Every year, maybe simply because Winter can be so depressing, just a little way into Spring, we have a day for fun. If you didn’t know, the day is called April Fool’s Day. Some like the day, others kind of hate it, and some don’t care one way or the other. Still, I think most people give the day a try, at least. As a kid, we tried to pull off the best prank ever, but depending on our age at the time, we often failed miserably. You can only tell someone there is a spider on their head so many times on April Fool’s Day, before they simply stop believing your story.
My parents, Al and Collene Spencer, were pretty good at April Fool’s Day pranks. I remember putting sugar on chicken and salt on cereal. I suppose some people would get upset about that, but we all had a good sense of humor, and found it to be a good laugh. Of course, there are hundreds of other pranks that can be played on people, and some of them are very elaborate. I guess it just depends on the level of imagination you have, and how far you are willing to play your prank out. For some people, April Fool’s Day just isn’t enough, and they become Bonafide Pranksters, ready to prank their next victim at any given moment. Their pranks might happen at any time on any day, which can also be very funny.
April Fool’s Day has always seemed to me as the real beginning of Spring, even though Spring officially begins on March 20th, the weather then is usually so windy and cold here in Wyoming, that I just don’t really think much about Spring until April Fool’s Day. Then, there is usually more chance of temperatures in at least the 40s, so I can actually envision Spring flowers. Whether I choose to play any pranks or not, doesn’t matter as much to me as the distinct prospect of the coming Spring. I am more of a late Spring or Summer girl, but if it’s a choice of Winter or Spring, I’ll take Spring every time…and I truly love Spring flowers.
If you decide to prank, I hope you are successful in your pranks, without anyone getting mad at you. And if you don’t decide to prank, well sometimes it’s more fun to watch other people get pranked, as long as no one notices that you are sitting quietly by without a prank in sight, because if they notice you, you are very likely is big trouble. Happy April Fool’s Day everyone. Have fun!!
My niece, Elizabeth “Liz” Masterson is a remarkable woman, and you will hear the same statement from anyone who knows her. Liz is a journalism teacher at Kelly Walsh High School and has been teaching since 2004…first at Natrona County High School, and then back to her Alma Mater…Kelly Walsh High School. She is a favorite among her students and stays in touch with many of them. They all truly love her, and every so often, Liz hears a story about herself from fellow teachers and students, that takes her by surprise, because Liz is not one to “toot her own horn” or even to realize how amazing she is.
While Elizabeth was at dinner the other night with two of her teacher friends, one told her that she had overheard two of her students talking about Elizabeth, and “how great she is!” Being the very down-to-earth person she is, Elizabeth is always surprised and shocked to hear this kind of thing. It’s a compliment, but it embarrasses her a little, too. The teacher heard a teenage girl tell the guy she was talking with that she had just been introduced to “Ms. Mast” (the name the students have given her over the years) so that Elizabeth could give her a little help on a project, and that it was literally like she had experienced a “celebrity encounter!” These were the student’s own words. This was the, albeit “dramatic,” conversation overheard by a teacher, between two kids talking to each other, but these were this young lady’s feelings.
What my sister, Cheryl Masterson, who is Liz’s mom, so enjoyed about this “celebrity encounter” story is that it is not only hilarious, but also sweet. In the family, we have all been impressed with Liz’s ability to connect with and mentor her students, but seeing it through the eyes of a young lady who had only known OF Elizabeth before…a young lady who was very pleased that she was now able to actually know her…a young lady who had entered “Elizabeth’s circle,” so to speak, was well…awe inspiring. It’s a very small thing in the world of life events, but for this young lady…she knew that she had experienced a “celebrity encounter” and it made her day! In fact, the event so impressed her, that she and her friend were still talking about it when they got to this teacher’s classroom!
Cheryl is certain that Elizabeth’s friend laughingly, and lovingly, rolled her eyes, but still it was very endearing for her, as Elizabeth’s good friend, to hear, and to pass such a sweet story to Elizabeth. As the journalism teacher, who also creates the school newspaper and the school yearbook with her students, Elizabeth tirelessly attends nearly every single function and school event the school has. All sports events, all dances, all activities of any kind. She takes pictures of all the events, and of all the kids at these events, and she gives all that she has to these students all school year long. The students and parents see it and appreciate it! Truly, Elizabeth is a fixture at her school. She is chosen almost every single year by some student as their favorite and most influential teacher, and recognized for that, among other teachers, at a special dinner the schools have, every year. Whether she knows all the kids or not, they ALL know her! She has a reputation among the students as being salty, sassy, and no-nonsensical, but a lot of fun to be around, and they learn a lot from her! She is one of a kind! She is blessed and she is a blessing to others.
