In the old west, few women went on to get a higher education, and even fewer became doctors. It was thought of as a man’s occupation, and the few women who dared to go into that field, were often looked at with distrust, and even disdain. People thought that women belonged in the home raising a family. Some didn’t even attempt to hide the dislike of women in medicine. Susan Anderson, MD was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1870. Her family moved to the mining camp of Cripple Creek, Colorado during her childhood. In 1893, Anderson left Cripple Creek to attend medical school at the University of Michigan. She graduated in 1897. During her time in medical school, Anderson contracted tuberculosis and soon returned to her family in Cripple Creek, where she set up her first practice.
Anderson spent the next three years sympathetically tending to patients, but her father insisted that Cripple Creek, a lawless mining town at the time. He felt like it was no place for a woman, so Anderson moved to Denver. In Denver, she had a tough time securing patients. The people in Denver were reluctant to see a woman doctor. She then moved to Greeley, Colorado, where she worked as a nurse for six years. Somehow, people accepted a woman as a nurse, probably because they looked at it as just following the orders of the doctor, who was ultimately in charge.
Her tuberculosis got worse during this time, so she felt she needed a more cold and dry climate. She made the decision to move to Fraser, Colorado in 1907. Fraser’s elevation of over 8,500 feet, definitely made the area cold and dry. Anderson was most concerned with getting her disease under control and didn’t open a practice. She didn’t even tell people that she was a doctor. Nevertheless, the word soon got out and the locals began to ask for her advice on various ailments, which soon led to her practicing her skills once again. Her reputation spread as she treated families, ranchers, loggers, railroad workers, and even an occasional horse or cow, which was not uncommon at the time. The vast majority of her patients required her to make house calls, though she never owned a horse or a car. Instead, she dressed in layers, wore high hip boots, and trekked through deep snows and freezing temperatures to reach her patients. Now that is dedication…especially for a woman trying to recover from Tuberculosis.
During the many years that “Doc Susie,” which she familiarly became known as, practiced in the high mountains of Grand County, one of her busiest times was during the Influenza Pandemic of 1918-1919. Like people all over the world, Fraser locals also became sick in great numbers, and Dr Anderson found herself rushing from one deathbed to the next.
Another busy time for her was when the six-mile Moffat Tunnel was being built through the Rocky Mountains. Not long after construction began, she found herself treating numerous men who were injured during construction. During this time, she was also asked to become the Grand County Coroner, a position that enabled her to confront the Tunnel Commission regarding working conditions and accidents. She hoped to make a difference. In the five years it took to complete the tunnel, there were about 19 who died and hundreds injured.
Unlike physicians of today, Dr Anderson never became “rich” practicing her skills. Im not even sure you would say she made a middle class living, because she was often paid in firewood, food, services, and other items that could be bartered. Doc Susie continued to practice in Fraser until 1956. She died in Denver on April 16, 1960 and was buried in Cripple Creek, Colorado.
Recently, I discovered that Amelia Earhart is my 8th cousin once removed on my dad, Allen Spencer’s side of my family. Prior to this time, I knew of Amelia and her accomplishments, as well as her disappearance, but other than the fact that the whole thing was sad, it really didn’t affect me very much. Maybe it’s the fact that I now know that she is a relative, or maybe it’s the fact that the whole plot of the mystery seems to have thickened with some new information. Either way, I find myself intrigued by this new information.
Amelia Earhart vanished eighty years ago. She was last heard from on July 2, 1937. It was assumed that her plane had crashed during an attempt to become the first woman to circumnavigate the globe, and since she was never heard from again, most people, myself included, were sure that she had crashed. For eighty years, it was pretty much settled…until someone looked at a photograph in a long forgotten file, that suggests that she may not have crashed, but rather crash landed in the Marshall Islands, and was possibly taken prisoner, along with her navigator. The photo, found in a long-forgotten file in the National Archives, shows a woman who resembles Earhart and a man who appears to be her navigator, Fred Noonan, on a dock. The discovery is featured in a new History channel special, “Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence.”
