Murdo Girl…Who’s going to fill their shoes?

Murdo Girl

This is a reminiscing rerun. They’re different from the other kind.

All those years ago when the south of 16 kids and I fashioned that first crown out of tinfoil, we had no idea what it would lead to. A crown by definition should be made out of precious metals and adorned with jewels. I doubt many would consider tinfoil a precious metal..not even the heavy-duty kind. We didn’t think about gluing jewels onto the adornment.

Crowns symbolize victory, immortality, or the highest part of something. That’s pretty heavy stuff for a 7 yr old, even if she does have a red Kitty Reynold’s gown. It’s hard to believe there was a 10 yr crown drought between the queen of the neighborhood queen, and the Murdo homecoming parade queen…And..let’s see 64 minus 17 is…47. Yikes! I waited 47 years to wear another tinfoil crown minus jewels.

 My mother was Miss…

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Murdo Girl…Creativity, etiquette and manners

I had a request from a fellow Murdo girl, Judy, to peruse my Uncle Chucks book containing words of wisdom, and see what quotes he came up with relating to etiquette, manners and creativity.

On creativity”’

There are only three pure colors – red, yellow, and blue – but look at what Michelangelo (1475- 1564) did with those three colors.

There are only seven musical notes, but look at what Chopin (1810 – 1849), Beethoven (1770 – 1827), and Vivaldi (1678 – 1741), did with those seven notes.

Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address contained only 262 words, and 202 of them had one syllable. Think of the impact those simple, direct words have had on our society.

On etiquette and manners…

At ceremonies commemorating the hundredth anniversary of President Harry Truman’s birth, the White House counsel during the Truman Administration was reminiscing. He recalled being at a White House banquet one night when one of the guests turned to the woman seated next to him. 

“Did I get your name correctly?” he asked. “Is your name Post?”

“Yes, it is.” the woman answered.

“Is it Emily Post?”

“Yes,” she replied. 

“Are you the world-renowned authority on manners?” the man asked.

“Yes,” Mrs. Post said. “Why do you ask?”

“Because,” said the man, “you have just eaten my salad.”

Emily Post “I can never remember if my salad is to the right of my plate, or to the right…bad luck!!”

There are words of wisdom in the book Charles Francis wrote, but there is also a list of the most beautiful words in the English language…

I love you., You are wonderful., It’s benign – not malignant., The war is over., It’s a boy! It’s a girl!, No cavities., Thank you., All is forgiven., God bless you., Welcome home., Good morning!, Merry Christmas!, Your car is ready., You passed the examination., Your child is beautiful., You were right., I’m ready to sign.,

Murdo Girl…Angels at her wedding

Oh, I believe there are angels among us,

Sent down from up above

To guide us with the light of love.


After Carrie and Steve were married, there was one more thing to do.

Stop by the little church where her grandparents had said, “I do.”

Seventy-one years had passed since they were joined in matrimony.

Today, she hoped they’d watched over her wedding ceremony.

She was standing there with Steve, the true love of her life,

On the church steps where they’d stood. The moment felt so right.

Her grandparent’s wedding photo captured their love for eternity.

Would her love and Steve’s show through, for all the world to see?

They had not married where her grandparent’s vows were spoken.

And all who knew them also knew, those vows had not been broken.

Recreating the wedding picture taken all those years in the past

Carrie and Steve just knew their happiness would last.

Carrie’s grandparents, Ted and Arlyne Brown, (below), were married at the First United Methodist Church in Pierre, SD. You can see the church steps in the background. After the wedding, they took a train to Wyoming for their honeymoon. They settled in Presho, SD.


Carrie and Steve, seventy-one years later. (Look closely at the photograph.)

Was there another angel watching? It was just a month since he had passed.

He was the father of the bride. His time with her had gone so fast.

The orbs of light shined on Steve (a message?) “One day, please take my daughter’s hand.”

And dance the Father’s dance for me. Oh, that would be so grand.”

Tell her that I love her and wish I could have given her away.

And if she ever needs me, I’ll be one bright light away.


How would she ever know for sure if it was them who came

To share those bonds of love she felt, the day she took Steve’s name.

Little did she know… it would quickly be revealed

They were all nearby. They could not have been concealed.

She looked at the photographs, taken on that day

And knew they shared her joy, and would never be far away.

You can clearly see the colorful orbs in both of the photographs of Carrie and Steve. It could have been the sun, but all who were there, felt it was more…this poem was inspired by Nancy Authier’s accounting of her niece’s wedding. Ted and Arlyne Brown were Nancy’s parents.

