Many people have heard about the 1970 plane crash that killed the Marshall University football team, but what many people may not know is that the Marshall University crash was not the only crash that year, or even the first crash involving a football team. The first one involved the Wichita Stake Shockers football team. On Friday, October 2, 1970, at 1:14pm, in clear and calm weather, with amazing visibility, the Wichita State chartered 4-0-4 airliner crashed into a mountain peak just eight miles west of Silver Plume in Colorado. The plane, operated by Golden Eagle Aviation, the twin-engined propliner carried 37 passengers and a crew of three. Of those onboard, 29 were killed at the scene and two later died of their injuries at the hospital.

The plane was one of two 4-0-4 airliners flying the team to Logan, Utah. Three months earlier Wichita State had contracted Golden Eagle Aviation to supply a Douglas DC-6B, to fly the team to away games for the 1970 season. The four-engined DC-6 was a large, powerful aircraft that could accommodate the entire team in one plane. At the time of the contract, Golden Eagle Aviation did not own the DC-6. Nevertheless, they had made an arrangement with the Jack Richards Aircraft Company to use theirs. Unfortunately, after the agreements were made, the Jack Richards Aircraft Company DC-6 was damaged in a windstorm, so at the last minute it was unavailable for use. The two Martin 4-0-4s, hadn’t flown since 1967, so thy were quickly re-certified for flight. While it might seem like that could have been the cause of the crash, it was not. On October 2, 1970, the two 4-0-4s were ferried from the Jack Richards Aircraft Company facilities in Oklahoma City to Wichita, instead of the expected DC-6. The 4-0-4s were smaller planes, and so the team had to be split into two groups. Upon arrival in Wichita, the two aircraft were loaded with luggage and the passengers were boarded. The planes then headed west to a refueling stopover in Denver at Stapleton Airport. From Denver, they would continue to Logan Airport in northern Utah. The two planes were dubbed “Gold” and “Black” after the school colors. “Gold” was the aircraft that later crashed. It carried the starting players, head coach, and athletic director, as well as their wives, other administrators, boosters, and family. The “Black” plane transported the reserve players, assistant coaches, and other support personnel, and it took the normal route from Denver to Logan, going by way of the original flight plan and took a more northerly route, heading north from Denver to southern Wyoming then west, using a designated airway. This was less scenic, but this route allowed more time to gain altitude for the climb over the Rocky Mountains. The “Black” plane arrived safely in Utah.

The plane dubbed “Gold” took a more scenic route. The President of Golden Eagle Aviation, 37-year-old Ronald G Skipper, was the pilot flying the “Gold” plane. Normally, he would have been the pilot, but he was not rated for the 4-0-4, so he was acting as the first officer. During the flight to Denver, he visited passengers in the cabin, telling them of his plans to take a more scenic route, near Loveland Ski Area and Mount Sniktau, the proposed alpine skiing venues for the 1976 Winter Olympics, recently awarded to Denver in May. The captain of the “Gold” aircraft was 27-year-old Danny E Crocker, who occupied the right seat. While the aircraft was being refueled and serviced in Denver, First Officer Skipper purchased aeronautical sectional charts for the contemplated scenic route. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation report stated the First Officer testified that he intended to use the charts to help point out landmarks and objects of interest to the passengers. Unfortunately, this last-minute decision didn’t allow time to review the maps to make sure that they were traveling on a safe route, and that they were high enough to make it over the mountains.

Shortly before the crash, several witnesses described seeing an aircraft flying unusually low towards the Continental Divide, which is, of course, quite high in altitude. Some witnesses who were located on higher mountainside locations, such as Loveland Pass at 11,990 feet, reported seeing it flying below them…into the mountains!! It is difficult for me to understand, how the pilots could no have seen this as a serious problem. Crash survivor Rick Stephens was a senior guard and stated in 2013, “…as we flew along over I-70, that there were old mines and old vehicles above us. I noticed we were quite a bit below the top of the mountains. I got up to go to the cockpit, which wasn’t unusual to do, and I could tell we were in trouble, looking out the window and seeing nothing but green in front of us.”