The photograph suggests that Amelia Earhart, survived a crash landing in the Marshall Islands. I’m sure there are many people who doubt the authenticity of the photograph, but independent analysts told the History Channel that the photo appears legitimate and undoctored. Shawn Henry, former executive assistant director for the FBI and an NBC News analyst, has studied the photo and feels confident it shows the famed pilot and her navigator. Henry told NBC news, “When you pull out, and when you see the analysis that’s been done, I think it leaves no doubt to the viewers that that’s Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan.”
These days, with so much fake news, and so much speculation about things, it’s hard to believe things sometimes. Still, so much of this evidence seems to point to facts very different from the theories we have believed to be truth for so long. We know that Earhart was last heard from on July 2, 1937, as she made her quest to become the first woman pilot to circumnavigate the globe. She was declared dead two years later after the United States concluded she had crashed somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, but her remains were never found. Now, these investigators believe they have found evidence that Earhart and Noonan were blown off course, but survived the ordeal. The investigative team behind the History channel special believes the photo may have been taken by some secret spy for the United States on Japanese military activity in the Pacific. It is not clear how Earhart and Noonan could have flown so far off course.
Les Kinney, a retired government investigator has spent 15 years looking for Earhart clues, about what really happened to her. He said the photo “clearly indicates that Earhart was captured by the Japanese.” Japanese authorities told NBC News they have no record of Earhart being in their custody, but then it is doubtful that they would have been honest with us if they had her. The photo, marked “Jaluit Atoll” and believed to have been taken in 1937, shows a short-haired woman, believed to be Earhart, sitting on a dock with her back to the camera. Like Earhart, the woman was wearing pants, something for which Earhart was known, even though it was odd in those days. Near her is a standing man who looks like Noonan, so much so that when a transparent photo of him fits it perfectly…down to the hairline. “The hairline is the most distinctive characteristic,” said Ken Gibson, a facial recognition expert who studied the image. “It’s a very sharp receding hairline. The nose is very prominent.” Gibson added, “It’s my feeling that this is very convincing evidence that this is probably Noonan.” The photo also shows a Japanese ship, Koshu, towing a barge with something that appears to be 38 feet long airplane…the same length as Earhart’s plane. The locals have continued to claim that they saw Earhart’s plane crash before she and Noonan were taken away. Native school kids insisted they saw Earhart in captivity. The story was even documented in postage stamps issued in the 1980s. “We believe that the Koshu took her to Saipan, in the [Mariana Islands], and that she died there under the custody of the Japanese,” said Gary Tarpinian, the executive producer of the History special. “We don’t know how she died,” Tarpinian said. “We don’t know when.” Josephine Blanco Akiyama, who lived on Saipan as a child, has long claimed she saw Earhart in Japanese custody. “I didn’t even know it was a woman, I thought it was a man,” said Akiyama. “Everybody was talking about her — they were talking about in Japanese. That’s why I know that she’s a woman. They were talking about a woman flyer.” It is not clear if the United States government knew who was in the photo, or if it was taken by a spy, the United States may not have wanted to compromise that person by revealing the image. If that were the case, sadly two lives were sacrificed for one.
New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day have always held a special place of significance in my family, because my mother, Collene Spencer was born on New Year’s Day. We always held a New Year’s Eve party, and I guess as kids, we thought that everyone did that, but it wasn’t so. I know lots of people have a party on New Year’s Eve, but not really as many as I had always thought. Most people just go out to a bar, and celebrate with a large group of people, but that would never have been the same thing in our family. Now that Mom is in Heaven, we still have the party, and as many of us as can, come to it. We do it in honor of Mom, because even though she is in Heaven…it’s still her special day. The traditional beating the pans…which my mom came up with, because we didn’t have noisemakers years ago, just doesn’t feel the same, however. That was always a favorite part for Mom. Once we rang the new year in right, we all go around to each other and wish each other a Happy New Year…and for Mom, a happy birthday. Then we all sang happy birthday to her. Of course, this wasn’t her birthday party…that would come on New Year’s Day. It was a two day celebration in Mom’s honor. Some things just cannot stay the same after the passing of a loved one, and I suppose this is one of them. We can tall Mom happy birthday, but not in person.
