Plans for the A to Z Blog Challenge

Last year, I missed participating in the April A-Z Blog Challenge. It was a great experience the previous two years, so I want to jump in again for 2017.

I have several blogs, but I’m choosing this blog about my memories of Mom, Gail Lee Martin, to post the A to Z topics in.

Here are some ideas I have for it:

A is for Vintage AUTOS

B is for Brown Sugar Syrup

C is for Cedar Chests

D is for Dandelion Wine

pixabay computer write

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

E is for Eureka

F is for Favorite Foods of the 1950s

G is for the Glass Chain

H is for Hamilton (where Mom went to high school)

I is for Ice Cube Candle Making

J is for Jars of Jelly

K is for Keeping an Old Car Running (Gail’s advice)

L is for Life Begins at Forty

M is for Making Ends Meet

N is for No-Bake Cookies (a family favorite)

O is for Obituary (my mother’s)

P is for Pancakes Made from Scratch

Q is for Quilts in the Family

R is for Ruth’s Sympathy Cards

S is for Slacks and Calluses (book review)

T is for Thrifty Gift Ideas

U is for Undaunted by the Microphone (Gail’s speaking engagements)

V is for Vintage Westerns (Dad’s favorite reads)

W is for Woodward County (our grandmother’s homeplace)

X is for Xenias

Y is for Yodeling

Z is for Zigzags

As the blog posts are posted, I’ll return and put the link here. That way, this serves as an index for the month of April and the A to Z challenge. Some of the topics might get changed as the month progresses.

Remembering Snow Days 2006 and 2007

Gail Lee Martin“As a kid, we made snow ice cream. We never used the first snow of the season or the top snow which might be dirty. Digging down in a drift we came up with pure clean snow. Mother would whip it together with sugar and cream. Just set it outside to freeze a little more. Boy, it was good.” December 2006

On December 1, 2006, Gail’s grandson-in-law had posted, “southeastern Kansas received up to 16 inches yesterday.   It was still snowing at 10 pm in the southeast.   We got it pretty easy in Wichita and the surrounding area.” That triggered her snow memory and also the following ones.

Gail’s granddaughter, Kristy added a comment on December 5. “My new dog LOVES the snow.   She would play in it for hours.   All three (the twins and the dog) like to eat snow.   WE made 3 snowmen, 1 snow dog, and 1 snow cat before the cold forced us inside.”

B & T #24 Happy Holiday Note Card

Snow Cat Note Card

Gail’s sister, C.J. Garriott liked that idea and added, “I’d love to see photos of snow dogs and snow cats! When we had our big snow in Texas for Christmas 2004, I went out in front of the house all set with the camera, leaving the front door open, and was intending to get photos of my cats in the snow. The scamps took a few steps on the porch, shaking each foot in succession, and went back in!”

Gail’s daughter Karen added the January update, “Our first taste of Winter 2007 is headed in and it’s going to be a whopper! We got a nice layer of ice yesterday and the north wind has been howling since then, too. Now they’re watching a big storm system start to move through, with about 5-7 inches of snow expected in this part of southeast Kansas. Schools everywhere seem to be closed, so the library gets a snow day, too. Bitterly cold. A good day to stay inside and count your blessings, I think.

We haven’t ventured out into it, but it sure looks like a lot of snow out there. C. has been home since Wednesday with a bad sore throat so didn’t get to enjoy yesterday’s snow day from school.   I’ve been taking some vacation time this week to finish up final assignments in the Children’s Literature Update class I’m taking this semester at Emporia State University, so I haven’t got to “enjoy” being home until today (got my papers finished last night!).   We ordered in pizza last night (bored with the food on hand) and tipped the delivery guy handsomely for coming out.   The cats are staying warm, either on laps or their beds or huddled by heat vents.   Annie especially seems to have a hard time with the cold; of course, Olive, being a Maine Coon, could probably be outside in it quite happily.”

The Other End of the String (a Book from Gail’s Bookshelf)

This book from Gail Lee Martin’s bookshelf is reviewed here by her daughter, Virginia Allain.

Growing up in the Pegram family is lovingly detailed but not in a maudlin way. This is like Little House on the Prairie updated to the 1920s and 1930s. It’s a time of hardship and learning to make the most of what you have.

It’s the stories honed by many retellings as the family sat on the porch in the twilight after a hard summer day of working in the garden. The rememberings are woven together into this very personal book that also tells the story of that era.

I’ve read dozens of memoirs from this time period and this one is special. A very enjoyable read.

Snow Days – Then and Now

My sister, Karen Kolavalli, is our guest blogger for today: “A snow storm like this meant our country school would be closed when I was a kid. All six of the Martin kids would have been out playing in the snow until we were sodden and frozen. We’d come in and huddle around the wood stove to thaw out. Mom would already have hot homemade cocoa ready for us and we could look forward to potato soup with bread and homemade butter or pancakes and eggs for supper.

Today I’m content to watch the snow coming down from the warmth of my home. The TV news indicates that’s a really good idea.

Snow in the Flint Hills of Kansas back in the 1920s.

Snow in the Flint Hills of Kansas back in the 1920s. I don’t know if that is little Gail McGhee in the back seat or not.