Elizabeth’s students often go on to great things, but some stand out just a little bit more than others, like Meagan Degenfelder, who was just elected as Wyoming’s Superintendent of Public Instruction. It was a proud moment for Elizabeth, as her former teacher too, and she was invited to attend the inauguration, and also had the opportunity to meet Wyoming’s Governor Mark Gordon at the inauguration gala.
Liz loves teaching and all her students, but she is also a well-rounded person. She loves going to concerts, and has attended approximately ten with her sister, Jenny, but Liz has attended hundreds more with friends, students, and her other sisters. She is a great aunt, who has taken nieces and nephews to movies and games, and has showed up for them on their birthdays and all accomplishments. She is an amazing mentor for her nieces and nephews as well. Liz not only teaches young people how to be successful in all they do, but she lives what she teaches too. Today is Liz’s birthday. Happy birthday Liz!! Have a great day!! We love you and we are very proud of you!!
If King George III was hoping to keep the New England colonies dependent on the British by placing taxes, restrictions, lockdowns, and the New England Restraining Act on them, he greatly underestimated the colonists. The New England Restraining Act was endorsed by King George III on March 30, 1775. The Act required New England colonies to trade exclusively with Great Britain as of July 1, 1775, with an additional rule going into effect on July 20, banning colonists from fishing in the North Atlantic.
The Restraining Act and the Conciliatory Proposition were introduced to Parliament by British prime minister, Frederick, Lord North, on the same day. The Conciliatory Proposition promised that no colony that met its share of imperial defenses and paid royal officials’ salaries of their own accord would be taxed…a ridiculous statement, because the very act of making the forced payments was basically taxing. Supposedly, the British were conceding to the colonists’ demand that they be “allowed to provide the crown with needed funds on a voluntary basis.” Through the preposition, Parliament would ask for money through requisitions, not demand it through taxes. If you ask me, that is a distinction without a difference. Either way, the colonists were forced to pay for things they shouldn’t have to. The Restraining Act was meant to appease Parliamentary hardliners, who would otherwise have impeded passage of the pacifying proposition. So, Lord North had to work both sides against the middle to get the Conciliatory Proposition passed.
Unfortunately for North and prospects for peace, General Thomas Gage had already received orders from London to march on Concord, Massachusetts. His orders were to destroy the armaments stockpiled in the town and take Patriot leaders John Hancock and Samuel Adams into custody. Gage had received the orders in January 1775 and arrived in Boston before the Conciliatory Proposition, meaning that he didn’t know about the agreement made to stop the taxing of the colonists. So, on April 18, 1775, an army of 700 Redcoats marched towards Concord Bridge. It was basically the last straw…the military action that would lead to the Revolutionary War, the birth of the United States as a new nation, the temporary downfall of Lord North, and the near abdication of King George III. The Treaty of Paris marked the end of the conflict and guaranteed New Englanders the right to fish off Newfoundland. It was the very right denied them by the New England Restraining Act. The British learned that they could only push the colonists so far, and then they would lose control of the very people they tried to enslave.
The dangers of the Cape Cod shoals are well known to the seamen who regularly navigate those waters. Almost from the time the shoals were discovered, they have been wreaking havoc on the ships that have the misfortune of getting too close to them. Sailors know that they need to steer clear of the Cape coast. Thousands of ships have been destroyed on its bars and rocks, and with the lost ships, uncounted lives too have been lost in the storm-tossed waves. When the storms were raging and a ship got caught, there was no way for rescuers to get to the trapped crew and passengers. The storms battered the trapped ships until they sank.
Oddly, Cape Cod is both a hazard and a haven to the mariners. All shipping between Boston and New York must either pass into its sheltered bay or run aground on its treacherous shoals. It is only the skill of the mariners that determines the difference. The shoals, when combined with the forces of countless Nor’easters put the Cape in a precarious location. Because of this, the Cape has been the site of more than 3,000 shipwrecks in 300 years of recorded history.
