My husband’s grandmother, Vina Hein was an amazing cook. The food she made wasn’t fancy, and in fact I suppose it was what would be called “comfort food” these days. Grandma learned to cook as a girl taking care of her dad and brother after her mother left them when she was about ten years old. She loved her dad and brother, and for a while, it was just the three of them. Then her dad remarried, and things changed again. Grandma didn’t talk about that time much, but she endured and grew to be the wonderful woman that we all knew.
There wasn’t much that Grandma couldn’t handle, and when she married Walt Hein, she became a rancher’s wife. They had a big spread out in the country, and she cooked, canned, helped with the animals, gardened, and kept the house. It was work she had trained for since she was a child. She was destined to be the family matriarch, and she was good at her job. Over the years she helped out with grandchildren when their parents worked, and the kids absolutely loved to be at Grandma’s house. Even the grandchildren who lived far away loved to come to visit Grandma and Grandpa.
My husband, Bob Schulenberg went to stay with Grandma and Grandpa just about every year. He helped out around the ranch, and in general, got to have a great time on his “almost like summer camp” visits. And when he was grown, he still liked to go visit his grandparents. When we got married, he wanted to pass that tradition on to his girls, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce, and to me. We loved going for visits, and that is something I miss to this day. Grandma didn’t always like to play cards, like Grandpa did, but she would do it for us. You had to have partners, after all. Grandpa would have played for hours, but Grandma had other things to do, so after a couple of hours, Grandpa would head out to the barn to take a nap, while Grandma and our family did other things around the house. He didn’t want to interfere with the dinner preparations, after all. Grandma always had wonderful things, like real cream, thick and cold, a taste I have never found in a store. Strawberry Rhubarb pie and jelly too. Wonderful home raised beef, and farm fresh eggs. And of course, her canned vegetables and garden-fresh vegetables too. It would have been worth the drive just for Grandma’s good cooking, for sure, and I would sure love to have one of her meals again right now. Today is the 113th anniversary of Grandma Hein’s birth. Happy birthday in Heaven Grandma. We love and miss you very much. And it looks like Punxsutawney Phil says six more weeks of Winter, but I guess that no longer matters to you, like it did when you were a kid.
My aunt, Doris Spencer has always been such a sweet person. She goes out of her way to make people feel welcome in her home. I remember so many visits over the years. Aunt Doris was a great cook, and man…could she put on a spread. It didn’t matter what was going on in her life, when you were at her house, you were the top priority. Aunt Doris was only interested in one thing…making sure that her guests had a great visit. While Aunt Doris is very focused when it comes to entertaining, she is far from a serious, stuffy hostess. She can be completely hilarious.
My mom, Collene Spencer, and Aunt Doris were best friends when my family lived in Superior, Wisconsin. The two of them always had a great time together. They were almost like two kids. The things they did, like dieting together, even though neither really needed to lose much weight. Nevertheless, they dieted, and if they got really hungry, Aunt Doris would give each of them one Puffed Rice grain…to hold them over. Hahahahahaha!! I can’t say that ever really worked. In fact, I’m sure it didn’t work, but they gave it the old college try. They also tried ketchup soup…basically ketchup and hot water…making a kind of tomato soup. Oh my!! How dieting has changed over the years.
Aunt Doris was a lot like my mom. They both loved to laugh and were not above silliness to get those around them to smile and laugh. Aunt Doris has a generous heart, and is such a kind loving person. During the years that my parents, my sister, and I lived in Superior, Wisconsin, Aunt Doris was a blessing from Heaven to my mom, who was a young woman, just married, and living in a place where she knew almost no one. Aunt Doris was my mom’s sister-in-law as well. Since our family moved from Superior, Wisconsin to Casper, Wyoming, we haven’t have the opportunities to visit her that we had before, and I am very sorry about that. When we got together more often, we were all a blessing to each other. My sisters and I will be going to Wisconsin for a visit this summer, and we are all excited to be able to see Aunt Doris again. Today is Aunt Doris’ 97th birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Doris!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My niece, Chelsea Hadlock, wife of my nephew, Ryan Hadlock, has spent a number of years being a great stay-at-home mom, raising their kids, Ethan and Aurora. She is a great mom and both of their kids are just as sweet as they can be and very well mannered. Chelsea and Ryan have done a wonderful job with the kids. Chelsea and the kids are hanging out this summer, gardening, going to the summer movies and making a couple of trips to Loveland to see their grandma, Debbie Moss. Chelsea and Ryan get together with the Hadlock family for barbecues and dinners at each other’s houses. It’s a great part of summer. Chelsea makes an excellent potato salad and a super yummy dip which the family always ask her to make. I know from experience Chelsea is an excellent cook, and we have all been treated to her cooking and believe me, it is excellent.
