little boy

My uncle, Jim Richards has always been there when people need help. I’m sure it started when he was just a boy. When his dad passed away, Uncle Jim stepped up and helped out around the house and with the family finances and anything else his mom needed. He was a good son, and a great blessing to his mom, who needed that support after losing her husband. People don’t really expect a boy to fill the shoes of his dad, but they couldn’t have stopped Uncle Jim if they had tried. He was one determined little boy.

As Uncle Jim grew up, the same determination followed him. He and his brothers were excellent athletes, and and they were respected at school. Like any other high school group, there were parties to got to, but one friend of Uncle Jim’s later told him that when he was a little drunk after a party, he would follow Uncle Jim home, because he knew he would get there safely. I don’t think Uncle Jim had any idea just how many people he had influenced as a kid.

When Uncle Jim fell in love with my Aunt Dixie Byer, it was a forever kind of love. He wanted nothing more than to go wherever she was going. If she had a project to work on, she could count on him to lend a hand if needed. When it was their family’s turn to host the annual Byer Family Christmas party, he was there to help, even if all the creativity came from the girls. Uncle Jim and Aunt Dixie had three children, Jeannie, Jim, and Raelynn, and all were talented, but Aunt Dixie and the girls were very crafty. Aunt Dixie says the craft ideas were all Jeannie’s, and maybe they were, but they all did the work. I don’t have a crafty bone in my body, so when I see it, I am just a little bit in awe. As for Uncle Jim and Jimmy Ray’s part…well, they were the heavy lifters, even if the stuff they were lifting wasn’t all that heavy. Like every family in the Byer clan, when it was their turn the Richards family planned the Christmas party. The party under the Richard’s crew was filled with crafts. I think their family makes a good team.

Over the years, through think and thin, for better or worse, the Richards family has stood by each other, and helped their parents with anything they needed. It is a blessing to many of us to see the kids and grandkids helping Uncle Jim and Aunt Dixie with anything they needed. While there have been losses, they have all stuck together, and it is a beautiful thing to see. Today is Uncle Jim’s 84th birthday. Happy birthday Uncle Jim!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

The USS Indianapolis (CL/CA-35) was a Portland-class heavy cruiser of the United States Navy, named for the city of Indianapolis, Indiana. The ship was launched in 1931, the vessel served as the flagship for the commander of Scouting Force 1 for eight years, then as flagship for Admiral Raymond Spruance in 1943 and 1944 while he commanded the Fifth Fleet in battles across the Central Pacific during World War II. Those were tumultuous times, and sometimes things “fell through the cracks,” but what happened to the USS Indianapolis was seriously unthinkable.

In July 1945, after the Indianapolis completed a top-secret high-speed trip to deliver parts of Little Boy, the first nuclear weapon ever used in combat, to the United States Army Air Force Base on the island of Tinian, they subsequently departed for Guam and then it was on to the Philippines on training duty. Little Boy was the bomb that was going to effectively end the war, but the war was not over yet, and it was imperative that everyone be on high alert. The waters in many areas of the world were filled with hidden dangers…namely, German U-Boats and Imperial Japanese Navy Submarines. Many a ship was sunk by these hidden enemies.

At 12:05am on July 30, 1945, the USS Indianapolis was torpedoed by the Imperial Japanese Navy submarine I-58, while en route to the Philippines. The mighty ship sank in just 12 minutes. There were 1,195 crewmen aboard, and approximately 300 went down with the ship, unable to get to the deck in time. The remaining 890 men were faced with exposure, dehydration, saltwater poisoning, and shark attacks while stranded in the open ocean with few lifeboats and almost no food or water. The scene was horrible. The men in the water could not necessarily see the sharks, but the screams of their fellow crewmen were unmistakable. And if the crew wasn’t dying by shark attack, they were slowly dying at the hands of the elements. Dehydration caused many to drink the saltwater that was in abundance around them, but soon it poisoned them, and instead of saving them, it killed them.

Because of the speed with which USS Indianapolis sank, there was no time to send a distress signal or even deploy all of the lifeboats and equipment. The men knew they would need to survive until their ship was overdue and reported missing. They didn’t know how long it would take, and this is where the Navy failed these men. Navy directive 10CL45, which meant no reporting of combatant ships that failed to arrive. No search until by accident someone saw an oil slick. When Indianapolis was overdue, the people who would have reported it as overdue, simply assumed that Indianapolis might have been redeployed to another training area, since that was part of their mission. According to the directive, no search crews were sent out. These men were unthinkably alone in the vast sea…and no help was coming. In fact, the Navy only learned of the sinking four days later, when survivors were spotted by the crew of a PV-1 Ventura on routine patrol. By the time the rescue began, only 316 of the 890 men who survived the original sinking were still alive. The sinking of Indianapolis and Navy directive 10CL45 resulted in the greatest single loss of life at sea from a single ship in the history of the US Navy.

Christopher in clothes basketChris in bootsA little boy I once knew, who is no longer little, is graduating from college today. How can it be? The years have literally flown by. He was the child who first made me a grandmother. My little Christopher Todd Petersen, who arrived on his great grandmother, Joann Schulenberg’s birthday, changed my world…adding such a wonderful new dimension to it. My heart was filled with joy.

Chris had such a cute smile, and he made the cutest faces. He soon wowed us with his ability to make all the animal sounds on demand, and made us laugh as he emptied out any box or basket of its contents so he could climb in a sit a while. He was all boy…and the culture shock I had never experienced before, because I had daughters…well, believe me when I say, “Boys are very different from girls!!” I don’t mean just physically, but in every aspect of their being, from the physical…to their personalities. Nevertheless, having three grandsons and one granddaughter has been one of the most rewarding parts of my life, a blessing beyond words.
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Fast forward now, a little over twenty years, and suddenly that little boy is graduating from college. His dream is to own his own restaurant, and who knows, maybe even a chain of them. He is graduating as one of the top of his class from the Culinary School at Sheridan College. Even that seems like it flew by. Literally, it seems like yesterday that he headed off to college, calling home often to tell everyone just how homesick he was, and now he emerges…a man, with a degree. He is a chef…not a cook…a chef, with all the respect that goes along with that title. He has made good friends in Sheridan, and for now, has decided to stay there to live and work in a fine dining restaurant called Open Range which is located in the historic Sheridan Inn. Chris loves working there and tells us his coworkers are great.

He is living his dream. He has been very blessed to be able to work in such a restaurant before his degree work is even complete, and today Open Range becomes very blessed to have a chef working for them who has earned his degree, and brings with him the prestige that his degree carries with it. With his skill level imageimageand attention to detail, Chris will be bringing with him a level of recognition that Open Range can be proud of. It is a win-win situation for both of them. Chris has really taken to the style of creativity that is vital to fine dining, and he will be showing that great skill level to the people who live in and visit Sheridan in the future. Congratulations Chris!! Your hard work has paid off. We, your family and friends are so very proud of all your accomplishments. We wish you God’s very best in all your future endeavors!! We love you very much!!

Bob in shockDebbie keeping Bob in lineFrom the first time I saw my husband, Bob Schulenberg, I liked him. There were many things I liked about him, but one of them was his great smile. Bob was always a happy guy. He laughs a lot, especially at comedy shows. It’s not that comedy is the only thing he likes to watch, but when he seems a good comedy, he laughs through the whole show…even if he is the only person in the room. His laugh is great, but it isn’t just about his laugh. Bob has a great smile…and it’s been with him all his life.

As a little boy, Bob had many facial expressions…little most kids do, but there were some that I especially like. His “shocked baby” looks is hilarious. His “my big sister is bossy” look is pretty good too, but his “bashful smile” is among my favorites. That little smile tells me what a sweet boy he was. It is a part of him that has never left him. Bob is sweet almost to a fault. Sometimes I see that little boy in him…that sweet little boy who goes out of his way to do sweet things for me. I don’t think that a lot of people get to see that side of him, but I get to see it, because sometimes the little boy in Bob comes out in the things he does.

Bob, the man, is so similar to Bob, the little boy. He is sweet and eager to make people smile. He really spoils me rotten…but don’t tell him I said that. I do have to consider what I tell him I want or want to do, because he will go out of his way to make it happen if there is a way. It makes me feel like a princess. I Caryn and Bob share a laughBob in Forsyth - November 1956think Bob, the little boy had a favorite person in his life too, and I think that person was his Grandma Hein. He loved going up to see her, and to help out around her place. To him it was one of the highlights of his summer. And his grandma remained one of his favorite people throughout his whole life. I could go on and on about all the things that makes Bob such a great guy, but I’m sure you already think I’m biased. This isn’t Bob’s birthday or anything, I just like to write about what a great guy I have sometimes. I love you honey.

22233_1349878794257_6688345_nJames, it is so hard to believe that yet another of my grand nephews is graduating. It still seems like you should be just a little boy. I know that is crazy, because you and Caalab are the same age, and you are ten days older in fact. The years have flown by so quickly. I remember the day you were born, and every milestone in between that day and graduation. Now you are a man, and we couldn’t be more proud of the man you have become. You are a quiet man much of the time, but the little kids all love being around you so much. Watching you yesterday with Aleesia, and all the fun she was having climbing all over you, and then Raelynn and Audrianna coming in and making a beeline for you. It is so obvious that they all just love you so much.

