Tyro Area Description – Indian Memories

Our guest blogger today is Sylvia Clubine. The area she writes about here is where Gail Lee Martin’s parents and grandparents lived. Gail’s roots go back to Tyro, Kansas in Montgomery County and further back into the Missouri and Arkansas Ozarks.

“Over the four-state area where your ancestors once lived, your spirit still lives there. The beauty of the OZARKS runs into S.E. Kansas, but not the total rocky surface that makes the Ozarks mountain areas. Kansas is excellent farm and natural prairie, lush grazing land, plus very lovely rocky ledges and the bottom floor of creeks and rivers with beautiful groves of trees.

I’ve explored a great part of it with the feeling that I was the first one to walk or ride my horse on that spot. Then we find an arrowhead, or many arrowheads. from your Osage past generations, just like a gem on the soil surface after a gentle rain or a harsh flood of a corn field we have been hoeing. Then we remember we took the land from a great people that made their home here before us. It grabs my heart and I want to know you as the honorable way you lived with great herds of elk and other wide-life here before we came.” – Sylvia Raydene Clubine

Oil tank and pump jack near Tyro, Kansas

Near Tyro, you might see an oil tank or a pump jack, bales of hay, some rolling hills. Get away from the highway and you’ll see the open prairie.

Should Kids Say Thank You When Trick or Treating?


Teaching kids to say thank you for Halloween treats (Available from Zazzle: https://www.zazzle.com/z/1hk9n?rf=238898365379117321)

Halloween excites children. They have a marvelous time in their costumes while hurrying from house to house trying to fill their bag with candy. In the excitement and the rush of the trick or treating, is it realistic to expect them to say “thanks for the candy?”

Some little ones are tongue-tied when the door opens and they just hold up their bag expectantly. Other, bigger kids might grab a handful of candy if you hold the bowl out to them.

The people giving the candy have fun seeing all the costumes and enjoying the children coming to their door. I used to encourage children on my doorstep to at least say “trick or treat,” when I handed out the candy. You can also remind them after they have the candy in their bag. “What do you say?” They will toss a rote, “thank you,” as they jostle their way down the steps.

When I asked friends if children should say Thank You for Halloween treats, they answered:

  • Yes, they should, and hopefully, their parents are around to remind them. But, some children aren’t capable. My daughter did not talk until she was about 6 years old, and I know kids much older who cannot talk. So, you never know! You can’t really assume they are being rude. They might have autism or another developmental issue. (Frischy)
  • Absolutely……we as parents take them trick-or-treating at an early age, and if we teach them to always say thank you, then hopefully it sticks when they are bigger and venture out on their own. (Kathy M.)
  • We were taught to say “thank you” when we were kids and even though my daughter is considered nonverbal, I prompt her to say “trick or treat” and “thank you.” It’s OK if younger kids don’t, but I don’t like to see older children who can’t say thank you or anything. And years ago, we used to talk to them when we gave out candy, commenting on their costumes, etc. Nowadays, it seems they are gone in a flash with no time for a word, much less two: thank you. (A.J.T.)
Teach children to say

Teach children to say “thank you” when trick or treating (photo courtesy of Pixabay)

(Originally published on Bubblews by Virginia Allain)

Memories of Korea Before the War

Korean War Poems by Monte Manka

Monte Manka wrote a variety of poems about his experience in Korea. Gail Martin’s daughter, Virginia, finds people’s memories of great events important to save. She created this page to feature Monte’s memories of that long ago time. Monte Manka grew up in Chelsea, Kansas in the 1930s, not far from where Gail Lee Martin was raised.
Monte Manka - Army days

1945 – Monte Manka (and friend) – Army Days

Here’s the younger Monte at the time these writing were inspired.

An Octogenarian Writes Poems about His Experiences in Korea

Monte Manka went off to Korea in the 1940s as part of the occupying forces after growing up on a Kansas farm in the 1930s/40s. His experiences in Korea triggered some poetry that’s entertaining and insightful.

Now in his nineties, Monte keeps writing those poems about being a Kansas farm boy and about adjusting to the very foreign culture of Korea and the restrictions of the military. Enjoy his poems and be sure to leave a comment for Monte.