Now, Chelsea has decided to get her real estate license, so she is studying very hard for her test. She will make an excellent realtor. My sister, Allyn Hadlock thinks real estate may just end up being Chelsea’s niche! I can see that. Chelsea is a very social person, and she knows houses and decorating too. Chelsea and Ryan are going to buy my sister and brother-in-law, Chris Hadlock’s house when they move to their new home. Ryan and Chelsea are hoping she will be able to be the realtor when they sell their own house. This is going to be a really good thing for their family. Real estate is a great career move.
Chelsea is such an asset to our family. In the 11 years since Chelsea joined our family, she has shown a willingness to help out wherever she’s needed and she is a much loved member of the family. Chelsea has a beautiful smile, and always makes those around her feel good. She has always want to be a mom, and have a family, and so her own family has been a dream come true. For my sister and brother-in-law, they couldn’t have asked for a better person to be their only daughter-in-law. We all love Chelsea, and we couldn’t be happier to have her in our family. Today is Chelsea’s birthday. Happy birthday Chelsea!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My grandfather, George Byer was a man of gentle strength. Many people may not think those to traits go together, but in him they did. He was always a hard-working man, who gave his all to support his family, but maybe the gentleness came partly from the fact that he had 9 children, 7 of whom were girls. That can make a man understand that girls are often the fairer gender, at least in those days. Grandpa Byer lived in a time when the women stayed home and raised the family and the men went out and made the living…even if that meant working long hours or multiple jobs. Grandpa also lived during the great depression, when jobs were scarce, so the women need not have bothered to go look for one very often.
While times were tough sometimes, the family really never wanted for much, and grandma, Hattie Byer could somehow make the meager portions of food go a long way, and still never turn away a stranger in need of a meal, and it seemed there was always a plentiful supply of those strangers and friends who would come for dinner at the Byer house. They were a good team, and truth be told, Grandma Byer was probably just as tough, if not more so than Grandpa Byer, who did have a definite soft spot in his heart for people. Grandpa worked at a number of jobs, but the one I probably heard the most about was the building of Alcova Dam Grandpa had also worked on Kortez Dam and Pathfinder Dam, but my mom, Collene Spencer, who was Grandpa’s middle child, always mentioned to us that her dad had helped build Alcova Dam, every time we drove past it. She was very proud of her dad, and with good reason, because he was very special.
Grandpa served in the Army during World War I as a cook. While he was very brave, and never a man to shirk his duties, I think it would have been hard for this gentle soul to have a military career of killing people. Nevertheless, had the need arisen, he would have done it, because he always knew that he would protect those in his charge. He was a very loyal soldier, and he would never have allowed those he cared about to be killed, if he could stop it. His gentle strength was, for me, his trademark trait. I remember it from my childhood as clearly as if Grandpa Byer were standing right next to me as I write this story. he was the sweetest, kindest, most gentle man anyone could have known. Today would have been my Grandpa Byer’s 126th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Grandpa. We love and miss you very much!!
My son-in-law, Travis Royce is a man of many talents, who never brags on himself. He is really a very humble man. He loves do home improvement projects and make things in general. Last year, while his family was visiting us out in Wyoming, Travis was home building a beautiful patio area for Amy at home. Because Travis and Amy like to make wine, Travis wanted to incorporate wine into the design, so he used wine bottles as the spindles on the rail. It is such a cool, and unique idea, a one that is not surprising when Travis makes something. He has really unique ideas, and with his tendency to try to surprise people with his work, Travis is a man with a flair for the unexpected.
According to my granddaughter, Shai Royce, her dad “loves home improvement projects, reading, especially about history, comedy, Kung Foo, football, playing guitar, and the three of us.” The three of them being his family, my daughter, Amy, and their kids, Shai and Caalab. Most of Travis’ likes were things I knew about, but Kung Foo surprised me. Not sure what to make of that, I asked Shai is he was taking classes in Kung Foo, but she said no, almost laughing I’m sure, it’s Kung Foo movies he likes. In fact, he and Shai used to watch Kung Foo movies together when she was a little girl. Travis loves to barbecue and entertain. He is a great cook, often cooking breakfast for his family, but he is really in his element when he is barbecuing. He loves making wine to share with his family and friends, and what better time to share wine than when you have friends over to barbecue. With Travis sense of humor, it’s always great time.
