Posts Tagged ‘work’
Ranger, Texas had been an agricultural center, becoming a wheat producing center for the north, until a drought in 1917 hit the town crops very hard. That was when a few residents encouraged William Knox Gordon (who could be relation to Bob’s family, but I have not confirmed it) who was vice president of the Texas Pacific Coal and Oil Company, to test for oil in the area. He found oil, but the first well drilled, the Nannie Walker No. 1, was somewhat of a disappointment, as it first produced gas and only later blew in oil. Then, in October 1917 the McClesky No. 1 came in, reached a daily production of 1,700 barrels, and began a mammoth oil boom that drastically changed Ranger and Eastland County.
In the summer of 1918, my grandparents sold their homestead in Minnesota and headed south, finally settling in the town of Ranger, Texas. Like so many people, the oil boom in Ranger had drawn them in search of better times, and oil meant better times. There were many oil wells near and even in the town of Ranger during those years, and that meant that the residents could never escape the smell of oil. That is something we here in Wyoming can understand…or at least any of us who have been through the town of Midwest. You know you are getting close to Midwest, because your proximity is announced by the pungent smell of oil. I suppose if you are an oil tycoon, that might just smell like money, but to me…it smells awful.
During those years, there was a danger that the people of Ranger lived with every day. With so much drilling going on, so close and within the town and with the drought continuing, the possibility of out of control fires when an oil well came in and caught fire was a daily concern. There were several such fires, including the one on April 6, 1919, which took out 2 city blocks in the town. It is hard for me to think about how my grandmother must have felt with those fires being a daily possibility…especially after the one that happened on April 6th. My Aunt Laura was just a little girl of 6 years when the April 6th fire hit the town. The worry of trying to get your little girl out of harms way, must have weighed heavy on my grandparents’ minds. She could be outside playing with friends, or sleeping, or any number of other reasons that could make a quick escape difficult. Nevertheless, the little family survived that constant threat of fires and after getting their fill of the Texas oil fields, returned to Wisconsin, at some point before my Uncle Bill was born in 1922, where they would remain for the rest of their lives.
Boys and machines, the two seem to just naturally go together. When their dads or grandpas use those machines, little boys become very intrigued, and since their dad or grandpa is the coolest guy they know, they want to be just like him. As soon as they can talk them into allowing it, those little boys are helping their dad or grandpa to do that all important work. Obviously, there are times when those little boys are less help than hindrance, but sometimes, as is the case with the Hydraulic Wood Splitter, those little boys can be very helpful.
When my nephew, Barry was a little boy, his grandpa, my father-in-law, had a very large woodpile. Much of the heat in the family home came from the wood burning stove. Splitting wood was a continuous project. Barry always looked up to his grandpa, and he wanted nothing more than to imitate his grandpa in every way. Barry willing worked side by side with his grandpa to supply the split wood needed for the wood stove. There was no place he would rather be. It was that way with most of the things Barry’s grandpa did. In the eyes of that little boy, his grandpa could do no wrong; and as far as he was concerned, there was nothing his grandpa couldn’t do, and really, isn’t that the way it should be.
Barry is grown now and, while he still splits wood with his uncles, Bob and Ron. They all run the splitter, if necessary, but whenever he is available, they have a new main operator. Tucker, Ron’s step-son, has taken a great interest in the wood splitter. Tucker likes helping his dad do just about anything he is doing, but running the wood splitter is by far his favorite work. Like most little boys, if it involves machinery, he’s there. And, like Barry, this next generation wood splitter will most likely continue to enjoy splitting wood for years to come.
When my older sister, Cheryl got married, she and her husband moved to Keeseville, New York. There was a changing of the guard, so to speak, at our house. Since Cheryl was the oldest, she was always in charge when our parents weren’t at home, but when Cheryl married, the responsibility shifted to me. I’m sure that if you ask my younger sisters, they would tell you that I…maybe took the power a little too seriously…you know…bossy!! Well, maybe extremely bossy. I wasn’t a very patient person back then, so my little sisters quickly learned not to mess with me much. That kind of power can make a person push all their work on to those people who are in a position whereby they have to obey. That was where my little sisters were.