One of the first recorded wrecks was that of the Sparrow Hawk. The Sparrow Hawk originally hailed from London, England. It was making a six-week voyage to Virginia when it ran aground off Nauset Harbor in 1626. A gale arose and forced the vessel over the bar into the harbor. The ship ran aground near Orleans. The area isn’t always so dangerous. When the tide is low, people aboard the ships were able to get ashore safely when their ships ran aground. When Sparrow Hawk grounded, some English-speaking Indians arrived and offered to conduct them to Plymouth or carry a message. Grateful, they accepted and once ashore, they sent a message which brought Governor William Bradford with repair material. The ship was soon repaired, but before it could set sail, the ship was sunk by another storm. The sunken ship was abandoned.
The second wreck would be more permanent, as the ship wasn’t seen for over 200 years. The wreckage reappeared on May 6, 1863, after the sand shifted. The exposed remains of the ship reappeared only briefly. Because of the vessel’s unusual shape, two local men made a drawing of it. The ship was an oddity, and it drew many visitors. The visitors, when they came to see, nearly all took a fragment of the ship for a souvenir before it was again covered by sand in August of 1863. Since they now knew where the ship was, it has since been excavated, and the ribs of the ship were removed and transferred to the Pilgrim Hall Museum in Plymouth, where it is to this day.
In any war, there must be a nation’s first casualty. World War I could be no different. On March 28, 1915, the first American citizen was killed in the eighth month of World War I. The United States didn’t even enter the war until April 6, 1917. Nevertheless, Leon Thrasher, who was a 31-year-old mining engineer and a native of Massachusetts, drowned when a German U-Boat, the U-28 torpedoed a cargo-passenger ship the British RMS Falaba, a West African steamship, on which Thrasher was a passenger. The sinking became known as “The Thrasher Incident.” The RMS Falaba was on its way from Liverpool to West Africa, off the coast of England. Of the 242 passengers and crew on board RMS Falaba, 104 drowned. Thrasher was employed on the Gold Coast in British West Africa, and on March 28, 1915, he was on the RMS Falaba, as a passenger, returning to his post, following a trip to England.
The sinking, brought with it a claim from the Germans that the submarine’s crew had followed all protocol when approaching RMS Falaba. The Germans said that they gave the passengers ample time to abandon ship, and that they fired only when British torpedo destroyers began to approach to give aid to the Falaba. Of course, the British official press report of the incident disagreed, claiming that the Germans had acted improperly, “It is not true that sufficient time was given the passengers and the crew of this vessel to escape. The German submarine closed in on the Falaba, ascertained her name, signaled her to stop, and gave those on board five minutes to take to the boats. It would have been nothing short of a miracle if all the passengers and crew of a big liner had been able to take to their boats within the time allotted.”
The sinking of RMS Falaba, and Thrasher’s subsequent death, was mentioned again in a memorandum sent by the US government, which was drafted by President Woodrow Wilson himself and addressed to the German government after the German submarine attack on the British passenger ship Lusitania on May 7, 1915, in which 1,201 people were drowned, including 128 Americans. President Wilson’s note was clearly a warning, calling for the US and Germany to come to a full and complete understanding as to the grave situation which had resulted from the German policy of unrestricted submarine warfare. In response to the warning, Germany abandoned the policy shortly thereafter. However, the policy abandonment was reversed in early 1917, and that was the final straw that put the United States into World War I on April 6, 1917.
This year has been one of so much change for my niece, Amanda Reed. The biggest change is that Jadyn Mortensen, the daughter that she shares with partner, Sean Mortensen went away to college. It wasn’t that she was so far away, but because she is their only child, her leaving brought not only their first college student, but also the empty nest syndrome. They are a very close family. They all share a love of all things outdoor sports. Jadyn is even attending the University of Wyoming on a full ride rodeo scholarship. From boating, to snowmobiling, to skiing, to motorcycling, to horse riding, this is a family of athletes, and they do it all together. So having Jadyn in college, leaves a big hole in the family dynamic, and they are all feeling it. The good news is that summer is coming, and Jadyn’s break from college.
