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Octogenarian Self-Publishes Memoirs

Updated on September 12, 2015
Virginia Allain profile image

I'm carrying on my mother's research into our family history. I've self-published some family memoirs & learned a lot about different eras.

A New Author at 85

Gail Lee Martin taught family memory writing classes for a number of years. During that time, she started writing down her own memories of the 1930s. Some were published in magazines like Kanhistique that covered Kansas history and antiques.

Now these memories have become a book. Working in collaboration with her daughter, Virginia Allain, a retired librarian, they created My Flint Hills Childhood: Growing Up in 1930s Kansas.

Read on to learn more about this Kansas author and her book.

Book cover created by Virginia Allain for the first edition of My Flint Hills Childhood

Kansas Flint Hills Region

show route and directions
A markerWhere the McGhee family lived -
Madison, KS
get directions

B markerWhere Gail's family shopped in the 1930s -
Eureka, KS
get directions

C markerWhere they went camping -
Mattfield Green, KS
get directions

Check out the New Paperback Version of My Flint Hills Childhood

It's a budget friendly $10.95 (plus postage) at www.gailmartin.wordpress.com

or connect directly to blurb.com with the preview below.

Preview My Flint Hills Childhood - At the end of the preview, it gives the book ordering information

Source

It Won an Award!

My Flint Hills Childhood

won the 2010

Ferguson Kansas History Book Award.

About the Author - Gail Lee Martin

Gail Martin is an 85-year-old retired Kansas housewife and mother of six. She has written all her life "but just for herself." Gail was 4-H leader for 30 years in Butler County Kansas and led the club in publishing a club newsletter. She won first place as newswriter for the Mother's Art EHU club for three years. In the last twenty years Gail has been published in the Tower Family Book, family histories in the Greenwood and Wilson County Kansas history books as well as Kanhistique, The Golden Years and Schooner magazines.

The author researched and entered Butler County's Historical Essay contest several years and says she just loves to research and write. For example, in 1995, she wrote a fiftieth-anniversary story about the history of The Little Ranger, a doodlebug that ran from Emporia through El Dorado to Winfield and back.

Gail was appointed Kansas Authors Club archivist in 1995 and held that position for ten years.

Gail's Book Was Also Entered in a Contest at Blurb Books - Over 300 went to the site to preview her book one week during the contest

Source
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type=text | Source

Gail Lee Martin's Second Book Is Now Out

Clyde Owen Martin: Family Memories of His Life and Times

This book covers the life of Gail Martin's husband with descriptions of his school days, growing up on a Central Kansas farm and profiles of his parents and other family members. Her daughters, Cynthia Jo Ross details Clyde Martin's years in oil field work and Virginia Allain contributes several essays about Clyde's sense of humor and his retirement years.

The table of contents is available online. That will give you an idea of what you will read in the book.

Photos of Gail Lee Martin (click on any photo to see it larger) - Vintage (from the book) and More Recent Ones

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Gail's high school graduating class. Hamilton, Kansas. More about this in her third book that she's working on now.Gail Martin, Melba Harlan, and Carol Garriott in 1955. The McGhee Sisters, all grown up.Gail Martin giving a presentation at the Kansas Authors Club convention. She served as archivist for the organization for ten years.Gail Martin giving a presentation about the history of aprons. She reads her story, My Mother's Apron (from her book) for the program.Gail and Clyde Martin with their farmer's market booth in El Dorado Kansas.Gail McGhee (now Martin) during the time she worked in Wichita during World War II. There will be more about this in her third book.Gail McGhee and husband, Clyde Martin, and their first child, Owen Lee Martin.Gail Lee Martin with her two self-published books.
Gail's high school graduating class. Hamilton, Kansas. More about this in her third book that she's working on now.
Gail's high school graduating class. Hamilton, Kansas. More about this in her third book that she's working on now.
Gail Martin, Melba Harlan, and Carol Garriott in 1955. The McGhee Sisters, all grown up.
Gail Martin, Melba Harlan, and Carol Garriott in 1955. The McGhee Sisters, all grown up.
Gail Martin giving a presentation at the Kansas Authors Club convention. She served as archivist for the organization for ten years.
Gail Martin giving a presentation at the Kansas Authors Club convention. She served as archivist for the organization for ten years.
Gail Martin giving a presentation about the history of aprons. She reads her story, My Mother's Apron (from her book) for the program.
Gail Martin giving a presentation about the history of aprons. She reads her story, My Mother's Apron (from her book) for the program.
Gail and Clyde Martin with their farmer's market booth in El Dorado Kansas.
Gail and Clyde Martin with their farmer's market booth in El Dorado Kansas.
Gail McGhee (now Martin) during the time she worked in Wichita during World War II. There will be more about this in her third book.
Gail McGhee (now Martin) during the time she worked in Wichita during World War II. There will be more about this in her third book.
Gail McGhee and husband, Clyde Martin, and their first child, Owen Lee Martin.
Gail McGhee and husband, Clyde Martin, and their first child, Owen Lee Martin.
Gail Lee Martin with her two self-published books.
Gail Lee Martin with her two self-published books.

More About the Author

At 85, Gail Martin's memories go back a long ways. She remembers living in oil field camp housing, wearing dresses made from feed sack material in the 1930s, trips to town in the family's Model A, raising her pet badger, and fishing on the Cottonwood River. Her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren value her memories of childhood days during the Great Depression.

Martin started recording them some years ago and isn't finished yet getting later memories of her life onto paper. Now her childhood memories of the Depression years have become a book. The title, My Flint Hills Childhood, plus the vintage family photo on the cover entices the reader into her homespun memoir.

