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





24 thoughts on “Murdo Girl…It’s all in how you say it

  1. lifelessons April 30, 2016 / 9:06 pm

    I just wrote a blog posting a few days ago entitled “I Remember.” It started out with some memories of Sanderson’s Store. This was before I read your stories about the store…Quite a coincidence… Here’s where to read it:


  2. lifelessons April 30, 2016 / 5:04 pm

    About smoking? Once your uncle Jeff “bought” me at an MYF slave auction. Irma had been gone and was coming home the next day and I think Jeff was panicked that the house would be in disarray. As I recall, he told me to sweep, mop and dust, but then he left Mark in charge while he went back up to the store. Well, Mark took the term “slave” literally. He wanted me to clean his room, wash clothes–even iron. I told him I was just supposed to do what his dad told me to do and continued cleaning. Meanwhile, he went out and snooped around in my car and found a pack of cigarettes under the car seat. Lynn and Rita and Sheila and I used to drive around on Sundays and smoke… but my folks of course did not know this. So, he came in with the cigarettes and blackmailed me into doing whatever he wanted me to do or he’d tell my folks! He was not very old when this happened. I was probably 12 or 13–the same age as Jeff H. So how old would Mark have been? I can tattle, too!!! I have a few Murdo stories on my blog as well..Pretty soon we’ll have all the secrets dug up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mary Francis McNinch April 30, 2016 / 7:52 pm

      I love this! It may find it’s way into a future Murdo Girl, (if you don’t mind). I thought I was following your blog… I will check it out, because I haven’t seen anything recently..I’m new to all of this, but it sure is fun.

      Liked by 1 person

      • lifelessons April 30, 2016 / 8:48 pm

        You’ve taken to blogging well. Patti loves your blog and has infected me! I don’t think I’ve used Murdo as a tag in mine, but you would probably find Murdo stories under the tag family or family stories. I’ll try to find some and send you URLs. I’ve been doing this for 4 years–seriously for 2 years and have over 1900 posts, so it is hard for me to find specific posts or to remember what I’ve written. We could have some fun telling the same stories from 2 points of view. I love your stories about your relationship with your cousins and your mothers’ relationships. The kids in your family and mine were shuffled in ages like two the same age. Brad was a year older than me, Billy a couple of years older, Suzanne a year younger, Andrea even younger, I think.. then all you “little” kids. You’ll always be cute little Mary Francis to me! Ha. It certainly is fun to see your naughty side, though…

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mary Francis McNinch April 30, 2016 / 9:14 pm

        I can’t wait to read more of your work..feel free to give me tips. You are unbelievably talented Judy. Thanks for your interest and comments on Murdo Girl..Yes there’s that naughty side…


      • lifelessons April 30, 2016 / 9:22 pm

        Which is very necessary in a writer! I think folks loved your mother’s naughtiness as well. Did you know your dad and my dad used to quote Shakespeare to each other?? All the more remarkable because my dad only finished the 8th grade and then had to go to work. He never stopped learning his whole life…loved to read.


      • Mary Francis McNinch April 30, 2016 / 9:51 pm

        I remember your dad. My dad recited poetry, and sang war songs his mother taught him. I didn’t know he quoted Shakespeare. Were you at Lynn Brost’s slumber party the time she invited me? I was only 9 or 10, but I felt so honored to be part of the circle.


      • lifelessons April 30, 2016 / 10:00 pm

        I might have been. Was it when she was dating Billy?


      • Mary Francis McNinch April 30, 2016 / 10:05 pm

        I think it was early in Lynn’s sophomore yr. They hadn’t officially quit dating yet. I think Sheila Penticoff was there too.


      • lifelessons April 30, 2016 / 10:36 pm

        I’m pretty sure I was there, because it rings a bell..I would have been thrilled to be asked to a party by older girls. How much younger are you than me? I was born in 1947.


      • lifelessons April 30, 2016 / 10:57 pm

        Are you going to the Murdo reunion in July?


      • lifelessons April 30, 2016 / 11:14 pm

        Yes, and Patti, too. I have a college reunion in Denver, then a family reunion in Cheyenne for the next two days… then a week or so later the Murdo reunion. That’s a lot of talking. One reunion, my jaw was so sore at the end of 3 days that when I ran into the daughter of a friend on the way out of town I told her she’d have to do the talking and I’d listen. Not exaggerating!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mary Francis McNinch April 30, 2016 / 11:20 pm

        Can’t wait to see you and Patti. Bill will be more than happy to do all the talking.


      • lifelessons April 30, 2016 / 11:37 pm

        But we won’t let him, I’m sure. Nancy Parish is coming, also. She came down to visit me in Mexico after the last reunion…We had a great time.


  3. Billy Francis April 23, 2016 / 9:38 pm

    The same day we went to Horse Creek to spread Mom’s ashes, Elna, Irma, and I were all talking about Horse Creek. Elna said, we would have all died if it wasn’t for Wayne. He took care of us when Grandpa left to buy horses!


    • Mary Francis McNinch April 23, 2016 / 9:47 pm

      I never heard Mom say that much about the hardships did you? I love that picture of Elna and Irma.


  4. Carol Callihan Fairbanks April 23, 2016 / 8:33 pm

    I remember thinking Loretta looked a lot like Elizabeth Taylor, Mary! Your momma was a beautiful woman.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mary Francis McNinch April 23, 2016 / 8:53 pm

      I think so too Carol..and a character like none other. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


  5. Valerie Halla April 23, 2016 / 6:50 pm

    Too funny and brilliant! I like how you explained that our relatives were not gossiping, because they weren’t. They did just think it was a funny story. Elsa Peck adored the Sandersons and would listen to them for hours and liked how they laughed and slapped their legs. I was mesmerized by their get togethers talking and joking.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mary Francis McNinch April 23, 2016 / 7:17 pm

      Can’t you just see them reacting when Grandpa came walking up. They didn’t gossip, they embellished 😅,


  6. countrygirl57 April 23, 2016 / 6:42 pm

    😀😃😄😆tehe. Tehe. Tehe!! Love it as usual.

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

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