Tangles with the Wind

Published in Capper’s Magazine, Heart of Home, 28th February 1990 by Cynthia Ross (Gail’s daughter)

Tangles with the Wind

Back in 1952, I had my first tangle with a strong Kansas wind. During a picnic out at the city lake, our family and cousins gathered in a shelter house for lunch. (In Kansas, if you don’t use a shelter house, your food will be blown right off your plate.)

As it sometimes happens, the children became wild as March hares after being fed. The adults usually just want to just talk or take a nap after a meal. I was about 2 years old at the time and had been watching older kids climb upon an arched window opening of the shelter, then jumping the short distance to the grass below.

Before long I decided to give it a try. With my short, baby fat legs, I climbed upon the ledge of the opening. All was going well until a strong northerly gust blew me right back down on the cement floor, breaking my arm in the fall.

Cindy Martin 1952

Cindy Martin, not yet 2.

I learned to respect our Kansas wind. Most of the time I count it as a friend, but I’ll always remember when we tangled some 37 years ago.

I’ve heard many pioneer women were said to have nearly gone crazy by the relentless wind…. but I find the wind rather soothing at times. I especially enjoy the changing seasons we have here in Kansas with the wind almost constant in early spring and fall.

The wind produced by a tornado is something totally different. As you probably know tornados come in all sizes, from a twisting rope to filling the whole skyline with its mass. The tornado that hit Andover Kansas was definitely a monster I hope never to hear or see the likes again in my lifetime.


Tornado photo courtesy of Pixabay

A Happy Message from Shannon

Today is the birthday of Gail and Clyde’s youngest daughter. The family was devastated when Shannon died in 2006. Below is a memory piece the was written the next year by Shannon’s sister, Ginger and posted on the Our Echo website.

“Remember Ann Landers telling people that finding a penny meant someone in heaven was thinking of you (pennies from heaven)? Perhaps we need some little gimmick to feel we still have a link to a lost loved one. That was my feeling after my sister Shannon died so suddenly last December.

Feeling really sad one day, I tried to call my sister Karen. I needed someone to cheer me up and hoped I could do the same for her. When I couldn’t reach her, I turned on my computer to check for family messages. Maybe that would distract me from my sadness.
For the first time in months, I clicked on Pandora, the online music site. Maybe music would soothe me. The first song that started playing was Tom Chapin singing “This is the Happiest Song I Know.”

Tom Chapin was a favorite performer of Shannon’s at the Walnut Valley Festival. Every year Shannon and her family worked at the festival and came to know some of the performers personally.

Tom_Chapin_portrait wikipedia

Tom Chapin portrait (used under Creative Commons/from Wikipedia)

Was it only a coincidence that one of Tom Chapin’s songs came up first? He is not mainstream radio fare. Out of the hundreds of songs that he has written, wasn’t it fortuitous that “Happiest” was the one that played at that moment when I needed an emotional boost? Coincidence, maybe. Thanks, Shannon, for trying to cheer me up.

Since that time, I’ve listened to the song over and over trying to soak up the message. It plays in my head at times, unsummoned, but tied to memories of Shannon. Shannon had a great sense of humor and planting in my head “This is the Happiest Song I Know” to intertwine with memories of her might be just the thing she would do.

You can hear a snippet of it on Amazon. Click on “sample this song” to hear a little bit of The Happiest Song I Know.

Here’s the chorus:
This is the happiest song I know,
Guaranteed to make me smile.
This is the happiest song I know,
Carried me many a mile.
This is the happiest song I know,
Guaranteed to make me grin.
This is the happiest song I know,
Open up and let it in.

Also, listen to the song, “I’m the Only Me.” It’s a wonderful one for when you’re thinking of a special person.”


Posted 07/01/2007 by Betty (BJ) Roan

I firmly believe the song was no coincidence. Those we love seem to find ways to let us know they are with us. BJ

Posted 07/01/2007 by Carol J Garriott

I too do not believe in chance or coincidence. I address that conviction often in my writings. Yes, I believe Shannon was especially close to you that day and concerned with your sadness! Now I must post my own “message from Shannon.” I think it’s on MyFamily. . . Carol

Posted 07/12/2007 by Cynthia Jo Ross

Thanks for sharing your story! Certain songs do tend to pull us closer to our loved ones. I too believe they send little messages from heaven if we’re tuned in to listen.

Posted 12/23/2008 by Gail Lee Martin

Shannon sends butterflies and ladybugs to let me know she is thinking of me.

June Memory Joggers

Getting people to write about their childhood and various times in their lives was a passion for Gail Lee Martin. When she worked with the Our Echo website, she wrote memory prompts in 2007 for each month of the year.

June 1 – June 30 – June Memories

June has more weddings than another month. Does your wedding anniversary bring back memories that should be written about? Write about all the little things that made your wedding special. Who was there or did you elope? Who made your cake? Surely you have lots of pictures to choose from.

paper flowers in a mason jar - wedding

Gail’s granddaughter, Diana made dozens of paper flowers for her wedding tables. They looked terrific in Gail’s vintage canning jars.

How do you spend the extra hours you have in the summer because of the daylight saving time. Can you remember when we didn’t have daylight saving time and just worked from dawn to dark?

Did your family take long vacation trips? Ever travel on Highway 66 and stay in motels when they were separate little cabins? Remember the Burma Shave signs? I have more postcards from my family’s trips than pictures.