Madison Remembers the Flood of ’51

Kansas is having some nasty flooding right now from all the rain. That prompted me to post my mother’s memories in the Facebook group that shares Madison, Kansas stories. It triggered many of the participants to tell about their own family experiences of that record-setting flood.

Mary Meyer, “I remember the flood of ’51 quite well. I believe it occurred in July. We lived about 1.5 miles north of Madison on the river. Dad was outside putting the cows in the barn, catching what chickens he could, and taking them upstairs along with the dogs and cats. I remember sitting on the cook stove while Mom grabbed what she could and sent the 3 older kids upstairs with it. To this day, I am deathly afraid of water!

We ate cold cereal up there for about 3 days until the water went down. Then the real work began. About everything we had, including the hogs, were swept down river. I’ll never forget that swirling dirty water in the house.

madison 51 flood

The Emporia Weekly Gazette Emporia, Kansas 19 Jul 1951, Thu • Page 2

Lora Esslinger Meirowsky, “Dad talks about George and Dorothy Fankhauser’s home flooding where it was originally located just south of the highway right before the road curves to the east. After the flood, they moved the house across the Verdigris River to the hill where I remember it. Then a few years ago, the home again made the journey across the river to its current location just north of where it originally began.

Mary Beth Davies, “Mom, Dad, and Larry lived with her mom’s brothers’ family in a house just south of Fanestil’s in 99. They had quite a story about evacuating in ‘51. They could hear the roar of the water in the distance and just got out in time.”

Michael A. Paske, “Being much younger, I don’t remember the ’51 flood. However, I was told I created quite a stir. We lived in farmhouse my great-grandfather built just south of US 54 bridge over Verdigris near Toronto. The house set on a little rise in the flood plain and had a 3-foot high concrete and stone foundation. Dad had moved everything to the 2nd floor that wasn’t too heavy except for kitchen table and chairs and put refrigerator up on blocks even though the electricity had gone out the day before and they were using the old “icebox” fridge.
Seems someone did not put my diaper on snuggly enough. I, having turned one year old just a week earlier and not being quite as smart as the dog, was not housebroken yet. My grandmother who was staying with us saw a puddle of water at the door and screamed the water was coming in. The folks looked out and sure enough, water was lapping over onto the porch but the house door lips were another 4 inches high. It seems I had sat watching the water out the screen door and what will happen when you watch and listen to flowing water had happened.
The flood did cover the porch with about 1-1½” of water but stopped just short of really entering our house.
Dad did have to dig 2-3 ft of mud and silt out of the cellar/basement and of course, pump our well dry (it was totally covered by flood water) and pour in a couple of jugs of bleach as it refilled. He had moved all the chickens and geese to the hayloft of the barn which was also set on a raised foundation for the milk cows and the two old draft horses, and sheep.” 

flood of 51

The Emporia Gazette Emporia, Kansas 19 Jul 1951, Thu • Page 12

Renell Schroeder, “I remember the 1951 flood like yesterday. I have pictures of water up almost to Main Street on 4th Street. I remember the Norman Harlans (mentioned in Gail Martin’s story) because Tim was a year ahead of me in school and Vickie married my husband’s cousin. So neat that someone would record what they went through during that time.”

Kristy Buckridge “My Aunt Sheila lives in the house close to the river and the floors in her house were ruined that year.”

flood madison 1951

The Emporia Gazette Emporia, Kansas 26 Jul 1951, Thu • Page 9

Learn more about the 1951 floods with this 114-page report from the Weather Bureau (issued July 1952).

Many thanks to the individuals who shared their family memories. It’s good to preserve these. The flood happened almost 70 years ago so it’s rather amazing that word of mouth has preserved some of these stories.

Gail’s Books Inspire Another Memoir

Back in 2011, Gail Lee Martin emailed, “We were awakened this morning with a call from the man below. He went to Madison HS when Howard was in high school. He said that Hartsel Storrer, who manages the Madison Senior Center was his grade school teacher. Perry said his daughters bought both of my books from Blurb and then they downloaded Blurb and made a book for Perry’s birthday.

He is sending a copy to us so needed our snail mail address. He told about Ralph dive-bombing their farm and about Howard driving Ren’s new car to school one day and a bunch of classmates skipped school. They drove to Hamilton and on the way back decided to see how fast the car would go. On the downslope on the hill south of Madison, it hit 100 miles an hour. 

Now we know who bought at least two of the books from Blurb and with great results. Apparently, his books are selling fairly well in the community.”