Oh, it wasn’t a constant thing, and my sisters and I had some very good times together, but as anyone who has ever been in charge of their younger siblings can tell you, being the one in charge does have its up side, and that upside is all about getting out of the work of cleaning the house. Ok, ok…I know it wasn’t probably the nicest thing to do, but I was a kid after all.
That was a long time ago, and we have all grown up. My sisters have long since forgiven me for my big power grab, and we are friends now, but that was a rough time for them…or maybe I wasn’t so different from any other teenager who was in charge of the younger kids while their parents were at work or out for the evening. I like to think that the later is closer to the truth, but I’m also sure my little sisters will still say that I was horrible. All I can say is that it couldn’t have been so bad…I mean, after all, I did let them live!!
Every family has their experts at different things. Some have people who work at banks, some insurance agents, some doctors, some nurses, and the list goes on. These are the people you just naturally call when you have a problem that fits into their area of expertise. Our family is no exception to that rule, We have people from many areas of expertise that we can call on, and some that show up even if we didn’t call on them. That is where my cousin Clyde comes in. Now the time he showed u without our calling him, I really must clarify by saying that someone did call him, it just wasn’t us. Bob and I lived out in the country, and a neighbor say smoke coming from our place, and she called the fire department. That’s where Clyde comes in. Clyde was the Natrona County Fire Chief for many years, before he retired.
I was at work, when I got a call form Bob saying that we “needed to go home” right away, because we had a fire. That is not the best way to find out that all of your belongings might be toast. Bob came and picked my up, and we rushed out to our place to see what the damages were. As we pulled up, we saw that the flames were higher than our house, so we couldn’t really tell what all was involved. We could see that our Jeep was a gonner. Clyde walked up to us as we got out of the car, and said, “Hi Bob, I wondered if we had your place here…Where’ve you been dumping your ashes?” I was stunned at that moment. Apparently, Bob had been taking our ashes out of the stove, and after several days in the ash bucket, he was dumping them on the ground outside of our yard…but, probably a little too close to a pile of junk wood we were cutting up and using for our wood stove, and that pile of wood was just on the other side of the fence from my Jeep.
Bob explained that the ashes were cold…he had felt the bucket. Clyde explained that with the wind that was blowing it had fanned the ashes and ignited the flames. In the end, the Jeep and the junk wood were the only things we lost, but we were sure glad that we had Clyde in the family. He would have given the same care and concern to any fire he fought, but it was comforting to know that when we really needed a fireman, Clyde was there. Today is Clyde’s birthday, and we want to thank him for all he has done for this county, and for us. Happy birthday Clyde!! We love you!!
As a little girl, my mom was always on the go. She had long slender legs that she though were too skinny at the time. Don’t most of us wish we had such a problem these days. Of course, most kids, especially back then were in pretty good shape. Kids didn’t sit in front of the television set…probably because they didn’t have one, but even if they had, they probably wouldn’t have watched it much. It just wasn’t what kids did back then.
Mom didn’t really change very much over the years. She was still slender even after having 5 children. I have looked at pictures of her over the years, and I always notice her tiny shoulders…which are so unlike my own, not huge, but square shoulders. She looked like a little kid in our family pictures while I was in high school. I just couldn’t believe just how tiny she was. She didn’t look like she could possibly be the mom.
One thing I will never forget about my mom is how fast she could walk. When she was working at Kmart, she was over a huge department. When we would go over to take her breaks with her, she was really hard to keep up with. She was walking, but we practically had to run to keep up with her. Talk about power walking, my mom was an expert at it. If we showed up for her break and she was getting something for a customer, or to stock the shelves…well, good luck trying to catch her.. She was a woman on a mission, and you were going to have to run to let her know you were there.
Of course, time, knee problems, and age have take their toll now, and mom can no longer walk so fast. She still gets around pretty well, but the days of the power walk are over for her. It’s funny that in our minds we still think we could do it…at least for a while, but in reality, we don’t realize the ability is gone until it is long gone, and then we can only look back sadly, and wish we could get those days back…somehow.
