Sunday, August 18, 2013

Boot Camp Graduation

Here is our daughter's enlistment photo!  She doesn't like it because she thinks her face looks fat and after ten weeks of boot camp she is even more fit than she was.  I think the look is a little more of the "deer in the headlights" but actually, that might be my projection because that would be what I would be experiencing if it was me.  She's a physically fit little cookie.  The last time I was "thin" was probably 5th grade.  But I digress. This is not about me!

On the Tuesday following the Tangen family reunion, we flew off to Columbia, SC by way of Charlotte, NC.  It was funny to be on an airplane with a flight time of 17 minutes.  It took longer to board the flight than it did to get to Columbia!  We checked into our hotel and then drove around the area getting our bearings about where everything was.

The next morning was Family Day.  Off we went, an hour early, to the field where this event was being held. We joined the migrating herds of family members who were there to celebrate their children's success.  It turns out that there were 1,244 men and women were graduating! And about 50 or so had not made it this far yet!  We sat in the bleachers and talked to other parents and siblings of graduates.  And read the books we brought along for the long wait.  Some families had been very creative, having come with large groups of family and friends who wore special T-shirts announcing their loyalty!

All of a sudden on the edge of the woods, smoke bombs went off and all of a sudden the people we can come to see came racing toward us across the field, taking their places in their various companies A-F.
I have no idea why you can't turn this off and on, but that is the way it is.  It is probably better to watch the video (next) rather than this.  But I was pleased that I was able to take this.  The original doesn't have the arrow in the center :-). . Of course since I had never taken a video before with my camera, that could be part of the problem!  Wait for the beginning!  

Here is a You-Tube video of the same event from a different angle.  And likely a much newer camera!

This is her "Company Echo" after they all got into their positions.  Seriously, they all look the same.  At the end of this we had to go out on the field and find our soldier.  Looked like it could have been an all-day event..  She said later she's in the third row from the right (facing) near the back.  I never did find her until we were out on the field.  She actually found us which is not surprising as her dad is 6'4".  
 Listening to the speeches; impatiently waiting for the time to see and hug the successful soldier.
 Now they have earned the right to wear the beret. 
 Camo hat off..
 Beret's on.
Drat!  Still can't find the kid. How can so many people look so similar!  I even had my birding binoculars and there was no chance of identification.  But at last we got together!
Dad and soldier daughter
 Mom and daughter
Home sweet home for the past ten weeks (right there on the right).  
Top  bunk - makes her new school housing of a room shared with one roommate look pretty good!

The base command is really quite clever!  Family day lasts from about ten in the morning until evening but the not quite graduated soldiers cannot leave the post.  So what do families do for all that time?  Well, we spent some time at a coffee stand by a small lake (this was a highlight for the deprived soldier), went to dinner (spent money), went to a movie (spent money) and went to the exchange (spent money).  Good planning on their end!  We watched the new Superman movie.  The story was pretty good but honestly, the combat scenes were just overdone.  I was really tired of watching New York high rises getting smashed.  Ack!  It seemed to drag on.  But the overall story was very good.  Just too much, too much!

 The band begins!
 They marched from the far end of the field and got in position to march in front of the stands.

 Somewhere in there is my daughter! 
Somewhere marching by. . . .
 PROUD OF YOU!  The US has some good looking soldiers!
 Dad and daughter reprise!
  Daughter reverts to previous behaviors!  Coffee and Facebook!

Now the festivities are done and for the first time in ten weeks she gets to get off base!  WooHoo!  Latte's and computer access for the first time in ten weeks. Happy Camper!  This is in our hotel room.  She spent the afternoon on Facebook and talking on the phone.  Brought to mind desert travelers with access to water at long last! 
 In the evening we took her out to dinner at the Texas Roadhouse.  My husband and I had been there our first night in town and had steaks.  But the second time we had their pork chop.  It was fabulous!