The past couple of years, Travis has stepped out of his element to a degree, when the whole family decided to bowl on a bowling league. It was a lot of fun for all of them this year, and they were more than a little bit surprised to find that they had taken fist place. They have been invited to bowl in a county wide tournament for the county championship in Bellingham this Saturday and they are looking forward to that. Then, they found out that Travis had taken most improved bowler award…improving his average by 13 pins. I’d say that it has been a pretty good year for Travis, and we wish him many more great years in the future. Today is Travis’ birthday. Happy birthday Travis!! Have a great day! We love you!!
When my grandfather, George Floyd Byer was in the service during World War I, he started out as a cook, and later became the chief cook…or basically the man in charge. He was well respected by all the men under him. In fact, he and his men got along so well that they even liked spending their leave time together. A lot of the time, men on leave hang out with other guys in their unit, but not usually the ones who are above them, nevertheless, Grandpa’s men didn’t seem to mind at all. Or maybe it was just different back then.
Whether a person is excited about being stationed in another country or not, it is a good opportunity to see the world. Even in World War I, when it was not quite as easy to get to so many places, they could still see the towns around them, and like my grandfather, sometimes they get to see a castle in France. This was the case when my grandfather and some of his men went on leave. I don’t know how much of the castle they got to see, but they were able to say that they had been to one, and that is a very cool thing in the World War I days.
My grandfather was always a very respected man, in the service and out of it. Nevertheless, it is hard for me to imagine him in the service. He was such a gentle man…like my dad, and it’s hard for me to imagine my dad in the service too. Neither of them seem like a person who could possibly kill someone. I guess that war is just different. It truly is kill or be killed, and you do what you have to do to stay alive and watch the backs of the men you serve with. I can very much imagine my grandfather and my dad doing that. They were both honorable men, and while killing a human being is something neither would ever do for no good reason, when it comes to protecting their family or their comrades, they did what they had to do.
Knowing how loyal my grandfather was to his men, I can totally see why they respected him so much. He was kind and caring, not just to his family, but to his men, because men who are far away from home during a war, are definitely dealing with a lot of emotions. It helps to have someone in charge who can understand how you feel, and give you advise when it is needed. That’s how my grandfather was. Today would have been Grandpa Byer’s 121st birthday. I wish he could still be with us…I miss him. Happy birthday in Heaven Grandpa. We love you.
When men go off to war, their buddies become more than just people they serve with. They are family, and more importantly, they are a life line. These men, often barely more than boys, have to count of their fellow soldiers to have their back…in the deepest sense of the word. If the platoon is attacked, it is going to be the ability of the men in the platoon to act at a moments notice that will often decide their fate. Of course, no one is going to be able to move fast enough to get away from a bomb that has been dropped in most cases. There just isn’t time, but if everyone is alert, many dangers can be seen in time to warn the rest of the platoon. The further back in history the war is, the more the men had to depend on each other to stay alive, because modern equipment has helped to track the approaching enemy these days, but back then it wasn’t available.
My grandpa served in World War I, and while he was a cook and not a fighting soldier, the danger was just as real for him as it was for any other soldier. You can’t be in a war zone, and not be in danger, and quite possibly he had to depend on his fellow soldiers more than someone who was in a fighting position, because he didn’t carry a gun on a regular basis. An attack on the camp would leave these men more vulnerable than men who regularly carry a gun. I’m quite sure that Grandpa and his crew had guns assigned to them, they still didn’t use them as much as other men, as so were not as used to them. They had to know that their platoon members were going to have their back…and they did.
Many men felt such a close tie to their fellow soldiers, that life long friendships were built. Their comrades were never to be forgotten…whether they made it through the war or not. In fact, often it was those men who did not come home, who were most remembered, because quite often, they gave their life to protect their fellow soldiers. I am thankful for the men who fought with my grandfather, and made a way for him to come home to his family, because without those men, my family and I would not be here today. Their bravery in fighting for their country made our way of life possible in the nation, and brought back to his family, the gentle loving man that was my grandfather. It was the code of all military men and women, then and now. When going into battle, soldiers have always been heard saying, “I’ve got your back.” And they do.
These days, many young women graduate from high school and then go on the college or just out into the work world, but years ago, women who weren’t married by the time they were 20 years old were considered old maids. Some of the women were married as young as 13 years old. These days people would look at that in a very different way…especially since the husbands were often older, often in their mid-twenties or older. Strange as it seems to us today, back then most of these marriages turned into life long loves and lots of children. Of course, as far back as I have looked into, 13 wasn’t a common age for a woman to marry, but the mid to late teens certainly was.
