Wednesday, November 11, 2015

It Was In My Blood

I come from a long line of family members who served in the military and I'm proud of every one of them.

My father, Ray Ross "Smitty" Smith, Jr., served in the US Naval Reserves during World War II as an Aviation Machinist Mate 1 and was a lifetime member of the Disabled American Veterans.  He enlisted 5 Feb 1942 in Kansas City, Kansas, was sworn in 10 Feb 1942 and was discharged 29 Sep 1945.  

My grandfather, Linzie Sheldon Roberts, served in the Kansas State Guard during World War I in Company A, 26th Battalion under Captain John M. Garrison.  He was a corporal.  He served from 26 April 1918 to 28 Mar 1919.  

A number of my uncles also served and here are photos of some of them.

Arthur Franklin "Artie" Roberts
US Army, World War II, Private
30 Aug 1943 to 7 Dec 1944
Elbert Earl "Earl" Roberts
US Army, World War II
22 Aug 1942 to 20 May 1943
Walter Ray Roberts
US Army, World War I
8 Jun 1917 to 3 Feb 1919
Leo Undine Smith
US Army, World War II
1 Mar 1944 to 11 Jun 1946
Wilmer LaVerne Smith
US Navy, World War II
21 Oct 1942 to 8 Dec 1945
Ellis Wayne "Wayne" Smith
US Army, World War II
26 Mar 1941 to 26 Oct 1945
John Franklyn Smith
US Army Reserve
29 Jul 1962 to 29 Jan 1963
And then, there's me!!
Kansas Army National Guard
Larned, Kansas
17 Feb 1976 to 4 Dec 1981

Kansas Air National Guard
Wichita, Kansas
5 Dec 1981 to 29 Aug 1990
Battle Creek, Michigan
30 Aug 1990 to 30 Sep 2005

My Life Story: The Beginning of My Military Career

If you grew up in a small town, you know what I mean when I say that there isn't much of a future for someone unless they move out of that small town or go to work for the biggest employer around.  And small town Larned, Kansas was no exception.  The biggest employer in the area was the Larned State Hospital and I did not have an interest or the skill set to go to work there (Okay, you will see in a future blog post that I did eventually go to work at the State Hospital and I will also talk about other family members who also worked there at one time or another.)!

So, fresh out of high school in 1972, I went to work at the local newspaper, The Tiller and Toiler (I will talk more about this, as well, in a future blog) and small town life continued.

I was never really satisfied with the direction my life was taking.

Fast forward to 1976.  With my dissatisfaction continuing to grow I decided it was time to do something different.  And that decision left my parents in shock.  Shy, little me, making such a stupendous decision!  I'm not sure they thought I would go through with it or would make it through what was involved with the decision I made.  But, I proved them wrong!!

On 17 Feb 1976, I enlisted in HHB (-Det 1) 1st Battalion 161st Field Artillery, Kansas Army National Guard, stationed at the National Guard Armory in Larned, Kansas.  I was their first female enlistee!  (Just a side note:  I weighed 98 pounds at the time of my enlistment physical.  They had to put rocks in my pockets so that I would make the weight requirement for enlistment.)

I enlisted as a PV1 (E1) and was scheduled to go to basic training in Fort Jackson, South Carolina (not Fort Benning, Georgia as stated in the photo) on 30 July 1976.  I enlisted as a Personnel Records Specialist and because of my previous work experience I did not have to go to any technical training.  While I was at basic training I kept a diary and when I returned to work at the Tiller and Toiler, I wrote a series of articles on my experience that I will share in later posts.

Little did I know that the decision I made to join the military would have such a huge impact on my life!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Bitten By the Genealogy Bug

Some of you may have had this happen to you as well.  You are sitting in your high school biology class and the teacher says "I want you to research your family tree so you can see how your eye color, hair color, left-handedness or right-handedness, height and other traits you have come from your ancestors."  Well, that happened to me and when I got home I spoke to my mom about the assignment.  It was then that she started sending letters (and eventually family group sheets) out to family members to collect this information for me.  I wasn't very good at writing letters and after all mom was the one with all the family contact information.  Eventually I turned in my assignment (don't remember what grade I got for it) and that was it for me.  I had no further interest in my ancestors.

Well, that didn't stop my mom!  As a matter of fact, she got so involved in genealogy that she eventually became the Strait Family Historian and a whole bookcase next to your chair in the living room was full of family group sheets and other information on our family.  And there was more in file cabinets and etc.  She was constantly writing letters and receiving information in the mail.  And, we spent some of our family vacations visiting cemeteries.  Needless to say my dad and I weren't all that thrilled about trudging around in cemeteries.  After all I was a teenager and had better things to do!!!

This all started back in the 70's.  Fast forward to 1992.  In July 1992, my father passed away.  Several months prior to that mom and dad had been admitted to a nursing home because mom had fallen and broken her ankle and could not return home until the doctor's said she could.  With the passing of my dad, it was obvious that mom was not going to be able to return home because she didn't had dad there anymore to take care of her. 

So, it became a task for me and my three sisters to clean out our parents house so it could be put up for auction.  There in the living room was the daunting bookcase full of family history binders.  I knew that my sisters probably weren't interested in the stuff so I told them I would take it.  Well, we didn't have a very big car and all that "stuff" filled several big boxes that were no way going to fit in our car.  So, we decided to store the stuff at my husband's oldest daughters house until we could come back and get it.  It was several years later that we finally went to Kansas to visit the oldest daughter and retrieve the "stuff" we had left stored with her. 

Once we got "the stuff" home and I started going through the boxes my interest became piqued and needless to say the rest is history.

And that's how I got "Bitten by the Genealogy Bug".

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Bronze Sculptor: Leonard Enos "Gus" Shafer

My first cousin once removed, Leonard Enos "Gus" Shafer, was born on a farm 3 1/2 miles southwest of Hoisington, Barton, Kansas and received his formal education at Hoisington High School.  He furthered his education at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa and Kansas State Teachers College in Emporia, Lyons, Kansas.  He was the son of Louis Franklin and Etta Delphenia "Del" (Smith) Shafer.  

Gus learned how to draw while attending a small one-room schoolhouse.  It was his favorite subject!

He married Eva C. Gerardy, in 1930, and they had one daughter, Patricia Louise "Pat" Shafer.  Shortly after his marriage to Eva, they moved to Kansas City where he worked as a commercial artist (after a short stint working for the Wichita Eagle).  

It wasn't until 1966, at the age of 59, that he sculpted his first model for casting.  He closed his studio and started sculpting bronzes full time in 1968 and became internationally known for his works, even being commissioned to do some work in England and Italy.   

In 1973, Gus published a book called "Gus Shafer's West", which features a number of his sketches, paintings and bronze sculptures.

He passed away on 5 May 1985, in Overland Park, Johnson, Kansas.

On 22 September 1991, Eva broke ground for the L. E. "Gus" and Eva Shafer Memorial Art Gallery aka "The Shafer Gallery".  The gallery is located on the campus of Barton County Community College, Great Bend, Barton, Kansas,  Grand opening was held November 1, 1992.

Here are photos of some of his works: