A Card for Dad

It’s Father’s Day which can be rather sad when your father is no longer there to hug or give a card or gift to. It always embarrassed Dad to have a fuss made over him, but I think deep down, he appreciated the attention. Even though he is gone, this special day gives us time to pause and remember what a special man our father was.

clyde and father's day card

Clyde Martin and a card that his daughter Karen sent him some years ago.

The rest of the message inside the card was well-chosen. It said, “for all the things that helped me grow, the staying close, the letting go, the honesty and humor too… for being real and being you.”

Too many cards featured images that just didn’t fit our dad. The sailboats, the formal tie, the golf scenes… Sis did a good job choosing this one with its thoughtful verse and earth-tone colors. Clyde Martin was a down-to-earth sort of guy.

The last part of the verse said, “for all your love, the gifts you give, the man you are, the life you live, for all these things and so much more, you’re the dad I’m thankful for. Happy Father’s Day.” Many thanks to Hallmark for this thoughtful, not-too-gushy card. Just right for our Dad.

karen and dad

I’ve always liked this photo of Karen and Dad. They are in the side yard of the El Dorado house.

Grandma’s Grade Card

My mom, Gail Martin, was the family archivist and after her death, the boxes of family papers passed to me. Among the minutia that survived from one generation to the next were some grade cards from 1911 and 1912. My grandmother, Ruth Vining (later McGhee) seems to have been a diligent student at the Tyro, Kansas grade school.

 Tyro, Kansas – Report Card 1911

ruth vining 7th grade report card 

What They Studied

There were the usual subjects of reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, and history.  I was glad to see they studied drawing and music too. Orthography puzzled me. My sister said, “Surely it’s a form of orthology? An online dictionary says orthology – the art of correct grammar and correct use of words.”

A distant cousin who’s a teacher joined the discussion. Patricia Cummings Brown -“Orthography is the study of spelling. We just call it spelling now!

I said,  “OK, orthography sounds reasonable. I think it includes handwriting too.”

Patricia said, “No it is strictly spelling.”

It looks like Grandma Ruth excelled at orthography, as well as music, history, and geography. She was never tardy, but it looks like her deportment slipped in March from 100 down to 98.

Her teacher for the Eulalia Parks and the principal was Howard Hitchcock. The Parks family were prominent in early Tyro.

Tyro, Kansas – Report Card 1912

ruth vining 1912 grade card

Ruth Vining’s 1912 grade card from Tyro, Kansas school.

It looks like the school year started in September and ended April 26th. That gives the students four months off. That’s only 150 days of school instead of the 186 of modern-day schools. In farming communities, kids were probably needed at home to help.

I’m confused over the different ratings for being tardy and being punctual. Perhaps the first is for getting to school on time and the second is for completing the assigned work in class.

For the 7th grade, the principal, Howard Hitchcock taught the class.  This year, rather than general history, the students were taught Kansas history. Drawing and writing seemed to be Grandma Ruth’s less accomplished subjects. That seems odd, as later in life, she wrote short stories and even an entry in a screenplay contest where she won a prize.

I don’t have her 8th-grade report card or at least I haven’t found it in the box that I was exploring. The schools at that time had graduation ceremonies for completing the 8th grade. This photo, I suspect, is from that occasion.

scelian and ruth vining 1911 edited by kristy duggan

Ruth Vining with her older sister, Scelia.

Lace in June

Here’s a little poem by Gail Lee Martin. She only wrote a few poems, but this one drew some appreciative comments on the Our Echo site.

Bridal Flowers

In the month of June
our thoughts turn
to love and marriage
and our God envisioned
Queen Anne’s lace 
For the wedding flowers.

 Susan Hammett Poole commented, “When I see Queen Anne’s Lace, instead of weddings, I always think of my mother. These lovely lacy flowers (akin to the carrot family, of all things) grew along the roadway about a mile from our house and many times Mama would come home with a bucket full. She’d put some red food coloring in one fruit jar, some yellow in another, and some blue coloring in still another jar. Then she’d plop the flowers into the jars and wait several hours or overnight, long enough for the coloring to soak into the stems and out into the flowerheads. Voila! She would then arrange the beautiful pink, light yellow, and baby blue long-stemmed flowers into a bouquet fit for the real Queen Anne. We children thought it was magical!

