Murdo Girl…Heal thyself

I would like to assure all of you little Murdo Girl readers, that although her stories sometimes seem outrageous, they are indeed a true accounting of her life in Murdo. She really is a good Murdo Girl!


I dislike school after New Years, because there aren’t any more holidays where we get significant time off, and  it’s still a long way til May. I think the whole town gets kind of crazy because there is usually a bunch of bad weather too. Yesterday a lady Mom is friends with came over and she was carrying a high heeled shoe and said she was Cinderella. She didn’t appear to be looking for a Prince and she was drinking her beverage out of the shoe. She had the other shoe on, which made walking difficult. I asked Mom what was wrong with her and she said she got a hold of some bad water.

I’m bored at school too. I have to tell myself that every day I sit there in the front row, is a day closer to not sitting there in the front row. Sometimes it feels really awkward. For instance, Mr. Pickner gave us an assignment to write a story about ourselves. Everybody had to stand next to Mr. Pickner’s desk and right in front of me. I tried not to stare at them, or indicate in any way how I thought their report was going, but a couple of times it was too much for me.

My friend Karen, who is a straight A student, got up to read her story. She forgot a punctuation mark and said, “I was born at the age of three. My family moved to….” She stopped for a minute to try and figure out why some were snickering a little, but I’m not sure she ever got it, because I started choking. I knew laughing would be bad, but it was too late to get myself under control. I think Mr. Pickner wanted to make an example of me, primarily because I was so close to the situation. He sent me to the library with instructions to stay there until recess. That was the first time I realized that being a Pickner pick does not guarantee you can’t still get in trouble, which means there are no plusses to it at all. I think he’s biding his time just like I am. He probably knew early on that he had made a wrong decision. He just didn’t want to admit defeat. It wasn’t in the cards for me to get straight A’s.

Mom said I haven’t been very good natured lately and she’s right. What she doesn’t know is I’ve been having bad stomach aches. It feels like something is pulling  the outside of my stomach to the inside. I don’t want to tell Mom because she’ll take me to that woman Dr. In Kennebec. Her name is Dr. Horthy. I think she’s from Hungary. We can barely understand each other.  Mom claims she understands her just fine, but I don’t see how.


I guess I should tell you what I went through last year about this time. I had been home from school for a few days with a bad sore throat accompanied by a spasmodic cough. Mom said it appeared that I wasn’t going to get better, so she took me to Dr. Horthy, who examined me. She said a bunch of things I didn’t understand, and gave me a shot which almost made me pass out. Then she took Mom aside and talked to her in a low voice. When they finished talking, Dr. Horthy told me I was having “epleptic sizsures” and I would have to have a “shut” every week until the symptoms went away, or got worse. She paused.. to catch her breath I guess. Mom said not to worry, because Dr. Horthy was going to teach her how to give me shutz so I wouldn’t miss anymore school and flunk. Then she said there was nothing more she could do and sent me home. I remember having a fleeting thought that for some reason, I could understand every word Dr. Horthy said.

Well, I bawled all the way home, and Mom didn’t appear to be very sympathetic to the fact that her only daughter was an epileptic having fits. When we got home, she made me drink Peptobismol and put me to bed. I didn’t even have diarrhea.


I’m very thankful that a miracle happened and the first shot did the trick. I haven’t had a seizure or missed a day of school since.

I guess you have figured out by now why I’m not too anxious to go back to the good Dr. Horthy. If I describe my stomach pains, she’ll probably do some sort of emergency exploratory surgery right in her office. Why did we have to lose Dr. Murphy? He was such a sensible Doctor.


The pain continued, and Mom became concerned without me even having to say anything. I was worried too, and went willingly to see Dr. Horthy. All the way to Kennebec, I was positive the tests that Dr. Horthy would surely give me, would reveal a fatal illness. It didn’t help that Mom was pretty quiet too. I’m sure she was eaten up with worry.

When the examination was over. Dr. Horthy went into her back office for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, she came back with a small packet which she handed to Mom. “Geeve dis child peils as 2x each dei! She hov wiermz.”

On the way home it started sinking in that I wasn’t going to die from the worms, but severe mortification might kill me. Mom must have sensed my distress, because she said, “Do you want to stay home from school tomorrow?” I nodded yes and said, “Thank you Mom.”

