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While visiting my Aunt Sandy Pattan during her stay at Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital where she is recuperating from a recent surgery, we were talking about our favorite subject…the Byer-Pattan Family History. The subject turned to the many things her parents, my grandparents, George and Hattie Byer had seen come into being during their lifetimes. Grandpa was born on June 15, 1893, and Grandma was born on February 26, 1909. A sixteen-year age difference wasn’t that uncommon in those days, and many people to this day have a large age difference between husband and wife. Of course, the world when Grandma was born was already quite different than the world when Grandpa was born. The automobile was first invented…officially in 1889, but people really didn’t start owning them until about 1929, so by the time my grandparents were married in 1927, a few people might have owned their own car, but many still didn’t. For those, it was still the horse and buggy days.

Planes were another thing that the most likely saw come into existence. While they existed at the time my grandmother was born, they did not during my grandfather’s early years. Nevertheless, like automobiles, planes were not something that was commonly in use for the average citizen. They were too expensive and so were only for the very rich or for military use. Most people who needed to travel long distances used the trains in those days, and some very likely still used the horse and buggy travel mode. Of course, truth be told, there are still those who use a horse and buggy today. The Amish and even a few others, but the others are mostly for show, like parades, races, and such. Personally, my husband, Bob and I dearly love the trains. We ride one pretty much every year. I think trains are in my blood. My dad grew up riding them, because his dad worked as a carpenter for the Great Northers Railroad. Because of that, his kids got a free pass to ride…within reason, of course.

Televisions might have been “invented” in the late 1800s, but they were not common in homes until much later. In fact, in 1947 there were only a few thousand televisions in homes in the United States. I suppose that getting programming together could have had something to do with it, but many people thought it was an unnecessary evil, and maybe they had a point. Prior to that time, families would gather around the radio to hear the latest news…especially when it came to the important news of the wars.

Telephones were just as rare. Invented in 1869 by Alexander Graham Bell, although, it was truly a race between him and other competitors. Nevertheless, he was granted the patent. By 1920, about 35% of homes had phones. These days we couldn’t imagine running our lives without a phone, and who needs a home, we carry them in our purses, pockets, backpacks, and even on our wrist. If you don’t have access to your phone, it is entirely your fault…either you forgot it or you let the battery die. Either way…your fault. Aunt Sandy and I agreed that there have also been a lot of changes in our eras, but maybe not quite as drastic as the ones our parents and grandparents saw. I’m quite sure there will be many more changes as time goes on. Space travel, for the common man being one. Wow!! Now, that’s something to think about!!

My husband’s aunt, Margee Kountz practically grew up with his older siblings and him. She was born in 1949; and Bob’s sister Marlyce in 1950, Debbie in 1953, and my husband, Bob in 1954. They were followed by Jennifer in 1961, Brenda in 1963, and Ron in 1968. So, by the time she was 10, Margee was an aunt three times, and she had built in playmates. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they were always best friends, because let’s face it, kids fight…even if one of them is the aunt. She was only a year old when she became an aunt. She was only four the second time, and five the third time. That makes them more like siblings than aunt, nieces, and nephew.

Margee has always had a sweet spirit. She is kind and helpful, and she is a giver. She gives of herself to anyone in need. Margee was a single mom for most of her children, Dan and Sandy’s lives. She worked hard to be a good mom, and when the grandchildren came along, she was a big part of their lives too. Especially after Dan’s wife, Darlene passed away when their kids were very young. I don’t know where the grandkids would have been without her. They grew up very close to their grandma. Now the great grandchildren are arriving, and I hope she will get to be as close to them as she was with her grandchildren.

