Murdo Girl…Around town

After reading today’s “paper,” I finally have to ask the question.  Does anyone know who is supposed to be watching this little Murdo Girl? I asked her and she said, “Everybody sees me. Most of the time I don’t hide.” 


I told the lady that I don’t usually hide, but there was this one time.

I was South of 16 playing with my cousins, and Suzanne and Cynthia Bork. They’re my cousin Mark’s cousins. On my way home, I  had to wait a long time to get across Highway 16, because of all the traffic. Finally, I thought I had enough time to run between two trucks. They saw me and had to screech on their brakes a little.

I hadn’t been home very long when I saw Leonard King walking up to our front door. Mr. King is the Sheriff. I knew exactly why he was there. I went to my room and hid in my closet. I sat there on the picture box for a long time. Suddenly, I heard my Dad looking for me. I thought about it and decided I should come out of hiding. Dad didn’t spank me, and he never yells like Mom, but he gave me a good talking to.

No, Dad has never spanked me, but one time he came close. My cousin Andrea was at our house helping Mom. She was sweeping the floor downstairs and I wanted her to play. She ignored me, so I took my baton, and hit her across the shins with it. I knew I wasn’t acting right, but it was too late. Unfortunately, Mom and Dad were both home. Andrea started crying and ran upstairs.

Mom told Dad to spank me good! He took me into the bathroom and shut the door. He said he was disappointed in me, and that I better never do anything like that again. Then he said he wasn’t going to spank me, but it wouldn’t hurt if I acted like he had. He didn’t have to worry. I hate it when Dad knows I’ve been bad. All Mom has to say is, “Wait until your Dad gets home,” and I usually straighten up. I was crying really hard when I had to go tell Mom and Andrea that I was sorry. One thing I know for sure…from now on, I’m not going to fool with anything that has to do with cleaning the basement.

Billy gets to drive now. Mom let’s him go places in her Pontiac. He doesn’t take me unless he has to. The other night I got to go with him to play ice hockey with his friends. It was dark, so a few others brought their cars too. They parked so they could shine the lights on the dam. I stayed in the car until I remembered something Billy told me.


Grandpa, Grandma, and Billy went fishing. Grandma stayed in the car to write some notes while Billy and Grandpa worked their way around the dam. Well, Grandpa forgot to put the car in park, and it started to roll into the water. Grandma got out somehow, and she was sitting on a rock when Grandpa and Billy came back. I forgot to ask Billy if the car rolled all the way to the water. If it did, how did they get it out? I’ll ask him and tell you later.


This is my Grandma Sanderson. You can see Suzanne and Cynthia Bork’s house behind her.

_________________________________________________________________  A couple of my friends came to my house the other day.  We had so much fun dressing up in Mom’s formals. She keeps them in a trunk downstairs. She doesn’t know that we play with them, so  we try to be really careful.

The suit Mom wore when she and Dad got married is in the trunk too, but it’s an ugly dark green with a brown fur collar. None of us ever wants to wear it. Well, I knew that I was going to be in really big trouble soon. I’m not supposed to have kids over when Mom isn’t home and even if they were gone when she got home, she would know.

My plan was to hurry and wash some dirty dishes that were in the sink. I thought it was a good plan, and Mom wouldn’t be so mad if I helped her out.  I decided to get the dishes done before I changed out of my gown. The worst thing happened. I cut my hand on a very sharp knife. I had to think fast before I bled to death. I decided to call my Aunt Emily. She came and got me and took me to Dr. Murphy. I didn’t get stitches, but he put some stuff on it and wrapped it up in a bunch of gauze.

When Aunt Emily got me home, Mom was there. Can you imagine my fear? I could barely breathe. There I was, in Mom’s gown, with a cut hand. I just couldn’t think fast enough to come up with a plan to get me out of trouble. What Mom said really surprised me. She yelled, “WHY ON EARTH DID YOU CALL EMILY?” This was after Aunt Emily left of course. I thought fast and I said, “Because I knew she would be home.” I can’t tell you everything Mom said, because I was in shock and I can’t remember. Let’s just say it was a bad day all around, and she will probably tell Dad.

I should have remembered the time Grandpa Sanderson ate with us and halfway through the meal he said, “Say, do you know who the best cook is?” Mom smiled and said, “Who?” Grandpa said, “Emily.” Mom was NOT happy. Emily is a good cook, but I could see another noontime fight coming.


Everybody liked the picture of Billy and his friends when they were Boy Scouts. Sheila Brunskill and Sharon Ivory helped me out with the names.

