It’s always great to get the back story on vintage pictures. We feel lucky if a photo has a name and a date on it, but what’s the whole story? Different people will have varied memories or tidbits to contribute when they view the picture.
This one from Gail’s younger sister, Carol, triggered this conversation:
I always loved rocks! Circa 1950, along the creek on the farm of my sister, Melba and Norman Harlan, near Madison, KS. This ledge of rock had been sticking out like a huge shelf, and came down sometime earlier when the river was racing at flood stage.
Her nephew, Bob, remembered that he played many times on that rock. It must have seemed like a mountain to climb for a small boy. Bob’s brother Tim contributed that it was in the creek below the barn.
CJ describes herself as a tomboy at age 16. Here are more pictures of her in her teen years. It was the era of rolled-up jeans and penny loafers.
The guest blogger today is CJ Garriott, Gail Martin’s little sister.
“I couldn’t resist getting this shot of the rock garden Iris! All my iris got a late, slow start due to Mother Nature last month, but they are making up for it now. They have quite a story.
A few years ago, the gas company dug up my yard from street to several feet along north side of house to put in a new line and meter. In the process, they dug up a pile of delightful rocks full of holes! You know how I am about rocks. I asked if they could leave them on top and they did.
Before this, the iris stopped at the corner of the house. These apparently got relocated when the workers filled in the deep trench.
It gives me great pleasure when I look out the front door and see these amazing flowers.”
In 1982, Gail’s daughter, Cynthia Ross wrote this poem. She posted it to the Our Echo site which is now offline (hopefully it will return soon).
My life is patterned On a crazy quilt Fabric pieces of my past
Moods pivoting around in Yellow and red Mixed with a somber brown
Pulling that crazy quilt Around my shoulders Drawing comfort from within
With my hand I will follow The tiny stitches Along a textured course
Some stitches are wider Ones I did as a child Others more even and precise
Now with age my hand trembles Cataracts cover my eyes Leaving me searching for the needle
I’m taking a journey Along a fabric trail One stitch at a time
A small group of ladies in Andover, Kansas get together the first Tuesday of the month to make prayer quilts to be give away to those in need. After nearly 25 years together the bond of friendship we’ve made while quilting has helped each of us through the tough times in our own lives. We are doubly blessed as we visit, share private matters or health concerns, while pulling needles through fabric. Over time our lives have become woven together, friends forever.
I saved the comments from other writers on Our Echo. Some of the writers are no longer with us.
What a lovely poem – excellent job. – Kathy Baker
So very nice, Cindy. An apt analogy of the quilting and your life. Women are so fortunate to belong to groups such as the one you mentioned. We build solid friendships in these groups, and they become our support groups when needed. We only need to remember to lean on them at the right times. You’ve been in my thoughts a lot lately. – Nancy Koop
My memories are drawn to the quilters I’ve know in our family. Grandma Viola Matilda (Tower) McGhee; Mother, Ruth (Vining) McGhee; my sister, Melba and her mother-in-law; Clyde’s Grandma, Marie (Kennedy) Joy; Clyde’s mother, Cora Myrle (Joy) Martin; Clyde’s sisters, Vivian Stafford and Dorothy Jones. Also Vivian’s daughter, Lorna who had the quilting machine shop. You are following the footsteps of your heritage. – Virginia Allain
Cindy, a really meaningful poem that could apply to many of our lives. Congratulations on being able to apply yourself to poetry with all the stress going on in your life right now. I hope to see more soon. – Sabina Benjamin Thomas
Such a beautiful poem! Reminded me of a song called ‘Tapestry’ by Carol King. “A wondrous woven magic of bits of blue and gold ” but the beauty of quilting is you can hold it in your hand and share it with others. Thanks for sharing. – Sabina
Reply: Thank you for your compliment in comparing it to a song. Many poems & not just my own–I put to song. I find it important to read a poem out loud to hear the sounds, not just see the words. – Cindy Ross
I really enjoyed reading your poem. I like the connection to quilting and growing through life. – K.D.
