See Ya is heading west tomorrow. We’re going to spend a couple of days in Wyoming so we can see our son, Mason, and his family. We also get to see at least one of the two grandsons play in a couple of football games. I’m excited!!
When we leave Wyoming, we’ll head east. We will travel Route 2, which borders Canada in some places, with the ultimate destination being Maine. We are hoping we have timed it right to see the leaves turn.
I spent yesterday and this afternoon detailing the inside of the RV. See Ya is sixteen years old and has taken us on three previous six to eight week trips and numerous short getaways. She still cleans up pretty good.
It was late when I finished. Sorry for the dark pictures. I didn’t have lights. I used an extension cord to vacuum as we don’t have the high voltage electricity in the RV port installed yet.
The next day – Monday
We finally got all packed up and Kip hooked the jeep up to See Ya. He wiped out our mailbox in the process, but if you are aware of my far worse crack-up last week, you’ll know why I didn’t say anything. If you’re not aware of my mishap, let me just say I’m fine, but Kip’s truck is no more.
I can imagine how worried some might be that we’re going to be on the road for six to eight weeks. I’m sure it will all be fine as soon as we’re able to get See Ya’s motor to shut off. Yes, you read me right. The engine wouldn’t shut off, so we drove straight to Rick’s RV near Kaufman. Rick had done some work on the connector from See Ya to the Jeep we tow. It enables the turn and brake lights to work in conjunction with the RV… They might have it fixed. We’ll know as soon as Kip gets back from Kaufman. He had to go get a new battery for the jeep. I stayed here with the three dogs and a very worried cat.
Well, Kip got back and we’re off again. It’s 1:37 and we’re almost to Dallas.
We had to stop for a minute because the automatic steps didn’t automatically go back in. We slammed the door a few times and that seemed to fix it. At the moment, everything is working just fine.
We’re having a great time. If we were home, it probably wouldn’t have been a day to remember.
My bad haircut still looks pretty good considering what I’ve been through.
There is nothing like a Murdo Girl celebration, and boy do we have something to celebrate. Our good friend, Lav is turning a new number. It happens to all living creatures…unless you’re like my mom. She once said she lied about her age so much, she finally became younger than her kids. Lav is not like that. She’s like me. She just flat can’t remember big numbers.
The old Brick House, Road Trip, and White Board House gangs are coming back to celebrate. We are anticipating there will be so many Murdoites and people from surrounding towns attending that we are going to hold it in the Harold Thune Auditorium. Anyone wishing to help organize this major event is welcome to come to the planning meeting tonight at seven. We already have a chair and a co-chair, and they have promised to have plenty of chairs set up for the meeting.
The meeting of the people who have volunteered to help with Lav’s birthday celebration
MG has volunteered to be the facilitator of the meeting and she has come prepared.
MG: Welcome everyone. I haven’t had a chance to visit with each of you yet, but that’s okay, because we will all be working closely together these next few days. I want to make this the best birthday party ever for our friend, and in my case relative, Lav.
Now…I have studied up on what it takes to provide adequate leadership to pull off such a feat and I’m pretty sure I can handle it. The number one duty of an effective leader is:
1. To ensure the committees function properly… ( Did she say function as in functional?) This is so daunting. Why does everything have to be so hard?
Voice of someone seated way in the back: How long are you going to stand up there and talk to yourself, lady? I have to clean this floor and if you’re having a party here you’re going to have to put the plastic tarp down.
Coach standing on his floor..Where are the chairs?
MG: Oh hello Coach Applefloor. I didn’t recognize you at first. You’re almost standing straight up! Don’t worry about your floor. I’ll organize a committee to put the tarp down.
Coach Applefloor: I play golf now. It requires a person to stand up. I like it, but the only time I get to yell is when someone is in the way of my golf ball… “Fore!!”
Someone finally shows up to the meeting. They walk to the very front and take a chair.
MG: PG (Presho Girl) is that you? You’re wearing your hair longer and you have a 35 mm digital camera! Does that mean you don’t draw your photographs anymore?
PG: Not too much…arthritis. I’m excited to be here MG. Lav’s the best and I want to help with the party. I’ll get some great pics. Is there a place to buy film around here? I’ll need a dark room with a bulletin board, and a string with clothespins on it. Oh, and a tub with developing stuff in it?
