Monthly Archives: August 2020

In what might today be considered almost post-apocalyptic, the Battle of the Osowiec Fortress, was nevertheless fought during World War I. The year was 1915, and World War I was in full swing. It was also an era of innovation in weaponry, and many were the never-before-seen weapons of warfare, as well as new and never-before-heard-of tactics.

The Germans had launched a full frontal attack on the Russian Osowiec Fortress, located in present-day Poland, at the beginning of July. Included in the attack were 14 battalions of infantry, one battalion of sappers, 24–30 heavy siege guns, and 30 batteries of artillery equipped with poison gasses led by Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg. Russian defenses were manned by 500 soldiers of the 226th Infantry Regiment Zemlyansky, and 400 militia. The Russians were quite outnumbered.

On August 6, 1915, the German forces employed chemical weapons on the Russians. At 4am, after waiting for favorable wind conditions, the German attack began with regular artillery bombardment combined with chlorine gas. As the scene was described, “The gas caused the grass to turn black and leaves to turn yellow, and the dead birds, frogs, and other animals and insects were lying everywhere. Terrain looked like Hell.” The Russians soldiers either had no gas masks, or had only poorly made ones, and most soldiers used their undershirts as masks, with many soaking them in water or urine to help with their effectiveness at holding the gas at bay. I think most of us have heard of the horrors caused by the use of chemical warfare, and most people are vehemently opposed to such atrocity, because of the effects, which if not instantly deadly, can cause the victim to slowly die over a number of years, fraught with lingering health problems. Most of the Russian soldiers died immediately, but some survived the gas attack. Sub-Lieutenant Vladimir Kotlinsky, the highest ranking Russian soldier to survive the initial attack, rallied the other surviving soldiers. They decided to charge the advancing German lines…what choice did they really have.

Over twelve battalions of the 11th Landwehr Division, making up more than 7000 men, advanced after the bombardment expecting little resistance. They were met at the first defense line by a counter-charge made up of the surviving soldiers of the 13th Company of the 226th Infantry Regiment. The invading German forces were horrified when they saw what appeared to be zombie-like soldiers. The panic began when they first caught sight of the Russians, who were coughing up blood and bits of their own lungs, as the hydrochloric acid formed by the mix of the chlorine gas and the moisture in their lungs had begun to dissolve their flesh. The Russian men were covered in blisters and coughing up their own respiratory organs, the Germans were subsequently retreating. The Russian garrison suffered heavy losses, but some soldiers survived even after the final charge, and Chlorine gas barrage. The Germans had retreated so fast that they got caught up in their own c-wire traps. The five remaining Russian guns subsequently opened fire on the fleeing Germans. Kotlinsky died later that evening. The Russian soldiers had basically fought their last battle as they were dying…hence the name given to the battle…The Attack of the Dead Men.

The dying Russians could not hold the area for much longer, of course. The soldiers there were sick, dying, or already dead. The Germans threatened to encircle the fortress with the capture of Kaunas and Novogeorgiesk. Knowing their fort was lost, the Russians demolished much of the fortress and withdrew on August 18th. While the German casualties were moderate to heavy, they were not nearly as bad as the Russian casualties of about 800 of the 900 men that were deployed at the fort. This story, although virtually unknown to the outside world, is a symbol of Russian military power and courage under fire. The story of this battle is commonly told and taught in Russian history classes.

In the Soviet Union’s Catherine Palace, located near Saint Petersburg, is rumored to have been a beautiful chamber decorated in amber panels backed with gold leaf and mirrors. The elaborately designed hall was a gift to Peter the Great from Germany. Constructed in the 18th century in Prussia, the room was dismantled and eventually disappeared during World War II. In the days before World War II started, Hitler had worked an “alliance agreement” with Stalin. Hitler really had no intention of keeping the agreement, but rather wanted to take control of Poland without Soviet interference. That didn’t make the Soviet Union safe either. When Germany made their move, the Soviets did not have enough time to prepare.

It was 1941, when the Germans advanced. The job of removing the panels to safety would take time…time they didn’t have. The panels were quickly taken by the Germans and transported to Konigsberg, East Prussia. They were confiscating anything of value. Initially, the Amber Room was placed on public display at the Konigsberg Castle, but was hidden in anticipation of the 1945 Soviet advance. Before its loss, it was considered an “Eighth Wonder of the World.”

