Murdo Girl…Rainbows in the clouds

We’re not exactly sure who wrote this accounting of a time in the life of M.E. and Mary Sanderson that began with a fun vacation at their cabin in the Black Hills, and ended in near tragedy.

My brother, Billy, who was with Grandma and Grandpa on the trip, found the letter in some papers a cousin on the Francis side of the family sent to him. I think most of the information is accurate, however, I know the young daughter of a family friend was also with them on this trip. I copied the letter verbatim.


The photograph is of Mary and Maynard Sanderson at their cottage in the Black Hills near Nemo (1951). Shortly after leaving for home, they were involved in a serious accident near Wall. Billy Francis was with them and they had stopped to get him a drink. When they returned to the highway, Maynard hadn’t put his lights on “bright” and hit a tractor which had no lights. A kind motorist had them taken to a Wall hospital where they learned that Mary and Billy both had broken thighs and were put in casts from the waist down. Maynard had several broken ribs.

When they could return to their apartment above the store in Murdo, Ella and Al (Leckey) also lived there and gave them special attention. How grateful the whole family and friends were, that they survived.


The cottage near Nemo, cost Maynard and Mary about $650.00. There was a cool stream in the valley below and a beautiful view. When Helen and Bob and family came from Michigan on vacation, they spent time with her Mother and Dad and also visited his older brother, Ray, (Marj and Darla).

The cottage was in the national forest and had to be burned unless it could be moved to private property.

They enjoyed many good times there without modern facilities, such as running water and electricity, for many years.

As the writer of this letter said, the family enjoyed the cabin for many years. We all loved to go there. Uncle Jerry Miller made improvements and updates to it through the years, but some things like the old walls papered in pine cones, beds with lumpy mattresses, and heavy warm quilts, as well as the sounds of the creek, laughter, frying fish, and the breeze blowing through the pine trees, never changed. Just like Grandma’s beads, you could count on them to always be there.


Billy was seven when they were in the accident. I was born a few months later. Billy was sitting on the lap of the young girl who was with them. She went through the windshield first and he went through behind her, which saved his life. I don’t believe she was seriously hurt. The man on the tractor was thrown off into the field and walked out of the hospital a few hours later. I think Grandpa also had a broken arm. I remember it didn’t heal right and he wore a leather lace up cuff when it bothered him.



Murdo Girl…Putting Murdo back together

I found out they tore down the old Jones County State Bank, today. Do you know what that means? Murdo has temporarily lost another iconic building. Before we know it, the fifties and sixties will be nothing but history. I have personally been waging a war against changing Murdo.

The Brick House gang has already reprised the old Murdo High School and the elementary school buildings. Fern’s Cafe and Mack’s Cafe have both reopened. Joy Payne’s dress shop, the Murdo Show house, and Gambles are purring along. Beckwith’s Jewelry Store is next to Joy Payne’s. Mr. Beckwith is good at fixing watches and his kids are good at music.

The Post Office is back where it should be, and Thune Hardware is next to the drug store. The dry cleaners, on the other side of Mowell’s Drug Store, is still a much needed business in Murdo. There’s a locker for people to take their meat if they don’t have a freezer at home, and the Buffalo Bar is across the street from the locker. The Gem Hotel, the Murdo Hotel and the Laundromat are all uptown, too.

Super Value still has the Frosty Freeze attached to it, and we have five or six full service gas stations. In addition to Mack’s and Fern’s, you can eat at Highway 16 Cafe and the Teepee. It’s pretty new.

Most importantly, Sanderson’s Store is just as it always was…Aunt Tet lives upstairs and the Leckeys are living in the apartment across the hall. Doc Bork is our dentist and Doc Murphy makes house calls. Uncle Jerry builds all the new houses and Dad has a plumbing and heating business.

Graham Motor Lodge is under construction and they’re going to have a swimming pool. Mom runs our little motel called the Chalet which is across the highway from Grahams. The Gonzales, Boysens, Wheelers, Iversons (The Red Top), and Laura Hayden all have motels, too. (I might have spelled some of those names wrong.)

There are a couple of beauty shops in Murdo and Kitty Reynolds sews for more than a few families. People buy their cars from the Ford Garage and the Pioneer Auto Museum is almost as well known as Wall Drug.

