Redecorating is sure a lot of work. Especially if you’re doing it on a shoestring or I’m my case neckties. (I’ll explain more, later.)
I was inspired to add a little 4th of July color to the cottage so I took down the outside grapevine and foo foo that I have enjoyed since Yolie and I decorated the posts last year, and painstakingly transformed those same poles into what now resemble what you might see in front of a first rate barbershop. They are rather pretty at night with the lights on. Don’t forget to notice the blue footies.
I also made some changes on the inside to lose the winter and embrace the summer. I think it may be time to remove the curtains from the air conditioner.
Before looks junkie…
After…A little less congested
I love all three of our abodes… our not so tiny home, our motor home and the cottage. I have really become attached to the least of these…my cottage/clubhouse. Kip loves his garage.
I decided to add a couple of pics of his flowering cactus.
I almost forgot to shoe you what I’m purchasing ($5) to add a bit of color to the porch. Do you think it will tie into everything else?
Lav and I were commenting back and forth on a previous blog about crowns and hats. As far as I’m concerned, Her Highness, Queen Elizabeth made it possible for all persons of royalty to, on occassion, replace the pomp and circumstance of a bejeweled crown with the class and dignity of the perfectly styled hat. Queen E is no less the Queen in the exquisite hat designed for whatever “duty calls” appearance she graces with her magistry … She still dons the full regalia for the occassions requiring more elegance and perhaps regal distinction from her beloved commoners.
Anyway, I have crowns and what I call crown-hats. I have never before told you the back story to my royal connections. You know my mother was the Queen of Highway 16 when she was eighteen. She didn’t wear a crown. She wore a crown-hat. Her Palace was the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota. She looked the part of royalty through and through.
My story is more of a Cinderella story. It all began when I was seven. Kitty Reynolds, who was the most sought after seamstress in Murdo, called my mother with some exciting news. Her granddaughter, Judy, was getting married in Vernal, Utah and I was chosen to be the flower girl. Kitty was going to immediately fit me with a beautiful yellow gown and we were going to buy me some white patent leather shoes. Best of all, Kitty was going to make me a beautiful hat. One fitting for a beautiful southern belle. It was to be my first crown-hat.
It really pains me to tell you about the ugly twist this story took. Something came up and Mom and I weren’t going to be able to make it. I was appropriately devastated. I don’t think I have ever fully recovered. Well, not quite, but you will have to agree it’s not from lack of trying. The only thing that stopped the tears, was Mom told me I could wear my white patent leather shoes anytime I wanted to. I put them on and ran across Tuffy Gilbert’s yard and across Main Street to my friend Sandra’s house. (I was so besott, I doubt I had the presence of mind to look both ways.) I proceeded to show my shoes off to Sandra’s whole family. I wasn’t able to come forth with the knowledge that I was not going to be the princess at the wedding. I just couldn’t stop Sandra’s family, which happened to include my 2nd grade teacher, who was also Sandra’s mother, from saying how they couldn’t wait to see the wedding pictures of me dropping flowers from my basket as the light flashed brilliantly off the shiny leather of my shoes.
Guess what happened next? The event that was so bittersweet it was just about too much for the (dying for a crown-hat) kid that was me, to take! Mom decided we could go after all. Do you want to hear the kicker? My best friend Lois Lillibridge had already been told she was to be the royal flower girl and Kitty had turned my gown into Lois Lillibridge’s gown. I went to Vernal, Utah with Kitty and Mom and Lois and her mom and her sister, Cheryl. I wore my white shoes with everything. I never took them off. I didn’t act out either. I showed what I was made of. I didn’t shed a tear as I watched Lois in my gown walk regally down the isle at the coronation…I mean wedding.
I think that is why Kitty did what she did. When we got back to Murdo, Kitty made me…yes me…the most beautiful red gown I had ever seen.
And the rest is history.
Queen Elizabeth symbolically looking at me. My cousin, Mark, to right of me, was the parade manager. He designed and made my first tinfoil crown.
