Murdo Girl…Coronation confusion

Murdo High School…1937.

When I was younger, my Dad told me about the first time Murdo had a Homecoming King. They had always just had a Queen. I don’t remember the name of the guy that got King, but he didn’t show up for Coronation. Someone found him and told him he had to go to the Coronation and crown the Queen. The guy said, “CROWN HER WITH A TWO BY FOUR!”

The next time I see Mr. Thune, I’m going to ask him if that’s true. Dad said it was just a one time thing and no King has ever done that since.

(I discovered in later years that the first homecoming king was my dad. He didn’t think it was fair to have a homecoming queen and not a king so he ran for queen. That is when they decided to have a king. Dan Parish nominated Dad and then closed the nominations. Dad got the honor as told in the story above.)


I think I’ve got more sense now that I’m 14, but Mom is getting very forgetful. She can never think of anyone’s name. She says, “I’ll never forget old what’s his name.” Someone told her to go through the alphabet to jog her memory. She was trying to remember my cousin’s name. The one I just visited in New York. I could have told her, but she didn’t ask me. She said, “A..B. Oh, her name is Abby.”

I’ve decided that it wouldn’t be a good idea for me to write about people’s personal business in my papers. I’ll just have to figure out another way to tell you about life in Murdo. I will practice by telling you about my first date. I just had it. Right when school started. I’m a freshman at Murdo High School.

A boy who doesn’t have a name, asked me to go to the show with him. I really like Noname, and I have since the 8th grade. That’s when he handed me a pretty ring with my birthstone in it and a red stuffed bear. He didn’t say a word, he just handed it to me, and I took it. I tried to wear the ring a couple of times, but it just didn’t feel right. It would have been a commitment to keep liking him, and I didn’t want to do that. What if a new kid comes along and he’s slightly cuter than Noname?

I couldn’t give the ring back, because I didn’t want him to think I don’t like him forever. Anyway, I put the ring in the pencil holder inside my desk and left it there. One day, it came up missing. Do you think another girl took it? Or…maybe Noname took it back.

Whatever happened, he must have forgotten about the discomfort of the situation, because here he was, asking me for a date.

I said yes… I wore my Connie-like Alden’s dress, nylons, and white Keds. Connie is a girl a couple of years older than me. I idolize her.

Noname brought his sister to drive us, because he’s not old enough yet to get a license. She dropped us off at the show, and we sat behind all of our friends who were having a lot more fun than we were. His sister picked us up, and took us to the Frosty, where all our friends were having a lot more fun than we were.

I doubt Noname will ask me out ever again. It’s too bad it all got ruined. Things just weren’t right. I spent the whole time wishing I hadn’t worn those stupid nylons. They were way too hot. I shouldn’t talk about Mom, I can’t even remember the name of the movie we saw. I was too nervous. (Chitty, Chitty..Bang..Bang was at the Draper Theater)

See, I told you it wouldn’t take long to tell you about my first date.

I hope it gets cold soon. I know that sounds crazy, but I don’t have very many warm weather clothes, and I’m getting pretty sick of the Alden’s dress. I don’t care how Connie-like it is. Oh yes. Here’s an update. I see her at school, and she hasn’t worn the same thing twice. Boy, that Frosty must really pay good. I’m for sure going to apply there for next summer, even though Mom will have a fit!

Suzanne Bork and Joe Thomas Homecoming King and Queen.

Homecoming is in a couple of weeks, and I can’t wait! On Thursday night we have Coronation in the auditorium. They crown the King and Queen, then a couple of older people in their 20’s get up and tell where their old classmates are. (At least the ones they can find.) Next, we have a pep rally outside. The cheerleaders do some cheers, but the main thing is, they start a huge M on fire. When it’s all burned up, the cheerleaders lead a snake dance all over town. A snake dance is when all the kids clasp hands and then run in the shape of a snake. You don’t want to get toward the end of a snake dance, because to make it look like a snake you have to run back and forth and still keep up with the head of the snake.

Oh my, am I too late for the snake dance?

Friday night is the football game, followed by the homecoming dance. I’m not saying that anyone will ask me anyway, but I’m not going to make eye contact or accept a note from any boy, because I’m still feeling the sting of my first date. I haven’t been to a homecoming dance yet, and I want to see what goes on.

I almost forgot. We also have a big parade down Main St. on Friday morning. Every class makes a float, which is really hard work, because you have to stuff tons and tons of napkins into chicken wire. We make our floats in someone’s garage. Let me tell you…It’s unbelievable how neat it looks when we’re all done.

I wonder who these kids are?
This might be what our float”might” look like when we’re seniors.
Would you look at that getup..someone needs to tell her she’s not the Homecoming Queen.

Murdo Girl…Here comes Trouble

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Mom, Gus, and Trouble

I decided to do something a little different for today’s Murdo Girl, because my thoughts are on a very special person in my life, and he’s turning 85 in a couple of days.

Many of you Murdoites know Gus Gustafson. He and Mom had been married 38 years when she passed away on December 30, 2008. He had never been married before Mom, but he certainly knew how to be a great Husband, Second-Dad, and Grandpa.

Mom would be the first to say she was a challenge, but life with her was never dull. Billy and I will be eternally grateful for the love and caring spirit Gus unfailingly demonstrated in all the years he shared his life with Loretta. If patience is a virtue, then he is the most virtuous person I know.