The other problem the plane had was that it was overloaded. Sadly, no one double checked the weight to make sure they were within safe limits. As the plane neared Loveland Pass, it flew up Clear Creek Valley, where it became trapped in a box canyon and was unable to climb above the mountain ridges surrounding it on three sides. It was also unable to complete a reversal turn away from the sharply rising terrain. At 1:14pm MDT, the “Gold” plane struck trees on the east slope of Mount Trelease, 1,600 feet below its summit, and crashed. The NTSB report stated that quite likely many of the passengers on board actually survived the initial impact. This was based on the testimony of survivors and rescuers. The load of fuel on board did not explode immediately. This allowed some of the survivors to escape the wreckage. Then, the passenger cabin exploded and trapped the people who were still alive. They had no way of escape. Of the 40 people on board, the death count at the scene was 29, which included 27 passengers, the captain, and flight attendant. One of the deceased passengers was an off-duty flight attendant who was assisting. Two of the initial 11 survivors later died of their injuries to bring the total dead to 31, 14 of whom were Wichita State football players. First to arrive at the crash scene were construction workers from the nearby Eisenhower Tunnel project and motorists on U.S. 6 (I-70). The first officer (company president) survived.

The National Transportation Safety Board report states that the weather did not play a role in the accident, but rather lists the probable cause to be that the pilot made improper decisions in-flight or in planning. The overloading probably played a part too, in that they couldn’t climb as fast as if they had not been overloaded. The report said that the cause was, “the intentional operation of the aircraft over a mountain valley route at an altitude from which the aircraft could neither climb over the obstructing terrain ahead, nor execute a successful course reversal, while other significant factors were the overloaded condition of the aircraft, the virtual absence of flight planning for the chosen route of flight from Denver to Logan, as well as a lack of understanding on the part of the crew of the performance capabilities and limitations of the aircraft, and the lack of operational management to monitor and appropriately control the actions of the flight crew.” It was a recipe for disaster. What I don’t understand is how the plane could have crashed less than a mile from an interstate highway that was straight and level in that area…the perfect place for an emergency landing. Why didn’t they use it?

Of course, the game was canceled, as were classes at Wichita State University. Utah State University’s football team held a memorial in the stadium where the game was to have been played…placing a wreath on the 50-yard line. Wichita State University officials and family members of the survivors were flown to Denver on an aircraft made available by Robert Docking, the Governor of Kansas. A memorial service was held on Monday, October 5th at Cessna Stadium in Wichita. The remaining members of the Wichita State team, with the NCAA and Missouri Valley Conference allowing freshman players to fill out the squad, decided to continue the 1970 season in honor of those lost. It was later designated the “Second Season.” Wichita State and Utah State had played in five of the previous six seasons, but never met again in football. Unable to fully recover from its loss, Wichita State discontinued varsity football after the 1986 season. Roadside memorial in Colorado on Interstate 70, milepost 217 Wichita State University built a memorial for those who died from the crash called Memorial ’70. Every year on October 2 at 9 a.m., a wreath is placed at this memorial. A roadside memorial plaque listing the names of the victims is located near the Colorado crash site, adjacent to westbound Interstate 70, at Dry Gulch at milepost 217, about two miles east of the Eisenhower Tunnel. A trail to the wreck site via Dry Gulch is 0.4 miles past the memorial off exit 216.

My grandniece, Elliott Stevns is such a sweet little girl. Blonde and curly-haired, she rather reminds me a bit of Shirley Temple or Little Orphan Annie, two of my favorite child stars. And Elliott has the personality to match either of them. She is a very smiley, giggly girl, who absolutely loved being a big sister. She is so gentle and sweet with her little sister, Maya Stevens, with whom Elliott is absolutely obsessed. Elliott has taken it upon herself to teach Mya all to coolest rope a girl can know, and now that Maya is starting to walk, the fun is just beginning. Elliott has a way of lighting up a room just by being in it, and when she gets together with her sister, it is all about the giggles. In fact, with Elliott, it is always “all about the giggles” in her world.

Elliott just finished two years of preschool, and not that she is five, she is getting ready to start Kindergarten. Her parents have enrolled her at Wildflower School. Her dad, Garrett Stevens was telling me about this school, and it sounds very interesting. The school focuses on “interest based” learning, meaning that the students have some say in what they will be studying. The school is for the gifted and advanced student, which is an area that Elliott qualifies for, and so it will be a perfect fit for her. Elliott is very smart, and has done quite well in her preschool years, so the new school year should be an exciting and challenging one for her, which is very much what is needed for an advanced student. You never want them to be bored.