Many of the women in my family were among those who were married at 16 or 17 years of age, and according to my Aunt Sandy, one of our grandmothers was married at 13, but I haven’t been able to find out which one, so I guess I’ll have to ask her. It could be that I’m just not going back far enough. The girls back in the early days of our nation were raised to be homemakers. The were taught how to run a home and take care of a family. Many is the south were taught to oversee a house full of servants. I can’t imagine running a home, children or a house full of servants at the tender age of 13. I don’t know about you, but at 13, I was definitely not interested in being a wife, mother, and boss. I was too busy doing gymnastics on the front lawn, or hanging out with my friends.
Why were these women to be so different? I mean, they weren’t forced into marriage, they chose it. Yes, they were trained to cook and clean, but so was I. Their parents didn’t push marriage on them, nor did they expect it to happen that young…I don’t believe anyway. I guess that some girls grow up faster than others, or maybe the expectations of the parents carries more weight than we know. I wonder if we will ever really understand the reasons behind those early marriages.
My Uncle Jim and my dad were a couple of characters. They loved to get together and when they did, oh boy…watch out. They would tease the kids and our moms, and manage to get everybody laughing. It was always such fun to have Aunt Ruth and Uncle Jim and the kids come to our house or to go to their house. It didn’t matter how you felt before they got started, because after they started joking around, you felt great. It was just an ability they both had and when you put the two of them together, they were doubly funny. Sometimes I think they drove our moms crazy…especially when they got us kids going. And since they moved away, I think my dad always did his best to live up to the old tradition…or maybe he started it in the first place. It’s hard to say.
Dad and Uncle Jim liked to invent different soups too. They would just start throwing different ingredients in and cook it up. They were pretty good at all this, because no one complained. Many men can’t cook at all, much less make up a recipe as they go along. In fact, a lot of women can’t do that. I know I’ve tried to add things I thought would be good, and it wasn’t so spectacular. I guess you were just born with a certain knack for it.
We always had so much fun when Uncle Jim and Aunt Ruth and the kids lived here, and it was really sad to see them move away. Time and distance have pushed our lives further and further away from each other. My cousin Larry passed away in 1976, Aunt Ruth in 1992, and my dad in 2007. We hadn’t seen much of Uncle Jim, Shirley, or Terry for a long time, until Facebook brought us back together. That is something I am very happy about. My Uncle Jim turned 90 a few days ago, and while he is in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s Disease, I am still thrilled that he has reached such a grand old age. And I’m quite sure that whether people see it or not, there is still that little boy in there somewhere. Uncle Jim and my dad were always just a couple of little boys at heart
Every once in a while, you find a person who seems to be living in the wrong time. My Aunt Ruth always seemed like that to me. Don’t get me wrong, she functioned very well in the time she lived in, but her true calling was always in the wild. She thrived on it. She was at home the most when she was out in the woods and especially with her beloved animals. She loved the land, and everything that went with it. She probably should have lived in the old west, when the pioneers were making their way to the wide open spaces where they could get land.
Sure, she did just fine when she lived in the cities too, but her heart always seemed to yearn for the land. She reminded me of the women of the west, for whom the land seemed to almost run in their veins. It was a part of them and they were a part of it. When her family moved to the mountains of Washington, she finally found the place of her heart.
When my Aunt Ruth was a girl, her family spent a lot of time at the family farm, when her mother taught her to garden and cook and live off the land. And all of her beloved animals where there too, and she loved them all. Animals of all kinds. She had several dogs that always seemed to hang around her, because animals can tell if you have a kind heart. She was a natural on a horse, and was able to ride like a pro, of course, again, the horses knew that she was the kind of person they wanted to be around. They loved her as much as she loved them.
There are people who seem to be living in the wrong time. They love everything about a past era, and they seem to be so suited for a different time. And yet, here they are, in this time and this place, because what era we are born in is simply not our choice. And maybe they don’t even think about the fact that they seem more suited to another era, but it is something that can be obvious to those around them. That is how my Aunt Ruth always appeared to me. I had never known someone who so loved the land…the woods…the animals…gardening, growing things out of her precious earth. But that was my Aunt Ruth…a beautiful face, a loving heart, in an era where she seemed a bit out of place, because she was more of a pioneer spirit. And that is what she will always be to me.