Stocking Up for Thanksgiving

Time to buy the turkey or ham and all the trimming for the holiday feast. I’m sure your list on the week before Thanksgiving includes cranberry sauce, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and other traditional foods. The Publix Supermarket that I use was so busy today, there were no shopping carts in the cart area. My husband hunted around the parking lot and returned triumphantly with one.

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Shopping for groceries in the 1950s

Much of our Thanksgiving meal was homegrown in my childhood years. We didn’t raise our own turkeys but the mashed potatoes and the green beans came from our bountiful garden. Gail Lee Martin would have shopped at the local IGA market for the cans of cranberry sauce. We always had the jellied kind that you served in slices. Now, I opt for the whole berry, but still from a can.

The pies were homemade with Gail rolling out the pie crust in the farmhouse kitchen. There would be pumpkin pie and whipped cream to go on it. Someone would assemble the 5-cup salad with the luxury of mandarin oranges, tiny marshmallows, shredded coconut, pineapple, and a sweet creamy sauce tying it all together. So the shopping list would include those.

Gail wrote about the Thanksgiving meals from her childhood. The 1930s holiday didn’t necessarily include a turkey. Read the details at We Gave Thanks Prairie Style. The description shows how times change but the family gathering was still special.  The desserts included a gooseberry pie made from berries they picked along the Cottonwood River. Sometimes pumpkin wasn’t available so a faux pumpkin pie was made with other ingredients.

Clyde and Gail Martin just finishing Thanksgiving dinner_Shanno

Thanksgiving in the 1970s – Clyde and Gail Martin.

What special dishes are you serving this Thanksgiving? I hope you don’t forget any of the special ingredients while shopping.



The Chelsea Kid – Monte Manka


Gail Lee Martin and Monte Manka first met on the Our Echo website. Gail served as the webmaster and encouraged everyone who posted there. She commented on every poem and each essay. Monte was the same generation as Gail, an octogenarian, who grew up just a few miles from where Gail lived in Kansas. Now he lives on the west coast, but through the serendipity of the Internet, they met online. Learn more about him below.

The kids at the Chelsea, Kansas school in the 1930s. 

Sharing an Octogenarian’s Poems and Memories of the Great Depression

Monte Manka grew up in Chelsea, Kansas in the 1930s. Now in his eighties, he records his memories in poems and essays for future generations to understand what it was like in those days.

This webpage is just one in a series that features Monte Manka’s poetry of the Great Depression. This octogenarian retains vivid memories of Kansas farm life and his youth. He still writes poetry and posts it on the Our Echo website. Don’t miss the other webpages with Monte Manka’s poems. They include such old-fashioned topics as pie suppers and chivarees.

(photos used with permission from Monte Manka)

The Old Homestead

a poem by Monte Manka

As I travel across the State

I had to see

The place where I was born

Out there on the prairie

The old house is still standin’

Out there in a pile of dust

The windmill still upright

Now just a tower of rust.

That lone post in the front yard

Where once hung that dinner bell

To call Dad in from the field

To eat and rest a spell

Is slightly leaning

Warped by wind and heat

To hear that bell ring one more time

Would make my life complete.

That old front porch

With that bench swing

We’d sit there in the evening

And hear the locusts sing.

I remember fields of green grass

That yielded tons of prairie hay

To feed the livestock

On a cold winter day.

Then Mother Nature

With a twist of fate

Turned on a four-year drought

Just when things were goin’ great.

A cyclone blew down the barn

Ripped shingles off the roof

Dust started blowing in

Doors and windows, not dust proof.

Nothing but drifted soil

Now and then a tuft of grass

If only those happier times

Could last and last.

Dad had a part-time job

Working for the State

We moved into town

Before it was too late.


Monte Manka’s Dust Storm Memories

“We held Chelsea School outside the schoolhouse. The air in the Schoolhouse hung heavy with the dust. We would go to the pump and wet our handkerchiefs and hold them over our nose as we read out of our Bobs Merrill Primer”. …

He continues on telling about having to dust off the paper before writing the lesson. You’ll enjoy his memories.

(Excerpt from Lost in the Front Yard by Monte L. Manka. There is more on the Our Echo website.)