I never got the chance to get to know my grandmother, my dad’s mom, but I have heard so many great things about her. She was such a strong woman, running a farm, much of the time with just the help of her children, and carrying on the day to day workload that it takes to run a family and get all the kids headed out for school and such. She was not a big woman, as the size of this dress told me, and yet, she has always seemed larger in my mind, because of her capabilities. The dress shows that she was maybe a little taller than I am, and slender. I had noticed that too, in other pictures, but she also had to have been very strong, to carry the load of the work and home responsibilities that she did. I’m sure it was the size of the work that she did, and not the size of the woman, that made me think she had to have been a bigger woman that she really was.
My grandmother’s parents immigrated to the Unite States from Germany in the years before she was born. I’m sure that many of the traditions for Germany came along with them too, and I know that my dad’s grandma spoke much German or a combination of English and German to my dad when he was little, including “So, du bist a ocha man” which would translate to “So, now you are a big man” when he fell after rocking back too far in his chair at the kitchen table. I have to wonder what other traditions were passed from parents to daughter.
One thing that I’m sure was passed along was a good work ethic. My grandmother was a very hard working woman, who was really nothing like the frilly, lacey wedding dress that she wore on her wedding day. The dress, while beautiful, was soon replaced by the everyday work dresses of a woman with a pioneer spirit and the strength to do what needed to be done to make a living on a farm. Of course, I suppose there are very few of us who would wear clothing during our marriage that would be anything similar to the gown we would choose to wear for our wedding day. Still, I think that the gown we choose for our wedding day does depict the type of woman we are…at least at the time. People change as they mature, and life events play a huge part in that change. I’m sure that my grandmother rose to the occasions in her life to become the strong woman I have heard about all my life.
When the first two of my four grandchildren, Christopher and Shai were little, the spent a lot of time together, since Amy babysat Christopher. While they were best friends, that didn’t stop the competition to be bigger. They kids were born just one day apart, with Christopher being the oldest, so many things were done at the same time or pretty close. These little competitions didn’t cause too many fights for the most part, but once in a while they did. Mostly this was if they both wanted to do the same things, which happened more when they were little. I remember once when the fought over who should sit in Shai’s car seat that had been brought into the house. It looked like Christopher got in first, and Shai didn’t like it, but then we will probably never know, since we didn’t know there was a problem until the screaming started.
They also competed over walking, running, and climbing, each wanting to be the best at it. The good news there, is that they didn’t usually need the exact same space. Side by side worked well when doing that. Mostly they were working to see who could complete the task first, and that first place position went back and forth. Still, the competitions didn’t damage their friendship, which is still very much in tact today. I guess it’s a good thing that those kids don’t carry a grudge over childhood tiffs.
The years have flown by so fast, and the kids are so close to being grown up that I can hardly believe it. The days of competing for top spot are long gone. Their interests are so different from each other that there is no longer a need. I am so proud of the teenagers they have become. They are hard working, and they pay their own normal teenaged bills, like gas, insurance, and car stuff. I can’t believe how fast they have grown up, but I really like the people they have become. I can count on them to help with whatever I might need, and they are great about transporting their siblings around. But the best thing about these kids is that they don’t mind hugging their grandma, even in public, and that means the most to me!! Many teenagers just don’t want to even be seen hugging their grandparents, but these guys are very cool and they show their love for me everyday. I am so blessed!!
My two oldest grandchildren have always made me very proud…as have my two younger ones. They were cute and funny, and…well just precious…and yes I am biased, but I don’t care, because that is my right as a grandma. Through the years they have all made me laugh, and given me hugs, that always seemed to bless me at the perfect moment of need. They probably didn’t even know I had a need, but they were just very loving children, and the hugs were bountiful What more could a grandmother ask for?