Left to right…Greg Brunskill (troop leader), Tommy Olsen, Donny Nash, Jimmy Judd, Walt Anderson, Terry Tornow, (troop leader), Billy Francis, Obie Brunskill, and behind, in the cowboy hat, is Paul Anderson, Walt’s Dad.



MURDO Girl…the Chalet Motel

I don’t know if I believe this story, but Murdo Girl insists it’s true. Once again, she skipped around some, so it was difficult to name the Essay. I told her the title tells people what subject they will be reading about. She looked at me and said, “Can’t they just read it?” I also asked her to write one paper without mentioning Billy.


I hope when everyone reads this, they will tell the lady it’s true. I told her to just ask anyone who lives in Murdo, if she doesn’t believe me.

If all the motels in Murdo were empty, and they let all the residents have a bed, there would still be beds left over. That’s what someone in Mack’s Cafe told Mom.

I have a lot of time to write today, because my Mom is really mad at me. I was trying to help her out, so I got a big bucket of soapy water and a scrub brush, and started scrubbing the basement floor. I got the water a little too soapy, but that’s not what she’s the maddest about. Our basement is pretty big and there’s no carpet, so I was in for a good days work.

When I was almost done soaping up the biggest room, Mom came downstairs. She was so surprised, she could hardly talk…at first. Then she said, “MARY CONSTANCE FRANCIS, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” I was going to tell her that I was helping her out, but she just kept on talking. She told me she had just had Roni Poppe clean and wax the whole floor. I really thought she was going to cry, and Mom never crys. Roni didn’t act that mad when she came back over to help Mom get the soap off. I could tell they didn’t need me to help, so I’m up here writing for the lady.


You can’t see it very good, but we took this picture when Mom got back from

Charlene Bryan’s Beauty Shop

Mom always says that when Laura Hayden opens her trunk so she can haul stuff, it’s time for tourist season. She doesn’t close it again until fall when hunting season is over. She should get a pick-up.

Now, about our Motel.

When Dad had lots of jobs on the Indian Reservations, it was too far for the men to drive home every night, so he had a good idea. He decided he would build a place for the men to stay. He built two units to one building. When the job was done, the men would tear down the building and move it to some land we had on Highway 16. We just had two rooms at first, and we called them Lonesome Tilly. By that time, the men had built 2 more units to stay in, and we called them Lonesome George.

Mom already knew what to do, because we had been renting our basement to tourists when all the motels got full. It worked out good until the relatives wanted to come and visit us during the summertime. It cost us money, because they needed to sleep at our house and we couldn’t charge them like we could the tourists.

It’s been a few years now and we have 13 pretty nice rooms. We still don’t have an office, so Mom sits in unit #1 until all the other rooms are rented out. Then, when someone comes through the door we say, “We only have one room left, and this is it.”

When the business slows down, Mom gets tired of sitting there, but she doesn’t want to lose money. She had a good idea. She makes a paper sign that she tapes on the door of #1. It says: The rooms available are 6,7,and 8. This room (#1) can be rented last. If you care to stay, cross off the number of the room you take, and please put $12.00 in the desk drawer. The key is in there too. If you take the last room, please take the note down, and turn the light out on the sign. It’s on the pole.

There have been lots of times when we get there in the morning and all the rooms are rented, and the sign is turned off. The $12.00 is in the drawer too. The tourists never steal our towels either, because we don’t bleach them.

Dad wanted to name the motel Lonesome Tilly, but it has too many letters, and it would cost us too much for the sign.We named it The Chalet Motel.

Most of the motels in Murdo have televisions in the rooms, but we don’t. We don’t want to have to get a new sign when we get TV sets, so we had TV put on the sign. We put a television in one room so we wouldn’t be lying. If all the other customers complain, we just tell them Murdo only gets one channel, (which is true), and it is really fuzzy, (not exactly true). Dad said we should just tell the tourists that TV means Terrific View, (which we can’t do).

I wonder if I’ve been writing long enough for Mom to cool off. I was thinking about asking someone around here to play checkers with me, but when he says, “NO,” Mom won’t be  on my side.

Look what I found…Jimmy Judd, Walt Anderson, another guy, and Obie Brunskill. Someone probably knows the rest of them.



Murdo Girl…Mrs. Thiessen

The little Murdo Girl jumped the gun a little before I got my part in. I chose her to write this story because I know she really loves growing up in Murdo. When I asked her if she could handle this task, she was quick to proudly tell me her brother Billy said she was a “prolific” writer. I didn’t have the heart to tell her, that only means she writes a lot, not necessarily well.