MG: Uh…Oh wait! here comes two more people.
MG: PICO! DM! I’m so happy to see you two! I’m going to pass a committee sign up sheet around. PICO I want you to be in charge of nuts, mints and hobnobbing.
PICO: And punch. I’ll bring punch. All I want to do while I’m in Murdo is hobnob and go to the Pioneer Auto Museum. I like cultured stuff.
MG: DM…I know you like to defense monitor, but will you also help with Coach Applefloor’s tarp. I have a feeling he’s going to be hanging around the whole time. He’s so worried about his floor. It’s named after him, you know.
Suddenly, a loud voice is heard. It’s A I… She yells, “Wait!!! I have been investigating the whole Brick House, White Board House, and the Road Trip gangs and there is one person who holds a grudge. A very big grudge. I fear they want to do us great harm.
MG: Who is it A I?
A I: (Walking around eyeing everyone and looking kind of Barney Fifeish) I’m not quite ready to rat them out yet. I just know they intend to strike the night of the party.
Here comes Jerry the bean counter and KK (Kodak Kadoka).
KK: Sorry I’m late. I’ve been out taking pictures of fence posts. I have post dramatic stress syndrome, you know.
Jerry: Hey, MG…I saw TC (Town Cryer) at Super Value. She said to tell you she’ll be here in a few. She’s trying to find a bargain on a new cheese head. I slipped her a few beans, you know she doesn’t even have two Limas to rub together.
MG: Makes me sad…Anyway, KK, I would like you to be on the greeting committee. Lav will be sitting on a throne. We couldn’t figure out how to get a red convertible in here. You can direct people to the enthroning area and if they have gifts, tell them to drop them at her feet. She’ll like that. Let’s see, who are we missing? What is that loud noise?
A rather loud crashing sound followed by three screams is heard by all!
TC, who is just walking in, cries…It’s the Queen! Long live the Queen! She’s in Windy Lindy Bergh and Airy Heart’s airplane. They just landed in the town swimming pool! I didn’t realize their airplane is amphibious. We better help them get out. The pool is supposed to be closed!
Everyone runs to their aid…
Windy: Well live and learn. I thought we were still flying over the pond, then I saw the auditorium and had to quit propelling and land this thing.
Airy: Where is the Queen? Did we lose her on the descent?
Queen: Glub, Glub, Glub…You said to abort!
Windy: I said, “Where is the airport?”
DM rushes to the scene and has enough presence of mind to throw the Queen a lifesaver and drags her to the side of the pool where she manages to awkwardly get out. DM picks this rather inappropriate time to ask her if she will knight him since he saved her life and all.
MG: Wait! I thought you were bringing Treason (Teresa the Liaison). She likes to fly with A I, but A I is already here. And we’re missing Patty-cake. She’s supposed to make the birthday cake. The cowboy is supposed to come riding in on his pig or trike or something. It wasn’t supposed to be like this! I wanted everyone to function properly!!!
Treason, Patty-Cake and Cowboy
Oh no! Barney and Barnella just drove up in the squad car. The siren is going and the lights are whirling around too. Barney gets out, sniffs, hikes his pants up, touches his gun, and says, “I’m here to nip your whatchamacallit party plans in the bud.”
Barnella, Barny Fife, and MG
Look at it this way…It was just the first planning meeting. Things will settle down before Lav gets back. Murdo just has a small jail…I’m not worried. And besides, Yram isn’t even here yet!
This is a rerun of a Brick House favorite. MG is being crowned Next Pres and Lav is Vice Next Pres. They prefer crowns hence the combination inauguration and coronation. The Brick House is the old high school and Murdo’s answer to the White House. What a bunch of misfits.
It’s all hands on deck for team Coyote at the Harold Thune Auditorium. Murdo Girl will be Inaugracorinated as Next Pres tonight. As of yet, it is still unclear as to how much of the good old US of A will be under her rule? Oh well, no use getting bogged down in the details.
As we join our motley team, they are completing the finishing touches to the preparation of the Auditorium. Tonight is the culmination of months and months of hard work towards this remarkably magical moment. Murdo Girl will be under oath when she says, I do…
When we last saw MG and Lav, they were under Grandpa’s trees looking through the contents of a time capsule. They were about to open two letters from their mothers.