Perry Rubart and His Book

They titled his book, Dare to Dream… Dare to Make the Dream Come True. Here’s the description of it:

Perry Rubart, born in 1931, has seen many changes in his lifetime—personally as well as in this country. In this book, Perry describes his childhood in the Flint Hills of Kansas during the Depression era, his young adulthood in the throes of the Korean War, and his experiences of small-town Ulysses, Kansas, in the changing times of the 1960s-1990s. This is a book about his poverty and affluence, pain and joy, hardships and blessings. In this story of a lifetime, we see a man who did “dare to dream and then dare to make the dream come true.”

Dare to Dream Dare to Make the Dream Come True by Perry Rubart Blurb Books

Dare to Dream Dare to Make the Dream Come True by Perry Rubart Blurb Books

Gail also included in her email, a clipping from (7/30/2011) about Perry Rubart celebrating his 80th birthday. He was born in 1931 near Madison, so was about 7 years younger than Gail and Clyde.

The article included this information, “On Aug. 11, 1951, he married Dorothy Crooks in Madison. He worked in the oil fields and gas plants from 1947 to 1960. In Ulysses, he owned and operated the Mobil Bulk Dealership, Perry’s Tire & Supply, The Rusty Windmill antique store, and was part owner of The Peddler’s Inn and Southwest Kansas Bank, N.A. He is a Korean War veteran and served on various boards of directors including Sunflower, KEC, Pioneer Electric and York College.

His children and spouses are Jackie and Wendell Beall, West Fork, Arkansas, Teresa and Greg Grounds, Hooker, Oklahoma, and Debbie and Kenney Sneyd, Ulysses. He has eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

The Abandoned School

Gail Lee Martin didn’t write many poems and often apologized for them. Here’s one she felt brave enough to post on the Our Echo website where she had so many friends.

Forgotten Heritage

Old abandoned school houses
left to rack and ruin.
windows broken, porches sagging,
surrounded with trash and tall weeds.

Built so long ago by our ancestors.
now no one cares that they once sheltered
the children of sturdy pioneers
who labored to learn from Mc Guffy readers.

We’ve flown to the moon,
talked across the seas and
can fly faster than sound and this
knowledge came from those humble beginnings.

All those old schoolhouses should be
shrines to our ancestors whose
thirst for knowledge of a better life
led us to fame and prosperity.

I wanted to find a picture that would match Gail’s poem. The one below was shared on Facebook by Mary Meyer. Here’s Mary’s description of it, “Breaks my heart to see the old stone school out on the Browning go up in flames due to a suspicious grass fire. Always hoped it could be restored.” Ross Clopton remembered that his dad went to school there.

A photo by Mary Meyer of a burned school near Madison Kansas.

Photo used with permission of Mary Meyer.

Planning a Road Trip

In January 2012, Gail Martin’s younger sister, CJ contemplated the idea of moving back to Kansas. She had lived many years in the Austin area and later in Seadrift, Texas by the coast. Her nieces encouraged her to move back to her home state.

Gail chimed in with some enticements. “We could take a trip this spring to Teterville and where we used to live when the rattlesnake bit me? Or over to Seeley and Burkett leases and oh yes, the bridge east of Madison that you drew one time, Carol that isn’t there anymore. I’ll bet the Madison Museum would love to have that picture!

Then we could go to the Locke lease or out the Kenbro where Viola and Roy used to live. The Greenwood County Museum in Eureka is an interesting place to spend a day or so.

Gail’s daughter, Cindy, added her thoughts too, “Yes, yes and yes again! I like the idea very much of Carol moving to Kansas.  (still afraid to get my hopes up) I know it will be rather heartbreaking for you to leave Seadrift & your beloved coast.”

CJ chimed in on the discussion, “Good ideas, Big Sis! You know, the Madison Museum just might like to have a print of that picture. I still have it. I’d love prowling around all those spots, refreshing my memories, which, oddly, seem to be full of gaps.”

bridge picture

Imthur Bridge, near Madison, KS (drawn in 1954 approx.) by CJ Garriott. The bridge is no longer there.

Here’s the bridge picture that CJ made and her description of it. “I’m posting my drawing of Imthurn Bridge, east of Madison, KS, for Father’s Day 2016 to honor my Daddy. In my teens, I signed up for a by-mail drawing class. One of the advanced tasks assigned was to draw a pen & ink from real life. This bridge piqued my interest as we drove back and forth to town across it. Once I decided the bridge would be my subject, Daddy checked out the area where I would sit to draw, cleared brush and weeds to make a space and made a sitting-drawing thing out of a bucket with a board across the top, and a little folding table to hold the drawing pad. Thank you, Daddy, for always supporting my varied interests! Mother too, the both of you made me believe I could do anything.”

