My Uncle Elmer Johnson and his brothers remind me a bit of my dad, Al Spencer and his brother, Bill. They all had a mischievous past. I don’t think any of them were true troublemakers, but rather I think it was the era they grew up in. Kids did different things in their mischievous antics. My dad and his brother liked to set of dynamite, but then they were farm kids who, at times had a need for dynamite, like clearing a field of a big rock or tree stump. Of course, they didn’t really need to sink the gate post by two feet in an experiment with dynamite. Nevertheless, they did that. Uncle Elmer and his brothers were not above the idea of scaring their dad with the tractor, while he was using the outhouse. They tried to make him think they were going to run over the outhouse. Their dad came running out with his pants down around his ankles, and he was not happy with his boys. Nevertheless, they lived, so I guess he forgave them for their joke. Uncle Elmer’s brother, Les was his main “partner in crime” for their crazy activities.
For most of his work career, Uncle Elmer was a truck driver. He drove for a number of places, including furniture delivery, working for Burke Moving and Storage and for United Van Lines, working for Tom Aurelius. The job took him many places, and sometimes he could take his eldest son, Elmer with him. Maybe that is why they both really loved driving trucks. I’m sure they had a great time seeing all the sights and talking about everything under the sun. Those summertime trips made Uncle Elmer and Cousin Elmer good friends.
It seems like some men have skills that others don’t. I don’t know if it was that era, or what, but both my dad and Uncle Elmer, and most likely their brothers too, could cook. Yes, they could grill too, but these guys could really cook. They could cook good old fashioned comfort food, and some fancy stuff too, but mostly they were good old American down-home cooks, and that is the best kind. There aren’t many things I remember about my Uncle Elmer, not like his kids do, but the uncle that I remember was always sweet and funny. He was fun to be around, and I know that my parents enjoyed spending time with Uncle Elmer and Aunt Dee too (my mom’s sister). When they were around, it always seemed that the fun accompanied them. I was 25 when Uncle Elmer went to Heaven, but I remember the feeling of loss, both for me and for his family. It was such a sad time, and that will never change. Today would have been Uncle Elmer’s 90th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Uncle Elmer. We love and miss you very much.
There are many things I did not know about my Uncle Elmer Johnson, mostly because he died when I was just 25 years old. Of course, I knew him for all those years, because he was my uncle for all of my life, but as families go, you just don’t see your aunts, uncles, and cousins every day. Because he passed away when he was just 47 years old, many of the stories I hear about him have come from his children. Nevertheless, because of those stories, I feel like I am getting to know him all over again, and very well.
Things like the fact that my uncle was an amazing cook…something that isn’t always common among men. A lot of men can grill, and often that is a job delegated to the men, but Uncle Elmer was a good cook anywhere. His favorite meals to cook were the holiday meals, which he made from scratch. The family stood around the kitchen, because the wonderful smells would draw them there. They could hardly wait for the meal to be ready, and then when they finally got to eat…well, the wait was worth it all. Uncle Elmer liked to experiment with flavors and dishes, and somehow there were no bad meals. He just instinctively knew what things went together and just how to season things to be amazing. It makes me wish I had been there for some of those meals.
Uncle Elmer worked a number of places, mostly as a truck driver of one type or another. He moved furniture for Burke Moving and Storage and for United Van Lines, working for Tom Aurelius, and often taking his oldest son, Elmer along with him for a couple of weeks in the summertime. The trips were great fun for Elmer, and probably fueled his own love of trucks and driving trucks. Still, in the off time, there was nothing they all loved more than going camping, fishing, swimming, and in general, goofing around, and enjoying the great state of Wyoming. They camped out and rented cabins in places like Louis Lake and Meadowlark Lake. Uncle Elmer was always happiest with a fishing pole in one hand and a beer in the other, according to his son Elmer. Those family trips were a source of some of the best memories for Uncle Elmer and Aunt Dee’s four children, Ellen Bremner, Elmer Johnson, Darla Stanko, and Delwin Johnson. While their parents are both in Heaven now, the memories will live on. Today would have been Uncle Elmer’s 89th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Uncle Elmer. We love and miss you very much.
