Murdo Girl…Sanderson’s Store remembered

We received so many comments about “Murdo Girl…The visit,” and Sanderson’s Store, we decided to give the little Murdo Girl a much needed break. (You have no idea how hard she works.) Today’s post is a compilation of some of the memories M.E. and Mary Sanderson’s Grandsons have of the store. These thoughts were gathered by our cousin Valerie Leckey a few years back. Valerie has also provided many of the photos you see in “Murdo Girl.” 

The Cousins Recall their Sanderson’s Store Memories


From Left: Greg Miller, Terry Sanderson, Blake Haverberg, Jeff H. Sanderson, Bobby Haverberg, Billy Francis (Mark Sanderson probably took the picture)

Jeff H. Sanderson

Someone told Grandpa Sanderson that he would never do as well as Burnham, (the previous owner). It may have been one of those darn bankers. It was not a bed of roses when he started out, as I remember he said some days they would go all day without a customer. I believe Grandpa bought it around 1930 which were tough times. I just thought about that lately. I never remember Grandpa once saying that it was during the depression. As long as I can remember, he was always very positive and always saw the glass half full. He built up quite a business at the store as later he even sold tractors (Minneapolis Moline Tractors) and other farm equipment. Leroy Fedderson, (who was one year older than me), and I enjoyed working with Uncle Al. He took us out fishing one night to Grand Coulee, a large stock dam south of Okaton and we had a  lot of fun.

One of my favorite stories is when Bobby and Blake Haverberg, (the Michigan cousins), and one of their friends, came out to South Dakota and were staying above the store. They drove nonstop, got in about 8:00 a.m. and Grandpa had them out at the fishing dam around 9:00 a.m., brought them in about 9:30 p.m. and they were all beet red. As Blake was heading up those long stairs, he hollered back at my Dad to not let Grandpa near them until 2:00 p.m. the next day!

Al Leckey (Ella) and Grandpa Sanderson

Billy Francis

There was a vent on the floor of the apartment, above the counter at Sanderson’s store. I used to lower a string down to the counter. Uncle Al, who was working in the store at the time, would tie a piece of penny candy onto the bottom of the string, and I would pull it up through the vent! I worked at the store for four summers, starting when I was 11. Aunt Tet (grandpa’s sister) was always my favorite. I couldn’t wait for the next morning when we got to talk about the baseball game we had listened to on the radio the night before. Tet loved noon hour when the kids came in for penny candy. She did not go to lunch until 1:00 p.m. after the kids had gone back to school.

Billy Francis and Valerie Leckey
Terry Sanderson
Sanderson’s Store was kind of the Walmart of Murdo. They carried dry goods, hardware, groceries, sporting goods, and a few other items.  They also had a Minneapolis Moline farm equipment dealership on the corner lot south of the store.
My first bicycle came from there along with a few guns that I purchased from Uncle Jeff.
I recall the enclosed meat case  and the large counter where all transactions culminated.  Saturday nights ran late with the store staying open until the late hours to accommodate the farmers who were late in getting to town.  Uncle Jeff delivered groceries to many of the older people who were unable to get up and do their own shopping.
One humorous story I heard, I believe involved Uncle Al.  The store had just received a large gallon jar of horseradish.  The story goes that Frank McCurdy came in the store and commented that they just didn’t make horseradish like they used to. Uncle Al took the lid off the jar and passed it under Frank’s nose and told him to take a whiff of it.  Frank apparently nearly passed out as a result.
The old dark basement under the main store was a place of mystery as was the long storage area built onto the back of the store.

Grandma Mary Sanderson in the living quarters, and Aunt Tet Sanderson, Grandpa’s sister, who worked at the store for many years with Sandy, Grandpa’s brother, and Melitha, his sister, both from Iowa

Terry continued

There were lots of family get togethers up above the store in Grandma and Grandpa’s living quarters, and I recall playing on the open roof area behind the living area.

The store served the community for many, many years.  Several years after it had closed, the bank I worked in bought the property and had the building demolished in preparation for building a new bank building.  The bank building didn’t happen, but the local electric cooperative built a large office building on the site.

Murdo Girl…The visit

Sanderson’s store is on the East side with the striped awning.

The day was overcast, the street almost empty, but then, it was early. Did I really want to do this, I thought? I was hesitant to walk through the door, but I wanted to see everything once more. It wasn’t even my own memories I was reliving, because there weren’t that many. It was mainly the generation before me that had occupied the rooms I was about to see for one last time.

When I finally opened the door, it was the scent of old wood I noticed first. The stairs seemed just as steep as when I was little, and there were a lot of them. I heard the sound of a little boy with his suitcase, climbing the stairs. As he struggled with each step, his suitcase banged the walls on either side of him.

The high voice could be heard, by the occupants of the rooms upstairs. “I get to stay all week-end,” he yelled!

He couldn’t hear the groans or see the rolling eyes, of the relatives he had come to visit. He assumed they would be as happy to see him, as he was to be there.