This beautifully written poem brought back precious memories of my mother. Strange how a tiny snippet of fabric has the power to instantly take us back in time. – BJ Roan
Beautiful poem. I liked the “crazy quilt” analogy very much. – Karen Kolavalli
One of our family quilters passed away May the 25th, Vivian Ruth Stafford my husband’s older sister but we know she will soon be finding quilting friends in heaven. As ever, Gail
Gail’s daughter, Karen is the guest blogger today.
“As I worked to clear 4 inches of snow and 1/2 inch of ice off my car this morning, I thought about our relatively carefree childhood snow days growing up in the country. And then went on to think about how a big snow and cold weather made things just that much harder for my parents.
Quite likely the battery would be dead in our car, more wood would be needed for the heating stove, and Mom and Dad would be worrying about money. Dad worked in all kinds of awful weather on drilling rigs in the oil fields of southern Kansas, but there were times when the weather was just too cold/severe to have a crew out working. And when the rig was down, Dad didn’t get paid.
Mom often put a big pot of beans on to cook on laundry day, but beans were also one of her go-to winter meals for her family of eight. It didn’t cost a lot and she had a hearty meal on the table (yes, we all ate at the table back then!). Most often we had navy beans with bread and butter or cornbread, but my very favorite, then and now, was butter beans.
I made butter beans and ham in my Instant Pot on New Year’s Day this year. This is a recipe that’s a pretty far cry from the basic butter bean recipe Mom used. It’s made in the Instant Pot, so there’s no need to soak the dried beans overnight, cooking time is just 25 minutes in the Instant Pot. It’s also made with chicken stock, onions, garlic, and a variety of spices. Mom used the meat from ham hocks, and that’s what I used, too. It’s delicious. “
The Sepia Saturday challenge photo for today featured an old-fashioned organ grinder and his monkey. I went in search of monkey photos in our family album. Remembering back to Martin family reunions, the park where these were held had a Monkey Island at Peter Pan Park in Emporia, Kansas.
There was a moat and then a high stone wall to keep the monkeys from escaping. As we played with our cousins before the bountiful potluck meal, we always trooped over to see the monkeys. On their island, there was a stone building with a tower and open windows so they could clamber in and out. It fascinated us, but we never had a photo of it. The stone building was constructed by the WPA back during the Great Depression.
Next, I thought of the WWII museum that I visited. One piece that caught my eye was a cartoon from the 1940s, probably post-war, that showed Hitler as an organ grinder’s monkey. Other Allies gathered around in the scene. I wonder if Mom or Dad ever saw this cartoon, perhaps in a newspaper at the time.
The next monkeys that comes to mind are the ones made from the brown and white work socks. I remember having these back in the 1950s. With Gail’s sewing skills, I’m sure it was an easy project to turn the socks into monkeys.
One time while visiting my parents in Kansas during their retirement years, Mom showed me how monkeys open a banana. They pinch it at the bottom. I guess I’ve been doing it wrong all these years as I always tried to open it at the stem end.
What started me thinking of monkeys? It was this picture from Sepia Saturday. Take a look to see what the other bloggers wrote about monkeys.
My parents didn’t have many opportunities to visit lighthouses since they lived in the heartland. I think their first one was when they came to Ohio to settle me in my first job back in the 1970s. We went to see Lake Erie and there was a lighthouse out on a long rocky seawall.
The picture below shows them years later at a lighthouse that I think is in Texas. It must have been one of their visits to Gail’s sister CJ.
I’ve had more chances to see quite a few lighthouse in my years along the east coast of the U.S. and when we lived in Australia. Last year, we traveled to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island so I have a whole gallery of lighthouses to share from that trip and from years earlier to New Brunswick, Canada.
Lighthouses in the Maritime Provinces of Canada
What started me thinking of lighthouses was the Sepia Saturday prompt, a postcard of a vintage lighthouse. The one they show was in Australia. One thing that many of these have is the red and white color combination.
My older brother, just a toddler, had a jumper chair back in 1946. We have the picture of him looking quite happy being able to bounce up-and-down and kick his feet in this device. He is outside in the yard and his eyes are fixed upon either mom or dad. It’s likely that one is trying to hold his attention while the other parent takes the picture.
