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By Linda Emley
On April 22, 2011, the Richmond News published my first “If Postcards Could Talk” article. It was a brief history of postcards and my first story was about the Ray County Courthouse. I had originally planned to write six months of short stories, but somewhere along the way the plan changed.
I love sharing our history and I don’t expect to run out of stories anytime soon because we have 193 years of Ray County history to cover.
This story is dedicated to my parents, J.B. and Betty Lou Martin, who provided me with a fun and interesting childhood. There would be no “Postcards” stories with out my parents because they have answered many questions for me about how things were around Ray County in the good-old days.
If I ask them a question they can’t answer, they phone a friend and find someone who remembers what I’m looking for.
I’ve been told that I look like my mother, but I’ve also had many people tell me that I act like my dad. He has never met a stranger and I’m pretty sure I fit that mold.
Growing up in our home was never boring, as many of my stories have shown. We were always loading up a pickup, camper or a motor home as we headed off down the road.
We took yearly trips to Colorado and sometimes went to South Missouri to take in the sights. One year in January we went to Florida to pick up a new Dodge Hemi Charger at the Miami airport. We went by the Daytona racetrack where my dad had worked for Lee Petty and even saw real alligators in the Everglades.
In 1971, we went on a Winnebago caravan to Alaska for six weeks. It was a trip of a lifetime and the great part was that we got paid to go. My dad was the caravan mechanic, so Winnebago paid for our trip. I rode a mini bike down the Alaskan pipeline and stood on top of the motor home as a bear walked in our parts trailer.
We ate smoked salmon that my dad caught on a boat earlier that day and saw glaciers that have long since changed. Alaska was wild and free, just like many of the “hippies” that we met along the way in 1971.
As an adult, the adventures didn’t stop because I went to work for an airline and we traded the motor home in for a airplane. One of the perks of working for an airline was your family got flight benefits, which included your parents.
Frontier Airlines employees could fly anywhere the airline flew for $5 round trip. My parents were always in the air on their way to see another state and most of the time they took my boys with them.
Many times I was stuck at home working while they jet- setting all over the country, but I did get to have my share of fun. I always took my boys to Disneyland for their birthdays. They knew every inch of that park by heart.
I remember one Saturday we flew to Denver for the day to eat lunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant, Casa Bonita. Add in some trips to Vegas, Washington D.C. And a few other states and you get the picture that we were never bored. The best part is we had lots of cool trips and didn’t have to spend a lot of money.
One spring, my folks started a new adventure of driving motor homes to Alaska for a dealer there. They would drive a caravan of motor homes up and then fly back. They always had friends that wanted to pack up and go with them on one of these trips. They made this trip so many times, that one grocery store on the Al-Can Highway had my dad bring them sugar and supplies every spring.
Once again my dad found a way to have a good vacation and not wipe out the old bank account.
My dad was the dreamer, but my mother was the glue that held everything together. Taking care of J.B. Martin has not always been an easy job because he only knows one speed and it’s fast forward.
When we weren’t on the road, we still had lots of fun on the farm becasuse we usually had a mini bike, motorcycle, a four-wheeler or a go-cart to ride. We even had a dune buggy made out of an old Volkswagen that would go anywhere.
I have many memories of my youth, but I’m also lucky that my dad always had a camera ready to snap a few shots. Having pictures helps us look back in time and relive those memories over and over.
It also helps us share those memories with our children and grandchildren. As many of my friends know, I’m rarely without a camera so that is another trait that I inherited from my dad. Thanks to cell phone cameras, the current generation will have more pictures to enjoy than any other generation before.
I’m the middle child in a family of three. I have an older brother Mike and a younger sister Jane. Being the middle child had its advantages because it was easy to go with the flow while the others were busy being the first born and the baby of the family.
On Saturday, March 30, we’re having a party at the Ray County Museum. It’s an anniversary celebration for my parents, J.B. and Betty Lou, who have been married for 65 years. We are also celebrating the anniversary of our friends and neighbors, Al and Dortha Wilson, who have been married 56 years.
Please come join us as we celebrate from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. We’re having cake, punch and live music, so it will be a fun day that you won’t want to miss. I hope to see you on the hill Saturday as we all gather to share the stories of 121 years of marriage.
Have a good historical story about a marriage in your family? Share it with Linda at firstname.lastname@example.org or see her in person at Ray County Museum during business hours, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday.