I. Now on the Trip to Cheyenne
Chapter 10: Cheyenne
We headed north to Mesa Verde National Park located in the four corners area. The corner where Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado meet. I had driven all night and so when we pulled into the park in our microbus I slept while you explored the Indian ruins in that area. Ruins of many different types of dwellings of years gone by. You children were eager to get out and move around and I needed a nap before driving on.
From Mesa Verde Park we went to Durango and up the Million Dollar Highway to Grand Junction. We were in the mountains and at one pass we were up almost 14000 feet as I recall. The microbus crawled and puffed. I told you youngster to blow hard that we might make it over the top of that mountain. We did but just with nothing to spare. Those were roads that hugged the edges of cliffs and you could look down to old mining towns thousands of feet below. Prof. Egbert Schaller told of riding with a man, who had picked him up, over those roads. At one spot the man told him to get out and ride on the fender to provide traction. There he was on the side overlooking the valleys on the fender of a model T-Ford. It could be scary on the driver's side a bit away from the edge let alone outside on a fender looking down.
From Grand Junction we headed east toward Denver. Again we were in mountain country. One thing that I recall about those miles was the tremendous number of large dandelions in the grassy meadows. Down into Denver we came. Had dinner at the DeRoses in that city and if I remember correctly we stayed with them over night and then on to Cheyenne. We had to wait a day or so for our furniture to show up so were split up with different members till the van arrived.
When we moved in we found a host of dwellers already there. The house was infested with roaches. Over the months we did our best to send them packing but when our household goods were moved 2 years later some of those critters came along to Eau Claire. It had been into the hundred degree temperatures when we left Phoenix but only in the forty and fifties when we got into Cheyenne early in June.
Cheyenne had cool nights and cool days for the most part. You always took a sweater or jacket along when you went anywhere. It could snow almost any month of the year, but snow never lasted long even in the middle of winter.
Cheyenne was the city of the Riggerts, Greenings, Andersons, Schwatings, Sprenglers,Derbys, Bloodings, Schwiegers, and a lady whose name escapes me at the moment who was very kind to you children. She was an artist of sorts, a school teacher who grown up in Reedsburg, Wisconsin, a town only 14 miles from Wonewoc.
Cheyenne lay in the center of a missile ring. Many missile sites surrounded the city. Every so often they had to be updated and so a flood of newcomers filled the town for a few years. That was being done when we were there. As a result we had some temporary visitors at our church services. One of those visitors, a man and wife, came very regularly. I remember him because he said to me one Sunday about my sermons, "you know where you are going and you get there."
Mother and I made a visit to one of those missile sites. We were allowed to go down to the control center after having been thoroughly searched. When we got into the control room there were two men each with a pistol guarding the control panel. They were not allowed to trust each other or anyone who came into the room.
We were in Cheyenne when the Cuban missile crisis developed. Had Russia and the USA gotten into a missile battle Cheyenne would have been a prime target. As a result until the Russians backed down we had to keep supplies in the school for emergency reasons. I would venture to say if the missile war had developed the school supplies would have done no good for the whole area would have been destroyed.
This June 12, 2001. Yesterday severe weather hit the state. Mankato was spared but the forecast is for more of the same for a few days. As a result for the first time since we moved to Cheyenne I am missing the pastoral conference. With no air conditioning in the car I am a bit leery to venture too far in hot and stormy weather.
II. Cheyenne Memories
Chapter 10: Cheyenne
I have already given you the names of many of the families that belonged to the congregation in Cheyenne. It was great to have a school for you younger ones. The first year Miss Wendland and Mr. Greening were the teachers. By the time the second year of our being there arrived Miss Wendland had accepted the call to Messiah in Eau Claire and I not only served as pastor but also as a teacher of the middle and upper grades. I had some of my own children in my classroom. Kathy must have been in 8th grade that year and I not only taught her but also had the privilege of confirming her. She is the only one of 9 that I could do that for. I took Paul and John in with an adult class that I had to help them review their previous instruction.
I also taught a bit of Spanish to the children using a book that I had used in Phoenix. Estados Unidos was the title of that book on the United States. Enjoyed working with the youngsters.
Friday afternoons at school we had poem days. Still remember some of the poems the students memorized and presented. Craig Johnson enjoyed reading and memorizing poetry. Even when he served in the submarine corps he continued that study. I believe he was confirmed with Kathy. His younger brother Kevin was my soloist with the children’s choir. The only problem was that he often did not show up for Sunday morning church service when I had the children sing. There were others who could take over for him. The Johnson family later moved to Illinois and I ran across them again.
The Andersons, father and sons were bowlers. Paul and John enjoyed that activity with them. There were several daughters also in that family.
One of the highlights of the year in Cheyenne was The Grand Daddy of Them All - Rodeo. You children enjoyed the morning free activities as well as the three parades of that week. Cheyenne really came alive during that last full week of July.
Other activities that interested us were the journeys to Vida Voo, Spelling? to the Snowy Range, to the reservoirs for fishing and mountain climbing. You children had a good time going to the little lake close to the parsonage to feed the ducks and in winter to ice skate.