The ladies in town play a lot of bridge, and drink a lot of coffee. They probably gossip more than they should. Nobody likes to miss coffee because they can only talk about the ones who aren’t there. After coffee, Mom and Aunt Elna go home and call each other to gossip about the gossip. It’s a lot to keep up with.

The boys have football, basketball and track and the girls have basketball. There are no home economics classes offered, but the moms who can cook, teach their girls. Makes sense to me. I already know how to make chocolate chip cookies. What else do I need to know?

I love the new Swanson’s fried chicken TV dinners and Mom makes baked potatoes with chicken pot pies. We mush them all together on our plate. It’s very filling and good! She makes roasts and all kinds of other good stuff.

When kids go steady, the girls sit in the middle of the front seat of the boys car, even if the car has bucket seats. They drive around town for hours. I don’t know how they can do that. Gas is 35 cents a gallon. The girls also wear the boy’s class rings and make them fit by sticking wadded up tape under the wide part.

There are lots of little stock dams where guys like Grandpa Sanderson like to fish. You can boat but you can’t swim at the North dam. We swim at the East dam, and fish at the South dam. One time when Billy was going to be late for school, Mom didn’t make him go. We all hate to be late for anything. Anyway, he went fishing at the South dam and someone caught him and called him a truant.

Yup…I’m taking it upon myself to keep Murdo just like it was, so whoever wants to help me is more than welcome. Those guys who tore down the bank can just put it back together again.

Guess I’ll put an ad in the Murdo Coyote.

Murdo Girl…90 years ago

When the M.E. Sanderson family lived on Horse Creek, which is about ten miles south of Murdo, SD, the kids all went to a country school. Mom, who was one of six children often talked about the Osborn kids. They were a family of thirteen offspring, and the kids all attended the same country school.

Mom was only eleven when her family moved closer to town which meant the kids would all go to town school. Mom, of course, made it sound like she was really moving up in the world. She always told the story that one of the Osborn girls said they would miss Helen and Ella, (Mom’s older sisters), but they wouldn’t miss her.wp-1524104921128.jpg

My friend, Dianna, found this picture of the Osborn family in later years. Her Aunt was an Osborn…one of the thirteen kids. It really is a small world.

I haven’t heard a lot of Horse Creek stories, but Aunt Elna, Mom’s younger sister, once told me of a Christmas memory she had. The family had returned from visiting relatives in Iowa just in time for Christmas. Little Elna was given a box and when she opened it, a puppy jumped out and scared her to death. She wanted nothing to do with her new pet, which wasn’t the expected reaction. She was only five when they moved, but she had that one vivid memory of life on Horse Creek.

Mom was never interested in housework or cooking. She left helping Grandma up to the other girls. She preferred the outdoor chores and helping with the livestock. One day she was off by herself riding one of the horses. The horse was startled by something and shied which caused Mom to fall off. Wanting some sympathy for her frightening fall, she tried her best to cry until she got home. It turned out, she wasn’t injured that severely and couldn’t keep the tears flowing, therefore, no one felt sorry for her when she told them of her harrowing experience.


This photo is of the Sanderson and the Thomas families. Mom is the one with the short dark hair. Her sister, Ella is the taller girl standing next to her and Helen is next to Ella. Jeff is in front with his hand over his heart. Grandpa is second from the left in the back row. Grandma is next to him, (big hat), and Wayne is behind Ella and Helen.

Wayne was the oldest of the Sanderson kids. When he was bitten by a rattlesnake and Grandpa cut a slit with his knife and sucked the venom out, I’m sure Mom was impressed. I know I would have been. Now they say that type of emergency treatment isn’t the right thing to do. I bet Wayne would argue that point, as he had no serious after effects.


I think this is Grandma’s parents with Grandpa and Grandma, (holding the baby). I think the baby is Ella and the little boy is Jeff. I don’t know who the woman is standing next to Grandpa.

I’ve been to Horse Creek a few times over the years. I remember the picnic we had there with the Haverberg cousins, from Michigan,and Mark and Jeff H. Sanderson. I was probably about the age Mom was when the family moved. Part of the old log cabin was still standing.


The land is now owned by Dan Height. When my cousin, Greg, told told him Mom had requested she be cremated and her ashes spread around Horse Creek, he graciously allowed us to drive a caravan of 4-wheel drives, off-road, to the site of the old log house. The day was beautiful as was the landscape. I looked at all the relatives spreading Mom’s ashes around, and I could almost hear Mom saying, “So there, Osborn kids!”


