I can’t imagine having my first child on my own birthday, but it does happen, and did happen for my grandmother, Anna Schumacher Spencer and her first born, Laura Spencer Fredrick. Then, to top it off, it would be ten years before Grandma’s second child, my Uncle Bill was born. No one that I have talked to is sure why there would be ten years in between those first two children. After my Uncle Bill was born in 1922, my dad, Allen would follow in 1924 (15 months after Uncle Bill), and Aunt Ruth in 1925 (18½ months after my dad). Nevertheless, Aunt Laura was an only child for ten years, and during that time, she and her mom were very close. They did everything together. Of course in the early years, that made sense, since Aunt Laura was a little girl who didn’t go to school or anything, but even later, there were wonderful trips with family and friends into town and shopping.
During those early years, Grandpa Allen Spencer, worked a number of jobs. At one time, he worked in the lumber business, taking his little family to the camp in the middle of the woods. I’m sure it was rather a lonely existence for Grandma, but she had her little daughter to keep her company, and that helped a lot. For long months they didn’t really go anywhere much, but there might have been a few other wives living in the camps. Still, mostly it was Grandma and Aunt Laura. I can imagine the games they played and the walks they took. There wouldn’t have been much else to do, so mother and daughter would have bonded over the long hours spent together. It was always so obvious to me just how proud Grandma was of her well-behaved little girl.
Later, there were trips taken to see family. Grandma’s little family of three was excited to be going and the other family and friends were happy to see them. Aunt Laura always seemed to stay close to Grandma, but maybe that was just for the pictures. Aunt Laura was very well behaved, a credit to her mother’s upbringing. She was really quite grown up for her age, and in fact, when Uncle Bill arrived, she was his nanny at just ten years old. Grandma was running a hotel by then, and Grandpa had to work too, so Aunt Laura needed to help, and now she had a job too. I’m sure it made her feel grown up. She was very close to her brother, just like her mother had been with her. Like mother, like daughter. Today is the shared birthday of my grandmother and Aunt Laura. Both are in Heaven now, and we love and miss them very much.
Many people think of Memorial Day as the unofficial start of summer. They plan barbecues and trips with family because they have a three day weekend. Memorial Day, however, is really a day to remember the soldiers who gave their lives fighting for our freedoms in battle. While the work of every service member, whether in battle or in peacetime, is vital, and deserves recognition, Memorial Day is not the proper day to honor every veteran…Veterans Day is the day to honor veterans who came home from war, or who served in peacetime. Many people may consider that a technicality, but when you remember that the military is an institution of protocol and discipline. Things are always done in the proper order and for the proper reasons. That is what makes the military the disciplined, capable, and highly skilled organization that it is. Of course, to those of us who have never served, there is a feeling of wanting to honor all of our service members, and we don’t see the harm in adding those who weren’t killed in action, to the same memorial as those who didn’t make it home, but we would be wrong.
I have been listening to a book about the 8th Air Force in World War II. As the narrator tells the story of a bomber or fighter plane that will not be returning to base, and a crew who had a one way ticket to the war, I find myself thinking about how my dad, Allen Spencer must have felt each time the B-17 bomber, on which he was a top turret gunner, took off on another bomb run. The feeling in his gut as the plane took off, the prayers he was praying for himself and every other crew member on his and every other plane, the sickening feeling as the planes went down or exploded, and the long moments waiting and watching to see how many parachutes emerged from the stricken planes. I know that my dad and every other soldier who returned from the war, lost buddies over there. I don’t think you could ever forget those lost ones, and I don’t think you could see your way clear to honoring the living with the lost.
I know a number of soldiers, both retired and discharged, as well as some who are currently serving in the armed forces. These people know the meaning of each of the military holidays, and in fact, it was one of them who first told me the difference between the military holidays. Once you know the difference, you really don’t feel right about celebrating the wrong way, because each holiday has its proper purpose. This memorial Day, I honor all of our fallen soldiers of any war, and I pray for the loved ones they left behind when it was known that they got just a one way ticket to war. Your loved one was a great warrior, and you have every reason to be very proud. Honoring our fallen soldiers on this Memorial Day. Rest In Peace.
