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When my husband, Bob’s uncle, Bobby Cole comes to mind, I am taken back to the days when my girls, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce, were little. Whenever we took a trip to see Bobby and Bob’s aunt, Linda Cole, we always had a great time. The girls got to play with their cousins, Sheila and Pat, and we enjoyed visiting and playing cards with Linda and Bobby. In those days, they lived in Kennebec, South Dakota. It was a tiny little town, with very little to do, so having visitors was a big deal to them.

Linda and Bobby owned a hotel, and there were a few guests, but not really very many. It was like they owned a bed and breakfast…for us anyway. The rest of the guests had to go somewhere else for their breakfast. Bummer for them!! The visit was always so relaxing. The small-town feel was always there, and really, I loved it. I wouldn’t want to live in a small town all the time, but as an annual getaway, it was nice. I suppose it was the break from the everyday that held the majority of the appeal. We didn’t get to see Linda and Bobby much, so having the unhurried time to visit was a rare treat. They were always so full of laughter and fun.

A few years later, their hotel was struck by lightning during a summer storm, and it burned to the ground. After the fire, they made the decision to get out of the hotel business, and to get out of Kennebec. That was when they moved to Winnemucca, Nevada, and for the most part the annual trips stopped. Winnemucca was too far away to make it a weekend trip, like we could with Kennebec. I was always sorry to see those trips end. It was rather like the end of an era. The only thing that was more sad was when Bobby passed away, and then when Linda passed away. I will always miss them. They were a very fun couple. Today would have been Bobby’s 81st birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Bobby. We love and miss you very much.

It’s hard for me to believe that my uncle, Bill Spencer has been in Heaven for more than three years already. Uncle Bill chose Christmas Day to go. I think maybe he wanted to spend the holiday with his parents and siblings. He was the last of the original family to go to Heaven, and with Covid stalking the world, he didn’t get to see his children as much either. Since Uncle Bill had Dementia, he probably didn’t realize that he didn’t get to see much of his family, but they knew it, and it made them sad. There were months and months during which they could not go visit him, and sadly it didn’t matter that all these precautions were taken. Uncle Bill still got Covid, and by Christmas Day, he was ready to go home. And so, on Christmas Day 2020, the Spencer brothers got back together again.

My dad, Allen Spencer was two years younger than his brother, Bill, but they were the very best of friends. When they were together, you didn’t have to ask them to talk about their childhood, all you have to do was sit back and listen, because the stories were the talk of the day. They had so many great adventures. They would go fishing, swimming, and boating with friends. They also loved getting into mischief, and dynamite was one of their favorite mischief makers. They normally used dynamite to remove tree stumps, but they weren’t above the Independence Day “fireworks” display or the “gate post” experiment. They were very industrious boys, and in those days, before things like video games, television (while it did exist, was not common in every household), and telephones (they were first in homes in 1856, but only 35% of homes in the 1920s had one), kids actually played outside, and used their imaginations. These brothers had the best time. They rode their bicycles for miles and miles. They hopped the trains…no, not like illegally. These boys had a pass, because their dad worked on the trains, but they never simply boarded a train…they hopped the train, even though they were scolded for it, they hopped the trains anyway. Danger be hanged!! Oh, the adventures they had.

When the United States entered World War II, the brothers were all set to go into the Army Air Force together, but Uncle Bill had a hernia and flat feet, so they wouldn’t take him. My dad went in alone, and his big brother, who had always been there to take care of him, was…well, a little frantic about it. He didn’t want my dad to go without him. He worried about his little brother. Sending any family member into the military in times of war, is something any family would worry about, and Uncle Bill was no exception. So, while his brother fought in the war, Uncle Bill worked on the planes here at home. Uncle Bill was a welder, and his skills were very important in the building of the planes that would fight and eventually win World War II. His was a very important job, and I am very proud of the part he played in the victory. Today would have been Uncle Bill’s 102nd birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Uncle Bill. We love and miss you very much.

