children

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My niece, Ashley Parmely is a very busy girl these days. She has long been a farmer…raising horses, cows, chickens, goats, pigs, dogs, cats, and farmers. There may be others too that I am unaware of. Taking care of all those animals and her four little farmers too, keeps her running all day. Personally, I don’t know where she gets the energy for all of it, and as if that weren’t enough, this year, with the ongoing pandemic, she has taken on a new role…that of teacher to her three little students…all while also keeping her youngest girl, Maeve busy while she teaches the older children, Reagan, Hattie, and Bowen. If she doesn’t know why she might be tired, I say…”Let me enlighten you!!”

Being the teacher is a very new concept to Ashley. I don’t think it was a role she had ever imagined herself in. Nevertheless, with the Covid-19 Pandemic, and the hornet’s nest it stirred up in the education system, she and my nephew, Eric Parmely have decided that it is the best way to educate their children. Now as the teacher, you are held to a high educational standard, and it was here that Ashley came across her first stumbling block. No, it wasn’t academically, she’s fine with that. No…it was in penmanship. Not the part about being able to read her writing, but rather, her struggle with “chalkboard writing.” Seriously…how can you aske your students to write in nice straight lines, when you are unable to do so. Hahahahaha!! Ashley is working hard on this problem, and now, a little way into the quarter, I believe she has it under control.

For Ashley, homeschooling the kids is in many ways a dream come true. She has her children at home with her, and they can have relaxed classes on the farm. Homeschooling isn’t a new concept. It has been going on for many years, it’s just that now, with the pandemic, more people have opted for homeschooling. Ashley and Eric are concerned over some of the new radical education plans for things. Some of the things their kids are learning, really seem extreme to Ashley and to many other Christian and Conservative parents. Kids need time to be kids, and with Ashley, I know that the kids will have just that. Ashley has a wonderful sense of humor and isn’t afraid to look silly sometimes. I believe it will make her the kids favorite teacher. Today is Ashley’s birthday. Happy birthday Ashley!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Just under seven months ago, my Aunt Virginia Beadle left us to go to Heaven. Whenever I think of her, I picture her sweet face, always smiling gently at me. She never said a harsh word to me or anyone else I know of either. Oh I suppose she did get angry or speak harshly at some point in her life, but not in her latter years…not that I know of. Aunt Virginia just always had a sweet disposition.

Aunt Virginia’s heart was with her family. She loved each of them dearly. Aunt Virginia had 5 children, one of whom, Christy passed away shortly after her birth in 1967; and one, Forrest, born in 1956, whom she adopted as a baby. Forrest passed away in 2005. Her other children were Stephen, born in 1962; Betsy, born in 1965; and Billy, born in 1969. She was very proud of all of her children, and loved them very much. Of course, with children, come the blessings of grandchildren and later, great grandchildren, and Aunt Virginia was very blessed in both of those areas too. She was also very blessed with some wonderful children-in-law, who took great care of her in her latter years. I am very proud of all of her family for the care they gave her. As a caregiver in the past, I know that while they never feel like a burden, taking care of a parent can be a very taxing task. You would never change a thing, but you find yourself very tired while you are working to care for a parent. Aunt Virginia was able to live mostly at the homes of her children in her latter years, and with the exception of a few short nursing home stays after an illness, she did not have to move into a nursing home permanently. As most of us know, that is something many people worry might happen to them when they get older.

Aunt Virginia was always a tiny little woman, very petite, and at least in her latter years, rather short. I don’t know what her height was when she was younger, but the last times I saw her, I remember thinking that she was the size of a 10 or 12 year old child. Nevertheless, don’t let her size fool you. She could handle her own, at least before time took away her strength. Still, she was able to walk and take care of her own needs for the most part right up until her passing. I know that I will always have great love and respect for my dear Aunt Virginia. Today is Aunt Virginia’s 90th birthday and her first one in Heaven. Happy birthday in Heaven, Aunt Virginia. We love and miss you very much.