Bob’s nephew, Barry Schulenberg’s dad has never been a part of his life, but that does not mean that Barry lacked the male influence in his life. His earliest and greatest male role model was his grandpa, my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg. Barry was determined to be just like his grandpa, and in most ways, I think that is exactly what he did. Barry is a hard working man, who can be counted on to be right there when you need him. One of his favorite things to do with his grandpa was to split wood. Grandpa would set him up on a log, and Barry ran the splitter while Grandpa loaded it. Barry was always careful not to get carried away, but rather always waited until his grandpa said to push the hydraulic lever bringing the blade to the wood, splitting it. He would gladly sit there all day helping his grandpa. There was nothing he would rather do. I reality, Barry was more of a son to my father-in-law, than he was a grandson.
Barry’s uncles Bob, Ron, and even Lynn, when he was in town, were another source of male role models for him. They never had a problem taking Barry under their wing and showing him the ropes. Oh, there were the little issues that anyone has with a little kid, but in reality, there were probably fewer of those that most little boys are a part of. For the most part, Barry was like a little grown up man from the very start. He just didn’t care about playing quite a much as other kids did…because he was too busy being the little helper. Barry’s Uncle Ron was probably his first friend. Since they lived in the same house, and Ron was only ten years older than Barry, so while he may not have wanted to always play with his little nephew, he was willing to do so quite a bit, and that has made them very close over the years. They still spend time helping each other with the multiple projects each has…from cutting wood to car care. They even manage to find a little bit of time sometimes to go out and play on their 4 wheelers…and that’s amazing!!
Barry and his Uncle Bob have a slightly different relationship. While they often help each other out with just about any project they are working on, their most common time to see each other is Wednesday morning for breakfast. This has become a tradition for them. It is a time for uncle and nephew to stay connected. It is a special time for both of them, even though they would not probably put such a mushy label on things. The one thing I find most amazing, however, is that as much time as these two spend together, somehow no one has ever taken a picture of the two of them together!! Crazy!! I guess it isn’t about the proof you have of their friendship, but rather about the friendship itself. And, I’m here to tell you that Bob and Barry share a wonderful friendship that will last a lifetime.
Much like his grandpa, Barry is a bit of a workaholic, but he does manage to get out of town for frequent trips with his wife Kelli, and her mom, Mary Wages. The girls have benefitted quite well from having Barry around, because they like to take trips, see lots of places, and attend concerts, and so does Barry. You remember the saying…all work and no play, makes Johnny a very dull boy. Well, Barry is not a dull boy, but he does manage to get a lot of work in there too. Today is Barry’s birthday. Barry, I hope you will take a little bit of time out of your busy life to play some too, after all, if you can’t take some time off on your birthday, when can you? Happy birthday Barry!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
When my sister, Cheryl Masterson, my mom, Collene Spencer, and I went back to Wisconsin this past summer, the goal was to connect and re-connect with cousins in the area. One cousin we got to re-connect with was our cousin Pam Wendling. Pam and Cheryl were each others oldest friends as well. Born just over six months apart and living just on the other side of a back yard fence from each other, their lives were constantly intermingled for five years, during which time the girls became very close. Our move, and the miles between Superior, Wisconsin and Casper, Wyoming would separate them, and would prove to be a very hard time on the little girls. It’s hard to have a companion you have known all your life, move away. And for little girls of only five years, I’m sure this change would seem sudden, even if they were told of its coming ahead of time. It is hard enough for adults to understand why people move away, and even harder when you explain it to little kids.
