Vintage Camping

My mother’s aunt, Bertha McGhee taught in New Mexico back in 1929 – 1930. She and some friends had some time away which they spent camping out in a small cabin and cooking over an open fire.

I wish I could see the face better, but this does look like Bertha McGhee

We don’t know the location or who the other women are. It’s likely that they are also teachers or staff from the Navajo Indian School.

Here’s one more photo that must be from this same camping trip.

It looks like this woman has dark hair and is not Bertha.

This post was inspired by the Sepia Saturday weekly photo challenge. Here is their photo of two ladies making tea over a fire in Australian in 1915. Take a look at some of the other bloggers to see how they responded to the challenge.

Here’s more information about the Navajo Indian School in Farminton, NM. I also have a post about another outing of Bertha and Friends.

Boys in Suits

I scanned through my family photos looking for old sepia photos. The challenge for this Saturday was a picture of two boys dressed up in suits. Finally, I found the one I was thinking of. There was my grandfather, Clarence McGhee, sitting stiffly in the elaborately-carved photography studio chair. Next to him stood his friend Edwin Hatton.

They are in their teens, maybe 13 or 15. I’m not sure what the occasion was, as the McGhee family had few studio photos from their early days. Anyway, it makes a good match for the Sepia Saturday Photo Challenge.

I didn’t have many to choose from, as most photos of boys in our family albums show them in casual or working attire like overalls or jeans.

I have a later picture of Edwin Hatton that was inscribed to my grandparents in 1918. I wonder if it is their wedding picture. It was taken at the Scott Studio in Independence, Kansas.

Browsing the census records on Ancestry, I see he was an oil field worker in 1920, a carpenter, and odd jobs in 1930. Born 1899, married at age 20 to Blanche Mahaffey, children Eugene and Bernard.

Edwin and Blanche Hatton. Inscribed to Clarence and Ruth (Vining) McGhee, September 29, 1918.

Edwin and Blanche Hatton – Inscribed to Clarence and Ruth McGhee, September 29, 1918.

Edwin Hatton’s WWI draft record says his nearest relative was an uncle, Anthony Landrey of Tyro. He worked for the Prairie Pipe Line Co. The registration was Sept. 12, 1918, so if Sept. 29 is their marriage date, then the war precipitated some quick weddings, it seems.

The photo below shows Clarence and Ruth McGhee’s wedding picture. They married on July 14, 1917. Clarence had enlisted earlier in April. I wonder if these are both studio photos where a generic church backdrop was used. Clarence and Ruth were married in the church rectory.


Gail Martin’s parents on their wedding day.

Updated 1940s Photo of Gail

Gail Lee Martin loved researching family history and she’s passed that passion on to several of her daughters, including me. She tracked her McGhee line laboriously through letters and visits to courthouses, libraries, and cemeteries in those pre-Internet times. I’ve been retracing her steps, but using online resources, to see what further can be discovered.

In doing so, I joined a Perry County history group on Facebook for Arkansas. While asking about the McGhees there and sharing some photos, I’ve met some distant cousins who shared their ancestors with me. This photo shows Florence McGhee who married William J. Marshall in 1910. Florence McGhee Marshall (2)

My thanks to Dana Mattingly Craft‎ who provided this picture. Information from the back: Florence McGhee Marshall with children: Robert Marshall (in her arms), Willie “Dane” Marshall, Doyle Marshall (retired from the navy around 1950), Kenneth Marshall (killed in service on December 16, 1941 around Honolulu, Hawaii while piloting an airplane off a carrier for the Navy).

This photo had to have been taken prior to or in 1918 as Florence and Dane died at the end of 1918 as did her one-month-old infant.

In looking at this photo of Florence, it reminded me of a 1940s photo of my mother, when she worked at Boeing. Do you see the resemblance?
gail mcghee boeing wichita edited

This sharing of information led to another connection who surprised me by colorizing Gail’s picture. I think Jenny S. Henry did a marvelous job and I greatly appreciate her skill and willingness to share her talent.


color boeing photo by Jenny

Gail and the Broken Glass Chimney

At Home on the Prairie by Gail Lee Martin

My daddy worked for Phillips Petroleum Company back in the twenties and thirties. All their employees were furnished housing complete with natural gas heat and lights. I remember Mother lighting kerosene lamps but there was a gas light fixed high on the wall in each room. They all had glass chimneys that tended to get smoky inside no matter how low you turned the flame. The gas light made a hissing noise and Daddy always had to light it as Mother was too short.

