On our trek back into our past, we took a drive to see some of the places my dad’s family had lived, like the town of Holyoke, Minnesota…my dad and his siblings’ old stomping grounds, I felt as if I was walking in my dad’s shoes so to speak…or at the very least traveling along on the same journey he had taken as a young boy. As we drove into the area, I recognized the railroad trestle that my dad and Uncle Bill had played on as kids. We had just talked to Uncle Bill, who told us that when a train came, they would just drop down and hang on, because there wasn’t room enough to stand there while a train went over. They said it shook a lot, and I personally wouldn’t recommend such a thing to anyone.
Our next stop was at the park across the street. This park was a favorite hangout for most of the Holyoke kids, and was located just down the hill from the school, making it convenient for after school ball games or hanging out in the creek that ran through it. The park is in great condition, and looks like it is still used a lot today, but I could picture the little boys, who were my dad and uncle hanging out there with their friends and avoiding the chores that probably awaited them at home.
We drove past the old church that they attended, who’s alter had been built by my Aunt Laura Fredrick’s ex-husband, Fritz. We were very sorry to see the state it was in. The front of the building looked pretty good, but when viewed from the side, we could see that the roof had caved in, and all that was still standing was three sides. That really made me sad, because it was the church they had attended for so many years of their lives.
Heading out of town, we came to a section of red dirt road that went for about a mile or so before returning to the pavement. Our cousin, Bill Spencer, who was our tour guide for the day, told us that his dad, our Uncle Bill and our dad had ridden their bikes to Superior, Wisconsin on this road. That was astounding, in that it was about thirty miles…one way…and they went to town and home in the same day, on the old clunky bicycles of those days. It was here, as we drove from Holyoke back into Superior, that I felt like I was traveling along the same journey that my dad had taken so many times. It was a lonely feeling, in that I really missed my dad right then, but it was also an interesting, in that they had gone so far in just one day.
I think that sometimes, we don’t realize just how amazing our parents lives were. We forget that technology and transportation have come a long, long way since their day. It seems like the work was harder and yet, the times easier somehow. I thought of my dad and Uncle Bill riding happily into Superior to spend the day, and what their plans might have been. Maybe it was just the idea of being free for the day…with no one to tell you what to do, or maybe they were meeting friends. I’ll probably never know, but I do know that it was strange to be traveling the same road to Superior, that dad had taken so long ago.
I am often amazed at the changes in our weather. No, I don’t buy into the Global Warming thing, which is ridiculous, but I do think our weather runs in cycles. We have droughts and then wet years. We have years with little snow and years with huge spring runoffs. Back in the 1980’s, while Bob was working at Shirley Basin in the Uranium mines, we has one of those huge runoff years. It had snowed an awful lot that year, especially in the mountains, and when Spring arrived, there was so much water that it caused part of the road he drove to and from work to wash out. I know this kind of thing happens periodically, but this was really our first experience with anything like this.
It was quite a big deal. They had to make a way for the men to get around there so they could get to work and I believe that for a time, that meant taking the long way around, adding time to the drive home. Thankfully this was a big enough issue that the highway department got things fixed in a big hurry, but for a time it was quite the novelty. I think probably every person that worked at the mines had their picture taken at the site of the washout. It was the only washout that occurred in the years that Bob worked at Shirley Basin, even though we have had other bad flood years since that time.
One such washout, or in this case, landslide, happened in May 2011, when a huge hillside near Jackson, Wyoming blocked Highway 26/89 for 10 days. And then there was the flood that practically wiped out Kaycee, Wyoming in August 2002, wiping out one of the bridges on I-25. Even though these situations were not the first ones I had ever heard of, they still shocked me in a big way. Wyoming is normally such a dry state, that to think of floods and landslides is unusual. It’s just something that can happen in any state if the conditions are right.
When you were born Siara, you were such a tiny little girl. You were so much like your mom and grandma…sophisticated from the moment you arrived. Some people are just like that, and you were definitely one of those. You had a smile that made the sun seem to shine a little brighter, and you were and are so stylish. While you never grew to be tall, you had a personality the made you seem larger than life. You always wanted to be tall, but now, I think you have grown quite comfortable in your own skin, and you know that it doesn’t take height to make you a success. It’s all about what is on the inside, and Siara, you have it all, and you will go far.
Now, you are 18 years old and graduating, and I am finding it very hard to believe. Where have the years gone? How can you be graduating already? I am so proud of all you have accomplished in your school career. You are an amazing cheerleader, and a great student. You have proven yourself to be a role model, a true friend, and even a national champion. Your high school years have been filled with many successes, and I know that whatever you choose to do as a career, you will excel in as well, because you know how to succeed.
Now your high school career is over, and your life journey is just beginning. There are so many possibilities for you to choose from, so many roads to take. You may start out on one road, and find that you want to go down another road altogether, or you may find the road you want right away, or you may already know where you are going. It doesn’t matter, because that is what life is all about…growing and changing. No matter how you change or what you choose to be, you will be great, because you are an amazing person…a big success in a little package.
I still can’t believe that today, you are a high school graduate. How can that be? You should still be that little teeny girl running around your grandma’s house, or spending the night at grandma’s with Lacey, giggling the night away, and then not wanting to get up the next morning. Now, those little girl days are over, and you go forth into the world, ready to take it on and win! I am so proud of all you have accomplished and all you will accomplish. I am also very excited for you, because it is the dawn of a new day for you. The world is yours…go out and take it!! Congratulations on your High School Graduation little Si-Si!!