A Hitch in Her Git-Along

I remember Mom using this funny, old-fashioned saying a number of times. I’ll bet it goes back to Grandma Ruth and even earlier.

Perhaps it originally referred to someone who limped or had difficulty walking. Then over the years, it came to mean someone who’s acquired an impediment to forward action. For example, when someone campaigned for mayor but received some bad publicity, you could say, “that sure put a hitch in her git-along.”

mom sayings

Things Mom would say

Slower than molasses in January – When it was cold, molasses congealed enough to be hard to pour. This phrase was used to prod a kid who was dragging their feet about completing a chore or was slow getting ready for school in the morning.

Hold your horses – Don’t be in such a big hurry. Wait a minute.

Burning a hole in your pocket – Mom said this to a kid who couldn’t wait to spend money. Maybe it was money received as a gift or it was our cash prizes from the county fair.

Don’t spend it all in the same place – This was said when someone gave you money. The intent was to stretch it. It could also be a joke, particularly when it was a very small amount of money.

A lick and a promise – This meant to do a chore in a slapdash way or to tidy up quickly. The promise part was to do a better job later.

You ain’t just a woofing – I always thought this meant “you’re serious, you aren’t just bragging or making something up.” Guess the modern phrase would be “You’re not just blowing smoke.”

Tell me about some colorful sayings that your family used. Are the ones above familiar to you?

Vintage Soda Ads

Sodas, Colas, Pop…  (memories by Gail Martin’s daughter, Virginia)

I remember sipping orange pop at the corner gas station as a kid. We could choose from grape or strawberry or chocolate pop from the big red cooler filled with icy water while Dad had the Pontiac’s gas tank filled. Ah, so cool and refreshing on a hot Kansas day.

There was a bottle opener on the side of the red cooler to pry off the metal cap. Then you took a big swig of flavored soda. The strawberry would make red streaks down your chin and on your shirt if you weren’t careful drinking it.

Vintage soda machine - Coca Cola

Old time soda cooler like you would see in a gas station. Photo by Virginia Allain

If you share my memories of vintage sodas, then you’ll enjoy these retro ads that I’ve found and photographed. You’ll see these old tin signs on the walls of restaurants along with other antique and nostalgia items.

We didn’t have pop at home, even for picnics or special occasions. We drank Koolaid or lemonade back in the 1950s and 1960s. Soda was too expensive.

kayo soda tin sign

KayO chocolate soda tin advertising sign.

Whether you call it pop or soda or cola depends on the region you grew up in, but the exact wording doesn’t matter. Some of these old advertisements have been reproduced on tin signs which people like to use to decorate their family room.

Enjoy this trip down memory lane.

hot dog tin sign

Hot dog and a Coca Cola for 15 cents – the good old days.

Photos by Virginia Allain

In the comment section, tell me your memories of drinking sodas as a kid (or did you call them pop)?


Visiting Mom’s Writing Group

Post by Gail Martin’s daughter, Virginia.

Some years ago, I accompanied my mother to her writer’s group. She attended Prairie Prose and Poetry regularly. The time that I went with her, they were meeting in the old train depot in El Dorado.
They started off the meeting going around the table with each person telling about their recent successes. After several told of articles they’d recently published in magazines and what the pay was, then it was my turn. I introduced myself and told them I’d just made $300,000 with my writing submission.
2008-08-17 gail and ks photos 417

They all looked amazed, but then I added the punch line: “I wrote a grant application for my library and it was funded for $300,000.” No, it wasn’t money in my pocket but it was money earned with my writing for the library where I was the library director. It enabled the library to get computers and lots of high-tech networking equipment that we needed.

Those years of writing grants for the library taught me the power of persuasive writing. Making my application as clear and complete as possible while tugging at the heartstrings of the grant reviewers would get funding for my library’s special projects.

It takes a sophisticated network to support a large number of public computers. My library was in a very low-income area along the border to Mexico. Many students were dependent on the public library for computer access as they could not afford the equipment or the Internet fees at home. So the demographics favored my grants being funded, but I like to think my pithy descriptions and touching vignettes carried the day.
Have you used your writing to help an organization or your workplace?

1939 Prices – Times Have Changed

Have you ever wondered how the cost of living has changed from the time of your grandparents or maybe your great-grandparents back in 1939? Here’s a poster showing what the prices were like the final years of the Great Depression. Already, Europe was struggling with WWII, while the U.S. didn’t enter the war until the bombing of Pearl Harbor at the end of 1941.

