A Random Act of Genealogical Kindness

In Mom’s photo collection are four photos relating to her childhood friend, Dorothy Rose Laird. I wrote about their friendship in another post, so you’ve seen one of the pictures there.

It occurred to me that descendants of Dorothy or relatives would love to have these 60 year old pictures. I researched on the Ancestry site for family trees that included Dorothy Rose Laird.

When I found one, I messaged the owner of the tree asking if she would like the photos to add. She was thrilled. I emailed digital copies of the pictures and I see she has already attached them to the people on her family tree.

Here are the four pictures in case anyone else is looking for Dorothy.

Gail and her school friends standing by her daddy's new car.  Dorothy Rose Laird is in the center, Gail on the right.

Gail and her school friends standing by her daddy’s new car. Dorothy Rose Laird is in the center, Gail on the right.

I could not find details later than 1940 on Dorothy, so I don’t know who she married, where she lived and if she died.

Dorothy Rose and Edna Mae Laird - Greenwood County, Kansas.  Photo from Gail Lee Martin's collection.

Dorothy Rose and Edna Mae Laird – Greenwood County, Kansas.
Photo from Gail Lee Martin’s collection. Edna is 4 years younger than Dorothy.

Gail McGhee and Dorothy Rose Laird - 1930s at Noller School, Greenwood County, Kansas

Gail McGhee and Dorothy Rose Laird – 1930s at Noller School, Greenwood County, Kansas

This one is labeled "Grandmother Lair's house, Potwin, KS." According to Ancestry, Dorothy had a grandmother, Ella, who lived in Potwin.

This one is labeled “Grandmother Laird’s house, Potwin, KS.” According to Ancestry, Dorothy had a grandmother, Ella, who lived in Potwin.

According to that member’s family tree, the grandmother’s name was Mary Ellen “Ella” Combs and she married Thomas Laird.

The good part of sharing these photos is now they are on Ancestry so others who are searching for her will easily find them. The bad part is that Ancestry’s subscription fee keeps many from using it. For that, I’m posting them here.

It turns out that my sister, Karen, had an additional photo of Edna Mae and Dorothy Rose Laird. Here it is.

It turns out that my sister, Karen, had an additional photo of Edna Mae and Dorothy Rose Laird. Here it is.

PS – One of the activities that my mother, Gail, remembered fondly from her school days was learning acrobatics with her friend Dorothy. Click the link to read about that.

I’m a Woman on a Mission

I inherited my mother’s genealogy and family history files and writings two years ago. I feel it is my mission now to get as much information and pictures online as possible for the next generation to access. These bits of paper are our ancestor’s legacy to preserve and share.

So far, I’m taking a shotgun approach, spreading the material across a number of blogs, in Facebook groups, on my web pages created on Hubpages and even some on a site called Bubblews.

The Bubblews postings were part of a 52 Ancestors challenge. I pledged to write one family history piece a week for a whole year. Sadly, I’ve fallen behind on that.

The blogs are on WordPress and have titles like Then and Now and of course, here on  Discovering Mom: Gail Lee Martin. My Facebook groups focus on specific family names and pull together my cousins to share family stories and photos. We’ve had some success getting unlabeled photos identified which pleases me greatly.

I want to complete 3 family history books with the material too. Daunting task.

To keep me moving along, I’ve joined an A to Z blogging challenge for April. That keeps me on my toes to post something new each day here matching the letter of the alphabet.

I hope you’ll be right here reading the posts and cheering me on. You can subscribe to the blog if you want to get a notice for posts.

The family archives on the shelves and in the cupboards. Safe for now.

The family archives on the shelves and in the cupboards. Safe for now.

Gail’s Advice for Creating a Writing Room

Gail Lee Martin's writing area (doubled as Dad's card playing spot)

Gail Lee Martin’s writing area (doubled as Dad’s card playing spot)

When you write, you need a place for your computer, your research materials and lots of files. Here are ways to get the space needed for productive writing.

FIND SPACE: We turned a bedroom in our house into my writing room by getting rid of the guest bed. Now we lack space for guests to sleep, but that’s an infrequent inconvenience. An air mattress on the floor takes care of visitors. The computer is used every day, so using the space for that makes more sense.
Look around to see what space in your home is not being used very much. I know someone who turned their dining room into a writing room. They always ate in the breakfast room anyway. If you can’t manage a whole room, look for a corner or even a closet. A room is best.

GET A DESK: You can make one from two-drawer filing cabinets with a counter top resting on top of them. Get a decent secretarial chair or office chair with wheels on it. You’ll be spending a lot of time there.

