CJ and the Big Rock

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.

CJ Garriott
Carol Jean McGhee and the big rock.

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.

Surprise… Iris!

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.”

CJ’s Wedding – 1955

From Bobby Sox to a Cinderella Wedding

In April 1955, Gail’s little sister, Carol Jean McGhee married. First we have to set the scene with her teen years growing up near Madison, Kansas. We see her in these photo wearing rolled-up jeans and bobby sox. In one picture, she’s with her sister’s two children. In another, Carol poses with a high school friend and some remarkable garden produce. In the third photo, she is relaxing in her bedroom with her black cat, appropriately named Blackie.

When Carol looks back on that time, she remembers herself as bashful. We commented on how pretty she was, but she said that she had no idea of that at the time. She said a cousin took her to the prom, “he said he wanted me to have the prom experience, and I suspect he was trying to get me out of my bashful seclusion. I did get considerable notice, showing up with an older guy (I was 16, he was 18!) from another town. He was a sweetie.”


CJ in her prom dress

1955 cj mcghee clarence and frances

CJ with cousin and father

The only dating she did was a brief time at age 17, going out with an older cowhand from a local ranch after she graduated from high school. She remembers that “I met him through church. He took me to the movies in Madison, in the cattle truck from the ranch where he worked. Then we’d park somewhere, and he’d talk about his ex-wife! I’m thinking, ‘I don’t think this is how it’s supposed to go.’ He even asked me to marry him, and I told him no. Found out later he left town the next day.”

1954 cj mcghee on trip with parents

19-years-old & on vacation with parents, summer of 1954.

Floyd was working on the railroad when they met. Before that, he attended college for a year at Emporia State University, then went into the Air Force. “He was only in the Air Force for a few months–got in a car wreck, had to have his knee cut out of the dash, got honorable discharge/medical because of it.” She said that all happened before she met him.

Carol remembered, “I met Floyd Garriott and Lon Cantrell three days before Christmas, 1954. Floyd was dating my cousin, and they got me to go on a blind date with Lon.” After that, Carol and Floyd started dating.

1954 cj mcghee

CJ McGhee – “my first grown-up portrait, in 1954, age 19

She commented that she was on the brink of being an old maid. “So when Floyd took an interest in me, I married him at age 20, as that’s what you did.”

Image may contain: 1 person

This photo shows Carol at age 20 in winter/spring of 1955, with panda bear from her fiancee Floyd. She thinks the occasion was Valentine’s Day.

The Wedding in 1955

I married Floyd Garriott at the First Christian Church, Madison, Kansas in April of 1955. It lasted 17 years.

cj mcghee and floyd wedding -street scene

Carol and Floyd in white – Madison, Kansas

Now, 65 years later, CJ added some memories on the photos, “Best man at our wedding in the middle, Max Mueller. Floyd’s best friend could not make it to the wedding, so his best man was a college friend, a student from Iran. He had not attended an American wedding and wanted a photo to send back home. You can see we went all out on wedding photos.”


April 1955 – opening the wedding gifts

Carol -“Floyd and I at our wedding reception. I made my dress on a treadle machine! Also made a nifty, fitted waist-length, short-sleeved jacket. (for any younger readers, Carol explained, “Tredle means non-electric, you made it run with your foot moving a treadle back and forth. It’s what I learned to sew on, all we knew. I was a whiz.”)

Niece Karen – “I remember your wedding! I was not quite 3 years old (birthday June 8) and all I remember is your shoes–glass slippers…or possibly clear plastic?!”

Carol – “OMG! I’d completely forgotten those shoes! Yes, they were clear plastic, all the rage in the mid-50s.”

ebay wedding shoes

Since the photos from 1955 don’t show Carol’s shoes, I found some vintage wedding shoes on eBay.

Niece Karen -” What’s weird is that it is probably the ONLY thing I remember before I was 6!!!”