Over the years, our parents got the two families together as much as the miles would allow, but after we all grew up and married, busy lives on both sides would keep us from seeing very much of Pam and her brothers, Bill and Jim. You just don’t realize how quickly the time flies by, and before you know it, years have passed since you last saw each other…much less spoke on the phone. I don’t think we realized just how much we missed that contact, until Pam and her husband, Mike Wendling came to Casper for a visit. It was then that we knew that we needed to make the trip back to Wisconsin to visit all of the family we have there. It was such a lovely trip, and we enjoyed the time we got to spend with all of those cherished individuals
Pam then shared with us, her baby scrapbook…put together for her by her mom, our Aunt Doris Spencer. In it, we saw those cherished moments shared between to little girls who lived on opposite sides of a back yard fence. We reminisced about the many trips we had taken to visit each others families. I remembered the excitement of their anticipated visit, and how much we enjoyed the time spent with our cousins. Pam has always been someone I looked up to. She…like my older sister, Cheryl, always seems so sophisticated and so pretty. I always wished I could have possessed those qualities, and maybe people would say I do, but I just never felt that way. Pam has been a elementary school teacher for many years, and in fact, will be retiring in January, when this semester ends. She and her husband, Mike are planning to take some time to head to sunny Mexico and get away from the cold winters that occur around Lake Superior. While we are very happy for them in their new ventures, we also hope that their new found freedom will allow them to make a few more trips to Wyoming to visit their cousins, who don’t want to wait so long to see them again. Today is Pam’s birthday. Happy birthday Pam!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
When a young wife moves half way across the country from her childhood home, she can get to a point where she really misses her family, especially her parents. That was the case for my mom when she married my dad and they moved from Casper, Wyoming to Superior, Wisconsin. While mom was happy in her new life and ecstatically happy with her new husband, she was nevertheless, a daughter far away from her parents. Soon after their marriage, mom became pregnant with my sister, Cheryl. Being a young wife and soon-to-be mother, and being far away from your mom can be very hard, and even a little scary, because as a woman is about to give birth, having her mother nearby is not a bad thing.
Grandma and Grandpa made several trips to Wisconsin in the five years my family lived there, and we were always very happy to see them and very sorry to see them go. The loneliness that always followed their home going was really tough, especially on my mom. Of course, like most families, daily life soon fell into place, and she got too busy to dwell on that loneliness too much. With two little girls to take care of she was pretty busy. Still, I’m sure that her family and especially her parents were never far from her thoughts though, because that is only natural.
The trips that Grandma and Grandpa made to visit were wonderful though. Mom and Dad showed them all the sights in the area. Superior, and the whole Lake Superior area is quite beautiful, and I don’t know if my grandparents had been there before my mom and dad move back there, so it was quite likely a very special treat to take those great drives, and be able to just relax and enjoy the view. When you have someone to show you the sights, you don’t have to worry about getting lost, traffic, or anything like that. You can just look, and that was what Grandma and Grandpa got to do. Knowing them like I did, I know that those touring drives were treasured times for them. They always liked the outdoors, and to see that whole region, which is quite different from Wyoming was probably a thrill, for sure.
After five years, my family would move back to Casper, Wyoming, where most of us would spend the rest of, or at least the majority of the rest of our lives. My mom was happy to be back here…near her siblings and her parents. She had missed them very much. Their house had always had a bustle of activity in it, and she missed that a lot. Still, now she also missed the family in Wisconsin and the beauty of the area. There is never really any way to have it all, I guess, so you just have to make due where you find yourself, and deal with the feelings of missing the things you left behind you.
Lately, I’ve been noticing the changes in our weather that are all too familiar this time of year. It’s a feeling of fall. Even though I don’t dislike fall the way I used to, I still feel a little twinge of regret that summer is over. Still, as much as I used to love summer, these days it just feels too hot sometimes. I have started liking the cooler weather of spring and fall…winter, well I think I’ll always hate winter, except in pictures, or from inside the house.
