I See a Little Smile

Gail’s daughter, Cindy shared this memory, “When we were kids and got caught fighting: I remember Mom saying “If you guys don’t stop that I’m going to make you kiss and make up!” I think the thought of doing that while still mad made us stop and think about what we were doing and wonder was it worth the risk of continuing.”

child cry pixabay

That reminded me of the times that Mom would coax us out of a sulk by saying “I see a little smile.” The grumpy one would have a hard time maintaining their anger or sullen feelings as she would try to tease a smile out of our frowning look.

Sometimes when one of us was feeling belligerent or huffy, Mom would say, “watch out that you don’t trip over that lip.” She would also use that classic momism, “be careful, or your face might freeze like that.”

Her quips were designed to distract us from whatever was aggravating us. Usually, they worked. As a last resort when we had carried on too long with our squabbling or sulking or whining, she would resort to “if you don’t stop that crying, I’ll give you something to cry about.”

What techniques worked for defusing the situation with your children when they had a meltdown or were fussy?

Vintage Pressure Cooker Booklets

There’s a trend right now to add an Instant-Pot to our kitchen appliances. They are electric and programmable. Big marketing is pushing the trend, but basically, it’s a pressure cooker. Cooks used them a lot for canning or for quick cooking to tenderize tougher meats.
My sister ended up with Mom’s collection of vintage pressure cooker manuals after she passed away in 2014.  Gail and Clyde had multiple pressure cookers that they used for canning produce from their large garden, but those were sold at auction.  “I hope whoever bought them gets them checked out for safety at the local extension office!” remarked my sister.
pressure cooker books kk

Vintage pressure cooker booklets collected by Gail and Clyde Martin. Photo by Karen Kolavalli.

“I took some photos because I think they’re pretty cool!  They range in date from 1946 to 1972 and include Presto, Wear-Ever, Mirro-Matic and Montgomery Ward’s.  There’s even a hardcover Mirro Cook Book (1954, 4th Edition) with a chapter on pressure cooking.  These books are well-worn (to say the least!), but fun to have and look through—a veritable history of American mid-century pressure cookers.  Karen”
pressure cooker 1 Presto 1946 PC Manual

pressure cooker 2 Presto 1946 PC Manual_endpapers
Here’s one of their pressure cookers. It’s pretty vintage too, but they still canned with it. Even into their eighties, they were still canning.
2008-08-20 gail and ks photos 018

Make Meatloaf in a Jar

Gail and Clyde Martin’s Canned Meatloaf

This recipe makes meatloaf for canning in jars. It’s great to have in the pantry for an easy meal.

In our retirement years, my husband and I traveled together more than ever did when we had a car full of six kids. We even got a small camper and a small boat called a Scamper, built just for two. As we provisioned the camper to travel to Eastern Kansas we took food from our pantry that we had canned ourselves. We took canned green beans, pickled beets, okra, dilled green beans, stewed tomatoes, swiss chard and other greens, new potatoes.

When we discovered the Kerr Canning book also told us how to can beef, pork, chicken, fish, nuts meats, onions, hominy, and mushrooms, we expanded our menus of home-canned foods.

meatloaf in a jar
One that we liked best was the canned meatloaf. We found the recipe in our well-worn Kerr Canning book. We doubled the recipe to use a five-pound chub of hamburger that most grocery stores carry pre-packaged.

I like taking our own canned food when we go camping. Then when we catch any fish or grew too much garden at our summer home in Prescott, Kansas, we have the empty jars from eating the quick-to-fix good food we brought. We refill the jars with fish we catch or produce we grow, to take back home to fill our pantry for the coming winter.
So we were having more fun than when we canned for out big family.