In 1701, the Amber Room was intended for the Charlottenburg Palace, in Berlin, Prussia, but was eventually installed at the Berlin City Palace. Designed by German baroque sculptor Andreas Schlüter and Danish amber craftsman Gottfried Wolfram, who worked on the room until 1707, at which time the work was continued by amber masters Gottfried Turau and Ernst Schacht from Danzig (Gdansk). The masterpiece remained in Berlin until 1716, when it was given by the Prussian King Frederick William I to his ally Tsar Peter the Great of the Russian Empire. In Russia, the beautiful room was installed in the Catherine Palace. In the castle, the room was further expanded and several renovations where performed, making it an even more stunning chamber than it had been before. In the end, it covered more than 590 square feet and contained over 13,000 pounds of amber.

When the Army Group North of Nazi Germany took possession of the Amber Room during World War II, it was taken to Königsberg for reconstruction and display. Like many stolen treasures, the Germans hid the Amber Rooms panels, and its eventual fate and current whereabouts, if it has survived, remain a mystery. While most experts believed it was obliterated during the intense shelling that destroyed the Konigsberg Castle, I don’t believe that is true, because surely some evidence of that much amber would have been found after a bombing, but none was ever found at the site.

Persistent rumors about the current location of the Amber Room have never panned out, and after years of searching, it was decided in 1979, to create a reconstructed Amber Room at the Catherine Palace. After decades of work by Russian craftsmen and donations from Germany, the reconstructed Amber Room was finally inaugurated in 2003.

Like she had in the past, my niece, Lindsay Moore is working for South Dakota State University. She if the director of HOP…the Health and Obesity Program. Lindsay’s degree is in Kinesiology, which is the science of the movement of the body, so it is a perfect position for her, and since they are perfectly fine with her working from home, it is a perfect position for Lindsay, who loves being able to stay at home with her daughter Mackenzie.

Mackenzie is now sleeping in her own room, which Lindsay and her husband, Shannon have turned into a sweet little girl room for her…complete with a polka-dot accent wall. Mackenzie loves everything about the room her parents created for her…when the family isn’t camping that is. This year, Covid-19 abruptly ended the school year for many, and the University of Wyoming was no exception. Shannon was suddenly at home with his family, and it was the greatest treasure Lindsay can imagine. It allowed trips to visit her parents, Allyn and Chris Hadlock in Casper, and his parents TJ and Mary Jo Moore. They also enjoyed having family members come to Laramie for visits. Once the campgrounds reopened, they did a lot of camping…mostly because they love it, but also to fend off cabin fever.

As happens with growing families, the Hadlock clan decided to do a group birthday party for Adelaide Sawdon, Aurora Hadlock, Lindsay Moore, and Mackenzie Moore. The party was a big success, culminating in a outdoor movie, utilizing a projector that Jessie Sawdon was able to borrow for the festivities. Everyone had a great time. Outdoor movies always were fun.

Lindsay has especially enjoyed having Shannon home so often, as it truly has been a gift. He got to spoil his girls, and Mackenzie became even more a “daddy’s girl,” than she was before. She and Lindsay always had a great bond, because of the time they spent together, but prior to this period, Shannon didn’t have the same kind of time to spend with their girl. It was a rare blessing, that will likely never happen again, and they made sure they treasured every moment of it. The added time also gave Lindsay and Shannon time to really enjoy being together. They worked on projects on the house, and spent time making plans for whatever future changes they will make.

This year was a unique year, and one that we really can’t expect to happen again. Covid-19 will pass into history, and the Pokes of the University of Wyoming will resume their football seasons again. Shannon will go back to work full time, and Lindsay will continue her work at SDSU. Before long, Mackenzie will be in school too. Time flies so fast. They will most likely never have such a sweet gift of time, in which they can relax and just enjoy being together, but they will always treasure the gift of time they were given. Today is Lindsay’s birthday. Happy birthday Lindsay!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg was a hard working, but gentle and loving man. His family was everything to him. His job often took out of town on road construction. He was often gone for long periods of time on jobs. My father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg was a hard working, but gentle and loving man. His family was everything to him. His job often took out of town on road construction. He was often gone for long periods of time on jobs. When they could, the family would go along, such as the summer the company was working in Point of Rocks, Wyoming. For those who don’t know it, there is nothing to do in Point of Rocks. It is a small town in Sweetwater county that sports a permanent population of three. During the year there are many temporary residents throughout the year, but that does not count in the census.