My Uncle Elmer Johnson was an amazing cook. My cousin, Ellen Bremner, his oldest child recalls the many holiday meals he cooked over the years, and just how wonderful they were. Many people think that cooking is no big deal, but opening a few cans and heating them on the stove, is not cooking, nor is heating up a frozen dinner, which seems to be the norm these days. I suppose that in a busy world, such as we now live in, heating up a previously prepared (usually by some company) meal is the best way to get a meal quickly. Nevertheless, people like my Uncle Elmer…well they knew how to really cook…making a wonderful holiday meal from scratch, with everyone in the family standing there watching and smelling the meal with mouths watering and stomachs growling. The anticipation was almost too much to bear. Ellen tells me that her dad was a more adventurous cook than their mom, my Aunt Dee.
Uncle Elmer loved Christmas, and loved to spoil his four children, Ellen, Elmer, Darla, and Delwin, as well as Aunt Dee. I can imagine him at Christmas…just like a kid in a candy store, getting everything ready for his family, and then sitting there with a twinkle in his eye as they opened their gifts. The day most likely passed far too quickly and all too soon it was over, and life went back to normal.
Normal for my uncle was driving a truck. He worked for Burke Moving and Storage, as well as United Van Lines. He also worked for Dalgarno Transportation, where he and his son, Elmer got to work together. He was also a certified welder working on pipeline, and later in a uranium mine at Shirley Basin. Uncle Elmer was also a capable mechanic. Still, I think that as jobs go, Uncle Elmer was happiest when he was driving a truck. He liked to drive, and that made him a good teacher of driving. Ellen remembers that he was very patient with her when he was teaching her to drive. He encouraged her, even when she made a mistake.
Every summer, Uncle Elmer would take the family fishing in the Tensleep area of Wyoming. Uncle Elmer loved fishing, and he passed that love of the sport down to his kids. I think they all still enjoy fishing to this day. Uncle Elmer was witty and had a great sense of humor. That probably came from the years he and his brothers spent getting into mischief…good clean fun really. Uncle Elmer, and especially his brother, Les pulled many pranks. Their brother Tom was quite a bit younger, and so not as involved in their mischief, but I imagine he managed to contribute his share as he got older too. After all, he had his big brothers to show him the ropes. Unfortunately, Uncle Elmer passed away in 1981. Today would have been his 87th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Uncle Elmer. We love and miss you very much.
For a number of years now, my brother-in-law, Lynn Cook really didn’t want to go a lot of places. It was something I just couldn’t understand, then…but, I think I might have it figured out now. It really wasn’t that he didn’t want to go anywhere, it was about where he was going. Lynn was a truck driver for a number of years, and also served as a deputy sheriff for a number of years. I think that a big part of the problem was driving long distances, or driving much at all. Lynn, it seems had simply had his fill of driving.
Upon his retirement, suddenly, Lynn didn’t mind going places so much…provided that the destination was a camping spot in the Big Horn Mountains for a month or so at a time, that is. It would seem that the problem actually wasn’t the trip, but the destination. He wanted to go to one place, camp out, sit around the campfire, and just relax. In reality, I think that most of us who have worked for any length of time, can relate to that. It’s all about have your day finally be under your control.
Retirement for Lynn Cook meant that he and my sister-in-law, Debbie could go out in the mountains, shut off the phones…not that they had much reception there anyway, and just disconnect. Yep, it was about being disconnected from the hustle and bustle. Lynn, like many people who have been around noise, ringing phones, a hectic schedule, or tense moments, simply needed to find a way to make the world go away…even if it is only for a little while. And that is something I can certainly understand.
When Lynn is camping, he feels…alive. Fresh air, beautiful scenery, a campfire, and family around him…that’s what it’s all about. Bob and I feel a lot like that when we are hiking, so I can relate to his way of disconnecting. Just being out in nature, gives a person a feeling of freedom that can’t be beat…especially if he doesn’t have to shave…because isn’t that what retirement is all about. Lynn, I hope that today has been that kind of day for you. Today is Lynn’s birthday. Happy birthday Lynn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!