Margee helped out when her oldest sister, Joann Schulenberg, my mother-in-law, had Alzheimer’s Disease, and I don’t know what I would have done without her. She was retired then, and everyone else worked. When I had to take my father-in-law to doctor’s appointments, Margee would sit with my mother-in-law, and it was a huge help. To try to take both of them to the doctor’s office would have been impossible. I owe her a great debt of gratitude. Her willingness to help meant more to me than words can ever express. Margee’s has been a life of service to others. She has gone above and beyond the call of duty move times than I can count, and it has not gone unnoticed. Margee is such an angel, and I am so thankful for her. Today is Margee’s 75th birthday. Happy birthday Margee!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My uncle, George Hushman was a handsome man, and I’m sure that was what first attracted my aunt, Evelyn (Byer) Hushman to her future husband. I’m also sure that Uncle George was just as taken with Aunt Evelyn’s beauty. They never had eyes for another after that. Uncle George had been raised at the Orphaned Children’s Home in Casper, Wyoming, and really what he craved most, was a family he could call his own. He had some good friends, including my son-in-law, Kevin Petersen great uncle, who sadly was lost at sea during World War II. Still, Uncle George maintained his relationship with the family for many years to come, even calling Kevin’s great grandma, Hettie Saint John, his grandmother, as did his children. Nevertheless, the Byer family would become his own family, when he married my Aunt Evelyn on September 1, 1947, after his own service in the Navy and World War II ended.

Since my parents, Allen and Collene Spencer (Aunt Evelyn’s sister) were always close, the two families spent a lot of time together. I got to know Uncle George very well. He was a soft-spoken man who always made us feel welcome in their home. The living room of their home, which they and the rest of the Byer family built, had an unusually large front window area. It was more than a bay window. There was room for a bunch (maybe even 10) little kids to play behind those curtains, and the window gave us all the light we needed to see and have a playhouse atmosphere. Our playing and laughter never seemed to bother the parents, or if it did, they didn’t show it. Maybe it was the fact that we weren’t bothering them that made the difference.

The two couples did many things together, including bowling, and it was probably their bowling that got my sisters and me interested in bowling. I have been bowling now for 45 years…probably longer than anyone in my family, and maybe both families, and it all started with my parents, Uncle George, and Aunt Evelyn. I’m sure that for the two couples, bowling was a nice night out, and it wasn’t too costly either. Of course, eventually, most couples decide they have had enough of bowling, and it’s time to let the younger generation have a go at it. So, as the saying goes, they just “picked up their toys and went home.” That seems to happen at a certain age…some people take longer than others. I am proud of all the years they bowled, and thankful for the fun they passed on to us. Today would have been my Uncle George’s 97th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Uncle George. We love and miss you very much.

Seven long years have come and gone since Aunt Linda Cole went home to be with the Lord. It seems impossible that Linda has been gone that long, and yet time seems to have flown by too. For many years my husband, Bob Schulenberg and I took our girls, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce to go visit his Aunt Linda and his uncle, Bobby Cole, and their children, Sheila and Pat. It was an annual fun trip, and our family had a great time. Linda and Bobby lived in Kennebec, South Dakota in those days, and if you don’t know the area, well, Kennebec was that town they meant when they said, “If you’re driving along and you blink, you will miss it.” The population in those days was about 334 in 1980. It was about 281 in 2020. That means that there was little to do there, except visit with family and play cards, which we did a lot of. That also meant that the kids could all run about pretty freely, because there wasn’t much way to get into trouble either…other than fighting with their cousins that is.

Linda and Bobby were fun-loving people, who laughed and joked often. We always felt welcome in their home. I’m sure that is why our visits were pretty much an annual event. We wanted our girls to know their family, and since the family wasn’t all located in one state, we took the opportunity to travel to other places for visits…something I have been thankful to have done, now that so many of the family members have left us now. You just never know how long people are going to be around, so taking the time out of our busy lives to make a few connection is so vital…especially when those we are going to connect with live in the same town.