Murdo Girl…First Day

I took a picture of a picture at the church garage sale. This is the story it told me.

An Apple for my Teacher

It was time to go to school. I was trying hard to hurry. I couldn’t find my shoes and I began to worry.

Mommy didn’t understand how nervous I was feeling. She said to look under my bed instead of on the ceiling.


I ate all of my oatmeal. I knew I shouldn’t waste it. I held my nose and swallowed so I wouldn’t have to taste it.

I didn’t have to brush my teeth like I usually do. The oatmeal was so soft, I didn’t use my teeth to chew.

Mommy helped me comb my hair. I’m not sposed to wear a cap. I don’t know how to button, and I just learned how to snap.

I think I’m almost ready now to get into the car. Mommy said my school isn’t very far.

I hope I like my teacher, and I hope that she likes me. I’m really going to try to be as good as I can be.

I’m bringing her an apple. It’s juicy, big and red. I just hope she doesn’t want a pinneapple instead.

I guess that I’m a big boy now. That’s what people say, when little boys go off to school…

Today is my first day.


Grandson, Hudson is turning five

Murdo Girl…The corner window

Every year, our church has a garage sale. It is one of our biggest fundraisers and it takes a lot of work. Every year, we wonder if the church members will be able to come through with enough items to make the sale successful. Will there be enough volunteers to pull off such a huge event? Every year the congregation comes through. It takes a huge leap of faith for those who commit to being the leaders, and ever since the inception of this highly successful way to raise funds for the church missions, the right people have taken it on.


I will write more on the numerous benefits of being even a small part of this amazing collaboration in the life of our church another time. I’m too tired to do it tonight. I would, however, like to pass on something the cashiers were discussing, today.

Everyone should teach their children how to count back change.

I learned how when I rented rooms for Mom at the Chalet Motel. It was before people used credit cards to pay for everything. It’s very important for everyone to be able to make change. For instance, a person should be able to take a twenty-dollar bill for a $13.98 purchase and count to themselves first, and then to the customer, the following:

$13.98 plus $.02 makes $14.00, plus $1.00 makes $15.00, and a five dollar bill makes $20.00. Kids shouldn’t rely on a smart cash register to tell them how much change to give back to their customer. One of the guys working on our tiny home said he went to the hardware store to buy a $4.38 (with tax), part. He handed the clerk a five dollar bill. Some sort of computer glitch occurred and it didn’t tell the clerk how much change was owed. The clerk had to ask a supervisor for help. According to the guy who told us this story, the clerk was around thirty… give or take a few years.

That’s all on that subject for now.

I wrote the story below shortly after I wrote the short story about Lily Dale’s house. I’m going to rerun it because I’m still toying with the idea of writing more short stories with the subjects being old buildings, animals, small town living, circumstances, and numerous other things. Some will be serious and others, humorous.

Since I want what I write to appeal to you, I will look for your input. I will also write about any tiny home updates and the trips we take.

You know me, though…tomorrow, I might wake up with a totally different idea.


The corner window


I remember sitting in this old schoolhouse. I could look out the corner window in the back and see the changes in the seasons. Since it doubled as our country church, I spent six days a week here.

In this little building out in the middle of someone’s pasture, I learned about life everywhere else. I learned how to count as high as I would ever need to, and I learned to count my blessings.

I learned how people survived hardship and how some did not survive success. I learned the happiest people are those who truly care about others. I learned how to pray for strength, courage, and wisdom. I learned how to be humble, grateful, and compassionate.

I learned that nothing is forever, and life would be better if I learned to embrace change. I figured out that we all come from a long line of dead people, and we should be proud of our heritage.

This old building shaped my life. I wouldn’t be who I am if I hadn’t come here when it was too cold, or too hot. I learned everything from how to tie my shoes by watching my classmates, to what love is and isn’t from reading 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7.

I also know that learning and living are two different things. I can learn the lesson, but not live it. I can justify, argue, and spin my mistakes, but it doesn’t change the truth. Anyone who doesn’t hold me accountable does me no favors.

I’m an imperfect human being who was lucky enough to cross the threshold of this old building where I gazed out the corner window and saw a beautiful world, because that’s what I chose to see.