The next day she left for Fort Eustice and we left for home.  The return was not without its drama!  Our flight to Houston was arriving at the time it should have been leaving.  We landed in Houston the same time our connection was leaving the runway for home.  I harbored a small hope that we would get put up at a hotel and could wait to go home the next day with a travel voucher.  Ha!  United Airlines promptly got us confirmed on the 9:30 flight and a few hours later our vacation was at an end and we were disembarking at Sea-Tac!  
What a fun vacation we had.  Relaxing and fun!  A good time was had by all!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Wellington Wonders

After we left the Tangen Family Reunion on Sunday morning, we headed back east toward Cleveland, but stopped our journey at our friends Dave and Ruth's house in Lorain, where we used to live  We had been great friends the years that we lived in Ohio.  We loved our time in Ohio!  Seeing them again was just like old times and we settled right back into the routine -- a great part of which was the fact that our ethnically Syrian, totally American, friend is a great cook.  We ate well while we were there.  The only thing we didn't get that would have been the topper of the cuisine would have been his marvelous lamb chops.  That is not to complain, but just to let you know how good they are in case you ever get invited over..  Mmm.  I'm drooling just thinking about it.

One of the things we wanted to do when we visited again was to take a trip back down Hwy 58 through Oberlin to Wellington, Ohio.  We spent the four years in Wellington coveting the houses.  There are a large number of Italianate and Victorian homes.  This is a small example of the houses in Wellington, and not at all one of the dramatic ones.  Can you believe we didn't actually take any photos of the houses, the four of us just drove along oohing and ahhing over them.  My husband took this photo for the trees, not the house. I think it's a oak.   Oh well, next time we go to Wellington, we'll take photos to post.

In the evening we "dropped in" on another family with whom we had been friends.  Their old phone number didn't work, so we just drove to their house and knocked on the door.  At least they recognized us and Tammy and Bill look just the same.  Another fun filled evening reminiscing and then it was back to Lorain for the last evening.  The next morning brought continuation of the journey to our daughter's army boot-camp graduation!

Thanks friends for a wonderful time and great visits!  Sorry for missing so many others that we love such as Scott and Briana to name one more family.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Tangen Family Reunion 2013

It was time again this summer for the every-three-years Tangen family reunion.  Our Tangens moved to the United States from Norway a couple of years after the Civil War.   Ole Knudsen Tangen was about 20 or 21 years old when he came and he apparently came with some brothers, but not with his parents.  I could be wrong about them, but I don't see any records of his parents in the New World.  I don't know if Ole Knudsen Tangen (son of Knute and Guri) met Ella Mae before they left Norway or after they got to Iowa.   On Feb 24, 1877 he married Ella Mae Nelsdatter Dokken. They had nine children -- Knute, Christie, Julia, Nels, Oline, Anna, Josephine, Ole (my grandfather) and Thea. Oline died when she was 10 and Nels died when he was 30 without having married and left no children.  The other seven are responsible for our Tangen Clan that gets together every three years. (We only had two years between one set of reunions, tho, because Julia turned 100 years old and that was an event to Celebrate together!

For the past three reunions we have also gotten to know other more distantly related Tangens that are all descendents of Ole Knudsen Tangen's brother John.  So we are cousins one more time removed!  There were apparently five siblings all together.  Unfortunately the Tangen men mostly had daughters, so there is only a small percentage of our family that still have the name Tangen. But we are all very loyal Tangen Norwegians including all the other names and ethnicities  now woven into the fabric of the family.  Many of the original Tangen children moved from Iowa to the Dakotas, some permanently and some homesteaded awhile there but then returned to Iowa or moved on to new places.  Now we are scattered all over the US.

