My dad, Allen Spencer, went to work for Douglas Aircraft Company on May 19, 1942. He was a young man of just 18 years. Dad wasn’t with Douglas Aircraft Company for very long, because of World War II, and his enlistment in the Army Air Force on March 12, 1943. Nevertheless, the job my dad had while he was at Douglas Aircraft Company would play a big part in his future military assignment as a flight engineer on a B-17 Bomber during World War II, stationed at RAF Great Ashfield in Suffolk, England. Because of Dad’s job there, I have always had an interest in Douglas Aircraft Company.
While people might think they don’t know much about Douglas Aircraft Company, they really do, just under a different name. The Douglas Aircraft Company was an American aerospace manufacturer based in Southern California. It was founded in 1921 by Donald Wills Douglas Sr and later merged with McDonnell Aircraft in 1967 to form McDonnell Douglas. With that merger, Douglas Aircraft Company ceased to exist. The name McDonnell Douglas might be a bit more familiar to people, but it was really when McDonnell Douglas merged with Boeing in 1997 that the company became a household name. Everyone has heard of Boeing Aircraft Company.
While Douglas Aircraft Company no longer exists, they made great strides in the aerospace industry during their time in business. One early claim to fame was the first circumnavigation of the world by air in Douglas airplanes in 1924. That was just 21 years after the first powered flight, taken by the Wright Brothers. That may sound like a long time, but to go from the rickety-looking plane the Wright Brothers flew, to something that was capable of making the flight around the world in just 21 years is truly outstanding. The circumnavigation mission was first presented to Douglas Aircraft Company in 1923, when the US Army Air Service, interested in carrying out a mission to circumnavigate the Earth for the first time by aircraft, approached Douglas Aircraft Company to present it to them. The mission was called “World Flight.” Donald Douglas proposed a modified Douglas DT to meet the Army’s needs. The two-place, open cockpit DT biplane torpedo bomber had previously been produced for the US Navy. The DTs were taken from the assembly lines at the company’s manufacturing plants in Rock Island, Illinois, and Dayton, Ohio, to be modified.
Four of these modified aircraft left Seattle, Washington, on April 6, 1924, flying west, and two of these returned there on September 28 to great fanfare. Unfortunately, one plane had been lost under fog conditions, and another was forced down over the Atlantic and sank. The DWC prototype was then rechristened and joined the other two in completing the North American leg of the flight. With the success of this flight, the Army Air Service ordered six similar aircraft as observation aircraft.
In 1934, Douglas produced a commercial twin-engined transport plane, the Douglas DC-2, which was followed by the famous DC-3 in 1936. The wide range of aircraft produced by Douglas included airliners, light and medium bombers, fighter aircraft, transports, reconnaissance aircraft, and experimental aircraft. While these were all important types of aircraft, it would really be the work they did during World War II, that really put them on the map in my opinion. With so many young men heading off to war, the women really stepped up at this time and built many of the World War II planes. During that time, Douglas joined the BVD (Boeing-Vega-Douglas) consortium to produce the B-17 Flying Fortress. As far as I’m concerned, that was one of the greatest planes every produced. I suppose that sounds odd, considering that it was so long ago, but for its time, the B-17 was and really still is legendary. And while I don’t know if my dad had a part in building the B-17 Bomber, I know that he repaired them and knew them inside and out. I am proud of the work my dad did on the airplanes he helped to build, and proud of his time with Douglas Aircraft Company.
These days, we have early warning alarms for tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, and even tsunamis, but on July 21, 365, no such warnings existed, not did any kind of measuring tools so we could know the magnitude of the earthquake that caused tsunamis, or the height of the tsunami itself. Nevertheless, it is known that a powerful earthquake off the coast of Greece caused a tsunami that devastated the city of Alexandria, Egypt.
In spite of the lack of measuring tools at the time, scientists can now estimate that the earthquake was actually two quakes in quick succession. It is estimated that the largest of those quakes was about a magnitude of 8.0. That magnitude of quake is massive by any standards, and it must have been very scary for anyone who might have felt it. It’s hard to say how many people actually felt it, because of its oceanic location, but even if no one felt the quake, they very much felt the aftereffects of that quake. The really tragic thing was that they had no idea what was coming their way, how very dangerous it was, or even that they should run when they saw it coming. I’m sure that they had seen tides come in and go out, and even storms bringing big wave onto the shore. So, it is very possible that they thought this was not that different than those things, except for it not being time for the tide and there was no storm. They likely just stood there looking at this strange phenomenon, until it took them all out.