Murdo Girl…Words of Wisdom on..Friendship

Everyone seemed to love the angel stories and I have been given three more examples so heartwarming, that I must share them. I will intermingle them with other stories. I have also received several requests to write about topics in My Uncle Charles Francis’ book, Words of Wisdom.

The first topic is Friendship…

Aristotle, (384 – 322 B.C.), a pupil of Plato, viewed friendship among the highest virtues, It was an essential element in a full, virtuous, and worthwhile life. For Aristotle, there were three kinds of friendship:

*Friendship of pleasure: two people are wonderfully happy in one another’s company.

**Friendship of utility: two people assist one another in everyday aspects of life.

***Friendship of virtue: two people mutually admire one another and will be on their best behavior in order not to jeopardize their relationship. 

Victor Hugo, distinguished French writer and novelist, composed this analogy.

“My coat and I live comfortably together. It has assumed all my wrinkles, does not hurt me anywhere, has moulded itself on my deformities, and is complacent to all my movements, and I only feel it’s presence because it keeps me warm. Old coats and old friends are the same thing.”

Oscar Wilde on Friendship…

Oscar Wilde (1854 -1900), the Irish poet, wit and dramatist, was a major literary talent in every way.

“If a friend of mine gave a feast, and did not invite me to it, I should not mind a bit, But if a friend had a sorrow and refused to allow me to share it, I should feel it most bitterly.”

George Washington gave this advice to his nephew, Bushrod Washington in 1783…

“Be courteous to all, but intimate with few; and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence. Friendship is a plant of slow growth.”

I will add one simple thing I am trying harder to put into action.

In order to have a friend, you have to be a friend. 

This topic was suggested by Valerie Halla, aka Lav…Here are a few photos of Val with her good friends. I’m not sure who she’s with in that third picture…

Murdo Girl…The why of Connie’s Story

The third angel story…

Murdo Girl

There is something I have been wanting to share with you and tonight, I feel like writing about it.

I have been thinking about Connie’s Story and how it evolved. I started to recall the times I had admired someone else and/or their things hi, and wanted to emulate them. You might think I’m psychoanalyzing myself and you could be right, but I doubt I’m the only person who has struggled with finding their own identity. My first memory of admiring someone else’s style was when I was five years old.

I wanted Lois Lillibridge’s shoes.

I borrowed them and I loved them so much I couldn’t bring myself to give them back. I asked her if she wanted the pink canvas shoes I had and she said, “No.” Then an awful thing happened. Her dad died and Lois and her mom and sister were moving away from Murdo.


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Murdo Girl…Only time will tell

Mr Swinson lived to celebrate his 100th birthday. Today is his heavenly birthday. This is a wonderful story his daughter, Sherri, told me.

Murdo Girl

Do you believe in Angels? There is a saying, “To those who believe, no explanation is necessary. To those who do not believe, no explanation is possible.”

Please know that I’m not trying to persuade anybody to believe one way or the other, but today, Tuesday and Thursday, I would like to share three very heartwarming stories..and they’re all true.


Back in the 70’s Sherri Miller’s Mom and Dad bought a grandfather clock at an auction in Presho, SD where they lived. As it turned out, the clock belonged to someone who lived just a couple of blocks from them, so they ended up hand carrying it down the street to their house, where it still resides.

1-Grandfather clock

The clock soon became Mr. Swinson’s pride and joy and he seldom let anyone else touch it. His beautiful clock had to be wound each week before the weights were…

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Murdo Girl…Lessons from animals

I picked another topic from Uncle Chuck’s book, Wisdom well said. I ran across …lessons we learn from animals. But first, a little more background.

When he retired, Charles Francis decided to make good use of his library of stories and quotes. He started an Internet business he called ‘The Idea Bank.’ People purchased a membership and could go into the site, pick a subject, and get stories and quotes to add interest to their speech or article. Many speech writers enjoyed the convenience of Uncle Chuck’s well organized, unique, and large volume of information. To say he was well-read is a vast understatement.

The three Francis brothers…from left, Bill, John, and Chuck. Their father died when his sons were 10 (John), 7 (Bill), and 2 (Chuck).

I like this poem about accomplishment, author unknown.

There once was an oyster whose story I’ll tell, Who found that sand got under his shell;

Just one little grain, but it gave him much pain, For oysters have feelings although they’re so plain.

Now, did he berate the working of fate, Which had led him to such a deplorable state?

