Murdo Girl…The Visit

Murdo Girl…The visit

Sanderson’s store is on the East side with the striped awning.

The day was overcast, the street almost empty, but then, it was early. Did I really want to do this, I thought? I was hesitant to walk through the door, but I wanted to see everything once more. It wasn’t even my own memories I was reliving, because there weren’t that many. It was mainly the generation before me that had occupied the rooms I was about to see for one last time.

When I finally opened the door, it was the scent of old wood I noticed first. The stairs seemed just as steep as when I was little, and there were a lot of them. I heard the sound of a little boy with his suitcase, climbing the stairs. As he struggled with each step, his suitcase banged the walls on either side of him.

The high voice could be heard, by the occupants of the rooms upstairs. “I get to stay all week-end,” he yelled!

He couldn’t hear the groans or see the rolling eyes, of the relatives he had come to visit. He assumed they would be as happy to see him, as he was to be there.

By the time I reached the top of the stairs, the image of the little boy, and the sounds he made, faded. I opened the door to the rooms in front of me. I saw a stout man, and fragile woman sitting at a table by the window. The man had his napkin tucked into the neck of his buttoned up shirt, in an effort to catch any spills. The little woman was fussing over the small dishes of leftovers she had placed on the table. She wore beads, and her hair looked like she had just been to the beauty shop.

M.E. and Mary Sanderson

Although none of the little saucers held fish, I could close my eyes and smell fish frying. The couple was talking, as they ate their meal, but I wasn’t listening. I was too busy observing. I had walked to the middle of the living room, which wasn’t quite as big as I had remembered. There was really no definitive separation between the living area and the dining room. Straight ahead, was a narrow opening to what I knew was a small kitchen.

As I stood in the kitchen doorway, I gazed out the window at the tar covered roof of the storage area below. I thought about how hot it got in the summertime. There was a door that led to the outside. My cousin and I went out there once to suntan of all things. We lasted about five minutes.

I turned to walk out into the hallway, and the strong scent of old wood came back. I looked in all the rooms. There was the room everyone called the “cat room,” and a room that had been used for storage.  I walked past another nicer bedroom that the couple I saw eating must have used. All these rooms were to my left. Next, was an old fashioned bathroom.

I came to the second living area. I walked through the door from the hallway into a bedroom, that adjoined a small living room. The living room had windows facing the street. I remembered all the furniture, including the piano that was against one of the walls. Next to the living room was another bedroom, and next to it, the kitchen, which also had a door that led to the hallway.

As I looked into the kitchen, I remembered a story I had heard. A young woman was making a chocolate cake, and visiting with her Mother. As she was getting to the end of mixing the cake, her Mother asked if it was time to put the chocolate in the batter. This aggitated the daughter, and she made it clear that she was the one making the cake. When she looked at the recipe, she discovered a slight breeze had ruffled the pages of her cookbook, and she was indeed making a white cake. I was told the conversation between Mother and Daughter had taken place in this kitchen.

I knew it was time for me to go back down the stairs. I looked into the large living area once more. This time, instead of the couple sharing a meal, I saw a tall, and sturdy, older woman. She was packing her things. It was obvious she was ever so slowly, preparing to move. She had a sad look on her face. She had spent many days and nights in the store below, and in these rooms above it.

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Tet Sanderson (center) back in Iowa with brother Sandy and sister Malitha

As I started down the stairs, I heard voices coming from the other living quarters. It was a young girl, talking with her parents. She was upset, because she didn’t want to leave.

There were many family gatherings within these walls, before I was even born. I knew those times must have been so very special.

I slowly walked back down the stairs. It would be awhile before the building would be torn down, but no one would be living at the top of the stairs ever again.

Don’t be sad, I told myself. I can always make these rooms come alive again, and nothing will have changed. After all, it’s been decades since I visited above Sanderson’s Store, yet I just spent an hour within those familiar walls.


Murdo Girl…Lilly Dale’s house


My name is Lilly Dale and I’ve come to see this house. I wanted to see if what mamma said was right. She said, “Don’t waste too much time chasing dirt around yur house. It will still be standin long after yur dead and buried.” I guess she was right cause we buried mamma five years ago and this old house is still standin.

My mamma was born and raised here. In fact, she lived inside those broken down walls most all her life. I was born here too. I lived with my mamma and granny till granny died. Mamma got too sickly to take care of herself let alone a little kid, but we managed til her lungs got so bad she had to go to a sanatorium in Colorado. I got sent to live with the man mamma said was my daddy. He must a been, otherwise I doubt he would have been agreeable to that arrangement.

I’m 15 now. School got out for the summer two days ago and instead of going home, I took a bus here. Mr. Jim doesn’t know I come here. I call him Mr. Jim. It just don’t feel right to call him Daddy. He don’t like my name Lilly Dale either. “Why would yur mamma give you a pretty woman’s name and a 2nd name of Dale?” When he does use my name, he calls me Lil, which I don’t like.