My uncle, George Hushman entered life in a troubled situation, and in the end, it was destined to get worse. His mother passed away when he was very young, and his dad was not involved or interested in his children’s lives or welfare. Uncle George and his sister, Betty were placed in an orphanage. They would not be one of the few older children to get adopted, because as most of us know, adoptive parents prefer babies. That might seem like the end of a sad story, but it isn’t. While George was not adopted “officially,” he did have families who “adopted” him in many ways. Wallace and Hettie Saint John, who were my future son-in-law, Kevin Petersen’s great grandparents, were very good to Uncle George, who was friends with their sons. The treated him like one of the family.

Then, of course, there was the Byer family, into which Uncle George would marry, making him my Uncle George when he married my aunt, Evelyn Byer. This was the point when Uncle Georges life took its most amazing turn. Upon their meeting, my aunt and uncle only had eyes for each other. Their world was suddenly filled with all of God’s greatest blessings. Their marriage would produce five beautiful children, Sheila “Susie” Young, George Byer, Shelley Campbell, Shannon Limmer, and Greg Hushman. They also went on to have many grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great great grandchildren. Theirs was a match made in Heaven. They were happy, and they were together as much as it was possible. Their marriage would endure the hardships and sadness that every marriage does, and it thrived. Anyone who knew them could see their great happiness. At the time of Aunt Evelyn’s passing on May 4, 2015, they had been married for 68 years. That is almost unheard of!! When Uncle George joined her in Heaven, they had been married 71 years, and they were reunited on Uncle George’s 92nd birthday. What a wonderful birthday present. Their eyes got to see each other once more, their hearts were reunited. I’m sure Uncle George was ecstatic!!

Uncle George was a quiet sort of man, but always kind. I always loved going over to their home, because we were always treated kindly by them both. They had built their house in Mills, Wyoming, in 1948, with the help of family. They loved their home, and unlike most couples, they would live in that same home for the rest of their lives. Most couples look around some before settling on their forever home. Others moves several times before really finding one that suits them. Not Aunt Evelyn and Uncle George. The knew what they wanted, and they never waivered. Theirs was a sweet forever home, where the couple that lived there were forever in love. Happy birthday in Heaven Uncle George. We love and miss you very much.

During his reign, Hitler was determined to rid the world of those people he decided were of an inferior race…basically anyone who was not blonde haired, blue-eyed, and fair skinned. It was a seriously strange idea considering that Hitler had dark hair, and it is rumored that Hitler may have had both Jewish and African ancestry. I don’t suppose he would have liked knowing that much, or maybe he knew and didn’t care.

Hitler had a plan in mind to create the “perfect” race. His plan was two-fold. Most people know about the Holocaust, and the mass killing of Jews, Gypsies, and other “undesirable” races, by starvation, beatings, and most notably, the gas chambers. It is not known exactly how many people were killed, but the number is estimated at 6 million Jews, and as many as 11 million other groups. It was horrific, but it was not the only plan Hitler had.

His other plan was the Lebensborn, which translates as “wellspring of life” or “fountain or life.” The Lebensborn project was one in which women…who were of the Aryan race, a historical race concept which emerged in the period of the late 19th century and mid-20th century to describe people of Indo-European heritage as a racial grouping. Heinrich Himmler founded the Lebensborn project on December 12, 1935, the same year the Nuremberg Laws outlawed intermarriage with Jews and others who were deemed inferior. In the beginning, the Lebensborn children were taken to SS nurseries. But in order to create a “super-race,” the SS transformed these nurseries into “meeting places” for “racially pure” German women who wanted to meet and have children with SS officers. The idea was that they were doing something great for “the cause.” The children born in the Lebensborn nurseries were then taken by the SS. The Lebensborn provided support for expectant mothers, we or unwed, by providing a home and the means to have their children in safety and comfort. For decades, Germany’s birthrate had been decreasing, and Himmler’s goal was to reverse the decline and increase the Germanic/Nordic population of Germany to 120 million. Himmler encouraged SS and Wermacht officers to have children with Aryan women. He believed Lebensborn children would grow up to lead a Nazi-Aryan nation. Once the children were born, the woman had the choice to marry the SS officer father, or give the child up for adoption. She was not allowed to keep the child on her own, and once she entered the Lebensborn she could not leave until the child was delivered.