Linda and Bobby particularly loved square dancing. What seems to most of us, like a long-lost dance style, came alive to them. Maybe it was one of the only things to do in rural South Dakota, or maybe, when the opportunity presented itself, Linda and Bobby got excited about the prospect of doing something weekly that had only previously been taught to them in the classrooms of their grade schools. That is where I learned what little I recall about square dancing anyway. I was never really interested in square dancing, so it’s quite likely that I didn’t really pay attention to the instruction I was given. I was a child of the rock and roll era, and so square dancing seemed very much like “old fuddy duddy” stuff to me and my generation. Linda and Bobby were of the generation prior, and maybe square dancing was still somewhat in style them…or maybe it was just what was available to them for the whole “evening out with friends” routine. Whatever the case may be, they loved it and they were quite good at it. Today would have been Linda’s 77th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Linda. We love and miss you very much.

My aunt, Ruth Wolfe was my dad, Allen Spencer’s younger sister. She had three older siblings, Laura Fredrick, William Spencer, and my dad; as well as two older half siblings, Dorothy (died when she was six months) and Norman Spencer. To my knowledge, the kids might have met Norman a few times, but not very much for sure. That makes me sad, because from what I have learned of Norman, he was a wonderful man. I wish they all could have known him better. Life as a child was good for Aunt Ruth, even though money was never abundant. Aunt Ruth learned to be resourceful, and she really excelled at it.

Aunt Ruth had a softer side. She could play almost any musical instrument by simply picking it up and playing. I’m not saying that she was a world class musician, but she could make music, and that is far more than I could do with an instrument. Aunt Ruth could “spin a yarn” too. Sometimes I wasn’t sure if her stories were true or fiction, but I think they were likely a mix of both. She knew a lot about weather patterns, which she demonstrated once in our kitchen, when she noticed that the wind (which is almost never still in Casper), had stopped. She jumped up and went to the window, proclaiming that there was a tornado or funnel cloud nearby. We later learned that there had been a funnel cloud…and I was shocked.

Aunt Ruth was also quite self-sufficient. She gardened and canned, and she could build things too. All these things led later to the family’s ability to be “off the grid,” when living “off the grid” was not a known word or a “thing” at all. While living “off the grid” was really unusual in her lifetime, Aunt Ruth, her husband, Uncle Jim Wolfe, and their family chose that lifestyle in the 1980s. She was one of those people who could make a meal out of what most of us would view as nothing. Dinnertime was simply “different” by today’s standards, but them these days, anything that isn’t a hamburger is considered unusual…ok, maybe not exactly, but you get the picture. I’m not saying that Aunt Ruth ate “possum grits” or squirrel, but I can’t say she didn’t either. I suppose in some places, those things might be considered a delicacy, but I’ll pass. Nevertheless, at Aunt Ruth’s place, you might get mustard and onion sandwiches (that might have been invented by Uncle Jim and maybe my dad helped), but you might get it at Aunt Ruth’s table…probably not my cup of tea either, but I’m not a huge onion fan. Nevertheless, Aunt Ruth could fix just about any meal and make it taste great. Today would have been Aunt Ruth’s 98th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Aunt Ruth. We love and miss you very much.

My aunt, Evelyn Hushman was the oldest sibling of my grandparents, George and Hattie Byer. While she and my mom were eight years between Aunt Evelyn and my mom, Collene Spencer were good friends, as well as being sisters. When my mom and dad, Allen Spencer were dating, they sometimes double dated with Aunt Evelyn and her husband, George Hushman, who were married six years before my parents. They were all good friends and remained good friends for the rest of their lives. Probably the strangest double date was the one where a train, with no lights, blowing no whistle, at a dark uncontrolled crossing, hit their car. If Uncle George hadn’t caught it out of the corner of his eye and yelled at my dad; and had my dad not responded quickly turning with the train and causing only damage to the vehicle, the collision could have been disastrous. Both couples walked away unhurt…the car, not so much!!

The couples also attended the military ball, and later they bowled on the same league together. They just enjoyed spending time together. While Aunt Evelyn and Uncle George’s five kids were older that my sisters and me, (my cousin Greg Hushman is just a month older that my oldest sister, Cheryl Masterson), we all got along well, and our parents made sure we got lots of playtime together. I’m sure that they also figured that with so many kids, it was getter to just get us together and maybe we would entertain each other. We did, but I can’t say that we never got into trouble either…not any real trouble anyway.

