I was born in 1936 in a small Nebraska town of 2000 people.
My mother, father and I would visit Aunt Hazel and Uncle Clay's family farm, which was four miles from town. We did not always own a car, so we could take the early morning bus that made regular daily runs to Columbus 40 miles away. The driver would let us out at Uncle Clay's lane and we would then walk the half-mile to their house.
Perhaps we would help them can corn, butcher a hog or just spend a day of visiting. We would have a huge delicious meal at noon – usually fried chicken or canned pork, mashed potatoes and gravy and chocolate pie. In the afternoon Aunt Hazel would say,
"Play us a tune on the piano, Shirley, while we cool off a bit." Early in the evening, we would walk back up the half-mile lane to the highway, and the bus would pick us up on its return trip.
On one of our summer visiting days, a black cloud came up. Uncle Clay came running to the house and said we should all go to the cave. It was a deep cave. Aunt Hazel, a Baptist teetotaler, said the former owner was a drunkard who had started digging the cave by hand when he was "under the influence." The cave was 27 steps down-a tremendous job to have been done by hand. It was so cool that Aunt Hazel kept her butter, eggs and milk down there.
She and Uncle Clay were both tall, slender people, and I think they kept trim by "jazzercizing" up and down those cave steps several times a day.
They did not have electricity and used oil lamps. But one time when we visited them, they had just acquired a new gas light.
Aunt Hazel showed it to us but said we would have to wait until Uncle Clay came in to light it as it was very dangerous. It did make quite a hissing sound when lit.
I have so many fond memories of that family farm. I am now a farmer's wife of 38 years, and nieces and nephews from the city visit us. I hope we are providing them with cherished memories too.
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.