“You’re welcome,” she said. “When we get home, I’ll give you some peptobismal. It will soothe your stomach.” (I was hoping for cinnamon toast.)


P.S. Billy called here last night and said that although my stories are factual, they are becoming a little overblown, and bordered on sensationalism. Sometimes he’s hard to understand… like he’s Hungariun or something.

I think after he reads my story today, he’ll feel sorry for me, because of what I’ve been through, and stop threatening to get me back when he comes home in July.

Murdo Girl…eau de toilette

Merry Christmas… 1965. If you think you might have read part of this story, within another story, in another paper, you’re probably right. Neither our Miss Murdo Girl, nor myself can remember, and we don’t feel like going back through the mountain of stories to find out. I promise you will learn something new. This is a Christmas story like none other.


I’m keeping my word. In my last paper, I mentioned I would write about our 1965 Christmas. We’re already back in school, and Billy is back in California, but the events are still fresh in my mind.

A couple of days before Christmas, Dad and I drove to Rapid City to pick Billy up from the airport. He was on a late flight, so I was pretty tired before we got home to Murdo. I rode in the back seat and Dad and Billy were in the front, so I couldn’t hear everything that was said, even though I really tried hard to. It had been a long time since I had seen Billy and I wanted to catch up on everything.

Billy in California

When Billy first thought about going to college, he wanted to be a teacher. He didn’t want to have a business like Dad, because he wanted to have a guaranteed paycheck, instead of worrying all the time about money coming in. (Dad is a plumbing and heating contractor, and Mom runs our Motel.) Dad says we should tell people our father is a ditch digger, and our mother is a chambermaid.

Mom wanted Billy to go to the Air force Academy in Colorado Springs, although I think she changed her mind later because she didn’t want him to go to war. I didn’t want him to go to the Academy, because I thought it might make him tougher and meaner. He might have come home and put me through some kind of torturous boot camp.

I got Dad hankies for Christmas

None of that matters anyway, because Billy doesn’t want to do any of that anymore. Between his Junior and Senior year of high school, my Uncle Chuck got Billy a job parking cars for the Dodgers at the Coliseum. He really liked California, and decided to go to college there. I think he likes parking cars so much, he might even want to climb the ladder in that field. Besides, I think he makes good tips like the waitresses at Cafe 16.

Cafe 16

Billy has changed a lot since he left for College. When he came back to Murdo for his senior year, he looked different. His hair was longer and wavy. I had never seen my brother in anything but a butch haircut. Every time I smell butch wax, It reminds me of Billy.

This brings me to our first fight of the holidays. It has to do with smell. I really think he has gotten quite a bit nicer, but sometimes he drifts back to the old “mean” Billy.

We were really busy the next couple of days, and Billy wanted to see his friends too, so we didn’t spend a whole lot of time together at first. Then, the day before Christmas Eve, he started asking me what I had gotten everyone for Christmas. I was pretty proud because I had bought presents for Mom, Dad, Billy, and some chocolate covered cherries for Grandma and Grandpa. I used some money Mom gave me.

He said,”Did you get a big old laundry basket for Mom?” I bet she thinks of you every time she does a load of laundry.” It’s true that last year, I wanted Mom to have the biggest present under the tree, and I wanted it to be from me. The only thing I could think of that was cheap enough was a laundry basket. I wrapped it and everything. It took a whole roll of paper and tons of scotch tape.

I hadn’t planned on telling him what I got her this year, but what Billy said was making me mad so I said, “I got her a nice bottle of perfume.” I was surprised when he started laughing. He told me that perfume was even worse than a plastic basket.

I didn’t know why he was saying that, every woman likes perfume. Then he asked me how big the bottle was and how much did it cost? I asked him why, and I could not believe what he said.

“Unless it’s a very expensive kind, perfume is made with bobcat pee. That’s why sometimes it’s referred to as toilet water.” I almost wanted to go tell Mom how he was lying to me. On second thought, I wasn’t ready to tell her I got her perfume for Christmas. By the way, it was a pretty small bottle and it was inexpensive.

Oh my, bad luck, cheap perfume for Christmas

I thought of something right then. I told him to stay there and I would be back in a minute. I went and got the bottle of perfume, and finally found the ingredients in really small print. I didn’t see bobcat pee listed anywhere, so I marched into the living room and shoved it right in his face. I said, “This perfume is not made from bobcat pee.” He took the bottle and started looking it over. He said, “It sure is the same color as bobcat pee, oh, and look here, it has Diazlidinyl Urea in it.”

