Joe Meek was born in Virginia in 1810. He was a friendly young man, with a great sense of humor, but he had too much rambunctious energy to do well in school. He just couldn’t sit still well enough to focus on his studies. Finally, at 16 years old and illiterate, Meek gave up on school and moved west to join two of his brothers in Missouri. Still, he didn’t give up on all of his learning, just the formal learning. In later years, he taught himself to read and write, but his spelling and grammar remained “highly original” throughout his life.
Meek seemed to flourish in the West. It appears that he had found his calling, and in early 1829, he joined William Sublette’s ambitious expedition to begin fur trading in the Far West. Meek traveled throughout the West for the next decade. For him there was nothing greater than the adventure and independence of the mountain man life. Meek, the picture of a mountain man, at 6 feet 2 inches tall, and heavily bearded became a favorite character at the annual mountain-men rendezvous. The others loved to listen to his humorous and often exaggerated stories of his wilderness adventures. The truth is, I’m sure many people would have loved to hear about the adventures of the mountain man, especially this one, who was so unique. Like most mountain men, Meek was a renowned grizzly bear hunter. I suppose his stories of his hunting escapades could have been exaggerations, it’s hard to say. Meek claimed he liked to “count coup” on the dangerous animals before killing them, a variation on a Native American practice in which they shamed a live human enemy by tapping them with a long stick. To tap a grizzly bear with a stick, before the attempted kill, took either courage…or stupidity. Meek also claimed that he had wrestled an attacking grizzly with his bare hands before finally sinking a tomahawk into its brain. I suppose that if a grizzly bear attacked you, you would have no choice but to fight for your life, with your bare hands. Having the forethought to go for your tomahawk would be…well, amazing. Most people would try to cover their heads, and hope for the best. Still, that wouldn’t do much good. In a bear attack, you had better fight with everything you have, if you want to live. Maybe mountain men spent a lot of time considering the possibility of an attack, and practicing in their head exactly how they would handle it.
Meek soon established good relations with many Native Americans, effectively melding with the Indians. He even married three Native American women, including the daughter of a Nez Perce chief. Now, that didn’t mean that he didn’t fight with the tribes on occasion, or at least the tribes who were hostile to the incursion of the mountain men into their territories. Meek intended to fight for his right to be on the land, the same as the Indians. In the spring of 1837, Meek was nearly killed by a Blackfeet warrior who was taking aim with his bow while Meek tried to reload his Hawken rifle. In the end, the warrior nervously dropped his first arrow while drawing the bow, and Meek had time to reload and shoot. The warrior’s fumble cost him his life, while saving Meek’s life.
After a great run as a mountain man, Meek recognized that the golden era of the free trappers was coming to a close. He began making plans to find another form of income. He joined with another mountain man, and along with his third wife, he guided one of the first wagon trains to cross the Rockies on the Oregon Trail. Once he arrived in Oregon, Meek fell in love with the lush Willamette Valley of western Oregon. He settled down and became a farmer, and actively encouraged other Americans to join him. Of course, more White men on what had been Indian lands, came with safety issued. Meek led a delegation to Washington DC to ask for military protection from Native American attacks and territorial status for Oregon in 1847. Though he arrived “ragged, dirty, and lousy,” Meek became a bit of a celebrity in the capitol. Not used to the ways of mountain men, the Easterners truly enjoyed the rowdy good humor Meek showed in proclaiming himself the “envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary from the Republic of Oregon to the Court of the United States.” His enthusiasm prompted Congress to making Oregon an official American territory and Meek a US marshal. I wonder if he was shocked by his new role.
He might have been shocked, but Meek embraced his new role. He returned to Oregon and became heavily involved in politics, eventually founded the Oregon Republican Party. After his years of service, he retired to his farm, and on June 20, 1875, at the age of 65, Meek passed away. With his passing the world lost a skilled practitioner of the frontier art of the tall tale. It is said that his life was nearly as adventurous as his stories claimed, but there is no sure line to tell what was real and what was tall tale.
