E Is for the Eastern Phoebe

I’m featuring today, a nature post by Gail Lee Martin’s daughter, Cynthia Ross. Gail taught all her children to observe, preserve, and love nature. She helped them identify insects, took them on geology field trips, and encouraged them to appreciate wildflowers, lichen, trees, and wildlife.


Birdwatching is one of Cindy’s longtime hobbies. Here’s her post about the Eastern Phoebe.

Early this spring several Eastern Phoebe built nests along the ledges of our house. They line the top of the nest with moss gathered along the creek. They’re a feisty little bird; so it’s interesting to watch them and listen to their song.

The great thing about them is that they are flycatchers, which might explain why we haven’t had a lot of mosquitoes this year. When Larry was preparing to paint, he power washed the house first and accidently hit one of the nests and it fell. I rescued it from being trampled by moving it to the porch.

The other 3 nests have survived and we heard the chirps of baby birds while we painted around them. We tried not to paint next to them for too long a period so the parents could still feed them. These birds are the first to migrate home after their winter travels.

Further, wonderful news is that the Blue Jays are finally back in large numbers. We didn’t see one jay or chickadee all winter. Last week a water turtle was digging a hole to lay her eggs near our small garden patch. I’ll have to check back to see if they hatch.

For the first time in 30 years, I finally got a bachelor button to grow and bloom. Only one tiny flower at this point but at least it is a start. Would you believe I almost pulled it thinking it was a weed last week. For some reason, this flower always reminded me of Grandma and Grandpa McGhee. Plus, I remember they had another pinkish flower vining all along the yard fence, possibly a type of sweet pea.


A white-throated flycatcher (not an eastern phoebe, but similar). Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

You can read more about birds and wildlife at Cynthia’s nature blog, Moss Creek.

Mom and Memories of Canning

Some memories shared by Gail’s daughter, Cindy. “This photo reminds me of all the canning mom & dad did through the years. Their pickled beets were wonderful, plus the spice rings.

Another favorite was when they canned pork roast. I added it to noodles or used it in many different ways. One year I brought them a truck load of pumpkins that didn’t sell at the local church sale. That was enough for them to make pumpkin pies for 10-15 years. I loved snapping beans with mom, just for the visiting time it created.

The Butler county museum asked Gail to put up a canning booth at their special night of the "Good Old Days" So with Tonda Alverez from the farmer's market we really wowed them. Even sold quite a bit of canned stuff. I made all the signs on the computer for it.

Gail Martin and Tonda Alverez at the Butler County Museum’s Good Old Days event.

“The Butler county museum asked me to put up a canning booth at their special night of the “Good Old Days” So with Tonda Alverza from the farmer’s market we really wowed them.

Even sold quite a bit of canned stuff. I made all the signs on the computer and showed off all our old canners and other equipment. A real fun night!” Gail

Tonda (on left) and Gail with their canning display.

Tonda (on left) and Gail with their canning display.

1957-58 Memories of Gail and Clyde

Guest Blogger is Les Paugh Sr. who married Gail’s cousin Treva Mae Davidson. He remembers that he was out of work for 6 weeks when the union went on strike, so he went to El Dorado after hearing from Roy McGhee (Treva and Gail’s uncle) that Clyde needed help on the oil drilling rig.

“I went to work there November 1957. We only had two weeks of work in November and 1 week in December. We were living with Gail and Clyde Martin at that time. We had 3 kids and they had 3 or 4.

The only meat we had on the table was rabbits that I shot. Clyde had a Frazer car with wide flat fenders.

1951 Frazer autombile ad Mouse Pad
1951 Frazer autombile ad Mouse Pad by The_Olden_Eye

At night we would go out on the country roads and I would set on the fender and shoot rabbits with my pistol. Red Drilling Company gave us a turkey at Thanksgiving and one at Christmas.”

He found other work and the Paugh family found a place to live about a block from the hospital. “While I was working on the highway, east of town with the blade operator, a tornado came up on the west side of town. I told the operator that it looked like it hit our area. We both took off and went to the tool shack and our cars. I got into my 55 Packard and he went into the tool shed.

The tornado turned and came over the cars and the tool shed. My Packard and his 56 Chrysler parked by mine tipped up on their sides and I thought they were going to go over, but they didn’t. The blade operator and about 6 other men came out of the tool shed and they were all as white as a sheet. I asked what had happened. They said that a long piece of 2 X 6 had went through the shed but didn’t hit anybody there.

I was afraid that the tornado had went over to Clyde and Gail’s which was closer to the path of the tornado. I started over there and Treva and my kids came out of a house up the block that had a basement. When I saw all of you were OK, I went over to Gail and Clyde’s. The tornado hit about 1/2 a block from them.”

Owen, Susan, Virginia, Cindy, Karen Martin 1950s Image

Back to front: Owen, Susan, Ginger, Cindy, Karen Martin in El Dorado

Note by Virginia Allain: At the time of the tornado, Clyde Martin was in the hospital after a serious car accident. Gail was pregnant with their sixth child, Shannon.

Mom and the Round Robin

Guest Blogger today is my sister, Cynthia Ross:

I’m reading an Amish story that talks about the ‘Round-Robin’ letters like my mother, Gail Lee Martin, used to write with family members.

I enjoyed hearing her read them, telling of the marriages, deaths or just the details of their daily life. She’d then take her old letter out of the envelope & write a newsy letter before mailing it on to the next person on the list.

My sister, Shannon, started something like a family newsletter that kept us up-to-date on what was happening before e-mails/ Facebook became common. Now I wonder what my kids will do with the 2-large shoe boxes of letters Larry & I wrote to each other while he was in college….. Please remember letters & diaries are a window to the past.

Gail Lee Martin

Cindy Ross and Her Mom