Carol Jean’s 1946 Diary

Gail’s younger sister, Carol McGhee kept this diary in the first few months of 1946. I was glad she shared it with us, as it sheds some light on Gail’s 1940s years which are the focus of the next family book.

CJ Garriott’s Introduction for the 1946 diary

I found the diary I wrote in briefly in 1946, Pretty faithful in January, but just a few days in February and March. Probably, I got it for Christmas. I wish I had stayed with it! I found it fairly interesting–day-to-day action on the Kansas plains when I would have been eleven. I was inspired to transcribe it today. I typed it exactly as I had written it, abbreviations and an occasional misspelling. We must have just moved to the farm from the Seeley Lease.

Transcription of her childhood diary–1946 (Age 11 in January)

January 1
Today is New Year’s Day. Gail came over and stayed all day and sewed baby clothes.
This afternoon Daddy, Mother, Gail and I went to the pasture where the pond is and covered the pipeline with leaves to keep it from freezing.
This evening I went out to help Daddy do the chores. I fed the cows, horses, and calves. When Daddy started to milk the cow, Cream, she ran out of the barn. Daddy and I took some time driving her back in. The cow just did not want to go back in the barn! But we got her in anyway.

christmas 1947

Carol Jean McGhee, December 1947

January 2
Today I went to school, a new girl came to school today. I like her very much.
I did not help my dad with the chores today. Wayne, Wanda, and Garry came over this evening.
The little black cat of Garry’s strung some more string out of the sewing machine again. I ate dinner with Gail and Mother today over at Wanda’s house.
January 3
The new girl was really in the fifth grade so she went to the fifth-grade room today.
We had my school xxx (couldn’t read it) as party today. I got a handkerchief from Adam. We had ice cream bars for treats. Also, we had a box of candy apiece. I helped Daddy with the chores today. The little calf got out and we had to chase it down. It jumped over a chicken coop. Tippy our dog helped us. I got a letter from Connie Benson.
January 4
Today is the last day of school this week. Wanda’s cat disappeared today at noon.
I did not help Daddy with the chores this evening because of the rain. My, how it did rain, thunder, and lightning. It rained almost all day. This morning it was 55 degrees above zero.
January 5
I helped Mother clean up the house. I finished my book I checked out of the Madison library today.
It was sort of raining today. I helped Daddy with the chores this evening. Mother and I hung some pictures up. We washed our heads. I wrote a letter to Connie Benson. I spilled the ink too.

shredded wheat houses - Etsy

Shredded Wheat houses to make into Toytown, 1950s – Photo of vintage cards for sale on the Etsy site.

January 6
Today is Saturday. Mother, Daddy and I went over to Melba and Norman’s and made some little houses from shredded wheat cards.  (Melba is Gail and CJ’s older sister)
I helped Daddy with the chores this evening. I mashed my big toe too. I was getting in the car and pulled the front seat down on my foot. My! How it did hurt!
Daddy got the stove up in our bathroom today. We took a bath too. My, it felt good.