That sounded to me like it could be a fancy word for pee. I went and got one of the 12 dictionaries Billy got for graduation and looked it up.

Diazlidinyl Urea, also known as carbamide, is an organic compound that is essentially a waste product of digested protein that gets filtered through the kidneys and is expelled from the body through urine. However, the urea that is often found in cosmetics is made from animal urine. It should not be used by people who are allergic to ammonia.

Oh, good, I guess I’m supposed to feel better because Mom’s perfume is made from animal urine and not people pee. Now what was I going to do? I couldn’t exchange it for something else, because I got it at the Red Owl Store in Pierre, and I wouldn’t be back in Pierre before Christmas. Billy said I should go ahead and give it to her. He said she won’t smell like an animal lifted his leg on her or anything, because they put flowery things in there too to give it a good odor. I didn’t tell him that perfume has a scent not an odor. I didn’t care anymore.

Well, I just couldn’t give Mom perfume made out of pee. It’s one thing for her to think about me when she does the laundry. I sure didn’t want her to think of me when she dabbed animal pee behind her ears. I used the little bit of money I had left and bought her a box of chocolate covered cherries like I got for Grandma and Grandpa. Then I had a good idea. I borrowed a couple of dollars from Mom and got Billy some cologne. I’m saving the tie I got him for next year.

Murdo Girl…Yakety sax

After reading our miss Murdo Girl’s papers from yesterday and today, it appears she is learning how to rationalize a situation. The goal being to avoid trouble whenever possible. She is growing up, but she’s not going willingly. At least today, she didn’t try to use any ten dollar words like surreptitiously.


Well, I made it through the first half of 8th grade. We got to move into the new elementary school right after Christmas and is it ever nice. It even has a library right next to the 8th grade classroom.

I was wishing we could all choose where we wanted to sit in the new classroom. I was pretty positive that Mr. Pickner would let me sit a little farther back. If he had hoped sitting me up front would motivate me to study harder and get straight A’s, it didn’t work. I’m not lazy or anything. It’s just that my study time isn’t as long in the mornings, since I’m wearing my hair short again. It dries pretty fast. (I study during dryer time.)


Here I sit, right smack in front again. Unfortunately, some kids got to move around. Mark sits right behind me now and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing. He can be fun, but he can be mean too. He already put a thumb tack on my seat, which I sat on, and once when Mr. Pickner was out of the room, he took his feet and shoved my desk out from under me. I landed on the hard floor. I’m not worried… I have a real good one on him that I’m saving for the perfect time. It was a time when he was horrendously mean, but not to me.

Do you know what Mark’s brother Jeff H. did? He took my Uncle Jeff’s Willy Jeep and drove it onto the iced-over pond that’s in a field behind their house. The Jeep was too heavy, and broke right through the ice. It sunk almost up to the windows. They got someone to pull it out, and I guess it still runs. Mark was really mad though because Uncle Jeff told him he can have that Jeep when he turns 24.

I have a feeling we’ll be reading more” Jeep” stories soon.

I had to start wearing nylons. It seems that when you get to the 8th grade, you’re supposed to wear them when you dress up. We went to Winner for a music contest, and that’s when some of the girls decided it was time to start wearing “hose.” I had to play a saxophone solo, and those darn nylons ruined it. Are there boys that read this? Oh well, I don’t care.

You have to wear a garter belt to hold your nylons up. It is a very weird contraption. It has long straps with a doohicky on the end that you put the top of your nylon over. Then, you have to pull another part over this button like thing. That’s what holds your nylons in place. There is a strap on the front and one on the back of each leg, so there are four altogether. The straps are attached to a garment that is held around your waist by elastic. I guess it’s sort of like a real short slip, only you still have to wear a slip too. The whole thing is called a garter belt. The nylons come separately.

I bet these girls aren’t wearing nylons..I’m second from the right..Alto Saxophone 

Right in the middle of my solo, the doohicky on the back of one leg came loose, and the nylon slipped right off, which caused the front to sag.  I finally got an opportunity to glance down when the piano player who was accompanying me, had a little part that I didn’t play my saxophone to. I could see the nylon was a wrinkled mess just like my Grandma’s hose (nylons) always are because they don’t make them small enough for her. Grandma wears a girdle to keep her nylons up, but it doesn’t work. Besides, you still have to deal with the doohickys attached to the girdle.(Some older ladies just roll them down over a rubber band. I wonder if that works better.) Well, at least the front doohicky on my garter belt never came all the way off, which was a blessing.

