Attended One-Room Schoolhouse

Had no complaints about attending a one-room schoolhouse as a child.

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For thirty years we had kids in school, and if their complaints about the hot lunches served to them were laid end to end, they would circle the earth! And to think, when I was in grade school, in a one-room schoolhouse, I had never even heard of a hot lunch.

We took our lunches from home, in a bright-colored lunch box if our parents had money, and few did. A lard bucket was next best. Mostly there were paper sacks or newspapers tied with twine. And since paper sacks were not plentiful, we smoothed out our sacks and saved them. We seldom saw wax paper, unless we had a loaf of bought bread and Mother saved the wrapper.

If you happened to have a piece of fried chicken in your lunch, you didn't throw the bone out. Heavens no! You saved it and took it home for your dog or cat. The same went for a crust of bread or a cracker you didn't eat. It seems sort of sad now.

There were no half-pints of milk served with our lunch! If we got thirsty, we went out to the well and pumped a drink of water and everyone used the same cup. (Sometimes a rich kid had a thermos with its own cup, but not often. There weren't many rich kids!)

I considered myself truly blessed if I had crackers and peanut butter. A pickle was a miracle. A piece of candy a rare jewel. How I envied the kids who had lunch meat on bought bread, cookies from the store, and extra things like jars of fruit or candy bars.

When I was in high school and fixed my own lunch, guess what I had!

Elaine Derendinger
Franklin, Missouri


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.