My sister Cindy is quite the poet. I’m not sure where she acquired the ability, maybe through hard work at writer’s workshops. Mom (Gail Lee Martin) was always quite apologetic about her poetry attempts. I don’t feel comfortable in that form of writing either.

pixabay icicles

Icicle photo courtesy of Pixabay

Here’s a poem that Cindy shared in her Christmas letter this year:


From the gutter

A long spear hangs

Cold to the touch


During the night

Icy fingers hold it

Tight against metal


With the morning sun

Iridescent prisms sparkle

Casting an enchanted glow


Warmth loosens its grip

Until it falls crashing

Scattering diamonds on the snow

(by Cynthia Ross)

I expect that with the huge freeze experience by many in the U.S. this week, that there will be many icicles forming. In New England, you may have to wait a few more days with the below zero temperatures there.

Sept 28 – Long Ago Birthday

Cindy was the fourth child of Gail and Clyde Martin. Her birthday falls near the end of September. Here she is for her birthday party, dressed in her best dress and with a curly haircut. I tried to count the candles on the cake, but couldn’t decide which birthday this is.


Mom has gone all out with a festive lace tablecloth, crepe paper streamers, a cake, and presents. This was before the day when children went to Chuck E Cheese for their birthday or had 50 of their closest friends over for an elaborate, expensive party.

The border of the photo says March 1959, so it took 5 months to use up the film and take it to be developed. That shows how sparingly one used the camera in the days before digital and before cell phones. Or maybe it just shows how busy a mother of five children was.

Usually, the grandparents and the immediate family would enjoy the cake with the birthday girl. Sometimes there would be ice cream too. I see three presents waiting to be opened.

Happy Birthday, dear sister, and best wishes for the coming year.

The 1950s Cowgirl

ginger childhood rocking horse cowgirl

Ginger Martin in full cowgirl regalia on a rocking horse made by her dad. Clyde Martin made the small chair in the background too.

We Always Wanted to be Cowboys

This photo of me reminds me of all the fun we had playing cowboys and Indians when we were kids. Primed by all those Roy Rogers and Gene Autry movies, we played for hours riding our imaginary horses.

For the little ones, there were rocking horses, but for outside, we had stick horses with a sock head. If there was no stick horse, it was sufficient to hold one hand in front as though holding imaginary reins. Then we galloped about the yard urging our sure-footed horse faster and faster to escape the Indians or to capture the bad guys.

Back in the fifties, most kids had some cowboy attire to wear. Here’s my brother in his vest and chaps. Quite the little cowpoke, isn’t he. Years later when he returned from the Vietnam War, we saw the movie “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” The grown up Owen looked a lot like Robert Redford in that movie.

1950s little cowboy

Owen Martin with cowboy chaps, gloves, and vest

I also had a cowboy hat. Add to that my holster and toy six-gun, I was the image of Annie Oakley or Dale Evans, at least in my mind. Of course, those heroines of western movies would have worn boots instead of white sandals with anklets.


Gail Martin wrote on the back of the photo: “Guess who’s being smart now. I’ll bet these big bad cowboys won’t climb any board fences. I think they’re dancing now.” She’s referring to the fall my brother had from a saddle on a fence which resulted in his broken arm.

You might think we are standing on an old-style television, but it must be a bedside table. We didn’t have a television until I was 13-years-old.

cowboy broken arm

Owen in his bathrobe and sock feet sneaks up on an outlaw. I wonder if the hats and guns were Christmas presents and maybe Mom (Gail) got a Brownie camera too.

Here’s one more photo.

cowboy hat

Little sister, Cindy, clasps a new looking teddy bear. She’s in her footed pajamas and wearing a cowboy hat. Looks like everyone got a hat. 


Mom and Memories of Canning

Some memories shared by Gail’s daughter, Cindy. “This photo reminds me of all the canning mom & dad did through the years. Their pickled beets were wonderful, plus the spice rings.

Another favorite was when they canned pork roast. I added it to noodles or used it in many different ways. One year I brought them a truck load of pumpkins that didn’t sell at the local church sale. That was enough for them to make pumpkin pies for 10-15 years. I loved snapping beans with mom, just for the visiting time it created.