During the summer that my husband, Bob’s family lived there while my father-in-law worked in the area, Bob was a bored kid. Here he was living in Podunk, with nothing to do, and mostly just his sisters and a couple of other kids to hang out with. There was a highlight to the day…when the trains came through. The trains were on the opposite side of the interstate, so it was safe for Bob to run down the street and count the cars on the train. It was a pathetic attempt at fun, but the reward was great…the family got to see his dad every day, and not just on weekends for one day. It was worth it to all of them.

My father-in-law had made the decision to be with the family as much as he possibly could. I’m not sure if his decision was before or after another incident I had heard of. When my sister-in-law, Brenda was about six months old, my father-in-law was out of town a lot. He came home on the weekends, and sometimes not even that often. It was hard on the family, but they were making due…most of them anyway. Brenda was a happy baby, and was known to laugh and smile at her family all the time. One particular weekend, my father-in-law came home, and Brenda took one look at him and started screaming and crying. It was at about the time when babies start to dislike strangers, but that didn’t matter to my father-in-law. He just knew he shouldn’t be a stranger to his own child. Nevertheless, Brenda didn’t stop crying until he left to go back to work. As for my father-in-law…he went back to wok and gave his notice. He knew he could find another job, but he refused to see his little girl upset, because she didn’t know her daddy. He made sure that he worked where he could be home at night, even if he had to go to work ar 3:00 in the morning in order to be home in the evening. He was always a dad first. Today would have been my father-in-law’s 91st birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Dad. We love and miss you very much.

Most of us have received a speeding ticket in our years of driving, and if not, I’m sure that every one of us has exceeded the speed limit at one time or another, even if it was accidental, and only for a few seconds. It seems that most of the accidents of that era were blamed on excessive speed. In the 1900s, the Mercedes-Simplex 60HP could reach a maximum speed of 73 miles per hour. By 1920, the Duesenberg Model J could reach speeds of 119 miles per hour. Of course, we have vehicles today that can reach much higher speeds…such as the Koenigsegg Agera RS that has a maximum speed of 278. We have come a long way from the days of the Horse Carriage that had a maximum speed of 30 miles per hour, but in 1900, we had no speed limit. The maximum speed of the car was the acceptable speed limit, whether the driver could control the vehicle at that speed or not. How many people do you know who have good control of a vehicle at 119 miles per hour? Most people couldn’t honestly claim to be in control at that speed.

Speed restrictions, and laws against speeding weren’t new on August 28, 1923. The first law regarding automobile speeds actually too effect on May 21, 1901 in Connecticut. The law required that vehicles limit their speed in cities to 12 miles per hour, and 15 miles per hour on country roads. In 1899, a cab driver named Jacob German had been arrested for driving his electric taxi at a speed of 12 miles per hour. It was thought that a more prudent speed would have been 8 miles per hour. Representative Robert Woodruff wanted to make a law, and he suggested 8 miles per hour on city streets and 12 on country roads. In the end the speeds were changed to 12 miles per hour on city streets and 15 miles per hour on country roads. While those speeds seem like crawling to the drivers of today, I suppose they seemed fast then.

Still, drivers were as unwilling to abide by the speed regulations of that day, as they are today. Then, it was decided to make a law that would be a true deterrent to speeders. It was a strict law…too strict, in fact, but they had to try. The law allowed the magistrates…police, to put the car in a storage lot for periods of time depending on the severity of the speeding offence and if the motorist is a repeat offender. Also, due to the increases in incidents, some offenders were sentenced to farm labor. Now, if that wouldn’t deter you from speeding I just don’t know what will. Still, such severity of punishment really would never be accepted for long, as we all know. And of course, that is not a law today…but it was once.

My grand-niece, Aurora Hadlock is such a sweet, happy girl. She has a zest for life, and most often sees the good in everything. Her positive outlook on life always keeps her upbeat. This year with it’s long Covid Summer has given people lots of extra time to spend together, and when the quarantine lifted, the family began doing a lot of camping and four wheeling. The family has traveled to the Black Hills twice this year, and Aurora’s favorite site is Mount Rushmore…a favorite of mine too. The Black Hills is a family favorite place.