Sometimes, I think God places people in our lives for a specific moment and a specific reason. As my husband, Bob and I were leaving Denny’s this morning, after having breakfast, I glanced at a couple sitting in a booth we passed on our way out. At first glance, the woman looked a lot like my mother when she was young…enough so, in fact, that I had to do a double take. Yes, there were similarities, but she didn’t really look enough like Mom to mistake her for my mom after a good look, but I walked out of the restaurant smiling anyway, because it seemed such a sweet gift from God. It was like seeing my mom on her birthday! Of course, I know it wasn’t her, nor did the woman look totally like her, but rather it just seemed like a reminder that she is with God, and that she is very happy. Mom had been on my mind much more than usual for the past several days…probably because of her birthday. Nevertheless, that woman, in that place, for that moment, made me smile, because just for a second, at a quick glance, she reminded me of my mom.
As with my dad, I somehow never expected to live one day on this earth without my mom here on Earth. We were always such a close family, and I never expected that to change, and in reality, I suppose it hasn’t. Rather, we just have to wait to see our parents again. That is the sad part about getting on with life after your parents have gone to Heaven. You have to take the reigns, and lead your family in the way they should go, just like your parents did, but often you still feel like that little daughter would love to ask your parents’ advise about life again. There is a little joke on Facebook about wishing you were a kid again. Basically, I want my mommy and daddy. I’m tired of adulting.” Today would have been my mom’s 81st birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Mom. We love and miss you very much.
With our nation’s Independence Day upon us, I find myself, like many other Americans, in a rather weary and confused state. So much about our country has changed, that it has almost become unrecognizable to me. The United States of America has always been known as the land of the free and the home of the brave, but now it seems that we are becoming the land of the free, only if we agree with what a select few want, and as for the brave, well it’s becoming very much out of style to stand up for our beliefs, values, or even for our country. I’m not picking on any one group here, but rather I find myself feeling quite sad that the sense of pride we have always felt for our nation is suddenly gone…at least in the minds of some people. I know that everyone really has a right to live their life in the way that they want to, but the problem is that lately everyone wants to tell everyone else how to believe. With that in mind, I thought it fitting to remind people about why our ancestors came here in the first place.
When our forefathers left England, it was to get away from a government that made it a treasonous act to separate from the Church of England. The people who did not agree with the teachings of the Church of England had to leave or they would be killed. That was the reason that the First Amendment to our Constitution says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” These were very important parts of our Constitution. The problem is that many people have forgotten those rights, or they have mixed up the meaning, thinking that we are not to have anything to do with religion in our government. That isn’t it at all. It says that the government is to stay out of our religious beliefs. That is not what is happening. Our current government is far too invasive in our religions.
As time went on, England tried to usurp more and more authority over the young colonies. They tried to interfere with religion, economics, and politics. Even though we were a nation basically under them, we knew it could not continue much longer. It was decided that we needed to be independent from England. That was when we knew that we could not continue to be under this type of rule. So, why do we celebrate the 4th of July…Independence Day. We think of July 4, 1776, as a day that represents the Declaration of Independence and the birth of the United States of America as an independent nation. But it wasn’t on July 4, 1776 that the Continental Congress decided to declare independence. That was on July 2, 1776. It wasn’t the day we started the American Revolution either. That had happened back in April 1775. And it wasn’t the day Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft of the Declaration of Independence. He did that in June 1776. It wasn’t even the date on which the Declaration was delivered to Great Britain. That didn’t happen until November 1776. It wasn’t even the date it was signed. That was August 2, 1776.
