Murdo Girl…Past meets present

I hope you enjoy this rerun. I’m working on a project and time got away from me.

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The year is 1961. Its the summer before the little Murdo Girl starts the fourth grade. Her brother Billy is working in California for the summer, but he will be back in the fall to begin his Senior year of high school.

The little Murdo Girl is straddled on a barrel that hangs between two trees on the lot between her Grandparent’s house and her Aunt and Uncle’s home where her cousin Mark lives. It’s early morning and while she’s waiting for the neighborhood kids to get there, she’s thinking about all the things they will do today. School just got out yesterday and this is the first day of summer vacation. Her thoughts are interrupted by the sound of a car pulling into her Grandpa’s driveway. The car doesn’t look like any car she’s seen before. It reminds her of her Uncle’s Jeep, but it’s a sparkly gray color and the tires are a lot different.

While she’s watching, a woman and a little girl get out of the Jeep- like car. The woman is walking toward the house. The little girl is walking toward Murdo Girl. It appears that the girls are about the same age.

MG is the first to speak: Hi…Did you and your Mom come to visit Grandpa and Grandma Sanderson?

Mary as Murdo Girl

The other little girl: Yes, my Mom just wanted to drop off a few things, but then we’re going swimming. What’s your name?

MG: My name is Mary, but people call me MG. What’s yours?

Other girl: My name is Yram. I don’t live here. I live in Texas. Mom used to live here and she thought it would be good for me if we came for a visit. Are you all by yourself here?

Olivia playing Yram

MG: Yeah, but I’m just waiting for all the kids to get here so we can play. I hope we play tag first.

Yram: Don’t you mean hashtag? You must tweet.

MG looking somewhat bewildered: No..We play tag. You know, one person is it. They hide their eyes and count backwards while everyone else runs and hides. When the time is up, the “it” kid looks for everyone else. When”it” finds another kid, and gets close enough to hit them, that kid is “it” and it starts over. It’s really fun!

I pat…..I pat…..I sorta pat……She hits

MG: I’m going to walk across the street to Suzanne and Cynthia’s house. They probably slept late or they have to do some chores first.

We hit…We pat the pony…We used to hit, but we don’t anymore

Yram: Why don’t you just text them? I don’t want to stay here alone, and I don’t want to go inside. Mom said they just have a black and white TV and no Internet.

MG: You talk kind of funny. Is that because you live in Texas? Grandpa Sanderson has lots of nets, so I’m sure he has an internet.  I don’t go near a textbook in the summer, and I only read books when it’s raining, or when it’s dark and I have to go inside. Rats, I forgot to bring my dress-up clothes.

I’m the Queen. I don’t get it..Am I supposed to be in this story? I don’t hit..much

Yram: RATS? DID YOU SEE A RAT? Why are you going to dress up?

MG: What? What’s wrong with you? You’re talking like you’re crazy. Are you plumb loco? I’ll see you later. MG starts to walk across the street.

Who is that girl?
I’m Grandma Sanderson. You’ll find out soon enough kids

Yram: Wait MG. I don’t want to stay here by myself, but if I’m going to stay outside, I have to put on sunscreen so I don’t get skin cancer. Do you know what time it is? I left my cell in the car and it’s locked. You shouldn’t call people crazy, that could hurt my ego and I’ll have to have therapy when I grow up.

MG: I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m trying really hard to understand your Texas language, but you are really a nervous Gertie Yram. If I waited for you to do all that, I would never get to play today. Guess you don’t want to hear about the rubber guns. They only hurt if someone accidentally hits you in the face. Besides that, I thought you said you were going to the swimming dam. We’re all going tomorrow with Pink Sandy. Maybe you can come and bring your internet and catch some minnows. As far as a cell goes, you’d have to do something pretty bad to get thrown in a cell here, and if you did, you wouldn’t have to worry too much about what time it is. And another thing, I think you are trying to bluff me, because there is no such thing as a locked car door, and you can’t catch cancer from the sun so you don’t have to put a screen over yourself.

I fish and hope the fish hit

Yram: I think I will go inside and lay down, because I really hope I’m sleeping. Yes, that’s it! I’m asleep and there is no such place as Murdo, where kids run and hit each other and think it’s fun. They have Rats and stay outside without wearing sunscreen. They sit on a barrel hanging from the trees without any supervision. I was cursed at just because I said I was going to the pool. Yes… I’ll lay down and wait to wake up from this nightmare. Bye MG. If I ever see you again, don’t talk to me.