The quake was centered near a plate boundary called the Hellenic Arc. Following the quake, a wall of water ran across the Mediterranean Sea toward the Egyptian coast. As happens in tsunamis, the water first recedes, and then comes crashing back. As the water in the harbor receded, ships docked at Alexandria suddenly overturned. As often happens in a disaster, it was reported that many people rushed out to loot the overturned ships. That put even more people in harm’s way. The tsunami wave then rushed in and carried the ships over the sea walls, landing many on top of buildings. The people were trapped, and in Alexandria alone, on that one day, approximately 5,000 people lost their lives, and 50,000 homes were destroyed.
The destruction was even greater in the surrounding villages and towns. Many of these small villages were literally wiped of the face of the earth. Outside of Alexandria, 45,000 people were killed. The salty sea water, inundation the farmlands, rendering them useless for years. From what scientists are able to piece together, the area’s shoreline was permanently changed by the disaster. The tsunami continued on, slowly, but steadily overtaking the buildings of Alexandria’s Royal Quarter. The main reason that the archaeologists learned about this horrific event was that in 1995 that archaeologists actually discovered the ruins of the old city, which lies off the coast of present-day Alexandria. With the changed shoreline following the tsunami, many of the old buildings remained under water for centuries.
My grandnephew, Dylan Herr who is owner operator of the local Red Wing Shoe store, as well as several in Colorado. Recently, he posted a really cool video showing how work shoe soles are attached to the shoe. I thought the video was quite interesting, and we had a short conversation about it, in which he further explained the process and the fact that while the needle is pretty strong, the needle must be replaced every three days to a week. Then he added that the time frame depends on how good the operator is. I figure they would have to replace the needle several times a day, if they made the mistake of letting me try it, hahahaha!!
While Dylan’s business is work shoes, he also likes to play golf. In fact, golf is Dylan’s passion, and he is teaching their two-year-old son, Max how to play. Dylan’s wife, my grandniece, Katy Herr tells me that Max is getting pretty good, and in fact, Max already has a better swing than she does! Well, I can tell you that Max’s swing would be better than my swing too, because the people behind me are the ones in danger when I try to play golf, hahaha!! Dylan, however, is really good, and he has been playing in a lot of golf tournaments this summer. Dylan has also joined a basketball league this summer through the YMCA. He has really enjoyed that.
Dylan and Katy bought a house a while back, and Dylan has been busy taking care of the yard and making their home beautiful. He stained the fence the other day and fixed their garage door that randomly broke the other day! Ahh, the joys of home ownership!! Dylan doesn’t mind the work to make their home nice, because he is a dedicated husband and dad. Dylan loves to take his family out exploring the area, and of course, his son Max is his exploring buddy. They go everywhere together…shopping for home improvement supplies, checking out the rocks near a creek, seeing the beautiful colors of Wyoming, or just hanging out on the front porch. Dylan is also a great husband to Katy. They are so in love and so happy. I love seeing the smiles on their faces. They are a perfect couple…soulmates for sure, and that makes their families very happy too. Today is Dylan’s birthday. Happy birthday Dylan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
When Roy Plunkett went to work that day, his plan was to make a better refrigerator. Plunkett was a chemist who worked for a company named DuPont. It was a dream job for a 27-year-old man, just starting his working career. A plan had been forming in his brain as to how the refrigerator could be improved. The chemicals necessary were a gas named Tetrafluoroethylene and Hydrochloric Acid. He has gathered the chemicals together, but he wasn’t quite ready to start experimenting yet, so he cooled and pressurized the Tetrafluoroethylene gas in canisters overnight, planning to get started bright and early the next morning.
When Plunkett returned the next day, he found that there was no gas in the canisters. Oddly, the canisters weighed the same amount as when they were full, but nothing came out of them. Well, this was confusing!! Where did all the gas go? Now, Plunkett was intrigued, so he cut the canisters in half. During the cooling process, the gas had solidified on the sides of the canisters, creating a slick surface. I can only imagine what their thoughts were on that. They had to figure out what had happened. The use of the chemical was one thing, but curiosity about what had happened was more than Plunkett to stand to just let go.
According to the account in DuPont’s history annals, “Rather than discard the apparent mistake, Plunkett and his assistant tested the new polymer and found that it had some very unusual properties: it was extremely slippery as well as inert to virtually all chemicals, including highly corrosive acids. The product, trademarked as Teflon in 1945, was first used by the military in artillery shell fuses and in the production of nuclear material for the Manhattan Project.” Of course, these days, we all know about Teflon. The main use is in non-stick cookware. It has other uses, but that is the one we all would know, because Teflon became a household word. Any cook, chef, homemaker, or even bachelor, knows about Teflon cookware. It’s big part of cooking life.
