1950s Entertaining

It’s Sepia Saturday time again so I’m rummaging out some vintage photos. The inspiration photo is 1950s, people celebrating Christmas, kissing, and soldiers in uniform. Hmm, what do I have to match that assortment of themes?

Here’s a 1957 photo of my dad, Clyde Martin, and his brother, Howard. Earlier, Howard had been in the Army during the Korean War era.

Clyde and Howard Martin playing cards.

They are playing cards and usually their wives would be seated at the table also. Two packs of cigarettes sit on the table and a mysterious bowl. I’d assume it was snacks so perhaps that’s a potato chip bag in the bowl. Someone is in the kitchen, probably Mom getting some lemonade for everyone.

Mom never smoked, but Dad did for years. I’m thinking he smoked Kools. When he was hospitalized after a car wreck, he gave it up since he couldn’t smoke in the hospital.

While the grown-ups played cards, the cousins played until we were worn out and fell asleep on the bed. That was budget entertainment in those days for young couples and no babysitter needed. At the end of the evening, Howard and Margie would gather up their four children, still half-asleep, and put them in the car to head home.

In an earlier post, I gave the history of this round oak table. Here is a photo of Howard’s time in the U.S. Army.

Howard Martin at training in Tennessee in 1951.

This is the inspiration photo from Sepia Saturday.

L is for a LESSON in Bread Making

Sometimes with emails, the intent gets lost in transmission. With a phone call or face-to-face, a misunderstanding can be corrected on the spot.

From: Gail Lee Martin
To: Ginger Allain

One of the granddaughters wanted to know if Dad would maybe show them how to make bread from scratch.

white-bread-homemade pixabay
So I started out by telling her why you can’t make bread like Clyde’s Mom did from scratch anymore because the ingredients aren’t the same anymore.  Not even sure lard isn’t a different texture. The flour is too refined and the yeast is not like the ‘starter’ that Mom kept on the back of the stove where it was always warm. Even salt is different and even some brands are different than other brands.

Clyde’s sister Helen said one time that when she tried to make homemade bread, she decided she needed her Mother’s hands to knead it properly! She also said she couldn’t even make macaroni and cheese like Mom did.

Kristy emailed back that she had meant the machine bread that Dad made, not thinking about how it was done before that. Mom said she had to laugh when she realized how at cross-purposes their messages had been.

Kristy’s grandfather made bread with his specially adjusted recipes in seven machines on their enclosed back porch. These sold well at the local farmer’s market and to customers who dropped by their home to buy freshly made bread.

Dad’s Work Clothes

(post by Virginia Allain) My dad wore a metal hard-hat for working in the oil fields. His boots were steel-toed, and his work clothes were oil-stained. Mom had to wash those separately from all the other clothes.

They had a “dog-house” by the oil rig where the men kept their overalls to wear again the next day and the next. They changed into their ordinary clothes for the drive home from their grueling day of work. The main thing I remember about his work outfit was his metal lunch bucket which was black and Mom filled it with substantial sandwiches and other filling food. Sometimes he had to work a double shift if the other crew didn’t show up to relieve them. The oil rig had to always be attended during the drilling process.

Gail Martin with baby Shannon and husband, Clyde, just home from work.

Dad had a suit, but I can only remember it coming out of the closet for funerals and weddings. He wasn’t a go-to-church sort of guy. Mom was superintendent for the Sunday School at the First Christian Church, so the whole family dressed up and went to Sunday School and Church. Dad stayed home, probably to enjoy some blissful peace and quiet without six kids around.

gail and clyde in suit

Gail and Clyde Martin – a special occasion.

Interestingly, there’s a photo from his childhood showing him in shorts, a matching jacket, and a Little Lord Fauntleroy collar. Pretty fancy for a farm kid. Here are photos of those early days.




Clyde’s Cheese Fudge

This recipe was in an email of Gail Lee Martin’s that I had saved. I must say that I’ve never tried making it. As a matter of fact, I never even had a chance to taste it.  If my siblings are reading this, I’m hinting that a small sampling of Dad’s Velveeta Fudge would be a great birthday gift.


Your Dad’s recipe for great fudge made with cheese.