No, we celebrate the 4th of July, because that was the day that the Continental Congress approved the final wording of the Declaration of Independence, in 1776. They’d been working on it for a couple of days after the draft was submitted on July 2nd and finally agreed on all of the edits and changes. That was the day that truly represents our Independence. Not the day it was accepted by Britain, but the day we decided to make it our own. That was the day we made freedom and independence our own. It was the day that we decided to live in peace together, with each man, woman, and child having certain rights that should never be denied them. I think some people in our country, and especially our leadership have forgotten that fact in their race to political correctness, anti-racism, and a thinly disguised attempt to control our religious rights.
Sometimes, there is such a clear family resemblance that even years after the children are grown, people who knew one of them can tell that another one is a sister. That happened to me when a church camp friend of my sisters, Caryl Reed, Alena Stevens, and Allyn Hadlock, saw me in the mall and asked me if I was their sister. I did not know this man, but he knew them and knew that I bore a definite resemblance to them. I don’t know exactly how often that happens, but my guess is that it maybe happens more than we are aware of. I think many times, people don’t say anything about it. Maybe they are not sure the person is who they think they are, or maybe they aren’t sure the person will remember them. That is sad really, because you never know when you might just make someone’s day, because you remembered them.
My family has been blessed with some beautiful people. From aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, nieces and nephews, as well as grandchildren, they are handsome, and beautiful inside and out. I think that is part of what makes them someone people remember. This was pointed out to my Aunt Sandy Pattan a while back, when she was at Kmart. They were having a Blue Light Special, and she was waiting in line while her things were marked down. Two ladies on the other side of the Blue Light were talking, and obviously looking at my Aunt Sandy. She started to become a little nervous, wondering what was wrong with the way she looked. We always think the worst, don’t we? Once the ladies had finished getting their things marked, they came over to Aunt Sandy, and one of them asked, “Are you one of the Byer girls?” Aunt Sandy said that she was, and the woman said to her friend, “See!! I told you so!!” Aunt Sandy was as surprised as I had been with my encounter, but I think she was right when she said that it isn’t just a person’s looks that makes them memorable, but rather who they are inside. Like my own parents, my grandparents had taught their children to be kind, generous, and thoughtful, and these traits are always remembered, and they make you remember their face too, even if it has changed some over the years.
Sometimes, you can see a person who may or may not be related to someone you liked, but looks like them anyway. Whether you ever find out if that person is a relative or not, you still have that nice memory of that person you knew. Of course, family resemblances are always there, but are not always remembered, unless the person stood out in some way. The memory goes a long way if the person was nice to you at some point. Really, who would want to remember someone who was mean, although I suppose that happens too, but I would much rather remember those people who were kind and thoughtful…wouldn’t you?
When my mom, Collene Byer Spencer was married and moved to Superior, Wisconsin to live, she was a young woman, who for the first time in her life lived far away from her large family. I think that must have been so hard for her. She was used to living in a house with her parents, sisters, and brothers, and now it was just her and my dad, Allen Spencer. Of course, that was all she needed in most ways, but a girl needs friends too. For Mom, finding Aunt Doris Spencer there, meant a friendship, as well as a sister-in-law. The two liked each other immediately, and became instant friends. They did everything they could together.
While both of them were slender women, they always felt the need to diet. If they gained a pound, it was a big problem…I guess some things never change. Like all dieters, hunger pangs are always the worst part of dieting, so to aid in the dieting, Aunt Doris decided that each of them could have a single Puffed Wheat cereal piece to hold them over on one occasion. I’m sure this sounds crazy, but it does fit into the mentality of a dieter…and all of you who have ever dieted would be dishonest if you didn’t agree. When we look at things now, we know that like all dieters, this idea would pass as an impossible way to diet, but they tried it anyway. Whenever I hear the story of their diet antics, I have to giggle, because I can picture either one of them doing the funny things they did. They almost seemed like girlhood friends from junior high school, except they didn’t know each other then. They were just a lot alike.