Carol – “Wow. Imagine my ‘glass slippers’ being your only memory before 6. And I forgot them. They had a little ‘glass’ flower on there. I wish we’d gotten a photo of them. Also, I didn’t get a photo of my matron of honor. Floyd had one of his friends take the photos, and most of them didn’t turn out. We ended up with these few candid photos that people took.”

Carol – “I just unearthed another photo from my wedding. It shows off the pretty neckline I had so much trouble getting right! That neckline was a b**** to get right. I did it over and over several times.”

cj and floyd garriott wedding 1955

Carol – “Later, I cut the skirt off the wedding dress to make it street-length and wore it to church for a couple of years.”

The Honeymoon

CJ on honeymoon at lake of the ozarks 1955

Fun on the lake – CJ on her honeymoon at the Lake of the Ozarks – 1955

Carol – “As I recall, this was the highlight of the honeymoon. Should have told me something, right there. It wasn’t too bad. What did I know, anyway. A trip to a resort in another state, with swimming and boating on a lake. Floyd was on his best behavior of course. I had fun new clothes and was excited for my new life.”

1955 cj garriott at lake of the ozarks honeymoon

1955 – CJ Garriott at the Lake of the Ozarks

Carol – “On my honeymoon in the Ozarks. Out in the woods in high heels! What was I thinking? But then again, I had just married Floyd.”

Remembering the Class of ’52

Gail Lee Martin’s younger sister posted some memories of her high school days in answer to a questionnaire. The challenge was to remember your senior year of high school and for CJ McGhee, that was the class of 1952.

high school - senior picture

1. Did you marry your high school sweetheart? No, didn’t have one. Did have a crush on a classmate? I didn’t date.
2. What did you drive? Daddy taught me to drive the summer after graduation–out on the prairie!
3. What job did you have in high school? From 6th grade on, we lived on a farm. I got to ride the baling trailer, sticking the wires in as the hay bales came past. Helped feed & milk cows in our mini-dairy.
4. Where did you live? Kansas prairie, nearest town Madison
5. Were you in choir/band? Choir
6. Ever get suspended? No
7. If you could, would you go back? Heck NO!
8. Still talk to the person that you went to prom with? My cousin from another town took me to prom. He wanted me to have the prom experience. I was so, so bashful.Carol_s_Junior_Prom_edited
9. Did you skip school? No
10. Go to all the football games? Yes (Pep Squad)
11. Favorite subject? Journalism/typing
12. Do you still have your yearbooks? No
13. Did you follow your “original” career plan? No, I wanted to be a reporter. Ended up a typesetter, writer
14. Do you still have your senior ring? No
15. What was your thing to wear? Skirts (mid-calf length) & blouse to school, jeans & shirt on the farm

16. Favorite shoes? Oxfords to school & on the farm, Mary Janes to church.
17. Favorite thing to eat at lunch? I carried my lunch at the country school. A favorite was Mom’s fried chicken. From 6th grade on, I went to Madison school, where lunches were provided. No favorites there!
18. Favorite band/artist? Tony Bennett
19. High school? Madison High in Kansas

A Slideshow of Carol Jean McGhee’s Years at Madison High School

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


The McGhee Sisters and the Dogs

Our cousin Bob surprises us now and then with a “new” old picture. Here’s one we hadn’t seen before of my mother (Gail) and her two sisters. I need to find an incentive to get Bob to scanning all those photos he inherited from his mother.


The McGhee sisters – Carol, Melba, and Gail

Our cousin group on Facebook had all sorts of questions like whose dogs were they, what were their names, and what was the location of the picture?

My Aunt Carol, the littlest girl in the picture said, “I have no idea whose dogs, names; I would suppose it was our yard. I never saw this photo before! Pretty much no memories from this age.
However, after studying on the locale, this may be the lease northeast of Madison, where we lived when I went to first grade in Madison. Then we moved to the lease where I attended Seeley School until mid-6th grade when we moved to the farm.
I don’t remember us having more than one dog at a time.
One memory: I remember Gail and I going into the Madison school, she would go up the stairs to the 2nd floor, and I would go down the hall to my 1st-grade room. I would look back, Gail would wave, and I would then continue, comforted that she would be there when it was time to go home.”
My comment was that I looked like my Mom at this age. My sister commented on that too.
Cousin Bob shared what he knew, “Mom wrote the location on some of her pictures but nothing by this one. There are some good ones of you, Carol, I’ll have you scan some of them for you. Our best guess judging by other photos around this one is 1938 or 39.”
If it is 1938 or 39, here are the ages to go with the girls: Melba – 18 or 19, Gail – 14 or 15, Carol – 4 or 5.
oops duplicate post
This photo is posted in response to the Sepia Saturday challenge. Here’s the challenge for September 14 that inspired this post.