You see that window that’s got cardboard over it? It’s been like that for as long as I can remember. Granny said some mean boys threw rocks at it til it busted. She didn’t see no reason to fix it cause she didn’t enjoy looking out that window anyway.

Mamma said the house was kinda pretty once. I think she was dreamin that don’t you? She said they had good times here when her daddy was still alive. He kept things up. You know..fixed things when they broke down. I don’t know about that. I never saw this house with a lick of paint on it, inside or out.

No, It’s been a long time since anybody chased dirt around this house, but I guess it did what it was supposed to. It was a roof over people’s heads. We always stayed warm and had food to eat. That’s better than some have it.

Now that I look at it..That front window might a been kinda pretty once. If a person ever lives here again, they should tear the old lean-to that’s hanging off the side door down. It’s nothin but a place for rats and snakes to live under.

Well, I’m guessin it’s time for me to catch the bus back home. I just wanted to make sure mamma was right. The other thing she always said was, “Lilly Dale, you gotta put up with trash to rise above it.” I’m not exactly sure what that means, but I think I gotta go to school til I get my certificate. Mamma sure did want her daughter to get educated.

“Goodbye house. You did what you was supposed to do, now that’s what I’m gonna do too!”






Murdo Girl…Oh what a collection

I have received a number of water tower photos in the last several weeks. You are all getting so good at spotting the great ones, and I appreciate your taking the time to photograph them. Of the many recent submissions I have received, these are a few of my favorites. They are now on display at my Water Tower Studio.



Hernando Beach, Florida…submitted by Kerri Venard

The first thought I had when I looked at this tower on the beach was.. sun on the head makes for early balding, no matter how much water you hold. This guy has a rather wide-toothed comb by his side for windy days. Wind and comb-overs aren’t a good combination, and I’m sure it’s hard to use much hair product when you’re a Beached Water Tower. Kerri tells me this is close to where Sherry Dykema Phillips lives and Weeki Watchi…Nice!

Thanks for this marvelous addition to the collection Kerri.



Quinlan, Texas……submitted by Lewis Williams

I did something a little different with the photos Lewis sent me. I wanted you all to see how I saw the majesty of the first picture of the tower. It almost looks like a burst of sunlight showed up just as the photographer snapped the shot. The sad thing is that if this would have been in Quitman, Texas instead of Quinlan, it would have been the home of the famous actress Sissy Spacek. She starred in The Coal Miner’s Daughter and The Help. It’s amazing how two little letters can change the whole dynamics of a water tower. Now you get why I showed both photos. I still love that first picture with nothing but blue sky and sun reflecting on the tower….Great work Lewis!


1-Colome tower-001

Colome, SD….Submitted by Dianna Kenobbie Diehm

Cowboys, Cowgirls, and Colome, hence the name Triple C of Green. You can C Cowboys written down the side of the metal stabilizer post. Cowgirls can be ceen on the other post. Very good Dianna!!

1-2 Colome





Mitchell, South Dakota…submitted by Kerri Venard.

This Water Tower is near and dear to my heart which is why I named it after an important event in my Mother’s life. Yes..Once upon a time Loretta Sanderson was voted Miss Highway 16, and was honored with a trip to the Corn Palace.

She was indeed, a Highway Queen. I believe she was the first Queen in our family, but as we all know,…not the last.


Sadly, Highway 16 fell on hard times when I 90 went around Murdo. Mom would say, “I was Miss Highway 16!” People would say, “You were the Queen in 1916? You must have had more repairs than the Highway! You look Great!”

What a thoughtful thing to do Kerri. Thanks for the memories.



London England…Submitted by Queen E.

Queen E. was getting a little put out when she realized I hadn’t entered her water tower. I’m doing this just to humor her because she has not documented that she actually took this picture, many WT’s have you seen with windows all over? “Where’s the Water Queen E?”



Lackland, TX…submitted by Lewis Williams

I was going to name this Tower “Trail of Vapor,” until I noticed the For Sale sign. Lewis, am I right? Is this at Lackland AFB? I will turn this entry into a plea to save the Tower. Water Tower lovers everywhere..Please Help Us. We will meet in San Antonio in a week or two to organize a protest. I sure hope they haven’t started making waterless water towers like they have waterless water heaters. I don’t understand how they do that.


This is a late entry..It came to me anonymously..Yup! This is a waterless tower. What will they think of next?

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A little preview of more to come…Very Exciting

Remember…You can live without Gold, but you can’t live without water.

