Monday Was Wash Day

Back in my grandmother’s time and even my mother’s, Monday was the day housewives washed the clothes. In the early to mid-1900s, it also meant hanging out the clothes to dry on the line.
cat-washday pixabay

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Line-drying the clothes can really save quite a bit on the electric bill, but back then it was the only way. Unfortunately, some neighborhoods don’t allow outdoor clothes lines anymore. The other problem with hanging out the clothes is you are at the mercy of the weather.

I remember struggling as a child to pin the clothes on the line as a bitterly cold wind slapped the wet laundry against my face. Sometimes, it froze in contorted shapes, so we gathered the stiff clothing from the line and took it indoors to thaw. It had to finish drying while draped over the furniture.

Here are a few more articles that show what laundry day was like in the good-old-days.

Wash Day Blues

The Wash House

Bean Soup on Wash Day



Getting Writing Ideas

As the years go by, you might think I’ve covered all the topics in writing about my mother, Gail Lee Martin, and would run out of ideas. Instead, I keep adding to the list of what I need to write about. Mom was interested in myriad activities, kept current on the news, and was fascinated by history and particularly our ancestors’ part in that.

For those who blog or who are writing a book, keep your mind open and receptive to ideas. Note those down as they can slip away as easily as they came. Mom saved clippings from newspapers and magazines that triggered ideas for her memoir. As I sort through those and clean some files out, I try to imagine what story she planned to write. She kept notebooks too and diaries.

small notebooks

I am a keeper of notes and have a lot of notebooks, just like Mom. 

Here are some topics I’ve made notes for but haven’t completed yet for the blog. Stay tuned. As more ideas keep popping up, some of these get pushed off for next month, next year, sometime…

Monday Was Wash Day
Old Rocking Chair
The Rock Hounds
Caring About Old Letters
A Book for a Penny
Resilient Kids
10 Years Ago – Gail’s Journal
Reading Emilie Loring
Collecting Feather Bird Pictures
Nobody Likes Me
Gail’s Sister – By the Sea
Celebrate Grandparents Day in September
Encouraging Kids to Garden
Comments on Gail’s Writing
Paper Dolls of Famous People
Books in the Covered Wagon
Flint Hills Photographer
A Small Kansas Town
Gail Admired Will Rogers
Visitors from around the World
Gene Stratton-Porter: Novelist and Naturalist of the Early 1900s
Food Cravings
No Slacks for 1950s School Girls
Smile for the Camera – Tips for Looking Better in Candid Portraits
Dad’s Birthday
Family in Early Tyro
Octogenarians and Their Computer
The Toni Doll
The New Fan
Making Ends Meet
The Saga of Gail’s Broken Hip



Independence Day 1913

This advertisement is from 107 years ago. Perhaps my dad’s parents might have been there for the band concert and the fireworks. Only 25 cents for the entire day of activities. There were horse races, a parade, airplanes, a comedy, a band concert, and fireworks.

Emporia parade 1913 - 4th of JulyEmporia parade 1913 – 4th of July Wed, Jul 2, 1913 – Page 7 · The Emporia Gazette (Emporia, Kansas) ·

Charles Lorenzo Martin would have been 22-years-old and living in Madison. Cora Joy was younger, about 17. They were married two years after this. Perhaps Ren Martin escorted Cora to the event or maybe each attended with their own family.

The photo below is before the time of their marriage as it is labeled with Cora’s maiden name. Obviously, it isn’t in July as everyone is bundled up. Here are the names to go with the faces: (left to right) Phaedra Steele, Rufus Beach, Mary Freeman, Clarence Hoobler, Cora Joy, and Ren Martin.

Phaedra steele, rufus beach, mary freeman, Clarence hoobler, cora joy & ren martin L to Rren and cora martin on the right


Playing in the Water

Growing up in the country gave us ample time in the summer to roam the pastures and the sparse woods. On searingly hot Kansas days, we often played in the creek. Water provides hours of fun for children. We created holding pools with small dams of gravel and mud to hold the crawdads and minnows that we captured. Wading up the stream, we floated short sticks as our pretend-boats and followed them as they twisted and turned with the flow of the current.

When thirsty, we cupped our hands to scoop up the chilled water that bubbled up through the sandy bottom of the spring. With nary a thought about bacteria, we quenched our thirst. Barefooted, we waded over slippery stones and whiled away the hours.

summer 1953

karen in creek

Karen Martin playing in the creek.