A number of years ago, I had the opportunity to go on a couple of business trips with my boss, Jim Stengel, in his plane. At that time, he introduced me to aviation charts, and I found them very interesting. You could see every airport on them, even the small private airports. You could also see every river, lake, and even pond, and they actually looked right on the map. I suppose the shapes would be off these days, due to droughts and such, but with GPS, I suppose they aren’t as necessary. Aviation charts could almost be considered a novelty now.
These days airmail is common, but on August 20, 1920, when the United States opened its first coast-to-coast airmail delivery route, we were just 60 years past the time when the Pony Express closed up shop. To me that is astounding…from horses to airplanes in just 60 years. When airmail got started, they didn’t have any of those aviation charts that had fascinated me on those flights with Jim. In those days, pilots had to navigate by sight…yikes!! Just imagine flying in bad weather, not to mention night flying, which was just about impossible. Some brainstorming was needed.
The Postal Service came up with a unique navigational system. The world’s first ground-based civilian navigation system was made up of a series of lighted beacons that extended from New York to San Francisco. I would think the pilots would have to be quite experienced to follow this plan. The plan included a series of 70-foot concrete arrows, placed ten miles apart from coast to coast. The arrows were painted bright yellow, and at the center of each arrow, stood a 51-foot steel tower. On top of the tower was a million-candlepower rotating beacon. Below the rotating light were two course lights pointing forward and backward along the arrow. The course lights flashed a code to identify the beacon’s number. A generator shed at the tail, or feather end of each arrow powered the beacon and lights, if that became necessary.
Like the railroad, the Airmail system was built in stages. By 1924, just a year after Congress funded it, the line of giant concrete markers stretched from Rock Springs, Wyoming to Cleveland, Ohio. The next summer, it reached all the way to New York and then, by 1929, it extended all the way to San Francisco. It worked so well, that in 1926, the new Aeronautics Branch in the Department of Commerce, now known as United States Postal Service, proposed a 650-mile air mail route linking Los Angeles to Salt Lake City. That route was designated as Contract Air Mail Route 4 (CAM-4). The system seemed well on its way to modernizing mail delivery forever, butbefore long, the advances in communication and navigation technology made the big arrows obsolete, as new technology will. By the 1940s, the Commerce Department decommissioned the beacons. To help the war effort, the steel towers were torn down and sent to be used elsewhere. Today, many of the arrows have been removed, but there are still a few that remain. I suppose if you spent some time scanning Google Earth, or flying along the old routes, you might be able to see a few of these old pieces of history.
In 1998, two Argentine mountaineers climbing Mount Tupungato, which is about 60 miles west-southwest of Mendoza, and about 50 miles east of Santiago, made a strange discovery emerging from the glacial ice. Upon inspection, the “discovery” turned out to be the wreckage of a Rolls-Royce Merlin aircraft engine, along with twisted pieces of metal and shreds of clothing. It didn’t take long to realize that a plane had crashed here, but when and how did that plane crash at an elevation of 15,000 feet, into the Tupungato Glacier.
The find set off an Argentine Army expedition in 2000, during which additional wreckage was found, including a propeller and wheels (one of which had an intact and still inflated tire). The expedition also noted that the wreckage was well localized, which is indicative of a head-on impact with the ground, ruling out a mid-air explosion. In addition to the plane, the expedition found human remains, including three torsos, a foot in an ankle boot, and a manicured hand.
On August 2, 1947, a plane known as the Star Dust, operated by British South American Airlines, took off from Buenos Aires, Argentina, headed for Santiago, Chile. It never made it. After 51 years, the fate of the Star Dust was finally known, but how did it happen? A recovered propeller showed that the engine had been running at near-cruising speed at the time of the impact. The planes wheels were in a retracted state, meaning that the plane wasn’t coming in for a landing, emergency or planned. This was a controlled flight into terrain, whether planned or unplanned. It was determined that during the final portion of Star Dust’s flight, there would have been heavy clouds blocking the visibility to the ground. It is thought that because of the cloud cover and the resulting absence of visual sightings, that a large navigational error could have been made as the aircraft flew through the jet stream. This would not have been understood in 1947. High-altitude winds can blow at high speed in directions different from those of winds observed at ground level. If the airliner, which had to cross the Andes Mountain Range at 24,000 feet, had entered the jet-stream zone, which in this area normally blows from the west and south-west, resulting in the aircraft encountering a headwind, this would have significantly decreased the aircraft’s ground speed.
