winnemucca

My husband, Bob’s uncle, Bobby Cole was a fun-loving person who always made people around him laugh. It wasn’t so much that Bobby told a lot of jokes or played a lot of pranks, but more that he liked to laugh and found a lot of things funny. His laugh was an infectious one, and so you found yourself laughing too. I think that was what made going for visits to Kennebec, South Dakota pleasant enough to make it an annual tradition…at least until they moved to Winnemucca, Nevada, which was a little too far to go for just a few days. The trips to Kennebec were inexpensive enough for a young family like ours, because Bobby, and Bob’s aunt, Linda Cole owned the only hotel in that “podunk” town, so there was nothing to spend money on, other than the contribution to the meals. I don’t recall a restaurant, although there might have been one up by the interstate, which was the only reason anyone would actually go through Kennebec. Mostly we would head up to the tiny market to stock up on snacks and meal items for the three or four days we would be there, and then head back to the hotel, where we had a room upstairs to sleep, when we weren’t gathered downstairs in their apartment to play cards or just visit.

Kennebec wasn’t a place where Bobby and Linda would become millionaires or anything, but it was somewhat close to his family, and family ties are something that often keeps people in an area beyond the financial viability of the lifestyle. Nevertheless, the cost of living in the area was very low too, so they made a comfortable living, and the laid-back lifestyle suited them. It wasn’t that there was nothing to do in Kennebec, because there was. Bobby and Linda were in a square dance club, and they actually traveled around the area going to square dances, complete with the fancy costumes that are common to the old-fashioned dance they loved. These days, I don’t think square dance clubs even exist anymore, although I could be wrong. Maybe they still do in small-town America…who knows. Once they moved to Winnemucca, I never really heard of them going to square dances anymore or anywhere else, so maybe it was just a South Dakota thing.

I miss those old days of visiting Bobby and Linda, even though it has been many years now since we last went to Kennebec…or to Winnemucca, for that matter. Bobby passed away on May 30, 2014, and Linda on September 22, 2016. It’s hard to believe they have both been in Heaven for so long now. Today would have been Bobby’s 80th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Bobby. We love and miss you very much.

It’s hard for me to believe that my husband’s aunt, Linda Cole has been in Heaven for over six years now. I remember so well the times we went to visit her and Uncle Bobby Cole, when they lived in Kennebec, South Dakota when our girls, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce were little. It wasn’t that going to the small, and I do mean small town, with a population of 334 in the 1980s, that has dwindled to 281 in 2020, but rather that Linda and Bobby were fun people to be around. Pretty much, we sat around and played cards. It wasn’t the card games, but rather the laughter and jokes, the fun conversations, and really just the time together that made the trips fun. There was also the added benefit of cousins, Sheila and Pat for the girls to play with. And the additional added benefit of a vacation with little cost. Of course, that was not why we wet. We went because we liked Linda and Bobby, and the visit was always fun. Following a fire at the hotel that Linda and Bobby owned in Kennebec, they made the decision to move to Winnemucca, Nevada and that was when the yearly visits ended. We did go, but it was further to go, and so not as easy to manage, and so happened less and less often. It was the end of an era.

Aunt Linda was the middle child of parents, Robert and Nettie Knox, between sisters Joann Schulenberg and Margee Kountz. There were almost 16 years between Joann (my mother-in-law) and her first younger sister, Linda, and then three years between Linda and Margee. Because of the years between them, Linda became a very young aunt in 1950, when my sister-in-law, Marlyce Schulenberg was born, and she didn’t like it one bit!! It wasn’t that she didn’t love Marlyce, because she did. The problem was that Linda didn’t understand the word…aunt. As a little girl of only 3 years and 7 months. So, being a little girl, she misunderstood the word Aunt and thought she was going to be an ant!! She was absolutely not interested in being a bug!!

Linda was a funny person even as a child, and maybe that was that made her and Bobby so much fun to be around. The funny things she always said, and her infectious laugh were a big part of what I loved about her. In fact, I find that when I think about her, I really miss her to this day. While we didn’t see them as much in the last years of their lives, and I think that is really too bad. Today would have been Linda’s 76th birthday, and I am sorry that she isn’t still with us. Happy birthday in Heaven, Linda. We love and miss you very much.