January 8
This morning I nearly missed getting my arithmetic done. It rained so hard and long today. The rain is freezing on everything, too. Mr. Brown nearly got stuck at our front gate. I did not help Daddy with the chores because of rain.
January 9
I did not help Daddy with the chores this evening because of the mud. At school, I helped the cheerleaders for the basketball games. My music teacher was not here today.
Mother cut her hand. My! how the ice glittered on everything in the sun today. My leg hurt today but Mother put Absorbine on it and made it feel better. I played with a tiny football this eve.
January 10
I had upside down pineapple cake for my dessert at noon today! Gail came over and stayed all day. Clyde came after her this eve and got the phonegraph. Gail made a new dress too.
January 11
Today was lyceum. I did not go because a man was going to talk about model airplanes. It snowed this morn but before night it was all melted again. I played with Virginia Goodsen this eve after school. We caught a mouse in our mousetrap.
January 12
Today is Sat. This afternoon Mother came back from the barn and said something had happened to the horses. I went after Mr. Brown. When we got back our horse, Tony, had Bill down in the mud in the barn. His front feet were sticking out the door while his hind feet were up by his head. We went to Emporia yesterday eve and got Mother and I some shoes. (I can only hope the horses were OK!)
January 13 (Sun)
Daddy went in to town and got Wanda, Garry and Wayne for dinner. Melba, Norman, Timmy and Bobby came out for dinner also.
January 14
Today is Monday. Wayne, Wanda and Garry were out. We had weine roast yesterday eve. I took my lunch to school for the first time in town school.
January 15 (Tues)
I did not go to school today because of my sore throat. Wanda and Garry stayed at our house all day. Wayne went with Daddy to work. The electricity man came out and dug holes and put up poles. We will soon have electricity.
January 16 (Wed)
We went to town and looked at some light fixtures but didn’t buy any. Gail and Clyde came over this eve and bought a lamp mantle from us.
January 17 (Thur)
Wanda was to have a permanent today so Mother came in and took care of Garry, while she was gone. Daddy, Mother and I hurried this morning and got in at Wanda’s house early. Wayne went with Daddy. Mother combed my hair after we got in at Wanda’s.
January 18
Today is Friday. I went to school. Went over to Wanda’s after school because Mother washed and was there. Gail washed so she was there too. Then when Gail went home I went with her. I slept on a feather bed at Gail’s, too.
January 19 (Sat)
I went with Gail and Clyde to get a horse from somebody. I don’t know their names. When we came back we had a trailer with the horse in it. The horses’ name was Polly. We got stuck three times. Clyde got a man to pull us out. When we got home it was pretty late. We started at 11:30. We eat at a cafe before we went on home. Gail taught me how to play rummy. We eat waffles for breakfast.

January 20 (Sun)
I colored some in Gail’s colorbook. We had waffles for dinner. Gail and Clyde brought me home this eve. Wanda, Wayne and Garry were out at our place when I got home. Gail and Clyde took them home.
January 31
Today is the last day of January. Daddy put up my blinds in the eve.
February 1
Today is Friday. I am awful sleepy tonight. My music teacher read us some fairy tales about music. Daddy has something in his eye. They went to Emporia and haven’t got back yet. It’s 5 min after 8 now. Guess I’ll go to bed.
February 5 (Tues)
Today is Tuesday. How I wish I did not have to go to school! Daddy hauled cow manure out of the barn this eve. There was a dust storm this morning. It lasted from 10:00 to 12:00.
March 3
Today is Josephine’s Brown’s birthday. I forgot to get her a present, which makes me mad!
March 4
Today is Tuesday. I helped Daddy with the chores this morning and this evening. I bought a little table downtown at noon for the red cross box at school. I took my lunch to school also. Gail came down and washed. She washed down in the basement.
March 5
Boy, is it ever snowing! Everything’s covered and it looks as if it will keep right on snowing all night. The Brown kids came over this evening and we had a movie with the jectascope. My committee in Blue Triangle had a party today/

…and that’s all she wrote!


  • Garry is Wanda and Wayne Brower’s child, a toddler. Wanda (Bolte) Brower is CJ and Gail’s cousin, 4 years older than Gail.
  • Melba is CJ and Gail’s older sister, married to Norman Harlan and they had two sons at that time, Tim and Bob.
  • The Brown family lived on the adjacent farm.
  • I found a 1936 advertisement for a Jecta-Scope which seemed to be a projector for drawing purposes but also for projecting pictures on a wall. Perhaps by 1946, the company had a version that could be used with filmstrips for the home.

Jecta-Scope advertisement 1936Jecta-Scope advertisement 1936 Tue, Dec 22, 1936 – 9 · The Record (Hackensack, New Jersey) ·

Further Thoughts from CJ in 2019

We moved from the Seeley Lease to the farm in summer 1946. I think it was 3 miles to town. I rode the school bus. Probably it was laundry they did at Wanda’s, who lived across the street from the school. Sometimes I would have lunch over there on school days.
We had the mini dairy, maybe 5 cows? I helped milk. Daddy took the big metal containers of milk down to the road where they were picked up.

I wish I had added how the horse episode ended up. They must have been all right, I suppose, or I would have.

I have to wonder why I didn’t want to go to Lyceum because a man was going to talk about model airplanes! 

R is for Ruth McGhee – In Sympathy

Gail Martin’s mother, Ruth McGhee died on the 25th of July in 1960 in Emporia, Kansas. It was a shock to everyone. Cards poured in to let the family know that she would be missed by everyone who knew her.

She’d had a heart attack and was in the hospital. The next month, she would have been 63 years old. Gone too soon.


