Kip and I arrived in California Saturday around 6 pm. We normally try to get to the RV park early enough to set up before dark, but we got a late start that morning. We are staying in the Pomona Fairgrounds KOA RV Park, which is between Los Angeles where my brother Billy lives and Ontario where our Stepfather, Gus Gustafson resides. Many of you Murdoites know Gus. He and Mom were married 38 years before she died in December of 2008. He is a special man and a very important part of our family.
We’ve had the added pleasure of a visit from cousin Valerie. That’s her lime green shoe in the picture. Val’s Mom, Ella and my Mom, Loretta were sisters and close friends. I wrote about their frequent phone conversations in “The Call Girls” blog. Valerie is a very special cousin and friend, and I love that she has joined in on the Murdo Girl fun. It was really a special honor for both of us to ride in the All School Reunion Parade last July.
Sitting in the red convertible with our gowns and crowns on, was incredible. Even as we get a little less young, and our memories get fuzzy, I know neither of us will ever forget that special day and all the fun we had throughout the week-end.
All that being said, I want to tell you about yesterday and another super great experience Val and I got to share.
Growing up in Murdo as part of the Sanderson family was an incredible experience. I always told people I was related to everyone south of 16. That was a pretty big stretch, but it doesn’t matter. M.E. and Mary Sanderson lived there as well as lots of Aunts, Uncles, cousins and friends. Our family shared some wonderful times and as most families do, created lasting traditions. It all revolved around Grandma and Grandpa. I can hardly see through tears as I think about what they brought to the lives of their kids and grandkids.
Many of those special times we spent together were recorded by Aunt Irma Sanderson’s 8 mm camera with the row of hot, bright lights. In 1990 our cousin Mark Sanderson put together snippets of her films and transferred them to a VHS tape. I brought my copy of that tape to Murdo with me. I also brought the tape he gave me of the 1991 All School Reunion Talent Show. I hadn’t had time to get them transferred to a DVD, but for some reason, I brought them anyway. I had them with me when Val and I met several people at the diner for breakfast one morning.
Ralph Thomas was there and he offered to find someone to transfer them.
Right before Kip and I left on this trip, I got several sets of DVD’s in the mail. Ralph had made it happen. Knowing I would be seeing Valerie, Gus and Bill, I brought them their copies. (Is this blow by blow or what?) Last night after filling up with pizza and Marie Callender’s chocolate pie, Kip, Gus, Valerie and I watched these treasures that spanned the years from 1957 to 1991.
Gus and Kip enjoyed them, but Valerie and I laughed, cried, jumped up and pointed as we named the people and places throughout. Our Grandpa and Grandma Sanderson’s 50th anniversary was celebrated with an open house in 1961. We watched most of the residents of Murdo come through their door, sign the guestbook, drink coffee and eat cake as they honored the anniversary and visited with each other. Many have been gone for years, but in a way it seemed like we just saw them yesterday. Everyone was dressed up. The ladies wore dresses and hats, and the men all had on suits and ties. We watched a separate celebration held a couple of months later when the Iowa relatives and the Haverberg and Leckey families could be there.
We watched a snippet of the Nemo Cabin and some of the family Christmas Eve celebrations, Easter Sundays and birthday parties.
Then..I saw it! I jumped up, screamed, and pointed, which scared everybody. Valerie saw it too. Finally, there was the proof. The undeniable, visual, recorded truth. The beginning of it all. The seed that grew into the stories of Murdo Girl. I thought I heard Kip groan. How rude. He knows how shy and unassuming I am. I have always been full of humility and rarely talk about myself. Oh, I might occasionally tell a story or two. After all, I am M.E. Sanderson’s granddaughter.
Are you ready for this?
First we saw my horse Governor. He was pulling a red wagon with a kid’s folding chair sitting in it. On that chair, dressed in her red Kitty Reynolds gown and wearing a tinfoil crown, was Murdo Girl. The Queen of the neighborhood parade. It was far too brief, but it was there right before our eyes. I will find a way to get a screen shot so we can all look at it over and over and over again.
I know you can’t wait!