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 grandson, Josh Petersen is not the little boy that lives in my memory files, but these days, he is actually a married dad of two boys, Justin and Axel (coming soon). He and his wife, Athena Petersen are so happy with life, and they are so blessed. Little did they know when they met back in middle school, that their meeting was not just by chance. They were destined to be together, and now they are, all these years later. They are both so happy with the life they have built together. Their home is filled with love and laughter…and the pitter-patter of little feet.
Josh works as a fire extinguisher tech, for All Out Fire, and is probably their most essential workers. He has been with them a long time, and both his boss and the customers depend on his loyalty and capabilities. He is a conscientious worker, who can always be counted on to be there when he is supposed to. His ideas have even brought the company into the modern era, so they can be competitive in this current work climate. Much has changed over the last few years, both in our lives and in the working world. A company has to be ready to compete, and Josh has helped All Out Fire stay competitive.
Josh has always been a soft-spoken man, with a big heart. He helped with caregiving of his great grandparents, and that qualified him for taking care of others, including his son. He is completely comfortable caring for Justin when Athena is working, or any other activity she might be engaged in. Justin loves his “Da Da” so much, and of course that was his first word…sorry Athena. I know you were hoping for “Ma Ma” but Justin decided. You know how babies are. Making up their own minds and all. Justin can be crying, but when his “Da Da” shows up, he is as happy as a clam. He starts jumping up and down and can’t wait for Josh to pick him up. I love the relationship he has with his boy.
The next chapter in Josh’s life is coming up soon. Little Axel is due on September 24th, but as we all know, that is subject to change, because babies have their own schedules. Josh and Athena are already seasoned parents, but having two babies, is going to be a new step. Their babies with be “Irish Twins” because they will be born within a year of each other. Josh’s papa and I did the same thing with our daughters, Corrie Petersen (Josh’s mom) and Amy Royce (Josh’s aunt). It was a fun experience, and I know that Josh and Athena will have a lot of fun with it too. I am very excited to see what this next chapter of his life will bring. Today is Josh’s 25th birthday. Time has sure gone by fast. Happy birthday Josh!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
It’s so hard to believe that my parents Allen and Collene Spencer, got married 70 years ago today. When they got married, our mom was a young girl of 17½, with stars in her eyes. Dad was 29, which was not so uncommon back then…after all, her parents were 16 years apart. Their ages, young or older, didn’t matter, because their love was real and forever. And they never seemed like they were 12 years apart in age. They became a family of three ten months later, and over the next nine years they became a family of seven, with five daughters to their credit. While we weren’t rich in money, our family was so rich in love.
My sisters, Cheryl Masterson, Caryl Reed, Alena Stevens, Allyn Hadlock, and I went to dinner at Red Lobster last night, and it was so great to think back on the days of our childhood. We talked about the many meals we all had together. It’s funny how so much of life centers around the dinner table, in whatever form that takes for each family. The closeness of our family while around the dinner table, radiated around us when we went to dinner. We laughed about the times we got to get hamburgers from McDonald’s…ordering 15 hamburgers and seven orders of fries. For some reason, the kids at McDonald’s were less than pleases over those big orders. A fact which we found to be quite funny. We also talked about the “Ice Cream Suppers” that our Uncle Bill Spencer (Dad’s brother) initiated. During a visit to Superior, Wisconsin, Uncle Bill decided that we were going to have ice cream for dinner. We all ordered our favorite treats, and when we were done, to our shock, Uncle Bill asked us what we wanted for dessert. Well, he didn’t have to ask twice, because we quickly ordered a “dessert” treat too. What fun that was. Mom and Dad liked it so much that the tradition came home to grace our dinner table every once in a while, too. It was so yummy!
After our wonderful dinner and precious memories of our parents, now both in Heaven, the evening was over. I guess our time around the dinner table mush have bless more people than just us, because as we left, a lady approached my sister, Allyn and told her that they had really enjoyed our laughter. We ere pleased and left the restaurant with even lighter spirits. Today would have been our parents’ 70th anniversary. Happy anniversary Mom and Dad!! We love and miss you both so very much, and we can’t wait until we see you again.
