memories

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My grandniece, Brooklyn Killinger, also known as Brookie, Brookie Lou, or Brooklyn Louise (coincidentally, my niece Lacey Stevens…Brooklyn’s “stepmom” has the same middle name, so Brooklyn Louise is a favorite for her). Brooklyn is a loving little girl, with a motherly way about her. She loves her baby girl doll named Navy. She takes Navy everywhere and she is very serious about her care. Nobody had better be mean to Navy or even accidentally do something that is remotely rough, because they will hear about it from Brooklyn. One time, Lacey grabbed Navy by the foot to move her, and Brooklyn immediately cried, “Don’t grab her by the foot!!” Well, of course, “Grandma Lacey” would never have intentionally been mean to little Navy. Lacey quickly said, “Whoops…sorry!!”

Brooklyn is always thinking of her little family, and so for her birthday, she has asked for a car seat for Navy, because her baby must be kept safe when she is riding in the car. She is also thinking of the future, so she has asked for a little brother doll for Navy and for herself, as the mommy, of course. She will undoubtedly make a wonderful mom someday, because she is practicing for that job now.

Brooklyn is always helpful and especially loves helping people with their needs. As Lacey and Brooklyn’s dad, Chris Killinger look to her future, they can picture her is the role of nurse or some such job that involves helping people. It’s amazing that some kids seem to always have a specific gift, and when the follow that career path, it just isn’t surprising, because it’s who they were their whole lives.

Brooklyn is big sister to her brother, Jaxon Killinger, and she loves him very much. It’s obvious to anyone who sees them, that they are good friends. Brooklyn is such a good big sister, and Jaxon looks up to her. He is about two years younger than his sister, so to him, she knows everything, and she’s still cool…for a while anyway. As we all know, sibling relationships go through many stages, and while Brooklyn and Jaxon will always love each other, they may not always have that same “best friends” relationship. Nevertheless, I think they will manage to find their way back to being good friends again. Brooklyn and Jaxon are also friends with their little cousin Elliott. Unfortunately, Elliott lives in Sheridan, so they don’t get to see her often, but when they do, that all have a wonderful time. Recently they all got to go swimming with Lacey’s mom, Alena Stevens at the Casper Aquatics Center. They all had a blast…enjoying cousin time. Today is Brooklyn’s 9th birthday. Happy birthday Brooklyn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Tornadoes can happen anywhere, but there are areas of the country that are more prone to tornadoes. Nevertheless, the F-5 tornado is extremely rare, and thankfully so, but when one hits a town, it is…devastating!! On May 27, 1997, an F-5 tornado his Jarrell, Texas, killing 27 people and destroying dozens of homes. That damage and loss of life was horrific, but it was what happened afterward that was truly amazing.

Once the news of the devastating tornado broke, people from near and far started showing up to do whatever it took to help out. In fact, people showed up by the busloads. The people were there to help with the cleanup, but that wasn’t really all they were there for. Upon arrival, they found that there was a great need for blood, because many who were critically injured needed blood and without a second thought, they showed up at blood banks and hospitals, ready to donate the critical blood that was needed. Besides giving blood, volunteers helped pick up debris and rubble. The work was hard, but those who arrived in Jarrell wanted to show their support to the residents of the devastated town.

The town of Jarrell, population around 400 at the time of the tornado lost entire families, like the Igo family of five, the Moehring family of four, the Smith family of three, and the Gower family of 2. but since the tornado, the town has really been growing. These days, Jarrell has more than 1750 people in residence. Really, that goes to show that these people were not going to give up. They were going to rebuild their lives and their town. Twenty-five years can make a huge difference in a town’s history. People can forget what happened so long ago, but if the survivors never forget, they can pass the history of the tragedy on to the future generations.

I’m sure that over the years, there were those who couldn’t bear to stay there any longer. That happens too. Not everyone is able to move on from the past, and sometimes people just don’t want to stay where there has been so much loss. There is really no right or wrong thing to do, it is simply what the people who went through the tragedy need to do in order to heal. As for the town, it has been rebuilt and it is growing all the time. I think that Jarrell will thrive again, and maybe even become a larger city in time. The fact that the town has the ability to heal and move on is due in large part to the help of the amazing people came to the rescue 25 years ago in Jarrell’s hour of need.

