Gail and the Boarding Houses of the War Years

Gail Lee Martin’s notes about the boarding houses she lived in while working at Boeing in the 1940s. These are emails between her and her daughter Karen. All the photos were taken by Karen a few years ago. The houses are still there.

Both of the emails date from July 15, 2011.

The email was in response to the photos of the house on Emporia Street that I sent her:

“I really enjoyed living in the 2nd tower room until I got the intestinal flu and the bathroom was downstairs.”

That’s when her Mother came to take care of her and immediately found the rooming house for her on Pattie Street.

Pattie Street house in Wichita where our mom lived in WWI while working at Boeing Aircraft.

Pattie Street house in Wichita where our mom lived in WWI while working at Boeing Aircraft. Photo by her daughter, Karen K.

This email is about the one on Pattie Street:

“Sure looks like the house Mrs. Dixon owned and I lived in the front downstairs bedroom, with the door opening off the front room.  There was a grocery store east across the street where I bought a package of 6 cinnamon rolls and ate them on the way to work.  The bus stopped there during the daytime and then I had to change buses to go on to Boeing.  Even the front door looks the same.  It was 1000 S. Pattie.”

You’ll remember that she often had to work after the buses had stopped running in the evening and that she walked (most?) of the way home.  I can’t imagine that she walked all the way from Boeing though.

Just checked and Boeing was 5 miles south of where she lived at 1000 S. Pattie,  South Wichita has never been safe, but maybe during the war people were more respectful of those involved in the war effort and refrained from raping the girls.

Maybe the buses just ran a limited route after hours and she didn’t have to walk the whole way.

Karen

Karen’s Memories of Paper Dolls

Last year, I shared Gail’s little sister’s memories of paper dolls. Now, we have Gail’s daughter with her own memories

Karen Kolavalli – “The paper dolls we had most often were families cut out of catalogs. I remember we would create houses for them by placing books together–each book cover was a separate room and bigger rooms could be created with books that had the same color covers.

I loved Betsy McCall paper dolls from McCall’s magazine and thought Grandma McGhee was very unreasonable when she wouldn’t let us cut them out if she hadn’t finished the story on the other side.

And one special Christmas with all the Martin cousins, my gift was Lennon Sisters paper dolls that came in a cardboard and tin carrying container. I found quite a few for sale online. Apparently, they came out in 1960. I found some on eBay that sold for $31!

Also, I have a vintage sheet of Betsy McCall paper dolls that I have framed. I’ve heard that our generation is buying back our childhoods.

Ooh, forgot the paper dolls from the Sugar and Spike comic books! When we’d go with Mom to the grocery store, sometimes we each got to pick out one dime comic book and I always picked Sugar and Spike.”

Note:

I see there were earlier Lennon Sister paper dolls from 1957 that are just in booklets, not in a nice carrying tin.

Lennon Sisters from the Lawrence Welk Show Paper DollsLennon Sisters from the Lawrence Welk Show Paper DollsView DetailsLennon Stars From the Lawrence Welk Tv Show Paper DollLennon Stars From the Lawrence Welk Tv Show Paper DollView Details1958 JANET LENNON cut-out doll - authorized edition Paper Dolls1958 JANET LENNON cut-out doll – authorized edition Paper DollsView Details

Sugar and Spike

I didn’t remember paper dolls with Sugar and Spike that Karen mentioned, but I sure remember how fun their comic books were. Maybe we should save the topic of favorite comic books for another post, but I couldn’t resist checking Amazon for them. The vintage covers are quite pricey.

Sugar & Spike (Oct. #85/1969) (DC Comic Book, Oct #85)Sugar & Spike (Oct. #85/1969) (DC Comic Book, Oct #85)View DetailsSugar And Spike (Sugar And Spike, No.41)Sugar And Spike (Sugar And Spike, No.41)View DetailsSugar and Spike Dc Comic Books Issue 68Sugar and Spike Dc Comic Books Issue 68View DetailsSugar & Spike (1956 series) #77Sugar & Spike (1956 series) #77View DetailsSUGAR AND SPIKE COMICS #67 (NO 67)SUGAR AND SPIKE COMICS #67 (NO 67)View DetailsSugar & Spike (1956 series) #80Sugar & Spike (1956 series) #80View Details

Tell me about your memories of paper dolls.

Remembering the Old Wood Stove

Guest Post by Gail’s daughter, Karen.

“I remember using these to shovel out the ashes from our wood stove. They haven’t changed at all in 60 (yikes!) years. That part of heating with a wood stove was fun. You shoveled the ashes out of a little door at the bottom.

karen's photo of ash shovel

We had a 2-story late-19th-century farmhouse. The wood stove in the living room didn’t help much with the upstairs bedrooms!

We moved there when I was 7 and lived there until we moved to town when I was in junior high. We all had electric blankets, but we only went upstairs when it was time for bed during the winter. I remember there being ice on the inside of the windows. Good times.

I remember huddling around that stove as we hastily put on our clothes in the morning. Brrr!”

That memory triggered her sister, Ginger, to add, “in the evening, we’d sit around the stove and prop our feet as close as we could to get warm. If you smelled singed leather, you were too close.”

Karen wrote, “and thanks to Mom saving papers for each of us kids, here’s a drawing I did of OUR actual stove from the Greene farm (proving early on that I wasn’t going to be an artist!) But the teacher did give me an A on it. ”

old stove

A drawing by Karen Martin showing the black wood stove similar that we had.

Sister, Cindy added her memories, “I remember the year we got the little red wagon for Christmas and thinking at the time; weren’t we all a little old for such a gift, except for Shannon. That idea sounded good, and we thought, cool! we can take turns pulling her around in it. We quickly found out what the little red wagon was for…., hauling frozen rabbit water bowl and firewood up to the house. As an adult, I understand that loading it on the wagon was a lot better than carrying a stack in my arms.”