My Uncle Elmer Johnson and his brothers remind me a bit of my dad, Al Spencer and his brother, Bill. They all had a mischievous past. I don’t think any of them were true troublemakers, but rather I think it was the era they grew up in. Kids did different things in their mischievous antics. My dad and his brother liked to set of dynamite, but then they were farm kids who, at times had a need for dynamite, like clearing a field of a big rock or tree stump. Of course, they didn’t really need to sink the gate post by two feet in an experiment with dynamite. Nevertheless, they did that. Uncle Elmer and his brothers were not above the idea of scaring their dad with the tractor, while he was using the outhouse. They tried to make him think they were going to run over the outhouse. Their dad came running out with his pants down around his ankles, and he was not happy with his boys. Nevertheless, they lived, so I guess he forgave them for their joke. Uncle Elmer’s brother, Les was his main “partner in crime” for their crazy activities.
For most of his work career, Uncle Elmer was a truck driver. He drove for a number of places, including furniture delivery, working for Burke Moving and Storage and for United Van Lines, working for Tom Aurelius. The job took him many places, and sometimes he could take his eldest son, Elmer with him. Maybe that is why they both really loved driving trucks. I’m sure they had a great time seeing all the sights and talking about everything under the sun. Those summertime trips made Uncle Elmer and Cousin Elmer good friends.
It seems like some men have skills that others don’t. I don’t know if it was that era, or what, but both my dad and Uncle Elmer, and most likely their brothers too, could cook. Yes, they could grill too, but these guys could really cook. They could cook good old fashioned comfort food, and some fancy stuff too, but mostly they were good old American down-home cooks, and that is the best kind. There aren’t many things I remember about my Uncle Elmer, not like his kids do, but the uncle that I remember was always sweet and funny. He was fun to be around, and I know that my parents enjoyed spending time with Uncle Elmer and Aunt Dee too (my mom’s sister). When they were around, it always seemed that the fun accompanied them. I was 25 when Uncle Elmer went to Heaven, but I remember the feeling of loss, both for me and for his family. It was such a sad time, and that will never change. Today would have been Uncle Elmer’s 90th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Uncle Elmer. We love and miss you very much.
I always greet Father’s Day with mixed emotions. I don’t have my dad, Allen Spencer or my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg with me anymore, so there is always a little bit of sadness too, because I miss them both so much. They were both so important to me…they still are, but now they are in Heaven, and in my future. Nevertheless, on this and every day, I think of them lovingly, because they were so influential in my life. God blessed me, my husband, and siblings with two of the greatest dads ever. Both were gentle souls, soft spoken and kind, and both were hard workers. Sometimes, the similarities surprised me, but I always knew that I was loved and valued.
When I met and married my husband, Bob Schulenberg, God gave me a perfect soulmate. Bob took after his dad is so many ways, not the least of which, was his work ethic. They had spent countless hours together working on cars and other projects around his dad and mom’s place. They probably spent just as much time working on our stuff too. Bob was a “girl-dad” and a very good one. Our girls had him wrapped around their little pinky, and he was just fine with that. He was like his dad in so many ways, and that soft heartedness followed him into fatherhood. The girls could have gotten away with just about anything, because like his dad, Bob was a softie.
Now our girls are both married to wonderful men, Kevin Petersen and Travis Royce, and we consider ourselves very blessed to have both of these wonderful sons-in-law in our lives too. It is so great to be able to give your daughter in marriage, knowing that the man she is marrying is going to treat her well, provide for her, and take care of her. The years have brought many changes into our girls’ lives, and their husbands have been beside them all the way. they have given us a beautiful granddaughter, and three handsome grandsons, who have all blessed our lives greatly. And now, two of our grandsons are dads too. Chris (Karen) Petersen and Josh (Athena Salazar, soon to be Petersen) Petersen. The next generation of babies have brought us a great granddaughter, Cambree Petersen, two grandsons, Caysen Petersen and Justin Petersen, and two more grandsons on the way. Life is good!! Happy Fathers’ Day to all of the dads in my life, and to all of the other dads out there. Have a wonderful day and know that you are loved and appreciated very much!!
