laramie

My niece, Toni Chase is such a sweet natured person. She truly cares about the people around her…and especially their feelings. Toni and her husband, Dave Chase love to travel, going to many exotic places, as well as lots of football games. Dave is a football fanatic, so he and Toni have gone to many games, especially in Arizona…which would be a great place to go during the cold winter months in Wyoming. It’s also nice for Dave’s brother when they come to Arizona, because he gets to spend time with them.

Lately, however, they have been sticking a little bit closer to home. Dave’s dad has Alzheimer’s Disease or some type of dementia, and so he and Toni have spent quite a bit of time in Laramie, helping his mom and making sure that his dad knows how much they love him. The sad thing about dementia of any kind is that the recent past is forgotten, so if a patient is going to know you, you must go often. Having dealt with it myself, I know what they are going through, but they are kind-hearted, loving people, and they will get through this, and make a difference in his parents’ lives. Of course, while they are in Laramie, they managed to take in a few football games too.

When they are in town, Toni likes to be a homebody, when she isn’t working. They have two dogs that they absolutely love. Toni spoils the dogs, cooking for them just like they were her kids. When it snowed this last time, she and Dave went into the back yard and shoveled out a maze for the dogs. They just loved it. They ran back and forth excitedly, getting plenty of exercise for the day. My sister, Cheryl said it was really funny to watch. Most of us would get lost in a maze, but dogs can track their way out and back, so they had a blast. And of course, the snow wasn’t so deep that Toni and Dave couldn’t see over it…to rescue their babies, should they get lost.

For some time, Toni has run an eBay story, where she refurbishes items that anyone else would have thought junk. Now, however, she’s been phasing out her eBay store, because she is too busy with the dogs. My sister fared pretty well from that, because she got to go to Toni’s house a few weeks ago to “shop” for anything she might like. Toni is such a giver. Cheryl came home with a purse full of costume jewelry and a dozen purses! She is very kind in sharing all the treasures she has accumulated over the past few years. And speaking of being a giver, her sister Liz Masterson is reminded of the first job Toni got as a teenager, her greatest joy was to take her siblings shopping. How many teenagers would do that? Most of them want the job to buy things for themselves, but not Toni. Oh sure she got things for herself too, but her first thought was of her siblings. She loves to make people smile. What a great way to be. Today is Toni’s birthday. Happy birthday Toni!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Wyoming doesn’t have as many plane crashes as other states…at least not to my knowledge. It’s probably because of the fact that with a smaller population, there are fewer flights in and out…at least in the past. That may have changed in more recent years. Nevertheless, on October 6, 1966, a DC-4…United Airlines Flight 409, with 66 people on board, flew into the side of a cliff on Medicine Bow Peak in the Snowy Mountain Range near Laramie, Wyoming. At that time, it was the worst air disaster in United States history.

Lost in the disaster were three crew members, two infants, several military personnel, and five female members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Their four-engine propeller plane took off from the now-closed Stapleton International Airport in Denver that morning. Its destination was Salt Lake City, Utah. Jet airliners didn’t exist then, and propeller-driven airplanes necessarily flew at much lower altitudes. Things like not being able to pressurize the cabin, necessitated a lower flight level. Unfortunately, it also made air travel quite a bit more hazardous. Things like terrain collisions and weather issues were more common. Weather forecasts weren’t as sophisticated and the widely dispersed technology we have today was still a dream in some scientists mind.

The normal flight path of the Denver to Salt Lake route in those days, was north of Laramie around the high points of the Snowy Mountain Range. It seems to be a long way around to us these days, but it was necessary back then. Still, pilots would occasionally fly over the range to save time. In retrospect, I’m sure many would regret that practice after hearing about United Airlines Flight 409, and the horrible outcome of that shortcut.

The night of October 5th brought high winds and snow…both normal for Wyoming this time of year. The conditions over the mountains were most likely less than ideal as UA409 crossed the range the next morning. At 7:26am on October 6th, the plane flew into the side of the mountain…at full speed. There were no “black boxes” at that, so the only way to determine the time was that the onboard clocks that were recovered after the crash were frozen at the moment of impact. According to the investigation report, the plane exploded on impact, littering the mountain with debris over a mile-long path. Two huge black marks marred the mountain, as oil from the engines splattered across the surrounding terrain. The impact site was just 25 feet below the crest of the mountain, at 12,000 feet…25 feet from clearing the top. That is so shocking…that I find it difficult to wrap my mind around that fact. If they could have made it just a little over 25 feet higher, they just might have made it.

After the impact, the tail section separated from the rest of the aircraft, fell down the cliff, and rested on a ledge halfway down. A search for the plane ensued, and an F-80 fighter jet based out of Cheyenne spotted the wreck a little more than four hours after the crash. The pilots of the jet told of bad weather in the area. With the location, rescuers headed to the area, but with the windy weather caused, it took several attempts to locate the wreckage. It took them until Thursday afternoon to actually reach the crash site. Then began the gruesome task of recovering the dead. Bodies were lowered by rope and pully down the cliff. Some bags were marked “spare parts.” All the dead were identified, and their remains carried out on horseback.