Ruth McGhee sympathy cards

Some observations on the cards. Greeting card styles have changed since 1960. The cards were smaller and of lightweight paper. Some embellishment like glitter, a ribbon or flocking made a few cards stand out.

For the most part, the custom was to put just a signature, often the formal “Mr. & Mrs.” which we don’t use much now in signing a card. Usually, there was no additional note, and when there was, the expressions of sympathy sounded more formal then.

Here are the signatures on the cards. If you are from Madison, Kansas, many of these names will be familiar. Some come from further afield from family and friends in Oklahoma, Oregon, and California.

  • Russell, Dorothy & Don Andrew
  • Virgil & Bernice Armstrong – “with the deepest of sympathy for you & your family. May God be with you & comfort you at this time of great sorrow.
  • Frank J. Barker & Family
  • Mr. & Mrs. Otey Bill
  • Otho & Freida Buster
  • Frank & Inis Castoe
  • Cheerful Worker’s Class, Madison Christian Church
  • The George Cloptons
  • The Crawfords – “You have had a great loss and we have lost a dear friend.
  • Floyd & Millie Culver
  • Ralph Dobson
  • Essie Dunham
  • Mr. & Mrs. Earl Dyer
  • Tom & Ruth Edwards
  • The Engles
  • The Flemings – “Rich & I both want you to know that we are thinking of you & your family & extend our very deepest sympathy.
  • Mr. & Mrs. T.G. French
  • B.H. & Doris Gaines & family – “Our deepest sympathy to you, Clarence, in your great loss.
  • Mr. & Mrs. C.W. Galbraith
  • Mrs. Pearl Garvin
  • Anna Haas (Lamont, KS) – “with deepest understanding sympathy”
  • Lloyd & Betty Haas – “Have thought of you often in the past weeks.
  • Edna Mae & Austin Hailey (Barker)
  • Mr. & Mrs. Roy Harlan
  • Harold, Melba Lu & Janice Hauser – “God Bless you & keep you as you go on – the way Aunt Ruth would want it. With all our love.
  • Mr. & Mrs. Ray Hess
  • The James-Sill-Brown Post, No. 124, Madison, Kansas (American Legion)
  • Mr. & Mrs. Geo Jester
  • Roy & Blanche Kennedy of Wichita – “So little I can say at a time like this, so nice of you to call me. I would of come if possible. I’m thankful that Ruth and I had such a nice visit last fall at her sister’s & Ruth gave me a crocheted apron she just made. I appreciate it even more now. If you are in Wichita, come see us & if there is ever anything I can do, rest assured, I would. It’s nice you have the girls and grandchildren to help ease your burden.  Write when convenient.
  • Conley & Mrs. Kindley – “God Bless and Comfort You
  • James King & Family
  • Seth & Mildred Lindberg
  • Coy & Lois Lindsey, Paula & Brenda
  • Harley & Carmon McClure (Heston, Kansas)
  • The C.C. McCollum family
  • W.E. McGiluray
  • Bud, Rosa & Arminta McGoyne
  • Mr. & Mrs Arthur Moore
  • Norman & Bonnie Morray & Family
  • Mrs. Earl Mullen
  • Mr. & Mrs. John Ogilvie
  • Treva, Dee-Wayne, Leslie, Lynn, Louis, & Lyle Paugh
  • Irene & Hugh Palmer – “our sincere sympathy
  • Kermit & Velva Pope
  • The Fletcher Powells (more names below the photo)ruth-mcghee-card-2
  • Ernest & Lois Reynolds – “Dear Clarence, we are so sorry to hear of your loss. Our sincere sympathy.
  • Mr. & Mrs. Ray Richards, Ken & Myrna
  • Charles & Milla Ritchey
  • Mr. & Mrs. Theo Richter
  • The Robert E. Sanders
  • Mr. & Mrs. L Sauder (Beulah & Doc) – “Dear Friend, You know you have our deepest sympathy but wanted to send you a card. We appreciated cards sent us when mother passed away and liked to take them out and look at them at times.
  • Janice Schmidt
  • Mr. & Mrs. Clarence Schwab
  • Oscar & Hazel Skaggs – “Mrs. Lour just called & told us of the sad news of the death of your wife. We are happy we got to know her at Trenton last year. We are surely praying that you and your family will gain much comfort from God at this time.
  • Opal Smith of Woodward OK
  • The Snyders
  • Herb & Mabel Staten
  • Mr. & Mrs. Fred Storrer
  • Mr. & Mrs. G.O. Towns
  • Hallie Umbarger
  • The Williamsons – “We are sorry not to be able to attend the services, but Roy is still not feeling well. Our sincere sympathy to all of you.
  • Frances Yawn of Orlando FL
  • Ardale, Earleen & Girls
  • Erma & Hubert
  • Irene & Shy
  • Leslie & Lula
  • Lafe & Verna
  • Hiram & Elizabeth – “Dear Clarence, Dewey told me about your great loss. We are truly sorry to hear it. Know it must be hard to bear, but it is one thing we all have to face sooner or later. Would like to see you, but we do not get out much these hot days. May God bless you in your sorrow.
  • Leonard, Violet & family