Loretta Gustafson's Life in Photos 011

Billy’s surprise birthday party was yesterday. Dad told him a lie about where they were going. He drove all over trying to kill time until everyone had time to get to the big celebration. Billy started getting nervous. He thought they were going to be late to the place he thought he was going. It turns out he really wanted to go there. Mom and Dad shouldn’t have told such a good lie. I guess the party turned out okay, I didn’t hear much about it. I only heard him say, he didn’t like wearing a suit.

I hope I get a surprise party someday. I won’t act the way Billy did.

Mrs.Thiessen is an older lady. There is a vacant lot between her house and where my Miller cousins live. Mrs. Thiessen always sits in a chair by the window and watches us play on the lot. We have plays and carnivals. If we have enough kids, we play games like Red Rover and Captain May I. We go visit Mrs. Theissen too. The only bad thing about her is, she gives us apples on Halloween instead of candy.

One day she asked us if we knew how to sew and knit. She said that those Sanderson girls, (Who are our Moms), never learned anything useful when they were young. I made the mistake of telling my Mom what she said and guess what? Mom took me to Mrs. Thiessen’s house the very next day and asked her to teach me how to knit. I was standing by Mrs. Thiessen’s chair and I was watching and concentrating very hard. I started feeling hot and before I knew it, I had passed right out on the floor. Mom took me home and said,”Well, that’s the end of that!” I knew that my knitting days were over.


Well, one morning my cousin Valerie went to see Mrs Thiessen. When she knocked on the door, Mrs. Thiesen didn’t answer. Valerie looked in the bedroom window and saw Mrs. Thiessen stretched out on her bed, and she didn’t look so good. Valerie went to the Miller’s house and got our Uncle Jerry …Well, that was the right thing to do. He found out that Mrs. Theissen had died in her sleep.

None of the Moms except mine, would let their kids go to the funeral. I begged and begged to go. My Grandpa Sanderson is a Pall burrier for lots of funerals. Grandpa likes to fish and hunt, but Mom says that funerals are his favorite indoor sport. He gets to see lots of people, and they tell each other stories. Anyway, I figured it would be fine to go.


When we got there, I saw the casket. Mom and I walked past it, and there was Mrs. Thiessen laying there. She looked blue to me. The preacher had them close the lid and wheel her to the front of the Church. I know he said lots of nice things about her, but I couldn’t really concentrate. They finally sang “Beyond the Sunset,” and it was over. On the way out, we walked by the casket again. I was glad they kept the lid closed. I God blessed her and hurried on by.

That night, Mom had all of the ladies over to play bridge. I didn’t want to go to bed, because I was afraid that I would die in my sleep like Mrs. Thiesen. I tried everything I could think of to stay awake. I kept calling for Mom and the first couple of times she came to see what was wrong. I even got to sleep in her bed. She soon realized that I wasn’t going to sleep, and told me to go to the kitchen. I got to have some pie she made for the ladies. I got a piece of cream o cheese o cherry pie, and a piece of lemon chiffon pie. That’s what she makes every time and I love them both. Mom took me back to bed and told me to count sheep so I wouldn’t think about dying.

It will be a long time before I stop jumping from the doorway to the bed. I have to do that because you never know when someone might be underneath the bed and grab you. I loved Mrs. Thiessen, but I hope my funeral days are over for awhile.

I’m going to have to go to bed soon. Mom and Dad are gone and Billy is watching me. I’m going to try to go to sleep fast, before he goes to his room downstairs. I probably should have waited to write this story another time, when more people were home. I’m sure the lady would have let me.

09694b74ebda7d3d1f44b942f769f117-1THE LADIES GETTING READY FOR BRIDGE

Charlene Bryan’s Beauty Shop

Murdo Girl…the cabin

I know Murdo Girl jumps around a bit..I asked her if she had Attention Deficit Disorder. She told me she couldn’t have it, because she had been vaccinated for it at the Murdo Auditorium. She said she hopes they will put all shots in a sugar cube someday.


We had a bad storm last night. Dad wasn’t home so, Mom, Billy, and I went downstairs to be safer. We built a big fire in the fireplace in case the electricity went off. Mom threw trash and some other stuff in the fire to keep it burning. Well, there was a shotgun shell in there and it went off and blew a hole in the ceiling. I said maybe we’d be safer upstairs with the storm. Billy said that would be stupid, because if there were more shells in the fire and they went off, we wouldn’t know where to stand upstairs to keep from being hit through the floor. I guess he was right. It’s hard to hide from a storm AND shotgun shells.

