Murdo Girl…A hometown poem


By Mary Francis McNinch

I’ve been sitting here for five long minutes, wondering how I should begin this.

Now I’ve written four short lines and nothing that I’ve written rhymes.

I guess it’s close enough for me. Until I have an epiphany.


I’ve got my crown on. I’m good to go. I know the words will begin to flow.

Why oh why is my brain so slow. Nothing much rhymes with Murdo.

I think I’ve thought of a better way. I’ll start by describing Mack’s Cafe.

Macks Cafe

Linda Kerns..inside Mack’s Cafe 1969

Breakfast, dinner, supper, snacks…The food was always good at Mack’s.

Doris made yummy cinnamon rolls..served ham and beans in great big bowls.

Hot beef sandwiches were a favorite. Don’t eat too fast, you must savor it.

I ate so much my stomach hurt, but I always had room for a big dessert.

Sanderson’s Store is on Main Street, and everyone there is really neat.


If you’ve read all I’ve written about. You know this store inside and out.

Groceries, produce, they’ve got it all, and mounted deer heads on the wall.


Grandpa Sanderson after a successful hunt

Uncle Jeff, Uncle Al and Great Aunt Tet..Just a second I’m not done yet.

Billy, Jeff H. and Eldon Davis, thanks for the service you all gave us.

The post office, Ford garage, Mr. Kell…Laundromat, Gambles, and the Gem Hotel.

The Murdo Coyote keeps us in the know, even 25 and 50 years ago.

Maybe they know what rhymes with Murdo.

If the Ford Garage sells you a car, and you celebrate at the Buffalo Bar,

The Hotel owned by Alice Tornow is the place you probably ought to go.

Still nothing rhymes with Murdo.

My dog Berferd got to go, uptown to the picture show.

He was as quiet as he could be, (unless a dog barked in the movie).

If you want to change the way you’re livin, or maybe you need to be forgiven,

We’ve got churches everywhere, so you can go and say a prayer.

Go to Dr Murphy if you’re feeling sick and Doc Bork will fix your teeth real quick.

Joy Payne sells the ladies their dresses and Evie McKenzie curls their tresses.

Down on the highway called Old 16, there’s a lot more to be seen.

Fern’s Cafe makes a great hamburger, or maybe dessert is what you’re there fer.

Chocolate cake with lots of frosting. (Writing a poem is so exhausting)

Head to The Pioneer Auto Museum. Old cars and buildings..Wait til you see em.


Together our motels sleep 800. (Just in case you’ve ever wondered).

Super Value and Cafe 16, have goods and food fit for a Queen.

Karen Lindquist and Mary Francis a few years back…

If you’re low on gas, don’t get nervous. All our gas stations are full service.

Dean’s Philip 66 will fix your tires, and Dean’s really good to the guys he hires.

Now we have a drive-in and a diner. Their food and milkshakes taste diviner.

Than food you usually get “to go”.Still nothing rhymes with Murdo.

I wouldn’t be in such a frenzy if they would’ve named Murdo..MacKenzie.



My cousin Valerie Leckey with two friends shortly before she and her parents moved to California. I’m sure many of you recognize the other two cute girls. The photo was taken in 1963.

Old picture of the Murdo Water Tower

Murdo Girl…Mystery solved

W Spade came to town hoping to spend some quality time with his daughter, MG and niece, Lav. A strange turn of events got them all involved in the Click Case.

We knew from the beginning that W Spade wasn’t MG’s Dad and Lav’s Uncle Bill’s real name. At first, he was just going to teach MG to drive the El Camino, but thought better if it. He quickly realized MG and Lav weren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer when they were confused by the phone calls telling them what they already knew. W Spade was really MG’s dad and Lav’s Uncle Bill. He just happened to have gum on his shoes.

Along came the three Click brothers and their sister, Friday. They were part of one of the bad Clicks that every town has. They were really struggling financially due to the seaweed problem in their swimming dam, the loss of an oar, and the increasing cost of Friday’s hats. They saw the shiny El Camino and extortion came to mind.

