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Monday, May 25, 2015

Sounds of Silence

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Aurelia man losing his voice

Among his family and friends, Richard Grienke is known as Father Two Feathers. An avid member of the Cherokee Ridge Runners - a group that actively brings to life the mountain men of the fur trading era - he has always been looked up to like a father, being sought after for advice and to help solve dilemmas.

Richard and his wife of 43 years, Connie, reside in Cherokee; he still raises cattle and sheep on the family farm located near Aurelia. Ironically he is now relying on others for help as he is faced with a different sort of problem. And his friends are there for him, just as he has been there for them for so many years.

He is losing his ability to speak. After many tests, it has been determined that an accident 20 years ago is the cause of the problem. Rear-ended by a semi while he was at a dead stop, Richard was lucky, very lucky, at the time that he was not killed or paralyzed in the accident. He was jolted in the accident and suffered cracked ribs and a broken sternum. He came to rest on the back of his head and received a major concussion in the accident. Specialists at Mayo Clinic have now said that the portion of the brain that controls the speech, located in the back of the head, was injured in the accident as well. He takes part in two-hour laser treatments at a facility in Missouri Valley once a month, but has been told the treatments will not cure him only slow the progress. He continues to be monitored by Mayo Clinic doctors as well. Because the area of the brain is not being used to its potential, it is shrinking, the family has been told.

Richard is understandably frustrated about his situation. His vocabulary is limited , but he carries a notebook and pen with him at all times, and doesn't hesitate at getting the tools out if he needs to. He keeps his messages short and to the point.

"We just need to be patient with him," said his daughter, Judy Grienke Miller. She looks sad. It is difficult to accept the idea that someday soon her dad will no longer be able to speak.

"Sometimes I wish he could tell me his stories again. He has many stories and I've heard them over and over," she said. She has never written them down. "I've got them all up here," she added, pointing to her head.

Many of the stories involve the years involved with the Ridge Runners.

"He has always been a history buff," Judy shared.

The Ridge Runners was in its infant stages when the Grienkes joined some 25 years ago. The popularity of the history reenactments have grown over the years and more groups have sprung up. Get togethers, or rendezvous, are planned in many locations to allow these history-loving participants to go and bring to life the particular era in which they are interested. The fur trading era of the 1840s is the period the Grienkes have focused on. They have clothing of that period, which they sport when they are at the rendezvous, and have built up a collection of items used in that period to share. They have discovered history lovers just like themselves in several surrounding states. 

Richard has been a leader in the group, and has taken his role seriously in spreading his knowledge about the era.

"If we don't share it with someone else, the next generation will lose it," said Judy, who shares the same thoughts as her father. He has shared many, many programs through the years, speaking of the history, giving demonstrations and answering the most curious of questions. For 20 years he gave school programs to share information with students.

He was fortunate to be able to take part in the Midwest Rendezvous held in Colletta, Ill where he presented a program on the expedition of Lewis and Clark. It was shortly after that he made the decision to bow down, saying he no longer wanted to give programs. No one could understand why he was giving up his passion. They did not know at the time that he was finding it difficult to form the words he wanted to say. He didn't want to quit but knew there were medical issues that needed to address. It was then that they sought help in answering the many questions they had.

But despite his lack of speech, he continues to be involved. Recently, he was part of the honor guard at the Lewis and Clark Expedition Center in Sioux City for the reenactment of the burial of Sgt. Floyd.

Judy has stepped into her father's big shoes and has been sharing programs on her own interests - history of the glass beads that the Indians used to trade with. Replicas of the beads are available and many of the people they come across at the get togethers string and trade them. They are very beautiful. And he is pleased that his daughter has found her niche, and wants to share history with others as he did for so many years.

Richard is one of 35 persons in the United States to be a part of the Rope Makers Guild. With two dozen rope making machines in his possession, dating from 1901-1911, he has made ropes for literally thousands of people over the years, at such events as rendezvous, fairs and threshing bees. To become a member of the guild, a rope maker must be nominated by at least two other rope makers and be able to demonstrate how to tie knots and explain the history of rope making.

"Rope making is something people never think twice about," Judy said. In reality, it is like an art, watching as Richard and his machine twist several strands of string together to make a rope.

There is a great camaraderie among the people who take part in the re-enactments. They come from all walks of life - from professionals to common laborers. While Grienke was once the one they all came to for help, he is now the one they come to to see if they can provide help. 

"Everyone keeps an eye out for him," Judy said," and we are so glad he can still enjoy being a part of the group. And though he cannot share the history with others any more, he will treasure the  memories of when he did."

The annual Ridge Runners event will be held May 4-6 at the Little Sioux Wildlife area in Cherokee. The Grienkes extend an invitation to anyone who would like to step back in history to attend the event.