Meatloaf in a Jar

The recipe goes like this: Get your biggest mixing pan. As my husband says “I suppose they mean a clean pan.”
Combine the following ingredients.
5 pounds of ground meat
2 ½ cups of cracker crumbs
1¼ cup milk
5 eggs, we prefer fresh farm grown eggs
5 tablespoon of chopped onions
5 teaspoons of salt or less if your diet calls for low salt
1¼ teaspoons of pepper (optional)
¾ teaspoon ground sage
1¼ teaspoons celery salt

Mix all very thoroughly. Pack the mix loosely in wide-mouth Kerr pint jars to within an inch of the top. With a damp cloth, wipe the rim, then put on the flat top and add the screw band firmly tight. This will yield around 8 or 9 pints.

Use 10 pounds of pressure in the pressure cooker.

Place a rack inside the pressure cooker, set the jars on that, and carefully follow the cooker’s instructions. Pints of meat require 75 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.

To serve the meatloaf, remove the ring and with a pop opener snap the flat lid off. Place the open jar of meat into the microwave for three minutes, then slide the small, round loaf onto a plate. Slice into five or six servings and enjoy.


Carol Jean’s 1946 Diary

Gail’s younger sister, Carol McGhee kept this diary in the first few months of 1946. I was glad she shared it with us, as it sheds some light on Gail’s 1940s years which are the focus of the next family book.

CJ Garriott’s Introduction for the 1946 diary

I found the diary I wrote in briefly in 1946, Pretty faithful in January, but just a few days in February and March. Probably got it for Christmas. Wish I had stayed with it! I found it fairly interesting–day-to-day action on the Kansas plains when I would have been eleven. Was inspired to transcribe it today. I typed it exactly as I had written it, abbreviations and an occasional misspelling. We must have just moved to the farm from the Seeley Lease.

Transcription of her childhood diary–1946 (Age 11 in January)

January 1
Today is New Year’s Day. Gail came over and stayed all day and sewed baby clothes.
This afternoon Daddy, Mother, Gail and I went to the pasture where the pond is and covered the pipeline with leaves to keep it from freezing.
This evening I went out to help Daddy do the chores. I fed the cows, horses, and calves. When Daddy started to milk the cow, Cream, she ran out of the barn. Daddy and I took some time driving her back in. The cow just did not want to go back in the barn! But we got her in anyway.

christmas 1947

Carol Jean McGhee, December 1947

January 2
Today I went to school, a new girl came to school today. I like her very much.
I did not help my dad with the chores today. Wayne, Wanda, and Garry came over this evening. (Wanda is Gail and CJ’s cousin)
The little black cat of Garry’s strung some more string out of the sewing machine again. I ate dinner with Gail and Mother today over at Wanda’s house.
January 3
The new girl was really in the fifth grade so she went to the fifth-grade room today.
We had my school xxx (couldn’t read it) as party today. I got a handkerchief from Adam. We had ice cream bars for treats. Also, we had a box of candy apiece. I helped Daddy with the chores today. The little calf got out and we had to chase it down. It jumped over a chicken coop. Tippy our dog helped us. I got a letter from Connie Benson.
January 4
Today is the last day of school this week. Wanda’s cat disappeared today at noon.
I did not help Daddy with the chores this evening because of the rain. My, how it did rain, thunder, and lightning. It rained almost all day. This morning it was 55 degrees above zero.
January 5
I helped Mother clean up the house. I finished my book I checked out of the Madison library today.
It was sort of raining today. I helped Daddy with the chores this evening. Mother and I hung some pictures up. We washed our heads. I wrote a letter to Connie Benson. I spilled the ink too.

shredded wheat houses - Etsy

Shredded Wheat houses to make into Toytown, 1950s – Photo of vintage cards for sale on the Etsy site.

January 6
Today is Saturday. Mother, Daddy and I went over to Melba and Norman’s and made some little houses from shredded wheat cards.  (Melba is Gail and CJ’s older sister)
I helped Daddy with the chores this evening. I mashed my big toe too. I was getting in the car and pulled the front seat down on my foot. My! How it did hurt!
Daddy got the stove up in our bathroom today. We took a bath too. My, it felt good.

