My dad used to go around singing war songs. He was in World War II, but the songs he sang were WWI tunes. His mother was of the age that she identified with that war and taught the songs she remembered to Dad and his two brothers. They were fun songs like, “Good morning Mr. Zip, Zip, Zip, with your hair cut just as short as mine,” and “Be kind to our web-footed friends, for a duck could be somebody’s mother.”


(Grandma Connie Francis with my brother, Billy, 1943)

“Good Morning Mr. Zip, Zip, Zip, 1918”

We come from ev’ry quarter,
From North, South, East and West,
To clear the way to freedom
For the land we love the best.
We’ve left our occupations
and home, so far and dear,
But when the going’s rather rough,
We raise this song in cheer:


Good morning, Mister Zip-Zip-Zip,
With your hair cut just as short as mine,
Good morning, Mister Zip-Zip-Zip,
You’re surely looking fine!
Ashes to ashes, and dust to dust,
If the Cam-ls don’t get you,
The Fatimas must, (cigarettes)
Good morning, Mister Zip-Zip-Zip,
With your hair cut just as short as,
your hair cut just as short as, your hair cut just as short as mine.


“Be kind to our web-footed friends”

Be kind to your web-footed friends
For that duck may be somebody’s mother,
She lives in a nest in a swamp
Where the weather is always damp.

You may think that this is the end,
Well it is, but to prove we’re all liars,
We’re going to sing it again,
Only this time we’ll sing a little higher.


(My dad and his older brother, John.)

I loved hearing Dad sing those silly tunes, but my favorite was, “They were all out of step but Jim.”

Jimmy’s mother went to see her son marching in a parade. He was wearing his uniform and carrying his gun. She came home and asked the neighbors if they had seen little Jimmy marching with the soldiers up the avenue. Then away he went to live in a tent over in France with his regiment. Were you there, she asked and did you notice? They were all out of step but her Jim.

Now isn’t that just like a mom?

Several years ago, when my Uncle, Chuck Francis, passed away, Nancy Parish, a very talented Murdo girl, sang, “They were all out of step but Jim,” at Uncle Chuck’s service in New York.

In my humble opinion, music brings back more memories than anything else in life…even photographs. I will hear a song and the feeling that has been assigned to it comes over me before the memory of the actual event does. It’s usually a good feeling, but a song can have all kinds of emotions tied to it.

I cry every time I hear my old school song…

Murdo Girl…Gone home

An old reclusive aunt reaches out to her niece hoping to help her learn the truth about her family and herself.

Her niece makes the journey back to the family farm…a place she barely remembers. She has her new friend Arf to lead the way…

Should I pack up my belongings and travel down that road?

I couldn’t see another way to lighten up my load.

I wondered if they’d be there. This family I didn’t know.

When Arf and I walked through the gate, my steps began to slow.

Arf tried to hurry me along…then I heard a ringing bell.


The first thing he led me to was an old wishing well.

He pulled on a rope until a bucket reached the top.


He backed up to where I stood and let the bucket drop.

First I heard the whisper. Then I heard the bell.

“You can’t fill an empty bucket from an empty well.”


I heard the familiar whistling. The soft voice filled the air.

“If you want to get someplace, you have to leave nowhere.

You must escape the rope. Life on earth won’t last forever.

With a steady hand and prayer, you can put it all together.

Let your steps take you forward. You’re ready to move on.

Look back for just an instant to make sure you’re truly gone.”


What used to be the farmhouse was now more like a shack

I found a cot and fell asleep… too weary to unpack.

Early the next morning Arf walked over to a nook

When he returned, in his mouth he held a book.

Another message from my aunt? Arf began to pace. 

 I opened up the book and saw an unfamiliar face.

First I heard the whistle. Then I heard the bell.

I knew the woman in the book had a story to tell.






Murdo Girl…The movies? Count me in.

Our daughter and son-in-law were in Tyler over the weekend and decided to go to the movie. When they walked into the theater, three visibly upset, “older” (probably my age), ladies were running out. One rushed up to my daughter and grabbed her arm. She seemed terribly overwrought.

“What movie are you going to see?” She asked.

“Mamma Mia,” my daughter replied. “Did you come to the earlier showing?”

“No!” We came to see a spy movie, but we had to leave after five minutes. I don’t want my Lord to come back and catch me sitting in a movie like that!”