They shared so much in those years, motherhood, sisterhood, and friendship. For my mom, it was like going to a scary new place and finding a bit of sunshine in the middle of the clouds of loneliness. It wasn’t like Mom was drowning in loneliness, but she really needed someone to share all of her girl talk with…someone to spend some of her spare time with, and since they lived just across the backyard fence from each other, someone to talk to while the children played or napped. Aunt Doris was a friend sent by God to help my mom through the transition, and to be there for her through the years.
After we moved to Casper, Wyoming, the two kept in touch. Even after Aunt Doris, and her husband, my Uncle Bill divorced, Mom and Aunt Doris remained friends. They wrote letters and called each other sometimes, but didn’t get to see each other for years. Then last year, my sister, Cheryl and I took Mom for a visit. It was a wonderful reunion for both of them, and we were so glad we took Mom, since it was the last time before she passed. She got to see her forever friend one more time. Today is Aunt Doris’ 91st birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Doris!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Our family has several artists in it. Each has a different style. My niece, Chantel Harmon Balcerzak is a wonderful writer, but she is also a very talented artist. Chantel’s art is often done on some of the most unusual canvases. A while back, she painted my mailbox. It now has beautiful vines and flowers on it, and I have received a number of compliments on it. When was the last time someone commented on how pretty your mailbox was? A while, I’ll bet…if ever. The mailbox is not usually something people take note of at all. But, this kind of thing has always been Chantel’s forte. She loves decorating her home, and she has a great talent for it too. And on this occasion, I got to benefit from her talents, and I truly do have the kind of mailbox that gets noticed.
Chantel has never been much of a computer buff, but recently her family talked her into getting a Facebook, and suddenly she seems to like being on there…even though she said she probably wouldn’t do much on there. We gotcha there, Chantel!! She has recently quit her job in the hospitality industry, and has decided that it is time to work on her writing and on selling some of her art, so having a presence on Facebook and other social media sites has become much more necessary. That said, Chantel did get an online store called Treasure Within, where she can display her beautiful work. I especially like her art on old wood. She has a unique way of giving that old wood a new chance to be beautiful.
Chantel has always been a cute and teeny girl, and as she has grown into womanhood and motherhood, that hasn’t changed. She is still a cute and teeny girl of 4’10” and yet living inside her is such an incredibly big amount of talent. I am very proud that she is taking on this new journey. I truly believe that she will find success in this venture, just as she has in every other area of her life. It is a big step to quit the job you have held for so long, but sometimes, you have to take that first big, scary step, simply because to do anything else is to turn your back on your dreams. Chantel has always had the dream of being an author, and an artist, and I know she can do it, because she is also a very determined woman, who knows how to make dreams come true. She is a Treasure Within our family. Today is Chantel’s birthday. Happy birthday Chantel!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
As kids, my sisters and I all had long hair. My dad always loved long hair, and never wanted any of us to cut it. Today, my sister, Cheryl and I are the only ones with hair that is very long. Neither of us can bear to cut it. I don’t know if it is because Dad always liked it, or if we just can’t imagine ourselves in shorter hair. Maybe it is a little of both. I think that people tend to like hair styles that are similar to what they grew up with, but not always, I suppose…after all my three younger sisters no longer have long hair. I suppose all little girls want to be beautiful, and our hair is a big part of that. Whether our hair is long or short, curly or straight, it is like a crowning glory to our look. We hate bad hair days, because we just don’t feel like we look our best. And of course, wind is the worst enemy a great hair style can have. You can’t put enough hairspray in your hair to fight of a windy day and the wind can make long hair stand straight up if you don’t hold it down.
I think my dad may have liked long hair in the beginning, because his sister, Laura always had long hair as a child. their mother was so proud of her daughter’s long curls, and she worked very hard on getting them just right for her. That kind of care can make a little boy, who is twelve years younger than his big sister, think that hair is very important…even if he doesn’t realize it. Curls have gone in and out of style, and these days women wear their long hair both ways. Cheryl likes her hair curled, but my hair has a tendency to get frizzy and tangle easily, so I straighten mine. I have natural curl, but it isn’t beautiful, with great curls, but rather an errant wave here and there. Ugh!! But Aunt Laura’s long curls were beautiful, and more in style today than people would expect. They reminded me of a long haired Shirley Temple look. You could tell that Aunt Laura liked her long hair too. She always had pretty bows in it as a child, and in the picture where she was showing off her curls, she seemed very proud of them, and her mom was really proud of it too.