One of the first chores I remember getting to do was washing the glass chimneys because my hand was the smallest. I had to be careful so as to not drop and break them. That made Mother unhappy. I recall one time I did drop a chimney. I tried to pick up all the pieces quickly so Mother wouldn’t know about it.

In my hurry, I cut my hand bad. Mother had heard the noise and knew just what had happened as mothers seem to. The scolding I expected turned into an expression of concern about where all the blood was coming from.

I can still trace the scar on the palm of my hand. I have another long scar on the same hand but that is another story to tell.

Gas Lamp Card
Gas Lamp Card by Sloppydesigns


(This story is published online at Gail Martin’s stories on the Our Echo website. You can read more of her stories there)

McGhee Sisters – National Siblings Day

Inspired by the vintage photos everyone was posting on Facebook for National Siblings Day, I rummaged out some pictures of Mom with her two sisters.

July 1955

July 1955 – The McGhee sisters with their parents. (L to R) Melba Harlan, Clarence McGhee, Carol Garriott, Ruth McGhee and Gail Martin.

For views of them as children, take a look at these posts: Photo Memories and Vintage Photos.


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Same day – Just the McGhee Sisters


gail melba carol

Gail, Melba and C.J.


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This was the occasion of Gail and Clyde’s 50th Wedding Anniversary. C.J. tweaks her brother-in-law’s ear. Melba and Norman Harlan stand behind Gail.


The Hoosier Cabinet

My grandmother, Ruth McGhee, had a Hoosier cabinet in her kitchen. It had a flour bin and a nifty rack for spices with glass jars to hold those. These were really useful in old-time kitchens which didn’t have nearly as much storage space as modern kitchens do.On the counter of the cabinet, she would roll out pie crusts or noodles.


baltimore kitchen hoosier cabinet

Hoosier cabinet in my 1970s kitchen in Baltimore, Maryland.


Here’s a photo of a similar cabinet that I had in my rowhouse in Baltimore back in the 1980s. Mine didn’t have the spice rack, but the accordion front provided a great hiding place for the mixer and other appliances. The square drawer was lined with tin, I remember.

Sadly, I no longer have this vintage piece. We’ve made several moves halfway across the country and it wasn’t practical to drag it along with us. I hope it found a good home with someone who appreciated it. I didn’t go to the auction as it would have been sad to see those things being sold.

Do you remember such a cabinet in your family? Maybe you’ve even had one yourself. We bought ours at a flea market in Maryland. Sure was useful.

Here’s one that I saw at a restored village.


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Hoosier cabinet with vintage Fiestaware dishes and a Mixmaster electric mixer.


Gail’s Pet Badger

A Pet Badger

I’d never think to have a pet as ferocious looking as a badger. They have fearsome claws and are noted for their digging. My mom was given a baby badger back in the 1930s and she raised it and kept it as a pet.

She tells some remarkable stories about what it was like to have a pet badger. Here’s more information about the American badger and more about her pet badger.

Mom took this photo at a museum. She said it reminded her of her pet badger, Jolly.

Mom took this photo at a museum. She said it reminded her of her pet badger, Jolly.

An Unusual Pet – An American Badger

Young Gail McGhee in front, center. The shed in the background might be the wash house that the badger lived in, where he dug tunnels in the dirt floor.

Young Gail McGhee in front, center. The shed in the background might be the wash house that the badger lived in, where he dug tunnels in the dirt floor.

Baby Badger

Gail Martin describes in her book how they raised the badger as a baby. This video shows a European baby badger, but it would have looked pretty similar to this.

Great Video of a Badger 

Note that it has a harness. It also digs just like my mother described her pet badger digging in their potato patch. A collar didn’t work for the badger as it would just slip off over its head.

R is for Ruth

When Gail Lost Her Mother – Flower Cards

My mother’s mother, Ruth McGhee, died of a heart attack at age 63. It must have been a great shock to my mother, to lose a parent when she herself was only 36. That happened over 50 years ago. Now I am older than my grandmother was at the time of her death.

Ruth (Vining) McGhee

Ruth (Vining) McGhee

Among the family papers that I now have are the small cards that were attached to the funeral flowers. Many years have passed but she kept them still. Dozens of people sent flowers. They came from individuals and groups and businesses and even towns.

My aunt Carol said these triggered some memories for her of her mother’s funeral. “My one outstanding memory is when we first came in to the church with Daddy just before the service began, and saw all the multitude of flowers. Daddy sagged, and with our arms around him, supporting him, with tears streaming down his face, he said ‘They . care. . . They . really . care.‘”

My sister Karen remembers, I would have been eight and remember sitting next to Mom at the funeral. And I remember the hymns: Ivory Palaces and Into the Garden.”