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Mom and Gus with Bill, Liz,. Erin and Damon

Mom and Gus did some traveling during the months the motel was closed for the winter. On one of their trips a shaggy dog found them. Some local kids said they knew his name was Trouble, but his owners were no longer around. Trouble didn’t have tags and seemed to be in need of humans, so Mom and Gus invited him to be their permanent companion.

It was a two-day trip back to Murdo, so they stayed in a motel that first night. When they got up the next morning, Mom opened the door of the motel room and let Trouble out. Gus expressed some concern. Maybe their new friend wouldn’t find his way back. Mom said, “Any dog that doesn’t know how to get back to its owners is good for nothing anyway.” Trouble knew a good deal when he saw it, and was back in time, ready to occupy his new place in the front seat of the car with Gus. Mom liked to sit in the back anyway, so she could lay down and rest when she wanted to.

Trouble enjoyed life at the motel. He learned to recognize Aunt Elna’s car, because he loved the leftovers she brought him. In fact, when he saw her car coming, he would run and get his pan to greet her. In his excitement, he would jump up on the driver’s side with the pan in his mouth and bang it on her window. Fearful he would scratch her car door, she started driving by and throwing the food out the window. That was just fine with Trouble. He had it in a flash.

Trouble outside the entryway to the basement house. Probably waiting for Aunt Elna

I looked everywhere for the picture of my son Mason, who was about 3, and Trouble. Mom loved the picture, because of the story behind it. Mason is playing with Trouble and holding a toy sheep. The sheep was part of a set of farm animals that belonged to David Edwards, who lived across the street. David’s parents owned the Graham Motor Lodge. Mom occasionally  took Mason over to play with David, and it appeared that Mason had purloined the sheep. Mom said she didn’t realize what had happened until one day David’s Mom Cynthia, mentioned that David knew all the animal sounds…except the sheep.

I Found it!!

It was almost as much fun to holler, “Here Trouble,” as it was to call for Berferd, plus we could always say, “Here comes Trouble!” In later years, if Mom wasn’t feeling well, Trouble would instinctively know, and didn’t leave her side until he could see she felt better.


By the time I moved to Gillette, Wyoming, Mom and Gus had sold the motel and purchased a travel trailer. They moved to the Crazy Woman campground in Gillette where Gus worked construction, and Mom had a job she loved at the Rockpile Museum across the street. They soon befriended Charlie and Becky, who were from back East and also lived in the Crazy Woman Campground. One day Becky was out hosing down their parking area and a fellow camper sped by in his pickup. The dust and dirt flew. Becky was irritated, so she turned her hose on him. He had his driver’s side window open so he got doused pretty good.

Later that evening, Charlie was sitting in his favorite chair enjoying the daily newspaper, when the door to their motor home opened and some guy threw a bucket of water all over him. Imagine Charlie’s surprise.

Mom and Becky were quite a pair. They loved to shop with coupons. Mom was really excited about one of her coupons until the cashier told her it was expired. “But that’s my best one,”she said. It must have ruined their whole shopping experience.

I hope I have remembered a few of Gus’s favorite stories. He still talks about Trouble and what a good dog he was.

Horse Creek..June 2009…Mom wanted her ashes spread where Grandpa and Grandma Sanderson and the family lived until she was eleven. Greg Miller found the site on land now belonging to Dan Height, and arranged 4-wheel drives to get us all there. 

Eventually, Mom, Gus, and Trouble moved to Ontario, California. My brother Bill’s company managed the parking at the Ontario Airport, and they did some work counting the in and out traffic for him . One day Mom left the airport to go get some donuts and accidentally got on the freeway. She said she told God if he got her safely off that freeway, she would never drive again.

Gus still lives in Ontario and manages the RV park where the travel trailer has been parked for many years. He facilitates Bible study classes at the local Salvation Army, and also helps them distribute food to those in need. He enjoys steak night at the American Legion and helps out with their functions.

Every Saturday that Bill is in town, he meets Gus at the Pomona Fairplex, where they have simulcast horse racing. They always say they hope to break even, because they sure could use the money.

Gus comes to Texas once a year for Christmas or Thanksgiving, and we try to go see him at least once during the year. He spends other holidays with Bill and his family who live in Los Angeles. Gus’s nephew Mark and his wife Marlene live in Rapid City, so he visits them and their kids and grandkids.

He’s always interested in hearing news of the Sanderson family and other friends in Murdo. Gus was very saddened to hear of Dwight Hurst’s passing.

Gus is a stand-up guy and we love him very much. We hope you’ll join us in wishing him a happy 85th birthday (5/30), and continued good health. He shares the day with my Sister-in-law Liz, (Happy Birthday Liz.) Bill always takes them to the restaurant of their choice to celebrate.

Kip, Gus and I with some of the grandkids




Murdo Girl…You didn’t hear it from me

I had an interesting conversation with our miss Murdo Girl this morning. As I talked, she looked at me so intently, I thought I was really reaching her. She kept nodding in agreement to everything I was saying. She doesn’t normally give me her full attention. When I finished she said, “I wonder if my Alden’s dress is back from the dry cleaners.”


I guess the lady is worried. She wants to know what I’ll be writing about in my papers now that I’m in high school. I told her I’m not here to cause trouble, but just think about it. To write about what it’s like to grow up in Murdo without leaking a little gossip, is like saying go read your favorite encyclopedia and write a paper that everyone will want to read.