Thanks, Gail for stirring up my memory with your poem about Bridal Flowers.”


“Dear Gail, I see beautiful lace all around us on windows, doilies, delicate little hankies. Whether on windows, hair or polished wood, lace is always about letting the light in. You are a beacon of light for OurEcho.” Veronica

“Lace in any form lights up my day, especially Mother’s hand made lacy doilies. When I made family books for each of my 6 children I put one of my Mother’s doilies in the inside front of each book.” Gail

family history book doily

Doily, crocheted by Ruth (Vining) McGhee, displayed on the inside cover of a Martin family history book.

[poem and comments from the Our Echo site]

The Last Wagon Wheel Rug

Leaning in a forlorn way against the wall, the final wagon wheel rug remained unfinished. It would have been a beautiful rug with the subtle shades of gray, taupe and cream blended together.

Unfortunately, health problems followed by the death of Clyde and a year later of Gail meant the unique rug was never completed. Few people knew the skills needed for this kind of rug-making.

2007-01-10 mom's camera 009

Still pinned to the wheel, it was relegated to the dusty garage where it rested on the cracked, concrete floor. When the estate sale was held, someone purchased the partly woven rug on its wheel.

I hope they had an interest in learning the craft and went ahead to finish the weaving. I hope they had the vision to see what a beautiful rug it would be.

Learn more about the wagon wheel rugs made by Gail and Clyde Martin.

More recently, a Wagon Wheel Weaving Facebook group has organized and the members are helping each other master the making of these rugs. The folks would be delighted to know that it has over 250 members.

The 50th Anniversary

Gail McGhee and Clyde Martin married on the 3rd of June in 1945. Fifty years after that, their children held an anniversary party for friends and relatives to celebrate the occasion. Leading up to the event, Clyde repeatedly said, “I’m not going to be there.”

His daughters, knowing how much he disliked fuss and formality, worried that he would carry through on his threat. Fortunately, as the special day came, he put on his dress slacks and a nice shirt to attend. Mom wore slacks with a pink blouse accented with a scarf.

Clyde and Gail Martin with daughter Cynthia and her family.

Their daughters decorated the hall with the rag rugs that Gail and Clyde wove on a wagon wheel. Baskets of sunflowers added more color to the event. Their  daughter, Shannon, made a banner  that  was  supposed  to  say,  “Fifty years of growing together.” Instead, it said”growing tougher,” but that was solved by cutting off the last word.

Their son, Owen Martin, made a grandfather clock for them. He was a skilled cabinet maker.

Slide Show at the Anniversary Party

Press the pause button to stop the show so you can see the beautiful rugs the folks made.  

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The family groups wore matching shirts so friends and family could easily match which grandkids went with which of Gail and Clyde’s 5 daughters. Each of the six children had a photo board of their life and there were photo boards showing Gail and Clyde over the years.

2013-01-30 gail and ks photos 0042013-01-30 gail and ks photos 0052013-01-30 gail and ks photos 0062013-01-30 gail and ks photos 007

Shannon’s Crafty Cards

Happy Birthday, to my sister, Shannon. It’s hard to imagine that she would be 61 if she were still here today. In my mind, she is forever that young, vibrant person loved by all who knew her.

Her creativity shone through the humdrum lives that we all live. It came out in performing in plays in high school, in writing, and in her scrapbooking and card-making.

shannon's ladybug card 2

A card made by Shannon Hyle with her favorite ladybugs on it.

Here are some more samples of her cards. Nature was a recurring theme of hers. She liked to experiment with color combinations, lettering, and other effects. Often her designs include birds or butterflies or ladybugs.

I’ve taken up tea drinking in the last year, so this card of Shannon’s inspires me to make a cup of tea. Then I’ll pull out a favorite author of hers to read a little. Maybe an Elsie Lee or a Georgette Heyer would hit the spot.

Thinking of you, Shannon. I hope in heaven there’s plenty of creative activities for you to indulge in and a huge library of books for you to read.

card made by Shannon Hyle

“You warm my heart” – card made by Shannon Hyle.

