As I have researched my family history, I have come across a number of World War II draft registration cards for older men. I found that to be very strange. It seemed odd to me that men who were technically too old to serve in battle…at least by military standards, were required to register, and quite possibly be drafted into the war. Some of these men weren’t so very old by today’s standards, such as my great uncle, Friedrich Schumacher, who was 45 at the time of his World War II draft registration, or my grandfather, George Byer, who was 48 at the time of his World War II draft registration, but others, such as my grandfather, Allen Luther Spencer, who was 63 at the time of his World War II registration, were much older. These draft registrations really surprised me. Why would our government need to have these men register?
My curious mind had to know the answer to that question, and so I began to look online to see if anything was said about it at all. Well, it only took looking at three websites to find the answer. I wondered if they were just desperate for soldiers, because as most people know, World War II saw the most American war deaths at 405,399, than any other war in American history. Nevertheless, that was not the reason for the Fourth Registration, which became known as the Old Man’s Draft, because it targeted men between the ages of 45-64 years of age. No, these men were not going to be soldiers who were require to go into battle. This draft registration was intended to provide the government with a register of manpower…men who might be eligible for national service. Help was needed on the home front, and this was a way to ensure that the manpower needed was available. After all, if you are drafted, you are required to serve.
Registration of the Old Man’s Draft began on April 27, 1942 at local draft boards around the country, and like the patriotic citizens they were, my great uncle, and my grandfathers, along with many, many other older men, went to register. The lines were long when the men went in to register, according to the Poughkeepsie Journal, but the biggest regret that was heard among the men waiting there was…that they were too old to fight!! Seriously!! There were no complaints about standing for hours in line, or complaints about having to register at all…just that they would not see battle. These were not warmongers, but rather patriots who wanted to help in whatever way they could, and now Uncle Sam was telling them that their contribution was important. It felt amazing to these men. They were needed!! The biggest complication was that some of the men couldn’t read or write, and some had forgotten things like addresses, telephone numbers, or dates (including the year of birth, which is evident on my grandfather’s card in that his year of birth was listed as 1883, but he was born in 1879). Nevertheless, these men were hopeful that somehow they could be useful in the war effort. I find that completely amazing…especially in light of the lack of patriotism so often seen these days.
Like most grandparents, my parents loved being grandparents. It’s not something that is hard for any grandparent to understand. Each new baby brings ever increasing joy to your heart. That is how my parents felt about their grandchildren. The babies were like a never ending source of joy, and they looked forward to each new addition with great anticipation. I know it is the same with most grandparents, but the way my parents felt about those babies showed on their faces in every picture I have ever seen of them with the babies. Each new life was a precious extension of themselves…through their daughters. It truly was a way for their line to continue on forever. It was like looking into the future for them.
Sometimes, as I look at the pictures of them with the babies, I wonder exactly what it was they were thinking. Did they see the future in the eyes of those babies? Did they marvel at the reality of that new little life, knowing that it came about through them and their children? Or did they simply wonder what this child…this new life, would become in the future? I’m certain that had a big part in it. I remember my own grandchildren as babies. I couldn’t wait for their personalities to present themselves. I wanted to know who they would become, and I have not been disappointed in any of them. I’m sure that is how my mom and dad felt too. We have a family of wonderful grandchildren, great grandchildren, and now a great great grandchild.
When we have more babies, however, Mom and Dad won’t be here to see them, and that makes me a little bit sad, because I know they would have loved to see all of their grandchildren and great grandchildren. Of course, they will get to know them in Heaven, but oh, how they would have loved to know them here. Grandchildren are a blessing straight from God, and I know that my parents loved each and every one of them, and they couldn’t wait for the next arrival. As the new babies arrive, I know that I will find myself thinking about Mom and Dad, and feeling just a little bit sad, because…well, Mom and Dad would have so enjoyed each and every one of them. I just wish they could have been here for all of the new family members we will have in the future, both spouses and babies, because the family will go on.
My grandpa, George Byer served in the Army as a cook during World War I. He always prided himself on making sure the men had the best meals he was able to make. Wartime doesn’t always mean that the men have the tastiest of meals. In fact, the meals are pretty basic most of the time. Even in this day and age, the men in a war zone often have MREs…which is Meals Ready to Eat. They are basically dried food. They can be eaten as they are, because its not always convenient to heat them. The idea is to create a meal to keep our troops running strong out in the field. They are packed full of calories and nutrients. Of course, that doesn’t mean that they are packed full of taste.