I know Mom gossips some, but she does not like to listen to complainers. She was on the phone yesterday and I heard her say, “Don’t tell me about your troubles, I’ve got problems of my own, and here he comes now.” Then Dad walked in.


I’ve heard people say, “Don’t say anything about someone that you wouldn’t say to their face.” I’m not sure I agree with that. I’ll give you an example. The other day, Danny Koester said to me, “I’ve always thought you were kind of pretty Mary, but my Mom doesn’t think so.”

Now what was I supposed to say to that? He went on to explain.”She says you have a funny looking mouth.”

I’ve never worried about the shape of my mouth, but now it bugs me too. I’ve always hated my legs below my knees, because they look like chicken legs, but I never once thought about how funny looking my mouth is.


I think sometimes it’s okay to hide certain things from people, if you don’t get too convoluted about what happened when Kitty Reynolds still lived here. She made an appointment with a doctor in Rapid City, and Mom agreed to drive her. A problem occurred when Florence, Dr Murphy’s wife, got wind of it and invited herself along. Now they were going to have to figure out a way to get Kitty to the doctor’s appointment without Florence knowing. They would have to ditch Florence, and that would not be easy. You see, Mom and Kitty knew Florence would be mad, and it would hurt Doc Murphy’s feelings if they found out Kitty went all the way to Rapid City to see another doctor.

The three of them headed for Rapid, and it wasn’t long before the first dilemma arose. Every time the ladies go on shopping trips to Rapid City, they stop along the way for pie and coffee. Florence kept asking when they were going to stop. Well, Kitty was going to have one of those tests where you can’t eat anything after midnight. She couldn’t even have coffee, because she doesn’t like it without cream and sugar. Mom knew Florence would suspect something if Kitty didn’t have pie and coffee, so there was no way she was going to stop. She said something about being in a big hurry. I’m sure Florence was puzzled by that.

Mom said Florence fussed all the way to Rapid because she wanted pie so bad. Thankfully when they got there, they had a little time to figure out what to do with Florence while Mom took Kitty to the doctor. Well, Florence really wanted to go to a certain store in the Baken Shopping Strip. Mom said she would drop her off, but she had to go see her friend Jeri Olson, who was in the hospital. Florence doesn’t know Jeri, so that was a smart move on Mom’s part. She told Florence that Kitty had to go with her to see Jeri. Kitty has a bad leg, so it made sense for her to stay with Mom instead of walking all over the shopping strip. Florence didn’t question any of that, but she was getting extremely hungry, so she suggested they all have a bite to eat first.

Kitty said, “No, we can’t do that because Loretta and I are on an all liquid diet.” By this time, they were at the shopping strip. Then Florence tried to pin Mom down as to what time they would pick her up. Mom told her if she was finished with her shopping before they got back, to go to Woolworths in the shopping strip and have a piece of pie.

When Mom got home that night, she said it was the most exhausting day she had ever lived through. Florence remained upset, and Kitty was as nervous as a cat the whole time. They couldn’t even eat on the way back since Kitty said they were on a strict liquid diet. Mom feared Kitty, who can’t think on her feet, would say something to blow their cover.

Upon hearing all of this, I reminded Mom of what she always tells me. “What a tangled web we weave, when we practice to deceive.” She said, “Yes, and if you ever mention a word about it, I will hit you so hard you will starve to death bouncing.” Which is another thing she always says.

This picture was taken in Vernal Utah, when we all went to see Kitty’s granddaughter get married. From left: me, Kitty’s daughter, Cheryl, Marse, and Lois Lillabridge, and Mom (I don’t know who the man is.)

One more thing about gossip. (I was pretty little when this happened.) One night a friend of Mom’s and her husband came over. The husband and Dad talked in the living room, and Mom and the wife talked in the kitchen. Well, a few days before then, I had heard Mom say something unflattering about the wife. I whispered in Mom’s ear that I was going to tell the wife what she said about her. Mom said, “Just a minute.” Then she dragged me to my bedroom. She told me to kneel down by my bed and ask God for forgiveness for even thinking about intentionally hurting someone’s feelings. Now, every time I think about gossiping, I remember what Mom had me do.

So believe me when I say that you can tell me anything, and I will pray about it before I repeat it. If I repeat it anyway, I will pray about it some more.




Why didn’t someone tell me there was an open mic..I don’t see a mic




Murdo Girl…You name it

I don’t even know what to call this. Our miss Murdo Girl said she couldn’t have attention deficit disorder because she had been vaccinated for it at the Murdo Auditorium. I think it could be time for a booster shot. Maybe when she gets settled into her summer routine, she’ll be more focused…Maybe


I found some stuff in the Aldens catalog I want to buy. Next year I’ll be in high school so I need to start firming up my style. There’s a girl who’s a sophomore, that I’m going to model myself after. (I think.) She’s a cheerleader. I have been a cheerleader since the 4th grade, but I won’t be one next year, because they don’t let freshmen be cheerleaders. They vote in the spring for the next year, and they won’t let 8th graders run. I guess since we’re still 8th graders, we’re not considered high school cheerleading material.

