dad

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We all have one, and some of us were blessed with two, either a father-in-law, or a stepdad, or even a mentor for those who never knew their own dad. I was one of those who were blessed with a wonderful dad and a wonderful father-in-law, and I have always felt incredibly blessed to have had both. My dad, Allen Spencer was such a gentle and loving dad. He really was the perfect “Girl Dad” and his girls were his princesses. We grew up knowing that we were among the most blessed people on Earth. I met my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg in 1974, and he immediately welcomed me into their home. That welcome lasted until the day he died, and I was so blessed by this man. I love and miss both my dads very much.

My husband, Bob Schulenberg is also a “Girl Dad” and was a huge blessing to our girls. Of course, they usually had him wrapped around their little fingers, but his didn’t seem to mind. They were his little girls, and he loved them more than words could say. When our girls got married, Bob received the sons he never had. The biggest blessings of the husbands of our daughters, Kevin Petersen and Travis Royce, is that they have stood by our girls and their children. They have made them so happy, and that makes us very happy. With the marriages of our girls, we were introduced to the world of boys. My sisters thought it was probably a “culture shock” for us, since we didn’t have sons, and they were likely right. Yes, boys are quite different, but Chris Petersen, Caalab Royce, and Josh Petersen, have blessed our lives in more ways than they know, and we were blessed with one granddaughter, Shai Royce.

Of our grandsons, we now have two who have families of their own. Chris Petersen and his wife, Karen have three children, Cambree, Caysen, and Cyler. Josh Petersen and his wife, Athena have two sons, Justin and Axel, and one child on the way. These young men have been a great blessing to their families, and I can’t tell you how proud of them I am. They work hard and help their wives with the kids, and their kids are all love their daddies so much. Their families couldn’t ask for better husbands and dads. They love their families so much.

Being a dad is so much more that having kids. Being a dad is about being a provider, mentor, friend, protector, and playmate. After a long day at work, a good dad comes home to spend time with his family, and not to push them away. They may be tired, but their families love them, and they have missed them all day. They want to spend time with them. These guys are good dads, every single one of them, and that is why their families are so blessed. Happy Father’s Day to all the dads in my family, here and in heaven, and all dads everywhere. Have a great day. We, your families love you very much!!

Not every soldier that stormed the beaches at Normandy, France on D-Day (June 6, 1944), carried a gun…or any other weapon. I’m not saying these men were more brave that their armed counterparts, because all of those men were targets. They all knew, going in that it was very unlikely that they would come home again. They were running onto an armed beach in broad daylight, with the plan of taking down the strongholds that existed there. The main difference between the armed soldiers and the medics was the inability to protect themselves. The medics weren’t there to fight. They were there to save. The were the only thing standing between the armed soldiers and certain death. Just the thought of that brings tears to my eyes. All the men who stormed those beaches faced almost certain death, and yet they knew they had to go. They couldn’t live with themselves if they didn’t do their best, be it killing the enemy soldiers or saving the wounded soldiers.

Most soldiers are trained to shoot, fight, and kill the enemy, but a combat medic is very different. He is trained to do the exact opposite. The medics had no guns. They went in to “battle” unarmed, and their mission wasn’t to attack the enemy, it was to dodge the bullets that were flying everywhere and get to the soldiers who had been wounded. Then they tried to get them off the battlefield so they could treat their wounds, and hopefully save their lives. Sometimes, they had to treat them where they were. Bullets don’t distinguish between a soldier and a medic.

There are, of course, far too many medics who have bravely gone in to try to save other soldiers at the risk of losing their own lives. While the armed soldiers fight the battles, medics pick up the pieces during and after the battle. It’s the medics who gather up the belongings of those they cannot save, so they can be returned to the families. They don’t really have much time before they must move on to the next wounded soldier, and so often they grab the dog tags, because it is the only true way to know who this soldier was. It’s the only way to let their family know that their brave soldier gave the ultimate sacrifice in battle.