Lav: Should we open them, MG? Maybe we’re not supposed to.
MG: Open it Lav, I promise that you won’t get into trouble.
My dear daughter,
If you are reading this, then you must be at least sixty. If I know you, I’m sure you stumbled onto this accidentally and wanted to know if you were “allowed” to open it. Let me just say. “You did the right thing.”
Your Dad is doing well. He spends a lot of time making sauerkraut just like when we lived in Pennsylvania. I do a lot of shopping and you’ll be surprised to learn I never take anything back. Money is not an issue here. I saw our old dog, Midnight, the other day. He still knows all the tricks your Dad taught him. Remember when he was told to sit up on his back haunches and your dad put a bone on his paws? Midnight wouldn’t touch it until Al said he could? That dog drooled all over creation while he waited. It must have seemed like forever.
Tell my granddaughter, Caitlin, I’m glad she has my fur coat. She looks just beautiful in it and it never gets cold here anyway. Did I splurge on that when I came back to Murdo for Grandma’s funeral or Grandpa’s? I’ll have to ask them.
Loretta is telling me I must hurry, though I don’t know why. This was her idea. I think she misses talking on the phone.
We don’t gossip here, which wasn’t really my thing, but Loretta is having difficulty filling the void. I miss seeing all the new cars. I love a nice car.
On the “bright light” side, I look and feel wonderful! This is the life! Uh, afterlife. Let me see… What else…Grandma said to tell you when you make a cherry pie, remember to use sour cherries.
My mind is up in the clouds, but I think you have a birthday coming up. I’ll send you a birthday card..I mean a sign. Watch for it.
Here is a joke Grandpa wants me to tell you…
( This is pretend. Loretta and I wrote this to tease all of you kids. I’m sure you found it the very next day. I just went along. Don’t tell Mary, or Yram or MG or whatever she calls herself. Loretta will kill me!)
MG and Lav just found a locked tin box buried under Grandpa’s trees. There was an envelope taped to the bottom of it telling them to open the box when they turned sixty.
MG: Is there a key in the envelope Lav?
Lav: Yeah, MG…We were supposed to open this when we were sixty. Maybe we should get permission before we open it.
MG: Oh for heaven’s sake, Lav. You have said that a gazillion times over the years. What is it with you about always wanting to get permission? Who are we supposed to ask? Now give me that key. This whole thing is creeping me out!
Lav: What if it’s a bomb? Maybe this is a set-up! Do you have any enemies in Murdo MG? Someone who wants to blow you to smithereens?
MG: Let me think. No! Now let me have the key.
Lav hides behind one of Grandpa’s bigger trees while MG bravely unlocks the tin box. Inside is a funny shaped container. It says time capsule on the container so that must be what it is. The time capsule is not locked…you have to pull the end-cap off, which MG proceeds to tug on.
Seeing MG struggle, Lav comes out from behind the tree and starts pulling on the other end. Finally, the stupid caps come off. It appears the exercise class MG and Lav took part in while they were visiting Gus in Ontario has paid off.
MG tentatively reaches inside the capsule and the first thing she pulls out is an envelope, which she tentatively opens. A photograph falls out and it tentatively (just kidding) falls to the ground. Lav reaches down and picks it up.
Lav: Hey MG! This is a picture of our moms. It was taken in 1938. That was eighty years ago. What else is in there, MG?
Sisters Ella and Loretta Sanderson. (Do you know where this was taken Lav? My mom was only about eighteen. Aunt Ella must have been in her early 20’s.)
MG: They were young girls just starting their adult lives. I wonder what their dreams were?
MG: Look Lav! Here’s one with you and your mom. Is that a crown on your head?
Lav: I think it was a sailor crown. I love crowns almost as much as I love convertibles.
MG: Yeah…we’re kind of alike that way.
Woven threads of color,
A beauty to behold.
Each thread a chapter of a life.
The tapestry unfolds.
There within the richness,
Are tears of golden hue,
While silver threads of laughter,
Are gently woven through.
Hanging there in splendor for all the world to see.
The beauty of a life well spent, in richest tapestry.
Grandpa Sanderson in his chair in the house next to his trees
Lav: What else is in there, MG?
