Gail’s daughter, Karen is the guest blogger today.
“As I worked to clear 4 inches of snow and 1/2 inch of ice off my car this morning, I thought about our relatively carefree childhood snow days growing up in the country. And then went on to think about how a big snow and cold weather made things just that much harder for my parents.
Quite likely the battery would be dead in our car, more wood would be needed for the heating stove, and Mom and Dad would be worrying about money. Dad worked in all kinds of awful weather on drilling rigs in the oil fields of southern Kansas, but there were times when the weather was just too cold/severe to have a crew out working. And when the rig was down, Dad didn’t get paid.
Mom often put a big pot of beans on to cook on laundry day, but beans were also one of her go-to winter meals for her family of eight. It didn’t cost a lot and she had a hearty meal on the table (yes, we all ate at the table back then!). Most often we had navy beans with bread and butter or cornbread, but my very favorite, then and now, was butter beans.
I made butter beans and ham in my Instant Pot on New Year’s Day this year. This is a recipe that’s a pretty far cry from the basic butter bean recipe Mom used. It’s made in the Instant Pot, so there’s no need to soak the dried beans overnight, cooking time is just 25 minutes in the Instant Pot. It’s also made with chicken stock, onions, garlic, and a variety of spices. Mom used the meat from ham hocks, and that’s what I used, too. It’s delicious. “
The Sepia Saturday challenge photo for today featured an old-fashioned organ grinder and his monkey. I went in search of monkey photos in our family album. Remembering back to Martin family reunions, the park where these were held had a Monkey Island at Peter Pan Park in Emporia, Kansas.
There was a moat and then a high stone wall to keep the monkeys from escaping. As we played with our cousins before the bountiful potluck meal, we always trooped over to see the monkeys. On their island, there was a stone building with a tower and open windows so they could clamber in and out. It fascinated us, but we never had a photo of it. The stone building was constructed by the WPA back during the Great Depression.
Next, I thought of the WWII museum that I visited. One piece that caught my eye was a cartoon from the 1940s, probably post-war, that showed Hitler as an organ grinder’s monkey. Other Allies gathered around in the scene. I wonder if Mom or Dad ever saw this cartoon, perhaps in a newspaper at the time.
The next monkeys that comes to mind are the ones made from the brown and white work socks. I remember having these back in the 1950s. With Gail’s sewing skills, I’m sure it was an easy project to turn the socks into monkeys.
One time while visiting my parents in Kansas during their retirement years, Mom showed me how monkeys open a banana. They pinch it at the bottom. I guess I’ve been doing it wrong all these years as I always tried to open it at the stem end.
What started me thinking of monkeys? It was this picture from Sepia Saturday. Take a look to see what the other bloggers wrote about monkeys.
My parents didn’t have many opportunities to visit lighthouses since they lived in the heartland. I think their first one was when they came to Ohio to settle me in my first job back in the 1970s. We went to see Lake Erie and there was a lighthouse out on a long rocky seawall.
The picture below shows them years later at a lighthouse that I think is in Texas. It must have been one of their visits to Gail’s sister CJ.
I’ve had more chances to see quite a few lighthouse in my years along the east coast of the U.S. and when we lived in Australia. Last year, we traveled to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island so I have a whole gallery of lighthouses to share from that trip and from years earlier to New Brunswick, Canada.
Lighthouses in the Maritime Provinces of Canada
What started me thinking of lighthouses was the Sepia Saturday prompt, a postcard of a vintage lighthouse. The one they show was in Australia. One thing that many of these have is the red and white color combination.
My older brother, just a toddler, had a jumper chair back in 1946. We have the picture of him looking quite happy being able to bounce up-and-down and kick his feet in this device. He is outside in the yard and his eyes are fixed upon either mom or dad. It’s likely that one is trying to hold his attention while the other parent takes the picture.
It must be summer as he is dressed in lightweight clothing but on his feet are the sturdy baby shoes of the era. Mom had labeled the photo “1946 – Owen in his jumper chair.” Since he was born in February 1946, he would be about 6-months-old in August of that year. Does this look like a 6-month-old or would it be from the next year? In June 1947, he would be 16-months-old.
I was curious about the chair and found an advertisement for it in a 1946 newspaper.
New, Springy Teeterbabe
The modern jumper chair for any baby 3 months and up. Ideal for home, auto or anywhere, so mother can be relieved. Positively safe. Convenient foot rest and play beads.
This looks identical to the chair that Owen is sitting in. Just imagine putting this in your auto today to take your toddler for a ride. “Positively safe,” the ad says, but we know better now.
I found a later advertisement for it and it touted the benefits of the child getting natural exercise and not bothered by constipation. Baby will be happy and contented and can be placed in the yard to get sunshine.
Mom used to make ham salad for a sandwich spread back in the 1960s. It’s what they call Poor Man’s Ham Salad because it used a chunk of bologna, not ham, that was ground up for the spread. We called it baloney, and looked forward to those tasty sandwiches in our school lunch boxes. It was much cheaper, but tasted exactly like ham spread.
Here’s the recipe:
an unsliced roll of Bologna
Miracle Whip (or salad dressing of your choice
Sweet Gherkins (or pickle relish)
The amount of each isn’t crucial. You needed a meat grinder. Ours fastened onto the kitchen counter. Grind up the hunk of Bologna in the meat grinder and the sweet pickles too. Mix enough salad dressing in to make it spread easily on the sandwiches. Done!
