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 who’s 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)



Love Local Cookbooks?

I’m guessing that every household has a spiral-bound cookbook filled with recipes from local cooks. Gail Lee Martin collected some of these and wrote about them for the Butler County Historical Society in Kansas. She submitted the research to their annual history essay contest in 2001 and received honorable mention for it. She donated 7 cookbooks to the museum’s collection. She also contributed her recipes to a number of  local cookbooks that came out after this article.

Hometown Sharing

Through the past hundred years, local cooks have shared their favorite recipes with friends and neighbors in many ways. Reunions, church suppers, picnics, fish fries, ice-cream socials, birthdays, weddings, Sunday dinners, and every occasion that could get a group of people together. The theory being, if you invite them to come eat good food they will show up at your meetings or events.

By early 1900 organizations around the town began to get on the bandwagon of publishing cookbooks as fund-raisers. Churches, businesses, schools, grocery stores, even radio stations discovered the fun of compiling favorite recipes from their members into a cookbook for sale.

So the call went out to all cooks in their organization to submit their favorites recipes. Catchy titles were sought to encourage sales. Some of the more interesting ones I found were: Meat Recipe RallyCountry Cooking; Regal Recipes, and the Partyline Cookbooks to name just a few.

The cookbooks reveal much more about the community than just the cooks and recipes. Local advertising was found here and there in the books to tell of businesses, some that are still here and others that have faded to just memories. The Meat Recipe Rally by Joe Browne’s Market advertises Joe’s own Hickory Smoked Sliced Bacon and Hams and Open Kettle Pure Lard. In the 1959 El Dorado City Directory Joe’s Market is listed as “ Browne’s Market, the complete food store since 1905.” The Market stayed on the same downtown corner of 200 W. Central until 1973.

In The Art of cooking in El Dorado, a Senior Citizens of El Dorado cookbook, Walnut Valley Bank and Trust listed their advertisement this way. Recipe For Financial Service. Take instant mix of Walnut Valley people, know-how, and concern . . .AND JUST ADD YOU!” Their ad certainly fit the book‘s theme.

The El Dorado Senior Center celebrated their 10th anniversary in September 1985. Around that time the cookbook was planned and Cathlin Buffum was director of the center and contributed a handful of recipes herself. Other businesses contributing their ad’s to the senior’s project were El Dorado Cable; Mc Cartney Pharmacy; PT Machine & Welding; Farmer’s Insurance; Arlene’s Beauty Shop; Castle of Lighting; Flavor Maid Do-nuts; AAA; Best’s Cleaners and Dale’s Service.

cookbooks with Gail's recipes

Family and community cookbooks that have Gail Martin’s recipes included.

In the late seventies and early eighties, the area radio station KOYY Kountry had a listener participation program called Partyline. Many recipes were shared in this morning phone-in style get together. In 1979 Partyline hostess, Jean Plummer compiled the many recipes that had flooded her office and published the first Partyline Cookbook . Two years later, when Connie Phillips was serving as hostess, the second edition of the Partyline Cookbook was published by popular demand. Together, young and old, men and women filled these cookbooks with their best cooking efforts.

A 1982 ‘Benton Community’ project producing a Country Cooking cookbook went all out with ten pages of advertisers, two full pages listing their supporters, some community history dating back to 1913, local artwork by Jo Bell for a drawing of a windmill and surrounding countryside for the cover and a unique list of what you could buy from the grocery store for a $1.00 in 1931, all from a small town of around 600 residents. Many contributors were Benton High School alumni from the 1920’s; Benton Busy Bee’s 4-H members; Girl and Boy Scouts, the Lions Club; Golden Agers; Jaycees Jaynes and Tops members.

El Dorado is the home to many churches and these churches have many church dinners. Food in every available form is brought. Everyone wants to take their best. As they taste tested their way through the many varieties, the women begin asking “Who brought this or that dish, and then ask would you share your recipe, it tasted wonderful.” This is one reason almost every church in the county has at one time or another put out a cookbook.