My dad, Staff Sergeant Allen Spencer was a top turret gunner and flight engineer in one of the B-17s that provided cover for the men as they stormed the beaches of Normandy that fateful day. My uncle, Jim Wolfe was one of the men below, storming the beaches. I don’t know if they knew each other then, but they would later, when my Uncle Jim married my dad’s sister, Ruth. It’s very hard to think about this battle, because so many lives were lost. I don’t know how anyone made it onto that beach without getting pelted with a barrage of bullets, but I am thankful for the medics who were there to try to pick up the pieces. Today marks the 80th anniversary of D-Day. From a grateful nation, we honor all who fought in that horrific battle. Very brave men all!!

My in-laws, Walt and Joann Schulenberg knew each other their whole lives. They were from the small town of Forsyth, Montana, and their mothers, Vina Schulenberg Hein and Nettie Knox were good friends. They did things together and hung out for pleasant afternoon visits while their children slept. Walt was the older of the two by a year and a half, but they were still playmates as kids, and they even took naps together, which was something that embarrassed my rather prim and proper mother-in-law. Oh, she wasn’t a snob, but in those days, people just didn’t do that sort of thing (the sleeping together, not the napping part). Mostly it was a matter of the fact that you just didn’t talk or joke about such things, Nevertheless, we all teased them…well mostly her, because it didn’t bother my father-in-law one bit.

The two of them grew apart s their school years went on, and my mother-in-law told me that she really didn’t like him much then. My guess is that he was always joking around and she didn’t think it was all that funny. Nevertheless, he persevered and soon he won her heart. They talked about what their future would hold…things like how many kids they would have and the fact that he wanted a little girl, just like her baby sister, Margee Kountz. He loved kids, and he wanted a bunch of them. And a bunch of them, they did have. They had six kids all together…Marlyce Schulenberg (who passed away when she was 39 years old), Debbie Cook, Bob Schulenberg, Jennifer Parmely, Brenda Schulenberg, and Ron Schulenberg. Their lives would soon take them far from Forsyth, as he looked for better work opportunities. They finally landed in Casper, Wyoming, as would several of their family members. That is where they spent the rest of their lives, with the exception of a few years when they wintered in Yuma, Arizona…a place they grew to love and where they had many friends.

As time went on, they were blessed with grandchildren, Corrie Petersen, Amy Royse, Machelle Moore, Barry Schulenberg, Nancy Cook (who passed away shortly after her birth), Susan Griffith, JD Parmely, and Eric Parmely. They also had great grandchildren, Chris Petersen, Shai Royce, Caalab Royce, Josh Petersen, Weston Moore, Jala Satterwhite, Easton Moore, Kaytlyn Griffith, Reagan Parmely, Hattie Parmely, Bowen Parmely, and Maeve Parmely. In addition, they now have great great grandchildren, Cambree Petersen, Caysen Petersen, Justin Petersen, Axel Petersen, and Cyler Petersen. A number of these, they never had the privilege of meeting, sadly. Nevertheless, little did they know, when they started out, just how far-reaching their love would be. Their family has grown so much, and it’s not done growing yet. Today marks the 75th anniversary of my in-laws, Walt and Joann Schulenberg’s wedding. I wish they could be here to celebrate. Happy anniversary in Heaven, Mom and Dad. We love and miss you very much.

When I first came home from the hospital, after I was born, I found my sister, Cheryl Masterson waiting there. She has always been in my life. My first blessing of a sister, and I was hers. We would later go on to have three more sisters; Caryl Reed, Alena Stevens, and Allyn Hadlock…three more blessings of sisterhood. What great blessings my sisters have been to me, and I know they all feel the same way.

Cheryl is a strong woman. She may not realize just how strong she really is, but I see it. She raised her five children, Chantel Balcerzak, Toni Chase, Rob Masterson, Liz Masterson, and Jenny Spethman, by herself. She was a single mom with an absent ex-husband. She didn’t sit and cry, she got up and went to college to become a Legal Secretary and is now one of the most valuable and indispensable employees at the firm where she has worked for many years. In addition to that, when our parents needed care, Cheryl lived with them and took every “night shift” helping them. She came home from work and cooked, cleaned, and gave them their medicines. She helped with their evening and weekend needs. We couldn’t have handled it without her. Of course, she didn’t do it alone. We all helped, but her living there gave us the evenings off to a degree, and that was a huge help, and we will be forever grateful to her.