If the crew thought their airspeed was faster than it actually was, the crew may have deduced that they had already safely crossed the Andes, and so commenced their descent to Santiago, when in reality they were still a considerable distance to the east-north-east and were approaching the cloud-shrouded Tupungato Glacier at high speed. That theory is not well received by some BSAA pilots, who have expressed skepticism. They were convinced that Cook would not have started his descent without a positive indication that he had crossed the mountains, they have suggested that strong winds may have brought down the craft in some other way. One of the pilots recalled that “we had all been warned not to enter cloud over the mountains as the turbulence and icing posed too great a threat.”
A 2000 Argentine Air Force investigation cleared Captain Cook of any blame, concluding that the crash had resulted from “a heavy snowstorm” and “very cloudy weather,” as a result of which the crew “were unable to correct their positioning.” By 2002, the bodies of five of the eight British victims had been identified through DNA testing.
My husband, Bob and I love the Black Hills. We go over every year for the Independence Day celebration, which also happens to be right around Bob’s birthday. It is a kind of double celebration for us. Bob and I love to hike, and we have a number of favorite trails in the Black Hills. Some trails we take every year, some only in years that we are in tip top condition, and we try to find a new trail once in a while. There is so much of the Black Hills that most people never see. The back country of the Black Hills, deep in the forest, is just stunning. These Independence Day trips are such a sweet retreat for Bob and me. We especially love the ride on the 1880 Train, as the grand finale. That ride is so relaxing, and it really never gets old.
Bob is such a hard worker. Even in Retirement, he spends a lot of time working on cars for people. There are people who totally depend of his knowledge and ability to keep their vehicles running, and I don’t know what he would do with himself if he didn’t work on the vehicles of all his friends and family members. Since his retirement, he has kept busy and has thoroughly enjoyed the work he does…plus the fact that he is his own boss. All the years he spent working for the City of Casper were great, but there is nothing quite like being your own boss. You work at your own pace and take only the jobs you want to take, and since Bob is such a social person, there is the added benefit of meeting people and making friends.
Bob is such a kind and thoughtful person, who always has something nice to say about everyone. Its a wonderful trait to be able to find the good in people, and that is just what Bob does. I don’t think he has ever met someone he didn’t like. That is something I love about Bob…his easy manner with people. It makes people comfortable with him. From adults to little kids. Everybody likes Bob. His nieces and nephews are all very fond of him, and love to spend time with him. They love to tease him and make him laugh, and he feels the same about them. Little kids are the best ones to watch. They can usually tell if a person is someone they would like, and Bob always falls into the “we like you” category. I have to agree with them. I like him too. He’s a pretty great guy. I liked him from the moment I met him…and I still do. Today is Bob’s birthday. Happy birthday Bob!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
A few days ago, my friends, Rikki and Tony Ramsey (who is stationed in Germany) and their three sons, Jameson, Jackson, and Jordan posted some pictures of a trip they took to Salzburg, Austria. On the way there, they went to a place in the mountains, and posted pictures of them in front of a large cross. It was the cross that caught my eye, but the story of the place that held my interest. In English the place is called the Eagle’s Nest, but in German it is the Kehlsteinhaus and it is a building and cross erected by the Third Reich atop the summit of the Kehlstein, a rocky outcrop that rises above Obersalzberg near the town of Berchtesgaden. This was not a church or a fancy mountain-top resort or restaurant…at least not then. It was used exclusively by members of the Nazi Party for government and social meetings, and was visited on 14 documented instances by Adolf Hitler, who disliked the location due to his fear of heights, the risk of bad weather, and the thin mountain air. Today, the building is owned by a charitable trust and is open seasonally to the public as a restaurant, beer garden, and tourist site. I’m sure Hitler would be furious about that.