By the time I reached the top of the stairs, the image of the little boy, and the sounds he made, faded. I opened the door to the rooms in front of me. I saw a stout man, and fragile woman sitting at a table by the window. The man had his napkin tucked into the neck of his buttoned up shirt, in an effort to catch any spills. The little woman was fussing over the small dishes of leftovers she had placed on the table. She wore beads, and her hair looked like she had just been to the beauty shop.

M.E. and Mary Sanderson

Although none of the little saucers held fish, I could close my eyes and smell fish frying. The couple was talking, as they ate their meal, but I wasn’t listening. I was too busy observing. I had walked to the middle of the living room, which wasn’t quite as big as I had remembered. There was really no definitive separation between the living area and the dining room. Straight ahead, was a narrow opening to what I knew was a small kitchen.

As I stood in the kitchen doorway, I gazed out the window at the tar covered roof of the storage area below. I thought about how hot it got in the summertime. There was a door that led to the outside. My cousin and I went out there once to suntan of all things. We lasted about five minutes.

I turned to walk out into the hallway, and the strong scent of old wood came back. I looked in all the rooms. There was the room everyone called the “cat room,” and a room that had been used for storage.  I walked past another nicer bedroom that the couple I saw eating must have used. All these rooms were to my left. Next, was an old fashioned bathroom.

I came to the second living area. I walked through the door from the hallway into a bedroom, that adjoined a small living room. The living room had windows facing the street. I remembered all the furniture, including the piano that was against one of the walls. Next to the living room was another bedroom, and next to it, the kitchen, which also had a door that led to the hallway.

As I looked into the kitchen, I remembered a story I had heard. A young woman was making a chocolate cake, and visiting with her Mother. As she was getting to the end of mixing the cake, her Mother asked if it was time to put the chocolate in the batter. This aggitated the daughter, and she made it clear that she was the one making the cake. When she looked at the recipe, she discovered a slight breeze had ruffled the pages of her cookbook, and she was indeed making a white cake. I was told the conversation between Mother and Daughter had taken place in this kitchen.

I knew it was time for me to go back down the stairs. I looked into the large living area once more. This time, instead of the couple sharing a meal, I saw a tall, and sturdy, older woman. She was packing her things. It was obvious she was ever so slowly, preparing to move. She had a sad look on her face. She had spent many days and nights in the store below, and in these rooms above it.

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Tet Sanderson (center) back in Iowa with brother Sandy and sister Malitha

As I started down the stairs, I heard voices coming from the other living quarters. It was a young girl, talking with her parents. She was upset, because she didn’t want to leave.

There were many family gatherings within these walls, before I was even born. I knew those times must have been so very special.

I slowly walked back down the stairs. It would be awhile before the building would be torn down, but no one would be living at the top of the stairs ever again.

Don’t be sad, I told myself. I can always make these rooms come alive again, and nothing will have changed. After all, it’s been decades since I visited above Sanderson’s Store, yet I just spent an hour within those familiar walls.


Murdo Girl…You’ve got a friend

Good friends stay a part of you forever. The little Murdo Girl has had the good fortune of being able to call so many, her friend. One of the best lessons we can learn in life is, “To have a friend, you have to be a friend.” 


All harmless of course

I think it’s good to make new friends. There was a really good one right under my nose, and I didn’t even know it. We’ve been in the same class since first grade, but we never did much together until now. We played Jacks a lot in 4th grade, and we were both good at tetherball, so we had fun competing with each other, but we didn’t spend time together after school. I know part of the reason we got to be better friends this year, is because I moved to the Motel, and Marlene lives just up the street from us.

My friend’s name is Marlene Rada. Earl Rada is Marlene’s brother. He’s the one Billy rode to California with. Marlene’s Mom and Dad are Ruth and Shorty. Marlene is the youngest in her family. She has one older sister, Jean, and three older brothers, Dwayne, Earl, and Allen.

Earl and Billy

I love going to Marlene’s house. I have to tell you about one time, when I was over there for supper. We were getting ready to eat and Mrs. Rada was making chili. I was watching Marlene’s Dad cut up a dill pickle and spread it all around his plate. Then he poured chili on top of it. I had never seen anyone eat chili like that, so I tried it. I thought it was really good. While we were eating, they started talking about Allen and one of his brother’s getting really mad at each other. I can’t remember if it was Earl, or Dwayne, but he threw a fork, and it stuck on top of Allen’s head…boyoyoying! He wasn’t hurt, so now everyone can laugh about it. I can just imagine the look on everyone’s face, especially Allen’s.

Mrs. Rada is such a good Mom. She never gets mad, or tells her kids they can’t have someone spend the night or eat there. She has a wringer washing machine on her front porch. I love to watch her wash clothes. She has a separate tub to rinse them, before she wrings them out and hangs them on the line to dry.

This looks like Mrs. Rada’s wringer washer. She wears nice shirt dresses like this lady’s 

I started trimming my own hair, since I decided to wear it longer again. Mrs. Rada likes it, so I started trimming her hair too. One day when I was leaving to go to the Rada’s, Mom asked me where I was going. I said,”I’m going to cut Mrs. Rada’s hair.”

Mom said, “You don’t know how to cut hair.”

