My husband, Bob’s aunt, Esther Hein has always lived far away from the rest of the family, and I find that a little bit sad, because it means that we don’t get to see her very often. Being far away makes it hard on Esther too, because if anything is going on, she feels like she is completely disconnected. We try to keep her informed, but there is nothing quite like distance to make a person feel disconnected from a situation. I suppose that the phone calls, help…especially when she can talk to the person she was so worried about, but I know from experience, it is easier on the family to be in the waiting room of the hospital than a thousand miles away. Whenever Esther would came to Casper for a visit, it was always a big deal. It may not have been an official family reunion, but those mini family reunions are really nice too. It has been a number of years since Esther has been able to come for a visit, because of health concerns she has had, but I hope that someday soon she will be able to come for a visit again, because it really has been far too long since we saw her last.
Years ago, when she was a child, Esther’s family lived in the country, and during the hard winter months, when the weather in Montana was as harsh and unpredictable as Wyoming’s weather seems to be this year, Esther was sent to stay with her big brother, Walt Schulenberg’s family during the school year, to ensure that she was able to make it to school each day. As a little girl, I suppose living in town with her brother’s family seemed as far away from her parents, as the distance she is away from family now seems…especially for a little girl. Nevertheless, I’m sure it also seemed a little bit like a great adventure to her.
Esther has always been a crafty person. She makes quilts, curtains, and other sewing crafts. She is also an artist, and has painted everything from canvas to saw blades. Her favorite things to paint are landscapes, and that is cool, because that is my favorite paintings too. And were it not for Esther, my husband’s hair would look awful most of the time, because it was Esther who showed me how to cut it right…thankfully!! Today is Esther’s 76th birthday. Happy birthday Esther!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Back in 1946, my Aunt Doris and Uncle Bill decided that they were tired of the bitter cold Wisconsin weather, and that they wanted to try a warmer climate. Uncle Bill had built a travel trailer, and they quit their jobs and headed west. It was a bold move to make, because you never knew what the economy was going to be like in California, or any other part of the country for that matter. The depression was over though, and people were hopeful. I’m quite certain that the warm weather must have felt so good to them, and while there they enjoyed many of the sights. They really didn’t plan to ever go back to Wisconsin.
So many things can change in such a short time. Parents get older, and their health fades, and before long, you find yourself needed back home. That was the situation they soon found themselves in, and with some regret, they headed back home. Sometimes, that is the way things have to be. They were in a position to help out and others weren’t. It’s is strange, nevertheless, how quickly you can long for home, once you have made up your mind to go. I think it is harder sometimes on the women to be so far from parents too, because they are a little more sentimental usually.
Still, I have to think that the adventure they had while they were in California and the west coast must have been something they cherished for many years. They got to hold a seal at an aquarium, and stroll along the beach, soaking up the California sun. They saw the Redwood trees, and the rocky coast of Oregon. The memories must have been awesome, because they were free to pick up and go where they chose to each day. Of course, that is never something you can do for very long…at least not until retirement age, but for a while, they got to enjoy that carefree life, and the beauty of the west coast. Today is my Aunt Doris’ 90th birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Doris!! You are still just as beautiful today as you were back then. Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!
Easton is like most little boys. He hates the whole dressing up thing that many parents are always wanting their kids to do. In fact, if he could figure out a way to get out of ever dressing up, he would do it. I think most men would have a tendency to agree with Easton…especially when it comes to wearing a tie. They just hate that tie. It chokes them, and if they are at all claustrophobic, it can make them feel like the walls are closing in. And for a little boy, it is even worse. I suppose it could be likened to sitting in a corner, or time out. In fact, time out probably says it all, because just as soon as they dare, little boys are asking, “Can I please take this tie off??” That is, if they ask to take it off at all.
Easton had finally had enough, and so he untucked his shirt and loosened his tie. He hoped that his mom wouldn’t notice, and in the end, his hopes were realized. His mom, my niece, Machelle took the picture without even noticing the tie was loosened and the shirt untucked. It was Easton’s Aunt Susan who would notice the sneaky maneuver her nephew had pulled off. By that time, there was nothing left to do but laugh at the fact the Easton had won…that battle anyway.
Now, if you were to put Easton, and most other little boys, in a different situation, you would find that they are totally comfortable. That situation would be, of course, camping. There is nothing better, in the mind of a little boy, than the adventures you can have while camping in the wilderness. All sorts of things can happen out there, and everyone will need a hero to save them from whatever danger might lurk just outside of the eye view of the camp. There could be wolves, bears, snakes, and many other such wild animals, but their moms can relax, because these boys will save them from that. They are big tough campers, and everyone knows that any self respecting wolf or bear, or even snake, would run from them. And that is the main reason why moms must understand that real boys, hate that tie. They are simply too macho for their tie!!