Anyway, I’m not going to think about that now, I’m too busy dreading the summer. I have to rent Motel rooms at night, then clean them the next morning. I sometimes get a late start cleaning, because the tourists will have had some time to think about how much I charged them, or maybe their ice wasn’t cold enough. I don’t want to start cleaning until after they’re all gone. The last thing I need is to run into a mad tourist. I’ll make good money, but I know I will earn every penny.. I wish I could work at the Frosty like Connie Jackson. In the summer, all the kids hang out there at night and after the show on the week-ends.

Mom thinks I must not clean the rooms very good because I’m fast. I’ve told her I have a method. Even though she can’t find one thing wrong with the rooms I clean, she wants it to take me longer. I’m sure it bothers her because she pays by the room and not by the hour. She even has Gertie (Oldencamp) Smith, who cleans the other rooms, spy on me. I don’t think it’s really fair of Mom to ask that of Gertie, because she gets paid by the room too, and shouldn’t have to waste her time spying on me. Gertie has three kids to take care of, and two of them are a real handful.

We have a phone in the office/unit #1 now, which is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that if I need something to eat or a tourist needs ice, I can call Mom. The curse is, when Mom gets worried about the rent being too low. She calls me and if I’m too busy showing rooms to answer, she comes out of the basement house and signals to me.This is beyond confusing. Sometimes, when I’m walking a tourist to show them a room, she comes outside and motions thumbs up and 2 fingers. The room can be $22.00 when the people see it, and $24.00 by the time we get back to the office. Then I have to figure sales tax to add on. The tourists can get pretty frustrated, but I think they just chock it up to my obvious youthfulness and don’t complain. If their face starts getting really red, I tell them we take checks. I tell them they can give me a check if they try to pay with a credit card too, because Mom’s not messing with credit cards, she likes to deal in cash.

This is Billy sitting in one of our rooms. He has never had to rent one out in his whole life. 

I get paid by the room when I rent them too. When the town is full of tourists in July and August, it’s like an invasion. Cars, cars, and more cars a far as you can see. I can fill -up, close- up, give Mom her money, get paid, and be at the Frosty by 8:30 or 9:00. The Frosty is hooked on to the Super Value, and it’s not very far to walk. My favorite thing to get at the Frosty is a barbecue sandwich, and a chocolate-cherry coke.

On the slow nights when I’m working too late to eat at the Frosty, Mom cooks. I have to say, I get a great meal. She fixes steak or fried chicken, corn on the cob, macaroni salad, and toast. I have to eat it in the bathroom area, so the tourists don’t see me, but I’m sure they can smell it and see the corn in my teeth. Sometimes, I have to tell myself, “Oh well, I’ll never see these people again, because no one ever comes back here.”

It’s hard work, and I don’t make the kind of money the waitresses at Cafe 16 do, but I’m too young to get hired on there anyway.

Mom at the Chalet Motel

I don’t think Mom is going to let me have another dog. She says we live too close to the highway, and with all the tourists, it would surely meet it’s demise, just like Berferd. I don’t really like cats, and I got bit by an iguana once. I really didn’t want to hold it, because I don’t favor reptiles, but it was a kid of a friend of Mom’s, so I held it to be nice. I was sitting on the couch when I was holding it, and I leaned over to scoot up, and the stupid thing bit me on the nose. It was awful, because for awhile, my eyes picked up on the huge red teeth-marks and scabs. I couldn’t look at anything without seeing my nose. I feel sorry for people with great big noses or a wart they can’t get rid of. Can you imagine seeing that in your line of vision all the time? When It started to heal up and I didn’t see it so much, other people still noticed it. A man standing behind me in Super Value started staring at me. He finally said, “How does one do that to one’s nose?”

At the end of the summer, I have to fly on Western Airlines to New York. My Uncle Chuck Francis lives there and he’s arranging everything. He wants my cousins, Abby and Paul to get to know me. I don’t want to go. I hear the workers at Western Airlines might go on strike, which would be fine with me. What if I crash and burn in an airplane before I can even experience high school?

I had Mom hold some money out of my pay, and she wrote a check for me to send with my order to Aldens. I can’t wait for it to get here. I think the outfit and shoes I picked out look like something Connie Jackson would wear. I wonder how old she was when she firmed up her style. She is a trendsetter and always looks perfect. I don’t know if her style will work for me, and I’ll have to cut my hair short again, but I’m going to give it a try.

Well, I goofed up, because the lady wants me to write about more people and not always about myself. She also tells me to write what I know about, which is me, so she needs to cut me some slack.

Here are some more people. These are all the cousins that have worked for Mom at some time or another.

Mark Sanderson, Valerie Leckey, Stephanie Miller, and Andrea Miller all worked for Mom.


            This lady worked there for a little while too, but she was a royal pain.







Murdo Girl…Miss Behavior

Growing up is never easy, and It’s going to be interesting to see how many pitfalls the not so little Murdo Girl will encounter as she travels the narrow path leading to young adulthood. Some children suffer more growing pains than others. Few handle it perfectly. Let’s just hide and watch.


Halloween is sure a different kind of day. You can’t really call it a holiday, because you don’t get the day off from school or anything. When you’re little, you wear a costume and go trick or treating. You never trick when you’re little though, you just go door to door and get candy. A little boy came to our house once and he held up a pillowcase for his candy. Mom looked in there at all that candy and said, “Are you going to eat all that?” The kid nodded and smiled big. He had lost most of his teeth. Mom said, “Well, if you eat that pillowcase full of candy, you never will have any teeth.” That poor little kid looked kind of stricken.