Murdo Girl…Lily Dale’s tiny home

Today was a little more productive. I managed to do quite a bit of cleaning with my battery operated vacuum, a broom, and a wet swifter. Kip worked on the things the electric company needs us to do before they can hook us up. It was a gorgeous sunny day.

Yesterday, when we were taking things we had earmarked for the church garage sale by the church, we found a hall tree that fits right by the front door of the tiny home, so we now have one item of furniture inside.


Below, is a story I wrote last year. It’s a little different from what I usually write. I might try to do some more short stories like this in the future. It was kind of fun to write.


My name is Lily Dale and I’ve come to see this house. I want to see if what mamma said was right. She said, “Don’t waste too much time chasing dirt around yur house. It will still be standin long after yur dead and buried.” I guess she was right cause we buried mamma five years ago and this old house is still standin.

My mamma was born and raised here. In fact, she lived inside those broken down walls most all her life. I was born here too. I lived with my mamma and granny till granny died. Mamma got too sickly to take care of herself let alone a little kid, but we managed til her lungs got so bad she had to go to a sanatorium in Colorado. I got sent to live with the man mamma said was my daddy. He must a been, otherwise I doubt he would have been agreeable to that arrangement.

I’m fifteen now. School got out for the summer two days ago and instead of going home, I took a bus here. Mr. Jim doesn’t know I come here. I call him Mr. Jim. It just don’t feel right to call him Daddy. He don’t like my name Lily Dale neither. “Why would yur mamma give you a pretty woman’s name and a second name of Dale?” When he does use my name, he calls me Lil, which I don’t like.

You see that window that’s got cardboard over it? It’s been like that for as long as I can remember. Granny said some mean boys threw rocks at it til it busted. She didn’t see no reason to fix it cause she didn’t enjoy looking out that window, anyway.

Mamma said the house was kinda pretty once. I think she was dreamin that don’t you? She said they had good times here when her daddy was still alive. He kept things up. You know..fixed things when they broke down. I don’t know about that. I never saw this house with a lick of paint on it, inside or out.

No, It’s been a long time since anybody chased dirt around this house, but I guess it did what it was supposed to. It was a roof over people’s heads. We always stayed warm and had food to eat. That’s better than some have it.

Now that I look at it..That front window might a been kinda pretty once. If a person ever lives here again, they should tear the old lean-to that’s hanging off the side door down. It’s nothin but a place for rats and snakes to live under.

Well, I’m guessin it’s time for me to catch the bus back home. I just wanted to make sure mamma was right. The other thing she always said was, “Lily Dale, you gotta put up with trash to rise above it.” I’m not exactly sure what that means, but I think I gotta go to school til I get my certificate. Mamma sure did want her daughter to get educated.

“Goodbye house. You did what you was supposed to do, now that’s what I’m gonna do too!”






Murdo Girl…Wanted…A new Mrs. to travel with?

Sometimes my input is not appreciated.

Kip and I met with the electric company this morning to find out what the heck they wanted us to do, change, correct, whatever… so that we can get electricity to the tiny home.


A good shot of our electric pole

The guy Kip had been conferring with showed up first. He told us what needed to happen. We got everything clarified, and then he said, “Another guy is on his way to meet us here and he’s the boss of things, so you’ll have to do whatever he tells you. It seemed to me the more they talked the more confusing it sounded. It started out to be a huge deal. We were going to have to tear out a huge chunk of concrete from our newly poured driveway. The end plan sounded a little more reasonable and doable.

We all left, and on the way home I simply started to restate things. I just wanted to make sure I understood what they wanted done… and Kip’s opinion as to how long it would take to get it “really” ready.

I merely said to Kip, “I heard, blah, blah, blah…and then we’ll put you back on the schedule. Kip, do you know what that means? It means back on the schedule as in it will be a week to ten days from the time they put us back on the schedule?”

I was answered by silence. The last thing I said was, “Let’s hope it doesn’t rain. It’s spring. Everyone is building and everyone is behind because of all the rain. I heard the guy say that.”

Some of this I was only thinking as Kip cut me off before I could restate it all.


I’m looking for Queen Murdo girl…I hear she’s in the wilderness. Is this the wilderness?