Murdo Girl…A special thank you


It was a wonderful Easter in Beasterhop Land, and Mr. Beasterhop and I want to thank everyone who spoke an encouraging word, read my words, spread the word, expressed loving words, sang and danced the words, and otherwise promoted my desire to get the Beasterhop story out to as many young readers as possible.


The story was inspired by a favorite childhood memory, and it was a labor of love to write about the character I made up when I was just a little girl. Many times throughout the years my family talked about the Beasterhop, and how I had imagined him. He was a rabbit that rode on a bicycle, and now he has come to life in a big way.

I decided to write the story in the same rhyming cadence as the Mother Goose nursery rhymes I loved so much. The Beasterhop has a family, and works very hard to feed all of the bunny mouths, but he also tries to teach his children the things they need to know to grow up happy and healthy.

The child in the story talks to the father about things that concern all children. Together, they watch the Beasterhop model what a good parent child relationship might look like, and learn ways to communicate their own feelings to each other.

There will be more Beasterhop stories as the the characters all grow and learn from each other. Through their stories children and parents will also see how important it is for families to play together, as well as look out for one another.

A special thank you to my brother, Billy Francis for suggesting I write the story. I also want to thank Pat Davis for reading it first, and loving it. She supplied all the bunnies I took pictures of to illustrate the Beasterhop family. Thank you to Bradyn Burelsmith for drawing the very likeness of the Beasterhop I imagined as a youngster.

Some very special friends and family members topped it all off by planning and executing the Book Signing. I’m really grateful to all of you. Thanks to my husband Kip, who was as excited as I was to see the finished product.

My hope is that my grandchildren, as well as yours, one day read the Beasterhop stories to their children and the books become as worn as my old Mother Goose book.

If you haven’t purchased a book, or want to tell others about it, you can find it on amazon under my name or the name of the book, “We Shall See what We Shall See,” by Mary Francis McNinch.

We Shall See what We Shall See

Just close your eyes and it will be.

We never have to be without the love of God within. My love for you fills up my heart much more than ten times ten.

Murdo Girl…Shall we dance? (Or should we just take Geritol?)

Rerun..with a twist

Murdo Girl

Yes..My friends, another rerun. I got back from seeing the Wyoming family last night. Today I worked at our Church garage sale. I am a vital part of this yearly event. I was there working ALL DAY. I will be there bright and early tomorrow to give it all I’ve got, then I will probably rest for a few days.

I didn’t really take that many breaks. I’m still recovering from a day of bowling with the Wyoming kids. Apparently, one has to be in good shape to bowl. I hurt everywhere.


The Early Days

It’s not easy being an unappreciated star. Natalie Wood was discovered in a drugstore/soda fountain just like Mowell’s Murdo Drugs. The little Murdo Girl just needs to find her stage. In a way, she reminds me of Lucille Ball in,” I Love Lucy.” The desire is there, but the talent?…Not so much. (Remember Cleopatra?)

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Murdo Girl…Queens without crowns

This is a rerun of a story about a weighty problem Queen Lav and I were faced with a couple of years ago. (I have updated it a little.) I think we’re still in the royalty ratings somewhere between Elsa and one of Queen E’s Corgis.

I’ve been thinking. Something has been gnawing at me. It was pretty subtle at first, but now the insidious thought can’t be denied.

Without even realizing it, I have been wearing my Queen T shirts. Today I have on the shirt that says, “All queens are born in December.” Am I supposed to just wear that on my birthday?

People have started to call me Mary instead of Murdo Girl or MG. It makes me sad. Do you think this all happened because I’ve been wearing bunny ears a lot? Maybe I can’t have it both ways.

This picture was taken during better times.


I suppose Val, I mean Lav is feeling the same way. Although, since she broke her $60 crown, she’s been wearing those cheap knockoffs. She doesn’t care as long as the package says you have to be over 3. It really lowers the bar, but then so do tinfoil crowns and bunny ears.
Looks like Lav is brainstorming again.

When was the last time you saw Queen E in the news? It’s a rare day that William and Kate aren’t caught in some priceless pic. One day Prince George had a cold. I saw his nose being touched by a tissue from 8 different angles.

Yes, dog, we’ve been cast aside.

Oh well. I guess I could start a support group for Queens without crowns. I’m sure there must be more of us out there suffering this blow to our heads.

If we don’t do something soon, I fear for our children’s future. I can’t begin to imagine a life without crowns.

Rise up you royal highnesses, and fight back. (But sell your Disney stock..just in case all those princesses don’t make it to the silver screen again.)

Queens Without Crowns

Meeting: 4:3o Tuesday night

Where: The Brick House

Discussion: Ways to wear your hair without the adornment of a crown. The featured speaker will be the former Princess Fergie. She’s bringing Beatrice something. Royalty doesn’t have real last names you know. It all started with Cher.

This is Fergie’s daughter Beatrice over compensating again.