Once when we had a snowstorm in Murdo, Berferd got caught uptown. He was out in front of Sanderson’s Store. They felt bad for him, so they let him in. The next morning they called Dad to come and get him. Dad came home and said Berferd hadn’t bothered anything but the dog food.  He picked out the most expensive one and  ate it.


Summer is finally here.  Tomorrow, I’m going with Grandma and Grandpa Sanderson to their cabin in the Black Hills. I go with them almost every time they go. I have the most fun when one of the other cousins goes too. The cabin is in the forest and by Box Elder Creek. There is electricity, but we have to haul water from the creek. There is a one holer outhouse and chamber pots for at night. We cook and heat water on a great big cast iron stove.

Well, we got home from the cabin yesterday. It was fun, but not sooo fun. First off, a couple of weeks before we went to the cabin, I wrecked my bike and skinned my knee really bad. Mom said it wasn’t healing like it should. As it happened, Grandma and Grandpa were going to their doctor in Rapid City to have some liver spots taken off. Mom told them to have the doctor look at my knee. Well, I was sitting in the waiting room and Grandma and Grandpa came out from seeing the doctor and guess what? That doctor had burned spots off their faces… BURNED them… I told Grandpa I was NOT going in to see that doctor, but he made me. It turns out that all I have to do is put some salve on it every day.419ecb1b29b7ffbec8f20713ddab5345-1

Then, a couple of days later, Grandpa said we were going to a church in Rapid City on Sunday. We NEVER go to church when we go to the cabin and I didn’t bring a dress. Grandpa said that it doesn’t matter, so we went. I wore a pair of bermuda shorts and held my legs together as much as I could so people would think I had a skirt on. At least, I didn’t have to go to Sunday school. I still have a headache. Grandpa has a buzzer on is speedometer that goes off when he reaches the speed limit. That thing buzzed all the way there and all the way home. I tried to tell him it wouldn’t do that if he just slowed down a little.

When there are other cousins there, we spend one day playing cowboys and Indians in the wooded hills behind the cabin. There are lots of big rocks that we can hide behind and ambush the bad guys. I wish you could hear the sound my cousin Andrea makes when she’s pretending to shoot a gun…Piouw, Piouw, Piouw, with lots of emphasis on the pi. The second day we usually play in the creek below the cabin. We go fishing a lot too.


Well, I’m supposed be in bed, but I can hear my favorite show on TV, so I’m going to sneak out in the hall and watch it for awhile.






Murdo Girl…school days

1-1-Murdo High School

I almost didn’t get Murdo Girl to write today. She is very unhappy about something her “dangerously” mean brother did. I can’t say as I blame her. I told her to go ahead and get it off her chest, but then she must move on.


Guess what? Billy got ahold of my paper yesterday and told me I made a bunch of mistakes.

He said,”Can’t hardly is a double negative and you wrote it twice.” Then he said, ” Fern Penticoff was the Grandmother.”

I said,” Huh uh.

” He said, “Yes sir, Fern is Mick’s Grandmother.”

I said, “My story says Pete, and she’s Pete’s Mother.” He never did say I was right.

I can’t wait until I get my teacup monkey. Billy will be so mad.

I ordered the monkey I saw on the back of a comic book. It said I could get a little teacup monkey for free if I bought two gold framed pictures for $14.00. I don’t even have to send any money until they get here, because they send them COD. It will take 6 to 8 weeks for them to arrive which is good. It will take me that long to raise the money from my towel job. I wash Mom’s motel towels.  I sure hope they feed my monkey along the way. Six to eight weeks is a long time.

Well summer is over and I only saved $56.00 from my towel job. I went with Bonna Lindquist and her kids to Pierre and did some school shopping. I blew ALL of the money at the Red Owl Store. It doesn’t matter anyway, because when the $14.00 picture frames came, Mom didn’t pay the cash on delivery, so they went back. She told me, as she was glaring at me, that the monkey didn’t come. She said that I couldn’t have a dirty little monkey anyway, because they have fleas. I didn’t really think it through. Berferd would not have liked it, and he SURE wouldn’t want to get fleas.

I was in 3rd grade last year. I will kind of miss Mrs. Parks. She read all of the Little House on the Prairie books to us. I wish I was Laura Ingles Wilder. She got to make syrup. She made candy out of tree sap and snow. I tried to make it once and ended up with a sticky maple syrup mess.

It’s only the first day of fourth grade and I can’t wait for it to be over. My teacher is Mrs. Nix and her sister is Lynn Brost. Lynn is dating my brother. I tried to make them not like each other. I saw the Reynolds sisters at Mack’s Cafe, and I told them I saw Billy kissing Susan Wedien in our front yard. I was hoping it would get back to Lynn. They didn’t believe me. Anyway, it wasn’t true.

