Favorite Family Photo


For the 52 Ancestors challenge, I chose this photo of my mother, Gail Lee McGhee, with her family. Although this one is cropped so part of the words are missing, I know the label said, “Ruth, Clarence, Melba and Gail – J.W. Teter lease. 1928.”

Photos showing a family and their home tell us so much about their lives at that point in time. My mother was born in 1924, so she is just 4 years old here. She’s wearing a short smock with bloomers and long stockings which are probably made of wool. Little girls didn’t wear shorts in those days. Her shoes are a T-strap style. Her mother has a low-heeled shoe in a style I’d call ghillie.

The house was called a lease house as the oil companies provided this housing for their workers on the oil leases. Clarence worked for Phillip’s Petroleum Company all through the Great Depression plus the 1940s and 1950s.

This picture ended up being the cover photo for Mom’s memoir, My Flint Hills Childhood: Growing Up in 1930s Kansas. The picture below shows her with a display at the public library. She was in her eighties when her book was published and was proud as Punch to have her name on the cover of a book. Soon, there was a second book about her husband’s life, Clyde Owen Martin: Family Memories of His Life And Times.

Her memoir won the Kansas History Book Award in 2010 given by the Kansas Authors Club. Since her death, the award is now named in her honor, The Martin Kansas History Book Award funded by a memorial fund.

One thought on “Favorite Family Photo

  1. Mike Brubaker

    The board and batten siding of the house also adds a detail to your mother’s family group that makes the photo very evocative of its time. I can see why she chose it for her book cover.


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