This past May, the family took a trip to Denver, and Elliott had a great time. The family went to the aquarium and the children’s museum, and Elliott was fascinated by both. She is a very curious little girl, who loves to explore new ideas. Elliott also loves to swim and is getting more confident every time the family goes swimming. She has been in gymnastics as well, but she is taking a break from gymnastics for the summer. Nevertheless, she is really into gymnastics, and is quite good at it. Still, kids need a break for some of the school-year activities, so they can simply enjoy being a kid in the summertime.

I love Elliott’s expressions. when she smiles, her eyes light up and her whole face smiles. That is the mark if a thoroughly happy child, and that is the essence of Elliott. Everything is a delight to her, and she loves teaching Maya just how exciting the world around this can be. Maya things he big sister “hung the moon” and loves her dearly. Of course, Elliott thinks the same thing about her sister. I guess it is a “mutual appreciation society.” Today is Elliott’s 5th birthday. Happy birthday Elliott!! Have a great Day!! We love you!!

When we think of the Gold Rush years, most of us think of California, but in reality, not every big strike was in California. One of the greatest gold rushes of North America occurred in the Pike’s Peak area. Known as the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush, it was also called the Colorado Gold Rush. The Pike’s Peak Gold Rush a boom in gold prospecting and mining in the Pike’s Peak area of what was then the western Kansas Territory and southwestern Nebraska Territory of the United States. Now it is located in Colorado, of course. The rush began in July 1858 and lasted until just about the time of the creation of the Colorado Territory on February 28, 1861. The rush brought an estimated 100,000 gold seekers, called the Fifty-Niners to the Pike’s Peak area. It was part of one of the greatest gold rushes in North American history.

The peak year for the gold rush was 1859, and so after that year, the miners were called Fifty-Niners. The miners often used the motto “Pike’s Peak or Bust!” Actually, the location of the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush was centered 85 miles north of Pike’s Peak, but because of the well-known mountain, and its visibility from a long way off, the name of the peak became the name of the rush. The Pike’s Peak Gold Rush, began about a decade after the California Gold Rush, and produced a dramatic, albeit temporary influx of migrants and immigrants into the Pike’s Peak Country of the Southern Rocky Mountains. When the rush ended many of them moved on to other placed in search o the next big rush. The prospectors provided the first major European-American population in the region. The rush brought with it a few mining camps such as Denver City and Boulder City that would actually develop into cities that still exist today. Many smaller camps such as Auraria and Saint Charles City were among those that were later absorbed by larger camps and towns. Still others, faded into ghost towns, but quite a few camps such as Central City, Black Hawk, Georgetown, and Idaho Springs survived.

The discovery of gold in the Pike’s Peak area wasn’t a surprise to everyone. In 1835, French trapper Eustace Carriere lost his party and ended up wandering through the mountains for many weeks. During those weeks he found many gold specimens which he later took back to New Mexico for examination. I suppose it was worth being lost, but while the specimens turned out to be “pure gold” he was unable to locate the area on an expedition he led to go back and look for it. He just couldn’t quite remember the location. Also, in 1849 and 1850, several parties of gold seekers bound for the California Gold Rush panned small amounts of gold from various streams in the South Platte River valley at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. They decided that they weren’t really impressed with the Rocky Mountain gold, so they moved on to California, possibly cheating themselves out of a great find, had the persevered.

When the California Gold Rush began to die out, many discouraged gold seekers started to return home. Still, they weren’t really wanting to go home empty-handed, and they has heard the rumors of gold in the Pike’s Peak area. So, they tried their luck again, and their hard work paid off. In the summer of 1857, a party of Spanish-speaking gold seekers from New Mexico worked a placer deposit along the South Platte River about 5 miles above Cherry Creek, now part of metropolitan Denver.

William Greeneberry “Green” Russell was a Georgian man who had worked in the California gold fields in the 1850s. He was married to a Cherokee woman, and through his connections to the tribe, he heard about an 1849 discovery of gold along the South Platte River. Much encouraged, he organized a party to prospect along the South Platte River. He set out with his two brothers and six companions in February 1858. They met up with Cherokee tribe members along the Arkansas River in present-day Oklahoma and continued westward along the Santa Fe Trail. Others joined the party along the way until their number reached 107 people.

