Sad news has surfaced today out of Scottland, as Queen Elizabeth of England has passed away at the age of 96 years. She became the Queen of England in 1952 at the very young age of 25, when her father, King George VI passed away on February 6, 1952, at just 56 years old. Queen Elizabeth would later become the longest reigning British monarch in history, reigning for 7 decades. The queen celebrated her Platinum Jubilee (70 years as reigning monarch) on February 5, 2022. She knew that her time was short, and she spoke of her wishes for the time following her death. Now that time has come.

The family will not have to make any arrangements for her funeral, because everything has already been planned from the service to the grave, and even the timeframe. The only unknown, until now, was the date of the service, which will be held eleven days after her passing…on September 19, 2022. I think it is comforting when the deceased has already planned their own funeral. It is to their tastes and preferences, and there is no question as to their wishes. Queen Elizabeth’s funeral will be televised across the world, with the only restriction being that the royal family is not to be filmed. That makes sense. They need to be able to grieve privately.

The royal line of succession now changes, with Prince Charles becoming King Charles III (it was announced earlier). He has the right to change his name, but it appears that he won’t. Prince William is now first in line to the throne and takes on his father’s title of Prince of Wales. Duchess Camilla becomes Queen Consort, and Duchess Catherine becomes Princess of Wales. Prince George is second in line to the throne, followed by Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis. It is so strange to think of so many changes happening all at once, but that is how things work in the world of the monarchy. How people feel personally about any part of the changes really doesn’t matter, because they are what they are.

For the world, this is a sad day. It is the end of an era. Many people, including me, have never known a time when Queen Elizabeth II was not the queen. She began her reign four years before I was born. Queen Elizabeth II was much loved and well respected. She had a way of making people feel at ease. She had a very human type of nature, and really never presented herself as anything so special. She went out and shook the hands of the people, in what was deemed a “walkabout” like the Australians do. She considered her office one of service to the people, rather than a ruler over them. I’m sure that is why she was so loved by all. The end of her reign has brought much sadness to the world. Rest in peace Queen Elizabeth. You will be missed by so many people.

I don’t personally believe in luck, but some people have an uncanny knack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Frane Selak, a native Croatian, was one of those people. In 1962, he was traveling from Sarajevo to Dubrovnik by train, when the train derailed in a canyon. The night was rainy and cold, and when the train derailed, it plummeted into the Neretva River. When Selak came to himself, he found that he was surrounded by water. Selak was pulled to safety by an unknown passenger, but 17 people died in the accident.

Selak recovered from his injuries on the train and a year later, Selak took a trip from Zagreb to Rijeka, by plane to visit his ailing mother. The trip was last minute, and the flight was full. He talked the flight attendant into letting him sit in the back by her. Suddenly, one of the doors flew open. The flight attendant was immediately sucked out of the aircraft, followed a second later by Selak who somehow landed in a haystack on the ground. The plane crashed moments later. Stories vary, but it is said that the crash killed 19 or 20 people.

You would think that somehow, that would be the end of Selak’s close calls, but you would be wrong. Things were going pretty well for about 22 accident-free years, but then in 1995, came Selak’s story of survival after being hit by a bus while walking in Zagreb. The following year, Selak claimed that while driving in the Croatian mountains an oncoming truck caused him to swerve off a 300-foot cliff. However, he said that he was “able to jump out at the last second and watch from a tree at the cliff’s edge as his car plummeted downward.” Are the tales outrageous? Yes, but they have not been disputed by doctors, hospitals, or police, so who knows. If they were true stories, it seems amazing to me that he didn’t become a recluse!! Still, there is no guarantee that he would have been any safer in his case. A man who had been in so many crashes, even though he survived, is at much greater risk of dying in the next one…right?

Finally, after years of close calls, when Selak was 74 years old…something changed. Selak won the lottery!! It seemed that his bad streak had turned to a good streak. The year was 2002, and Selak won more than six million Croatian Kuna, which amounted to just under 1.2 million US dollars.

Like the week in 1941, that changed the lives of Jewish people everywhere and set in motion the most horrific mass bullying and murders in history, our own government has also been trying to force mandates and executive orders on us too. You might say that the mandates of today are not nearly as bad as the Holocaust years, and I would say that you are right, they aren’t as bad…yet!! That horrific week for the Jewish people started on September 1, 1941, when the German Government ordered that all Jews in Germany over six-years-old must wear the Judenstern…a Star of David that was colored yellow and inscribed Jude (Jew) in mock-Hebrew lettering. The action was designed to humiliate, bully, and later set up mass killings of an entire race of people, and it was ordered by one of the most evil people that ever walked the face of the earth…Adolf Hitler. The supposed mark of shame would, in postwar years, become a symbol of the horrific persecution and the Holocaust.