Julia and JamesWhile our minds are able to clearly see all the years that have gone by, and what a cute little boy you were, we find ourselves struggling with the fact that the little boy you were is gone forever now…and in his place is a tall young man, who is ready for the world and the next step in his journey in life. Whether you know exactly where you are headed, or if your plans are still in the works, I know that you will succeed in whatever you decide to do, because you are a person who completes what he starts. Still, today is about a finished race. You have completed all the requirements to receive your high school diploma…the achievement that we take you the longest time among life’s achievements. Before you now stands the next door in your life, and it is up to you to choose where that door will lead. No one else can make the decision for you. Your parents and family can advise you, but the choice is your and yours alone.

10434000_10152102087607237_3789236328148353576_nFor now, James will attend Casper College, and take the required courses for graduation, since he hasn’t settled on a career path for sure. That’s never a bad idea. Taking all the basic classes leaves you with the ones that really interest you when you know where your career is headed. James is also hoping to save money to take a trip to the Netherlands, where his girlfriend is from. Julia is a foreign exchange student at Kelly Walsh, but will be heading home soon, so he wants to go see her there in her home country. Who knows, maybe he will choose to go to college there. Again, only time will tell, but for now, James is simply looking forward to his graduation, because it is the goal he has worked long and hard for. Congratulations James Renville!! We are very proud of you!! Way to go!!

Dad & Uncle Bill with a BIG catchAs a young boy, my uncle, William Malrose Spencer II “Uncle Bill” remembers his mother, Anna Schumacher Spencer talking about That Black Book. The way she spoke about it must have made him understand that somehow this book was really important, because he never forgot about it. He called it That Black Book, because his mother had called it That Black Book. He figured that was as good a name as any. Uncle Bill writes, “The year was 1937, and we lived on a farm exactly one half mile West and exactly one half mile North of Holyoke, Minnesota, which was about 20 miles Southwest of Duluth.” He is so meticulous when it comes to the details of the family history…a fact that makes every detail so clear to the reader.

The book came to be about the time of World War I, when his dad, my Grandpa Allen Luther Spencer had gone to Arapahoe and Thomas, Oklahoma to visit his Uncle Luther and his Uncle Cornelius “Neal” and their families. The Black BookThe uncles had homesteaded in the area in 1895. When he came back, he brought with him the family historical information that Grandma Anna Schumacher Spencer filled the first seven pages of That Black Book with. Uncle Bill believes that most of the information came from his Great Uncle Luther, and then recalls that it was at that time that his own interest in the family history started…never to end.

Being a very meticulous man, who checked his facts as carefully as possible, Uncle Bill became a little frustrated when it appeared that there were errors in the information found in That Black Book. Of course, the only error was that in writing down the history, Christopher Spencer’s father was listed as his brother, making the birth years look like an impossibility. Uncle Bill is a smart man, however, and he figured that problem out right away. As I said, he was meticulous. He just couldn’t let a situation rest until he fixed the error in it. The really amazing thing about that is that he did his fixing without the benefit of a computer and the internet. His William Malrose Spencerwork always involved trips to different places to spend hours going through archives in libraries and government records offices.

While That Black Book did contain errors, it really served its main purpose anyway, in that it peaked the interest of a young boy with an amazing amount of determination. Through the years Uncle Bill would build on, correct, and give away copies of the family history to any and all of his relatives who were interested. He is responsible for many additional family historians coming up the ranks in the family, myself included. And it all started when a little boy became interested in the family history information contained in That Black Book.

My grandson, Caalab, has always had a thing for the older woman. Practically from the time he was born, he had made up his mind that he was going to marry his mom’s best friend, Carina. We all figured that it would be a passing phase, since many little boys love older girls, and for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that they “oooo and awww” around the lucky kid and do all the things they do to make them smile and laugh, thereby letting the little boy know that they are just the coolest thing ever. And maybe those girls are right about that, but then again, maybe I’m biased. I do think I have the coolest, handsomest grandsons ever, and the coolest and prettiest granddaugter ever.

As he got older, it became obvious that Caalab wasn’t really changing his mind about Carina. He was pretty gone on her, and in fact, when she was about to get married, we had to let Andy, her fiance know in no uncertain terms that he would not only have to get Caalab’s ok, but when the time came for Caalab to marry Carina, Andy would have to step aside…and just be a man about it too. As they years have gone by, Caalab had determined that it wouldn’t really be fair to Andy, to ask him to step aside, especially now that Carina and Andy have a son, and a boy really needs to have both mom and dad around if possible, so he has turned his focus on other older women.

Caalab’s dad, Travis, is the announcer for the local Roller Derby Girls, so Caalab gets to go to the derbies quite often, and I don’t know if it is just because he is so cute, or what, but here he is again, cozying up to the older woman…and receiving a kiss for his efforts and cuteness. But, as he has gotten older himself, he is still keeping his options open. He isn’t just limiting himself to one older woman. He likes them all. From his mom’s friends, to roller derby girls, to beauty queens. If he can cozy up to a pretty girl, he will do it. And I suppose one can’t really blame him for noticing a pretty girl. And the good news is that as he gets older, the older woman seems to get younger.

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