The Kehlsteinhaus is located on a ridge atop the Kehlstein, a 6,017 feet subpeak of the Hoher Göll that rises above the town of Berchtesgaden. It construction was commissioned by Martin Bormann in the summer of 1937, and paid for by the Nazi Party. It took 13 months to complete, and whether is was the speed of its construction, or simply poor safety standards, twelve workers died during its construction. The road to Kehlsteinhaus is 13 feet wide and climbs 2,600 feet over 4 miles. To get to Kehlsteinhaus, the road goes through five tunnels and one hairpin turn. The road cost RM 30 million to build (about €150 million inflation-adjusted for 2007), which equals about 180,450,000 US dollars. Hitler’s birthday in April 1939 was considered a deadline for the project’s completion, so work continued throughout the winter of 1938, even at night with the worksite lit by searchlights. That explains the twelve deaths, I suppose.
Once you arrive, there is a large car park. From there, a 407 feet entry tunnel leads to an ornate elevator that ascends the final 407 feet to the building. Even the tunnel was elaborate. It was lined with marble and was originally heated, with warm air from an adjoining service tunnel. Most people walked into the elevator, but visiting high-officials were commonly driven through the tunnel to the elevator. Since the tunnel was to narrow to turn around, the driver then had to reverse the car for the entire length of the tunnel. The elevator was elaborate too, of course. The inside was surfaced with polished brass, Venetian mirrors, and green leather. The building’s main reception room is dominated by a fireplace of red Italian marble presented by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, which was damaged by Allied soldiers chipping off pieces to take home as souvenirs. Hitler had the best of everything in the building. Unusual for 1937, the building had a completely electric appliance kitchen, but it was never used to cook meals…instead meals were prepared in town and taken to the kitchen on the mountain top to be reheated. Another extravagancy was the heated floors, with heating required for at least two days before visitors arrived. A MAN submarine diesel engine and an electrical generator were installed in an underground chamber close to the main entrance, to provide back-up power. Much of the furniture was designed by Paul László.
Hitler first visited on September 16, 1938, and returned to inaugurate it on April 20, 1939, his 50th birthday…though supposedly, it was not intended as a birthday gift. There are two ways to approach and enter the building…the road and the Kehlsteinhaus elevator. Hitler did not trust the elevator, continually expressed his reservations of its safety, and disliked using it. His biggest fear was that the elevator’s winch mechanism on the roof would attract a lightning strike. Bormann took great pains to never mention the two serious lightning strikes that occurred during construction. For a man who was supposedly such a “brave leader,” Hitler sure was afraid of a lot of things. The Kehlsteinhaus lies several miles directly above the Berghof, Hitler’s summer home. In a rare diplomatic engagement, Hitler received departing French ambassador André François-Poncet on October 18, 1938, there. It was he who actually came up with the name “Eagle’s Nest” for the building while later describing the visit. Since then, the name has remained. A wedding reception for Eva Braun’s sister Gretl was held there following her marriage to Hermann Fegelein on June 3, 1944. While Hitler more often than not left the entertaining duties to others, he believed the house presented an excellent opportunity to entertain important and impressionable guests. Often referred to as the “D-Haus,” short for “Diplomatic Reception House,” the Kehlsteinhaus is often combined with the teahouse on Mooslahnerkopf Hill near the Berghof, which Hitler walked to daily after lunch. Later, after the war, the teahouse was demolished by the Bavarian government, due to its connection to Hitler.
