Mom And Tiny Houses

On a rainy day last week, I got out my miniature birdhouses and decorated them with paint. It’s the sort of project that Mom would have had a lot of fun with. Gail Martin was an excellent crafter and there are many memories of her sharing her talent by teaching her children and later the grandchildren.

Last year, I’d picked up some miniature unpainted birdhouses from Michael’s for $1 each. What a bargain. This seemed the perfect time to pretty them up. I already had a stash of leftover oil paints from a paint-by-number kit. Remember those? That gave me a variety of colors to use on the tiny houses.



Here’s my first attempt, using some red fabric to cover the roof and adding some heart-shaped flowers. I’ll spray this with a sealant and hope it holds up for a summer outside if I put it in a sheltered area.

The second one ended up with a birch bark theme. It was a sheet of bark that I found in the woods last year. I’m such a packrat, but now I had a use for it.


I was surprised at how easy it was to cut the bark with ordinary scissors. My glue gun worked fine for securing the bark to the walls of the faux birdhouse. Do you think it looks OK with a white roof or should I paint that?

These are going into my planting areas to add a little color in a few spots too shady for most plants. I’ll tuck in some moss and a little fern for a fairy garden. That’s a huge gardening trend the last few years. I haven’t seen any fairies but maybe the availability of houses will attract some.

Fairy Garden with plants and little house

The plants are mouse-ear hawkweed, red crest lichen (also called British Soldiers), and a cutting from another plant with purple flowers.

I’m sure that if fairy gardening had been thought of in the 1950s and 1960s, Gail would have loved the concept and set her children to collecting pebbles and moss to make our own miniature gardens somewhere in the yard.

You can read more about fairy gardening online. Perhaps your grandchildren would like to create one the next time they visit. They could make little houses out of bark, collect stones for a path, make a little fence out of twigs. It’s great fun for kids or even grown-ups. Don’t wait for a rainy day.

Tiny fairy house

The round fairy house needs a few more plants and some moss to go with the fern.

August Memory Joggers

August Memories
It is county fair time in my part of the world and soon the State Fair in Hutchinson will be entertaining crowds of people of all shapes and sizes. Do you have memories of going to or of entering something in your local county or state fair? If you entered did you save your red, white blue or purple ribbons? What did you enjoy most at the fair? This year Pepsi cans in our area have the Kansas State Fair advertised on the side.

Did you ever go to carnivals, the zoo, rodeos, or the circus? Were you ever in a parade or enjoy watching them?

As a kid did you play baseball or softball or go roller skating?

How did you earn money to spend while at the fair? Did you get an allowance from your parents or did you do odd jobs in the neighborhood? Maybe some of you might remember having a lemonade stand or having a paper route.

Did you walk or ride a bike? When did you get your first bike?


Grandpa Clyde helping his granddaughter learn to ride a bike.

Did you ever have a nickname? I was called Fibber or just plain McGhee all because of my last name and the radio show Fibber McGhee & Molly.

Did you or your parents like to do crossword or jigsaw puzzles? What do you remember your grandparents doing in their spare time?

Remember the Rawleigh Man?

Our guest blogger today is the Hope Community Museum in Kansas.

“One of the dying occupations is that of the traveling salesman. For most of the 20th century, your door was knocked on by people selling wares that were the ‘best of its kind!’

This display case was owned by Dan Bert to sell Rawleigh products, which included ointments, spices, extracts, and more. He ran his route in Southern Dickinson County from 1937-1973. For 36 years, he was known as the guy that gave Juicy Fruit Gum to everyone who opened their door.

Do you remember a traveling salesman that treated you like family when they knocked on your door?”

Here are some of the answers from their readers:

Greg R. – “I remember the Rawleigh man coming around. I still use their brown salve. It’s good for what ails you! I also remember the Stanley salesman and the Fuller Brush man.”

Joann V. – “Living in the country, we had a lot of salesmen stop in: vacuum cleaner, Avon, Fuller Brush, McNess, even the car dealer would come out from town to show Dad a vehicle. Loved the little 2-pack of Chiclet gum that the A.A.L. Insurance would give to us kids.”