My husband’s uncle, Bobby Cole was a man who liked things to run on a slow, easy pace. That might be why he and his family moved the the dinky town of Kennebec, South Dakota. Bobby’s family was from that area, so it was an area he was comfortable with, and his family all agreed that it felt like home. Growing up in central South Dakota, Bobby liked the country lifestyle, and never really wanted to be anywhere else, even though they moved to Winnemucca, Nevada after a lightning fire destroyed their hotel, taking with it their income. That was a tough time for them. They had a life in Kennebec. They square danced, and socialized with friends. Nevertheless, they made the move to Winnemucca and settled into the area.

Both Bobby and Linda got jobs at the local casinos, and found that they enjoyed their lives there. Winnemucca was a very different place than Kennebec, but they liked the new social side of it. There was always new people to see and meet, and the gambling was fun for them. Like most people, they probably gambled more at first, but after a while, it becomes a normal part of life, and you end up doing it less. For most people, gambling…giving your money away to the casinos gets old, and you do it much less. Whenever we visited, they might play Keno a couple of times, but they would rather be at their house outside of town, visiting with us than hanging out in the casinos.

Bobby and Linda were always fun people to be around, and we enjoyed the visits we made to their home both in Kennebec and Winnemucca. I’m so glad that we took the time to really get to know Bobby, Linda, and their kids, Sheila and Pat. We always felt like we had been a blessing to them, as they were to us. All too soon, Bobby left us, following a courageous battle with cancer on May 30, 2014, while seeking treatment in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Today would have been Bobby’s 78th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Bobby. We love and miss you very much.

My mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg was the eldest of her parents three living children. Her older brother Everett passed away at birth. The second living child was Linda Cole, who was born 15 years after her older sister. Following Linda, youngest sister, Margaret was born three years later. It was almost like having two separate families, because Joann was practically grown up by the time her younger siblings arrived. In reality, Linda and Margee grew up with nieces and nephews, some of whom were closer in age to them than their own sister was, and there sister was almost like a second mother to them.

Linda grew up and married Bobby Cole on December 29, 1965. Their marriage was blessed with a daughter, Sheila and a son, Patrick, both of whom are married and have children of their own now. Linda and Bobby ran a hotel in Kennebec, South Dakota for most of the years while their children were growing up. They loved the small town of Kennebec, and the social scene in the area. For a number of years, they were a part of a square dance club. I remember all their great dance clothes, and how much they loved being part of that club. I think it was the most fun they had in a long time.

Unfortunately, the economy in Kennebec wasn’t doing too well, and after they lost their hotel to a fire, they decided that it was time for a change. The decided to move to Winnemucca, Nevada. they thought that the gambling might be just the ticket for them. The both found work in the casinos there, and dabbled in gambling on their time off. They really enjoyed their lives in Winnemucca. They were in a warmer climate, and far away from the harsh South Dakota winters. They would live out the remainder of their lives in Winnemucca. Bobby passed away on May 30, 2014, of cancer. After his passing, Linda seemed content to stay in Winnemucca, until her passing on September 22, 2016 of a heart attack. We miss them both very much. Today would have been Linda’s 71st birthday. Happy birthday in heaven Linda. We love you.

scan0116scan0057Yesterday, while coming home from a routine trip to see my sister-in-law, Brenda’s doctor in Fort Collins, Colorado, she received a phone call from her cousin, Sheila Cole. We don’t hear from her often, so we were immediately on high alert, and rightfully so. The news was bad…her mother, who is my mother-in-law’s younger sister, Linda Cole had passed away of a heart attack. Linda was the middle of three girls in their family. We were stunned. She was only 69 years old.

