Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


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TBT–Yellowstone Pt 2 and the Gang

I started this blog Monday.

We finally made it to Yellowstone. I think we’d worn the sickness out by then. We rented one cabin, where we cooked and showered and a few us us slept, and the rest of us slept in the campers.

Of course, we saw everything there is to see at Yellowstone. Old Faithful, who really was faithful back then. I don’t know how is he now.

oldfaith_vert-med

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

grand canyon yellowstoneThis  is that Grand Canyon. Picture from Wikipedia. Gorgeous, isn’t it?

dt.common.streams.StreamServerAnother place, we hiked down a wonderful, smooth asphalt path to a lower waterfall. On the way down, I saw my first Newfoundland Dog. (At first, I thought it was a bear on a leash.) When we got there, we marveled and exclaimed and climbed rocks. I decided I wanted another angle in a picture, so I climbed a little way up the rock wall beside the falls.

Of course, there was a heavy mist coming from the waterfall and the sun was shining bright on us. When I turned around to take the picture, I wasn’t surprised to see rainbows. What surprised me was that I saw a complete circle rainbow!

If there’s not something to stop it (like the earth or a building or cloud) a rainbow will make a perfect circle! Who knew? (Probably anyone who paid attention in science class.) I didn’t!

Hot springs.

hot springs

Tons of hot springs and mud volcanoes in Yellowstone. TONS!

I don’t know the temperature of the springs, but I’ve seen Dante’s Peak. I don’t want to test it! LOL.

So as I mentioned, Phyllis and Melvin went with us. A couple of things I remember about Melvin that made him one of my favorite people in the world. (I should have a category–My Favorite People. :) ) Melvin ate popcorn every night. I don’t know if he had it instead of dinner, as an after dinner snack or just before going to bed, but I know he had it. And when I smelled it popping, it made me hungry! (I love popcorn.)

And he was a great fisherman. If I remember right, he didn’t like to eat fish, he just liked to catch them. I’d say that was where The Great Fisherman Jeffrey got his fishing gene, but Melvin wasn’t related except by marriage. Maybe Jeffrey caught it by osmosis.

The guys all went fishing while we were at Yellowstone, and left us womenfolk behind.

They drove a ways, parked and hiked a couple of miles up the river through CLOUDS OF MOSQUITOES. (They don’t do anything to kill off critters in YS.) From the way I heard the story, the guys nearly couldn’t breathe without sucking in several of the little varmints. (They might have made it worse than it was in the telling so I’d quit griping because they wouldn’t let me go. Yes, I pouted.)

Anyway, they finally got to the spot someone told them about, and after an hour or two without catching a fish, they hiked back to the truck, again through clouds of mosquitoes. (No wonder the trout didn’t bite, they were full from eating blood suckers.) At least one of the guys (Brother Jeffrey?) ran most of the way back and locked himself in the truck to get away from the bugs.

Can’t say as I blame him. :)

I’ve been to Yellowstone two or three times, but guess what? I. Want. To. Go. Again. (It’s just too gorgeous for words.)

Have you been to Yellowstone and seen the Natural Wonders God put there? Think He was showing off or just giving us a taste of Heaven?

What was your favorite part?

Oh, wow. I didn’t even mention the animals!


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♪♫ The Eyes of Texas . . . ♪♫ or Yellowstone Pt 1

We’re coming up on the anniversary. Again. For family and friends of the Spess Gang, May 20, 1991, is a day that will live in infamy. Read about it here. 

But since Mom wasn’t a person who would not have liked us to mourn forever or go into retrograde for a week around that date, instead of going into all that, I’ll tell you about one of my shiny memories.

The family decided to go to Yellowstone on vacation. When I say the family, I mean The Family. The whole clan. Mom, Dad, all the sibs, married sibs, sibs-in-law, grandkids and (maybe) Grandmother. Aunt Phyllis and her husband, Melvin, went, too.