Velveeta Fudge

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
8 ounces pasteurized process cheese, Velveeta, cubed
1 1/2 pounds confectioners’ sugar, about 5 cups unsifted
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup non-fat dry milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts
In a large saucepan over medium heat butter and cheese cubes together, stirring frequently; remove from heat. Sift together confectioners’ sugar and cocoa; add to cheese, mixing well. Stir in non-fat dry milk, vanilla and nuts. Turn into a 9x9x2-inch pan; chill until firm and cut into squares. Makes about 3 pounds of Velveeta Fudge.

I know the folks used to get cheese in the commodities distribution that the government did for seniors. Not sure if it was Velveeta or just something similar. They used to joke that the government was trying to get rid of all the old folks by giving them artery-clogging foods like cheese.

A Card for Dad

It’s Father’s Day which can be rather sad when your father is no longer there to hug or give a card or gift to. It always embarrassed Dad to have a fuss made over him, but I think deep down, he appreciated the attention. Even though he is gone, this special day gives us time to pause and remember what a special man our father was.

clyde and father's day card

Clyde Martin and a card that his daughter Karen sent him some years ago.

The rest of the message inside the card was well-chosen. It said, “for all the things that helped me grow, the staying close, the letting go, the honesty and humor too… for being real and being you.”

Too many cards featured images that just didn’t fit our dad. The sailboats, the formal tie, the golf scenes… Sis did a good job choosing this one with its thoughtful verse and earth-tone colors. Clyde Martin was a down-to-earth sort of guy.

The last part of the verse said, “for all your love, the gifts you give, the man you are, the life you live, for all these things and so much more, you’re the dad I’m thankful for. Happy Father’s Day.” Many thanks to Hallmark for this thoughtful, not-too-gushy card. Just right for our Dad.

karen and dad

I’ve always liked this photo of Karen and Dad. They are in the side yard of the El Dorado house.

Karen’s Memories of the Round Oak Table

My big sis asked me about my memories of the Martin family oak table that’s been handed down in our family.  I know now that it came from Dad’s parents and I assume we got it at the time Cora and Ren downsized and moved to Emporia for their retirement years.  That would have been when I was a child and, really, I don’t remember a time that we didn’t have it.  I think we must have gotten our cherry slant-top desk from them at the same time.

This was back in the 1950s and our family was the typical one, where Dad was the breadwinner and Mom was the homemaker.  Meals–all of them–were eaten together as a family at the big, round table in the dining room.  Since we were a family of eight, at least one of the two expansion leaves was left in place during those years.  It was very rare for us to eat out at a restaurant, either sit-down or drive-through.  We did occasionally have picnics.  But other than that, we ate at home at that table!



I like knowing that this is the table my Dad grew up with.   His family was even bigger–eight children–but the table was big enough for them, too.   I think it’s likely that the table was purchased from the Sears catalog.  Sears started selling quarter-sawn oak extension tables of this type around the turn of the last century.

Advertisement from 1922 for an Oak Dining Table

1922 round oak table advertisement1922 round oak table advertisement Sat, Apr 22, 1922 – 6 · Lincoln Journal Star (Lincoln, Nebraska) · Newspapers.com

Now the oak table has been handed down to my family.  When I downsized in my turn at the time I retired, I handed the table down to my daughter.  That makes her the fourth generation of the family to have this 100-year-old table.

One more view of that table. This photo is from 1957. That’s our dad, Clyde, and his younger brother, Howard Martin. They grew up with the table and then it came to our family and we grew up with it, too. I see that they are playing cards which all of our family loved to do. Also on the table are some packs of cigarettes. I think Dad smoked Camels. I’m not sure what’s in that bowl, maybe snacks.

clyde and brother howard martin 1957 round oak table playing cards


Dad Loved to Fish

I remember tagging along with Dad a few times when he went fishing. To me, it was hours of boredom sitting on the river bank while bugs tried to bite me. The leaves made me itchy and the ground felt increasingly hard as I tried not to squirm which would frighten away the fish.

His fishing time was limited to times when the oil rig shut down and there was no work. Probably he hoped to catch enough fish to feed the family while there was no paycheck.

Later when he retired, he fished for fun at Sugar Valley Lakes in Eastern Kansas. Gail and Clyde became a frequent sight at the lake as they fished from the dock or went out in their boat. They caught bass, catfish, and grass carp.

