Gail Lee Martin spoke to a variety of audiences from school children, to seniors, to other writers. She prepared her talk well in advance and rehearsed it. She selected her outfit for the occasion and went to the hairdresser as the event approached.
She prepared handouts and visuals to use. Below, you’ll see her giving one of these talks. I note how composed she looks and I wonder why I didn’t inherit that sangfroid. When I give a talk, I’m a nervous wreck. Preparing for a presentation makes me quite anxious.
Gail Lee Martin giving a talk
Looking at these photos, I’m trying to figure out the occasion. It’s not her Margaret Hill McCarter impersonation, as she wore a costume for that. It’s not her author talk, as her books are not on display.
It might be some sort of presentation at a historical museum, possibly in Eureka. That’s the Greenwood County history that she’s holding up. She wrote some of the essays for it on the Martin and the McGhee families. The framed photo on the table shows Prairie Belle school which her husband, Clyde Martin, attended as a child.
Gail and the Greenwood County history book
Other talks that she gave included the Rosemary Hour at the Kansas Authors Club annual convention. It honored Kansas authors who had passed away in the last year. She was the archivist for KAC for over 10 years.
Gail also gave talks about the history of aprons which was a popular presentation at senior centers and nursing homes. For a number of years, she led classes in memory writing at the Shepherd Center in Wichita.
I wish I had video recordings of some of these talks.
Apparently, the creek turned into a river rushing across the yard towards the little house. Water surrounded them and they were cut off. Gail’s brother-in-law, Norman Harlan, arrived in a boat to rescue the family. When they opened the door, toddler Cindy stepped out. Fortunately, Norman grabbed her as she came through the door.
Cindy Martin rescued in the Great Flood of 1951.
She would have been swept away in the floodwaters. The whole family was rescued.
Cj Garriott, Gail’s younger sister, tells about the flood in the Madison area, “Some memories I have of the ’51 flood–Perched as our house was on the little hill, we were high and dry as our home and barns were spared. We lost some cows–we tried to get them to the homeplace, and some did get there, but we watched as others were swept downstream.
Even though the railroad tracks were covered with water, a couple of neighbor men were able to walk it to town for supplies.
I remember squatting at the edge of the water, as it inched up our hill, watching grasshoppers getting pushed off grass stalks by the rising water. I wished I could save them.”
The Clarence and Ruth McGhee home on the hill near Madison, KS.
I asked Carol about the history of the houses, and she said, “Daddy bought the 40 acres with a house that needed to be torn down. Then Daddy and Norman built the new one, I believe. I think Melba and Norman lived in it first, while they built a new house on their farm. The little house across the creek that was flooded was rented by Gail and Clyde.”
(post by Ginger Allain) Growing up in the country, I remember a vintage wheel that served as a trellis in our yard. Mom grew clematis on it. We have few photos from that time, mostly black-and-white ones.
Wheel from an old hay rake (at Clyde and Gail Martin’s home)
In examining the photo, my sister and I decided it wasn’t a wagon wheel or a buggy wheel. It seemed too high and too slender for either of those.
An octogenarian helped us out by identifying it as the wheel of a farm implement called a hay rake.
Here’s Les Paugh’s memory of such things, “I got to thinking when I was 12-years-old we had a rake that set at an angle and windrowed the hay for the baler. I tried to find a picture of one, no luck. Also tried to find a picture of the baler I worked on.
This was in 1945 before the war ended. The baler needed one man on the tractor and two on the baler, one tying the wires and one poking the wires. The owner of the ranch couldn’t get anybody to tie the wires, my dad told him I could tie the wires. He said he would pay me six bits an hour, dad told him “you will pay him one dollar an hour, a man’s wages for a man’s work, or look for two men.” He said OK. I worked all summer. My earnings bought me a horse and saddle.”
I checked for a picture of a hay rake and finally found one in a newspaper from 1900.
The Owosso times. Owosso, Michigan, hay rake, January 19, 1900, Chronicling America « Library of Congress
Gail Lee Martin posted this to the Our Echo website in 2011. Here it is for your Christmas reading enjoyment. If it triggers some Christmas memories for you, please share them in the comment section at the end.
The advent of the TV in our home happened the first Christmas we lived on the Greene farm three miles north of El Dorado. This was in 1960 and Clyde had a good job and working regularly so we decided to get a brand new television for a Christmas for a present for all our six kids! We keep it hid in that old garage under some junk until Christmas morning. Clyde and I went out and brought it in before the kids woke up.
We had an end table to put it on and one of us had the idea that we ought to have it turned on when the kids got up. So making sure the volume was turned real low we turned it on. Now remember it was Christmas time and colder than blue blazes outside. Clyde and I were really excited as we turned on the TV on and snap, crackle, and pop the cold tubes broke as the hot electricity hit each tube. What a bummer of a Christmas this was for the Martin family as we hadn’t bought anything else for anyone. All they had was their filled up stockings.
But the kid’s Dad came to the rescue and wrote down the numbers from each broken tube and as soon as the stores opened he went into the Graves Drugstore on the west side of north Main and was able to buy every TV tube we needed. He came back home and replaced the burned out tubes and put in the new ones and PRESTO we had television to watch for Christmas.
I know it is hard to believe this but that was the way TVs were built back then and not every store closed even on Christmas. Totally different world 50 years ago.
The image of the Big Chief changed over the years.
Here’s my 8-year old post that she was commenting on:
My Mom keeps busy writing family memory essays. At age 84, she’s not running out of material. Her essays posted at Our Echo make for great nostalgic reading. Take a look at them and leave comments for her. She loves hearing from anyone reading her work.
Lately, she’s started recording some favorite recipes and articles on how to live thriftily. You can read her recipes, crafts and thrifty tips at the Squidoo site (username: Gail Martin).
Update August 2009: Mom’s family memories have just been published in a book, My Flint Hills Childhood: Growing Up in 1930s Kansas. You can read an excerpt on her webpage and be sure to click on the link to preview fifteen pages of the book.
Remember Mom Saying: “I’ll Give You Something to Cry About.”
Actually, Dad said this too. Most likely, you were already crying over something and it upset them. They would say, “If you don’t stop that crying, I’ll give you something to cry about.” It was really hard to stop crying but with this threat, you made a real effort to pull yourself together.
I’m sure with six of us, it must have been a trial dealing with our fussing and crying when we couldn’t have something or didn’t want to do something.
Here are more to trigger your memories.
- What part of NO don’t you understand?
- I don’t care who started it.
- No one said life is fair.
- Eat your vegetables.
- Children in China are starving.
Don’t Make Me Come Up There –
I particularly remember my mother saying, “Don’t make me come up there.” This applied to times when I or my siblings didn’t respond promptly when called. Maybe we were needed to help prepare dinner or it was time to get ready for school or leave for church. Mom would call up the stairway with her request and we might answer, “in a minute, Mom.”
Then, we would stretch that minute for quite a while. Sometimes, I was reading and just had to get to the end of a chapter. After one or two reminders, Mom would stand on the bottom step and resort to the threat of coming upstairs. At that point, we knew our time was up and her patience was worn thin.
(posted by Gail Lee Martin’s middle daughter, Virginia Allain)