My mom’s brothers, Larry and Wayne Byer were born on either side of her. That made her the middle sister of the family. It also made her part of a threesome. Those three kids were always into so kind of mischief. I can’t say which one of them was the biggest instigator, but if I were to venture a guess, I would say that it would be Uncle Wayne. Even as an adult, Uncle Wayne always had a knack for the “humorous” or mischief as most people call it. As a little boy, that likely got him in trouble with his parents, my Grandma and Grandpa Byer, older siblings, teachers, and other adults. Still, Uncle Wayne’s sense of humor was well known, and much enjoyed by all the kids who knew him then…and those who know him now…as well as, the adults (like me) who used to be one of those kids who loved and enjoyed Uncle Wayne’s sense of humor.

Uncle Wayne has long been a big name in this town…maybe not as one of the wealthiest, or as a top political person, or even as an important schoolteacher, but he was well known and much respected in the school system, nevertheless. The kids all loved him, and so did the teachers, principals, and staff. Uncle Wayne worked hard, and that hard work paid off. People loved him and he loved people. I think his love of people was a big part of his charm. My sisters and I benefitted some because of Uncle Wayne too. Now I don’t mean that we got anything improper, but the staff in the cafeteria always treated us well, as did teachers and office staff. They knew who we were, because we were Uncle Wayne’s nieces.

As boys, Uncle Larry and Uncle Wayne went hunting with their dad to help make ends meet. They grew up in the Great Depression years. Times were tight and everybody needed to help out, and the Byer kids were always willing to help. The kids helped with cooking, cleaning, hunting, fishing, and even financially. The kids didn’t feel cheated either. Their parents were loved and respected, and the kids grew up watching their parents’ giving nature. The older kids helped with the younger kids, and they were just one big happy family, with two parents and nine kids. Their home was filled with love. Today is Uncle Wayne’s 86th birthday. Happy birthday Uncle Wayne!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Bill Beadle became my uncle when he married my Aunt Virginia Byer. Uncle Bill was the youngest of eight children of William and Bertha (née Foster) Beadle. He was born in Worland, Wyoming, and most of his family lived there all their lives. When Uncle Bill passed away, on January 17, 2018, he was the last of the Beadle siblings. Growing up in the Worland area, which is pretty much rural Wyoming, Uncle Bill learned to love the outdoors. He loved hunting, fishing, and while hiking wasn’t as much “in style” as it is these days, I’m sure his brothers and sisters loved their outdoor adventures as much as any hiker these days.

Another aspect of growing up in Worland, Wyoming is that most of the folks that lived there were, if not farmers and ranchers, then at the very least, cowboys. Uncle Bill was a cowboy all the way. He loved everything about the cowboy lifestyle, and especially the “Old West” which was his favorite era. I think that he could imagine himself living in that era all his life…especially in his childhood, but then, what little boy doesn’t want to be a cowboy. I know that all the little boys I know love cowboy boots, horses, and guns. It’s the simply the cowboy way of doing things, and he loved it.

Along with his cowboy values, came a desire to make sure that the nephews stayed on the right track, and if they had problems, or it looked like they were heading in the wrong direction, he would sit down with them and after talking to them a while, he could have them turned around and back in line. It was this aspect of Uncle Bill’s personality that endeared him to my cousin, Elmer. He was a successful businessman, and it was the same values that he taught the nephews that made him good at what he did. Uncle Bill spent much of his working life in the pipe yards. Then he decided to start his own rathole drilling business with his sons, Forrest and Steve by his side. While Uncle Bill was a great machinist and general all-around mechanic, his really felt alive when he was fishing and bird hunting in the Worland area with his son, Steve. I can imagine he and Steve spent a lot of time talking about their fishing trips and the times they had walked the fields hunting for Pheasant and Chukars. He loved those treks into the woods waiting for that unexpected bird to fly up out of nowhere. The hunter had just seconds to respond, and would be successful, only if he was a great hunter…and Uncle Bill was a great hunter. Today would have been Uncle Bill’s 95th birthday. I’m sure he’s out hunting (minus the gun) or riding a horse somewhere, having the time of his life. Happy birthday in Heaven, Uncle Bill. We love and miss you very much.

