I finally finished my Christmas shopping!! I’m very excited about it. I suppose that would sound funny to most people, especially when you consider that today is December 28th. In case you are wondering, no I’m not finished with next year’s Christmas shopping. That would be a miracle, indeed. Actually, I was doing ok with my shopping, I had everything purchased and shipped to my daughter, Amy’s family in Washington state, with the exception of stocking stuffers. Then, it happened. Covid had made its way through our family, my sisters (except Alena Stevens and her family), brothers-in-law, and a number of cousins. Bob and I had it over Thanksgiving, which was also cancelled this year…at least for us. I thought maybe we would make it through Christmas Covid-free, but then my daughter, Corrie and her husband, Kevin caught it, and their quarantine would take us through Christmas. This just wasn’t our year for holidays.
That said, the urgency to finish my Christmas shopping left me, because we decided to postpone our celebration until we could all be together for it. Celebrating, when part of us we’re stuck at home or in the hospital was just not the same, and it would be especially sad for Corrie and Kevin. It doesn’t feel like a celebration when part of the family is not there. When the day comes, it will be worth the wait. It will be a real celebration, because we will all be well. So we wait, because Corrie and Kevin being with us is more important than what day we celebrate this year.
I suppose that means I could still have plenty of time for shopping, but who knows. The thing about Covid is that some people take a while to get over it and others are over it in two weeks. The day when we could finally have Christmas could creep up on me and then my shopping wouldn’t be done. Not good!! So, I decided to get it finished. And another good thing is that I actually have all the gifts wrapped Wow!! Now, whenever Christmas comes this year, I’ll be ready.
My sister, Cheryl Masterson has always been a part of my life, because she is two years older than I am. She was there when I came home from the hospital, eager to have a little sister, and ready to teach me the things she had learned in her, then short life. I don’t know what I would have done if she had not always been there, and I am forever grateful that I didn’t have to find out. Cheryl and I have always had the bond that can only the two oldest siblings can have, the elder because she was no longer the only child, all alone, and the younger because she never had to be alone. Of course, we both love our younger sisters the same as we do each other, but we have also known each other longer than we have known the younger ones. I think that we have almost felt like a slightly different generation than our younger sisters, probably from the fact than there were just two of us until I was three and Cheryl was five, instead of the two years between Cheryl and me.
Through the years, Cheryl and I remained close even through the tougher teen years, probably more my “bad” than hers. Of the two of us, I have no choice but to admit that I am a “stubborn mule” sometimes…something I believe as both served me well, and made things difficult too. Cheryl, on the other hand is a person who is of a pure heart, who actively strives to do what is good and right in the sight of God. I don’t say she isn’t somewhat stubborn too, but maybe not quite as stubborn as a mule. What I find most endearing though is her heart. She is able to look past the current situation, to the solution. I think she got that from our dad. He was always the kind of person who knew how to take charge of a situation and be the guide to take the rest of us forward. Many is the time that I just wanted to scream at someone, and Cheryl told me that screaming would not produce the best outcome. She was right, of course. Losing our temper is the fastest way to turn people against you. A soft word, and forgiveness reaches many more hearts. Don’t get me wrong, Cheryl is not a pushover, just wiser than many other people in certain matters.
During the years when we were taking of our parents, Cheryl carried such a heavy portion of the load. Being divorced with grown children, Cheryl lived with Mom and Dad, and the rest of us, sisters, Caryl Reed, Alena Stevens, Allyn Hadlock, and I will be forever grateful to her for that. Cheryl, cooked and cleaned the house, helped them get to bed, gave them their meds, and kept them company…and so much more. She was an integral part of the team of people we had helping with their care. I was a show of the deep family love we had, taught to us by our parents, and carried out through our parents’ care and beyond. We are all very close and always will be. The bonds that are built during such a venture are strong and really unbreakable.