The Butler county museum asked Gail to put up a canning booth at their special night of the "Good Old Days" So with Tonda Alverez from the farmer's market we really wowed them. Even sold quite a bit of canned stuff. I made all the signs on the computer for it.

Gail Martin and Tonda Alverez at the Butler County Museum’s Good Old Days event.

“The Butler county museum asked me to put up a canning booth at their special night of the “Good Old Days” So with Tonda Alverza from the farmer’s market we really wowed them.

Even sold quite a bit of canned stuff. I made all the signs on the computer and showed off all our old canners and other equipment. A real fun night!” Gail

Tonda (on left) and Gail with their canning display.

Tonda (on left) and Gail with their canning display.

Gail’s Elephant Collection

A guest post by my sister Cindy Ross: “It’s kind of a funny story about my mom’s elephant collection. I don’t know or remember who gave her the first elephant but the collection grew from there until she had quite a few in all different sizes. I’ve been told it’s good luck if the trunk of the elephant is up rather than down.

She kept the elephants in shelves that someone built into the chimney space of the old house. There were glass doors so you could see them.

One day when I asked mom about her collection, or why she picked them to collect. She laughed saying she didn’t pick them, they picked her ~ because as others saw the she had elephants, friends or family kept bringing her more. Mom wanted to share her collection and tried to see that each of the kids, grandkids and great-grands got an elephant.

Mom had the collection with her at the hospital and the rehab center. She was trying to give them to those who arrived. I didn’t get one at that time, but she told me about her intentions.

Now when I see an elephant I think of her. I feel lucky to have such fond memories.”

These elephants were gifts from Gail's daughter Karen, sent from India.

These elephants were gifts from Gail’s daughter Karen, sent from India.

What If Mom Had Married Someone Else?

My mom and her sister, Carol, had an interesting exchange on our MyFamily site back in October 2003.

Carol Garriott – “Is that a cigarette in Clyde’s hand?!?! I’d completely forgotten Clyde used to smoke!”

Clyde Martin with daughter, Cindy. Christmas time...

Clyde Martin with daughter, Cindy. Christmas time…

Karen Kolavalli – “Yup, it’s a cigarette. Then he moved on to cigars, too. Does seem like a long time ago, though!”

Gail Martin – “The doctor says he didn’t quit soon enough, his lung don’t handle upper respiratory infections. I think he started in high school. Of course if I’d married Johnnie, a non-smoker, I would have been a widow for the last 30 years. ???”

Karen Kolavalli
– “And I’ve never smoked, but my lungs can’t handle upper respiratory infections either.”

Carol Garriott – “And then there’s the thought that if you had married Johnnie, he might be alive today!

I remember Johnnie irritated me because he wanted me to name my black kitten “Whitey.” Isn’t it funny what one remembers?

I also remember being extremely impressed with my big sister one time when two boyfriends showed up on the same day. (I think they were Clyde and Johnnie.)”

John Faylor, Gail's prom date.

John Faylor, Gail’s prom date.

My thoughts on this: Instead of the six Martin kids, we might have been the six Faylors. Maybe there wouldn’t have been six of us even. Who knows.

Gail and Clyde Martin's children in 1959. It was Easter Sunday.

Gail and Clyde Martin’s children in 1959. It was Easter Sunday.

Mom and the Round Robin

Guest Blogger today is my sister, Cynthia Ross:

I’m reading an Amish story that talks about the ‘Round-Robin’ letters like my mother, Gail Lee Martin, used to write with family members.

I enjoyed hearing her read them, telling of the marriages, deaths or just the details of their daily life. She’d then take her old letter out of the envelope & write a newsy letter before mailing it on to the next person on the list.

My sister, Shannon, started something like a family newsletter that kept us up-to-date on what was happening before e-mails/ Facebook became common. Now I wonder what my kids will do with the 2-large shoe boxes of letters Larry & I wrote to each other while he was in college….. Please remember letters & diaries are a window to the past.

Gail Lee Martin

Cindy Ross and Her Mom