I just said, “I know, but Mrs. Rada thinks I can, and she loves the haircuts I give her.” aeb77e91fd730f27af032fb4347e57eeIt’s like when I started going to Harold Lathrop’s Barbershop. I liked the way he cut my hair, and what else matters?

Sometimes, Marlene and I go out to Bob and Ione Webb’s farm.  Marlene’s cousins, Pat and Judy live there. We spend the night and do everything, but sleep. One time, we tried to iron my hair to make it straight. It was not a good idea.

When, Mom gets tired of renting out rooms at the Motel, she has Marlene and I do it. We like to make it fun. We do different things, and try not to laugh. We have a contest to see who can make the other one lose it in front of the tourists. We do things like talk with a foreign or hillbilly accent. “Hellooo, kin ah hep ya?” That one cracks me up every time. Once I hid behind the door, where Marlene could see me, but the tourist she was talking to couldn’t. I made funny faces at her, which almost got her to laugh.

Marlene came up with the best one. When the tourists come in, we’re usually sitting down. Marlene gets up and acts like she trips over something, and falls down on the floor. Then, she just gets up and talks to the tourist like nothing ever happened. I don’t know how she does it without laughing, but she does. I always have to run to the back, because I’m laughing so hard.

This isn’t us, but it reminds me of the fun we had renting rooms at The Chalet

Sometimes the tourists think we charge too much, so they go look around, then come back. If we’re helping another tourist, we have to keep talking the same way, which might be different from how we talked the first time. They look puzzled, but don’t ever say anything. Every now and then, they laugh a little.

I’m laughing right now, just thinking about it, as I finish this paper for the lady.

Marlene and I (The little one is Natasha.)


Macks Cafe
Marlene worked at Mack’s cafe all the way through High School

There are two new kids in our class this year. One is Karen Ferdig, and the other one is Don Edwards. I hear Don’s family bought the Red Top Motel. I already know that Karen is going to be friends with Marlene and me.


P.S. Marlene was a great friend. She was smart, funny and fun. One summer, we spent one night at my house, and the next at the Rada’s. We didn’t spend one day apart the entire summer. I don’t remember having disagreements. We were both pretty easy to get along with. The Rada’s let me stay with them for a whole month during the school year, while my parents were in California.

Shorty and Ruth
I love this picture of Ruth and Shorty celebrating their 50th anniversary

My only regret, and it’s a big one, is that I didn’t stay in closer touch with Marlene after I left Murdo.

In order to have a friend, it’s true… you have to do your part, and be a friend.

Murdo Girl…She’s no Nancy Drew…Yet

I love this story.

Life can be fraught with disappointments, and I happen to know the little Murdo Girl has experienced a few. She once said to me, “Lady, you are going to have a day. You just as well make it a good one.” I have a feeling the events she describes here, will not be soon forgotten.


Have you ever wanted something so badly you almost couldn’t stand it? Well, it’s only happened to me a few times, and it’s usually around Christmas. (Don’t worry, I’m not going to get into trouble. The lady told me I could write a little about Christmas because sometimes, it just has to be part of my story.)

Anyway, last summer, when I got back from California, I only had about two weeks before school started. The first thing I did after I got Berferd squared away, was call Cynthia to find out what everyone was doing. She told me there was a new family in town. Their last name is Fedderson, and they live in a house behind the Millers. She said they had moved to town, so all their kids could get out of country school. I think a couple of the older kids were already going to Murdo High School.

It sounded like I had missed out on some serious fun.

Before I go any further, I probably should explain how a lot of the kids South of 16 are related. Andrea, Stephanie, and Greg Miller are my cousins, because our Mom’s are sisters. Allen and Darlene Miller are cousins to my Miller cousins, because their Dad’s are brothers. Then we have the Sanderons and the Borks. Mark and Jeff H. Sanderson are my cousins, because their Dad, Jeff is my Mom’s brother. Brad, Suzanne, Cynthia, Herman and Robert Bork, are Mark and Jeff H.’s cousins, because their Dad, Gordon, is my Aunt Irma’s brother. My cousin Terry Sanderson’s Dad Wayne, is Uncle Jeff’s brother, and my Aunt Elna, and my Mom’s brother too.

1-6Sanderson Color
Helen, Ella, Elna, Mom, Jeff, Wayne and Grandma Mary Sanderson with her beads

My cousin Valerie lived here a couple of years. (She lived North of 16 like me.) Valerie’s Mom, Ella, is Aunt Elna Miller’s and my Mom’s sister, and of course Uncle Wayne, and Uncle Jeff are their brothers. They all have a sister in Michigan who’s name is Helen. She and Uncle Bob have four kids, but I don’t want to get any deeper into the woods right now. I’ll have to write more about them later.

1-1-Loretta Gustafson's Life in Photos 015
Andrea Miller, Valerie Leckey, Mark Sanderson, Mary Francis (still having eye trouble)

Cynthia told me that all of the kids who can make it, meet in the vacant lot between the Miller’s and Mrs Theissen’s house everyday. Everyone usually gets there around 9:00 am. They choose a game like Red Rover, divide up into teams, and play all morning. In the afternoon, they ride their bikes all over.