When you have spent any time in Colorado, the names of the places where gold was found are very real to you. Places like Cherry Creek, Denver, Confluence Park in Denver, Englewood, and a number of others stand out to you. The group finally found a small amount of 20 troy ounces in the Englewood area. Their excitement grew…and so the boom began. The first decade of the boom was largely concentrated along the South Platte River at the base of the Rocky Mountains, in the canyon of Clear Creek in the mountains west of Golden City, at Breckenridge and in South Park at Como, Fairplay, and Alma. The towns of Denver City, Golden City, and Boulder City were substantial towns that served the mines in 1860. It was the rapid population growth of the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush that led to the creation of the Colorado Territory in 1861. Unfortunately, the rush, like all gold rushes, faded and while Colorado is still a fairly large population area, it isn’t what it might have been had the gold rush continued.

My cousin, Darla Stanko passed away on February 26, 2023, at 63 just years old. As I think of Darla, I remember her laugh, which was just like her mother’s. It was sweet and a little shy, but when they laughed…you laughed, because their laugh was contagious. As kids, we would all go down in Grandma Byer’s basement to play, while the grownups visited upstairs. Grandma’s basement was a little creepy and worked well as a “haunted” house…if the kids liked that sort of thing. Some did and some didn’t. I preferred other games. I think Darla did too. She had asthma and scary stuff could trigger things.

As kids do, we all grew up…quicker than we would ever have dreamed possible. Before long, babies were coming along. I remember talking to Darla once. She told me that without a doubt, the best thing she ever did was JeanAnn, and of that I have no doubt. For a mom to look at the beautiful little baby they have just given birth to…there is no greater honor. Kids are a big part of our lives, and games are a part of kids. JeanAnn told me about the times she and her mom played cards. Their favorite game was Speed…which is a high drama card matching game for two players. It was perfect for them.

The other thing that JeanAnn and her mom loved to do was to spend time jumping on the trampoline in their yard. I can just picture it now, a summer evening in the back yard, just the two girls, jumping and giggling the hours away. Of course, there was also their dog, Nelly with them too. Now Nelly was a different sort of dog. She was very gentle with JeanAnn, but then she was JeanAnn’s guard dog. She was also gentle with Darla too…except for that one time. JeanAnn could make Nelly mad and then point at a new person, and Nelly would go get that person. That was all well and good…until JeanAnn did that to her mom. My guess is that JeanAnn had no idea what was about to take place. Darla saw it coming, and she jumped on the furniture to get away from the guard dog that was now hot on her trail. She almost knocked herself out jumping down. JeanAnn says, “It was great” and maybe it was…for her anyway. Darla…maybe not so much, but I’m sure she laughed about it later.

Now, for me, possibly the funniest story about Darla’s life was the “fateful” trip to Denver. Darla decided to take her daughter to Denver, and to take her mom, my Aunt Delores Johnson with them. She needed a “navigator” and while I can’t picture my Aunt Dee in that capacity, maybe Darla thought map reading was like breathing…anyone could do it. My thought is, “Have you met your mother?” Anyway, off they went, and to make a long story short, they ended up on a one street in rush hour traffic, going the wrong way!!” Oh yes, that’s the Aunt Dee I know, and I can totally picture that whole situation…once I can stop laughing!!

My niece, Jenny Spethman has had a very busy year, both at work and at home. Sadly, she lost two of her pets this past year, Angel (her dog) and Princeton (her cat). Nevertheless, Jenny has persevered, and adopted a new puppy, named Bella and cats, Tigress and Zoe. Jenny has always been an animal lover and has had a variety of pets over the years. She is a natural with every animal she has ever owned or helped…including a baby raccoon once, and of course, her Iguana.

Jenny’s year at work has been really busy too. Jenny began her career as a runner at the law firm where her mom, Cheryl Masterson also works as a legal secretary, but Jenny is really so much more than that now. She helps in so many areas, and everyone loves her helpful and caring nature!! Jenny has an artistic flair, and although it is not part of her job, she enjoyed doing some redecorating in the main lobby and in some of the conference rooms. Her eye for what looks attractive really shined forth, and everyone there enjoys the new and updated look!