The Allies tried to bomb the Kehlsteinhaus in the April 25, 1945 Bombing of Obersalzberg, but the little house did not make an easy target for the force of 359 Avro Lancasters and 16 de Havilland Mosquitoes, which were sent to bomb Kehlsteinhaus, but instead, severely damaged the Berghof area. Undamaged in the April 25 bombing raid, the Kehlsteinhaus was subsequently used by the Allies as a military command post until 1960, when it was handed back to the State of Bavaria. The road to the Kehlsteinhaus has been closed to private vehicles since 1952 because it is too dangerous, but the house can be reached on foot (in two hours) from Obersalzberg, or by bus from the Documentation Center there. The Documentation Centre currently directs visitors to the coach station where tickets are purchased. The buses have special modifications to take on a slight angle, as the steep road leading to the peak is too steep for regular vehicles. The Kehlsteinhaus itself does not mention much about its past, except in the photos displayed and described along the wall of the sun terrace that documents its pre-construction condition until now. The lower rooms of the structure are not part of the restaurant but can be visited with a guide. They offer views of the building’s past through plate-glass windows, including graffiti left by Allied troops that is still visible in the surrounding woodwork. The red Italian marble fireplace remains damaged by Allied souvenir hunters, though this was later halted by signage posted that the building was US government property, and damage to it was cause for disciplinary action. Hitler’s small study is now a storeroom for the cafeteria. Thanks to the Ramsey family for taking us along.
My brother-in-law, Mike Stevens and my sister, Alena Stevens, have done a lot of camping over the years. They have had had a number of camper trailers, but this year, they decided to get the one they really wanted, after all, Mike’s retirement is coming up soon…not that I know when, but he is closer to retirement than he ever was, and according to his son, Garrett Stevens, it can’t come soon enough. Mike and Alena have lots of summer plans in the works. They are planning camping trips on the mountain, very likely both the Big Horns and Casper Mountain, as well as at the Pathfinder Reservoir where the Stevens Clan take yearly vacations with the whole Stevens family. That said, they bought a 2021 Keystone Laredo 5th Wheel trailer. It is beautiful and it will definitely take their camping comfort to the next level.
Mike is a major green thumb. He loves growing things, and that means making sure they have a wonderful lawn. Their yard, both front and back and great entertaining spots, but that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what Mike can grow. Their daughter, Michelle Stevens tells me that her dad has “quite the green thumb.” Their summer garden usually contains tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers. By the end of the growing season Mike and Alena have much work to do, because the harvest is always good. They busily can the vegetables, as well as the spaghetti sauce, that is Mike’s specialty; and Alena’s is her salsa.
Interestingly, Mike’s son Garrett came across a couple of “blast from the past” pictures of his dad that I find very interesting Mike used to work at Shellabarger Chevrolet, where Mike worked as a mechanic. In fact, that is where Mike met my sister, Alena…and the rest, as they say, is history. They have been married for 37 years this July 21st. You just never know where you will meet your soulmate. The other picture Garrett found is one with Mike and his buddies, Lloyd LaFave, Ron Millay, and Eddie Bright. What shocked me so much with this picture was just how much Mike and Garrett look alike. I knew Garrett looked a lot like his dad, but somehow, until you see a picture that clearly could be one person, but is actually the other, you just don’t make the connection in your mind. They could be twins…which wouldn’t be so odd, since Mike is a twin with his brother, Pat. Nevertheless, Mike and Pat are fraternal twins, and Garrett is actually more a twin to his dad than Pat is.
Mike and Garrett are planning some fishing for the summer, as golfing, of course. They both love golf, and this year they plan to golf at least once at the Powder Horn Golf Club in Sheridan, where Garrett and his family live. Mike and Alena plan to spend quite a bit of time in Sheridan, since that is where their first grandchild, granddaughter, Elliott lives. She is the apple of their eyes, and the just can’t get enough of her. Elliott, for her part, is a total character, and keeps her parents, Garrett and Kayla Stevens and grandparents, Mike and Alena Stevens and Wes and Lynette Smiley in stitches. Life just doesn’t get any better!! Today is Mike’s birthday. Happy birthday Mike!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My son-in-law, Travis Royce is rather a fanatic when it comes to his yard. He really always has been. When you think about it, that works out very well for my daughter, Amy…his wife. It’s not that Travis does all the work, but that he is happy to help with the projects that make their back yard a sanctuary where they love to spend time. This year, they have been working on their covered patio are. Travis built that a while back, and now they are adding to the ambiance with lighting, flower gardens, and games, like the latest addition to the back yard…darts. They got the dart board up, and I mentioned to Amy that now she could beat him at darts indoors and outdoors. Well, she informed me that he won the first game played out on the patio. They are both good dart players, so my comment was really a joke, but Travis proved that he has a good handle on the game. They have several back yard games that they like to play, but they also like to just sit and relax…enjoying the quiet nights.