Their weekly “double dates” ended when they quit bowling, and the was probably a rather sad time for all of them…like the end of an era. I suppose that all things must come to an end, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it too. Aunt Evelyn bowled for quite some time after that, and I bowled on her team as a sub sometimes, but she was the only one of the four that continued to bowl for a time. Now, all four of them are together in Heaven again. I wonder if they still get together for outings and dinners. Maybe they even go bowling, who knows. I like to think of them that way. Today would have been Aunt Evelyn’s 95th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Aunt Evelyn. We love and miss you very much.

My aunt, Sandy Pattan is the youngest of my mom, Collene Spencer’s siblings. By the time Aunt Sandy came along, some of her older siblings were already dating. and when she was just two years old, her sister Evelyn got married. By the time Aunt Sandy was three years old, she was an aunt. That is very young, but then some kids are born aunts and uncles. They actually have nieces and nephews who are older than they are. That idea is really something to wrap your head around, but then again, for those born into it, being an aunt or uncle at birth is just normal. For Aunt Sandy, being an aunt is all she remembers.

Aunt Sandy has long been the keeper of the family traditions. She made the arrangements for the annual Christmas party and the summer picnic. She worked so hard to keep the family together and to fulfill the wishes of her parents, Grandma (Hattie) and Grandpa (George) Byer, who asked that the family not drift apart, but continue in the traditions they had started. Aunt Sandy embraced that dream of a close family, and for many years, she worked very hard to carry out and establish their wishes. And she did it well. In the earlier years after Grandma and Grandpa went home to Heaven, Aunt Sandy had lots of help, because everyone got involved, but as the years went by and some of her siblings went to Heaven too, the help became less and less. Still, she persevered. These days the next generation has stepped up and let Aunt Sandy “retire” from the family get-togethers chair. Sadly, the participators have dwindled, and we just hope to have enough people to continue. That is up to the family, I guess.

Aunt Sandy has always lived in her own place. She tells me that she has never lived in an apartment, but that is about to change too, as she makes plans to move into an apartment in Casper. It is not an assisted living…she doesn’t need that, and she is not sure apartment living will suit her. Time will tell. If not, she can always buy another place, if she chooses. Still, I think she might like it, because the yard and building maintenance will no longer be her responsibility, and the grounds are nice, so she can get out and enjoy them…in the warm months anyway. And best of all, she won’t have to water the lawn or shovel the walks. I am excited for this new chapter in her life, even if she is apprehensive. I pray it will be such a great blessing for her, that she chooses to stay, relax, and enjoy it. I think it will be a wonderful new start. Today in Aunt Sandy’s 78th birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Sandy!! We love you!!

When I first met, my husband, Bob Schulenberg’s aunt, Pearl Hein, I liked her immediately. She felt like my own aunt, even before we were married, and she became my aunt too. It was just the natural transition of it. Pearl was so welcoming and easy to get along with. I honestly don’t know anyone who didn’t love her. Bob and I used to go to Forsyth, Montana where his grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins lived…most of them anyway. Those who don’t live there, started out in that area. So, we tried to keep our girls, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce, connected with that part of the family. Pearl and Uncle Eddie were a big part of those visits.

In those days, Pearl was working at the IGA (a grocery store) and honestly, I think the place would have fallen apart without her. For many years she was a fixture in the place, but now she is retired and gets to spend her time doing the things she wants to do. It hasn’t been exactly what she had expected or hoped, because of the loss of her husband, Eddie and then three months later, her son, Larry, but she is slowly coming back to feeling more like herself. These days, she spends some of her time visiting her daughter, Kim Arani and son-in-law, Michael Arani in Texas, and she enjoys that. Sometimes a change of scenery is just what is needed to perk a person up, and mother/daughter time is nice too.