These photos from 1954 show my sister Karen taking the time to smell the wildflowers and enjoying some bare-footing. She was the youngest of five, so amply supervised by older siblings. Later, Shannon was born so then we became the six Martin kids.

toddler shannon and fish June 1963, may be late development

Shannon Martin with a fish.

We were so lucky to have a free-range childhood. I encourage parents to give your child unstructured time in the outdoors to play and explore. I’m sure our mom (Gail Lee Martin) relished some child-free time each day for her own sanity.

This post was inspired by the Sepia Saturday challenge. Their photo to match for this Saturday showed a vintage couple in a tidal area. Since Kansas is a long way from the sea, I used the water theme for my match.

Sepia Saturday 527 - 4 July 2020

This post is a day early for the challenge as I already have a 4th of July post planned for tomorrow. See you then.

Vintage Paper Dolls

My mother was born in 1924, so she was probably a little old to be playing with paper dolls at the time that these were printed in the Sunday funnies. Boots and Her Buddies was a popular comic strip from that time. It ran in U.S. papers from 1924 to 1968 according to the Wikipedia article on it.

Someone had the bright idea to print these cut-outs of Boots to entertain the children. The character had quite a glamorous wardrobe. It was fun browsing the old newspapers for genealogy and discovering these.

BootsBoots Sun, Aug 8, 1943 – Page 22 · Arizona Daily Star (Tucson, Arizona) ·

Boots - paperdollBoots – paperdoll Sun, Mar 3, 1940 – 30 · The Monitor (McAllen, Texas) ·

In the 1940s, Gail McGhee was attending high school and after graduation, working at Boeing Aircraft during World War II. Below, you see her with a friend, probably someone she worked with or maybe a friend from the boarding house where girls lived while doing war work.

I think Mom looks pretty spiffy in her suit. She’s the one with the dark hair.

Gail McGhee and friend in Wichita KS

Gail McGhee and a friend in Wichita, Kansas.

I think Mom would have made quite a cute paper doll herself. You can read more about her 1940’s years in these posts:

Some Background on This Blog

My mother, Gail Lee Martin, was 87 when we lost her. I started this blog to share my memories of her and now, over 500 posts later, I’m still finding things to write about her life, my childhood, and a general nostalgia for things of the past.

I self-published her memoir of growing up in the 1930s and she was so proud of her book and the prize that it won from the Kansas Authors Club. Her book is My Flint Hills Childhood: Growing Up in 1930s Kansas. Now that award is named after her.

Someday, I hope to put together some of these memories in a follow-up book and call it Gail, All Grown-Up.  

Haircut at Home

I’ll be posting daily in July about memories of my mama and general nostalgia. The Ultimate Blog Challenge will help me get the stories out to more readers and inspire me to keep posting.

Trimming the Bangs

Gail and Clyde had one son and five daughters. Back in the 1950s and 1960s, taking all those kids to get their hair cut was not in the budget. After all, Mom had a pair of scissors so she trimmed the bangs herself.

trim bangs scotch tape blog this

I don’t think she used tape to get the bangs straight. It would have been better if she had, as her efforts were a bit uneven. While we were little, we didn’t pay much attention. We were just glad the hair wasn’t down in our eyes anymore.

Ginger Martin in a ruffled dress - 1950s

Ginger Martin in a ruffled dress – 1950s. Probably made by her grandmother, Ruth McGhee.

Now I’ve learned how hard it is to cut a straight line on a curving forehead. With the pandemic, I’m staying home and trimming my own hair. Fortunately, not that many people are seeing me and how raggedy my hair cutting efforts are.

How about you? Did your mama trim your bangs when you were little?

Vintage Picnic

The Sepia Saturday challenge has me looking for photos of long-ago picnics. The oldest pictures from the album don’t show the actual picnic but some of the camaraderie of that day in 1916. The McGhee and Vining families traveled on the 4th of July to Hayrick Mound, a scenic spot just across the border into Oklahoma.

After these photos were taken showing the young ladies climbing the rocky hill and grouping themselves in a scenic manner, there were some playful games that ended in disaster. Thirteen-year-old Bertha McGhee fell awkwardly and it was feared that her neck or back was broken.

I don’t mean to be a tease, but the rest of the story and all the details are covered at Picnic at Hayrick Mound.

