Nostalgia For Farm Shops on Family Farms

An Iowa man talks about his memories of playing in his grandfather's farm shop on his family farm

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The old farm shop was found on most family farms. It was a building approximately 14 feet wide and 20 feet long. Usually it had two entrances, including a larger one to admit small equipment for repair, with a bench along one side sturdy enough for a heavy vise. There were shelves on the other side for bolts, repairs, etc.

Everything was arranged to a farmer's liking. In one end would be a hand-powered post drill and a foot-powered grindstone. There was a sliding window above the workbench and a chain from the ceiling with a hook to hang a lantern as there was no electricity in those old farm shops. Many farmers owned a large wooden chest where they kept their most prized tools. The shop usually contained a heavy anvil, as well as a few nail kegs for chairs, as neighbors often came to visit on rainy days. Scraps of wood, metal and leather were scattered around on the dirt floor.

Both of my grandfathers had one of these old farm shops. As a boy in the '20s, I well remember playing in the shop and sometimes whacking my fingers.

My wife of 57 years and I live on one of these farms. I was born in this house 78 years ago. I now keep my pickup in one of these old buildings.

Delbert Pilling
Wapello, Iowa


Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.