Most people, these days, have probably never heard of Marion Robert Morrison, although I’ll bet that most people have seen at least one of his movies, or at the very least a commercial advertising one of his movies on some of the old movie channels. Maybe if I said that his name was John Wayne or even The Duke (his famous nickname), more people would recognize the famous American West actor. John Wayne actually became the epitome of the American West. Wayne was born on May 26, 1907, at 224 South Second Street in Winterset, Iowa, to Clyde Leonard Morrison (1884–1937), who was the son of American Civil War veteran Marion Mitchell Morrison (1845–1915), and the former Mary “Molly” Alberta Brown (1885–1970), who was from Lancaster County, Nebraska. He weighed a whopping 13 pounds at birth. Wayne claimed his middle name was soon changed from Robert to Michael when his parents decided to name their next son Robert. That fact, if it is a fact, cannot be confirmed even with extensive research, because no such legal change was found. Wayne’s legal name remained Marion Robert Morrison his entire life, but he often went by Marion Michael Morrison…before becoming John Wayne.

When he was six years old, Wayne’s family moved to Glendale, California, where he like many teens in those days, had a paper route that got him up at four in the morning to deliver newspapers. After school, he played football and made deliveries for local stores. After high school, he had big ambitions to attend the U.S. Naval Academy, but his dreams were dashed when they rejected him. Then, he accepted a full scholarship to play football at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, which is quite likely the very thing that led to his entire future, and not in football or academics.

For most football players, having a job isn’t an easy feat, because of the football and study schedules, so in the summer of 1926, Wayne’s football coach found him a job as an assistant prop man on the set of a movie directed by John Ford. Ford saw something more is the handsome young football player, and he started to use Wayne as an extra in his films. It’s strange, maybe, that I think that John Wayne became more handsome as he got older. The younger verson, while handsome, lacked the character that really defines some men. That led to larger roles, and in 1930, Ford recommended John Wayne for Fox’s epic Western, “The Big Trail.” Wayne won the part, but the movie did poorly, and Fox let his contract lapse. That didn’t deter John Wayne, who had by then been bitten by the acting bug. Over the next decade, he worked tirelessly on a number of low-budget films, to improve his acting abilities, and in the end, his old friend and mentor, John Ford gave him his big break, when he cast him in the 1939 western, “Stagecoach.” The rest is history, as John Wayne starred in more than 77 movies. Including my favorites, “Maclintock,” “True Grit,” “The Sons of Katie Elder,” and “Hell Fighters.” While John Wayne got his start in Westerns, he also did a number of military movies. It wasn’t hard to transition from a valiant cowboy or cavalry soldier to the brave WWII fighters of films like Sands of Iwo Jima (1949) and Flying Leathernecks (1951). John Wayne was deeply conservative in his politics, and he used his 1968 film, The Green Berets, to express his support of the American government’s war in Vietnam.

Unfortunately, by the late 1960s, some Americans had tired of Wayne and his simplistically masculine and patriotic characters. I simply cannot understand that at all, except that people had started to look for the increasingly sinister in movies. Sadly, western movies began rejecting the simple black-and-white moral codes championed by Wayne and replacing them with a more complex and tragic view of the American West…not a good move for the people. Nevertheless, John Wayne proved more adaptable than many expected. True Grit (1969) allowed him to escape the narrow confines of his own good-guy image, but still remain basically “the good guy” in reality. Nevertheless, John Wayne was entering the final years of his life, whether he knew it or not. His final film, The Shootist (1976), proved once and for all that he was an actor who had earned the right to be called elite, when he won over even his most severe critics. At the time of the filming of “The Shootist,” John Wayne was battling lung cancer, while playing the part of a dying gunfighter whose moral codes and principles no longer fit in a changing world. Three years later, Wayne died of cancer. To this day, public polls identify him as one of the most popular actors of all time.

My niece, Cassie Franklin is starting a wonderful life, after coming out of a bad marriage. She has two beautiful children, and now she has found a partner, William Burr, with whom she is very happy. Life has not always been easy for Cassie, especially with the loss of her mom, Rachel Schulenberg coming up on 2 years ago now, the extra work of raising a child with Down Syndrome, complicated with the ex-husband and all of his issues, Cassie had her hands very full. Enter William Burr. These days, I see a whole new Cassie. She is happy, relaxed, and while her plate is still very busy with her children, Lucas and Zoey, she is not alone in this journey anymore.

Cassie is a woman of many talents in her own right. She is a great photographer and owner of Iverson Photos, and I have very much enjoyed viewing her work over the years. Cassie has been a member of our family since her late mom married my brother-in-law, Ron Schulenberg on June 12, 2010. She posts all kinds of photographs, but my favorites are the landscapes. I love the outdoors, and so naturally, the pictures of the outdoors are of the most interest to me. I also love the pictures of her children. When you live a little way away from the little ones, it’s always nice to get to watch them grow up, even if it is in pictures.