“Uh, Oh,” I thought. “I don’t have a bicycle.”

Mom and Dad just couldn’t get me a bike right then. I had to spend the rest of the summer borrowing bikes from other kids, who maybe couldn’t play that day. I had to ride some real clunkers. There were some days, I couldn’t even borrow one.

I knew I had no hope of getting a bicycle before Christmas. Actually, I think my parents were pretty sure that I would change my mind by then. There’s not much bike riding around Murdo in the winter time.

This is the bike I wanted

One day between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Mom and I were in Pierre shopping. We were in Lunden’s. (I’m not sure of the spelling.) I saw a coat that I just loved, and I kind of needed a new coat, but Mom didn’t buy it for me. She said she wanted to wait until after Christmas when everything goes on sale.

Christmas finally got here! I wasn’t too excited, because I knew I wasn’t getting a bike. I knew this, because like always, I had done a little investigating. There aren’t too many places you can hide a bicycle, and hopelessness was setting in. On Christmas Eve, a box appeared under the tree. I knew it was for me, and I knew what it was. I didn’t want to even look at it, let alone shake it. I just ignored it.

We don’t take presents from our parents (or Santa), to Christmas Eve with the relatives, so the box stayed under the ugly aluminum tree with the color wheel.

The next morning, when I woke up, Dad was sitting in his chair in the living room. Mom was in there too having her coffee. This was strange, because I usually wake up at around 4:00 on Christmas morning, and it’s just me and my gift for a few hours. Dad said, “Aren’t you going to open your present?”

I decided I probably shouldn’t be a brat, so I walked over to the tree and sat down to open the box that had the coat from Lunden’s in it. I opened the box, and I could not believe my eyes! Inside that box, I found the handlebars to a NEW BICYCLE!!

The bike had been stored at someone else’s house until Dad sneaked it into one of the motel rooms. They hadn’t wrapped the handle bars until Christmas Eve, which is why I hadn’t found anything with my sleuthing.


I have ridden my new bike in the snow a bunch of times. I can’t wait until summer gets here. No more clunkers for me.


Guess what else? My birthday present was still wrapped in Christmas paper, but I didn’t care. It was the coat I loved… from Lunden’s. This was the best Christmas ever!


Billy came home for Christmas, and he’s been slightly nice to me. Dad and I are taking him to the Airport in Rapid City tomorrow. He’ll be going back to California.

My Hero




Murdo Girl…Let’s hang on to what we’ve got

Today is February 10, 1964, and it’s the day after, the night before. It was one of those events that occur in life, when you remember where you were, and who you were with. It’s as if time stands still. The little Murdo Girl just experienced the assassination of JFK, which profoundly affected her. This is another moment in history that changed our world. Did you watch Ed Sullivan’s really big shew last night?


Yesterday, I was at Suzanne and Cynthia Bork’s house. We were playing Monopoly at the kitchen table, when someone said, “Come and see who’s on The Ed Sullivan Show. We went into the living room and there they were…The Beatles! They were singing, “All my Loving,”, but we could hardly hear them. Everyone in the audience was yelling and screaming. I have never seen anything like it. They sang 5 songs, but I wanted to get back to Monopoly, because I had Park Place and Boardwalk, plus 2 hotels.

On the right…Jug ears George and homely Ringo, (who is the one I like best.)

I love music as much as the next guy, but I’m not that crazy about the Beatles. Their hair is too long, and boys with bangs just look weird. The one I like the best is Ringo Starr, and he’s downright homely. George Harrison isn’t much better. He has jug ears. I don’t know if I should have admitted this to anyone who reads my papers. You’ll probably think I’m “alldumb”. Some might say that not being super excited about the Beatles is un-American. I heard they’re from Liverpool, and that’s in England.

My favorite singers are the Four Seasons. Frankie Valli is the leader of the group.  My favorite songs are, “Rag Doll”, “Sherry”, and “Let’s Hang on to What We’ve Got”. The guys all have regular haircuts.



Next, I want to talk about books. I love Nancy Drew. She drives a Roadster, and has loyal girlfriends who help her solve mysteries. Nancy is one smart girl, and if I can’t be a star, maybe I can become a sleuth.


A boy I know, told me the Hardy Boy’s mysteries are better. Well, he’s just crazy with a capital C. The Hardy Boys are sissies compared to Nancy Drew.



There’s another book I like, too. It’s called, The Boxcar Children. I won’t tell you what it’s about, in case you want to read it. I have liked reading, since Mrs. Parks read the Laura Ingalls Wilder books to us in third grade.

Yes, I like to read, and I can’t believe what some kids do. They read the comic book version of a book, when they have to write a book report. If you only read part of a book before writing  your report, you can get away with not revealing how it ends, unless you do it every time. Your teacher will catch on, if you never tell how it ends. You could probably do alright with a comic book version, (which tells the end), and then next time, just read part of the book.

Since I’ve told you I don’t love, love, love the Beatles, I have another confession. I love, “As the World Turns”. Mom and I both do. Well, the other day, Mom and I were watching the show, and it was Friday, so it was the day for the cliffhanger. Nancy, (the Mom), was fighting with Lisa, who is in love with Nancy’s son Bob. Johnny, who is one of my favorites, came on the scene, and guess what? It wasn’t the Johnny I was used to.