We packed into three pickup/campers and a car–complete with CB radios. :) Everyone had “handles.” Mom decided to bleach her hair just before we went (not her best decision) so she was The Blonde Bombshell. G-Man is a pharmacist, so they called him The Pusher (short for Pill Pusher).

The first day we headed to Cousin Liz’s in Perryton, Texas. When we crossed the line from OkieLand in to Texas, I asked The Blonde Bombshell on the CB what Texas’s state song was, since she graduated from high school down there in Baja, Oklahoma. Without hesitating, she answered on the CB for all the world to hear,

♪♫ The eyes of Texas are upon you, all the live-long day! ♪♫

♪♫ The eyes of Texas are upon you, you cannot get away. ♪♫

Truckers cheered for her when she finished. ;)

lizbeth

I’m not sure why we went to Liz’s. When I map the way from C-Town to Wyoming, Perryton isn’t on a straight shot, but everybody LOVES being with Liz and her fam, so maybe that’s why.

By the time we got to Perryton, in the Texas panhandle, I was throwing up my socks. (And anything else remotely close to my tummy.) I was sick! Sick! Sick! for about twelve hours, then I got better.

G-Man came down with the illness next, and one by one, most of us caught it.

We left Liz’s the next day and drove into Colorado, and the scenery was gorgeous! I’m not sure where we spent that next night, but it seems as if we crossed a mountain and pulled into a camping area in a small valley.

Talk about beautiful! (If I could find the place on a map, I’d go back today!) There were mountains all around us. The clouds looked as if they tripped over those mountains, then sat there in the trees and laughed at us.

There was a large pond fed by a stream for us to fish in. A beaver the size of a Chocolate Lab (I promise, he was that big!) lived in the pond. So much fun to watch!

Brother Jeffrey was sick while we were there, and I’m sure he appreciated me having shared the illness. But he didn’t feel good enough to mention it. In fact, he was so sick, his moans echoed off the mountains and scared away the wild animals.

We usually cooked over a campfire on that trip. Aunt Phyllis was a marvel! She could fill a huge skillet with eggs, fried them just right (sunny side up and runny) then slipped the entire thing onto a plate without breaking a single yoke! That woman had talent!!! (You should have tasted her fried chicken! Y-U-M!!!)

We traveled on to Gunnison after that. Melvin had worked in that area on Taylor Lake back when he was a young man. It had been a job like the CCC, during the Great Depression, I believe, and he wanted to see it again.

Ever been to Gunnison or Taylor Lake? Oh, my stars! It’s one of the prettiest places on earth.

Here are a few pictures I found online. (Sorry. I wish they were mine.)

This picture is by Michael E. Gordon–

Untitled

And this one is from Allison Bruning’s blog. 

allisonbruningIsn’t the lake surrounded by mountains just gorgeous? In case you go to Allison’s blog to read more about Taylor’s Crossing, what you’re reading is mostly fiction. We spent some time in the Taylor Lake area, and there’s nothing remotely scary. All my memories of the place are bright and happy! But if you like paranormal fiction, she has a good blog!

This post is getting a little long, so on TBT I’ll tell you more about our Big Yellowstone Trip.

Have you ever gone on a huge vaca with the whole family?

How did yours turn out?

 

 


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It’s a Beautiful Life–Kathy Spess Bell!

One of my cousins went Home last week–Kathy Spess Bell (my mama loved her name and called her Kathy Nell) daughter of Paul and Wilma Spess, and sister to Rick, Lindy and Kim. She’ll be oh, so very missed by her family!

She had such a full life! I wanted to hear all about her, so her son, Luke, offered to fill us in.

I’m thrilled to be able to share his words and pictures with you.

kathy-1

Thank you, Susan, for allowing me space to honor my mom, Kathy. She was so special to my dad and me. I just wanted an opportunity to share that with others she touched and lost contact with.

My name is Luke and I am the only child of Alan and Kathy.

