Sometimes, there is such a clear family resemblance that even years after the children are grown, people who knew one of them can tell that another one is a sister. That happened to me when a church camp friend of my sisters, Caryl Reed, Alena Stevens, and Allyn Hadlock, saw me in the mall and asked me if I was their sister. I did not know this man, but he knew them and knew that I bore a definite resemblance to them. I don’t know exactly how often that happens, but my guess is that it maybe happens more than we are aware of. I think many times, people don’t say anything about it. Maybe they are not sure the person is who they think they are, or maybe they aren’t sure the person will remember them. That is sad really, because you never know when you might just make someone’s day, because you remembered them.
My family has been blessed with some beautiful people. From aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, nieces and nephews, as well as grandchildren, they are handsome, and beautiful inside and out. I think that is part of what makes them someone people remember. This was pointed out to my Aunt Sandy Pattan a while back, when she was at Kmart. They were having a Blue Light Special, and she was waiting in line while her things were marked down. Two ladies on the other side of the Blue Light were talking, and obviously looking at my Aunt Sandy. She started to become a little nervous, wondering what was wrong with the way she looked. We always think the worst, don’t we? Once the ladies had finished getting their things marked, they came over to Aunt Sandy, and one of them asked, “Are you one of the Byer girls?” Aunt Sandy said that she was, and the woman said to her friend, “See!! I told you so!!” Aunt Sandy was as surprised as I had been with my encounter, but I think she was right when she said that it isn’t just a person’s looks that makes them memorable, but rather who they are inside. Like my own parents, my grandparents had taught their children to be kind, generous, and thoughtful, and these traits are always remembered, and they make you remember their face too, even if it has changed some over the years.
Sometimes, you can see a person who may or may not be related to someone you liked, but looks like them anyway. Whether you ever find out if that person is a relative or not, you still have that nice memory of that person you knew. Of course, family resemblances are always there, but are not always remembered, unless the person stood out in some way. The memory goes a long way if the person was nice to you at some point. Really, who would want to remember someone who was mean, although I suppose that happens too, but I would much rather remember those people who were kind and thoughtful…wouldn’t you?
When most people think of Gumbo, they think of soup, and I do too, but there is another form of Gumbo, that isn’t quite as nice. In fact, this Gumbo is pretty awful. The Gumbo I’m talking about is the black, sticky, clay kind of mud found in many areas around the nation. Getting crossways with this kind of Gumbo can be a real mess, and in some places, very dangerous. Casper, Wyoming is known to have this kind of Gumbo, and any of us who have come across it can tell you just how bad it is.
My own experience with it was at the Kmart construction site when I was just a kid. My sisters and I were all curious about the new Kmart store going in, and since we lived just a block away, we liked to go over there and check it out sometimes. On this particular day, it had rained, and the dirt hill we had to climb over to get to the site was pretty soggy. I was not put off by that one bit, but perhaps I should have been. I proceeded to climb up the hill of mud, and sunk quickly to my ankles. Thankfully that finally deterred me from trying to go further, and changed my plan instead to trying to get out of there with my shoes…brand new penny loafers, which I had been wanting forever, by the way. In the end, I managed to get out and rescue my amazing shoes, but the shoes didn’t fare as well as I did. They shrunk by about a size, and I could no longer wear them. Man…was I in trouble. I don’t recall if I ever got another pair of penny loafers, or if they went out of style shortly thereafter, but I do remember that mud, and how awful it was. Ugh!! It was not a good day…especially when you add to it the fact that my mother was furious.
My cousin, Tim Fredrick and I share this type of experience. Once when Tim was in Kindergarten at Pineview School, in Casper, Wyoming, which we both attended, by the way, he recalls learning about the stuff of legends…in the form of the mud in the area. For any of you who don’t know it, the mud in Casper, Wyoming is pretty much all Gumbo. Gumbo is so sticky, that believe me when I say, “It will eat your shoes, if you get in there, and you will feel lucky to get out of it with your feet!!” This was the predicament Tim found himself in, when the playground had finally begun to dry after the rain, and because it had developed a thin crust of dry dirt, Tim mistakenly thought it was safe to walk across. Well, as you might have guessed, the crust broke, and that Gumbo mud ate Tim’s shoes. Tim couldn’t move, and if his friends hadn’t been there…some of them larger than he was, thankfully, that Gumbo might have got his feet too, but they pulled him out, just in the nick of time. Ok, I’m exaggerating just a bit, but that mud will get a grip on you and you can’t get out without help. I don’t know how Tim’s mom felt about all that, but my guess is that it was a feeling similar to my mom’s on that day long ago when I was a little kid. When it comes to Gumbo, I think Tim and I will agree…stay away, but it will always win. As Tim said, Gumbo is truly the stuff of legends!!