 

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.

Home: A Sense of Place

This is a guest post, by my sister, Karen Kolavalli.

Karen Kolavalli, the author of this essay.

Karen Kolavalli, the author of this essay.

Whenever anyone asks “Where’s home?” I immediately picture an isolated farmhouse north of El Dorado, Kansas. I’ve been thinking about the concept of home this week as part of the coursework in an anthropology class I’m taking.

While I don’t have the writing skills of Daphne DuMaurier (“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”) or Isak Dinesen (“I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills.”), my memories of my growing-up home place are just as poignant. The house burned down a few years after we moved out. I remember as a child, a family brought their elderly mother to the house and asked if she could look around. She had grown up there herself. I’m sad that I can never be that old lady revisiting my childhood home.

My family moved to the country when I was just 6 years old and we remained there until we moved back to town when I was in junior high. Growing up free and wild in the country was, and still is, the best childhood I could imagine. My four sisters and brother and I endlessly explored the woods, the pastures, the creek, and the river, together and on our own. It was a magical time and place.

Cindy, Karen, Ginger and Susan - Quite a long time ago, when we lived in the country.

Cindy, Karen, Ginger and Susan – Quite a long time ago, when we lived in the country.

I was a big reader and I would also get lost in the make-believe world of paper dolls cut from the Penney’s and Sear’s catalogs. We played a lot of board games as a family when bitter winter cold and snow kept us inside. The downstairs of our house was kept warm with a wood-burning stove. The upstairs was not kept warm at all. We children shared beds, which helped keep us warm, although not “toasty” warm. I remember ice on the inside of the windows upstairs in our late 19th-century farm house.

So, yes, that’s “home,” even though I’ve lived in many other places. “Last night I dreamt….”

From Kansas to India and Back

The recipe has gone around the world with me. As I pulled it out today to make my “Texas” banana bread, I took a minute to read the notes I’d jotted down over the years. It looks like I first made it in 1991 when I was newly married and living in Ahmedabad, India. Another note shows that I made it for my daughter’s 4th birthday party in July of 1994, still in Ahmedabad. In 2008 I’m divorced and back in Kansas, still using this recipe. At some point, my daughter started adding her notes to the recipe as she began baking. She was the first to add a lemon glaze to the bread. I see that I substituted 1 cup of dahi or curds (plain yogurt) for some of the bananas when I was short on bananas one time.

The recipe is from a cookbook my aunt gave me for Christmas back in 1978, when I was living in Wichita, Kansas, and she was a new Texan. She was working as a typesetter in Austin and The Wide, Wide World of Texas Cooking is one of the books she worked on. When I moved to India to marry, it was one of the few books I packed to take with me. It was my go-to book when I was homesick for American food.

Tonight I spent some time flipping through the pages of the book and realize that it’s a veritable journal of that part of my life. I’ve never been able to keep a real journal for more than a few days at a time (despite good intentions!), so it’s a delight to see that I WAS actually keeping a journal of sorts during those years.

Yes, the notes on the recipe do evoke memories.

Recipe for Pecan-Banana Bread. Yes, the notes on the recipe do evoke memories.

The first note in the book dates to the time before I moved to India, when I was single and living in Wichita, Kansas: Jalapeno Buttermilk Cornbread (served with country spareribs) in Wichita before I moved to India. The note is brief, but I vividly recall serving this meal to my parents and my brother in my apartment along the Arkansas River in Wichita. Dad was a big fan of the jalapenos, but Mom and Owen would have preferred plain cornbread. My parents are both gone now and my brother is in a nursing home, partially paralyzed from a stroke, so these are bittersweet memories of a happier time.

My first years in India show that I must have really been missing American breads and pies! I made Flannel Cakes, Sour Milk Cornbread, Amarillo Risen Biscuits (for Easter), and Butter Biscuits. Pies just weren’t something you found in India, so the only way to get my fix was to make them myself and, boy, did I! Apple Cream Pie, Osgood Pie, Pumpkin Custard Pie (from fresh pumpkins from the market), Oatmeal Pie, Fried Pies (that page is really grease-spattered!), Old-fashioned Egg Pie, Lemon Chess Pie (I substituted rava, which is coarsely ground rice, for cornmeal), Lemon Meringue Pie, Buttermilk Pie, and Banana Cream Pie. These would have been served with chai in the afternoon or for dessert after an evening meal.

Karen with her daughter.

Karen with her daughter.

The notes show that I managed to celebrate American holidays in a traditional way during my years in India. For my first Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, I made Baked Hen with Dressing, Buttermilk Pralines, and Date-Nut Roll, which I wrote was “like Uncle Glenn’s recipe.” I also found recipes that reminded me of my Mom’s cooking when I was growing up, such as Mrs. Spitzenberger’s Apple Oatmeal Strudel, which I noted was similar to my Mom’s apple crisp. Another recipe was for Cinnamon Puffs, “like Mom’s cake doughnuts she used to make on the farm.” I remember teaching my Indian cook how to make egg noodles, but my daughter liked to be the one to cut the dough into noodles, just as I did when I was her age.

The finished pecan-banana bread.

The finished pecan-banana bread.

The banana bread is out of the oven, cooling on the kitchen counter. And I make another entry in my well-worn recipe book/journal before I return it to the bookshelf. In the fall, the cookbook will be packed away to make the journey across the country with me when I move to Kentucky to start a new stage in my life. I’m enjoying the adventure!

To follow Karen’s adventures in Kentucky, check out her blog, Kentucky Day Trips.

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