MG: Frankly Yram. I don’t give a hoot!

Hit? Let me get back to you. I never have before, but this is making me think about it.


You should see the other guy



Murdo Girl…A Murdo Blowout!

(This is a rerun, but it made me laugh, so here we go again.)

I promised a party and I always keep my promises, so let’s have some fun!

What: A Good Time in Murdo

When: Wednesday

Where: In the Harold Thune Auditorium on the Jerald Applebee floor


I’m Murdo Girl and Billy’s Mom and I’m proud as punch

There will be so many children’s activities, the little ones will run Mom and Dad absolutely ragged. To name a few, there’ll be piggy back rides, on the backs of the basketball team, bobbing for lemons in a tub full of free water donated by Murdo Wall Drug, and lemons from Sanderson’s store.  We’ll have pin the tail on the Coyote, and the Queen has offered to be in charge of the pony rides in the parking lot.

We know that the little darlings can get away from you sometimes, so Deputy Fife has set up a “Nip it in the Bud” stand where you can go and holler for your kid on the megaphone. He will also be lurking around incognito. That way if he spots trouble brewing, he can nip it in the bud. Murdo Girl will be assisting him when needed.

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For adult entertainment, there will be a twist off. This is for men and women under 40. The older people should not participate. It’s hard on your core to twist like that. For the geriatric crowd, there will be a place reserved in the SW corner of the auditorium where you are welcome to dance the tango if you’d like. Hopefully, it will be one of your good days. A single plastic rose will be provided for as long as the supply lasts. Some like to hold a flower in their teeth when they dance. One rose per couple please. Unless you can twist and tango to patriotic music, you’ll have to wait until the glee club is finished and the band starts to play.


                                                              Under 40 welcome

I borrowed these photos from Judy Dykstra Brown’s blog, Lifelessons. I’ll give them back Judy.

We are committed to using every square inch of space in the auditorium. As previously mentioned, The girls glee club will be on the stage. They will be singing a series of patriotic songs. You won’t be able to see their performance because the curtain will be closed. We decided that we wanted the singing to be subtle and kind of drifting in the air. Having the curtains closed will promote the atmosphere we’re shooting for.


Speaking of shooting..When the glee club takes a break, there will be a shoot the basketball contest. You have to shoot from the free throw line. Five out of five baskets will get you a prize. It will most likely be a lemon meringue pie from Mack’s Cafe. Four out of five gets you a box of Millionaire candy from The Murdo Wall Drug Store. Ever since all the Wall Drug signs were moved to direct the tourists to Murdo, the store has become pretty flush and they wish to share their wealth.

These boys will be on hand to sign autographs.

 In the girl’s locker room, Madame Queen will be telling your fortunes. She recently obtained a Certificate in Fortune Telling from the School of Mediums in New Underwood. I’ve heard she’s extremely accurate. She will tell you anything you want to know without even asking any questions. Consult Madame Queen on love, marriage, wills, and power’s of attorney. She will succeed where others have failed. She will even review your blood work if you want her to. Your reading will be private and confidential. A line will be formed at the top of the stairs, by the back door. If we have to, we’ll even rope off an area so people don’t try to cut in.

I thought I was in charge of pony rides, William…

The mega talented Photographic drawer, Sherri Miller will be in the boy’s locker room where for a nominal fee, she will draw your photograph. If you’d like, you can contact her early and show her what colors you’ll be wearing. That way, she can pick up the pencil that most closely matches your outfit, at the Gambles Store on the way over.

Has the Queen seen how you drew her Sherri?


A few housekeeping matters

A: Just to avoid confusion, males and females will be allowed in both locker rooms for this event.

B: Parking will be tight, so walk if you’re able. Some of you live real close.

Now…Have yourself a ball!!

Murdo Girl…Yram and Crazy Horse

Hi! This is Yram Sicnarf. I’m filling in for Murdo Girl for a few days. She’s resting. You probably don’t realize this, but I’m quite a bit younger than Murdo Girl. I reside in Texas near Gun Barrel City, where our motto is, “We Shoot Straight.” I’m a traveling crack-up reporter.

I just got to Rapid City. I’m going to the Crazy Horse Monument this morning. I snagged an interview with Crazy Horse, himself. This interview was hard to get, but it will put another feather in my cap, and an arrow in my quill.

