When flight first began, I seriously doubt that anyone had any idea how far it would go. Many people said, “If God had wanted us to fly, He would have given us wings!” Of course, wings can be added…if you know how to add them. The Wright brothers figured out how to add those wings, and how to make them fly. Nevertheless, any kind of long distance fight was still far in the future, back then.
Then, on July 25, 1909, Louis Blériot took off from a field in France, and flew his flimsy monoplane northward for half an hour, and landed near Dover Castle in England. The flight…at the time, daring beyond belief…caused a sensation in Britain. No one thought it could be done, and much less that a mere 40 years later, a plane would actually make a non-stop around the world trip…successfully. Nevertheless, forty years later, Captain James G. Gallagher and a 13-man crew took off from Carswell AFB, Texas, in a B-50 bomber named Lucky Lady II. Four days later they landed back at Carswell. This achievement, the first nonstop flight around the world, also stirred the public imagination.
Neither event involved a major breakthrough in technology, but each was significant for other reasons. Blériot’s flight lasted a mere 37 minutes. In several demonstration flights in France during the previous year, Wilbur Wright had stayed aloft much longer. Blériot was the first to use a combination of hand/arm-operated joystick and foot-operated rudder control, that is in use to the present day, for the basic format of aerodynamic aircraft control systems. Blériot was also the first to make a working, powered, piloted monoplane. In 1909 he became world-famous for making the first airplane flight across the English Channel.
Lucky Lady II took off from Carswell Air Force Base in Fort Worth, Texas. A B-50 Superfortress, Lucky Lady II flew the first nonstop round-the-world flight. The aircraft averaged 249 miles per hour on its 23,452 mile flight. The Lucky Lady II was refueled four times in the air by B-29 tanker planes and on March 2 returned to the United States after 94 hours in the air. It was a record breaking flight. Of course, the record would not last forever. In December 1986, Voyager, a lightweight propeller plane constructed mainly of plastic, landed at Edwards Air Force Base in Muroc, California, having completed the first global flight without refueling. Flight will most likely never stop improving.
New York City is known for its jaywalking. It may not be the jaywalking capitol of the world, but it has been know to have many jaywalking deaths. That situation inspired the city to install the first walk/don’t walk signs in history on February 5, 1952. Not every inspiration or invention brings change for the better, and I don’t think that all regulation is a good thing, but when it comes to a meeting between a car and a pedestrian, the pedestrian will lose every time. The use of these pedestrian traffic signs are still used today in order to make streets safer.
Walk/Don’t Walk signs are just a normal fixture these days. We use them at every busy intersection, and don’t give them a second thought…unless they seem to be taking too long to change. Then we feel annoyed, or even cross against the light, which is still jaywalking, even though we are at a crosswalk. While it isn’t uncommon to be annoyed at the wait to cross the street, it can be nice to have that assistance when there is a lot of traffic.
The walk/don’t walk signs have changed over the years, from the very basic style installed in New York City in 1952, to the more modern ones that tell you when to walk or to wait. These are of course designed with the visually impaired person in mind. Our society have become more aware of the needs of the handicapped, and the voice control feature is truly vital.
Strangely, the Walk/Don’t Walk sign has not always been an apostrophe in the word “don’t.” When the first don’t walk signs were installed in New York, they didn’t have an apostrophe between the letters n and t, which makes that the sign was written as ‘dont walk’. It is thought that these signs lack an apostrophe, because it made the stop command more urgent. Another theory about why the signs missed the apostrophe was because they were made from a single-piece neon light, which made it difficult to add the apostrophe. I don’t suppose we will ever know why, for sure.
Between 1999 and 2000, it was decided that the traditional ‘walk’ and ‘don’t walk’ signs should be phased out, because they were difficult to understand for people who didn’t speak English. Many pedestrian accidents occurred with tourists in New York and therefore the city decided to change the traditional sign into a simple stick figure of a walking man when green, and a raised hand when red. Whichever type of walk/don’t walk signs you have in your town, you can be sure that the signs have saved lives.
I’m not a huge fan of winter, but recently I saw something the mentioned how quiet it seems when it’s snowing, and I started thinking about the fact, that it really does seem quieter when it snows. I thought it must be some sort of illusion, or more likely, the lack of the Wyoming wind blowing, that made my world seem more quiet. Still, my curious mind had to find out exactly what the answer was. I’m not super into scientific experiments, but this seemed like a good one to check into. Maybe it was just me thinking about that, but maybe it wasn’t. Maybe other people wondered about it too.