Anyway, for the very first time in my life, I didn’t get a Superior on my solo, because I was too distracted to remember all of it. I can’t even tell people about it, because it’s going to sound like an elaborate excuse, and they’ll think the real reason is, I didn’t practice my solo enough times to memorize it better.

Me, Grandma, and Mom

It just wasn’t a good experience all around. Mom threw a hissy fit, because I forgot to mention  I volunteered her to take me and some other kids to the contest. I told her the day before. She said I hadn’t even told her I was playing a solo, although I’m pretty sure I did. She asked me when I practiced because she very seldom heard me.


Mr. Pickner has become obsessed about black marks on the new floor. I think it’s nonsense, because that is something kids can’t help unless they take their shoes completely off. Yesterday after school, a couple of us were looking at the floor under our desks to see if we had made black marks. I said, “There are a few, but not enough to sweat over.” Mr. Pickner was standing in the doorway watching us. We didn’t notice until we heard him say, “I stay up at night worrying about you, and I worry, and I worry, and I worry.” He didn’t tell us to rub out the black marks, so we went home.

I can’t wait for summer to get here. If I have to dress up again this year, I’m wearing knee socks. No more garter belt for me. Maybe I’ll look for a pair with a seam up the back. I’m talking about the knee socks, not the nylons. I couldn’t imagine having to make sure your nylons are securely fastened plus keep a seam straight.

Billy was here for Christmas, so I guess I’ll have to write about that soon. He won’t read my stories unless they’re about him.



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…The pick is in a pickle

I have just one thing to say to the (not so little), Murdo Girl. Your paper is too full of…adjectives.


Murdo Girl…1966 (13 in 66 was like 10 is now)

This is my first day of 8th grade, and Mr. Pickner is my teacher. I am in a state of stunned disbelief.

I do not know how I will get through this year. My head is spinning, my thoughts are all a jumble. The only thing I can think of, is maybe Mr. Pickner has known all along that I was the one responsible for the damage done to the ceiling in the Principal’s Office. The light fixture and a bunch of boards fell right out of the ceiling. It was all because I tried to do a flip on the floor of the 8th  grade room, right above the principal’s office, and landed like a ton of bricks.

No one including Mr. Pickner, ever confronted me about the incident, but now I’m convinced he has known all along. There is no other possible explanation for what has befallen me, since I fell from my flip, and landed flat on my back.

Lest you start thinking of me as an overly dramatic preteen, let me enlighten you. (Can you tell I’ve been reading the dictionary?)

At the beginning of each year, Mr. Pickner picks out one girl student and makes her sit at the front of the class. The students who are Pickner picks, are always, I mean always, brainiacs. Last year it was Cynthia Bork, and the previous year it was Jane Joy. Need I say more? They all go on to be valedictorian of their class, and without fail, are on the Dean’s list in College.

This is Cynthia, last year’s Pickner pick. She and I were best friends until she started high school, then she dropped me like a hot potato

I know what you’re thinking, and I’m not offended in the least. I do okay in school. I get A’s and B’s. My study time consists of whatever I can get done while I dry my hair in the mornings. I’ve become pretty good at surreptitiously reading the History chapter during class. I can even stay far enough ahead in case I get asked a question.

This isn’t me…this is my study time example


I participate in band and cheerleading, which currently are the only extracurricular activities offered to girls. I don’t think that is even a criteria for being one of the Pickner picks. There have been a few, less than brilliant cheerleaders. I will offer myself as an example.

Haven’t I been through enough? You have read in my papers about all the unfortunate ties my family has had with most of my teachers. I really thought I had it made this year. I was looking forward to a much needed  break from being compared to a relative or ratted on by a teacher-friend of Mom’s. Then there was the perceived threat of the teacher-sister of Billy’s girlfriend. Oh, and don’t forget Mrs. Lathrop, who said, ” Your Dad was brilliant in science, and you’re not!” Next year, I will encounter all the high school teachers who have glowing memories of an impressive family member who has gone before me. I can already read the expressions on their faces. They’ll be thinking, ” Why, Why, Why can’t she get it like her, Dad, cousin, uncle, even her brother?” (They won’t bring Mom up much.)