The Crazy Horse Monument is far away from the Harold Thune auditorium and the Jerrald Applebee floor, so how much trouble can I get into, right? Can you see Crazy Horse putting a restraining order on me? I don’t even like to ride horses.


We are back at the Crazy Horse Monument where Yram Sicnarf will soon be interviewing Crazy Horse. You know how when the politicians speak, they always have a bunch of people standing behind them? It makes for a good camera shot, so Sherri and Kodak are going to shoot and record the whole thing.



wp-1501257292032.pngYram: Good morning all! We are waiting for Crazy Horse to arrive. He is a busy man you know and he travels everywhere on his crazy horse. Oh there he is! I’ll try to get his attention. “YEOEOEOEOEYO!!” I think he heard me.

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Yram: Hello Mr. Crazy Horse…Pleased to make your acquaintance. I have read your dossier, so I know everything there is to know about you. Are you new in town?

Crazy Horse: I’ve been through here a couple of times many winters ago. I remember it was cold.

Yram: It says here you are a leader. That’s pretty vague. In what kind of work are you a leader?

Crazy Horse: Well, I’m retired now, but I used to put colorful paint all over my face, then go and scare the Cavalry. It was fun, but it didn’t pay much.

Yram:  If you’re retired, why haven’t you completed your statue…arthritis?

Crazy Horse: Something like that. What is there to do around here?

Yram: Well Mr. Crazy Horse. Do you mind if I call you Crazy? Have you been to Custer State Park?

Crazy Horse: You’re joking, right?

Yram: Not a park person?

Crazy Horse: A very great vision is needed, and the man who has it must follow it as the eagle seeks the deepest blue of the sky.

Yram: Just the other day, I was talking to my girlfriend and I said that same thing. I can really relate. Where are you going from here?

Crazy Horse: I’m going to Murdo. Have you ever been there?

Yram: Yes…but not within 300 yards. They don’t want me close to the football games.

Crazy Horse: I can relate.

Yram: So would you mind having your picture taken with me Mr. Horse?

Crazy Horse: That’s my horse’s name. You can call me Crazy. I don’t like having my picture taken.

I thought that was one of my better interviews, and being the tenacious crack up reporter I am, I managed to get that picture.



So the sun sets on another western South Dakota day. I wonder what foolhardy thing tomorrow will bring? How about Mt. Rushmore? That would keep her busy for a while. 

Mr. President Washington, is it true you have wooden teeth? Are they hard to floss?




Murdo Girl…Nothing in particular

I think I’ll just muse a little bit tonight. I’ve been in Tyler with Kip all day, and now it’s almost eight o’clock and my brain isn’t working with me here.

Has anyone ever said to you…”You are wearing me out?” Needy people can wear you out. Troubled kids can wear you out, demanding employers can be added to the list. I discovered something about myself today. I wear myself out. It’s not that easy keeping up with me and all the things I want to do, while avoiding the things I have to do, like wash clothes and clean house.

It hit me hard today. I walked into this outpatient heart clinic where Kip was scheduled for a treadmill test and a nuclear heart scan that we were told would take 2-3 hours. The clinic has a huge waiting area. I struggled to a chair with my purse, Yeti cup, my book, my hotspot, (which didn’t work in there), my tablet and a power cord. It was all futile, because I couldn’t get service of any kind in the building. I had to sit there without being able to accomplish anything.

First, I ate the peanut butter crackers that we brought for Kip’s snack. They told him not to eat until after the test, but in the middle of everything, he could have a light snack. Thankfully, there was a Dollar General close to the clinic, so I could get more crackers before he came out for his snack.

Then I decided to read my book. The one I wrote. I started it last night and I’m almost finished. I discovered that I have some questions for the author. I wrote them down so I wouldn’t forget to ask her to clear some things up for me. Maybe by the time I get to the end, all of my questions will be answered.. I sure hope so.

Kip actually finished up early. He passed the stress test with flying colors, but has to wait for the doctor to get with him on the heart scan. Don’t be alarmed, the doc is mainly trying to rule things out. I have my own diagnosis, but I won’t offer it unless I’m asked, which won’t happen.

Anyway, I had noticed a GW store as we came into town, and when Kip said he wanted to wash his pickup, I asked him to drop me off, and when he was finished, come back and get me. The place was huge and I didn’t have enough time, but I did manage to spend $1.79 plus tax. I have no place to put another thing in this house, but these are both little. I really need my daughter-in-law. Amy, to come and organize my house and me. That’s what she does in her spare time when she isn’t being a nurse and taking care of two active boys, and my son. I know she will make me get rid of things. I have never before been a collector, but I’m afraid I’m now pretty close to becoming a hoarder.