It seems that little boys are always getting into some form of mischief. That is not to say that little girls don’t do so as well, but this story is about two little boys and a certain episode of mischief that was never forgotten. My nephew, Eric Parmely and my first cousin once removed, Brian Kountz were second cousins, and sometimes they played together, because they were so close in age. As little boys, your first friends are often your cousins, and that was the case with these boys. These two little boys seemed to get along real well, so it was nice for both of them to get to play together.
On this particular day, they were at Eric’s house with my sister-in-law, Jennifer, who is Eric’s mom, watching them. The boys, being 5 years old were old enough to play outside without much supervision…or so Jennifer thought. She was checking in them often, but as most of us know, kids can get into lots of mischief in a matter of minutes. The boys decided that they needed to go for a walk, but they forgot to check with Jennifer first. That was their first mistake. Their second was a little bit more alarming to Jennifer, and Sandi, Brian’s mom, when she found out.
For any of you who do not know it, 2nd Street in Casper, Wyoming is a really busy street. The thought of two 5 year old boys crossing 2nd Street unsupervised to go to Kmart is…alarming to say the least…especially when they have never done it with supervision. Kids don’t often even think of using the cross walk, especially when they are only 5 years old. When Jennifer realized they were gone, she panicked. When she located the boys, she wasn’t sure whether she should laugh, cry, or beat them half to death. My guess is that she opted for a little laughing and crying…accompanied by a little yelling, of course.
The boys lived through the experience, both the crossing the of the street and being found by Jennifer, and I’m sure they learned a valuable lesson in the process. Never leave the house without telling your mom or aunt where you are going…at least when you are just 5 years old…or until you are 18 years old. It’s whole lot safer that way.
While I am not a real Casper native, I have lived here since I was 3 years old. In a city that is 125 years old, that means that I have lived here for 44% of the years that Casper has existed. During my years here, I have learned that Casper was named after the fort that had existed here, called Fort Casper. Fort Casper was named after Lieutenant Caspar Collins, who was killed by Indians near the fort in 1865, but the Army misspelled his name. For anyone who has lived here very long…or at least attended public school here, that was common knowledge, as well as a school field trip most of us took. That fact was one of the first things a young student in Casper should know.
When the people of Casper first decided to incorporate, this was a pretty wild town. It was filled with mostly saloons, dancing girls, and prostitutes. That was really quite typical of most early wild west towns. The residents Casper asked the officials of Carbon County, where Casper was located until Natrona County split from Carbon County, if they could incorporate the town of Casper. The request was approved on July 8, 1889…125 years ago today, and Casper was born. Of course, the citizens of Casper knew that things would have to change because there were things that made a town a proper town, and things that made it a lawless hangout. A proper town needed water, streets, schools, a fire department, a library, and a government to assure its stability. The people of Casper elected George Mitchell as mayor, and Robert White, Peter Demorest, Alexander McKinney and John Adams as councilmen. Before long Casper would be home to three county courthouses. The first one on David Street built in 1895, the second in the middle of North Center at A Street built in 1908, and the present county building on Center between A and B Streets was built in 1940.
In the early years cattle and sheep ranching was the main source of Casper’s wealth, and the most successful ranchers built the fine houses in Casper’s mansion district located south of the downtown area. Soon, however the wealth shifted more to oil, when the Salt Creek Field, 40 miles north of Casper, a rich source of oil, was discovered. Soon refineries went up, and Casper became a boom town. Much has changed over the years, and I’m sure that very little about Casper is like it used to be. I suppose that if the city founders could see it now, they would be amazed…or maybe they could see that potential all along. As for me, I can recall many changes too. I remember when Walsh Drive was the edge of town. Kelly Walsh High School was almost on the prairie. I also remember when Kmart was being built…at the current Hobby Lobby location, and when it was built in its current location. I remember when the Texaco Refinery closed, and a lot of its workers, including my Uncle Larry took the transfer that would move him and my Aunt Jeanette to Louisiana for a number of years. Many businesses have come and gone over the years, as have people, but Casper has remained and thrived. Today is Casper’s 125th birthday. Happy birthday Casper!!!
When I was seventeen, I got a job at Kmart. It was not in the most exciting department for a seventeen year old, but in the end it worked out ok. I was in the Millinery Department, which is, for those of you who don’t know, handbags, gloves, scarves, and wigs. Like I said, real exciting. Most of the time, the hours dragged on and on because of the boredom.
Part of my job that winter was to straighten my glove display over by the delicatessen. It was there that I met my future sister-in-law, Debbie. She worked in the delicatessen, and often worked the same shifts I did. We talked a little bit whenever I went over to straighten the display…which, in the winter, could be a couple of times a shift.