Let it be known that I have a picture of all of us in Vernal for the wedding, but it’s down in the cottage and it’s too early to walk down there.
As most of you know, my mom and Lav’s mom were sisters and extremely close friends, which is why Lav and I are cousins and extremely close friends. Lav fills in for Queen Elizabeth when she can’t get across the pond to some of my more pressing functions. I consider Lav, my sometimes co-queen. You are welcome, Lav, aka, Valerie.
I know you must be impressed by the humility I have shown considering what I have been through in my endeavor to let the past control my life. I don’t think that came out right. I hope you know what I mean because I don’t.
Have a wonderful day all of you beautiful commoners.
I was going through some pictures yesterday and ran across this one of my mother and some friends. I don’t remember seeing it, before. I have tons of photographs and I go through them constantly for the blog, so I don’t know how I could have missed it. I wish I had a dollar for every hour I have spent looking at pictures. I love them.
Judging from Mom’s hair and clothes, (notice the corsage), I think it must have been taken in the early forties. My parents were married in Rapid City in February of 1942 and Dad was inducted into the army in June of 1942. He didn’t go overseas until 9/20/1944. Mom lived in California for part of the time Dad was overseas and it looks like she was at some sort of show. If you look closely, you can see performers on a stage in the background. I don’t have any idea who the two people with her are. Dad was either overseas, or taking the picture. This is another reason why people should write on the back of any printed picture. I want to know if I’m guessing correctly, and now there is no one to ask. I doubt my brother will know, but if he does, he’ll let me know when he reads the blog.
Regardless, this photograph has survived as many as 80 years. Many of our family photos were destroyed when a storage unit Gus and Mom rented flooded. Gus retrieved the little wooden box that we stored pictures in for years and gave it to me. I have lived in five states. Thankfully, I’ve had houses with attics. The boxes of pictures sometimes weren’t opened for years. This has to be a record for anything I have managed to hang on to.
When I look at this picture, I see a beautiful young woman with great expectations. She must have been in her early twenties with her whole life ahead of her. A small town girl weaving her threads of life through the unknown realities of wartime. Those years had to be both exciting and terrifying. It’s hard to think about all of the young couples who had to put off family life and careers during their time in the service. My brother, Billy, was born in July of 1944. Dad was there when he was born, but didn’t see him again until he came back from overseas January 4th of 1946. Billy was 17 months old.
Dad had family in California and Mom’s older sister, Ella was there, too. I believe they shared an apartment with their friend, Sugar Nyquist Parker. I don’t know when Sugar married George Parker. I think Aunt Ella met Uncle Al when he was stationed in California, but I don’t think they got married until after the war. These people are/were Murdoites. So many people from the area settled in California that for years the had a Jones County Picnic. The rhythm of life…
After Dad was discharged, they went back to Murdo and Dad started his plumbing business. In 1947, they had a baby girl they named Vickie Lane. She had underdeveloped lungs and only lived for three days. After her death, my dad wrote a very touching letter to his mother who had moved from Murdo to California after she sold the hardware store. In the letter, Dad refers to Mrs. Parker. She was George Parker’s mother (Sugar’s mother-in-law) and a good friend to my Grandmother Francis.
Dad sent a telegram and then he sent this letter. He said there was little one could say. He wrote that the baby cried normally at first, but then started to have trouble breathing. She seemed to be doing better the next day. Later, she got worse again and that time she didn’t pull out of it.. He said Mom seemed to be doing well. She had good color and a world of nerve and courage to go on. He said they were going to have a funeral the next day and that Mom had asked that Mary Parker be there. He also said he was grateful they had little Billy at home because that would make it easier on Mom than if they had no children. I couldn’t help but notice that he was writing to his mother, yet he only talked about how Mom was doing and not about his own feelings. I often wonder how Mom got the courage to go through that long nine months again. She must have wondered if the outcome would be the same.
I know this might be too sad for some, but I included it because it is all part of the rhythm of life.