Jenny has a good friend who is getting married soon, and Jenny is a part of the group of friends who are helping her friend and future sister-in-law plan the wedding. As a woman who has been married for a long time, Jenny hasn’t been in a wedding in years, so she is really enjoying all of the excitement of being in this one. She and her friends are enjoying every moment of planning this wedding and are going all out to make sure it’s the wedding event of the year…at least in their own circle!!! The girls in the wedding are going to Denver to shop for wedding clothes and accessories for the wedding. The girls are so excited about this trip, and they plan to make it a great weekend, and do a lot of fun pre-wedding activities along with the shopping. Jenny is so excited to be going on this Girl’s Trip. It’s going to be a great time.

Jenny is a great mom, and for most of her married life, she was a stay-at-home mom to her four children, Xander, Zack, Isaac, and Aleesia (their daughter, Laila, lives in Heaven). Having three sons, made Jenny think she would never get a daughter, but then Aleesia came along, and Jenny had someone to do girly things with. Now that Aleesia is growing up (she’s 10 now), Jenny and her daughter have been doing more mom and daughter stuff. Jenny has always been a spring and summer girl, and she is looking forward to motorcycle rides and drives in their convertible, with her husband Steve, who is the love of her life, and always will be. Today is Jenny’s birthday. Happy birthday Jenny!! Have a great day!! I love you!!

My nieces, Toni Chase and Liz Masterson are sisters, and when they get together…well, it can get hilarious. Last March, Toni had two tickets to go to the Broadway production of “Hamilton” in Denver. Like many men, her husband, Dave Chase was less than enthusiastic about going to a Broadway play, so he offered his ticket to his sister-in-law, Liz, who was thrilled to take it. This was going to be an amazing sister trip, and the girls were very excited about it. They had a great time at the play, but as thrilled as they were, and as fun as the play was, the drive to Denver was…less than thrilling. While they are sisters, these girls are polar opposites!! Liz is a very laid-back person. Toni, on the other hand, is very vivacious, or Liz might call it paranoid!! Of the trip, Liz says, “Going to ‘Hamilton’ with Toni was awesome. It was a major treat for me, and I would not have been able to go if Dave hadn’t given me his ticket. So, it was a lot of fun…except for one thing. Toni is not a good passenger while riding in a big city. She gasped for every little move I made in the car. Imagine grandma reacting to grandpa’s driving and multiply it times 10. Toni is the worst. I don’t know how Dave handles driving with her anywhere.” Hahahaha!! Sisters…right!! They laugh about it too, I’m sure.

Toni is truly all about her family. She is very loving and kindhearted. Her daughter-in-law, Manuela Renville says, “Toni is the best mother-in-law, she is super supportive of us, and James is her little baby forever!” Manuela’s family live far away from here, so having a loving mother-in-law is very important, and Toni loves her very much. Toni is also mommy to her two fur babies, puppies, Biscuit and Cricket. Life is good!!

Normally, Toni and Dave would take a number of trips all over, but this was a Wyoming year. They went to Laramie, up through the Snowy Range, and to Cody. The took numerous trips to his mom’s cabin this summer to visit Dave’s mom, as well as his brother and sister, at different times. They spent some time hiking in the Snowy Range with its beautiful scenery. Toni loves visiting the cabin with her two beloved dogs, and they also love running around the great outdoors. There is just something about that property that restores the soul. It is beautifully laid out and maintained. The minute they arrive, all the tensions of life disappear. It’s a perfect getaway. Today is Toni’s birthday!! Happy birthday Toni!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My great grandniece, Reece Balcerzak Had a harsh beginning to her life. She was born two months prematurely and spent a couple of months in Denver at Presbyterian Saint Luke’s Hospital. She had some growing to do and they had to get her to where she would have been if she had not been born early. Through it all this feisty little girl persevered and obediently grew. Soon (60 days to be exact) Reece was discharged, and since then, she has grinned, laughed, and smiled her way into the hearts of all who know her. For me, her biggest gift is the gift of a smile. In fact, she is almost never seen without one. She wears it like most people wear clothes…as a vital part of her apparel. What a cheerful blessing that is.

Reece is always busily participating in something. She has played T-Ball and played in the fall leaves with her little brother, Aysa Balcerzak, and most recently, she took on swimming. She loves swimming, and in fact she recently received a Certificate of Achievement in swimming…something she is very proud of. Learning to swim is no small feat, and we are very proud of her. While there is no Certificate of Achievement for being a great big sister, Reece has certainly mastered that skill. Reece was so excited to become a big sister, and her little brother loves his big sister very much. He is always happy to spend time with her, and she loves making him feel very happy.