My uncle, George Hushman was a handsome man, and I’m sure that was what first attracted my aunt, Evelyn (Byer) Hushman to her future husband. I’m also sure that Uncle George was just as taken with Aunt Evelyn’s beauty. They never had eyes for another after that. Uncle George had been raised at the Orphaned Children’s Home in Casper, Wyoming, and really what he craved most, was a family he could call his own. He had some good friends, including my son-in-law, Kevin Petersen great uncle, who sadly was lost at sea during World War II. Still, Uncle George maintained his relationship with the family for many years to come, even calling Kevin’s great grandma, Hettie Saint John, his grandmother, as did his children. Nevertheless, the Byer family would become his own family, when he married my Aunt Evelyn on September 1, 1947, after his own service in the Navy and World War II ended.

Since my parents, Allen and Collene Spencer (Aunt Evelyn’s sister) were always close, the two families spent a lot of time together. I got to know Uncle George very well. He was a soft-spoken man who always made us feel welcome in their home. The living room of their home, which they and the rest of the Byer family built, had an unusually large front window area. It was more than a bay window. There was room for a bunch (maybe even 10) little kids to play behind those curtains, and the window gave us all the light we needed to see and have a playhouse atmosphere. Our playing and laughter never seemed to bother the parents, or if it did, they didn’t show it. Maybe it was the fact that we weren’t bothering them that made the difference.

The two couples did many things together, including bowling, and it was probably their bowling that got my sisters and me interested in bowling. I have been bowling now for 45 years…probably longer than anyone in my family, and maybe both families, and it all started with my parents, Uncle George, and Aunt Evelyn. I’m sure that for the two couples, bowling was a nice night out, and it wasn’t too costly either. Of course, eventually, most couples decide they have had enough of bowling, and it’s time to let the younger generation have a go at it. So, as the saying goes, they just “picked up their toys and went home.” That seems to happen at a certain age…some people take longer than others. I am proud of all the years they bowled, and thankful for the fun they passed on to us. Today would have been my Uncle George’s 97th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Uncle George. We love and miss you very much.

Seven long years have come and gone since Aunt Linda Cole went home to be with the Lord. It seems impossible that Linda has been gone that long, and yet time seems to have flown by too. For many years my husband, Bob Schulenberg and I took our girls, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce to go visit his Aunt Linda and his uncle, Bobby Cole, and their children, Sheila and Pat. It was an annual fun trip, and our family had a great time. Linda and Bobby lived in Kennebec, South Dakota in those days, and if you don’t know the area, well, Kennebec was that town they meant when they said, “If you’re driving along and you blink, you will miss it.” The population in those days was about 334 in 1980. It was about 281 in 2020. That means that there was little to do there, except visit with family and play cards, which we did a lot of. That also meant that the kids could all run about pretty freely, because there wasn’t much way to get into trouble either…other than fighting with their cousins that is.

Linda and Bobby were fun-loving people, who laughed and joked often. We always felt welcome in their home. I’m sure that is why our visits were pretty much an annual event. We wanted our girls to know their family, and since the family wasn’t all located in one state, we took the opportunity to travel to other places for visits…something I have been thankful to have done, now that so many of the family members have left us now. You just never know how long people are going to be around, so taking the time out of our busy lives to make a few connection is so vital…especially when those we are going to connect with live in the same town.

Linda and Bobby particularly loved square dancing. What seems to most of us, like a long-lost dance style, came alive to them. Maybe it was one of the only things to do in rural South Dakota, or maybe, when the opportunity presented itself, Linda and Bobby got excited about the prospect of doing something weekly that had only previously been taught to them in the classrooms of their grade schools. That is where I learned what little I recall about square dancing anyway. I was never really interested in square dancing, so it’s quite likely that I didn’t really pay attention to the instruction I was given. I was a child of the rock and roll era, and so square dancing seemed very much like “old fuddy duddy” stuff to me and my generation. Linda and Bobby were of the generation prior, and maybe square dancing was still somewhat in style them…or maybe it was just what was available to them for the whole “evening out with friends” routine. Whatever the case may be, they loved it and they were quite good at it. Today would have been Linda’s 77th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Linda. We love and miss you very much.