Our Tangen Family - My grandfather Ole O is the short guy on the far left.
The Reunion this time was held in Huron, Ohio and began on July 25th.  The "descendants of Christie" families did a GREAT job of organizing things.  At first we were debating how to do our vacation(s).   My husband and I had two things.  One, the reunion. Well, I HAD to go to the reunion because I missed the last one three years ago because Mom passed away about three weeks before.  We (my sister and I) were very disappointed because after mom died we had hoped to go to the reunion together.  But life was just too complicated so shortly after mom's death.  So we planned to attend this one together. Well, then my sister passed away a year ago on July 25th.  This time I knew I HAD to go represent the family and to participate in the memorial for her. Mom had been remembered -- even on short notice -- at the reunion in Medora, North Dakota three years before.  I had also hoped that others of my more immediate family (some of mom's siblings) would have been able to attend  this time, but that didn't work out.  So, I planned to go to the reunion. and we planned for my husband to go too.  

But then we had another (nice) complication. One of our two daughters was graduating from Army boot camp at Fort Jackson, South Carolina on August 1st.  That made things tricky! So then we thought maybe I would go to the reunion and he would go to the graduation. Or maybe I would go to the reunion, return home and then we would both go to the graduation. Or maybe. . .but we finally just decided to ignore the lack of income (when you are self employed there is no vacation) and just both attend both events.

We took a red-eye to Cleveland because it was non-stop flight.  And we actually slept.  It was getting dark when we got to Sea-Tac airport and we arrived in Cleveland with the sun. We got off the plane just as the rental car office was opening and off we drove to Huron. To our delight, we were able to check in early and got to our room at 10:15 in the morning.  A dozen minutes later and we were snoozing until about 2:00. What a treat.  Great start to a great vacation.. In fact, we got into naps during this vacation.  The reunion registration started at 3.  We had already pre-paid for nearly everything, but we had to get organized and start reconnecting with the family we hadn't seen in ages.  Six years ago the reunion was held in Galena, Illinois.  That was a very fun trip. That year our daughters drove across country with Mom and Venca and we flew in and out because we couldn't take off work for road trip too.  That was the last reunion with Mom and Venca and it was memorable and fun. Our reunions always include fun activities.  In Galena we took a boat trip on the Mississippi River and at this Huiron reunion we spent a day at Put-In-Bay a ferry ride away in Lake Erie. No boredom at our gatherings.
We stayed at Sawmill Resort in Huron.  Here is a "map" of the area Native Tribes way back when.  And it also gives you the flavor of the Resort decor.  The wings of the hotel were all named for different tribes.

What a fun and relaxing time. Emotional too.  It was sad having the first day of the reunion fall on the exact one year anniversary of Venca's death, but it was also healing to be a part of the larger family with dozens of people asking either "where is Venca" and hearing the news or "WHAT happened to Venca" with disbelief that that could have happened and she was not here..
The first evening we had a casual (and home made by the organizers) dinner.  We spent lots of time laughing, talking and catching up with each other again since another three years had gone by for most -- and six since I was last there.

We ended the evening by watching half of the movie "The Blind Side."  Unfortunately we had technical difficulties and it froze up in the middle, but now I want to watch it again.  We had a good turnout - the last I heard we had 101 attendees.  Look at the size of this group!

On Friday morning the first activity of the day was the Memorial Service for those who had passed away since our last reunion.  There was a long list of people, but I cannot remember everyone.  So I will just mention those I know of personally.  Linda Smith organized the memorial and it was very sweet.  She illustrated the growth of the family members represented by balloons, beginning with the marriage of Ole K and Ella.  Balloons were added for their children and all of us who followed.  Then there was a group of  balloons representing those who had gone.
Getting ready!
They were released to represent leaving us and moving on to heaven's shore to wait for us on the other side.  It was very poignant.  In my part of the family and those I know of who have passed on include:
Venca Lorayne Weber; 
Bruce Duane Tangen, 
Marjorie Norma Tangen Whitlock, 
Iris Mae Beck Dahl, 
Donna Jean Casperson Dahl;
Following the memorial, we had our choice of activities. As none of those (mall shopping, golf, Cedar Point, etc) appealed to the two of us, we chose to go back to our favorite birding spot in Ohio and visited Magee Marsh which is nearer Toledo.  It is a spit of land that juts out into Lake Erie and birds congregate there to eat and to build up the motivation to fly across the lake in their Spring migration or to sigh with relief when it finally is reached after making it across the Lake in their Fall migrations. There is wonderful boardwalk that winds over the marsh so you can stare up into the trees and walk without tripping and falling!   As no one was migrating at the time, we just viewed the summer residents.  We got to see lots of Yellow Warblers and that was a treat.