I don’t even know how many times I wore the long red formal that Kitty Reynolds made for me. It was the perfect costume. All I had to do was make a tinfoil crown and I was good to go. One year I added some of those plastic high heels, with the elastic strip to hold them on. That was such a bad idea. I fell out of those things all night and nearly broke my big toe. Anyway, I wore the formal until I was busting out of the seams. Then one day, it just disappeared. Hmm.

Well, now I’m too old and too big to trick or treat. That right of passage has been snuffed out! I resist change. I’d stay a kid forever if I could.

Some of the high school kids do mean things like throw rotten eggs at cars, or tip things over. In general, they wreak havoc. I’m not in high school, but I don’t think I want to do that stuff.

I guess you could say my friends and I are at the in-between age. We decided it wouldn’t be such a bad thing to maybe toilet paper a house. Our first  experience with a paper caper was unfortunate…for us, not our victim.

I don’t even remember now whose idea it was to toilet paper all the trees in Mr. Palmer’s backyard. I don’t think it would be very nice of me to name the other kids involved, but you already know the girls I run around with, and we had two boys with us. I think one likes to polka.

We got the whole yard papered up pretty well. We were quietly snickering, and having a good old-time. I think we were looking forward to acting all innocent the next day, when Mr. Palmer started complaining about his backyard being toilet papered up.

When we finished, we all turned around, intending to leave the same way we got there…up the ally. It was then, we realized what a possibly fatal error we had made.  We were facing the back of Mr. Thune’s house, and there he was, watching us out his kitchen window.

It was dark so we weren’t 100% sure if he could identify us. We just didn’t think the whole thing through, because we picked a teacher’s house that was on a corner with a big street light shining  brightly. On top of that, it backed another teacher’s house. How could we have been such idiots?

We did the only smart thing there was to do…We took off running.

I hate to admit to being such a chicken, but about 30 minutes later, one of the girls and I went back, and after first making sure the Thune house was dark, we took down all the toilet paper we could reach. It sure is a lot easier to throw toilet paper all over, than it is to clean it up.

I still didn’t sleep too well that night. Halloween was on Wednesday, and this is Friday. Neither Mr. Thune nor Mr. Palmer has said anything yet, but today is my saxophone lesson with Mr. Palmer. If he still doesn’t say anything, I’ll be able to put the whole thing behind me.



Mr. Palmer made me sweat it out until the very end of my lesson, then he just looked at me for a minute with a goofy grin on his face. I must have had a goofy look on my face too, because he started cracking up. He said he had a tall ladder if I wanted to come over and finish cleaning the TP out of his trees.

I kind of felt bad, because there was another time I was a little less than honest with Mr. Palmer. He called me one Friday and asked if I could come over and babysit Debbie and Kenny that night. Lecia Kell was having a bunch of kids over, and I really wanted to go to her house. Well, I just couldn’t bring myself to tell Mr. Palmer no, so I said I would babysit. I immediately regretted it.

I called Marlene all in a panic, and she came over so we could decide what to do. Marlene said I had to call Mr. Palmer and tell him I couldn’t babysit. I hate to admit I’m still a chicken , but I just couldn’t do it.” Well,” Marlene said. “Then I’ll do it!” She just picked up the phone, and called Mr. Palmer. She disguised her voice a little and said, “Mr. Palmer, this is Mary Francis. When I told you I would babysit tonight, I forgot that I had a previous engagement.” I was horrified as I heard her continue. “Can you please find someone else to take care of your kids?” Then she gave him a couple of suggestions as to what girls he should call.

I wish I was as brave as Marlene, but then she doesn’t take band. It’s no skin off her nose, because she has nothing to lose. If Mr. Palmer had an idea that it wasn’t me who called him, he didn’t say anything or give me any other sign…like a goofy grin.

We really had fun at Lecia’s house that night. I sure hope I spelled her name right. If I didn’t, the lady will surely tell me.



Murdo Girl…Auditorium action..or not

It’s 9:00 o’clock, and the not so little Murdo Girl just turned her paper in. I think it’s a bunch of mumbo jumbo, but it’s too late to do anything about it. Besides, I’m suddenly really craving a Fern’s cheeseburger.


It’s seven o’clock Friday night, and Karen, Marlene, and I are all at the auditorium for the school dance. (Don’t worry lady, I have plenty of time to write my paper.) There are two teachers, and two parents chaperoning. Let me tell you something. They’re going to be so bored, by the end of the night, they’ll probably hope someone makes a run for it, so they can fight over who “gets” to go after them. Where do they think we’re going to go? Actually, a good old hamburger from Fern’s Cafe sounds pretty good. It’s real close now too since they moved. By the way, I heard Karen Lindquist’s Dad is going to make her go wash dishes at Fern’s. (In about seven years.)


This is a picture of Karen hiding out at the Chalet Motel

If you want to know the truth, our class is a bunch of rule followers. There won’t be any surprises here tonight. (Unless someone makes a fuss about the girl who’s wearing corduroy pants instead of a skirt or dress. It’s cold out there tonight.)

Someone cut my bangs so short, I had to plaster them against my head with scotch tape to make them look as long as I could. I obviously don’t even know how ridiculous I look.