As it turns out, it wasn’t just me…and the world really is quieter when it snows. That isn’t something you really see when watching a blizzard on television, and maybe there are some exceptions to the rule, but the reality is that snow absorbs sound waves. When it’s snowing, there’s plenty of space between snowflakes, meaning that there is also less space for sound waves to bounce around…so I’m not imagining it. The world actually gets more quiet when it snows. Bernadette Woods Placky, a meteorologist and director of Climate Central’s Climate Matters program says, “When snow falls, it does absorb some of the sound waves.”
To further add to the quiet, as snowflakes stack up, there is more space left between them, compared to the surface of liquids like water. “With all that space, sound is unable to bounce off snow as easily as it would off water,” Woods Placky says. As a result, the sound gets absorbed, and somewhat like the way a soundproof room absorbs the sound, so you can’t hear what is going on inside, the snow pulls the sound into itself, and we don’t hear it very well. Of course, things like less people outside and on the road also account for the quiet. Traffic stalls tremendously during and after a snowstorm, due to icy roads and the dangers it presents to drivers. Many animals, especially birds, also aren’t out as much. They have to adapt to snowy weather that makes their environment colder and their food more difficult to find. They hunker down to conserve energy.
Whatever the reason for the quiet we hear during a snowstorm, I have always felt like it was a beautiful thing. I don’t like the cold, and I don’t like the icy roads, but just watching the snow, fall quietly to the ground, and listening to the quiet that it produces makes it would of those wonderful experiences that you have to slow down and take the time to notice, or you will never have the full peace that happens when the world gets quiet.
My niece, Gabby Beach finished her service in the Navy, and now it is her time to finish her education. Gabby was a corpsman in the Navy, and so have decided to go for a nursing degree. She and her husband, Allen decided to make Casper, Wyoming their home for the college years, because Casper College has a great nursing program, and it places them close to family…something they haven’t had since they joined the Navy. This semester will find Gabby taking the prerequisites, for the nursing program, which is no small class load. In addition, she will be taking a PE class, which, for Gabby, is a walk in the park. She is a fitness fanatic. She looks great, and she could take on any physical challenge issued. In fact, she is also taking the certification to become a personal trainer. I think it would be very easy for Gabby to have three careers. Nursing, Personal Trainer, and Dog Training for service dogs. She is quite good at all three.
Another nice thing about moving to Wyoming for school, is the fact that there are lots of places to go hiking, and that is something that Gabby and Allen like to do. They have traveled the world, and I’m sure they have hiked lots of places too. I’m sure that Wyoming is pretty unique when compared to the places they have lived. While Wyoming has its own kind of beauty, I’m sure it is much more rustic than any other place they have lived. They have settled in an apartment on my sister, Caryl Reed, and her husband Mike’s retirement home outside of Casper, and they are really enjoying the quietness of country living. I don’t think that any of the places Gabby has lived before go much snow, and she was out shoveling and seemingly having a good time doing it. Most of us, who have lived in Wyoming for any length of time, know that shoveling snow is pretty low on the list of things most fun to do. But, once again, Gabby has proven that she is not most people. She tends to embrace to unknown or unusual.If she were like most people, I have a feeling that she would not have loved to exercise either. I have a feeling that it was Gabby’s uniqueness that first attracted Allen to her…other that her beauty. And Gabby is beautiful. Today is Gabby’s birthday. Happy birthday Gabby!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
The United States is often called the Sleeping Giant. In the past, the United States has been known as the most powerful country in the world…back in the good old days, that is. Now China, Japan and Russia are also considered to be powerful countries where nuclear weaponry is concerned. The dollar was also the powerful currency, then and even now. The president of the United States was always considered the most powerful person, and I think still is today, or is moving back into that position. All these things considered, the United States was definitely a sleeping giant, because if it woke up it would do everything in its power to rectify things around the globe. As we saw on September 11, 2001, when terrorists attacked our country. Like Toby Keith sang in his song Courtesy Of The Red, White, And Blue (The Angry American), “Justice will be served, and the battle will rage. This big dog will fight when you rattle his cage. And you’ll be sorry that you messed with the U.S. of A” That is notoriously the way the United States has been when it comes to world conflict…slow to anger, but once we are in a war…we are in it to win it!