To this day, the cause of the crash is uncertain. The pilot was very skilled, and the shortcut over the mountain would not have saved a lot of time. It is unknown why he took the shortcut, or why he flew at such a low altitude. The wreckage remains at the site to this day, as often happened back then. A hiker made a YouTube video of his trip there, where he found pieces of scrap metal, wires, and rusted engine parts from the plane. He also found a shoe that appears to be from that era. I imagine the finds left the hiker with a feeling of being in an almost hallowed ground…almost like a grave site.

When Wyoming Medical Center merged with Mountain View Clinic, the people who worked for the clinic had to re-apply for their jobs. Not all were kept, but my sister, Allyn Hadlock was hired by Wyoming Medical Center. When she started her new job, it was also at a new location, Wyoming Medical Center, but the people she works with have made her new job feel like home. They have welcomed her like she is family, even decorating her office on Friday in honor of her birthday.

Allyn loves being a grandmother, and is very hands on with the kids. She picks the oldest two, Ethan and Aurora Hadlock, Up from school three days a week, because their mom is at work. Their mom, Chelsea’s work is right by Eileen’s cookies, so they usually stop to get a cookie before she drops them off. Some might say the kids are spoiled, but that’s just what grandmas do. Allyn is also very close to her younger granddaughters, Adelaide Sawdon and Mackenzie Moore. Adelaide’s mommy, Jessi thinks her mother should retire and become her nanny, and Allyn would probably like nothing more than to do so. Mackenzie has lived in North Caroline since her birth, but February 1st marched a big change, when the family moved to Laramie, Wyoming so her dad. Shannon Moore could take a job as a football coach at the University of Wyoming. That puts them back n Wyoming for the first time in a long time. Allyn’s daughter, Lindsay and Mackenzie are staying with Allyn and her husband, Chris until March when the final move is made to Laramie. Allyn is ecstatic. Her family is all close again, and all is right in her world.

Allyn’s birthday, because it falls during Valentine’s week, has always been kind of special, but never more so that since her marriage to Chris Hadlock. He always makes sure that she gets two bouquets of flowers, one for her birthday and one for Valentine’s Day. They are always really pretty. Being almost a Valentine’s Day baby, Allyn has always liked hearts. They are her favorite shape. She has always made a special candlelight dinner for her family on her special China. She would set their Valentine’s on their plates and make it a fun evening. Her daughter, Jessi loved it so much that she does the same for my family now! It is really special, and less expensive than going out. Nom reservations needed. It’s a wonderful tradition. Today is Allyn’s birthday. Happy birthday Allyn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

ToniToni & Dave Wedding pictureMy niece, Toni Chase could be called a bargain hunter, because she loves to shop in thrift stores, but that is where her typical bargain hunter status would end. Toni usually has a plan for the things she buys. Yes, sometimes they are perfect as is, and she wears and enjoys the things she buys herself, but often, Toni sees something else in the things she buys…the possibilities. Toni is very creative, and when she sees the possibilities in something, she works on it to change it into her vision for it. Toni’s redesigned clothing, boots, and purses are beautiful. Often she sells them on E-Bay, but just as often, she gives them away, because Toni has a very giving heart. If a piece of clothing, purse, or a pair of shoes reminds her of a certain person, she simply gives it to that person. Toni found a couple of handbags that were perfect, as is, for her mother, Cheryl Masterson, so she just took them to her, and blessed her with them.

Toni and her husband, Dave love to travel, and they do so as often as they can. The love to go places where they can hike, but they also love the warm sandy beaches. I suppose that would be why they got married in Hawaii…and a beautiful ceremony that was. Family is important to them too. They go to visit he parents in Laramie often, and they love getting together with family here too. My sister, Cheryl’s whole family loves to get together often to have dinner and visit. It is the perfect way to stay connected. These days everyone is so busy that a family can easily drift apart. They don’t want that to happen, and they are all best friends anyway.

Toni is slowly adjusting to changes in her own family. Her only child, James is grown up now, and while he is still living at home while he attends college, he is nevertheless, a different person. He recently took a trip to the Netherlands to visit his girlfriend, who had been an exchange student at his high school, and then she made the trip here to spend Christmas with the family. Toni doesn’t know where that relationship will go, nor where his schooling and career will take him, but she is supportive of all his hopes and dreams. The changes in James’ life have made for a little bit emptier home for Toni and Dave sometimes, but they have that figured out too. Toni has a number of younger nieces and nephews. She and Dave like to have the little kids spend the night sometimes. They watch movies and eat junk food…a hit with all the kids, for sure.

Toni is a very thoughtful person. She is quick to see the needs of others, and then to meet them. Whether it is giving the parents a night off, or entertaining the kids, who love to come over. She likes to take James GraduationJames, Toni and Dave hikingthe kids shopping for shoes or clothes, or other things they might need, and with her talent for re-designing, the possibilities are endless. It is such a great help to their parents too, because as we all know, raising kids is expensive. She has supplied things like shoes, coats, and clothing, because Toni is a giver. Toni is just a very good-hearted person, and that has endeared her to many people. Of course, Toni would never have told anyone about this, but I know a little birdie, and that gives me the inside track on the matter. Today is Toni’s birthday. Happy birthday Toni!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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