January 8
This morning I nearly missed getting my arithmetic done. It rained so hard and long today. The rain is freezing on everything, too. Mr. Brown nearly got stuck at our front gate. I did not help Daddy with the chores because of rain.
January 9
I did not help Daddy with the chores this evening because of the mud. At school, I helped the cheerleaders for the basketball games. My music teacher was not here today.
Mother cut her hand. My! how the ice glittered on everything in the sun today. My leg hurt today but Mother put Absorbine on it and made it feel better. I played with a tiny football this eve.
January 10
I had upside down pineapple cake for my dessert at noon today! Gail came over and stayed all day. Clyde came after her this eve and got the phonegraph. Gail made a new dress too.
January 11
Today was lyceum. I did not go because a man was going to talk about model airplanes. It snowed this morn but before night it was all melted again. I played with Virginia Goodsen this eve after school. We caught a mouse in our mousetrap.
January 12
Today is Sat. This afternoon Mother came back from the barn and said something had happened to the horses. I went after Mr. Brown. When we got back our horse, Tony, had Bill down in the mud in the barn. His front feet were sticking out the door while his hind feet were up by his head. We went to Emporia yesterday eve and got Mother and I some shoes. (I can only hope the horses were OK!)
January 13 (Sun)
Daddy went in to town and got Wanda, Garry and Wayne for dinner. Melba, Norman, Timmy and Bobby came out for dinner also.
January 14
Today is Monday. Wayne, Wanda and Garry were out. We had weine roast yesterday eve. I took my lunch to school for the first time in town school.
January 15 (Tues)
I did not go to school today because of my sore throat. Wanda and Garry stayed at our house all day. Wayne went with Daddy to work. The electricity man came out and dug holes and put up poles. We will soon have electricity.
January 16 (Wed)
We went to town and looked at some light fixtures but didn’t buy any. Gail and Clyde came over this eve and bought a lamp mantle from us.
January 17 (Thur)
Wanda was to have a permanent today so Mother came in and took care of Garry, while she was gone. Daddy, Mother and I hurried this morning and got in at Wanda’s house early. Wayne went with Daddy. Mother combed my hair after we got in at Wanda’s.
January 18
Today is Friday. I went to school. Went over to Wanda’s after school because Mother washed and was there. Gail washed so she was there too. Then when Gail went home I went with her. I slept on a feather bed at Gail’s, too.
January 19 (Sat)
I went with Gail and Clyde to get a horse from somebody. I don’t know their names. When we came back we had a trailer with the horse in it. The horses’ name was Polly. We got stuck three times. Clyde got a man to pull us out. When we got home it was pretty late. We started at 11:30. We eat at a cafe before we went on home. Gail taught me how to play rummy. We eat waffles for breakfast.

January 20 (Sun)
I colored some in Gail’s colorbook. We had waffles for dinner. Gail and Clyde brought me home this eve. Wanda, Wayne and Garry were out at our place when I got home. Gail and Clyde took them home.
January 31
Today is the last day of January. Daddy put up my blinds in the eve.
February 1
Today is Friday. I am awful sleepy tonight. My music teacher read us some fairy tales about music. Daddy has something in his eye. They went to Emporia and haven’t got back yet. It’s 5 min after 8 now. Guess I’ll go to bed.
February 5 (Tues)
Today is Tuesday. How I wish I did not have to go to school! Daddy hauled cow manure out of the barn this eve. There was a dust storm this morning. It lasted from 10:00 to 12:00.
March 3
Today is Josephine’s Brown’s birthday. I forgot to get her a present, which makes me mad!
March 4
Today is Tuesday. I helped Daddy with the chores this morning and this evening. I bought a little table downtown at noon for the red cross box at school. I took my lunch to school also. Gail came down and washed. She washed down in the basement.
March 5
Boy, is it ever snowing! Everything’s covered and it looks as if it will keep right on snowing all night. The Brown kids came over this evening and we had a movie with the jectascope. My committee in Blue Triangle had a party today/

…and that’s all she wrote!