KEEP BOOKS AND PAPERS TO HELP WITH YOUR WRITING: My writing room is filled with books for researching all kind of articles that I plan on writing; for our family history memoirs and extensive files of everything our family is interested in. I have added notebooks where I am saving written material by others in our family. My Mother’s stories she wrote in the early twenties, our daughter, Shannon’s “Martin News”; my sister, Carol’s “Living on the Bay” her monthly newsletter from Seadrift, Texas and our daughter, Cindy’s “Birdwoman programs” that need a special shelf.

Cabinet door made by Gail's son, Owen Martin.

Cabinet door made by Gail’s son, Owen Martin.

ADD SHELVING: We added bookshelves all around in my writing room. The shelves are one-of-a-kind, made by our son, Owen. He is a cabinet-maker and the ends of these book shelves are made from narrow strips of scrap cherry, birch, walnut, pine and poplar wood pieced together. They make my writing room as unique as my writing style.

ADD FILES: Besides file drawers with the desk area, you’ll be glad to have a four-drawer file. Try to get a good solid one. The really cheap ones have shorter drawers and get warped out of shape when you really load them up with files.

Me and my file cabinet
STOCK IN SUPPLIES: You’ll need the usual office supplies like paper, pens, paper clips, etc.

SHOW OFF YOUR AWARDS: Leave some wall space to feature your writing awards. Maybe frame a copy of your first payment for something you wrote or a special acceptance letter or a picture of your favorite author.

Comments from eHow readers:
kylemeko on 2/23/2010 – I like this article I will put it to good use. 🙂
Dorothy Sander on 4/17/2009 – Every time I create a writing room for myself, one of my sons moves back home! It’s a never-ending frustration. A writer needs to create a writing room and I’m going to try again!
Susanh on 2/4/2009 – Our office is my writing space and it has all the items you mentioned. Thank you for confirmation that it’s in good shape!
miasavc on 1/17/2009 – Having a space to work with all the resources you need inspires creativity. I have my little home office too & it has everything I need. Thanks for sharing this valuable & inspiring article!
Virginia Allain on 1/12/2009 – I need to reorganize my writing room space. It’s not very efficient at the moment.

(article by Gail Martin, first published online at eHow)

Gail’s Advice on Giving Gifts on a Social Security Income

Proud grandparents

With six children, eight grandchildren, and many great-grandchildren, the Christmas and birthday gift giving can strain the budget. Seniors living only on Social Security must apply creativity in their gift giving to keep it affordable.

Check in your closets – Think about things you have stashed away unused. We no longer decorate a tree at Christmas, but still have boxes and boxes of special ornaments. I can give one to each person on my gift list. I’ll gain some storage space and they’ll gain a family heirloom for their Christmas tree.

Put memories on paper

Put memories on paper – Give a gift of your memories. Write down a special memory of the day they were born or about something you did with them or their parent and print it out or hand write it on nice paper to give them. Slip it in a plastic sleeve to preserve it.

Look at your collections – We collected Norman Rockwell mugs for many years. If we give one to each family member, they will think of us each time they use it.

Make a tasty gift – Make up a batch of your popular candy or cookie recipe and package it up to give to the children and grandchildren. Just a small amount on a paper plate (dessert size) and covered with plastic wrap lets them know you were thinking of them. Attach the recipe to the gift.

A vintage book for a gift

A vintage book for a gift – Look on your bookshelf. Is there a book there that has special meaning to you. Write a note explaining what is special about the book and give it to someone on your list.

(Gail Martin’s article originally appeared online on the eHow website)

Here’s a sample of some comments on the original article:

12/6/2008 A bonus is you don’t have to face the crowds at the mall. Ginger Allain

12/17/2008 This is absolutely one of the best Christmas gift-giving articles on eHow. I LOVE your steps 1 and 5, especially. Even those people not on a Social Security income will benefit from your tips. Thanks so much and Merry Christmas to you and yours! Veryirie

1/16/2011 These are great ideas and you are right. Many of us have unused items that the kids remember and sharing them makes them great gifts. My Christmas shopping is done for next year! Anneliese Hinds



Gail’s Advice on Helping the Elderly with Doctor’s Appointments

This is another article that Mom wrote for the eHow website about 7 years ago.

As your parents, friends and even neighbors grow older you might find yourself chauffeuring them for grocery shopping, hair cuts, club meetings, various errands and doctor’s appointments. This last one is the most important one to be sure to do it right.

Call the doctor

 If your older neighbor or a family member has trouble driving or lacks transportation, talk with them frequently by phone or drop by to see what their needs are. When they have a health issue, encourage them to schedule a doctor’s visit and offer them a ride. Make a note to remind yourself of the date and time of the appointment.

Make sure you allow plenty of time to pick up the one going to see the doctor. Someone who’s elderly walks much slower and might even use a cane, a walker or even a wheelchair that takes time to load into the car.