Cheryl loves her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren so much. They are her heart and soul. She is very devoted to them. She prays over them, helps them, babysits for them, hangs out with them. They are her best friends. Her youngest granddaughter, Aleesia especially likes to hang out with her grandma, and in fact, would love it if Cheryl lived with them, so she could see her all the time. Of course that’s not possible, so Aleesia often spends weekends and part of the evenings with Cheryl. They have a very special bond that not many grandchildren are blessed with. Many live too far away, or are not as close as Cheryl’s family, so they don’t have such a tight connection. Not that they are not loved, but just that they aren’t together as often. Cheryl’s connection is a beautiful thing to see, and I’m so happy that she has that connection. Today is Cheryl’s birthday. Happy birthday Cheryl!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Today would have been my mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg’s 89th birthday, but she went home to Heaven just over two years ago. She was born second of her parents’ 4 children. Her older brother Everett Knox passed away shortly after birth, due to a complicated birth, and the lack of medical assistance. The baby should have been taken by Caesarian section, but he was born at home and the doctor did not think the C-section was necessary…sadly. When grandma, Nettie Knox found out that she was pregnant again, she made up her mind not to take any chances with this Rainbow Baby. Grandma decided that she would go stay in the hospital for the last month of her pregnancy, until her baby arrived. She paid $5.00 a day for the privilege, and she would stay there for 40 days by the time her baby, my future mother-in-law was born.
I’m sure lots of people though her solution was extreme, but she did what she felt was prudent for the times. She never wanted to deliver another baby, so far from emergency medical services. As it turned out, her three daughters were born without incident. Nevertheless, her daughters were all born in a hospital. She wasn’t taking any chances.
My mother-in-law may not have had a rough beginning, but she would, nevertheless, remain an only child almost 15 years, before her sister, Linda joined the family. Margee would follow just over two years later. Many things have changed in the years since my mother-in-law was born. Home births have become less common, but they are making a comeback these days. Babies dying in childbirth are more rare now, but it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. I think that if all that happened to Grandma Knox today, she would still react to it in the same way as she did then. Today would have been my mother-in-law’s 89th birthday. I’m thankful that she lived all those years ago, because if she hadn’t, my life would have been much different. Happy birthday in Heaven, Mom. We love and miss you very much.
It sounds like something straight out of the annals of criminal behavior, but while it is strange, the authorities decided that it wasn’t illegal. Everyone knows that the adoption process, and the cost involved can make it almost impossible for many parents to adopt a child, but in late 1911, Parisians seeking to become parents could do things the regular way. Or they could take a more unusual option offered to them that year: A baby lottery. That’s right a baby lottery.
In January 1912, a foundling hospital, which was actually a children’s home, decided to hold “a raffle of live babies.” The hospital’s management check on the legalities and once they received the go-ahead, the plan went forward. The plan was two-fold. They wanted to find homes for these sweet abandoned babies, and they wanted to raise funds for the children’s home and other charitable institutions.
To protect the innocent babies, “An investigation of the winners was made, of course, to determine their desirability as foster parents.” By modern standards, this sort of thing feels bizarre and crazy, not to mention neglectful. But, as John F Ptak points out in his blog post about the lottery, “in comparison with some bitter early histories of the want of tenderness in the care of children, and keeping in mind the great leap forward in the creation of the foundling hospitals and what they represented in the face of not having anywhere for unwanted and impossible babies to go, the idea of the lottery for cute babies in 1912 doesn’t look so bad when placed in its historical context…With the terrible history of infanticide and exposure not too dimly removed from this time, the lottery seems far less horrible than its antiquarian components.” I would agree. While the idea was odd, it was similar to the Orphan Trains, with the exception of the background checks done on the parents wanting these babies.
It is an amazing thing when we look back on it, and most of us would be somewhat appalled, but for these babies, it was a chance at a loving home, and it would appear that it worked very well…at least in that era. I don’t know how successful such a thing would be in this day and age. The dangers would very likely outweigh the good, and that is sad, because adoption is so expensive that many families remain childless. They just don’t have the money to go through a reputable agency, and anything else is a scary proposition. I would worry about they kinds of people who would try for something like this these days too. Most would be fine I’m sure, but there are a lot of crazy people out there too. I think the 1912 Paris Baby Lottery was an event of another era that will most likely never be seen again.
Since I became a great grandmother a little over a year ago, I can say that I can relate to just how excited my husband’s grandmother, Nettie Knox felt when she became a great grandmother. Of course, for her, becoming a great grandmother was also a birthday present. It was a gift she was very pleased with. That birthday present was one that I gave her, and I didn’t even know I was doing it…her first great grandchild.
After my daughter, Corrie Petersen was born, Bob’s parents and grandparents came to the hospital to visit. The very first words spoken as they walked in the door were from Grandma Knox when she said, “She was born on my birthday!!” She was literally floating on air, and that was just the beginning of an amazing bond that would last until Grandma’s passing, and for Corrie, it has continued in her heart and will always be a part of her. I’m sure that Grandma feels the same way too in Heaven, because a bond like that continues on forever. They shared far more than just a birthday.
