at the time, the largest flood ever recorded on the Mississippi River. The effects were felt by people all over the United States because of crops lost, the rise in the cost of building materials, and of course, insurance rates as a result of increased building material prices. Floods are nearly impossible to prevent, and for some people they are considered a risk they are willing to take, but for me, I think I’ll stick to places where the chance of a flood hitting my home is almost nil. On October 7, 1993, the Great Flood of 1993 came to an end as the Mississippi River finally started to recede, 103 days after the flooding began.
When I think of people who are always happy, the first person who comes to mind is my niece, Kellie Hadlock. I really can’t think of a greater tribute to a person than to be known as the happiest person I know. That is the kind of person everyone wants to be around, because she lifts your spirits when you are feeling down. She makes you laugh in spite of your own sour mood. She leaves you feeling better that when she entered the room. Those comments don’t just come out of some misguided sense of obligation, but they are spoken about Kellie, because that is just how everyone feels about Kellie. Kellie finds life to be delightful, and even when she might have the opportunity to be sad, she just thinks herself happy.
Kellie is an insurance agent in Casper, Wyoming, following the example of her aunt…me!! Of course, her mom was an agent for a time too, and a very good one, but since I was the one who got her mom into it, I will take the credit for insurance being in Kellie’s blood. Kellie was nervous when she first decided to go into insurance, and I can hardly blame her for that. Taking the insurance examination is a daunting task, and studying for it is no picnic either. Nevertheless, Kellie persevered, and before long she was licensed, and is doing quite well as an insurance agent, and I know that her clients love seeing her smiling face every time they see her.
Kellie is the youngest of my sister, Allyn and her husband Chris Hadlock’s four children. Her and her siblings have a unique relationship. They tease each other, and even call each other names, but it’s all in fun. I suppose that if people listen to them, who really don’t know them, they might think them rude, but they are anything but rude. They love each other very much, but they are also some of the funniest people I know. Kellie and her family thrive on teasing and making jokes. How cool is that? Just think…every day of your life is filled with random laughter, jokes, and silliness. It’s almost like being in a comedy show 24/7. Today is Kellie’s birthday. Happy birthday Kellie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Every four years, our calendar has an extra day…February 29th. Now, to most people, that is a novelty, but to my granddaughter, Shai Royce…that day is very special. If you only got a real birthday every four years, I’m sure you would think that day is quite special too. Shai has not always embraced every aspect of a Leap Day birthday, such as having the three grandsons in the family inform you that they are older than you, even though two of them were born after you. These days, Shai embraces Leap Day, because of it’s pure novelty, and someday she will really love it. Just think, when she’s 64 years old, she will, in reality, be 16. Who can say that? Only a Leap Day Baby, and that’s because…well, Leap Happens, and when it does, people don’t age in quite the same way.
This year looked like it was going to be a bit lonlier for Shai, but her brother, Caalab surprised her with a visit all the way from Seattle, Washington. Shai was completely shocked, and so was I. That sneaky little brother of hers managed to swear everyone who knew to secrecy, so Shai, her grandpa, and I were completely in the dark. When her family moved to the Seattle area, Shai decided to stay in Casper, and now she has taken a page out of her mom’s book. She is in the insurance industry and working with her very blessed grandma…me, at The Stengel Agency. Like her mom, she started out as a CSR, and is learning the insurance ropes. Who knows, she might even become an agent like her mom and grandma someday. I am very proud of all that she has learned here. She handles changes, payments, filing, and phones with ease. I think she comes from good insurance stock. She is doing so well for someone so young…I mean how many 5 year olds do you know who work in insurance?
This is the first year that Shai has lived on her own too, and I am very proud of how she has handled that. She is quite stubborn about accepting help with anything, and insists on paying for herself. Most of the time I let her too, but sometimes, like her birthday lunch, I have to put my grandma’s foot down. Of course, she is much like all my kids and grandkids. They are just responsible people, and I am proud of each and every one of them. Shai may only be five years old, but Shai the adult, shows me often that she has earned her twenty years, and her adulthood. I can’t believe that now two of my grandchildren are in their twenties. It seems totally impossible!! Where have the years gone? Today is Shai’s 20th birthday. Happy 5th Leap Day birthday Shai!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Most of us give little thought to things falling from the sky, but the reality is that it does happen, and more often than we think. There have been times when planes have fallen from the sky, satellites, and even space shuttles. One thing that we really don’t think about is meteors, but they too fall from the sky. We live in a solar system, and there are many objects in space that, if they get too close to our atmosphere, can get caught in it and fall to Earth. Most often these items are small enough to simply burn up in our atmosphere, and we view them as shooting stars, but some actually make it to Earth’s surface. I can think of a famous meteor, whose crater I was able to see when I was a kid. It is the crater that is located in Arizona, near Winslow. It is unknown how big that meteor was, because there is no documentation. Many people have suggested that it was quite small, but in light of more recent meteor hits, I have to wonder if it was bigger than they think. Of course, years ago, I might have accepted the theory that a meteor the size of a golf ball could make a hole the size of the crater in Arizona, but after seeing some of the more recent strikes, that just no longer seems logical, and my brain, being very logically wired, simply can’t buy into that, given the current knowledge that I have.