Gather all the medicine prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs that your friend or family member uses. Put them into a small bag to take with you. This lets the doctor know what the patient has been taking and avoids conflicting drug prescriptions. The doctor can check if the prescriptions need to be updated as well as making sure the patient is following instructions.

Take the pills

If it is snowy weather be sure your car is cleared and warm inside. If you have a seat-warmer, I’m sure your passenger will appreciate that too. They may need help with the steps and sidewalks if they’re slick. A fall can have disastrous consequences as bones grow brittle with aging.

Flyers with information

Flyers with information

On the trip to the doctor’s office quiz your passenger on what they need to tell the doctor or questions they need to ask. You can make a list of these as you wait in the waiting room. While there, check out pamphlets that might be of interest to you and your friend. Take time to chat and catch up on their news. Make this trip more like a friendly visit than a trip to the doctor to keep the anxiety level at a minimum.


Listen and take notes

Listen and take notes

Go into the doctor’s office with the patient to provide extra set of ears. Take notes of what the doctor says or even take a voice-activated recorder along to be sure everyone has the same information.

If a prescription is issued, take time to fill it as you head home. During the drive, talk about their plans so you can be sure they will follow the doctor’s directions. Find out if they need help carrying these out.

Gail’s Advice on Getting Older

My mom, Gail Lee Martin, loved to write and loved to give advice. When she was 85, she shared what she learned over the years by writing articles for the eHow website. Many of her topics targeted a senior audience, but other ages will find tips they can use, seasoned with her 85 years of living.

She grew up in the Kansas Flint Hills at a time when water was pumped by hand into a bucket and carried into the house. Having a “can do” attitude and a practical outlook, she shared some methods that may seem old-fashioned. In a time of recession, these low-tech ideas and thrifty methods are gaining in popularity. We need to learn from our elders, so take a look at Gail’s advice below.

Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be.” That’s the poetic way to look at it. Actually growing older can cause lots of changes in people’s lifestyle. These can be coped with, if approached with some pre-planning or by taking advantage of any opportunity that comes along. I would like to show you how we handled these difficult times and even shared with our six children as they grew up.

FOLLOW YOUR INTERESTS WHEREVER THEY LEAD YOU – It took quite awhile for all six to grow up enough to get married or at least out on their own to raise families or follow their careers. By 1981 the youngest was married, and my husband and I were only 56 years old. Needing something to occupy my time until Clyde retired, I became interested in tracing family’s history. What I found in military and census records was so interesting I wanted to share with our children. So one by one I made family notebooks of the first four generations. I fancied up the notebooks with padded coverings and added an appropriate photo in matching padded frames on the front. The notebooks made great birthday gifts. You can continue making copies of the family books for your grandchildren as they get married.

Here's an example of one of the decorative notebooks Mom created.

Here’s an example of one of the decorative notebooks Mom created.

MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR TIME WHILE HEALTHY – Retirement age really isn’t so very old. At 62 or 65 years of age you have lots of years to have fun. Fishing was our first choice as we had missed doing that a lot during our working years and raising a big family. We also couldn’t seem to stop making a big garden because any garden thrived under Clyde’s watchful eye and tender care, developing into too much produce that even our family, neighbors and friends couldn’t use it all up.

KEEP ACTIVE UNTIL IT ISN’T FUN ANYMORE – We enjoyed the garden so much that we didn’t want to give it up, leading us into another enjoyable pastime when we joined a local farmer’s market. At the market we made many new friends who enjoyed our fresh produce, preserved products and baked goodies. After twenty years even that type of activity became more drudgery than fun.

Gail and Clyde Martin with their farmer's market tent.

Gail and Clyde Martin with their farmer’s market tent.

PREPARE TO PASS ALONG YOUR HERITAGE – Old age was gaining on us and who wants to read or watch television all the time? We decided to use our computer skills and label our family heirlooms, accumulated over the 63 years of marriage, for our children’s information after we are gone. Typing or writing the details (from whom and year received) on address or shipping labels and placing it in an inconspicuous place on the object passes on the history of precious items.

Mom collected vintage canning jars to display in her kitchen.

Mom collected vintage canning jars to display in her kitchen.

I have to insert a comment on this last advice. Unfortunately the household goods were auctioned after Mom’s death, so the only way her children and grandchildren could preserve the family pieces that Mom treasured was to bid for them there. It’s most unsettling to see your parents’ lifetime accumulation spread across a lawn with strangers pawing through it. Some of the items are safely in family keeping, but others are now who-knows-where.

I remind myself, that our greatest inheritance is our memories and our values passed down through the generations. Those are what I’m trying to preserve in this blog and eventually in the family books I’ll create.