The United Methodist Church has been publishing cookbooks since the turn of the century. The recipes of a 1909 cookbook, Regal Recipes, were collected and arranged by the Kings Daughters of the Methodist Episcopal and is being preserved at the Butler County Historical Society Museum. This same group put out another book in 1924 with additions of new recipes from Circle One of the Methodist Ladies Aid. The women of this church but probably another generation or two published again in 1985 and the current one of 1996, Lord’s Acre Cookbook, Naomi Circle is still available. In the miscellaneous section is a neat saying, “Happiness is like jam. You can’t spread a little without getting a little on yourself.” Recipes in this segment include Homemade Apple Butter, Easy Grape Jelly, and Jalapeno Jelly.

The Towanda United Methodist Church of Christ published a Tribute to Our Past, Our Joy For Today, The Hope For Tomorrow 1885-1985. Some of the other cookbooks from their past were known to have been in 1907, 1924, and 1979.

The Christian Women’s Fellowship groups of Potwin and El Dorado compiled cookbooks in the 1980s. Potwin put out a cookbook in 1981 and titled it, Favorites Recipes From Our Best Cooks. They included a picture of their lovely brick church and a schedule of their Sunday School and Morning Worship services. The El Dorado women came out with a small handmade booklet in November 1983. With checkered oilcloth covers. The Young Women’s Group of the First Christian Church of El Dorado put out a three-ring notebook size cookbook in October 1986 to coincide with their fall money-making event, a luncheon, and craft fair.

Starting in 2005 the original El Dorado Farmer’s Market is planning a garden cookbook. So Butler County’s food sharing tradition just keeps going.


Off to Town

A childhood memory by Gail’s daughter, Virginia.

What an ordeal the short trip to town must have been for my mother. Packing five contentious children into a medium-sized car wasn’t easy. This was before the days of mini-vans. After the sixth child came along, we finally got a station wagon. In the three mile trip into El Dorado, we’d bicker whenever a brother or sister infringed on our space. Within the confines of the car, sibling rivalry had the opportunity to even the score with subtle elbow digs and shoves. It was hard to tell what was normal energetic kid behavior and what was malice.

Butler County, Kansas courthouse

Photo by Virginia Allain – The Butler County Courthouse in El Dorado, KS.

El Dorado was an oil and cattle center east of Wichita, Kansas. It was also the county seat for Butler County, and our trips to town often included the century-old, brick courthouse. We’d climb the wide wooden steps to the third floor where the 4-H office was. Mom needed advice or pamphlets to use with the many project groups she led. Entomology, geology, cooking, gardening, and leadership were some of the topics she taught to groups of 4-H members.

Another frequent stop was the public library. In our younger years, it was the vintage Carnegie building on Central, but later it was the more modern building on Carr Street. The five of us, and later six, would fan out through the children’s section browsing for favorite series like The Borrowers or searching for a new dog book by Terhune or a horse story by Thomas C. Hinkle. My ambition was to read my way alphabetically through the fiction section. Hampered by the library’s limit of three books per child, I abandoned the goal after making it halfway through the A section. I did read all of Louisa May Alcott and Aldrich. Then I reverted to free range reading. While at the library, we lived in dread of fierce Miss Borger, the head dragon there, who shushed unruly children and accused them of having sticky hands.

Probably we did, as mom had a hard time corralling and getting all of us tidy and clean for a trip to town in the searing Kansas heat. No air conditioning in cars back in the 1950s. If we stopped at the Dairy Queen for a curly topped cone, then we were a sticky mess afterward. The ice cream melted faster in the 100-degree temperatures than we could eat it. The drips ran down our arms, spotted our shirts, and coated our cheeks and chins. No amount of scrubbing,  even with motherly spit applied on the flimsy paper napkins, could totally clean up the batch of us. Four_Martin_Girls

Another summer feature of trips to town was swimming lessons at the city pool. I don’t remember much of the teaching techniques, but they didn’t seem to work well for me. I did learn to dog paddle and actually can float quite well. Otherwise, I flounder my way, thrashing and flailing, from one side of the pool to the other. We had nowhere to practice our swimming since our creek was just ankle-deep.

