grandpa

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My nephew, Garrett Stevens is such a great “girl dad.” He reminds me a lot of my own dad, Al Spencer, his grandpa. These guys have proven that they know how to shine in a house full of girls. Garrett and his daughter, Elliott are always doing projects together. Elliott loves her daddy so much, and she wants to do whatever he is doing. As Garrett’s wife Kayla says, “Who needs boys?” Garrett would agree. His “little helper” is right there to help with whatever he is doing, and she does a pretty good job too. Garrett is so patient with her. They have painted together, and while Elliott is inexperienced and drips paint on the floor, Garrett never gets upset with her. He knows that painting, like any other work, is a learned skill, and he is teaching his daughter how to paint the best she can. Garrett has always been patient with kids, and his girl is no exception to that rule.

Garrett has been following in his grandpa’s footsteps in another way too…he is a certified welder, and he has been working at EMIT Technologies for a number of years now. All his hard work and dedication paid off a month or so ago, when Garrett received a promotion to Welding Lead. It was such a proud moment for his wife, Kayla, who has watched him work very hard to provide for their family. For him to now have the recognition that he so greatly deserves makes Kayla so happy. She has always been so proud of Garrett. He is able to do just about any “jack-of-all-trades” kind of job, but he really excels at welding. Garrett also has the ability to lead. In fact, he is a natural, and his company saw that in him. Garrett was destined to lead, and so they are very happy about this new venture.

These days, Garrett and Kayla are getting ready to expand their family, and we are all very excited for them. Their precious little one will be arriving very soon, and little Elliott will be a big sister. I know the whole family is excited for this next life step. Having two kids is different than having one, but it won’t be cause for drama in this down-to-earth family. It’s been so interesting to watch Garrett as he has grown and changed through the years. In some ways, like his love of children, there has been almost no change at all, but in others, like have he has grown in his skills, there have been many wonderful changes. When he was younger, I never would have guessed that he would be a welder, but I always saw him as a dad. He was also a loving brother and cousin. His sisters, Michelle and Lacey were so blessed to have him as a brother, and he was very close with is cousins as well. Garrett was the life of the party at family gatherings and was always good for a laugh. His smile could light up a room, as could his laughter. I’m very proud of the man he turned into. Today is Garrett’s birthday. Happy birthday Garett!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Bob’s step-grandfather, Walt Hein was quite a character. He always tried to seem gruff, and maybe he was in his younger days, but by the time I met him, and he became my official “Pitch” partner, I could tell that all that gruffness was just for show. After a year or so, he didn’t even continue on with the “show” of gruffness. He was an old softie, and he knew it. I first met Walt, as he was called, but I always called him Grandpa, in 1975, so he was 69 years old by that time, and pretty set in his ways, but I didn’t let that stop me from liking him right away. I never was a big card player, other than Cribbage with my Uncle Bill Spencer that is, but I would play “Pitch” with Grandpa. We were both ruthless players, and most people didn’t stand a chance against us.

He was also a softie when it came to our girls, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce. He let the chase the chicken on the ranch and took they for rides on the horses. They loved to do both, and they loved Grandpa. He had a “swimming pool” of sorts out in the yard, and he was always willing to fill up that old bathtub so the girls could cool off and have a little fun. Grandpa was an “old softie” when it came to my girls too, and all of his other grandchildren too.

Grandpa was famous for heading off to one of the outbuildings on the ranch for his afternoon nap. That usually lasted an hour or so, and then he was totally re-energized and ready to go play cards again. If Grandpa could have had his way, this would be the agenda for our visits there. He really hated it when we went into town to visit other relatives in town. He wanted to really maximize the card playing time. I felt bad when we needed to go. Not because I wanted to visit other family members, but because he almost seemed heartbroken. I knew that he didn’t get to play cards much when we weren’t there for a visit, so he really wanted to play all day, but Grandma had other things to do, so sometimes we just had to stop. Poor Grandpa. That ruined his whole day. Maybe that was why he took the naps. I miss those days. Today is the 115th anniversary of the birth of a sweet old man. Happy birthday in Heaven, Grandpa Hein. We love and miss you very much.