Army Training Camp Poetry – by Monte Manka

You can read Monte’s poems on the Our Echo website. I’m linking to individual poems so they will be easier for you to find.

Learn More about the Korean War with These Stories and Poems

Most Americans have a very vague concept of what happened during the Korean War, how it started and how it ended. I admit that most of what I know came from watching episodes of MASH on TV.

Learn more about this war that made such an impact on this Kansas farm boy.

“World War II ended when I was headed for the invasion of Japan. We were called off the troop train in Kansas and told that Harry had dropped the bomb and the war was over. Can’t take any credit for any battles, strictly Occupation of Korea. I was in Korea during the occupation, the “Police Action” started after I left for home.”

— Monte explains his role in Korea

Korean Woman with Parasol – Photo by Monte Manka

Korean lady - war years 1945

Korean war – woman with parasol umbrella (Do not use this photo elsewhere. It belongs to Monte Manka.)

Poems about the Korean People and Culture – by Monte Manka

These are available to read on the Our Echo website.

  • Little Nell Two-Ten-Yen (If you ever bargained with a Korean over eggs, silk or hammered copper pans The bidding always started with a bid of Two Ten Yen.)
  • Hiking out in the Korean Boonies (A poem with more adventures in meeting the Korean people. It has great photos with it.)
  • Buddha Intruder (Another poem about exploring in Korea.)
  • Korean Wash Day
  • Stroll to a Mystery (Three soldiers going for a Sunday stroll Monte, Mac and Don With Addie Dean, the Red Cross gal tagging along. I carried Mom’s Kodak 116 ready to take any photo of some pretty mountain scene)
  • Rice planting in Korea (Fascinating photos with this poem.)
  • Cruelty of The River Han (The people build their huts close to the River Han To do their laundry and water for their cooking pan)
  • Break Time at the Shrine (here’s a snippet from the poem.)

Break Time at the Shrine

While hiking in the Korean boonies
I spotted this old Shrine
I stopped to take a picture
Of a forgotten time

I wanted to get those stone steps
Mismatched and rough
Walking up these stairs with heels 
Would be mighty tough

Timbers on each side of the doorway
One a log one hand hewn
The whole doorway
Slightly out of plumb

Resting in the doorway
Was this toothless old Momason
Holding a long Korean pipe
That she was puffing on

Korean Shrine – Photo by Monte Manka

Korean shrine (photo by Monte Manka) - read his poems about Korea before the war

Korean shrine (photo by Monte Manka) – read his poems about Korea before the war

Korean Women Washing Clothes in a Stream – Photo by Monte Manka

korean women washing clothes in river

Korean war women washing clothes in a river

A Sampling of Photos Showing the Korean War

Korean Farmer Carrying a Heavy Load – Photo by Monte Manka

korean farmer carrying heavy load - Photo by Monte Manka

a Korean farmer carrying a heavy load (all rights reserved on this photo)

I close my eyes

Seems like yesterday

When I was in Korea

Thousands of miles away.

monte korea (2)

Where Do People Come from When They Visit This Page?


Counter added May 28, 2012.

Betty – 7 years ago – “My Dad was in the Korean war too; in the Army. Thank you for your service, Monte & for the great poetry you’ve shared with us.”

Gayle Mclaughlin profile image

Gayle – 7 years ago  – “Mr. Manka–I enjoyed your poems! I was too young to know very much about the Korean War but your poems gave me a personal insight into that time and war. Thanks for the real-life glimpse of how it was!”

Joan Haines profile image

Joan Haines – 7 years ago – “I have read only your first poem about the kind and creative leadership of your Captain Knight. “Little Nell Two Ten Yen” is a great story. I am sending a link to all these poems to my daughter in South Korea. She is there teaching English. Thank you. I look forward to reading the rest!”

A Gift of Treasured Memories

Old Letters, Family Memories and Other Memorabilia

Often people receive “fun” gifts, frivolous gifts or the most recent gimmick for a birthday or holiday, but in a few weeks, it is forgotten. Give a gift that lasts a lifetime by sharing your family memories with the next generation.

