It was my first year of teaching and it was in a one-room country schoolhouse, located down the lane of a farm where in one of the grazing fields the farmer occasionally had cattle.
As I was a town-raised girl, I was apprehensive of the cattle but was assured that there would be no cattle in the field during school hours. I accepted this, but with much misgiving in my mind.
Each morning as I went down the lane, I carefully looked around the field before scurrying up to the schoolhouse. Only once in awhile would I see a few cattle down in the far corner grazing contentedly; paying no attention to me so I timidly but quickly got to the school and inside giving a sigh of relief.
We always had our recess outside, weather permitting, but this one morning one of the boys came to me and said, "Teacher, I don't think we had better go outside for recess today."
"Why not?" I asked, and Jim said, "Well, my Dad's bull is out in the field." I immediately agreed that we shouldn't go out but stay in and play some indoor games instead for a change.
Naturally the inevitable happened, nature called and one of the boys asked permission to leave the room. We looked out the window but didn't see our friend, so I agreed, but cautioned him to look carefully and if he saw him to not take any chances and run back inside.
Jim started around the side of our building and so did the bull. Both started for the school door and Jim got there in time for us to close and fasten the door. There were two doors on the full length porch which were only fastened with a latch and quite unstable from long usage, so we began to pile desks in front of each door as we could hear our friend prancing and bellowing back and forth out on that porch, just as our boy was prancing very uncomfortably inside, back and forth.
There we were, twenty-five children and one teacher, all frightened wondering what was going to happen next. We decided to quiet down and maybe he would forget about us and go away. Finally he deigned to jump down and start eating again.
It came time for dismissal and a decision had to be made. We couldn't stay there all night, with children six to fourteen years old. What were we to do?
Finally the bull decided to cooperate and ambled down to the far corner of the field. Jim came to me and said, "Teacher, the bull knows me and I think I can slip out of the door and run up and get my Dad to come down and take him out of the field for us." Jim was successful and we all got ready to go home.
You can believe me that teacher didn't stay to sweep the floor that night, but started walking home with the children.
It was the first time I had ever heard of a bull trying to go to school!
(Editor's Note: Helen Sexton wrote this story in 1979 for Capper's, but passed away in 1983. Permission to use this story was given by Dorothy Sexton.)
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.