Places and Topics in My Flint Hills Childhood


People in the book:

  • Carl Babcock
  • Ed and Bessie Bolte
  • Viola Bolte
  • Sarah (Heath) and Erastus Buckland
  • Gladys and Agnes Hawthorn
  • J.C. Kelly
  • Robert Knox
  • Rev. R.L. Kuhns
  • Bertha McGhee
  • Elsie Jane Mitchell Evans and William Newton McGhee
  • Clarence Oliver McGhee
  • Ruth (Vining) McGhee
  • Carol Jean (McGhee) Garriott
  • Melba (McGhee) Harlan
  • Gail Lee (McGhee) Martin
  • Viola Matilda (Tower) and Samuel Newton McGhee
  • Frank Phillips
  • Mrs. A.J. Thompson
  • Nancy Angeline (Long) and Abraham Bates Tower
  • Sarah B. (Monroe) and Jonathan E. Tower
  • Albert Vining
  • Almira (Buckland) and James Vining
  • Charles Augustus Vining (Fiddlin’ Jake)
  • James and Almira Vining
  • Lucile Vining
  • Nancy Jane and Henry Vining
  • Scelia Vining
  • Lois Vosler
  • Twyla Yeager

Place names in the book:

  • Chase County
  • Coffeeville
  • Cottonwood River
  • Eureka
  • Greenwood County
  • Hamilton
  • Hayrick Mound, Oklahoma
  • Linn County
  • Madison
  • Madison Centre
  • Madison County
  • Matfield Green
  • Montgomery County
  • Teter Hill
  • Teterville

Topics in the book:

  • brick making
  • camping
  • catching rabbits
  • celebrating Halloween
  • Civil War
  • conserving water
  • decorating for Christmas
  • dyeing Easter eggs
  • family history for Towers, Vinings, McGhees
  • fishing with trotlines
  • forming a Sunday school
  • glass making
  • home remedies
  • mad dog
  • oilfield accident
  • oilfield camp housing
  • pet badger
  • picking wild foods and berries
  • picnics
  • polio
  • prairie fires
  • rag dolls
  • recycling
  • salt gathering
  • Saturday at the movies
  • scarlet fever quarantine
  • school fire
  • sewing clothing
  • Thanksgiving foods
  • wash days
  • World War I and World War II

Also in the book:

  • Allen District No. 7 School
  • Andersonville Prison
  • Boeing Aircraft Plant
  • Burkett Lease
  • Epworth League Institute, Baldwin
  • Greene Lease
  • Marysville Sunday School
  • Methodist Church and Christian Church, Tyro
  • Moore’s Grocery
  • Nolar School
  • Palace Theater in Wichita
  • Phillips Petroleum Company
  • Princess Theater, Eureka
  • Seeley School
  • Tyro Glass Plant
  • Tyro Vitrified Brick Company
  • Women’s Home Missionary Society
my flint hills childhood book cover

Gail Lee Martin’s memoir is available from

A Shelfie – My James Oliver Curwood Collection

Post by Gail’s daughter, Virginia.

A shelfie is like a selfie, but it isn’t a self-portrait of yourself. It’s a self-portrait of your bookshelf. Don’t you think you can tell a lot about someone from examining their bookshelves? I do.

Vintage books appeal to me and I’m sure I picked that up from Mom and Dad. When I find an author that I like, I hunt down all their books. The folks were like that too and Gail kept a small notebook with lists of titles they had by certain authors. When they stopped at garage sales or rummaged in a store filled with vintage items, it kept them from accidentally buying a duplicate of a title they already had.

mom's book list notebook

They had an almost complete collection of Margaret Hill McCarter and Peter B. Kyne, plus other authors.

About 40 or more years ago, I read a James Oliver Curwood book. His novels, set in the Yukon or Canadian wilderness, glorify the hardy people who were the pioneers of those regions.

They have romance and adventure and are similar in style to Zane Grey’s stories of the American West crossed with Jack London (particularly White Fang). I enjoyed them and found quite a few over the years for my collection. My dad had several on his bookshelf, so maybe that’s where I first discovered the author.

Curwood’s books topped the bestseller lists back in the 1920s and many of them were made into adventure movies. You can read more about his life on Wikipedia and see photos of him and the fancy house he built with all the money earned from his writing. He’s not well known today.

I’d say my favorite of his books is God’s Country and the Woman. It’s available on Kindle so there must still be some readership. Here’s the review that I wrote for Amazon, “This old-fashioned romance develops in the frozen northland. Scenes of sled dogs, log cabins, and high adventure remind me of Mrs. Mike, another wonderful Canadian romance. There are secrets, desperate treks across the snow-covered wilderness, and dramatic encounters.”

You can even get 22 of Curwood’s books collected into one download for Kindle for just $3.99, but that would leave a big, bare space on my bookshelves.

What’s on your bookshelf?