I said, “Pugh… that’s not Johnny!”

Dad said,”What?”

I said, “The guy playing Johnny, isn’t Johnny.

Dad said, “Well, if he’s not Johnny, then who is he?”

I was exasperated by then, because this was no time to be catching someone up on “As the World Turns.” I said, “Dad, I can’t talk about it now, because it’s Friday afternoon, and that’s not Johnny.”

To sum it all up, I like The Four Seasons, Nancy Drew, and “As the World Turns”. I had to come up with things to do by myself, since I’m pretty much an only child now.

I miss Billy when we have a snow day. He didn’t mind me being around so much, if I was all he had. When we were both younger, Mom used to make taffy on snow days. Pulling taffy and making taffy ropes is so much fun, and it tastes good too.

I hope I’ve given some of you, who might be reading this, some ideas about different things you can do to entertain yourself. There is never a good reason to be boring.

Murdo Girl…Shall we dance? (Or should we just take Geritol?)

Yes..My friends, another rerun. I got back from seeing the Wyoming family last night. Today I worked at our Church garage sale. I am a vital part of this yearly event. I was there working ALL DAY. I will be there bright and early tomorrow to give it all I’ve got, then I will probably rest for a few days.

I didn’t really take that many breaks. I’m still recovering from a day of bowling with the Wyoming kids. Apparently, one has to be in good shape to bowl. I hurt everywhere.


The Early Days

It’s not easy being an unappreciated star. Natalie Wood was discovered in a drugstore/soda fountain just like Mowell’s Murdo Drugs. The little Murdo Girl just needs to find her stage. In a way, she reminds me of Lucille Ball in,” I Love Lucy.” The desire is there, but the talent?…Not so much. (Remember Cleopatra?)



Dad said he watched Lawrence Welk for two years, but he wouldn’t recognize anyone on the show if he met them walking down the street. He said he might recognize someone on the Ed Sullivan Show, but barely. I know why he tells everybody that.

I like to perform… On Saturday nights, I used to dress up in my red gown or some other outfit, and dance in front of the television. I sang with the Lennon Sisters. (Everyone likes Janet the best, but I like Peggy.) I sang songs with Guy and Ralna, and danced with Bobby Burgess and Barbara Boylan. I always saved my red gown to perform with the Champagne Lady . She wears beautiful dresses. Most of her dresses have tulle skirts, sprinkled with sparkles.

I don’t perform in front of the TV anymore. Dad switched to watching Gunsmoke. It’s a little hard to dance to Gunsmoke. No one even dances in Miss Kitty’s saloon. It doesn’t matter anyway, because I’m getting too old to do that. I still like to perform though.


I play the saxophone, but I begged Mom to let me take piano lessons. All my friends play the piano, and their Mom’s say they’re more apt to use piano skills in later years. I begged so much, Mom finally said okay. We were driving over to Elsa Peck’s house for my lesson, when I figured out I was only going to get ONE lesson. When I complained, Mom told me to stop simpering. (Simpering is a new favorite word of Moms, although, I think it really is a word.) I told Mom, “Just never mind.” She mumbled something about, what was I thinking anyway, we don’t even have a piano.

I guess I didn’t think it through. Before they even began, my piano playing days were over.

I love Murdo, but it’s not exactly the place to live if you want to be a performer. I like to pretend I’m an Olympic gymnast.  Suzanne and Cynthia Bork, and I  have fun judging each other’s routines, but to become a good gymnast, you have to take lessons. I’d probably have to go to Pierre or Rapid City.

Suzanne, my cousin Andrea, and Cynthia…none of them are stars either.

The only thing I can think of to be when I grow up, is a stewardess, but as you know, I’m afraid to fly. I’ll go ahead and tell you something right now. I can’t really sing very well either. I think that’s why Dad quit watching Lawrence Welk. It’s a good thing I have a few years to figure it all out.

When you think about it, Billy graduated from Murdo High School and he’s going to college in California. He’s doing just fine. I think he wants to go into the parking lot business. There aren’t any big parking lots in Murdo, so I don’t think he plans to move back. My brother has deep roots here though, and I know he’ll always stay in touch with all those guys he went to school with. He might even come back and go fishing with them once in awhile.


Fishing near Belle Fourche, SD..Bobby Brost, Billy, and me..Bobby let me borrow his hat. (Grandpa Sanderson pronounces it, Bell Fyushe.) I thought I had a big one, but it turned out to be a leaf. A little while later, I knew I had hooked the biggest fish ever. It was another leaf. Bobby said, “Well, at least it’s a bigger leaf.” I think the fish I’m holding was Bobby’s

Billy and Bobby go on fishing trips at least once a year.

Murdo Girl…Hello Operator, it’s 1964

A couple of weeks ago, I told the Little Murdo Girl I wasn’t ready for her to write about the Sanderson Christmas Eve, but in all fairness, I didn’t say anything about her New Years Eve birthday. I don’t know about you, but I have learned a new life lesson, and sometimes a new word with every paper I read. I told her since it’s Sunday, she didn’t need to be such a  prolific writer today. She said, “I have never claimed to be prolific. Everyone has their faults.”


