Category Archives: Lets Blog Off

Flags: A ‘Let’s Blog Off Post” about Flowers!

Flowers are nice. They indicate that spring is here, winter is over and we can spend more time outside.  The birds chirp, the bees buzz around and the colors are wonderful.  I have memories as a child of flower gardens and ponds in them.  I don’t remember much detail, except they were always fun.

We moved to the Southern Nevada Desert early on.  I lived there until I left for college.  I went back east from Nevada to Kansas.  My flower journey has me getting married and joining into my wife’s Kansas family traditions.  The flower tradition is rooted in Decoration Day.

Known to most as Memorial Day, I learned Decoration Day.  My wife’s folks were quiet farm types.  They had many opinions, and occasionally would even state them.  Most of the time they listened.  They remembered that God gave us two ears and one mouth.  I  have to continually remind myself of that. They taught me all about Decoration Day, by doing, not by talking.

It was a day to visit the various cemeteries and the graves of family members. You made sure the grave stone and appearance was acceptable.  You didn’t wait until the actual Memorial Day. I started this when Memorial Day was May 30; not always on a Monday. That came later. You started the weekend before Memorial Day.  The goal was to make sure when the ceremony started on the Memorial Day, or those from out of town came to visit the cemetery, you graves looked good.

In the yard around the house, my Mother-in-Law, Eda (Roberts) Greenfield, had lots of flowers.  She had a green thumb, and could keep her African Violets blooming year round. In the first years as I learned about Decoration Day, she would have a number of jars ready. Jelly, mayo, etc. Ready meant cleaned out and covered with aluminum foil.  Final preparation was to cut flowers from the farm yard and put them in the containers in water.

Then off we went.  They would go to two different cemeteries. There was the Princeton, KS Cemetery. This is where the Roberts side of the family was buried.  Her folks, and grandparents, and others.  Then we went the other way, to the Williamsburg, KS cemetery. There were the Greenfield family members. Parents and others, including their baby son.

In time, we added more cemeteries. Last year, my wife and I visited 7 cemeteries. Three of those have been added to our list from my start, because life goes on and ends. So people I knew were buried, it was not just about people that I had heard stories about.

One of the cemeteries we added, was my father-in-law’s mother. Glenn was born in 1907, his mother, Myrtle Irene Lightle, died in childbirth in 1917.  She is buried in Hall’s Summit, KS Cemetery.  If you find the intersection of I-35 and US 75, (BETO Junction) south of Topeka, you are close. It is actually 5 ½ south on US 75, then 3 East and ½ south. You will see the ATT Long Lines tower before you get off 75.  My brother-in-law, Paul would not find it that way.  He is a Geologist by training and works for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  He would tell you how far is is from the Wolf Creek Power Plant. (About the same as from BETO junction.)

This grave had a large plot of flowers growing behind the grave stone. Perhaps a circle 20 feet in diameter. The few that were blooming were a pale yellow. They were Iris.

Eda always liked these ‘Flags’ as she called the Iris.  This cemetery had a number of graves with Flags planted nearby.  Both entrances to the  cemetery were marked with plantings of Flags.  Through the next few years as we drove in and out different ways, we found the country roads were spotted with Flags growing in fence lines, hedgerows and farm yards.

We could see them on this weekend before Memorial Day because they were in bloom.  All the bright Yellow, Purple, and mixed colors were there.  Watching them over the years gave me an appreciation for them.

Each year at Halls Summit, we would remove a few from that large circle. As we did so, more would bloom the next year.  Some years just one or two Rhizomes, some years we might get 30. Last year the circle was closer to 10 feet in diameter.  Those Flags have populated a lot of places. We just didn’t throw them away. They went to churchs, yards, a school that I can think of.  One Boy Scout used them in his Eagle Project.  I’m sure some of those have been thinned and have moved on.

So when I think of flowers, I think of Flags. I think of Road Trips, cemeteries and family.