Any children who were born with any defects were immediately put to death. The program had no room for any special-needs children. The children who were given up by the mothers, were usually kept at the Lebensborn for about a year before they were made available for adoption, and then only to SS or Wermacht soldiers families or members of the Nazi party. During their time in the SS nursery, they were named by Himmler. The whole purpose of this society (Registered Society Lebensborn – Lebensborn Eingetragener Verein) was to offer to young girls who were deemed “racially pure” the possibility to give birth to a child in secret. The child was then given to the SS organization which took charge in the child’s education and adoption. Both mother and father needed to pass a “racial purity” test. Blond hair and blue eyes were preferred, and family lineage had to be traced back at least three generations. Of all the women who applied, only 40 percent passed the racial purity test and were granted admission to the Lebensborn program. The majority of mothers were unmarried, 57.6 percent until 1939, and about 70 percent by 1940.

One of the most horrible sides of the Lebensborn policy was the kidnapping of children “racially good” in the eastern occupied countries after 1939. Some of these children were orphans, but it is well documented that many were stolen from their parents’ arms. These kidnappings were organized by the SS in order to take children by force who matched the Nazis’ racial criteria…blond hair and blue or green eyes. Thousands of children were taken to the Lebensborn centers in order to be “Germanized.” Up to 100,000 children may have been stolen from Poland alone. In these centers, everything was done to force the children to reject and forget their birth parents. The SS nurses were told to persuade the children that they were deliberately abandoned by their parents. The children who refused the Nazi education were often beaten. Most of those who rejected Nazi principles were transferred to concentration camps, usually in Kalish in Poland, and exterminated. The others were adopted by SS families. The whole Lebensborn program was twisted. It was like growing machines who would believe and do as they were told, which is what they thought the children would grow up to do.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in a world without wars, so our soldiers are a vital part of our national security. Of course, we hope and pray that all of our soldiers will eventually come home from war, be discharged from military service, and become veterans. Sadly that is not always the case. For those who do not come home, we have Memorial Day, to honor their memory. Veteran’s Day, however, is a day to honor those who served, and then came home and went back to their lives. For those who are veterans, we take this opportunity to thank them for their service and their sacrifice, because they did sacrifice. They left their families at home, and went out to fight for people they don’t even know, and probably never will. We, here at home, have no way to really repay them for their acts of selflessness, so all we can do is thank them for their service. Somehow, it just doesn’t seem enough. How could we possibly repay them? We can never give them back the lost time with family, the memories, the births of children, and the multiple firsts that go with them. Those things are gone forever for the soldier, because they chose to go out and protect their country, and the people in it.

Our soldiers are an amazing group of people…the best in the world. They have blessed the people of this nation in so many ways. Their service goes beyond just fighting a war. They show kindness to the people in war ravaged countries, sometimes risking their own lives to do so. The biggest problems with civilians in war zones, is that you never truly know if the people you meet need help, or if they are out to kill you. Nevertheless, our soldiers set aside the worries and fears, and go out to do their duty. That is what makes us proud. We wish it was unnecessary for them to go, but we are thankful when they do, because we know that we are safer.

I wish all our soldiers could come home and that peace on earth could become a reality, but that is not to be. Nevertheless, to all our veterans, I thank you for your time in the service. We would not be where we ar today without you. Happy Veterans Day to all of you, from a grateful nation!!

Where my Aunt Evelyn Hushman was the beginning of my grandma and grandpa, Hattie and George Byer’s large family, Aunt Sandy Pattan was the end. Between them were 17 years and 7 siblings. When Aunt Sandy arrived, my grandparents had a disagreement as to what her name would be. My grandfather wanted to name her Sonya (or maybe Sonja, we will never know, since the name lost), but my grandmother wanted to name her Sandra. They simply could not agree, so the decision was made for Grandpa to go home and tell the rest o the children about the birth, and let a majority rule vote of the children settle the dispute. So, Grandpa went home and told the children about their little sister. Then he told them about the name dispute. They were to decide. Trying as hard as he could to make Sandra sound as plain as he could and, Sonya sound like the most beautiful name in the world, Grandpa waited for the decision. He didn’t have to wait long. Almost the split second he said Sonya, the children all said, “Eeeeewwww!! Sonya!! No way!! We choose Sandra!!”