MG: All I can see is more pictures…Oh, wait! I see two letters. One for you and one for me.
Murdo Girl and Lav are in the process of interviewing the residents of Murdo to gain information regarding MG’s existence between the ages of eight and eighteen. It seems there have been no pictures found of her during those formative years other than some pretty bad school pictures.
They have just returned from having coffee at the local Subway. (It’s inside the Pilot Station and it’s really good!)
Lav: Well, that didn’t get us anywhere. I thought that lady at the counter was kind of rude. I just asked her if she recognized you from fifty-eight years ago.
MG: I know Lav. Do you think it could have been because she’s about twenty years younger than me?
Lav: More like thirty…but I didn’t get what she meant when she said, “We are the curators of our own contentment.”
MG: Beats me…she said if I keep ruminating on the past, I will always be adrift. Do you think I should stop looking for the identity of my youth?
Lav: Yeah…it’s not much fun. Let’s go south of sixteen and see what’s going on in the old neighborhood.
MG: Okay…but first I want go to the drive-in and get another rhubarb milkshake.
So… MG and Lav consume yet another treat, and walk all the way to where their grandpa and grandma used to live and decide to rest a while under Grandpa’s trees. A slight breeze comes up and floating along in the midst of the leaves from the trees is a sheet of 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper, which falls on the ground when the wind suddenly stops. Lav rushes to it.
MG: What is it, Lav?
Lav: It’s a sheet of typing paper. It has an X on it and it says, “DIG HERE.”
Both of them immediately start digging with the spoons they ate their rhubarb shakes with until Lav hits something as hard as a rock. It is a rock, so they keep digging. Guess what they find?
MG: It’s a metal box and it’s locked!
Lav: Look here! There is an envelope taped to the bottom.
MG: Hurry up and open it. (Stay with us.)
Lav: It says:
Dear MG and Lav,
Open this box when you turn sixty, if you happen to be in Murdo and you’re looking for your identity.
Anonymous time capsule
Does anybody know time capsule etiquette? We’re slightly over sixty, so can we still open it?
(I fully expect to hear from some family members after they read the Murdo mysteries. It’s one way to get your kids to call you.) Just kidding…
The grocery store in Murdo is where Super Value used to be and it had everything I needed except Bing candy bars. I got a pot pie and a potato. I remembered that Mom used to bake potatoes and we mashed them on our plate. Then we mashed a chicken pot pie on top of the potato. I had forgotten how filling it was. I remember having to hide behind a book in school after having pot pies for noon dinner. It was all I could do to stay awake.
I was sitting in the living room, trying to get the TV to work when the doorbell rang. I was somewhat surprised because not many Murdo people know I’m here. Who am I kidding. The whole town knows I’m here. I went to answer the door. The person standing there looked kind of familiar. I trusted her immediately because she was wearing the most accurate indicator of trustworthiness…a crown.
“Hi,” she said. “I’m Lav.”
“You’re Lav? You are the one everyone tells me has been wandering around Murdo wearing a crown and a gown ever since the all school reunion in 2016? What are you doing here?”
“I heard you bought this house and brought it back to life. I remember it like it was yesterday…or the day before. I was one of the relatives who stayed here when your mom rented the basement out during tourist season. We didn’t know the unwritten rule. We would have stayed someplace else if we would’ve had cash.”
MG: That’s what Mom said. It’s been over fifty years, but it’s starting to come back to me. Please forgive me, but there are holes in my memory. I don’t remember anything up until I sealed the deal on this house.”
Lav: You don’t? What about the orange and black Mustang you rented in Rapid? I was wondering if you had to take it back. I love convertibles.
MG: Me too…where do you live, Lav?
Lav: I was staying at the cousin’s motels, but the unwritten rule is now in writing. It was posted on the door this morning. If you don’t pay, you can’t stay…
MG: Bummer… Do you want to live here, Lav? You can have Billy’s room. I haven’t heard from him, but then, I haven’t answered the telephone.
Lav: Sure, MG, I’ll hang my crown here for a while.
MG: Good, Lav. You can help me piece my life together. There are no pictures of me from the time I was eight.
Lav: Whoa! That could take some serious time!
MG: Yeah…can you help me get this TV to work? I wonder if Murdo still gets ‘As the World Turns’… I haven’t seen it in years.