Throughout history, the Jewish people have been persecuted and forced to distinguish themselves in similar ways. Prior to September 1st, the Nazis had already demanded that Jews in the East, including Poland, wear the Star of David. The only difference was that in Poland the stars were colored blue instead of yellow. The rest of the bullying, humiliation, and hatred were the same. Still, as with any brutal treatment of a group of people, not everyone agreed with this horrific practice and ordinance. In fact, the Yellow Star Law was very unpopular with the average German citizens, and many of them would tip their hat as a show of respect to the Jewish people as they passed them in the street. Of course, the Nazis couldn’t allow that to continue, and the German authorities quickly forbade the practice of hat tipping, because it was a defiance of their law. The Occupied Zone of France, stalled the law until June of 1942, and Vichy never put it in place even though they were very proactive in persecuting Jews in the Free Zone.

The Yellow Star Law basically made it legal for millions of Jews to be bullied, beaten, and murdered…by any means, and all without any form of punishment for it. That sounds much like the present day (although now over with) Mask Mandates of today. In what was just the beginning of the horror, The Yellow Star Law gave the German Army the right to kill a Jew in broad daylight, with witnesses, and no punishment. The Jewish people couldn’t own property, have a business, or even own a home and its contents. They were moved into ghettos and their property was stolen from them. In modern days, we often look at this kind of practice as not possible, but if we don’t watch our government closely, we may find ourselves in very much the “same boat” as the Jewish people of the Holocaust years. Be aware…be very aware.

After losing both her husband, our Uncle Eddie Hein and her son, our cousin Larry Hein, within three months of each other, Aunt Pearl Hein went through some very sad and difficult times. That much loss can be devastating to a person. It was very hard on Pearl, but she is starting to live life again. I know that Eddie and Larry would be glad that she is. Pearl was very much loved by both of her men, as was her daughter Kim Arani. While it’s been hard to go forward, Pearl has been making great strides with the help of her daughter and son-in-law, Michael Arani. She has made a couple of trips to Texas, to visit them, and the warm climate, as well as the beautiful scenery have soothed her soul. Of course, it doesn’t really lessen the pain of the loss, but it is a matter of learning to live again.

Sometimes, the heart needs a change of scenery to help with healing, and when Pearl was in Texas visiting Kim and Michael, they took a trip down to Rosemary Beach, Florida, where they stayed at a hotel called “The Pearl,” otherwise known as their happy place. How perfect to find such a hotel with Pearl’s name. That and the peaceful time spent on the beach was sure to warm her heart and was a welcome change from the end of October cold weather that is Forsyth, Montana, where Pearl lives.

Pearl has always been a hard-working woman. She took care of her parents, and later her husband, Eddie when they really needed her help. Caregiving is a big job, and having done it myself, I totally commend anyone who willingly steps into that role. It is truly a life changing undertaking. You sacrifice most of your life on a daily basis, and while many would think that it is a thankless job, it most definitely is one of the hardest and most rewarding jobs you will ever undertake. Whether the words “thank you” are ever said or not, and believe me they always are, you feel the “thank you” that comes from their hearts every time you are with them. No words can ever really express their gratitude. All they can do is hope you can see the appreciation in their eyes and know that it comes from their hearts…and believe me, you can. Today is Pearl’s birthday. Happy birthday Pearl!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

With so much technology these days, the things that we used to do the old-fashioned way have begun to get lost in the annals of time. Some things, it seems to me would fall into the category of “good riddance,” while others fall into the category of “how sad.” I know that many people would disagree with me, but I have very little use for old-fashioned books. I know that is an odd one, but once you have read the book, how many people will go back and read it again…even the classics. Maybe a few people will, but with so many books to read, most will not. That is why e-books and audible books make perfect sense to me.

A physical calendar is another thing that seems unnecessary to me, although I do like the pictures many of them have. The thing is that writing your schedule on a physical calendar is only helpful if you are where the calendar is. You might suggest a daily planner, but that still requires you to look at it periodically, and let’s face it. Time flies, especially during the workday. If you forget to look at that calendar, you miss your appointment. The calendar on your phone, which as we all know is always with you, comes with a reminder that alerts you when it’s time to go to your appointment. Life is hectic, and I just don’t need the added stress of missing appointments, even now that I’m retired.