Still, when I look back at my great aunt, Bertha Schumacher Hallgren’s journal, when she spoke of the food the men had to eat during the Civil War, I have to feel awful for those brave men. She spoke of Hardtack, which was served to both armies. It was basically a thick cracker, that they could carry with them. Because of the lack of preservatives in those days, Hardtack was often wormy. It was so wormy, in fact, that the men called them Worm Castles. Hardtack was so hard that the men joked…if you bite into something soft, you might think it’s a worm, but it’s probably a ten penny nail…now that is a hard cracker. When I think of our brave men having to eat such food, it makes me feel nauseous. These are the people that we sent out to fight our battles, while we are safe at home, and here they are eating such awful things. Still, it was what they had, that and dried or salted meats.
I suppose they got used to the food, but I still think that is was sad that we as a people were not able to give them food that was safe to eat. I have to think back on the MREs, and while they might not taste great, at least they don’t have worms. And I have to wonder what Aunt Bertha would have thought of the MRE. She had seen so many awful foods that the men had to eat, but to think of them eating something that was dried…well, that would be just strange. Maybe the MREs weren’t the tastiest meals, but at least they were safe to eat, and many a soldier has survived on them for sure. I guess that sometimes you just have to do what you have to do.
One hundred and twenty three years ago yesterday, my grandfather, George Byer was born. His life would take many twists and turns. It would span two world wars, as well as other wars. He would live during two different centuries. He would see the transition from wagons to cars, and also the transition to airplanes. He would marry the love of his life, Hattie Pattan on Christmas Eve, and I think he always felt like she was the best Christmas present he ever received. He loved her so much. She and his family were the top priority to him. Grandpa loved kids, and they wanted a large family. They had nine children.
My best memories of Grandpa are of his gentle ways. He always called us kid. It was never meant in a generalizing way, it was his way of being endearing, and you always knew that. You always knew that Grandpa loved being a grandpa. He loved spending time around his grandkids. I remember him stopping by our house. My sisters and I were so excited to see him. He was fun to play games with, and never made us feel like we were in the way. He just loved kids, especially his grandkids.
As his life was coming to a close, there were times that he didn’t remember who we were. It’s strange when your grandfather recognizes your husband before he does you. That was what happened though, he thought I was the nurse, but he knew my husband’s name. It was because of a trip we took him on. Bob was so good with Grandpa’s worries. He explained the map and showed Grandpa where we were and where we were going, on a trip we took to take them to Cascade, Idaho, where they had family. It was a trip that apparently meant a lot to Grandpa, and he was grateful to Bob for putting his mind at ease, in those later years. Yes, Grandpa’s life took many twists and turns, but I seriously doubt if he would have changed a thing. It was his life, and he loved it. It’s hard to believe that grandpa would have been 123 years old yesterday. I know you had a wonderful day Grandpa. We love you and miss you very much.
When I think about the fact that my nephew, Garrett Stevens is 26 years old today, and getting married soon, I find it hard to believe. It just doesn’t seem possible that he is not still the silly little boy he was, not so long ago. Being the only boy in a family of three kids, I’m quite certain that he did his share of teasing his sisters, but that never seemed to matter Michelle and Lacey both thought their brother was just the greatest. In fact, it would be Lacey who would introduce Garrett to his future wife, Kayla Smiley, and the rest of that story is, as they say, history. They fell in love, and the wedding is coming up fast. Nevertheless, Garrett could get into mischief, and did…on a regular basis. It was just the kind that was too cute to get mad about.
Garrett is like his grandpa, my dad, Allen Spencer in so many ways. I often see Dad in the things he does, and the way he is. One of the big ways is when he is playing with the little kids. So many people are just too adult to get in there and really play with the kids, but not Garrett. He doesn’t mind all the rough and tumble ways of kids, and he doesn’t require them to be quiet and sit down…like they were in school. My dad was that way. He would get the little kids going, and the loud laughter and excited screams would soon follow, almost to the point of driving my mom crazy. She would beg him to stop it, but the kids were having so much fun that she finally just gave in. I see that quality in Garrett, and I know that when he and Kayla have kids…well, Kayla, you have been warned. Your house will be noisy…but then, that’s a good thing. A home filled with laughter is a huge blessing. Garrett also loves camping and fishing, as does Kayla, so they will be a great team. In fact, the Stevens family all love the lake and camping out, and go every year around the 4th of July.
