leg

My sister, Caryl Reed is a retired Respiratory Therapist. With everything going on, I’m surprised she was not asked to come back for a time, but the hospital where she worked was a smaller hospital, and maybe that made the difference. Still, she did go back to work part-time at Professional Home Oxygen, where she works about 12 hours a week as a tank fill technician. Caryl’s road to respiratory therapy was not an easy one, and at one point got completely railroaded. Caryl was living in Oak Harbor, Washington at the time, and had walked to the school to pick up her daughter, Andrea Spicer. On the way, it began to rain, and she slipped on the wet grass and badly broke her leg. The break required surgery to place pins and screws in her leg. Needless to say the recovery time caused her to completely lose all the time she had put in. If she wanted to be a respiratory therapist, she would have to start all over. It was a devastating blow, but Caryl would not be deterred. She persevered and began again.

During the time that she was trying get things restarted, her life changed in many ways…not the least of which was a move to Rawlins, Wyoming with her new husband, Mike. The Carbon County Memorial Hospital made the decision to put Caryl on in their Respiratory Therapy Department, contingent upon her finishing and passing the necessary tests to receiver her degree and license. It was a good risk for them, as Caryl did finish and pass the tests. She soon became one of their head Respiratory Therapists, and when she retired, they truly hated to see her go, but shift work and long hours on her feet convinced Caryl that it was time. She and her husband, Mike were preparing to go another direction…their eventual move to Casper, after Mike retires. They have been paving the way for that move by buying a beautiful and large piece of land west of the city, and proceeded to build their home there. Caryl hasn’t lived in Casper, for most of her adult life, and we have missed her. We ar all looking forward to having her and Mike living in Casper, where we can all spend more time together again. Of course, she is already enjoying her retirement, and being able to do the things she wants to do, and previously didn’t have the time to do. She had a wonderful career, and it is something she will always be glad she chose to do. Her perseverance just goes to show that even in the face of adversity, we can be victorious if we push forward, and never give up. Today is Caryl’s birthday. Happy birthday Caryl!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

When World War I broke out, many young men were called into service. It is a common part of war…one we all know about, and most parents dread. World War I was unique in one way, however. There was a soldier who went to war who was different. He was not different in the way he served exactly, but rather in some other very obvious ways. His speech was different. His mentality was somewhat different, and his looks were different. I’m not being discriminatory, but simply stating a fact. His name was Jackie, and he was different because he was a monkey, well actually, he was a Chacma baboon (Papio ursinus). Jackie was found in August 1915 near the Marr’s family farm in Villeria, Pretoria, South Africa by Albert Marr and soon became a beloved pet.

When the war started and the young men were drafted, Albert was no exception. The thing is that Albert couldn’t stand the thought of leaving his beloved pet at home. Albert was assigned to service at Potchefstroom in the North West province of South Africa as private number 4927 for the newly formed 3rd Transvaal Regiment of the 1st South African Infantry Brigade on the 25th August 1915. He approached his superiors and requested that Jackie be allowed to go with him and amazingly was given permission. I’m sure that seems as odd to you as it did to me, but it goes further. Once enlisted Jackie was given a special uniform complete with buttons, a cap, regimental badges, a pay book and his own rations. He was a true member of the regiment, but that doesn’t mean he was accepted as a part of it…at first anyway. The other members of the regiment initially ignored Jackie, but like most people around a monkey, or in this case, baboon, it was hard to ignore him for very long. Jackie soon became the official mascot of the 3rd Transvaal Regiment. Jackie took his duties very seriously, however. He wasn’t there just to eat and fool around!

Jackie was very smart, and when he saw a superior officer passing, he would stand to attention and even provide them with the correct salute. He would light cigarettes for his comrades in arms and was, without a doubt, the best sentry around, due to his great senses of hearing and smelling which allowed him to be able to detect any enemy long before any of his other army mates could even notice their approach. He wasn’t a coddled pet protected for the battles either. Jackie spent three years in the front line amongst the trenches of France and Flanders in Europe. During the Senussi Campaign on 26 February 1916 in Egypt, Jackie’s beloved Albert got wounded on his shoulder by an enemy bullet. Jackie stayed beside him until the stretcher bearers arrived, licking the wound and doing what he could to comfort his friend.

Albert and Jackie both held the rank of private, and in April of 1918, both got injured in the Passchendaele area in Belgium during a heavy fire. With explosions surrounding them, Jackie was seen trying to get some protection by building a little fortress of stones around himself. He didn’t manage to finish his little safe area soon enough, and was hit by a chunk of shrapnel from a shell explosion nearby, which also injured Albert. Jackie’s right leg was seriously wounded and later had to be amputated. Jackie and Albert both made a full recovery and shortly before the armistice, Jackie was promoted to corporal, and awarded a medal for valor.