The boys had their paper routes that provided them with passes to the Saturday afternoon shows. The girls spent much time with the Riggert girls and their little handicapped baby brother. Met them again later when had moved to Middleton, Wisconsin. Still have occasional contact with them.
Contact with the Greenings goes back over the years. LeRoy was born and raised in Rib Lake on the lake. I met him again in New Ulm. Found them in Cheyenne. From him learned to know the fishing rivers and lakes. Met them at Synod Sessions and again when I served a vacancy in Loveland they came down to see us. One of the daughters came to Coloma to visit June Altom while I was serving there. She wanted to know some background on her father who was suffering from Alzheimers at the time.
It was in Cheyenne that our Microbus died. Paul got a teacher of his from high school to buy it. So we were without a car for a time. Did not bother me for I could walk to most places where I had to go. It did bother Robert Ohlmann. So one day here he came with a Buick La Sabre he had purchased in my name in Kimbal, Nebraska. Gave me the car and loan papers from the bank. It was a good car for the most part but it was always in need of a muffler. I drove it even after we moved to Eau Claire for some years.
We spent many a pleasant hour at the Ohlmann home in Kimbal. You will remember his son and daughter. They later attended ILC. I ran across Daniel when I was vacancy pastor at Fond du Lac. I had him and his family over for dinner. Just like Sundays in Cheyenne. No matter where I go I keep running into people that I have known from other days and places. Familiar faces in unfamiliar places. It is always pleasant to renew acquaintances.
Paul benefited much from his tennis games with Mrs. Riggert. She was the state woman’s champ. I recall playing a few games with her when we moved to Cheyenne. After those couple games she told me to play against her husband for I was no match for her.
I remember on day running out of gas coming back from a snow trip. Used up a lot of gas getting through snow banks going up a hill. We all but one sat in the microbus waiting for Mr. Greening to come and bring us gas. Might bring back memories to Jeanie and Dennis on their honeymoon getting stuck in the snow banks on Happy Jack road, I believe. Mr. Greening finally tracked them down when they were late in getting back to town.
We have lived in a great variety of places over the years. Each new city or area brought new wonders to our attention both as far as people were concerned as well as type of scenery and climate. From the desert to the mountains, to the plains, to the rolling hills, etc. All provided us with the joys of God's marvelous creation. Much of this wandering about was with my family, some with a limited number, a great deal with your mother, and these last several years by myself. Something is missing without wife and children going along. I recall the words of Dr. Madsen again and again. He said enjoy your children while you have them with you because sooner than you realize they will be gone. How true not only for children but for my wife also. Dad
III. More Cheyenne Memories
Chapter 10: Cheyenne
We were in Cheyenne for a little better than two years so the number of memories is somewhat limited and yet there are some there. Quite a few were mentioned in previous episodes. Here are a few more.
Lois Jean spraining her ankle and being laid up for a time. Nice going “Limpy.” Lois Jean wanting to finish her high school years at ILC. Made possible by Pastor Arvid Gullerude taking her into their home. After graduating from ILC high school she took training in the telephone office. And became a long distance operator. Being left handed she had to sit at the end of the line. Nice going lefty. Her future in that line of work came to a quick end when we moved to Eau Claire. She was happy to get back to ILC and head for becoming a teacher. Something she had always looked forward to. Nice going Miss Gurgel. You set a pattern for all your younger sisters. By the way she lasted three years in the schoolroom. By the way when I filled in at Coloma I met the mother of a man who also taught at Jamestown when Lois Jean was there. He taught only for a little while after Jeanie got there.
Paul, as mentioned before, learned a lot about tennis from Mrs. Riggert. He played on the high school tennis team in Cheyenne and it stood him in good stead for high school days in Eau Claire and later in the Air Force. Flying high in that sport. He also set his mind to architectural drawing. Classes that have aided him off and on again in later years. Keep those blue prints going.
John went out for football. I remember watching him perform some influence blocks in practice one afternoon. The coach wanted him to return for his Junior Year but we were on the way to Eau Claire. No tackle football at ILC, but plenty of basketball.
Kathy and on down to Beth had to be satisfied with dad, Miss Wendland and Mr. Greening in the grade school. Fun on the playgrounds even though it often was very windy.
John coming home with a repeated try - this dog followed me home can we keep him? Never gave in. Our experience with the pup in Rib Lake made us wary of dogs who follow someone home.
Band concerts in Lions Park. Always take a sweater along for the evenings were cool.
Picnic on Fourth of July on Snowy Range. Snow all around, ice on part of the lake, but no warm clothes required. The sun was high and warm. Saw a lot of fish in the water at the end of the ice but didn't catch any that I can recall.
Driving down from the mountains was always worth the drive. One could look down and see brilliant patches of blue sky, patches of clouds, areas of rain. There usually were deer and antelope to be seen. As dusk settled down the animals would often be seen alongside the highway. As nigh came on the display of the stars was tremendous. No city lights to dim their beauty. One needs to get away from the city and get up into the mountains to really appreciate the night sky. The road down from Laramie, Lincoln Highway, offered a great opportunity for such a view.
