Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Historic Becker Farm at Emigrant Gap is a beautiful 160-acre working grass/alfalfa hay farm that was established in 1922 and that operates today much as it did 80 years ago. It is located close to the Oregon, California and Mormon trails and abundant wildlife such as antelope, deer, foxes, and eagles. The farm is now a tranquil homestead for the Beckers who are in the process of making it their own. Our hostess was Kathy Becker
For the first part of the visit, Kathy introduced us to Bruce Berst. Bruce’s ancestors were also Germans who immigrated to Russia
and ultimately to the United States.
Bruce is also a military historian who reenacts battles and was dressed in full infantry uniform. He has appeared as an extra in the movie Gettysburg and earned entry into invitation only battle reenactment events. Bruce shared with us many details of the lives of soldiers of the Civil War era including:
-The uniform is made of wool and extremely uncomfortable in warm weather,
_The hat was fashioned after Napoleon’s army, as was the bayonet of the rifle which was virtually useless when fighting Indians.
_The rations were minimal and tasteless at best, spoiled and rotten at worst.
_Tents were too small and resulted in dog fights over limited sleeping space. Called dog tents in the late 1800s, the minimalist shelter was the forerunner of our modern term “pup” tents.
For more details on Bruce’s volunteer living history reenactment group based in Casper Wyoming, check out http://www.historic-america.com/3rdinfantry.html.
Next, the Silhouettes of the West made up of Kathy Becker, her daughter Hannah, her friend Donna and the marvelous bass player whose name I missed, performed a number of songs. It was a thoroughly relaxing and entertaining afternoon.
For dinner, I walked my usual jaunt to downtown Casper and chose dinner at The Jazz Spot. My waiter, Gary, also works at the Parkway Plaza so he was familiar with the convention. I have eaten at a number of good restaurants here, but the Jazz Spot is my favorite. Good food, good music, plus they have Leinie on tap. What more could a Wisconsin girl ask for?
As I update my blog, it is already 9:47 p.m. on July 30.
Today was so full and I have more and more to write,
but it may not be posted until tomorrow.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
For more details, visit their web site at http://www.parkwayplaza.net/wonderbar/default.htm
Monday, July 28, 2008
I also discovered some wonderful sculpture during my walk. Artistic talent abounds in Casper. In particular, I liked one of the smaller sculptures entitled Empty Saddle by George Walbye. My father loved cowboys and the West and I know he would love Chris's work. Empty Saddle appropriately epitomizes why so many of the German Russian descendents gather in Casper this week. For details on George's work, visit any of the links below:
Sunday, July 27, 2008
The Parkway Plaza will be a wonderful site for the AHSGR/GRHS combined convention. Anticipation fills the air as some early arrivals like myself check in. Display tables and conference rooms are primed for set up. And, while I prepare myself for the week ahead, I explored the fitness center and sauna. Alas, as I unpack I realize I left behind the precious cord which connects my laptop to my digital camera.
Again, shuttle driver Bob comes to my rescue. By 1 p.m. he was ready to drive me to the local OfficeMax. He gave me the quick downtown tour on our way there so I located the Wonder Bar and the Nicolaysen Art Museum. When we arrived at OfficeMax, one of the employees jumped into service to help me find the right cable. And, within minutes, Bob and I were back on our way to the hotel.
I love the efficiency one discovers in small towns. This promptness thing could be contagious.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
If you are anywhere near Casper, you need to visit the Parkway Plaza and learn about family history. It just may spark a whole new adventure for you.
Sunday, July 06, 2008
At a certain point in the story, one of the characters, Alma Singer, befriends a Russian. Her mother responds, "Just Russian?" Alma doesn't understand until her mother explains.
"It's just that you for example, are one-quarter Russian, one-quarter Hungarian, one-quarter Polish and one-quarter German."
Fairly clean isn't it? Just wait. The story continues.
"Actually," she said, "you could say you're three quarters Polish and one-quarter Hungarian, since Bubbe's parents were from Poland before they moved to Nuremberg, and Grandma Sasha's town was originally in Belarus, or White Russia, before it become part of Poland."