I came along at the end of 1951. Our family had some tough times to navigate through, but there are two things I appreciated the whole time and they were 1) living in Murdo, and 2) having wonderful grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins surrounding me…Oh yes, and teachers and friends.
If things weren’t going right with Dad’s business or other difficulties arose, Dad would always say, “Well, we’ve always had a roof over our heads.”
I wrote the following the day Uncle Jerry died. It will help you understand how I feel about small town living and family…
Dad and Uncle Jerry were out driving around today like they do sometimes when they’re talking about jobs. Dad is a plumber and Uncle Jerry builds houses. Dad said they pulled up to a stop sign and there was my cousin, Greg (Uncle Jerry’s son), throwing rocks. He was hitting a sign and causing it to dent all up. Well, Uncle Jerry wasn’t too happy about it, so he rolled down the window and was about to call Greg over to the car.
Before he had a chance to say anything, Greg ran over to the car and said, “Dad, I want to have a talk with you when we get home.” Dad said Uncle Jerry didn’t know what to say then, so he just rolled up the window and they drove off.
Uncle Jerry doesn’t talk much, which might be kind of good, because there are plenty of people in our family who do. Two weeks ago we had a little mix-up at my house. Mom went to Pierre, to buy flowers for the motel planters, and to spend the night with a friend. She thought Dad was taking care of me. Well, Dad thought Mom was going the next day, so he went out-of-town to check on a job.
Spaghetti at Mom and Dad’s (Bill and Loretta Francis) Mom and Dad, Elsa Peck, Uncle Jerry and Aunt Elna (Miller) I’ve seen Aunt Elna laugh like that a hundred times.I don’t think the man on the end is Harold Peck, Elsa’s husband. He might be taking the picture.
When I got home after school, no one was there. (Billy was gone somewhere too.) I waited until suppertime and started getting hungry. Murdo is a small town. If your Mom and Dad get mixed up, there is always somewhere to go. I started walking and headed South of Hwy 16. I was really hungry by then, so I stopped at the first relative’s house I came to. Aunt Elna is a good cook, and I like to play with my cousins, Andrea, Stephanie, and Greg. Aunt Elna said, “Sure you can stay here, and we’ll just keep calling your house in case someone gets home.” Then, we all had chicken pot pies.
Al Leckey, Bill Francis, Jerry Miller
I ended up spending the night and the next morning, Uncle Jerry got me up early and took me to my house so I could change my clothes and get my saxophone for band practice. I thought that was pretty nice. He even gave me a ride to band practice.
Since I’m writing about Uncle Jerry, I will tell you about his office. My other cousins and I don’t go in there, because that’s where all his house plans, and other work stuff are kept.
Guess what? My cousin Andrea, (Jerry’s daughter), invited my cousin Valerie to go into Uncle Jerry’s office. She said there’s a really nice stereo in there. She got to listen to a Gene Pitney album. I love Gene Pitney. He sings “A Town without Pity.”
I’ m going to ask Stephanie if I can hear it too.
Uncle Jerry does a lot of work on the Cabin
The Days were Splendid, Every One
The past never stays in the past. God gave us memories so that we could have roses in December…
Presho, South Dakota was laid out in 1905 and was named after J.S. Presho, a cattleman.
Murdo, South Dakota was founded in about 1907 and was named in honor of cattle baron, Murdo MacKenzie.
Sorry, Sherri…Unique as always, Murdo was the (first) name of the cattle baron it was named after. I think cattle barons must have been a little higher up than cattlemen as far as the social implications were concerned.
In fact, I was unable to find a photograph of Mr. Presho. Mr. MacKenzie was easy to find as he was reported to be the most influential cattle baron in America.
Seriously, even though the combined population of both bergs, today, doesn’t quite reach a thousand, we love our respective hometowns and feel blessed to have grown up where we did. We understand the quote from Adele: In my hometown the memories are fresh.
I love the way Sherri (Swinson) Miller described her family life. There was no way I could alter it or write it as well as she did…Her story continues.
