Vintage Picnic

The Sepia Saturday challenge has me looking for photos of long-ago picnics. The oldest pictures from the album don’t show the actual picnic but some of the camaraderie of that day in 1916. The McGhee and Vining families traveled on the 4th of July to Hayrick Mound, a scenic spot just across the border into Oklahoma.

After these photos were taken showing the young ladies climbing the rocky hill and grouping themselves in a scenic manner, there were some playful games that ended in disaster. Thirteen-year-old Bertha McGhee fell awkwardly and it was feared that her neck or back was broken.

I don’t mean to be a tease, but the rest of the story and all the details are covered at Picnic at Hayrick Mound.

Our family often gathered with relatives for picnics, so I’ll share a sampling of those in a slideshow. Often, these involved multiple generations. There is potato salad, fried chicken, and deviled eggs and other yummy foods to eat. The children run about playing with cousins and wearing themselves out while the adults chat and catch up on the family news. At some point, people line up for group photos to commemorate the occasion.

In the last 40 years, I’ve seldom been in Kansas at the right times for the reunions at the park or lake. Instead, we get together with old friends or neighbors for our picnics. This 4th of July, ours will be a two-person picnic on our patio safely away from other people. Here’s wishing that next year will be better for everyone.

Slideshow of Martin, McGhee, or Allain Picnics

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Farmer’s Market Time Again

Nineteen Years Ago Today:

On June 23, 2001, Mom writes: “Today was are at our first Farmers Market for the year as most of you know. We were blown away with customers. Our 2-table spread did look good if I do say so. Clyde baked 20 loaves of his great breads (he has 5 bread machines

jelly at the farmer's market

Gail and Clyde Martin with their jams and jellies at the farmer’s market.

We had the new red potatoes, Susan’s broccoli, our zucchini, greens,
beets, and turnips. We had a display of jellies, applesauce and turnip kraut
on a 3-tiered shelf that Owen made me. Plus the black walnut nutmeats. If
we kept up with the record-keeping we sold $251.50 worth of goodies.

Then at 1pm we came home and flopped for awhile. This was our biggest day since
we started doing this about 10 years ago. Saw so many of our friends from
last year, it was almost like a family reunion. Now we have to get ready
for the next market on Tuesday morning. Love to all. I just had to share the
good news. Gail”

Clyde and Gail Martin Farmers Market money

Gail Lee Martin shows off their hard-earned rewards for participating in the farmer’s market.

Some Background on This Email

It was a tremendous amount of work for two people in their late 70s to participate in the twice-weekly market. They loved it. The attention they received from people praising their jams, breads, and vegetables far outweighed the amount of effort it took to grow or make those and to load them and their tent onto the pickup twice a week.

Setting up their booth and interacting with customers in the hot Kansas summers was indeed hard work. The extra money they made each week supplemented their Social Security income. Being frugal children of Depression-era meant living a frugal lifestyle even sixty years later.

Dog Days

The Sepia Saturday Photo Challenge this week featured a shaggy Old English Sheepdog. Our family album yielded a variety of dogs and even a young coyote. Since I’ve written about most of these before, I’ll be brief this time.

I wish I knew more about the photo of Gail Lee McGhee holding a coyote pup. It looks like the photo is from her teen years and that’s her little sister, barefooted Carol Jean, with her. The soil looks sandy and dry. In the distance, there’s an oil tank or perhaps a grain storage bin. Maybe they went with their dad while he was working one day.

Bushton, Kansas has only a few hundred residents these days. Probably there are still coyotes about that rural area. The coyote appears to be someone’s pet as it has a harness on and he seems comfortable being around people.

Unknown Man With A Large Dog On His Head (Sepia Saturday 525)


Our Family Dog Stories

Playing Games

Each Saturday, I try to find a vintage photo in our family album to match the one posted by the Sepia Saturday Challenge. This week, you see people playing a game with stately buildings in the background. I’m guessing that the game is badminton or tennis since it involves a net.

