Turning up the Garden

The inspiration for today’s post came from this photo of a young man digging with a shovel and a smile. It could be 1930, 1940, or so. I’d guess he is English.

My family used shovels many times turning up their gardens in the spring or digging up their potatoes. Apparently, it was so common, that it did not merit a photograph.

Sepia Saturday 522  30 May 2020

My grandfather maintained a sizable garden adjacent to their home near Madison, Kansas. He had one of those manual tillers with a single wheel and a vee-shaped piece of metal to turn up the earth. There were two wooden handles to push the implement. What great exercise it must have been.

I’m sure at other times he grabbed his shovel to dig the planting holes, but I have no photo of him doing that.

Kansas farmer with a shovelKansas farmer with a shovel Fri, Jan 17, 1913 – 5 · Chanute Weekly Tribune (Chanute, Kansas) · Newspapers.com

Below is my aunt, Carol Jean McGhee and a friend, ready for Halloween. I wanted a picture of my grandfather’s garden and there it is behind them. They are in the side yard of the farmhouse.



Moving ahead a few decades, it was common to see my dad, Clyde Martin, with his rototiller in his garden. He was partial to the TroyBilt Tiller.

Dad rototilling_edited

No Prize-Winning Cars

The cars from my childhood were not prize winners by any stretch of the imagination. Those old used cars were not old enough to be vintage for a car show. Dad was handy mechanically and taught himself to patch together the engines enough to keep them going. A fancy car wasn’t possible on an oilfield worker’s budget in the 1950s and 1960s.

Sue and me_Oct 1950

Gail Martin and daughter Susan – dated 1950 – Madison, Kansas

Below are a few more from around the early to mid-1960s. The first shows me (Ginger) with Cindy, Susan, and Karen standing by our car. I thought this might have been when we were living in El Dorado, Kansas.

ginger childhood

Old car and the Martin sisters – March 1959

Is this the next photo of the same car? Maybe not, as it has a silver panel in front of the rear wheels. The picture is dated 1965 and our little sister Shannon is sitting on the hood. I’m always a little leary of trusting the date on a photo. Sometimes a roll of film might sit in the camera for months until we finished it or could afford to get it developed.

little shannon on car - march 1965

Shannon Martin – March 1965

It seems we didn’t take many photos of our cars, because I’m sure at one point we had a really big station wagon suitable for stuffing six children in plus a big load of groceries. There also was a Studebaker that was quite an odd-looking car.

Fast forward to 1972 and I’m finished with college and the folks helped me move to Northern Ohio for my first job. Apparently, Dad was into Ramblers at this time. He’s standing by the station wagon loaded with all my worldly possessions. To my right is the light green Rambler that he had fixed up for my use at college.

Clyde Martin and ginger and nash rambler

Clyde Martin and daughter, Ginger and two Rambler cars. 1972

I hope you enjoyed this nostalgia tour through our family autos. The inspiration for it was the Sepia Saturday prompt for this week. You can visit their site to see what other bloggers posted on the same topic.
Sepia Saturday 521 23 May 2020

Their First Farmer’s Market

The challenge photo (below) shows a small table in a parking lot. I’m not sure what the occasion was but three fellows were enjoying a drink in the Sepia Saturday Challenge picture. My photo is in color, not sepia, but is relatively vintage being over 30 years old.

In my picture, Gail and Clyde Martin set up their display for the Fort Scott farmer’s market. A brave show of sunflowers from their garden would have drawn customers over to the table. There were cucumbers, okra for 50 cents, cherry tomatoes, and more.

This was one of their early forays into selling the over-abundance from their garden. Actually, that should read “gardens” as they maintained a huge garden in the lot adjacent to their home in El Dorado, and a smaller one at their getaway place in Prescott.

Photos of the Martin’s Garden in Prescott, Kansas

They originally got the little house in Prescott after spending many summer weekends in their trailer that they fixed up. The object of getting away from their home in El Dorado was to fish at Sugar Valley Lakes where they had a lot for their little trailer. It also served to put Clyde out-of-range for being called in to work on weekends for his job as tool pusher in the oilfield.

sugar valley camp rv 1984

Camping at the Sugar Valley Lakes lot in Linn County. They bought the lot in 1984.

After he retired, they decided to spend more time away from El Dorado which was larger than the small-towns where they grew up. Prescott had that slower-paced, friendly neighbor lifestyle that felt comfortable to them. They fished and gardened and fixed up the little house. Happy Times!

The Victory Garden

In times of stress, it isn’t surprising when people turn to gardening. There’s something soothing about working with the dirt and the plants. In addition, you end up with something edible for your effort. In the 1940s, these were called Victory Gardens and everyone considered it one of their contributions to the war effort. The gardens served to supplement each family’s food supply during a time of food rationing.

grow vegetables seeds advertisement 1922grow vegetables seeds advertisement 1922 Thu, Mar 2, 1922 – Page 4 · The Coffeyville Daily Journal (Coffeyville, Kansas) · Newspapers.com

During the previous decade, planting a garden was a necessity as businesses closed and banks failed. There were bread lines and families turned out of their homes. The Great Depression of the 1930s put a lot of pressure on families. Growing their own food was a necessity.

