During the depression era I lived on a big farm in the southern Illinois prairie. One dish served almost daily by my mother, our neighbors, too, was navy beans. They were the same as Great Northern beans on today's grocery shelves. At that time my mother ordered beans from Sears & Roebuck. They were shipped by train in a burlap bushel sack. Soaked overnight, then cooked slowly in a large iron pot that fit the opening when a lid was removed from the big old cookstove; seasoned with pork and a big onion, they made a hearty and tasty dish always welcomed by the hired hands who were there most of the year.
I cook beans today and try to recapture that hearty flavor but they are never the same, never as good.
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.