Cheryl is a strong Christian woman. These days she spends many of her evenings reading her Bible and other Christian book. She takes the position of family matriarch, when came to her as the eldest sibling, when our parents passed away, very seriously. Of course, there is more to being the matriarch than being the spiritual head of the family. “A family matriarch is a woman who is the head and ruler of her family and descendants. She is usually older and powerful and has authority over family matters.” Of course, she doesn’t practice her position to the fullest extent of its meaning, because we are all grown and have families of our own. Nevertheless, she does try to be a spiritual guide, which is definitely what our parents would have wanted…a kind-hearted, loving Christian voice to keep the family on the right track.

Cheryl is an amazing cook and holds gatherings with her family just about every week. With five children, her family has grown quite large, and that’s the way she likes it. There is nothing that pleases her more than to have all of her children, children-in-law, and grandchildren, and great grandchildren surrounding her and enjoying a good meal and good conversation. And she especially love having all the babies around. These days, Cheryl’s family consists of five children, three sons-in-law, one daughter-in-law, fifteen grandchildren, seven grandchildren-in-law, and eight great grandchildren. All that makes for a rather large gathering…provided they can all make it over. People are all very busy. Today is Cheryl’s 70th birthday!! Happy birthday Cheryl!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

I have been very privileged to have had two men that I called “Dad” who were both among the kindest men I have ever met. My father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg became my second “Dad” when I married my husband, Bob Schulenberg in 1975. He was a hardworking man, almost to the point of being a workaholic, but that was common for the times and the bigger families that people had. My in-laws, Walt and Joann had six children, of which my husband was the third child and first boy. In big families, there is, by necessity, a certain amount of joking and teasing. It’s really the only way to make sure the kids aren’t always fighting. Everyone’s kids need to know how to hake a joke. They also, need to know how to tell one in good clean fun. Dad taught them well, as did my parents, so Bob and I were quite compatible in that way, as well as many others, of course.

My father-in-law spent most of his childhood living on ranches and learned his work ethic there. When you are raising cattle, there is little sleeping in until noon. As with most kids of that era, the workload was shared. The parents couldn’t be expected to take care of everything, especially when there are perfectly healthy kids who can help. He helped with chores around the house, and later with everything from feeding the animals to branding them. Over the years he raised some animals of their own, although not to the grand scale that he had grown up with. I was raised in town, so cows, chickens, rabbits, and the like were a little foreign to me. Nevertheless, if you put your mind to it, you can learn just about anything, and my in-laws were good teachers.

Later in his life, my father-in-law moved my mother-in-law and their eldest daughter, Marlyce to town. While he no longer raised animals, he planted a garden in the back yard, from which my mother-in-law canned the vegetables. His also built a hobby barn, really just a tall and fairly large shed, where he could tinker around making different crafts. He made wooden toys and wind spinners. They graced his yard for the rest of his life, as well as may yards around town. People would see them and want to buy them. He also refurbished lawn chairs, actually making them far more beautiful than they had previously been. He was an accomplished contractor, though mostly just for himself and his family. Nevertheless, he did make so steps for people and a few other things over the years. His was a life well lived, and it makes me sad that he has been gone for eleven years now. Nevertheless, time marches on, and today I find that he did leave us eleven years ago today. I still miss him every day.

Since my Dad, Allen Spencer’s passing, our family has grown more than he probably ever could have imagined. He would be so pleased with the new spouses and all the new great great grandchildren he and my mom, Collene Spencer have now. Mom and Dad loved their family, and they always thought of children as a blessing from God. Dad loved playing with the little kids. He didn’t even have to get out of his chair. He sat in the kitchen, right beside the door. They kids would run past him while trying not to get swatted. Dad on the other hand tried to swat them before they could get past him. I can’t say who the biggest winner or loser was, but with all the loud screams and laughter, Mom would eventually get enough of the noise, and tell Dad to stop…good naturedly, and often while laughing. Still, I’m sure the noise got annoying at times. The little kids we have now, will never know their great great grandparents, until they go to Heaven anyway, and I find that very sad. They miss so much.