Clyde Martin loved fishing

Catfish, grass carp, and bass caught by Clyde Martin

They took pride in their catch and took photos of the fish. Gail noted in a small notebook the length and weight of the catch each day.

They ended up catching so many that they couldn’t eat them all, so they held a fish fry for the small community of Prescott, Kansas. They wanted to show their appreciation to all the people who made them welcome at their getaway home there.

It was about a 3-hour drive from their home in El Dorado, so at first, it was a weekend retreat while Dad was still working. It was beyond the reach of a demanding job. Later, they spent weeks at a time there. They found it comfortably like the small towns they were familiar with growing up in the 1930s.


New Year’s Eve 1958


Leslie Paugh Sr. is back as our guest blogger. He shared this story with me via email. You can read his other stories about working with Clyde Martin which I posted earlier. 

guest blogger pencil

“I actually only worked 3 weeks with Clyde on the rig. Two weeks in November and one week in December. So most of it was just work and not much happened.

One other thing I will never forget. I was a pretty good (or bad) drinker. New Year’s Eve, we went up to the station where we both bought our gas to fill up the car. The owner brought out a pint, about 1\3 full of rye whiskey and handed it to Clyde. I told him that was only one good drink, he got a new pint and handed it to me. I said that’s more like it, and took a good long drink of it.

beer bar pixabay

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Well, I had never drunk any rye whiskey. The gas pumps started doing the hoochie coochie. I told Clyde that stuff has a good kick to it. We went down to a bar and started (this was our first mistake) drinking beer, then saw (this was our second mistake ) the hot dill pickles and started eating them. I never did know how Clyde came out but I didn’t make it until midnight. When I woke up I told Treva “THAT is it, THAT will not ever happen again.” That was New Year’s 1958. The best thing that ever happened to me.

After that, we would go to visit my folks southwest of Kansas City, and my dad and I would go up to play pool. I would drink one beer while playing. In a year’s time, I might have drunk four or five beers. I left the hard stuff alone entirely. After my dad died I didn’t even drink the beer. In the last eight years, I have only drunk two beers. Funny how things work out sometimes, for the best.”

les paugh sr. 2

Leslie Paugh, Sr.

Hulling Black Walnuts

It’s just a few days to Clyde Martin’s birthday. He was born in 1924. In the fall, he collected walnuts and pecans which he laboriously processed to sell to people for holiday snacks or baking. Gail Martin recorded his process for hulling black walnuts and posted it on the eHow site. Here it is for you to use his know-how.

How to Hull Black Walnuts

My husband is quite ingenious and came up with this method for removing the hulls from black walnuts. It’s a lot of work, anyway that you do it, but the techniques below are the most efficient and least messy way.

Things You’ll Need:

  • silage fork
  • 5-gallon bucket
  • large plastic trash bin
  • rubber gloves
  • a wooden block
  • a cement mixer
  • a rack and tub
  • burlap bags
  • a fan


The black walnuts are falling in our part of Kansas. My husband, Clyde Martin has his own system of gathering and handling this great treasure from Mother Nature. First, we watch for walnuts that have fallen in someone’s yard. Then we stop and introduce ourselves and ask if they would like for us to clean the nuts up for them.

A black walnut in its hull

Inside this hull is a delicious balck walnut


The round nuts can be dangerous to walk upon in your yard; they will roll and could make you fall. They especially make a yard unsafe if there are small children in the home that like to play outside. The black stuff from the hulls can also ruin a good pair of shoes. Or if you are mowing falling leaves, the walnuts can shoot out from under the mower like they were shot from a cannon. Most people are glad to be rid of the unsightly mess in their yard and driveways. Many people don’t have the time or the knowledge to do anything with the nuts but rake them up and haul them to the dump. It is easier to buy the nutmeats from a store.


Clyde scoops the nuts up and dumps them into a five-gallon bucket, using an old silage fork like he used as a kid on his folk’s farm. The wide fork allows the leaves and other debris fall through but the nuts stay on.
When he has a bucket full he dumps them in old zinc tubs he carries in the bed of his pickup. When he has the area cleaned up, he heads for home.

old-fashioned laundry tubs - photo from pixabay

Tubs like Clyde Martin used when gathering black walnuts.


At home, he puts on heavy rubber gloves to protect his hands from the stain of the black interiors and the acidity in the hulls.