Today is my birthday. I don’t have birthday parties anymore, but that’s fine with me. It’s not easy getting kids to a birthday party on New Years Eve. Besides, everyone is broke from Christmas. My own parents wrap my birthday present in Christmas paper. I’m pretty sure they get my Christmas presents and say, “Let’s hold this one back for her birthday.” We stopped getting real Christmas trees a couple of years ago. Now, we have an ugly aluminum tree and a color wheel. The only ornaments on the tree are blue balls. It would look stupid to have tinsel on an aluminum tree. I told Mom I thought that tree was ugly. She said, “Well, we don’t have to water it, and it won’t burn our house down.”

This is not my house, my relatives, or my tree. I just want to show you how pathetic these aluminum trees are…Do these people look happy to you?

My birthday gift from Mom and Dad has been under the tree since Christmas. The wrapping paper has Santa on it. There are two more presents under the tree wrapped in birthday paper. They’re from the Lindquist girls. They are the reason I don’t care about not having a birthday party. (Not the presents, the girls.)

Every year, on New Years Eve, I go to their house and spend the night. We do the same thing every year and it’s really fun. We spend almost all day cutting up confetti out of newspaper. It takes a long time to cut teeny bits of paper. That night, we play different things and eat junk, just biding our time until twelve o’clock.

When the time comes, we yell, ” Happy New Year!!” Then we throw the confetti everywhere. Bonna finds confetti paper in all sorts of places, until we do it again the next year. A lot of it gets in the light fixtures on the ceiling. The last thing we do for our celebration is call the operator and wish her Happy New Year. She always loves it. I think we might be the only ones that remember the operator on New Years Eve.



The three girls and Bonna came over this afternoon and I got to unwrap my presents. They gave me a white sweatshirt with an orange and black design on it, and a pretty little lamp for my nightstand.

Anyway this year, Stephanie, Mark, and I cut up all the confetti, and they’re going to come with me to the Lindquist house tonight. It should be a majorly fun New Years Eve.



Well, Stephanie got mad at Mark and me, and she has all the confetti at her house. She said she’s not coming tonight, so now we’re  going to have to cut up the confetti all over again. Mom always says, three kids trying to play together do not ever get along. You should have even numbers. I guess she’s right.

My idea is, you should never try to change a tradition. Next year it’s going to be back to Karen, Kim, Tammy, and me.


Mom and Dad gave me a used stereo. Billy gave me two albums…One is The Kingston Trio, “He never returned, no he never returned, and his fate is still unlearned. He may ride forever beneath the streets of Boston. He’s the man who never returned.” It’s about a guy who needs one more nickel to get off the subway. The 2nd one is Ray Charles, “I’m busted.” His kids don’t have shoes, and cotton is down to a quarter a pound.

I have the stereo in my room. My President Kennedy picture is hanging above it.


Murdo Girl…It’s all in how you say it

We all have our vices I guess. The little Murdo Girl has chosen today to explain a few. When you identify someone’s flaws, is it gossiping? At first, I thought she was going down the wrong road with this subject, but at the end of her story, she summed it up pretty well.


Murdo might need to get some new teachers one of these days. Not because they’re bad teachers. All my teachers so far, have been good. I just think it’s not really fair that some of my teachers taught my parents, and most of my other relatives too. I don’t like science. Mrs. Lathrop said, “I don’t understand why you don’t excel in science. Your Dad was brilliant in science.” I wanted to say, “Oh yeah! Well my Mom flunked Algebra.” She really did. She told me she wasn’t supposed to sit with the seniors in assemblies, because she had to pass Algebra to be considered a senior. She sat with them anyway, and a couple of the others yelled, “Loretta isn’t a senior! She has to sit with the Juniors.” She ended up graduating with her class. I was curious about it, so I dug around and found her high school diploma.

We have a teacher in our school that eats chalk. (It is not Mrs. Lathrop.) I won’t say who it is, but the teacher I’m talking about, always has white chalky lips. It’s distracting to try to pay attention to someone who takes the chalk and writes on the board, then takes a bite, writes on the board, then takes a bite. Other than that peculiarity, the teacher is pretty good.


I know it’s not nice to gossip. Sometimes Mom and my Aunt Elna get together and talk about people. They don’t really run them down. They just like to tell funny stories. When they tell a story about someone, they get up and act it out. Mom will get up and say, “Look, Look, who’s this?” Then she acts out her story. They’re so good at it, sometimes even I can tell who they’re mimicking.

Mom makes up words too. Have you ever heard of alldumb? There isn’t such a word. She made it up. It’s a word she uses to describe someone who is not as dumb as you think. Let’s say you’ve always thought someone wasn’t all that “aware” of what’s going on, then all of a sudden, you find out they know a whole lot more than you thought they did. (“So and So isn’t alldumb.”)