Some were from family who couldn’t attend the funeral. Bronze and white mums came from grandpa’s brother, Lealon and Alice McGhee in California, and their married children, Larry and Carolyn McGhee, and Barbara and Bob Fischer.

Families and friends who sent flowers to the funeral of Ruth McGhee

Families and friends who sent flowers to the funeral of Ruth McGhee

I wonder if I list the names from these cards, if someone related to them might find this post. Although most of my grandmother’s contemporaries are probably no longer alive, perhaps their descendants would search for their names. The groupings on the cards might indicate a relationship between the people. Perhaps they worked together or were related somehow or were neighbors that ordered flowers together. One card was from Susan Curry, Merle Harlan family, Harold Engle Family and Mr & Mrs. Charles Cochran.

Flower cards from extended family.

Flower cards from extended family.funeral flower cards

On the backs of the cards, the funeral home staff wrote the kind of flowers sent. That’s for the convenience of the family in writing their thank-you cards. The area around the casket must have resembled my grandmother’s flower garden. There were bouquets of red and white carnations, salmon rose carnations, and pale pink carnations in a spray with a rose satin tie. One arrangement was daisies and glads and another was pink daisies and blue carnations.

Flowers for a funeral

The community of Tyro, where both my grandmother and grandfather grew up, sent an arrangement of wine carnations and yellow mums. Loren McGhee, my grandfather’s brother in Alturas, California, sent a spray of pink and white carnations. It was displayed on an easel at the funeral.

One card was members and friends of the Madison Christian Church where my grandparents attended. Friends from Eureka, KS (Lester Kidd, A.R. McAnacly, C.J. Kendley, Riley Hill, Leon Sander) sent orchid mums with wine-colored carnations.

My grandfather’s mother and brothers are represented on one card: Mother McGhee, Jesse & Dora, Roy and Viola, Bertha, Ethel & Chleo. (all McGhees except the last which is Davidson)

These flower cards are from church groups and places my grandfather worked.

These flower cards are from church groups and places my grandfather worked.

Names from the flower cards: R.J. Hill, Frank Castor, Bert Dunfield, A.R. McAnaby, Roy Van Burton, Raymond Ridgely, Lase Milan, Dick Wiggins, Archie Morton, R.A. Gravatt, Fred Zimmerman, Ronnie Barnes, M.J. Sprague, B.E. Forester, Lenard Raines, Jim Sears, Otey Bell, Ovie Hardesty of Emporia KS, (these names are all Mr. and Mrs.).

More names: Frank and Edith Gomez, Mr & Mrs. Junior Robinson, C.M. Aikman and family, Wanda & Butch – Emporia, KS, Jesse and Dora McGhee (grandpa’s brother), Earl Buster families (red carnations and lavender asters),

I think this group who sent carnations were friends of my mother (Mr. & Mrs. Leroy Eaton, Mr. & Mrs. Marie? Smart, Mr. & Mrs. Ralph Eaton, Mr. & Mrs. J.H. Swisher). Mom’s homemaker group sent flowers from El Dorado, KS (West Branch Ladies Aide).

White peony arrangement sent by Mr. and Mrs. Otey Bell.

White peony arrangement sent by Mr. and Mrs. Otey Bell.

I see family names like Sylvia Lour and family from Neodosha who sent an arrangement of asters. She was grandma’s older, half-sister. The son of another sister sent flowers from Colorado City, Texas (Albert Brock and family).

Another nephew, Everett Bolte and wife Ruth, sent flame glads from Blackwell, Oklahoma. Grandma’s sister Lucy Bolte, her son Delbert, daughter Velva Ruth and C.B. Price and Connie sent flowers from Winfield, KS. The A.L. Bolte family from Caldwell, KS sent a spray of flame gladiolius. I think that is Alonzo LeRoy Bolte, Lucy’s son. Mervin, Pauline and girls of Great Bend, KS sent a spray of orchid gladiolus. I think this is the Sheeks and Pauline is Lucy’s daughter.

More cards from the funeral flowers.

More cards from the funeral flowers.

Some of the flowers were potted plants like geraniums, yellow mums and lavender mums. I wonder if those were planted by the grave at the cemetery or if my grandfather planted them in the yard at the farmhouse.

Three of the cards represented my grandfather’s work:

  • Phillips Petroleum Co. Eastern Kansas Division, Eureka KS
  • Phillips Employees Maintenance, Well Service and Warehouse, Hamilton
  • Glenn McCollough and South Area Pumpers, Carl Dobson, Marion Churchman

Pretty lavender mums.

Pretty lavender mums.