Gail Lee would have been in her junior year of high school. Her father worked for Phillips Petroleum on the oil leases in the Kansas Flint Hills region. They didn’t have to worry about the cost of a new house, as they lived in housing provided by the oil company. The price of gold, silver, and average for the Dow Jones probably had little meaning to them.

1939 prices

A sign showing the prices back in 1939

The graphic shows that the average wage earner made $1,729 a year. Married women were not generally in the workforce at that time. To buy a new car would cost $700, over half a year’s income.

To buy a house in 1939 took more than two year’s earnings. It sounds absurdly cheap, to think that one could have a new house for $3,850.


You could buy a gallon of gas for 10 cents. Milk cost more than that at 49 cents per gallon. Bread was 8 cents for a loaf.

Wichita museum

Vintage gasoline pump, now in the Wichita museum. Photo by Virginia Allain

The photo of the prices was taken at the Wright Museum of World War II in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. The gasoline pump and bread sign were in another museum.


The Middle Martin Kid

Last year, our cousin in California rummaged out some vintage family photos, scanned them, and shared them with our cousin group on Facebook. What a treat it was to see some that were totally new to me.

martin kids from Lori

In trying to set a date for this photos, I started with the youngest in the photo. That’s Karen, born in mid-1952 so this might be Christmas of that year.  Clyde is holding Cindy, who’s next to the youngest.

I’m the middle kid (Ginger) and sitting in the middle of the sofa, next to mom (Gail). Older sister Susan sits between me and Dad. Owen is the oldest and brought his BB gun for the photo. I wonder if that was his Christmas present that year.

#NationalMiddleChildDay just happens to be today, August 12. The purpose of the day is to honor children born between the oldest and youngest siblings. At the time of this photo, Karen is the youngest but a few years later, Shannon came along. That relegated Karen to middle child status too.

I’m having fun noticing details like the shoes and clothing. What is the design on Susan’s sweater? Mom is wearing nice-looking high heels.

Owen, Mom, and Dad seem to be looking at the photographer. Karen, Cindy, and I are looking off in another direction. Maybe Aunt Marge is over there making faces to get us to smile. Susan has her eyes on the baby.


Favorite Books from My Childhood

Classics That Your Child Will Love Too

A post by Gail Martin’s daughter
Virginia Allain profile image
Virginia Allain

Some of the vintage children’s books that were on our bookshelves at home (photo by Virginia Allain)

Recommended Children’s Books from a Real Bookworm

Mom would call me to help with some chore, but I’d pretend not to hear. As usual, I had my nose buried in a book. Reading was a favorite activity of mine and a visit to the local library was like having unlimited access to a candy store. The library only allowed children to check out three books, but that was a totally inadequate amount to last two weeks until the next visit. Fortunately, I had a brother and four sisters, so combined we could take eighteen books.

We would swap our books around so everyone got to read them. If several were eager to read the same book, it was necessary to hide it between reading sessions to keep possession of it.

We owned some books from birthday and Christmas gifts and being voracious readers, we would reread those when our supply of fresh reading material became depleted.

Books for the Very Young

A Is for Annabelle – I have a page about Tasha Tudor’s book, A Is For Annabelle. It is such a marvelous ABC book about a vintage doll and her wardrobe. When Mom made Gone with the Wind style dresses for my sister’s doll, it reminded me of Annabelle with her delightful wardrobe and the trunk to put them in.

Of course, I this list would have to include Curious George. Mom took us to storytime at the public library, an old Carnegie library. I would go down the stairs to the children’s room in the basement. We sat on wooden chairs in stiff rows while the librarian read stories to us. One was Curious George. Years later, as a children’s librarian, I read Curious George to a new generation of children.

Cat Tales Family Album

Cat Tales Family Album

I loved these books with the pictures of cats dressed in complete outfits and posed in little scenes. The stories weren’t memorable, but the photos were adorable. My sister recently found a vintage copy of this on eBay.

