Murdo Girl… My humble beginnings

When I first started writing the stories about growing up in Murdo, SD, I wrote about the neighborhood parades we put on south of what is now the old hwy 16. All of the local grandchildren of M.E. and Mary Sanderson lived there except me. We always considered the Bork kids cousins too. They’re Mark and Jeff H. Sanderson’s cousins on Aunt Irma’s side, and the rest of us are cousins on Uncle Jeff’s side. Allen and Darline Miller were shirttail cousins too. I had to walk a little ways, but I spent all of my playtime south of 16 because fun things were always going on there.

At the time I wrote the story, I didn’t have any pictures of the “parade event” to go with it. No one took many pictures back then. You had to get them developed and that cost money. I am so grateful Aunt Irma recorded so many wonderful memories with her 8mm camera. She made it possible for us to have another glimpse of those magical times all these years later.

I recently ran across two VHS tapes my cousin Mark Sanderson had given me over 25 years ago. I took them to the Murdo Reunion last summer, thinking someone might want to watch them. Ralph Thomas was kind enough to take them home and find someone to convert them to DVD’s. They had already been converted from 8mm to VHS format. That combined with my need for still shots, made it impossible to put clear pictures on the blog. I hope you can envision some of the parade and imagine all the fun we had that day.



We’re going to have another 4th of July parade this year. Mark has a horse named Prince, and the Borks have a big horse named Rex. I have a Shetland pony named Governor or Guv for short. I was so excited the day Dad and Swede drove up with a pony for me in the back of a truck. I love that horse even though he’s stubborn.

The parade is really fun. We take a rope and tie one end on to Governor’s saddle and tie the other end to a red wagon with a chair in it. I wear my red gown that Kitty Reynolds made for me. I also wear a crown made out of tinfoil, because I’m the queen of the parade. I ride in the chair while one of the other kids rides my horse and pulls me in the wagon. We decorate Prince and Rex because they don’t like to pull a wagon. All of the other kids dress up in red, white, and blue, then we march up and down all of the streets south of 16. People seem to like it. They would probably like it better if we had candy to throw to them, but we can’t afford it.

Getting ready behind Aunt Irma and Uncle Jeff’s house we have Mark Sanderson’s horse Prince, and Suzanne Bork is riding Rex.

I don’t know who the taller majorette is in the above pictures, but I think the little girl is Stephanie Miller. The 3rd shot is my horse Governor. I think that’s Mark riding him.

Drum roll please!

 Are you ready? Here she comes! Queen of the parade in her Kitty Reynolds red formal and her tinfoil crown. 

The “south of 16” cousins and friends organized many more parades along with carnivals, Olympic games, and Miss America Pageants. That is.. when they weren’t enjoying playhouse fun, rubber gun fun, and crawdad massacres.


And this my friends is where it all began…On a warm summer day in Murdo, SD, south of 16, the little girl with the tinfoil crown went on to be the first self-appointed Murdo Girl. I would like to thank all of my cousins for reminding me of my humble beginnings, and all of you Murdo Girl readers for allowing me to fulfill what I was destined to do.

(A special thanks to my cousin Valerie Leckey, who joined me as Queen E. at the 2016 Murdo All School Reunion. Yes, I have humbly shared my Queenship, but nobody, but NOBODY, gets to be the self-appointed Murdo Girl, but the girl in the tinfoil crown and the Kitty Reynolds red gown.)

the parade

23 thoughts on “Murdo Girl… My humble beginnings

  1. scoper07 December 9, 2016 / 8:55 pm

    How nice you were able to find the film Murdo Girl. Yes Shetlands can be stubborn. I used to ride one named Smokey on Bork’s ranch. When they dropped off Smokey on the ranch, I spent a couple of weeks getting to know him in the correl. When it came time to put the saddle on him I was the only one he would let do it. So I know a little about Shetlands. I didn’t get to ride him in any parade, but I rode him all over the plaIns in Jones County. Fun times weren’t they Murdo Girl?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mary Francis McNinch December 9, 2016 / 9:05 pm

      Rex was at the ranch too wasn’t he? I don’t remember who he belonged to, but Prince and Rex are the only horses I remember them bringing to town in the summer. 50 years tends to cloud memories 07. I’m not the best reference point.