The same held true for the other wars we have been in. We might not jump in early, but when we do…look out. On this day, April 6, 1917, the United States Senate voted 82 to 6 to declare war against Germany, the United States House of Representatives endorses the declaration by a vote of 373 to 50, and America formally entered World War I. This action would be the one that would send my grandfather, George Byer to war. He was 24 years old. Grandpa didn’t talk much about his time in the war…at least not that I remember. I think that most of the men who came home after fighting in a war, are just happy to be home. They want to put it all behind them, and move forward with their lives, knowing that if it was ever necessary he would go back again. He was a patriot, and that was what patriots did. In fact, when the time came for the men to register for the “old man draft” of World War II…a time when men up to the age of 65 were required to register for the draft, Grandpa was honored to register, as were the other men between the ages of 45 and 65. These men felt like their time of usefulness was over, and when they were told that they were needed again, even if it was just for work on the home front, they all jumped at the chance to serve.
As for World War I, Grandpa would serve, and he would come home. Then, he would go on to live a long life…forever changed from the man he once was, because you see, war changes a man. They are changed by what they see, whether they were required to take a life or not. And if they were required to kill, then kill they would, because The Sleeping Giant had been awakened, and the Big Dog’s cage had been rattled. The United States would go to war, and they would win, along with their alleys, because losing was not an option…not if the world was to remain the kind of place we knew and loved. Germany was an evil empire, and that evil empire had to be stopped. I am very proud of my grandfather’s service, and I’m thankful that the Big Dog fought in this one and the other wars it has fought in. It was an important fight, and we needed to win it.
Over the years, many people have done all they could to create a world of peace, but is that really possible? I don’t believe it is. There is always a nation or group of people who have something they don’t like…whether it is politics, religion, boarders, or any number of other reasons. Periodically there are groups that try to find a way to promote peace. Some try to do so through protests against war, which is not very effective, because the protests are seldom peaceful themselves, but they do get publicity. Others try to appease the enemy, which also doesn’t work, because it is viewed as a show of weakness and compliance, causing the enemy to feel empowered.
When I was in high school, a singing group came to the school to perform for us. The group was called, “Up With People.” Their purpose was to unite the world through charity and song. It’s a noble effort, and in the Hippie Generation, of which I was a part, it all seemed possible. Of course, it wasn’t…not really. That effort ended, and another cause began, and failed as well. Oh, don’t get me wrong, people were helped, lives were changed, and everyone felt like they had made a difference. I suppose they did, but not in the area of world peace…which is, I believe, a myth. I think we as people traveling through life on earth, can help each other, donate funds, be kind, and reach out, but to make a world where there is no war…a world of peace on earth…no, I don’t think it is possible in this age…or any other.
I’m not against humanitarian groups that try to help those in need. I believe that we as humans should be compassionate and willing to help as needed, but the reality is that we must also understand that while we can help a current need, or even some in the future, we cannot stop the evil and hatred that exists in this world. There will not be peace on earth in the way that people think it can happen, because there are too many differences…differences of opinion, beliefs, rights, wrongs, and desire, not to mention agendas. No singing group, protest, or humanitarian effort will ever make it so. I guess that in the end, all we can do is try to create peace in our own little corner of the world and pray that it multiplies so that it affects those around us, and not get so upset when we can’t find a way to create world peace, because that is an impossible feat for the human race.
When my great aunt, Bertha Schumacher Hallgren passed way in 1984, much had changed in our world, in comparison to the world she found herself in as a young girl. To me, one of the most significant changes would have been in the area of flight…regular flight or space flight. Bertha was a very curious girl. She thought about things, and thought things through. That is the reason that she included facts of the times in her journal. I do wish she had published her works, because I think they would have been of great interest to a lot of people, even if they weren’t written about their family. The first flight took place when Bertha was just a young girl of four years, so she grew up knowing that flight was possible, but there is no indication in her writings, that she ever flew on a plane. The space program began in 1961, so she saw space flight too, and I’m quite certain that she really thought that was an amazing feat, but it did not make it into her writings either. Perhaps, by that time in her life, she thought that there just wouldn’t be much interest in her writings, aside from possibly her sister, Mina Spare’s daughter, Pauline, and later maybe her grandchildren, who were given a copy of the journal, thereby preserving this amazing book, whether accidental or not.