The police came up with the idea to preemptively get MG’s dad to call Jim and ask him for $500.00 to free Friday which confused Jim Click. He became stressed because now he needed $1000 smackaroos which caused him to die from a natural cause of some kind. (Most Clicks lead an unhealthy lifestyle.)

The bad Clicks left town, but Friday redeemed herself by heading up a community effort to build a public swimming pool. The town buried the basement, though if you drive by slowly, you can still pick up the scent of a stale cigar. MG and Lav were very grateful the washer and dryer were buried with the basement.

Mystery solved…oh, Dad, (aka Uncle Bill) and Berferd were last seen headed west in the El Camino. They got word that MG and Lav wanted to ride in some parade seated on the back of a red convertible and wanted no part of that. They did, however miss the rhunarb shakes they had grown so fond of.

Now…can I write an exciting yet intriguing mystery or what?

Murdo Girl…Clues to use

Don’t get too discouraged. My clues will save the day. The answer to this puzzle is just one click away.

Tim Click was in a boat trying to get to shore. He went around in circles cause he only had one oar.

Slim Click was on the dock. He fell off and hit his head, got tangled in the seaweed and later turned up dead.

Jim Click tried to help them but he couldn’t swim. He couldn’t find Tim’s oar or save his brother Slim.

The Clicks lived near the swimming dam that sister Friday called the pond. Jim went home to get her, but she was already gone.

The phone rang and Jim answered. The caller said, “I’m W Spade. I have your sister, Friday, and there’s a deal here to be made.) He said, “I need some money. $500 smackaroos will do. Bring it to the basement and I’ll give Friday back to you.”

Jim thought about it some and called the cops instead. When they got to the house. They found that Jim was dead. To add a twist to the story and give reason here to pause, Jim wasn’t killed by anyone. He died of a natural cause.

So far, no one’s been murdered, but Jim and Slim are toast. Tim Click rows in circles. Friday Click’s tied to a post.

What does W Spade et al have to do with all of this? Who called and told three people his name was never his?

Answer those two questions and this mystery will be solved. There was a crime commited, but no murder was involved.

Murdo Girl…Clicks and clues

W Spade et al, were really in a mess. Two guys were found demised, but no one had confessed.

A boat had been afloat at the local swimming dam. The bad guy took the paddles and whacked the good guys… bam!!

The police had one body, W Spade took the other. Who were these gentlemen? Did they know one another?

Our girl Friday acted strangely. She said she lived across the pond. Did she mean the ocean or was W being conned?

W Spade et al investigated. They knew they must be quick. They looked inside Friday’s purse and found her name is Click.

Since W had no ice, to keep his demised guy cold. He put him in the pop machine and the cokes could not be sold.

The two good guys and the bad one and Friday were all Clicks. A family from Ft Pierre. Way out in the sticks.

I’ve told you all I’m going to…just for today. Can you solve my little mystery, or will the bad guy get away?

MG after consuming a delicious rhubarb shake at this diner.

Murdo Girl…Foul play

After being notified by the local police that a body had been found at the swimming dam, W Spade et al, jumped into the El Camino and headed East. We catch up with them heading back.


Lav: How come I always have to ride in the middle? We need a four-door car.

MG: Would you rather ride in the back with the dead guy?

Lav: Hey Uncle W, how did you know there were two dead guys at the swimming dam? The police said there was only one who met his surprise.

W: They said demise, but I guess he probably was surprised when he got snuffed out by a boat paddle. That was the guy the police found. I haven’t figured out who turned this guy’s lights out yet…or how!

I didn’t go. I get car sick

MG: There’s something fishy about this whole thing. You’re not even supposed to have a boat on this dam. It’s for swimming. Why would someone bring a boat out here and whack a guy with an oar?

I saw the whole thing

W: You’re pretty sharp, MG, like your dad. You’re right…something is fishy. Plus the guy in back smells like seaweed. I wonder if he was fishing off the dock before the killer killed him?