At the end of April, Jackie was officially discharged at the Maitland Dispersal Camp, Cape Town, South Africa, while wearing on his arm a gold wound stripe and three blue service chevrons indicating three years of frontline service. He was given a parchment discharge paper, a military pension and a Civil Employment Form for discharged soldiers. After his service, Jackie returned to the Marr’s farm where he lived until May 22, 1921…a sad day for all who knew him.  Albert Marr lived until the age of 84 and died in Pretoria in August 1973. Jackie was an amazing Chacma Baboon who, because of a fateful connection, ended up as the only monkey to reach the rank of Corporal of the South African Infantry and fight in Egypt, Belgium and France during World War I. Now that’s amazing!!!

With Great Grandpa SchulenbergWhen something happens to a child that leaves them missing one limb, it seems like they have a tendency to meet that adversity with a strength and determination that many adults simply don’t. It’s not that the adults couldn’t, but rather that as we get older, sometimes we tend to feel sorry for ourselves instead of making up our mind not to let this become a stumbling block for us.

Since I have been conversing with my husband, Bob’s Uncle Butch Schulenberg, my thoughts have often gone back to his dad, Bob’s grandfather, Andrew Schulenberg. I did not know Grandpa Andy until my children were five and six years old, but when I met him, I liked him immediately. He had been the sheriff in Forsyth for many years, and if you had the Schulenberg name, they knew who you belonged to there. The people of Forsyth really liked him. I was very thankful that we had the chance to meet him. It was a visit that I have never forgotten, and have always been thankful to have had.

At first, I wondered if he had lost his leg later in life, because I couldn’t imagine a sheriff with a wooden peg for a leg. Of course, I was wrong, because he lost his leg as a young boy of just fifteen years. He had gone antelope hunting with his friend, Harold Stewart, when his gun accidentally discharged, sending a bullet through his leg. It was a cold October morning in 1921, and medicine not being what it is today, the leg just couldn’t heal. Andy spend 23 months and 11 days in the hospital. Try as they might to save the leg, it simply was not to be. The leg was amputated in June of 1922, eight months after the accident. It was a devastating thing for a teenaged boy, but young Andy determined not to let it stop him.

For Andy, time stood still to a large degree, as it always does when you are in the hospital. I cannot imagine spending almost two years in the hospital, even if a large part of it would be in pain, or so out of it that you barely noticed. I also can’t imagine how it must have been for his parents, who were having to deal with not only the loss of the much needed help of their eldest child, but also with the rest of the family, which was scan0103 (3)continuing to grow. Andy missed the birth of his little sister, Bertha, who was born in December 1921, just two months after the accident. That must have been so hard for him and his parents.

Nevertheless, Andy didn’t let the loss of his leg defeat him. I’m sure it took a long time to figure everything out, but he did, and in the end, became a successful man. When you think about it, people lose limbs in many ways, and it isn’t about the limb in the end, but rather about the constitution of the man or woman that determines the success or failure of the rest of their life. Andy was the kind of man who was made of plenty of determination, and that made all the difference.

When I was a kid, we always enjoyed having my cousin, Denny and his wife, Sandy come over for visits. They were just fun people to be around, and while they were older than we were, they didn’t act as if my sisters and I were bothersome little kids who should just go play and leave the adults alone. That was something I always appreciated, and it made for a good relationship with them. As the years have gone by, and they moved to Oregon, we haven’t been in touch as much as as we used to be, but once again, Facebook has come to the rescue, and we are back in touch again. Being back in touch, has also brought back some memories for me, and I think my readers will find this one interesting. I wrote yesterday about the flinching game, so today, I will tell you about the hand slapping game.

One day, Denny and Sandy were at our house visiting, and Denny and I were playing the hand slapping game. You know the one, I held my hand over his hand, and he tried to quickly come over the top of my hand and slap it before I could move it out of the way. Needless to say, Denny was much better at that game than I was at that age, and my hands were often the ones slapped. It was all done in good clean fun, and never intended to hurt anyone, but sometimes things can happen, as we all know.

On this particular occasion, we were sitting there playing the game, and as usual, Denny was winning. It was his turn to try to slap my hands, and he was doing a real good job of it. I think he must have decided to try to give me a break, because when he swung his hand over to slap the top of mine, he lifted his hand really high so I would have a fighting chance. He knew that I would move my hand, so he started coming down really fast, and when I moved my hand, he couldn’t get his hand stopped in time. The problem was that my hand had been over his leg, and when he couldn’t stop in time, he slapped his own leg. He let out a little bit of a yelp, because I’m sure it hurt, but I really think it was more an expression of shock. While he knew I would move my hand, he just didn’t think of where his hand was going to land. In the end, we both laughed about it, because you have to admit, it was pretty funny.

