C Is for Company’s Coming

This piece is an unpublished essay by Gail Martin. It was in one of her writing notebooks. She may have planned to use it for an eHow article.

“Company’s coming up the road. When that happens, many families prefer to dig into their pocket books or pull out the credit cards and take the surprise visitors to a favorite cafe or pick up some food from a take-out place.

In the era of my mother and mother-in-law, there was always their pantry to fall back on. They stocked their pantries with food they grew and preserved for their families. There was no panic when someone sighted company coming up the road.

Clyde and I continued this tradition. Even when my husband worked on the drilling rigs, he found time to grow a large garden. When our six children were in 4-H, they took gardening, preserving and rabbit projects.

Our garden was a family affair with the planting, weeding, hoeing, watering, picking and preparing the vegetables. Everything was saved. These were served to our large family summer and winter.

All too soon our children grew up and started families of their own. We moved to town and gave up the milk cow and the rabbits but still maintained a large garden. Jars of colorful beets, green beans and corn fill our pantry shelves.

When my cousin called on her cell phone to say they were on their way, I knew we had plenty of home grown food ready to feed them.

Clyde Martin picking tomatoes with a visitor.

Clyde Martin picking tomatoes with a visitor.

Mom’s Writing Tools

This is a comment that Mom wrote on a blog I had. It’s dated November 7, 2008 at 6:53 pm. She was 84 years old.

“I started writing with a pencil and a big chief tablet with lines across the pages. Now I am writing on a computer and posting online. In between I advanced to writing with pen and ink, ballpoint pens, typewriters, improved typewriters, Cannon Starwriter 80 word processors, I wore out at least three, so the repair tech. said.

I began to receive requests to teach others my writing ideas. What a thrill! I also had five daughters who gladly critiqued my ramblings. Now I’m on my 4th computer with grammar, spellchecker, and a grandson who keeps my computers doing what they are supposed to do. What writer would ask for more!” Mom

Mom’s Hubcap Story

“The hubcap story is a real funny one. We were going with friends to swim in the river and then have a wiener roast. My friend grabbed the package of wieners from the freezer (back in those days wieners came wrapped in butcher paper).

At the river, we had a wonderful time as our friend’s kids were the same age as ours. When it came time to fix the fire & roast the weiners, it was ground sausage instead 😦 and of course, we had wiener buns. So we washed a hubcap in the river and made long sausages and fried them. Funny but good!

Dogs in the whole county smelled our hubcap for weeks after the event.”

Here's Mom's sister, Carol, with Susan and Owen. I don't think Carol was there on the occasion of the sausage cook out.  The children are my siblings, Susan and Owen.

Here’s Mom’s sister, Carol, with Gail’s children, Susan and Owen. I don’t think Carol was there on the occasion of the sausage cookout, but I wanted a photo of a car to go with Mom’s story.

Save Your Old Buttons

Mom was a saver, for sure. She grew up during the Great Depression and learned many thrifty ways from her parents. Here’s one of her ideas for making use of buttons.

“Many people save used buttons for a variety of reasons. They plan to sew it back on the garment it came from or when discarding worn out clothing, they keep them for another sewing project.

I remember Mother spreading the buttons out on a cookie sheet and letting me pick through them for the buttons I wanted on the new blouse she was making for me. Turn your assortment of buttons into a work of art. Sew buttons of one color on a wall hanging. Decide upon a design, maybe star shapes would be attractive. Use a heavy material because the buttons will weigh it down.”

This red star is part of a wall-hanging made by Gail's mother-in-law. Cora Martin had a remarkable button collection. It is now owned by her granddaughter, Vicki.

This red star is part of a wall-hanging made by Gail’s mother-in-law. Cora Martin had a remarkable button collection. It is now owned by her granddaughter, Vicki.

Mom wrote an article (published in Kanhistique, March 1997) about Cora’s button collection. Click the link to read it online.

I love the look of a vintage canning jar filled with buttons. I’ve also thought they would look great in those glass-based lamps that you can fill.