I have gone shopping with a paper list, and I’m sure you have too. I have also gone to the store and forgotten my list. Then I spent my who shopping experience trying to remember what was on my list. I’ll be honest I don’t always shop with a list of any kind, but when I really need to remember something, a list is essential. Once again, I go back to my phone, because there is a note app on my phone, and you can even get an app specifically for groceries. That’s where I put the really important things, because I always have my phone with me…don’t you? You do, because really…nobody has a landline anymore.

While my dear uncle, Bill Spencer always wanted to get a letter from his loved ones, and I can totally understand why, after looking at some of the letters from my dad to his mom, from my uncle to me, and from ancestors I never met to other ancestors I never met. The point is, as my uncle put it that you can actually see their handwriting. That is truly a precious thing to have. I suppose that if I have one “old-fashioned” thing that I could go both ways with letters would be that thing. Those handwritten letters are precious, but daily communication received quickly via text, messenger, or snap chat are very important to me too. When you have children who live far away, or as we all do, children who are very busy, those quick little messages are a great treasure. I think I will always treasure both.

It’s been a busy year for my son-in-law, Kevin Petersen. He has spent the majority of the summer working on his car. Kevin loves to restore old cars, and he is really good at it. In fact, Kevin has been restoring cars for as long as I have known him, which is 32 years now. Kevin was a young man of 19 years back then; and my daughter, Corrie Petersen, at just 15 years old, knew that he was a keeper. Now they have been married 29 years, so she was right.

His latest project car is a 1966 Mercury Comet Cyclone GT. While the body was in pretty good shape when he got it, the paint was…rough. I’m sure the engine needed work too, but mainly the body needed a refresh. Kevin has been working hard all summer to restore the beauty to this beauty, and I would say that the results are spectacular. Kevin particularly likes striping, and not just simple stripes. He likes to really add flare to the cars he restores, and Kevin knows how to add that flare. A while back, he rented a shop, so that he could do his projects year-round. It’s been a good investment, because it’s impossible to paint outside and hard to do striping outside. The shop has been a great blessing to him, and something he has enjoyed very much.

Kevin and Corrie have had a big summer in other ways too. Their son, Chris got married to his long-time girlfriend, Karen on July 23rd. It was a beautiful wedding, and now Chris and Karen’s little girl, Cambree is going to start pre-school on September 12th. They also have a son named Caysen, and Kevin and Corrie love to go visit their little family. Having grandchildren is the blessing that comes from having children. In fact, Kevin and Corrie are expecting another grandson, Justin toward the end of this month. Their other son, Josh and his fiancée, Athena are getting excited to be parents too. They are coming down to the wire on this pregnancy, and they could be parents any time now.

Kevin and Corrie are also “fur parents” to two dogs and a cat. Dottie, their Scottish Terrier; Bellarina, their Dachshund; and Zoe, their cat. The “fur babies” keep them busy and entertained at the same time. They would love to go everywhere with Kevin and Corrie, but that really doesn’t work so well, and of course, Zoe has no desire to go anywhere. I think she worries that she might be going to the vet, and…well, “no thank you!!” They love their “fur babies” and wouldn’t trade any of them for anything. Life is good for Kevin and Corrie, and they are very happy with all parts of it. Today is Kevin’s birthday. Happy birthday Kevin!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

When the Transcontinental Railroad opened in 1869, the people in the east finally had the chance to take a trip into the Wild West without having to move there or plan on spending months there visiting family. I can imagine that there were mixed emotions involved as they headed out. The Western dime novels had told of wild Indians, gunslingers, bank robberies, and of course, train robberies. It was almost enough to make them question the sanity of their intended trip into the wild, but nevertheless, they went.

One of the great misconceptions of the Wild West is that it maybe wasn’t quite as wild as the Easterners had been told. In fact, the town of Palisade, Nevada, a state notoriously known for its wildness these days, like many other Wild West towns of the time, was actually very peaceful. In fact, the town had so few crimes that it didn’t even have an official sheriff. So, when the train began running through Palisade, and the train conductor told the townspeople that railroad passengers were often disappointed at how these quiet towns were so different from how they were portrayed in the Western dime novels, he people of Palisade decided that something had to be done.