When my husband, Bob’s grandfather, Andy Schulenberg was a boy of 14 years, he was involved in a hunting accident, in which his leg was injured. Things were different in those days, and medicine just wasn’t as advanced as it is now. Not that medicine was antiquated in 1920, but much has been learned about how to save limbs since those days. Grandpa’s leg did not fare well, and after fighting infections, most likely gangrene, and losing the battle, it became apparent that if they were to save his life, they would have to sacrifice the leg.

Following the accident and with the amputation, Grandpa send 14 months in the hospital. Now that’s a long time for anyone, but for a 14-year-old boy, that must have felt like an eternity. He missed a year of school, as well as all the fun things kids that age were doing. He also missed helping his parents with various chores, something which might not seem to be a negative thing, but when boredom sets in, a person would far rather work on the farm than lay in a bed. While inventors had dabbled with the invention of the television, it was by no means perfected, and so he basically had the visitors who came in and books for entertainment. Not much fun really, especially since a lot of boys aren’t terribly interested in reading. Thankfully for Grandpa, his family tried to rally around him, and he received a number of postcard letters during that time. I would imagine he lived for the mail delivery, hoping he got a letter, after which he devoured the words on the page, even if the writer didn’t always pick their words very carefully. It was his connection to the outside world.

Grandpa was fitted with a wooden peg leg, but it would still be a long road learning to walk with it. I never knew exactly how high the leg went, but I believe it was probably mid-thigh. It was during this time that Grandpa would show his true fortitude He could have laid in that bed, giving up and letting other people take care of him, but he didn’t do that. He got up and worked hard to recover his mobility. Sure, he knew that things would never be the same, but he had things he wanted to do, and he was determined not to let this take him out of commission.

He went on to become the Sheriff of Rosebud County. One might think that he would never want anything to do with guns again, but while he didn’t really see the need for them much as sheriff, he was still well able to use them. He was sheriff between 1955 and 1972, and during that time, he was well known as “the sheriff without a gun.” It’s hard to imagine a sheriff who has a reputation big enough to be able to work without a gun, including making arrests, but that was what he did. I don’t know if guns bothered him or not, but if so, he was quite successful at hiding it. Today is the 116th anniversary of Grandpa’s birth. Happy birthday in Heaven, Grandpa Schulenberg!! We love and miss you very much.

Years ago, especially in the old west and during the depression years, travel wasn’t so easy, even from just one town over or across town, so quite often, holidays were mixed with weddings, just because of the convenience of it, and so that family gatherings could serve two purposes. I’m not sure if that was the reason why my grandparents, George and Hattie Byer, chose Christmas Eve for their wedding day or not, but the fact that they did, made Christmas Eve just that much mor special for our family. It always seemed like that day had more sparkle and shine to me. I think it did to them too. Having the anniversary cake as part of the celebration…especially a celebration that more often included pie, was just extra.

I think of them more this time of year, even though they have been in Heaven now for 41 and 33 years, respectively. They were the only grandparents I really knew, since my dad’s dad passed before I was born, and his mom just 6 months after I was born. So, Grandma and Grandpa Byer were my only grandparents, and when they left us, it was a very sad day. Of course, we know that they are in our future now, and we will see them again, but on this their joyous wedding anniversary, we miss them even more than we normally do.

Grandma and Grandpa always made a big deal about Christmas. Even when the family got to be too big to get together on Christmas Day, they started a tradition that continues to this day…the Byer Family Christmas Party. By doing the party, and renting a hall, we could all be together at the same time. There was no way for the family, as big as it had become, to get together on Christmas Day in Grandma and Grandpa’s house, or anyone’s house, for that matter. Their nine children have grown to a family of well over 400, and the Byer Family Christmas Party continues on, in their honor. Grandpa once said to Grandma, “Mommy, look what we started.” Yes, they certainly did start something that has grown into a something big and beautiful…an amazing family. Yes, I do think about them a little more this time of year and miss them even more. Merry Christmas in Heaven Grandma and Grandpa, and all the family who has gone to Heaven before us. We can’t wait until we are all together again.