Cell phones in the theater are rude!

I told my daughter and her husband that I really enjoyed Mamma Mia. I finally admitted that I had gone to see the spy movie, too. I even admitted that I stayed for the whole thing…and I snickered slightly a couple of times.


It was probably the most offensive movie I have ever seen, but I didn’t want to appear rude to the others in the theater, not to mention I paid $11.00 for the movie, popcorn and a coke. I never leave without finishing my popcorn. I eat slowly.


When I was in college, my cousin and I took Grandpa Sanderson to a movie. We told him it was a western because it sounded like one to us. The name of it was, “They Shoot Horses, don’t They?” Have you seen it? It’s about several couples with identity problems who spend the entire movie trying to win a marathon dance contest.

We kept sneaking looks at Grandpa to see his reaction. It never dawned on us to get up and leave. Grandpa fell asleep twenty minutes into it. When we woke him up, he said, “Boy…that was the wildest thing I’ve ever seen, and I didn’t see one horse!”

Grandpa never said a bad word in his life unless he heard someone he admired say it and didn’t know it was bad. (We had to tell him a couple of times not to repeat things unless he knew what the words meant.) Dancing was not his thing either, but he did like horses.

I have to be honest. I hate to miss out on anything. Would I go to a bad or offensive movie just because all of my friends were going? Probably… but I wouldn’t follow them over a cliff. everybody has their limits.

Between you and me, I think a lot of the people I saw in that spy movie knew they weren’t going to see James Bond. It was rather funny watching them stumble out of the movie. It’s hard to see in a dark theater when you’re wearing sunglasses. I saw someone today still wearing them. It’s raining, but those rainbows can be bright! (It wasn’t anyone I know.)





Murdo Girl…Gone 2, the letter

The first sentence of that letter shook me to the core. Against my better judgement, I went on to read some more…


It said

I know I’m not your favorite. I never tried to be. But never mind all that! You can learn from me.

So listen up my dear and I’ll tell you what it takes. It makes no sense for you to make all of my mistakes.


I had a noose around my neck for Lord knows far too long. It took me years to figure out exactly what went wrong.

I was a farmer…not a farmer’s wife… I figured that I had enough old goats in my life.


I had no time for family. No one  ever called me nice. You’re my only niece and I think I’ve seen you twice.

You threw away your family, too and ran your best friend off. I’ve given you a new friend. His name is Arf.


You know where the farm is and I’ve given you the key. There you’ll find the answers that will set you free.

Arf will stay right with you. He won’t leave you alone. But he’ll have to bring his favorite chewed- up bone.


Arf came with me willingly. We were quite a pair. We headed for the farm….I wondered what would happen there… 

I heard the whispers in the wind and it comforted me somehow, but they had to do with then, and this was now.


And the wind will whisper your name to me,
Little birds will sing along in time,
The leaves will bow down when you walk by,
And morning bells will chime.

(Peter Paul and Mary)

To be Continued…

Murdo Girl…Gone 2

I was walking through the park and fighting back the tears. I had never felt this sad in all my thirty years.

My job was going nowhere and I couldn’t pay my bills. It seemed no matter where I turned, I was always climbing hills.

My best friend and I weren’t speaking. We’d had some silly fight. I had given up on sleeping. I just cried all night.

I hadn’t seen my family since many years before. There was just one, anyway, I truly did adore.

The sound of someone whistling broke through my  melancholy. I looked around but all I saw was a little border collie.

He was sitting near an empty bench. He appeared to be alone. He was guarding two possessions, a small bag and a chewed-up bone.


I felt drawn to the park bench. I was feeling so fatigued, but even more than that, I was profoundly intrigued.

I feared the little dog might leave but instead… he moved closer to my knee where he laid his weary head.


Several minutes later I opened my eyes to see that he had picked up his small bag. Was he giving it to me?


He dropped it on the bench and nudged it closer to my hand. I looked inside and what I saw I could not understand.

I found two things inside the bag…a letter and a key. The thing I could not believe? The letter was addressed to me.


I fumbled with the envelope and found a note within,  but before I could begin to read, I heard the whistling again.

Before I knew it, I was whistling along. Where could I have heard that familiar song?