Perhaps you will recall the outdoor service in the summer. I believe it was held at Hidden Valley.
We made a trip back to Wisconsin for Synod meeting. It was held at Manchester. On the way home the generator went out a second time. We drove over the hills and plains without lights except when we would meet another car. Stopped once and had the battery recharged and finally got home safe and sound. Also made a trip to Eau Claire for Lois Jean's graduation. Spent some time with Earl and Doris in La Crosse.
Made another trip to Wisconsin in 1964 for a synod meeting. At that meeting the call to become a professor at ILC was issued to me. That opened a new era in my life and yours. It was soon goodbye to Cheyenne and hello to Eau Claire.
I was asked to attend the faculty workshop at ILC in August. Paul, John, and I headed out ahead of the rest of you. The moving van was slow in coming. Mr. Riggert had to get after the company to perform as they had agreed to. Robert Ohlmann drove mother and the other children to Eau Claire after the van had finally come.
More of this under the heading of 24 years in Eau Claire. Dad
Dad being a magician in changing the coins in the collection plate to those wafers on communion Sunday. The wonderful "tank" in the back yard by the alley. A "peep" in the darkness of the night. Swampfox - let never be said that I didn't keep Gurgel traditions alive. Mr. Klingon in the basement Playing Church Scotty dog Holiday Park and the big leaf piles, and fishing for crawdads. Working on getting a congregation to have an outdoor service. I remember that one.
Bloody noses - where else but at Bloodings! Going with Mom to work down town at whatever store it was. Kidnapping the girls’ dolls when they were at school and torturing them. Running away, which I could never understand ‘cause I always knew where I was. Polio Pond, The Irises on the side of the house. The cool hide out in the pines in the triangle across from church. Rolly]
Of all the places we lived, Cheyenne was the best ....I loved going up into the mountains and just running and getting out in the sun and wind....the people were sooo friendly and we just had the run of the town....maybe it was the innocent age to run...playing out at nite....tennis....standing up in the VV and heading off the road on some little track...Deb having a fit when we couldn't get up that steep gully… ice skating... and rodeo parades all week…. chokecherry jam!!!!! And Ruth and I crying when Jeannie went off to school…. cleaning church... and singing in that wonderful church… and all the potlucks!!!! Cheyenne!!!! Kathleen]
Cheyenne is where I learned to ice skate / catching craw daddies at Holiday Park / newspaper routes / my own bike / smoked cigarettes (during recess) / long hikes into the prairie with Kevin Johnson / trout fishing / doing Paul's paper route...at 20 below when he was too lazy to do it (he was sick, yah right) / ARGH summer school for math when everyone else was swimming / the field trips with Ms. Wendland. Daniel]
I remember always towering mountains on the horizon no matter where we drove... Being afraid of Mrs. Riggert… Sucking my thumb behind the living room chair so no one would pull it out! Wetting the bed and rolling Deb over to the wet side... sorry Deb, it seemed so right at the time! And I wish I could remember "Deborah Kay Gurgel sit still!" from Dad in The pulpit that Sunday… because it would have been so great, but I'm way too young… Rolly's little friend with his face pressed to the front door screen while we were eating and Dad trying to dismiss him till we were done. Mr. Greening pulling our hair in penmanship class because we were too close to our paper... and finally I remember Daniel and Rolly and something about cookies..."Hi my name is Rolly and I like cookies!" That never worked with my name in it and Rolly never shared!!!!!Those ladies did love Rolly. Bethany]
I do remember the "Sit still". I remember getting mad at my "friend" playing "David" on me and hitting me in the back of the head with a big rock. Deb behind the couch when the wicked witch in Oz showed up. Saturday morning pancakes. Easter basket hunting. And yes rather cruel Beth. Wish I'd a thought of that one. Roll Dan over on the wet side. Should a shared that one with me and maybe I'd have shared the cookies. I still get ‘em too! Rolly]
Beth and Roland's reactions brought to mind a few more:
Mom's sewing us all look alike dresses for Christmas--except Bethany got the different color, if not enough material was available—sailor dresses, red with rick-rack, white corduroy ones with blue piping, burgundy skirts with pink blouses--which ones did I miss?
The roller coaster rides on the hills of Rib Lake in the car. Who ruined the cookie tin by throwing up into it after the ride? Sorry Debi!
The time changes across Nebraska, South Dakota, and into Minnesota never letting us eat lunch until "noon" but noon would not come!
Peeking into boxes in Phoenix on the lookout for Christmas presents before they were wrapped. Found a few games one year.
Seeing Dad kiss Mom like they did in the movies in Phoenix and thought for sure it was a sin!
Saturday was baking day--fresh bread and sweet rolls with brown sugar and raisins! The best. Ruth]
Will be leaving Thursday morning for Kenosha, Saginaw and return. Will be away from the apartment until Monday afternoon. When we get back Daniel should be here and Rollie also plans on coming to see Daniel.
Omar and Kathy will be doing the driving so I can relax and enjoy the scenery.
Wish all of you a good weekend. No e-mail for a few days. Then to the 22 years spent in Eau Claire. All of you should be well acquainted with those years so I welcome your input.