I had just gotten home from bringing my oldest son to morning Kindergarten at St. John’s Lutheran School up in Hayes. I turned on the TV to find footage of utter pandemonium on New York City streets. I am not sure if anyone fully realized at the time just how big of an impact the 9/11 attacks had- not just here in the USA, but all over the world.
It feels so strange to acknowledge that 20 years have passed since that day.
I won’t forget how naïve I was before the attacks. When I heard about attacks like those-I just assumed that they couldn’t happen here, but in third world countries. We were too strong of a country. Who could touch us like that? When I was dragged into reality that day, I was scared. If that can happen here, what else could people do to our country? A few days later, I remember someone passing around a sheet of paper that had what was supposed to be Nostradamus’s prediction about the attacks. The final sentence read ‘and the world will end soon after’-a fuel to that fire of fear. Days later, a news story came out proving that the prediction was phony.
My oldest son was only 5 years old when the attacks took place. All he remembers of the day now was a special assembly that was held at the school to honor the victims. I make sure to never forget a question Matt asked me a few weeks later. When a crop duster flew over our house, he asked me, “Mama, are there good people flying that airplane?” People under 30 do not know a life without the protocols that these attacks inspired aside from what Social Studies classes and older relatives can teach them.
Never forget. When I watch today’s newscasts and see things that seem rooted in hate-looting, protests gone wrong, athletes kneeling during the anthem, being offended by some trivial thing-I fear now that many have forgotten. I pray that it won’t take another attack to put a stop to what we have turned into. To remind myself of that day, I make it a point every 9/11 to watch this speech from then-President Bush. Click on the link below to watch his address.
As our President said in his speech 20 years ago-“God Bless America”.
I have survived another post-fair letdown. All the weeks of watching kids get projects ready, sorting out stories about the fair plans, all the way up to watching our beloved Zippel Park become draped in a series of multi colored lights, games, and carnival rides. Even though it’s a bit of a bummer when everything has to come down at the end, it was great to see the fair again (in its 80th Year no less!) after COVID put the kibosh on it in 2020.
A new addition that I hope the board keeps-BINGO-was a very entertaining add-on to the fair itinerary! The Oconto Falls Lioness Club took charge of this event, which was a series of six games. The size of the jackpots in each game was determined by the number of people that purchased cards-so when I played the pots were anywhere from $30.00 to $68.00. Thank you to the Lioness Club for making that happen! (And for bringing back memories of playing bingo with my Dad! 😊 )
Helping out at the local food stands…I know organizations had trouble finding volunteers for the stands but managed to fill spots as the fair drew closer. People, helping out at the food stands is so fun! Making small talk with everyone, the crazy rush of getting the food out, and just the knowledge that you are helping make something possible. Thursday and Saturday evenings I was able to do just that-at the 4H Stand and Civic Club stand respectively.
I would like to thank the Gillet Civic Club, Gillett Woman’s Club, Gillett Business Association, and Oconto County Fair Board for sponsoring some of the cost of the megabands. For those who don’t know, the megabands that are purchased allow people unlimited access to rides all four days of the fair. The advance cost would have been $50.00 per person, but because of the contributions from the above organizations, the cost was just $25.00 per band. Those organizations understand that fair time can be expensive for families, so this act lets parents like myself breathe a little easier when fair time comes!
In closing, I want to also give a well-deserved shout out to the Fair Board for their hard work throughout the year-Chris Engebretsen, Phil Dickson, Cliff Gerbers, Debbie Woods, Taylor Yonker, Jeff Dickson, Steve Fifield, Mike Isbell, Betsy Peterik, Gary Shehow, Wayne Boos, Emily Gildernick, and Ryan Schlosser. Thank you for everything you do all year long!!
Why I Am So Involved
I have no doubt in my mind there are a few people in my circle that feel I should find a room with padded walls for taking part the way I do. Well, there a few reasons why…
1-I love Gillett. I moved to Gillett in 1995, and one of the first things that captured my attention was how warm and accepting people were to me. As my sons grew and their autism made us more known in the community, people did not shun them but were eager to understand them. When I became a business owner and a blogger, it made it easier for me to want to get involved. A part of me does this a thank you to the people in this town for their kindness.
2-The events that are held here. I didn’t get to go to a lot of community events growing up because it wasn’t easy for us to attend them. In a line of five kids, I was number four-so going places as a family wasn’t cheap, and after Multiple Sclerosis took a toll on my father’s mobility, Dad couldn’t last very long at larger gatherings. Once Pete and I were married I tried to make up for that, and when the boys were old enough I brought them to events when possible. To be able to help make the events happen now is truly an honor for me to be a part of.
3-Lead by example. A pet peeve of mine is the adage “Do As I Say, Not As I Do”. I can’t ask anyone to get off their butts and do things if I am not willing to. Practicing what you preach goes a long way-something I picked up as a mom I suppose. My son Mark has picked up on this attitude the most, and has asked to get involved with events as well.