Garrett took up the same profession as his grandpa too…welding, and he is very good at it. Like his grandpa, Garrett is a Broncos fan, as am I, and that makes him ok in my book. He’s got his team priorities straight, and that’s important. He also likes the Colorado Rockies. I knew there was a reason I liked this kid. He’s got it together. Today is Garrett’s birthday. Happy birthday Garrett!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
I remember my niece, Andrea Beach as a little girl, trying so hard to be the good big sister to her little brother, Allen. She always had a way of being motherly to Allen. Sometimes, the oldest child has a tendency to feel like they need to be the protector of the younger children. That seems to be the case in situations where both parents work, I think. It’s like having the older child babysit. It puts them in charge, and so whenever their parents are gone, they feel like they have to be in charge of the younger children. When I think about it, maybe that is just instinctual, because Andrea was protective of her brother before she was ever old enough to babysit him.
Now, Allen might have a little bit different story to tell, and we can see what he has to say about it, because I think it’s entirely possible that he viewed her protectiveness as bossiness, and he wouldn’t be the first little brother to do so either. Most of the younger siblings have a tendency to say something like, “You’re not the boss of me!!” In that matter, Allen was no different than any of those other younger child. Like most kids, he didn’t like to have anyone bossing him around, least of all, his big sister. Nevertheless, most of the time, the two of them got along pretty well. That could have been due to the fact that they lived far away from the rest of the family, so for some time, their main friend was their sibling…unlike the family that all lived here and ws raised around cousins. Of course, these days, Andrea is the boss…to her son Topher anyway. But then again, they are really best friends too.
Living so far away was really a sourse of sadness for Andrea, who often wished that she lived closer so that she could have known the cousins better, but since her dad, Warren Beach was in the Navy, that was not to be. They did come to have extended visits with us here, when Warren was out to sea, and then Andrea delighted in getting to know everyone, and spending time with her grandparents. She especially loved pretending to be her grandpa, my dad, Allen Spencer. He had a hard hat that he wore to work, and she decided that if Grandpa wore it…well, it must be cool, so she wore it too. I think it was her way of feeling closer to her grandpa. She sometimes had to improvize to make her own memories for later. Today is Andrea’s birthday. Happy birthday Andrea!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
For a time, my grandfather, Allen Luther Spencer, worked in the lumber business. It started when he and my grandmother’s brother, Albert Schumacher, decided to go trapping in northern Minnesota. That venture didn’t go very well, and they just about froze to death. It was at that time that they decided to go into the lumber business. Being a lumberjack is no easy job, and was probably much more dangerous in my grandfather’s day, than it is now. Back then, lumberjacks, as they were called did everything from chopping down the trees, to cutting them with a saw, climbing up in the tree to get to the top. You name it, if it pertained to logging, they did it. They called it harvesting, and it begins with the lumberjack. The term lumberjack is not a term that is used much these days, because the modern way of harvesting is very different. Lumberjacks were pretty much a pre-1945 term. Hand tools were the harvest tools used, because there were no machines like what we have now.
The actual work of a lumberjack was difficult, dangerous, intermittent, low-paying, and primitive in living conditions, but the men built a traditional culture that celebrated strength, masculinity, confrontation with danger, and resistance to modernization. These days, there are a few people who actually celebrate the lumberjacking trade. Mostly it involves competitions, but just by watching, you can see that being a lumberjack was not a job for a weakling.
Lumberjacks, and their families, usually lived in a lumber camp, moving from site to site and the job moved. I know that my grandmother and my Aunt Laura spent time in the lumber camps. From what I’ve been told, the houses were little more that a log tent. They didn’t stay very warm, because there were gaps in the walls, and my guess is that they could only use a certain amount of wood a day, so it didn’t eat into the profits. I suppose that the owner of the logging operation made a good profit, but that doesn’t mean that the people who worked for them made a great deal of money, because they really didn’t. Being a lumberjack was really a far from glamorous occupation, and like most really physical jobs, not one that a man can do for too many years. Before long, my grandfather, like most lumberjacks, moved on to other jobs, in grandpa’s case the railroad.
In most families, the siblings tend to look at least a little bit alike, but sometimes, two or more of the siblings really look alike, and they aren’t even twins. It isn’t that they look exactly alike all the time, but sometimes you see a picture of them or the have a certain look on their face, that reminds you so much of one of their siblings that you are sure it could be the sibling and not the person. That is the case with my Aunt Bonnie McDaniels, my Aunt Evelyn Hushman, and my mom, Collene Spencer. Of course, every time I saw a look on the face of one of them that so closely resembled the others, I didn’t manage to get the picture. Nevertheless, I think that if you look closely, you can tell that these three sisters looked a lot alike.