And I’ll sing you the songs of the rainbow,
Whisper all the joy that is mine.
The leaves will bow down when you walk by,
And morning bells will chime.
I’ll walk in the rain by your side,
I’ll cling to the warmth of your tiny hand.
I’ll do anything to help you understand,
I’ll love you more than anybody can
(Peter, Paul and Mary)


Part 2 of Gone 2, next post…I promised you it wouldn’t be sad…Trust me.

Murdo Girl…Ideas have consequences

I remember watching our granddaughter, Skyler, opening presents on her second birthday. When she got to a book, she opened it and pretended she was reading. “Once upon a time,” she read. Then she closed it and said, “The end!”


Skyler wasn’t interested in the story in the middle. It was more exciting to continue unwrapping all the other packages.

I feel gratified when you Murdo Girl readers go beyond the title of the blog and read the whole thing. I know it’s not all that easy sometimes. In fact, lately, I’ve been suffering from subject matter issues. I’ll admit, the HaHa Sisterhood got to be a little too much, and it’s so time consuming to cut and paste all of those pictures. I’ve given up on that one. Some thought the poem about the hanging was too sad or gruesome. I was going for a wild west type of story. Billy’s birthday songs were pretty well received, but Lav and I thought they were funnier than anyone else did.

The favorites this past week have clearly been the one about the decrepit playground and “Time Out.” Both these stories were about my old hometown of Murdo and the people who lived there many years ago. Sometimes I think if the first and last sentences had Murdo in them, and I threw in a picture, the blog would be a hit no matter what was in the middle.

Token Murdo pictures: Don Edwards and Mari and Eddie Jackson, 2016…Billy and I at the 1991 reunion

If I sound like I’m complaining, I’m really not. I enjoy writing and I love to try new things. The stories about my current life in Mabank, TX are popular as are the blogs I write while we are traveling. People seem to like the funny poems and anytime I write about real people and true life situations, I get good feedback.

I’m currently working on a project that has turned into a labor of love. I started writing picture storybooks about each of my grandchildren. It takes a lot of time, but I’m hoping it will be something they will enjoy and someday they can show their kids my picture storybook about my memories of them.

I’ve also started doing some volunteer work at the library, and we are going to be heading out on our trip the last week of September, so life is busy. More likely than not, I will only be blogging a couple of times a week until we go on our trip and I start writing about our daily travel experiences.

Below is an excerpt from Grandson, Mason’s book…


I hope this doesn’t sound to you like psychobabble.
But that young man was a whiz at scrabble.
I challenged the words that I was willing to bet,
He wouldn’t find on the internet.
It worked quite well since we had no dictionary,
But when the Internet went down, I was very wary.
“Would you cheat?” I asked and saw him grin.
 Or will you be a good boy and let your grandma win?
“Aw-Shucks,” he said. I’m not that kind of kid.
I can’t help that I’m as bright as a proplyd*.”
He won playing cards, and bought the board in Monopoly.
And how to hit a golf ball, is still a mystery to me.
(Look up proplyd on the internet.)
He couldn’t be having fun, I thought. He’s so good and I’m so bad.
I was about to give it up, when I heard him tell his dad,
“I like that Grandma plays with us, she loses without crying,
And she never, ever does give up. She just keeps on trying.”
You’re probably wondering what it takes to be an Aw-Shucks kid.
 I’ll tell you about the next few years. You’ll understand…..I did.



Aw-Shucks kids are wise beyond their years.
They aren’t really looking for loud applause and cheers.
So if you see an Aw-Shucks kid, just know you can replace,
A pat on their back with a smile on your face.

Murdo Girl…Gone

They were standing on a hill, waiting to meet their fate.

One was sorry for what she’d done, but her sorry came too late.

One said to the other… “There is so much hate in you.”

The other said, “I know, but ain’t this a pretty view?”


“I gotta speak my piece,” said one, “I won’t have the chance again.”

 “I never did know why we killed that woman and those two men.”

The other thought for a moment, then she sighed and shook her head.

“How many times do I have to tell you? They ain’t really dead.”

The first one said, “I can’t believe you said what I just heard. 

I know your memory of that day couldn’t be that blurred.”

“I killed one of ’em myself. All together we shot three.

Soon we’ll be dangling from a rope. Hanging in that big ole tree.

I think I deserve to know how they done you wrong.

And why in bloody blazes did you take me along?”

One looked at the other… and said, “You had to come.”