I have chosen a desk way at the back of the class. I don’t need any trouble. It’s bad enough that I have to learn history and geography this year.

Murdo has a whistle on top of the water tower that blows at twelve noon. That’s what tells us it’s time to go home for dinner. Usually, when we are just starting to eat, Grandpa Sanderson comes. He always goes uptown to get the mail, then stops by our house, and the Miller’s house on his way home. Grandpa and Mom usually get into a big fight and she tells him to go home, because Grandma is waiting on him for dinner. When Grandpa leaves, Dad always says, “Well, he won’t be back.”

He always comes back the next day. Grandpa will say something like, “That Grandma can get ready to go to the cabin in half an hour.” Then, Mom yells, “That’s because it’s all the time you give her!”

Well, I have to go to bed. I have to get up early so Billy hears me practice my saxophone. The band teacher, Mr. Palmer, says he knows I practice early in the morning because Billy complains about it.

When we were younger



Murdo Girl… Easter (and a little bit of Christmas)

I told the little Murdo Girl it’s almost Easter, and what does she do? She writes about Christmas. I’m beginning to understand the “dangerously” mean, older brother. I want you to  know, I’m really trying to resolve the situation, but I think I should wait until after Christmas.


1-Easter Pic


The lady that wants me to write all this stuff about growing up here in Murdo, wasn’t too happy when I showed her my paper about Christmas, so I won’t write much about Christmas for awhile.

You see that picture of us? Mom took it on our front porch, but as you can see, the sun was in our eyes. Poor little Karen. You can hardly see her.

Every year, we all get new dresses, hats, shoes, and sometimes a coat for Easter Sunday. I hate my new coat this year. It looks like it’s starched. I can hardly sit down with it on. I’ll probably be stuck with it for at least two years. I don’t know why my Mom and Aunt Elna had our hair cut so short either.

Oh well, Easter isn’t about clothes. It’s about Jesus giving his life for us, so we can live forever in heaven.

I want to tell you one thing about Christmas. It sort of has something to do with Easter because it has baby chicks in it… almost anyway. People sometimes buy their kids baby chickens for Easter.

Last year, I asked for an incubator for Christmas. I got one too. Mr. Herman Brost brought me some fertilized chicken eggs from his ranch. I only hatched one and it was deformed. It only lived three days, and I wasn’t there when he died. Mom told me when I got home from school. When I asked her if I could bury him, she said she had already cremated him. I guess she did because I found him in the burn barrel. I God blessed him.

Next, Mr. Brost brought me some sparrow eggs. Have you ever seen a baby sparrow? Well, they all started hatching in the middle of the night. They were so ugly and they kept hatching and hatching and squawking. I started screaming at the top of my lungs. Dad came running into my room. He took the whole thing out and told me my hatching days were over. That’s fine with me. It was a whole lot of work. I had to keep the moisture and the temperature just right and turn the eggs every day. One time when Mom and Dad had gone out of town, I stayed with my Aunt Ella and Uncle Al. My cousin Valerie and I had to climb through a bedroom window to take care of the eggs. Mom and Dad had accidentally locked the house up.

That night, after he tossed my incubator, Dad went back to bed and did like he does sometimes. He says I’ll beat you to sleep and then he pretends to be snoring. I hear him say, “I’m asleep.”

Back to Easter…Grandma and Grandpa are coming to our house for dinner after Church. We’re having ham. I don’t really like ham. I would rather go to Fern’s Cafe and have a hot beef sandwich. Pete Penticoff and his Mother Fern make the best hamburgers too. Dad even goes in sometimes and he hates to go to cafe’s. They’re probably not open on Easter Sunday anyway.

After dinner, Billy and I have to do the dishes. I wash and then he dries. He won’t come and dry until I’m done washing. Mom said that when Billy dries, the dishes stand in the cupboard and cry. One night, I decided to be nice and dry the dishes too and put them away. I went out to the living room where he was laying on the couch and told him the dishes were ready for him to dry. After he saw that I had done it all, he came back to the living room. He got all mad because I made him get up for nothing, and now Mom was laying on the couch. The good part was, she made him sit on the end of the couch and rub her stinky feet.

Mom said onetime when Billy was little, she ran out of hard-boiled eggs, so she just let him color uncooked ones. My cousin Terry got one and Aunt Emily wasn’t too happy about it.

Okay, I have to go now. I was just thinking. I wonder if I could accidentally spill something really bad on my coat.