In a few moments, her mother realizes something else. "I suppose you could also say you're three-quarters Polish and one-quarter Czech, because the town Zeyde came from was in Hungary before 1918, and in Czechoslovakia after, although the Hungarian continued to consider themselves Hungarian, and briefly even became Hungarian again during World War II. Of course, you could always say you're half Polish, one-quarter Hungarian, and one-quarter English, since Grandpa Simon left Poland and move to London when he was nine."
Her mother goes on to create 16 different pie charts which accurately reflects their ancestry. Alma reviews the charts and answers "I'M AMERICAN!" To which her brother responds, "No, you're not. You're Jewish." (pg. 85-87).
Ancestry and religion can be confusing. Perspective is everything. My own background is 100% German Russian, yet people I meet struggle to understand how my family lived in Russia for over 200 years and could not be Russian.
Then, the religious aspect affects ancestry, too. My father's side was Catholic, my mother's side Lutheran. With all of the religious issues in the world today, this difference seems minimal. However, religious concerns are part of what prompted my ancestors to move from the Germanic states in the 1760's. And, where did they move from? Now the land is part of Luxembourg and Germany, near the Moselle Lorraine region. From my limited study of the region, I can easily remember four major transitions in power and that does include the two World Wars.
Perspective is everything when understanding family history. It is a tangled maze of information to understand. It still behooves us to try to understand, because as I stated in earlier blogs, it is the story of how you became you. And, that is extremely worthwhile to discover.
Friday, July 04, 2008
So, happy 4th of July to all! I love this weekend because of the history and the wonderful family memories I associate with it. The fun of this holiday is not to simply experience it, but to be cognizant of the deepest meanings. I reflect on the following as I plan to celebrate on the 4th:
-David McCullough is one of my all time favorite authors. I recently read "The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal 1870-1914." In the past, I have enjoyed "The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge. To savor early America, his books 1776 and John Adams are the best. Check out his site at http://www.simonsays.com/content/destination.cfm?tab=1&pid=328883 if you need inspiration.
-Flags displayed at the entrance of my subdivision always spark a wonderful patriotic pride that nothing else can. One of these days I promise to take a picture for my blog.
-Tennis is also part of my holiday indulgence. Growing up in Wisconsin, you could count on a rainy holiday weekend to spend indoors watching Wimbledon. This tradition continues in Arizona as the afternoon sun keeps one indoors. The history of Wimbledon combined with the memory of meeting Boris Becker at the Waldorf Astoria during his pre-poker prime all flood back to me each year. I love to reflect on Borg, Graf and all of the players as I build a new history with my children. And, of course, I will venture out on the court myself before the sun blazes the hardcourt.
-After tennis, family movie time will include my latest Disney DVD addition of The Sword and the Stone. I remember when the movie first hit the big screen. I cherish the original board game. I love it. Camelot, Arthur and Merlin. My good friend Mitzi Kleidon would enjoy it, too. Visit http://www.bookfinder.com/author/mitzi-kleidon/ for Mitzi's take on the wonderful Rexcalibur.
-Three days to catch up on reading, editing and drawing...for all of my projects. My two latest books are The History of Love by Nicole Krauss and Physics of the Impossible by Michio Kaku. These are two unusual books for me the first lent to me by my good friend Steve White, and the second being a challenge to myself to try to understand the latest in science. As an editor, I continue to work on my friend Andy Kroneberger's book A Man called Andreas. And, last but not least, the sequel to Maggie Visits Grandpa beckons me to draw at least a couple more pictures.
-And, in between it all, some laughter. Perhaps tears, as a good friend plans to replace my garbage disposal. The promise of chili and a few beers was the attraction to solve my sink problem.
-However, the best quote of the day in my house, the now famous words of my daughter, Ashley who said, "I google my name every day." Just to keep up with who you are and to be cognizant of how you are perceived is a full time endeavor. Of course, if you want to be incognito this holiday weekend....go for it.