It isn’t often that a couple is together all their lives, but really, that is the case with my in-laws, Walt and Joann Schulenberg. Their parents, or really, their moms were best friends. Walt’s mom, Vina née Leary Schulenberg (later Hein) had two children…Marian in 1927 and Walt in 1929. Joann’s mom, Nettie lost a son, William in 1929, and then went on to have Joann in 1931. I’m not sure exactly when their friendship began, but by the time Joann was born, Vina and Nettie were friends. In fact, that is how Walt and Joann “famously” slept…well napped…together when he was two and she was an infant. I think that story is sweet, but my mother-in-law was always more than a little bit embarrassed, whenever the subject came up.
Of course, they weren’t a “couple” all those years, and in fact, my mother-in law once told me that for a number of years she absolutely did not like my father-in-law in the slightest little bit, but eventually, he grew on her and they started dating. My father-in-law was a very likable guy, so it doesn’t surprise me that she started to like him as time went on. He has a wonderful sense of humor, and while she was a more serious person, his witty personality balanced with her serious one quite nicely.
They went on to have six children and move from Forsyth, Montana to Casper, Wyoming where they raised their family. Like most families, it was a “job market move” that brought them to Casper. My mother-in-law was a stay-at-home mom, and my father-in-law worked at Pathfinder Mines as a mechanic for many years.
Theirs was a long and happy marriage, lasting 64 years before my father-in-law went home to Heaven. I was blessed to marry into this family, and to know these two wonderful people. In fact, anyone who knew them would tell you what a wonderful blessing they were. Dad went home to Heaven in May 5, 2013, and Mom went home on January 4, 2018. We miss them both very much. Happy anniversary Mom and Dad Schulenberg. We love you very much.
As I was sitting in church yesterday morning, waiting for the service to begin, I looked around me at the people in the room. Most of them I have known for years…them and their parents. Then, I realized how many of the parents are no longer with us. It has happened over time…one here and one there, until suddenly, my generation was the new patriarch and matriarch generation in the church…the elders if you will.
I felt a wave of sadness, as I thought about my parents, and the parents of so many others who have gone home. Of course, the sadness was accompanied by the joy for each of them, who were now living every day in the presence of God. How glorious that must be!! They left this Earth, as well as their children and grandchildren, hoping that they had given us the training we would need to go forward in life and follow God in the way we had been trained. They left this Earth standing on the promise in Proverbs 22:6, that says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” The people around me had all come up the way I had…going to church with our parents, and so the promise held true.
While I was happy that the people around me, were there to carry on their parents’ legacy of raising their own children in the church, I was sorry that so many of our parents and mentors were no longer there with us. Nevertheless, while we aren’t all queens like Esther was, the verse in Esther, 4:14 holds true, “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” It occurred to me that while our parents were no longer with us, the truth was that this wasn’t their time in life…it is ours. We were born for this era, and it is up to us to carry on now. It is up to us to make our parents proud of the people we have become, the people they raised. I left church after the service, feeling a little melancholy, but also a little encouraged, because the people around me, who are carrying on with what their parents taught them, are making their parents proud…we all are. And while this era will have its own issues, the fact remains that each era has its own troubles, as the Bible clearly states in Matthew 6:34, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Our parents carried their day, and now it is up to each of us to carry ours, until our era is up, and then, prayerfully, we have trained up the next generation of warriors to take up the tasks of carrying their day.
When the airmen went off to war, their hope was that their plane would be able to stand up to the attacks that would be coming their way. In World War II, big war planes were very new. The men who spent the war in them, needed a plane that would take a hit and keep on flying. They would love to have a flying suit of armor, but it also had to be able to fly. A plane that was too heavy, obviously wouldn’t fly, and yet, they needed a plane that could get hit with shrapnel or bullets and still stay in the air. They knew that they couldn’t make sure that every plane that was hit would make it home, but they needed as many as possible to do just that.