It must be summer as he is dressed in lightweight clothing but on his feet are the sturdy baby shoes of the era. Mom had labeled the photo “1946 – Owen in his jumper chair.” Since he was born in February 1946, he would be about 6-months-old in August of that year. Does this look like a 6-month-old or would it be from the next year? In June 1947, he would be 16-months-old.
I was curious about the chair and found an advertisement for it in a 1946 newspaper.
New, Springy Teeterbabe
The modern jumper chair for any baby 3 months and up. Ideal for home, auto or anywhere, so mother can be relieved. Positively safe. Convenient foot rest and play beads.
This looks identical to the chair that Owen is sitting in. Just imagine putting this in your auto today to take your toddler for a ride. “Positively safe,” the ad says, but we know better now.
I found a later advertisement for it and it touted the benefits of the child getting natural exercise and not bothered by constipation. Baby will be happy and contented and can be placed in the yard to get sunshine.
Mom used to make ham salad for a sandwich spread back in the 1960s. It’s what they call Poor Man’s Ham Salad because it used a chunk of bologna, not ham, that was ground up for the spread. We called it baloney, and looked forward to those tasty sandwiches in our school lunch boxes. It was much cheaper, but tasted exactly like ham spread.
Here’s the recipe:
an unsliced roll of Bologna
Miracle Whip (or salad dressing of your choice
Sweet Gherkins (or pickle relish)
The amount of each isn’t crucial. You needed a meat grinder. Ours fastened onto the kitchen counter. Grind up the hunk of Bologna in the meat grinder and the sweet pickles too. Mix enough salad dressing in to make it spread easily on the sandwiches. Done!
We never put boiled eggs in it but other people did. The boiled eggs were used another day for egg salad sandwiches. Our bread back then was often Rainbow brand or Sunbeam.
A Lunchbox Like Dad Had
Fixing the School Lunches
With six children, packing the lunch boxes on a school day took teamwork. Someone would get the cookies and wrap them for each box. Another child would get the fruit (a banana, an apple, or some raisins). Someone else assembled the sandwiches, then cut them in half.
I was good at wrapping the sandwiches with the wax paper. Mom had taught me how to make the double fold where the edges came together, just like the butcher would wrap meat at the supermarket. Then I’d make a triangle at each end and fold that to the back.
We had those metal lunch boxes with colorful designs of our favorite television shows. I browsed around on Etsy which is a good place to find vintage items. Wow, some of these are for sale for over $100. I should have saved mine.
The beach pictures in our family album are few and far between. Kansas was a shallow sea back 85 million years ago but no photos of our family go back that far. The Martins, Joys, Kennedys, Vinings, and McGhees were later arrivals from 1850s onward. By that time, it was all prairie and some rolling hills.
Below is the challenge photo that started me looking for beach pictures.
My parents, Gail and Clyde Martin, were awed by Lake Erie when then visited me in the mid-1970s in Ohio. It looks like in this photo that Dad is about to get his shoes wet.
Another time, they visited us when we lived in South Texas. Our outing to South Padre Island resulted in more beach pictures. Mom was quick to shed her shoes and start hunting for shells. This would be in the early 1990s.
Here are other members of the family at the ocean, lake, or even a creek.
It’s Sepia Saturday time again so I’m rummaging out some vintage photos. The inspiration photo is 1950s, people celebrating Christmas, kissing, and soldiers in uniform. Hmm, what do I have to match that assortment of themes?
Here’s a 1957 photo of my dad, Clyde Martin, and his brother, Howard. Earlier, Howard had been in the Army during the Korean War era.
They are playing cards and usually their wives would be seated at the table also. Two packs of cigarettes sit on the table and a mysterious bowl. I’d assume it was snacks so perhaps that’s a potato chip bag in the bowl. Someone is in the kitchen, probably Mom getting some lemonade for everyone.
Mom never smoked, but Dad did for years. I’m thinking he smoked Kools. When he was hospitalized after a car wreck, he gave it up since he couldn’t smoke in the hospital.
While the grown-ups played cards, the cousins played until we were worn out and fell asleep on the bed. That was budget entertainment in those days for young couples and no babysitter needed. At the end of the evening, Howard and Margie would gather up their four children, still half-asleep, and put them in the car to head home.
In an earlier post, I gave the history of this round oak table. Here is a photo of Howard’s time in the U.S. Army.