A Gift They Will Cherish and Pass Down in the Family

This can be in the form of a scrapbook, a self-published book, a videotaped interview, a pretty box filled with old letters, or a framed essay. Memories that can be hung on the wall, viewed on the television or browsed in book form make a gift that will be cherished from one generation to the next. Recording these memories or saving old letters are truly a gift that lasts a lifetime.

Goofy Gifts – Who Will Remember Them?

People spend money on gag gifts. Sometimes they buy the annoying singing Christmas moose because they can’t figure out what to give. Sometimes it’s the garish Christmas socks with Santa Claus all over them. Instead of wasting your money on these, give a timeless gift of family memories.

Stop with the goofy gifts. Read on down the page to find some really meaningful gifts that will last for a lifetime.

Save old letters and family memories

Save old letters and family memories for the next generation to enjoy. (Graphic from Pixabay)

Ideas for Meaningful Gifts

    • Save Letters in Archival Sleeves in a Binder – Gather all the letters saved from the person and put them in order by the dates. Put the letters (oldest ones first) in the archival sleeves in the binder. The recipient will have hours of enjoyment re-reading their own letters from years gone by. It forms a journal or diary of their life. This also works to put older letters like a great-grandparent’s letters into a binder to give their descendant. What a treasure!
    • Turn Letters, Memories or a Blog into a Self-Published Book – using Blurb.com. It’s delightful to see how much this means to this woman to receive her blog made into a book.

  • Make a Video to Share Family Memories – Get out the video camera (or your cellphone) and get grandma or grandpa talking about their memories.
  • Give a Family Member a Journal – to start recording their childhood memories.
  • Create Your Own Heritage Scrapbook – with family history, copies of old photos and other memorabilia.

Supplies for the Projects

Scrapbook Photo Album Vintage Leather Memory Book 60 Pages Refillable Black Paper for Christmas Gifts Valentine's Day Wedding BirthdayScrapbook Photo Album Vintage Leather Memory Book 60 Pages Refillable Black Paper for Christmas Gifts Valentine’s Day Wedding BirthdayView DetailsAvery 72611 Heavy-Duty Plastic Sleeves, Letter size, Archival safeAvery 72611 Heavy-Duty Plastic Sleeves, Letter size, Archival safeView DetailsAvery Products - Avery - Secure Side-Load Sheet Protectors,  Archival safe, fits standard 3-ring binders.Avery Products – Avery – Secure Side-Load Sheet Protectors, Archival safe, fits standard 3-ring binders.View DetailsScrapbook Storytelling: Save Family Stories and Memories With Photos, Journaling and Your Own CreativityScrapbook Storytelling: Save Family Stories and Memories With Photos, Journaling and Your Own CreativityView DetailsThe Oral History Workshop: Collect and Celebrate the Life Stories of Your Family and FriendsThe Oral History Workshop: Collect and Celebrate the Life Stories of Your Family and FriendsView DetailsStep-by-Step Guide: Make a Heritage ScrapbookStep-by-Step Guide: Make a Heritage ScrapbookView DetailsK&Company Heritage Words Sticker MedleyK&Company Heritage Words Sticker MedleyView DetailsTouching Tomorrow: How to Interview Your Loved Ones to Capture a Lifetime of Memories on Video or AudioTouching Tomorrow: How to Interview Your Loved Ones to Capture a Lifetime of Memories on Video or AudioView DetailsHow to Create a Video Family History: The Complete Guide to Interviewing and Taping Your Family's Stories & MemoriesHow to Create a Video Family History: The Complete Guide to Interviewing and Taping Your Family’s Stories & MemoriesView DetailsBlue Embossed Dragonfly Faux Leather Journal - LinedBlue Embossed Dragonfly Faux Leather Journal – LinedView Details

(Article previously published on Squidoo by Virginia Allain)

Comments and Suggestions From Friends

Suzy – “I am working on a Heritage Album now. I regret not having asked important questions when my family was alive. You’ve given some great tips that sure would have made my life easier if I would have known then what I know now.”

Susanna – “I have my great-grandmother’s photo album and, as you can imagine, I treasure it. The next person to have it will be my granddaughter.”