I’m not that crazy about the 7th and 8th grade dances. I think they cause too much worry. All the girls spend days and days trying to decide what boys they like, and which ones they do or don’t want to dance with. The boys probably do the same thing. Surprisingly, kids don’t all look at this the same. Some don’t even want to dance with the one they have a crush on, because it’s too much pressure. Others have been telling everyone they don’t like someone when they really do, but they aren’t quite ready to go public with it.

Here’s how it goes…the dances start at 7:00 and last until 9:00. The only thing there is to do is dance to a record player, which nobody does until about 8:30. Well, actually the girls dance with each other, and the boys just stand in a group and talk. They don’t really watch the girls because they’re afraid to make eye contact. Then at 8:30 the chaperones yell, “You better get out there and dance, you only have 30 more minutes!” That’s when the boys finally get up the nerve to ask a girl to dance.

This is Marlene, Karen, and Mary trying to make eye contact. (Probably with Eddie Jackson.) It seems like it takes forever sometimes.


If some of the boys still can’t get up the nerve to ask a girl, the leftover girls just keep dancing with each other. There have been times, when I have wished the 30 dancing minutes would hurry up and be over, and times I didn’t want them to ever end. Other times, I wish I had just kept dancing with the girls. What am I talking about? There are only 2 dances a year.

Personally, I think it’s too much work trying to figure out the best time to make eye contact so the right guy will ask you to dance. Just think about it. The poor guy might have 3 or 4 different girls trying to make eye contact with him. If you see a boy staring at his shoes, that could be the reason.

Even if you do get the one you want, there is no guarantee he knows how to dance. Then what are you going to do? It’s too late to make eye contact with someone else.

There are two things I can tell you for sure. Usually, the only boys that can dance are the ones who have older sisters to teach them.The sisters should tell their brothers to dance two dances with the same girl, then move on. If you chose the wrong person, and have to dance with them the whole thirty minutes, it’s wasted time. Besides, everyone will get the wrong idea and think you really like each other, and if one or both of you don’t feel the same way, it could take weeks to undo that misconception. Secondly, and I guess I should only speak for myself, I usually leave the dance with a crush on a different boy than when I got there.

There is one boy I like to dance with whether I like him or not. He can polka, and that is so much fun. His name is Don and he doesn’t even have an older sister. Anyway, you can burn up a lot of nervousness by going all over that auditorium doing the polka.

The chaperones. One of them is missing…probably at Fern’s


That is NOT a hamburger from Fern’s Cafe!! 


Murdo Girl…Therein lies the truth


You can’t make good decisions without thinking things through. Learning this lesson is all part of growing up. It all turned out pretty well for the little Murdo Girl this time, but she was lucky. It could have been far more embarrassing. If you live in a small town, stories can sometimes take on a life of their own. People can also be very tolerant and forgiving.

______________________________________________________________________I’ve had a few embarrassing things happen in my 12 years, and this paper is about one of them.  It all started about a year ago. I was at a basketball game with Mom and I began to get bored. Sitting a few feet from me, were three kids I didn’t know, so I figured they must be from another town. I decided to scoot over by them and strike up a conversation. They told me their names, and that they were from Ohio. I said, “My name is Judy.” You’re probably wondering why I lied about my name. Well, I’ve been thinking about that too. It just came out of my mouth. Sometimes, I wish I had a cuter name like my cousins. Here are the names of all the girl cousins on the Sanderson side… Andrea, Stephanie, Valerie, Suanne, Patrice, and then there’s me.. Mary. See what I mean? My Francis girl cousins have cute names too. They are…Cathy, Laurellen, Abby, and Nadine. I guess I like my name okay, but for just one night, I wanted a cute name. It was between Judy and Pamela.

No they didn’t, but I like this sign

Anyway, I had a good time visiting with the kids from Ohio. One thing led to another, and I ended up telling them about the time Mom tricked me by putting a pan of store bought cookies in the oven, so I would think she made them from scratch. They were for a PTA meeting, so I wanted them to be homemade.

This might be Jerry’s Mom and her horse

One of the kids, (Jerry), told about the time he had to bring a cake to a school function. His Mom isn’t a very good cook, so he was worried the cake would be pretty pitiful, and it was. He said it was a layer cake held together by so many toothpicks, that if it had been a birthday cake, they wouldn’t have been able to light the candles. If the candles had ignited all the wood toothpicks, it would have burned the whole house down.

When it came time to take the pitiful cake to the event, Jerry’s Mom sent him off with it, telling him she would be there soon. Jerry was kind of embarrassed to take the sad looking cake in there, so  he accidentally on purpose fell down, and dropped the pitiful cake. You can imagine the look on his face when he walked through the door and saw his Mom was already there. She looked very serious as he told her he fell right outside the door and messed up the cake. He even ripped a hole in his jeans. Well, his Mom held up another cake that she must have had someone else make for her because it looked good. His own Mom had tricked him. I guess our Moms are two of a kind.

Well, I kind of forgot about those kids. Then a little over a week ago, Mom and I were walking into the Auditorium, and I heard someone yell, “JUDY!” At first I didn’t realize they were yelling at me. I turned around and there they were. The boy hollered, “It’s me, Jerry!” “Oh, geez,” I thought. All three of those kids were standing there. Right behind them was Mrs. Lange, who lives across the highway from us. “Hi Helen,” Mom said. Jerry spoke up and said, “Grandma  Helen, this is that girl Judy we were telling you about.” His two sisters both said, “Hi Judy.”