While cookware is the main thing that Teflon is used for, Plunkett wasn’t thinking of cookware when he invented it. In fact, it wasn’t until a decade after Plunkett sawed those canisters in half, that a French engineer named Marc Grégoire saw the cookware value and introduced “Tefal” pans…the first to be lined in Teflon. The funny thing is that the idea actually came from his wife. I suppose that the person who normally did the cooking in those days, would be the one to see the value in a non-stick finish. Before Tefal, Grégoire used Teflon on his fishing tackle to prevent tangling. The guys thought of fairly good uses, but Grégoire’s wife realized that the nonstick surface would be perfect for cookware.
When my parents got married, it was not uncommon for there to be a number of years difference in ages. My mom’s parents were sixteen years different in age, and my parents were twelve years different in age. The first time Mom met Dad, she was a starry-eyed girl looking at a very handsome man for the first time, but somehow, she knew that he would be the one, and so he was. Of course, it would be a number of years later that they would actually marry, because she had some growing up to do. Nevertheless, she was just 17 years old when they did get married.
They took a honeymoon that took them to their new home in Superior, Wisconsin, and just ten months later they were new parents to Cheryl. Life was good. Mom was making new friends in her new home, mostly Dad’s family, which was fine, because she was a bit shy. In fact, her family has always been her friends, along with a couple of close girlfriends. She liked it that way. Better to have a close circle of friends and family, than a world of acquaintances. The years that followed brought four more daughters, Caryn (me), Caryl, Alena, and Allyn…in fairly close succession. The years also brought a move back to Mom’s hometown of Casper, Wyoming, because she really missed her family…Mom had six sisters (Evelyn Hushman, Virginia Beadle, Delores Johnson, Bonnie McDaniels, Dixie Richards, and Sandy Pattan), and two brothers (Larry Byer and Wayne Byer). Being used to a big family with lots of activities and comradery, Mom had really missed her childhood home, but she also, always missed the family and friends she left behind in Superior, Wisconsin too. Dad missed his family too, but he knew that his bride needed to be close to her family, so he brought her home.
My parents’ story is a true love story, filled with respect for each other, and working toward a common goal. Their favorite place to be, was together. While they loved to travel, it really didn’t matter where they were, as long as they were together. Their life was their family, kids and grandkids. They rejoiced over each and every one of us. When the grandchildren, great grandchildren, and even great great grandchildren began to arrive they were reminded that these were the rewards of long life, and they knew that they were very blessed. They always taught their family to love the Lord, and to have faith in Him, no matter what the circumstances looked like. They taught us that God could always make a way, even when there seemed to be no way. They gave us strength to go on, even when things seemed to be falling apart…not that our lives fell apart much. We really did lead blessed lives, and I think it was the teachings of our parents that made that possible. I am so grateful for the parents that God blessed me with. While there is no marriage in Heaven, I know that they are celebrating the children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great great grandchildren that were born into their earthly marriage and having a blessed day.
When a couple has been married a long time, things start changing in their life…things like kids getting married, and kids having kids, become the new normal. That is where my daughter, Corrie Petersen and her husband, Kevin find themselves. The empty nest syndrome has long since come and gone, and now they find themselves in the next phase of their lives. This is the fun phase. Their children are raised, and now they can spoil the grandchildren, and enjoy their adult kids. Their family is growing, with the addition of very soon to be wives for their sons, and of course, those babies. There are no greater words for parents of adult children than grandma and grandpa.
Corrie and Kevin met when she was just 15 years old. Kevin was her first and only love. For him to also be her forever love is amazing, but that is exactly how it went for them. Now, 29 years later, they are still together and still going strong. I can’t say that I am surprised by that, because almost from the very first date, these “kids” seemed married…not the “oh my gosh, I can’t stand to be away from you” kind of love, but more the mature “you’re the one for me, and I can wait to make this right” kind of love. I don’t mean to say that they didn’t love each other very much, but they were very mature. Their love was grown up, and…forever. You just knew that this marriage was going to make it.