Monte Manka’s Poems and Essays on the Our Echo Website – Visit the site to read all of Monte Manka’s writing

Our Echo provides a supportive community online for writers to share their family memories and other writing. It’s a great site to post your memory pieces on for your whole family to enjoy.

our echo

Monte Manka with an Oliver Hart-Parr tractor.

Monte Grew up on the Farm

Monte Manka: “Me and the Oliver Hart-Parr after it was converted to rubber–There is a tractor.

This tractor had steel wheels and was a rough riding machine. When the wheels were changed and rubber tires were put on it was a pleasure to ride down a gravel road to the field.”


Book Award Named after Gail Lee Martin

In 2010, Gail Lee Martin won the Ferguson Kansas History Book Award for her book My Flint Hills Childhood. The award, presented annually at the Kansas Authors Club convention, was discontinued in 2017. Gail was one of the last winners of the award.

The amount given to the winner, under the Ferguson Book Award, was $100.00. Gail’s daughters decided to revive the history book award using funds donated to KAC for the Gail Martin memorial fund. The new name for the award is the Gail Lee Martin Kansas History Book Award it will continue for at least 10 years. If more donations are contributed to the memorial fund, it can run longer. In previous years, the memorial fund paid for speakers for the convention.

If you’d like to check out what the contest rules were for the Ferguson Book Award, here’s the site:

It would be good to streamline the process, so if you have any suggestions, please add them in the comments on this blog.

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I Found the Carrot Cookie Recipe!

I was afraid the carrot cookie recipe was lost. I’d found one recipe labeled Helen King’s carrot cookies, but I wanted Mom’s recipe. She started making these after we were all grown up. She had a batch of the tasty cookies ready when I visited one time from Baltimore. They became my new favorite cookie.

It turns out that I had a copy of the recipe all along. I found it as I cleaned out my over-full, seldom used recipe box. As I tossed dubious-sounding jello recipes and any baked goods that called for Bisquick, I found the carrot cookie recipe written in Mom’s handwriting.

carrot cookies

Gail Lee Martin’s Carrot Cookies

  • 1 cup finely grated carrots
  • 3/4 cup shortening or oleo
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix the ingredients, then drop by teaspoon onto a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. (She doesn’t mention greasing the baking sheet, but I’d recommend it)

Icing for the Carrot Cookies

  • powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup finely grated carrots
  • orange juice

Mix these together to use as a glaze. Wait for the cookies to cool first.

What is lurking in your recipe box? Take a look to see if some heirloom recipes are there. Treat your taste buds to a trip down memory lane.


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Graphic from Pixabay


More about Pie Crust Scraps

Yummy Pie Crust Scraps.

Did your mom ever make these?

My sister started me thinking of these, when she said, “Tonight I’m remembering the cinnamon and sugar pie crust scraps Mom used to make for us.”

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The pie dough scraps ready to go into the oven. (photo by Karen Kolavalli)

This is a follow-up of an earlier post here on my mother’s memory blog, Discovering Mom – Pie Crust Scraps. If you like nostalgia and memories of the good old days, nip back to read this one and other posts.

It inspired quite a discussion among my friends on Facebook, so apparently, Sis and I are not the only ones with fond memories of pie crust scraps.


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Fitting the crust to the pie pan. Looks like some will be leftover. (photo from Pixabay)


Here are the memories generated among my friends:

Peggy – “Oh yeah. Mom rolled them up like little cinnamon rolls. Yum!”

Nan –  “and I’ve made them for my kids (and me)”

Shirley – “My grandmother and mom made them as little crispy cinnamon rolls too. I still make them. Those, and the family pickle recipe, and jam. I try to keep the family recipes alive to pass down but unfortunately, I think they’ll end with me.”

When I suggested that she make a little recipe book to save these for the grandkids someday, Shirley said, “I have the recipes saved. I just think there’s something special in passing the recipes down through sharing the process itself. I remember making root beer in a big new Rubbermaid trash can with my mom when I was young. That’s the stuff memories and legacies are made of.”