Lav: I always loved Captain Kangaroo. Remember when all the ping-pong balls dropped on Mr. Moose’s head? I laughed my crown off.
MG: We’ll have fun, Lav. We know lots of Murdo people.
Lav: Yup… and people in Pierre and Ft. Pierre and we’ll go see Sheila again. Let’s go get a rhubarb shake at the drive-in. I’ll drive.
MG: We don’t have anything to drive. I’m pretty full, but I’ll go with you. We’ll ask everyone if they remember me.
It turns out the people at the drive-in don’t remember MG after the age of eight. They also said they agreed with her mother. She was gangly. The picture below shows her teeth have grown back in. Could this be a clue?
Stay tuned as more people are interviewed and freely tell Lav and MG the untold story.
If you read my last blog, you’ll remember that I am leading a life that’s parallel to my regular life. My second life is in my hometown of Murdo, SD.
I bought my childhood home and restored it to the way it was when my brother and I were kids. He was nice enough to give me the money I needed. The phone keeps ringing and it might be him, but I haven’t had a chance to answer it yet. I have no idea what my other self is doing. That’s the thing about having a parallel life. You don’t know about the other life, so you never have to wonder about it because the other you is living it just like nothing ever happened.
Anyway, I was cleaning up the furnace room downstairs and I found a little box. I remembered it from my childhood. It used to sit in front of the bookcase close to the fireplace. I opened it and guess what?
It was full of pictures of the things I described in my last blog. I swear, If I have ever seen these pictures before, my mind has blocked them out. I promise…I just found these.
This is Billy, me, and our cousin from California, John Pat Francis. Remember how I described the nice wood bookcase and fireplace in the living room? If I had seen this picture, it sure would have been easier to restore all of that. I remember the cute picture of Billy on the bookshelf. I wonder if Billy has it…
The bathroom tile is pink and black. I remembered the pink and black towels Mom had, but I didn’t remember the faucet was on the side of the tub. Dad was a plumber so I guess he knew what he was doing. The shower is on the other side of the towel wall.
I remember this like it was yesterday or the day before. I was in Mom’s room standing on the bed. I told her I was just standing there for a while. I had no intention of jumping. I would have taken my shoes off, but I wouldn’t have been able to tie them when I put them back on. I don’t know why we all had to wear those white leather high-tops, anyway.
Another one with Billy in it. Mom had those gold plates too high up on the dining room wall…and too far apart. Mom was the queen of minimalist living. It’s funny…I don’t remember Dad wearing a colored shirt. He always wore white shirts.
These front yard pictures show the planter I talked about and the breeze-way between the house and the garage.
Now…here is where the mystery begins. In this next picture, I’m wearing the Easter outfit Kitty Reynolds made for me. I’m standing at the front door. I must be about seven or eight because I don’t have my front teeth.
Here’s the kicker…
There are no pictures of me after this one. Oh, there are some school pictures, but that’s it! There might be some of Billy. I’ll look, later.
Do you suppose someone removed all of the pictures of me after the age of eight? Or…did my parents not take any. I do remember going through sort of a gangly, big-tooth stage.
Regardless, I think I should check it out and make sure there isn’t something more sinister going on. I still know quite a few people around here. I’ll start a full-fledged investigation tomorrow.
I wonder where people buy their groceries now? I suddenly have a craving for a chicken pot pie. And I wonder where I can get a coke and a Bing.
Now that’s just crazy…I don’t need a million dollars. I want a million dollars. And then the second thing I want is to live a parallel life.
Continuing on with my nostalgia- filled week, this is what I want to do with my parallel life once I get my million dollars or a hundred thousand. It’s negotiable. This might be what my other life would look like…
Low and behold, I got a check in the mail from Billy. He said he had some money lying around and he knew I wanted to live a parallel life. He hoped the two hundred thousand would help finance my dream. What a guy!
The first thing I did was call the people who currently own the house I grew up in. (Not the basement house…the one next to where Mowell’s used to live.) I asked the owner if he would consider selling it and he said I was in luck because the renters just moved out and he hadn’t found another renter yet. He gave me a price, and even though Dad built that house sixty-five years ago, I thought the asking price was fair and told him I would be in Murdo in a couple of days and we would seal the deal.
