Dear Readers, By the end of 2014 I had acquired, from my mother, Mary Kay Menees– a teacher and storyteller–the family archives about Blanche Estelle Spencer. The writings include:
A. Several hand-written letters from Austin Spencer, father of Blanche Spencer Menees, to Blanche and her sister Grace.
B. Many pages of typed family history and notated family trees, written by Vivian Modglin Parrish, the daughter of Bertha, an older sister of Blanche. Vivian idolized her Aunt Bonnie and wrote many stories about her.
C. Stories about Blanche written by Mary Kay Menees, her daughter-in-law, during various storytelling workshops. Among these is the vivid story of the small wooden trunk which Mary Kay currently has in her possession. The antique trunk is about 31″ wide x 15″ high x 14″ deep.
On my first research trip to St. Louis in March 2015, my mother and I spent an afternoon with this little trunk, marveling at its sturdy shape and practical small size. I opened it, and ran my hands around the inside of the trunk, took its dimensions, and took many photographs of the trunk, the wallpaper-lined interior, and the upper storage shelf.
Blanche carried the wooden trunk in the pony cart which became the vehicle for her travels in and around Oklahoma City in 1910, when she was 22 years old. She used the trunk to carry her hat making supplies when she rode around making hats for ranch women. We know this from Vivian’s journals. It was very exciting for me to see the 106-year-old trunk, then to weave Mary Kay’s story of the trunk into Blanche’s Wild West adventures on the Oklahoma Prairie.
See Chapters #19-20 to follow the story of the little wooden trunk.