Becoming a grandmother is a wonderful experience, as any grandmother knows, so when your grandchild has a child, and you find yourself a great grandmother, you realize that your legacy has gone to the next level. Your line will continue on into the future, and the next generation will no doubt witness even greater things than your generation, or that of your children or even your grandchildren. The future will find things common place that this generation thought were science fiction. Grandma Knox saw many changes in her years of life. Airplanes were very new then…just 5 years since the first flight. The first Ford Model T was produced that year. I wonder what she would think today, knowing that we have cars that have actually driving by themselves. Telephones, for most of us anyway, were still attached to the house. Cell phones came out in 1973, but they were something only rich businessmen had for a long time. Grandma passed away on July 29, 1990, having witness many changes in this world, but there are many that have happened since that would be completely shocking to her. Those things are for her descendants to experience. That is a part of what has become her legacy as a mom, grandmother, great grandmother, 2nd great grandmother, and now a 3rd great grandmother. I think she would be pleased with her family. Today would have been Grandma Knox’s 111th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Grandma. We love and miss you very much.
After reading about the rescue of Allied personnel from occupied France by smuggling them through Spain and then to the Rock of Gibraltar, I wanted to know more about this place. The story talked about the tunnels that basically created an underground city in the Rock of Gibraltar. The Rock was basically a huge underground fortress capable of accommodating 16,000 men along with all the supplies, ammunition, and equipment needed to withstand a prolonged siege. The entire 16,000 strong garrison could be housed there along with enough food to last them for 16 months. Within the tunnels there were also an underground telephone exchange, a power generating station, a water distillation plant, a hospital, a bakery, ammunition magazines and a vehicle maintenance workshop. Such a place in World War II would be almost impossible to penetrate with the weapons available in that day and age.
The tunnels of Gibraltar were constructed over the course of nearly 200 years, principally by the British Army. Within a land area of only 2.6 square miles, Gibraltar has around 34 miles of tunnels, nearly twice the length of its entire road network. The first tunnels were excavated in the late 18th century. They served as communication passages between artillery positions and housed guns within embrasures cut into the North Face of the Rock, to protect the interior city. More tunnels were constructed in the 19th century to allow easier access to remote areas of Gibraltar and accommodate stores and reservoirs to deliver the water supply of Gibraltar. At the start of World War II, the civilian population around the Rock of Gibraltar was evacuated and the garrison inside the facility was greatly increased in size. A number of new tunnels were excavated to create accommodation for the expanded garrison and to store huge quantities of food, equipment, and ammunition. The work was carried out by four specialized tunneling companies from the Royal Engineers and the Canadian Army. They created a new Main Base Area in the southeastern part of Gibraltar on the peninsula’s Mediterranean coast. It was chosen because it was shielded from the potentially hostile Spanish mainland. New connecting tunnels were created to link this with the established military bases on the west side. A pair of tunnels, called the Great North Road and the Fosse Way, were excavated running nearly the full length of the Rock to interconnect the bulk of the wartime tunnels.
It was to this place that the French Resistance smuggled downed Allied airmen and other escapees from the Nazi regime inside France. Men like Staff Sergeant Arthur Meyerowitz and RAF Bomber Lieutenant R.F.W. Cleaver…two of the men who were smuggled out of occupied France by the French Resistance network known as Réseau Morhange which was created in 1943 by Marcel Taillandier in Toulouse. Taillandier was killed shortly after these two men were smuggled out. He had given his life to protect the airmen he smuggled out as well as to provide intelligence to England. For the airmen who made it to the Rock of Gibraltar, freedom awaited. While the road had been long and hard, the time spent at the Rock of Gibraltar meant safety, medical care, food, and warmth. It meant being able to let their family know that they were alive. It meant being able to go back to life, and maybe for some, to be able to live to fight another day. As the men were told upon arrival at the Rock of Gibraltar, “Welcome back to the war.”
My husband, Bob’s grandparents, Robert and Nettie Knox were married in Forsyth, Montana on this day in 1928. It’s strange how things come to pass. Nettie was born in Clyde Park, Montana, but Robert was born in Prosser, Washington. Had Robert’s family not moved to Montana when he was young, they likely would never have met. Distances back then prevented things like yearly vacations to tour the United States. Nevertheless, like my own Robert, who was born in Miles City, Montana; while I was born in Superior, Wisconsin; and we met in Casper, Wyoming, where both families lived then. Robert Knox and Nettie Noyes both ended up in the Rosebud area, and the rest was history.