Cassie has a second business called Nature and Sun Natural Products. Cassie is all about healthy natural products, including candles, body products, and foods. She is very resourceful, and very devoted to a healthy lifestyle for herself and her children. She is a naturalist in every way. She doesn’t want the vaccinations…for herself or her children. She is careful about what they eat, a habit that most likely started with all of the health issues that Lucas has had. Lucas is a healthy boy because of the fight his mom has waged to make sure he stays that way. While Zoey doesn’t have the same health issues, Cassie is unwilling to take any chances with her health either. I think that sometimes having a health scare with your child, necessarily makes you as much a health expert as any doctor, and that is what Cassie strives to become. Her children are very blessed to have her for their mom. Today is Cassie’s birthday. Happy birthday Cassie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Firefighter and Benjamin Franklin…not usually thought of in the same sentence, but really, they should be. In 1736, Benjamin Franklin was already a young man of influence, but his ambitions didn’t stop at just a few. Most of us think of Benjamin Franklin as a scientist, inventor, founding father, prankster, and writer, but firefighter…hmmmmm, not so much. Nevertheless, Benjamin Franklin was a visionary. He saw a problem and decided to fix it.

By 1736 Franklin had adopted Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as his home, but during a visit to his hometown of Boston, Massachusetts, he witnessed a fire, and his mind went into overdrive. What he saw was that the safety precautions to keep fire from spreading seemed to be far more advanced in Boston than in Philadelphia. At that time, Philadelphia’s infrastructure was basically a maze of wooden buildings and houses squeezed together in such a way that it was almost like kindling for a bonfire. Franklin saw this decided that something needed to be done. So, he published his findings in his own Philadelphia Gazette. In doing so, he turned up a different kind of heat. Before long, he was able to round up about 30 of his friends and fellow business owners who were interested. So together, the founded the Union Fire Company. Franklin made sure that The Union Fire Company was a non-profit organization…run completely by volunteers. What made this attractive to these business owners is that it was essentially a promise, to always have each other’s backs, if a fire broke out on or close to one of their properties. Not only were they promising to help extinguish the flames and save homes, but each member was required to keep a heavy-duty bag in which to smuggle out any possessions they could salvage as well. It was a code of honor to try, in the midst of disaster, to salvage whatever they could of the lives of the occupants. The Union Fire Company quickly became the biggest fire relief company in the Colonies, or as they later became, the United States.

Never being one to just sit back and tell others what to do, Benjamin Franklin became a volunteer firefighter himself. Soon, there were six volunteer corps established in Philadelphia. This fire company was the first volunteer fire company of its kind in the United States. When people saw how well the system worked, volunteer fire companies sprung up across the city and soon all over the country. We think of Benjamin Franklin as many things, but in reality, we should maybe think of him as much more than we do. He was the brainchild behind the Great Compromise, which created the Congress we still have today. He was also the first fireman in another way. He “put out the fiery debates” and created a sense of compromise and peace among the founding fathers of our nation too, but he was an actual firefighter in that he actually fought the fires in his city.

I would never have considered that an earthquake in Chili could affect Hawaii, which is 6,593 miles away, but on May 23, 1960, that seemingly huge distance suddenly became very small. When a 9.5 magnitude earthquake hit Chili on May 22, 1960, thousands of people lost their lives, and a giant tsunami was triggered. By the next day, that tsunami had traveled across the Pacific Ocean and killed an additional 61 people in Hilo, Hawaii. That distance and the amount of devastation seems incredible to me.

The earthquake, which involved a severe plate shift, caused a large displacement of water just off the coast of southern Chile at 3:11pm. The resulting wave, traveling at speeds in excess of 400 miles per hour, moved west and north. The damage to the west coast of the United States was estimated at $1 million, but there were no deaths there.

In 1948, the Pacific Tsunami Warning System was established in response to another deadly tsunami. It worked properly and warnings were issued to Hawaiians six hours before the deadly wave was expected to arrive. Unfortunately, some people ignored the warnings, as always seems to happen. Some other people actually headed to the coast in order to view the wave…like the warning was actually an announcement of a coming attraction. The tsunami arrived only a minute after it was predicted, and it absolutely destroyed Hilo Bay on the island of Hawaii.

People really don’t fully understand just how much destructive power water has, until they see it in action. When the waves hit Hilo Bay, they were thirty-five-feet high. They were so strong that they bent parking meters to the ground and wiped away most of the buildings. When the wave hit a 10-ton tractor, it was swept out to sea like it was made of Styrofoam. you would think that boulders would be sturdy enough to hold back the waves, but the 20-ton boulders that made up the seawall were easily moved 500 feet. The 61 people who lost their lives were in Hilo…the hardest hit area of the island chain.

