If the Folks Were Here Now

I wondered what the situation would be if my parents, Gail and Clyde Martin, were alive today. How would they deal with a pandemic?

The more I thought about it, I realized that in the last few years of their lives, they had already adopted Stay at Home behavior. Their pharmacy delivered their prescriptions right to their door. Their grandson worked at Walmart and obligingly brought them groceries from their list. Thank you, Paul. Even though they’d given up gardening and canning a few years earlier, their pantry still held an abundance of home-canned foods to supplement their groceries.

Being in their late eighties, they had already opted to stop driving at the time their cataracts became a problem. Even after Mom had the cataract surgery, the results were so bad that she didn’t feel safe driving. I’m glad that they decided this on their own and did not require intervention from their children. Taking the keys away from the folks is a tough decision for many families.

Their daily lives revolved around their favorite shows and baseball games on television. In between, a short mosey around the yard or relaxing on the porch swing gave them time to observe the activities of their neighbors.


There was always a stack of books on the table next to Dad’s armchair and on the bedside table. The family brought them armloads and boxes of books as well. Some came from yard sales and some from the Book Grinder or Next Chapter Bookstore which sells used books. Many were just pass-along reads from family and then the books were sent along to another family member or given to the library for its book sale.

reading a vintage western

Clyde Martin, reading once again an old favorite western by William McLeod Raine.

The hardest part of the Stay at Home decree would have been not having visitors. They looked forward to a daughter dropping by at lunchtime with a meal picked up from Long John Silver or Kentucky Fried Chicken or something homemade. The visitor and Mom and Dad would settle in at the round oak table for a good chat and a shared dinner.

So, I’m figuring that the social distancing would be the hardest part for my parents to cope with during a pandemic such as we are currently experiencing.

Remembering the Class of ’52

Gail Lee Martin’s younger sister posted some memories of her high school days in answer to a questionnaire. The challenge was to remember your senior year of high school and for CJ McGhee, that was the class of 1952.

high school - senior picture

1. Did you marry your high school sweetheart? No, didn’t have one. Did have a crush on a classmate? I didn’t date.
2. What did you drive? Daddy taught me to drive the summer after graduation–out on the prairie!
3. What job did you have in high school? From 6th grade on, we lived on a farm. I got to ride the baling trailer, sticking the wires in as the hay bales came past. Helped feed & milk cows in our mini-dairy.
4. Where did you live? Kansas prairie, nearest town Madison
5. Were you in choir/band? Choir
6. Ever get suspended? No
7. If you could, would you go back? Heck NO!
8. Still talk to the person that you went to prom with? My cousin from another town took me to prom. He wanted me to have the prom experience. I was so, so bashful.Carol_s_Junior_Prom_edited
9. Did you skip school? No
10. Go to all the football games? Yes (Pep Squad)
11. Favorite subject? Journalism/typing
12. Do you still have your yearbooks? No
13. Did you follow your “original” career plan? No, I wanted to be a reporter. Ended up a typesetter, writer
14. Do you still have your senior ring? No
15. What was your thing to wear? Skirts (mid-calf length) & blouse to school, jeans & shirt on the farm

16. Favorite shoes? Oxfords to school & on the farm, Mary Janes to church.
17. Favorite thing to eat at lunch? I carried my lunch at the country school. A favorite was Mom’s fried chicken. From 6th grade on, I went to Madison school, where lunches were provided. No favorites there!
18. Favorite band/artist? Tony Bennett
19. High school? Madison High in Kansas

A Slideshow of Carol Jean McGhee’s Years at Madison High School

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The “Drunken Basket” Quilt

I once bought a quilt quite inexpensively at a yard sale. The vintage piece had quite a few errors in it. It was a basket design, but some of the blocks were sideways instead of upright. The hand-stitching erratic.

The basket blocks are interspersed with coral squares. I’m thinking the printed fabrics may be from the 1940s.

drunken basket quilt

I like quilt history and asked the seller who made the quilt. She said it was her great-aunt who had a drinking problem. She explained that was why the quilt had the mistakes in it. She wouldn’t tell me the relative’s name, suddenly overcome by a fear of betraying family secrets.

I call the quilt “Drunken Baskets.” It was frayed around the edges, but for $5 I wanted to save it from being sent to Goodwill or being used as a picnic rug.

drunken basket quilt on bed with cat

The Drunken Baskets quilt on my bed. Note in the part that is hanging down the side of the bed, there’s one basket block turned on its side.

 (post by Virginia Allain)

A Fishing Game for Kids

Keeping children occupied can seem like a full-time job when they are out-of-school but confined to the house. After all, a parent has clothes to wash, meals to fix, and now might even be working at home for his or her employer during the pandemic.

Here’s a game that my mother had us play when I was a kid some 60 years ago:

The Fishing Game

Mom had us draw pictures of fish on scrap paper with our crayons. Then we cut them out and put a paper clip on each one.

drawing-fish pixabay

After that, we created a fishing pole with a stick, some string, and a magnet at the end of the string. Let the kids find something suitable for the stick, rummage around for string or a ribbon, and figure out how to attach the magnet.

We spent hours fishing for the paper fish in the living room back in the 1950s. We even developed a point system to make the game more competitive and an obscure set of rules that suited us.


Vintage Bicycling

Each week I get ideas from a blog called Sepia Saturday. This week, their inspiration photo shows three ladies with their bicycles. You can see that photo at the end of today’s blog.

Immediately, I thought of my grandmother on her brother’s motorcycle around 1914. It’s such a unique photo that I’m sure I’ve shared it here before. My photos are from Tyro, Kansas.

Ruth Vining on Albert's motorcycle_edited

Ruth Vining on the Flander’s 4 motorcycle (photo from the Gail Lee Martin collection.

Closer to the example photo is one that I have with my grandfather and two other young men. It was merely labeled Albert Vining. I think the middle fellow is his future brothers-in-law, Clarence McGhee who married Ruth Vining. The fellow on the right is likely Jesse McGhee, the brother of Clarence McGhee.

albert and bicycle

The McGhee family and the Vining family lived across the street from each other. I don’t recognize the house.

Here’s the Sepia Saturday site where you can see what other bloggers shared.

Our Favorite Walnut Cake

I don’t know if this stash of vintage recipes came from someone in our extended family or if Mom found them at a yard sale. It isn’t in Gail’s handwriting and at the bottom, it says Aunt Allie. Now, there were six Allies on the family tree but there were quite distant (mother-in-law of a third cousin, etc.). Anyway, here’s the cake recipe if you want to give it a try.

The Walnut Cake recipe.

Our Favorite Walnut Cake

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup shortening – half lard half butter is best
  • 1 cup sour milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon soda
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder sifted into flour
  • 1 cup walnut meats chopped fine by hand
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon (leveled) allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 level teaspoon cinnamon
  • a little grated nutmeg

Cream the sugar and butter or shortening. Add well-beaten eggs and stir in. Dissolve the soda in the milk and add to sugar and butter but do not stir. 

Stir the walnut meats into flour – also the spices. Put the vanilla in the other mixture then stir in the flour etc. 

Bake in a loaf in slow oven till done.

Make icing with two or three tablespoons of cream or heavy condensed milk and powdered sugar – just thin enough to spread with a knife.

Eggs in a bowl – photo from Pixabay

I don’t have all the ingredients on hand to try this out. If anyone is in a baking mood, let me know how the recipe turned out for you.