My husband’s grandfather, Robert Knox came from a long line of political figures, but he was not a political man. The ancestors who were political were pretty far in the past. There were also some military connections, which he probably never knew about, other than his own family members who served, like his brother Frank Knox. Grandpa’s life fell between wars, so he was not called to serve in the military.

Truth be told, Grandpa was more of a farmer/rancher type. It was where he felt most at home. I will never forget the early years of my marriage to Bob, when Grandpa would spend hours in the family garden growing tons of vegetables, which the women in the family would can to supply vegetables for the coming year. It made Grandpa feel useful in his retirement years.

I think that one of Grandpa’s greatest joys, however, was the day when his great granddaughter, Machelle Cook Moore was born…on his birthday. It gave them a bond much like the one Grandma Knox had with their first great granddaughter, Corrie Schulenberg Petersen, who was born on Grandma’s birthday. I suppose that continued the Grandma first teasing that had gone on their entire marriage, because Grandma was six months older than Grandpa was, and she enjoyed teasing him. And I’m sure he enjoyed it too over the years, but this idea of having a granddaughter born on his birthday…that was cool.

Grandpa left us in 1985, and we still miss him and Grandma. Today would have been his 112th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Grandpa. I know you and all the family who have gone one before are having a great time. We love and miss you very much.

My nephew, JD Parmely is a hard-working man. He is a mechanic at Ken’s Auto Repair. Like most mechanics shops, there are busy days, and slower days, but there is almost never a dead day. People’s cars have to be maintained. We all have places we need to be, and if our cars don’t run well, we have a problem. That is where the mechanics of this world really shine. JD comes from a long line of mechanics, including his dad, Keith Parmely; grandpa, Walt Schulenberg; uncles, Bob and Ron Schulenberg; brothers, Barry Schulenberg and Eric Parmely. Together these men have helped each other with more vehicles than any of them could ever count. There is never a problem that one might have that one of the others doesn’t know how to fix. It is a blessing that mechanics share.

JD works long hours at his job, and then goes home, eats dinner, and…you got it, works on his own cars in his garage, or helps our his uncles or brothers on their projects, or works on cars for friends. Sometimes, he doesn’t quit until late in the evening…when he finally wears himself out. Then he goes to bed, so he’s ready to start all over again the next day. JD really is a 24-7 Mechanic. It’s my guess that he even dreams about working on one of the vehicles he has lined out to work on next…planning just what he needs to do on it. Still, JD is so dedicated that if someone called him in the middle of the night, JD would go and see what he could do to help. It’s just his nature.

There is one other thing that JD is all about, however, and in reality his 3 nieces, Reagan, Hattie, and Maeve Parmely, and his nephew, Bowen Parmely are at the top of his list of priorities. JD loves being and uncle, and playing with the kids. He sees them as much as he can. He really enjoys playing with the kids, and they think he’s great too. When JD is around, the kids have a great time, because JD like many men, is a big kid at heart. Today is JD’s birthday. Happy birthday JD!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grandfather, George Byer was always a rock hunter. In hard times, when trips were not possible, he shared his love of rocks with his family. You didn’t have to go far to look for rocks…you didn’t even have to leave home. Still, when you raise a family of rock lovers, the back yard gets picked over pretty quickly. Nevertheless, there was always someplace that he could take his family for a picnic and rock hunting excursion, and every one of the kids became rock lovers too, as did many of his grandchildren, great grandchildren, and the list has continued long after his passing.

If you aren’t a rock lover, you could so easily miss the beauty that is found in many of the stones around us. On the outside, they may look like they are just a plain black, brown, or white stone, but when it is cut or broken open, you find a stunningly colorful stone inside, even a gem in some cases. Of course, these days, we have to be careful where we do our rock hunting, because there are rock hunters who have staked and registered their claim on certain areas. But as long as you steer clear of those areas, rock hunting is a free way to get out and find nature’s best treasures.

Grandpa Byer loved his rocks so much that he later bought a rock polisher, and made beautiful jewelry and key chains from the rocks he found. I think many of his grandchildren have been blessed to receive such a gift as a memento of the treasure that was our grandpa. These pieces are precious to us. Somehow, they are filled with all the stories our parents have told us about the joys of rock hunting with their family. I think most of them loved rock hunting all their lives. I’ll never forget my mom telling me about their rock hunting trips, sometimes to Independence Rock, sometimes by the river, and sometimes the kids went by themselves. Wherever they went, they always came back with the treasured rocks.