After two years, they got engaged, and the wedding was planned for the following year. My girl was going to graduate from high school, turn 18 a month later, and be married two weeks after that. Talk about a whirlwind…for me anyway. A whirlwind of emotions. I thought I was doing ok, but when the kids left for their honeymoon, it suddenly hit me, that my baby girl was married, and she didn’t live at home anymore. She was her own woman, and she had a husband, and very soon a family to take care of. She was a grown adult, but I also knew that the best years of her life were ahead of her, and before long the grandbabies would be coming along. Now the great grandbabies have come along, so I am able to see the next phase for them and for me. Today is Corrie and Kevin’s 29th wedding anniversary. Where have the years gone. Happy anniversary Corrie and Kevin!! We love you!!
Every year, in areas where the buffalo roam, people get hurt. Most of the time, these attacks occur when people get too close to the buffalo. The big, clunky looking animals see like they would be very slow, and that can be deceiving for tourists who don’t know the reality concerning the buffalo. Every year, my husband, Bob Schulenberg and I find ourselves in a couple of places where the buffalo roam. We take a yearly trip to Thermopolis, Wyoming, and there is a buffalo reserve up there. We love to drive through it to try to get a glimpse of these magnificent animals. The buffalo up there are generally relaxing in the heat of the day when we go through, and they barely notice us at all, but then we don’t get out of the vehicle except on a trail that is located a way from the area the buffalo are. Nevertheless, if there were buffalo near the trail, we would pass on the trail.
The other place we go each year is the Black Hills of South Dakota. The is a wildlife reserve there, and while there have been years when we drove through and saw no buffalo, or saw some that were far away, there have been other years when we found ourselves sitting in the car for twenty or thirty minutes, while the buffalo stood in the road, crossed the road, and even walked very close to our car. In that situation, I find myself feeling very nervous for the people who were brave enough, or maybe crazy enough, to take that drive on a motorcycle. They are truly at the mercy of the buffalo, should they decide that they don’t like the look of the motorcycle. They have been known to “attack” a car or pickup, and I’m sure even a motorcycle, but I can tell you that the motorcycle would not fare as well as a car or truck. Most of the time, if you stay with your vehicle, you are pretty safe, even if the buffalo are on the run.
It is the people, and there is always a few, who just have to walk out to the buffalo to get a closer look, who get in trouble. We have watched people take that chance with their little ones, and even grandma using a walker to get close. If the buffalo became agitated and charged them, they are defenseless. Most people aren’t trying to feed the buffalo, but a number of people who have been gored and even killed were trying to take a selfie with the buffalo. The buffalo is an animal you certainly don’t want to turn your back on, and that is how a selfie is done. While it’s not funny exactly, we found a t-shirt this year in the Black Hills that said, “Do Not Pet The Fluffy Cows.” We have also seen signs that say the same thing. That is exactly what buffalo look like…a fluffy cow. I suppose that is why people assume they are tame. No one really knows what might set a buffalo off, and sometimes it’s nothing at all. Maybe the buffalo is in a bad mood that day. They have been known to attack people who were in the places they should be, and minding their own business, but most often, buffalo attacks are caused when the buffalo is startled, or when people just get too close. This year, so far there have been three buffalo incidents. That’s tragic!! Please people, keep your distance and stay in your car.
My niece, Lacey Stevens’ boyfriend, Chris Killinger has had a few “news” in his life these days. Recently, he got a new truck, and Lacey tells me that he is obsessed with it. I’m not sure if obsession is a good thing, but Chris certainly thinks it is. Lacey tends to think it’s a little too much obsession, but then, most girls probably don’t understand the obsession men have with their vehicles. I know I don’t get it. It is a guy thing, for sure.
Chris also has a new job. He wasn’t sure how he was going to feel about his new job, but now he absolutely loves it. Chris was very surprised to find out that he really likes the aviation industry. Chris can often be found posting a morning “view from my office” picture for the rest of us to see. I must say we are all just a little bit envious of his office view, which includes the runway and airplanes at the Casper/Natrona County International Airport. Chris is the Inventory Control/Purchasing Agent at Soaring Aviation, and his office is practically on the runway. Recently, there have been a number of military planes flying into the airport for training purposes. Who doesn’t love F-18s and F35s? Most of us could stand to watch them all day long. We love them in flyovers and feel a thrill as they roar over our heads. For Chris, that has become a daily activity, and that is very cool. He has also been able to bring some of his family out sometimes to watch all the activity that takes place at the airport. That is something none of them ever expected to make a regular part of their lives, but they are really loving the fact that it has become just that.