Now they are grown into wonderful 16 year old adults…well almost adults, and if you look at them from the perspective of their jobs, you would think they were adults for sure. Neither one of these kids is a stranger to hard work. When they were just 10 years old, and their grandpa, my dad, was very ill, they pitched in with his care. It didn’t matter what we asked them to do, they were happy to do it. Their wanted their grandpa to get better, and so they very unselfishly gave of themselves to help him live another 2 years. It was a gift of themselves to him, that brought about a bond with him that he never forgot.
Both of the older grandchildren have jobs now, and their supervisors count on them heavily. For that reason, they often work lots of hours each week. It is nice in that the money is good, but they get very tired, and often sleep much of their time off. Even though I don’t get to see as much of them as I would like to now, I am very proud of them. It is not often that you see such great work ethic in young people. They didn’t take a job just to quit it when the work began, and they have not been fired either. They are workers and they will always do their very best. What a wonderful plus for anyone who hires them.
When I first went back to work after taking 13 years off to raise my girls up to the junior high level, I found that there were not many places who were willing to take a chance on me and my abilities. That said, I found myself working at a Burger King as the main day girl, mostly working the drive thru window from August, 1988 to April, 1989, when I was hired by our insurance agent and began my career in insurance. The time I spent working at Burger King, while less than fulfilling, because I was capable of so much more, was interesting and I very much enjoyed working with most of the people I worked with. I spent many hours saying, “Thanks for choosing Burger King. May I take your order, please?” It got to be a habit, and I have never forgotten that greeting, normal I’m sure, when you say the same things for so long.
My girls were in junior high when I worked at Burger King, and as we all know, junior high school girls attract junior high school boys. So began the years of phone calls from those boys to my girls. All that seems pretty normal, and it was, but after a long day at work, answering the phone was the last thing I wanted to do. Nevertheless, on this particular night, I answered the phone when it rang, and immediately fell into my normal routine…”Thanks for choosing Burger King…” At that point my mind completely blanked blanked on what should be said. I stumbled along with, “No…that’s not right…not Burger King…” Finally, I pulled out, “Hello.” After a moment of silence on the other end, a boy said, “…is Corrie there???” Yes, without a doubt, he thought I was crazy…and for a moment, maybe he was right.
That has happened to me several times, I’m sorry to say. I have answered my home phone as, “Farmer’s Insurance” or “The Stengel Agency” and I have even made calls to doctors for my parents, and told them I was “Caryn, with The Stengel Agency.” I guess, we get into a habit, at work of saying certain things when we answer the phone, and and after a while, our mind forgets that we aren’t at work. Whatever the reason, telephone faux pas can be pretty embarrassing for the person who momentarily forgets where they are, and pretty funny to the person on the other end of the line.
For the past year, I have had the distinct pleasure of working side by side with my granddaughter at The Stengel Agency. Yesterday was Shai’s one year anniversary. She is our CSR, and her job is to answer phones, take payments, keep our filing up to date, and all the other odd jobs we give her. This has been a great opportunity for a high school student, and she has done a great job of it.
Not many people get to work with their kids or grandkids, and I am blessed to be able to work with both. There is a loyalty that goes along with working side by side with family and friends, and that is what you will find in our office. There is no need to micro-manage anyone, because we all just do our jobs. Shai comes in after school, and works until 5:00pm every weekday. When she first started working in the office, she was nervous about answering the phones, and dealing with customers, but as time has gone on, she is very comfortable greeting customers, and talking on the phone.
Kids go through many changes as they journey from childhood to adulthood, and I am proud to say that through those years Shai has excelled in several key areas of that journey. At 10 years of age, she cared for her great grandparents during the last 2 months of that summer, when they were both quite ill. I was very proud of how capable and responsible she was. We knew we didn’t have to worry about them…Shai was on the job. She also babysat my niece’s 3 boys, and they knew their children were in good hands…not to mention loved. And now, she is proving herself in the office. We know we can count on her to do her job to the very best of her ability.
Shai, I don’t know what your future plans will be, and while I love working with you, I will support you in whatever you do, but I will tell you this…you make a good CSR, and I believe that as time goes on you will get better and better at it. And thanks for the great…but fictional picture. I know you didn’t really drop those files, but it definitely adds flair to my story. Congratulations on a great first year!! Love you very much!!