With all of that destruction, you might be inclined to think that the waves would have lost power, and to a degree, I suppose they did. Nevertheless, the tsunami continued to race further west across the Pacific. Even given a ten-thousand-mile distance from the earthquake’s epicenter, Japan still wasn’t able to provide enough warning time to get the people out of harm’s way. The wave hit Japan at about 6:00pm, more than a full day after the earthquake. The tsunami struck the Japanese islands of Honshu and Hokkaido. The wave’s power was still enough to crushing 180 people, and to leave 50,000 more homeless. In Japan, it caused $400 million in damages. With everything destroyed by this one earthquake and the subsequent tsunami, you would think that people would finally learn to stay away from the shore during a tsunami warning, but every year people lose their lives because they decided to cross paths with waves…be it from tsunamis, hurricanes, and other floods. Water is a force to be reckoned with. It should be considered very dangerous.

My grandniece, Jadyn Mortensen is graduating from high school today, and I can’t believe that she could possibly be that grown up…except for the fact that I have watched her growing up these 18 years. I would like to say that there is one standout point of amazingness with Jadyn, but there just isn’t. Jadyn is a girl with many talents. If you put Jadyn on a horse, she will show you how to be the most amazing barrel racer I have ever seen. Ok, I could be biased, but she is really good, nevertheless. She is so good in fact, that the University of Wyoming saw her talent, and signed her to the rodeo team immediately…along with a full ride scholarship. The value of her talent has proven to be great.

Jadyn plans to study Mechanical Engineering. I wasn’t totally sure what that was, so I had to look it up. At first, I thought it was about building machines, and to a degree it is, but there is so much more to it than that. What I found was that “mechanical engineers are problem solvers who apply their skills to design, develop, build, and test all sorts of mechanical devices, tools, engines, and machines in just about every type of industry.” They are like the designers of the future!! A mechanical engineering student works with a team to develop “a wide range of products and systems including, transmissions, engine parts, aircraft engines, control systems, prosthetic devices, disk drives, printers, semiconductor tools, sensors, gas turbines, wind turbines, fuel cells, compressors, robots, machine tools, space shuttle vehicles, turbines, pumps, power plants, factories, and more.” When I look at the list of possible career options for a mechanical engineer…well, it’s endless!! To top it off, mechanical engineering is actually “ranked among the top 10 fields for employment nationally, and according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) engineers have a median annual wage of $91,010 (May 2019), and the engineering field projects to have employment growth of nearly 140,000 new jobs over the next decade.” Ok, I’m impressed. Like I said, Jadyn is a multi-talented girl, and it looks like her options are as big as her many talents.

Jadyn’s interest in machines, is not something she came by accidentally. Jadyn has grown up around boats, 4 wheelers, snowmobiles, and motorcycles too. In fact, she has mixed motorcycles with snow by adding skis to the motorcycle. She and her parents, Amanda Reed and Sean Mortensen love every kind of “toy” and they are talented on all of them. Jadyn and her dad have even filmed YouTube videos of themselves “struttin’ their stuff” on their toys. They are interesting to watch, and Jadyn and her dad love to tease each other while they ride. I think that really the hardest part about Jadyn going off to college is that she has been very close to her parents her whole life, and while UW is not so far away, it is far enough that her parents will definitely feel the empty nest she will be leaving them with. Today, Jadyn is graduating from high school. The world is waiting Jadyn!! I can’t wait to see where life takes you. Congratulations!! We love you!!

My grandnephew, Easton Moore is getting ready to start the next phase of his life and is still considering his options. The rest of us are sitting here wondering where all the years went. It seems impossible that Easton could be out of elementary school, much less high school. Currently, Easton is a supervisor at McDonald’s, which is a pretty good accomplishment for a young man of just 18 years. He is looking forward to the end of school now, because as supervisor, he is required to close, which makes for late nights and little sleep…which accounts for his mom, Machelle Moore’s ability to catch him sleeping during the day and having the evidence to prove it.

Easton has spent a lot of time tinkering on his own vehicle and has found that he really has a knack for it. Easton has also helped his friends work on their vehicles, so he is actually building a clientele of sorts already. In fact, mechanics is one of the things Easton is considering as a career option, a side option, or a temporary option while he prepares for the other possible career option that he is considering. Like most young people, Easton is very comfortable with computers, and would not mind getting a job on the internet or maybe in computer programing. The possibilities in computers are endless right now, and things are advancing so fat that what seems far-fetched today is very possible in the very near future.