Liking or not liking the coming fall and winter aside, I nevertheless recall some of the trips Bob and I took in the fall. Our girls were small them, so school was not a problem. We really liked those fall vacations, because there were less people traveling then…less people on the road, and less people at the places we wanted to go. The changing leaves were pretty, even though we don’t get the brilliant colors that occur in other areas of the country.
The year Corrie was born, however, we took a trip to Wisconsin to visit my Uncle Bill’s family. I will never forget the beauty of the Wisconsin fall. My only regret is that the cameras back them could not capture the beauty of it all like the ones we have now. Nevertheless, there was a definite red color. I thought back to some of the pictures my parents took of the area during their years of living in Wisconsin. The pictures are in black and white, of course. The only way to see the beauty of the multi colored fall trees, is to have been there and to carry the memory of the colors. That way you could look at the pictures and add the color with your imagination. That is the way it is with all the black and white pictures of that era…sadly.
Now that our children are grown, the possibility of fall vacations again presents itself. I know I would love to go to areas of the country that have the trees that turn a firey red, and some yellow mixed in. With today’s cameras, the pictures of fall back east would be stunning. I think I might have to plan just such a trip in the near future.
When Bob and I go on trips, we usually bring back something for the kids, and now grandkids. When the grandkids were little the gift we got them was often a t-shirt with a cute saying. Through the years, we have come up with some really funny shirts. Things like “When your parents are grouchy…Call 1-800-Grandma” and “If you think I’m cute, you should see my Grandpa” just to name a couple. At first the kids were too little to read, so it was their parents who got to laugh about what the t-shirts said, but later on, when they could read, they thought the shirts were funny.
With some t-shirts, like this one, we were actually surprised that her dad allowed her to wear, but then I guess he figured she was too little for it to matter. As for me, I simply couldn’t resist a t-shirt that said “Too Sexy for my Diaper” because it was such a funny spin off of the song, “Too Sexy for my Shirt.” It’s funny how as grandparents we see things so differently than we might have for our own kids. I don’t know how I would have felt about that shirt then, but I like to think I would have felt the same way had it been given to my girls.
It was so fun to bring home those silly little t-shirts for the kids. The grandma shirts were some of my favorites, and of course the too sexy shirt. My grandchildren are such a great blessing to me, and I can’t imagine life without them. I was so blessed with my girls, and then they blessed me with 4 beautiful grandchildren. They are a pleasure to be around, and they keep me young. In fact, I suppose you could say I’m having my second childhood. I don’t think I’m nearly as uptight with the grandkids as I was with my girls. Nope…we just look at things through different eyes, and I’m having the time of my life!!
Daughters-in-law come in many forms. Some can be difficult to get along with, and some can be simply impossible to get along with. However, some can be sweet and special, and easy to get along with. Of course, that works both ways. Mothers-in-law have been notorious to sticking their noses in where they don’t belong, or at least many have been given that bad rap in the past, whether they were really like that or not. But when the relationship between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law is a good one, it can be very rewarding to all concerned. If they will allow themselves to get along, they might just find that their mother-in-law, or daughter-in-law can be very helpful, now and for years to come.
I can’t say for sure, but it seems to me that in years past, there was less discord between in-laws, be they mothers, fathers, daughters, or sons. Bob’s great grandmother seemed to have a very pleasant relationship with with her daughters-in-law. While they didn’t always live near each other, they did for a time, and the way I understand things, they enjoyed spending time together.
I think that relationships with the in-laws, are to a very large degree about working things out together. It is about each person being understanding of the feelings of the other person. People have good and bad days, and with understanding, and acceptance, people can get along. That is the only way those relationships can work. I’m sure that through the years there were mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationships that were horrible, because that is the way things go in this world, but I truly think that the relationship between Bob’s great grandmother and her daughters-in-law, was a very good one. The little bit of time that I had the pleasure of knowing Great Grandma Knox, Grandma Knox, and Aunt Helen, I can honestly say that these women got along famously. Great Grandma Knox made several trips to visit her daughter-in-law, Bob’s grandma with her other daughter-in-law, Bob’s Aunt Helen, and his Uncle Frank. They enjoyed each other’s company, because they chose to not only get along, but to like each other.