Donna N. – “I remember when the Watkins man would come to our house (20 miles out in the country). Once in a while mom would buy a bottle of flavored stuff to make her version of “koolaid”..a real treat. She always bought their vanilla.”

Where is Hope, Kansas?

On your way up Route 56 to Junction City, turn west just after Herrington. If you get to Junction City, you went too far. The museum is at 203 S. Main Street. They have a Facebook page.


July Memory Joggers

Memory joggers for the month of July created by Gail Lee Martin. She would love it if you would take pen in hand and write about some of these topics.

July 1 – July 31 – July Memories

With our Nation’s birthday coming up on the fourth, let’s try and recall how we celebrated the 4th of July as far back as we can. We used to go swimming and have a picnic. I can even remember when we had no fireworks, can you? What were your favorite fireworks? Our children loved smoke bombs and sparklers. If you recall picnics tell us your menu and how you kept the food safe. Who attended? How about some pet stories and the noise of the fireworks?

sparkler photo dark background by Virginia Allain

A photo of a 4th of July sparkler (by Gail’s daughter, Virginia Allain)

Hallmark channel on TV is planning a month of “Rough N Ready” shows for July. How about writing some Rough N Ready stories or memories of your favorite Western movies? Our favorites were movies with Tom Mix, Dale & Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and Hop-a-Long Cassidy in them.



Classic western hero – The Lone Ranger

Where did you go to see the movies? Who did you go with and what did it cost to get in? Who could forget the smell of the popcorn? Describe the theater inside and out. Do you remember the first drive-in-movies? Did your theater have drawings or gifts?

I found an old Log Cabin Syrup tin that looked like the ones I played with as a kid. Do you remember what syrup you liked on pancakes as a kid? Did your mother make them from scratch or use a mix? Tell us some breakfast stories.

What would you do if you had as much rain as Kansas, Oklahoma & Texas has had lately? Maybe you’ve gone through that sort of thing already. Tell us about your rainy ordeals.

July 2012 Rain at the Bronco ball park in El Dorado KS

Karen Kolavalli’s photo of the lightning and rain clouds at the Bronco Ball Park in El Dorado, Kansas.

Gail’s Books Inspire Another Memoir

Back in 2011, Gail Lee Martin emailed, “We were awakened this morning with a call from the man below. He went to Madison HS when Howard was in high school. He said that Hartsel Storrer, who manages the Madison Senior Center was his grade school teacher. Perry said his daughters bought both of my books from Blurb and then they downloaded Blurb and made a book for Perry’s birthday.

He is sending a copy to us so needed our snail mail address. He told about Ralph dive-bombing their farm and about Howard driving Ren’s new car to school one day and a bunch of classmates skipped school. They drove to Hamilton and on the way back decided to see how fast the car would go. On the downslope on the hill south of Madison, it hit 100 miles an hour. 

Now we know who bought at least two of the books from Blurb and with great results. Apparently, his books are selling fairly well in the community.”

Perry Rubart and His Book

They titled his book, Dare to Dream… Dare to Make the Dream Come True. Here’s the description of it:

Perry Rubart, born in 1931, has seen many changes in his lifetime—personally as well as in this country. In this book, Perry describes his childhood in the Flint Hills of Kansas during the Depression era, his young adulthood in the throes of the Korean War, and his experiences of small-town Ulysses, Kansas, in the changing times of the 1960s-1990s. This is a book about his poverty and affluence, pain and joy, hardships and blessings. In this story of a lifetime, we see a man who did “dare to dream and then dare to make the dream come true.”

Dare to Dream Dare to Make the Dream Come True by Perry Rubart Blurb Books

Dare to Dream Dare to Make the Dream Come True by Perry Rubart Blurb Books

Gail also included in her email, a clipping from (7/30/2011) about Perry Rubart celebrating his 80th birthday. He was born in 1931 near Madison, so was about 7 years younger than Gail and Clyde.