The townspeople, with the full knowledge and approval of the citizens of the town, the US Cavalry, and even a local Indian tribe, staged Western-style shootouts in the street, bank robberies, Indian battles, and whatever else they could think of. The whole purpose was to provide entertainment for the passing railroad travelers. After the train passed, life in the small town went back to its “dull, quiet, and peaceful” normal. I don’t know if the purpose was to bring in more tourists, to save face when it came to the Western dime novels, or maybe just to have a good laugh at the expense of the city-slickers. The reality is that many of the people back east, at that time, felt like their way of life was better than the “craziness” of the Wild West, and that to go have a look was a way of not only entertaining themselves, but also to prove that the West could not possibly be a peaceful place to live. Of course, while things could be violent and wild in the old West, it wasn’t always that way. It’s also a possibility that the people had moved to the West wanted the people in the East to think that the West was a wild place, full of adventure. It was the whole purpose for going west anyway, wasn’t it…to find that adventure? Yes, that was the purpose for the move to the West. And that purpose had to be protected, by any means necessary…even theater.

It’s hard to believe that the war my dad fought in was going on over 80 years ago. It’s also hard to believe that 80 years ago today, what is now known as Casper-Natrona County International Airport, was then known as the Casper Army Air Base. In fact, today, September 1, 1942, was the day that the “new” Army Air Base opened. The base was a training base, because as you will recall, World War II was not fought on American soil, although there was one balloon bombing incident that did reach American soil.

Over the years that the Casper Army Air Base was in use, over 16,000 bomber crew members were trained there. The Casper Army Air Base was one of many Army Air Force bases built during World War II. Training began a few months after the base opened. As a training hub, the base at one time had nearly 5,000 people living and working out of about 400 buildings. Many of the buildings from the old base stand today.

During the three years that the Casper Army Air Base was active, 140 Casper Army Air Base aviators died in 90 plane crashes. Of course, not all of the crashes were at the base. Most of the crashes were in Wyoming, but many occurred out of state when the fliers were on longer training flights. New crews arrived at Casper typically by train. Each crew consisted of two pilots, a navigator, a bombardier, a radioman, flight engineer, and four gunners. They immediately began a strict regimen of training. Pilot training was rigorous. The crews endured countless hours of advanced instruction in navigation, gunnery, bombing, armaments, flight engineering, and flying. They were also trained in aerial gunnery, air-to-ground gunnery, formation flying, night navigation, and of course, bombing. Joye Kading (longtime Casper Army Air Base secretary) remembered that Major General Hap Arnold once visited the base. She said, “He was so thrilled with this base and how it was operated and how careful it was, and how congenial all the people were that were working with one another.” That is truly how most people in Casper are, even today. Of course, you always find a few who don’t fit that description, but they are the rarity, and not the norm.

The base closed in 1945 and sat abandoned until the War Assets Administration turned the airfield over to civil control in the late 1940s, and in 1949 it became Natrona County Municipal Airport. At that time, it replaced the former Casper Airport…Wardwell Field, whose runways are now streets in the town of Bar Nunn. On December 19, 2007, the name was changed to Casper-Natrona County International Airport. These days, approximately 35,000 flights go in and out of the airport every year.

We were watching the Denver Broncos in their huge (19-3) defeat of the Kansas City Chiefs. The game had really just gotten started (it had a 4:00pm start time) when the crash, that took the life of Diana, Princess of Wales, occurred in Paris at 12:23am (4:23pm Mountain Time). The news of the tragedy was aired shortly thereafter, and by 3:00am, Paris time, she was dead. That news was announced at 6:00am Paris time.

Diana was a distant cousin of mine…(specifically my 12th cousin 2 times removed), so the news held some significance to my family. There have been many questions concerning the crash that took Diana’s life, and while the powers that be say that they have all been answered, there are many people, including me, who still have questions. I’m sure that we will never have our questions fully answered, and I’m sure that is partly due to the fact that when it comes to Diana, we aren’t sure that the British Crown is telling us everything they know. The mere fact that Prince Charles and Princess Diana were divorced, and at that time, and to many people, his claim to the throne was in question, we naturally doubted the validity of the answers we were given. Nevertheless, no further answers will likely be forthcoming, so we will have to accept the answers we were given…or not accept them, as you please. After the divorce, Princess Diana became known as Diana, Princess of Wales, as a supposed concession by the crown.

