Second World War: Fun-loving Family in Iowa Farmhouse

Iowan recalls growing up in her large 'fun-loving' family in a 16-room farmhouse during the Second World War.

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1943 found me 10 years old, living with my parents, six brothers and sisters, and one married brother in a huge farmhouse in rural southwest Iowa. An impressive Gone With the Wind type stairway afforded us many a ride, so the banister was never dusty. Upstairs, the builder must have economized, because two bedrooms, two hallways and three closets were never painted. 

In those Second World War paper-rationing days, if we could find a pencil, we kids would draw and write all over those walls as high up as we could reach. Then we would stand on a chair and continue to the ceiling.

Ours was a very happy, big, boisterous, fun-loving family during this time, marred only by the second World War. Two married sisters had husbands in the service. One came back to our home to wait out her husband's overseas duty in the Aleutian Islands. They had sold their grocery store upon receiving his draft notice. After a sale of the groceries, everything that didn't sell was stored in one of the big closets in our I6-room farmhouse. It was sugar rationing time, and my siblings and I discovered cough drops stored there. They tasted as good as candy.

My sister waited out the birth of their first child alone. She suffered pregnancy complications - some type of itching all over her body. Mom and Dad would hear her pacing the floor many nights over this terrible itching. At last their baby girl was born. One day this tiny girl was asleep on the bed my sister and I shared. Mom and my sister heard a terrible noise. Rushing in, they found the baby asleep; the ceiling plaster had fallen and just missed the baby.

Brother Dale followed the War battles through our daily paper. Each afternoon we'd get off the .school bus and race up our long lane to the house. He usually was first because he wanted to get the newspaper first. He would explain about the various battles and where the Allies were, using the photos in the Des Moines, Iowa, Tribune.

Dale was very patriotic. His job was to mow our farmyard with a reel lawn mower. He would leave an unmown "v" for victory in the middle of the yard for traffic to see. We were so proud of him.

Mary L. Schofield
Lenox, Iowa


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.