There are several girls in my class that are smarter than I am. Those who are dedicated to doing whatever it takes to excel scholastically. In fact, I’m trying to think of one I’m smarter than. I am not kidding, this just does not make sense.

This day started out so great. It was a sunny morning. The breeze was light enough that we could stand up straight instead of leaning into a forceful, take your breath away, wind. I wore the red jumper that Dad bought me when I was confirmed. Do you think that has something to do with it? Red does call attention to the wearer.

So, here I am sitting right smack in front of Mr. Pickner. When he motioned for me to take the dreaded desk up front, I looked behind me hoping it was the girl who sat there he was signaling to, but it was Don Edwards, and he was grinning from ear to ear. That kid never misses a thing. Mrs. Palander was totally undone by him last year. I really feel sorry for his sister Susan, who’s in 7th grade this year. She won’t have a chance trying to live down Don’s reputation.

Well, as Mom always says, We shall see what we shall see.


The lady gets after me when I complain all the way through my paper, so I’ll give you another update from a previous story. I talked to Billy about the time Mom and her friends took him to the Silver Spur in Ft. Pierre, where the cowboys drink their pop. He said they had to take the door off the bathroom he was in, because they couldn’t explain to him how to unlock it. He also said he thought the ladies were drinking the same kind of pop the cowboys were.

. Here’s Billy with his little cowboy shirt on.

I’ll bet Billy is scarred for life by that experience. He’ll probably never darken the door of a place like that again.


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…Everyone’s scared but Grandpa

I’m posting a rerun tonight about Grandpa Sanderson’s driving. Some of my cousins and I were talking about it on Facebook a couple of days ago, and I thought it might be fun to read all the cousins comments about their experiences riding with Grandpa.

Grandpa’s car and Jeep under a few inches of snow.

First, I want to mention a little problem I encountered with the eBook version of Dakotah’s Story. Transferring a manuscript to an eBook is the most difficult part of the whole publishing process. I was further challenged by trying to include several photographs. Anyway, it was pretty good, but not quite like I wanted it, so I tweaked it a little bit which resulted in a hodgepodge on the first few pages. Once you get into the story it levels out, but I am truly sorry to those who bought the eBook version and had a problem with it. I have since corrected it, but the changes might not show until tomorrow or the next day. Please let me know if you got a bad one and I will make sure you get a good one.

I got the paperback, full color edition, today and I am really happy with the way it turned out. Thanks again my friends for all of your understanding and encouragement.

I also want to reiterate that all of the profits from the sale of this book will go to help victims of cancer. I will keep you posted on how that is going.


Grandpa’s car was a 4-door Ford…I couldn’t find a good picture. This is my favorite picture of him at the Nemo Cabin


Ken Halla (Valerie’s husband) and Grandpa
Valerie Leckey Halla
 Ken has a driving story. 1971 -Ken and Grandpa went to breakfast before going fishing. When they got in the car to leave, Grandpa turned around and proceeded to pull out. A huge RV was coming. Ken wondered if Grandpa saw it and he got nervous but didn’t want to be disrespectful. The RV kept coming. Ken decided to be disrespectful instead of dead and yelled out, “We are about to be broadsided! Stop!” They stopped as the RV sped by and Grandpa said -” Oh, I didn’t see that.”
I just remember relatives saying not to let him drive and he told us once he found himself by the side of the highway ’cause he had fallen asleep at the wheel!  Also, do you remember that he had his last white car painted dark on the roof because he wanted people to be able to see it in a snowstorm?
He would drive places where only four- wheel drive vehicles should go. Down dirt roads and across the prairie!
Next time you see Lynn Brost Miles, ask her about her experience…very scary

From Terry Sanderson

Bill, I’m sure you remember the old road into the Prairie Creek property.  It had a steep section where it went over a high ridge before dropping down into the area.  The Kaisers and Frazer cars that Grandpa had driven for years (big, heavy cars with a modest 6 cylinder engine), required a heavy foot on the accelerator to get over the mountain.  I think you were along when we went in with the first Oldsmobile that Grandpa owned with the larger 8 cylinder engine.  When we approached the bottom of the steep part, Grandpa poured the coals on and it was about as wild and exciting a minute as I can remember.  The Olds responded and we went fish tailing up and over the mountain throwing rocks and dirt and miraculously staying on the trail (I think the pine trees on both sides helped).  I forget Grandpa’s comment when we finally got under control on the other side of the summit, but it was a classic.