I apologize for any misspelled names. For the most part, the handwriting was very clear and readable but I struggled with a few of them.

M is for Memories of the Flood of 1951

Gail’s children heard the story many times about the great flood that almost swept little Cindy away. The family rented a small house owned by Gail’s parents, Clarence and Ruth McGhee. It was just a quarter mile down the road from the McGhee home. The “little house” was home to Gail and Clyde Martin with their four young children.
Rental house - owned by Clarence McGhee in 1951

The little house that the Martins rented from the McGhees.

As you can see, the house was fairly basic and had a few cinder blocks for the front step. Take a look at the video below and then I’ll tell you the rest of the story.

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.”

McGhee house in Greenwood County KS

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.”

Dad and the Gas Station

Clyde Martin and his brother Howard ran the gas station together around 1950. Here’s what Howard said about it, “The station was on the corner where the post office is now in Madison, Kansas. It was a Co-Op station, farmer-owned. We just ran it on a salary-commission base. Very little salary and not enough commission.”

This would have been the era of full-service gas stations where the attendant filled your gas tank and washed your windshield.

I seem to remember Mom telling me they delivered water with a tank truck as well. Because times were tight, they gave credit but couldn’t always collect. With young families to support, the brothers had to give up on their gas station venture.

The CO-OP station shown here is not the one in Madison, but gives you an idea of a CO-OP station from that time period.


Martha and Arlyn Schuler sent me a message when Mom died. She said, ” I kept the books for Clyde and Howard when they had the station. Probably, didn’t know what I was doing, but I enjoyed it.” She is the cousin of Howard Martin’s first wife, Marjorie.

One thing my sister, Cindy, and I both remember about the gas station is the calendar over the desk inside. It featured goofy Lawson Wood’s monkeys for each month. I was fascinated by the antics of those monkeys.

I vaguely remember the cluttered interior of the gas station where fan belts, tire gauges, and cans of oil crowded the small space. The smell of oil and gasoline lingered in the air and oily fingerprints on the paperwork and the desk made me reluctant to touch anything.

A is for Accident

To jump-start me on writing more regularly on this blog, I’ve joined the April A to Z challenge. Today is the first day, so I’m writing about a topic that starts with A (accidents).

wwii ration stamps

WWII ration stamps


This is a short memory piece that Mom put in one of her notebooks.

“Shortly after my marriage, I took my sister Carol to the doctor to get the cast off her right arm. She had broken it during some games at a wedding shower for me.

On our way home from Madison, Carol was checking our meat ration booklet. She found one that would be expired the next day. I glanced at the ration book and when I looked back, I was on the wrong side of the road.

I slammed on the brakes and the car switched around and we headed down a steep incline. When we stopped, we both jumped out.

The men had trouble pulling the car back up to the road without it tipping over. We were sure scared. I relive that moment every time I go by that stretch of #99.”

Written by Gail Lee Martin on June 7, 1999.

I asked my aunt, CJ Garriott, about her broken arm. Here’s her memory of that:

“We were playing ring-a-round-the-rosy; everybody (children?) in a circle. Whoever was it would race around outside of the circle, and randomly drop a hanky behind someone. That person would grab the hanky and take off around the circle herself. It was a dewy evening, and as I was rounding the circle, slipped on the wetness, and down I went. I distinctly remember looking down at another elbow between the regular one and my wrist, which was now at my chin. Didn’t hit anything except the ground, no rocks or sticks. Daddy went and got a shingle from the barn, laid my U-shaped arm on it, and headed for the doctor’s office, who was meeting us there. The doctor had daddy hold my shoulder, the doctor took my hand, and pulled quickly. Bones snapped back in place like they’d never left. Had the cast for a few weeks. Never even had a bump to show for the breaking both bones.”


A World War II ration book from Madison, Kansas.