Words From Mama

Every now and then, I happen upon a comment that my mother (Gail Lee Martin) put online. She was a great encourager of other writers and of her children’s efforts. It always surprises me to see these after all these years.

gail heart necklace

A necklace of Mom’s


This one she wrote on a post I’d written of childhood memories growing up in the country.

Your brother told us one time that he grew up not knowing we were poor. Even if Dad had a job on the drilling rigs there were many times the rig would be down until another job came along, so there were many ups and downs in our cash flow. With the garden, and the preserving we did and the rabbits we most always ate good. Remember that place where we could buy hamburgers 8 for a $1.00. I think we always ate there when we were in town. Mom

I remember that little hamburger joint. They must have cringed when they saw us come through the door. Each child wanted different things on their burger. I wanted catsup and pickles. It was probably the only place Mom could afford to feed six children back in the 1950s and 1960s.

Clyde and Gail Martin and children

Clyde Martin (holding Karen), Gail and Owen, Cindy, Ginger, Susan


Storing Away Happiness

Here’s a memory of Gail Lee Martin from 2012.
If We Could Bottle Happiness and Store It Away…
Below is a comment that Mom put on Facebook when Karen posted this photo a few years ago.
Colorful bottles catch the eye.
Colorful bottles catch the eye.
Each of my pretty vases and bottles have a story of memories to tell if they could talk or text! I love to look out that window when the sun is shining.
It certainly brightens my day. I have things like that in every room of our home that make me happy when I see them. glm” (February 24, 2012)
Here’s a challenge for each of us. Look around the room you are in and identify one thing that makes you happy just to see it. Savor the moment and tell us about why it makes you happy in the comments if you feel like sharing.
Gail Martin and Karen Kolavalli

Gail Martin and her daughter, Karen Kolavalli

Ready for Fall?

At last, it’s October! Just a week ago, my younger sister said, “I love having a September Birthday – I’m a fall season, jacket weather, with pumpkins, and hot cocoa or cider, type of person.”

cup of cocoa

I need to ponder that. I know for sure that I’m not a winter type of person, but I’m hard put to say which season is my favorite. Spring seems fresh and joyful, summer is lazy and relaxed, and fall feels brisk and colorful. I guess I like them all.

I remember that Mom (Gail Martin) used to revel in the fall colors. She seldom took pictures but in the autumn she tried to capture the glory of the maple tree across the street from their home. You might not think that South Central Kansas would have stunning autumn scenes, but it does.

Gail Lee Martin’s Fall Photos


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Kansas may not draw the leaf-peepers like Vermont and New Hampshire, but the locals sure enjoy the beauty of fall without the autumn traffic jams of New England.

Tell me what your favorite season is.

Winner of the 2019 Gail Lee Martin Book Award

The Kansas Author Club met in Wichita on October 4-6, 2019. At the annual convention, they announce the winners of various book awards and one of those is the Kansas History Book Award, named in honor of Gail Lee Martin. Many people donated at the time of her death to help sponsor this book award.

The winner for 2019 is James Kenyon’s book, Golden Rule Days. Here are the judge’s comments about the book:

“The book is a history of the 109 Kansas high schools that have closed over the years. A remarkable amount of research went into compiling this book. Just the collecting of personal stories for each school and weaving them into the history must have taken years of work.

Each school gets 2 to 6 pages so it’s a hefty book at almost 400 pages. There’s a map highlighting the county so you can quickly see where the high school was. The entry includes the mascot, school colors, the year it closed, and the location. A brief history of the locale is followed by notable graduates, memories of teachers, activities and events, athletics, and why the school closed.

There are tidbits from yearbooks, memories from former students, and other bits of information collected by the author. There is some coverage of integration/segregation, a few school songs are featured, rivalries, and tragedies. Most of the schools have a photo of the building. The index includes the school names and names of individuals.

This is a solid reference title for public libraries and makes fun browsing for students seeking memories of their school days.”

Announcement of the 2019 Martin Kansas History Book Award

(from the KAC webpage)

The photo above shows Cynthia Ross, Gail’s daughter with the author James Kenyon at the convention. He is a repeat winner as his children’s book, A Cow for College, won the prize last year.

If anyone would like to contribute to keeping the book award funded, you can send a check to

Kansas Authors Club
C/o Tracy Million Simmons
P.O. Box 333
Emporia, KS 66801

Be sure to note on the check that it is for the Gail Lee Martin, Kansas History Book Award fund.