      Liked by 1 person

      • scoper07 December 9, 2016 / 9:15 pm

        Rex belonged to Doc. My mind is clouded too. I recall a horse named Prince being there but I seemed to remember him black and white. He is brown and white in the picture. There were also two thoroughbreds out there. One named Sandy that dad rode and on named Red that Brad Bork rode. Doc rode Rex.

        Smokey was brought out later than 59. Probably around 64 or so.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. countrygirl57 December 9, 2016 / 9:35 pm

    Great story! Love the pictures and am amazed that you were able to convert them. Good job, MG❤️️❤️❤️️ Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

  3. sanjuan831 December 9, 2016 / 10:14 pm

    Fabulous memories and pictures. Humble beginnings is a good title. And how beautiful an experience for you to ride in a parade again last July with Murdo cheering you on in your red gown and tinfoil crown, reliving 50 years ago as only a true Murdo Girl can. Thanks for the sweet complement at the end, dear cuz!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mary Francis McNinch December 9, 2016 / 11:03 pm

      All that being said, you have no idea how much it means to me that we are cousins and friends. We have had so much fun together and stay tuned for more..Love you lots..

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Karen Snider December 9, 2016 / 10:54 pm

    Enjoying the stories

    Liked by 1 person

  5. lifelessons December 9, 2016 / 11:00 pm

    So disappointed I didn’t see the movies at the reunion. Did you tell me you had them? Did you ever show them to anyone?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mary Francis McNinch December 9, 2016 / 11:17 pm

      They were still in VHS..I will get you a dvd copy, but if I mail it, you won’t get it in my lifetime..let me know where to send it. If you look at our Thomas breakfast pic, you will see the 2 VHS tapes sitting on the table. Ralph took them without my knowing it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • lifelessons December 9, 2016 / 11:24 pm

        If you can send it to my friend in CA, she is coming down here on Dec. 21. Is that possible? I’ll email you her address. I’d love to have them!!!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mary Francis McNinch December 9, 2016 / 11:30 pm

        I’ll check it out tomorrow. If I can’t get a copy that soon, I will send mine and see if Ralph can get me another cooy. Give me the address. I will get it to there.

        Liked by 1 person

      • lifelessons December 9, 2016 / 11:33 pm

        Just emailed it to you, but don’t give me yours! I’m afraid you’ll never get another. you should be able to put it on your computer and just email it to me. How big is it???

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mary Francis McNinch December 9, 2016 / 11:45 pm

        I don’t know how big. There are 2. I’ll try to email them tomorrow. Good idea!


    • sanjuan831 December 10, 2016 / 10:25 am

      Judy- we should come visit you sometime, if you could put up with us and put us up.


      • lifelessons December 10, 2016 / 12:09 pm

        I agree. I already invited Mary and told her to bring you along. I’ll be at the beach until April, but any time after that…


  6. sanjuan831 December 10, 2016 / 10:28 am

    Who is the lady in the first picture where Mark is on Prince? She is holding a white purse or bag.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mary Francis McNinch December 10, 2016 / 10:32 am

      I’ve been wondering that too. I’m trying to locate a VCR to see if the VHS tapes are better. My guess is she’s someone from the newspaper.

      Liked by 1 person

      • sanjuan831 December 10, 2016 / 11:00 am

        Thanks! Keep me posted if you find out who she is/was.


  7. Mari Jackson December 10, 2016 / 4:03 pm

    What wonderful fun you had, Murdo Girl! Life back then was innocent and full of great “adventures”! As always, I know all of us enjoy hearing of your escapades in Murdo, thank you for sharing your piece of Americana!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Mary Francis McNinch December 11, 2016 / 12:24 pm

    Thanks so much Mari. The older I get, the more precious those memories are to me.


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