My Uncle Elmer Johnson, was a character. From what I’ve seen of men from that era, my dad, Al Spencer and his brother, Bill included, thee pranks Uncle Elmer and his brother, Les played were…a bit different from what we played as kids. The boys from their era might make their dad think they were going to run the outhouse over with a tractor, assuming no one knew that he was inside. Of course, they would be in trouble when he came running out with his pants down, in an effort to save his own life. Kids back then, living on a farm, thought nothing of driving a tractor or using dynamite, and there is no end to the ideas they might come up with to play a prank on someone with such items. While Uncle Elmer and his brothers were prone to pranks, it didn’t make them bad kids…just typical mischievous kids…especially in that era.

Uncle Elmer loved holidays. My cousin, Elmer…his dad’s namesake, tells me that his dad literally spoiled the family at Christmas, which was his favorite holiday. I can understand that. Don’t we all wish we had the money to spoil our kids to the max at Christmas. There are so many cool new things out, every year, and you want to give your kids that latest toy or gadget. Every year, someone invents some new cool item, an every kid wants one. It would be awesome to be able to give your kid every great new thing they wanted, and I know that Uncle Elmer wanted to do just that.

Uncle Elmer loved his Harley Davidson motorcycle, and he and his brother “terrorized” the cops in Evansville, racing around, and if I guess right, getting multiple speeding tickets for it. They didn’t worry too much about that, because as we all know, motorcycles are meant to go fast. Uncle Elmer and his brothers, Les and Tom, loved their machines…of any kind. Uncle Elmer drove semi-trucks for many years. He loved the open road, a trait that fit well into his past of tractors, motorcycles, and trucks. Today would have been Uncle Elmer’s 88th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Uncle Elmer. We love and miss you very much.

My husband’s uncle, Eddie Hein has always been a soft-spoken man, who had a big impact on the lives of those around him. I remember the first time I met Eddie. I liked him and his wife, Pearl very much. They were kind and welcoming, and to this day, we love to go to visit them in Forsyth, Montana, although we don’t get to go nearly as often as we used to. Before his retirement, Eddie worked long, hard hours at the Peabody coal mine in Colstrip, Montana. It was shift work, and it was hard on the body, but Eddie made a good living and supported his family well. The long hours always seemed twice as long as they were…especially at the end of a long week of them.

Coal mining was Eddie’s occupation, but it was not his life…not his heart. His heart belonged to his family. Eddie remodeled their home largely by himself, and did a beautiful job. Eddie worked hard, alongside Pearl, of course, weeding their garden, and growing their vegetables, and then canning the vegetables for use all year long. It was a project they did together, especially after Pearl went to work too. Eddie and Pearl were always there to help their friends and neighbors too. People only had to call, and they would do whatever was needed. I suppose that is just the way it is in a small town, but more likely it is just they way they are. Eddie and Pearl are very helpful people, just ask anyone.

Eddie has always loved tractors. He was always working on one or two, and there were always tractors in their back yard. He used them to help friends with their haying, or digging something for someone when needed. I’m sure he used them in their own garden too, because you can’t really have a successful garden if you don’t plow it and such. My husband, Bob remembers those tractors well, but then I guess he would. It’s kind of a guy thing, and being a mechanic, just like his Uncle Eddie, working on tractors would have a draw for him too. I’m sure those tractors gave them lots to talk about, and I know that they both enjoyed those visits very much. Today is Eddie’s 74th birthday. Happy birthday Eddie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Carpenter BarryA True HelperWhen my nephew, Barry Schulenberg arrived on the scene, on December 11, 1978, he brought with him, a definite culture shock where babies were concerned. Barry was the first grandson in the family, which already had four granddaughters, three of whom were still living. Now it wasn’t that those girls couldn’t be rough and tumble girls, but in reality, they were all pretty girly. Barry, on the other hand, was all boy. He liked things like tractors, trucks, helping his grandpa cut wood, and anything else that his grandpa was doing. The girls would rather sit and watch what grandpa was doing rather than be out there getting dirty with him. In many ways, Barry was just what my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg needed. He loved those granddaughters, don’t get me wrong, and they were really his little princesses, but he needed a boy to do all the guy things with him, and Barry fit that bill perfectly. Nevertheless, for my sister-in-law, Debbie Schulenberg Cook and me, Barry was like an alien from outer space. Debbie had a bit of an advantage over me, in that she was raised with two brothers, but I had four sisters, and boys were very much a real culture shock.

For anyone who has boys, I’m sure you can relate to the difference between boys and girls very well. I only knew what little bit I knew from my nephew, Rob Masterson, my sister, Cheryl Masterson’s son, and at that time…well, he pretty much drove me crazy with his very much boyish ways. Nevertheless, I was about to get a whole new education in little boys, compliments of my nephew, Barry. As most of you know, boys don’t get embarrassed by things like the noises that can come from people, from running around nearly naked…which some girls do too, or from coming in the house covered in dirt or mud. To them, all this is a part of having a great day, and in fact, being required to mind their manners, stay clean, and stay dressed…well, that a boring day. Barry was a typical boy in every sense of the word.Barry on his motorcycleBarry

Barry is a grown man now, and while he is still into trucks, tractors, and many of the other things guys are into, he has long since ceased to do the things that made him a culture shock for me. I can’t speak for his wife, Kelli, on any of his annoying ways, on the other hand, and I’m sure she could name a number of those right off the top of her head, but I think I’ll leave that one alone. Today is Barry’s birthday. Happy birthday Barry!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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