I have noticed a resemblance to these three and their mother, my grandma, Hattie Byer too. I think they took after her, much more than they did, their dad, my grandpa, George Byer…other than in the area of height. Grandma was very short, only five foot, in her tall days, while Grandpa was over six feet tall. The girls fell in around five foot six or so. Some of the kids did look more like Grandpa, but these three girls more like their mom. I always loved to see them all three together, because then you could really get to see the looks they would get that were the same, or hear their laughter, which was quite similar too. It was just a fun thing to see, and something I miss very much now.
With Aunt Evelyn and my mom living in Heaven now, Aunt Bonnie is the last of the sister look alikes. The bad thing about that is how much we miss the other two, but the good things is that when you see Aunt Bonnie, there is a good possibility that you will see a look, a smile, or hear a laugh that sounds just like Aunt Evelyn and Mom. It makes them feel a little closer. Today is Aunt Bonnie’s birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Bonnie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
When my grandfather, Allen Spencer and my Great Uncle Albert Schumacher were young men, they were best friends. They did a lot together, including a trapping adventure, or should I say misadventure, which threatened to freeze them to death, causing them to decide that maybe the lumber business suited them better. I think maybe it did serve them better, but it wasn’t their occupations that really impressed me.
In his family history, my Uncle Bill Spencer, Allen’s oldest son, it was mentioned that Grandpa and Albert used to play the violin and the accordion at dances in the area. Then, Uncle Bill mentioned that he did to. I knew that music ran in the family, and while the ability to play an instrument passed me by, I do sing as a backup singer at my church. There are those in my family, however, who play quite well. My grandfather made sure that each of his children could play the violin, even though not all of them enjoyed it. I have to wonder if Grandpa wanted them to play because he loved it so much. I suppose that the excitement of playing in front of people and seeing them all having so much fun, was all Grandpa and Great Uncle Albert needed to be addicted…so to speak. Uncle Bill said that he played for dances too.
My girls, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce, like many school children, played an instrument, but they continued on through high school. Neither one plays anymore, but I think the still could if they chose to. It’s one of those thing that you don’t forget, you just get a bit rusty. Still, if you continue to play, you could become quite good. My daughter, Amy’s husband, Travis and her son, Caalab both play the guitar. I don’t know how they feel about their ability to play, but I think they are both very good. They haven’t played at dances, but they have played at events where artists can go and play for others. I guess it doesn’t matter if you play at dances, for family, or for other events, being in the band is all that and more for a musician.
When my nephew, Barry Schulenberg arrived on the scene, on December 11, 1978, he brought with him, a definite culture shock where babies were concerned. Barry was the first grandson in the family, which already had four granddaughters, three of whom were still living. Now it wasn’t that those girls couldn’t be rough and tumble girls, but in reality, they were all pretty girly. Barry, on the other hand, was all boy. He liked things like tractors, trucks, helping his grandpa cut wood, and anything else that his grandpa was doing. The girls would rather sit and watch what grandpa was doing rather than be out there getting dirty with him. In many ways, Barry was just what my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg needed. He loved those granddaughters, don’t get me wrong, and they were really his little princesses, but he needed a boy to do all the guy things with him, and Barry fit that bill perfectly. Nevertheless, for my sister-in-law, Debbie Schulenberg Cook and me, Barry was like an alien from outer space. Debbie had a bit of an advantage over me, in that she was raised with two brothers, but I had four sisters, and boys were very much a real culture shock.
For anyone who has boys, I’m sure you can relate to the difference between boys and girls very well. I only knew what little bit I knew from my nephew, Rob Masterson, my sister, Cheryl Masterson’s son, and at that time…well, he pretty much drove me crazy with his very much boyish ways. Nevertheless, I was about to get a whole new education in little boys, compliments of my nephew, Barry. As most of you know, boys don’t get embarrassed by things like the noises that can come from people, from running around nearly naked…which some girls do too, or from coming in the house covered in dirt or mud. To them, all this is a part of having a great day, and in fact, being required to mind their manners, stay clean, and stay dressed…well, that a boring day. Barry was a typical boy in every sense of the word.
Barry is a grown man now, and while he is still into trucks, tractors, and many of the other things guys are into, he has long since ceased to do the things that made him a culture shock for me. I can’t speak for his wife, Kelli, on any of his annoying ways, on the other hand, and I’m sure she could name a number of those right off the top of her head, but I think I’ll leave that one alone. Today is Barry’s birthday. Happy birthday Barry!! Have a great day!! We love you!!