(post by Virginia Allain)
Many of us grew up reading the Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House series of books. Then a new generation discovered them when it became a popular television series. Last year, I read Pioneer Girl which gave insight into Laura’s autobiography. Each page was divided so that notes explaining incidents in her life were side-by-side with the memories at Laura wrote out by hand.
Later, those notes were polished and became the books that we all love. Now we can read what she originally wrote and have it explained in detail with lots of clarifying notes to accompany it.
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That book is almost 500 pages. You can get it from Amazon (new or used or on Kindle) or borrow it from your public library). They underestimated the interest in it so the original printing was too small. Now, it is in its fifth printing.
Another Detailed Book for You
Recently, I discovered a Pulitzer-Prize winning biography, “Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder“, which won a National Book Critics Circle award for biography, and a Heartland Prize from the Chicago Tribune. This one is 640 pages long though almost 100 of those pages are the footnotes added at the end.
What a labor of love this book is. It details the background on both the Ingalls family and the Wilders and explains the westward movement in the United States in the 1800s; its effect on the land, on the native people, and the lives of the two families.
It fills in all the bits that didn’t fit into Laura Ingalls Wilder’s stories and expands the reader’s knowledge of American history. Even though I studied Kansas history in grade school, there was a lot more to know.
Ask for it at your public library or click the link above to get a new or used copy from Amazon.
It inspires me to go back and read once more these classic Little House books.
Among Mom’s papers, I uncovered a small stack of recipes glued onto old black scrapbook pages. The handwriting was not Mom’s and the paper looked vintage. They were yellowed and the ink was faded on some. Spots and streaks showed that a busy cook had used the recipes a number of times.
Puzzling. If these weren’t Gail Lee Martin’s recipes, who could they belong to? I felt sure that if they were a grandparent’s or great-grandparent’s, she would have noted that on them. So, it seems likely that they are strays that she found at a yard sale and couldn’t resist bringing them home.
Here’s one for you to try out: Oh-So-Good Pie
I’ll transcribe it below and add some notes.
4 whole eggs
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon each of cinnamon, cloves, allspice
1 cup ground raisins
Cream butter and sugar. Add beaten egg yolks and vinegar, then spices and raisins.
Beat well, fold in beaten egg whites. Pour in unbaked pie shell. Cook slowly until thoroughly set.
This pie forms its own meringue.
I checked some other raisin pie recipes to get an idea of the oven temperature and time. Try 325 degrees for 45 minutes. Some recipes used brown sugar, some used regular sugar. A few recipes plumped up the raisins in boiling water first.
This recipe calls for ground raisins. Perhaps putting them in the blender would serve if you don’t have a food grinder.
Farm fresh eggs are great if you can get some.
It’s marvelous to see an old theater given new life as a performing arts center. A few years ago I attended an Arlo Guthrie concert in the Fox Theater with my sister. What a treat it was to hear this iconic performer from my college years and to see the interior of this vintage theater.
Fox Theater – Hutchison KS – lights in the lobby.
Quite a display of lights!
Here’s the ticket booth in the lobby. Check out the beauty of that art deco ceiling.
The frosted glass designs on the ticket booth are typical for Art Deco.
Notice the light-colored wood and the trim on the booth and the ceiling. Every little detail contributes to the look. The etching on the glass is notable too.
The wide stairway to the second floor of the Fox Theater.
Look at the graceful curves in this stair railing. What a tragedy it would have been for this building to lapse into decay and get torn down and replaced with a generic modern building. I’m so grateful they preserved this and keep it in use.
Learn some history of this vintage theater on the Fox Theater website. The site Cinema Treasure has some old photos of it. The Fox opened in 1931. It was restored in 1999 and seats 1200 people.
Here’s the exterior of the building. Continue on down for my slideshow with more interior shots.
Every now and then, I happen upon a comment that my mother (Gail Lee Martin) put online. She was a great encourager of other writers and of her children’s efforts. It always surprises me to see these after all these years.
A necklace of Mom’s
This one she wrote on a post I’d written of childhood memories growing up in the country.
Your brother told us one time that he grew up not knowing we were poor. Even if Dad had a job on the drilling rigs there were many times the rig would be down until another job came along, so there were many ups and downs in our cash flow. With the garden, and the preserving we did and the rabbits we most always ate good. Remember that place where we could buy hamburgers 8 for a $1.00. I think we always ate there when we were in town. Mom
I remember that little hamburger joint. They must have cringed when they saw us come through the door. Each child wanted different things on their burger. I wanted catsup and pickles. It was probably the only place Mom could afford to feed six children back in the 1950s and 1960s.
Clyde Martin (holding Karen), Gail and Owen, Cindy, Ginger, Susan
Here’s a memory of Gail Lee Martin from 2012.
If We Could Bottle Happiness and Store It Away…
Below is a comment that Mom put on Facebook when Karen posted this photo a few years ago.
- Colorful bottles catch the eye.
“Each of my pretty vases and bottles have a story of memories to tell if they could talk or text! I love to look out that window when the sun is shining.
It certainly brightens my day. I have things like that in every room of our home that make me happy when I see them. glm” (February 24, 2012)
Here’s a challenge for each of us. Look around the room you are in and identify one thing that makes you happy just to see it. Savor the moment and tell us about why it makes you happy in the comments if you feel like sharing.
Gail Martin and her daughter, Karen Kolavalli
The Kansas Author Club met in Wichita on October 4-6, 2019. At the annual convention, they announce the winners of various book awards and one of those is the Kansas History Book Award, named in honor of Gail Lee Martin. Many people donated at the time of her death to help sponsor this book award.
The winner for 2019 is James Kenyon’s book, Golden Rule Days. Here are the judge’s comments about the book:
“The book is a history of the 109 Kansas high schools that have closed over the years. A remarkable amount of research went into compiling this book. Just the collecting of personal stories for each school and weaving them into the history must have taken years of work.
Each school gets 2 to 6 pages so it’s a hefty book at almost 400 pages. There’s a map highlighting the county so you can quickly see where the high school was. The entry includes the mascot, school colors, the year it closed, and the location. A brief history of the locale is followed by notable graduates, memories of teachers, activities and events, athletics, and why the school closed.
There are tidbits from yearbooks, memories from former students, and other bits of information collected by the author. There is some coverage of integration/segregation, a few school songs are featured, rivalries, and tragedies. Most of the schools have a photo of the building. The index includes the school names and names of individuals.
This is a solid reference title for public libraries and makes fun browsing for students seeking memories of their school days.”
Announcement of the 2019 Martin Kansas History Book Award
(from the KAC webpage)
The photo above shows Cynthia Ross, Gail’s daughter with the author James Kenyon at the convention. He is a repeat winner as his children’s book, A Cow for College, won the prize last year.
If anyone would like to contribute to keeping the book award funded, you can send a check to
Kansas Authors Club
C/o Tracy Million Simmons
P.O. Box 333
Emporia, KS 66801
Be sure to note on the check that it is for the Gail Lee Martin, Kansas History Book Award fund.
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.