Travis is a homebody in many ways, something I would never have expected when he and Amy first started dating, about 27 years ago, but time changes us all. Those party/bar scenes get old after a while, and it too loud anyway, so most people would rather have friends over and enjoy a little bit more quiet party atmosphere. Nevertheless, Amy and Travis do like to go to the casinos in their area, and they tend to do pretty well there. Still, they aren’t about throwing their money away, they just play for fun periodically. When we go to visit, we enjoy that too, and sometimes we do pretty well. Maybe it’s all about having them there with us, I don’t know. Sometimes, I think we should give them our money to play while we stand and watch.
Travis is an excellent “griller,” as anyone who has had his food can attest. If the cooking is being done indoors, Amy is the cook, but if it’s being done outdoors, it’s all Travis. He prides himself in grilling great steaks and seafood too. His friends consider themselves lucky to have been invited for the barbecue. Amy and Travis are very social people, and entertaining is something they both enjoy, so those summer barbecues are always fun times for them and for everyone who is privileged to attend. Today is Travis’ birthday. Happy birthday Travis!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
By the time Spring arrives, people are naturally over the cold and sometimes depressing Winter months. When April 1st arrives, hopefully bringing with it, sunshine and warmer temperatures, pranks seem to just pop into our heads. We need a laugh, and the good-natured pranking of our friends is a great way to get that laugh. People have pranked their friends and family in many ways. The ways are really as diverse as the prankster. My sisters and I, when we were little, did all the kid pranks, like “there’s a spider in your hair” or exchanging the salt for the sugar. Other people go all out, like telling someone their car was stolen or placing a rubber snake in their bed. I suppose some pranks can be a little over the top, and can even backfire on the prankster, but most are done good naturedly, and are taken as such. Of course, the best part for the prankster is yelling, “April Fool” to their victim.
As traditions go, some stand out more than others. In the United Kingdom, it is tradition that all pranks stopped at noon. This continues to be the custom, with the pranking ceasing at noon, after which time it is no longer acceptable to play pranks. So, a person who didn’t watch the time, an playing a prank after midday is considered the “April fool” themselves. In Ireland, it is more of a “fools errand.” The prankster entrusts the victim with an “important letter” to be given to a named person. That person would read the letter, then ask the victim to take it to someone else, and so on. The letter, when opened contained the words “send the fool further” and then the victim knew he had been had. I can’t say that would be a traditional joke, because the word would get around pretty quickly, and then it wouldn’t work.
April Fools’ Day isn’t just for individuals either. On April Fools’ Day, elaborate pranks have appeared on radio and TV stations, newspapers, and websites, and have been performed by large corporations. One of the more famous pranks was in 1957, the BBC broadcast a film in their Panorama current affairs series purporting to show Swiss farmers picking freshly-grown spaghetti, in what they called the Swiss Spaghetti Harvest. The BBC was soon flooded with requests to purchase a spaghetti plant, forcing them to declare the film a hoax on the news the next day. A good prankster could come up with similar pranks for the media to use, and now with the Internet and readily available global news services, April Fools’ pranks can catch and embarrass more people than ever before. It’s the one day that “fake news” can be fake and it’s ok. Happy April Fools’ Day to all the pranksters out there. Have fun, and watch the time so you don’t wind up being the “fool” indeed.
My husband, Bob Schulenberg is truly the love of my life. God blessed me with my husband while I was still in high school. I know I’m not the only person ever to meet their future spouse in high school, High School Sweethearts can be a common term among married couples, and in fact, I personally know a number of just such couples. Our meeting was that type exactly, however. While I was still in high school, Bob wasn’t, and we attended different high schools anyway, so it wouldn’t have been that type of romance exactly…even though the schools were in the same town of Casper, Wyoming, we might never have met even if he was still in high school. No, it was God’s plan…all the way, and that makes it all the more wonderful.