Another funny thing about long hair is how it acts when you flip it out of your way. My grandson, Josh and I were putting up my Christmas tree on Saturday. As I bent over to get another ornament for the tree, my hair got in my way, so I flipped it out of the way. Josh started laughing. I asked what was so funny, and he told me that my hair had landed on the tree, and it was still there. It wasn’t the first time my hair had landed somewhere it didn’t belong. Bob and I were at Mount Rushmore on the 4th of July one year. It was very crowded. I flipped my hair back, and got this…feeling. I turned around to see the woman behind me touching her nose, and saying, “She hit me with her hair!” I was horrified. I immediately apologized, saying that sometimes I didn’t realize how far my hair reached. She was gracious, and the situation passed, but it was not forgotten…by me. Long hair can be beautiful, but it can also be a little hard to control sometimes. And that can be comical too.
I still have not decided exactly what is going on in this picture but I have a theory. If you take a good look at the only man in the picture, you will notice that his eyes are in the process of rolling. The woman sitting next to him looks to be about his age, and she looks a little frazzled too, though not as much as the man. My guess is that like my dad, this man has all daughters, but unlike my dad, he has nine of them. Getting a family to pose for a picture and all cooperate at the same time is always hard, but in the case of his nine daughters, I think it is proving to be impossible, and since his daughters appear to be grown or almost so, he is a veteran at having daughters, and so he knows full well that yelling will probably do no good, since it is highly unlikely that he will even be heard.
As most men will tell you, when it comes to getting a word in edgewise around a group of women, the best thing to do is give up. As I look at this poor man I can tell he had tried many times in the past, and maybe even that day, and to no avail, so he had resigned himself to sitting there patiently, or maybe not so patiently, until all of his girls decided that they were ready and in the right position for the picture to be properly taken.
Meanwhile, the photographer saw an opportunity to play around with his camera a little bit. Why waste those disorganized shots, just because they weren’t exactly the kind of shots that most people would think were perfect. Still, sometimes it’s those candid shots, where everyone is a little disheveled, or even making faces or rolling their eyes or making some other face, that turn into the best pictures, after all.
I never really had the chance to know my dad’s mom, because she died when I was just a little over 2 months old, but looking through an old autograph book that belonged to her, I found…between the lines written there…a few lessons passed down to me from her. They were lessons taught by the girl she was, to the granddaughter she only briefly knew. It’s funny the things you can learn from words that the teacher didn’t even write. I think that might be because the things that people say or write to you show to a degree the type of person you are. People naturally don’t want to hurt the feelings of their friends, so they try to agree with their friend’s beliefs, or they are careful around them. That was the kind of person my grandmother was. People respected her and wanted to live up to her standards. I like that. Oh, I know that those people might have just said that because it was her, and not meant a word, and I know that many of the autographs were the poetry of that day, and this, in some cases, but it seemed important that she like them and respect them.
One of the things I know about my grandmother from hearing about her all my life is that she was a hard working woman. My grandfather worked for the railroad, and he was away much of the time. That left the running of the farm and the everyday life of the kids to her. She never even flinched. She saw what needed to be done, and she did it. She showed her children the way they should do things, and they all turned into respectable and responsible people. Of course, I realize that the way kids turn out is not totally up to their parents, because the influences of the world are there too, but much of what they learn and live, at least when they are young, is from their parents.
As her birthday approaches on August 3rd, it occurs to me that she would have been 126 years old…impossible I know, but it tells me that the lessons of my grandmother really never become out dated. If we stand by our values, and let others know that we stand by our values, they will respect us and our values. If we compromise our values, others will know that we are fake. My grandmother was not fake. She was the kind of person that people wanted to be like. That is a great honor. And her friends felt honored to know her.