Aurora wants to be a police officer when she grows up. She comes by this decision naturally, because her grandpa, Chris Hadlock is a retired Casper Police officer, and her uncle, Jason Sawdon is a Wyoming Highway Patrolman. Being a police officer is a noble calling, and her desire to help people is inspiring. She wants to keep the public safe, and I really respect that. She may only be 9 years old, but this career decision has been with her for a long time. She had the opportunity recently to sit on the motorcycle of a Casper Police officer, and she was so excited about it.

Aurora is very excited about going back to school. Like many children, who were thrust into unexpected online learning, Aurora did not like it at all. The coming year has left her a little bit apprehensive, however, because her big brother, Ethan will not be in her school. He has moved on to middle school. Another missing face is will be that of her great aunt, Alena Steven, who retired at the end of last term. Nevertheless, Aurora is tough, and she will tackle it head on. I’m sure that by the end of the first week, she will be totally fine with the coming year.

Aurora is an artist, and wants to start her own business, selling her paintings and drawings. This is also a goal she comes by naturally, as her mom, Chelsea, who has a business of her own selling jewelry of her own design at the Comic Con Conventions. Starting your own business is not an easy thing to do, so having the experience of her mom and her successful business will be a great help. Aurora’s dad, Ryan has been helping her with a special project…but that is not finished yet, so I’m not going to give it away. That will be a story for next year, and one I am looking forward to sharing. Today is Aurora’s 9th birthday. Happy birthday Aurora!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Josh Griffith is a great dad. If his girls, Jala Satterwhite and Kaytlyn Griffith want to do something, he tries to find a way to make it happen. He doesn’t spoil the girls, but rather wants to give them the best of everything possible. That’s the mark of a great dad.

The main focus of this family’s activities, always center around horses. They use horses for hunting, and they are on the lookout for a certain breed of horses. Gaited horses are perfect for hunting, but they aren’t always so easy to find, or to afford, as anyone who has horses knows. Fortunately, they only need one more, so they are getting close. Of the family members, Jala is really his riding buddy. They would almost “live” on the horses, if they could. Nevertheless, all of his girls ride, and they love their horses.

Josh is the kind of man to always lend a helping hand when it is needed. As the weather gets cooler, the warm days are of being able to easily work outside are quickly ending, so this weekend, Josh will be helping his neighbor build a fence. They are also going to be cutting wood for the fireplace in their home, because the furnace that they were going to have installed, has been postponed until October by the installer. If you have ever cut firewood, you know that it is a lot of work, but in this case necessary. It is disappointing, but thankfully they will have plenty of wood to keep them warm until the furnace is installed.

Speaking of Josh’s willingness to help others, he can never just drive by when he sees a motorist sitting on the side of the road. He always stops to see if he can help. I have been stuck at the side of the road, and I can tell you that it is important that someone stops to help. Josh prides himself on always being prepared to help a stranded motorist. He keeps tools and such in the car. He doesn’t care if they are stuck in the snow, have a flat tire, or are completely broke down. It makes him feel good to be able to help others. Josh is just a thoughtful kind of man. Today is Josh’s birthday. Happy birthday Josh!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Over the centuries, ships have been named for famous leaders, for some ideal, or even for cities and states. They have been remembered for their wartime prowess, their luxurious furnishings, or for the tragic sinking. It seems like most vehicles, like ships, planes, and trains are often best remembered if they are involved in a tragic loss. Our minds tend to vividly remember traumatic events.

Still, some vehicles have been remembered for other reasons. The Spruce Goose for example, was a plane of enormous size that was made out of wood. The Hughes Flying Boat was at one time the largest aircraft ever built. Designer Howard Hughes piloted it on its first and only flight. It flew around the world in 3 days, 19 hours and 14 minutes. The plane still exists today and is housed in the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, Oregon.

RMS Queen Elizabeth II was built in 1969. From the late 1960s until 2004, the Queen Elizabeth II was the only way to cross in luxury. She sailed many areas of the globe…not just the Atlantic. She even came to port in Sidney, Australia, among other places. The QE2 did not sink either, but rather, retired in 2008, and will soon become a floating hotel in Dubai.

All of these are interesting, but there is a ship that, to me, is far more unique than these…SS United States. I’m sure you are wondering what makes this ship so special. It’s not luxury. It didn’t sink. The thing that made this ship so special is that her top speed is a state secret. How fast must a ship be able to sail, before it is considered amazing enough that it must not be told? The average person couldn’t possibly know. I suppose someone knows, but it’s a secret. The SS United States is the last of the old greyhounds, and it is still around today, slowly rusting at a Philadelphia pier…sadly. She was built with both passenger service and military use in mind. Many liners scrapped in the mid-1930s were sorely missed a few years later when WWII began…hence the secrecy about her true speed.

