Murdo Girl…Give me an M


I was going to spend my senior year of high school in California. The plan was for me to live with my Aunt Vava and  Uncle Bob and go to a high school near them. This wasn’t something that was decided for me. I was in full agreement of this plan. It was one of those things that sounded like a good idea, but the reality was something very different.

With Billy’s dog Toby..waiting for school to start in California

My Aunt took me school shopping. I hadn’t brought that many things with me, and the box of clothes Mom had packed and sent hadn’t arrived by the time school started. The Los Alamitos High School that I was attending had what they called an open classroom concept. I wasn’t quite sure what that was, but it sounded good to me.

It was around two miles from my Aunt and Uncle’s home to school. My Aunt dropped me off in the morning on her way to work, and I walked home. This arrangement lasted a whole two weeks.

My box of clothes that had finally arrived wasn’t even fully unpacked, when I panicked. The thought of not graduating from Murdo High School was literally gut wrenching. I called Dad. He had been the only one to oppose my plan. I begged him to let me come home. All I needed was $50 for a standby airline ticket to Rapid City and someone to come and get me. It was all arranged. Billy picked me up at our Aunt and Uncle’s house. It was a quiet ride to the airport.

I did feel guilty. I had let everyone down. A lot of planning had gone into trying to help me. My brother Billy was busy with his own life, but he knew how unhappy I had been at home, and I wasn’t making very good decisions. He only wanted to help his little sister.

Billy with our cousin Valerie

The commitment my Aunt and Uncle had been willing to make, was selfless, and  I knew I was being selfish. I realized I wasn’t willing to trade my school life for a calm and secure home life. I have no doubt, that if I’d stayed, I would have eventually made some friends and adjusted to life in California, but I didn’t do that. I wanted to go back to where I knew in my heart of hearts I belonged.


Well, I’m  back from California! Aunt Vava and Uncle Bob are wonderful people and it felt good to live in a house without chaos for a change, but the idea of spending my last year of high school anywhere but Murdo suddenly hit me hard. So now what? School started 3 weeks ago. As always, they had cheerleader tryouts in the spring. I was one of five girls voted in. As a matter of fact, this is the first year MHS has decided to have 5 cheerleaders instead of four like all the other years.

My cousin Stephanie, Vicki, Janet, and Doreen, have already ordered their uniforms, choreographed some cheers and the first football game is only a little over a week away.

I know it would be really unfair of me to ask if I could still be a cheerleader. I’m the one that left, and I’m just going to have to pay the price. I am going to be grateful. I will cheer the team on with all the other fans.


Some Sanderson Women and Girls Bottom right..Valerie and Andrea at the bicentennial

The best thing happened today. Stephanie called and said I better get over to her house, because we are going to have to expedite an order for my cheerleader uniform, and I have a lot of cheers to learn. We have a couple of games coming up, and Homecoming is just a few weeks away.

I know how grateful I should be. If Murdo hadn’t for some reason decided to have 5 cheerleaders in instead of 4, they would have already replaced me. As it was, when I left, they decided to go with 4 one more year.

The night of Coronation is here. Every single senior ready to go up on that stage is a person I greatly admire. Ron, Elaine, Vicki, Dick and Eddie, are all so deserving of the great honor of being Homecoming Royalty.

So, here we are in the coat room adjacent to the concession area and Mr. Thune is telling us what the outcome is. I can hardly think, but I can hear.

It’s all happening so fast. Mr. Thune is looking at all of us. He just said “Congratulations Mary and Eddie.”

I feel numb. There is a big problem. No tears.

 No tears? Every Homecoming Queen since Homecoming Kings and Queens became a part of Homecoming has cried, but I’m dry-eyed. I don’t know exactly what I’m going to say as I walk to the front of the stage. I hear my voice saying, “I almost missed all of this.”   Now, everyone is hugging us, and all I can think is, I really should cry. If I don’t, everyone will think it’s no big deal to me. But it’s a very big deal, and I still can’t cry.

Homecoming 1969

Okay, that part is over, the cheerleaders are going to the girl’s bathroom to change for the pep rally, burning of the M, and the snake dance…I still can’t bring on the tears.

The game is over! Our team won. Don Edwards who is one of our star players, got a bad blow to the head. Everyone thought he was okay until he kept asking which way we were going? Someone took him home. We did, however, beat the Falcons. It’s really good to be home.


 I guess I had been so emotional for so long there weren’t anymore tears for a while.