When my brother-in-law, Ron was little, it seemed like he would always be too little to help out much with things in the garage, and other mechanical areas of the place they lived. It was a frustrating thing to him to always be told, to go in the house, or go play, or stay out of the way. He wanted to be a mechanic…just like the big guys were.  He was sure he knew how to do stuff, but he just never seemed to get the chance. He did his best to be grown up…even trying to get to be as tall as me…which wasn’t saying much, but somehow struck him as being big at the time. Ron was younger than Bob by 14 years, and the rest of the kids were girls…who as we all know, do nothing that is interesting to a little boy.

As Ron grew up, of course, there began to be more jobs for him to do than he probably wanted to have. That happens with most kids. What seemed like the coolest thing to do in our early lives, is in reality, work, and not fun at all. Still, there were jobs that Ron really liked to do. One of them was moving snow around the place with the tractor. Having driven a tractor quite a bit, I can relate to the fact that it is a fun thing to do. Of course, it can have it’s down side too, as Ron can tell you. One time on Thanksgiving Day, Ron was moving the snow off the driveway, and the tractor got stuck in the snow. Ron stepped up on the tire to try to get it moving, and…well, it moved alright…right over his leg!!

Bob was working that Thanksgiving Day, and my girls and I were running late getting to my in-laws for Thanksgiving dinner. When we pulled up, I saw my father-in-law carrying ny nephew Barry, into the house, and several other people were with him. What struck me as odd…the fact that no one said one word to me. I thought, “Wow!! I’m not that late, am I?” The truth was, it was not my 2 year old nephew, Barry that my father-in-law was carrying into the house…it was my 12 year old brother-in-law, Ron, who had broken his leg. How Ron could have looked like Barry to me is still a mystery to me. I suppose it was because I couldn’t wrap my mind around the idea of my father-in-law carrying my 12 year old brother-in-law.

Needless to say, it was a rather strange Thanksgiving dinner. My in-laws took Ron to the hospital, and the rest of the family ate a rather subdued Thanksgiving dinner without them. When we next saw Ron, his entire leg was in a cast and he was in a hospital room. It was a difficult 6 week for him,because that cast made it next to impossible to walk, but he was soon well again, and has had no ill effects from that terrifying experience…when the tractor went berserk. Happy birthday Ron!! Glad you’re ok!!

I have been researching our family histories for some time now, and I am amazed at the fortitude of some of our ancestors. Bob’s great grandparents homesteaded in Montana in July 1911, and went through everything from a flash flood almost immediately, that washed away all of their belongings, but spared the family, to an early severe snow storm that dumped 15 to 18 inches of snow on their crops, freezing them. Bob’s great grandfather had to travel to the Elk Basin, Wyoming oil fields to make enough money to feed their growing family, and his great grandmother would take on odd jobs doing everything from cleaning houses to acting as a midwife.

I realize that there are hard working people in all walks of life, and through the years, but sometimes, it really seems to stand out as unique and amazing. Bob’s great grand parents would go on to have 10 children. The oldest, Andrew was Bob’s grandfather. As a young boy of fifteen, he was accidentally shot in the leg while hunting antelope in October of 1921. He would spend 23 months and 11 days in the hospital, and would eventually lose his leg to that injury. I’m quite sure that was devastating to a fifteen year old boy, but he would go on to become the Sheriff of Rosebud County for many years. I did not know him for many of the early years of my marriage to Bob, as his dad and grandfather didn’t speak for many years, but in the later years of his life, they reunited and we got to know Grandpa Andy. I never knew what happened to his leg, until after his death, but I remember thinking it very unusual it have a wooden peg for a leg in the 1980’s. Of course, the leg had been that way for a long time, so I’m sure it was nothing unusual to Grandpa Andy, and so we gave it no further thought either.

Adversity can and does hit people from all walks of life, and it is often that adversity that is the proving ground for that person. Some fall apart and are never really whole again. Other’s like Bob’s great grandparents and his grandfather, fight their way through the adversities in life and go on to do great things with their lives. Our ancestors had things much harder than we do. They didn’t have the modern technology that we have, and would be stunned by things we take for granted…like the internet and cell phones. They worked with their hands, scratching out a living on the land, because that was all that was available to them. Yet, while they weren’t tech savvy, they managed to build this country, turning it into the great nation it is today. They were the building blocks of a nation.

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