Poor Grandpa. The decision saddened him. He liked the name Sonya. Nevertheless, Grandpa was an honorable man. The name Sandra had been chosen, and Sonya was out. He would accept that. I’m sure Grandma was happy, and my Aunt Sandy has told me that she is thankful, because she doesn’t think she would have liked the name Sonya. Maybe not, but once a name is given, most people can’t imagine themselves as anyone else. People tend to fit the name given, whether it is unusual or common. I can’t imagine having an Aunt Sonya, but then that is because I have always had an Aunt Sandy. That’s who she is, and it’s as simple as that.

Aunt Sandy must have some of the name/heritage gene in her blood, because she is as curious as I am about things like family history, and name history. We like to know if a name came from way back in the family, was made up, or picked out of a book. It doesn’t really matter which one it is, it’s really about the search. Aunt Sandy is a great teller of family stories. She remembers them in great detail. I could sit and listen to her all day. Many people don’t understand the importance of the family history, and people like Aunt Sandy and me, are important, because without someone to keep the stories alive, the family history could die, and that would be truly tragic. I’m grateful to have Aunt Sandy, who is still able to tell me the stories, so that when some of the kids in the family discover their interest, the story will still be there. Today is Aunt Sandy’s 74th birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Sandy!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

I think most people have played with a Slinky at one point or another in their lives. The Slinky is a pre-compressed helical spring toy invented by Richard James in the early 1940s. It is able to perform a number of tricks, including travelling down a flight of steps end-over-end as it stretches and re-forms itself with the aid of gravity and its own momentum, or appear to levitate for a period of time after it has been dropped. Kids have been known to spend hours playing with the simple spring, which rather defies the imagination in itself. Most kids tire easily of toys, so the long lasting play with a slinky was surprising. Still, as with all such toys, the Slinky eventually lost its draw, and few people play with it now.

The strangest thing about the Slinky is that it wasn’t invented to be a toy at all. In 1943, a naval mechanical engineer named Richard James, who was stationed at the William Cramp and Sons shipyards in Philadelphia, was developing springs that could support and stabilize sensitive instruments aboard ships in rough seas. As he worked, James accidentally knocked one of the springs from a shelf, and watched as the spring “stepped” in a series of arcs to a stack of books, to a tabletop, and to the floor, where it re-coiled itself and stood upright. I’m sure the sight was funny, mostly because it was so unexpected. As his wife Betty later recalled, “He came home and said, ‘I think if I got the right property of steel and the right tension; I could make it walk.'” As with any inventor, I’m sure that his inventor’s mind was already clicking. James began to experiment with different types of steel wire over the next year, and finally found a spring that would walk. I’m sure he was like “a kid in a candy store” with each fine-tuning of the toy. Betty was skeptical at first, but changed her mind after the toy was fine-tuned and neighborhood children expressed an excited interest in it. She dubbed the toy Slinky, by which she meant “sleek and graceful,” after finding the word in a dictionary, Betty decided that this word exactly described the sound of a metal spring expanding and collapsing.

The couple formed James Spring and Wire Company, which was later renamed James Industries, using just a $500 loan. They had 400 Slinky units made by a local machine shop, hand-wrapped each in yellow paper, and priced them at $1 a piece. Each was 2½ inches tall, and included 98 coils of high-grade blue-black Swedish steel. At first, the James couple had difficulty selling Slinky to toy stores but, then in November 1945, they were granted permission to set up an inclined plane in the toy section of Gimbels department store in Philadelphia to demonstrate the toy. Finally, the Slinky was a hit, and the first 400 units were sold within ninety minutes. In 1946, Slinky was introduced at the American Toy Fair. The Slinky was without doubt a huge success, yet in it’s humble beginnings, it was an accident.