(I’m crying now, does that count?)

Just a couple of “Out Takes.”

When I got home from California, I discovered Mom had sold my saxophone. Mr. Palmer said I could use his tenor sax after homecoming. He wanted me to carry the big base drum when we practiced in the streets for the homecoming parade. I had no problem with the cadence, but I will never forget what he said on that last morning. “Well, everyone is in line with one noticeable exception.” I was wondering who that could be. As I peaked around the big base drum, I could see him looking at me. He was grinning. I looked around, and I was in fact, the only one going about 45 degrees off the mark.

The moral of this story is:

  1. If you can shoot, but you can’t dribble, you’re not so good.
  2. If you can shoot straight when you’re hunting, but you don’t know if you got the bird, you’re not so good.
  3. If you can beat the drum, but you can’t stay in line, you shouldn’t be in a homecoming parade.

Last, but not least. Even if you’re a Queen, you might still have problems.

Camilla told me to wear beige and stand in a corner

22 thoughts on “Murdo Girl…Give me an M

  1. Valerie Halla June 3, 2016 / 6:57 pm

    How exciting that you came back to Murdo and was able to be cheerleader and Homecoming Queen. (Bob and Vava were such great people! ) Every time we went past your California high school my Mom would say, “There’s Mary’s school!”


      • Valerie Halla June 3, 2016 / 8:20 pm

        All of the Sanderson women are that and hopefully I can learn from their examples. Loved them all.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. countrygirl57 June 3, 2016 / 7:50 pm

    Great story again! I don’t think I knew you were homecoming queen!! 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻❤️❤️❤️ Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

  3. lifelessons June 3, 2016 / 9:07 pm

    Have you ever regretted not staying in California? Doesn’t sound like it. It would have been hard to miss all the excitement of your Sr. year in a school where you were central to the action! Nice hairdo, Mary…


    • Mary Francis McNinch June 3, 2016 / 9:19 pm

      What’s really funny, is I went back to Ca the summer after graduation and worked. I tried, but California wasn’t for me

      Liked by 1 person

      • lifelessons June 3, 2016 / 9:22 pm

        But it is good to have the opportunity, so the choice is your own!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mary Francis McNinch June 3, 2016 / 10:09 pm

        I think we have to make really important decisions at such a young age. Sometime you’ll have to tell me about how you ended up settling in Mexico.


      • lifelessons June 3, 2016 / 10:13 pm

        We must make time for a long chat in Murdo. Where are you staying?


      • Mary Francis McNinch June 3, 2016 / 10:17 pm

        We’re bringing the RV..starting in Galveston over the 4th, SD, Minnesota,Indiana, NC, we’re towing my Jeep. Are you staying at Mark’s?


      • lifelessons June 3, 2016 / 10:52 pm

        No, wait. My niece won’t be there. We’re having a family reunion in Cheyenne a week and a half before the Murdo reunion and that is when she’ll be with us. Getting my reunions mixed up. Also having a College reunion in Denver while I’m there..Whole lotta reunions goin’ on!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mary Francis McNinch June 3, 2016 / 10:23 pm

        We’re bringing the RV. Starting in Galveston, SD, Indiana, Minnesota, and NC, we’re towing my Jeep. Are you staying at Marks?


      • lifelessons June 3, 2016 / 10:31 pm

        Yes. Where do you park your RV? At the Teepee? Or at a relative’s?


      • Mary Francis McNinch June 3, 2016 / 10:37 pm

        We’ve never parked it in Murdo. I better call tomorrow and reserve. The Teepee should be good don’t you think? Kip will probably stay with the dogs at the campground most of the time.


      • lifelessons June 3, 2016 / 10:50 pm

        Every man I’ve ever taken to a reunion did the same… with no dogs. Ha.


      • lifelessons June 3, 2016 / 10:55 pm

        Yes.. Teepee is close to school, restaurant, bar. But, guess everything is close to everything in Murdo.

        Liked by 1 person

      • lifelessons June 4, 2016 / 10:45 am

        As will you. We can write dueling blogs about the Murdo reunion! (Conspiratorial dueling, of course.)


      • lifelessons June 3, 2016 / 10:51 pm

        Yes, my sister Patti, niece Cindy and I will be at Mark’s.


  4. Mary Francis McNinch June 3, 2016 / 9:38 pm

    Yes..we have to make such important decisions at such a young age. You have done so much and traveled everywhere..sometime you’ll have to tell me about how you eventually settled in Mexico.


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