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…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…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…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.


Murdo Girl…They live in our hearts

The little Murdo Girl is feeling especially sentimental about her wonderful life in Murdo and all of the Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents, and Cousins, that make up this remarkable family.

Many centuries ago, the Greek playwright Sophocles wrote, “One must wait until the evening to see how splendid the day has been.”



Stephanie Miller-Davis and Jerry Miller

My Dad and Uncle Jerry were out driving around today like they do sometimes when they’re talking about  jobs. Dad is a plumber and Uncle Jerry builds houses. Dad said they pulled up to a stop sign and there was Greg (Uncle Jerry’s son), throwing rocks. He was hitting a sign and causing it to dent all up. Well, Uncle Jerry wasn’t too happy about it, so he rolled down the window and was about to call Greg over to the car. Before he had a chance to say anything, Greg ran over to the car and said, “Dad, I want to have a talk with you when we get home.” Dad said Uncle Jerry didn’t know what to say then, so he just rolled up the window and they drove off.



Andrea Miller-Sheehan, Jerry Miller, Blake Haverberg, Helen Haverberg, not sure, Wayne Sanderson, Elna Miller

Uncle Jerry doesn’t talk much, which might be kind of good, because there are plenty of people in our family who do. Two weeks ago we had a little mixup at my house. Mom went to Pierre, to buy flowers for the Motel planters, and to spend the night with a friend. She thought Dad was taking care of me. Well, Dad thought Mom was going the next day, so he went out-of-town to check on a job.



Spagetti at Mom and Dad’s (Bill and Loretta Francis) Mom and Dad, Elsa Peck, Uncle Jerry and Aunt Elna (Miller)

When I got home after school, no one was there. (Billy was gone somewhere too.) I waited until suppertime and started getting hungry. Murdo is a small town. If your Mom and Dad get mixed up, there is always somewhere to go. I started walking and headed South of Hwy 16. I was really  hungry by then, so I stopped at the first relative’s house I came to. Aunt Elna is a good cook, and I like to play with my cousins, Andrea, Stephanie, and Greg. Aunt Elna said, “Sure you can stay here, and we’ll just keep calling your house in case someone gets home.” Then, we all had chicken pot pies.


Al Leckey (Ella), Bill Francis (Loretta), Jerry Miller (Elna), not pictured, Bob Haverberg (Helen)

I ended up spending the night and the next morning, Uncle Jerry got me up early and took me to my house so I could change my clothes and get my saxophone for band practice. That was pretty nice I thought. He even gave me a ride to school.

Since I’m writing about Uncle Jerry, I will tell you about his office. My other cousins and I don’t go in there, because that’s where all his house plans, and other work stuff are kept.

Guess what? My cousin Andrea, (Jerry’s daughter), invited my cousin Valerie to go in the office. She said there’s a really nice stereo in there. She got to listen to a Gene Pitney album. I love Gene Pitney. He sings “A Town without pity.”

I’ m going to ask Stephanie if I can hear it too.






The Days were Splendid, Every One