Luke, Kathy & Alan

Luke, Kathy & Alan

I don’t know where to start, so I guess I’ll start at the beginning of when I met my mom. It was the dead of winter; Mom and Dad had just moved to Mt. Home, Idaho, and they didn’t know anyone. Thousands of miles away from her family, Mom was pregnant with me.

I guess I couldn’t wait, because I popped out over a month early and surprised everybody. And that’s when I met my mom, my best friend, and the two of us depended on each other ever since.

Dad was in the Air Force and was often expected to be on call all the time. Mam’ma (that’s what I call my grandma, Wilma) and Geneva Delancey came out to visit as soon as they could and my grandparents on my dad’s side came out later. But for the most part, it was just mom and I.

A couple years later, Dad had to do a remote assignment in Greenland for a year. So it really was just mom and I, but she was strong and I was always by her side.

When I was old enough to go to school, we lived in Sumter, South Carolina. Because of districting, the school that I should have gone to was in a bad part of town. Instead Mom and Dad enrolled me in a private school and Mom would drive me across town to school every day. She tried subbing there, but local politics discouraged that. However, they did allow her to volunteer all she wanted.

And volunteer she did. She was one of the main room mothers and in charge of organizing events and bringing cookies and treats for holidays, parties, birthdays, and more. Of course, Mom wasn’t content with just raising me, so she decided to continue her education.

kathy5

So where does a shy, wallflower like Mom go to school – Clown College. Yes, she was a professional clown. She took classes on how to perform, put on makeup, and make balloon animals. She had a fancy clown outfit made and even registered her clown name, Belly Bean. She taught me how to make the balloon animals and made a costume for me. Then, together, we would perform skits and entertain at the hospital and nursing homes with her as Belly Bean and me, of course, as Belly Button.

We continued to perform even after Dad got orders to move half way around the world to the lovely, tropical island of Guam. It was here where God showed Mom her true calling.

The elementary school I went to needed a librarian and they hired Mom full time. She was finally able to combine her passion for kids with entertaining and performing skits, all while teaching and fostering a love of reading in students. She was the librarian for only a year and then we had to move again – this time to Altus, Oklahoma.

In Oklahoma, you have to have a master’s degree in library science to be a school librarian. So in addition to taking me to school, substitute teaching, being a room mother, going to Dad’s Air Force functions, driving six hours to Mannford to help her mom often, preparing meals for my dad’s grandparents in Rush Springs, shuttling my friends and I to band concerts, soccer games, and other activities; my Super Mom went back to school.

Lindy, Kim & Kathy

Lindy, Kim & Kathy

She would pick me up after school, whip up supper for Dad and I, and then drive an hour and a half from Altus to Weatherford for evening classes. Often with Dad and I were already in bed before she got home, but I would wake up the next morning and she would have breakfast ready.

She finished her degree in 2 1/2 years and, once again, it was time to move. But this time it was different, because Dad was retiring from the Air Force after 20 years of service. This time we had a choice of where to move. So after much prayer, my parents decided that we would move somewhere where I could finish my high school all in one place. Walking in faith, we moved to Stillwater with neither of them having jobs.

August 1973

August 1973

They had met, fallen in love, and gotten married while at OSU and felt this was the right place to be and we’ve been here ever since. But I can’t say it was easy. Dad was also called to teach, so he took jobs and drove daily to Tulsa and, later, Enid.

Since there were no library jobs open in the area, Mom took a job as a teacher’s aide for Kindergarten and first grade. But Mom was soon hired at Mulhall-Orlando and was the librarian there for two years.

That is until the May 5th tornado wiped out the town of Mulhall and the elementary school, including Mom’s library. But God is faithful. Her prayers were answered yet again and she didn’t have to rebuild her library.

She was able to take the librarian job at Frontier in Red Rock which is about 40 miles north of Stillwater and where Dad had gotten a job the year before.

kathy2

But, the thing that brought her the most joy, was having a student come back to the library excited about reading and wanting to tell her about how great the book was that she had recommended and ask her if there were any more like it. She accomplished so much while she was there, but it came at the cost of her health. If you haven’t figured it out yet, she was a workaholic.