Amanda and Sean decided to buy his parents cabin at Ryan Park, and the area is just beautiful. Ryan Park is in the Snowy Range, and the area is surrounded by trees and nature. They spent last Christmas up there. Everyone who joined them had a wonderful time. The cabin will be a wonderful addition to their many outdoor activities, both for summer and winter use. A cabin in the mountains is always a beautiful spot to spend time. I know they will really enjoy their time there.
Amanda has been working in the banking industry for all of her adult life, and she has made great strides in her field. Amanda went to work at the Rawlins National Bank at a young age and worked her way up to the pretty prestigious position of BSA Agent, which is a part of the law enforcement area of the bank. Now, she has been promoted to Vice President over operations, which is a wonderful step up. She’s very happy about that! Amanda has worked so hard to advance her career, and she has been so successful in everything she does. This latest promotion is such a big one for her, and we are all so proud of this accomplishment. I know that the future will continue to be amazing for Amanda. It seems that every time she turns around, there is another great change waiting for her. She is such an engaging person, and always wears a smile. She has a great group of friends that, along with her family, round out her world very nicely. Today is Amanda’s birthday. Happy birthday Amanda!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Battery Spencer was a reinforced concrete Endicott Period 12-inch gun battery, which was located on Fort Baker, Lime Point, Marin County, California. The structure still exists today and is a favorite tourist attraction. The battery was named on Feb 14, 1902, after Major General Joseph Spencer, who was a Revolutionary War hero. Spencer died on January 13, 1789. Construction on the battery began in 1893, and it was completed in 1897. Following its completion, it was transferred to the Coast Artillery for use on September 24, 1897, at a total cost of $110,352.70. It was deactivated in 1942 during World War II.
The battery was originally part of the Harbor Defense of San Francisco. The harbor was likely one of the most vulnerable entrances to San Fransisco, and in the early days of the country, when radar didn’t exist, it was hard to tell if an enemy was sneaking into the harbor, especially a submarine. Battery Spencer was a concrete coastal gun battery with three M1888 12-inch guns mounted on long range Barbette M1892 carriages. It was constructed on top of the five front emplacements of Battery Ridge. Back in the early 1900s, Battery Spencer was one of the main protection points for the San Francisco Bay. It featured multiple lookout points that were operated by the military and a few buildings for housing the generators and shells. It was used on and off until World War II when a lot of it was scrapped for war efforts.
The guns were mounted on 3 emplacements. Emplacements #1 and #2 were separated by a magazine with two shell rooms, a powder room, and a shell hoist room. Emplacement #3 had its own shell room, powder room, and hoist room. Spencer Battery was a two-story battery with the magazines on the lower level and the gun emplacements on the upper level. The missiles, or more likely cannon balls at first, were originally moved from the magazine level to the loading level with hand powered projectile hoists. In 1908, the hand powered hoists were replaced with electric Taylor-Raymond front delivery hoists. The new hoists were put into service on September 30, 1908. There were no powder hoists at Battery Spencer, meaning that gun powder had to be moved by hand.
Along the access road that runs north of Emplacement #1, was the BC Post and a separate building that had four rooms. The rooms consisted of a CO room, a guard room, an oil room, and a large 12′ by 43′ plotting room. All of these were used to plan any defensive action taken by the soldiers stationed at Battery Spencer. Two other buildings across the road completed the battery. One housed the tools and rammers, the other a latrine building with separate facilities for officers and enlisted. In 1910 the BC post and the plotting room were remodeled and updated. The work was accepted for service on August 5, 1910, at a cost of $1680.68.
When the United States entered World War I, it was decided that the large caliber coastal defense gun tubes should be removed from coastal batteries and sent into service in Europe. First, they were sent to arsenals for modification and mounting on mobile carriages, both wheeled and railroad. Strangely, most of the removed gun tubes never made it to Europe. Many were either remounted at the batteries or remained at the arsenals until needed elsewhere. One gun was removed from Battery Spencer emplacement #3 in 1918 and sent to Battery Chester at Fort Miley. The gun at Battery Spencer was never replaced, and the emplacement was considered abandoned. The carriage remained in place until it was ordered salvaged on January 10, 1927. World War II brought the first large scale scrap drive, and the remaining two guns and carriages were ordered scrapped on November 19, 1942.
These days Battery Spencer is part of the Golden Gate Recreation Area (GGNRA) administered by the National Park Service. It is a favorite historical attraction, even though no period guns or carriages are in place. The site is also one of the very best views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco.