I just stood there looking like a dumb head. I could see Mrs. Lange was confused, and didn’t really know what was going on. Mom’s a little quicker than I am, she said, “Oh no, her name is Mary CONTENT!” The only thing that came to my mind was, maybe later, I could tell them I had a twin sister named Judy, or Judy was my nickname, but that would probably dig me into a deeper hole.

You want to know what else? Those kids stayed a week, and Mrs.Lange asked if I would help her find things for them to do. Mom said “Of course ! MARY would love to keep them company. “The kids never did say anything about my name not being Judy, but I felt kind of funny about it so, I finally told them the truth. They didn’t like their names either, so we all picked cute names.

One other good thing came of it. The Langes have a whole bunch of strawberry plants in a field behind their house. Mrs. Lange said since I was so nice to their grandkids, I could go pick some anytime I want to. Wait til I tell Suzanne Bork! Free fruit for us, and we can pick it in broad daylight.

I started thinking about what could be worse than having a plain name, and I finally came up with something. Grandma Francis’s birth name was Content. It was sometime later that she changed it to Constance. You could hardly blame her, especially since her maiden name was Bottum. If my name would have been Content Bottum, what do you think Mom would have called me when she got mad? Yup, Happy Butt.


I want to add one more thing to my story. I was confirmed into the United Methodist Church on Sunday. I was a little nervous, because we all had to answer a question. We studied everything in our classes, but we didn’t know which question we were going to get.They asked me if I could get into Heaven by doing good works alone. I said, “No, I have to believe in God and Jesus.”

I guess my answer was okay, because I was confirmed. Mom couldn’t come, but Grandpa and Grandma were both there. If I hadn’t been in the Church to see it, I wouldn’t  have believed who else was there. My Dad came too. I already knew that he was happy about my confirmation, because the week before, he bought me a pretty red jumper and a beautiful white blouse to go with it. He said he had noticed I didn’t have very many pretty dresses, and he wanted me to look nice. (Dad’s not a church goer.) Anyway, I don’t think I will ever forget that he was there.

Dad, the ladies who cook in the Church basement, and Grandpa and Grandma Sanderson

The United Methodist Church in Murdo, where I was confirmed


Murdo Girl…Here Berferd

I’m staying at Marlene’s house for a few weeks while Mom and Dad are in California seeing relatives… and Billy. We’ve been going to my house every night to feed Berferd. He stays in the coat closet all night, then I go let him out in the morning. Marlene’s not in band, so I do the morning routine by myself. I usually meet some other band kids by Super Value and walk the rest of the way with them.

Berferd comes to the auditorium and waits until  I come out, then walks with me to the grade school. Once he knows I’m safely inside my classroom, he goes running around town, and I don’t see him again until Marlene and I go feed him and put him in for the night.

This year Marlene and I are in 7th grade, which is in an outside building. Our teacher is Mrs. Palander. For the first time in years, I finally have a teacher that hasn’t taught anyone I’m related to, has a sister that dates Billy, is a friend of Mom’s, and doesn’t live by me.

Remember I told you we had some new kids in our class this year? One of them is Karen Ferdig. She lives close to Marlene, so she started walking to school with her. I can’t because I have to go an hour earlier for band. Anyway, now all three of us are friends.

Karen’s birthday is New Years Day, which is one day after mine. We’ll both be 13 this year. Marlene’s birthday isn’t until June 19th. The lady said she’ll be able to keep her brains a little longer than Karen and me.


Yesterday was Tuesday, November 8th. I won’t ever forget that date as long as I live. Marlene and I went to feed Berferd. I was worried about him, because there was a big snow storm that day. When we got to my house, Berferd wasn’t anywhere around.

After awhile, we got Karen and the three of us looked everywhere. We asked people in the neighborhood and along the highway if they had seen him. We didn’t know what else to do, so we just went back to my house and waited.

One of the guys that works for the State heard that we were looking for Berferd, and he called my house. He told me that my dog had been run over by a snow plow. This time, he didn’t make it.

I was sure glad Karen and Marlene were with me.

I was never able to train Berferd not to chase loud trucks. Like I said before, he even chased them when he had the fractured leg.

I’m slightly comforted by knowing Berferd left this world doing what he loved most, chasing trucks and snowplows. It was election day.

I know I’ll meet up with him someday at Rainbow Bridge

We loved that dog and we’ll miss him every day.

RIP Berferd Francis

As near as I can figure, he was only 4. He loved running around Murdo, and Murdo loved him.


Murdo Girl…A brief update

I told the Little Murdo Girl that she could write this little wrap up, but I would rather she focus more on the people that make Murdo such a special place. I hope all those reading her stories, will help me out by encouraging her to stay on track…Thank you.


A person who knows Billy, read my story yesterday and said I was no better than Mom and Billy or their driver, because Suzanne and I stole crabapple from Mr. Mowell’s trees. I don’t want to split hairs, but the crabapple incident wasn’t a mother/daughter caper. You have to watch Mom, she can get you into trouble. Then again, she hardly ever gets caught! I also found out from the “person,”that the other perp involved in heisting corn, was my Aunt Elna, and they were in Ben Dykstra’s corn field.