One of those more recent meteor strikes happened on this day, October 9, 1992, when a meteor about the size of a bowling ball, came crashing down, and sliced right through a 1980 Chevy Malibu owned by Michelle Knapp. Michelle was watching television in her parents’ living room in Peekskill, New York when she heard a thunderous crash in the driveway. Wondering what could have happened, Michelle ran outside to check it out. What she found was shocking. There was a large hole in the rear end of her car, and a matching hole in the gravel driveway underneath the car. It was what was in the hole that was the most shocking, however. A rock about the size of a bowling ball, but, at a weight of 28 pounds, it was much heavier than a bowling ball, which can only weigh a maximum of 16 pounds. The rock was shaped like a football and warm to the touch, but the worst part was that it smelled like rotten eggs. Of course, this was all big news in the world of science, and the next day, a curator from the American Museum of Natural History in New York City confirmed that the object was a genuine meteorite. I’m sure that of all the things Michelle could have imagined hitting her car, a meteor was most likely the last.
Apparently, our earth is bombarded with about 100 pounds of meteoric material every day, however. Some are the size of dust particles, and some as big as 10 miles across, with the average being about the size of a basketball. So I guess that Michelle’s meteor wasn’t all that unusual. Meteors seem to be in the news more and more these days, and with the invention of dash mounted video cameras and other such surveillance equipment, meteor strikes have been caught on camera, that never were before. Of course, any strikes that hit something were usually found, but those that didn’t might not have been known. I hadn’t really given much thought to the many times our planet has been hit, but it stands to reason that with all the space debris, it is a possibility. Personally, I hope that my car never has to sustain a hit like that, but I suppose that she got enough out of the incident, with the fame and all, to buy herself a new car…or maybe she had insurance on it and got it covered that way. As for me…I’ll just keep my car.
Each of us looks back on our life at one point or another, to reflect on all that has transpired, and the roads traveled to get to the point at which we have arrived. One of the things that often becomes the subject of such reflection, is just how we knew that our parents loved us. Sometimes people mistakenly talk about all the things their parents have given them. Of course, these people are usually teenagers, who have gone beyond the innocent understanding that love isn’t about things, but have not yet reached the point of adulthood, when they will understand that it is often the life lessons taught rather than the gifts received that they value the most.
In reading my Great Aunt Bertha Hallgren’s journal, I noted that one of the ways she felt the love her father had for her was that he made sure that they were in school, except when they were ill. Even though they lived further away than any of the other children at the school, their attendance was the best by far. The children were wrapped tightly in warm blankets for the journey on those cold North Dakota winter days, but they were in school nevertheless. Great Grandpa Carl Schumacher knew the importance of an education, and was determined that his children would have one. Whenever I hear of a student who wishes their parents wouldn’t make them go to school, I am reminded first that they are very young and naïve, and second that they will someday feel differently about that whole situation.
I know of many parents who have given their children a car and other such expensive gifts, and people seem to feel like they must love them very much. I suppose that could be true, but at the same time, the child has been cheated out of an important life lesson…earning the things you want. When my girls were preparing to drive, I told them that they would need a car, a driver’s license, gasoline, insurance, and a job to pay for all that. I suppose that there were people who saw that as mean on my part, but it is one of the life lessons that my girls look back on fondly. They never felt cheated, they felt empowered. That was the gift they were given, and to this day, they are both strong, capable women, who have raised their children in much the same way. I’m not saying anything against parents who did give their kids a car and such, but rather that this was the standard we chose to give our children. I’m also sure that parents who gave their children a car have taught them other life lessons that their children look back on when they reflect on the love their parents have for them. That is the privilege each parent has…to raise their children in the way that they see fit.
I look back on my own parents, and the standards they set for us, with a sense of pride, because they were great parents. We were never given a car…probably, that is why I did things as I did, but we were give much love, and guidance. We had chores to do, and we helped with cooking. We can all cook and keep house to this day too. We didn’t get to eat out all the time, so when we did, it was a special treat, but I never felt like that I was cheated in any way. My parents showed their love in so many other ways. They raised us to be respectful, and as a result, respected. They showed us love, no matter what, and as a result, we know how to show love…no matter what. They showed us that just as God forgives us for our sins, we need to be forgiving of others and especially not to let the sun go down on your anger. They showed us unconditional love. We knew that nothing we did was going to lose us the love of our parents. Oddly, that made us try harder to do good…or maybe that was their plan all along. Looking back on those times makes me realize that the best way to show you love your child is to live it. Teach them values mixed with compassion, and they will try their hardest to live up to the standards you set for them. That is a real show of love.