Billy Francis

I certainly do.Grandma wouldn’t speak to him the rest of the day. She hated Prairie Creek. One day she was looking in the silverware drawer for something.  She slammed the drawer and said,” I wish he would buy just one good house instead of having to furnish three shacks.”

Patrice Haverberg Bushhouse

Being the youngest grandchild and living in Michigan, I just do not have the memories you all do so it is fun to hear what Grandpa and Grandma were like. One vivid memory I have from when Grandpa lived in Spearfish…He was taking Sue and me fishing for the day so we hopped into the back seat of his white car.  He started a story as soon as he got in the car and talked until we made it to the river.  I remember looking at Sue thinking…we are all going to die right here because he would turn around and talk to us while he was driving. The story was the important part, not watching the road.  Unfortunately, being terrified of crashing, I don’t remember the story.


Billy Francis

Grandpa would tell Terry and I to get ready to go fishing at a certain time.  Then Grandpa would go uptown, get to talking, and forget about us.  One day after keeping us waiting for over two hours, he and his brother Sandy showed up to take us to Pierre to fish the river.  When we pulled out of our driveway, Grandpa proceeded to tell uncle Sandy about how he bought his shotgun, which was a story Terry and I had heard too many times to count.  Just as we pulled up to the river about one hour later, Grandpa finished his story!  It was remarkable that the story never varied.  Terry and I could recite it word for word!

Jeff H. Sanderson

It was 5:30 A.M. July 2, 1974, as I awoke to Grandpa’s prompt in Apt. 3, Spearfish Retirement Complex.  We are going fishing  today to celebrate my 27th birthday.  As we chowed down the cold cereal/O.J. breakfast, Grandpa assembled an array of jelly, peanut butter, and lunch meat sandwiches for the lake.  Along with a thermos of milk and two of water, it would be all we would need for a full day at Deerfield Lake.  As we hit the road at 6A.M., we were reminded that we would have to stop to get bait worms.  The convenience store at the entrance to the lake was open for business.  While I was doing a general tour of the store, Grandpa began the process of acquiring the worms from a 65-ish rather gruff looking female attendant.   As always, he wanted the freshest bait possible and inquired accordingly, asking the woman to open the cartons for inspection.  I was at the opposite end of the store as the irritated  woman unexpectedly lashed out with a verbal explosion to be heard for some distance.  As I listened closely, I was hoping that Grandpa would not need my help.  Instead, he very patiently took the beating, purchased the worms, and we were happy to quickly be headed for the narrow trail to the opposite side of the lake.  Before reaching our parking spot for the day, Grandpa had calmly and precisely threaded his 1966 Ford through the woods, missing a number of trees by fractions of an inch. It was a quite impressive accomplishment.

Andrea Miller Sheehan

I remember one of the cousins, telling about a time he went fishing with Grandpa in Spearfish. They headed out on the highway, Grandpa was driving. He realized they had left the lunch sitting on the kitchen table and said so to Grandpa.  Grandpa didn’t miss a beat, just drove down through the ditch, back up on the highway, and headed back to the Apt. !

Mary Francis McNinch

When I was in the 8th grade, Grandpa drove me all the way to Vermilion, SD (4 hours one way), so I could attend music camp there. It was a pretty great thing for a Grandpa to do.  When I was in High school he drove the cheerleaders to a game in White River.  I sat in the front and one of the girls in the back tapped me on the shoulder and whispered, “Does your Grandpa know this is not a straight road? He doesn’t curve when the road does.”  He always had his car buzzer set to the speed limit and it went off the whole time he was driving. He thought that’s what it was there for. To let him know he was going the limit.

Well, we all survived and none of us would trade all those scary rides with Grandpa for anything. After Billy was old enough to get his driver’s license, and would ask Mom if he could go somewhere with Grandpa, she would always say, “Only if you drive.”

All of the photos below are random family members, random years, and random occasions (The first two are blurry. I took a photograph of a recording of our family Christmas Eve’s ..the 1st is Grandpa talking to Jerry Miller..Grandma is far left..I think the other lady might be Mill Foster. The second is Grandpa with Stephanie Miller standing next to him.)