If Mom were still here, we could ask her if she remembers the Armistice Day Blizzard of 1940 that raged from Kansas to Michigan. I did find a poem she wrote in 2006 inspired by the snow and ice that Kansas was having then. In 2007, icy day motivated her to revise Ice Storm and feature it with her granddaughter’s photos on the Our Echo website.

Here’s another snowy photo from the McGhee family album.


Clarence McGhee pulling daughters, Melba and Gail, on a sled. In the background is the lease house. Maybe 1926 or so.

The Wheel from an Old Hay Rake

(post by Ginger Allain) Growing up in the country, I remember a vintage wheel that served as a trellis in our yard. Mom grew clematis on it. We have few photos from that time, mostly black-and-white ones.


Wheel from an old hay rake (at Clyde and Gail Martin’s home)

In examining the photo, my sister and I decided it wasn’t a wagon wheel or a buggy wheel. It seemed too high and too slender for either of those.

An octogenarian helped us out by identifying it as the wheel of a farm implement called a hay rake.

Here’s Les Paugh’s memory of such things, “I got to thinking when I was 12-years-old we had a rake that set at an angle and windrowed the hay for the baler. I tried to find a picture of one, no luck. Also tried to find a picture of the baler I worked on.

This was in 1945 before the war ended. The baler needed one man on the tractor and two on the baler, one tying the wires and one poking the wires. The owner of the ranch couldn’t get anybody to tie the wires, my dad told him I could tie the wires. He said he would pay me six bits an hour, dad told him “you will pay him one dollar an hour, a man’s wages for a man’s work, or look for two men.” He said OK. I worked all summer. My earnings bought me a horse and saddle.

I checked for a picture of a hay rake and finally found one in a newspaper from 1900.


The Owosso times. Owosso, Michigan, hay rake, January 19, 1900, Chronicling America « Library of Congress


Older Than Dirt

My aunt, CJ Garriott is our guest blogger for today. She is Gail Lee Martin’s youngest sister. She’s sharing memories that were triggered by an internet questionnaire.

Well, what can I say? I’m older than dirt! A few I didn’t experience: Milk was not delivered to our house because we always had cows! and as for ice, we lived in company housing, and had electricity and refrigerators by the time I was in 1st grade, long before farmers and others did. I DO remember the day we got an inside bathroom (when I was in high school), and no longer had to use the outhouse. I thought we had truly arrived.

 In looking back, I’ve realized how good we had it in the Depression Years. I was born in 1934, and my Daddy not only had a job (oilfield pumper), he had a job that came with a house! We always had cows, chickens, and a big garden. We bought baby chickens that we had to collect from the post office, and when they were fryer size, Mother “harvested” them, and froze them in cardboard cartons filled with water. Never had freezer burn; always tasted fresh.
My oldest sister bought block ice for their icebox. I don’t remember if Gail did that too, or if they had electricity when she married?
IceBoxAndFan083114 copy.png Postcard
by ShroudedLake
All this certainly brings back memories–since we lived in a rural area, we weren’t able to have newspapers delivered. This doesn’t mention listening to the radio–I hurried home from school to turn on the radio and listen to Tom Mix and The Shadow Knows. And we had (and used) a record player that you cranked! Enjoy this trip down long-ago memory lane! CJ/Carol

Snow Memories from Childhood

(Memories by Virginia Allain, previously published on List My Five)

In my case, childhood was a good many years ago, but the memories are still vivid. My memories will vary from your own experience, so I challenge you to write your own list on this topic.

    • Walking Miles to School In Deep Snow –

      Actually, for us, it was only a quarter of a mile walk to where we met the school bus. It sure seemed a lot longer, but then our legs were pretty short back then. We trekked up the hill through drifts of snow, then waited by the highway with the wind whistling around us. Those were the days when girls wore dresses to school and that Kansas wind would whip up under the gathered skirts and freeze your knees.

    • Sliding on the Frozen Creek –

      The wind blew most of the snow off the ice, so we had great fun seeing how far we could slide. We didn’t have skates and it was only a small area, but it kept us amused. I’m sure we fancied ourselves accomplished skaters like the vintage pictures in the Currier and Ives book.

  • Snowball Fights –

    Our older brother could throw more powerfully and further than any of us, so our snowball fights were pretty one-sided. Many kids remember building snow forts for their snowball fights, but I don’t remember that.

  • Bringing In Firewood –

    We lived in the country and had a wood-burning stove, so wading through the snow for an armload of wood was an unwelcome chore. We kept a stockpile on the back porch but sometimes had to go out in the snow to replenish it. Returning with the wood, we stamped our feet on the porch to remove as much snow as possible. Still, we tracked some in on the linoleum that covered the floor in the big country kitchen.

    old stove

    A drawing by Karen Martin showing the black wood stove that heated that drafty farmhouse.

  • Taking Care of Our Pet Rabbits –

    When it snowed, it was also cold enough to freeze the water crocks in the rabbit hutches. What a chore it was to drag all the frozen, heavy crockery to the house to thaw and then return them to the hutches. Then we carried the buckets of water down to fill them. After school, the job often had to be repeated.


Our rabbitry on a chill winter day. Fortunately, there was no snow on this particular day.