Remembering Paper Dolls

Guest blogger is C.J. Garriott (Gail Lee Martin’s little sister).

1930s & 1940s Memories from Gail’s Little Sis

christmas 1947

Carol Jean McGhee, December 1947

Cj Garriott – “Playing paper dolls was a winter day activity on the Kansas prairie in the 1930s and 1940s. I cut pictures from a clothing catalog, finding first the “dolls” I liked, usually making a family (mother, father, myself and sisters) then adding a couple of playmates. Aunt, uncles, and cousins often got represented also. Usually, I could find a dog and a cat or two in a magazine to cut out and add to my imaginary world.

I would then look for outfits that would fit over my dolls. Sometimes the doll I liked had clothing that needed to be trimmed down, in order for other outfits to fit over satisfactorily. Mother showed me how to make tabs on the shoulders of clothing so they would stay on the doll.

I kept them in pages of books (which we always had a lot of), keeping them unwrinkled. Daddy would round up heavy paper envelopes that had come in the mail on which we would paste my dolls.”

“After I was married, I saved the Betsy McCall paper doll pages for nieces.”

Betsy McCall goes to the country paper doll magazine page 1954Betsy McCall goes to the country paper doll magazine page 1954View DetailsBetsy McCall's flower garden paper doll magazine page 1954Betsy McCall’s flower garden paper doll magazine page 1954View DetailsBetsy McCall rolls Easter eggs paper doll magazine page 1954Betsy McCall rolls Easter eggs paper doll magazine page 1954View DetailsBetsy McCall, Print advertisement. 60's Color IllustrationBetsy McCall, Print advertisement. 60’s Color IllustrationView DetailsBetsy McCall cutout's, 50s Color Illustration, print artBetsy McCall cut outs, 50s Color Illustration, print artView DetailsBetsy McCall Patterns, 50's Print Ad. Full page Color Illustration (Betsy McCall finds a surprise) Original Vintage 1953Betsy McCall Patterns, 50’s Print Ad. Full page Color Illustration (Betsy McCall finds a surprise) Original Vintage 1953View Details

Originally published on Hubpages in Nostalgia for Paper Dolls.

Ha Ha Tonka Ruins

In 2011, Gail’s sister, CJ Garriott wrote this:
I’ve been having the most fun sorting a box of old photos! Found this shot of a teenaged Carol, posing in the ruins of something. I vaguely remembered going on a trip with the folks, “to the Southeast,” which in my today mindset, would be something like Alabama or Georgia. Got to thinking, with my view of the world at the age of 16 or so, the “southeast” could be Missouri or Arkansas! So, I set to googling “ruins” in Arkansas or Missouri and found Ha Ha Tonka Castle ruins in Missouri, much more likely a trip destination for us in the late 1940s.
TeenagedCarolRuins Tonka
Here is what I found, and this could very well be the “ruins” Daddy photographed me standing in, with a nice juxtaposition of my summery white polka-dotted dress amidst rocky ruins.
Lots of photos of the park on that site and also on this article.
Imposing architecture and breathtaking scenery combine to make Ha Ha Tonka State Park one of Missouri’s most treasured spots. Located on the Lake of the Ozarks, the park features the stone ruins of a turn-of-the-20th-century castle built by a prominent Kansas City businessman high atop a bluff.
The Ha Ha Tonka Castle was started by Robert McClure Snyder Sr in 1905. He was killed in an auto accident in 1906 and the castle was completed by his sons Robert Jr., LeRoy, and Kenneth in the late 20s. The master architect, Adrian Van Brunt from Kansas City, designed the three-and-a-half story masterpiece. A central hallway rose to the height of the building. An enormous 80-foot-tall water tower, a stone stable, and nine greenhouses were ultimately constructed on the estate. The stone and timber originated locally.
In 1942 disaster struck – sparks from a fireplace ignited the roof and within hours the huge castle was completely gutted. The remains of the estate now stand stark and lonely at the edge of the cliff, a blackened remnant of one man’s great dream.
The State of Missouri purchased the estate in 1978 and opened it to the public as a State Park. Ha Ha Tonka is about five miles southwest of Camdenton and comprises nearly 2400 acres on the Nangua Arm of the Lake of the Ozarks.
Maybe I can inspire a niece or two to accompany me on a trip to this area some crisply cool autumn!
Love, Carol