I don’t know who this is, but she must be getting ready for Easter Sunday


Murdo Girl…Governor

She is really into animals this week. She begged me to let her write about her horse. This story was intended for later, so we compromised…She is going to write a short horse story ahead of time, and we will publish her Easter Story tomorrow.


We’re going to have another 4th of July parade this year. Mark has a horse named Prince, and I have a Shetland pony named Governor or Guv for short. I was so excited the day  Dad and Swede drove up with a pony for me in the back of the truck. I love that horse even though he can be really stubborn. He also hates men.

His name is Governor Archie Francis. Archie Gubbrud is the Governor of South Dakota.

The parade is really fun. We hook Prince up to a red wagon with a chair in it. I wear my red gown and a crown made out of tin foil and ride in the chair. We decorate Guv because he does NOT like to pull a wagon. All of the other kids dress up in red, white, and blue, then we March up and down all of the streets south of 16. People seem to like it. They would probably like it better if we had candy to throw to them, but we can’t afford it.

I remember a little about the parade Murdo had when we celebrated the bicentennial. I was only 4 1/2 in June of 1956 and I remember that Kitty Reynolds made me an old fashioned dress and bonnet. Billy was almost 13. He said that Francis Plumbing & Heating had a float with an outhouse on it. One of the workers was looking through a hole in the back of it and the sign said, “We stand behind all of our work.” I wish I could remember that, it must have been so much fun.

One day my cousin Valerie and I decided to play Rawhide. Valerie rode Mark’s horse Prince and I rode Guv out to Aske’s ranch where they have a bunch of milk cows. We were having so much fun herding, that we decided to spend the night. I volunteered to ride back to town and get some supplies like food and matches. I already had the saddle off Governor because he was pretty hot, so I rode bareback. The ride was a lot farther than I thought it was going to be. I really didn’t feel like riding all of the way back, so I went to my cousin Mark’s to play. It didn’t seem like such a big deal until I saw Aunt Ella, (Valerie’s Mom), drive up in her pink car. She was looking for Valerie and when I told her that she was at Aske’s ranch, she said to get in the car. Well, I must have forgotten that Valerie had both saddles, so she just couldn’t have hopped on Prince and ridden back. It would have been hard to find my saddle if she’d left it there.

We found out that people don’t really like you to herd their milk cows around, so we’re not going to do that again anyway.


I wrote this letter to my parents. I had to sell Governor several years after this photo was taken. I eventully got too big for him. The other girl in the picture is Betty Reiners. Her parents had a restaurant where the Buffalo Bar is now. I think it was called Don’s Diner.

Thank you lady, for letting me write about my horse. It got my mind off my dangerously mean brother. Governor doesn’t like him.

Murdo Girl…Berferd and the Show

This is a rerun about one of my favorite childhood memories…

Well, she wanted to write about her dog today. I thought we might get away from the brother, but we weren’t so fortunate. He may have to pay for her therapy someday. In any case, I left the story about Berferd in, because it’s rather charming.



I used to have a dog named Penny. One day, she had puppies in our coat closet. My mom told me I could keep one, so I picked out the one I thought was cutest and named him Scout.

“MOM!! Billy just stuck his head in my door and called me Clara Belle Barnsmell.”

Sorry, he wants to know what I’m doing and I told him it was none of his beeswax. My cousin Trice told me her brother Blake made her eat flies before she could have a popsicle. I sure hope Billy doesn’t hear about that!

Back to Scout.

When Scout was little, I went to California with my Dad. He flew back home in a few days, but I stayed most of the summer with my Aunt Vava and Uncle Bob. Dad bought me some new clothes before he left. Do you know what a shift dress is? It doesn’t have a waist. Dad told the store clerk that he had a shiftless daughter. He bought me two.

When I got back to Murdo, I hadn’t seen Scout for almost 3 months and I couldn’t wait to see him. I went outside and yelled heeere Scout, but he didn’t come. When I told Mom he wouldn’t come, she said it was because she had changed his name to Berferd. “He looks more like a Berferd,” she said. I went outside and yelled heere Berferd. Well here came the homeliest dog I have ever seen. My dog had grown up and he had black, white, grey and brown, wiry hair. He looked like he had fallen out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down. I still loved that dog.

Murdo has shows uptown on Saturday and Sunday nights. (The same show both nights.) Berferd runs all over town, but on Saturday and Sunday nights he always knows there is a show, and he always goes. He lays at the top of the aisle and Mrs. Burns, who is the usher, shines a flashlight on him so the people don’t trip over him.  Mrs. Burns is also the dental assistant and her husband, Mr. Willard Burns works at the Ford Garage and also runs the projector for the show.