I plan to eventually put a grand baby’s picture in this darling frame.
Just in case I ever need the juice of one lemon, (A small one.)

I almost had a garage sale last week, but Kip said it was too hot and he was right.

It’s almost nine o’clock now and I haven’t got my second wind, so I guess I’m going to have to go with this. I know I will regret it in the morning.

Here’s the definition.

Wearing me out

An expression used to illustrate the fact that something or someone is either:
1) annoying you to the brink of emotional breakdown,
2) is testing your physical, mental or emotional fortitude, or
3) just plain ticking you off.
Yup…It has a place in my vocabulary along with, “Would you please be quiet? I’m tired of talking over you.”
I think I’ve figured out why I was slow to think of a “road trip gang” episode. They were at Crazy Horse yesterday, and they’re planning to see Mount Rushmore, Sylvan Lake, and all of that beautiful country. I spent so much time there when I was writing Dakota’s story, I’d kind of like to go someplace else. How about the Corn Palace?
This should be the Corn Palace WT, but I found it while looking for things to do in Kadoka
I you have anyplace you would like to go, let me know. We can go anywhere we want to. We just have to make sure the Cowboy and the Phantom Wrangler keep up with us.

Don’t worry Phantom and Cowboy fans. There’s more to their story.


So, as the sun sets on another beautiful western South Dakota evening, the Road Gang is spending the night at Grandpa Sanderson’s Nemo cabin. Tomorrow, they will play in the creek.

Oh no, I forgot to stop and pick up Deb. Do you know how to get to Nemo Deb?

deb 4

Murdo Girl…Hit the book or hit the road

The next afternoon right after supper, I was in my room reading a book when Pearl yelled for me to answer the door. I walked out of my room and into the hallway. I could see the person standing outside the kitchen door. It was Warren and I could tell right away something was really wrong.

“Come on in, Warren,” I said. He looked like I must have looked the night my grandma brought me ice chips to suck on. I had wanted my mom to be the only one to bring me ice chips when I felt sick all over. I wanted my mom to be the only one who knew what I needed.

“What is wrong Warren?” I shoved him into Pearl’s kitchen and shut the door behind us. I didn’t know if I should badger him, or give him a few minutes to settle down. I decided to badger him.

“Come on, Warren, I couldn’t wait for you to get home, but something bad has happened, hasn’t it? Please tell me, Warren. You’re scaring me!”

Warren walked over and sat at the kitchen table, so I did too. I was familiar with what I saw when I looked at his face. Not because I had seen him like that…I hadn’t. I had seen the same expression in the mirror. Not since the months after my parents died, had I seen such a tortured expression. Only this time, it was on my best friend.

“Warren,” I pleaded, “You have to tell me what has happened.” My mind was going crazy. I was afraid to hear his answer. I was afraid for him. He looked at me and shook his head as if he could read my mind. I took a deep breath and waited.

I had to do something, so I got up and poured him a glass of cold water. It wasn’t ice chips, but it was my way of trying to help him feel better. I could barely hear Warren when he spoke.

“Nobody died, Hope, and nobody is sick. Well, that isn’t exactly true, I guess. Nothing is ever going to be the same, and there’s nothing I can do about it. I had to get out of my house, and away from my mom and dad. I’m sure they’ll figure out I came here.”

“I saw your mom yesterday,” I said. “She didn’t act like herself. Does that have anything to do with what has you so upset?”


I don’t have a new post for you tonight, so I decided to give you another excerpt from my new book, “Connie’s Story.” I have continued to tweak it this past week. I haven’t changed the story, just added a comma or changed Mom to mom, or mom to Mom. The last change I made was 10:00 o’clock to ten o’clock. I know some of you won’t benefit from my tweaks, because you already have the first edition. Hopefully, your book will be worth a lot of money once I become famous. The only thing I couldn’t fix was the spacing between words. I decided it looked better with the inside and outside even, but in order to do that, they have to add extra spaces. The issue would have been somewhat resolved if I had used smaller print, but I couldn’t change that after it was published. I will “justify” this paragraph so you will know what I mean when you write your tell all. You can learn from my experience…if you want to.