Puppy Love – 1938

This photo was shared on Facebook by a cousin (his mom is the middle person in the picture, Melba Harlan).


The McGhee sisters – Carol, Melba, and Gail

CJ GarriottI have no idea whose dogs, names; I would suppose it was our yard. Never saw this photo before! Pretty much no memories from this age.

However, after studying on the locale, this may be the lease northeast of Madison, where we lived when I went to first grade in Madison. Then we moved to the lease where I attended Seeley School until mid-6th grade when we moved to the farm. I don’t remember us having more than one dog at a time.

I do remember Gail and me going into the Madison school, she would go up the stairs to the 2nd floor, and I would go down the hall to my 1st-grade room. I would look back, Gail would wave, and I would then continue, comforted that she would be there when it was time to go home.

Posted 12/29/2006 by Gail Lee Martin 

Didn’t we ride the school bus from the oil lease west of Madison? I seem to remember your teacher was Miss Fankhouser. Oh, how I hated those stairs and how the farm kids disliked us oil field kids. One time the wheel came off the back driver’s side of the school bus and went rolling down the hill faster than the bus. 

CJ Garriott – Posted 12/30/2006

I think we did ride the school bus, that year of first grade before we moved to the country school where I walked those 5 years.

Bob Harlan – Our best guess judging by other photos around this one is 1938 or 39.

(Gail would have been 14 or 15, Melba would have been 18 or 19, Carol would have been 4 or 5)



Carol Jean’s 1946 Diary

Gail’s younger sister, Carol McGhee kept this diary in the first few months of 1946. I was glad she shared it with us, as it sheds some light on Gail’s 1940s years which are the focus of the next family book.

CJ Garriott’s Introduction for the 1946 diary

I found the diary I wrote in briefly in 1946, Pretty faithful in January, but just a few days in February and March. Probably, I got it for Christmas. I wish I had stayed with it! I found it fairly interesting–day-to-day action on the Kansas plains when I would have been eleven. I was inspired to transcribe it today. I typed it exactly as I had written it, abbreviations and an occasional misspelling. We must have just moved to the farm from the Seeley Lease.

Transcription of her childhood diary–1946 (Age 11 in January)

January 1
Today is New Year’s Day. Gail came over and stayed all day and sewed baby clothes.
This afternoon Daddy, Mother, Gail and I went to the pasture where the pond is and covered the pipeline with leaves to keep it from freezing.
This evening I went out to help Daddy do the chores. I fed the cows, horses, and calves. When Daddy started to milk the cow, Cream, she ran out of the barn. Daddy and I took some time driving her back in. The cow just did not want to go back in the barn! But we got her in anyway.

