The Air Was Fresh and Life Was Good: Fun on a Depression-Era Family Farm

A Colorado woman remembers games and celebrations held during her childhood on her family farm

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My parents homesteaded on a 640-acre family farm 17 miles northeast of Kiowa, Colorado. My father was a mail carrier for a small post office and store called Hargisville, which my Grandfather Hargis Hargis owned. In 1913 there was a terrible blizzard and my father could drive the horses and sled right over the tops of fences afterward, as the snow was so deep and packed hard. Winters were sometimes pretty rough but the summers were beautiful.

There wasn't much entertainment then – just the programs we put on at school. When I was six the neighbors around the county began having house parties about every weekend, and we would go and dance until the wee hours of the morning. Our music was someone with a fiddle or a phonograph.

I think it was around 1927 when we finally got a radio that ran on batteries, which was used very frugally.

In the summertime there would usually be a Fourth of July picnic. It featured horse races, ball games, sack races, egg-and-spoon contests, and whatever else anyone could think of for fun. These picnics were usually held in a large clearing near some trees, so we would have shade to set up picnic tables.

We went to church pretty regularly in spite of the fact that we had to drive a horse and buggy about 10 miles one way. We would even go to revival meetings at night when the only light to guide us was a kerosene lantern or the moon!

The younger generation of today would probably think we had a very dull life, but we were very happy in those days and much healthier as we breathed pure fresh air.

Esther Tweden
Commerce City, Colorado

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.