That evening we had a dinner at a residential community park .  A good time was had by all!  The kids were all quite experienced at driving golf carts!

The next day, Saturday, I got my own first chance to drive a golf cart.  The large family took a trip to Put-In Bay.  It was quite an organizational feat and I take my hats off again to the organizers!  We had buses and in the morning we joined the massive herd of people heading out to the Lake Erie Islands.  The ferry was MUCH smaller than those that wind their way through Puget Sound!
Unlike our Puget Sound ferries, these have to turn around and back into the dock to unload cars.  In Puget Sound the ferries have two front ends, and you have to know which way the ferry is moving to know which is port and starboard!
This is the Perry Victory and International Peace Memorial.  
 These "characters" were at the bottom of the monument.. What they were doing there, looking like they had just come back in time machine, I do not know.  But they were definitely a photo opportunity!
 Put-In-Bay was where the Battle of Lake Erie took place during the War of 1812.  I know I have other relatives who fought in the War of 1812, but since they lived in Vermont I am assuming they were no where near here!  But perhaps I should research that in the future.  The Tangens had another sixty plus years before they arrived.  We went to the museum and got to watch a very interesting movie.  Made me glad I was never in battle on the sea with cannonballs and at the mercy of the wind.  Nothing like learning that sailors were move afraid of flying wood shards than they were of cannon balls.  When Captain Perry won this battle, he was only 27 years old.
We had a really nice lunch with a lovely view at a place called the Boardwalk.  We waited for ages to be served, but since we were all gabbing it didn't matter at all!  Thank you Mitchell and Edna!  This photo is not our family -- just the view!

We came back to Huron and now it was our last dinner together.  We ate at a little restaurant called Mulligan's on the resort property and we had the deck for our private party.  We all ate well and continued our conversations.  At the end of the evening we had our auction.  In order to make organizing these things not such a burden to the families that take it on. we bring items to auction to raise funds to cover deposits and mailings. 

 We raised nearly $1900 at the auction.  My husband and I took three items to donate to the auction.  We took one of our concrete leaves (see last blog entry if interested - not one of those, but similar).  We took a jar of honey from the folks private stash! And we took two little hats that had been crocheted by Gladys (youngest of the two daughters of Knute Tangen).  She had personally  made them for a reunion a couple of decades ago.  We were really pleased because our donations brought in about 10% of the proceeds.
The two photos show our group during the evening.  What a fun time.  Reunions are always good times to renew old relationships and to form new ones.  It is great that the younger generation is still staying involved and continuing with this terrific tradition!  

On Sunday morning we had a continental breakfast together in the same room we had begun this reunion in.  We talked and hugged and said goodbye.  We hear the next reunion will be in Minnesota or maybe North Dakota. 


My mother was born in this house on the Tangen farm after Ole O came back to help after his father had passed away.  In this photo I have the pink shirt, mom, Bernadine, is in the red blouse and Marjorie and Dee are walking in front of us.  Wow this was a long time ago!!
This is the old Tangen Family Farm just outside Hanlontown, Iowa.  These photos were taken at the reunion the year of Aunt Julia's 100th birthday which would be 1980!  We drove the route she took from the wedding to the reception at her parent's house.  It was very nice of the current owners to give us access. We had young family members in Norwegian Traditional dress serving refreshments.  
The foundation of the barn was built by Grandpa Ole Knudsen Tangen
Julia, Knute and Christie Tangen -- since we've talked about all of them here.