christmas 1947

Carol Jean McGhee, December 1947

January 2
Today I went to school, a new girl came to school today. I like her very much.
I did not help my dad with the chores today. Wayne, Wanda, and Garry came over this evening.
The little black cat of Garry’s strung some more string out of the sewing machine again. I ate dinner with Gail and Mother today over at Wanda’s house.
January 3
The new girl was really in the fifth grade so she went to the fifth-grade room today.
We had my school xxx (couldn’t read it) as party today. I got a handkerchief from Adam. We had ice cream bars for treats. Also, we had a box of candy apiece. I helped Daddy with the chores today. The little calf got out and we had to chase it down. It jumped over a chicken coop. Tippy our dog helped us. I got a letter from Connie Benson.
January 4
Today is the last day of school this week. Wanda’s cat disappeared today at noon.
I did not help Daddy with the chores this evening because of the rain. My, how it did rain, thunder, and lightning. It rained almost all day. This morning it was 55 degrees above zero.
January 5
I helped Mother clean up the house. I finished my book I checked out of the Madison library today.
It was sort of raining today. I helped Daddy with the chores this evening. Mother and I hung some pictures up. We washed our heads. I wrote a letter to Connie Benson. I spilled the ink too.

shredded wheat houses - Etsy

Shredded Wheat houses to make into Toytown, 1950s – Photo of vintage cards for sale on the Etsy site.

January 6
Today is Saturday. Mother, Daddy and I went over to Melba and Norman’s and made some little houses from shredded wheat cards.  (Melba is Gail and CJ’s older sister)
I helped Daddy with the chores this evening. I mashed my big toe too. I was getting in the car and pulled the front seat down on my foot. My! How it did hurt!
Daddy got the stove up in our bathroom today. We took a bath too. My, it felt good.

January 8
This morning I nearly missed getting my arithmetic done. It rained so hard and long today. The rain is freezing on everything, too. Mr. Brown nearly got stuck at our front gate. I did not help Daddy with the chores because of rain.
January 9
I did not help Daddy with the chores this evening because of the mud. At school, I helped the cheerleaders for the basketball games. My music teacher was not here today.
Mother cut her hand. My! how the ice glittered on everything in the sun today. My leg hurt today but Mother put Absorbine on it and made it feel better. I played with a tiny football this eve.
January 10
I had upside down pineapple cake for my dessert at noon today! Gail came over and stayed all day. Clyde came after her this eve and got the phonegraph. Gail made a new dress too.
January 11
Today was lyceum. I did not go because a man was going to talk about model airplanes. It snowed this morn but before night it was all melted again. I played with Virginia Goodsen this eve after school. We caught a mouse in our mousetrap.
January 12
Today is Sat. This afternoon Mother came back from the barn and said something had happened to the horses. I went after Mr. Brown. When we got back our horse, Tony, had Bill down in the mud in the barn. His front feet were sticking out the door while his hind feet were up by his head. We went to Emporia yesterday eve and got Mother and I some shoes. (I can only hope the horses were OK!)
January 13 (Sun)
Daddy went in to town and got Wanda, Garry and Wayne for dinner. Melba, Norman, Timmy and Bobby came out for dinner also.
January 14
Today is Monday. Wayne, Wanda and Garry were out. We had weine roast yesterday eve. I took my lunch to school for the first time in town school.
January 15 (Tues)
I did not go to school today because of my sore throat. Wanda and Garry stayed at our house all day. Wayne went with Daddy to work. The electricity man came out and dug holes and put up poles. We will soon have electricity.
January 16 (Wed)
We went to town and looked at some light fixtures but didn’t buy any. Gail and Clyde came over this eve and bought a lamp mantle from us.
January 17 (Thur)
Wanda was to have a permanent today so Mother came in and took care of Garry, while she was gone. Daddy, Mother and I hurried this morning and got in at Wanda’s house early. Wayne went with Daddy. Mother combed my hair after we got in at Wanda’s.
January 18
Today is Friday. I went to school. Went over to Wanda’s after school because Mother washed and was there. Gail washed so she was there too. Then when Gail went home I went with her. I slept on a feather bed at Gail’s, too.
January 19 (Sat)
I went with Gail and Clyde to get a horse from somebody. I don’t know their names. When we came back we had a trailer with the horse in it. The horses’ name was Polly. We got stuck three times. Clyde got a man to pull us out. When we got home it was pretty late. We started at 11:30. We eat at a cafe before we went on home. Gail taught me how to play rummy. We eat waffles for breakfast.