Notes and Questions

Garry is Wanda and Wayne’s child, a toddler. Wanda is CJ and Gail’s cousin, 4 years older than Gail.
Melba is CJ and Gail’s older sister, married to Norman Harlan and they had two sons at that time, Tim and Bob.
The Brown family lived on the adjacent farm.
I couldn’t find a picture or description of a jectascope. Not sure how it worked.
We moved from the Seeley Lease to the farm in summer 1946. I think it was 3 miles to town. I rode the school bus. Probably it was laundry they did at Wanda’s, who lived across the street from the school. Sometimes I would have lunch over there on school days.
We had the mini dairy, maybe 5 cows? I helped milk. Daddy took the big metal containers of milk down to the road where they were picked up.

I wish I had added how the horse episode ended up. They must have been all right, I suppose, or I would have.

I have to wonder why I didn’t want to go to Lyceum because a man was going to talk about model airplanes! 

Oil Field Memories

Our guest blogger today is Les Paugh Sr. who was married to Gail’s cousin, Treva. Here he tells about working with Gail’s husband Clyde in the El Dorado oil field. 

les paugh sr.

Les Paugh Sr.

Hi Virginia: You got me started, here’s another story.

When I first talked to Clyde about the job I told him I didn’t know one end of a drilling rig from the other. He asked me I could learn, couldn’t I. I told him I had learned how to do a lot of other jobs. He hired me on the spot for the Red Drilling Company. It was November 1957.  

My first night on the job after he introduced me to the other roughneck and the derrick man, he said, “you ready to take a trip”. I thought to myself, Hey this is going to be great, just starting and get to take a trip. We went out on the deck and they showed me what to do. The previous crew had pulled the drill stem out and had put on a new drill bit. We took a trip alright, put 3000 foot of drill stem back in the hole. When we got done, Clyde asked me “how did you like the trip?” I told him if it was ok with him I would take the train next time. They all thought that was a good answer. So I got along good from then on.

About a week later Clyde asked me if I would like to work in the derrick, I told him I wanted to learn as much as I could. the derrick man showed me what to do. About 60 foot in the air and they had a tarp wind break around the platform. Wasn’t too bad, they took it slow so I could catch on to what to do, then sped it up. I did ok.

oil rig pixabay

Drilling rig photo courtesy of Pixabay

We moved the rig and the weather was a little warmer so the derrick man didn’t put the tarp up around the platform. Clyde sent me up in the derrick again, only this time I could see for miles around and it looked a lot different. It didn’t take to long for me to realize that wasn’t my cup of tea up there. I was ok till I seen how high up I was.

In the month of November, we worked 2 weeks. In December, we worked 1 week. Money got tight and the owner of the rig shut it down. I got another job driving truck in a quarry. But that is another chapter in my book of work life.”

Here’s Les Paugh’s Story about the Truck and the Quarry

“The winter of 58 I was working on an oil drilling rig with Clyde Martin, the driller, as a roughneck. Money got tight and the owner of the rig shut it down. Just before Thanksgiving, after the 1st of the year, I found a job in a quarry driving a dump truck. My job was to haul loads of rock up this big hill and dump the load into a chute.

My first load I got to the top, the area wasn’t much bigger than the truck. I came back off the hill, the foreman was waiting for me. I told him he had forgotten to tell me how the devil to turn around at the top. He jumped in the truck got to the top and cut it to the left as hard and fast as he could, then in reverse, dumped the load. On my next load, he was at the bottom of the hill waiting. I went up, dumped the load and when I came down, he had gone inside of his office, so I thought oh boy I passed that test.

A couple days later the loader operator was loading some state trucks, the powder monkeys were working up on a rock ledge setting up charges using electric caps. I had used dynamite, but with the regular fuse and caps. I jumped up on the ledge to see how they were setting the charges. The loader operator had dumped a load of rock into my truck, truck jumped out of gear rolled down and hit a rock, bent the bumper back against the tire. Loader operator had no chain to pull the bumper back. so I went up to the tool shed to get a chain.