By the time Bertha passed away in 1984, she had seen the first Space Shuttle launch that took place on April 12, 1981. I have to think that she must have been very much amazed that a plane could fly into space, and return to earth again with the ability to land using its own power, to land not by dropping in the ocean, as had always been the case, but rather by landing on a runway, just like a regular plane. Unfortunately, the placement of the Hubble Space Telescope came to pass just six years after Bertha’s passing, on this day, April 25, 1990. I find that particularly sad, because I think she would have loved that. I can picture her watching the news on television just to catch a glimpse of the space that surrounds our own galaxy. And I can picture her look of wonder as she thought about this amazing world of change that we live in. It was a place that always fascinated her, and I know that it did until the day she died.
When I think of the Cavalry, I think of the Old West. The idea of men heading off to war mounted on horses, in today’s world seems completely crazy. In reality, it was precarious enough in the days of the Cowboys and Indians, but even more so with guided missiles, tanks, roadside bombs, and suitcase bombs…just to name a few. I realize that those weapons have evolved slowly, but the Cavalry probably rode horses well past the point when it was safe for them to do so. Nevertheless, the reality is that many of the men had no desire to give up their horse for the alternative in 1941, but that was what they were told to do, and so they did…many with tearful sadness to show for it. They followed their orders, with minimal grumbling, because things like that could get a guy in trouble. Still, the goodbyes were tearful, even if the tears had to be held until the soldier was alone.
Of course, we know, as did they, that the weapons that were being lobbed at them were far more sophisticated than they had been in the early years, but they had come to trust their horse to get them out of the place that found themselves in. In reality, that was becoming harder and harder for the horse. Remember that any weapon that was lobbed at the rider, was also lobbed at the horse. It was hard to hit one and miss the other. A tank on the other hand was often invincible against many of the weapons back when the tank was invented. It was in the best interest of the soldier to give up his mount, but it was fully understood that it was also one of the hardest things they would ever have to do.
Troop F stationed at Douglas, Wyoming would be one of the last troops to be required to give up their horses. Their horses were stunning black Morgan horses, and this troop was proud of their horses, and their duties. One duty of which they were especially proud was when they escorted the Governor at state events. The riders were in their dress white uniforms, and even the horses were dressed up in white. The horses were so proud of their duties, and they knew them better than the rookies who were riding them. When the men presented their shining sabers, the horses would prance sideways in an elaborate display of discipline. For the men who worked with the beautiful horses daily, the thought of never mounting up again was…well, devastating.
Nevertheless, in the end, the men lost their horses to the modern world and modern machines. While it was not the preferred situation, the men knew that times were changing and they would either have to change with the times, or become dinosaurs of the past. I suppose that most of them would continue on, because that is what soldiers do. They came to serve their country, and they would not let their final dismount be their final act in the service.
The Constitution has been in the news a lot these days, or shall I say, the violation of the Constitution. Sometimes I wonder if the signers of the Constitution would even be able to recognize the nation that they had envisioned when they wrote the Constitution. I happen to think they would not, but then even at the signing of the Constitution there was controversy. In that way, I suppose there would always be those who would do everything in their power to change or even do away with the Constitution. At the time of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, only 38 of the 41 delegates present at its conclusion, agreed to sign the document. There were those, even then, who disagreed with what was laid out there. I suppose that is common in anything in life. Needless to say, it was a hard-won battle to win the ratification by the necessary nine out of thirteen US states in existence at the time.
Before the Constitution, the United States was operating under the Articles of Confederation, which was ratified several months before the British surrender at Yorktown in 1781. The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union were an agreement among all thirteen original states in the United States of America. Basically it was the first constitution. Even when not yet ratified, the Articles provided a system for the Continental Congress to direct the American Revolutionary War, conduct diplomacy with Europe, and deal with territorial issues and Native American relations, but it was weak in that it didn’t allow for our president, a court system, or taxation, thereby leaving us with a weaker government. Congress was also given no authority to enforce its requests to the states for troops, giving us a weaker military force. Yet, even with the proposed changes, there were those who would disagreed with the proposed new Constitution.