Today is Easton’s 9th birthday. Easton, I hope you don’t have to wear that horrible tie!! I mean, really Machelle, get a clue!! Real boys are too macho for a tie!! Happy birthday Easton!! Have a great, tieless day!! We love you!!
As we travel to Newport, Washington to attend my Uncle Jim’s funeral, we had the opportunity to get together with my cousins, George and Greg. We all had such a great time. We laughed about old times, especially times with our grandparents. Greg told us about the time he told Grandma that he had outgrown her ability to swat him, Elmer, and Forest with the broom. Of course, Grandma proved just how wrong he was, by promptly chasing him down and swatting him again. Grandma was 5 feet tall…in her tall days…so in all of Greg’s 6 feet plus, I’m sure he was quite shocked at her ability to handle him in his all grown up and tough teen aged years. We all had the opportunity to find out just how feisty our grandmother was, because like any kid, we all got into a certain amount of mischief and back talked with the best of them. I have never forgotten my own run ins with Grandma, and often look back and smile about them. Of course, it’s easy to smile about those days now that I’m not getting that spanking.
George told us about the time that Grandpa took him deer hunting, and his disappointment that it was not the all day trip he had hoped. George was surprised that Grandpa knew exactly where to find the deer, and unfortunately, that place was not in the mountains, which is where George loves to be, and Grandpa simply didn’t. In the end, they went to the plains and had their deer before noon. I’m sure George had pictured an all day adventure, hiking through the trees on a quest for the perfect buck. When it ended up being a simple matter of point and shoot, and the drive took longer than the actual hunting part of the trip, his boyhood dreams of adventure and the thrill of the hunt, were dashed. I could picture this little boy, with a picture in his head of being almost on safari, and then the disappointment of the whole thing being very boring and simple, and I felt sad for that little boy who was now my grown up cousin, because I could tell that the adventure had been very important to him at that time in his life, and Grandpa just didn’t realize it, and for his part, I believe George found himself in awe of the fact that Grandpa knew exactly what he was doing…even though in George’s mind, he was old and couldn’t possibly know what was going on in these modern days.
Our visit ended far too soon for all of us and I found myself wishing that we lived closer together so we could re-live those old memories more often. I love my cousins, and I don’t like the way we have all drifted apart. Time changes so many things, and in many ways it makes me sad that so much time has past. Once again, I find myself thankful for Facebook and the ability we now have to stay in touch over the miles. It has brought several branches of my family closer together.
Bob’s great grandfather was a single dad for much of his children’s young lives. He worked on the Northern Pacific Railroad as a yard clerk. It was a time in their lives when everyone had to pitch in. The kids, Bob’s grandmother, Vina, and her brother, Kirby had to get things done around the house, because their dad worked long hours at work. Those were different times. Kids at home doing their chores were much safer than they were in this day and age. The two of them knew that they needed to get the house cleaned and supper on the table by the time their dad got home…not because they were afraid of him…because they knew how tired he would be. Grandma spoke so highly of her dad, that I know she felt nothing but love and respect for him.
His occupation was a hard one, but it had its perks too. When his vacation time came around, their travel plans often included a train ride to somewhere. I can imagine how much fun that must have been. Not many kids in those days got to do a lot of traveling, and unless your dad worked on the railroad, or you had a lot of money, you probably didn’t get to ride on a train much either. I don’t know where all they got to go, but since I like riding trains myself, I can totally picture how excited they must have been every time they set out on a new adventure. I can imagine trips back east to visit family members who might have lived back there, or down south, maybe to see the Gulf of Mexico. So many places they might have gone…so many things they might have seen.
I have ridden a train for short distances, but never on a long trip. I can tell you that it is an exciting ride, and one I never get tired of, so I expect that Grandma and Kirby were thrilled every time they got on board. I think it would be so exciting to eat and sleep on the train…especially as young children, who already see life as one big adventure.
I wish I had been able to meet Great Grandpa Leary, but he was gone six years before I was born, and of course, years before I became a part of the family by marrying Bob, and so much too late to meet this man whose daughter always spoke so highly of him. I think he must have been quite a guy.
For a number of years, we went with my father-in-law and the guys in the family, to the Shirley Mountains to cut up downed wood to bring home for firewood. Sometimes the girls got to come with us. When they came, we tried to turn things into an adventure. If you wander around the woods long enough, you are bound to find something that is unusual. Sometimes trees and other plants can take on unusual forms. While exploring the area around where we were working, the kids found a tree that was so totally deformed that it went up a ways and bent straight over and then curved back up again. I suspect that it may have been struck by lightning or maybe the wind partially broke it, and then persevered to continue growing. It was, to say the least, a very strange sight…and one tough tree.