Andrew Lang’s Fairy Book Series  – There was the Red Fairy Book, the Olive Fairy Book, the Blue Fairy Book, and so on. Each was packed with the best classic fairy tales. There are more, many more stories to stretch your child’s imagination than just Little Red Riding Hood or Cinderella. With these books, they will learn about Snow White and Red Rose, Jack the Giant Killer, Thumbelina, The Tinderbox and folklore from all around the world that was collected by Andrew Lang into the twelve book in the series.
Vintage Marriage of Thumbelina and Prince Postcard
Vintage Marriage of Thumbelina and Prince Postcard

Encourage Your Children to Read – Reading is so important for children’s development

There’s a teensy bit of advertising in this video, but the overall message is really good. Never mind about subscribing to their program, just go to the public library and get a free library card for yourself and for each child.

Favorites for Older Children

Black Beauty was a favorite of mine – A lovely classic story.  Children learn a lot about being kind to animals from a story like this. I shed many tears for the mistreatment of this horse.

Please, parents, give your children unabridged editions of classics. Look for the original author’s name and then check the title page to make sure it is unabridged. If the child is too young to read the long version, read it aloud to them. Abridged versions often truncate the book too much and remove the wonderful flow of words that made the book a classic.

Don’t miss the classic Robin Hood – No, watching the movie is not the same. My book had the Wyeth illustrations. I loved them. This one is even available now on a mousepad.

Ah, Maid Marion, Friar Tuck and the Duke of Nottingham. These great stories have broad appeal and are a great way to introduce children to English history.

I loved books about orphans – classic stories about orphans. It seems that a lot of books that were special to me are pretty old-fashioned. They were even old-fashioned back in the fifties when I was reading them. Actually old-fashioned could just be another term for classics. Books that have stood the test of time.

Elsie Dinsmore really touched me. Actually, Elsie had a father, but he was away on business so she was left in the care of hard-hearted relatives. There’s a whole series of these.



Heidi was left in the care of her gruff grandfather. She reveled in the freedom of following the goats with goat herder Peter.


Pollyanna by Eleanor Porter

Pollyanna had a profound effect on me. Fifty years later and I’m still trying to play the “glad game.” Yes, I know Pollyanna was a bit smarmy, but she had pluck and kept trying to do the right thing. She helped many people live a better life in her small village.

Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster, Fiction, Action & Adventure

Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster

Daddy-Long-Legs was the mysterious benefactor that sent a young orphan to college. Later on, it was made into a movie with Fred Astaire and Leslie Caron.

Large families intrigued me, since I was one of six.

Bobbsey Twins 03: The Secret at the Seashore

Bobbsey Twins 

These were old-fashioned stories even when I read them back in the 1950s. There were Burt and Nan and Flossie and Freddy, two sets of twins in one family. Freddy was always getting into trouble.

Little Women, with eBook

Little Women,

What a wonderful book. With four sisters, I could really identify with this family. We all wanted to be Jo, the independent one who wrote stories.

The Five Little Peppers –  There was a whole series of these. They lived an impoverished life but Polly Pepper was my favorite for the way she solved problems and looked after her brothers and sisters.

Five Little Peppers and How They Grew

This vintage family story shows Polly’s heroic efforts to help her mother.

Books in Series for Children – Get them hooked, then read the whole series

I couldn’t wait to get the next book once I’d started reading a series.
The Borrowers are a race of tiny people who live under the floorboards and behind the walls of old houses deep in the English countryside. They borrow bits of food and other things from the “human beans” who live in the house and try to make their homes as comfortable as possible without being discovered.
A story guaranteed to explode a child’s imagination! They will never look at the nooks and crannies around the house in the same way again!


The Rescuers (New York Review Books Children's Collection)

The Rescuers

I loved all the adventures the intrepid Miss Bianca had with trusty Bernard by her side.

The Little House Collection (Little House Books)

The Little House Collection

These almost need no introduction. Through the television series, they live on, but it is still a treat to read the originals. Having grown up in Kansas, these resonated with me.

The Black Stallion

The Black Stallion

I read the whole series. They did a wonderful job later making this into a movie. I was crazy about horses as a kid.

More Classics for Your Child to Read

The Wind in the Willows (Sterling Unabridged Classics)

The Wind in the Willows 

Enjoy the very British lives of Mole and Rat. I’ve always been an Anglophile.

Lassie Come-Home

Lassie Come-Home

This was the original Lassie, not the television one. What a brave dog!

Misty of Chincoteague

Misty of Chincoteague In the 1970s, I visited Chincoteague Islands and saw the wild horses there. Before that, I read every one of Margarite Henry’s horse books.

This could have been me. I had reddish highlights in my blonde hair and I read anywhere, anytime.