The best picture I have of the front of the house. 2. Dining room… Dad and Aunt Elna had birthdays one day apart. 3. Dining room…the air conditioner window and doorway to the kitchen
A couple of days later, I flew from Dallas to Rapid City. I rented a little orange and black mustang convertible and headed for Murdo. It was a great drive. I stopped at Wall Drug and had a hot beef sandwich and a piece of cherry pie. It was delish…
By the time I got to Murdo, it was too late to investigate the house, so I decided to find a place where I could stay for a few days. I have two cousins in Murdo who own motels, but it’s the middle of the tourist season. There is an unwritten rule that you don’t stay at a relative’s motel during tourist season because they might feel they are obligated to give you a good deal. I paid the going rate at the motel next to what was about to be my house again. The motel also happens to be owned by the seller of the house.
The next morning, I got up early and walked over to the Star Cafe and got a good cup of coffee. Even though I know they make a great breakfast, I was too excited to eat anything. A couple of hours later, I had purchased my childhood home, without even walking inside. I didn’t care what shape it was in.
It was harder than I thought to find a contractor to do the work right away, but fortunately I had Billy’s cash to do the talking. In no time at all, the house was almost as it was the day we moved out.
1. Front yard 2. Mom and I on front steps
When you walk in the front door, to your left is a beautiful wood, built-in bookcase. Next to the bookcase is a brick fireplace. Continuing down that front wall, there is a huge picture window. That’s where Mom put the aluminum tree with the color wheel. The window sits up high. In fact, you can look out the window and see the brick planters below on the outside. On the east wall, there is another smaller window in the corner and a window in the area where the dining room table goes. That’s where the air conditioner was.
There is a doorway that goes into the kitchen. The first thing you see is the broom closet. On the wall between the dining room and the kitchen there is a cut-out place to put your phone. It makes it convenient to answer the phone from the kitchen or the dining room.
Sitting at the booth in the kitchen. Mom always pulled a chair up to the end. The picture is not very clear, but the other people are Harold and Elsa Peck and Irma and Jeff Sanderson.
Living Room…Harold and Elsa Peck
When you walk into the kitchen, to your left is a landing with a door that goes outside. If you turn to your right you can go downstairs. The basement is completely finished except we never did put carpet or linoleum on the stairs. We didn’t even paint them.
Billy’s room, a bathroom, a built-in bar, a laundry area and a huge living room area with a fireplace are all downstairs.
The hole Mom blew in the ceiling when she threw the shotgun shells in the burning fireplace had been fixed…I was hoping it was still there. I have so many memories of playing with my friends and cousins in that basement. The only problem was when it rained hard, the window wells filled up and flooded Billy’s room and the living area. We had to scoop the water up with buckets and mop what we couldn’t scoop.
My room is upstairs… across from the master bedroom. If we would have said master bedroom back then, people would have said, “what?” There is a linen closet in a small hall area and a nice bathroom with a separate tub and shower. I remember the wall was painted a burnt orange and there was a round mirror hanging there.
Kitchen and living room -I took these from a DVD
Kitty Reynolds made beautiful layered pink and white curtains and a matching bedspread for my bedroom. I also had a vanity with a mirror in the middle, and drawers on each side. One day I came home and Mom and Kitty had sawed off the middle and put a set of drawers on each side of my bed like end tables. I threw the biggest fit you ever saw.
I had to do a lot of work to get my house back to the way it was, but when I was finished. It was even better than before. I refinished all the hardwood floors upstairs and the stairs to the basement. I had to replace the yellow booth and table downstairs, and the red one in the kitchen. I bought some great, comfortable furniture and the last thing I did was fix up the one car garage and put a whole new yard in. I now have a fenced back yard with a covered deck.
My understanding is that when you are living a parallel life, you don’t know it, so I wouldn’t know if Kip and I are having fun on an RV trip with the dogs and cat.
Now that I have my old house fixed up just the way I remember it, what will I do? I know. I think I’ll stay here and turn my little Murdo Girl memories into a book. I can interview other people and I’ll give everyone an alias this time. I’ll have to move fast or there won’t be very many people who will remember the people places and things I’ll write about.
I wonder if Billy has a little more cash lying around…I heard that once you decide to have parallel lives, there is no going back to just one. But how could anyone know for sure?