Gail and the Crawdads

It surprises me when I find a piece of Mom’s writing that I’ve not seen before. This one page memory titled “Running Barefoot in the Flinthills” is set in 1935. I wish we could have included it in her book, My Flint Hills Childhood: Growing Up in 1930s Kansas.

Mother let my sisters and me go barefooted when we went crawdad hunting. Near the oilfield camp, where we lived when I was nine years old, was a small rocky creek running through the prairie. It was the home for small minnows and lots of crawdads. As soon as it was warm enough to go barefoot, Mother would let us go down to the creek.

In the early spring and summer, the little critters were small and caused us to do a lot of splashing around in the shallow water as we tried to catch them. We would pick up rocks in the water and try to catch the crawdads as they scurried backward seeking another rock to get under. I had to carefully pick up the rocks so the water wouldn’t get so muddy that I couldn’t see the crawdads.


Crayfish photo courtesy of Pixabay

In late summer we would take an old tea kettle with us to put the big crawdads in. The bigger the better. When the kettle was full of the scrambling, snapping miniature lobsters, we proudly carried them home to be prepared for our supper.

We would pick them up by their backs behind their large pincers and twist off their tails. When we peeled the tails, we had a luscious piece of meat that curled sorta like shrimp. Mother rolled them in flour and fried them. The muscles in the tail would make them twitch and jump when they started getting hot in the skillet just like bullfrog legs.

I think I like to eat crawdad tails even better than frog legs. Try them sometime, you’ll like them too.


Memory Poem

I found a poem that Mom wrote but never published on Our Echo. Perhaps she wanted to polish it some more or didn’t feel it was her best work. It might be from a workshop she attended.

The first letters of each line spell out her name, Gail Martin. Here it is:

That’s Me

Going on a journey

Away back in Time

In my memories I’ll find

Long forgotten happenings

Mostly I recalled the little things

Among my mental souvenirs

Rambling in the Flint Hills

To find a scrubby little cedar

I turned into a Christmas tree

Never thought I’d forget

Gail and Melba Mcghee with grandmother Viola Matilda McGhee

Gail (youngest) with older sister and grandmother. This would be about 1935. They are at the cabin on the Cottonwood where they went to camp and fish.

A Valentine for Mom and Dad

In reading memories saved in the folks’ 40th anniversary book, I found this one from Treva Frazier. It’s a good one for the approaching Valentine’s Day.

When Clyde was getting ready to go back to work after his accident, Gail said, ‘Oh, Treva, I’ll miss him so much when he’s working.’ Most wives would have been tickled to get their husbands out of their hair after so many months of convalescing.

She had six kids underfoot, but she was still going to miss Clyde. Many times thru the years I’ve thought of Gail and Clyde and hoped my marriage would be better because of them.”


Romance cover created using Glass Giant.

Romance cover created using Glass Giant.


Condolences in the Wichita Eagle Guestbook

After a year is up, the guest book will no longer be online. I’ve copied the messages here to preserve them. V.A.

February 04, 2013

Mom, we think of you every day. I’m glad you can be with Dad now, but we sure miss you.

Poinciana, Florida

February 02, 2013

Karen and family,
I have thought of your mom often over the past year. I kept thinking I would write her. I very much enjoyed the short time I was able to know your folks and will always remember them fondly. I enjoyed reading the stories in her and Clyde’s biographies. They were very special, I know they are and will be missed. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.
Diana Coster RN, Wichita, KS

January 30, 2013

Missing you, Mom.

Karen Kolavalli,
El Dorado, Kansas

January 30, 2013

I used to think my mom knew everyone in town. Eventually I realized that she just talked to everyone like they were a friend, whether she knew them or not.

Virginia Allain,
Poinciana, Florida

January 29, 2013

Thank you for all your writings. You will live on in the memories of those that have an opportunity to read them.

January 29, 2013

All your writings & stories will bring comfort to us. Already missing you so much.

Cynthia Ross,
Towanda, Kansas

January 29, 2013

I know this loss leaves you with heavy hearts. Your mother was such a strong lady. She just rolled along raising her family. I never saw her get excited or upset about anything. So glad she got to write. I look forward to reading her books about her and your dad.
Martha Smart McAdoo, Wichita, KS

January 29, 2013

Gail was always there when you needed some help with 4-H and other areas. She was always someone who you could talk to and she would set for hours talking to you and enjoying all conversations. She will be greatly missed. I wish the best for all her family. I know I will always miss her for many reasons.

wayne wilson,
wichita, Kansas