My suggestion for Susanna, “That is a precious family heirloom. I’d recommend scanning all the photos into the computer (may have to use a portable scanner if it is fragile). Then the photos can be shared online with more family members. They also are of historical significance, I imagine.”

Cathy – “Every Christmas I give my kids a photo album filled with pictures taken that year. Since I get them made into an actual book, there’s no way for them to take out a picture and lose it. It’s a wonderful way to preserve memories.”

Willa – “Brilliant idea. Family history once lost is lost for good. Having been in the framing industry I know how valuable a well-documented photo is because a generation or two later no one will know who they are. This is a great way to document family.”

Five Ways to Entertain Visiting Children

If you don’t have children in the home, then you are unlikely to have a stash of toys ready when a child visits. Here are some ways to keep a visiting child happy without investing in expensive toys and games.

  • Let Them Build Things

    Get out anything you have that lends itself to stacking. This could be the corks that you’re saving for a craft project or scraps of wood from the workbench. Children love arranging these into patterns and trying to build a tower.

    Gail Lee Martin with 2 granddaughters

    Gail Lee Martin with 2 granddaughters.

  • Make a Tent With Chairs and a Blanket

    Children love playing in hidey-holes. Let them arrange a sheet or blanket over some chairs and play inside the tent. Watch out with very young children that they don’t pull a chair over.

  • Bubble Blowing

    Get a bottle of this with the wand at the dollar store. It’s easy to store and will provide hours of fun for a child. Actually, adults enjoy these as well.
    You can also find recipes to make your own bubble blowing solution.

  • Start Them Drawing

    All you need is paper, even scrap paper, and a pencil. Colored pencils add to the fun, but aren’t absolutely necessary. Sit with the child and suggest things to draw and admire their creations.

  • Take a Nature Walk

    Make a list of things they might see on a walk in your area (mushroom, squirrel, a bug, a “y” shaped stick). As you walk along, they can search for the things on the list like a scavenger hunt. Give them a little reward for finding a certain number of things. It could be a gold star or a cookie, something simple.

    Gail Martin and granddaughters

    Gail Lee Martin with two granddaughters in their firemen hats.


Final Thoughts

Remember that children crave your time and attention. Don’t just park them in front of the television so the adults can talk. Spending time with you and their parents is important to the child’s development.

(post by Virginia Allain – previously published on List My Five)

Missiles in the Wheat Fields

(post by Gail’s daughter, Virginia)

Travel Back in Time

Back in the early sixties, I attended a 2-room country school in south-central Kansas. We would see the military convoy going by while we were outside playing Red Rover and baseball at recess. We often paused our games to wave at the soldiers in their Army vehicles.

It wasn’t wartime, but America and the Soviet Union were engaged in a Cold War. As kids, we didn’t pay much attention to the news of Khrushchev, or the arms build-up. We lived in the country, belonged to 4-H, attended church, and the tensions of governments seemed very distant.

We saw jeeps like this heading for the missile silo in the 1960s

We saw jeeps like this heading for the missile silo in the 1960s (photo from Pixabay).

There we were, in the middle of Kansas, surrounded by wheat fields. The reason for the soldiers driving by? There was an underground missile silo out there in the middle of nowhere. It was 6625 miles from where we were to Moscow.

Little did we know that the very presence of that missile silo made our rural county a target if actual war did break out.

Four_Martin_Girls 1960s Kansas

The four Martin girls in the early 1960s.

Learn More About the Missile Silos

I was curious to see what had happened to those after the Cold War ended. Here are some examples.

One was made into an AirBnB. Another was blown up by a rancher after it was abandoned by the government. Some were converted into condos for those wanting a retreat in case of nuclear war.

I found one article that said, “In Kansas, the government constructed 12 Atlas F sites and nine Atlas E sites. The Atlas F sites – deep sites compared to Atlas E sites – cost about $14 million to $18 million each.” Read more about the missile sites. These sites were on high alert during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. Apparently, the Atlas sites were all decommissioned by 1965.