As each year passes, I am more and more amazed at the number of years we have been married. At 18, you can barely consider age 50, much less fathom 46 years of marriage to this 20 year old man to whom you have just said, “I do.” We knew nothing of the world. We were barely past childhood ourselves. In fact, I can’t believe how young we looked back then…like babies. Nevertheless, God blessed me with the perfect man for me. We are largely opposites, but they say that opposites attract. I think that’s true for the most part. There are interests, beliefs, and traits that we have in common, and they are necessary, because to love someone you must also have things in common with them. I feel very blessed to have things in Common with Bob and things where we are different too. We complete each other, and that really is awesome.
Now that we have started a new chapter in our lives, namely, retirement, we have even more option to spread our wings and enjoy our new lives. Retirement is a very different time in a marriage. Many people wonder if they will be able to stand each other, because suddenly they are spending so much time together. I don’t know about other couples, but Bob and I get along very well, even though we are spending a lot more time together. Of course, the truth is we like each other. I mean, we love each other, but we also like each other. We are best friends. If a couple in a marriage aren’t friends, I think they are already in trouble. A great marriage starts out as a good friendship. I am so privileged to be married to my best friend all these years. Happy 46th anniversary to the best husband in the whole world!! I love you Bob!!
As children, most of us have been on the receiving end of a form of “torture” that really isn’t exactly torture for most of us, but rather just good clean fun…provided that the torturer knows when to stop. My sisters and I were among the experts of our era…at least four of us were. The fifth sister, the middle one, Caryl Reed, was an “accomplished” victim…not because she chose to be the victim, but rather that she was the one we most loved to tickle. She was just such a great victim!! We would tickle her until she could hardly breathe, and then we would show some “mercy” and let her “live to be victimized another day.”
I always thought my sisters, Cheryl Masterson, Alena Stevens, Allyn Hadlock, and I were very clever at coming up with something totally new…the Tickle Torture, but it turns out that Tickle Torture is an ancient form of actual torture. Who knew? Certainly not my sisters or me. Our form of torture, barely resembles the ancient form, or the form that still exists to this day among military circles. As it turns out, the tickle torture began in 260 BC, as far as anyone can tell, when the Han Dynasty appears to have implemented the technique as a reliable punishment that didn’t leave marks. It was used by both the Ancient Romans and the Chinese. I have heard of some of the brutal forms of torture that the Romans used, and I suppose at first this seemed like one of the most humane forms of torture in their entourage. It seems that they would apply salt on the soles of feet and then have a goat lick it off. If you have ever had an animal lick your hand, you know that they usually have a rough tongue. At first, the torture must have been crazy in an extremely ticklish sort of way, and very likely the victim laughed until they could hardly breathe. As the torture continued, the rough tongue of the goat began to actually cause extreme pain…sometimes even lacerating the skin of the feet. The Chinese used this torture on the nobility because there was little evidence left behind and recovery was quick.
People have mixed feelings on tickling. Some like it, but some don’t. I have always been of the mind that if someone really hates it, it should not be done. Of course, the victims in those days had no choice, and I doubt if anyone really liked that kind of tickle torture. I guess that if a person really hates the tickle torture, they might be able to understand how some groups in history have come up with ways to turn it into an actual form of torture. In the actual torture, people might pass out, vomit, and some even died…at least it went that far in the Nazi concentration camps during World War II. I suppose that for anyone who lived through any of that or knew someone who did, the tickle torture would not be funny at all. Still, tickle torture was not as bad as some of the other forms of torture used in ancient times, nor was it often as deadly as those other forms.
Actual Tickle torture is still in use today too, and not just in various households across the world. Special operations forces may actually use it in interrogations, as a method of non-lethal torture to be employed by governments to gain information from a suspect. I don’t know how they would actually get any information for a victim, unless their form of torture took a painful turn, but then I’m not an interrogator, so maybe they know something I don’t. What I do know is that my sisters and I had many happy sessions of applying the tickle torture to our sister, Caryl.