The article included this information, “On Aug. 11, 1951, he married Dorothy Crooks in Madison. He worked in the oil fields and gas plants from 1947 to 1960. In Ulysses, he owned and operated the Mobil Bulk Dealership, Perry’s Tire & Supply, The Rusty Windmill antique store, and was part owner of The Peddler’s Inn and Southwest Kansas Bank, N.A. He is a Korean War veteran and served on various boards of directors including Sunflower, KEC, Pioneer Electric and York College.

His children and spouses are Jackie and Wendell Beall, West Fork, Arkansas, Teresa and Greg Grounds, Hooker, Oklahoma, and Debbie and Kenney Sneyd, Ulysses. He has eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Make Golden Green Beans Au Gratin

Gail Lee Martin posted her recipe on the eHow site in 2009. Try it this summer with fresh green beans picked from your garden and cooked. Then make the following additions for a tasty vegetable casserole.

How to Make Golden Green Beans Au Gratin

During our busy years of gardening with six kids, I tried many different ways to serve veggies to encourage them to eat what we grew. One that has stayed in the family has been Golden Bean Au Gratin. The main reason is that most kids love Velveeta cheese. It’s easy to fix too.


Cooked green beans ready to use in the Golden Bean casserole.

Things You’ll Need:

4 bacon slices
1 cup onions, sliced into rings
½ lb. Velveeta cheese, cubed
¼ cup milk
1/8th teaspoon salt
4 cups of cooked green beans drained well
1 cup seasoned croutons or breadcrumbs

  1. Cut up the onion into rings.
  2. Fry bacon until crisp. Set it aside.
    Drain off most of the fat but reserve 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat to cook the onion in until tender.
  3. Add the half pound of cubed cheese and a quarter cup of milk to the onions. Heat these until the cheese melts. Stir frequently so it won’t stick or burn.
  4. Crumble the bacon.
  5. Add the crumbled bacon, seasonings and green beans. Of course, we use our own home-canned green beans but you could use a couple of store-bought cans of green beans. You could grow your own or buy some fresh-picked green beans from a farmer’s market when they are in season.
  6. Top with croutons. Bake 25 minutes in 350-degree oven.


Crumble the crispy bacon and sprinkle over the green bean casserole.

A Kansas Tornado Memory – 1940s

Gail Martin’s sister, CJ Garriott wrote about her memories of a tornado. This storm would have been in the 1940s, I’m thinking.
One of the most vivid memories I have of Mother’s apron is when we were hustling down into the storm cellar at the Seeley Lease, where I’m looking up past Daddy’s shoulder at the rotating cloud coming right at us as he pulled the door shut. I had the cat in my arms, Skippy the dog had gone down ahead of me, and Mother had led the way with the baby chickens gathered in her apron! The little twister tore up the chicken house and tossed some stuff around, but no major damage.
She wrote the memory above in 2011, so 70 years after seeing that tornado, the event was still vivid in her mind. CJ gave me this timeline for the event, ” I went to 2nd grade through 6th grade at the 1-room Seeley School when we lived on the Seeley Lease, so this happened somewhere in-between 1941 to 1945.”

Her niece, Cynthia Jo Ross liked the story so much, that she asked to use it in her program on vintage aprons.  “It will really add to the program if included.  The collection started because of mom’s award-winning story about Ruth; then I started collecting aprons at thrift stores or estate sales.

Long before that Mom made me a beautiful floor-length red apron maybe 15 or 20 years ago. I’ve used that apron often and then Mom used it for a couple programs and when displaying the wagon wheel rugs.”

Gail Lee Martin in red apron

Gail Lee Martin talks about aprons and their history.

“Just recently my granddaughter used it at school.  She was playing the part of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Her mother had to pin it up quite a bit to fit her,” Cynthia explained.

(Last night, a tornado hit the small Kansas town of Eureka. That’s the town that features in some of Gail’s 1930s memories. Here’s a description of it, ” EF3 tornado, on ground 2 miles, wide as 2 football fields. 77 blocks wrecked. 8 people injured, 1 critically. One newscaster reported that if they put the tracks of this tornado with the one 2 years ago, they would make an X in town.”)