In comparison with airplanes, I suppose that the speed of a ship would not seem so important. Many people in the 1960s stopped using ships, until the cruise craze came along. The SS United States still holds the westbound Blue Ribbon and has now been purchased by the Norwegian Cruise Line. Time will tell how the ship, purchased in 2004 will be used. As of 2018, she hasn’t sailed, but I hope that someday she will.

My grand-niece, Adelaide Sawdon is a sweet little girl with lots of personality. She learned the fine are of making faces for selfies very early on, and she is quite good at it. Really, it’s all part of her humorous side…which is the main side of Adelaide right now. She loves teasing, and making everyone around her laugh, and then she grins and acts as if she didn’t do a thing…or sometimes she looks at you with her “Gotcha” face, and laughs hysterically…and you know that “it’s on!! Adelaide is ready to get you good.

Like her Aunt Kellie, who Adelaide loves very much, she has an infectious laugh. It could be from spending time with Kellie, who has such a great sense of humor, and wouldn’t have to teach Adelaide the ropes…she could just be herself, and Adelaide would learn the ropes from that. Every day is a learning experience for Adelaide. She has parents, Jason and Jessi Sawdon, who are both very smart, and enjoy teaching their daughter things. Everything from school work to silliness, because they both have a great sense of humor too. Adelaide loves to do silly things, but she loves to dance too…especially if it involves twirling around in her favorite…a full skirt. Of course, I don’t know of any little girls who don’t like to twirl on the dance floor.

Adelaide has great cousin-friends too, Ethan and Aurora, who are both great friends to her, and then she also has Mackenzie, who lives in Laramie, but this year will get to visit quite a bit. Mackenzie and Adelaide are close in age…just a year apart, and so they share the same interests. Adelaide has her cousins in Michigan too, with whom she got to go camping this summer. She was very excited about seeing her cousins. They camped by Lake Michigan, with a beautiful view of the Mackinac Bridge. I’m sure the grownups really enjoyed the view while relaxing at the campground, but my guess is that Miss Adelaide only cared about spending time playing with her cousins. Of course, what child doesn’t love to go swimming or playing in the water. None that I know of. I’m sure that Adelaide and her cousins had an absolutely wonderful time camping in Michigan. Today is Adelaide’s 4th birthday. Happy birthday Adelaide!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew Steve Spethman is a big, strong man. His shoulders have bailed us out of many a tough spot. When my mother, Collene Spencer was in her late-stage-life weakened-mobility state, we could always count on Steve to single-handedly lift her from an armless chair to a standing position so she could walk out of church using her walker. It would have taken two of us to do what Steve did alone. We were so grateful to Steve. He helped our mom maneuver with grace and dignity. When Steve lifted Mom from her chair, she was up on her feet before anyone around her really realized that she had been assisted. Steve made it so smooth for her, so that she never felt embarrassed. Steve gave her the gift of dignity, and we can never repay him for that.

Steve’s strength has come to our rescue in other ways too. When we wanted to build our mom a deck, Steve was among the people who helped. He and my brothers-in-law, Mike Reed, Mike Stevens, Chris Hadlock, my husband, Bob, and nephew, Garrett did the heavy work so that the deck could become a reality…one that my sisters and I wanted for our mom, but could not have accomplished on our own. I suppose women could do that job, but Steve and the guys carried the heavy load, and made it a much easier job. In fact, they did the deck, while my sisters and I did spring cleaning in the house. We will be forever grateful to these men for what they did for our parents over the years.

Steve is all about family. His children and his wife, my niece, Jenny are his priority. He and Jenny have taught them so much, including the especially important gun safety and usage. In these tumultuous times we all need to know how to protect ourselves. The Spethman family often goes out shooting, and even little Aleesia is learning to shoot. Her brothers, Xander, Zack, and Isaac have all taken and passed the hunter safety courses so they can go hunting with their dad. It is a rite of passage that the boys looked forward to very much, as I’m sure Aleesia will as well. Steve is a good dad who wants the best for his family, and works with each of them to ensure that for them. Today is Steve’s birthday. Happy birthday Steve!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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