Then he goes to work hulling the nuts using a 2-foot long piece of rough cut 4X4 inch wooden block to push each nut length-wise to break the hull that he twists the rest off.
The hull goes into the tall, plastic collapsible tub to be hauled off to the city’s yard waste area. The nut is tossed into the five-gallon bucket.


When the bucket is full, Clyde dumps them into a cement mixer full of water. This is a noisy process but cleans the nuts of all the black debris that is stuck in the cracks and crevices of the nut’s shell. Usually, fifteen to twenty minutes will clean the nuts but some nuts take longer.

Clyde Martin's walnut husking machine, a cement mixer

Clyde’s walnut husking machine, a cement mixer


Clyde dumps the mixer of nuts into a round rack stationed over another tub to drain the water.


The nuts are then spread out on the garage floor to dry. A fan can be used to hurry up the drying process. When the nuts are dried Clyde scoops the nuts into burlap bags and hang them from the rafters where the drying can continue and the squirrels that come to our pecan trees can’t help their selves to our hard earned black walnuts.

I keep track of the donors of the nuts and we return with a thank you gift of fancy nutmeats arranged in a metal tin with lids. We make spiced nutmeats and also chocolate or vanilla coated clusters separated in the tin with the silver or gold foil cupcake baking cups. This usually assures us of a call the next year when the black walnuts come tumbling down.
Tips & Warnings
  •  Use care as the walnuts hull contains a powerful stain.

Lessons Learned from My Father

Gail was a stay-at-home mom back in the fifties when that was the norm. Her husband, Clyde, worked long hours and wasn’t as involved in raising the six children. Again, that was the norm back then. Here’s a tribute that was written awhile back by their daughter, Virginia for her father shortly before his 84th birthday.

Lessons Learned from My Father

“My dad worked many years at grueling jobs making a living and supporting a family of six children. It wasn’t an easy life, but he persevered. The six of us grew up solid citizens who didn’t use drugs and applied ourselves successfully to our chosen endeavors.

His job meant he usually wasn’t there for a softball game, 4-H meeting, or a parent-teacher conference. That didn’t matter. We learned a lot from my father without his participation in those activities. Seeing how he conducted himself in different situations, and how he applied himself to his work set an example for all of us. Here are philosophies I learned from my father:

Do it yourself and save money. Dad could fix a car engine, milk a cow, skin a catfish, fix a frozen pipe under the house, assemble a bicycle from a mixture of parts, and hundreds of other skills. To this day, I look first at how can I do something myself before considering having someone else do it.

Work hard to get ahead. Dad rose through the ranks in oilfield work. From roughneck to driller to rig pusher to derrick man to pumper then finally production superintendent, he applied himself and moved ahead of those who just put in their time. His children learned to put their all into any job they had.

Clyde Martin and daughter Virginia Allain

Clyde Martin with his daughter, Virginia.

An education will pay for itself. Dad often talked proudly of his youngest brother who applied himself in school and won a full scholarship to MIT. It was easy to see the comparison between his brother flying to California for computer troubleshooting and his own physically wearing and lower-paying job. I especially appreciate this message that resulted in my getting a master’s degree and a career as a librarian.

If you do something, do it well. Dad mastered many jobs and life skills. In retirement, he raised bumper crops in his garden and sold it at the farmer’s market. He taught himself to make bread and built a following of loyal customers. His children’s interests included building hot rod cars, bowling, performing, golfing, conducting pageants, writing, and dozens of other activities. In each case, they perfected their interest to a high level. Thanks, Dad, for instilling this principle in us.

Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without. Growing up during the depression, he learned a frugality that he never dropped, even in more prosperous times. Coffee grounds and vegetable parings recycled through the compost bin brought new life to his garden patch. I see myself practicing many daily economies that are throwbacks to such depression era lessons.

When you start something, stick with it. My father wouldn’t quit once he started something. Over sixty years of marriage is a testament to that. When his children tackled something, Dad’s example of persistence spurs us to keep going to complete the job.

lessons learned father clyde
These are some key lessons learned from my father. We often don’t express appreciation for these life lessons. I hope he can see some of these behaviors in his children and recognize the influence he’s had on all of us. My dad will be 84 in a few months. I’m still learning from him.”

This was previously posted on the Our Echo website.