Why Should You Be Involved?
Why? You should because the people that do make things happen are just ordinary people working together. Events can’t take place in town if no one is willing to work on them.
A common problem is finding people that are willing to join the clubs, and even those that do join aren’t always active members. If someone truly can’t help-that’s one thing, but if the desire to take part isn’t there, don’t complain on Facebook about how an event was an absolute joke. The only thing that changes when you do that is how people see you. It probably takes the same amount of energy to find a club officer as it does to type all those grievances if the happenings are truly that big of a ‘joke’.
I had been seeing so much of that negativity on Facebook this year that I was tempted to title a post ‘Move Over "Young and the Restless", Here Comes Gillett Chat!’.
I decided against it because I would be complaining, the one thing I was tired of reading.
We have the Oconto County Fair coming up, and it's a great opportunity for trying to get involved. The fair board is working on Sunday August 15th at the park to clean up and get Zippel Park ready for the fair. Stop by and see what you can do! Or contact the Civic Club or local 4H to see if any help is needed at their food stands! Perhaps once school starts September 1st you can contact the school or your local church to see if they need any volunteers for organizations or their own events.
If you have a desire to do something, you are already qualified!
“Anyone who gets married before the age of 25 should be shot with a ball of their own fecal matter!”
I can still see and hear my 12th grade English teacher saying this in front of the classroom one afternoon in early 1991. It was a piece of advice that I would not follow when I walked down the aisle to my husband just four years later. My teacher was not the only one to say that-quite a few people did to Pete and to me.
We were young when we married- I won’t argue with that. Pete had just turned 24 a couple of weeks before, and I was two weeks shy of turning 22 years old. But here's the thing-the people that said these things did not know the kind of relationship that Pete and I had.
Because of that, I wasn't really upset by them. And despite everything Pete and I have endured together, we have made it to what is today our 26th Wedding Anniversary. (June 24, 1995). It is not as hot today as it was that day, but judging from the sound of the rain on my store’s roof, I would have to say it is a lot wetter!
If you are part of a younger couple, and you are hearing that you are ‘too young’ to take a walk down the aisle, take it with a grain of salt. You and your partner know each other, and you know your relationship, better than the well-meaning friends and family do. You learn what you are capable of as a team when you have been together for a long time. So Happy Anniversary Pete! I love you very much, and I love how we have come so far in our life together! I am ready for many more years with you!!
P.S. From what I have heard, my English teacher’s better at Macbeth than marriage (was it two or three divorces for the guy? I am not sure), so what did he really know anyway?
WELCOME TO HOLLAND by Emily Perl Kingsley
I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help
people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would
feel. It's like this......
When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a
bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David.
The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go.
Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."
"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in
Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."
But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of
pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And
you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've
been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice
that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about
what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's
where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a
very very significant loss.
But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free
to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.
c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved.
I learned about the above piece around 2003-shortly after Mark was diagnosed with autism. As my boys grew, I have learned that there are some dreams or goals you make yourself forget. Focusing on 'can’t' or 'won’t' doesn’t help anyone-especially when it comes to special needs parenting. I felt like I had to especially adopt that mindset with my son Aaron. Aaron was diagnosed with autism in 2004, and his verbal skills have always been limited to asking for food and quoting from shows he watched when he was little. I never expected Aaron to be included in the activities with his neuro-typical peers because Aaron has never been in any classes with them in middle or high school. Imagine my surprise a few short weeks ago when the special ed teacher at Gillett Secondary School called me one Friday afternoon: She informed me that two girls in the senior class had asked her if it would be all right if Aaron was on Prom Court.
Prom was last Saturday May 8th. Since the theme was ‘Rustic Chic’ I did not have to worry about tuxedo rental, but we still needed to get some dressier clothes. Aaron normally lives in t-shirts and jogging pants, and that was not going to fly for prom court! When the time came to dress him in his new clothes, I loved how giddy he got once he was fully dressed.
Due to COVID, only Gillett students were allowed to attend the prom, and parents were allowed to come take pictures at the grand march. The dance area was sectioned off with white picket fencing to keep the parents and attendees separate. It was at that time that I learned Aaron would escort Miss Kira Lucht. Kira and Aaron have been in the Gillett school from the Early Childhood Program onward, so they know one another well.
Going to Prom was one of the dreams I made myself forget-especially for Aaron since he had never been to any school dance. To have him on Prom Court is a memory that I never dreamed I would have. It made me think back to the piece I shared at the beginning of this post, and how the pain of ‘not going to Italy’ never goes away. By having Aaron on Prom Court, I feel like that act gave me a ‘day pass to Italy’ so to speak, and gave Kira’s parents that pass as well. The fact that the Class of 2021 wanted to include Aaron and Kira on court says volumes about their character, and it makes me very proud to be a Gillett parent. To those kids, thank you doesn’t seem like enough, but I hope they know how truly grateful I am to them.
Best wishes to each and every one of them as they start the new chapter of their lives.