After the Boston Tea Party on December 16, 1773, the tensions between the British Parliament and the American Colonies seethed for months. Then, on March 25, 1774, the British Parliament took the next step in its reign of tyranny, when it passed the Boston Port Act. The Boston Port Act closed the port of Boston to all incoming and outgoing ships, while demanding that the city’s residents pay for the nearly $1 million worth (in today’s money) of tea dumped into Boston Harbor during the Boston Tea Party. The act basically held the city under siege, while demanding a ransom for its release.
The Boston Port Act was the first and easiest to enforce of the four acts that resulted from the Boston Tea Party. Together, there were four acts, and they were known as the Coercive Acts. The other three were a new Quartering Act, the Administration of Justice Act, and the Massachusetts Government Act. These were passed as part of the Crown’s attempt to intimidate Boston’s increasingly unruly residents. King George III appointed General Thomas Gage, who commanded the British army in North America, as the new governor of Massachusetts in 1774, before the Massachusetts Government Act revoked the colony’s 1691 charter and curtailed the powers of the traditional town meeting and colonial council. Probably the biggest mistake the British made was in not understanding that the main reason the colonists left Britain was to get far enough away from Crown rule to live their own lives. These acts made it very clear to Bostonians that the crown intended to impose martial law, and that was something they just would not stand for.
Gage got right down to business, when in June, he easily sealed the ports of Boston and Charlestown using the formidable British navy. This act left merchants terrified of impending economic disaster. In their panic, many merchants simply wanted to pay for the tea and disband the Boston Committee of Correspondence, which had served to organize anti-British protests. Little did they know that to “bend their knees” to the tyranny would only have served to make matters worse. People make big mistakes when they get in fear. The merchants tried to convince their neighbors to appease the British in the hope of everything just “going away,” but that would never have been the case. A town meeting was called to discuss the matter, and the idea was immediately voted down by a substantial margin.
Parliament hoped that the Coercive Acts would isolate Boston from Massachusetts, Massachusetts from New England, and New England from the rest of North America, thereby preventing unified colonial resistance to the British. Again, they misjudged the colonists, and their effort backfired. Rather than abandon Boston, the colonial population shipped much-needed supplies to Boston and formed extra-legal Provincial Congresses to mobilize resistance to the crown. By the time Gage attempted to enforce the Massachusetts Government Act, his authority had eroded beyond repair. It was another “shot to the heart” of the crown, that would ultimately lead to their complete downfall.
Since moving from Powell, Wyoming to Butte, Montana has changed many things in my grandnephew, Weston Moore’s life. Weston is enjoying his life in Butte. He is working for a company that installs music sound systems in vehicle. This was a new line of work for Weston, and he is learning so much, and he can now figure out problems with electrical that we all dread on working on in vehicles!! He really enjoys the work, and his new life in Montana. Of course, with his family living so far away, he doesn’t get to see his parents, Steve and Machelle Moore and his brother, Easton Moore, as often as he used to. That makes it hard, and the weather in Montana and Wyoming doesn’t always make visiting home an easy thing to do.
Nevertheless, Weston managed to get home for his brother’s graduation, Thanksgiving, and Christmas this year. Weston loves to surprise his family. They ask him when he might be coming home, and he does his best to make them think it will be a long while…and then he shows up. Weston loves it when they are all surprised to see him. Weston’s family was hoping to go to Butte for his birthday, but unfortunately, this trip is going have to wait a little while, because the car needs new tires, and it gets better gas milage. It’s a struggle for a lot of people this year. Hopefully prices go down so they can get together and do more things this summer.
While all this has made for an interesting year, it’s Weston, himself that is the biggest news. Weston has been working for a while now to become…less!! Weston decided that he wanted to lose weight and get healthy, so he set out to do just that. I’m not sure how long he has been working on it, but I can tell you that 100 pounds doesn’t come off overnight. Losing that kind of weight takes hard work and determination. Weston had made up his mind, and he wasn’t quitting until he succeeded. We are all so proud of his success. He looks great, and he decided that to complete his transformation, he needed a haircut too. Well, he succeeded in a complete transformation, and I can happily say that today, we have less Weston. Today is Weston’s 23rd birthday. Happy birthday Weston!! Have a great day!! We love you and we’re so proud of you!!