More May Memory Joggers

Earlier this month, I posted Gail Lee Martin’s tips for early May memories. Hopefully, you were inspired to write a few and are now ready for some more memory prompts. Get out your pen and start writing! May 15 – May 30.

writing-pen pixabay

Graphic from Pixabay

“In the merry month of May, there are many things to do that will jog your memory. Such as gathering edible mushrooms and green plants that spring rains have made plentiful. Do you remember your mother or grandmother going out to do this? Even here in town, I can find some of nature’s bounty to make our meals colorful and different by picking Inky Cap Mushrooms to add to soups, scrambled eggs, and even gravy. I also pick Poke, Goose Weed, and Lamb’s Quarter and cook them like spinach.

May is also Older Americans Month. This would be a good time to visit your older family members and neighbors and get them talking about what they did years ago.

Graduation time is upon us but those dreaded finals always came first. Write about your senior year as if it was a letter to your great-grandchildren. Add what was going on around the world during your final year in high school or college. Were you a class officer, in a class play, lettered in sports or music? Tell about your school’s colors and mascot. As always, add pictures if you can. Also, tell what you know about your parents or grandparents education.

Memorial Day finishes up this month. Do you look forward to it because the holiday signals time to play outdoors or for the time to remember your family and friends that are no longer with you – or both? – Gail” 

These were originally posted on the Our Echo website by Gail back in 2007.

gail samantha graduation

Gail Lee Martin with her granddaughter, Samantha on her graduation day.

Four Generations of Mothers

Researching family history becomes more meaningful when you can see the faces that go with the names and dates. For Mother’s Day, I pulled together my mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and great-great-grandmother. Beyond that, I have just the names and information, but no photos.

I like seeing them all lined up like this. Looks like that high forehead and the nose came down through the generations. I must have gotten my nose and blonde hair from the Martin side, but I do have the forehead.

Here are their names and dates (left to right):

    • Gail Lee McGhee Martin 1924-2013
    • Ruth Vining McGhee 1897-1960
    • Nancy Jane Babcock Vining 1851–1924
    • Ellenor Nancy Jane Wright Babcock 1820–1882

These four women had 36 children and that doesn’t count the miscarriages or ones that died at birth. Nancy Jane remarried not long after her first husband died. In 1873 Kansas, a woman with children didn’t have the luxury of a long mourning period.

They were part of the migration westward in the U.S. as the family moved from Indiana to Illinois, then to Iowa, and finally to Kansas. Pregnancy and raising children must have been difficult in those times; feeding a large family while cooking over an open fire, washing unending diapers with water brought from a stream or well or cistern, and tending a sick child with no doctor nearby.

Many thanks to these women for persevering through hard times while caring for their children.



Remembering Mom Reading to Us

vintage mother reading clip artRead to Your Children –

Reading to children is so important. Not only does it allow you to bond with the child, but it teaches them how to pronounce words and expand their vocabulary. They will also learn how to read and to spell words as they get old enough to follow the text on the page as the story unfolds.

My mother read to us often when were quite young, and I grew up loving words and loving books. All my siblings did as well and became lifelong readers. It’s a tradition passed down through generations. My mom (Gail Lee Martin) remembered her parents reading aloud to her and her sister after dinner. They gathered around the table with an oil lamp in the center to listen to the stories.

Today’s world is a bit different, and books are now available on reading devices, and when you’re traveling, these are awesome. You can bring your child’s favorite books along with you without having to pack bulky, heavy paperback and hardcover books.

The Kindle and other reading devices are ingenious! Take it with you anywhere you have to wait, like the doctor’s office. Read to your children today and every day!

This poster is from Zazzle Vintage Fairy Tale by YesterdayCafe.

Free Kindle Fairy Tales to Read to Children

Fairy tales from around the world thrill a child with new adventures and exotic locales. Best of all these vintage tales are free for download on the Kindle. Below are the links to get these fairy tale books from Amazon.

Check the price to be sure it hasn’t changed, then click to BUY the book for $0.00. Amazon will send you an e-mail confirmation that you have bought the book for free. It’s easy and you’ll have new stories to read your child each day.

