I was talking with my nephew, Steve Spethman the other day, when he mentioned that he knew very little about his grandfather, Fredrick Albert Spethman. Being a genealogy buff, I simply could not resist the challenge that presented. He had a picture of his grandfather, and knew that he had died in Oregon, and his grandmother’s first name, Joanne. He also knew his great grandfathers name, Patrick Spethman, as his own son, Xander Patrick was named after that grandfather. And he knew his great grandmother’s name, Meta Spethman. It was enough. I was able to find his grandparents’ marriage certificate and a little bit more information, including an index concerning his World War II service. The rest will come as it always does, as other people add what they know to what I have found out. Once this kind of search gets started, it always has a way of growing.
That information was exciting for me, as Steve is pretty special to me, but then I got a big surprise. Steve’s 3rd great grandfather, Johann Joachim Daniel Spethmann, who Americanized his name to John, was born in Oldenburg, Germany. To many people I don’t suppose that this information would be so interesting, but my husband, Bob Schulenberg’s family has a long history in Oldenburg. It dates back beyond the time of Steve’s grandfather’s birth, and the Schulenberg family is still there today. I’m not saying that the Spethmann family and the Schulenberg family are related, although it is entirely possible, but considering the fact that Oldenburg wasn’t that large a town back then, it is quite likely that they knew each other. Maybe, they were even friends.
I realize that if you go back far enough, you will find that we are all related, as we all came from Adam and Eve, but as time has progressed, it is harder and harder to come up with the exact connections that exist between each of us. I have been able to find connections for Bob and me, on two sides of his family to one of mine. We are 10th cousins on one side and 12th cousins on another. That is such a strange thought to me, and now to find such a close connection with Steve’s family has added another interesting twist to the family history, and one that I am eager to explore. Time will tell if we are related in a way that can easily be figured…such as a marriage, and if it is the case, my guess is that I will stumble on that information, as I have in so many others, when I least expect to find such a connection. Nevertheless, finding this or any other information to add to the family history is always an exciting day, and in this case, it all started with the discovery of a common birthplace.
When men get home from the service, or come home on leave, they are usually is really good shape…and as most of us know, boys will be boys, and men will be men…meaning when issued a challenge, each wants to prove that they are better, stronger, or more capable of something than the other. Such was the case with my dad, Allen Spencer and my uncle, George Hushman. The two of them were at my grandparents, George and Hattie Byer’s house, and somehow the challenge was made to see who could do the most pushups. Dad and Uncle George were good friends, and this was to be a friendly challenge between two future brothers-in-law. Nevertheless, it was going to be a challenge.
The two men laid down on the floor. It had been decided that two men in military condition would not find it much of a challenge to do a bunch of pushups. No, there had to be a way to make this a real challenge. In the end they seated the two kids who were the closest in size, Aunt Dixie and Aunt Sandy, on their backs in order to do the pushups. That was not the only challenge they faced, either. These pushups had to be done in a specific and rather hard way. As the men pushed down, the girls weight was a challenge, and as they came up, the fact that they had to very quickly clap their hands together mid-pushup, and without losing the girl on their back made it even harder.
As Aunt Sandy told me the story, I could tell that the whole thing had left quite an impression on her. Being the youngest child, she thought of the brothers-in-law as brothers all her life, and these two taking such a challenge, must have made her think that they were very strong…and maybe they were. I also think that the girls had to have been fairly small, but then I couldn’t even attempt push ups in the way they did them that day. I suppose it is possible that they found additional strength in trying to impress their girls, my mom and Aunt Evelyn. Either way, I think it was a challenge.
Aunt Sandy didn’t say who won the challenge, and maybe she doesn’t even recall after all these years. I don’t think that the winner was as impressive as the challenge itself. I suppose that they could have called it a draw in the end too. Either, way, Aunt Sandy will never forget the day that she and her sister Dixie became part of a military push up challenge. Of course, it might have been something that was talked about for months or even years after. It was after all and challenge, and deserving of attention, and Aunt Sandy was a little girl who was impressed with her future brothers-in-law.
Sometimes we do things for no real reason…we just feel a need somehow. When my dad’s family was living in Holyoke, Minnesota, the family liked to go down to Oak Lake to fish. The lake is located about 15 miles southwest of Holyoke. The lake was a family favorite location. In fact, the whole area was beautiful. The kids, my Aunt Laura, Uncle Bill, my dad, Aunt Ruth, and their friends, went fishing at the lake as often without their parents as they did with them. The lake became an escape from the boredom of everyday life in a small town.
At some point the kids came across the Fire Warden’s house. You see, the area was very wooded, and there was enough fire danger to warrant not only a fire warden, but a fire watch tower in the area. Of course, the summer season in any wooded area presents a high fire danger, as the summer heat dries out the area. Over time, in their hikes through the area, the kids became friends with the fire warden, and were eventually invited to climb up in the fire tower to check out the view from far above the forest floor. It soon became a tradition. When the kids and their friends went fishing at Oak Lake, they also stopped by the tower, and climbed it every time.
Yes, they loved visiting with the person in the tower, but they also climbed the tower when it was unmanned. I suppose it was partly the challenge of climbing up the high tower. Or it could have been the beauty of the view from the top of the tower. Maybe it was the visit with the watchman in the tower. Somehow, I don’t really think that any of those were the real reason the kids and their friends climbed the tower, every time they went by it. I think they had a very simple reason that they did it…because it was there. And sometimes that is all the reason you need.