There were a number of planes that were considered almost indestructible, or at least as indestructible as it is possible to be for an airplane in a war zone. Two of them…the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, a four-engined heavy bomber developed in the 1930s for the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC), and the Boeing B-29 Superfortress, a US 4-engine propeller bomber, manufactured from 1943 to 1946 and used throughout the Korean War, as well as World War II. The name “Fortress” was coined when B-17, with its heavy firepower and multiple machine gun emplacements, made its public debut in July 1935. A reporter for The Seattle Times, Richard Williams, exclaimed, “Why, it’s a flying fortress!” The Boeing Company saw the value of that name and immediately had it trademarked. The truth of the matter is, however, that the planes had the ability to take a hit and still bring their boys home most of the time, provided the damage wasn’t too heavy.
These heavy bombers are bomber aircraft capable of delivering the largest payload of bombs, as well as the longest range, which is takeoff to landing distance, of their era. For those reasons, the heavy bombers are usually among the largest and most powerful military aircraft at any point in time. Nevertheless, as the 20th century wound down, the heavy bombers were largely superseded by strategic bombers. The strategic bombers were often smaller in size, which allowed for much longer ranges and by necessity, these were capable of delivering nuclear bombs. It was a sign of the times, but for all World War II buffs, like me, it was a sad end of an era. The newer planes are great, don’t get me wrong, but they just don’t have the presence, at least in my mind, that the World War II heavy bombers did. Those old planes had a grace that the newer stuff simply doesn’t have. I suppose that my love of the B-17, at least, stems from the fact that it was the plane that brought my dad home safely…so he could become my dad.
I have been studying a lot lately about World War II. It is my “favorite” war…if one can have a favorite war. My dad, Allen Spencer was a Staff Sergeant in World War II. He served as flight engineer and top turret gunner on a B-17G, the flying fortress. The more I study World War II, the more I realize just how dangerous was…no matter what branch of the service a soldier was in. Dad’s family was one that didn’t have to suffer the loss of their soldier, because my dad came home after the war. He was the only one in his family that saw action in World War II, other than his half-brother, Norman Spencer. Dad’s older brother, Bill tried to serve, but due to flat feet and a hernia, he was turned down. My Uncle Bill was devastated by the rejection. My dad was his little brother, and he had always felt a need to protect him, not because Dad was accident prone or anything, but because he was his little brother. Now, he was going to have to let Dad go without the “backup” that Uncle Bill had hoped to provide. That was one of the hardest things my Uncle Bill ever had to do. So, Dad went with angel backup instead…and his mother’s prayers.
Dad served and returned home to his family, and because he did, my sisters and I, and our whole family exists. Dad, like many of the soldiers in that generation, never spoke of his time in the service during World War II, and all we knew was what little we heard from his family, and a couple of newspaper articles. Knowing my dad as we did, those years were his duty, but never his desire. Dad was a gentle man, and the idea of killing must have weighed heavily on him. Nevertheless, he knew it was his duty, and he would never have shirked his duty. There were a number of heroic times in Dad’s time in the service. He actually saved his crew, when he cranked down the landing gear just in time to hit the runway. It must have been damaged by the anti-aircraft flak, because it wouldn’t come down. There were other times that his actions saved his crew, such as the enemy planes that he shot down. They were a good team. They were all heroes…every single one.
While my dad was a hero during World War II, I will always consider his most important accomplishment, his family. Without my dad’s safe return from the war, we would not exist. He met my mom, Collene Byer Spencer when she was still a schoolgirl, but even then, they knew it was that forever love. They married in 1953, an became the parents of five daughters, Cheryl, Masterson, Caryn Schulenberg (me), Caryl Reed, Alena Stevens, and Allyn Hadlock. They went on to have grandchildren and great grandchildren…all of whom owe their lives to the fact that dad came home from war. For that I praise God, and I give Him all the glory. Today would have been my dad’s 99th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Dad. We love and miss you very much and look forward to seeing you again when we get to Heaven.