We never put boiled eggs in it but other people did. The boiled eggs were used another day for egg salad sandwiches. Our bread back then was often Rainbow brand or Sunbeam.
A Lunchbox Like Dad Had
Fixing the School Lunches
With six children, packing the lunch boxes on a school day took teamwork. Someone would get the cookies and wrap them for each box. Another child would get the fruit (a banana, an apple, or some raisins). Someone else assembled the sandwiches, then cut them in half.
I was good at wrapping the sandwiches with the wax paper. Mom had taught me how to make the double fold where the edges came together, just like the butcher would wrap meat at the supermarket. Then I’d make a triangle at each end and fold that to the back.
We had those metal lunch boxes with colorful designs of our favorite television shows. I browsed around on Etsy which is a good place to find vintage items. Wow, some of these are for sale for over $100. I should have saved mine.
The beach pictures in our family album are few and far between. Kansas was a shallow sea back 85 million years ago but no photos of our family go back that far. The Martins, Joys, Kennedys, Vinings, and McGhees were later arrivals from 1850s onward. By that time, it was all prairie and some rolling hills.
Below is the challenge photo that started me looking for beach pictures.
My parents, Gail and Clyde Martin, were awed by Lake Erie when then visited me in the mid-1970s in Ohio. It looks like in this photo that Dad is about to get his shoes wet.
Another time, they visited us when we lived in South Texas. Our outing to South Padre Island resulted in more beach pictures. Mom was quick to shed her shoes and start hunting for shells. This would be in the early 1990s.
Here are other members of the family at the ocean, lake, or even a creek.
It’s Sepia Saturday time again so I’m rummaging out some vintage photos. The inspiration photo is 1950s, people celebrating Christmas, kissing, and soldiers in uniform. Hmm, what do I have to match that assortment of themes?
Here’s a 1957 photo of my dad, Clyde Martin, and his brother, Howard. Earlier, Howard had been in the Army during the Korean War era.
They are playing cards and usually their wives would be seated at the table also. Two packs of cigarettes sit on the table and a mysterious bowl. I’d assume it was snacks so perhaps that’s a potato chip bag in the bowl. Someone is in the kitchen, probably Mom getting some lemonade for everyone.
Mom never smoked, but Dad did for years. I’m thinking he smoked Kools. When he was hospitalized after a car wreck, he gave it up since he couldn’t smoke in the hospital.
While the grown-ups played cards, the cousins played until we were worn out and fell asleep on the bed. That was budget entertainment in those days for young couples and no babysitter needed. At the end of the evening, Howard and Margie would gather up their four children, still half-asleep, and put them in the car to head home.
In an earlier post, I gave the history of this round oak table. Here is a photo of Howard’s time in the U.S. Army.
My mother’s aunt, Bertha McGhee taught in New Mexico back in 1929 – 1930. She and some friends had some time away which they spent camping out in a small cabin and cooking over an open fire.
We don’t know the location or who the other women are. It’s likely that they are also teachers or staff from the Navajo Indian School.
Here’s one more photo that must be from this same camping trip.
This post was inspired by the Sepia Saturday weekly photo challenge. Here is their photo of two ladies making tea over a fire in Australian in 1915. Take a look at some of the other bloggers to see how they responded to the challenge.
My grandfather, Clarence McGhee, stands tall with his younger siblings in this photo. In looking for photos of men in hats, this one caught my attention. Fortunately, my mother had neatly labeled the back of the postcard. Clarence would have been 15 or 16 in this picture. The littlest one, Elmer, would just have been a year old. Two more children were born after this date.
The McGhee children in Tyro, KS in 1911 Back (L to R) – Clarence, Jesse, Roy Front (L to R) – Bertha, Lealon, Loren, Elmer
I hadn’t examined the details of the photo before. My guess would be that it’s Sunday and they are ready to walk the few blocks to church. Several of the boys have a pin on their lapel which might be a Sunday School pin. Bertha has a flower pinned on her dress, so maybe it isn’t merely a Sunday. Maybe it is a special occasion such as the wedding of someone the family knew.
Three of the boys are old enough for long pants, but two are still in knickers. Jesse looks like he’s still growing into his jacket, but Roy’s coat has sleeves that are too short for him. Lealon and Loren have the loose ties popularized by the Little Lord Fauntleroy book but were spared the wide lace collar and the fancy cap. Elmer is still young enough to be in a dress.
No one looks very enthused about the photo session but perhaps they were inhibited by admonitions not to move. Unfortunately, the two youngest boys did move and so are preserved forever in blurred form.
Bertha has her hair in braids that are coiled or pinned up with bows for the occasion.
My mother had a glass chain that her father, Clarence McGhee, made while working at the glass factory in Tyro, Kansas. The workers made glass chimneys for oil lamps back in the early part of the 1900s. At the end of the day, when some molten glass was left, they made whimsies for themselves.
Each of the daughters (Melba, Gail, and C.J.) received a section of the chain and kept it as a family treasure. By now, the chain is over 100 years old.
The workers at the Tyro Glass Plant about 1910. Clarence McGhee is the young man standing on the pallet.
Here’s another photo of the glass plant workers.
Photo courtesy of my cousin, Bob Harlan
What made me think of these pictures was an inspiration photo from the Sepia Saturday Blog Challenge. Their picture of workers and a chain is quite different. To see what other bloggers wrote about the challenge, just click on the link.