After his mother, Ramona Hadlock passed away, my brother-in-law, Chris Hadlock and my sister, Allyn Hadlock inherited his parents’ place on the North Platte River east of Casper. Chris always loved his childhood home, and he can’t wait to move back there. Chris’ parents bought their place in 1973, put a mobile home on the land, and the rest is history…family history, that is. For the most part, Chris and his younger brother, Doug were the children still at home. They loved country living. In the winter, the river and the creek on their property froze, and while they didn’t ride bicycles on the river, they did on the frozen creek. They also took turns pulling each other behind a bicycle on the frozen creek. Chris often talks about his life there and his thoughts are filled with the Christmas barbecues and summertime picnics in the back yard which sits right on the river. Those were happy days when both his parents were still alive, and the time he spent learning things from them.
Chris and Allyn have been busily tearing out anything useful in the old mobile home that his parents lived in, because they plan to sell their home in Casper to their son, Ryan and daughter-in-law, Chelsea and their family. With the proceeds of the sale, they will build their new home on the river, in the place they love to be. It was in this back yard that their rehearsal dinner was held the night before their wedding…37 years ago. And this is the land where so many other family gatherings have been held. It’s no wonder it holds such a big place in Chris’ heart. I’m sure that when he is there, he can almost visualize his parents all around him. I know that because it is the way I feel when I am in my parents home, which is now where my sister, Cheryl Masterson lives. Being able to go back to your childhood home is such a blessing, and I know that is how Chris feels too. The tearing down of the house was something they could not bear to watch in person, because it was Chris’ childhood home, and it felt so final to tear it down, but now that it is gone, they have been able to move forward with the plans for the new house, the construction of which is scheduled to begin soon.
These days Chris talks about the new memories they will make at his childhood home, because while the house is gone, and a new one will soon take it’s place, and his parents’ echo still remains all over the land. That will always be with him. He plans to continue many of the traditions of his parents, and of course they will start many new traditions with their own family, and with the families of their combined siblings too. The place is beautiful and quite big, so it can accommodate lots of people, and at the back fence, you can sit and view the lazy river going by. There are wild turkeys and lots of other birds, and of course, the fresh air and wide open spaces. I know that as Chris and Allyn live on the land, it will grow into a wonderful place where they will want to spend the rest of their lives…other than their place on the mountain, of course. Today is Chris’ birthday. Happy birthday Chris!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
When we think of Independence Day, most of us think of fireworks, picnics, and a day off from work. What I wonder about though, is if most of us know why we shoot off fireworks on this day. The answer may surprise you, because many people did not know this. Even before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, John Adams had a vision of a huge celebration taking place in the city square. He wrote a letter to Abigail Adams on July3, 1776. It said that our Declaration of Independence should be commemorated with “Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.” The first Independence Day holiday was celebrated on July 4, 1777. On that day, at that time in history, the city was beautifully illuminated. That day felt to him like a day that should be filled with patriotism from a grateful nation to its freedom fighters. And, I believe that is what many people think today, but I also think many people forget about the sacrifice that was made so long ago.
According to some historians, the first fireworks were invented in India, but the first fireworks came to the West by way of China. Most if the early fireworks were simply repurposed military munitions, used to entertain rather than to frighten or kill the enemy, which is fitting in a way, because it was those same military munitions that brought about our freedom from England. From those ancient beginnings, came rockets, by stuffing a container with gunpowder and leaving a hole in one end for propulsion. These were called “ground-rats” or “fire rats” and they were highly unpredictable. That made them somewhat less effective, but as anyone who has ever watch a modern day display go a little haywire, they were also pretty entertaining.
So, why do most people love the fireworks today? Is it because of the great technology that allows it to be synchronized with the music, thereby adding to the festive feel? Is it the continuing patriotism in this country? Or is it simply the splendor of the display…the bright colors and the flashing light show? Well, I suppose it is really a combination if all three of those things. We are a people who love our traditions, and I believe that we are still a very patriotic nation. And, I think we love the tradition that was started by John Adams in 1777. It make us feel patriotic and allows us to honor all our military men and women who have fought through the years to keep our nation free. And really, being a free nation is still what it’s all about. That is the thing we must not forget. Happy Independence Day America!!!
When a soldier is serving his country, so far away from home, he often feels like he will not be returning to the same world he left when he joined the service, or was drafted, as used to be the case. The letters from home mean more to that soldier than their writer could ever imagine, and yet, so often, what starts with the best of intentions…to write daily letters…soon slips and ends up being every couple of weeks or once a month. That schedule works well for the person writing from home, but is terribly hard on the soldier, so far away, and wondering if they have been forgotten.
My dad’s letters home from World War II, while varied in content, really said just one thing…I wish I was home. In his letter from July 4th, 1944, he talks about all the great things the family did on Independence Day. My dad writes, “The picnics, drives, swimming at Manitou Falls, the ball games, and all kinds of stuff like that.” He goes on to say that it all seems “so long ago” and I can almost hear the sense of loss in his words. Then he talks about how he can “remember each little detail” and how the “little things like that stick in a fellows memory their whole life, because those things that seemed unimportant at the time, all go together to make up one wonderful word…Home.” He continues, “And the fourth of July is as much a part of that word, as the front door is a part of the house.”
I have found that there was a writer living inside my dad too. Something I had no idea about before. His words painted such a clear picture that I almost felt like I was there. And, between the lines, lived the pain of the loneliness that a young soldier was feeling. Then, I could see my dad, pulling himself up by the bootstraps, and setting aside his feelings so his mother wouldn’t worry, when he lightly said, “Say, let me know what you did on the fourth. Will you? Where you went and if you had fun.” He went on to talk about the flowers that grew in England…a subject he knew his mother would like, although my dad always did like Lilacs too, and missed them in England. When I was a girl growing up, our yard was always full of them. I guess he always wanted to feel like he was home and Lilacs were a big part of that to him.
Dad always tried not to let his feelings worry his mother. I’m sure that is what every soldier has to do. Still, I can’t help tearing up when I think of his feelings. I have always thought of my dad as such a strong man, who always knew what to do, and he was when I knew him, but there was a time that he was, as every soldier is in war time, a scared kid, trying to be brave and not let anyone know what they are feeling, and most of all a kid, wanting to go…Home again.