When the Constitutional Convention was convened on May 25, 1787, the plan had been to amend the Articles of Confederation, but that plan was quickly set aside in favor of writing a completely new Constitution. The meeting was held in Philadelphia’s Pennsylvania State House. It is now known as Independence Hall. Revolutionary War hero George Washington, a delegate from Virginia was elected as convention president. The debate was heated, but in the end, the delegates came up with a brilliant federal organization that boasted an intricate system of checks and balances. One of the main divisions in the discussions was that the more populated states wanted a state representation in Congress, and the smaller states wanted equal representation. That problem was solved by the Connecticut Compromise, which proposed a two chamber legislature with proportional representation in the lower house known as the House of Representatives and equal representation of the states in the upper house known as the Senate. It seemed a fair way to do it, but there are still those who disagree to this day.
It would seem like they had an instant solution, but that wasn’t so. As dictated by Article VII, the document would not become binding until it was ratified by nine of the 13 states. On December 7, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, and Connecticut ratified the Constitution in quick succession. Other states, especially Massachusetts, opposed the Constitution, because it failed to reserve undelegated powers to the states and lacked constitutional protection of basic political rights, such as freedom of speech, religion, and the press, which I personally agree with. By February 1788, they had reached a compromise under which Massachusetts and other states would agree to ratify the document and that amendments would immediately be added to provide the protections they proposed. The Constitution was then narrowly ratified in Massachusetts. Maryland and South Carolina quickly followed. On June 21, 1788, New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the document, and it was agreed that government under the US Constitution would begin on March 4, 1789. In June, Virginia ratified the Constitution, followed by New York in July. The Constitution was signed on this day, September 17, 1787.
As promised, on September 25, 1789, the first Congress of the United States adopted 12 amendments to the US Constitution, called the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights was then sent to the states for ratification. Ten of these amendments were ratified in 1791. In November 1789, North Carolina became the 12th state to ratify the US Constitution. Rhode Island, which opposed federal control of currency and was critical of compromise on the issue of slavery, resisted ratifying the Constitution until the US government threatened to sever commercial relations with the state. On May 29, 1790, Rhode Island voted by two votes to ratify the document, and the last of the original 13 colonies joined the United States. Today, the US Constitution is the oldest written constitution in operation in the world. That should say something, and it should be reason to protect it.
I don’t know if it was because Bob and I had been on vacation or what exactly, but when we went to visit my mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg, she decided that she had been on vacation too. Her travels took her to San Francisco and to Oregon before finally arriving in Butte, Montana. I don’t know why she chose these particular destinations for her travels, but it is my guess that she thought she had traveled, because we told her that we had been in the Black Hills this past week. When my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg retired, they did a bit of traveling. They liked to winter in Yuma, Arizona, and then drive to Winnemucca, Nevada to visit her sister Linda Cole and her husband, Bobby. Then, they would drive up the coast to Klamath Falls, Oregon to visit his sister, Esther Hein and her significant other, Keith Leistikaw. I suppose they would have very likely driven through Butte, Montana on their way to Forsyth, Montana to visit family in that area.
It’s hard to say for sure what things trigger my mother-in-law’s past memories to come back to her so vividly, when at other times, she doesn’t really recall them much at all. I suppose it is just the way Alzheimer’s Disease works. Sometimes the memories are there and pretty clear, and other times they are just gone. For that reason, you enjoy the memories when she has them. It is always a surprise. Unexpected, and yet always fun. When the memories come, they come with clarity, so I get a glimpse into what her life was like at that time. It’s also at times like these, that I’m thankful for the research I’ve put into her life for the different stories I have written about her, because that has enabled me to converse with her on things she remembers too.
As our time with her went on, she noticed that the clouds had begun to roll in a bit, because there was a chance of rain. But since she didn’t know what month we are in, she said it looked like it might snow. We all told her that since it was the middle of July, it most likely was not going to snow. She was not convinced, however, because as she put it, “When I was out riding my horse earlier, it was snowing.” She said it in such a matter of fact way, that I knew she would not be convinced otherwise, so I changed the subject to her horses. We talked of Molly and Pie Face…her colt, of Danny and Twinkles, and of course, Bing. For her, it was like just yesterday that she last saw her beloved horses, because like her mom and dad, Nettie and Bob Knox…who passed in the 1980s, her husband, Walt…who passed in 2013, and her daughter, Marlyce Schulenberg…who passed in 1989, her horses are not gone. They are just at home, outside, or in the corral. They live right there, in her world, and there they will remain for as long as she lives.