Anyway, I usually go to the show one night and sometimes Dad goes if it’s a cowbyer movie (that’s what he calls westerns). All the kids always go to Sanderson’s Store before the show and buy penny candy. My Great Aunt Tet works there and sells it to us. When we first sit down in the show house, we see a cartoon, then news, and after that, the show.

Berferd always goes to the show both nights and after the movie, he gets to run all around and eat the popcorn that the people spilled. When he’s done, he goes home. He usually gets home by about 10:30.

Berferd runs ahead of Dad’s car all of the time. When Dad drops me off at band practice, Berferd stays there until band is out, and then he walks me to my school.

Sometimes when Dad is driving me to school, he pretends that he is going to turn one way and Berferd takes off in that direction. Then, Dad turns the opposite way and Berferd runs that way. He yelps all the way back until he gets ahead of Dad again. It is so funny. Dad laughs so hard even with a cigar in his mouth. Dad hates cigarettes, but loves cigars. Anyway, Berferd will never ride in a car because he got car sick once.We sure do love that dog. Dad says he has personality instead of good looks.

One Saturday when I came home from the show, Mom was sitting in Dad’s chair. She didn’t look very good. She said the neighbor had been over to tell her that Berferd had been hit by a car and was dead. He put him in the trunk of Mom’s car so we could bury him someplace. It was really, really, sad. I asked Mom what time it happened, and she said it was a couple of hours ago.

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I said, “Mom are you sure, because Berferd was at the show?” Well, she went right to the phone and called Willard Burns who runs the projector and asked him if Berferd was there. He said, “Yes, he cleaned up the popcorn and then he left. He should be home any minute.”

Mom said, “Then who is in my trunk?” We went out to the car to look. We couldn’t believe it. There was a dog that looked just like Berferd only he was bigger. Mom and I looked  at each other and said, “Berferd’s father!!”

Berferd got home about 10:30… just like always.


Murdo Girl…1960’s…small town life

I don’t know how this is going to turn out. The little Murdo Girl is still writing, but I have to rein her in sometimes. She is far too obsessed with writing about all of her brother’s misdeeds. I asked her to please hold it down to one or two a day. We’ll see how it goes. I would like to learn more about some of the other people living in Murdo.


I love my brother, but sometimes it’s hard to know if he’s telling me the truth. Like yesterday.. I was really hungry when I got home from school, so I looked in the ice box for a snack. There were some pork ribs in there, so I ate a couple. They weren’t very good, but I was hungry. Well, when Dad and Billy got home we had supper… pork ribs. I told Mom that I had tried two after school and didn’t like them.

She said,“WHAT!” they weren’t all the way cooked.

Billy got this horrible look on his face. He said, “You ate raw pork? Do you know what is going to happen in a day or two?”

I said,  “what?” Then he said, “Worms, big worms are going to start coming out of your legs, but you can’t pull them out, because they will break off and you won’t be able to ever get them out.”

I yelled, “What can I do?”

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He said, (in a sinister voice), “You have to take sticks and roll the worms around the sticks a little each day. You have to be very careful until they come all the way out. Then you kill them by…

I started crying my eyes out and I was feeling a little sick. Finally, Mom told him to quit being so mean. Billy was laughing, which he got in trouble for, but I think he thought it was worth it. I had bad dreams last night and it’s all my brother’s fault.

Today, we put on a play called Cleopatra. Andrea was our director, and knows some of the story, but the rest, we just made up as we went along. I got to play Cleopatra, mostly because I have a long, red, formal dress that Kitty made for me. I also get to be the queen in all the parades. I’ll tell you more about the parades later.

Anyway, back to Cleopatra. The story goes like this; Cleopatra and Marc Anthony were in love. They lived in Egypt. One day, some guy came running into Cleopatra’s house and told her that Marc Anthony was dead. Cleopatra, (me), said “How did he get killed?” Well, since Andrea didn’t know that part, the guy (played by Valerie), said “he got run over by a chariot.”

Cleopatra started wailing and told Mark (my cousin Mark), to get the biggest and most poison snake he could find. While Mark was getting the snake, Stephanie and Cynthia changed the scenery. They brought a blanket out for Cleopatra to get bit by the snake on, and a music box that played a sad song. Everything was going along fine until the music box ran down before I was done with my death scene. Stephanie ran over to wind it up again. It went crank, crank, and crank. Well, that did it. We all started laughing, and I almost wet my red gown. I don’t know what we’ll do tomorrow, but Andrea will think of something. She’s a good idea person.