Grandma always liked to tease grandpa that she was older and wiser than he was…at least from June 30th to November 28th, when he caught up to her in years again. It was just one of the ways Grandma liked to tease Grandma. Their marriage would have it’s ups and downs, just like any other marriage. They lost their first child, Everett Knox at birth, and it was then that Grandma decided that any subsequent children would be born in the hospital, not at home. Grandma entered the hospital with my future mother-in-law, 40 days before she was born. Thankfully, $5.00 a day covered her hospital bills. I don’t think she could have been able to afford todays rate just to make sure she had the baby in the hospital. Their daughter, Joann Knox’s birth went off without a hitch, nevertheless, I don’t think Grandma could get comfortable with the idea of having another baby…at lease not for the next 14 years, when she got pregnant with their daughter, Linda, who’s birth also went off without a hitch. Margaret “Margee” would follow just a little over two years later, and their family was complete. Nevertheless, Grandma’s belief that her son would have survived, had she been delivered by Caesarean Section, prompted her to distrust home-births for the rest of her life. Grandma and Grandpa Knox, went on to have 8 grandchildren; each of them having a granddaughter born on their birthday…Corrie on Grandma’s birthday, and Machelle on Grandpa’s.
Married life wasn’t always easy for them. They lived through many tough times in their own life, as well as, economic times. Nevertheless, they persevered, and their marriage lasted until Grandpa’s passing in 1985. Grandma never really wanted to continue on after his passing, but she stuck it out until 1990. If they were still alive today, which wul have put them in their 110s, they would have been married 91 years today. I know they are celebrating in Heaven. Happy 91st Anniversary Grandma and Grandpa Knox. We love and miss you very much.
Most people know what the United States Capitol building looks like, and many have seen it, and even been inside it, but I wonder how many people know that is almost wasn’t completed. Yes, you heard me right. I almost wasn’t completed. As a young nation, the United States had no permanent capitol, and Congress met in eight different cities, including Baltimore, New York and Philadelphia, before 1791. In 1790, Congress passed the Residence Act, which gave President Washington the power to select a permanent home for the federal government. The following year, he chose what would become the District of Columbia from land that had been provided by Maryland. Washington picked three commissioners to oversee the capital city’s development and they in turn chose French engineer Pierre Charles L’Enfant to come up with the design. However, L’Enfant clashed with the commissioners and was fired in 1792. A design competition was held, and a Scotsman named William Thornton submitted the winning entry.
Then, on this day, September 18, 1793, Washington laid the Capitol’s cornerstone and the lengthy construction process, which would involve a line of project managers and architects, got under way. One would think that is due time, the capitol building would be finished, but in reality, it took almost a century to finish…almost 100 years!! During those years, architects came and went, the British set it on fire, and it was called into use during the Civil War. In 1800, Congress moved into the Capitol’s north wing. In 1807, the House of Representatives moved into the building’s south wing, which was finally finished in 1811. During the War of 1812, the British invaded Washington DC. They set fire to the Capitol on August 24, 1814. Thankfully, a rainstorm saved the building from total destruction. Congress met in nearby temporary quarters from 1815 to 1819. In the early 1850s, work began to expand the Capitol to accommodate the growing number of Congressmen. The Civil War halted construction in 1861 while the Capitol was used by Union troops as a hospital and barracks. Following the war, expansions and modern upgrades to the building continued into the next century.
Today, the Capitol building, with its famous cast-iron dome and important collection of American art, is part of the Capitol Complex, which includes six Congressional office buildings and three Library of Congress buildings, all developed in the 19th and 20th centuries. The Capitol, which is visited by 3 million to 5 million people each year, has 540 rooms and covers a ground area of about four acres. I’m sure that those who visit the United States Capitol Building probably hear all about it strange past and its construction history, but maybe not. I suppose that it depends on what the tour guide finds interesting. Personally, I like the unusual construction. Thankfully, the United States Capitol did finally get built and has become the beautiful building we know today.
A number of my ancestors came to America during and prior to the years that Ellis Island was the processing center in New York. I have no doubt that some of them came through Ellis Island, but I have not confirmed that. I find many of the names in my tree, but while many of the ancestors I have found came over by way of New York, it would appear that my direct line arrived in America before the immigration center at Ellis Island opened on January 2, 1892. Before that time, immigrants were handled by the individual states where the immigrant first arrived. It is estimated that about 40% of Americans can trace their roots through Ellis Island, so while I see many familiar names, they may or may not be my direct line, and in fact, they might not be related at all.