My sisters and I will always be thankful for the wonderful parents we were blessed with. We always knew that no matter what mistakes we made, we always had their love. Dad was the problem solver. My early school years found me struggling with two subjects that would later become my favorites…Mathematics and History. Mom would tell me that there would be trouble when my dad got home. I think she thought I wasn’t applying myself. Then, when my dad got home and saw the progress report, he said, “Well, I guess we will need to work on this.” We did work on it. Dad leading the way, and I ended up excelling in Mathematics, and while I did ok in history, it wasn’t my favorite subject until much later on…when I was a parent. Some people might think that I did better because my dad made me work harder, but I think he was the better teacher.

My dad loved to travel, and wanted to show his girls just how wonderful this nation we lived in really was. We traveled and camped out every summer. When we went back to school and the teachers asked what we had done over the summer, we always told them about our trips. The teachers told us we were blessed to get to go so many places…and we were. Most of us have been to almost all the 50 states, with just a few exceptions, but there is still time for us, so that could change. We definitely got our love of travel from our parents, and for that we are all grateful. It is something that has enriched our lives greatly.

Of course, we also got our faith from our parents. No matter what things we faced, we knew that God was with us and that everything would be ok. We went to church regularly, and we watched our parents use their faith in every situation. We will always be thankful for that Christian upbringing. It shaped the strong women we have become. These days, our upbringing continues to make us the people we are. We try to be kind and loving, just like our parents. If we can grow to be even half the people they were, I would say that they were successful in raising us. Today would have been my dad’s 100th birthday. I wish he had been able to be here to celebrate with us. Nevertheless, today we celebrate his life, and we thank God for giving him to us. Happy birthday in Heaven, Dad. We love and miss you every day and very much.

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 grandson, Chris Petersen was the child that made me a grandmother. As a matter of fact, he also made his mother, Corrie Petersen a mom, and his great grandmother, Joann Schulenberg a great grandmother…on her birthday. His dad, Kevin Petersen, grandpa Bob Schulenberg, and great grandpa, Walt Schulenberg also had some firsts when Chris was born. First time dad, grandpa, and great grandpa. We are all so happy to begin this new stage of our lives. Chris and our other grandchildren have been such a blessing to us.

Of course, Chris is an adult now. Why do kids have to grow up? Chris works as the store manager of Auto Zone in Casper, Wyoming. He really loves his job, which makes sense, since his favorite hobby is mechanics. Well, that and video games, but doesn’t everyone play video games. He is a great manager, and they are very happy to have him. I think he has brought with him, a number of new clients for Auto Zone, especially his dad and grandpa, who do a lot of business there.

The biggest part of Chris growing up, however, is that he is married to his beautiful wife, Karen Petersen. They have three beautiful children, Cambree, Caysen, and Cyler, and they are very happy and blessed. We are all very blessed, and of course, we know that if Chris had not grown up, we couldn’t have ever had these precious babies. His family is the most important part of Chris’ lives. They have totally transformed his life in every way. So, I guess we will just be happy that he did grow up, and now his family…and those babies. Chris is so settled now, and I can see that he is so very happy. Chris and Karen are a perfect match for each other. It’s definitely a match made in Heaven. They like the same things, and they are headed in the same direction. You can tell when a man is happy, when all he wants to do is get home to his family. As with most married men, that old lifestyle is suddenly not very important. That makes perfect sense to me.

I am so happy for Chris in his new life. I love seeing him and Karen so happy. They both have a great sense of humor, and their kids are happy and well rounded. It is such a blessing to see your kids and grandkids so happy in their lives. Today is Chris’ birthday. Happy birthday Chris!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

It’s hard for me to believe that my uncle, Bill Spencer has been in Heaven for more than three years already. Uncle Bill chose Christmas Day to go. I think maybe he wanted to spend the holiday with his parents and siblings. He was the last of the original family to go to Heaven, and with Covid stalking the world, he didn’t get to see his children as much either. Since Uncle Bill had Dementia, he probably didn’t realize that he didn’t get to see much of his family, but they knew it, and it made them sad. There were months and months during which they could not go visit him, and sadly it didn’t matter that all these precautions were taken. Uncle Bill still got Covid, and by Christmas Day, he was ready to go home. And so, on Christmas Day 2020, the Spencer brothers got back together again.