The Secret Garden (HarperClassics)

The Secret Garden

Actually, this one qualifies as an orphan book too. I thought it was fabulous that whiney Mary was rehabilitated by learning to garden and learned to care about other people like the crippled Colin.

Alice In Wonderland

Alice In Wonderland

If your children have seen the movie, then it’s time to read the book too. A complex read, but part of our cultural literacy.

Little Lord Fauntleroy, with eBook (Tantor Unabridged Classics)

Little Lord Fauntleroy went from living in genteel poverty to being discovered as the heir to a fabulous estate in England. He has a hard time winning the heart of his crusty grandfather though.

Louisa May Alcott Books – When I first started going to the public library, I wanted to read every book starting with “A” and follow around until I got to “Z.” This was a rather ambitious plan, and I did make it through all the books by Alcott and then by Aldrich. After that, I decided to read more randomly as there were authors I wanted to sample and they were way down the alphabet.

I read all of Thomas C. Hinkle’s dog and horse stories – More wonderful animal stories for your child.

Black Storm was one of my favorites. Some of these might be found in public libraries. Also, check on eBay for Hinkle’s vintage dog and horse stories.

So — were some of my favorites your favorites too? Tell me which ones I missed.

Writers in Their 70s, 80s, and 90s

Septuagenarian, Octogenarian, and Nonagenarian Writers

I have great admiration for writers who continue their craft into their seventies, eighties, and nineties. Writing is something that fits quite well into a senior lifestyle. By the time a person reaches an advanced age, they have a lot of living and a wide range of experience to share with younger generations.

We may have to give up playing football or baking rich desserts or other hobbies we had when younger. Arthritis and high cholesterol start to cut into some of our fun. Writing remains. Some seniors don’t discover the pleasures of writing until their other activities become restricted.

Here I want to celebrate writers who put pen to paper or fingers to a keyboard to record the essays, poems, and even books during their seventies, eighties, and nineties.

70, 80 and 90-Year-Old Writers on the Our Echo Website – Links to their essays and poems

Our Echo specializes in family memory writing but attracts a variety of writing from essays to poetry to fiction and family history. Check out the writing by these octogenarians and nonagenarians.

Gail Lee Martin served as the webmaster for the site and encourage these writers to keep on writing. When you read the stories from the writers listed below, click on the comment section and you will see that Gail faithfully read and commented on almost every post.

(Just click on their name below to go to their online stories, poems, and essays.)

  • Wanda Molsberry Bates (born in 1915)
    Read her essays like “At 94” and “School Days – Memories.” Over 90 Years 90th Birthday by BirthdayObsessions
  • Gone But Not Forgotten by Nancy J. Kopp
    A tribute to Wanda Molsberry Bates who died in April 2010 at the age of 95.
  • Kathe M. Campbell
    Read her accounts of ranch life and overcoming hardships. She has memory pieces like “Blooming Where We’re Planted.”
  • Gail Lee Martin (born in 1924)
    Gail wrote about growing up on the Kansas prairies. Her writing list on Our Echo also includes poems.
  • John William Daniel
    At 92, John William Daniel writes about his early experiences in South Texas near the Mexican border.
  • Nancy J. Kopp
    Read her heart-warming stories and musings. She has had nine articles included in the Chicken Soup series of books. She has an awesome blog called Writer Granny’s World too.
  • Winifred Beatrice Peterson (born in 1914)
    This 95-year-old writer tells about her childhood in “Just a Country Girl” and later life in “The Farmwife Flunky.”
  • Tom Foley of Maine (age 82)
    Besides writing, Tom also does watercolor painting and woodcarving.
  • Monte Leon Manka
    Formerly of Chelsea, KS, and now lives in California. He was 83 in 2010 when he started posting on the Our Echo site and writes poems about bleak times during the Great Depression. Take a look at these on the Our Echo website and leave a comment so Monte will know you visited.

Memoirs Written By Octogenarians

Addie of the Flint Hills: A Prairie Child During the Depression (1915-1935)Addie of the Flint Hills: A Prairie Child During the Depression (1915-1935)View DetailsMy Flint Hills Childhood: Growing Up in 1930s KansasMy Flint Hills Childhood: Growing Up in 1930s KansasView DetailsShadows in My House of Sunshine: A Journey of DiscoveryShadows in My House of Sunshine: A Journey of DiscoveryView Details