Meeting Grandpa Wayne

Meeting Grandpa Wayne Kenneth Keeney

By Joshua’s Mom from 1996, revised 2021

The Father’s Day in 1995 was a day like no other. It was the day that a family became complete after 38 years of separation.

When Josh’s father, Curt, was a toddler of two years his parents separated and divorced. His Dad left.

Over the years, Curt knew very little about his dad whose name was Wayne. Curt did not know where he was or whether he was alive or not. There were some papers from when he was in the Navy and some old photographs. In the back of Curt’s mind, he always wondered, however, until January of 1993, the questions remained unanswered. Part of the reason Curt did not seek Wayne out was to honor Curt’s mother, Emma Anderson Manthey, also, Curt had a fear of the unknown.

With the impending birth of Curt’s firstborn child, we decided to search for Wayne. We obtained the phone number listed in the state of New York for Curt’s dad, so I called. Someone named Jessica answered our call. She was confused and baffled by our call. It was difficult to explain our intent. She handed the phone over to her husband, Paul. Paul was Wayne’s son. Paul was somewhat guarded and shocked since the family had not been informed about Curt. We asked about Wayne, his health and his current life.

Wayne had married a lady named Dorothy 35 years ago. (re: 1993) They raised five children. They named their firstborn child Curtis Wayne. The other children were named Shannon, Paul, Brett and Jill. Wayne and Dorothy had three grandchildren, and Jessica was expecting in May.

Over the next two years, we exchanged letters, (some 14 pages long) phone calls, photos, and videotapes. We also received a family tree. It was updated to include Curt’s mother, Curt, me (Val), my older three children, and our son, Joshua Wayne Curtis Keeney. The family tree traced the Keeney family thirteen generations starting with Alexander Keeney from the 1600’s. Alexander was the first Keeney to arrive in the Colonial United States. The town, “Keeneyville, Pennsylvania” was named after the family.

Finally, when Josh was two years old, Curt and I made plans to travel to Northern Pennsylvania to meet Wayne and his family. We brought my ten-year-old daughter, Kaira, along and of course, Josh.

We left on a Thursday, took turns driving, and spent a night near Cleveland, Ohio. We drove across Southern New York about half-way, and straight down to Pennsylvania to our destination—arriving late Saturday night.

The house looked like a charming “Bed and Breakfast.” There were potted and bedded flowers blooming everywhere, and there were stony walkways surrounding the house. We were met by Wayne and Dorothy with warm hugs and hello’s. Inside, we met Jill, her infant daughter, and later, her husband Mark. We were shown photos of the family. There were strong family resemblances between Josh and his cousins, and Curt with his siblings. Brett lived nearby, so he also stopped over.

It was late, so we were escorted to our rooms. Around the turn of the century, the house had been a convalescent home where recuperating patients arrived by train from New York City, therefore, there were several rooms. Wayne, Dorothy, and their children had worked long hours to rejuvenate and adorn the house. We felt privileged and very welcome.

The next morning, Sunday, June 18th, 1995, was Father’s Day. All of Wayne’s children, and grandchildren, were together at last. Wayne was 68 years old, Curt was 41, and Josh was 2, and the circle was finally complete.  (Note: June 2, 1996 Wayne will be 70 years old.)

Curt’s aunts and uncles also met their nephew and grand-nephew for the first time. It was a beautiful sunny day. We took many photos and watched the grandchildren play. Kaira made friends with her new cousin, Tasha, who was also ten-years-old. They became inseparable for the first three days.

We stayed almost a week. Father and son were able to go fishing at Wayne’s favorite fishing pond. It was just Curt, his dad, the stars, hills, and whatever wildlife wandered by the shoreline.

We all drove up to see Evergreen, PA, Wayne’s birthplace and original home, his grade school, and his high school. Wayne embellished the journey with antidotes of his boyhood days, showing the hills he used to slide down. Wayne appeared to be a thoughtful, quiet sort of man, but he did like to reminisce and share his past. We drove to a waterwheel that he built along a steep, little mountain stream. It was hooked up to a generator, which powered electricity to a small home above the road. We traveled around a manmade lake that once belonged to a classmate of Wayne’s. Wayne brought us to a stone quarry where flagstone was harvested for walkways and patios. The quarry belonged to a friend of Wayne’s, so he occasionally worked there.

The day we left there were a lot of bittersweet tears. We hugged “goodbye.” Wayne had never forgotten the two-year-old child he left years ago. Now, years later, the child had reappeared as a 41 -year-old son, bringing a two-year-old grandson for a visit, only to depart, again. We knew in our hearts, that the reunion was meant to be.

It is almost a year since we were in Pennsylvania. We hope to return, again. There is another grandson, and another grandchild on the way who we would like to meet. Josh is growing and changing so much. We feel that it is important to continue our lives with our family in Pennsylvania.