“I’ll try one more time to make you understand it some.

It’s not what they done to me. It’s what they took from us.

You accepted things with grace. I always made a fuss.

You were the sweet one. I was loud and some said mean.

I was hard to look at. You were pretty and serene.

They left when we were little. The worst kind of betrayal.

I tried to keep you with me, but deep down I knew I’d fail.

How could a Ma and Pa run off and only take their son?


All those years of waiting caused much damage to be done.

I had to come and find you so we could make them pay.

We gave them what they deserved for leaving us that day.”



I was there the day of the hanging. I looked high up in that tree

There was only a single rope, and just one woman, that I could see. 

I began to realize why both of them had to come. 

The two very different women, were really parts of one.

She had lost her beauty. Her kind heart could not hold on.

They left her with the anger. All the good in her was gone.

Those three weren’t really dead, because her memory escaped their death.

She knew they would never die, until she’d taken her last breath.

She smiled as she stood there waiting. She would get what she was due.

She would be joined with all she’d lost. Until then…she’d enjoy the view.


The “Gone” plaque was created by Amber Diehm. When a saw the photograph taken by her mother, Dianna Diehm, two possible stories came to mind. I want to post the other, very different, story in a later blog.














Murdo Girl…A decrepit Murdo playground

I was busy all day and I have not thought one minute about what I could write about tonight. I decided to go to the WordPress blogs and write about the first prompt I came to. When I saw it, I seriously thought about moving on. In other words, cheating on my own rules. I wouldn’t feel right about that, so here goes…


The prompt for this week is A Decrepit Playground. I am going to revisit the playground at the grade school in Murdo. The one I played on in the late 50’s and early 60’s. It’s no longer there. I think it was around 1966 when it was torn down, but it should be of no surprise to all of you, that I remember every detail of the layout. My visit will take place in the 90’s.

 decrepit definition: in very bad condition because of being old, or not having been cared for, or having been used a lot: 

Every time I go to my old hometown, I visit the grade school and the high school. It’s a beautiful day, so I decided to walk over to the grade school. There’s a new school now, but the old building and the playground are still sitting there waiting to be torn down. At least they were the last time I was here. Of course, that was over ten years ago. I remember I brought my ten-year old. He was very skeptical when we got there, but I think he had fun. Later, someone asked him how the old playground was and he said, “rusty.”

I can still hear the really young kids playing on the rickety old teeter-totters. The kid with the longest legs had a clear advantage. If you were short, sometimes you never got the chance to push-off. You went up and down at the tall one’s pace. If they were mean kids, they would get you up in the air and then suddenly push down on their end and bounce you off your seat. There was a handle at each end of the board that even then, was in such bad shape, kids got slivers in their bottoms.

Next to the teeter-totters were the monkey bars. I didn’t play on them much. 

The swings seemed so much higher back in the day. We would pump ourselves up really high and then bail out. My knees hurt just thinking about it. Remember, girls had to wear dresses back then. Sometimes you could talk someone into sitting on the flat seat while you stood up, putting a foot on either side of them. If you both pumped, you got dangerously high up…we got even with the pole the swings hung from. When we were there after school, we would throw the chain around the top several times to make the swing higher, or we would twist the chain as tight as we could so we could spin.

 There was a short slide and a big tall slide. We threw sand on them to make them slippery, and then slide upside down, backwards two or three at a time, and whatever other combination we could come up with to make it more exciting.

Taken in our front yard when I was 1 1/2 or 2.

When Donny Johnson and I were only two years old, his older brother took us to the playground and Donny fell off the top of the big slide. He didn’t survive. I don’t remember it happening, but I remember the sorrow everyone felt for years afterward. The family lived across the street from us. It was a sad day when they moved away.

I remember the day Mom came to visit school. It was during recess. I ran across the playground to greet her, forgetting I was wearing the glasses I had stolen from my brother, Billy. I was so mad coming back from Rapid City the day we got our eyes checked. Billy bawled all the way back because he had to wear glasses and I cried because I didn’t. I purloined his glasses and held the earpieces under hot water so I could twist them to fit me. I wore them to school for several days. Mom said it was a wonder they didn’t make me go cross-eyed because Billy’s eyes turned out a little and that’s what they were trying to correct by drawing his eyes toward his nose.