My dad, Allen Spencer was two years younger than his brother, Bill, but they were the very best of friends. When they were together, you didn’t have to ask them to talk about their childhood, all you have to do was sit back and listen, because the stories were the talk of the day. They had so many great adventures. They would go fishing, swimming, and boating with friends. They also loved getting into mischief, and dynamite was one of their favorite mischief makers. They normally used dynamite to remove tree stumps, but they weren’t above the Independence Day “fireworks” display or the “gate post” experiment. They were very industrious boys, and in those days, before things like video games, television (while it did exist, was not common in every household), and telephones (they were first in homes in 1856, but only 35% of homes in the 1920s had one), kids actually played outside, and used their imaginations. These brothers had the best time. They rode their bicycles for miles and miles. They hopped the trains…no, not like illegally. These boys had a pass, because their dad worked on the trains, but they never simply boarded a train…they hopped the train, even though they were scolded for it, they hopped the trains anyway. Danger be hanged!! Oh, the adventures they had.

When the United States entered World War II, the brothers were all set to go into the Army Air Force together, but Uncle Bill had a hernia and flat feet, so they wouldn’t take him. My dad went in alone, and his big brother, who had always been there to take care of him, was…well, a little frantic about it. He didn’t want my dad to go without him. He worried about his little brother. Sending any family member into the military in times of war, is something any family would worry about, and Uncle Bill was no exception. So, while his brother fought in the war, Uncle Bill worked on the planes here at home. Uncle Bill was a welder, and his skills were very important in the building of the planes that would fight and eventually win World War II. His was a very important job, and I am very proud of the part he played in the victory. Today would have been Uncle Bill’s 102nd birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Uncle Bill. We love and miss you very much.

When my dad, Staff Sergeant Allen Spencer, was serving in the Army Air Force during World War II, rationing was not an unusual thing. Nevertheless, most of us think of rationing to be in the form of gas rationing. That is pretty much the kind of rationing we have heard being used these days, but on January 8, 1941, the government of the United Kingdom began a different kind of rationing…food. I can see the value of such a thing, because by limiting the amount of food each person could have, they could ensure that everyone was able to get enough food to sustain them. People weren’t going to gain weight on the amount of food allowed, but they could survive. I suppose the fact that there were so many extra people, in the form of the military forces, just added to the need to ration.

Of course, some food rationing occurred before this date too. Rationing was introduced temporarily by the government of the United Kingdom several times during the 20th century, during and immediately after a war. At the start of World War II in 1939, the United Kingdom was importing 20 million long tons of food per year, including about 70% of its cheese and sugar, almost 80% of its fruit and about 70% of its cereals and fats. It also imported more than half of its meat and relied on imported feed to support its domestic meat production. The civilian population of the country alone, was about 50 million. It was one of the principal strategies of the Germans in the Battle of the Atlantic to attack shipping bound for Britain, restricting British industry and potentially starving nations into submission. Siege tactics were not unusual and have been used throughout history by several countries.

So, to deal with the various forms of shortages, and sometimes extreme shortages, the Ministry of Food instituted a system of rationing. Basically, the Ministry of Food would buy most rationed items, forcing anyone who wanted some of these items to register at chosen shops. Upon registration, they were provided with a ration book containing coupons. The shopkeeper was provided with enough food for registered customers. Purchasers had to present ration books when shopping so that the coupon or coupons could be cancelled as these pertained to rationed items. Rationed items had to be purchased and paid for as usual, although their price was strictly controlled by the government and many essential foodstuffs were subsidized. Basically, rationing restricted what items and what amount could be purchased, as well as what they would cost. To make matters worse the items that were not rationed could be scarce, because the Ministry of Food did not purchase said items. The priced for some of the unrationed items were also controlled by the Ministry of Food, and for many people those prices were too high for them to be able to afford, causing people to try to cheat the system, and merchants to try to either assist the people or to gouge the public in order to make a buck. This brought penalties for breaking the laws of rationing.

During the World War II, rationing was not restricted to food, and was part of a strategy including controlled prices, subsidies, and government-enforced standards. The goal for this controlled pricing and rationing was to manage scarcity and prioritize the armed forces and essential services with the supplies they needed first. They did still try to make available to everyone, an adequate and affordable supply of goods of acceptable quality. I suppose that how well they accomplished their goal, would be a matter of opinion. Of course, like all wars, World War II ended, as did the rationing of the time, but rationing has returned a number of times, and will again, should the need arise.

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