Martin even taught others how to write about their family memories. A number of years, she led classes in that topic at the Shepherd Center in Wichita. "I made myself write something for each assignment that I gave the class," Martin confessed, feeling that she had to set a good example for participants. She found an additional audience for her writing when Kanhistique magazine featured many of them in the 1980s and 1990s. In the last twenty years she has been published in the Tower Family Book, contributed to the Greenwood and Wilson County history books as well as having stories in The Golden Years and Schooner magazines.

The author won the Butler County's Historical Essay contest several times and says she just loves to research and write. In 1995, she wrote a fiftieth-anniversary story about the history of The Little Ranger, a doodlebug that ran from Emporia through El Dorado to Winfield and back. Martin was appointed Kansas Authors Club archivist in 1995 and held that position for ten years.

Although some seniors rest on their laurels, Martin tackled the internet some years back. Her diligence in posting essays and poems on the Our Echo website caught the attention of the web designer for the site. He so greatly appreciated her efforts in encouraging the other writers on Our Echo, that he asked her to serve as the site's webmaster. She selects and changes the Editor's Choice and Featured Comments section of the site's homepage. Another responsibility Martin handles is regularly adding members' postings to the Wall of Fame on the site.

This octogenarian, a resident of El Dorado, has several other books underway. Her daughter, Virginia Allain, converted Martin's written memories into a book at the print-on-demand site, Blurb.com. "Mom's been great about dredging up the old family photos and emailing them to me in New Hampshire for the book," said Allain. At first, Allain thought the book would merely become a treasured family keepsake. "As I arranged the stories and photos, I realized that my mother's memories of the 1930s were both an endearing and valuable snapshot of early days in Kansas," Allain added.

The second book, currently underway, contains Martin's writings about her husband, Clyde Martin. It includes his years of working in the El Dorado oil industry, and his family's history stretching back to Kansas pioneer days. Supplementing Martin's memories for this second book are essays contributed by two of Martin's daughters, Cynthia Ross of Towanda and Virginia Allain.

It seems that Gail Martin's example of writing family memories has spread through the whole family. Last year, her sister, Carol Garriott published her own memories using the lulu.com website. Garriott's book, called Curve of the Coast, covers her life's journey from Greenwood County, Kansas to her current home along the Texas Gulf Coast.

Martin still needs to get more memories onto paper, according to her daughter. "She hasn't written about her wartime job at Boeing or about surviving a rattlesnake bite," said Allain. Allain intends to prod her mother to keep writing. "Mom worries about getting a swelled head from all the attention about the book," reported Allain, "but hopefully it will inspire her to further writing."

Preview the first fifteen pages online, of My Flint Hills Childhood by Gail Lee Martin, at the Blurb Bookstore where it's available in hardback or paperback.

Leave a Message for Gail Lee Martin

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    • Lorelei Cohen profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 3 years ago from Canada

      This is an article that is very inspirational to me today. Wishing you a blessed Christmas.

    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 4 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      What an inspiring woman!

    • profile image

      ohcaroline 4 years ago

      You had a very special mother...certainly one to be proud of.

    • Virginia Allain profile image
      Author

      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      @Michey LM: Thank you, Michey, she will continue to inspire me in my writing even though she is gone.

    • Virginia Allain profile image
      Author

      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      @OhMe: Sadly, we still had 2 books in the works and now I must finish them without her help.

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 4 years ago

      Gail Lee Martin is an inspiration, a great life fool of accomplishments regardless the age. Beautiful message.

      Blessings!

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 4 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I am so glad that you and your mom have preserved her memories in her books and on Squidoo.

    • Virginia Allain profile image
      Author

      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      @anonymous: My suggestion is to note down any little tidbits you can remember from their stories. It may be quite limited and a pale imitation of the original story, but at least you will preserve some bits of it.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Oh, how I envy you. My parents 'manned' the very last Lighthouse in New Zealand to become automated, and some of the stories they would tell would be great reading for others. Unfortunately both have passed and no one thought to get their stories down on paper.

      My Flint Hills Childhood sounds like a wonderful read of times long gone. Congratulations on this and subsequent books. Quite an accomplishment.

    • patinkc profile image

      patinkc 4 years ago from Midwest

      Thanks for this lens about an extraordinary woman!

    • Paul Ward profile image

      Paul 5 years ago from Liverpool, England

      A very interesting lens indeed. I'd love to post my grandmother's life story but my mother would kill me!

    • profile image

      jimmyworldstar 5 years ago

      I'll have to pick up this book, I've read The Grapes of Wrath and heard from some people who lived during the Depression about how difficult life became. It's hard to think that it was only around 80 years ago.

    • KarenTBTEN profile image

      KarenTBTEN 6 years ago

      Congratulations on the book award.

    • lollyj lm profile image

      Laurel Johnson 6 years ago from Washington KS

      Your mother is a delightful, inspiring woman. Lensrolled to my writing and writer-related lenses.

    • profile image

      SofiaMann 6 years ago

      Wonderful story. To be proud. Congratulations

    • RhondaAlbom profile image

      Rhonda Albom 7 years ago from New Zealand

      Really interesting read - and the facebook box looks great!

    • poptastic profile image

      Cynthia Arre 7 years ago from Quezon City

      What a wonderful lens on such an inspiring and accomplished woman & mom! *blessed by an angel*

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 7 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Gail, congratulations on publishing two books so far. That is so wonderful. I have enjoyed reading about you. This lens is also featured on Pendleton Memories 3 Nell Seawright Reeves.

    • JenOfChicago LM profile image

      JenOfChicago LM 7 years ago

      Go Gail! What an inspiration - its never to late to write your story!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      A very nice write-up about my big sister Gail Martin! Her book is delightful, insightful, and full of memories about what it was like, growing up on the plains of Kansas in the 30s and 40s, as well as her grown-up years full of varied interests while raising 6 children. A must read!