Most of us have a teacher that we would have to call our favorite of all the teachers we ever had, and I am no exception, but this story is about the favorite teacher I never had. You see, I couldn’t have had this teacher, because by the time she was born, I was already out of school. My favorite teacher I never had is my niece, Liz. I can’t say that I know anything about her teaching style, and I suppose you could call me biased, and you would be right, but she is nevertheless, my favorite.
Liz is also the favorite of many of her students, and when they leave her class, most are friends for life. Her students friend her on Facebook, and even go on trips with her later. She has traveled with one student’s family to Europe, and everyone had a wonderful time. Liz is simply a friend to all. And is loved by all who know her.
I know that her teaching style is great, because you don’t like a teacher who makes class boring, or is just a bad teacher in general. I do know that while she maintains an orderly class, it is also somewhat laid back. Maybe that is why her students work so hard for Liz. They try to excel. That is a quality that is so important in teaching. You have to be able to inspire your students. That is what Liz does.
As I have watched Liz through her years of teaching, I have found myself amazed at the love her students feel for her. I rarely heard of that before I began watching Liz do her teaching thing. Most kids, even if they liked their teacher, were still done with the teachers after school was over. And almost no one wants to spend time with the teachers after school is over…except Liz’s students. I think that is wonderful.
Liz is also the photographer for events, sports, the school paper, and the annual. That is a big responsibility, and yet a lot of fun, because she has the unique ability to get to know students that aren’t even in her classes. She is careful to include every student in the school annual, and as many other events as she possible can. Those kids couldn’t have a better photographer…I know, because she has done pictures of my family too, as well as my grandson and other family members in the school activities. Yes, she has taught her cousins and nieces and nephews…and they still love her too.
Yes, I am biased, but Liz is still my favorite teacher, even though I never had her as a teacher. She is a different kind of teacher…one who really cares about her students, and that is awesome…as any of her students would tell you. And having someone in this world who cares about someone they aren’t related to, teacher or otherwise is rare indeed. Happy birthday Liz!! We all love you!!
New Years Eve around our house always meant a party, because my mom’s birthday is January 1st. The party always included a dance in the kitchen, which we empty of all the furniture for the occasion. One of the highlights of the evening was when Mom and Dad would share a dance. It is one of the moments that I will always remember, as will my mom, I’m sure. It wasn’t New Years Eve until they had their dance. Their dance had the same importance on the evening as the bride and groom’s dance at a wedding, and the same feel. It almost brought a tear to your eyes, especially in those last two years, when we weren’t sure Dad and Mom would be able to have their dance.
New Years Eve was not, however, the only time when my mom and dad danced. I remember many times when Dad would come home from work, still in work clothes and the would share a dance in that same kitchen. It was one of their ways of expressing their deep and abiding love for each other, and one of the ways we, their children could enjoy the fact that our parents were and always would be in love.
That is what life can be compared to also…a dance. We don’t know the twists and turns life will take until we live them. We don’t know the hurts and loss we might have to endure. Every life has its sorrows, as well as its joys. In a life where the joy outweighs the sorrow, you find a very blessed person or persons. That is the kind of life my parents lived. Their dance was one of joy and happiness, and very little sorrow or loss was added to it.
When I look back at all the pictures of trips we took, and places we got to go, our family’s dance was a great waltz, if you will, with a lot of country swing and a little bit of rock and roll mixed in. My cousin Bill commented on my dad’s life after his passing. He said, “Wow, he really lived!!” How true that is. My dad always made sure the dance of our life was a wonderful dance set to a beautiful song. Whether we were traveling, or just spending time in the back yard around a picnic table, or working together, he tried to add fun to every part of our lives. And the dancing continued until that last New Years Eve party, when we were blessed one last time with my parents special dance…the last dance.