When Mom talks on the phone with my Aunt Ella, she doesn’t like it if she doesn’t get her share of the time. If she thinks Aunt Ella talked too much, she complains when she gets off the phone. She says, “That Ella just wants to do all of the talking. She doesn’t want to hear any of my news!” I can hear Mom’s side of the conversation, and she talks plenty. I love to watch and listen to it all. You never know what Mom’s going to say next.

Mom and Aunt Ella in 1938

Mom smokes Salem cigarettes, but she doesn’t want Grandpa Sanderson to know it. Some of Mom’s friends smoke too. One day, they  were all having coffee at Aunt Elna’s, and they looked out the window. There was Grandpa walking up to the door. All of the women but Aunt Elna, who doesn’t smoke, ran to the bathroom to flush their cigarettes. I saw Mom act it all out later. She said, “Here we all were, crammed into the bathroom, trying to keep Grandpa from finding out we smoke.”  Elsa Peck piped up and said, “Why am I hiding? He’s not my Dad.” I felt sorry for Aunt Elna when I heard about it. Don’t you know Grandpa walked into a room full of smoke, and it was just her standing there?

Grandpa and Ken Halla fishing in the Hills

Mom goes to a lot of trouble to keep Grandpa from knowing she smokes. We have a picture of Mom holding a cigarette. She loves that picture of herself, and didn’t really want to throw it out. She took the scissors and cut the hand holding the cigarette out of the picture. All that’s fine, but I thought she went too far when she threw a burning cigarette into her purse, when she saw Grandpa coming.

I couldn’t find the picture of Mom with the cigarette cut out, but I think Mom looks like Elizabeth Taylor

I’m not alldumb, and neither is Grandpa. He has to know Mom smokes. The lesson here is, don’t uncover an “Aunt” pile if you don’t have to. If someone wants to smoke or eat chalk, you just have to mind your own business.

Aunt Elna Miller and Aunt Irma Sanderson, when we all went to Horse Creek





Murdo Girl…Strike up the band and tidy up

In just a few weeks, the Little Murdo Girl will have her 12th birthday. She has another year before the teenage fairy comes and takes her brains away. Some don’t get their brains back until they’re 21 or 22. I’m just here to keep her on track with her writing goals. I’ m an observer, just as you are. I’m often surprised by what happens in her life.

As her Mother always says, “We shall see, what we shall see.”


Well, Mom and I aren’t getting along very good right now. I told her that I wrote about Grandpa Sanderson not liking Democrats and Catholics. She said, “Mary Constance Francis, I did not say he didn’t like them. I said he has no use for them.” I should have written that in capital letters, because she was sort of yelling. I still like my President Kennedy picture, and I’m working on the scrapbook.

On the days we have high school basketball games, I have to get right home, so I can eat supper and get my saxophone and myself to the game. In the auditorium, there is a crow’s nest above the stage. That’s where the band plays. I don’t know who thought up the plan when they built the auditorium, but it was a good idea. The best part is, Mr. Palmer says only band members can go up there, and it’s a great place to watch the game from.

The Murdo Auditorium

My cousin Mark and I both play the saxophone. We didn’t really think it through when we chose our instruments, because those horns are heavy! If I had it to do over again, I’d probably pick the clarinet or the flute. Now that we live by the Motel, it’s really a long way to carry my heavy horn. I even got blisters on my hands at first. Mark and I are both first chair in the band. Mr. Palmer switches us back and forth. Sometimes I’m 1st, first chair and Mark’s 2nd, first chair. It depends on who gets caught acting up. We elbow each other, and the one in 1st, first chair can deliver a bigger blow, because the saxophone isn’t in the way. Mark’s pretty funny, so between missing some days because I’m sick, and laughing, I’m usually in 2nd first chair, so I end up with more elbow bruises.

Mark and I at different times in our lives

Mark always beats me on attendance, because he hasn’t missed a day of school…Ever! He even came to school with the mumps. Mom told me not to worry, because I already had the mumps. When I came down with the mumps on one side, she said, “Oh, I guess you only had them on one side.” The next day, I had mumps on the other side too. Then Mom said, “I guess it was your brother who had the mumps.” I have to give Mark credit, because I couldn’t go to school. The mumps hurt!

I got off the subject. The other night, I had to walk home with my horn, eat supper, change my clothes, and get to the game.

I walked into my room, and everything that was in the closet was on the floor, and all my dresser drawers were empty. The things I keep in my drawers, were dumped out on the bed. Mom was right behind me. When I turned around, I almost ran into her. She said, “You can’t go anywhere, until everything is nicely put away.” I wanted to cry, because there was no way, I was going to be able to do that, and get to the game on time. I mean, this was going to be such an infraction, I would probably be knocked down to second, 2nd chair. My life would be ruined. I could see all the years ahead of me affected.

Ann Landers
Ann Landers

Mom said, “I read in Ann Landers, that if after multiple times of telling your kid they have to clean their room, and those requests are ignored, you should rip everything off the hangers, and dump the contents of the drawers on the floor. You tell your son or daughter, they can’t leave the house until  everything is put away satisfactorily.”

“I said, “Does Ann Landers have any kids?”