Dad was also a volunteer fireman and went on many calls transporting people that were injured in car accidents along the old highway. Unfortunately, there were many of these sad incidents, as the highway had some pretty treacherous curves along it. Our main car was always a station wagon, so if they needed additional transportation to get people to the hospital in Pierre or Chamberlain, Dad was always willing to help.
On the contracting side of his Swinson Plumbing and Heating and Contracting business, we figured out that he had built around 150 homes in the Presho and surrounding area. He also built the Presho Bank and Presho/now Lyman auditorium, to name a few of the businesses he was involved in.
When it comes to my dad (I feel exactly the same way about my mom, too!) My motto is that he was the best dad ever and he still is.
Growing up a Swinson, with my two wonderful parents and two beautiful sisters, in the great community of Presho is a blessing beyond belief. I thank God every day that he blessed me in the way he did and continues to do so.
THE GRANDFATHER CLOCK as dictated by Sherri Miller (FF into the 70s)
Back in the 70s Sherri’s Mom and Dad bought a grandfather clock at an auction in Presho, SD where they lived. As it turned out, the clock belonged to someone who lived just a couple of blocks from them, so they ended up hand carrying it down the street to their house.
The clock soon became Mr. Swinson’s pride and joy and he seldom let anyone else touch it. His beautiful clock had to be wound each week before the weights were all the way to the bottom. If they do get to the bottom, the clock can lock up and fixing it requires a clock repair expert. Sherri said that throughout the years, it has only locked up on them once. They had to take the non-working parts out, wrap them very carefully and haul them to Bridgwater, which is about 135 miles from Presho. A couple of weeks later, they had to drive back and pick them up. They never wanted to do that again, so Mr. Swinson was very careful to wind the clock on time each week.
The grandfather clock has three weights..one in the middle, that controls the time, and two on each side that control the chimes. When Sherri’s Dad started slowing down, he finally decided to let her take over the task of winding the clock. When he became really sick last November and had to go to the hospital, winding the clock was not on Sherri’s mind. When she got back to Presho a few weeks later, the weights on the grandfather clock had reached the bottom and everything on the clock had stopped. She had to get back to Pierre, (SD), so she wasn’t able to do anything with it on that trip.
In late December, she decided to try winding it to see what happened. The clock timing actually started to work, which meant the middle weight was moving down like it should. After that, Sherri was careful to rewind the clock part weekly. The two weights on the outside however, did not move, which meant the clock did not chime on the quarter, half, or on the hour. Fearing he would get upset, Sherri decided not to share this with her Dad.
Several weeks after Mr. Swinson came home, Sherri was helping him to the bedroom and he stopped at the clock and asked, “Is the clock not working?” Sherri responded that it was and it was keeping perfect time. He didn’t say anything more about it until a few days before his passing, when he asked her again if the clock was working. He said he couldn’t hear it chime. This time she told him what had happened. Sherri said he remained calm and said, “If I were able and if I could get to it, I know I could fix it.” Sherri told him she knew he could too, but he couldn’t get to it and they were not going to worry about it now. No more was said.
Sherri and her sisters had tried to fix the chimes several times over the previous three months, but to no avail. Then a few days after her Dad died, the clock needed winding. After she wound it, the clock made a little chime. She was shocked, but thought maybe she had touched something when she pulled the weight up, that caused the sound. That happened around 7:35, so Sherri and her sister sat there watching it, and waited for 7:45 to get there. Sure enough, they heard a small chime. They waited for it to come to the hour of eight o’clock. They were so excited when they heard the “minute before” chime and then the count..8 dongs..one for each hour. Sherri and her sister listened to each chime of the grandfather clock in amazement. The clock has been working perfectly ever since.
The sisters were convinced the first thing their Dad did when he left, was to get over to that clock and fix it. It was his way of answering the request Sherri had asked of her dad shortly after he died. She asked him to please find a way to let her know he was okay. Each time she hears the chimes, she knows her Mom and her Dad are together, and everything is as it should be.