Remembering a Civil War Ancestor on Memorial Day

We don’t have a photo of Mom’s grandfather, Henry Francis Vining who served in the Civil War. He died within a year of Mom’s mother being born. It was a struggle for the Widow Vining to raise her young children in those days without a husband to support the family.

A too-brief summary of his life existed:

Henry Francis Vining – b 9/16/1836 East Windsor,Hartford,CT – d 7/28/1897 Chetopa Twp.,Wilson,KS – m 3/15/1874,Wilson,KS Nancy Jane Babcock (daughter of Ezra B. Babcock & Nancy Jane Wright) b 3/18/1851, Blackhawk,IA – d 1/6/1924 ElkCity, Elk,KS – Burial: Harrison Cem.,Wilson,KS – Enlisted 11/20/1861 with Company B, 9th Kansas Voluntary Calvary. Promoted to Corporal on 11/20/1862 and mustered out on 11/19/1864. (by Ms. Karolyn Rae Roberts)

That led me to search the details on Ancestry and in Newspapers.com. Here’s more about his life.

henry vining grave in Harrison cemetary, wilson co KS

Henry Francis Vining

My mother, Gail Lee Martin, researched and wrote an engaging story about Henry’s parents, Almira Buckland and James Vining. You can read it here, My Pioneering Great-Grandmother. It was published in the magazine Kanhistique and included in Mom’s book, My Flint Hills Childhood.

Henry Vining’s Military Experience

Here’s an excerpt from it which tells about Henry’s military service,

Almira’s courage was to be tested at its fullest in the next five years as the civil war loomed more and more on the horizon. In September of 1861, four of her sons, Henry, Erastus, Israel, and Charles rode their horses to Fort Leavenworth and enlisted in the Kansas Cavalry. They were assigned to the 9th Regiment, Company B.

Letters from Henry disclosed that he was being sent to the northwest territory to build Fort Halleck for protection from the Indians. He spent the war years fighting Indians and never came home until the war was over.

Erastus became a guide and took remount horses to Fort Halleck. On one trip he was caught in a blizzard and almost froze to death but managed to make it back home to recuperate from frostbite to his face, hands, and feet. Charles was like his father and had the wandering urge. After the war, he signed up for four more years of service and adventure.

Wikipedia gives some details about Fort Halleck, “Fort Halleck was a military outpost that existed in the 1860s along the Overland Trail and stage route in what was then the Territory of Idaho, now the U.S. state of Wyoming.”

The Vining Farm in 1880

I found some details about Henry Vining’s farm in the June 1880 in the U.S. Census Non-Population Schedule for Newark, Wilson County, Kansas.  The farm included 20 acres of tilled land, no acres of permanent pastures or woodlands, and 20 acres of other unimproved fields. The value of the farm was $300 including the buildings and there was $25 worth of farm machinery and $30 worth of livestock.  There were no horses, mules, working oxen, milch cows, sheep, or swine. It appears that the livestock was 30 chickens who produced 100 eggs in 1879.

He had 1/2 acre planted with apple trees but only one had reached bearing age. there were 75 peach trees that were bearing on another 1/2 acre. I’m not sure what they did with that many peaches. Not far away, his brother James had a larger farm which also had a large peach orchard.

James had 2 horses, so maybe he helped Henry with plowing. Henry had 1 acre of potatoes that yielded 70 bushels in 1879. There was also 7 acres of Indian corn that produced 200 bushels and 2 acres of wheat which made 20 bushels. Twenty gallons of molasses came from the 1/2 acre of sorghum. It’s likely that they had a vegetable garden for some additional food like pumpkins, squash, turnips, beets, and cabbage which could be stored into the winter months.

Indian corn could be ground into cornmeal for making cornbread. The wheat could be ground for flour to make biscuits or bread. They probably didn’t eat the chickens as the eggs would be needed for eating or bartering. Maybe they hunted for rabbits or other game to provide meat.

Henry Francis Vining died of typhoid fever on July 28, 1897.

henry vining death typhoid

The Alliance Herald Fredonia, Kansas 06 Aug 1897, Fri • Page 3