MG: My question is why do we have him in our car? Why didn’t we just hand his body over to the cops. They already have the other one. I mean, if you already have one dead guy, what’s one more?

W: There is something I need to tell you et al…I knew both of the dead guys when they were still alive. In fact, I could be courting danger myself. I think I’ll pull my new cigar out and chew on it for a while. I’m feeling kind of jittery.

Lav: Hey Uncle W. where’d you get that new cigar? You said you only had one and you hadn’t lit it for ten years. It smelled like it, too.

W: Well, aren’t you a couple of smart cookies. I’m beginning to think you know too much. Maybe I should have Friday shut you in the laundry room while I get myself out of some hot water.

Lav and MG: Please no! Not the laundry room. Are the motel towels in there? Would we have to wash and fold all those towels? We can’t even put bleach in the water. If the towels look too nice, the tourists steal them. (MG’s parents own a motel and she and all her cousins have worked there at some point for $1 an hour plus a cinnamon roll.)

W: Well, okay. I’m going to stop by there, anyway. We need to put this guy on ice until I can figure out what to do. Is that ice machine still in the basement? If not, we’ll have to squeeze him into the pop machine.

So W Spade et al go back to the basement where they catch Friday napping. She wakes up when she hears them come in.


Friday: I’m still on across the pond time, she lies. You’ve had two phone calls, Mr. Spade. Both callers said I don’t think you know who you really are. They sounded sinister and smelled like seaweed.

Anybody pick up on that? Last I knew, you couldn’t smell someone over the phone. What is Friday’s deal? And why do all these clicks keep calling to tell us W is someone else?

Wow…this is deep…


Murdo Girl…Healing

People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.

…Maya Angelou

I want to share this news with all of my wonderful friends and family who have been my loyal support system these past few months.

Yesterday, the doctor said he wants me to heal until the end of the summer before any further surgery. At that time, they will re-cision (take a very small section of what’s left on the left, to biopsy). If it shows zero cancer cells, which they believe will be the case, they will do a little reconstruction surgery and I’ll be done. I have started the pill form of cancer medication and there are no plans for chemo or radiation, just a ton of check-ups.

I don’t have the words to express how grateful I am. I’ve seen so much suffering, but I’ve seen some awesome miracles, too.

Here is what I’ve learned…The prayers make the difference in both cases.

But…Dollie is depressed. When are they coming?

I have to say thank you for the milkshakes, cards, yummy meals, fun little gifts, wonderful visits, flowers, emails, phone calls, and the help of my family and amazing church family. Kip even colored my roots. What a guy!

I love and appreciate you all more than you could ever know, and you are always in my prayers.



Murdo Girl…Business is booming

W Spade et al and crew cut out early on Friday since they hadn’t secured any new clients and nothing really criminal happens on the weekends in Murdo. Besides, the new assistant, Friday, wasn’t starting until Monday.

On Monday, things began to change. You could feel it in the air. Northeaster, is the only word I can think of to describe how the breeze suddenly changed direction.

It was one of those times when you remember exactly where you were and what you were doing the moment you heard the news.

W, et al, and Friday were hanging out in the basement drinking coffee when they heard a strange sound. It was almost a full minute before Friday realized it was her phone ringing.

Friday: W Spade et al, Private Investigators …this is Friday. No, dear, my name is Friday. Today is Monday. What can we do for you? We solve, dissolve, and resolve your problems.

Friday: I see… What did him in? Uh, let me see if W is free. He’s our Head and Neck Murder Manager.

W: W Spade at your service. Please fill me in on the gruesome details.

It seemed like forever before W hung up the phone. His face was as white as Friday’s hair in a Saturday snowstorm.

W: The police got a call about a guy floating on his back at the swimming dam. Apparently, he had met his demise.

Lav: He must have tried to do a back flip off that rickety dock.

W: No Lav…he was murdered.