 

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Grandma Said … A Let’s Blog Off Post

 

I was lucky enough to know both of my Grandmothers in their 70’s and 80’s.  This post is about my maternal Grandmother,  Lillian Elizabeth Cozier Baer – 1886 to 1966.

 

She and my Grandfather were both born in New York City and they both died in Boise, ID.  During that time they experienced many things and the Grandmother I experienced and have heard about is certainly a product of those experiences. She also made her own way. I believe she confronted her times with two different approaches to the situations that she faced in life.

Grandpa Baer worked in construction finance and accounting.  He began his career in Railway work, and then moved to road building and other types of construction.  The travels of Allison Harvey Baer and his wife, Lillian, are relevant here because they helped form or perhaps solidify my Grandma’s beliefs and practices that make up this story. They were married in 1911 and in late 1914 moved with two little girls to Peking, China.  Grandpa went to build Railroads for the Chinese Government of Sun Yat Sen and Grandma did what Mothers always do.  Keep home and hearth.

My Aunts, Betty and Ruth were the two little girls. When they returned, Aunt Jean had joined the family. They returned to Brooklyn, NY and my mother, Barbara, was born. Then Grandpa joined the company building the Moffett Tunnel in Colorado. So the family picked up and moved to Denver, with the newest baby, my Uncle Scott.  After they finished the tunnel, Grandpa joined Morrison-Knudsen of Boise, ID. Now you know the family itinerary.

I have been told 2 stories about my Grandmother and how she dealt with her family and the world.  The first by my mother, and the second by my cousin Betty. Betty is the oldest daughter of my Aunt Ruth. She grew up in Denver, except during WWII, when her father was in the US Navy, they stayed at Grandma’s house in Boise – on Warm Springs Avenue! Any one that has driven down Warm Springs Avenue, also US 30, in Boise will remember the aroma of the warm springs. Appropriate for an Energy Auditor, my first experience with a renewable power source, hot water heat.

During WWII Grandma was active in the Red Cross.  One day she left for a Red Cross Meeting.  Betty remembers noticing her shoes. Perhaps you remember the tie type shoes popular then.  Three standard colors, Brown, Black and Blue.  Betty asked Grandma, “Why are you wearing two different color shoes?”  Grandma’s response was simple and yet, not quite so simple. “I am going to the election of Officers for the Red Cross. I am running for President of the Chapter.  The competition is very stiff.  So some of those ladies will look at my shoes and think, poor Mrs. Baer and vote for me.” My Grandma is on the right receiving the check for the Red Cross.

Growing up, I remember my mother explaining why I should eat all my dinner.  Especially when it was something like Egg Plant. She would tell of hearing from Grandma about the poor in China.  It was readily imprinted on my mother that she should not spurn otherwise good food, because the starving orphans in China were not a lucky as she was.  She always told me that she wouldn’t talk about the starting orphans of China, but she would talk about the starving orphan in Korea.

Here was a lady that had graduated from college, one of 0.04% of her age group. She took her family to China maintained the raising and education of her children; and taking time to better her community. Returning to the US, she went with her husband and family continueing to raise her family, see to their education and still work to improve her community. All within the limited avenues available to her during the first half of the 20th Century.

In demonstrating these values through out her life, she made the world a better place. Directly through her efforts and indirectly through the lives of those she loved and raised.  Looking at her Great Grand Children, we have 2 that are heavily into IT and teaching; an Army Officer – just returned from his 3rd or 4th tour in the Mid East; a Navy Seal with service in Iraq, a physician, a nurse, a non-profit PR person, a college professor, her g-g grand children number 9 at this point, the oldest a Freshman in college.

In a time where travel was a novelty, most people did not go more than 50 miles from their birth place during their entire life; Grandma went around the world with her family. She worked to make the world a known place and to shrink the distance.  I think Grandma would be proud of  the strides made over the years in continuing to shrink the world, and to make the diversity we have in this world, something that is not so strange and scary. In parting, I share this picture of a small part of her family, two of her Great-Great-Granddaughters, Kim Nhat and Quan Minh.