Written by Valerie J. Laidlaw (formerly Keeney) on May 30, 1996, revised May 27, 2021.

Grandfather Wayne Kenneth Keeney, June 1995, in his kitchen.

Here’s an old letter from Josh’s Grandpa Wayne written while he was stationed in California in the Navy to Josh’s Grandma Emma. He eventually married Emma, adopted her daughter, Lois, and Josh’s dad was born in California in the 1950’s.

Dearest Darling, Feb 1st, 1948. Am sending you a few lines in answer to your letter today, was glad to hear from you and to hear all is well. As for me I am ok except in love with you too much. Honey, I am in trouble again as much as I hate to say it but you know the other morning I was supposed to be back to the ship at 6 o’clock and also I missed the ship by 5 minutes so I guess you know why I haven’t been over to see you before this don’t you. Dear, I am a P.H.L. again, don’t know what I will get out of it but am hoping for anything but a B.C.D. as all I think I will get out of it is a few days restriction maybe until I get transferred for discharge but that’s much better than a B.C.D. anyhow for can be together again for good. I’ve only gotten about 14 or 15 days left here but that is a long time to go without seeing you love, Honey, the other morning I made it down to the landing just in time to see the ship pulling out but I caught Hamler just before it shoved off so they transferred me back to the Wiltsie that evening at sea as all they have gotten me for is one hour over leave. Honey, I believe I am going to go crazy if I don’t get off pretty soon as all I have done is worry since I have gotten in this trouble, If I should get a bad conduct discharge I don’t know what I’d do for I wouldn’t dare to go home & would never be able to marry you for couldn’t find a job good enough to support you and baby, Darling as all I am asking of you is to wait for me until I get final out for shore what I will get, you remember you said you could wait for me for 6 mos. if you had to, well it won’t be near that long, but will probably seem like it anyhow. Honey, as far as you giving me a bad time the other night, forget it because I am not mad at you and would be glad right now if I could see you long enough for you to give me a bad time. Darling, you know I never dreamt I loved you as much as I do but now that I am restricted it seems as though there is something missing in this world for I can’t be with you now & maybe never. Honey, I was unable to get paid yesterday because of being a P.A.L. but I am going to try and borrow $10 to send to you to pay on the rent just to keep mom happy until I can pay it all off. You tell mom not to worry about the money for as soon as I get paid off, I will pay up all the back rent. Honey, I am going to try and sneak over on the beach one of the days if I don’t get Liberty soon just long enough to tell you how much I love you, Baby, and that is a pretty big job, anymore. I guess probably you think I am giving you a line but I’m not & no matter what anyone says I am not, no Dear, it is as I have always said if we break up it is going to be you who does it, not me, so remember that. Well Darling guess will close for now hoping to hear from you again soon. All my love & kisses for you & baby always. Yours forever. Wayne

Bird’s Eye View

“Bird’s Eye View”
By Valerie J Laidlaw
October 4, 2020

If I were a bird, I know where I’d be,
On the highest branch, of the tallest tree.
In a soft, autumn breeze,
I’d breath in the fresh air,
I’d sing out a sweet tune,
Randomly, up there.

I’d spin out, circling, dancing in the sky,
Floating, soaring, as I’d effortlessly fly,
Seeing the world’s troubles, fade and drift by.
I’d just live in the moment, or, at I’d least try!

I’ll be forever proud of you, too, son! L♡ve, Mom

Aunt Muriel’s Tribute to her Mom, Gena

When the golden is setting

And your mind from care is free

Think of your dear Mother

Wherever you may be

    The prairie winds ruffled the flowers to and fro as we left her there on a little knoll on the vast Dakota plains. She had seen the mountains and crossed an ocean, but this was the land she knew and loved for she was a prairie child.

    So it was when we said good-bye to Mother just a year ago today.  Her work on Earth was finished.  Now she would rest.

    Mother was born in a log-cabin near the Red River of the North on a Sunday, July 19, 1896.  She was christened Gina, but later changed the I to e as she felt it was truer phonetically.  She was one of fourteen children born to Thone (Brokke) and Aaugund Gunlikson (Bo) —–Dakota pioneers who were married April 23, 1882.  Aagund was born in that distant and remote valley in Norway called Setesdal.  When he was eight years of age he sailed across the ocean to America with his parents and his brothers Targie and Knute. The year was 1870.  They settled in Iowa for nine years.  During the summer of 1879 they traveled from Iowa—a long and arduous journey by covered wagon and oxen—and arrived in the Dakota Territory June 14, 1879.  There they settled in Traill County.  It was at the age of twenty that our grandfather married our grandmother who was just fifteen years old and the daughter of Setesdal immigrants.  Thone was a small, sensitive woman with finely chiseled features and long chestnut colored hair.  Aagund was a giant of a man with blonde hair and a bushy mustache.  The fourteen children were: Betsy, Thea, Aaunund, Tillie, Oscar, Ole, Inga, Gena, Carl, Gerald, Mabel, Ordean, Agnes, and Melvin.