Lav: Oooh..Do you mean someone rubbed him out?

MG: Who was he?

W: Anybody know a guy by the name of Rick Click, aka Slick Rick Click…?

You could hear et al suck in air. Yesterday’s mysterious caller and the dead guy Clicked.

W: Grab the keys to the El Camino et al. Friday, hold down the fort. We have to get to the dam before…before…

MG: Before what, Dad? MG is watching W closely for clues, but all she sees is his stupid hat.

Then she looks again. He has a brand new cigar in his shirt pocket… and it’s still in the wrapper…things are getting interesting…

Murdo Girl…Tough case #1

Having taken to the idea of being a private eye, William now refers to himself as W. Spade. He has also recruited his daughter, MG and his niece, Lav to be his Sherlocks. They do all the legwork.

MG: I like the El Camino, Dad, but why does it say W Spade et al?

W: I was short on space and et al is from a Latin phrase that means, and others. That’s you and Lav. BTW, Lav, you can call me Uncle Bill if you’d like, but I would rather you both call me W. It fits my detective image. Now…do we have a case to crack?

Lav: We don’t know. We’ve spent all day dragging Main. Berferd is supposed to let us know if someone leaves us a message on the answering machine, but isn’t that him running down the alley?


W: Okay, let’s go back to the basement and see if any calls have come in. Remember…we can pick and choose our cases. We’ve only been in business three hours.

As the three investigative professionals pull up to the basement, they are totally unaware of the person watching them from a car parked in front of them in the driveway.

W: I’ll stay here behind this car parked in front of us in the driveway and chew on my cigar while et al goes down and checks the answering machine.

There is a single message on the machine, but in spoofs like this, one good lead is all it takes to move your business to the next level. Lav presses the blinking button. Little does she know the message will be life altering, (Or at least make for an interesting afternoon.)

The voice says, “W. Spade isn’t who you think he is. There will be another clue, tomorrow… Click.”

MG: Wow that’s weird.

Lav: Yeah…I’ve never heard of anyone named, Click, before…have you, MG?

MG: No, Lav. I mean it’s weird that someone would say W isn’t who we think he is. Let’s go ask him some open-ended questions. That’s how a good detective gets information.

Lav: I know a good one. I’ll go first.

Lav to W: Uncle Bill…who do I think you are?

W: … Listen et al …I think we need to hire an assistant. We’re probably missing out on a lot of business by having Berferd handle the phones. Et…put an ad in the paper. Make sure we hire someone who is independently wealthy, but doesn’t mind working overtime. That’s the secret right there. It also helps if they know people who hang out with bad guys.

MG and Lav momentarily forget all about the mysterious caller. Was W just trying to throw them off his stale cigar scent? Will Click call back tomorrow?

Anyway, they were able to find an assistant. The new girl, Friday, starts Monday…meet E, Murdobird, (the mascot), and we couldn’t find Berferd.


Murdo Girl…A spoof that got out of hand

I didn’t see one brown, chewed-up stub around, or even an ashtray to explain the unmistakable odor of a stale cigar. It’s funny that would be the first thing I would notice as I entered the cold, damp, basement. As my eyes began to adjust to the darkness and I took a few more tentative steps inside, I became aware of a few other things. There was a large metal desk that hadn’t seen a dust cloth since Custer’s Last Stand, which was the name on the huge picture hanging on the wall behind the desk.

At first, I thought the basement was empty, but then I saw him sitting there.

He looked like a middle aged guy sitting in a dirty office chair with his feet propped up on the filthy desk, so I surmised that’s what he was. Without being too obvious, I tried to count the holes in the soles of the well-worn shoes. “I have boots to wear when I work,” he says rather nonchalantly. He’s also sporting a brown felt hat that’s actually in pretty good shape. He reaches for a small fan and shuts it off. On one of the blades is the answer to my burning question. A stale cigar.

“I haven’t actually lit this cigar in ten years, so I try to offset the stale smell with the fan, which I turn on between non-smokes,” he tells me in the way of an explanation.