My aunt, Cj commented too, “Indeed, I enjoyed them as I was growing up. Mother would brush the pieces with butter (that we churned from our own cows), then sprinkle on the sugar and cinnamon. No throwing away any left-over crust! I always wanted her to make just the pie crust strips, and forget the pie!”

My second cousin, Cheryl said, “I don’t particularly remember my mom making them, but she must have because I got the idea somewhere when I became a mother! I always made them when had leftover pie dough! Kids loved them and so do I!!!”

How about you? Did your mother make these pie crust scraps?


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Here’s another way to use the leftover pie crust. Add apple slices to make little apple tarts. (photo from Pixabay)


The Old Hoosier Kitchen Cabinet

In the early 1900s kitchens didn’t have built-in cabinets. A housewife of the era might have had some open shelves to store the dishes on and some things would hang on nails driven into the wall.

Getting a Hoosier cabinet gave the woman of the house a workstation with many modern conveniences. It had a rack for spices, a flour sifter, a deep drawer lined with tin or zinc to hold flour, and a variety of other conveniences all in one location.

The Chickasha daily express. Chickasha Indian Territory Ok Nov10 1920 Page PAGE EIGHT Chronicling America « Library of Congress hoosier cabinet

Advertisement from the Chickasha Daily Express, November 10, 1920. Courtesy of The Library of Congress, Chronicling America.

In this vintage ad from a 1920 newspaper, you see the price range from $20 up to $71 while on sale. This was quite a bit of money in the days when a teacher might only earn $2000 in a year and the average wage was just over $3,000.

Since families made their own bread at home, the convenience of a Hoosier cabinet held strong appeal. There was an enamel counter surface for rolling out the dough and all your ingredients and tools were close to hand.

These continued to be popular into the 1930s, 1940s and lingered into the 1950s. You see the basic style is similar to that of the 1920s, but now the 1950s homemaker might have an electric mixer and an electric frying pan. Many houses built in the post-WWII housing boom would have wall cupboards and counters similar to kitchens of today.

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The electric frying pan and the Mixmaster electric mixer date this to around the 1950s. (photo by Virginia Allain)

The old Hoosier cabinets fell out of favor. They show up in antique stores now and are considered quaint. There’s some nostalgia for these symbols of grandma’s kitchen and some find new life as display cabinets for vintage dishes or are used in cottage style decorating.

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Vintage Hoosier cabinet (photo from Pixabay)

Read more about Hoosier cabinets.

Things to Ask Your Grandparents Before They Are Gone

It’s human nature to take your family for granted, but once they die, you realize there were many things you don’t know about them. Don’t let the time get away from you. Your grandparents won’t be here forever.

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Gail with a granddaughter and 2 great-granddaughters

Here are things to find out before it is too late.

Names and Dates of Their Parents and Grandparents

Find out the full names, nicknames, places they lived, and dates of their birth, marriage, and death. These are the links to your ancestry, so don’t miss the chance to get this information. Too many people just know their own parents’ names and grandparents. Asking your grandparents for details about their own parents and grandparents takes you back four generations. This can be a huge help if you try to piece together your ancestry later.

Favorite Recipes

If you love your grandmother’s chicken and noodles and the way your grandfather slow-cooks beef brisket, ask now. Write the recipes down and try them out, then ask for clarification and tips if the results aren’t as good as theirs. Sometimes, it’s hard to get the same ingredients like farm-fresh eggs so your cooking effort may not taste just like your grandma’s.

recipe carrot cookies

Family Illnesses

Do certain kinds of cancer show up again and again in the family? Maybe there’s a pattern of heart problems. Find out what caused the deaths of your great-grandparents. Such knowledge helps you take preventive steps and make lifestyle changes.

Family Secrets

If there is some topic that the family tiptoes around and never discusses, ask the grandparents. What really happened to Uncle Billy who disappeared? Why do two cousins never speak to each other? Why did the family leave the Old Country?

Their Memories of a Bygone Era

What was it like during World War II? Find out details about their daily life as a child and how times have changed. Try to save these memories by writing them down or videotaping your grandparents. Get out the photo album and ask questions about the people in the pictures.


Gail’s uncle, Albert Vining in World War I