My husband, Bob and I were in Montana recently, and we had the opportunity to visit with his uncle, Butch Schulenberg. It had been a while since we had seen Butch and his sweet wife, Charlys. It was such a nice visit. We sat and talked about how life had been treating us all. Things change as the years go by, but they have had some challenges this year. Nevertheless, they are weathering the storms well. Uncle Butch always has taken life with a little grain of salt and a whole lot of humor. It’s a great way to view the things life brings us, and it makes their home a happy one.

With things that happened this year with Charlys, their grandson, Christian Schulenberg, who is a CNA at the nursing home in Forsyth, Montana, is living with them now, so they have extra help when he isn’t working. We are so grateful to Christian for being there for his grandparents. Charlys will be ok, and this situation is temporary. She is in great spirits, and we had a great time visiting with her and Butch while we were there. Butch says he is the chief cook and bottle washer now, and that is ok, because he loves his bride very much. While he may have a few more “duties” these days, for Butch anyway, caregiving has given him time at a slower pace. Where he might have been out and about in town, he is home much more. It isn’t that Charlys needs so much now, but he likes to stick a little closer to her, just in case. Butch is also a great fan of Forsyth school sports. He can’t always make the games, but he always cheers them on, and he wants to know the outcome of the games.

Butch loves taking care of his yard, and it always looks beautiful. Probably its greatest feature is the one that Butch doesn’t have to do anything with…the view of the Yellowstone River. They have a totally unobstructed view of it, and they are above it, so the view looking down on the river is stunning, as his many pictures will show. Butch works pretty tirelessly on his little flower gardens too, and they are really pretty. The only problem he had this year is that he added chickens, and the darned things just wouldn’t lay any eggs. I think he got a bum deal, and he should probably ask for a refund, but that’s just my opinion. Today is Butch’s 83rd birthday. Happy birthday Uncle Butch. We are so glad we got to visit you guys. Have a great day!! We love you!!

My aunt, Ruth Wolfe was my dad, Allen Spencer’s younger sister. She had three older siblings, Laura Fredrick, William Spencer, and my dad; as well as two older half siblings, Dorothy (died when she was six months) and Norman Spencer. To my knowledge, the kids might have met Norman a few times, but not very much for sure. That makes me sad, because from what I have learned of Norman, he was a wonderful man. I wish they all could have known him better. Life as a child was good for Aunt Ruth, even though money was never abundant. Aunt Ruth learned to be resourceful, and she really excelled at it.

Aunt Ruth had a softer side. She could play almost any musical instrument by simply picking it up and playing. I’m not saying that she was a world class musician, but she could make music, and that is far more than I could do with an instrument. Aunt Ruth could “spin a yarn” too. Sometimes I wasn’t sure if her stories were true or fiction, but I think they were likely a mix of both. She knew a lot about weather patterns, which she demonstrated once in our kitchen, when she noticed that the wind (which is almost never still in Casper), had stopped. She jumped up and went to the window, proclaiming that there was a tornado or funnel cloud nearby. We later learned that there had been a funnel cloud…and I was shocked.