Remember the song most of us learned when we were kids? I felt this to be an appropriate way to end this poignant story…MG
My grandfather’s clock was too tall for the shelf So it stood ninety years on the floor. It was taller by half than the old man himself But it weighed not a pennyweight more.
Ninety years without slumbering Tic toc tic toc His life’s seconds numbering Tic toc tic toc It stopped, short, never to go again When the old man died.
The man in the song must not have had a very special and loving daughter, who believes her Dad is now in heaven catching up with her Mom. Don’t you think he must have said this to his wife? “Sorry I’m a little late, honey, but I had to fix the clock for Sherri. She asked me to give her a sign that all is well.
Sherri believes she and her sisters now have two guardian Angels.
I believe our Angels will do almost anything to get our attention.
It’s been a few weeks since I started writing the Rythm of Life series. I began with three men who were born in the late 1800’s and went on to the generation that followed them which included the years of WWII. I mentioned before that I am going to interview Gus, who’s family immigrated from Sweden. We’re going to begin that process on Thursday. I know most of the story, but he tells it better…
In the meantime, I will to continue with the stories of the Swinson, Francis, McNinch, and Sanderson families.
I was born on the last day of 1951, shortly before the big South Dakota blizzard that took place in late January of 1952. My brother, Billy, was seven years old and we lived in Murdo, SD.
Sherri Swinson Miller was born on February 7, 1954. Sherri has a twin sister, Shelli. Their older sister, Sandy, was born 10/10/1950. The Swinson family lived in Presho, SD.
It was common knowledge that Dad was hoping for a boy somewhere in this mix, as I was told in later life that I was supposed to be a Michael. That aside, Dad never gave the impression that he minded having all girls, as he was a loving, caring, giving dad as long as I can remember him.
The 1050’s were the boomer years. The economy boomed, and everywhere individuals were feeling the need for family and security after all those hard years of war. In the 1950s there was a marriage boom, birth rate boom, and housing boom.
During the 1950s, games, including checkers, marbles and chess as well as card games, such as go fish or old maid, kept kids entertained. In addition, hot new games such as Scrabble had just been introduced in the late 1940s, and by 1952, its makers were selling 400 sets a day. I still enjoy playing a rousing game of scrabble.
After the war, Pete Swinson returned to Presho, SD and established Swinson’s Plumbing and Heating. On January 14, 1947, he married Artis O’Toole. On their 4th wedding anniversary, they had an open house in their first new home.
My father, Bill Francis, came home from the war and established Francis Plumbing and Heating in Murdo, SD. We moved into our new home when I was 18 months old, so it must have been around June of 1952. Since I discovered that our fathers both owned plumbing and heating businesses, I have wondered if my dad and Sherri’s dad knew each other. It is very probable they did since they operated similar businesses in towns only 34 miles from each other.
In 1955, Pete Swinson built the first new building to be built on Main Street in Presho in over 30 years. The building was rented out and housed a grocery store, a post office, a TV appliance sales and service store, and a Gambles Store that the Swinson’s owned and hired a manager to run.
Pete also took up flying. One day he and two other guys decided to go after a coyote. They hit an air pocket and made junk out of the plane. After that, they wisely decided to take up golf. Not only was it safer, but their wives enjoyed it, too.
The following includes more of Sherri Miller’s thoughts about her father…
I have very fond memories of my early childhood with my family. To Dad, school was very important and he and mom made sure that we went to school and did the work throughout. My sisters were very good students, and I was average. That didn’t matter, as long as we were putting in the effort. He was also a big supporter and fan of extracurricular activities. The biggest Presho Wolf fan ever. Since back then they didn’t have girls’ sports, he made sure we participated in the stands. He and mom took us to all the away games and then to Hutch’s when we got back for burgers and fries to either celebrate our victory or drown our sorrows.
I remember one night going to a tournament in Murdo and on the way, I believe it was in Draper, he got picked up by the Highway Patrol for speeding. EVERYONE going to the game saw him pulled over alongside the road by the trooper.