The foreman saw me and hollered at me ‘what are you doing up here you are supposed to be hauling rock.’ I told him what had happened and I needed the chain to pull the bumper back away from the tire, and I couldn’t do anything standing talking to him, turned around and went back to the truck.  The loader operator asked me what happened at the tool shed. I told him, and he said if I hadn’t stood my ground I would have been fired, but as I did I have got it made now.”

Clyde’s Creative Solution

Clyde and Gail Martin_studio

Clyde and Gail Martin

Back in 2010, Gail Lee Martin was coming up with ideas to use as eHow articles. This one was written after her husband saved the day with a creative solution to a problem at breakfast. 

What to Do When There’s No Half and Half

Have you ever cooked oatmeal or other hot cereal for breakfast only to find out someone had used the last of the creamy Half and Half that you always put on your bowl of hot cereal? My husband found a solution and you might like what we discovered to use as a substitute. You never know when you’ll be caught in this situation.

Start by cooking the oatmeal or cream of wheat or other hot cereal the usual way. Open the refrigerator and discover there’s no Half and Half in there.


Check in the freezer to see if there is any frozen yogurt or ice cream in there. We always keep a container of vanilla ice cream in our freezer and sometimes for a change, strawberry or chocolate flavored. My husband is resourceful and when we realized we had no half and half, he reached into the freezer and brought out the vanilla ice cream.

Scoop out a large spoonful of the ice cream and drop it onto the hot cereal.

Just wait for the ice cream to begin melting which it does almost immediately. My bowl of hot cereal was soon covered with delicious looking cream. Sure didn’t hurt the taste either, it was delicious.

Tips & Warnings
  •  So we don’t worry anymore if we are about out of half and half for the morning bowl of hot cereal.
  •  We even liked chocolate flavored ice cream on our Malt-o-Meal and strawberry flavored on our Cream of Wheat.
  •  I was so pleased with this discovery that I decided to let some ice cream melt and use it on my dry cereal and that was good too.
  •  You could even try ‘Cool Whip’ or shake up some dry milk and add a favorite flavor of Kool-Aid to try the next time there is no Half and Half.



Old Stone School

Our guest blogger today is Gail Martin’s little Sis, CJ Garriott.

CJ – “I found these photos I vaguely remembered having taken of a country school I ran across somewhere in my wanderings across Kansas. Don’t remember when, or where, or who may have been with me. Does anyone else? I thought I could make out “MAY” above the date, 1882, on the circular thing on the front of the building, that I had the presence of mind to get as close-up as I could. Thought that was the name of the school or townsite, but the website I found (below) said that was the date it opened.”

She noted that the photos were those square, rounded corner photos, “that tells me they were taken with my Instamatic, many, many years ago!”

Lower Fox Creek School - Strong City, Kansas CJ

Lower Fox Creek School at Strong City, Kansas. Photo by CJ Garriott

CJ added to the story, “I got to studying the back of the old school photos–there was faint (very faint!) red printing. With the super magnification dot on my magnifying glass and a bright light, I made out “May 77.” So, taken way, way, back there for sure! No telling what I was doing, wandering around northwest of Strong City!”

In 1977, the school was 95 years old.

Lower Fox Creek School - Strong City, Kansas CJ 2

Closer look at the date the school was built, May 1882. Photo by CJ Garriott.

Gail’s daughter, Karen, commented, “We visited with a family group in the spring one year when my daughter and I were back in Kansas visiting. She was maybe 4? So, mid-90’s. I don’t remember you being with us though and you’re not in any of the photos I took that day. It was known as the Z-Bar Ranch then, since then it’s become part of the Tallgrass Nature Preserve operated by the National Park Service and has reverted back to its first name, Spring Hill Ranch. The school is about a mile or so from the house, perched on top of a hill. There’s a walking trail to get there.”

Further Reading on the Lower Fox Creek School

Waymarking Site

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve

Virtual Tour of the School

Lower Fox Creek School 3_Tallgrass Prairie kk

Lower Fox Creek School in the 1990s. Photo by Karen Kolavalli.