Ellis Island is located in New York Harbor off the New Jersey coast and was named for merchant Samuel Ellis, who owned the land in the 1770s. The island was given the nickname, The Gateway to America because more than 12 million immigrants passed through the center since it opened in 1892. On January 2, 1892, 15 year old Annie Moore, from Ireland, became the first person to pass through the newly opened Ellis Island, which President Benjamin Harrison designated as America’s first federal immigration center in 1890. Oddly, not all immigrants who sailed into New York had to go through Ellis Island. First and second class passengers were just given a brief shipboard inspection and then disembarked at the piers in New York or New Jersey, where they passed through customs. People in third class, though, were transported to Ellis Island, where they underwent medical and legal inspections to ensure they didn’t have a contagious disease or some condition that would make them a burden to the government. Nevertheless, only two percent of all immigrants were denied entrance into the United States. The peak years of immigration through Ellis Island were from 1892 to 1924. The 3.3 acre island was enlarged by landfill, and by the 1930s, it had reached its current size of 27.5 acres. After the extra size was completed, new buildings were constructed to handle the massive influx of people coming to America for a better life. During it’s busiest year, which was 1907, over 1 million people were processed through Ellis Island.
When the United States entered into World War I, immigration to the United States decline, most likely because travel anywhere was risky. Ellis Island was used as a detention center for suspected enemies during that time. Following the war, Congress passed quota laws and the Immigration Act of 1924, which sharply reduced the number of newcomers allowed into the country and also enabled immigrants to be processed at United States consulates abroad. The act also enabled immigrants to be processed at United States consulates abroad, making detention at Ellis Island obsolete. After 1924, Ellis Island switched from a processing center to other purposes, such as a detention and deportation center for illegal immigrants, a hospital for wounded soldiers during World War II and a Coast Guard training center. In November 1954, the last detainee, a Norwegian merchant seaman, was released and Ellis Island officially closed on November 12, 1954. In 1984, Ellis Island underwent a $160 million renovation, the largest historic restoration project in United States history. In September 1990, the Ellis Island Immigration Museum opened to the public and is visited by almost 2 million people each year.
Being one of a set of twins, my brother-in-law, Mike Stevens always had a little bit of help in the trouble department. Now, I don’t say that Mike or his twin brother, Pat were delinquents or anything, but they were pretty good at pulling pranks…especially as teenagers. I’m told there was a time when they decided to take a fire extinguisher from the hosital. I’m not sure how they managed to get out of the hospital with a fire extinguisher, but somehow they did…I mean who just lets a couple of teenaged boys walk out of the hospital with a fire extinguisher? Seriously!! You know they are up to no good, and…they were planning nothing but trouble for sure. So, after sneaking out of the hospital with the fire extinguisher, the two boys jumped in their car, and drove around town, squirting people with the fire extinguisher!! I don’t know about you, but I can say that it would be quite a shock to be walking down the street, minding my own business, and suddenly out of nowhere, I am hit with the spray of a fire extinguisher. It’s like having a pie thrown in your face. Total shock!! And then to have two teenaged boys drive off laughing…well I’m sure the police were running all over town trying to find them…to no avail.
Mike, and his brother, Pat, for that matter, are a couple of characters, and I’m quite sure that their mother had her hands full trying to keep them in line. Mike is the kind of guy who likes to have fun and he loves to play jokes on people. Nevertheless, I suppose there is always the possibility of having a joke backfire. One day, he came into the house with a nail in his foot, and it was gushing blood. He told my sister, Alena that she had to pull it out. She was totally freaking out about this whole thing, but she did pull it out. Then, she decided that this whole thing wasn’t funny at all. You see, it was April Fools Day, and the “nail” was only attached to his sock. The sock was full of Ketchup, and that was the crowning touch on this great prank. Now, I can’t say if Mike walked away with a black eye on that one, but I’m sure that she told him how she felt about the whole thing…in the midst of her laughter, that is. Yes, Alena thought it was not a nice prank to pull on her, but it was, nevertheless…a really good prank.
I think life in the Stevens household is probably a bit unpredictible, because in addition to Mike and Alena, there were three children, Michelle, Garrett, and Lacey, who were all groomed by their dad to be pretty good in the trouble department too, thanks to their dad…not that Alena didn’t help with that too. Today is Mike’s birthday. Happy birthday Mike!! Have a great day!! We love you!!