Murdo Girl…the road trip..When the jitterbug was a dance.

Back to Kip’s fifty-fifth high school reunion in Laramie, Wyoming.

The night of the dinner dance, we ended up sitting at a table with fun people. We had a lady who brought her sister, another lady who was a friend of theirs, (also an alumnus), a gentleman who now lives in Virginia, and a very nice couple. The husband was a guest like me, and the wife graduated with Kip… and guess what? He dated her a few times.

This statue is outside one of the Wyoming State University buildings where the dinner dance was held.


The dinner was pretty good. I had steak and Kip had chicken. Kip had to specify which we wanted when he sent the registration in several months ago. I remember he asked me what I would like and I said steak. He was positive I said chicken. Not wanting to create a scene, he gave me the steak. It tasted good, but I wore my arm out cutting it with a bread knife. I gave half of it to Kip. His chicken was delicious.

After dessert the music started. I love the music of the 60’s. When my brother was in high school he had kids over once in a while and they played forty-fives on his record player in the basement. I would sit on the stairs and listen to the McGuire sisters singing Sugartime. I loved them. I even had the McGuire sister’s paper dolls. I listened to Paul Anka, Connie Francis, and tons of others.

Kip’s sister, Karen, is two years older than he is. She taught him how to jitterbug so she would have someone to practice with. They even danced in a contest once and won. I can “sort of” dance with him. I wondered if the ex-girlfriend lady sitting at our table could jitterbug.

A little while later, some of the group started doing a line dance. The Virginian asked the sister of the alumnus to go out and do the line dance with him. She declined saying she didn’t know how. A few minutes later I nudged Kip and made the comment that she must be a quick learner because she and another lady were out there line dancing and were pretty much leading the pack. When the sister came back to the table, she looked at the Virginian she had turned down and said, “I line danced once last week at the senior center.”

Most of the alumni at our table graduated with Kip’s sister in 1960. He asked them about two people he thought they might know. They told him one had died and the other went to prison. He didn’t persue that line of questioning anymore. Toward the end of the evening, one of Kip’s good friends from high school came over to our table, and they talked about all kinds of fun times they had together. A guy named John joined them and that put a nice final touch on the evening. We all left at nine o’clock.

I know I’m disappointing all of you because I didn’t take very many pictures. I asked the Virginian if he would take one of Kip and me. I asked Kip if my hair looked okay. He patted my head a little bit and said it looked great. The wind blows in Wyoming.

Sign at the RV park

No one was taking pictures or wearing cardboard crowns, and I didn’t want to be rude.

My cardboard crowns. One is still in my purse just in case I need it.


I hope this isn’t going to be too long for you all, but I have to get caught up.

Sunday, Kip’s youngest sister, Karlyce, drove down from Red Feather to spend the day with us. She drove us all over town. I sat in the back seat. I’m telling you… it was hilarious. Kip would say something like, “Oh, that’s Aunt Lucille’s old house.”

Karlyce would say, “No it isn’t Kip, her house is over there.

Kip: There’s the Methodist Church we went to.

Karlyce: No Kip…we went to the Presbyterian Church. I’ll drive by it.

Kip: (As we drove by a boarded up building.) Hey…didn’t there used to be a little market right there?

Karlyce: Yes… I remember one day Daddy took me there and we got a big bag of potato chips. When we got home I opened the bag and pulled out this huge chip. I carefully put it on my plate so it wouldn’t break. 

Karlyce turned and looked at me in the back seat. “Do you know what Kip did?” She asked. “He reached over and stuck his finger right through it. I have never forgotten that!”

Kip: I’m hungry. Let’s find someplace to eat.

There is another thing that most people who haven’t been back to their hometown in a while do. They go visit the cemetary. The one in Laramie is beautiful.

As far as I could tell, Kip pretty much knew where their Aunt Sis and Uncle Pete lived and the location of the house he grew up in…Oh, and of course the market where you could buy big potato chips…that was about it.

The grandparent’s house and the house Kip and his 3 sisters grew up in.


The last thing I want to tell you about is the photograph I had in last night’s blog.

We went to the old Wyoming Territorial Penitentiary. It was restored back to it’s original state a few years ago. We went on a two hour tour that was fascinating. This was a hard core penitentiary that held hard core law breakers. The prisoners were not allowed to talk at all. Punishment was a ball and chain or a heavily weighted boot. They worked twelve hour days, and if they tried to escape, they were put into a blacked-out cell for days. The guards slid some bread and water to them only once a day.

They had hangings and later used the electric chair.

This is where the guard stood to watch over the convicts eating their meals.

Three prisoners used the same bath water.


The Wyoming Territorial Pen’s claim to fame is that Butch Cassidy was incarcerated there for eighteen months. He wasn’t Butch then, the tour guide told us. He was George Cassidy. He worked in the kitchen the whole time and was a model prisoner.

As we walked through the different areas, we saw people dressed in the clothes of the time, which was the late 1800s. They each told us a story. We saw the Warden’s wife, a prisoner, and a lady who volunteered there because she felt the prisoners weren’t treated like human beings and therefore, would never be rehabilitated. She helped them write letters requesting a pardon and things like that.

The Warden’s wife spinning wool to make yarn for socks.


The prisoners made brooms out of broom corn. I had never given any thought to how brooms were made. A group of volunteers still make brooms there to sell in the gift shop and to show visitors how they were put together. The prisoners made up to 720 brooms a day.

Broom corn


As we were nearing the end of the tour, the guide took us down a long hall with large photographs of some of the more notorious criminals. They looked like bad guys for sure.

TA TOIT SE, an 80 year old Native American killed his 70 year old wife because she broke his gun and therefore he couldn’t hunt.

When we stopped in front of his picture, I started feeling uncomfortable. No matter where I stood his eyes seemed to be looking right at me. As I was standing there, I began to smell cigar smoke. My dad smoked cigars so it was a familiar smell. I had been distracted by all this, but something brought me back to the lady who was describing the guy. She said many believe he haunts the penitentiary. He liked cigars and people say when you smell cigar smoke, he’s in the room.

I am not someone who believes scary, supernatural stories. I didn’t say anything and neither did anyone else in the group. I didn’t even tell Kip until the next day. All he said was he didn’t smell anything. Do you think they might have somehow released the scent of cigar smoke to freak us out?

The Wyoming Territorial Penitentiary

Have a nice night all!

I’m spooked!

So are we!




2 thoughts on “Murdo Girl…the road trip..When the jitterbug was a dance.

  1. sanjuan831 August 15, 2017 / 9:14 am

    That was sooo funny and spooky and sentimentally great to read. When I saw that beautiful brick building in the first part, I thought that was Kip walking up to his old high school.
    At the reunion dance, did they have a DJ or real band?


    • Mary Francis McNinch August 15, 2017 / 10:39 am

      That was another funny thing. They had a man and a woman sitting at a long table. They were older and stared straight ahead the whole time and never said a word. One of Kip’s friends requested a song, but after waiting 3 hours, he decided he had to go home.


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