Did he curse out the government, call for an election? No. As he lay on the shelf, he said to himself,

“If I cannot remove it, I’ll improve it.” So the years rolled by as the years always do,

And he came to the ultimate destiny – stew. But this small grain of sand which had bothered him so,

Was a beautiful pearl, all richly aglow. Now this poem has a moral – for isn’t it grand

What an oyster can do with a morsel of sand. What couldn’t we do if we’d only begin With all of the things that get under our skin.

Teamwork and ego…

The sin (and danger) of excessive pride (or an excessive ego) is admirably demonstrated in this simple fable:

A frog asked two geese to take him south with them. At first they resisted; they couldn’t see how it could be done. Finally, the frog suggested that the two geese hold a stick in their beaks and he would hold onto it with his mouth.

So off the unlikely threesome went, flying southward over the countryside. It was really quite a sight. People looked up and expressed great admiration at this demonstration of creative teamwork.

Someone said, “It’s wonderful! Who was so clever to discover such a fine way to travel?”

Whereupon the frog opened his mouth and said, “It was I,” as he plummeted to the earth.

I’m adding these pictures of two pages of topics. The first one of you to mention a topic in their comment will get some suggestions from the book in the next blog. You can make the photos larger by tapping with your finger.

Murdo Girl…eau de toilette

A Merry Christmas rerun!

Murdo Girl

Merry Christmas… 1965. If you think you might have read part of this story, within another story, in another paper, you’re probably right. Neither our miss Murdo Girl, nor myself can remember, and we don’t feel like going back through the mountain of stories to find out. I promise you will learn something new. This is a Christmas story like none other.

97f867873bf198e5a16e7caee71dbc85This might be the lady. She had a bad day.


I’m keeping my word. In my last paper, I mentioned I would write about our 1965 Christmas. We’re already back in school, and Billy is back in California, but the events are still fresh in my mind.

A couple of days before Christmas, Dad and I drove to Rapid City to pick Billy up from the airport. He was on a late airplane, so I was pretty tired before we got home to Murdo. I rode in…

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Murdo Girl…Wisdom well said

When we were culling and moving, I came across a great book written by my dad’s brother, Charles Francis. I promise you have never seen a book like this…unless you have seen this one. 

Pick a subject…any subject. Do you need ideas, quotes from specific people whose names your readers will recognize? What subject? Funny stories, anecdotes to make your point or what else? Well…you name it and then you can find it in this book.

To demonstrate, I will pick a topic. As you know, I recently embarked on a new adventure. To be successful, I must overcome my fear of failure, and my tendency to panic and talk myself into giving up, etc. I want to feel motivated and I want to use humor. In ten minutes, I had everything I needed to start.

I looked in the table of contents where everything is cross-referenced under different categories. As most of you know. I was raised on humor. Here was Uncle Chuck’s best quote explaining humor…

“Humor endows us with the capacity to clarify the obscure, to simplify the complex, to deflate the pompous, to chastise the arrogant, to point to a moral, and to adorn a tale…”

Who said it? The late US Senator, Sam J. Ervin, Jr.  who, at the age of 76, headed the Senate Select Committee investigating the Watergate scandal.

On Panic…

Once upon a time, a young donkey asked his grandpa, “How do I grow up to be just like you?”

“Oh, that’s simple,” the elder donkey said. “All you have to do is to remember to shake it off and step up.”

“What does that mean?” asked the youngster. 

The grandfather replied, “Let me tell you a story…”

“Once when I was your age, I was out walking. I wasn’t paying attention and fell deep into an old abandoned well. I started braying and braying. Finally an old farmer came by and saw me. I was scared to death. But then he left. I stayed in that well all night.

“The next morning, he came back with a whole group of people, and they looked down at me. Some of them even laughed. Then the farmer said, “The well’s abandoned and that donkey isn’t worth saving, so let’s get to work.’ And believe it or not, they all started shoveling dirt into the well. I panicked. I was going to be buried alive!

“After the first shovels of dirt came down on me, I realized something. Every time dirt landed on my back, I could use it and step up a little bit higher. They kept shoveling and I kept shaking the dirt off and stepping up. This went on for some time.

“Shake it off and step up…shake it off and step up…’ I kept repeating to myself for encouragement. I fought the panic by shaking it off and stepping up. And it wasn’t long before I stepped out of the well, exhausted but triumphant.

“So no matter how difficult the situation, no matter how bad things get, no matter how much dirt gets dumped on you, just remember – shake it off and step up. You’ll be alright.”

Like almost everyone on both sides of my family, Uncle Chuck graduated from Murdo High School. He also wrote a book called, Murdo Man. It’s different from my stories. He goes more into the history of Murdo and the Francis family.

I will tell you more about this great man, later.