On most Thursday evenings, I go over to have supper with my mom, Collene Spencer and my sister, Cheryl Masterson. This summer, Cheryl has been babysitting her little granddaughter, Aleesia Spethman, while her daughter, Jenny and her family attend some of the Thursday night events in Downtown Casper. Prior to having Aleesia over on Thursday nights, I got to see her once a week at church, so she was a little bit stand offish with me…not terribly unusual in an almost two year old child who doesn’t know you that well. Now that I have spent more time with her, she is warming up to me, and it is so much fun to witness the changes in her first hand. She is and always be her grandma’s girl, unless her parents are around, and her great grandma, my mom, who she calls GG, will always be second, but she does like her Great Aunt Caryn too. She says my name, but I don’t always catch that my name is what she is saying, and she doesn’t say it very often, but she will throw me kisses, and even climb up in my chair once in a while now. At least, she will once she feels sufficiently warmed up to me for the evening. But, my favorite thing she says is when she and her grandma are playing word games. They say pa-lease…which is of course please with sarcasm. It’s really quite funny.
Aleesia is a performer, and she loves to be recognized for the amazing feats of acrobatics, balance, and just plain silliness she performs. Her most favorite thing to do is to climb up on GG’s walker, that has a seat. Once there, she raises her hands above her head and looks around the room to make sure that we have all noticed this amazing act. We are then expected to clap our hands, and anyone who doesn’t receives an Aleesia Stare until they get their act together and start clapping. Seriously, you can watch television anytime, and this is The Aleesia Show, so pay attention!! Her next maneuver is to jump from the walker to the waiting arms of her grandma or GG. Never mind that they might be eating. If they don’t tell her to wait until after supper soon enough, they had better catch her…because this little girl is fearless. That isn’t surprising either, because Aleesia has three brothers, so tough is kind of her middle name.
Even though Aleesia is tough enough, don’t make the mistake of thinking that she isn’t a girly girl, because she likes her cute outfits and even her hair bows…most of the time. She loves the frilly little outfits that her mom dresses her in. Her favorite decorative pillow has Tinkerbelle on it. All these things point to a girly girl. And that is Aleesia too. She loves to dance, and anything else that might get those around her to cheer her on or clap their hands. That’s just part of her charm and part of The Aleesia Show, in which our little girl performs to the delight of those around her. It’s a show I would hate to miss. Today is Aleesia’s 2nd birthday. Happy birthday baby girl!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
The Indian motorcycle came into being in 1901, and is noted as the first motorcycle in the United States. My grandfather, Allen Luther Spencer owned one, which he dubbed That Old Indian Motorcycle in the very early 1900’s. He decided to ride the motorcycle from Ladysmith, Wisconsin to Rushville, Nebraska to meet and visit his Aunt Tessie Spencer Davis. Because gas stations were few and far between, he would have to carry gas with him. Even then, there were times he ended up pushing the motorcycle to the next gas station, such as the point in South Dakota where he pushed it for quite a few miles after running it out of gas.
My Uncle Bill tells of a point in Nebraska, where his dad ran into a bunch of Indians, who invited him to supper. He wasn’t sure how the Indians felt about the white man at that point, so wanting to make sure he didn’t offend them, he accepted their offer. There were about a dozen Indians, with several horses and a bunch of dogs there. Indians had always had a bunch of dogs around, because they are a kind of self storing, self perpetuating food supply. The Indians picked out a rather plump dog, killed it and made a stew.
Now, I don’t know about you, but my mother always told me that when you are invited for a meal, you eat what is put in front of you. I know that a lot of people have eaten things like snake or rabbit, and been told that it tasted just like chicken. I’ve eaten rabbit, and I do not agree. There is no similarity as far as I’m concerned. I have never eaten horse or dog meat, and I think I would have to be just about starving to death before I would consent to eat it…sorry Mom. Nevertheless, my grandfather had no desire to offend those Indians, so he ate the bowl of stew offered. After that, they offered him a second, third, and finally a fourth bowl. He pretended the stew was very good, while secretly praying they would not offer a fifth bowl. He really didn’t want to offend the men who far outnumbered him, and there was nowhere he could turn for help. Finally, they could tell that he was either very full, or maybe even a little green around the gills, so they decided that supper was over and after talking a while, they set up some tents and settled in for the night. Grandpa moved his motorcycle a little way away from their camp, and tried not to fall asleep, wanting to keep his scalp, and not knowing if they still scalped people or not. He finally fell asleep, in spite of his efforts not to, and in the morning the Indians were gone.
The rest of the trip was completed without further incident, and he made it to Aunt Tessie’s house, scaring her and her 7 year old daughter Ruth, when he came down the road as boldly as you please. They were the only ones home, and they lived many miles from the nearest neighbor. After dismounting the motorcycle, he walked up to her front door, and when she answered, he said, “Aunt Tessie, I’m your nephew, Allen Spencer, from Wisconsin.” It was an unusual way to meet her nephew, and it might have helped if he had sent her a letter telling her he was coming, but they quickly got to know each other, and he spent several months with the family before heading back to Wisconsin. I would imagine it was a visit that Aunt Tessie never forgot.
Bob’s great grandfather was a single dad for much of his children’s young lives. He worked on the Northern Pacific Railroad as a yard clerk. It was a time in their lives when everyone had to pitch in. The kids, Bob’s grandmother, Vina, and her brother, Kirby had to get things done around the house, because their dad worked long hours at work. Those were different times. Kids at home doing their chores were much safer than they were in this day and age. The two of them knew that they needed to get the house cleaned and supper on the table by the time their dad got home…not because they were afraid of him…because they knew how tired he would be. Grandma spoke so highly of her dad, that I know she felt nothing but love and respect for him.
His occupation was a hard one, but it had its perks too. When his vacation time came around, their travel plans often included a train ride to somewhere. I can imagine how much fun that must have been. Not many kids in those days got to do a lot of traveling, and unless your dad worked on the railroad, or you had a lot of money, you probably didn’t get to ride on a train much either. I don’t know where all they got to go, but since I like riding trains myself, I can totally picture how excited they must have been every time they set out on a new adventure. I can imagine trips back east to visit family members who might have lived back there, or down south, maybe to see the Gulf of Mexico. So many places they might have gone…so many things they might have seen.
I have ridden a train for short distances, but never on a long trip. I can tell you that it is an exciting ride, and one I never get tired of, so I expect that Grandma and Kirby were thrilled every time they got on board. I think it would be so exciting to eat and sleep on the train…especially as young children, who already see life as one big adventure.
I wish I had been able to meet Great Grandpa Leary, but he was gone six years before I was born, and of course, years before I became a part of the family by marrying Bob, and so much too late to meet this man whose daughter always spoke so highly of him. I think he must have been quite a guy.