New Uses for Old Mason Jars

Repurpose New or Vintage Canning Jars

Mason jars or canning jars have dozens of uses far beyond the basic job of storing preserved foods for the winter. Of course, they still do the job if you want to can your beets or carrots from the garden. I’ve gathered together here some ideas to upcycle or get new uses from those Ball or Mason canning jars.

Gail Lee Martin collected old canning jars and displayed them on shelves above the sink in her kitchen. I have some other suggestions to show off or make useful those vintage jars. One of my nieces used the jars filled with paper flowers to decorate the tables at her wedding.

mason jar table decoration wedding paper flowers

Diana made the paper roses to place in the canning jars that she borrowed from her Grandmother Gail.

Party or Table Decor Ideas with Mason Jars
  • Use them to hold silverware on the buffet table.
  • For a wedding, place jars on each table and fill them with wildflowers.
  • Put a pump style lid on 2 jars for a BBQ and put ketchup or mustard in them.
sunflower-jar pixabay

When eating outside, decorate your patio table with a canning jar filled with sunflowers.

Since you’re visiting this page, I’m guessing that you already have some Mason jars. They may be the more common clear canning jars or the vintage green or blue ones.

With these tops, you can put your empty canning jars to work for many purposes.

Drink, Pour, Store! Wide Mouth Mason Jar Flip Cap Lid with Airtight, Leak-Proof Seal and Innovative Flip CapDrink, Pour, Store! Wide Mouth Mason Jar Flip Cap Lid with Airtight, Leak-Proof Seal and Innovative Flip CapView DetailsMason Jar Soap Dispenser Lids - For all Regular Mouth Canning JarsMason Jar Soap Dispenser Lids – For all Regular Mouth Canning JarsView DetailsMason Jar Shaker Lids - Shake Cocktails or Your Best Dry Rub - Mix Spices, Dredge Flour, Sugar & More - Fits Any Regular Mouth Canning JarMason Jar Shaker Lids – Shake Cocktails or Your Best Dry Rub – Mix Spices, Dredge Flour, Sugar & More – Fits Any Regular Mouth Canning JarView DetailsChalk Tops - Reusable Chalkboard Lids for Mason Jars - 8 Pack - Wide MouthChalk Tops – Reusable Chalkboard Lids for Mason Jars – 8 Pack – Wide MouthView DetailsMasontops Bean Screen Plastic Mason Jar Sprouting Lids for Wide Mouth Mason Jars – Grow Bean Sprouts, Alfalfa, Salad Sprouts and MoreMason tops Bean Screen Sprouting Lids  – Grow Bean Sprouts, Alfalfa, Salad Sprouts and MoreView DetailsMason Bottle Silicone Straw TopsMason Bottle Silicone Straw TopsView Details

The green plastic lids from parmesan cheese containers fit perfectly on a canning jar too. With that, you can store any food that you want to shake out or use the jar for storing craft beads or glitter.

Uses for Newer Canning Jars

For some of the craft projects below, you’ll want to use newer canning jars instead of making permanent alterations to an antique jar.


Get out your paints and give a jar a cute pumpkin face. Put a battery-powered votive candle inside for a light.

Make Frosted Jar Lanterns – With these video instructions

You can make one of these. Look how easy it is. I really like video tutorials. Guess I’m a visual learner.

Mason Jar filled with sand for a bookend

Gail Martin filled several of her vintage canning jars with sand. They made great bookends for her cookbooks.

Haunted House in Chelsea, Kansas

manka house card
The old farmhouse in Kansas where the mysterious footsteps were heard night after night. (photo provided by Monte Manka)

Spooky Memories of a Kansas Farmhouse

Do you have memories of something that frightened you as a child? Maybe footsteps on the stairs after you’ve gone to bed? I’m intrigued by octogenarian Monte Manka who taps into his childhood memories from the 1930s for his poems. He grew up in Chelsea, Kansas in the same county where Gail Martin lived later in life. Chelsea is gone now, hidden under the water of the El Dorado Reservoir.

Here’s his account of something that really scared him as a child. The house his family lived in showed signs of being haunted. I’ve also added some memories his younger sister had of that same house. The house is gone now, so was it really haunted or ???

Read his poem describing the spooky events and also the other evidence presented. See what you think.