I remember trips to Woolworths, which we simply called the dime store. There we selected our plastic cowboy and Indian figures. These became part of elaborate wild west games played out in our large sandbox at home. With our imaginations fueled by watching Roy Rodgers and Gene Autry movies, we constructed landscapes and re-enacted the chases and clashes with our small plastic figures.memories of visiting the shoe store - photo by pixabay

Also in town, we visited the shoe store that gave away pink and blue dyed chicks when we bought new shoes at Easter time. Probably town children took theirs home for a brief life span where an over-affectionate child squeezed the little fluff ball to death. Ours joined our flock of chickens on the farm, where they reverted to normal chicken colors as their feathers grew in.

For the kids, each trip to town was an adventure. For Mom, I’m sure, it couldn’t be over soon enough.

This story was previously published on the Our Echo website. 

Teterville Chat

When Gail Lee Martin was quite young, she lived with her parents and older sister Melba in Teterville, Kansas. It was an oilfield boomtown that has since disappeared. She wrote about that time in Teterville. It led to a contact from another lady who had roots in Teterville. Mom was always thrilled to know that her writing touched someone. 

Wed Aug 26, 2009
Gail, My dad, Earl Jones, and grandad lived in Teterville. I would love to see a picture of that place. I visited Teter Rock two weeks ago. remember going to a reunion picnic when I was a child.
Thanks,  Barb Jones Rickstrew

On 21 Sep 2009, Gail Martin wrote: Sorry that I’ve been so slow in answering you. It has been so long since I lived out there that the name of your dad doesn’t ring a bell. When did they live there? My aunt and uncle lived in the house just west of Moore’s grocery store. They were Viola and Roy McGhee. Have you any memories of Teterville that they passed down to you? Did they work for any of the oil companies? Or go to the Teter school? I was always scared of Mr. Teter’s wild cattle that roamed everywhere and liked to lay in the dusty roads. They didn’t even want to get up to let us pass by in our car. Thanks for taking the time to write to me. It meant a lot. As always, Gail Martin

Have you any memories of Teterville that your folks passed down to you? Did they work for any of the oil companies? Or go to the Teter school? I was always scared of Mr. Teter’s wild cattle that roamed everywhere and liked to lay in the dusty roads. They didn’t even want to get up to let us pass by in our car. Thanks for taking the time to write to me. It meant a lot.

As always, Gail Martin

teterville store photo from eureka museum

Photo from the Eureka Museum of the Moore’s Store in Teterville, Kansas

From: Barb Rickstrew 
To: Clyde and Gail Martin
Sent: Thursday, September 24, 2009
Subject: Our Oil Field Home in the Flint Hills

Gail, Thank you so much for the picture. I don’t really have any information about Teterville but I remember going to a reunion picnic with my dad and grandpa. I was probably 7 or 8 and there weren’t many kids there but I thought there was maybe 2 buildings and an old merry go round.

Maybe the reunion picnic was somewhere else close, I don’t know. My dad is gone and you know how you wish you had asked more questions. I believe my grandpa worked for the oil company and my dad ended up going to school in Eureka.

I grew up in Eldorado and still have ties there and plan to visit Teter Rock again soon.
Thank you so much for replying to my email.
Barbara Jones Rickstrew

On 29 Sep 2009, Gail Martin wrote: Do you know what year your Dad graduated in Eureka. My sister Melba rode the school bus from Teterville to Eureka for 3 years. 1935/1937, then our folks moved and she graduated at Hamilton in 1938. But they used to have the school bus reunions at Teterville and Melba would go. I expect your Dad rode the bus too. I believe the bus driver was George Deering.

The Greenwood County Museum in Eureka has some great files on Greenwood County schools. I go there for my research. So interesting that we have met this way. If you ever get to El Dorado stop by and we could chat up a storm. We live at 1000 S. Atchison, phone 321-5399. My husband’s name is Clyde.

I sure would like to see you at my book signing October 11 from 2/4 at the Oil Museum 383 East Central, El Dorado. Our daughter has sent my second book with stories about my husband’s family. so I should have both books there plus my daughter, Cindy Jo Ross’ book of poetry and family photos, Ride a Stick Horse.