More groups of names from the flower cards:

  • Jessie Williams, Albert Brock
  • Treva & DeeWayne Paugh, Neita and Franklin Robbs, Nancy and Robert Courter, Sam and Shirley Davidson
  • Mr & Mrs. Fred L. Brown, E.H. William, L.F. Brown, G. Anliker and children
  • Roy Butchers, Roy Rutledges, Glenn Butchers, Albert Butchers, Opal Smith of Emporia KS (red roses)
  • Mr. & Mrs. C.L. Martin, Mr. & Mrs. Glenn Jones, Mr. & Mrs. Edward Stafford, Mr. & Mrs. Tom Baysinger, Mr. & Mrs. Howard Martin (my father’s parents and siblings).
  • Mrs. Eva Harlan, Mr. & Mrs. Marvin Harlan and girls, Mr. & Mrs. Roy Harlan, Mr. & Mrs. Dudley Harlan, Mr. & Mrs. Ray Harlan, Mr. & Mrs. Cloide Hensley, Mrs. Davey, Mr. & Mrs. Harry Miller (Aunt Melba, mother’s sister’s family).
  • Mr. & Mrs. Ardale Vining, Mr. & Mrs. Donald Vining, Mr. & Mrs. Milford Vining, Mr. & Mrs. John Birdwell, Mr. & Mrs. Leo Goatley (Ruth’s brother, Luther’s children).
  • Ruth & Virgil Challis, Wanda & Wayne Brower, Hazel & Bill Van Ness, Bess & Myron Bolte, Roy & Edna Bolte, Don & Marilyn Nichols, Viola & Roy McGhee (the first 5 couples are children of Bessie Vining Bolte, grandma’s sister).
  • Mr. & Mrs. Roy Cornelius, Mr. & Mrs. James Young, Mr. & Mrs. John Faylor, Mr. & Mrs. Frank Straub,  Mr. & Mrs. Lloyd Wilson, Mr. & Mrs. Joe Crabtree, Mr. & Mrs. Bill Hegemier, Mr Harold Beamont, Mr. & Mrs. Howard Martin (Mom’s brother-in-law), Mr. & Mrs. Dale Haney (Dad’s cousin), Mr. & Mrs. Jr. Holland (I think, related through the Martins). I’m guessing that most of these are Madison friends.

I’ll follow up in May with several more posts about Ruth McGhee (sympathy cards, photos of her life).

McGhee Christmas Memories by C.J. Garriott

My mother’s sister, Carol, shared some memories today of the McGhee family Christmas Eve.

“When I was little, we always opened presents on Christmas Eve, and had pumpkin pie and chicken salad sandwiches. Sometimes my married sisters & their families came to our place for Christmas Eve, other times not. Quite often they came for Christmas dinner.

For Christmas Day, we usually had baked chicken, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, and vegetables that Mother had canned. Dessert would be either cake or pie. If we had found gooseberries in the summer to can, we’d have gooseberry pie, always a special treat.

Christmas day breakfast was special too, biscuits or fruit pancakes (whatever she had canned) with homemade jelly, eggs fried or poached, a bit of ham, which we had only occasionally.

For presents I always got books, & paper & colored pencils for drawing, along with a new outfit Mother had made. She also crocheted a new outfit for my doll for every gift-giving occasion.

Daddy would take me shopping to get presents for Mother. She loved embroidered hankies, scarves to wear with her coat, sometimes a book. Mother would order books for Daddy that we picked from the catalog. I still have (and use) The American Woman’s Cook Book Mother and Daddy gave me for Christmas 1953, when I was 19.”

Carol Jean McGhee, in her teens. Her sisters, Melba and Gail were already married by this time.

Carol Jean McGhee, in her teens. Her older sisters, Melba and Gail were already married by this time.

Crafty Sisters

Mom’s older sister Melba created crafts galore with her husband, Norman Harlan. They sold wooden clown figures and stylish reindeer and other hand-crafted wooden pieces.

Mom and Dad made wagon wheel rugs from rags and soft crafts like kittens made of yarn pompoms. The yarn pompoms turned into beautiful Christmas wreaths and huge yarn candy canes for hanging on your front door. They didn’t have a booth at this craft fair.

Karen took these two photos in 1992 when Gail visited with her sister at the Eureka craft fair held in a big building on the fairgrounds. The Harlans had a booth with their wooden crafts.

Gail with her sister Melba Harlan

Gail with her sister Melba Harlan

Sisters share a moment at the Eureka craft fair.

Sisters share a moment at the Eureka craft fair.

Mom said of this photo, “Is that me?” She looks a bit like Bea Arthur from the Golden Girls here.