The phone call instantly transported my thoughts back about 35 to 40 years, when Bob and I took our girls over to the dinky little town of Kennebec, South Dakota every year to visit their great aunt and uncle, and their cousins. We always had a great time when we went. It wasn’t that we did so very much, while we were there, but we talked and laughed, and just enjoyed each other’s company. When they moved to Winnemucca, Nevada, those visits became fewer and further between, and over the last ten years, we really hadn’t been down there at all. Looking back now, I have to wonder if we would have made the trip, had we known the future. I guess we all have those thoughts when someone passes away. All of the woulda, coulda, shoulda thoughts come to our minds with regret, as we contemplate the loss of that loved one. We felt the same way after her husband, Bobby Cole passed away in May of 2014, but just thought there would be enough time for it later, or hoped that she would make the trip up here for a visit. Whatever the case may be, the time for all that had passed now, and we were simply left with our feelings of shocked disbelief, and a lot of phone calls to make.

Still, my thoughts have persisted. I remembered all the years that Linda and Bobby had spent as part of a square dance club. They made the elaborate costumes that square dancers had always worn, and looked forward to each event. While square dancing was never my thing, I could always see that they totally delighted in it. Later, when they moved to Winnemucca, they both worked in a casino, and could often be found doing a little gambling after work before heading back home. I suppose a lot of people would have wondered if they scan0086scan0105-2ever got in trouble for not coming directly home, but I can say that they didn’t, because they were there together. I guess that was always the most important thing…being together. That’s what marriage is all about. I know that the two years since Bobby’s passing have been lonely ones for Linda. Even though her children, Sheila and Pat talked to her often, it simply isn’t the same as being with your life long soul mate. Now, they are together again, and while our hearts are heavy, I know they are having the time of their lives. Rest in peace Linda. We love you, and miss you already.

scan0052 (4)scan0011 (2) For years, Bob and I and our girls went to visit his aunt and uncle, Linda Knox Cole and Bobby Cole and their children Sheila and Pat, in Kennebec, South Dakota, where they owned and operated a hotel. One thing about visiting relatives who own a hotel, is that you don’t have to worry about where you will be staying. For many years, we really enjoyed going over to visit Linda and Bobby once a year. While we were there, we didn’t do anything special. We visited and played some cards. It was a very laid back, unhurried sort of mini vacation. The girls always liked going over, because they had cousins to play with. We didn’t always have a week or more to go on the trip, so more often than not, the trip would take place on a three day weekend, and would end with the girls having to go to school the next day. That left the trip home for the girls, in a full head of curlers. The good news, is that I hadn’t started curling their hair in socks yet, so I suppose that made it a little better for them. They never acted like they were embarrassed about being in curlers…even when we took pictures in the curlers.

One year, the trips to Kennebec just stopped. The hotel caught fire when a bolt of lightning hit it. While they knew the strike was close, they did not know it had hit the hotel until they smelled the burning wood from the upstairs rooms. The hotel was a total loss…at least the income areas of the hotel. The last time I saw the hotel, it was a charred shell of what it had once been. It was a sad time for everyone, because it was the beginning of change…a change that would end the yearly trips to Kennebec. After weighing the options, Linda and Bobby decided to move to Winnemucca, Nevada. While my in-laws tried to see Linda and Bobby during their snowbird days, with the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease in my mother-in-law, and the advancement of COPD in my father-in-law, their snowbird days came to an abrupt end too. After that, Bob and I saw Linda and Bobby a couple more times, and now, sadly it has been probably five to ten years since we saw them last.

During the years when we were busy taking care of my in-laws, Bobby had a heart attack. He survived and tried to make some healthy changes in his lifestyle. The one bad habit he could not give up, was his smoking, and in the end, it would be his smoking that would bring on his death. A couple of years ago, Bobby was diagnosed with Esophageal Cancer. They tried their best to fight the cancer, and hoped for a longer life for Bobby, but that was not to be. scan0086scan0014 (2)Bobby passed away on May 31, 2014. So much has changed over the years. Time and distance have kept family members apart, because of mounting health issues. I wish Linda had been able to see her sister, my mother-in-law, Joann, before the time came when she could not remember who she was. And I wish they had not had to go through Bobby’s last years alone too. Rest in peace Bobby. We love you and we will miss you.

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