The rock stories remained even after my grandparents were in Heaven. Of course they did. My aunts and uncles were so blessed to carry those memories in their hearts for their entire lives, and we were blessed that they could pass them along to their own children and grandchildren. I don’t think I ever grew tired of hearing about their trips to find rocks. My mom used to tell me all about how much fun the had. These are the kind of memories that stay with you long after the people in them are gone.

My nephew, Barry Schulenberg is a mechanic for the State of Wyoming. He comes from a long line of mechanics, in fact. Barry spent a lot of his young years hanging out with his grandpa, my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg, who had spent most of life as a mechanic. Barry wanted nothing more than to be just like his grandpa. A large portion of Barry’s life has done just that. He is a mechanic, he lives in the country, and he’s married to his best friend, Kelli. He likes to travel, and enjoys Country music. Barry is a lot like his grandpa.

Barry is a hard working man. He works on his property in the country. In the summer months, Barry works to keep the brush around their place cut, so that there is less chance of fires getting to their house. It was a strategy that protected their home a few years ago, when a fire raged around them, but missed their house. The winter months find Barry, along with his uncles Bob and Ron Schulenberg, cutting wood to heat their homes. Barry and Kelli have a large incinerator-type of stove that heats their whole house. Barry can fill it up and it will heat the house for several hours.

Of course, life isn’t all about working. Barry and Kellie have lots of activities they like to do. They do a lot of traveling, and often attend concerts on their travels. And speaking of concerts, they have been to see a lot of country music stars. Their travels have taken them to a number of different states. They also love to hike. In fact, that is probably the thing they like to do more than anything else. Unfortunately, in Wyoming, hiking is not a year-round activity, so they also go snow shoeing, skiing, and 4 wheeling…which can be done year round, of course. In addition to all of that, they regularly work out at one of the local gyms. All this is a great way to stay healthy. All in all, Barry and Kelli are two very active people, and that keeps them healthy. Today is Barry’s birthday. Happy birthday Barry!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Animal skins were used for clothing and blankets for centuries. People didn’t have other options in ancient times. The fur trade continued into the Old West, and it’s history is filled with stories of adventure, daring, and savage warfare. It is said that being a trapper took a man of strong constitution. It wasn’t a job for sissies. The trappers suffered isolation in the wilderness, and battled constantly against wild beasts and wild men. Many trappers didn’t survive it, and in fact, the majority died in the silence of remote regions.

One of those men was my grandfather, Allen Luther Spencer. Grandpa, along with his brother-in-law, my Uncle Albert Schumacher decided to become trappers. Northern Minnesota was filled with animals that were perfect for trapping, and they had decided to make their fortune. It was a noble decision, but they really had no idea just how tough it would be. This was not a job for the casual trapper. Most trappings occurred in the great mountains. Here, the trappers spent the larger part of their lives. I don’t think my grandpa and my uncle really had any intention of living their lives in the isolated wilderness. They just wanted to make a living.

They trapped for a time, and really they didn’t do too bad, when it came to trapping, but I don’t think they were prepared for the cold and isolation. Northern Minnesota is one of the coldest places on earth. That would prove to be their undoing. Camping out in a tent in the winter in northern Minnesota…well, it was kind of crazy. I guess in that way, so were they. After a while, they realized just how crazy it was. While they had modest success at fur trapping, they decided that it wasn’t really worth it in the end. I can understand that. If it were just the cold, it might be one thing, but there were the wild animals too. Bears, mountain lions, wolves, just to name a few, while prime furs, are still a force to be contended with. When you pit man against beast, all too often, the beast comes out on top, Of the many trappers in the old west, many went out to trap, and never returned…not only never returned, but were never heard from again. I’m glad that was not the fate of my grandpa and my uncle.

So, since they were already in the woods in northern Minnesota, and it was an area known for its lumber trade, they decided to abandon the fur trapping business, and go into the lumber business. That turned out to be a far better decision. Not only could they make a decent living, but they were able to sleep in a warm bed at night.

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

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

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

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