The book is on Amazon. You can find it under, Connie’s Story, or Mary Francis McNinch. It’s on sale until August 1st. Then it will be bumped up to $12.00 or I will have to pay Amazon.

Next on the agenda will be a daily blog about our trip beginning August 7th when we head for Wyoming for Kip’s high school reunion. Until then I will continue to travel with the multi-talented on the road gang. We seem to be increasing in numbers. We’re all hoping Jerry will be back with us soon.

So, as the sun sets on another beautiful South Dakota evening, everybody is still in Kadoka. Well, everybody but AC, MG, the Cowboy, and the Phantom Wrangler. I think the plan is to go visit Crazy Horse next. Did you know his name literally means, his horse is crazy?

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Awe…look at the ever helpful on the road gang.


Crazy Horse: Oh yeah! My head itches. Can you scratch my back too?


Lav and the Queen are getting those pesky flies off Crazy Horse’s nose.

We’re reading


Murdo Girl…How ya gonna keep the road gang down at the mansion after they’ve seen Kadoka?

If these URL’s don’t work, cut and paste them onto your browser…

I’m pretty sure I didn’t get everybody, so I’ll catch ya later…Might be pushing it, but The road gang said they wanted to kick up their heels and have some fun. Coffee and cake after the dance…

So the sun sets on another beautiful South Dakota evening. The Phantom Wrangler didn’t show…



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Murdo Girl… The road gang..Invisible?

I was talking with a friend the other day, and she said, “Do you ever feel like you’re invisible?  You talk, but no one hears or sees you. You notice when you tell someone something important they don’t comment, but a few minutes later, they tell you what you just told them.”

This feeling she had of being invisible resulted from several things happening in a short period of time. The repairman didn’t hear a word she said, the dog wouldn’t come when she called him. The doctor said she had a cold… right after she told him she came to see him because her right knee hurt.

He said, “Well everyone else I’ve seen today has a cold, so go home and drink plenty of liquids. Your knee will just have to run it’s course.”

I remember asking my son to come and sit down with me, because I needed to talk to him about something he had or hadn’t done. I really prepared for this talk. My voice was full of care and concern, even though I threw in a few dire predictions if he continued to do or not do what he was supposed to.

He looked me straight in the eye and nodded when I completed a point I needed to make. He did not interrupt me at all.

When I rested my case…I mean finished my “talking points,” I asked him if he had any questions.

He said, “Yeah, Mom, is my blue shirt clean?”

I felt invisible.

I think the “road gang” is sort of invisible, which in their case is a good thing. They mess up at every pit stop, and virtually go unnoticed until maybe one person has a problem with something they do…Like the one pepperoni pizza they made with just one piece of pepperoni. I wonder what they would’ve gotten if they had wanted a Supreme Pizza…


It wasn’t really fair for the owner to throw them out of the 1880 town because they tried to participate in a town function that, through no fault of theirs, was ruined by a person who tried to pass himself off as a man of the cloth. Up until then, they were invisible to everyone.

Well, now they’re in Kadoka, SD. They were getting something to eat at the Aw Shucks Cafe last time we heard from them. Wonder where they laid their little heads down to sleep last night.

Did you know Kadoka means “hole in the wall” in Lakota? even the road gang won’t be able to find stuff to do here.


Some of us went to the Badlands Night Sky Workshop. Queen E. brought the whole family…and the balcony. It was spectacular. When it was over we all sang Kumbaya!


Stephanie and Sissy Spielberg brought cake. Hey that guy looks like the Cowboy in disguise…Sherri brought her sweet daughter. “Mom please don’t make me eat more cake!!  Sherri: Nope! We’ll just sing a verse of Kumbaya and say baya!


This must have been right after lunch. Just look at how swollen the Queen’s feet are? Too much rodeo, car racing, and bus driving must have given her gout. Nice of the school lady to keep her company.


Look! TC and the wrecker guy are at someplace called the tower station. Did they have a little fender bender?

Lucky: I told DM I would hold down the porta potty while he watched the stars. See the new T Shirt my mom bought me in Mexico!


Hey! can you prairie dogs play?

The Phantom Wrangler turns to look at the truck and horse trailer that just went by on the road. He adds to the six words he’s said since we all met him. “It’s time I call in the law.”


So, as the sun sets on another beautiful South Dakota Evening. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how this all plays out.


Uh Oh…This isn’t me this is my evil twin. She went back to the ranch to rest up and eat something besides cake…and pizza. 