Aunt Ruth was also quite self-sufficient. She gardened and canned, and she could build things too. All these things led later to the family’s ability to be “off the grid,” when living “off the grid” was not a known word or a “thing” at all. While living “off the grid” was really unusual in her lifetime, Aunt Ruth, her husband, Uncle Jim Wolfe, and their family chose that lifestyle in the 1980s. She was one of those people who could make a meal out of what most of us would view as nothing. Dinnertime was simply “different” by today’s standards, but them these days, anything that isn’t a hamburger is considered unusual…ok, maybe not exactly, but you get the picture. I’m not saying that Aunt Ruth ate “possum grits” or squirrel, but I can’t say she didn’t either. I suppose in some places, those things might be considered a delicacy, but I’ll pass. Nevertheless, at Aunt Ruth’s place, you might get mustard and onion sandwiches (that might have been invented by Uncle Jim and maybe my dad helped), but you might get it at Aunt Ruth’s table…probably not my cup of tea either, but I’m not a huge onion fan. Nevertheless, Aunt Ruth could fix just about any meal and make it taste great. Today would have been Aunt Ruth’s 98th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Aunt Ruth. We love and miss you very much.

My aunt, Evelyn Hushman was the oldest sibling of my grandparents, George and Hattie Byer. While she and my mom were eight years between Aunt Evelyn and my mom, Collene Spencer were good friends, as well as being sisters. When my mom and dad, Allen Spencer were dating, they sometimes double dated with Aunt Evelyn and her husband, George Hushman, who were married six years before my parents. They were all good friends and remained good friends for the rest of their lives. Probably the strangest double date was the one where a train, with no lights, blowing no whistle, at a dark uncontrolled crossing, hit their car. If Uncle George hadn’t caught it out of the corner of his eye and yelled at my dad; and had my dad not responded quickly turning with the train and causing only damage to the vehicle, the collision could have been disastrous. Both couples walked away unhurt…the car, not so much!!

The couples also attended the military ball, and later they bowled on the same league together. They just enjoyed spending time together. While Aunt Evelyn and Uncle George’s five kids were older that my sisters and me, (my cousin Greg Hushman is just a month older that my oldest sister, Cheryl Masterson), we all got along well, and our parents made sure we got lots of playtime together. I’m sure that they also figured that with so many kids, it was getter to just get us together and maybe we would entertain each other. We did, but I can’t say that we never got into trouble either…not any real trouble anyway.

Their weekly “double dates” ended when they quit bowling, and the was probably a rather sad time for all of them…like the end of an era. I suppose that all things must come to an end, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it too. Aunt Evelyn bowled for quite some time after that, and I bowled on her team as a sub sometimes, but she was the only one of the four that continued to bowl for a time. Now, all four of them are together in Heaven again. I wonder if they still get together for outings and dinners. Maybe they even go bowling, who knows. I like to think of them that way. Today would have been Aunt Evelyn’s 95th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Aunt Evelyn. We love and miss you very much.

My husband, Bob’s uncle, Eddie Hein was a sweet man who was an encouragement to many people. His children were his pride and joy, and he would do anything in his power to make their lives better. When Larry wanted to open a mechanics shop, Eddie was totally onboard. Eddie always loved mechanics, and seeing Larry start a career in that field was pleasing to him. Eddie loved vintage cars and would have loved to spend hours working to restore them. Of course, that wasn’t feasible, so watching his same work on cars sometimes filled the mechanics gap, in his life…at least the one that existed in his latter years.

His daughter, Kim Arani had very different goals and dreams than her dad, which makes sense. Most women don’t dream of becoming a mechanic. Kim chose later to move to Texas, because she absolutely hates the Montana winters, and I can’t say as I blame her. Even though Kim lived far away know, Eddie and Pearl were very supportive of her dreams, and were very excited to attend her wedding and give the bride away. It was a dream wedding, and while Eddie had suffered a stroke prior to the wedding, he was able to make the trip and walk his daughter down the aisle…on the beach.

While Eddie was dedicated to his children, Larry and Kim, he was most dedicated to his loving wife, Pearl. When they were off work, they were together. They gardened together and worked on the house together. Their lives were intertwined. When Eddie had his stroke, Pearl really stepped up to make sure Eddie had everything he needed. She drove him lots of miles to do his therapy. She took care of him at home. She nursed him back to health, and Eddie was grateful. He knew he loved her from the very start, and she proved to be the best thing that ever happened to him. Today would have been Eddie’s 80th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Eddie!! We love and miss you very much!!

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