I’m Berferd, and this is not the showplace

I’d heard the empty rooms in this basement had once been a showplace, but that must have been a legend that had taken on a life of it’s own… unless a washer, dryer, and a metal filing cabinet suggest showplace to you. I heard the town was taking donations to bury the basement just to get rid of the smell. Too bad…I rather like the smell of a bad cigar.

He finally saw me standing there. He didn’t seem surprised, “You look like your mother,” he said. “But you have your mother’s eyes.” (Huh?) “Life was hard back then. You and I had to really work to find time to spend together.”

He went on…and on..

“I tried to teach you how to drive, and you drove us straight into the ditch. Some farmer had to haul us out. I made you take the hunter’s safety course. I thought it was the right thing to do, but hunting wasn’t your thing. Your brother was a good shot. What were you good at…anything? I looked for some natural talent, but other than seeing you dancing to Lawrence Welk in front of the TV, nothing really sticks out in my mind.”

“You were a gymnast without a gym,” He said. “A professional ice skater without the cool skates… a country western singer who could only play two chords on the guitar, not to mention a voice that could make a snake cry…. and who could forget, a Queen without a Court!


“Whatever happened to that cousin, Lav, who loved my cooking? Does she still wash dishes for a good meal? I always thought that was the funniest thing. I could use every dish we had in the house to cook Sunday dinner, and she would happily clean the whole mess up just to eat my fried chicken.


“Murdo had everything you needed, didn’t it?” He said rather wistfully. “You just had to pretend a lot.”

“Dad?” I asked.” Do you always do all of the talking? Because if you do, this story isn’t going to work for me.”

“You can’t begin to fathom my disappointment,” he said. “I was looking forward to being a gumboot. Murdo needs a good William Spade.”


“They’re called gumshoes, Dad.”

“I prefer detective, like the old days. Let’s dig up a cold case and solve it like they did on Gunsmoke. I’m sure there’s something going on south of 16. We’ll get your cousin to drive. Wait, let me get my work boots. These gumshoes stick to the floor.”


Tune in for the first episode of the new show, Riveting Crime Stoppers as they flush out the perps who give us a bad rep and keep Murdo from getting the big stores like they have in Pierre.


But first…anyone for a Rhubarb Shake?

Murdo Girl…Chocolate on butter

Nothing is ever ALL sad.

My mother always told me that I would need to start wearing glasses when I turned forty. She said the first time she realized she needed glasses is when she couldn’t see a number in the phone book. It wouldn’t be such a big problem, now, but back then, it was. So Mom got glasses and, just as she had predicted, I too, had to get them when I turned forty. My brother held out for another several years by closing one eye and having someone else read the menu to him. His favorite dish was always, the special.  Once he asked a friend if he was going to eat his ice cream. The friend said, “knock yourself out!” It turned out to be butter.

The other day, when I was having some problems with my medication, I also got one very pleasant surprise side effect. I did not need my glasses to see far (distance). I now only needed them to read, which I hardly ever do, anyway.

So, off to the store I went to buy several pairs of those cute little reading glasses my friend, Pat always wears. They’re so cheap, you can buy a pair to match all your outfits. Several of my friends swore their eyesight improved when they reached a certain age. I should have been suspicious since Mom had never mentioned such an occurrence.

Friday, my body started to work it’s way back to normal. My equilibrium, which was most affected, gradually allowed me to walk down the hall without hanging onto the wall.

By this morning, I was feeling almost normal, just really tired. I took out my reading glasses, found something to read, and went to the kitchen to make myself a cup of coffee. “Who moved the coffee pot?” I asked the dogs. (Kip wasn’t awake yet.) After spending some time looking for the creamer, the refrigerator, the water faucet, and a few other things, it dawned on me that my eyesight had gone back to “needs glasses.”

Does anyone need some plus 2.25 reading glasses? I have them in every color. I just need to find them.