Chris is dad to Brooklynn and Jaxon. Along with Lacey, they are his priority. Chris is very supportive of the business that Lacey started this past year. He is always posting advertising for her salon on his page, helping to bring in business for her, and his efforts have contributed to a very successful first year for Lacey. The happiness of his family is the most important thing to Chris. Chris and Lacey love to take the kids to do fun things. Right now, the family is just enjoying life and summer vacation for the kids. Today is Chris’ birthday. Happy birthday Chris!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My niece, Lindsay Moore can’t say enough nice things about her husband, Shannon Moore. Shannon is a Girl Dad, and best friend to his little daughter, Mackenzie. Shannon is very much a hands-on dad. He doesn’t come home from work and plop down in front of the television set, while telling Mackenzie to go play. Shannon loves to play with Mackenzie. They are two peas in a pod. He takes her to the park, pool, everywhere! In fact, they have been to the pool about a dozen times in the past few weeks. Shannon is a coach, the assistant coach for the Wyoming Cowboys football team. He is also their tight ends coach and helps with special teams too, and Mackenzie reaps the benefit of that. Shannon loves to teach her new things…in true coaching style…swimming, throwing, swinging, climbing…all the things! Mackenzie also gets to go with Daddy to work sometimes, where she is the “darling” of the football team. It pays to be the coach’s daughter. Shannon has been busy being girl dad of the year.
Shannon and his girls, Lindsay and Mackenzie, just got back from a trip to Florida with Lindsay’s whole family, to celebrate her parents 40th wedding anniversary. That trip gave Shannon another opportunity to teach Mackenzie about new things, like the beach and the ocean. Of course, while the adults got to get in the water deeper than the kids, it was still fun for all. Lindsay tells me that “Shannon just shines as a dad, and that he’s always been a wonderful husband and dad but truly, he gets better every day! He has such a genuinely good heart, a kind disposition, and a loving spirit. Praise the Lord for putting us together…because I hit the jackpot!” That’s quite a tribute from a loving wife.
In addition to being a great Girl Dad, Shannon is a wonderful Doggy Dad. He is very devoted and makes sure that their puppy, Brinkley gets lots of attention. Puppies need someone to play with them and get then some much needed exercise, and Shannon is often outside playing with Brinkley. Shannon and Lindsay work very well together, and they share the “duties” of family life together. For them, the “duties” hardly seem like duties at all, because they make things so much fun. Even Brinkley feels the fun vibes in their house. I guess that’s what being a good Doggy Dad is all about. Pets need as much love as any other family member, and just as much training too. Shannon is such a great coach, so Brinkley will learn lots of new things too. Today is Shannon’s birthday. Happy birthday Shannon!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
When a soldier goes missing in action, it becomes an unthinkable phenomenon for their family. Really, when anyone goes missing and can’t be found, it is unthinkable for the family, but for a soldier, it’s particularly strange, because we knew where they were and what they were doing, and their disappearance isn’t really connected with anything like an abduction. I suppose it could be classified that way, but Missing In Action (MIA), is not classified as an abduction, but rather an act of war. Often, they were killed in action, and someone other than their company took care of their body. Of course, there is also the possibility that they were taken prisoner of war, but when the prisoners are all released, and our loved one is not among them, we have to face the possibility that something else happened. Every war has its list of Prisoners Of War (POW), and its list of MIAs, and these are people that we hope will never be forgotten, so that maybe someday the truth about what happened can be found out. If they are forgotten, then it is a very real possibility that they will never be found.
In every war, there are kind people who will bury the dead of the enemy right along with their own dead, but often they can’t read the names, so the dead are in an unmarked grave, possibly with their dog tags as the only definitive proof that the remains belong to that soldier. Some of those kind people have remembered where they buried the soldiers, and kept track of the proof of identity, so that maybe, somewhere down the road, they could reunite the soldier with his family…and some of those people have been returned to their families in recent years. The stories, when that happens, are so heart-warming. It reminds us once again, that there is good in this world, even if it’s harder to find these days.
Of course, it is my opinion that no matter what, God knows where these lost ones are, and that someday people will be reunited with lost loved ones, either here on Earth, or later, in Heaven. That is something I have to believe when I think of anyone who has a lost loved one out there. I personally do not have a lost loved one out there…at least no one I knew personally. I have a great uncle (not sure how many greats) that went missing when he was forced into war as a result of the German government taking him in the middle of the night, but I never knew him personally. Nevertheless, I feel very sad for those people who have suffered such a loss as this. As of September 18, 2020, the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) lists a total of 85,394 Americans MIA, including 4,422 from World War I, 71,692 from World War II, 7,717 from the Korean War, 1,561 from the Vietnam War. They don’t list any from other conflicts, whether there are missing ones or not.