Murdo Girl…The gang…Sunday in the 1880 Town.

We really did have a lot of fun at the 1880 Town. We didn’t intend to leave quite so soon, but a couple of little things happened that drew the attention of the owner. I had no idea one person could own a whole town. It stayed real busy during the day, but all the people except us left when it closed down for the night, which was another kind of strange occurrence for a town.


We didn’t bother anyone or anything at night. We mostly sat around the saloon and ate cake which seemed to multiply faster than the growing rabbit population in the 1880 Town. We each had a nice room at the hotel, and DM let us use the porta potties for free after five o’clock. Life was good… until it wasn’t.


We’d all been there the better part of five days when a preacher decided to come and preach a sermon at the church. It was Sunday, and apparently a big day for tourists. The school teacher ladies decided to play the organ and sing, too. I thought they had already left town, but they said they couldn’t find a horse to hitch up to the stagecoach and it was too hot to walk…so it was all coming together for what promised to be a good service. 


The church was air conditioned, and it was hot as blazes so a lot of people showed up for church. The preacher turned out to be the fire and brimstone kind. He got real excited and started pointing to different ones in the pews and asking them if they wanted to go to heaven. Each one said yes, and he told them to get up and stand behind him in the pulpit. He had a bunch up there when he asked DM if he wanted to go to heaven to which DM said, “No sir.”


There was silence throughout the church. The school ladies played very softly. The preacher said, “Do you mean to tell me you don’t want to go to heaven?”

“DM said, “No sir, I don’t.” We were all getting pretty nervous by then. One of the tourists who was passing the collection plate was shaking so bad the change started to make a racket that seemed louder than it probably was.

Well, the preacher walked right down in front of DM and said, “Do you mean to tell me… a preacher… that you don’t want to go to heaven when you die?”

Preacher Applefloor and DM

DM took a deep breath, stood up and looked that preacher square in the eyes. He said, “Sure preacher…I want to go to heaven when I die. I thought you were getting a load to go up right now!”

You would have thought the newly formed congregation would have settled down some, but I guess it was too late. They were running over each other trying to get out of there.

It turns out the “preacher” was not from a local church. He wasn’t even a preacher. He just liked to yell at people. In all the confusion, the owner of the town thought it was one of our gang that decided to preach. Maybe it was because the school ladies never stopped singing through the whole thing. They sounded wonderful when they sang, “God Bless America,” which I had no idea had eight or so verses.


Anyway, we got our marching orders. We had to leave the premises so fast that DM didn’t even have time to load up his porta pottie. He did have forethought enough to bring all of his dimes with him. We left the owner a bunch of cake. We wanted him to know we really were good people just looking for a free place to live.

Woops…guess I was wrong TC still has the yellow convertible and lookie there! She brought the porta pottie!


We loaded up the VW van and after we woke up the Queen who was at the back of the church sleeping we got out of the 1880 town. Lav, Lucky and I got in Lav’s old truck and headed west. We were pretty low on gas by the time we got to Kadoka, so we pulled over at a cafe hoping they had gas too, and guess who was sitting there when we pulled in…AC (Aggressive Cowboy). We hadn’t seen her since we left the Cowboy’s movie ranch to go to the rodeo.

MG: Where have you been AC?

AC: I got lost on my way to the rodeo. Then I heard you went to NASCAR in Mt. Vernon, and I missed you there. Then I came here.

Lav: Oh, we’ve been at the 1880 Town. That’s where we’ve been living. We had our own town til we got run off. Who’s nice truck are you driving? (I could tell that Lav was kind of jealous, because we had to ride in her broken down truck.)


This picture of us in the convertible is from the NASCAR parade. It’s just a fantasy. we really rode to Kadoka in the broken down truck.


AC: Well, when I was at the rodeo, some cowboy came up to me and asked me if I would drive his truck and that horse thing with two horses in it to Kadoka. I just got to town so I haven’t had a chance to look him up yet.

MG: Who is he?

AC: I never did hear him say.


About that time the Queen with the rest of the gang pulls in. Very interesting. Looks like Kodak Kadoka is pretty important around these parts.

Sherri: Very interesting. Looks like Kodak Kadoka is pretty important around these parts.

Kadoka: Ah shucks!

Sherri: Something wrong?

Kadoka: Nope. Aw Shucks is the name of my cafe.

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Sherri: Do you have cake?

Kadoka: Nope

Sherri: Good…let’s eat!