As for me, I’m sure glad I didn’t have to climb those stairs each night and lie awake listening to the strange sounds.

Who or What Made the Footsteps on the Stairs Late at Night?

haunted manka meme

Those “Spooky” Farmhouse Stairs

A poem by an octogenarian, Monte Manka about his childhood memories

The stairway in that farmhouse

That led up to the second floor

Meant a way to reach my bedroom

Nothing more.

Newel posts, balusters, banisters

Landing, risers, and treads

I used them daily

When heading for my upstairs bed.

As I grew older

I often wondered who

Engineered this marvel

Such beautiful workmanship, too.

That old railing and Newel Post

Were well hand-worn

Solid walnut wood

Built long before I was born.

If I wanted a midnight snack

Down these stairs, I could not sneak

The pressure on each riser

Let out a telltale squeak.

Many times

As I lay in bed

I pulled the covers

Tight over my head

Because in the stillness of the night

That old stairway would creak

From the bottom step to the top

You’d be scared to speak.

Besides, there was no such thing

As Goblins and Ghosts

Looking to do me harm, I said to myself

As those creaky sounds grew close.

I kept telling myself

While shivering in my bed

I was afraid to fall asleep

Afraid I’d wake up dead.

Thank goodness for that Sandman

He saved my life many a night

By putting me to sleep

And keeping me free from fright.

Mrs manka and farm house

Photos of the farmhouse and of Monte’s mother (in the light colored dress). Photos provided by Monte.

An Odd Incident

Remembered by Monte Manka

One night while we were sitting by the pot-bellied stove in the living room, keeping warm, suddenly a muffled noise and the house began to fill with smoke.

Dad finally got it under control. One of the bricks was missing on the chimney on the top and that brick fell down the chimney and clogged up the draft. Dad and the hired man had to take the stovepipe apart and remove the brick and all was well–

Funny no wind that night, no earthquake ????????????? Monte

old stove

A drawing by Karen Martin showing the black wood stove similar to one in the Manka house.

Another Person’s Experience in That House – Monte’s Sister

“Something came up those stairs every night at precisely the same time, around 10:00 or 10:30 I don’t remember which. The footsteps were clear and distinct from the bottom of the stairs to the top.

I am not the only one in the family that heard that either. Ray commented on that very thing. I thought it was just a kid thing and now I know that it wasn’t.

There were other things that went on in that house as well. That house was a haunted house when I was living in it.

Cordially, Carol”

Another Haunted Place in Kansas

Learn about another haunted place in Kansas – YouTube video.

The Manka House Eventually Burned to the Ground


fire destroyed wayne manka farm house

The Wayne Manka farmhouse after the fire.

In His 90s Now, Monte Manka Lives in Retirement on the West Coast

Monte Manka

October Memory Prompts

October Memories
Fall is here and do you remember what you enjoyed doing at this time of year? Fall has one of those in-between weather, not too hot and not too cold.

pumpkin carving expert

An expert carver works on a pumpkin sculpture at a fall festival.

Let’s write about our first daylight saving times and how it affected your family’s life. World Series baseball coming up and football season is taking over. High school and college football memories need to be recorded. Not just the players but the homecoming, bonfire rallies, letter jackets and the audience in the bleachers.

Witches and ghosts are showing up in my neighborhood already. Do you remember Halloween fun, tricks, and costumes back in the days when you were trick or treat age? Have you ever been tricked? Or had your decorations stolen?

Burlap scarecrow for the garden

A rustic scarecrow made of burlap bags.

Columbus Day comes on the 8th this year. Have you ever done something special to celebrate this holiday? What was the largest event you ever attended or your parents attended.

Christopher Columbus statue in Savannah, Georgia

Christopher Columbus statue in Savannah, Georgia

Do you remember “the Big Band” era? Who was your favorite? Duke Ellington, Jimmy Dorsey, and Woody Herman were a few. What was your favorite movie as a child? The girls will probably say, Shirley Temple. My kids and I remember Bing Crosby and Bob Hope plus all the westerns. Have you met a famous person?


(this is part of a series of writing prompts that Gail Lee Martin created for the Our Echo website)