Picture of Audrey Poppe. She was my 5th grade teacher. (This was in 1973.)

Billy later told me my cousin, Mark  snitched on me and that was the reason for Mom’s unexpected school visit.

I tenember I loved playing tether-ball when I was in the 7th and 8th grades. You had to stand in line a lot of the time unless you kept winning.

Standing by my Francis grandparent’s graves at the Murdo cemetary. My rag muffin stage 1960

Well, I’ve been sitting on this teeter-totter for so long, I’m afraid to try to get up. This playground isn’t the only thing that’s decrepit.

Since I didn’t have a partner to hold me up in the air, I’ve been sitting on this board which is all the way to the ground.

I’ll just slide up to the middle where it’s attached to the bar. Up the board I go… “OUCH!!!”



Murdo Girl…A HaHa Parade

The HaHa Sisterhood is currently visiting Pierre, South Dakota. MG won the trip and took all of her HaHa sisters with her. It turns out Windy Lindy Bergh has a twin sister who is the sitting Gov of Pierre. 

Anyway, YO Gov, decided she would put on a big citywide parade. The HaHa’s are all lining up now to traverse down Main Street.

MG: Hey Lav, Have you seen Gus and Billy? We have some bills to pay around here.

Lav: Yeah…They said they were going to Ft. Pierre and see where the cowboys drink their pop.


MG: Well, we can’t wait for them. It’s time to get this show on the road.

Queen, Gov, Queen


Next we have Miss Airy Heart. She had to take her rental biplane back to Enterskies, so she decided to uh, ride in a convertible of sorts.

Airy: Hi, I’m Airy and I designed my ride myself…when I was in kindergarten.


Next we have PG who is riding with Queen E. and Prince Charles. I tell you what! You can’t turn around without running into a Queen these days.


Hey PG! Have you seen AI?

PG: Yeah…I just saw her run a red light down on Main Street. I hope she didn’t cause an accident.


UhOh…what do we have here? KK must have been in a little CC car crash with the PP Pierre Police. Bummer! I wonder who they ran into…looks like a multiple CC with a red truck.


Were is Pattycake and all the rest of the HaHa’s?



Where are Windy and Pearl?

Pattycake: Look up! They are flying over the beautiful Oahe Dam in Ft. Pierre. I sure hope Pearl doesn’t fall out on her head! I guess if she lands on her pom pom, she’ll be okay.


After the parade, we’re all going PDQ over to KK’s house for BBQ.

Arf: Arf! Arf!



Murdo Girl…Time-out

It only takes a moment for a moment to be gone.

Time will not stand still, though we keep trying to hold on.

“Time Out!” We want to beckon!

Alas…a camera is our weapon.

Granddaughter, Charlie has her third time -out and it’s only ten o’clock.

Someone took a moment to take a photograph

Of my mother and her sisters. It always makes me laugh.

She’s in overalls… Her hazel eyes squint to peek

From beneath her hat as she stands there at Horse Creek.

L to R Marjorie (neighbor), the Sanderson girls, Loretta (7), Ella (12), Helen (9), Elna (9 mos.)

The Homecoming King and Queen of nineteen-sixty looked so royal

In crowns made from cardboard and covered in tinfoil.

My brother Billy got to drive them in this classic car.

This captured moment has lasted fifty-eight years, so far.

Billy Francis, Clarence Rea, and Patty Peck

Summer fun with family. This picture taken long ago

makes it all come back to me. I see a friend I treasured so.

The summer of sixty-six, we almost never were apart.

She died far too young. When I heard, it broke my heart.


Ione Webb, Pat Rada, Marlene Rada, (Ione was married to Bob Webb, but this looks more like Jack Richards), I’m not sure who the two little ones are. This was taken in 1963, the year after Marlene’s brother, Earl, and my brother, Billy, went to California. They left the day after they graduated.

Look back at the Horse Creek picture. I’m sure you know the one.

That little girl in coveralls grew up and had a son.

Her baby sister, Elna, is shown in the picture below

Having coffee with her sister’s son, about thirty-two years ago.

Elna Sanderson Miller, and Billy Francis, Loretta’s son, in Murdo, 1986

I’m sure you all have photographs that you’ll forever treasure.

I have thousands I look through. They bring me so much pleasure.

Pictures of hello and pictures of good-bye.

Reminders of moments, captured with a camera’s eye.