Tennis Players (1920s) Unknown Subjects and Location

Our family album yielded an old-time photo of young men playing croquet. The faces don’t seem to match any of our family members from that time, so all we know is the location which is Tyro, Kansas. You can read more about my efforts to identify this photo (on our family history blog – Then And Now)

Tyro friends playing croquet

Playing croquet in Tyro, Kansas, around 1910 or so.

You may be disappointed that there are no stately buildings in the background of my photo. Tyro boasted a multi-storied high school and a substantial church but neither of those were located near enough to the McGhee family backyard to show in the photo. Instead, you see what may be an elm tree and some open fields or garden area.

So now, I’ll gratuitously toss in a photo of the Kansas State Reform School. It is nowhere near Tyro, as it is located in Topeka, Kansas. It would have made a grand background for the croquet players though. The reason that I have this photo is I’m researching an ancestor who was sent to this school in 1889. He wasn’t a McGhee though and probably the boys sent to the reform school did not have much opportunity to play croquet.

Once I finish researching that story, I’ll post it on the Then And Now blog and put a link here. Then you’ll know the rest of the story.

KS State_Reform_School_1890_edward richards

Kansas State Reform School 1890

Sauerkraut Cake

My mother, Gail Lee Martin, used to make a lovely German chocolate cake. This was back in the day when you didn’t buy a container of pre-mixed icing, so she laboriously made that with the coconut and chopped pecans and other ingredients. It really was special to eat that cake. The cake’s name came from the German chocolate bar that you had to melt for making the cake.

My sister, Karen, found an easier chocolate cake to make that didn’t require melting baker’s chocolate but did have a strange ingredient (sauerkraut). Her recipe produced a very moist chocolate cake and it looked wonderful with the German chocolate icing on the top.


Karen made the cake during her teens and college years. I didn’t realize that she still made it until a picture appeared on her social media recently. That brought back memories, for sure.

sauerkraut cake and spice cabinet

You can tell from the range of spices in the cupboard behind the cake that my sister is a serious cook. She even made a recipe book for her daughter with all their favorites in it. Of course, it included the Sauerkraut Cake and the Coconut-Pecan Icing.

sauerkraut cake in KK cookbook

Just to tease you a bit more, here’s a slice of the cake on a plate ready to eat. I think a glass of milk would be perfect with this rich and moist cake.

sauerkraut cake on plate

I asked her where she had found such an off-beat recipe. She still had the original recipe booklet, so I’ll include that here. That recipe called for a mocha cream icing, but I think it was brilliant to use the coconut and pecan icing recipe from the older German Chocolate Cake.

sauerkraut cake sourcesauerkraut cake title pagesauerkraut cake recipe


By the Window

I searched our family photo album for a vintage photo of a woman by a window. That was the challenge for this Sepia Saturday. As you can see the challenge photo shows multi-paned windows with a woman wearing a sweater.

My photos show my great-aunt Bertha McGhee at two points in her life. The photo of Bertha in a black dress. I believe this picture was taken in Baldwin, Kansas. It might be the 1930s.

The photo of Bertha by a large window is from the church in Hope, Alaska, that she helped start. That photo could be anytime from the 1940s or 1950s.

CJ’s Wedding – 1955

From Bobby Sox to a Cinderella Wedding

In April 1955, Gail’s little sister, Carol Jean McGhee married. First we have to set the scene with her teen years growing up near Madison, Kansas. We see her in these photo wearing rolled-up jeans and bobby sox. In one picture, she’s with her sister’s two children. In another, Carol poses with a high school friend and some remarkable garden produce. In the third photo, she is relaxing in her bedroom with her black cat, appropriately named Blackie.

When Carol looks back on that time, she remembers herself as bashful. We commented on how pretty she was, but she said that she had no idea of that at the time. She said a cousin took her to the prom, “he said he wanted me to have the prom experience, and I suspect he was trying to get me out of my bashful seclusion. I did get considerable notice, showing up with an older guy (I was 16, he was 18!) from another town. He was a sweetie.”