It hardly seems possible that 18 years have passed since our nation was brutally attacked on our own soil by Al-Qaeda terrorists, and yet sometimes it seems like so many people who are adults now, don’t really remember 9-11, so they don’t understand the importance. It’s not an unusual thing, I guess, because they were only told about what happened. It might seem like a movie, more than a reality. Nevertheless, it did happen. On that dreadful day, a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by the Islamic group, Al-Qaeda were carried out against the United States on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. The attacks killed 2,996 people, injured over 6,000 others, and caused at least $10 billion in infrastructure and property damage. Additional people died of 9/11-related cancer and respiratory diseases in the months and years following the attacks. We, the people of the United States, sat stunned in front of our television sets, trying to grasp what had happened. We were shocked, angry, and terribly grieved. We vowed never to forget. And most of us have not forgotten.

Still, with time comes acceptance. Not that I think that is a good thing, because with acceptance comes complacency. We feel like we can’t change anything, so the best solution is to simply get along. Don’t rock the boat. Try to live together in peace. It all sounds so loving, so…Christian. Unfortunately, the only ones that are trying to “get along and live together in peace,” are the Christians, and maybe the Jews, who have been through such things before, and are getting tired of being the target of slaughter. But, should we be trying to get along with the devil? We have seen the evil that comes with these hateful people who target innocent people who are just trying to live their lives. The don’t care about living in peace with us!! The only want us to comply with their demands.

I have seen so many people saying that they miss 9/12, and I think I agree with them. Yes that horrific day had happened…the unthinkable was in our midst. We were scratching through the rubble, trying to find yet one more alive, though not many would come out of the rubble. The survivors were, for the most part, those who managed to escape before the towers came down. Still, on 9/12, there was something else…there was determination, anger, and love for our fellow man. We were determined to rise out of the ashes, and take back our Pre-9/11 lives, to catch those who did this, and make them pay for what they had done. And we did!!

But then, as the years went by, we tried to get along, hoping that this would never happen again…an impossible feat. Our “get along” spirit did not stop other attacks. We began to hear of places like Benghazi, and even the attack on the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan this morning. The “get along” spirit wasn’t…isn’t working. They hate us simply because we are Christians and Jews, Americans…free people, who don’t believe as they do. September 11, 2001 was a horrible day, very likely the worst in the history of the United States, but I agree with so many others who say they miss 9/12, because on that day, we were no longer the “sleeping giant.” We woke up and realized that we can’t be complacent, because they will kill those who sit idly by and do nothing. We must either continue to fight for our freedom…or we will lose our freedom. We must begin again to recognize our enemy…foreign or domestic. The war hasn’t ended. It continues. We must fight for our freedoms.

One of the most common practices of the school year is the routine fire drill. These days, children are well aware of what is going on, and often look forward to being able to vacate the classroom…even if only for a few minutes. The routine fire drill is designed to insure that the students leave the premises without panic, whether there is an actual fire or not. These drills were not always routine, the ensuing panic could be deadly.

In 1851, in Greenwich Avenue school, located at 36 to 40 Greenwich Avenue. When the fire alarm sounded, the children panicked. They had not been trained to calmly exit the building, and in the ensuing panic, 40 children were killed. There was no fire, and the fire alarm had been set off by accident, but the children had no idea what to do, and so went running in fear. The deaths were horrible trample deaths. More children were injured.

The tragedy of 1851 was almost repeated in 1882, when a fire drill went off at Grammar School Number 41, at the same sight of the 1851 panic. The situation may have occurred on a different date, but the result was the same…panic. When the fire alarm sounded, someone cried, Fire!!” After that, chaos took over, and the same disaster could have happened, had not the teachers, janitor, firemen, and police stayed calm. Somehow they managed to calm the children down. The adults behaved with such rare intelligence and energy that the panic was stayed and nearly all the children reached the avenue unharmed. Grammar School Number 41 was an all-girl school. At the time of the panic 610 students were in the 11 classrooms of the primary school on the first floor, under Miss Susanna Whitney, and 669 were in the 19 classrooms of the grammar school on the second and third floors, under Miss Lizzie Cavannah. There was a female teacher in each of the classrooms.