That wraps up that story, but there’s more. I can’t divulge my source, but Mom and some of her friends went to Pierre. (This all happened before my time.) They also took Billy. He was still pretty young. On the way home, they all stopped at the Silver Spur in Ft. Pierre. They serve alcoholic beverages there, but they just wanted to use the bathroom. Wouldn’t you know it? Billy couldn’t get the bathroom door open right away, which kind of scared him. Well, he finally got out and back to the table where all the ladies were sitting. They decided to stay a short while, because it was cool in there, and hot outside. Shortly thereafter, they headed back to Murdo.

Well, it must have been memorable to Billy, because when he saw Grandpa a few days later, he told him he went to Ft. Pierre, and they went to a place where the cowboys drink their pop.

I told the lady, I realize this won’t be counted as a paper. I just knew you all might be wondering.

This picture was taken a couple of years ago, but I like how innocent I look.


Murdo Girl…Can I have a word with you?

It’s all a part of growing up. Children should always be encouraged to expand their vocabulary. The Little Murdo Girl is most definitely picking up new words…or…different words. Oh heck, read her story and decide for yourself. Are her new words half-baked, or not half-bad? If I asked you if I’m alldumb? Would you say, poseYa?


Aunt Ella and Valerie are here for a visit. They’re staying above the store where they used to live. Mom and I drove uptown to see them yesterday. We were both excited, because we have really missed them since they moved to California. Mom made a macaroni salad and everything. I’ve had a lot of fun with Valerie. She’s an only child, and she doesn’t even have a distant big brother like I do.

My distant big brother..Billy

On the way uptown, Mom stopped at the Texaco station to get some gas and have Jim fix her taillight. She went inside and paid, then we took off to go uptown. I was holding the macaroni salad, so I wasn’t paying much attention, but I thought I heard a noise. I looked around, and I said, “Mom your trunk is up.” We were almost to Sanderson’s Store, so she kept going. We pulled in and got out of the car, and the Texaco guy got out of the trunk. Mom asked him if she could give him a ride back, but he said, “No,” and took off down the hill. Mom said, “I hope he fixed my light.”

Valerie on Rex (I think)

Valerie and I reminisced about the time she helped me take care of the sparrow eggs in my incubator, and about the day we herded Aske’s milk cows with our horses. I told her I feel bad every time I go into Super Value and Beulah Aske is working. She is so nice and she doesn’t even know we ran her milk cows all over the pasture.

Valerie Leckey when she got older

Then, Valerie decided she wanted to go out on the hot tar roof and suntan. That’s when she discovered she didn’t have her swimming suit, or “bathing suit,” as she calls it. She blamed her Mom for not packing it, and wanted to call Uncle Al, and have him send it to her. Of course, Aunt Ella thought that was a ridiculous idea. Mom and I listened to that back and forth for awhile, then Mom said we had to go pick up the motel towels at the laundromat. That annoyed me, because I wanted to stay and hang around Valerie. Mom said.”It’s your job Mary Constance,” so down the stairs I went.

Ella Leckey, Helen Haverberg, Mom

We didn’t go to the laundromat, because we hadn’t even picked up the towels from the Motel. Most of the tourists weren’t even gone yet when we left. By the way, my towel job is slightly easier since the Motel got bigger, because I don’t have to wash them one load at a time at home. We wash and dry them all at the laundromat, then I fold them. I make a little bit more money, if I keep my nose to the grindstone, and don’t take off too many days.

Anyway, we just walked over to Mack’s Cafe, and I got one of Doris’s cinnamon rolls. Let me just say, in my opinion, there can’t be a better cinnamon roll in the world. While we were there, Aunt Elna came in, and she and Mom started yacking. When they get excited about stuff, they both start talking at the same time, and their voices get kind of screechier. All of the Sanderson’s have similar screech sounds when they get excited.


Macks Cafe

Anyway, there’s a guy that works for Doris named Slim. He’s really nice, and a hard worker. Slim’s mind isn’t quite as old as he is, but he gets along pretty well, I think. For some reason, he has taken a disliking to Aunt Elna. One day when Mom and Elna were in Mack’s Cafe and it was really busy, Mom and Aunt Elna found themselves sitting at different tables. Well, Slim brought Mom a note, and she asked him who gave it to him? He said, “Old bag, Old bag,” and pointed at Aunt Elna.

Remember when I told you that Mom makes up new words? Well, she stole one from Slim. If you’re talking with him, and he agrees with you, he says “PoseYa.” Which means, “I suppose, yes.” I use the word too. I really like it because it’s faster than saying all the other words. It’s like Mom’s word, “alldumb.”


A few days later

Mom and I took Aunt Ella and Valerie back to the airport in Rapid City, so they could fly back to California. They still weren’t getting along too well. We stopped to eat in Rapid before going on to the airport, and Aunt Ella started talking about some guy getting a viesectomy. Valerie said, “Mom, it’s vasectomy.” Aunt Ella continued with her story and kept saying viesectomy. After correcting her 2 or 3 times, Valerie stood up and said,” VASECTOMY MOM, IT’S CALLED VASECTOMY.” She did that right in the middle of a crowded restaurant. It sure raised a few eyebrows! People were probably wondering why two women and a teenager were talking like that in front of a sweet looking little girl.

A sweet looking little girl with a hairdo like a 40 yr. old

Mom couldn’t wait to get home to recreate that story!


Slim is in this picture..I identified 6 others..How many do you know?