Reading to your children will help their imagination to blossom as they create characters in their heads that go along with the stories. Most of these lack illustrations. Generally, the illustrated versions for Kindle cost 99 cents or higher.

The Blue Fairy BookThe Blue Fairy BookView DetailsFairy Tales Every Child Should KnowFairy Tales Every Child Should KnowView DetailsGrimm's Fairy StoriesGrimm’s Fairy StoriesView Details

The month of May is Get Caught Reading Month so let’s all participate by reading a good book and by encouraging our children to read as well. 


How to Make a Grandmother Happy

Gail Lee Martin’s daughter, Virginia Allain wrote this article for the eHow website back in 2009.

Our lives are busy and it seems like there’s never time for Grandma or great-grandma anymore. If you want to keep your family connections strong, set aside some time for your grandmother. There are lots of ways to make your grandmother happy.

gail in pink in chair

Gail Lee Martin in her favorite spot for TV watching, newspaper clipping, and chatting.

  • Call now and then. Don’t wait just for her birthday or Mother’s Day. Just call and ask how things are. Tell her what you’ve been doing. If she’s housebound or in a nursing home, then that phone call may be the highlight of her day. She may want to talk and talk if she hasn’t had much chance lately.
  • When you call or visit, ask about the good-old-days. There are lots of things about your grandmother that you probably don’t know. Where did she meet grandpa? What was her childhood like? What was it like in the Great Depression or World War II or whatever era she lived through? Encourage her to write her memories down.
  • Ask about the family tree. If the family history is not written down, it’s important to get some names and dates before that information is lost to you. Ask her to tell you about pictures in the family album. Note down the names if the album is unlabeled. You’ll be glad later on that you did.
  • Talk about things you did together in the past and family events. It will trigger memories for her and get her talking.
  • Offer to take her places, particularly if she’s stopped driving or is in a care situation. She will enjoy a family dinner at your home or a trip to the library. Consider her interests to plan an outing that is within her physical capability. Be aware if her budget is limited and find activities that fit within a social security income or else treat her to tickets.
  • Make sure your children have time with their grandmother. Create situations where they can be together in enjoyable situations so it’s a pleasant time for all. Remember she may not have the stamina and patience to babysit over-energetic youngsters, so don’t expect that.

    Gail Lee Martin with her grandchild

    Gail with one of her grandchildren.

  • Ask her to teach you things like cooking. Ask for her advice on raising a child. You don’t necessarily have to follow it, but it’s good to know alternate ways of doing something.
  • Ask her to bake your favorite cookies or knit you some slippers if she still does those activities. It gives her an opportunity to be the giver sometimes.
  • Stop by for a visit. Ask about things that she might need help with. Does her lawn need mowing? Ask if she needs any light bulbs changed or the trash bin taken to the curb. Before the visit, give her a quick call to see if there’s anything she needs to be picked up at the store.
  • Send cards for holidays and birthdays. Everyone loves to get mail. Write letters to update her on your life and include photos.

PS – These tips will work great for a grandfather as well.

May Memory Joggers

Gail Lee Martin actively encouraged others to record their early memories. She taught classes at the Shepherd’s Center in Wichita and sessions at the Kansas Author’s Club annual convention. Here are her tips for early May memories. Get out your pen and start writing!


may memories blog graphic pixabay

Photo from Pixabay


May 1 – May 15, 2007 – May Memories
Memory jogs for May are abundant. The first that comes to mind is May Baskets. My husband and I received two yesterday. What a great warm feeling. One was from new neighbors that just moved in. The other was from a group of church youths. Do you remember making them and surprising neighbors? Have you ever received May baskets? How did you feel?

  • Were you ever involved in wrapping a May Pole for your school or did your town celebrate May Day?
  • Spring songbirds are arriving in my area. What are your favorites? Are you a bird watcher? It is interesting to watch the funny antics of the robins strutting in our street.
  • Mother’s Day is coming. What memories does that bring you or your parents? How do you celebrate that day? Do you give gifts of flowers, candy, clothes, or jewels?
  • It is school prom time and a great bunch of memories surrounds that special time. Do you remember planning & preparation for the prom night when you were a junior and the total enjoyment when you were a senior? Add pictures if you can find them.

These tips were previously posted on the Our Echo website.