    Mother was a bright child with the look of a Viking princess.  She had pink and white translucent skin, sky-blue eyes, and hair as fine and golden as corn-silk.  She received her schooling in a one-room country school from which she graduated with honors.  There she learned the three r’s and starred in elocution.  The poems and stories she memorized delighted her eight children throughout the years.  She would have been a fine dramatic actress.  When Mom grew up she was “central” —– the telephone operator at Buxton, North Dakota, and for miles around everyone knew and loved “Gena.”  These were happy years for her.  She took piano lessons from Miss Daisy Reeves in the Victorian mansion where Buxton’s First Family lived.

    She filled her made-to-order hope chest with linens, and purchased a Singer sewing machine.  At the age of twenty she became engaged to our father, a dark-haired man with freckles and amber-colored eyes.  They were married six years later—June 28, 1922.  Mother was a beautiful bride.  She wore a blue beaded chiffon gown and carried pink roses.  The roses were picked from the garden of Mrs. Matt Halverson.  In June 1922 there appeard in the Hillsboro Banner, this item:

A shower was given at the home of

Mrs. Gruah in Buxton Tuesday for

Gena Gunlickson who becomes a bride next week.

Cut glass and linens were among the tokens of good

Will from her many friends.

Later this:

June 30, 1922—Marriage licenses the past week have been issued to

Melvin Hettervig and Gena Gunlickson, both of Buxton.

    Mother was a very special person.  She took such joy in seemingly commonplace things…..the first robin of spring…..a field of golden wheat…..her vegetable garden…..the weeping willow trees…..such joy and pride in the achievements of her husband, her children, and later her grandchildren.

    So it has been a year since our dear Mother left us, but she will always be in our hearts—whispering hope—making our hearts, in our sorrow, rejoice.

And when the stream which overflowed the soul was passed away,

A consciousness remained that it had left

Deposited upon the silent shore

Of memory, images and precious thoughts

That shall not die, and cannot be destroyed.


    Remembered by her oldest daughter and written for her and our dear Father and my brothers and sisters—Maynard, Arlen, Paul, Dolores, Vivian, Ruby and Melvin, Jr.   May 2, 1969

                                                                                        —–Muriel Adelaide Theresa

Gena’s Confirmation Photo

Tuesday’s Thoughts

Tuesday’s Thoughts on a Morning in May
By Valerie J Laidlaw
May 18, 2021

With the warmth of Spring, buds crack open,
And, Maple leaves like hands spread out,
The tulips, and fern peonies emerge, again,
Bleeding hearts, rhubarb, berries return about.

Pale, pink petals float down from the trees,
Like gentle snowflakes drifting in the breeze.
A Bluejay’s shrill call echos across the skies,
Joining his gang, all shrieking with their cries.

I welcome the bees, birds, and butterflies,
Not the flies and mosquitos, which I despise.
As my Tuesday morning has now begun,
A brilliant Cardinal sings sweetly to the sun.

Throwback Holiday Beer Poem from 2015

Rick with Kyle

My son Kyle would occasionally write Christmas poems. I recall one about socks, another about beaded shoe pins, and one telling us that a very young Charlee did not like Santa that year. Here is a poem that may entertain all:

2015 Holiday Beer Poem
By Dr. Kyle J. Roos

Merry Christmas
And Happy New Year
To mark this occasion
I’ve brought you some beer.

To learn to brew beer
I needed a tutor
So I hooked up with my boys
Buda and Scooter.

This is not a Miller,
A Budweiser or Coors
This is a speciality craft beverage
From my fridge to yours.

For my Dear Grandma so sweet
I have a fruity smooth treat

For you I have saved
My last Peach Mango
It dances on the tongue
Like an elegant Tango.
Dad, this is not a beer
Do not lie to her.
Beers have grain with their yeast
Grandma, this is a cider.

Brewing with patience
Is the hardest task
This Minnepolitan aged
1 year in an OAK cask.

Triple chocolate, double cherry
Vanilla Bean Stout
Best try it right now
Before it’s all out.

This tasty craft beer
Kicks your butt into gear.
It burns in your mouth
Straight out your rear.
Burning biscuits is a beer
That cannot be bought
Four pounds of Jalapeños
Makes this stuff HOT!

If you drink this proper
With an ounce of class
Please don’t drink from the bottle,
Pour into a cold, frosty glass.

Organic ingredients
The very best I can’t lie.
Throw it in your fridge for a few days,
Then give it a try.
__ Dr. Roos
December 2015

Additionally, Kyle’s beer had quite some potency. Kyle sent a few samples home with Rick. It was a warm day, Rick drank part of a beer, and Rick really had quite a challenge mowing the lawn. I called Kyle and handed the phone to Rick. Funny story! We miss you, Kyle! I hope there is some beer in Heaven for you!