Looks like Sissy fixed the “no cake” problem… Wait!! Is that the Cowboy with the movie ranch?

So as the sun sets on another beautiful Central South Dakota day, the gang is fat and happy for the moment.

Is Kodak Kadoka really a big deal in town or have they not had time to repaint the water tower? Will DM have enough dimes to fill the ever growing parade of cars and trucks? Will AC find the cowboy who owns the truck and the horses? 

And what about the Phantom Wrangler???

I’ll give them one more day…two at the most.

Murdo Girl…Connie like…The book

Introducing…Connie’s Story, by Mary Francis McNinch


One of the greatest joys in life is to have and be a friend

When I was in High School, I was in awe of a girl who’s name was Connie Jackson. I wanted to be “Connie like.” I copied her hairstyle and clothes, and admired her every move, but no matter what I did, I fell short of being just like Connie. Last year, I looked up Connie’s brother Eddie. I had not seen him since we graduated in 1970. Through a series of events, I was encouraged and inspired to write this book. The Connie doll in the story belongs to Eddie’s wife Mari. The yearbook on the cover was Connie’s, and all of the “Connie’s stories” in part one, were written by Eddie from his own childhood memories. Many times, I read the story and followed his lead when I wrote the next chapter of the book.

I just got an email from Eddie reminding me that today would have been Connie’s 67th birthday. I have added the post I wrote on her birthday last year to the end of this one announcing the book I just published in memory of her. The timing is quite a coincidence…or is it an Angel telling us she “Connie Likes” the book.

Eddie and Connie… With Waldron cousins…Mari and Eddie in Murdo last summer, Tom and Connie several years ago.


From Amazon

Congratulations, the paperback edition of your book “Connie’s Story” is live in the Amazon Store. It is available* for readers to purchase here


Connie’s Story  takes place in a small town called Murdo. The town is very  real. I grew up there in the 1950’s and 60’s and it’s a place very dear to my heart. You will read about Fern’s cafe, Murdo High School, Mack’s Cafe and Sanderson’s Store.

The story is about Hope Crandall and her family. Hope struggles to navigate through some very difficult times, after experiencing a devastating loss, but she has been given an unexpected gift that will help her through it all. This story has sorrow, healing, humor, fun, character building, problems, answers, faith, and incredible family dynamics. (It’s a 344 page book.) The characters appeal to age groups from eleven to ninety and beyond. You will laugh and cry.

I hope you will forward this information about the book to friends with children who’ve suffered a loss, or anyone who grew up in a small town, or wondered what small town life was like. You will fall in love with Pearl the human, Pearl the dog and Aunt Grace; walk through pain and healing with Warren, Lauren, and Hope. Connie Angel has a knack for saying what a troubled teenager needs to hear.

There is a little bit of Connie Jackson and some of me in this story. I had a Great Aunt Grace who kept her little black ballet flats on with rubber bands just like Great Aunt Grace in the story.  My grandparents lived south of Highway 16 where Hope’s grandparents live. All of Hope’s family members are not replicas of mine, but they might remind you of some of yours.

The following is an excerpt from Connie’s Story:

Riding the bus all the way to Montana was kind of fun, but riding it all the way back wasn’t. There was a lady sitting right behind us that must have dumped a whole bottle of perfume over her head. It wasn’t even a good smelling perfume. The bus was so crowded most of the way, we couldn’t even sit in different seats. I could tell it was really bothering Aunt Grace, too. She looked like she was feeling sick.

I turned around and asked the lady if she could smell her own perfume.

She smiled real big and said, “Why, yes, young lady.”

Then I said, “My mom told me something you should know. She said when I get to be a lady, and start wearing perfume; I should just put a little dab behind my ears. She told me, if you can smell your own perfume, you have too much on….and…”

That’s when Aunt Grace jabbed me in my side, and gave me the “hush up” sign. I was very quiet when I told Aunt Grace that I was just trying to save future bus riders from her potent perfume. Then she might tell someone else, who might tell someone they know. That would be a good thing, right? Aunt Grace just handed me a magazine and told me to fan her.

Murdo Girl…Happy Birthday Connie Jackson

I have talked at length about how I wanted to be like Connie Jackson, so I won’t go over all of what you already know. Anyway, I started to think it never really happened at all. I thought maybe I dreamed it or as my Uncle Chuck Francis quoted Mark Twain as saying:

“When I was younger I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not, but my faculties are decaying now, and soon I shall be so I cannot remember anything but the things that never happened.” 