January 20 (Sun)
I colored some in Gail’s colorbook. We had waffles for dinner. Gail and Clyde brought me home this eve. Wanda, Wayne and Garry were out at our place when I got home. Gail and Clyde took them home.
January 31
Today is the last day of January. Daddy put up my blinds in the eve.
February 1
Today is Friday. I am awful sleepy tonight. My music teacher read us some fairy tales about music. Daddy has something in his eye. They went to Emporia and haven’t got back yet. It’s 5 min after 8 now. Guess I’ll go to bed.
February 5 (Tues)
Today is Tuesday. How I wish I did not have to go to school! Daddy hauled cow manure out of the barn this eve. There was a dust storm this morning. It lasted from 10:00 to 12:00.
March 3
Today is Josephine’s Brown’s birthday. I forgot to get her a present, which makes me mad!
March 4
Today is Tuesday. I helped Daddy with the chores this morning and this evening. I bought a little table downtown at noon for the red cross box at school. I took my lunch to school also. Gail came down and washed. She washed down in the basement.
March 5
Boy, is it ever snowing! Everything’s covered and it looks as if it will keep right on snowing all night. The Brown kids came over this evening and we had a movie with the jectascope. My committee in Blue Triangle had a party today/

…and that’s all she wrote!


  • Garry is Wanda and Wayne Brower’s child, a toddler. Wanda (Bolte) Brower is CJ and Gail’s cousin, 4 years older than Gail.
  • Melba is CJ and Gail’s older sister, married to Norman Harlan and they had two sons at that time, Tim and Bob.
  • The Brown family lived on the adjacent farm.
  • I found a 1936 advertisement for a Jecta-Scope which seemed to be a projector for drawing purposes but also for projecting pictures on a wall. Perhaps by 1946, the company had a version that could be used with filmstrips for the home.

Jecta-Scope advertisement 1936Jecta-Scope advertisement 1936 Tue, Dec 22, 1936 – 9 · The Record (Hackensack, New Jersey) · Newspapers.com

Further Thoughts from CJ in 2019

We moved from the Seeley Lease to the farm in summer 1946. I think it was 3 miles to town. I rode the school bus. Probably it was laundry they did at Wanda’s, who lived across the street from the school. Sometimes I would have lunch over there on school days.
We had the mini dairy, maybe 5 cows? I helped milk. Daddy took the big metal containers of milk down to the road where they were picked up.

I wish I had added how the horse episode ended up. They must have been all right, I suppose, or I would have.

I have to wonder why I didn’t want to go to Lyceum because a man was going to talk about model airplanes! 

Older Than Dirt

My aunt, CJ Garriott is our guest blogger for today. She is Gail Lee Martin’s youngest sister. She’s sharing memories that were triggered by an internet questionnaire.

Well, what can I say? I’m older than dirt! A few I didn’t experience: Milk was not delivered to our house because we always had cows! and as for ice, we lived in company housing, and had electricity and refrigerators by the time I was in 1st grade, long before farmers and others did. I DO remember the day we got an inside bathroom (when I was in high school), and no longer had to use the outhouse. I thought we had truly arrived.

 In looking back, I’ve realized how good we had it in the Depression Years. I was born in 1934, and my Daddy not only had a job (oilfield pumper), he had a job that came with a house! We always had cows, chickens, and a big garden. We bought baby chickens that we had to collect from the post office, and when they were fryer size, Mother “harvested” them, and froze them in cardboard cartons filled with water. Never had freezer burn; always tasted fresh.
My oldest sister bought block ice for their icebox. I don’t remember if Gail did that too, or if they had electricity when she married?
IceBoxAndFan083114 copy.png Postcard
by ShroudedLake
All this certainly brings back memories–since we lived in a rural area, we weren’t able to have newspapers delivered. This doesn’t mention listening to the radio–I hurried home from school to turn on the radio and listen to Tom Mix and The Shadow Knows. And we had (and used) a record player that you cranked! Enjoy this trip down long-ago memory lane! CJ/Carol