Pearl has always had a heart for people. She tries to keep in touch with those closest to her, either by phone or text, and it is always appreciated. We are all busy in life, and so just a periodic text can be an uplifting text can be a bright spot in the day. Pearl still has family in the Forsyth area, and she enjoys getting together with them when she can. She and her sister, Rosalie Steinbach were always close. They helped each other with the care of their parents, and I know their parents were grateful. Caregiving is a tough job, and Pearl knows that better than most people. Pearl is such a loving and caring person, and I’m sure that is why I felt drawn to her so much. She never thinks of herself, always others. She wants to make sure that everyone has what they need to feel comfortable and happy. That is just her nature. Everyone else, above self. That’s Pearl. Today is Pearl’s 74th birthday. Happy birthday Pearl!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

I don’t remember my grandmother, Anna Spencer, because she died when I was just over 2 months old. I have seen movies of her holding me, but my real memories of her ended there. Nevertheless, in my Uncle Bill Spencer’s family history, I learned most of what I know of my grandmother. She was a strong woman, who raised four children, mostly alone, because my grandfather, Allen Spencer was often away working on the railroad, or in the lumber industry. Grandma kept things together on the home front. She made life good for her children. They might not have had much money, but they were rich in love.

Grandma was a capable woman. She ran the farm, stacked hay, grew vegetables, canned vegetables, and so much more, but she was also a beautiful woman with soft expressive eyes, that told you she loved you. She loved her family so very much, and her children were her whole world. She worked so hard to make a home for her children, and she was so proud of them…her two beautiful daughters and her two handsome sons. She raised capable kids who grew into responsible adults and made their mother proud. All of them grew to have families, and gave her and grandpa 13 grandchildren, and the numbers of people stemming from grandma and grandpa’s union is still growing.

Grandma struggled with rheumatoid arthritis in her later years, and was often confined to a wheelchair, but her sweet spirit, and loving nature never changed. Her children did their best to care for her until the day that she went to Heaven, and their love for her never ceased. I wish I had been able to know this incredible woman, because I know in my heart that I would have loved her very much. I think that I and many of her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and beyond, carry that same tenacity and stubborn drive to succeed against all odds. Some things are passed down through the genes, while others are passed down through teaching…and some are a combination of the two. Grandma used both to help her family become the wonderful people they are. Today is the 136th anniversary of Grandma’s birth. Happy birthday in Heaven, Grandma. We love and miss you very much.

While life hasn’t always been easy for my aunt, Jeanette Byer, who is the widow of my uncle, Larry Byer (my mother’s brother). She worked hard all her life, helping to take care of their large piece of land and house in the country between Casper and Glenrock, Wyoming. They had a number of outbuildings and lots of trees. The land belongs to her children, Larry Byer and Tina Grosvenor now, because with Uncle Larry in Heaven, Aunt Jeanette has moved into an apartment in Casper. It’s just easier for her now, because her eyesight is failing, with Macular Degeneration, so to be on sch a big place with so much care needed would be too hard for her…and she is older now, so she couldn’t do the upkeep anyway. That is a job for younger people.

Nevertheless, while things in her life changing, Aunt Jeanette is still a person of smiles and sweetness. You have to tell her who you are when you see her, not because she doesn’t remember people, but because she can’t see them…even right in front of her. Nevertheless, the last time I saw her, I had a nice little visit with her…even though it was at the funeral of her son-in-law, Glen Grosvenor. We didn’t talk long, but it was good to know that she was still doing well, and still smiling. She has such a positive attitude, even in the face of adversity.

Aunt Jeanette liked doing crafts, and at one time she had a little ceramic shop on their place, so that the family could all gather around the ceramic design work and enjoy not only the artistic time together, but also just the time together itself. Many cute decorations were made in that little shop, and many great conversations too. She doesn’t do ceramics anymore, of course, but Aunt Jeanette always enjoys a little visit and time with family. She now has grandchildren, and quite great grandchildren to entertain these days, although she may not get to see them as often as she would like. At least some of them live in Florida. Nevertheless, there are many way to keep in tough these days, including phone, facetime, skype, and a number of others. I don’t know how well Aunt Jeanette can handle these things, but I’m sure there are those who can help. Today is Aunt Jeanette’s 87th birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Jeanette!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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