I’m not sure what we should call the current surge of interest in gardening. Are these Pandemic Gardens? Maybe Survivor Gardens would be a suitable name. I plan to survive this terrible epidemic and growing my own food is one way to minimize my outings to get food. Each time that I leave my home, I risk exposing myself to a deadly virus.

Since I can’t plant a garden in my yard due to our community restrictions, I’ve resorted to grow-bags in my patio. Acquiring dirt meant a trip to Lowes where we picked up some tomato and pepper plants as well. Even wearing the mask and gloves, it was a relief to get in and out quickly and return home with our planting supplies.

We’d ordered the grow-bags from Amazon and a big batch of various vegetable seeds. I can’t wait to get the lettuce and herbs started. I’m afraid it’s too late for peas which like cooler weather. The tomato plants are blooming already and I’m checking each day to see if the carrots, beets, yellow squash, onions, and potatoes might be sending up sprouts.

pandemic garden june 10

There are plenty of reasons to plant vegetables this year. Buying the containers, soil, and plants means every tomato or carrot harvested costs more than the actual food would in a supermarket. It’s worth it to me to reduce any possible exposure to the virus and to protect from possible food shortages. Disruption of the food supply is quite possible if the necessary workers become sick.

Beyond that reason, food that you grow yourself does taste better than some varieties designed for shipping and longer shelf-life. There’s also the psychological benefits of planting a garden. It’s an affirmation that you expect to be around to tend and harvest it as the months progress. My 2020 Victory Garden is my statement that I will survive this pandemic.

There may be a shortage of plants and seeds as more people catch the gardening bug. People who never planted anything before are suddenly inspired with the idea of growing their own food. Have you started your garden yet?

Here’s the link for updates on how my Victory Garden is growing.


Boys in Suits

I scanned through my family photos looking for old sepia photos. The challenge for this Saturday was a picture of two boys dressed up in suits. Finally, I found the one I was thinking of. There was my grandfather, Clarence McGhee, sitting stiffly in the elaborately-carved photography studio chair. Next to him stood his friend Edwin Hatton.

They are in their teens, maybe 13 or 15. I’m not sure what the occasion was, as the McGhee family had few studio photos from their early days. Anyway, it makes a good match for the Sepia Saturday Photo Challenge.

I didn’t have many to choose from, as most photos of boys in our family albums show them in casual or working attire like overalls or jeans.

I have a later picture of Edwin Hatton that was inscribed to my grandparents in 1918. I wonder if it is their wedding picture. It was taken at the Scott Studio in Independence, Kansas.

Browsing the census records on Ancestry, I see he was an oil field worker in 1920, a carpenter, and odd jobs in 1930. Born 1899, married at age 20 to Blanche Mahaffey, children Eugene and Bernard.

Edwin and Blanche Hatton. Inscribed to Clarence and Ruth (Vining) McGhee, September 29, 1918.

Edwin and Blanche Hatton – Inscribed to Clarence and Ruth McGhee, September 29, 1918.

Edwin Hatton’s WWI draft record says his nearest relative was an uncle, Anthony Landrey of Tyro. He worked for the Prairie Pipe Line Co. The registration was Sept. 12, 1918, so if Sept. 29 is their marriage date, then the war precipitated some quick weddings, it seems.

The photo below shows Clarence and Ruth McGhee’s wedding picture. They married on July 14, 1917. Clarence had enlisted earlier in April. I wonder if these are both studio photos where a generic church backdrop was used. Clarence and Ruth were married in the church rectory.


Gail Martin’s parents on their wedding day.

Z is for Zigzag

Remember rickrack? If that term doesn’t resonate with you, think back to the 1950s and 1960s when you saw zigzag decorative touches on little girl’s dresses.

Sometimes the rickrack was there just to pretty it up. It could also serve to hide the line where the hem was let down on a too-short dress. Often a dress was made to grow-into with an extra-wide hem that later extended as the child grew.

Rickrack appeared as an accent too for something like an apron. In the picture below, there’s rickrack on the pocket of the red apron and along the edge of the feed sack fabric apron.

aprons- rickrack pixabay

I did some quick research and found that it was used even back in the 1860s where it was called waved crocket braid. It fell out of favor for a time in the 1890s through 1910 as other types of braided accents were used.

Wikipedia says, “In America in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, rickrack was used to decorate feed sack dresses. These dresses were worn as everyday attire, and were constructed from the brightly colored and patterned fabric bags that animal feed, flour, and other goods were shipped in.”