CJ in her prom dress

1955 cj mcghee clarence and frances

CJ with cousin and father

The only dating she did was a brief time at age 17, going out with an older cowhand from a local ranch after she graduated from high school. She remembers that “I met him through church. He took me to the movies in Madison, in the cattle truck from the ranch where he worked. Then we’d park somewhere, and he’d talk about his ex-wife! I’m thinking, ‘I don’t think this is how it’s supposed to go.’ He even asked me to marry him, and I told him no. Found out later he left town the next day.”

1954 cj mcghee on trip with parents

19-years-old & on vacation with parents, summer of 1954.

Floyd was working on the railroad when they met. Before that, he attended college for a year at Emporia State University, then went into the Air Force. “He was only in the Air Force for a few months–got in a car wreck, had to have his knee cut out of the dash, got honorable discharge/medical because of it.” She said that all happened before she met him.

Carol remembered, “I met Floyd Garriott and Lon Cantrell three days before Christmas, 1954. Floyd was dating my cousin, and they got me to go on a blind date with Lon.” After that, Carol and Floyd started dating.

1954 cj mcghee

CJ McGhee – “my first grown-up portrait, in 1954, age 19

She commented that she was on the brink of being an old maid. “So when Floyd took an interest in me, I married him at age 20, as that’s what you did.”

Image may contain: 1 person

This photo shows Carol at age 20 in winter/spring of 1955, with panda bear from her fiancee Floyd. She thinks the occasion was Valentine’s Day.

The Wedding in 1955

I married Floyd Garriott at the First Christian Church, Madison, Kansas in April of 1955. It lasted 17 years.
cj mcghee and floyd wedding -street scene

Carol and Floyd in white – Madison, Kansas

Now, 65 years later, CJ added some memories on the photos, “Best man at our wedding in the middle, Max Mueller. Floyd’s best friend could not make it to the wedding, so his best man was a college friend, a student from Iran. He had not attended an American wedding and wanted a photo to send back home. You can see we went all out on wedding photos.”


April 1955 – opening the wedding gifts

Carol -“Floyd and I at our wedding reception. I made my dress on a treadle machine! Also made a nifty, fitted waist-length, short-sleeved jacket. (for any younger readers, Carol explained, “Tredle means non-electric, you made it run with your foot moving a treadle back and forth. It’s what I learned to sew on, all we knew. I was a whiz.”)

Niece Karen – “I remember your wedding! I was not quite 3 years old (birthday June 8) and all I remember is your shoes–glass slippers…or possibly clear plastic?!”

Carol – “OMG! I’d completely forgotten those shoes! Yes, they were clear plastic, all the rage in the mid-50s.”

ebay wedding shoes

Since the photos from 1955 don’t show Carol’s shoes, I found some vintage wedding shoes on eBay.

Niece Karen -” What’s weird is that it is probably the ONLY thing I remember before I was 6!!!”

Carol – “Wow. Imagine my ‘glass slippers’ being your only memory before 6. And I forgot them. They had a little ‘glass’ flower on there. I wish we’d gotten a photo of them. Also, I didn’t get a photo of my matron of honor. Floyd had one of his friends take the photos, and most of them didn’t turn out. We ended up with these few candid photos that people took.”

Carol – “I just unearthed another photo from my wedding. It shows off the pretty neckline I had so much trouble getting right! That neckline was a b**** to get right. I did it over and over several times.”

cj and floyd garriott wedding 1955

Carol – “Later, I cut the skirt off the wedding dress to make it street-length and wore it to church for a couple of years.”

The Honeymoon

CJ on honeymoon at lake of the ozarks 1955

Fun on the lake – CJ on her honeymoon at the Lake of the Ozarks – 1955

Carol – “As I recall, this was the highlight of the honeymoon. Should have told me something, right there. It wasn’t too bad. What did I know, anyway. A trip to a resort in another state, with swimming and boating on a lake. Floyd was on his best behavior of course. I had fun new clothes and was excited for my new life.”

1955 cj garriott at lake of the ozarks honeymoon

1955 – CJ Garriott at the Lake of the Ozarks

Carol – “On my honeymoon in the Ozarks. Out in the woods in high heels! What was I thinking? But then again, I had just married Floyd.”