Our family often gathered with relatives for picnics, so I’ll share a sampling of those in a slideshow. Often, these involved multiple generations. There is potato salad, fried chicken, and deviled eggs and other yummy foods to eat. The children run about playing with cousins and wearing themselves out while the adults chat and catch up on the family news. At some point, people line up for group photos to commemorate the occasion.

In the last 40 years, I’ve seldom been in Kansas at the right times for the reunions at the park or lake. Instead, we get together with old friends or neighbors for our picnics. This 4th of July, ours will be a two-person picnic on our patio safely away from other people. Here’s wishing that next year will be better for everyone.

Slideshow of Martin, McGhee, or Allain Picnics

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Farmer’s Market Time Again

Nineteen Years Ago Today:

On June 23, 2001, Mom writes: “Today was are at our first Farmers Market for the year as most of you know. We were blown away with customers. Our 2-table spread did look good if I do say so. Clyde baked 20 loaves of his great breads (he has 5 bread machines

jelly at the farmer's market

Gail and Clyde Martin with their jams and jellies at the farmer’s market.

We had the new red potatoes, Susan’s broccoli, our zucchini, greens,
beets, and turnips. We had a display of jellies, applesauce and turnip kraut
on a 3-tiered shelf that Owen made me. Plus the black walnut nutmeats. If
we kept up with the record-keeping we sold $251.50 worth of goodies.

Then at 1pm we came home and flopped for awhile. This was our biggest day since
we started doing this about 10 years ago. Saw so many of our friends from
last year, it was almost like a family reunion. Now we have to get ready
for the next market on Tuesday morning. Love to all. I just had to share the
good news. Gail”

Clyde and Gail Martin Farmers Market money

Gail Lee Martin shows off their hard-earned rewards for participating in the farmer’s market.

Some Background on This Email

It was a tremendous amount of work for two people in their late 70s to participate in the twice-weekly market. They loved it. The attention they received from people praising their jams, breads, and vegetables far outweighed the amount of effort it took to grow or make those and to load them and their tent onto the pickup twice a week.

Setting up their booth and interacting with customers in the hot Kansas summers was indeed hard work. The extra money they made each week supplemented their Social Security income. Being frugal children of Depression-era meant living a frugal lifestyle even sixty years later.

Dog Days

The Sepia Saturday Photo Challenge this week featured a shaggy Old English Sheepdog. Our family album yielded a variety of dogs and even a young coyote. Since I’ve written about most of these before, I’ll be brief this time.

I wish I knew more about the photo of Gail Lee McGhee holding a coyote pup. It looks like the photo is from her teen years and that’s her little sister, barefooted Carol Jean, with her. The soil looks sandy and dry. In the distance, there’s an oil tank or perhaps a grain storage bin. Maybe they went with their dad while he was working one day.

Bushton, Kansas has only a few hundred residents these days. Probably there are still coyotes about that rural area. The coyote appears to be someone’s pet as it has a harness on and he seems comfortable being around people.

Unknown Man With A Large Dog On His Head (Sepia Saturday 525)


Our Family Dog Stories

Playing Games

Each Saturday, I try to find a vintage photo in our family album to match the one posted by the Sepia Saturday Challenge. This week, you see people playing a game with stately buildings in the background. I’m guessing that the game is badminton or tennis since it involves a net.

Tennis Players (1920s) Unknown Subjects and Location

Our family album yielded an old-time photo of young men playing croquet. The faces don’t seem to match any of our family members from that time, so all we know is the location which is Tyro, Kansas. You can read more about my efforts to identify this photo (on our family history blog – Then And Now)

Tyro friends playing croquet

Playing croquet in Tyro, Kansas, around 1910 or so.

You may be disappointed that there are no stately buildings in the background of my photo. Tyro boasted a multi-storied high school and a substantial church but neither of those were located near enough to the McGhee family backyard to show in the photo. Instead, you see what may be an elm tree and some open fields or garden area.

So now, I’ll gratuitously toss in a photo of the Kansas State Reform School. It is nowhere near Tyro, as it is located in Topeka, Kansas. It would have made a grand background for the croquet players though. The reason that I have this photo is I’m researching an ancestor who was sent to this school in 1889. He wasn’t a McGhee though and probably the boys sent to the reform school did not have much opportunity to play croquet.

Once I finish researching that story, I’ll post it on the Then And Now blog and put a link here. Then you’ll know the rest of the story.

KS State_Reform_School_1890_edward richards

Kansas State Reform School 1890