Ugly Man
Ann Lander’s son Andy Landers

I must have looked pretty pitiful, because Mom said, “You can do it when you get home, but if you leave your room a mess like you did today, I won’t let you off the hook again.”

I wish Mom could have seen Billy’s room in California, where was miss smarty pants Ann Landers then?

I’ll probably be sorry tomorrow. That lady might not like my paper. I don’t have time to do it over, because I have to clean my room.


Murdo Girl…What’s for dinner Billy?

I’ve talked with some of my family and friends, and they all say they remember very little of their childhood.  One day, the little Murdo Girl, will be happy she had this opportunity to write about the many things she experienced as she was growing up in Murdo. Her children and grandchildren will know what life in Murdo was like during this time in history. It’s been said that God gives us memories so that we might have roses in December. This little girl will have dozens of bouquets, thanks to the good people of Murdo, South Dakota.  


The lady told me I have to save writing about the Sanderson Christmas Eve celebrations until last. Thats okay, because we just got a call.

Billy called us from California. He wanted to tell me a bunch of stories that I should write about. Maybe I will and maybe I won’t.

The last time I was in California, I stayed with our Aunt Vava, and Uncle Bob Bowers. One day, Billy came and got me. He said he was going to take me to dinner, but we had to stop by his house first. Billy is going to college, and he lives in a house with a bunch of other guys. Bob Brewer, Earl Rada, Jim Judd, and Denny Dominicak, are some I know. Everyone except Bob Brewer is from Murdo. They kind of come and go, so I don’t think all of them live there now. Anyway, I hadn’t seen the house they rent before, so I looked around a little. In the front window, they have a pyramid made out of beer cans. That’s about it, for decorations. I was talking to Bob, and I absent-mindedly ran my finger across the furniture. When I started to write my name in the dust, Bob said, “Is there a problem?”

Next, I walked into my brother and Earl’s room. Billy came in and said, “I want you to clean the house before we go to dinner.”

Billy..He looks older than 20 doesn’t he?

I said,”Are you kidding? It would take me two hours to find your bed underneath all the stuff piled on it.” Earl’s was just as bad. He gave me his, you’re really just a bratty little sister, look. “Besides,” I said. “It’s way past dinnertime and I’m hungry.” Then he got his, I’m the boss of you, smile on his face. “In California, dinner is supper,” he said.

I did his stupid pile of dishes, and hung up some clothes. Finally, we got in his car to go eat. He said, “How do you feel about the Golden Arches?” It sounded pretty nice to me. The next thing I knew, we were at McDonalds. Murdo doesn’t have McDonalds, so I didn’t know what to expect. I loved it!! I think Billy knew I would.

I should have remembered people in California call dinner lunch and supper dinner.  Once, My cousin Valerie and I stayed with my Aunt Margarete, and Uncle Bill Turner. They have a swimming pool in the backyard, so Valerie and I loved it there. On the first day, we swam all morning. I came in the house for a minute, and I smelled something really good cooking. Aunt Margarete said we were having spaghetti for dinner. Around noon, she called us inside to eat. I looked at my plate, and there was a cold minced ham sandwich on it. I don’t like sandwiches much, and I hate minced ham. I said, “I thought we were having spaghetti for dinner.” She said, “We are.” That was the first time I’d heard anybody call their dinner, lunch.

My Uncle showed us how to eat cheese. You’re supposed to roll it around in your mouth, and kind of mush it up. He called it, “mastication.” I only like that kind of cheese a little better than minced ham, but it was kind of interesting to watch.

We also got to go with Walt Disney’s brother, Ray to the premier of a new movie called  Moon Spinners, with Haley Mills. We had to dress up and everything, but it was worth it.


President Kennedy’s funeral was today, and we watched it on TV. I don’t think I’ll hear”Hail to the Chief,” again without thinking of this day. Mrs. Kennedy looked stricken, but she didn’t cry. Carolyn and John John looked so little standing next to their Mom. They wore matching little blue coats, and John John saluted as the casket and the riderless horse went by. I’m sure the President taught him how to salute.

Mom said if I want to remember all of this history in the making, I should start a scrapbook. I also got a really nice poster of President Kennedy. I looked around, and the only frame I could find that the picture would fit in, was a big one with a picture of Grandma and Grandpa Sanderson in it. They were standing in front of their car. I wonder why back in the day, everyone had their picture taken in front of their car.

I put President Kennedy’s picture in the frame and hung it in my room. When I showed Mom she said, “You had better not let Grandpa Sanderson see that. Grandpa doesn’t like Democrats, and he’s a faithful Methodist. The Kennedys are Democrats and  Catholics.” I don’t think Grandpa will be bothered by it. I really like this picture.

File:John F Kennedy Official Portrait.jpg
President John F. Kennedy

some pictures that I love

1) Stephanie and John Davis,  2) Stephanie, Mark, Valerie, Mary, Greg, and Andrea

3) Valerie Leckey Halla with Aunt Elna Miller

1) Valerie, Aunt Elna, Andrea, Uncle Jerry    2) Aunt Irma and Valerie

I should have named this…Valerie gets around

Anyway, this is my life story so far. Next month, I will be twelve.