The Teter Rock was after my time in the area. Glad you got the picture. Those old ones are so small and have been around so long they are hard to get a good view. Gail

From: Barb Rickstrew
To: Clyde and Gail Martin
Sent: Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Subject: Our Oil Field Home in the Flint Hills

Thanks, Gail! I would have to guess that dad graduated in 1942 or 43. I will sure look you up if I get back to Eldorado.

School and Moore's Store in Teterville, KS

These photos of the Teterville School and the Moore Bros. Grocery are on display at the Eureka Museum in Eureka, KS.

Hot Times at the Ball Park

Baseball Memories of Gail and her family:

Ginger – I tried calling Mom one evening in July, but there was no answer. When I checked Facebook, I saw my sister’s status: July 8, 2012 – Karen was at McDonald Stadium in El Dorado.

Ginger:  Hmmm, that must be why Mom doesn’t answer her phone.

Karen:  We lost, badly.  It doesn’t help that Mom is always cheering for the visiting team.
Ginger: doesn’t she like the home team?
Karen:  She likes to be contrary.
Ginger:  I’m afraid we’ve inherited some of that too. Just wait until I’m 87.
87 year old Gail Lee Martin at the ballpark

At 87, Gail Lee Martin attended the Bronco baseball games frequently during a very hot summer.

Cj Garriott – As I recall, July 2012 was the host of those 100+ days that I arrived in time for a full week of? I remember thinking, how in Hades could it be HOTTER 700 miles north of where I was coming from.

Karen –  That was one hot summer, too, but Mom loved going to the El Dorado Bronco games in the stadium there at the fairgrounds. She flirted with all the good-looking college players when they came through collecting for the 50-50 drawing.

Mom and I were going to a lot of ball games that summer. The notes below were from the previous evening at the ball park.

kk fb rain at ballpark 2012

Virginia – I hope it did rain then.
Mom: We are living right! 3/4 of an inch right. Oh so sorry we missed the last inning when Dodge City beat the Broncos
July 8, 2012 at 3:10pm 


Karen: haha. I see what you’re trying to do, Mom–get me riled up because you always root for the visiting team! We won and we would have still won if we’d played that final inning!

July 2012 Rain at the Bronco ball park in El Dorado KS

Karen Kolavalli’s photo of the lightning and rain clouds at the McDonald Stadium (where the Bronco’s played in El Dorado, Kansas.

My Social Book – A Review

If you use Facebook, you see the ads all the time for My Social Book. I was curious, so I tried it out. My mother (Gail Lee Martin) died in 2013 and I worried that her Facebook page with all her social media history would be lost.

I ordered one with her Facebook pictures/posts/comments in it. It was a way to save the information from her Facebook page in case it ever disappears. It was only about $16, as they had a special and she was not a prolific commenter.

Here’s what her book looks like.

It slurps up the content from a Facebook profile and turns it into a nicely bound paperback book.

You can go through the preview and remove some things like trivial comments or too many of the same picture. It’s a little awkward using their tool to take out duplicate and unimportant content, but it saves some costs by keeping the book shorter.

I recently had the thought that it would be great to save some family group pages from Facebook into a My Social Book. That would preserve the photos and family history being shared there. Unfortunately, this isn’t allowed since there are privacy issues that Facebook enforces. I can understand why they have that rule but sure would have been a nice easy way to save some family history.

Blog Readers from All Over the World

During April, while participating in the A to Z Blog Challenge, I kept a close eye on my WordPress blog statistics. It interested me to see where the blog readers originated.

Here’s a screenshot from WordPress on my Discovering My Mom blog.

It’s no surprise that the majority of the readers are from the United States and other English-speaking countries like Australia, the UK, and Canada. I didn’t extend the screenshot down to show all the single visitors from far-flung places like Ecuador,  Denmark, Taiwan, etc. It’s nice to see that people from all over the world dropped by this month to read about my mother, Gail Lee Martin.

Some discover the blog from the WordPress Reader, some come from Facebook, and others found it from Pinterest. It interested me that over 200 viewers of the blog came from a single Niume post where I shared about my mother’s memory blog.