Diana, affectionately known as “the People’s Princess,” was 36 years old at the time of her death. Her boyfriend, the Egyptian-born socialite Dodi Fayed, and the driver of the car, Henri Paul, died as well. The lone survivor of the crash was Diana’s bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones, who was seriously injured. The car left the Ritz Paris just after midnight, intending to go to Dodi’s apartment on the Rue Arsène Houssaye. As soon as they departed the hotel, a swarm of paparazzi on motorcycles began aggressively tailing their car. About three minutes later, the driver lost control and crashed into a pillar at the entrance of the Pont de l’Alma tunnel. It was later decided that because the driver had alcohol and prescription drugs in his system, the paparazzi held no fault in the matter. That is where I disagree. While the driver had alcohol and prescription drugs in his system, he would not have felt the need to speed through the streets if the paparazzi had left them alone. As a retired insurance agent, I know contributory negligence when I see it. Nevertheless, a “formal investigation” concluded the paparazzi did not cause the collision. Dodi Fayed and Henri Paul, the driver, were pronounced dead at the scene. Diana was taken to the Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital and officially declared dead at 6:00am. Diana’s former husband Prince Charles, as well as her sisters and other members of the Royal Family, arrived in Paris that morning. Diana’s body was then taken back to London.

Because Diana was one of the most popular public figures in the world, her death brought a massive outpouring of grief. Mourners began leaving bouquets of flowers at Kensington Palace immediately. The piles of flowers reached about 30 feet from the palace gate. As in her life, her death demanded the attention of the world. She was so loved, and many felt, so mistreated during her marriage. Following her funeral on September 6, 1997, an event that was watched by 2.5 billion people, she was laid to rest on an island at Althorp Estate, which is her childhood home, and is which is where her brother, Earl Charles Spencer lives to this day. The island is off limits, but the estate is open to the public during July and August each year.

Diana was survived by her two sons, Prince William, who was 15 at the time, and Prince Harry, who was 12. Today she has two daughters-in-law, Duchess Catherine and Duchess Meaghan, as well as five grandchildren, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis; as well as; Archie and Lillibet. Today marks 25 years since the passing of Princess Diana. Gone but not forgotten.

These days, we have probably seen more “shortages” of the staples needed for daily life than ever before. Things like food, water, toilet paper, sugar, gasoline, and so many other things that most people use every day, are suddenly missing from our shelves or stations. Today’s “shortages” are mostly caused by forced blocking of shipping channels, and other political maneuvering…at least these days. There are as many reasons for most shortages as there are shortages, in reality, but some shortages have been stranger over the years than others. Sometimes, it’s even for our own good or if it is “perceived” to be for our own good.

Things have been pulled off the shelves because of recalls, like vegetables that may have Salmonella, and even if the source was confined to one small area of one plant, as was the case with baby formula. The government shut down all the plants, causing a serous baby formula shortage. No one wants to buy unsafe formula, but that was really never the case, and they knew it. Excedrin was pulled off the shelves because it “might” have an ingredient that was unsafe, and then weeks later, it was back, in exactly the same formulation.

The closing of a business is one of the biggest reasons for items to suddenly be missing from the shelves. Twinkies is a prime example. When Hostess Brands Inc, the maker of Twinkies and other cherished American treats, announced bankruptcy and closure in 2012, consumers made a mad rush to their local supermarkets to get their hands on the cream-filled pastries before they were gone for good. It is that act that prompted the myth that Twinkies have an unlimited shelf life. The snacks were back on the shelves by summer, when Hostess and all of its brand holdings, including Twinkies, were purchased out of bankruptcy by the private equity firms Apollo Global Management and Metropoulos and Company in 2013.

One of the funniest shortages, though not funny at the time or in the repeat of it in recent times, was the 1973 toilet paper shortage. It happened as the result of a joke by Johnny Carson. He said, “You know, we’ve got all sorts of shortages these days. But have you heard the latest? I’m not kidding. I saw it in the papers. There’s an acute shortage of toilet paper.” The remarks that were meant as a joke, caused people to rush to the stores and buyout all the toilet paper. To make matters worse, some stores began rationing. Finally, Carson took to the airwaves to apologize, saying, “I don’t want to be remembered as the man who created a false toilet paper scare. I just picked up the item from the paper and enlarged it somewhat…there is no shortage.”

There are so many ways a shortage can get started. Some are real events, while others are manufactured. While some are not exactly detrimental, as was the case with Twinkies, some can cause serious harm and even death…even many deaths. Some shortages cannot be helped, but those that can, in all prudence, should be avoided at all costs.

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