I could tell Kip was still slightly irritated with me, tonight, so I said, “I’m sorry I restated so strongly. I promise I won’t tell you what I think you should do, again…But if you want to know what you should do, feel free to ask me.”

It’s been very quiet around here tonight, but I’m sure we’ll both be over ourselves by tomorrow. Kip is going to work on getting things ready for the electric company to come back.

I’m going to the tiny home, too. I’m going to sweep and clean out the cabinets with my battery operated hand vac. That’s about all I can do until I get electricity and water.


No new pictures, so I’ll show you the new Beasterhop bicycle some friends found for me among the things people are bringing to the church for the FUMC garage sale. If you live anywhere near Mabank, TX, you don’t want to miss it! The big day is Friday.


I’m looking for the perfect Mrs. Beasterhop to enjoy this beautiful red bicycle. The Beasterhop needs a Mrs. to travel with.

Murdo Girl…Digressing with Dollie



I don’t like being in the middle…I want Pattie to move


I want Pattie to move…MOVE!!…Pattie finally moved

Let’s review…

Have you written a goal? If not, it’s not too late. Everyone has something they want to complete or accomplish. Now is the time! Go for it!

Did you go back and read your written goal? The goal has to be in writing. I may not have clarified that before.

Is your goal a SMART goal? It can’t be SAR, or SMT. It has to have all the letters. Here is my broken down goal…that didn’t come out right.

S- Specific…eliminate clutter and manage accumulations

M-Measurable… All clutter will be eliminated. All excess in clothes and other personal belongings will be banished. My Beasterhop and Nutcracker collections will be displayed appropriately. All mementos and sentimental attachments will have a place or be given to someone who would really like to have it. You don’t have to keep every scrap of paper your kids ever colored on, or your first born’s baby teeth. My mother didn’t keep anything. If she had told us we were adopted, we probably would have believed her.

I’m getting bored with this…are you? It doesn’t matter. I have to complete my goal.

A-Achievable…My goal can be achieved, although, it will have to be revisited from time to time. I’ve met myself.

R-Realistic…Absolutely…no problem

T-Timed…I have committed to completing my goal by one month from the day we move into the tiny home. I need to clarify, here. If something comes up such as an emergency or something else that’s unforeseen and out of your control, you can adjust the time. Just don’t make it too far out.

I’m even starting to annoy myself.

Obstacles I may have to overcome are garage sales, my car turning into thrift shops and Goodwill stores, other good deals, and winning the lottery. I need to clarify, again. I can buy something new, occasionally, but it must replace something else. The whole point is to live with enough; to simplify my life and quit dealing with material things. Quality will replace quantity.

A lot of readers say they have tons of paper to go through. I don’t have that much paper, but the insides of my computer, laptop and phone are a mess. That will be my next project. I have extra storage in all of them, but there is no organization to it whatsoever. That right there gave me pause. It made my heart sink.


This guy is some sort of computer wizard. He’s transfering everything on MG’s PC to her laptop and backing it all up. (hahaha) I wonder if he knows what he’s getting himself into. Says his name is Bear. Think he’s trying to scare old Dollie off?

My tiny home will be stupendous, and Kip is in for a huge surprise. He saw my minima…list book and got a little nervous.

I forgot to tell you I have decided to keep my hat collection, but only the nice ones and I can only have five, which is all that will fit on my hat rack, which might have to go in the shed. No…I don’t want to go to the shed every time I want to wear a hat.

I think I’m done for the night.

wp-1523243341522.jpgFinally…I’ll get some attention

Murdo Girl….Problems solved

Murdo Girl

I’ve been reading the little Murdo Girl’s paper today, and I don’t know what to say.  There’s got to be a moral to this story somewhere. At least, maybe, there is a good point to be made, something we can all learn from, or maybe not.

I have been encouraging her to try out new words. I noticed she has added… her vocabulary.


California grapefruit, Arizona cactus. We play Draper just for practice..New York’s a city, Murdo’s a town. White River’s only a hole in the ground. Yea Murdo!!

The boys start playing basketball in the fourth grade, so the class votes for cheerleaders too. Guess what? I’m a cheerleader. We only have 7 games, but you’ve gotta start somewhere.

We get to stay for a while after school to practice our cheers. Last week, we practiced in the 8th grade classroom, which is upstairs. The 4th and 6th…

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