What happened to it didn’t really matter to my daughters. Corrie and Amy were completely thrilled with this tree. When it swung down to the ground, it came down quite low, and it made the perfect, goofy tree chair. They spend the rest of the day playing around it and having a great time. They liked the tree so much that they wished they could take it home. Of course, we all know that was impossible, so we took a picture of it so they could always remember it. They talked about that tree for quite some time, and have looked in other places we have camped to see if they can find more of them.
Kids can make an imaginary world using lots of things. My girls loved to play house and clubhouse, so having a chair appear out of the middle of a forest, made out of a tree, was very cool to them. It was a like a whole new way to play. They imagined living in the forest, the mountains in the old west, or maybe a tree house. I can’t say as I blamed them for coming up with so many ways to imagine their lives to be. We have all have wanted to live an adventure, and maybe…just for a minute, my girls got to do just that.
I have been reading through the letters my dad wrote home to his family while he was in World War II. He was a 20 year old boy who was a long way from home, and was missing his family. Like most younger brothers, my dad looked up to his brother, my Uncle Bill, who was 2 years older than my dad. To my dad, Uncle Bill was a very sophisticated ladies’ man. He always seemed to have a girl or two hanging around him, and that was a well known fact. I have come across pictures of my uncle during those young years, and those girls seemed always to be there. Uncle Bill was a looker too. Both of those Spencer boys were.
In Dad’s letters, he talked about the adventures his big brother was fond of having. It wasn’t that my dad wasn’t having adventures of his own, but…well, to him, his big brother was just cool, and like many little brothers, Dad looked at his brother and thought…maybe I could be like him. Dad hadn’t really grown into the wonderful man my mother married, or the amazing dad that he became yet. His brother was his hero to a large degree.
Today, my dad’s handsome brother is 90 years old, and his little brother, my dad has been in heaven for 4 long years. My uncle is still quite a character, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the nurses and aides around him still see a bit of that ladies’ man in him. It seems like as men get older, they like to flirt more. A trait that I find to be very cute, and endearing in the older men I know. They are always so complimentary, no matter how bad you might look that day. It’s just a sweetness they seem to have.
My uncle lives far away in Wisconsin, and it’s not so easy for him to travel, especially as his mind is slipping more and more. My uncle has always been a history buff, and the family history was his personal passion. Through the years he has amassed a wealth of information on our family. It is information that might have been lost if he had not put it all together. Our family has been very blessed by the information Uncle Bill was able to gather.
At 90 years old, I don’t know if Uncle Bill is still a ladies’ man, like many older men are, but I know that I have always loved my uncle very much. He was a good friend when I was growing up, even though we didn’t live close to his family. He was my Cribbage buddy, we wrote letters, and later we shared a love of the family history. It makes me sad that he is getting older, but happy that he has reached the grand old age of 90. Happy birthday Uncle Bill!! I love you very much!!
My dad always liked exploring. I guess I get that trait from him, because I do too. He loved to see what was around the next corner, or over the next mountain. He loved to travel, and wanted to share that love with his family. As a result of his need to wander some, we enjoyed a rich and unique view of the country we live in. Dad’s curiosity and imagination made every vacation an adventure. When we were in grade school, and the teacher said to write a story telling about our summer vacation, we had plenty to say. We had been so many places. It was something we took for granted really. It never occurred to us that our friends didn’t go places too. Looking back now, I can see just how blessed we were.
I have been told that my dad’s family all liked to wander a bit. His dad worked on the railroad. Like many people who work on the railroad, part of the draw is seeing the country. I can understand that, because that is a part of me too. I love to see new places, especially on foot. Hiking in the back country where you can be walking along in the trees one minute and then suddenly there is a river with a beautiful waterfall that most people don’t even know exists…well, the feeling is exhilarating.
Dad loved to follow historical markers and trails. It was something that filled the explorer need in him. I think Dad was a bit of a history buff, as am I. It is very cool to research the past and learn about things that happened so long ago, and yet not so long ago. When you look back in time, is a hundred years really that long? It’s basically one lifetime. To see how people lived just a hundred years ago. So many things change in a hundred years. It makes you realize what you have and how very blessed you are.
This is the kind of legacy my dad passed on to his kids. He had an interest in the outdoors and the history of our great country. These were things we got to learn about. As kids we may not have had a real appreciation of the history, but those lessons he taught us have never gone away, and when we were older, there was an appreciation that grew out of the seeds he planted. The grew into a love of history, at least they did for me, and now when I read about the past, I can picture some of the places the events took place, because I have been there, and almost feel like I’m an explorer too.