These days, Reece has a new habit…thumbs up. It fits her to a tee. For Reece, it’s all a part the positivity that is Reece. Maybe it comes from the fight that started immediately after she was born, I don’t know, but nothing gets her down. She is always happy, energetic, and full of life. The gift of her smile is something that is truly a gift. It fills her face with joy and lights up the room for everyone around her. I just can’t say enough about what a sweet girl our little Reece is. She is in school these days and doing very well. I know she is well liked, because who can resist such a wonderful smile. And who can resist such a positive attitude. Little Reece makes those around her smile. It is her gift to others. Today is Reece’s 5th birthday. Happy birthday Reece!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

United Air Lines Flight 629, registration N37559, was a Douglas DC-6B aircraft also known as “Mainliner Denver.” The regular route for the flight was from New York City to Portland, Oregon, and then on to Seattle, Washington. This flight made one stop in Chicago and one in Denver. On November 1, 1955, United Airlines Flight 629 left New York City’s La Guardia Airport. It made a scheduled stop in Chicago before continuing to Denver’s Stapleton Airfield and landed at 6:11pm, eleven minutes late. Other than being eleven minutes late, the flight had been completely routine. The plane was refueled with 3,400 US gallons of fuel and had a crew replacement in Denver. Captain Lee Hall, aged 41, a World War II veteran, assumed command of the flight for the segments to Portland and Seattle.

The flight departed Denver at 6:52pm. The flight’s last transmission came at 6:56pm, stating it was passing the Denver omni. Then, just seven minutes later, the air traffic controllers at Stapleton saw two bright lights suddenly appear in the sky north-northwest of the airport. Then, 30 to 45 seconds later, the lights fell to the ground at roughly the same speed…followed by a very bright flash originating at or near the ground. The flash was so intense that it lit up the base of the clouds 10,000 feet above the ground. The whole thing was quite strange, because there were no distress calls from aircraft in the area. They immediately contacted all aircraft flying in the area. The received responses from all the flights, except for Flight 629. The crash of Flight 629 killed all 39 passengers and five crew members.

There was nothing wrong with the plane. The pilots were not ill, nor were they insane. So, what could have brought down the plane? The initial investigation left the authorities stumped. The tail section had apparently been cleanly severed from the plane, almost as if it were cut off by a knife. The FBI consulted the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) regarding the tail section. The eyewitnesses all said the same thing. They saw a fiery explosion in the air with flares streaming down and a second explosion on impact. That would also explain the two lights falling to the ground at about the same speed, but separately. It became very apparent that there had been an explosion mid-air, that actually caused the crash, but what caused the explosion.

The investigation focused on the luggage and a possible bomb. They looked at passengers with insurance. The focus moved to Denver locals, looking for personal enemies. One insured was local resident Daisie Eldora King, a 53-year-old Denver businesswoman who was traveling to Alaska to visit her daughter. They located her handbag and found a number of newspaper clippings containing information about King’s son, John Gilbert Graham, who had been arrested on a forgery charge in Denver in 1951. Graham was always bitter over his childhood. His mother had placed him in an orphanage as a child. Strangely, he alone was the beneficiary of both her life insurance policies and her will. Agents also discovered that one of Mrs King’s restaurants, the Crown-A Drive-In in Denver, had been badly damaged in an explosion. The suspicions were growing. Graham had insured the restaurant and then collected on the property insurance following the blast.

Agents searched Graham’s house and automobile. In the garage they found wire and other bomb making parts that were identical to those found in the wreckage. They also found an additional $37,500 ($379,300 today) in life insurance policies. The problem…Mrs King had not signed either these policies or those purchased at the airport, rendering them worthless. Graham denied putting a bomb in his mother’s luggage, saying she had packed it herself. His wife, Gloria contradicted his story, saying that Graham had wrapped a “present” for his mother on the morning of Mrs King’s flight. Finally faced with mounting evidence against him, Graham admitted to having placed the bomb in his mother’s suitcase, telling the police on November 13, 1955, “I then wrapped about three or four feet of binding cord around the sack of dynamite to hold the dynamite sticks in place around the caps. The purpose of the two caps was in case one of the caps failed to function and ignite the dynamite … I placed the suitcase in the trunk of my car with another smaller suitcase…which my mother had packed to take with her on the trip.” The hatred and bitterness of one man, took the lives of 44 people, and destroyed the lives of their loved ones.