Somehow, all of the 1200+ students got out alive. When the school reopened, an order was received from City Superintendent John Jasper to perfect the scholars in the fire drill. “Each scholar has a numbered peg on which to hang her clothes, and the fire drill consisted in sounding an alarm, when the scholars are required to get their clothes and collect their books and return to their seats. Meanwhile preparations were made for the teachers to be on the landings of the seven staircases, four of which are fire-proof, which lead to the four exits on Greenwich-avenue. At a signal the children were to rise and go out calmly. Going down the stairs one only was permitted to be on each side of the staircase, where there is a handrail, and the exit to the avenue was required to be in an orderly manner.”

Previously, the fire drill alarm was sounded on the tinkling class bells from bell handles in the assembly room of the primary and grammar departments. This was deemed unsafe, as it necessitated the pulling of as many handles as there were classrooms. It had to change. To make a simultaneous alarm, three large fire-gongs were installed, so that the whole school could be notified by pulling at three handles. It does not appear that the students knew of the new arrangement. Some of them had heard of the gongs, but they had not heard them strike, and they did not receive instructions about them, which would have helped immensely. It was agreed between Miss Whitney and Miss Cavannah that a fire drill should be held on a particular day. They believed that the 140 new and untrained students in the primary school and 90 new girls in the grammar school would follow the example of the trained students. At 2:40pm, Miss Cavannah had the alarm struck on the second and third floors. Six strokes were sounded on each gong. The deep, loud noise, resembling the clang of a fire engine gong, startled even the trained students, and as they whispered to each other “fire drill” in going for their clothes the untrained students misunderstood them, and believed that the school was on fire, and that the noise of the gongs was the bells of the engines summoned to the school. There was a panic immediately, and 50 fearful girls ran screaming and bareheaded from the grammar school to the street before the teachers could spring to the doorways, bar exit, and command order. The screaming and confusion overheard alarmed the students and teachers in the primary school, but the doors were guarded before more than 25 or 30 children escaped. For several minutes the teachers had hard work to keep back the imprisoned children. The trained students were as alarmed as the new ones, and some of them wept and begged piteously as they, despite the assurances of their teachers, who all behaved bravely except for one instance, that of a new instructress, who for a time did not understand the situation. Some of the children even ran home and told their parents and neighbors that the school was on fire and the children were burning. It almost created a panic of the whole town. It quickly became clear that prior to the first drill, the students needed instruction on procedure.

I recently read a book about the orphan trains, which ran between 1854 and 1929. During that time, approximately 250,000 orphaned, abandoned, and homeless children ride the train throughout the United States and Canada, to be placed with families who were looking for a child, or just as often, a worker for their farm. The orphan train movement was necessary, because at the time, it was estimated that 30,000 abandoned children were living in the streets in New York City. I had heard of the orphan trains, mostly from the movie called “Orphan Train,” but much of what really happened with those children was very new to me, and quite shocking.

Today, while my husband, Bob Schulenberg and I were in the Black Hills, we rode the 1880 Train, as we almost always do when we are here. When they mentioned that the train had been used in the movie “Orphan Train,” a fact that I had heard many times before, the stories from the book I had read came back to mind. My mind instantly meshed to train, the book, and the movie into one event.

The children who traveled on the orphan trains were victims of circumstance, and they had no control over their lives at all. Each one hoped that their new family would be nice. The older ones didn’t have high hopes. The older boys pretty much knew that they would be farm hands. And most of them were right many were made to sleep in the barn, because they were thought to be thieves. If they were thieves, it was because they had to steal to survive. They did whatever it took to survive.

As Bob and I rode the train today, in the eye of my imagination, I could picture what it must have been like to be one of those orphans. The were sitting there watching that big steam engine take them to someplace they didn’t know, and probably didn’t want to go. They didn’t have high hopes for a great future, but then again, the past wasn’t that great either. They were forced to make the best of a bad situation, and the people who were in charge didn’t really care what happened to them. They were just doing their jobs. I have ridden the 1880 Train many times before, but today, it felt a little bit different, somehow. I knew that I wasn’t an orphan riding that train, but I certainly felt empathy for the children who were.

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