She was the most dedicated and humble person I know. All Mom cared about was doing the best job she could for God and the students she loved so much. I’m reminded how in Matthew 5:16, it says to “let your light shine before others that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

God finally said enough and kept her from going back to Frontier in August by preventing her knees from bending enough to get in the car. And she was never able to leave our house again. Mom never wanted anyone to worry about her, especially her mom, or to be a burden on her family.

Sadly, I will never know if she approves of my future wife and I’ll never be able to go to her for advice on how to raise my kids. Though, as awkward as it was talking to her about girls, she did give me good advice for finding a wife.

She always told me to find a girl with a rich daddy. So if anyone knows a girl with a rich…Just kidding!

kathy3

I just want God to show me one with a heart for others as big as Mom’s. And in closing I would like to focus on two passages from the Bible that I thought were comforting.

1 Corinthians 15:42-44 So it will be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though we are outwardly wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving us an external glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

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Welcome to the SideBar

Did you notice I swopped out the pictures in the sidebar? (On the right.) Don’t beat yourself up if you didn’t. I had to go back and look for them myself, and I did the work! (Rolls eyes.)

With all the cold weather and snowy days we’ve had this year, I thought I’d add a little more to the flakiness. I love the memories the pictures bring back, so I kind of tried to tell a non-verbal story. See if you get it.

The first picture is Mom and Dad on one of our ski trips.

ski-team

The ‘Rents had gone skiing with the church the year I had my first baby. (For some reason–either being extremely prego or having a new nursing baby–G-Man and I didn’t go.)

So when #1 son was almost a year old, they decided to take the entire fam on our first y’all come ski trip.

When they decided to take the trip, Mom called Gaye, a wonderful friend I’d grown up with, who lived at Crested Butte, Colorado. (And she skied every day! Lucky girl.)

Miracle of miracles, Gaye found us a place to stay. (Thanks, Gaye!) It was an entire house, and since we had a few extras (one husband-to-be and several friends) it was perfect.

Gaye even found us a sweet woman for #1 son to stay with while we were there. (Thanks, again, Gaye!)

Mom bought us some of our ski gear for Christmas. Silly me, I asked for gloves, not mittens. Wow! Big mistake.

Mittens might make you look like a little kid, but they keep your fingers much, much warmer! I bought down-filled mittens there on the slopes and I was WARM! Broke, but warm. (Anything you buy on the ski slopes is expensive.)

Dad decided we didn’t need to pay to take ski lessons. He taught us everything we needed to know the morning of the first day. How to stop (make a piece of pie with your skis and sit down on it!) How to turn (Bubble-tail, cut some pie and lean into it.)

I was climbing on a very easy-to-navigate ski lift (and getting in better skiers’ way) that afternoon.

A more thoughtful person, G-Man found a hill and practiced all by himself.

ski-pair (2)

This is G-Man and me. I borrowed my ski suit from a friend, who told me to keep it. She had a new one. I loved it! (Thank you, Lana!!!)

Brother Jeffrey and his buddy didn’t bother to learn to traverse the slopes.  They just turned their tips downhill and flew! And they had a great time doing it.

I took some spectacular spills, even though Gary and I stayed on Green (Easy) slopes with an occasional Blue (Medium) thrown in.

The last day of the trip, Dad thought G-Man and I were good enough to go to the backside of the mountain . . . where we found there were only Black (double diamond-HARD!) trails.
Have you ever prayed for a helicopter to come and rescue you? I did that day. :) I think I ended up just sliding down the slope on my backside–which I only thought was cold before I started the slide.
On the way home, we ran into a blizzard. We were in Oklahoma, and experiencing worse weather than Colorado had! The baby didn’t feel good, so it was a long, long trip.
How about that? I just realized this memory is another gift for my list.
I’m oh! So! Very! Grateful!
 