Pilot Tribune Staff

Among his family and friends, Richard Grienke is known as Father Two Feathers. An avid member of the Cherokee Ridge Runners - a group that actively brings to life the mountain men or the fur trading era - he has always been looked up to like a father, being sought after for advice and to help solve dilemmas.

Richard and his wife of 43 years, Connie, reside in Cherokee, and he still raises cattle and sheep on the family farm, located near Aurelia. Ironically, he is now relying on others for help as he is faced with a different sort of problem. And his friends are there for him, just as he has been there for them for so many years.

Richard is losing his ability to speak. After many tests, it has been determined that an accident 20 years ago is resposible for the problem. Rear-ended by a semi while he was at a dead stop, Richard was lucky - very lucky - that he was not killed or paralyzed in the accident. He was jolted, and suffered cracked ribs and a broken sternum. He came to rest on the back of his head and received a major concussion in the accident. Specialiats at the Mayo Clinic have now said that the portion of the brain which controls the speech, located in the back of the head, was injured in the accident as well.

Grienke takes part in two-hour laser treatments in a facility in Missouri Valley once a month, but has been told the treatments will not cure him- only slow the progress, and he continues to be monitored by Mayo Clinic doctors. The family has been told that because this area of the brain is not being used to its potential, it is shrinking,

Richard is understandably frustrated abouthissituation. His vocabulary is limited, but he carries a notebook and pen with him at all times, and doesn't hesitate to get them out if he needs to. He keeps his messages short and to the point.

"We just need to be patient with him," said his daughter, Judy Grienke Miller. She looks sad. It is difficult to accept the idea that someday soon her dad will no longer be able to speak.

"Sometimes I wish he could tell me his stories again. He has many stories and I've heard them over and over," she said, but she has never written them down. "I've got them all up here," she added, pointing to her head.

Many of the stories involve the years involved with the Ridge Runners.

"He has always been a history buff," Judy shared.

The Ridge Runners group was in its infant stages when the Grienkes joined some 25 years ago. The popularity of the history reenactments have grown over the years, and more groups have sprung up. Get- togethers, or rendezvous, are planned in many locations, to allow these history-loving participants to bring to life the particular era in which they are interested. The fur trade era of the 1840s is the period on which the Grienkes have focused. They have clothing from that period, which they sport when they are at the rendezvous, and they have also built up a collection of items used in that period to share with others. They have discovered history lovers like themselves in several surrounding states. 

Richard has been a leader in the group, and has taken his role seriously in spreading his knowledge about the era.

"If we don't share it with someone else, the next generation will lose it," said Judy, who shares the same thoughts as her father. He has presented many, many programs through the years, speaking about history, giving demonstrations, and answering questions. For 20 years, he gave school programs to share information with students.

Grienke was fortunate to be able to take part in the Midwest Rendezvous, held in Colletta, Illinois, where he presented a program on the expedition of Lewis and Clark. It was shortly after that he decided to bow down, saying he no longer wanted to give programs. No one could understand why he was giving up his passion. They did not know at the time that he was finding it difficult to form the words he wanted to say. He didn't want to quit, but knew there were medical issues that he needed to address. It was then that he and Connie sought help in answering the many questions they had.

Despite his lack of speech, though, Grienke continues to be involved. Recently, he was part of the honor guard at the Lewis and Clark Expedition Center in Sioux City, for the reenactment of the burial of Sgt. Floyd.

Judy has stepped into her father's big shoes, and has been sharing programs on her own interests - history of the glass beads that the Indians used to trade, with. replicas of the beads available for many of the people they come across at the get togethers to string and trade.They are very beautiful. Grienke is pleased that his daughter has found her niche, and wants to share history with others, like he did for so many years.

Richard is one of only 35 people in the United States to be a part of the Rope Makers Guild. With two dozen rope making machines in his possession, dating from 1901-1911, he has made ropes for literally thousands of people over the years at such events as rendezvous, fairs and threshing bees. To become a member of the guild, a rope maker must be nominated by at least two other rope makers, and be able to demonstrate how to tie knots and explain the history of rope making.

"Rope making is something people never think twice about," Judy said. "In reality, it is like an art, watching as Richard and his machine twist several strands of string together to make a rope."

There is a great camaraderie among the people who take part in the re-enactments. They come from all walks of life- from professionals to common laborers. While he was once the one they all came to for help, he is now the one they come to to see if they can provide help. 

"Everyone keeps an eye out for him," Judy said, "and we are so glad he can still enjoy being a part of the group." And, though he cannot share the history with others any more, he will treasure the  memories of when he did.

The annual Ridge Runners event will be held May 4-6 at the Little Sioux Wildlife area in Cherokee. The Grienkes extend an invitation to anyone who would like to step back in history to attend the event.



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