Before long, we were good friends. I could say that it was through Debbie that I met my husband, Bob, but that wouldn’t be exactly right. Bob and his friend, Paul both asked me out…after trashing me display just to get my attention, but I turned Paul, who had asked first, down, because I liked Bob. Then, when Bob asked me out, I had to turn him down too, because I had other plans that night. Bob thought I didn’t like him either, and didn’t ask me out again…for a long time, even though they still came up and trashed me display. I guess he couldn’t stay away, because he liked me too. I didn’t know what to do next, so I talked to Debbie. I told her that I really liked Bob, and that I really had turned him down because I had other plans, not because I didn’t like him.
In the end, it took a lot of talking on Debbie’s part to convince Bob to ask me again. It was obvious that he liked me too, but he honestly thought he had been rejected. So I guess you would have say that Debbie was instrumental in getting us together. When she got married, I was her maid of honor, and then when we got married, she was mine. After all, would we have even been getting married if she hadn’t been Bob’s older sister, who didn’t mind being bossy and telling him to try again. Today is Debbie’s birthday. Happy birthday Debbie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
I was a little girl, when the original Kmart in Casper was built. We lived less than a block from the site, and very much enjoyed watching the construction as it progressed. It was very exciting for my sisters and me…at least the ones who were old enough to be able to play outside. Little did I know then, that the construction site was going to be a bit of a problem for me. It had been raining for a couple of days, but I still wanted to go over that weekend and see what had been accomplished. It so happened that I had just gotten a pair of penny loafers, a shoe which was very popular at that time, and one that I had wanted very badly. I was just a kid, and I never gave thought to the rain in relation to a construction site that we girls had been accessing through the alley at the end of the street. Since they had been doing a lot of digging, there were piles of dirt next to that alley…add rain to that dirt and…yes, you get mud.
A kid doesn’t think of boots…especially in the summer time. I simply waded through all that mud in my new penny loafers….and it was probably knee deep. As much as I dislike mud and dirt these days, I really have to wonder why that mud didn’t bother me. I guess I was on a quest to discover how the construction was going. Needless to say, I went bravely on my quest through the mud to see the new Kmart building. In my recollection, the building was coming along just fine, but my muddy legs were getting uncomfortable, so I headed home…yes, back through the mud.
My mom was not particularly happy with me when I got home that day, and the day that followed was not better, but rather worse. After cleaning me up, she did the best she could with my new shoes, and while they looked pretty good, the next day would bring a problem that I will never forget as long as I live. My super cool, brand new, beautiful Penny Loafers had shrunk, and they no longer fit me. They were made of leather, and I had no idea that they would shrink. I was devastated to say the very least. I assume that my sister, Caryl had a super cool, brand new but slightly used, beautiful pair of Penny Loafers after that.
I met Bob when I was still in high school, though not in the way you might expect. We didn’t meet in school or at a game. We met at Kmart. We didn’t just casually meet there, I was working there, as was his sister, Debbie. I worked in the Millenary department…handbags, belts, sunglasses, accessories, and wigs, and I had a display near the delicatessen where Debbie worked. In fact, my display of winter gloves and hats was how I met my future sister-in-law. Every evening when I worked, I had to go over an straighten that display, and believe me it needed it after a day or even an hour of people going through it. When people would look for glove and hats, they would dig clear to the bottom to see if there was a set they liked more, nearer to the bottom. The display usually needed to be straightened twice in a shift. When I went to straighten the display, my future sister-in-law, Debbie and I would talk if it wasn’t too busy.
One day, Bob came in to take his sister on her break, and I happened to be there straightening the display at the time. She introduced us, and then they went to take her break. Bob took to coming by for Debbie’s breaks more often after that, but I didn’t know that it was because he wanted to get to know me…not right away anyway. Bob was a little bit shy, and didn’t know exactly how to approach me, so he and his friend, Paul would come in, dig to the bottom of my glove display and flip the whole stack of gloves upward, messing them up. I, of course, had just straightened them, not two seconds earlier. They would only do that if I was there straightening them. It was his way of being playful…and it was cute, after all.
Finally, he got up the nerve to ask me out…and wouldn’t you know it…I couldn’t that night. Being shy, as I said, Bob thought that was my polite way of saying I didn’t want to go out with him. That, of course, couldn’t have been further from the truth. Nevertheless, the guys decided to see if I would go out with Paul. When Paul asked, I did turn him down, because I wanted to go out with Bob. They thought that I didn’t like either of them, and pretty much dropped the subject…but, not coming up to mess up my display. I couldn’t believe that Bob didn’t ask me again. Debbie and I talked about it, and she told me that he was shy. It was a big dilemma.
Finally, I had to solicit Debbie’s help. She kept talking to Bob to tell him that I did like him and I wanted to go out with him. It was no easy task. Bob had convinced himself that I didn’t. Eventually though, Debbie talked him into asking me out one more time. Of course, I said yes, and the rest is history…with a little bit of a twist. While I’m sure a lot of people have met their spouses at work, I still think ours is a unique situation. When people ask me how I met my husband, I still say that I met him at Kmart, but I playfully add that he was my Blue Light Special. I don’t think I could have found a better deal anywhere.