My Dad owns Francis Plumbing & Heating. His shop is in a building that looks like a gingerbread house on the outside, but it’s kind of dirty and dusty on the inside. Behind the bookkeeper, Lois J’s desk, is a great big picture of Custer’s Last Stand. It shows the battlefield and you could look at it for days and not see everything.


Dad’s shop isn’t on Main St. It’s in front of the Red Top Motel. Most of the other businesses are on Main St., like Sanderson’s Store, Macks Cafe, the Show House, Joy Payne’s dress shop, the Gem Hotel, the Ford Garage, Jones County State Bank, and the Murdo Hotel. There’s more, but you get the idea.


There’s probably about 850 people living here. That doesn’t count all the ones who live on farms and ranches. The country kids go to a school in the country until they get to High School, then they drive themselves to Murdo.

The lady said to tell you more about Murdo. It was named after Murdo Mackenzie who was a nationally known cattleman. The railroad was built to Murdo and farther, to help bring his many cattle to market.

I know this because there’s a plaque about him in front of the Super Value store.

If Billy doesn’t kill me, I’ll write about Berferd tomorrow.



Murdo Girl…1960

I’m going back in time for this story. The young girl telling us about her life, is eight years old, and the year is 1960. She lives in a small town in South Dakota by the name of Murdo.

I’m going to do my best to keep her on track, but she has a lot to say, and she tends to “get a little wordy.”


The lady said I’m eight, which is right. I think you should also know that in three months, on December 31st, I will be nine. I live with my Mom and Dad. I also have a brother whose name is Billy. He is almost eight years older than I am. If you were to ask him if he likes me, I really don’t know what he would say. He is either trying to make me stronger, or he hates me. There is no one meaner than my brother. I’ll tell you more about that later, if the lady lets me.

Right now, Billy’s not here. Mom made him go take her leftover goulash to her friend Bonna, and Bonna sent him to Kitty’s with her leftover meatloaf. He took the meatloaf to my Aunt Elna. Finally, he will bring my Aunt’s leftovers home. We eat whatever it is, but usually it’s tuna and noodle casserole. My favorite is when we just do an even Steven trade with Kitty. We give her ham and beans, and she gives us crusty Southern cornbread. This plan of trading almost caused a lot of trouble once, when one of the ladies got her own leftovers back.


I wonder where Billy is. I’m so hungry, I could eat every bit of that dried up tuna casserole.

(The lady just told me, I had to use first names ONLY, or we could get sued.)


I know everybody that lives in this town, but not all of their first names. I live on the North side of Highway 16, but my Grandpa and Grandma Sanderson, (they won’t sue me), and most of my cousins live on the South side. We used to live where my Grandparents live now, but my Dad built us a new house. I heard Billy really cried, because he didn’t want people to think we’re rich. He doesn’t like it when Dad gets a new Oldsmobile either. Can you imagine?


The druggist, Mr. Jack and his wife live next door. They have lots of crabapple trees in their backyard. Well, one day, my friend Suzanne and I were thinking, and we came up with a plan to get as many of those apples as we could. We checked really carefully to make sure Mr. and Mrs. Jack’s car was gone. We took two paper bags and we each climbed a tree. We  had two bags full, when Mr. Jack came out and caught us red handed. (the apples were red).

I figured out that Suzanne wasn’t going to say anything, so I said, “Mr. Jack, we are picking these apples for you.” Well, he told us to get down out of those trees and don’t ever come back. He didn’t say to drop the apples we’d already picked, so we took the sacks we had full, and ran all the way back to Suzanne’s house South of 16. We ate so many apples we were sick. Come to think about it, almost every time I play with Suzanne, I get in trouble. Once we smoked a whole pack of Mom’s Salem cigarettes. I got sick then too.

Awhile back, we went to Rapid City to get our eyes checked. I really wanted to wear glasses, but my eyes are perfect. Billy’s eyes are the opposite of cross-eyed so he got glasses to keep them straight. I noticed that he never wore them so I took them and bent them to make them fit me… sort of. I thought I looked good in those glasses. I wore them in school for a couple of weeks. One day, I was playing with my friends at recess, when I saw Mom drive up in her car. I was so used to wearing the glasses, that I forgot I even had them on. Mom stormed over to me and said “Mary Content!” She was really mad and she said it was a wonder those glasses didn’t make me go cross-eyed. I don’t know who told on me, but they are NOT my friend. Billy never did wear those glasses.

Well, Mom just came in my room and told me it was time for bed. I recently figured out that if I put my school clothes on the night before, I can sleep later in the morning. So far, it’s working pretty good.

I hope the lady likes what I wrote. If she does, I’ll write some more tomorrow.