One thing Easton isn’t considering right now is moving out on his own. Like most high school graduates, he would like to, but with rentals in Powell running around $1000 a month for a one-bedroom apartment, that is just not feasible. Moving out right now around here is not a good idea. So, his plan is to live at home, while working, and to begin taking college classes to advance his computer skills, so that if that is what he decided he wants to do in life, he is moving in the right direction for it. As for his mom and dad, I’m sure this plan doesn’t hurt their feelings one bit, because they were facing the “empty nest” and I don’t think they were really very happy about it. Sometimes, it’s nice for the parents to have a little reprieve…even if it’s just a little one. Easton is graduation today and getting ready to go out into the world and make his own mark. Congratulations Easton!! We are very proud of you!!

My grandnephew, Xander Spethman was the boy that made my niece, Jenny a mom, and her husband Steve, a dad. The minute he arrived, he stole their hearts, and their lives will never the same. Xander was the first of five children, and he has two younger brothers, Zack and Isaac, and two younger sisters, Laila (who lives in Heaven) and Aleesia, the baby of the family. Xander has been the leader of the “band of brothers” who watch out for their baby sister, and Aleesia loves having that army of brothers around her. Xander has also been protective of his younger brothers too. It’s what big brothers do.

Xander is a sweet young man, who loves his family and wants to be just like his dad. He has a lot of respect for his parents, and because they have led by example with him, Xander knows just the kind of man he wants to be. He loves his girlfriend, Alli Simpson, and they have great plans for their future. Xander is also a great friend to all his friends. People know that they can count on Xander. He is very hind hearted and tries to help anyone who needs assistance. He has considered becoming an electrician in the future, and that may be where his life takes him, but his mom also thinks he might make a wonderful counselor, because he is really good at talking to people about their problems and not making them feel bad about who they are and where they are in life.

Xander is a fun-loving guy. He loves to ride his longboard and loves to go shooting. He is a good marksman…another skill taught to him by his dad. He is always the life of the party, choosing to bring laughter and fun to every situation. That’s why everyone loves Xander. He just brings a sense of happiness into a room with him. It’s like happiness follows him around, and he gladly embraces the joy.

Xander isn’t entirely sure where life is going to take him, or even where he wants life to take him. He has talked about moving away from Casper, which makes his parents sad, of course. They don’t want him to go, because he is their precious first-born child. I think it is really the first child to move out or move away, that is the hardest on the parents. Of course, they know that no matter where Xander goes, they will always be his parents, and he will always love them and his siblings. Nevertheless, accepting the fact that their son is becoming a man is probably the hardest part about raising children…and the most rewarding too. Today is Xander’s birthday. Happy birthday Xander!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My sister-in-law, Brenda Schulenberg loves riding her bicycle. She made some health changes in her life following a hospital stay on October 18, 2013. Her health scare prompted Brenda to make difficult decisions about her lifestyle. She is not alone in finding herself in that position, because many of us have been in the same place. It’s a daunting situation to find oneself in, and when you do find yourself there, you have no other choice but to begin at the beginning. Most of us who have been overweight, have been there more than once, and each time it’s harder to start again, but you just have to do it.

Brenda felt that same way…overwhelmed. But she took a deep breath and started at the beginning. Eventually, she achieved one of her biggest personal goals…to ride a bicycle. As a young girl, Brenda was not able to ride a bicycle for very long, because she was too heavy. Her knees would simply not bend enough to comfortable work the bicycle. She always felt like she missed out on a lot.

Once she got her weight down enough to get on a bicycle again, she bought a beautiful purple (her favorite color) bicycle, and took the pedals off, because she still couldn’t make them work, but she could walk the bicycle…called stridering. It wasn’t exactly riding, but it was close, and it got her on the bicycle…her ultimate goal. Now, Brenda has put 9000 miles on that old purple bicycle, so she decided to take it up a notch. She bought a new bicycle this year. The one problem Brenda still had on the old purple bicycle was that the hills were still difficult. Her knees still don’t bend like she would really like, and that makes going uphill difficult. The new bicycle has a small motor on it that kicks in to assist with the hills. The rider still has to pedal the bicycle too. It’s not a scooter or moped. It is a real bicycle, but with a “hill assist” attached. I know that this new venture is going to be a good one for Brenda, and I think it will take her exercise to the next level. Continuing to exercise and do the things necessary to stay healthy is vital to Brenda’s life. We want her to be around for a long, long time. Today is Brenda’s birthday. Happy birthday Brenda!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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