My grandniece, Hattie Parmely is just growing up so fast. She and her sister Reagan are homeschooled on their farm by their mom, Ashley Parmely, while their younger brother attends pre-school in town for one more year, and their younger sister, Maeve is in her first year of pre-school in town. Once the two younger kids are done with pre-school, they will be homeschooled too. Hattie and Reagan got to go to Denver with their grandpa, Albert Eighmy recently, to visit their grandma, Kari Eighmy, who was taking some training for work in Denver for a couple of weeks. The girls had a great time.

It’s hard to believe that Hattie is eight years old already. She really seems more mature than that though. I think that is common with farm kids, because part of their everyday life involves the responsibilities of the farm animals, and their care. A lot of kids have chores to do, but the chores of farm kids are very different than the chores of city kids. Hattie and her siblings have witnessed many animal births, and of course some deaths too. They know firsthand what life’s all about. They have mucked stalls, bottle fed the babies, and carried feed to the animals. Of course, there is the fun stuff too. Hattie and her asiblings regularly get to ride their horses, play with the baby goats and kittens, jump on their trampoline, ride round on the tractor with their dad, Eric Parmely. Like most kids these days, Hattie’s driving skills began early when she got her own little car, which is too small for her now, of course. She also likes to float the river with her family, and she is getting really good at maneuvering a kayak.

Hattie and her older sister, Reagan both have their own dog. They are responsible for their own dog’s care. Hattie named her dog Lucy, while Reagan named hers Bristol. The younger children will get a dog of their own when they turn seven. That is the age their parents decided that they were old enough to handle the care of their own dog. Maeve doesn’t care too much that she can’t have a dog yet, especially since they also have several family dogs, but Bowen can’t wait, and isn’t sure he thinks it’s fair that he has to.

Hattie is growing into such a little lady. She has her own style, and it’s perfect for her. She kind of a girly girl, but she can rough and tumble with the best of them. She is a good big sister to Bowen and Maeve, but they do occasionally get on her nerves, as does her sister, Reagan. It’s just the way of having siblings, and anyone who has siblings knows that is true. That’s just how it is. Today is Hattie’s 8th birthday. Happy birthday Hattie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand nephew, Keifer Balcerzak is a computer programmer for the State of Wyoming. He loves his job, and is a great bread-winner for his family, but it isn’t his job that has made him the man he is today. I have not seen many men who have become a parent, and then had to immediately be the “rock” for his little family. Keifer and his wife, Katie, became the parents to Reece, a 2 months premature little girl, born in December 2017. That was a scary time for Keifer and Katie, and they had to be strong for their baby girl…and for each other. I can’t say for certain that Katie felt like falling apart, but I think most women probably would have felt like falling apart, and would need their strong husbands to hold them up in the face of such a serious situation. Keifer did that for Katie, as she recovered from giving birth, and dealt with the day to day concerns for Reece’s well-being. Her home-coming was a wonderful day for both of them, and in victory, they went home from Denver, Colorado to Casper, Wyoming to start their life. Their lives had changed much more than the normal amount that goes with having a baby. Staying positive was of the utmost importance.

With Reece’s blossoming health, following her rocky start, Keifer and Katie have been able to get back to their normal lives…at least as much as a global pandemic would allow. Keifer was able to play a little softball this summer, and really enjoyed that…at least until someone hit him with the ball, leaving him pretty bruised. Still, being the tough-guy player he is, Keifer toughed it out, and while we know that bruises hurt, Keifer had determined to get himself into better shape, and he was not going to let this or anything else sideline him. Keifer has been in this quest to get into better shape since March of 2019, and has had great success. He wants to be his best self. He feels better, and as any of us who have worked to get in shape know, he looks better…in fact, he looks great. I know his girls are very happy to have a more energetic husband and daddy in their lives too. We are all very proud of Keifer’s success.

The future is bright for Keifer and his family. With their health struggles behind them, and lots of activity and fresh air in front of them, the Balcerzak family is happier than ever, and we are all happy for them. Having your health is a huge part of living a happy life. And now, they are all embarking on a healthy future. Today is Keifer’s birthday. Happy birthday Keifer!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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