On the first trip I made to Forsyth, Montana with my husband, Bob Schulenberg’s family, I was introduced to his family there…among them, Eddie Hein, Bob’s uncle…his dad’s half-brother. That first trip was followed by yearly trips for many years to come. We loved going up for visits, and we were always made to feel welcome. Eddie was a quiet man…soft spoken, but with a big heart. You always felt accepted by him. Eddie had a great big smile, and a laugh that lit up his face, and he liked to laugh. I will miss his smile, and his big hearted kindness. There was never the formality of calling Eddie and Pearl, uncle and aunt, because they weren’t that much older than many of their nieces and nephews were. Even though we didn’t see them as much lately as we used too, it was always good knowing that he was there. Now, suddenly, Eddie is gone. He passed away yesterday, even though it seemed that his health was improving after his stroke of a few years ago. We will all miss him very much.
Bob and I went to Forsyth, two years ago, after his stroke, and I am so glad that we made that trip. It is a trip I will cherish now. Eddie and Pearl, his wife, were both is good spirits, and the trip was so much fun. His mobility was good, even after the stroke, and he seemed just like his old self. I was glad. Pearl just beamed. She was so happy to have him beside her…something I understand after my own husband’s heart attack. You learn to set aside things that don’t matter so much, and live for the day you are in. That’s what Eddie and Pearl were doing too. There were times that Pearl wanted to declutter…we all need to do that from time to time, but Eddie wanted her to let that go, and just be together. I think I understand where he was coming from, as I’m sure Pearl does too. Stuff can be cleaned out anytime, but time cannot be relived. Memories are always with us, but we have to live them to have them first, to make the memories. Eddie and Pearl lived them.
They were married on July 15, 1967, and their marriage was blessed with two children, Larry on May 17, 1969; and Kim on June 27, 1971. Life was good. Eddie worked for many years at Peabody Coal in Colstrip, Montana; while Pearl worked at the IGA in Forsyth, until they both retired. This past July they celebrated their 52 wedding anniversary. Eddie and Pearl had a house in Forsyth, Montana, along the Yellowstone River. They raised vegetables, and Pearl canned they every year. Eddie had a garage where he could tinker, and he loved caring for the garden. He was also a capable carpenter. He turned their mobile home into a beautiful house, with a fireplace made from area stone. It was beautiful. Eddie was always willing to help other people with their own projects, including when his brother, Walt Schulenberg, my father-in-law was building his house outside of Casper, Wyoming. As the years passed, Eddie and Pearl became grandparents. They loved their time with those kids, and I’m sure the kids loved the time with them.
It’s hard to believe that Eddie is gone now. There will always be an empty place that belonged to him. I am thankful for the memories of our trips to Forsyth, and the wonderful visits to Eddie and Pearl’s house. I can picture it now, sitting around their table, drinking coffee, and listening to the stories of our lives. It didn’t matter what we talked about…their lives or our lives, we were reconnecting, and that always felt good. I will really miss those times. It saddens me to have the aunts and uncles leaving us. They contribute so much to our lives, and that rich heritage is slipping away with each one who goes home to Heaven. Still, Eddie, like so many others who have gone on before us, is in our future now, not our past. We will see him again. Rest in peace Eddie. We love and miss you already.
A sudden downpour near Terry, Montana on the evening of June 19, 1938 caused a flash flooding of the Custer Creek that would lead to a disaster before the night was over. Earlier in the day, a track walker was sent out the check the rail lines near Custer Creek which was located near the town of Terry, Montana. After his inspection, he reported to his superiors that the conditions were dry, and there were no problems with the tracks.
That was true at the time, but within a few hours, a sudden downpour overwhelmed Custer Creek. A small winding river, Custer Creek runs through 25 miles of the Great Plains before depositing into the Yellowstone River. Small streams like Custer Creek are prone to flash floods, because they don’t have the capacity to handle any big influx of water, and their banks can quickly and easily be overtaken during heavy rains. As the water came rushing down stream, it washed out a bridge used by the trains. When the Olympian Special came through, it went crashing into the raging waters with no warning. Two sleeper cars were buried in the muddy waters. The night was pitch black seriously hampering rescue efforts. In all, 46 people lost their lives, and 60 others were seriously injured. The rear cars stayed above the water, but scores of passengers were seriously injured. They could not be evacuated until the following morning. I can’t even begin to imagine how awful that was.
That was a tough week for Montana. Just a few days later, Black Eagle saw “torrents of water” that floated furniture in the house of Sam Tadich, the sheriff had to help a rescue effort, the road to Giant Springs washed away and water was up to cows’ flanks around the Sun River. Havre’s worst flood came in June 22, 1938, when a cloudburst in the Bear Paw Mountains sent out a wall of water. Ten people were killed. Floating train cars were wedged under the viaduct, 10 miles of highway were underwater between Laredo and Box Elder, with a bridge washed out, the Havre Daily News reported. Rain is a good thing, but too much rain, coming too fast can devastate an area, especially one with a creek or river, in a very short time, and for Montana, it was a very rainy week, making it a very tough week.
Watching the news every day, we hear more and more about flooding and sandbagging. Snow pack in many areas is 300% above normal or even more. Rivers are very high, and lots of people are sandbagging in the hope of holding back the water. People are being forced to move to higher ground, and some have had to abandon their homes.
Wyoming had a lot of water last year, but nothing like they are expecting this year. I have lived here since I was 3 years old, and I don’t remember ever having water this high, but I suppose I might not have been paying much attention as a child. Now, as an insurance agent, I have clients who live by the river, and it does concern me. I know they have flood insurance, but I don’t want their homes destroyed. You can replace the home, but the memories and pictures and things are gone, and cannot be replaced.
Bob’s extended family lives in Forsyth, Montana, and they are right by the Yellowstone River. Flooding has already started there. I have seen pictures of standing water on the football field of the high school. Bob’s uncle lives just on the other side of the levee from the river, and said that if his sump pump wasn’t working, he would have 4 feet of water in his basement.
I occurs to me that an event like this one, with flooding in so many states can change lives in such a short time…sometimes forever. The floods along the Mississippi that are devastating so much of Louisiana…not to mention the rest of the states along the Mississippi, are just horrible. Of course, I don’t wish drought on anyone, but I wish there was a balance of the two.
I know this season will pass, and the waters will recede. People will rebuild, and move forward again. Human beings are a resilient bunch. We tend to fight our way back from the brink in many ways. Of course, after the return, we will find ourselves forever changed because of the time we spent in the water’s path.