Home Is Where the Heart Is

Mom’s earliest days were in the Teterville area. Below is a picture of her with her mother, Ruth Vining McGhee in 1927. Here’s Mom’s description of this time, “Although jobs were scarce all across America, the oilfields of Greenwood County were booming. Those early years in the Teterville area were very prosperous.

Mother’s two sisters with their big families moved from Woodward, Oklahoma to Teterville. They were her older sisters, Lucy and Bessie who married the Bolte brothers, Charley and Ed. My cousins were all older than me. They came to Kansas to find work. Even Uncle Ed’s older sons found roughnecking jobs in the oilfield and wives to marry.”

Ruth McGhee with her 3-year-old daughter, Gail.  Teterville, Kansas

Ruth McGhee with her 3 year old daughter, Gail. Teterville, Kansas

She continues her story, “Then Daddy’s younger unmarried brothers, Jesse, Roy, Lealon and Loren McGhee came. They also found jobs and lived in different company’s bunkhouses.

Life became fun with all these relatives visiting us. When Mother’s cousin, Ed Babcock, came, he brought his guitar. Many evenings were spent singing while Ed strummed.”

That wasn’t all. “Mother’s brother, Albert Vining and his wife, Vina, who was Daddy’s cousin on the Tower side, came from Tyro, Kansas. They were my favorites as we shared a special occasion.

The day they were married, September 13, 1924, was the day I was born. Mother was to be Vina’s matron of honor, only she was giving birth to me. They got married anyway. I always told everyone I was born on Friday the 13th, but Aunt Vina insists it was Saturday.”

The oil boom didn’t last. Mom says, “I don’t remember them all staying in that area as long as we did. Daddy’s job was pumping the oil. Most of the others were involved in the drilling end of the industry.”


Rustic Wood with Heart
Rustic Wood with Heart by DizzyDebbieRead more about Teterville’s early history.
I also have a page about Vina Vining’s life. She lived into her nineties.

U is for Uncluttering

I remember asking Mom’s advice when I wrote an article on getting organized. Here’s her reply:

“Now you know I probably couldn’t live without my clutter. All of this stuff is what makes me, ME. Because once it’s gone, it is gone for good. I remember in one of our moves I threw away all my stencils I used in painting pillowcases etc. I had quit doing them because we were busy with 4-H. But oh, by golly I wish I had them now.

Same way with my early writings. All the pieces I wrote during study hall and later while you little kids were trying to take naps. I must have tossed them when we moved to Arkansas City. That was a rushed move & Howard was the mover. So many crafts and styles come back in style again years later.

Oh yes, there is one phase of the moon (so just one week each month) that encourages you to sort and file etc. I have forgotten which one that is but I always recognize it when it comes. I would check with Karen & Cindy and they would be cleaning and organizing their houses too.

Maybe you could stress to do this all though out your life and not wait until you are old & decrepit like me. There is always so much else I’d rather do. I am the world’s worst procrastinator. Sorry I’m not much help. I guess I have always been too involved to be organized. Good luck, Mom”

This is one of the prairie dolls made from rags that Mom made during their retirement years

This is one of the prairie dolls made from rags that Mom made during their retirement years

Big Rocks

Mom greatly admired big rocks and many times we would stop by the roadside to examine the layers of rock exposed by the roadwork. It’s too bad she never came to New Hampshire to visit us. There are plenty of granite outcroppings that would have captured her fancy.

I found a short memory piece that she wrote that probably explains her fascination.

“At the Nolar Camp, I loved to go across the pasture and up a hill that was covered with enormous rocks with aisles between them. I’m sure snakes like that place too but I never saw any.

Since I was a way off from the camp and the other people, I would sing and yodel to my heart’s content. I would make up stories while up there.”

Here’s some background information on her topic. Nolar Camp was Phillips Petroleum housing for their workers. It was in the Teterville area of the Flint Hills. You can read more about it in Our Oil Home in the Flint Hills.

The yodeling was a childhood ambition triggered by watching Roy Rogers movies. She wrote about that in Saturday at the Movies.

This photo is from Enchanted Rocks near Fredricksburg, Texas. I wasn’t along on that trip, but I imagine it brought back memories of her childhood getaway.

Gail Martin at Enchanted Rock

Gail Martin at Enchanted Rock