When he finally got to the game, he got a standing ovation by the Presho crowd! He was also very active in the community and school, fundraising, Presho gym, Lions Club, later on getting the Medicine Creek Golf Course built. I remember him helping kids in the community with money for further education, etc. Didn’t want any recognition for it, just wanted to help in some way. He and my mom also enjoyed playing cards. They were a member of a 2 table (8 person) bridge club. They played every Saturday night. Took turns going to the member’s homes. They must have played for pretty high stakes, as after they accumulated a substantial pot, they were off for a little vacation. I know they went to Vegas, Mexico, and who knows where else with their funds. They had some really good stories to tell about these trips too! One couple in the group eventually ended up moving to Murdo. That didn’t stop them. They continued to play and Fritz and Darlene Jost just drove to Presho and the others to Murdo when it was their turn to host. What wonderful friends this group became.
**Here is a side note for you from Mary…When the Josts moved to Murdo, their daughter Josephine and I became good friends. We graduated high school together and had an awesome adventure in California after graduation. (Link to story is at the end of this blog.)
Murdo High School senior pictures…1970
As I said earlier, Dad was a big sports fan, and in his early years loved to hunt, fish, play ball, etc. He tried his hardest to give his girls the same opportunities. I still remember him baiting our hooks, untangling our fishing poles, taking the fish off the hook, letting us ride on the hood of the car while we scouted for rabbits, etc., just encouraging us to enjoy and love the great outdoors. I have no doubt that for him, many of these little outings were far more work for him then they were fun though. He did, however, as well as the rest of our family, enjoy our times spent at our cabin that he built out at Fate Dam. It was a one room cabin containing two beds and a kitchen and eating area, no bathroom! We all so loved going to that place. Mom and my sisters and I sometimes spent weekdays out at Fate and Dad would join us on the weekend. A weekend of swimming, boating, and socializing. It is definitely one of my fondest memories. Maybe this had to do with vacations that happened before the cabin.
Every year we loaded the car up and went out to the Black Hills, did a lot of driving around, as well as visiting some of the tourist’s traps. After years of doing this, we were definitely ready for a change!
My dad was one of the hardest working persons I have ever known. Mom did most of the disciplinary, child raising and home duties, but all the time he was teaching us one of life’s most important lessons —the value of hard work. To me it seems like dad worked 24-7. If he wasn’t building homes or businesses, he was doing furnace calls or taking care of plumbing issues, etc. It got to be in our house that we all just hated it when the phone rang, because it usually meant that Dad had to leave and go help someone.
The Swinson and Francis family stories to be continued in part 2
I’m getting information together to continue the Rhythm of Life stories. I’ll probably post the next one on Sunday. I have been catching up with myself since I got home from Wyoming and sometimes that takes a while.
Today, I made wreathes and decorated a little for the 4th of July…I know I’m early, but I’ll be ready for Labor Day, too. I’m not miss creativity. The thing I’m best at making is a mess…
The cactus in our front yard is starting to bloom and it’s really pretty. All we have in the way of plants is cacti.
We also took our Lilie Dale to the vet again this morning. She was just there a couple of days ago. She hasn’t been very active and her right leg is obviously hurting her. After bloodwork and x-rays, the diagnosis was arthritis… I also found out I have a torn meniscus. The vet didn’t tell me that. The doctor called and gave me the results of the MRI I had on my knee before my trip to Wyoming. So it’s off to the ortho I will go.
Getting old is so much fun. I recommend it to everyone.
I know it could be so much worse. I’ll tell you in this nonsense verse.
If I was a tree…of all things, I’d be trying to hide all my rings
If I was a spirited mare you’d gage, my teeth and know my advanced age.
Think about that new car you bought. It was worth the most when on the lot.
To you this may be a bit irrelevent, but if you want longevity, be an African Elephant.
Jellyfish live a long time too, but they don’t have that much to do.
I think I’ll stay the same old me. Even with an old bum knee.
My dog and I are quite a pair. We race to get the easy chair.