 
 
 
 


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On My Tree

♪♫ Be . . . on my tree, join . . . the family. ♪♫

Okay, sorry. I’m in a rhyming mood this morning. Actually, I’ve been working on the family tree  . . . little by little. (Yes, I could use some help.)

anna-e-dickerson-@18

Tintype of Grandma’s mama. (I think)

Somehow on that tree right now, Grandma Reeves’s daddy’s “leaf” is wearing my picture. I’m not sure how I did that, but it was probably something silly. Hopefully, I’ll figure out how to take it off before too long. A little girl with a man’s name is just weird. LOL.

Quitman,-Bella,-Betty-Walla

Before I started working on this, my ancestors’ names were only that. Names that I might have heard but probably hadn’t. Since I started learning things about them through notices, hints, and pictures from other people (apparently distant relatives) they’ve become real to me.

Remember this picture? (I think I shared it before.)family-reeves

It’s my Granddad Reeves’s family. (Thank you, Uncle Robert, for sharing.) Granddad was the baby of the family (the cute little boy in the white shirt) so when Granddad went to WWI, I can only imagine how his mother felt.

His mother isn’t lighted very well in this picture, but you can see Granddad is standing near her. (I’m guess about the year the pic was taken. If Granddad was 15 here, the year is 1908.)

Great-grandma Reeves is the seated woman.

a-quilt-2

Great-Grandma Reeves made this crazy quilt.

a-quilt-1

And this quilt.

Granddad is a teen here, but in 1917 (or so) he married Grandma Reeves and went to war. Well, he joined up. When he left Okieland, his mama gave him a Bible.

Bible

I know it’s tattered and falling apart (Grandma Reeves gave it to me after Granddad died.) But a Bible that’s 97 years old should look worn, shouldn’t it?

page

She wrote this on the flyleaf–

August

A mother gift to Julius Reeves.

When I am far away, remember mother . . . has been.

And she signed it,

Mary A. Reeves

Granddad went to Austin, Texas, for training. (That’s what Grandma told me, anyway.) Here’s his draft registration card.

record-image

If I remember right, Grandma said they let him be a cook. He didn’t go to Europe or fight.

Inside that Bible, I found a letter from Grandma’s brother Harvey.

Camp Travis

CO B 358 Inf.

Dearest Eva and Julius,

Will try to write you a few lines. I wrote your letter and put it in with Mama’s and Zean (?) they lost it. Was kinda getting peeved at you when I did not get a letter from you.

Ever thing is rocking along just about the same. We are quarantined again for twenty one days have been for over a week. Was a new case of measles yesterday. Means twenty one more days to stay around here. How is ever thing getting alone up your way.? Has any body got married or any body dead? Write and tell me all the news.

The letter continues.

Don’t know if I am going to get to come home for Xmas or not. Hope so. When is the last time you have been to see mama? (Grandma and Harvey’s dad died in 1899.)

Guess I had better close. Do you ever have any thing to eat? Are you going to send me a cake some of these days?

Well, if you ans this I will write more next time.

By by Harvey.

57042167_133919795179

This is Grandma’s brother, Harvey. He and his twin, Louis, both volunteered for the war at the same time, but the recruiter knew their dad was gone and their mama (the woman in the top picture) wouldn’t have any boys left if they both died in the war.

They flipped a coin and Harvey “won.”

OK-1852240-3152

He went to Fort Travis, became a bugler and was shipped to France, where he died almost as soon as he got there.

Harvey E Crosby
Service Info.: BUGLAR B 358TH INF 90TH DIV WW
Death Date: 18 Sep 1918
Cemetery: Arlington National Cemetery
Cemetery Address: C/O Director Arlington, VA 22211
Buried At: Section 18 Site 2323

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Funny how real people become when you know their stories. And it’s funny how caught up I get when I’m reading about them. Time flies and I’m late for work. Again!

Have you found your family and put them on a tree? (Makes us sound like flock monkeys, doesn’t it? LOL)

Got any hints you can share with me? :) I’m having trouble going back very far in the Spess family. ;)

 

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