Hm…Connie Like’s birthday cake. I’ll just have a bite

The proof in the form of a picture… or two, came to me quite by accident. Connie’s brother unknowingly verified what might make some think I’m not quite right. Eddie emailed some photos from our yearbooks because I lost mine.

There it was staring at me…The proof!

Exhibit A

The girl in the upper left corner is Connie. The girl in the lower right corner is yours truly. We have the same over the ear, short with bangs, hairdo. (Vicki above me has a cute do. I wonder if I could wear my hair like that now??)

No one else that year had the same cut. I actually looked through a couple of yearbooks while I was at the reunion and came up with nothing.

Exhibit B:

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Another picture of Connie with the “do”… Connie with Leslie Kell, Marilyn Kinsley, Doug Koester, and Tommy Kerlin. (I saw Tommy Kerlin at Dean Lindquist’s birthday party, which was the same week-end as the reunion. He lives in Sturgis and rides a really beautiful motorcycle. I wish I had a motorcycle like Tommy’s.)

Exhibit C:

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Apparently, Connie decided to grow her hair out. She is seated on the floor, 5th from the left. You can’t miss me, I’m right up there by Mr. Haugland. I guess our hair grew at about the same rate. The same do, right down to the little side curl. ( I just noticed Eunice looks taller than me. I wish I was a little taller.)

I couldn’t keep up with Connie’s clothes and shoes because she had too many. I had to just pick out a few like her’s. I went to work at the Frosty like Connie, but she quit, so that didn’t exactly work out. Do you think I’m a manipulator? Mom always told me not to push the river. It flows. I think that was her way of saying I try to manipulate outcomes.

Whew! I think I’m getting over it in this picture. Connie graduated that year so I could no longer keep up the charade. Eunice is next to me. She is really sweet and cute. (Marilyn Kinsley looks good in those glasses. I wonder if Wal-Mart has frames like that?)

When I was at the reunion last summer, I saw Karen (Ferdig) Snider. She was one of my best friends in High School. I asked her if she had figured out, that I had been a Connie wannabe. She said she hadn’t realized it..(then). Karen looks the same as she did 46 years ago.

Karen and her beautiful granddaughter, McKenzie, talking with Eddie Jackson at the reunion (I like her white pants. I wonder where she got them?)…below that is Karen’s Senior picture.

Anyway, I’m sure glad I got over that nonsense of wanting what everybody else has.


Connie would have been 66 today. We lost all three of these women to cancer. They each had three children. All were very special people. They are missed by those who are lucky enough to have known them.

Stephanie Miller
Connie Jackson 
Eunice Elrod

Let it never be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot.

They were all shining stars, but their moment was far too brief.


Murdo Girl…The gang…Making themselves at home

1880 Town…day four. 


How do you like my selfie?

All of a sudden it got extremely busy in the gang’s little town. It appears that tourists love ghost towns. They have been coming in by the droves to walk through all the houses and businesses and eat at the restaurants. The ladies that teach at the school house are overjoyed. They still don’t have any students per say, but they feel like celebrities anyway. At least a lot of people come to see them, and once they give them a tour and come up with bogus answers to all the silly questions, they get a tip. They’re making so much money they decided to go to the Prairie Pizza Place, but MG said N-O.

Wait! Where are the teacher ladies? Look at that line!

Teacher ladies: It’s been fun, but we’ve got places to go. Who wants to pull us?


Lav was immediately attracted to the Dances With Wolves attraction. She enlisted the Queen to try to fake out “Stands with a Fist,” so she could have Lt. John Dunbar all to herself.

TC: I feel out of place wrecker man.




AC: I’m almost to Kadoka..Am I ahead or behind the Gang?

DM realized they didn’t have indoor bathrooms in 1889, so he brought in a porta potty. He charges a dime.

When you gotta go, you gotta go

wp-1500676610388.jpgThe cake thing is getting out of control. Watch where you’re pointing those guns ladies.

Looks like Sissy moved from the bank to the saloon


So, the sunsets on another beautiful Central South Dakota evening.

Who cares? 

The Cowboy says: Nope Lucky says: I can’t get away from pictures of sunsets. The wolf, the dogs, and whoever was at the end of the line for the porta potty: We’re leaving tomorrow at sunup

The Phantom Wrangler says: (wait for it….) It’s time